I had plans for a big happy fun summer thing today, so last night I did all the things I normally do on Saturday. Laundry, cleaning the kitchen, cleaning the bathrooms, looking at my baseboards and saying to myself, “I should really dust those sometime.” Then before I went to bed, I looked at my calendar and realized the big happy fun summer thing is next Saturday. The upside is that I realized it beforehand rather than actually showing up at the big happy fun summer thing location only to find tumbleweeds and crickets and people saying, “you’re a week early” while looking at me sympathetically yet still wanting me to leave, a circumstance so potentially sad that I am a little teary-eyed just thinking about how it almost happened but fortunately did not because I am a retentive, double-checking motherfucker. The downside is that it’s Saturday and I don’t know what to do with myself, which is how I ended up at a Communist Rally. Well, you know, that’s how this kind of thing starts. Let this be a lesson to you. Don’t let this happen to your teen!
At about 10:30 this morning, I looked out one of my upstairs windows and saw that there were a bunch of booths set up in the park. There were tables with those tent-top umbrellas, about fifty folding chairs set up around the amphitheater, and a large tent, the opening of which faced away from me but which I was sure was there to sell lemonade and grilled hot dogs. Festival! Carnival! Alternate big happy fun summer Saturday!
Entering the park, I saw the usual idyllic scene: dozens of kids on the play equipment and in the water park area, making squealy kid noises, while their dogs frolicked in and out of the water, their moms gathered on the benches to talk about Fetzer wine and tennis lessons in that loud, nasal way they all seem to have, the dads making Woo-Hoo! noises when their kid did something outstanding like not spontaneously fall down. But also in the air was something dark and vaguely moronic, which I soon realized was an abundance of hipsters.
Well, okay, twelve hipsters. But that’s more than enough when it’s six women trying desperately to look like Zooey Deschanel and six guys trying just as hard to look like Johnny Depp. I always want to stop those people on the street and explain to them that it takes more than Buddy Holly glasses. Better genetics may also be needed. Anyway, there were a lot of them. Or so it seemed until I figured out what was going on.
Once in the park proper, I noticed that all the booths but one were empty. I walked up to the nearest empty one and there was a sign titled “Workshop C” and listing a bunch of times and events that all had something to do with “Occupy Oakland,” which is odd mostly because of the fact that Oakland is 800 miles and two states away. Then I walked over to another empty booth and saw an identical sign except it said, “Workshop D.” I went over to the one occupied booth, which also had the same sign but labeled “Workshop A.” Behind the table were Sort Of Zooey #3 and Not At All Depp #2, and sitting in the folding chairs were a few more Zooeys and Depps, three old women speaking to each other in Cantonese and fanning themselves with folded up newspaper, and a couple of kids who wandered over from the jungle gym, probably because, like me, they wrongly assumed that where there is a booth in a park on a summer Saturday, there are going to be Sno-Cones. This is what life is, kids! Never-ending disappointment!
Sort Of Zooey #3 was speaking: “Capitalism is not just going to go away. Capitalism is strong. Capitalism is not … not going away.” Well, so far this is riveting. “We must take this opportunity to fix the problem of capitalism. We are the first generation to have this opportunity.” Awww! That’s so cute! A young person who thinks her generation is the first generation to figure out what’s wrong with the world and how to fix it! Shhhh. She’s talking again. Don’t want to miss out on any innovative thinking. “Capitalism is … strong.” Wait, I saw this movie already. “Capitalism …” Then she tapped on the mic and said, “Can everyone hear me?”
At that point, I made the mistake of making eye contact with one of the dads who was standing a few feet away from his Sno-Cone deprived son. The kid was staring open-mouthed at Sort Of Zooey #3 because even at age 6, he couldn’t believe how dumb this whole thing was. When Dad’s eyes and mine met, we burst out laughing. Then the Chinese women started laughing because they like capitalism. In fact, that’s probably why they left China. Dad’s kid decided that if there were no Sno-Cones he was going to leave and I decided to leave also, for pretty much the same reason. While walking away I could hear Sort Of Zooey #3 saying, “We need to … overthrow capitalism. In a violent way.” Maybe she meant to say “non-violent,” but was flustered because all the Chinese women were still laughing and swatting at each other with newspapers.
That was several hours ago, but our economic system continues to be intact. I’ve been checking out the rally from my bedroom window throughout the day, and by the looks of things, I would guess that all the Zooeys and Depps are more upset that they set up 20 booths, a giant tent, and an elaborate sound system for a total of 17 people, including themselves, than they are about the growing divide between the rich and the poor. Not that they won’t get over it anyway, much as people of my generation pretty much never think about starving children in Africa anymore, even though they still exist. And we were really committed. We didn’t just buy the USA for Africa album; we bought the video too. Besides, I don’t think you can be both a hipster and opposed to capitalism. It’s not as if the clothes at Urban Outfitters are free.
I woke up in a bad mood this morning because last night I watched Mamma Mia! which is quite possibly the worst movie ever made, even when you include that thing I saw on YouTube where some random people in an office are doing the Electric Slide in the middle of the day. The only good thing about Mamma Mia! is the song and dance number over the end credits because (a) Colin Firth is completely committed to that sparkly blue Spandex jumpsuit, and (b) it indicates that the movie is over.
But speaking of YouTube, this morning I saw what I consider an instant classic, entitled “guy uses webcam to catch the office thief.” That’s a copy of the original video, which was removed at the request of the original poster’s company, but which will exist in perpetuity in ganked copy after ganked copy because good luck eradicating anything you’ve ever posted on the internet.
Since that copy will probably be gone in about a minute, I’ll recap:
Guy keeps bowl of fruit on desk.
Pieces of fruit go missing over a period of about a month.
Guy sets up webcam.
Webcam records Cleaning Woman brazenly taking apple.
Webcam records Cleaning Woman brazenly eating apple.
Guy makes screensaver of Cleaning Woman taking and eating apple captioned, “Stop stealing my things”; leaves webcam in place.
Denim-Pants Coworker notices screensaver, shows it to Khaki-Pants Coworker.
Khaki-Pants Coworker guffaws.
Coworkers and their pants leave.
Cleaning Guy comes in to empty trash.
Cleaning Guy sees screensaver.
Cleaning Guy makes “Baroo?” face.
Cleaning Guy makes schadenfreude face.
Cleaning Guy continues to make schadenfreude face.
Cleaning Guy is really really enjoying the feeling of schadenfreude.
Cleaning Guy goes and gets Cleaning Woman.
Cleaning Woman sees screensaver.
Cleaning Woman is confused.
Cleaning Woman is indignant.
Cleaning Woman picks up apple and makes puzzled face so as to indicate that she’s never seen fruit before in her life.
Cleaning Guy waves it off as if saying that this is all nonsense and she should forget about it.
Cleaning Woman and Cleaning Guy leave.
Cleaning Guy returns to shut the door.
Cleaning Guy returns again to look at screensaver some more.
Cleaning Guy returns yet again and takes a picture of the screensaver.
I pledge my eternal love to Cleaning Guy.
Evidently, the original video got something like 100,000 hits and started quite the debate in the comments section. Some people felt that the Cleaning Woman was clearly a thief and the guy she was stealing from was entirely justified in using a camera to catch her. Others felt that a bowl of fruit on an office desk is no different from a bowl of candy on an office desk and everyone who works in that office is free to take from the bowl. And the largest percentage of commenters felt that even if the birth certificate is real, there’s no proof that Hawaii doesn’t move around in space and time like that island in Lost, so Obama’s still not a U.S. citizen.
Initially, I thought, “thief! thief!” But the “bowl of fruit = bowl of candy” argument might be convincing me otherwise. If it were just one apple sitting on his desk, I would say it was clearly his. But I don’t really see the point of keeping a week’s worth of fruit out on display. If you want to eat fruit every day, you can bring fruit every day. There’s no reason to build a little shrine to it in your office. After all, a person doesn’t lay out five salami sandwiches on their desk each Monday and expect them to last the week. As far as I’m concerned, if you have more than one salami sandwich, you have too many.
More generally, it’s been my experience that the person with the bowl of candy on her desk is often kind of an ass about it. They don’t ever not have a bowl full of candy and should some hapless new person tentatively ask, “do you mind if I have one of your Tootsie Rolls?” they put on a facade of offense and say, “of course not! That’s what it’s there for! This candy is for everyone!” but they also complain all the time about how no one ever gives them any money for all the candy they give out. Or if someone does give them money, they complain about the amount. “Bob gave me a dollar. I guess he thinks I buy my candy in the 1930s!”
No one has a candy bowl on their desk in my office. (My office-office, that is. My office at home has a lot of chocolate, but it’s the sugar-free non-delicious kind. I buy it when it’s on sale, and the cashier invariably asks, “is this good?” to which in reply I sigh mightily and say, “not really.”) Sometimes someone will come back from vacation and bring candy, but this ends up being more of an annoyance than a nice treat. One of the assistants is perpetually dieting, but is extremely bad at it, so that when a big box of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts makes its appearance she whines, “I wish people wouldn’t bring in caaaandy. Now I’ll never lose any weigghhhttt,” and she groans literally every single time she passes the box. This goes on for several hours until she finally takes a piece. Then she repeats the process until all the candy is gone. Everyone generally tries to eat more than their share just so the groaning will stop sooner. Groaning is not an appealing sound. One time just to avoid the drama altogether, someone who’d gone to New Mexico or Arizona or someplace brought back two kinds of salsa instead of candy. Unfortunately, they didn’t bring chips, so the jars just sat there for a few days until someone took them home.
Things I have done since we last visited:
1. Went to a new doctor. Did not enjoy.
2. Had a mammogram. Did not enjoy.
3. Had blood drawn. Did not enjoy.
4. Peed in a cup. Did not … actually, I’m neutral on this one.
5. Had an EKG. I wasn’t listening when the technician told me to take off my top and put on the gown, so after I had taken off both my top and my bra, I had the sudden thought that maybe I hadn’t needed to take off my bra and now the technician would think I was weird. She put the electrodes on my arms and my sternum and upper rib cage and then I was pretty sure that taking my bra off was a mistake. While I was thinking about whether I should offer to put it back on, another person came into the room and the technician said, “do you mind if this student observes?” and since I was already lying on the table, hooked up to the machine, and — did I mention? — braless, it hardly seemed like the time to get shy. Making matters slightly more awkward, the student was a dwarf and therefore at eye level with my bralessness. Did not enjoy.
6. Received three phone calls from new doctor’s inexplicably hostile nurse the day after my appointment, during which she repeatedly insulted me, demanded that I justify my health care decisions to her, and I’m not exactly sure but I think she may have accused me of stealing my lab results. Did not enjoy.
7. Fired new doctor. Enjoyed.
I have most of my test results back, and the two I don’t yet have I assume are normal, otherwise Angry the Nurse would probably be pounding on my front door and insisting that I schedule a follow-up appointment or explain why I think I’m above that. In any event, I am healthy. Which is good because once again, I have no doctor.
When did the Trix Rabbit become so crazed and maniacal?
I hope Boo Berry is still okay.
I might be out of things to write about.
Last Sunday was the only day off I’ve had in three weeks and looks like it might be the only day off I have until July 4th. I wasted it by napping and feeling sorry for myself. Independence Day will likely be spent in a similar fashion, except there will be potato salad.
The other thing I did on Sunday was contemplate my death, which I am convinced is imminent. When I woke up on Friday morning, my left arm hurt from my shoulder down to just above my elbow. This could be any number of things, but in my case, it is obviously a heart disease related blockage. WebMD confirms my fears. At one point, my stomach hurt (abdominal aneuryism) and for a while, my right calf felt a little tender (deep vein thrombosis). Saturday afternoon I put some Icy Hot on my shoulder and it felt better, but Saturday night it came back, so I sent my brother an email telling him where my will is located. Last night, the pain suddenly and completely went away, which clearly meant the blockage had broken away from the arterial wall, was traveling toward my brain, and a life-ending stroke was about to occur. I spent my last precious hours on earth watching Hell’s Kitchen and Masterchef and then I fell asleep. This morning when I woke up, my shoulder hurt. It’s probably just some old person thing with an old-timey name like bursitis, so I’m not going to bother going to the doctor. Going to the doctor is always the same anyway. I very helpfully diagnose the problem at home beforehand in order to save time, I explain to my doctor that I have Histoplasmosis or possibly Thalassemia, and then he tells me I have the flu. Except he calls it The Grippe. Actually, I am just making shit up now. The shoulder pain is making me loopy.
Speaking of TV, I have recorded but not yet watched the most recent episode of The Bachelorette, due in part to the fact that I am dying but due in larger part to the fact that it is really boring. Is it always this boring? Good lord, these people are dull. Because I’ve already seen three episodes where nothing has happened, I feel compelled to watch the rest of the season where nothing will happen. Last week, some guy who spells his name “Jef” and styles his hair like Vanilla Ice circa 1988, showed up at the rose ceremony wearing khaki shorts and cornflower-blue kneesocks, but other than that it’s been uneventful unless you count all the crying. What is with all the crying? “Emily was kissing Arie and my frankfurter fell in the dirt! Waaaaaah!” Incidentally, I am calling it now: Arie will win and I will continue not to care, assuming I’m still living at the time.
Hey, let’s talk about President Johnson. A few weeks ago, I read an excerpt from The Passage of Power, which is the latest of Robert Caro’s volumes on the life of LBJ. Johnson has always seemed like one of our more interesting presidents, but I don’t know all that much about him aside from the fact that Robert Kennedy hated his guts and Jackie Kennedy thought he was an animal. And that he knew what he wanted in a pair of slacks.
I especially like the part where he belches. It’s daintier than you’d expect, considering the man was from Texas.
The excerpt I read was fascinating (pay no attention to the fact that I can’t remember what it was about), so I put the book on my To Read list. The problem is that it’s the fourth volume in a series, and my sense of order will not allow me to read it unless I read volumes 1 through 3 first. So I requested the first volume, The Path to Power, and got it from the library yesterday. Including the endnotes, it’s 848 pages of 10 point font. I am currently on page 3. Of Volume 1. And since Volume 4 ends in 1964, I’m pretty sure there will be at least one, possibly two, more volumes. If this doesn’t kill me, nothing will.
In other news, WordPress continues down the road to hell. They’ve now changed many of their themes, including the one that I use, to support something called “infinite scroll,” which means that instead of displaying on the homepage the last few posts I’ve written, the homepage now displays every single post on this blog. Yeah, that won’t take forever to load or anything. It used to be that at the bottom of my homepage there were a couple of links, one to the theme designer and one to the WordPress home page. But now since my homepage has no bottom, being infinite, and scrolling down to everything I’ve ever written, including a note I wrote in the third grade to a boy named Doug that said, “do you have a girlfriend? check yes or no,” they’ve instead created a hovering bar at the bottom of the screen that says, “Blog at WordPress.com,” but that doesn’t say, “so we can obscure the last few lines of your WordPress.com blog with this annoying hovering bar.”
WordPress doesn’t want you to be able to turn this feature [cough] off, but you can if you are willing to jump through a bunch of hoops:
1. If the theme you’re using supports widgets in the footer, go to step 3.
2. If the theme you’re using does not support footer widgets, go to Appearance > Themes and change your theme temporarily to the Twenty Eleven theme.
3. Go to Appearance > Widgets, and drag the Text widget into one of the footer areas. Click Save and Close.
4. Go to Settings > Reading, and uncheck the “scroll infinitely” option. Click “Save Changes.”
5. Go back to Appearance > Themes and switch back to the theme you were using before.
WHAT COULD BE EASIER THAN THAT?
In a related vein, WordPress no longer provides support unless you pay for it. The revenue they generate by placing ads on your blog (unless you pay them not to) doesn’t count. If the money doesn’t come directly from you, it doesn’t feel as special to them.
Today is National Donut Day, not that any of you bothered to tell me. -R- will probably say, “I figured every day was donut day for you,” and then I’ll try to punish her for that, but I won’t be able to because my blood sugar will be too low.
A lot of donut shops are giving out free donuts today, but as I may have mentioned within the last minute or so, things you don’t pay for often aren’t very good. Not that there’s necessarily such a thing as a bad donut, but I don’t even like to get free samples at the grocery store and not only because it’s usually something gross like soy milk or a piece of a fruit roll-up that they’ve cut up with the dirty scissors off someone’s desk. It’s more because I can’t see myself making a special trip to the nearest donut shop just to get whatever plain cake donut they have left over from yesterday. Also, I’m guessing the donut shop employees aren’t particularly enthused about all the extra people wanting free stuff, nor the fact that their job involves wearing a name badge and a little hat, so you know they’re going to take it out on you.
Donut Shop Guy: Hi! Welcome! What can I get for you?
Customer: I’ll have one of your free donuts in honor of National Donut Day!
Donut Shop Guy: COULD ALL THE PEOPLE WHO ARE HERE FOR A FREE DONUT STAND OVER TO THE SIDE SO WE CAN WAIT ON THE PAYING CUSTOMERS FIRST? THANK YOU! YES YOU! STAND OVER THERE PLEASE!
Life is hard enough without being humiliated by a person wearing a little hat.
For a couple of years now, I’ve been trying to watch the The Bachelor/Bachelorette, but each season I forget all about it until a few episodes in, at which point I’ve lost interest. But last night I managed to watch some of the first episode, and I’ve come to the conclusion that we are going in the wrong direction on the marriage debate. Let’s not legalize gay marriage; let’s outlaw all marriage, if for no other reason than to eliminate it as a premise for reality television. Or no, wait. Let’s say everyone can get married, just not this guy:
Okay, that picture is from last season, but my point is still valid.
So last night, I was watching Dancing With the Stars because, well, there is no reason. After it was over, The Bachelorette started, and you can imagine my excitement. It began with a blonde woman whose name is apparently Emily talking about how even though she is a single mom, which is the best most important hardest job in the world and she wouldn’t trade a minute of it for anything in the world, she is super lonely and therefore left her kid at the storage locker for six weeks last year so she could compete with a bunch of other women for some dillweed who invited her to marry him but then uninvited her as soon as the cameras were off. Since she still believes in love and her kid didn’t die of neglect or anything, she’s going to leave her daughter yet again this year so that she can meet an entire houseful of guys just like the one who turned out to be a proposal-reneging bastard, and if things go as planned, marry one of them and make him the luckiest famewhore husband in the world.
Naturally I left the room. I checked all the locks. I brushed my teeth. I got a glass of water for my nightstand. I did three sit-ups. I set the thermostat at 60°. I went back into the living room.
Emily: So after I put Ricki to bed, it’s only 7:30 and I’m all alone!!!
Yes, how horrible to be all alone in the world, not counting the person who lives in your house with you.
Emily: [various whimpering noises]
I fell asleep. I woke up and Emily was wearing a pageant gown and standing in the entryway of a McMansion while doofus after doofus got out of a limo and walked up to Emily, each having the exact same conversation with her.
Doofus: Hey there, Emily! I’m Doofus!
Me: Yes, he got that part already.
Emily [holding arms out to side at 3:00 and 11:00]: Nice to meet you!
Doofus: Can I hug you?
Me: No, she’s holding her arms like that in preparation for takeoff.
Doofus: You look absolutely stunning!
Emily: Aw, thank you so much!
Doofus: I can’t wait to talk to you inside!
Emily: I’ll see you inside in a bit!
I fell asleep again. When I woke up, it felt like I’d been asleep for a couple of hours, but the TV was still on and Emily was still meeting goofballs at the door.
Goofball: Hey there, Emily! I’m Goofball!
Me: OH MY GOD, EVEN I KNOW WHO YOU ARE BY NOW!
Emily [holding arms out to side at 3:00 and 11:00]: Nice to meet you!
Goofball: Can I hug you?
Me: I think there’s something wrong with these people.
Goofball: You look absolutely stunning!
Emily: Aw, thank you so much!
Goofball: I can’t wait to talk to you inside!
Emily: I’ll see you inside in a bit!
But then it started to get weird. I kept dozing off and waking up so it’s possible I dreamed some of this, but at one point, it wasn’t even in English.
Idiota [speaking Portuguese]: Olá Emily, meu nome é Alessandro. Eu vim aqui do Brasil para atender a uma mulher bonita como você.
Emily [speaking ... Spanish?] MAY YAMO … EMILIANO!
Me: Dios mio.
Emily [holding arms out to side at 3:00 and 11:00, speaking ... Esperanto?]: ESTOY UN MEET YOU EL HAPPIO!
Idiota: Perhaps we should speak English. You look absolutely stunning!
Me: I liked him better when I couldn’t understand him.
Emily: AW! MUCHOS GRACIASS!
Idiota: No no, in English! I can’t wait to talk to you inside! In English!
Emily: I’ll see you inside in a bit!
Idiota: Remember! English!
And then, I don’t even know. One guy walked up holding an ostrich egg and pledging that for as long as he was on the show he would carry the ostrich egg with him so that Emily could see what a good father he would be to her daughter. I think I saw this on The Cosby Show, but instead of an egg, it was a bag of flour, and instead of a grown adult trying to convince someone that he would be a good life partner, it was Theo Huxtable in his sophomore health class. No, wait, it was on Frasier. Now I remember. Niles decided to practice being a father by carrying a bag of flour with him everywhere, and then he had a nightmare about the flour being kidnapped and the kidnappers sending him batches of muffins.
Another guy brought a glass slipper and insisted she put it on, which I think was supposed to be charming, but had more of an “it puts the lotion on the skin” vibe, if you ask me. One guy thought it was 1992, brought his boombox with him, and dork-danced his way up the stairs. Man, if I had been Emily, I would have pulled out a gun and shot him in the leg. Worse still, one man wrote a song for Emily and performed it.
Not Bernie Taupin: ♪ ♪ Emily, Emily, Whoa-Oh Emily ♪ ♪ ♪
Me: ♪ Emily, Emily, Whoa Whoa Whoa Emily ♪ ♪
Not Bernie Taupin: ♪ ♪ Emily, Emily, Emily, Emily, Emily, Emily ♪
Me: ♪ E-M-I-L-YYYYYY ♪
And then there was Randy:
Randy thought that for his first meeting with Emily, it would be a good idea to dress up like an elderly woman. I am going to guess that when Randy was a child he had a good idea involving a fork and an electrical outlet.
At the end of the show is the Rose Ceremony, which I slept through, but as I understand it, the guys are supposed to line up and look pitiful and if Emily gives them a rose, they get to stay and do a talking head about how they are really excited because, based on the ten minutes they spent with Emily, they are beginning to fall in love with her and are eager to continue their journey together. If Emily does not give them a rose, then they have to leave, but they can first give a talking head about how they are disappointed because, based on the ten minutes they spent with Emily, they were beginning to fall in love with her and are now sad not to continue their journey together. I feel like this elimination ceremony is not nearly humiliating enough. I think it would be better if not only does Emily not give them a rose, she also insists that they remove their pants before leaving the premises.
I woke up just as the credits were rolling over one of the eliminated bachelors, now shirtless, pointing to his abs and saying, “this is what Emily is going to miss!” Sigh. So romantic. It’s just like Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, except with Axe Body Spray.
Yesterday on the news: “Dustin Hoffman starred in the 1992 film Hero and it turns out he’s one in real life. The 72-year-old actor was walking in Hyde Park when he saw a jogger collapse from a heart attack. Hoffman called paramedics and stayed with the man until they arrived.”
I’m a big fan of Dustin Hoffman’s and mean no disrespect by this, but how exactly is he a hero? If you see someone having a heart attack, you’re supposed to call the paramedics. Can you be a hero for doing something you, as a human being on the planet, are morally obligated to do? If so, I would like it noted that earlier today I was standing in line behind a woman who was snapping her gum and wearing vast quantities of what was undoubtedly a Rite-Aid brand perfume and I neither made retching noises nor threw garbage on her. I would like my medal to be silver as I find that gold makes my skin look sallow.
At the same time, there are already some news stories calling Hoffman a callous creep because he didn’t perform CPR. Let me just say now that if I’m ever in your presence and require CPR and you’re not exactly sure how to do it, just take the phone out of my purse, call 9-1-1, and then sit quietly until the EMTs arrive. I’m already having a heart attack; I don’t need a broken sternum on top of it.
So that reminded me of a different story involving a heart attack, which I was going to talk about in the overlong way that I do and then declare it untrue, but a quick visit to Snopes tells me that it’s partially true in a way that undoes the point I was going to make, so never mind. But that story in turn reminded me of my 9th grade Language Arts teacher, Miss Paul (no relation to the fish stick magnate) (mainly because that’s not her real name). Upon first laying eyes on Miss Paul everyone would let out an involuntary, “eek,” because, even though it was 1978, she was dressed as if it were 1964 and the Beatles had just landed at JFK. Black cream eyeliner, pink frosted lipstick, hair done in a big teased bouffant flip, and a lava-lamp patterned mini dress on her 5’0″ 160 pound frame. Her yearbook photo looked like a photo of Cass Elliott, if you had left the photo outside in the rain. But being a kind, funny person, she quickly became everyone’s favorite. After school, kids would hang out in her classroom talking and reading magazines while she graded papers or did whatever teachers do when they’re not standing at the front of the room screaming at us to shut up. On Fridays we would ask Miss Paul what she was going to do for the weekend and she’d tell us that her boyfriend was going to take her to the movies, or she was going to make dinner for her boyfriend (usually some retro food item that involved pouring onion gravy on hamburger and then declaring it to be a kind of steak from Europe), or maybe that she and her boyfriend were going to drive out to the ocean. On the last day of school, she told us that she wouldn’t be Miss Paul for very much longer because she was getting married in the summer. My sister, who is 10 years older than me and who had Miss Paul for Language Arts in 1968, later said, “she told us that too. She says that every year on the last day of school.” That was a thousand years ago but it still breaks my heart a little.
Did anyone besides me get this email from amazon?
I don’t have a complaint with this. I have no interest in a Wi-Fi enabled toilet or whatever it is that makes it so high tech, but if other people are, God bless. Just so long as they don’t Skype me while they’re sitting on it, I don’t care. But what does puzzle me is the photo that accompanied the email:
The thing that looks like a styrofoam cooler is the toilet. It looks a little odd, but mainly I’m wondering what it’s doing in the middle of the room with floor-to-ceiling windows. And what conversation could the man and woman possibly be having? “I’m ready, darling, but do you really want to go out? Why don’t we stay home and have martinis and Swiss Steak next to the commode.” Oh well, there are many things in the world that I do not understand; I guess this is yet another one. The house, incidentally, is the famous Case Study House #22, which I’ve always loved, but now that I know someone might have taken a dump in the living room, I probably love it a little less.
WordPress has made some changes that make it difficult for some people to leave comments. There are ways to get around this but it took me about a thousand words to explain it. I might also have done some biting of the hand that provides me with a free blogging platform, but they sometimes run ads on my blog so it’s not like there’s nothing in it for them. Anyway, if you want to leave a comment, you might want to read this first.
Standard blog protocol requires that I apologize for not having posted in a while, but I’ve noticed that sometimes when someone posts after a long absence prefaced with a, “sorry I haven’t posted in a while,” my reaction is, “oh! I didn’t notice,” and therefore instead of apologizing for not posting I would just like to say, “WELL I DIDN’T MISS YOU EITHER THEN!!!”
You’ll have to pardon me. I’ve been having a stressful month.
Not horrendous or anything, but the job has been more onerous than usual, it took me two days to do my taxes this year because God forbid the IRS should make fewer than one change per day to the tax code, and then of course last Sunday was the one day of the year that I deliver chocolate eggs and jelly beans to all the little children of the world. I am tired is my point.
Oh! Oh! And I have jury duty starting tomorrow. Say it with me: Crap. When I got the summons, I was pretty sure it was a mistake, seeing as how I just had jury duty maybe four or five months ago, and I was prepared to call the clerk and announce, “unhand me, functionary!” but then I checked my calendar and discovered it’s been more than two years. So tomorrow morning I will be riding the bus and getting off at the stop outside the courthouse. You can imagine how excited I am about this.
To top things off, I have a new neighbor. Even the possibility of a new neighbor will fill me with dread because as you may have gathered, I am not a people person, but this is a new neighbor in the rental house across the street, owned by a couple who live on the other side of the city and who therefore could give a crap what kind of barbarian they allow to move into my neighborhood. They’ve had quite the parade of humanity through there. When I first moved here, I thought there was only one person living in the house. I couldn’t be sure because I never saw a person, only a car that would come and go from the driveway. It was delightful. Then one night there was a lot of yelling. This went on until about 10:00 pm when, accompanied by the sound of much door slamming, a dejected-looking woman and two pre-teen children wheeling rollaway suitcases emerged and headed in the general direction of the bus stop. The car continued to come and go from the driveway, and I soon observed it was not driven by a phantom but by a burly man with a crazy eye.
A couple of weeks later, a 33-year-old woman and her 18-year-old daughter moved in with Crazy Eye. She also brought a couple of young foster children who went to school for the first year and later just kind of hung around the house not being fed. Crazy Eye’s new family was not as docile as his original family, at least judging by all the screaming, and a few months into this new domestic arrangement, the New Wife Or Whatever had the police tell Crazy Eye to leave his own home and not come back. To assuage the pain of now being Crazy Eyeless, the New Wife Or Whatever purchased two non-functioning panel vans that she parked in front of my next-door neighbor’s house. After about two months of looking at these things rusting out there, my next-door neighbor, who is one of the gentlest people alive, went over and knocked on the their door to ask them politely to remove their vehicular detritus, prompting the Sociopathic Daughter to reply something to the effect of they ain’t moving shit and fuck you.
Next-Door Neighbor then indicated that if they continued on this non-cooperative and unneighborly vein, she would call parking enforcement and have the vehicles towed.
Her powers activated, Sociopathic Daughter began screaming, “YOU TOUCH MY SHIT, I’LL FUCK YOU UP! I’LL FUCK YOU UP! YOU BETTER NOT TOUCH MY SHIT! I’LL FUCK YOU UP!”
Next-Door Neighbor, who is gentle but not a pushover, speaks English as a second language and is therefore unfamiliar with all the nuances of threatening language. Consequently she replied, “OH YEAH? I FUCK YOU! I FUCK YOU BACK!”
Eventually the abandoned van situation got sorted out without the aid of the police, unlike the way that Sociopathic Daughter eventually left the house for good after the New Wife Or Whatever called 9-1-1 to report that her child was in the front yard screaming, “JUST GIMME MY MONEY!” and refusing to leave. At least it wasn’t Mother’s Day. A few months after that the New Wife Or Whatever packed up the starving foster children and moved out as well, leaving several years worth of garbage in the place. Evidently being unable to master the finer points of not putting styrofoam and pizza crust in the recycle bin, the city cut off garbage collection to her address and she very reasonably dealt with the situation by putting all her garbage in the garage. The owner hired a U-Haul to get rid of the garbage, then rented to a perfectly nice family who lived there without incident for about six years. They moved out in March and the new person moved in about ten days ago. I call her Camel Toe, and you would too if you could see her.
I have a bad feeling about Camel Toe. First, well, her pants. Second, she’s one of those people who doesn’t pack her things in boxes and hire a truck when she moves, she just carries things from the car to the new place one piece of Tupperware at a time over a four-day period. Third, as she was in the process of moving in, I saw her give a big flirty wave to my other next-door neighbor, who long-time readers of this blog may remember as Nearly Naked Man. Now, Nearly Naked Man is a fine person and a good neighbor. I have had many sociable, eyes politely averted, conversations with him. I would tell anyone who asks that he is a solid citizen. But Camel Toe has no way of knowing what kind of person he is. All Camel Toe knows is that he’s a guy standing in his front yard, across the street from her house, wearing nothing but underpants. Does she do the sensible thing and try to break her lease? No, instead she gets all, “how you doin’?” about it. So I am wary of Camel Toe. There are other more foreboding indications that Camel Toe and her many many visitors aren’t in her living room reading the Bible, but I don’t think I should say anything in case I’m later called to testify in court.
I’m trying to think of something less relevant or consequential than Kirk Cameron’s views on homosexuality.
Nope! Can’t think of anything!
In case you missed it, what he said was that homosexuality is, “unnatural … detrimental, and destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization.” In response, I would say:
I didn’t even know Huggies made Pull-Ups for adults.
I have the news on right now and the promo says the next segment is Tracey Gold’s reaction to what Kirk Cameron said. When did TV news get so useless? Yesterday, they did three minutes on the rising popularity of pepper jack cheese. I am not even making that up. They did an entire taped segment about how fast food restaurants are offering pepper jack in addition to American cheese, and how pepper jack is to the 2010s what the sun-dried tomato was to the 1990s, and how pepper jack is good melted or when sliced and eaten as a snack. When the segment was over, the news anchor announced that she likes pepper jack cheese on a turkey sandwich. It was riveting.
I bet Kirk Cameron is opposed to pepper jack cheese. I can hear him now. “Cheese goes all the way back to the bible. We should not be redefining cheese now. The union of habaneros and milk curds is unnatural!”
Kirk’s a big fan of bananas though. Bananas prove the existence of God:
Well, I’m certainly convinced now. Kirk isn’t saying much there, but I love how smug he looks while Professor Banana is explaining things to all of us heathens. You can tell he’s thinking, “yeah, non-slip surface! Color-coded ripeness indicator! Take that, Richard Dawkins!” He is most likely also thinking, “ignore the homoeroticism! The homoeroticism is Satan’s trick!”
I find that a lot of people like to wallow in sadness on Valentine’s Day, even more than they do on other holidays. Single people like to lament being single and married people are just naturally unhappy, I guess. I’m single, but I like Valentine’s Day. Candy is on sale. Flowers are everywhere. Candy is on sale. Oh, I said that already. But really, what’s not to like? Candy is on sale!
However, I’m not really eating candy anymore, unless it’s the sugar-free kind, which is actually pretty good unless you eat more than one piece and then it gives you enough gas to run a small generator. Bloating is not as romantic as one might think.
So, in that sense, the sense in which I am not currently seeing how many pink and red M&Ms I can fit into my mouth at one time, this Valentine’s Day is a little sad for me. Not as sad as last Saturday, though, because that was the day I dropped my one piece of lemon meringue pie on the floor. I only eat sugar about once a month, and that pie was going to be it for February. One minute I was taking it out of the refrigerator and laughing maniacally; the next thing I knew it was on the floor, lemon and meringue put asunder. It was the saddest day ever.
Is this making you feel worse? I won’t feel this is a successful post unless you feel worse.
I was thinking about this in the car today, but I once broke up with someone because we were in a left-turn lane waiting for the light, and I had my blinker on. It was a long light, and after a minute or so, he reached across me and turned my blinker off, saying, “I think they get it.” So that was it for him.
Similarly, I once broke up with someone who turned my windshield wipers off, saying that it wasn’t raining hard enough to make them necessary. He didn’t have to reach across me to do it, but still, I don’t need to put up with that. He also somehow bumped his oversized head into my rear-view mirror while usurping my driving prerogatives. Oaf. This required me to readjust. I do not like to readjust. So that was it for him.
My point is that if you feel bad about being alone today, not being alone isn’t necessarily better. You could be going out with blinker guy. Or windshield wiper guy. And they’d be bossing you around, not letting you use your automotive accessories as you see fit. Or you could be going out with me. If you go out with me, you do one little thing wrong, and that’s it for you. I’ve been told that it’s very stressful.
This morning, someone posted a link to a “Missed Connections” ad on Craigslist. You know, if you’re looking for love on Craigslist, I order you to stop it immediately. Personally, I wouldn’t even look for an end table or a mountain bike on Craigslist; looking for a romantic partner there is at best misguided and at worst a B felony. Besides, “Missed Connections” ads are never not pathetic. I saw one once where a woman said something like, “I was merging onto I-5 North Tuesday at 5:30 at the Mercer on-ramp in a white Chevy Blazer and you waved me into your lane. Nice hand.” I’m trying to decide if there’s any kind of hand the guy could have had that would have made him less appealing to her. A hook-hand, maybe.
There was also an ad that read something like, “Saw you at the Ram Cafe Friday night. Me: Joe Walsh look-a-like. You: Eating a huge hamburger. Should have used a knife and fork, but the way you raised your pinkies as you lifted the bun caught my eye and I saw that I caught your eye as well.” Oh, where to begin. Aside from the fact that only Joe Walsh can get away with looking like Joe Walsh, perhaps criticizing the table manners of someone you don’t know is not the best wooing technique. Moreover, if you caught her eye, it’s only because she was trying to decide if you were an elderly woman or a guy who looks kind of like that squinty guy from the Eagles. Also, who eats a hamburger with a knife and fork? Not the real Joe Walsh, I would bet. I wasn’t the woman at the Ram Cafe that night, but if I had been, I would not have contacted this guy. He seems like the type who would change the stations on my car radio while I was driving.
I was at Fred Meyer today and saw a lot of men buying flower bouquets. They were mostly older, married-looking guys. By “married-looking,” I mean that their pants didn’t fit too well. I’ve noticed that men don’t seem to care as much about how their pants fit after they take a wife. I suppose some people think that a grocery store bouquet is tacky, but I thought it was sweet of all these guys to run in after work to pick up some flowers. I also saw a lot of women buying little Valentine’s cakes. These are like regular cakes but they’re decorated with hearts and only serve two people. Or one person if the person is me, and it’s the one day of the month that I’ve decided to have real sugar. I saw one woman buying two little Valentine’s cakes and some chocolate-dipped strawberries, but because she didn’t get a basket, she was trying to carry the three boxes in her hands, and as a result, she dropped the cakes on the floor, splattering hearts and frosting everywhere. This made me think of my lemon meringue pie, which I still miss.
Happy Valentine’s Day. Or, whatever.
So the first thing you should know is that I look stunning today. Stunning! You probably think I’m lying and given my stance against putting my face on the internet, I have no way of disabusing you of this notion, but really you should trust me when I say that today I look so much better than I usually look. In fact given these circumstances, I am temporarily changing my profile picture from this:
So I think you see my point.
What brings about this change, I’m pretending you ask? It’s the result of a new haircut, but one that I must renounce for non-aesthetic reasons. For once again, beauty means pain.
Last year, I decided to divorce my old stylist. I’d been seeing her for about three years, and in the beginning her cuts were really great but then she either quit or got fired, depending on who you talk to, and opened her own salon. I followed her to the new place, and my first impression of it was not wholly favorable. She was the only person there, and although the salon interior looked reasonable, the building itself was located at the end of a dead-end road and backed by tall grass. It was the kind of field where you might see the Crime Scene Unit walking around with cadaver dogs. The cut she gave me was good, though, so I pushed away the thought of burglars storming in, taking all the cash and stereo equipment, and leaving no witnesses. Then three months later, I made another appointment with her. Upon arriving, I got a contact high from the aroma of the joint she had evidently just smoked and thus the fact that the cut was okay but not up to her usual standard didn’t become apparent to me until after I’d gone home and eaten an entire box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, the official mac and cheese of American stoners. Still, I am nothing if not loyal. Also, adverse to change. Not to mention kind of lazy. So when the time for my next cut arrived, I found myself getting out of my car outside her building, can of pepper spray at the ready, and sprinting toward her door.
“Hey you!” She was always so friendly. Drugs, I guess. I started to take off my coat and she said, “I don’t think I have you booked for today!”
“Hmm, really? Because I talked to you a couple of days ago and made an appointment.” While she looked in her appointment book, I tried to surreptitiously sniff the air to see if we were still putting on a Cheech and Chong revival. As it turned out, she had not written my appointment down but could see me in an hour and she suggested I go get some coffee until then. I’m not sure why I couldn’t just wait there in the salon, but then I started thinking about the K-9 unit again, so I decided it didn’t matter, left, and returned an hour later, at which time she gave me a haircut that was perfectly fine, except for the big hank of hair on the right side that she left two inches longer than the rest of my hair. So really, the decision to discontinue our relationship was made for me.
I tried a couple of different salons after that, both of them adequate but not leaving me looking, you know:
Then last fall, I tried yet another new person and got a cut that was actually quite good. Not perfect, but honestly once you hit your 40s, you just have to accept that no one is going to try all that hard for you. At any rate, I decided that this was my new hair person. The only thing I didn’t like about her was that she was chatty. Chatty chatty chatty. Like Shut The Fuck Up Chatty. I was thinking about her non-stop mouth while I was driving to the salon today and made a mental note to pretend to be deaf when meeting new people in the future. They’ll probably still talk, but at least it won’t seem rude when it becomes clear I’m not listening.
So today I’m in the chair and she’s talking a mile a minute about God knows what, but the cut seems to be going okay. I’m not really paying attention to her, I’m just doing that, “Oh? Uh huh! No! Really?” and laughing when she laughs thing. I snapped right out of that, however, when she started saying something in a fake Chinese accent. One minute it’s blah blah blah whatever and the next minute I’m Mr. Cartwright and Hop Sing is velly upset and no need foolishment!
Being a big believer in picking one’s battles, and knowing that I’m not required see this person again, I make my face like this:
even though internally I was more like this:
and soon enough she was talking about something else in her normal voice. Uh oh. Now she’s talking the way she thinks black people talk. Oh shit, did she just say “bitches be trippin’”? She did! She said, “bitches be trippin’”! What is happening here?
No, wait. Get face under control.
Okay, that’s better. Meanwhile, I’m kind of checking out the in-progress cut and deciding it’s not all that good, and I won’t be missing out on anything by not coming back to see her.
“How is this length for you?” asked the International House of Inappropriate.
“It’s still a little long in front,” I replied.
She started cutting again and even with wet hair I could tell it was shaping up to be possibly the best cut I’d ever had. When she finished cutting, she remembered that I hate overly scented product and put a delightful, almost non-existent styling milk on my hair and then blow dried it, transforming me into the world’s most beautiful woman, thus proving that my mom wasn’t just saying that.
Well. Damn. I know what I should do; on the other hand, I feel there should be some sort of dispensation based on the fact that in the past, stylists have without my permission given me (a) a pixie cut, (b) a mullet, and (c) something I call “the Lucy Van Pelt.” I’m still wondering what I’m going to do as she’s walking me up to reception, yapping away non-offensively albeit annoyingly about something. Before I get to the front of the line, I look at the two women who are waiting for their appointments, one of whom looks like she got her last cut at a store that sells bowls, the other whose head was a tribute to the Great Pyramids of Giza, and I remembered the difficulty of getting a decent haircut in this city.
“You know,” I thought. “Maybe I’ve got this all wrong. Maybe I’m misinterpreting her. Maybe I’m taking what she says out of context. Maybe if I actually listened to what she was saying, it would turn out that she’s really a lovely, broad-minded human bei … “
“So then these Russian guys are like, ‘dah we drink wodka now yes? Wodka is goot yes? Ruskie gorski shlaslevy ruskie!’”
For god’s sake, woman, STOP TALKING.
So that’s that, I guess. I need a new hair person, preferably one who lacks the power of speech. I’m going to go look at my hair in the mirror now. It will never look this good again.
Today I took a couple of burned-out CFLs to the drugstore for recycling. First, I’d like to say that I am not a fan of CFLs. Even though it’s claimed that they last five times longer than incandescent bulbs, require no warm-up time, and come in versions that provide a warm light, I have found all of these claims to be outright filthy lies. Moreover, do you know what the EPA recommends in the event that you break one? I would quote it, but it’s like 37 steps. In short: your house is now a hazardous waste dump and if you don’t follow these instructions you will probably be fine but you might want to contact your physician just in case.
Because I am sort of a responsible citizen, I don’t just throw one in the trash when it burns out tens of thousands of hours before the 50,000 hours I was promised; instead I package it up safely to avoid breakage, get in my car, and drive the six miles to the nearest store that accepts them. Because that’s ecologically sound, right?
Normally, stores in this chain of drugstores have drop-off boxes at the photo counter, but this time I was in a store I don’t usually go to and no box was in sight. I approached the guy behind the photo counter and inquired, “do you have a box for recycling CFLs?”
“Yes,” he said. “It’s here behind the counter.” Then he just stood there.
“Okay, I have a couple of bulbs to recycle,” I stated, setting my carefully wrapped detritus on the counter.
“Well, the box is here behind the counter.” He made no move towards the bulbs. Am I supposed to walk behind the counter and put them in the box myself? I was guessing not. I pushed the bulbs forward a bit. Still no movement on photo guy’s part.
“Can I give these to you then?”
“That’s all you have to do!” he said, in a tone indicating that he believed I should be wearing a padded helmet. “Just give them to me, and I’ll put them in the box!” Still, he remained immobile.
“Okay then!” I said, and walked away. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see him shake his head and pick up the bulbs as if he were the most put-upon person who had ever lived.