February 18, 2019

a thing i suck at

It's going to be
okay, olive oil ... it's
going to be okay.
... is reading other people's blogs.  It's due to a combination of apathy and procrastination and "wait, what kind of sale is Old Navy having today?" all mixed together.  There is painstaking effort to ensure that I comment on a post when I visit a blog, so that there will be evidence that I did a thing.

But lately, I've been reading more, and realizing that there is some good writing out there, and while many of their posts are mundane like mine, there are gems to discover, too, the best of which lie in humor.

Tonight, I discovered RomComDojo.  The following conversation ensued:

Me:  *runs upstairs to P.J.'s office*  "OMG, there's a blog you need to read.  I know most of them aren't worth it, but this one really is.  Seriously.  She's hilarious.

P.J.:  *Skeptical Face*

Me:  "'Naked Rush Limbaugh covered in olive oil.'  There, that should make you curious, at least.  I'll send you the link."

P.J.:  *throws up in mouth*  "Why don't you just say 'shoe box full of roaches' and be done with it?"

Me:  *seven-second pause of frozen horror, then yelling at top of lungs*  "NOW YOU MADE ME HAVE TO CHOOSE!"

February 16, 2019

what i found in my laundry sink

This is not our sink.
Ours is that cheap-ass $20
sink from Home Depot.
The Kid:  "Did you hear a big 'bang' sound while ago from upstairs?  I didn't know if I woke you up."

Me:  "Yeah, I took my ear buds out and looked around and was like, 'What the fuck?' but I didn't investigate because I figured it was you.  No, you didn't wake me.  Molly did.  She put her butt in my face."

The Kid:  "I hit my hand on my desk, really hard.  It kind of hurts."

Me:  "Any particular reason you chose to do that?"

The Kid:  "No, no, I was playing this VR game and the fighting was really intense because I was getting mobbed, and I was swinging a baseball bat down to take this zombie's head off but I lost track of my boundaries and was too close to the desk.  It's a cool game, though.  The zombies are pretty damned realistic."

Me:  "Want to know what game I played this morning?"

The Kid:  "You got back into Portal?  What?"

Me:  "I played the game where you realize the rigged-up pipe system in the laundry room has started dripping water into that bucket again after two years of dry-bucket and you didn't know that last night, so you come downstairs and see the laundry room is flooded, so you put all the clothes in the dryer so you can put the towels that you use to mop up some of the water into the washing machine and you go get more towels and dry the floor and put those in too, but before you can wash them you have to get the water out of the bucket, so you get a bowl and dip it in about four hundred times and dump the water into the laundry sink beside the dryer, until the bucket is empty enough for you to simultaneously move the washing machine forward and catch the bucket so it doesn't fall, and then you dump that water into the laundry sink and put the bucket back empty so you can wash the towels and fill the bucket up again with leaky pipe water, and then you flip the switch so the little pump motor can turn on and drain the water from the laundry sink, except it doesn't drain because the pump isn't moving the water and that's probably because you didn't use it for six years straight, and you poke things down the drain to see if it's clogged and then you run it again and again but it doesn't do anything, so now you have to go get the wet-dry vac from the garage so you can suck the water out of the laundry sink and dump it outside, except that the wet-dry vac is under the bottom shelf and the car's in the way, so you have to go get your keys and back the car out so you can get to it, and it takes forever but you find the attachments and you drag it inside and plug it in and suck the water out of the sink, except that you don't because the wet-dry vac isn't working right either, so you say fuck it and drop the hose on the ground and walk upstairs and shut the door so it doesn't exist any more.  I think I like your game better.  It has zombies in it."

The Kid:  "Umm."

Later this morning, I found myself having a conversation in my head while folding clothes and eyeing the full-again bucket behind the washer.  It was an imaginary conversation with P.J. that we were having because in the scenario, her brother and sister-in-law are coming to visit, and we haven't had company in forever, so I would be in a frenzy to clean the house, including the laundry room.  Imaginary P.J. says, "They won't care, dear, you don't have to clean the fucking laundry room, they won't see it anyway," and imaginary-me says, "But what if they want to do some laundry while they're here?  I want them to walk in and see it nice and clean and sparkling because they're guests!"  P.J. shakes her head because she knows there's nothing she can do about it and I'm going to be on my hands and knees scrubbing that floor soon.  Then I say, "You know what all this sounds like?  It sounds like a conversation Norma and Mackey would have, out of a Fannie Flagg novel, where Norma goes crazy and covers every detail when company is coming and yammers at Mackey, who sits at the dining table and is resigned and just says, 'Yes, dear,' to most of it, because nothing he says would matter anyway.  I'm Norma.  I could write that conversation."


I could write that conversation.  Or, I could write a conversation between the two characters, already nicely developed.  And I find that I've already done so, in my head.  And that I do that all the time.  Book characters, movie characters.

I found a debunked personal myth in my laundry sink.  I can become a character and write it.


February 15, 2019

dick pickle

(Text exchange ... does this count as helicopter parenting?)

The Kid:  "OMG best name for news reporter project"

Me:  "What project?"

The Kid:  "Speech and debate class / Eric and I teaming up / 15 min newscast, has to have lots of parts"

Me:  "So what name?"

The Kid:  "Richard Smalls"

Me:  "Smallwood.  Dare you."

The Kid:  "The thing is, we get points off for 'not appropriate' behavior"

Me:  "Then why do a joke name?"

The Kid:  "Because."

Me:  "Maybe Richard Gherkin"

The Kid:  "Richard Hardy"

Me:  "Nooooo Gherkin"

The Kid:  "Rick Hardy"

Me:  "Gherkin."

The Kid:  "?"

Me:  "Dick Pickle."

The Kid:  "YES."

February 13, 2019

the strawberries of optimism

Snakes and snails and sugar and spice.  What are marriages made of?

Now that the socio-political frenzy has died down and locusts have not devoured America, now that people scratch their heads and realize that they haven't heard on Fox News of a single instance of a dog marrying a cat or a pro-polygamy protest, now that our children aren't growing up to be degenerates in disproportionate numbers ... can we set aside the angst and pull out a magnifying glass, and take a look, and admit that same-sex marriages are no different than "traditional" marriages?

Because they're plenty traditional.

I had a series of conversations with a co-worker several years ago, when P.J. and I got engaged and then married.  Joe's a nice man, gregarious, approachable, and mentally stuck in the amnestically pleasant aspects of circa 1953.

"So let me ask you this," he once began.  "How ... how do you two decide which one does the dishes?"

I never got angry during these conversations.  He wasn't asking out of malice; he really was earnestly trying to get his mind wrapped around a foreign concept and all that it entailed.

"Well, Joe, I guess it's whoever wanders through the kitchen and sees that they need to be done," I replied, and shrugged and smiled.

One day we were discussing our cars.  "Yeah," I said, "my wife prefers the van because it's way more comfortable than the RAV4."

Joe jumped on this new piece of information.  "Oh, so she's the wife?"

Poor Joe.

Joe, my dear, walk into any household containing a heterosexual couple in, say, their thirties, and you'll see men changing diapers and wearing baby carriers and women going to important meetings at work, carrying briefcases.  You'll see both of them doing dishes.

And you'll see the things that don't change, that will never change.  The things that make a traditional marriage traditional.

P.J. leaves ramekins with one-quarter of an ounce of some sauce or substance in the refrigerator, uncovered, for so long that the bottom either grows green fuzz or looks like the floor of Death Valley, cracked and dried.  My green fuzz grows on what P.J. has come to call the Strawberries of Optimism.  Every spring and summer, I buy strawberries at the grocery store in a fit of good intention, and they sit untouched for weeks in the refrigerator until they turn interesting colors.  I throw them away and start again by buying more strawberries the next week.  I do occasionally cut them up and eat them, but if anyone reading this is a betting man, your money should be on the fuzz.

One of us believes the expiration dates on bottles of salad dressing mean something.

P.J. wants light and fresh air in the house, and goes around opening windows and curtains and shades.  I grumble about energy efficiency and go around closing and shutting things.

I am froth-at-the-mouth vehement about punctuality.  P.J. is dig-in-heels resentful of time constraints.

I drive the speed limit and pass up chances to turn and live in fear of a speeding ticket.  P.J. appears to believe she's on a race track when she drives.

There are little Post-It notes to each other all over the house.

Sometimes I turn off the heater in the bathroom because I need to use the hair dryer and you can't use both in the same plug without tripping a breaker, and then I finish drying my hair and forget to turn the heater back on.  Our bathroom has a physics-defying supernatural heatsink installed somewhere under the floor and without a space heater hard at work, nine months out of the year, it gets icy cold in that room.  P.J. is incredibly kind when she reminds me that I forgot to flip the switch on the heater that morning and she was forced to sit on a toilet seat coated in frost.

Sometimes I launder our bath towels and bring her one while it's still warm, with a childlike desire to please her.

Each of us believes that she is the only person who ever ends up changing the god-damned toilet paper roll.

Each of us believes that she is the only person who empties out the drain trap in the sink and runs the garbage disposal.

Each of us thinks the other is the best of all possible people to have beside her on her journey.  Each of us looks at the other with love and her heart beats a little faster.  Each of us thinks Valentine's Day is a disgusting, commercialized bunch of river-water hog shit, without admitting that her thoughts toward the other are as sweet as lugduname and incapable of being reduced to words in a card.  The feelings would inflate a heart-shaped balloon without the need for helium.  The love is richer than the finest of chocolates.  The need for the other is desperate, for who could live without her?

The things that make a traditional marriage traditional.

February 12, 2019

in the presence of greatness

Game on.
Yesterday, the perky blonde forty-something in the other car won the planet, and the Universe, and everything.  She won Life.  If there's a Trophy instead of just a trophy, she was awarded it yesterday.

I once again found myself in that parking lot situation.  You know the one ... the one where you've left the store and loaded your bags into your car and put the cart away like a proper civilized person, and you've climbed into the front seat and then you notice --

-- that across from you is another woman who also just got into her car (does this happen between men?) and is settling in to aggressively check messages on her cell phone.  Her car is running but she has no intention of going anywhere.

It's the great stand-off.  Each of you wants the other to back out of her space first so that she can have the pull-through space, and so you each engage in passive-aggressive behaviors designed to wait it out.  The intensity of battle is grossly out of proportion to the pettiness of the prize.

I start my car and grab my phone.  I immediately escalate by employing the tactic of pulling a PowerCrunch bar out of my purse and very conspicuously opening it and taking a bite, holding it up a bit as I do so.

She glances up ever-so-slightly and then looks back down at her phone, engaging in a fresh frenzy of texting.  She mouths the words as she texts.  It would be, to the undiscerning eye, pretty convincing.

I eat my bar slowly and text on my own phone.  I don't have anything legitimate to text, so I text P.J.:

"In car at HT.  Woman across from me doing that Thing, not backing out first.  I am doing it, too.  I will win.  She's pretty good at this.  I have to keep texting words so she will see that I am texting so that is what I am doing.  This is pretty meta.  Also, they were out of the cream cheese you wanted.  Damn it she is good.  Holy shit six minutes and she is still doing it!"

I need to cook dinner.  I need to win this.  I am torn.

Then my lucky break comes.  She turns off her car and climbs out of it, purse on shoulder, and begins walking toward the store.  Ah, that was it all along.  She was getting a grocery list together, perhaps, soliciting input from a family member.  It all makes sense now.

In the warm glow of victory, I text one last message to P.J.:  "She broke!  I win.  Be home soon.  xox"  Then I put my car into reverse gear.

And as I have scarcely lifted my foot from the brake pedal to begin oozing out of the parking lot, looking over my right shoulder, then left, then right, I see her return to her car.  I pause.  She climbs in and starts the car.  She looks at me.  She waits.

Instead of moving into the territory of a word that I don't know but it means ten-thousand times stronger than "utterly ridiculous" by pulling back into the space, I back out and drive away.  I know when I've been defeated.

I had been in the presence of greatness.  A master of the craft of pull-through camping.  An artist, I dare say.  She didn't just win. She Won.

I called P.J. via the car's Bluetooth.  "You aren't going to believe this .... "

Also: This.  I love reading the headline and then the ensuing article that spends its entire length explaining why the headline isn't true.

February 6, 2019

sharp scissors

P.J. understands why I insist on using our small town's Great Clips for my hair cuts, but she doesn't like it one bit.  My intractable frugality lands me there time and time again, clutching a coupon, with my hair already washed at home and damp and ready to cut.  I've seen the prices at "real" salons and they make me recoil.  My hair is not worth that much money.

P.J. watches this play out.  Sometimes I come home happy with my cut.  Sometimes, I mutter about it being too short but point out that "hey, at least it'll grow" and make the best of it.  Occasionally I gripe because I have to take my own scissors and snip a piece or two that got missed.

This time, though, was the worst.  For three days she's listened to me say in a small, far-away voice, "I wish I had a time machine.  I wish I hadn't gone there Saturday and gotten it cut.  I just wish I could take it back."  I don't want social encounters right now.  I want to put a bag over my head.  I want to hide in my cubicle, or at home, or in the car.  I don't want to be seen.

Great Clips wasn't terribly busy.

"How you been?  Girl, I don't think I've cut your hair for a while now.  You was about to go out of the country last time," she said, spraying my hair down with a mister.

"Seriously?  That was Ireland, two years ago in April!  That long?"

"Two years?  Naw, it don't seem like it's been that long, but maybe it has.  Tell me what we're doin' today.  You hair done got long!"

"Yeah, it's different, that's for sure.  I don't want it chopped short any more.  Um, okay, much longer in the front because I leave those pieces hanging down around my face.  Just a little trim on the bangs to get them out of my eyes.  Back level with the bottom of my ears, so stack up the neck a little and then grade it down to the long pieces in front.  And thinning out the top so it doesn't lie so heavy, some layering.  Will that work?"

She picked up her scissors and went to work on me.

"I'm glad you tell me so much.  Some people don't say nothing, and then they don't like it.  You got to know what you wanting.  So how your boy?  Where he at school?  Tilt your head down for me."

"Same as yours.  We love that school.  What's he doing now?"

"He at State, living in an apartment and working a job and all that.  It's a lot, but he doin' it.  We proud of him, that's for sure.  All right, look up."

"State's a good school, not easy from what I hear.  Good for him!"

And throughout the mandatory salon-interaction chit-chat, my stylist basically did the opposite of everything I asked.  My hair is now shorter in front instead of longer.  The right is slightly higher than the left because she judged by my ears, which I always point out are not level because they didn't give a shit about plagiocephaly in the 1970s.  My bangs look like the newest ride at an amusement park and I can't even them up myself because they're already far too short.

I don't know why I had it cut Saturday.  I liked it before.  It was just long enough to gather into a messy pony tail at night.  Getting it cut was something I did just because it's a thing you do, like eating the second helping.  I didn't even want it.

Most forms of regret aren't this pure, uncomplicated.

I had a rat tail when I was seven.  It was an unsightly rebellion against several years of hair cuts and age-inappropriate perms visited upon me by a neighbor who was a retired hairdresser and, more to the point, cheap.  She always assaulted my hair in our kitchen.  I went through school with short, choppy hair, pronounced bangs, and general mess, punctuated by the occasional curly choppy general mess complete with miasma di perm.  When the rat tail fad caught on in 1984, I somehow managed to talk my mother into letting me grow one.  It was majestic, at least eight inches long, when I accepted the bribe of two dollars to let her snip it off.

That was two months' wages.  I would sell out again in a heart beat.

I never could figure out the art of Hair.  I feel like until recently, it was messed up perpetually for thirty-five years.  Once, at age nineteen, I got a perm at a Fantastic Sam's and the lady somehow genetically modified a clump of follicles on the right side of my head and that patch of hair has had a different texture, frizzy and frail, ever since.  I can't carry a dyke look properly; at the other end of the spectrum, when it reached far down my back and I did my own French braiding, I hated the roundness of my face.

I finally - finally - got it right a couple of years ago.  I grew into it.

And now it's croggled.  Now, growing is all I can do.

Maybe my hair is worth more.

February 1, 2019

sentences ii

It bothers me that I haven't written in five days, but I know why I haven't; in addition to the Universe being a general standard-issue asshole, I've missed my meds on two separate mornings.  One instance resulted in thinking I had the flu; the other resulted in today, the confluence of irritations and the moment when I couldn't stand the plastic TV bracket on the wall rattling any more, every time the heat came on in the office, and had to climb on a chair and ram a stress squeezie ball up behind the network monitoring system to silence the rattle.  This was successful.  Human lives were saved.

Nevertheless, I came home from work and declared it a day on which everyone needed to get the fuck out of my way, because I would be eating whatever the fuck I wanted and doing whatever the fuck I wanted, and devil take the hindmost.

I didn't notice the pills still in the container until later.  And if anyone were to suggest to me right now that perhaps I ought to re-think my morning routine and do something to prevent this sort of thing from happening, they'd be surprised to find their BMI rather markedly higher than before, on account of being roughly a foot shorter, on account of missing a head and continuing their existence from the neck down.

I've figured out what I'm going to do, anyway.  Only one of my morning meds "matters"; the rest are a vitamin and an omeprazole tablet and the 0.25 mg Klonopin that I can take or leave at this point.  I'm moving the important pill to my night pill box, because while I sometimes flake up my pre-coffee routine, I have a one hundred percent perfect track record of wanting a good night's rest and doing whatever is needed to get one.  Those meds are never, ever forgotten.

It is in that spirit - the spirit of whatever-ness - that I cash in on the semi-annual sentences I've saved up for you so far since the last batch ... they are few, but mighty, these sentences that we (The Kid, P.J. and I) have found ourselves saying out loud.  Enjoy them, and I will see you on the other side of raveled-sleeve-knitting sleep.


"See?  I must be allergic to Charlie Sheen's face, because my nose just started running."

"I just don't think I would fuck Wolverine.  I mean, what if there was an accident?"

"Well ... hey, maybe you could be an Amazon, like if he sliced off your right tit.  Except that I have a bad shoulder, so I couldn't do archery.  Never mind."

"There were not egg beaters in the Garden of Eden."

"I'm really good at animal noises.  I could sing Old MacDonald like a motherfucker."

"You're seriously telling me that taking somebody's deer head off their wall and strapping it onto a mail cart and running around stabbing people with it would be a sane thing to do?"

"Look, if I was the corpse of someone with tapeworm cancer, I'd totally have resting bitch face, too."

*Dear Google:  Really?  You wanted to replace 'omeprazole' with 'flameproof'?  Do you even know what you just did, there?  Nice one.  You get points.  (cough)  You really ought to strike up a conversation with a basic medical dictionary, you know.  Or just go visit Walgreens for an hour.  You'll be fine.  Stay out of the flip-flops section.