Tuesday, June 30, 2009

At Least I Don't Have an Unexpected Sicilian Baby. That Would Be Hard To Explain.

Arvid SpÄngberg (1908 Summer Olympics)Image via Wikipedia

So, the last two days I've approached this blog like I would the high dive at the local pool. I'm all suited up, I've given myself the "you can do it!" pep talk, but here I am still at the bottom of the metal steps, looking up. It's a long way up there.

It just takes a little faith, right?, some resolve, and I could climb up, stand on the springy diving board, knees wobbling. Then I could peer timidly over the edge, see all the people at the bottom waiting impatiently, some quietly snickering. Some of the boys would have already figured out that once I cannonball off this thing, I'm going to lose my bikini top in the twelve-foot pool, and I'll be forced to kick kick kick down, holding my panicked breath to retrieve it from it's watery resting place at the bottom. And once I get it I still won't be able to put it back on in the water without bobbing up on the surface. I think that maybe another time would be better, maybe tomorrow, and I creep back to the stairs, and inch my way down to safety.

I just haven't been able to do it.

I have nothing to say, because my life is cage-like at the moment. The kids are in a play this summer (Oliver!), and the rehearsal schedule for them is crazy. This means we don't go anywhere because there's always another rehearsal coming in a couple of hours. The dog and I have spent a lot of time groaning and getting fatter just lying around, waiting for it not to be 110 degrees outside so we can go to the grocery store. And then it's, hurry up!!! we have three minutes to get there!! and then sometimes I have to sit at the theater and wonder in my head how I'm going to convince my son to wear blush and eye-liner on stage, and my mind goes somewhere else where there are no words, only resignation, and the vague desire for donuts.

This last weekend I actually ordered a dumpster from the city garbage guys, and spent two days finding things to put in it, and then hiding what I put in from the rest of the family, especially the Formerly Bearded One, who has been known to retrieve junk from the trash and relocate it back in the garage for some secret high-priest garbage ceremony. Sometimes I have to throw things out in the middle of the night, or enlist the help of the neighbor's garbage bin to prevent trash from reappearing magically. " I can't believe you're throwing that out!" someone will cry. "It's a perfectly good left snow shoe/brown head of lettuce/lint ball/broken bike basket/insert other options here!"

So that's been the highlight of my summer so far.

I have vacation envy. Everyone else (I'm looking at you Carolyn..Online!!) is traveling willy-nilly, seeing colorful people, and sandy beaches, and the open road. They're Making Memories That Will Last a Lifetime.

I want Memories That Will Last a Lifetime too.

One interesting point: I have this new thing attached to Firefox called Zemanta that helpfully supplies suggested images and tag for blog entries. I've never used it, but here are a couple of images Zemanta thinks would go well with my current subject matter:

Romance books in Road Town, Tortola grocery st...Image by rsgranne vi

Corner Grocery Store album coverImage via Wikipedia

KEY LARGO, FL - APRIL 7:  Jeremy Stengel, a  2...Image by Getty Images via Dayl

Clearly I have done an excellent job expressing myself.

I was going to write a post just like Steamy's, because I'm all hero-worshipy over here, and I think I need more controversial content in my blog so people will love me.

I'm becoming the Aunt Bea of Blogging is what I mean. That can't be good.

So I tried really hard to get my dog to let me lift his tail so I could take pictures of his anus, just like she did. I even crooned him a little lullaby and stroked his weary dog brow to make him sleepy, but none of it worked. Terriers are relentlessly high-alert, even in their sleep.

And then I thought about taking a picture of poop, either mine, or someone else's (what about a gas station rest room?! Eww..) but I'm just not advanced enough in the art of shockblogging yet. I think I may need some lessons.

Instead, we went for a walk. Along the way I saw this and filmed it for you all. It is not the same as Steamy's cell phone footage (hers is frighteningly glisten-y and not for the faint of heart) but it's reminiscent of dog butt, I think.

Baby steps.

Monday, June 29, 2009

We are Family, I Got All My Sisters With Me. (Okay, just one sister, but that’s good too.)

We shared a room until I was in junior high.  She was (is) almost three years younger, and from the time she was born I saw her as mine to protect, and sometimes to torment. dolls

(I’m on the left, in the too-short dress and severe bangs. Also, yellow knee socks- the forerunner of my Fanta knee socks. It’s like fate.  On the right is my sister, Shannon.  She was the cute one in the family. But I could whistle.)

I used to keep her up at night, on purpose, when I couldn’t sleep.  If I wasn’t sleeping, neither of us was sleeping.  Mostly I would just ask her stupid repetitive questions like “What’s your favorite day of the week?”, or “How many licks does it take to get to the center of the Tootsie Pop?”, questions she would struggle to answer from a dazed stupor.  Often the answers were unintentionally funny (a bonus!), but I couldn’t laugh too loud because our dad would yell “Go to sleep in there!”

Sometimes if I was mad at her I would tell her she was adopted and that the police had dropped her off on our doorstep. “Mom and Dad just felt sorry for you,” I would say.  “The po-lice! are your parents.” 

I blame Bill Cosby for this bit of sibling cruelty, because we had some of his comedy records lying around the house, and I pretty much had them committed to memory.  A little sister was a perfect practice audience, and I had Bill’s inflections down exactly. I was so good, in fact, that it’s possible she still believes me.

We had a turn table for our records (Fisher Price, orange and white, at least in my memory).  My sister loved story records, especially melodramatic tearjerkers like The Little Match Girl and The Loneliest Christmas Tree, both of which she listened to so often I used to have a recurring dream about the little match girl freezing to death in a forest.

Sometimes she would listen to my Partridge Family album with me, or the jacket-less Bread album that may or may not have been given to us via our uncle the trash collector, or best of all, my collection of K-tel records. We would sing along to “The Night Chicago Died”  (na,na,na,na,na) or “I Shot the Sheriff” or “Chevy Van”, which is probably the only song I remember from the time that wasn’t  dark or depressing, but was about sex, which we didn’t get.  We knew something interesting and fun must be going on in that van, but the specifics were a little hazy. It was a good one to sing loudly while playing Parcheesi in our room.

As we got older we felt the need for personal space.  Her side of the room was always messy, and I  jammed everything in the closet so I could claim to be neater than her (a technique I continue to rely on).  Our mother helped us to string a shower curtain down the center of our bedroom, which was exciting and workable for all of about an hour before it started to get irritating.  The curtain smelled plasticky, and was so light-weight that the breeze from an open window blew the “wall” everywhere. One of us no longer had access to the closet, and the other one would have to enter and exit through the window, since the door was in forbidden territory. The curtain was short-lived.

As teenagers, we finally got our own rooms.  This was good, because often we drove each other crazy (it’s the law). I stayed dorky, and she was cool, and then I went away to college.

Today we live in different states.  Her husband is the man who does yard work with the flamethrower.  She once raised a lamb as a house pet; the lamb followed her around the house wearing a diaper and calling “mama- a -a !”  In addition to the lamb, she raised  beautiful children. She makes me laugh.

Sometimes I will accidentally call my daughter by my sister’s name. In my head, I am still looking out for her, even though she doesn’t need me to do it, and maybe I was the one that needed the looking out for, it’s hard to say.

Either way, today is her birthday, and as usual, I haven’t gotten anything in the mail on time. I am stealing a little inspiration from diane, instead, and using this blog to send a little love her way. I hope you don’t mind.



I promise not to tell anyone how old you are.

shannon and me



P.S.  Honest, you’re not adopted.  And do you like how I didn’t put any horrible adolescent pictures up?  It’s only because mine were way more hideous than yours. :)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Welcome to My FANTA-sy! (I’m SO going to be famous)


“Be The Fourth Fantana” Contest

Deadline: June 30th

Cover Letter

Dear Official Fanta Committee:

I saw your website advertising for applicants to round out your Fantana roster, and I’m really excited!! I think I’m just what you’re looking for. So…wow! Being a Fantana must be a dangerous job if you can lose one that easy, right? That’s like, what? twenty-five percent of your personnel? No offense.

(But seriously, what the hell actually happened to Pineapple Fantana, if you don’t mind my asking? It’s like she disappeared into thin air; one minute she’s there, not the favorite because pineapple drinks have kind of a weird tang to them, but still a contributor, and then gone! No memorial speeches on your website, no “Whoops!” about leaving her at the airport, no “good luck with your new baby”, nothing. It’s just a little disturbing, is all. I’m sure there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation!)

Also, have Melody, Summer and Isabel been thoroughly checked out? Not that I’m trying to tell you how to do your job, it’s just that I detect some smirking when they go into the chorus. They know more than they are letting on. I think Pineapple Fantana may be dead.

Another thing: I think if I am chosen as your new still-alive Pineapple Fantana, I should get to wear the headband. You know, just to send a message that there are no leaders in Fanta land, even if Summer thinks she’s running things. Did she tell you when she applied that she is Native American? Another suspicious thing, because, no way. I don’t care how much fringe she’s wearing.

See how much I’m helping? Already I’m perfect for the job, right? Ha, ha, ha.

Anyhow, I’m sure there is a good explanation for everything, and even though I’ve never actually had a Fanta, my eleven- year -old loves Strawberry. It would mean a lot to him if he could tell the kids at school his mom’s a Fantana. I would be like a hot-pants role model for today’s youth. (No pressure!) Attached you will find all of the official parts of my Fantana Contest application.

PS. Is “Fanta” pronounced like “Santa”? Or like “want-a”? Because “want-a” rhymes in the song, but when you tell the people at Chick-Fil-A that you want a “Fahn-ta”, they snicker a little bit. I’m just saying.

Can’t Wait to Meet My New Fanta Family! (“Fahn-ta Fahm-ily”)


1) Personal Photo:

Me on my home Fanta sound stage. It was hard finding foundation that matched my all-over Miracle Tan, but I think I came pretty close. I used to do makeovers on my dog all the time.


2.) Dance Video:

Back on the home sound stage! I heart terry cloth shorts and knee socks. So cute. (Also knee socks hide spider veins– it’s totally a win-win!) Click to start.


(See what I mean about the fringe/headband thing Summer’s doing? Don’t tell her I pointed it out- she’ll resent me even more when I become a bigger star.)

3.) Essay : 250 Words on “Why I Want to Be a Fantana”

Even though I don’t like to travel very much (I get car sick so I’d have to ride in the front seat), and I fall down when I dance, I believe you should choose me for Miss Pineapple Fantana. Why? Well, I will tell you.

I would be so sassy, like the rest of the girls, but also sensible. Like, if someone had a headache on the plane after a big concert, or if Melody tore her hoochie pants again doing a high kick, I would be the one that always had an ibuprofen and probably some duct tape in her purse. I would also carry Wet Wipes with me in case of any sticky accidents. (Fanta!)

I would be a team player. Even though wearing yellow makes me look just the tiniest bit like I have malaria, I would never complain about having to wear yellow every single damn day of my life. But if someone else, like Strawberry Fanta, for instance, wanted to switch, I would be all "sure, if that’s what you want". Because I am always thinking about others.

Also, I don’t really like talking to people because I am an introvert, so I would be, like, “the quiet Fantana”! I could be the one to bring the gift of refreshment to those trapped in libraries and nursing homes, and also I could help the other girls with their homework in between parties with Dennis Rodman and Ryan Seacrest, and other dignitaries.

In conclusion, I

(250 words)

Monday, June 22, 2009

In Which I Am Consumed By Guilt, and Then Finally, a Weight is Lifted.

I took this picture on my cell phone today. Just a little evidence that my entire neighborhood is not filled with lawn gnomes.

I’m a taker. I don’t mean to be a taker, but I’m also absent-minded, which means I have received some awards in the past month or so from wonderful people here in the Land O’ Blog (like the Land O’ Lakes, but less buttery) that I have taken happily and then, just….well, you know. Didn’t follow the rules. Didn’t pass them on. Some had no rules, which I am totally grateful for (thanks Nikki, and Miss.chief!), and some had strict rules, like chain letters. Now I’m probably going to have a hundred years bad luck, and the next person is not going to get their wish or ten pairs of tube socks, but it’s too late now, because I don’t remember most of the rules. Getting old really sucks.

So. Here’s my plan. My latest wonderful award came from Jules (thanks again, Jules!), over at Mean Girl Garage (home of the pudding pop!), and since it was only a day or two ago I still remember the rules. It doesn’t mean I’m going to follow them though. Just part of them. The first part says I have to tell you, like Truth or Dare in the 6th grade, (only I am NOT climbing a tree in my underwear this time, so it’s truth), five things I am obsessed with. I am doing this as a sort of “umbrella meme” for all the past awards. Pay attention, there may be a quiz after.

1. I am obsessed with random phrases. Sometimes I will whisper an especially good one lovingly to myself, like Rain Man. My latest favorite phrase, said repeatedly to family members and the dog, is “I want to bite your face SIX times!”. It must, absolutely must, be said in an Inspector Clouseau voice. I have no idea where this phrase came from, it was just suddenly there one day.

2. I am obsessed with these:


Sugar wafer cookies. They sell them in the vending machine at work. I don’t especially like them, and yet they call to me from behind the glass. If you ever see me with these, slap them out of my hand. Really. Sure, I might punch you in the solar plexus, but later I will totally thank you.

3. I am obsessed with “So You Think You Can Dance”. Because I do. I do think I can dance. It’s not true, as anyone will tell you, but I will sit in front of my TV clutching my sugar wafer cookies, and in my head I am crumping and tapping, and discoing like a mofo. Never mind that physically I have more in common with a Shetland pony than a ballerina. Plus I want to be Cat Deeley in my next life.

4. I am obsessed with Dwell magazine. I really want to find some old metal shipping containers and stack them all cattiwampus. Then I would take a saws-all and cut out big windows and doors, and in the middle I would leave an atrium, thus creating a quixotic modernist statement of my very own. Sure, in the summertime it might be hard living in a sizzling metal box (because insulation is boring), but the design aesthetics are definitely worth it.

5. I am obsessed with… with……um… Bradley Cooper in “The Hangover” was kind of good looking…? But then I saw some other pictures of him connected to a bio where he sounds like a pompous ass, so, eh…

Turns out I’m only moderately obsessive.

Now I’m unveiling an award that is sure to be an object of desire:


I wanted to give out something with a little class.

Also, “Picked” is capitalized to help you get the subtle double meaning. You’re welcome.

I picked three bloggers (out of many) I admire to receive the first original Vic Award. No rules, except if you don’t pass the award on to someone at some point, it will never become an internet viral sensation, and that’s really what’s important here, right? Seriously, it’s up to you. I just likes ya.

1) Girl Interrupted at A World So Small- Her story about the old Brazilian lady with the “finger of death” was hilarious and terrifying at the same time. She writes really compelling, entertaining stories, and I love her blog.

2) The Jules at The Gravel Farm – The Jules has the best dry wit anywhere. Like Girl Interrupted, his stories are so well-written, and hysterical. I look forward to every post. (Thanks to him I’ve perfected my new hippie ninja look!)

3.) Chelle at Coffee and Zombie Movies - I always wish Chelle posted more, because she makes me laugh out loud. Plus, she can make a really ugly loaf of bread and she describes people in a mosh pit as dressing like “the Hamburgler”. I’m pretty sure she spies on her neighbors too, so we’re like sisters.

Check these three out, especially if you haven’t been to their blogs before. You’ll love them too.

Truly, there are so many blogs that I love and read routinely, it’s hard to choose. Yours is one of them. I mean that.

I want to bite your face six times.

Friday, June 19, 2009

I’m So Over Will Ferrell’s Underpants.

I’m all done photoshopping my dog. Honestly. It’s safe.

I can see you all peering around the corner. Don’t pretend that it’s just Miss Yvonne, I know you all pushed her out in front of the pack, which is so ironic, because everyone knows Miss Yvonne totally loves a good animal-in-historical–costume gag.

Really, it’s okay. It’s out of my system.

Actually I don’t even OWN Photoshop, so even using that term is probably some kind of copyright infringement, and now Logical Libby will turn me in to the blog authorities. I’m going to go to white collar prison and they’ll give me Martha Stewart’s old cell. Maybe she left some doilies or a pan of prison muffins behind for me, like the Big House version of Welcome Wagon. Remember Welcome Wagon? They never came in a wagon. (I always looked. Also, the ladies all had wig hair that was on too tight and so the “welcome” face was not as convincing as you would hope.)

Also, the dog is de-bandaged and sober as a parson. Still a little pissed off, but that’s because I think one of you told him about the post. I’ve got my eye on you people.

My summer is off to a halting start. Mostly I stay up too late, get up too late, walk around the rest of the day with a painful crick in my neck because I slept with my pillow torqued around in an unhealthful wad, and then talk a big game about sorting through stuff in my house and finally living like real people, with visible floors and all. It’s all so exhausting I want to go untwist my pillow and take a nap. It’s a vicious cycle.

I guess I can’t really shake the idea that I have to go to work, probably because our summer is two weeks shorter this year, thank you very much District Poobahs. I need to relax. I may have to see if there are any dog sedatives left. Or just change the background on my blog one more time. You have no idea how calming that can be. This current one is a little like a cloudy sky, but is actually moldy book covers. It’s symbolism.

One more thing: I foolishly, and with full consent, sacrificed an hour and a half of my life to the atrocity that is Land of the Lost, The Movie. Shut up. It had Sleestaks in it, and yes, they were still awesomely slow, and had an extra set of teeth each, but otherwise? Excruciating. And this is coming from someone who laughed heartily at Nacho Libre. And there goes the last bit of sophisticated veneer…

I felt I owed you this admission after the dog-with-a-kite debacle. Mock me at your leisure.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

If I took a doggie sedative, would my feet make those running movements while I slept?

My dog is just a little bit stoned in this picture. Which is a bad state to be in when you’re a) messing around with electricity, and b) a founding father.


See, when I answered those interview questions the other day, I hadn’t actually Photoshopped my dog’s head on Ben Franklin’s body, I mostly said it for effect, and then I thought, what if I can’t really do that? Maybe I’m a big liar.

Luckily I had my son’s fifth grade Ben Franklin project lying around, and likewise the dog, so this morning I got busy testing my skills.

Unluckily, it was difficult to get the dog to focus his eyes, because we have him all hopped up on pain killers. Sure, it’s fun to see him wobble around the house all drunken and dazed, but beside the fun factor, the drugs are helping him cope with the trauma of having been at the vet’s three times in the last four days.

First he tore a nail completely off his foot playing fetch outside (it was already weak from before). He came home looking like this:


Then they decided to update his shots at the follow-up appointment. Then he had a reaction to a vaccine and started whimpering and falling down. Then they gave him more shots to counter act the side effects of the first shots. Also, the vet recommends he be sedated before he is brought in to the office because he was a rescue dog and is terrified of the vet’s office.

Which I totally don’t blame him for, because when they leave you sitting in the “Small pets/exotic animals” examining room with an agitated dog climbing your neck in terror, and your shirt is covered in reddish dog hair because his body has ejected it all in an effort to make the get-away quicker, you are given only scary things to look at. Primarily posters of the insides of animals coated in worms, and, my favorite, a bleached dog skull. Using the remains of other animals as decorative items sends a message to dogs that you are only there to help, I think.

I’m pretty sure he hates us. He’s being all aloof, but that may just be because of the hallucinations, it’s hard to tell. I don’t think he knows about the Photoshop indignities. Or that he’s on the internet. Maybe we won’t tell him just now.

(I do like how he appears to be balancing on his lackey’s hand though. It’s like Ben doubles as a circus acrobat. Just a little accidental genius on my part.)

UPDATE: C.B. Jones also has mad PS genius flowing through his veins:

Very impressive, Mr. Jones!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Maybe now that I’m a celebrity Ashton Kutcher will follow me on Twitter.

This weekend I received an email from Andy over at The Thirty Seconds Project, kindly asking if I would do an interview for him. At first I thought maybe my reputation as a leading authority on anti-alien helmet construction had attracted his attention, but no, this time it was the blog. Strange.

Probably the giant sunglasses in my profile picture made him think I was someone important, or just someone with mysterious, super-dilated eyes. Either way, I was flattered to be asked, so I did the interview, and now my face is right there with all the other floating heads! It’s pretty cool.

But that’s not all. Turns out he’d like YOU to do an interview too! I know! We could be spoiled celebrities together, and buy a lot of Prada and plastic surgery, or maybe just talk trash about each other to TMZ for the publicity, but secretly we’ll still be best friends….I mean, we’ll be salt-of-the-earth, every day folk, just like always, right? Maybe with just a bedazzled cell phone to keep people guessing. Come on, you know you want to.

So what are you waiting for? Click on the picture of the site below, and then click on my big head to read my interview. It won’t take long, honest, and you’ll have more blackmail material to use against me. Not that I have any money. Also, anyone can read it, so I guess that sort of ruins the whole thing too. Forget the blackmail.

Okay, you can click over now. And then come back. Because I’ll be lonely here if you forget to come back.

No really, I’m totally done now. Click away! I’ll wait here.

6-15-2009 10-47-23 PM

(Thanks Andy! Your site is a great idea, and I had fun contributing. :)

Monday, June 15, 2009

It was like “Apocalypse Now”, only they wore Reeboks.

Living in the suburbs in southern California has made me forget.

I’ve gotten all soft, clearly, because the idea of my husband wearing a head lamp and mowing the lawn late at night seems rash, and crazy-like, when really it’s only a dim flicker of his former glory.

Because my sister, who still lives in Oregon where my husband and I grew up, called on Saturday night to tell me I’m a big blog-writing baby.

“Right now,” she said to me on the phone, “MY husband is outside, in the dark, clearing the weeds out of the driveway using a FLAMETHROWER.” She let those words sink in before continuing. “He’s wearing shorts.”

(Here is a visual aid, for those of you unable to picture the exact level of overkill we are talking about:)


And then, because we were killing time to see whether my brother-in-law would survive his yard maintenance session, she told me a story about the time he went outside with a .22 to shoot a crow that was eating corn out of their garden. He was wearing only his underwear at the time, and the garden is close to the road. Which is where the curious on-lookers in their cars got to watch the mostly-naked man shoot his gun.

Just as she finished this anecdote, I heard her husband in the background proclaim, “I burned all the hair off my legs!” in an oddly triumphant way.

This is where my husband began. I’d forgotten.

For instance, one of our very first dates involved terror and explosives.

I thought we were going to a movie. Instead we detoured to his house, which happened to be situated on the side of a wooded hill in the country. Waiting there in the dark, lurking behind a stand of giant Douglas fir trees, were his brother and a few friends. Suddenly there was an ear-piercing shriek, and a flaming projectile flew by my head.

Before I knew what was happening, I was being handed an entire open box of Saturn missiles to hold (These are like bottle rockets without the stick part.)

100shots (the box says, “WARNING –SHOOTS FLAMING BALLS”)

The next hour was a blur of Vietnam-action-movie pyrotechnics, Roman candles shooting through the trees, and people “Wooo-hooo!”ing and running through the woods for cover. At one point my not-yet-husband lit the entire box of Saturn missiles while it was still in my hand, and then took them at the last moment, aiming the whistling box of fireworks in a big arc at retreating opponents.

He apologized later, not because I’d thought we were under some bizarre attack for the first fifteen minutes, or because my hair may have been on fire at one point, but because they’d planned on shooting off some M-80’s and had run out. ( I think they’d used them to blow up a wasp’s nest.)

The fact that I agreed to another date after this one still baffles me. I can picture myself standing there in my blue eye shadow and giant 80’s costume jewelry, hands full of fireworks. I want to tell that girl that it will not always be Roman candles and M-80’s.

One day he will mellow, and she will only have the occasional flash of light shining off his forehead to contend with.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Once he chewed a brick of cheese, but cheddar doesn’t have a little face, so this is better.

The dog did this.


I’m not sure what exactly this guy was before he became a canine taste sensation, but now he’s a metaphor. I am the little bendy baseball-head man, gnawed upon by the surly teeth of daily life, and abandoned in a saliva-coated stupor. The eyes are wary, the hands (powerless without opposable thumbs), outstretched in vain surrender, and the wardrobe is a colorless too-small unitard. And yet, the suggestion of a smile remains.

Because today I am free from other people’s teenagers! At least until August.

Also, I have a brilliantly red candied apple sitting in my refrigerator, a “gift” from my youngest after his all-day trip to Knott’s Berry Farm yesterday. It smells like a giant radioactive Red Hot.

“I bought this for you,” he says, handing me the candied apple wrapped in cellophane. “Here, hold it like this.” He takes the stick out of my hand and rotates the apple slightly.

I take a look around the back side of the apple, and sure enough, there’s a bite taken out of it, the cellophane sucked into the small cavity and glued to small teeth marks with sticky red syrup.

“Oh that! They sell them that way,” he says. “I got it because you are so nice to me!” He opens his eyes wide in sincerity.

“Don’t like cinnamon?” I say.


I think that maybe I will feed the dog the candied apple, and then when the red sticky part coats his snout like poorly-applied lipstick, I will take his picture and maybe post it here with a witty caption about Courtney Love and lip waxing.

Or not.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

My Superpower is Invisibility! To the French, At Least.

In an ironic twist, my son’s fifth grade promotion performance today climaxed in a swelling rendition of “Wind Beneath My Wings”, sung in the warbling voices of those on the brink of puberty.

It serves me right for bringing the damn song up in my post yesterday, because what steely-jawed parent could NOT cry under those circumstances?

The entire room was red-eyed and sheepishly digging tissue out of purses and pockets. Except for the guy behind me, who was bent over like a man reliving a bad burrito, and barking angry Spanish phrases into the cell phone between his knees. I so wanted to extend my elbow backwards, in a casual, yet forceful manner, until it made direct contact with the man’s forehead. Just as a helpful reminder.

Unfortunately the Formerly Bearded One (who’s once again flirting with what seems to me to be a dangerous level of five o’clock shadow) gave me a little shake of the head before returning to his videotaping duties. I hate when he gets all mature on me.

They were happy tears, at least. And I know things are going to continue to look up, because the PF Chang gods said so tonight after I ate a lettuce wrap and wondered aloud why all the waiters looked like Adam Lambert:

So, good times ahead! Two days of school left, and I’m free. Here is something I especially will not miss from school:

(Conversation, nearly verbatim, that I have had in the staff lounge with one of our French teachers, THREE TIMES this year. THREE. TIMES. Remember, both of us have been on this campus for TEN years.)

French teacher looks up from vending machine. Eyes focus on me, a rare event that happens as often as the average eclipse.

“Oh, hello?” Quizzical eyebrows, very French shoulder shrug, as if to suggest I am merely imaginary and oh, how very silly of me to stand there.


Sudden tiny hand on my shoulder, accompanied by an intense look of speculation. “What eez your name?”

“Vic.” I know what’s coming now.

“Because, I do not know your name!” Small casual laugh. “You know, how could I know?? Again, what eez your name?”


Silence. Her critical brown eyes perform a full body once-over. A barely camouflaged expression of distaste passes over her features. “You are sure?”

“Pretty sure, yes.”

She comes to a sudden decision, and claps her hands briskly, twice. “No, that cannot be right. I think you are, always, Mrs. B____.” Every time I see you, I say Oh, there eez Mrs. B__________! You see how theez eez?”


Another casual laugh. “You, also, do not know my name, yes?”

I think this is a question, but I’m not sure. “You’re Fabienne,” I say. Like I haven’t worked in the same small groups with her multiple times in the past. Not that she ever spoke to me.

Small shocked silence. “But, how do you know theez?!”

Before I can answer she is bored with the conversation. “Never mind! Good-bye, Mrs. B__________!”.

And then she is out the door, clutching her trail mix.

The best part of all this is that there is a Mrs. B______ on campus. And she’s black.

Oh, good. I have to go now, and talk some sense into the FBO, who is mowing the lawn. It’s ten thirty at night. He’s out there wearing a head lamp, mowing in the dark, and pissing off the neighbors.

And you thought we were the normal ones in the neighborhood…

(Kurt, this is for you, because you are my personal up lifter. You're like an underwire bra, is what I mean. Look at that poor little kitty, just holding on! It 's so inspiring!)

Monday, June 08, 2009

I Think I Have Some Old "Smiths" Tapes Around Here Somewhere....

Every year, something about June turns me a little melancholy. Or "all emo", as my daughter says.

Maybe it's the fog that rolls in here every year about this time, staying until noon, and fooling me into wearing a jacket and long pants to work so that I'm roasting like a pig on a spit by early afternoon.

Maybe it's the end of another school year. I'm so relieved to finally close that classroom door for two months, and yet, it's another year gone. Next year will see big changes, the usual change of student faces, the shift in schedule, and now also the big changes sent from a failing state economy. Today, because our copy machines have gone belly up again, I spent more than fifty dollars of my own money so that my students will have copies of a final exam to take tomorrow. Their grateful response will be payment enough.

Five teachers in my department received the "golden handshake"; their absence will mean I have to be a grownup now. One retiring teacher, a man I rarely spoke with, I will miss in particular. He is one of the last representatives of the aging hippy teacher, with his David Crosby physique, his sandalwood smell and long, frizzy grey hair. I think somewhere in my mind, an unexplored part, he is a much gentler version of my father, who died in 2005.

My son "graduates" from the fifth grade tomorrow. Next year he moves on to middle school. I worry about my kid with the wicked sense of humor, who admittedly hears his own drummer, adrift in the middle school world of do-or-die conformity.

This mood will pass, I know. It always does, once the final paperwork is done, and the beach calls us out.

There is a lot to be grateful for.

The dog has shed his sprout. Suddenly it wasn't there anymore, which probably means he's rubbed it off under the couch somewhere, a little surprise for me to find. It's good that he isn't going to be the Elephant Man of the dog world after all.

This is especially good because last night we rented "Marley and Me". At the end, all four of us sat in a row on the couch with tears running down our face, because we are a family of saps. I wish that the dog knew how to use the camera, because it was probably a great shot.

I'm very nearly well.

Best of all, I'm happy to be a part of this blog community. You are all the wind beneath my wings. We're digging out the tambourines and the Partridge family bus, people.

Come on, get happy!

PS: Expateek kindly asked me to experiment on her blog header, so I did. Go over and say 'hi', because she's a great writer, and has lived an amazing life. I got sucked right in to reading her posts, from way back. Be nice about my header, though, or you're off the bus.

Friday, June 05, 2009

That Sizzling You Hear Is My Brain

I got lost yesterday on the way to my blog.

I think it's because of lightning.

First, the night before last, at 3 in the morning, a comet hit our house. At least that's what I thought when I catapulted out of bed and whacked my leg on the nightstand, and the kids wailed from distance corners in the dark, and the dog hyperventilated at my feet. The shaking and the noise went on and on.

And then it was over, and my confused mind finally grasped that it wasn't a comet, or even an earthquake, it was just the world's most horrific clap of thunder. After I calmed everyone down except for the Formerly Bearded One (who slept irritatingly through the whole thing), I lay in bed bathed in an adrenalin sweat. After about an hour my mind finally began to drift.

I started thinking about how I was going to keep students so fascinated with my teaching next year that they wouldn't even want to text people from their laps, and I thought, Hey! What about a fake skull?! Not like a skull you could put on your desk and then tell your students that it was the remains of the last kid that pissed you off. No. Way better.

What I would do is paper mache my own head.

It would be excellent! After I made a perfect cast of my head using only homemade wheat glue and newspaper strips (and had remained immobile for hours until the paper mache hardened and adhered firmly to my hair and eyelids), I would slice it off and paint it!

Probably I would just use the top part, I figured, so I could wear it like an actual skull cap and it would look like only the top of my head was shaved and tattooed! I imagined painting it a realistic flesh tone first, and then adding some cool Maori war paint designs for maximum impact and intimidation power.

It seemed like a pretty good idea at the time.

The next morning I filed the plan in the back of my mind to revisit later, and went to work, where I gave my seniors a final exam during yet another unusual thunder storm.

Then, later in the day, a woman who lives a few miles from our house was hit by lightning while standing in the front yard, and died. They found some of her clothes thirty feet away.

According to the newspaper accounts, this happened at the exact same time I was standing in my own front yard for some idiotic reason that escapes me, and now I think the lightning was looking for me and got lost. It's only dumb luck that I'm not lying naked and burnt to a crisp on my driveway.

Because when we researched some of our family background once, my husband found an ancestor who was actually killed by lightening in her house. Really. It came in through an open door and struck her down. That sounds personal to me.

It's pretty much like the shark in Jaws: The Revenge. In that classic movie, the shark was swimming around whole continents in a lather of revenge, just looking for the lady because it hated her so much from all the things she did to it in Jaws I through III, which I don't remember, but the shark did. It's all perfectly reasonable.

So lightning is my Great White. It's like a sky shark.

Note: I just googled "will paper mache stop lightning?" to check if my unconscious mind was really just trying to save my life, because that would make me an accidental genius. Google answered by telling me to make a paper mache rattle out of a broken light bulb, so I think I have my answer.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Yak and Jill

So I "designed" a blog header for someone! My first one!

And then it was cruelly rejected.

Now it's like the tender shoots of my graphic design glory (dreams that I have cherished for almost three whole days now) have been trampled under the hooves of a hairy beast.

A yak, to be specific.

See, last week, Dr. Zibbs over at That Blue Yak was looking for someone to make him a header that didn't feature a novelty fly zapper, and I thought, I can make a header that doesn't kill flies!

So I set to work with my little paint brushes and crayons and construction paper, mouth open in concentration as I scribbled. And then I sent it over.

To my surprise, it seems that sidestepping the whole fly murder issue wasn't enough for victory. My header was not the winner*, despite my color homage to Dr. Z's love of retro pop culture, and the little vintage station wagons filled with imaginary adoring fans on a pilgrimage (Zibbs loves disciples).

(reduced size)

It was a devastating loss, I'll admit, but I'll be fine. Also, now that I look at it again, I think I would make it less pastel-ish, and maybe also find a way to remove the dagger from the yak's skull. Because maybe when he saw it Zibbs thought, Nice girly header. Is she threatening me?

Anyway it was a good distraction from my husband's constant Fun Facts About Ferrets monologue the last few days. Ever since he saw a black-footed ferret on the cover of Audubon, he's decided he wants one. I don't really know why they've got a ferret on a bird magazine, but okay.

I've told him that they're illegal in California, but he doesn't seem to hear me.

"Did you know a female ferret is called a Jill?" he calls from the bathroom. "And did you know ferrets have pretty much eaten all the birds in Australia? It's a big problem."

This doesn't sound right to me. They definitely wouldn't make a ferret an Audubon cover model if it was a serial bird killer, right? And anyway, I think a kookaburra could kick a ferret's ass, so ALL the birds in Australia are probably not eaten.

"We should get one!" Now he's at the computer, feverishly looking up pictures of ferrets on Google. "It would be good protection around the house, and the dog would like the company!"

I try to imagine a ferret warning us with a ferrety chuckle if there were a masked intruder, or a sudden inferno, but I know better than to argue with him. "We could name it 'Lassie'," I agree. And then the dog would kill it.

There's a pause from the other room.

"Hey," he calls, "come look at these hedgehogs..."

*congratulations to Mr. Condescending, whose cool header won over the doc!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

A Quickie (Heh)

Two things that do not go together: a chronic cough, and a silent testing room.

I am administering a senior final this morning, so this morning's post will be quick and strange. While you wait for a longer post, feel free to imagine me turning blue at my desk as they work.

Here is what I would look like if I were a Simpsons character:

Click the picture to turn yourself into a cartoon character too. If you want.

Back soon.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Why I Envy the Elderly

Well, I have to apologize, because I've fallen behind in answering comments and reading other blogs. It's because coughing is my new hobby, and it pretty much takes up all my time.

I really am planning to be healthy again any minute now, just as soon as I can find a way to chip the cement coating off the inside of my lungs. Still no doctor. I'm probably going to have to start looking into alternative medicines, like gargling with goat urine or something equally disgusting.

I wish this one was still available, because I think I'd feel better right away:

Probably that means heroin addicts never cough. You'd think it's because they lack the strength, but turns out it's the throat-soothing properties of opium that does the trick.

One cool thing about my excellent coughing is that I can turn my son's bedroom light on and off without ever entering the room. I'm magical.

Of course, so can the dog.

See, a couple of years ago, after seeing the commercials on television, my son decided he really needed a Clapper (Clap On, Clap Off, The- Clap-per) for his bedroom lamp.

He envisioned how luxurious it would be to be able to turn his light off without having to climb down from his bed and walk over to the switch.

Unfortunately he's got the Clapper set to Code Red, so almost everything sets it off- -neighbors arguing, heavy steps, laughter, the dog barking, the bathroom door closing, and now my coughing from the other room. It's like a disco in his room all day and night, but he refuses to reset it.

The only thing that doesn't automatically activate the Clapper, naturally, is clapping.

Two sharp claps. That's how many the box said. But they have to be exactly the right length and pitch and volume for the Clapper to respond, and it's just too hard. My son has taken to Hoot! Hoot! ing at it to get the light to go off, but I have my dignity to maintain.

The old people in the ads must be experts because they make it look so easy. Maybe they went to clapping school, or they're just gifted. I don't know. I guess I can't be good at coughing and clapping at the same time. Then it would be like God gave me too many gifts, and someone behind me in line didn't get one, and then that person would go to the dark side and become Darth Vader or Paris Hilton and terrorize humanity.

I'm trying not to be greedy here, but maybe one of those old people would trade me gifts? I could do the clapping thing, and they could be good coughers. Sure, it might kill them, but they've lived a good life, and plus they're celebrities. Anyway, probably their doctor will answer the phone, or even come by their room after they're finished with afternoon tapioca.

I'm a little bitter, I guess. Hoot, hoot.