Sunday, August 30, 2009

Who Me? I’m Functioning Superbly! It’s Not Like I’M Wearing the Opium Dress.

So after nearly a week of killer vertigo, I was finally feeling better. Until yesterday, that is, when we went out to eat.

See the restaurant had those little cardboard coasters. One side had a picture of, I don’t know, a margarita or something, on it. The other side, for some reason, had this:3870942881_718ca8578e

The universe clearly has it in for me because my kids thought it was hilarious to spin their coasters over and over in my direction. I had to rest my head on my plate to stop my brain from flying out. Lucky for me the garnish was fresh and springy.

(I’m trying really, really hard not to look at the spiral up there too closely, so I’m typing this with my eyes all squinty. It helps a little, and also it’s very Dirty Harry. I knew you’d understand.)

I feel like I’ve been gone a long time. Now that I’m back, I’m noticing stuff. For instance, my last post, as you already know, was a bit on the hallucinatory side. I didn’t actually realize this until today.

Also, I’ve been looking at my new blog header. I sort of remember making that. And I’m pretty sure I like it. Yeah. It’s good. Pretty sure.

The thing is, it’s a little more disturbing than I remembered it being, a week or so ago. Maybe all the Mad Hatter disorientation has altered my perspective, but now I’m thinking it might say things about my psyche that are better shared only with my therapist.

Because the ostrich may or may not be wearing a can-can dress. Made of red poppies, which everyone knows is code for opium; this was totally unintentional. Probably. I don’t remember.

The ostrich, by the way, is a real one I took a photo of at Solvang this summer, just as he was contemplating charging our car with his ropy neck, pursed beak and Manson Family stare. It’s all bald-headed transvestite aggression here at WWYT.

The house in the background is also from a vacation photo. It’s a spooky/cool Victorian house outside of Lompoc that I took a picture of, just after we’d escaped from behind the tractor we’d been following for miles and miles. Several of the back windows of the house were broken out, but I think people live there. Note: If this is your house, can I come over and look around inside? Let me know. Unless you’ve stuffed your dead mother and propped her up in the front window. Then never mind.

Admit it. It looks like the Norman Bates house now that I’ve messed with it. Especially with that shadow from the turret that looks like the silhouette of Alfred Hitchcock with a topknot. It does! Go look. I’ll wait.

Told you.

The man in the window, and the tightrope-walker lady are from old pictures I cut up. The man is supposed to be laughing happily, and in the original picture, he looks happy, like someone told him a great 18th century knock-knock joke. Here, I’ll show you:


See? He’s kinda sweet. The problem is, when you shrink him down and put him in the Norman Bates house, he gets all creepy and threatening, and big, because he’s too big for the window and therefore suggests your blind butler, Lurch, is cracking up and maybe you should give him a vacation before he finds you and crushes you with his gangly hands.

Also, there’s the lady on the roof.

She’s apparently either balancing a sombrero or a giant nacho plate above her head as she skips along the rooftops. That’s not weird.

It’s actually a parasol in the original picture (which I can’t find right now, so you’ll have to take my word for it), but I suppose she represents my fear of falling in front of a hostile south-of-the-border audience while wearing restrictive clothing. It’s a common phobia. Also it represents my love of jalapeno cheese.

Factor in the giant storm that seems to be blowing in, and I think you’ll agree that I’m pretty disturbed deep.

This week I gained three followers, and then just as quickly lost three. I’m sure this has nothing to do with my malevolent blog header. Or my obscure post titles. Or the way I made up the word “resty” last time. Probably just coincidence.

I’m not worried though. My latest fortune cookie fortune assures me that I’ve got it all under control:


Thursday, August 27, 2009

“Lovingly, cow larcenist?” she said, to no one in particular. And then she fell over.

Because of the crazy vertigo. Vertigo! Spinning, spinning, spinning in infinity, and oh, it’s like the Hammerhead after too much funnel cake, and the car windows are steamed up in the rain, and there goes the pavement whizzing by your head again, and the greasiness is coming back up..

…But it’s not the 1980 Lane County Fair (silly!), it’s vertigo!, which hits hard, out of the blue, an hour and a half before Back To School Night. Which she stubbornly tries to attend anyway, wearing a scratchy teacher dress and too-high heels.

I’ll just hold on tight to this podium, she thinks. Easy peasy. Until the school bosses say no, probably it’s bad to appear to have been drinking heavily while speaking to parents. Or maybe it was Go Home, Drunkard. Pshaw. Either way.

And then instead of teacher speeching, she is driven to the Rapid Care, which, SURPRISE! turns out to be rapid, true to its word, only the nurse attendants laugh behind their hands at the weaving and bobbing, and bouncing off of walls like Mario or Luigi in the hands of a novice, and also after a few cartoon Limon cellos. Hoo hoo!!

And, oh, the motion-sickness. Are the walls really green here? she wonders, and then just a little resty of the forehead on the cool, cool greenness.

And then a tiny amused doctor in a little white coat appears, who says “how about a shot for that nausea?” and she hates him a little and also loves him even as she is pulling down her pants and the needle is very, very sharp.

This will make you drowsy, someone says.

But wait, how did I get this?! she calls down the hall, which is rising and falling, rising and falling. Clowns are laughing in the hidden rooms.

“Cilla!” They say. And at first she thinks, Elvis always called her Cilla, but no, it’s cilia, and hers are all bent up wrong somehow from a virus. Never mind.

And then she sleeps. Hours and hours of sleep. There are some dreams of ships on the ocean, a surging ocean, and then the worst is over, except for sometimes the cilia conduct a sneak attack, like when she is discovering the anagram for her name is “Lovingly, Cow Larcenist”, and suddenly the floor is rushing up fast as she is thinking Am I the cow or do I steal from cows?

But it doesn’t matter, because at least from here the floor is still, and she finally finds that earring she’s been missing.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Don’t even get Quasimodo STARTED on her powdered-cheese analogy.

I’m not really an anxious person.

It’s just that sometimes there are worries. They like to swim to the surface of my brain when I am trying to be busy, like Kraft macaroni in a pot of boiling water. Bloop. Bloop.


I try to push them down with my metaphorical wooden spoon, but anyone knows they just come right back up, and the longer you keep pushing them down, the slimier they get anyway.

My metaphorical noodles of worry, that is.

So, sometimes I just need to fish the little buggers out and line them up on the counter for inspection, and also list them here for you, because what else do you have to do?

My most long-suffering of blog friends know I used to worry sometimes that Carrot Top would somehow weasel his way into the capitol building in Sacramento, but now I don’t even worry about that at all, because CT is much buffer than Arnold these days, and also has a scarier face, so that has to be a good quality for wrestling the budget, and also senators. I think that Carrot Top would like to wrestle senators.

Here’s what I DO worry about, just a little bit, but not in a compulsive or neurotic way, just the normal way of forgetting a little bit to sleep at night while thinking about these things:

1. Why do all of my left shoes suddenly feel loose? What’s up with my feet? The right shoes all fit normally, but I’ve been noticing how I have to grip on super-tight with my left toes, just to keep the shoe attached. Also I have had to adopt a special shoe-retaining walk that involves dragging my left foot (which is bunched up in my shoe due to all the toe-clenching) along the ground while simultaneously sliding my foot forward IN the shoe during the forward thrust. Sometimes this results in accidental shoe launching.

I think that maybe next my left sleeves will get all loose, and that will be proof that I had a stealth-stroke and missed the memo, and now my left side is slowly atrophying.

You have to admit that’s a pretty good worry.

2. Maybe my dog will explode. Not like cartoon dogs, where someone packed all the orifices with sticks of lit dynamite and then the eyes bulge out comically, but more internally, like maybe if I sleep in on Sunday and forget to let him out for oh, say, six extra hours in the morning. And he’s polite, so no mess, but he’s cross-legged by the door, and I’m pretty sure I can see his bladder throbbing though his fur.

Also, for those of you have been sad about my dog’s sprout subsiding, thereby ending the regular updates of Sprout Watch, he now has a mysteriously bulbous right haunch. From behind he looks like he’s got a wallet in his hairy hip pocket.

The vet says an occasional bulbous haunch is nothing to worry about. Let’s see if he still says that when my dog explodes.

3. Can fungus eat your house? I’m pretty sure it can. Especially the kind that erupts from out of the ground in your yard, and is probably pushing up the foundation of your house at this very moment. It’s like an alien army of dinner rolls is invading from below. Dinner rolls with tentacles that reach deep into the ground, probably almost to the mother ship at the core of the earth.

Here is one. There are lots of them. This is not a rock. It is in my yard right now.


I worry they are sentient fungi, and if we talk too loud they will hear us and try to come inside. Or the dog will pop one with his foot and carry powdery spores back inside the house, thereby killing all of us slowly and painfully.

Maybe that’s what’s been happening. Maybe the powdery spore poisoning causes bulbous haunches and shrunken left appendages. Or, or! Maybe the dog’s haunch only LOOKS bulbous because his left side is atrophying too…

This is bad.

This has not been at all comforting. I don’t know why you told me it would be.

I’m pretty sure you said that.

Next time I’m leaving the damn noodles in the pot.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Everything should come with a holster. Or a yeti. Or a yeti holster.

I’m not proud of it, but for a few perilous minutes this week I was Plunged Into Depression as a result of not winning the metaphorical ashes of Steamy’s cat. I really wanted those pretend ashes.

You know how that is. One minute you’re redesigning your entire living room around a cat urn and imagining the admiration of your neighbors when you throw your first dinner party of the season (for which the neighbors with the indoor ducks would finally have to emerge from their house) and the next that dream is dead and you’re shopping for giant white shoes.

Which brings me to my first instructional moment for today.

1. How to kill your social status dead in the sixth grade:

For PE, choose pristine white shoes straight out of the ‘80’s. Be sure they are extra blocky. (Picture what Herman Munster would wear if he were to take up nursing, and yet still want to do a little cross-training immediately after his shift, so with a little swoosh and net detail, also in blinding white. That’s exactly the look you want.)

Be sure to stubbornly insist on these shoes, despite valid warnings from an experienced older sister, and the attempted redirection of your parents. Pretend, if it amuses you, to consider other, less horrific shoes for an hour or two, sometimes wearing a different style shoe on each foot and then climbing the fake shoe-store rock and leaping off the other side. Announce that the left shoe might feel different than the right, and switch. Repeat with two new pairs of shoes, ad infinitum, or until a parent’s head explodes.

Then announce you are going to get the Munster shoes.

2. How to Draw Unnecessary Attention to Yourself in Target:

Discover that your daughter, who has a math phobia, has neglected to tell you she must have the world’s most powerful calculator for Algebra II, the night before she needs it.

Build up some steam in the car on the way over so you can command the dazed stock boy in the red shirt to “show me where the ridiculously-expensive calculators are”. He will know exactly what you are talking about, and lead you silently to Aisle 13, moving quickly in a defensive, serpentine pattern ahead of you.

All the calculators will be gone, except for the toy calculators, and the one that will calculate the trajectory of the space shuttle, using only three buttons and a toggle switch.

It costs a hundred and fifty bucks, and comes with a decorative faceplate. For an additional 9.99, a holster is also available.

Ask your daughter if maybe it would be okay if you just bought the label maker you passed on the way. It’s a lot cheaper, and has a bunch of buttons to push, so it would look good, like you were busy. As long as you didn’t hit the “equals” button, because then a label would shoot out and then the jig is up. Speculate too loudly about whether the label maker would fit in the holster.

Agree finally to purchase the calculator after indignantly polling twenty people in the store and discovering that purchasing the ridiculously-expensive calculator is an unavoidable rite of passage.

Ask checker if the calculator comes with a padded case. To protect your investment.

In the car, mull over possibilities. A shag carpet sleeve? Bubble-wrap jacket? Have an “Aha!” moment in which you realize old stuffed animals would make a perfect graphing calculator housing if the belly were hollowed out. Like a cuddly friend with wicked math skills.

Come home and throw together a possible prototype for your new line of lovable holsters:

yeti holster

Give up on your dream when your husband points out that a calculator embedded in the belly of just about any animal is going to have unavoidable phallic implications.

Try to avoid the eager, aroused look in the yeti’s eye.

3. A Snack Is Nice After Shopping:

Have one. You’ve earned it.

Unless your snack comes with its own shovel attached. A good rule of thumb is always draw the line at shovels.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Corn Dogs in Hell

If I were a middle school principal, I would put up whimsical banners for Back to School Night that read “Corn Dogs in Hell- Friday, the 7th” . Because it’s common knowledge that middle school is a trough point in life, and the best thing about it is you only have to be that age once, so why not just come right out with it? And if the Hot Dog on a Stick truck is going to be parked out on the basketball court so you can simultaneously eat dinner and purchase PE clothes, even better.

I’ve been re-visiting my junior high days this week, because my son started sixth grade. Last Friday we showed up dutifully at Back to School Night with the rest of the families, and milled around waiting for the schedules to be posted with the anticipation of Broadway hopefuls waiting for the cast list to go up. We made small talk to pass the time.

“If I get straight A’s this semester, can I get a kitten?” my daughter lobbies.

“If I get straight A’s this semester, can I get a parrot?” my son asks.

Then a woman with a beard appears next to me. It turns out I used to know this woman, back before she had a beard. I am surprised to see her and her husband and kids here, because they have long been staunch homeschoolers. Separatists, armed with worksheets.

“It’s nice to see you,” I say politely, averting my eyes tactfully from the outgrown razor stubble adorning the underside of her chin.

She does some surreptitious stroking of the aforementioned beard growth. It is blond, yet robust. I ask about her daughter, who is enrolling here as an incoming seventh grader. She talks briefly about needing to go back to work, and how homeschooling has become unworkable.

“I feel like I’m sending her into the pit of Hell!” she blurts suddenly.

I laugh. Uh, yeah, it’s middle school, I think. I settle in for some bonding over memories of adolescent acne and drama-laden school dances.

Only, she’s not laughing. She is serious. Really serious. Her eyes have a bleak, hopeless quality about them, and her tone is flat.

I look around me at Pit O’ Hell Intermediate. The school is clean, safe, and virtually new. It sits on a piece of prime real estate (multi-million dollar homes surround it) at the top of a hill, giving the school panoramic views of the entire valley. The teachers are caring and energetic, and the test scores are some of the best in the state. If I could live in this school, I would.

Those waiting with us in front of the office are polite and smiling, and the kids, while a little over-excited, are generally well-behaved.

Only one kid is noticeably loud and disruptive. One imp cavorting on the lawn.

She is the bearded lady’s daughter.

“It’s a great school,” I say. “We’ve already had a kid go through here, and she had a good experience.” I mean to comfort her, allay her fears a little.

The bearded lady looks at me disbelievingly. Her eyes narrow in suspicion, and suddenly I feel irrationally guilty. Of course I would defend the pit of hell. I am, after all, one of the damned, a public school teacher.

“I’ve already read through the science textbook and taken note of the errors,” she said. “I’ll be speaking to the principal.” She turns from me dismissively. I wish I had a pitchfork. Just a little one.

I know better than to try and change her mind. I know it is the accepted wisdom in this country, particularly in some conservative Christian communities, that public schools cannot be anything other than Satan’s playground. I also know that for most American schools the political spin is not true, but I can’t help but take the prejudice personally.

Fortunately, there are corn dogs, (and for the husband, obscenely large bags of kettle corn) eaten under a California sunset to take the edge off, and the concept of parrot-ownership to mull over.

Can you teach a parrot to say “Welcome to Hell”? Would it be wrong of me to send the bearded lady a little Back to School gift?

PS. For those of you who questioned the whole strange concept of a classroom with a patio, whether or not it comes with palm trees, I submit the following picture, taken with my cell phone from inside the room:


(Satan not pictured.)

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Check Surroundings For Safety

I know you think I’m probably dead, because anytime someone inexplicably disappears that’s the logical, go-to explanation.  I’ve been gone from Blogtopia since last Wednesday, which might be the longest time ever for me, and I’m pretty sure some of you have already forgotten I exist been searching the local hospitals and obituaries.

The Taiwanese porn link that was waiting for me here when I got back was a nice “welcome back”, I have to say. I’m not clicking the link, because I don’t want unsightly lesions, or burning of the retinas, or whatever, but it’s good to know I’m making new, international friends and it’s not all grim news in the world of foreign relations.

Anyway.  Remember how I was on the Grisworld family vacation, and  when I last reported I was being violated by my mother’s poodle?

Well, I’m home now.  There was more stuff that happened, mostly involving additional freak injuries.  For instance:

1.) My daughter was stung by a yellow jacket on the hand while we were visiting my Squirrel n’ Dumplin’s Grandma. The hand promptly  inflated like a huge hand-balloon and stayed that way for the rest of the trip, all burning and swell-y, but providing hours of entertainment for the rest of us. We coated the Gargantu-Hand in baking soda paste, which drew out some yellow stuff and also made it look like a kindergarten paper-mache project, but still the hand didn’t deflate until well after Sacramento.

2.) While riding dirt bikes with his cousin, my son accidentally mistook the house’s partially-buried water line for an awesome bike jump and rode over it at a high rate of speed, thus severing the line and ending all hope of showers, flushing toilets, and pitchers of ice tea for everyone.  He also drove straight into a hidden concrete block.  The impact caused the handlebar of the bike to slam into his chest, leaving an angry-looking punch mark directly over his heart; this called to mind the story a teacher-friend of mine used to tell about a boy in her classroom who playfully hit another boy in the chest, accidentally stopping his heart and causing him to drop dead right there next to her desk. 

We broke out the bag balm and I tried not to squeeze him.

3.) While at the in-law’s 50th wedding anniversary party, my husband hit me in the head with the car.  Well, part of the car, specifically the hatchback door, which he held half-way open at the exact same level as my forehead. He claims he had a good reason, but probably this was on purpose. My forehead made contact with the open car door as I was carrying a bunch of helium balloons (none shaped like hands) in such a way that my vision was obscured right up unto the moment of contact with the car.  My head made a hollow thunk sound, and a goose egg appeared.  It felt like a serious injury, but the goose egg never developed the altitude and girth necessary for maximum sympathy, so I covered it up reluctantly with my bangs and went back to the party. Later, we broke out the bag balm.

We managed to leave town before any comas or amputations occurred, and the drive home was mostly torturously boring. Highlights of the drive home include stopping for gas on “Jibboom St.”,


and being shoved in the bathroom at a truck stop in Coalinga by a Spanish-speaking woman. She was wielding a baby like a shield with one hand and shoving me with the other. It seems she was in a hurry for the soap dispenser, so I totally deserved it for standing in the way of good hygiene.

Finally we were home, and then it was a house full of unpacked suitcases and madness. Also school starts here in two days, which means instead of reading blogs, I’ve been buying school supplies, and writing class syllabi, and thinking unkind thoughts about Governor Schwarzenegger, and buying three fifteen-foot palm trees for the patio outside my classroom. ( Yes, my classroom has a patio. And sliding-glass doors. Yes, it’s a little weird.)

We bought palm trees for the patio because it’s ugly without decorations, and I already killed last year’s plants. We had to lay the palm trees down inside the car and let them hang out the back about eight feet. They brushed the road all the way to the school, and now the car smells like manure. Here is what it looked like through the back-up camera:

check surroundings for safety

I have to go to bed now.  I promise to come by your blogs this weekend, and do some atonement commenting, if you’ll still have me. 

Next time remind me to tell you about the bearded lady at Back to School Night. There was razor stubble.  But that’s not all.