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The Flight Perk I’m Not Flaunting

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 “The thing under my bed waiting to grab my ankle isn’t real. I know that, and I also know that if I’m careful to keep my foot under the covers, it will never be able to grab my ankle.”
- Stephen King

HELP

There’s something about today I’m forgetting.  Some kind of holiday….

HWEEN

*   *   *

The Department of Domestic Travel Post

Winning the TSA lottery (and irritating your spouse)

As part of my ongoing commitment to Public Service and fostering happy marital travel relationships, I must share the following:  I do not advise performing any variation of the Happy Feet Dance ® when you and Your Beloved ® have printed out your boarding passes, and you detect the magical phrase TSA Precheck above your name.

precheck

Random selection, scmandom selection – this designation means that, yes, I am more trustworthy than you (and a Highly Respected Government Agency [1] knows it).

How pitifully easy we have become used to being treated like so many sheep/potential terrorists; how pathetically easy it is for us to rejoice in being the recipient of such petty “luxuries” (“I can keep my shoes on!” “I don’t have to remove my quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag of  3.4 ounces (100ml) or less per container liquid Liquids, gels, aerosols, creams and pastes!).

TSA

*   *   *

Department of What Must Be Done After Any Trip to Southern California

All rise for the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance obligatory complaining about the air pollution and traffic jams.

LASMOG

Well, yeah. There’s that.

*   *   *

Department of She Meant Well…Whatever She Meant

The trip to SoCal last weekend was to attend my nephew’s wedding. K and Belle flew down from Tacoma, laden with textbooks but excited to see their cousins and extended family, if only for a whirlwind weekend.  That whirlwind included an hour and 40 minute drive from the wedding/hotel area (Simi Valley) to Santa Ana, on the morning of the wedding, then the same drive back up to get ready for the 3 pm wedding…which left us a little less than an hour to visit with my mother. [2]

Mom’s poor health prevented her from attending the wedding, and at her age and with her many health concerns, you never know when will be the “last time” – if you know what I mean and I think you do – and so we’d arranged with her in-home caretaker for a time to visit.  MH and I had alerted K and Belle as to what their grandma might or might not be able to do or say or remember.  Her energy ebbs quickly and she might not be able to follow your conversation; even so, she’d appreciate you telling stories of college, etc.  Just speak slowly and smile frequently.

It was a nice visit.  Mom seemed to be in good (if sometimes oblivious) condition, but grinned nonstop.  When it came time to leave and we were saying our goodbyes, MH bent down to give his MIL a hug and a kiss, and she grasped his arm and said, in all befuddled sincerity,

“Thank you for bringing your dark hair into this family.”

The dark hair MH brought into the family (although it's typically not in a granny knot)

The dark hair MH brought into the family (although it’s typically not styled in a granny knot)

*   *   *

Department of Something I Was Not Supposed to See…

…and probably not photograph, but hey, being chosen as the TSA Precheck Golden Girl gives you a certain confidence.  I’m just glad the flight attendants didn’t have cause to whip this one out.

tarmacJPG

*   *   *

Department of Nuptials

Moiself and weddings – meh.  Wedding receptions, now you’re talking.

My adorable nephew and his equally adorable bride put on quite a party, complete with a custom crepe bar for dinner (yummers!).  They also had a hosted bar, and music for hours of dancing…the latter no doubt facilitated by the former.

Bottoms up, y'all – Aunt Robyn wants us to do a Soul Train during the next song.

Bottoms up, y’all – Aunt Robyn wants us to do a Soul Train during the next song.

My nephew’s wedding ceremony, from my perspective – and that’s what this is blog all about, isn’t it? – wasn’t as tedious as many I have attended, and, if a Freethinker/Humanist/Skeptic/Atheist may say so, had the blessing of being mercifully, relatively brief.  Sitting through the religious rite rhetoric, which can range from the presumptuous [3] to the mildly absurd to the downright abhorrent, can be a tooth-grinding, butt-frosting experience.

However, as we Happy Heathens and Awesome Apostates have discovered, religious ceremonies, particularly those which include Let us all bow our heads in prayer episodes, provide some primo people-watching opportunities.  Those of us who do not bow our heads for anyone or anything pass the time by scanning the other attendees.  It is interesting to speculate, via posture/body language and noting fellow open-eyed crowd scanners, as to who are our fellow dissenters. [4]

Atheism

*   *   *

Department of Now, There’s a Scary Costume

“For Halloween you should go as the person you claim to be on Facebook.”
-Anonymous

*   *   *

Oh yeah, and boo to you – as in, Happy Halloween, y’all, and may the hijinks ensue.

batcat

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] There should be a link to a recording of uproarious, hyena-like laughter. Feel free to provide your own sound effects.

[2] Which is the only reason, sane or otherwise, to drive to Santa Ana.

[3] “Let us all beseech Jesus/father god to bless Bethany’s & Ichabod’s marriage…”  Unless the invitations were Christian-only, y’all got other religions & non-believers in the crowd, Mr. Preacherman.

[4] Some of whom are “out,” and some…not quite yet.

The Pedi I’m Not Curing

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Eat, Hike, Kayak.

manzanita

Make that eat, hike, eat, kayak, eat, hike, eat, go crabbing, kayak, eat, walk along the beach. And did I mention, eat?

This week marked the end of Part I of MH’s and my sabbatical.  We spent four plus weeks at Manzanita, Oregon.  Disneyland, schmisneyland – Manzanita is, for me, (arguably) The Happiest Place on Earth.

Admiring MH's mussels, during a beach hike.

Admiring MH’s mussels, during a beach hike.

My time spent there was invigorating, relaxing, refreshing and reflective.  Unfortunately, despite my opening riff on a certain popular soul-searching/self-discovery title of a few years ago, there will be no book proposal arising from my experiences.

Alas, I am not a self-absorbed thirty-something woman seeking spiritual and emotional clarity after a nasty divorce.

( Y’all know the title to which I refer; it rhymes with Bleat, Bray, Shove. In 2006-2008 TSA employees detained any woman over the age of 21 who intended to board an airplane without carrying a copy of that book ).

Nor I am the local literary darling whose own spiritual-journey-memoir-flavor-of-the-month-book is soon-to-be-a-major-motion-picture. Nope, I am not a woman devastated by loss who seeks deliverance from her dubious personal choices (promiscuity; drug abuse; the belief that using a symbolic surname as your non de plume confers hipness) via a solo wilderness trek.

I just don’t have that hook – in literary biz terms, some scandal-worthy and/or titillating personal details – which would give me a “promotable platform.” What I do have is a picture of a beautiful place MH and I stopped for lunch during our beach hike from Cannon Beach to Humbug Point. Okay, the tip of MH’s banana is visible in the picture – this is my nod to titillating.

beachhike

*   *  *

Department of What Being Married to Me Has Done To Him

I was informing MH of my upcoming schedule in the 1.5 days we have before we travel again, this time, to attend a family wedding. When I told him I planned on treating moiself to a pedicure, MH wondered aloud if that meant my feet would be subject to the ministrations of a pedifile?

Wanna see my BIG toe, little girl?

Wanna see my BIG toe, little girl?

*   *   *

Previews of Coming Attractions

While attending the Harvest Festival of Manzanita’s Community Garden, MH and I signed up for a trial paddling session with the Nehalem Bay Tiderunners, a local branch of the Wasabi dragon boat paddling club of Portland.  Newbies interested in learning about dragon boats joined the Tiderunner veterans in paddling a dragon boat up and down the Nehalem River one cool/gray Saturday morning.  I wish I had a picture of the curious seal whose bobbing head followed the boat during several practice runs.

The dragon boat paddling stroke is different from the kind of paddling one does in the recreational kayaking I have been doing for years.  The technique reminded me of when I participated in the Disneyland Employee Canoe Races, all those years ago.

MH and I had so much fun we stayed for a second session. I’d been considering joining a dragon boat team ever since I first saw several teams practicing in the Willamette River, but I’d always had scheduling conflicts with the various teams’ practice schedules (plus, there’s the drive to Portland and back).  This year, with the looming sabbatical travel, I didn’t want to make any kind of commitment I could not keep…. but when my schedule calms down, I’ll try to find a boat crew that will accept me. You have been warned.

dragonboat

*   *   *

Department of Trying To See Who’s Paying Attention

MH alerted me to an upcoming volunteer opportunity at the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve.  We both separately filled out online volunteer application forms for the event. The form’s first blanks requested first name, middle name, and title.  The form’s title options consisted of  Dr., Jr., Mr., Mrs., Ms., None, Sr.

Harumpf.  There was no option for me to choose or write in my preferred title: N.a.D[1]  Mature person that I am, I accepted the slight. There was, however, a fourth name-related blank: “preferred name, (nickname, etc).” All righty.  I typed, Boutros Boutros Ghali.

A couple of days after completing our application forms, MH and I received identically worded emails – except for the salutation –  [2] from the Volunteer Coordinator. Here was mine:

Hi Boutros Boutros Ghali,
Thank you for volunteering at the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve....

*   *   *

Just Because…

Oui, c'est vrai, je suis belle.

Oui, c’est vrai, je suis belle.

 Sometimes we all need to look at a proud & pretty Parisian Pigeon.

*   *   *

May your paddling stroke efficiently propel the dragon boat of your heart (sorry; I’ve been refining my treacle-laden wedding toast), [3] and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] Which stands for, Not a Doctor.  You knew that, I know you did.

[2] His began, Hi _____ (his first name). Can you believe that?

[3] Which may lead to more footnote-worthy stories in next week’s blog.

The Baby Stroller I’m Not Buying

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Peach at the Beach [1]

Everyone should periodically have the opportunity to be reminded of words like enchanting, which come to mind while watching a seven year old girl splashing in the waves, joyously oblivious to the bone-chilling water temp, chasing flocks of gulls and exclaiming over the profound Mystery of the Broken Sand Dollars [2]  – what happens to the other pieces?

 sanddollar

 *   *   *

Twenty Five Years.
Really.

Lest you think I have fallen from the Cliffs of Insanity, check for yourself and you will discover that it has been twenty-five years since the release of One. Of. The. Best. Movies. Ever. Made.

I am of course referring to The Princess Bride.

All together now:
Inconceivable!

*   *   *

Buy Patrick Stewart A Baby Stroller

Sir Patrick Stewart said he doesn’t fit in in his neighborhood of Park Slope, Brooklyn, because he’s the only one without a stroller. We knew what we had to do.

Somehow, for reasons that escape me (other than the obvious coolness factor), I contributed money to this campaign.  The fact that it was organized by the mahvelous singer-songwriter-comedian-actor-Broad Comedy guru, she of the multiple slash-talents, Katie Goodman – and her equally lovely and talented husband, writer-director Soren Kisiel [3]– may have something to do with it.

Please...make it not so.

Please…make it not so.

*   *   *

And Now I Know

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, is neurologist Oliver Sacks’ absorbing and compassionate case-study-book that deals with how human brains process and understand music, and how music shapes and transforms human beings’ understanding of their world, and themselves.

I’ve been a fan of Sacks’ work for years (you really must read The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat – trust me, you’ll never look at brain deficits and altered perceptions in the same way again [4]).  A friend, [5] after discovering that she and I share a similar neurological “condition,” recommended Musicophilia to me.

When I wake up at night, I immediately hear music; i.e., a song. This is not because mischievous elves have crept into my bedroom and turned on the Various Music Playing Devices. The song I hear does not awaken MH, because the song is in my head.  The song varies; it is never classical music, never instrumental – there are always vocals. [6]  Genre-wise, it is more commonly a rock/pop/folk/soul/alternative song than country or heavy metal; it will occasionally be a show tune or Broadway musical number; it is never (so far)  rap or Emo, thank the FSM.

 

"You're welcome."

“You’re welcome.”

Sometimes there is a logical explanation for whatever song is on my brain’s nocturnal playlist – I’d heard the song earlier in the day, on the radio/my phone as I was driving/exercising/out for a walk.  And sometimes it’s just a mystery or even embarrassment to me as to why Joan Jett’s I Hate Myself For Loving You or Aretha Franklin’s Think or Bobby Sherman’s Hey Little Woman [7] is bouncing between my ears.

Thanks to reading Musicophilia, I know that this musical tic of mine is likely a brainworm – a perceptual construction analogous to visual afterimages but “created at a much higher level (than visual afterimages and other sensory system effects) in the brain.”

Either that, or I’m just fucking daggy. [8]

 

*   *   *

Me, Too

listsirony

*   *   *

May the music between your ears (or whatever forms the soundtrack of your life) warm the cockles of your heart, and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] The delightful nickname of delightful friend SCM’s delightful daughter.

[2] Sounds like a Nancy Drew title

[3] The driver in Hummer Driving Man.

[4] I’m assuming you already had opinions about brain deficits and altered perceptions. Which may be a sign of my own altered perception.

[5] Who would be the afore-mentioned SCM.  Wow – TWO footnotes, way to go, S!

[6] There is no footnote #6. Move along, folks – nothing here to see.

[7] Yes, that one would be the embarrassment.

[8] Aussie/New Zealand slang for crazy.

The Bass I’m Not All About

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At first the man seated behind me (@ Portland Center Stage’s auditorium) spoke in normal, muted, waiting-for-the-play-to-begin tones to the woman beside him. I caught the phrases, “attempted to,” “many months,” and then…gulp…”decided to self-publish.”

If only these were earplugs....

If only these were earplugs….

Aye yi yi.

Unfortunately, that was when he began to raise the decibel  level.

“…’Below the Surface’ – I came up with the title when I was watching sea turtles….” 

He’d figured out something so authentic, so, like, deep – as in, below the surface – he felt compelled to share it with the world:

…you know, it’s that what’s underneath a person, the part you don’t see, is your authentic self, and you must discover this before you can find your authentic self and purpose, and until you do, every part of your life cannot be authentic [1] and you are doomed to frustration and annoying strangers sitting in the theatre waiting for Dreamgirls to start….

Amazing, isn’t it, that he’s going to have to self-publish – amazing, that no established, reputable publisher jumped at the opportunity to print his shallow commentary disguised as insights cribbed from every other self-realization/actualization help book published in the last twenty years profoundly authentic revelations?

WORD

*   *   *

The Department of How Many Copies Has This Song Sold?

Yes, I know I’m late to this particular party.  But really, I hadn’t heard the song until recently.  After a late afternoon workout session, I ejected my exercise CD. The media box reverted to TV mode, and lo and behold, the host of a popular talk show was introducing a singer/songwriter. S/S proclaimed that after she’d watched a certain segment of that certain talk show, S/S had been inspired to write a song about “body image and acceptance.” [2]

I’m somewhat suspicious about any song that is marketed as any kind of anthem.  I am really suspicious when the performance of an alleged anthem about body image and acceptance – or, as per the singer/songwriter Meghan Trainor, “female body empowerment” –  is accessorized by provocatively clad and twerking dancers and backup singers.

Yeah, that seems right.

Yeah, that seems right.

Gotta admit, I thought the song’s melody was catchy.  Then I made the mistake of paying attention to the lyrics, which included the affirming, anthemic, progressive, we-shall-overcome lines:

“Yeah it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two
but I can shake it, shake it, like I’m supposed to do.”

‘Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase
 And all the right junk in all the right places 

 Yeah, my mama she told me don’t worry about your size
 She says, “Boys like a little more booty to hold tonight.”

 You know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll
 So if that’s what you’re into then go ahead and move along

 I’m bringing booty back
 Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that…”

So, uh huh. Acceptance involves dissing other women – excuse me, stick figure silicone Barbie dolls & skinny bitches – while an empowering body image means thinking that shaking your ample boom boom that all the boys chase is not only what you’re supposed to do, but is a good thing because that’s what boys like….

REALLY

My junk musta been in the wrong place – ya know, me and my fellow skinny ass bitches musta been AWOL – when Gloria SteinemFlorynce Kennedy,  Letty Cotton Pogrebin, Barbara Ehrenreich, Susan FaludiPhyllis Chesler and other great minds of 21st century feminist thought collaborated on this particular Female Empowerment memo.

*   *   *

☼   Captured by the KGB   ☼

Aka, Masterpiece Theatre Presents Great Performances in Child abuse Child Management
(Setting: A Medical Practice near Stanford Hospital, circa 1988)

She was, simply and profoundly, one pest of a kid.  The girl was around eight or nine, obnoxious as hell…although her temperament should not have mattered.  A child should not brought to her mother’s medical appointments and left to fend for herself.  Woman, you either take your daughter in the exam room with you, or get a sitter. [3]

But This Particular Woman never got a sitter for her daughter. Four years in a row, TPW brought her daughter to TPW’s annual exams, each time assuring me and the rest of the OB/GYN practice’s staff that “she (daughter) is really quite mature and no trouble at all,” and each time following that patently false statement with the balls-out (so to speak) request, “If you all don’t mind watching her while I’m in with Dr. ___….”

Four years in a row, the staff told her in so many different ways, As a matter of fact yes, we do mind, and even if we didn’t mind we are WORKING and that work does not include babysitting, and this is a medical practice and there are hazardous instruments and chemicals and….

Four years in a row, TPW ignored us.

TPW resided in a tony Bay Area suburb. Given her address – and the vacations she bragged about taking with her husband – it was reasonable to assume she could easily have afforded to hire a sitter (hell, a 24 hour nanny service) for her daughter. [4]   But, noooooooooo.

She’d tell her daughter that if she needed anything or got bored to ask the “nice office ladies” for some help.  And while TPW was in the exam room with Dr. ___, TPW’s daughter would run around the waiting room, annoying other patients waiting for their appointments, and barge through the door to the staff area and pester the staff. [5]

Year five; TPW’s annual exam. Lather; rinse; repeat.  TPW’s daughter ignored the children’s magazines our office manager had purchased especially for the occasion, as well as the receptionist’s directive to remain in the waiting room. While the receptionist was on the phone retrieving lab results and the office manager was making a return appointment for an OB patient and I was readying an exam room for the next patient, TPW’s demon spawn bad seed daughter pushed past the waiting room door, banged on the receptionist’s typewriter, then prowled the hallway that led to the exam rooms.

bad seed

I exited the second exam room, carrying an instrument tray which had been used for an IUD insertion, and bumped into the kid, who nearly ended up with a speculum on her head.

That was that.

“Come with me,” I directed the girl. She followed me as I walked to our small lab room, dumped the instruments in the sink by the autoclave and stripped off my gloves.

“You’ve got quite an imagination, I can tell. Would you like to play a game?”  The girl beamed affirmatively.  “I gotta warn you, it’s a very special game and takes a smart, strong person to play it.  Not every kid can handle…”

“Oh-oh, I can! I can do it! Let me play!’

“All right.”  The office manager had left for her lunch break, and I pushed her empty chair to the corner of the staff work area, next to the copy machine. I instructed the girl to take a seat.  “The name of the game is, ‘Captured by the KGB.’ “

KGB

“I am a KGB agent, and you are an American spy.  You have been blindfolded and tied to this chair, and are waiting for the head of the KGB to interrogate you.”  I showed the girl how to wrap her arms around the back of the chair, as if her wrists were tied together.

“All the other KGB agents” – I indicated myself and the receptionist, who gave me her Robyn, WTF?! look  [6] –   “are trying to get you to confess. But you are strong! You will not betray your country! And you do not say one word.”

The girl squinted shut her eyes and giggled as I pretended to fasten a blindfold around her head.  “That’s right!” she exclaimed, “I’m strong, and I…  “

“Uh uh uh – not one word, remember?”

I returned to my work.  The girl was a brave little spy for a few minutes, then began to softly whine.

This is boring.

I reminded her that she had been captured by the KGB, and that there is nothing boring about espionage.  That bought me another two minutes.

I don’t like this game anymore. She opened her eyes, but kept her hands behind her back.

“You have been captured by the KGB.  They don’t care what you like, and they’ll gag you if you do not stay silent.”

Another minute passed.

I d-d-don’t wanna play this anymore.  I – I don’t like this game.  There was a catch in the girl’s voice, and her eyes filled with tears.

The receptionist gaped at me, her eyes widening – in astonishment or admiration, I couldn’t tell – just as we heard the distinctive squeak of exam room three’s door.

“Mommy!” The girl ran to TPW and buried her face in TPW’s skirt.

“She missed you.” I said to TPW, and flashed the most disingenuous smile ever to grace Dr. ___’s hallway.

crocsmiles

*   *   *

Epilogue:
The girl apparently said nothing to TPW (at least, not while she was in the office) about being captured by the KGB.

Epi-epilogue:
TPW did not bring her daughter  to her subsequent appointments with Dr. ___.

Epi-epi-epilogue:
The statute of limitations has passed, so don’t even think about reporting me to CPS.

*   *   *

May you be all about everything but your bass, may your behavior stand up to KGB agent scrutiny, and may the above-the-surface hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] And did I mention he seemed concerned with authenticity?

[2] Shame on you, Ellen.

[3] Nope, I don’t know why she wasn’t in school. Almost no one was homeschooling back then, and certainly not the wealthy.

[4] Why is it always the ones who can afford it who try to get something for free?

[5] TPW’s and her daughter’s behaviors were noted in TPW’s chart, as a warning for future staff members. TPW was the only patient who, when she called to make her appointments, was reminded to procure child care. And yes, the practice’s staff spoke to the doctor about the situation (he was reluctant to handle “patient behavior issues.”  Read: he felt that was not his problem, it was ours.)

[6] I’d seen that look more than once.

The Pillowcase I’m Not Swinging

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“All great truths begin as blasphemies.”
(George Bernard Shaw)

 International Blasphemy Day

…was earlier this week. September 30, in case you missed it. Mark your calendars; it’s never too early to start planning for IBD [1] 2015.

Your religion, to me, is like a penis.  It’s okay if you have one, but please don’t whip it out in public and wave it around, and DO NOT try to shove it down my children’s throats.

blasphemy day

*   *   *

Now that both K and Belle are away at college, MH and I have assumed the task of The Feeding of the Reptiles ® . This means that once every 7-10 days we thaw 3-4 frozen mice for T’Pol and Andy, our corn snake and ball python.  While we were discussing the snake feeding schedule, MH recalled how we once bought a year’s worth of feeder mice, [2] for a much better cost per unit than can be had at the local pet supply stores, from an online supplier.  MH did a search for bulk reptile food suppliers and found one company with an amusing (to us) assurance to potential buyers, via their FAQ section. (my emphases)

FAQ: How do you euthanize your feeder animals?

We euthanize our animals quickly and humanely with carbon dioxide (CO2), as recommended by the American Veterinary Medical Association panel on euthanasia, then tuck their legs and tails neatly underneath their bod y[3] and freeze them immediately… CO2 ensures a humane, quick and painless death for the animals and leaves no harmful residual chemicals that may harm the animal ingesting the prey item….

Imagine, having that for your job title: euthanized mouse leg and tail tucker.

Feet and tails not neatly tucked...heads will roll for this indiscretion.

Feet and tails not neatly tucked…heads will roll for this indiscretion.

 

*   *   *

If you are enjoying the topic of snake feeding half as much as I am, then I’m enjoying it twice as much as you.  I may as well try to even things up by sharing a blast from the past:

☼ The Truncated, Possibly Non Sequitur-ial story of Mrs. S___, Reluctant Snake Charmer ☼

Mrs. S___ was my parents’ next door neighbor. To give you a sense of Mrs. S___, it helps to picture June Cleaver, or any other 1950s archetypal (read: fictional), Suburban Wife and Mother ® icon.

Like Mrs. Cleaver, Mrs. S___ was always impeccably attired, almost always in dresses accessorized with a strand of pearls around her neck. Unlike Mrs. Cleaver, Mrs. S___ did not wear pearls when she vacuumed, but this is only because Mrs. S___ did not vacuum.  She paid someone else to do any kind of housework, including vacuuming. Are you getting the picture?  Good.

Add 30 years and pounds, darker, poofier hair, and you've got Mrs. S___

Add 30 years and pounds, darker, poofier hair, and you’ve got Mrs. S___

The tragic/pathetic story of how Mrs. S___’s only child, Jeremy, [4] came to be such a tragic/pathetic character is worthy of another story for another blog. For now, I give you this.  When Jeremy died, the feeding of his pet boa constrictor fell to his widowed mother. Mrs. S___was distressed at inheriting this task.  She shared her discomfort with my parents, but ignored their counsel to find another home for the snake. Jeremy loved that snake, Mrs. S___ told them, and she’d promised him that she would care for it.

A brief explanation for y’all non-reptile owners as to the feeding protocols for your pet snake:

In “the wild,” when snakes are hungry they hunt and consume live prey. However, the general recommendation from herpetologists is to feed captive reptiles killed prey, as it is safer for the reptile and also (somewhat) “kinder” for the prey.

Captivity is not a natural state for reptiles; [5] thus, some natural behaviors are altered in confinement. If your snake happens to not be hungry when you decide to feed it, it will not eat. Translation: it will ignore the live prey you put in its enclosure. Meanwhile, the prey animal, left alone in a predator-occupied terrarium with no way out, will not be so chill. It will be terrified, and try to find a place to hide.  Eventually, sensing its imminent demise and and/or choosing the best defense is a good offense strategy (and/or becoming hungry itself) the prey animal will attack whatever is around – like, your snake. [6]

Thank you for your patience.

Thank you for your patience.

To return to the story: Jeremy followed the herpetologists’ recommendations to feed killed prey to his snake…with his own unique variation. When it came time to feed his boa, Jeremy would purchase a live rat from a local pet shop and bring it home to his bedroom, where he kept his snake terrarium.  He would place the rat in the bottom of a pillowcase, [7] grab the top end of the pillowcase and swing it round and round over his head.   When the swinging had reached a certain critical speed, Jeremy smacked the end of the pillowcase against his bedroom wall, instantly transforming a live rat into a snake entrée.

Jeremy left detailed instructions for his snake’s feeding. His mother told my parents that while she detested the process she followed the procedures to the letter. [8]  Although I heard this story years ago, the image is still with me:  Mrs. S___, trying to honor the memory of her son, gingerly removing a live rat from its box, placing it in a pillow case and swinging said pillowcase around her head, trying to get up the momentum (and the gumption) to whack it against the wall, all the while wincingly fingering her strand of pearls….

*   *   *

Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite,
and furthermore, always carry a small snake.
( W. C. Fields )

*   *   *

 May you always carry the flagons of your choice, and have the gumption to swing what must be swung, and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] Not the best acronym – sounds like some kind of intestinal disorder, doesn’t it?

[2] And keeping in mind the year’s worth did not in fact “keep” for a year in the freezer (read: eeeewwwwwww).

[3] I’m assuming they mean the rodents, not the American Veterinary Medical Association panel members.

[4] He lived at home until he died, sometime in his mid-40s.  Never left the nest; held one paying job that lasted two weeks.

[5] Or any animal..Sorry, all you PETA pet-owners.

[6] Pet lizards, snakes and other reptiles have been injured and even killed by live prey.

[7] One Jeremy reserved for this purpose (i.e., he did not buy pillowcases in bulk) and which, according to what Mrs. S___ told my parents, he apparently never laundered.

[8] Not another snake-related footnote, I promise.

The Frog I’m Not Kissing

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 “Pretty women out walking with gorillas down my street….”
Joe Jackson, “Is She Really Going Out with Him?”)

A long long, time ago in a galaxy far far away, I left a movie theater having just seen the latest rendition of one of the oldest fairy tale plot devices.  The movie was Roxanne, a modern re-telling of the Cyrano be Bergerac story. While I found the Steve Martin-Darryl Hannah vehicle to be somewhat charming, as I joined the après-movie queue [1] outside the women’s restroom I was also frustrated by the sameness of it all.

Why aren’t the roles ever reversed? I groused to myself – ah, timing – just as a Sweet Young Thing ® standing in line behind me began gushing to her companion about the movie’s “uplifting” message:

“It’s like, you know, how true beauty is what’s inside a person, and when people, like, look beyond the physical stuff and people are, like, transformed, and so people shouldn’t, like, judge a book by its cover, because the one with the lousy cover might have some really good stuff inside…”

SYT’s commentary went on for some time, increasing in both volume and vapidity, to the point that I finally reached my WTF point. We were standing in a piss line; I’d never see her again.  I turned around and addressed SYT.

BTW and yes, I am One Of Those People ® who will sometimes speak to a Stranger when we are both standing in the same line, particularly when a Stranger makes inane comments loud enough to intrude upon the brain waves of bystanders.  Dream scenario for this situation: the Marshall McLuhan scene in Annie Hall.

Ah, but I digress.

“Actually,” I smiled at SYT, “the point of that movie, and other stories like, is a bit more specific. The underlying message is not that beautiful people can learn to appreciate homely people. The message is that, if you are a man who is unattractive, even ugly or deformed, you can pursue the pretty princess; you the man-troll can make a beautiful woman look beyond your physical deficiencies to appreciate the goodness within you. Think about it: that storybook train runs only one way: ugly man to pretty woman.” [2]

She did not respond, unless you count her open mouthed, frog-like gaping.  Hmm.  If she’d been a guy frog, some hot babe could have kissed her and transformed her into….  Nah.

cyrano

Cyrano be Bergerac. The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Beauty and the Beast. The Princess and the Frog. Shrek. Ninety-nine percent of Woody Allen movies starring Woody Allen.

Art and literature teem with images and stories of unattractive schmucks who pursue and win (and are portrayed as ultimately deserving of) the hearts, minds (and bodies) of beautiful women.  The homely, rejected but deep-down-decent protagonists know what it’s like to be judged and ignored for their inadequate exteriors, even though they have so much “inner beauty” to offer. Why then do the stories not have these men seek out their homely but decent, kind and wise female counterparts – kindred spirits with whom they could find simpatico, and mutually beneficial relationships?

yeahright

When was the last (or first) time you had the opportunity to read your children the bedtime fable of the devastatingly handsome prince who finds happiness with the wall-eyed but kind-hearted, intelligent princess? [3]

What sparked this particular intellectual excursion, I cannot say.  Perhaps the OBFD (stay tuned for acronym explanation) has something to do with it.

*   *   *

Department of Awwwwww…..

Dateline: last week, after enjoying a sushi lunch with friend SCM and her seven year old daughter P, we three womenfolk got ourselves to the Streets of Tanasbourne, an outdoor mall, to attend to a serious errand.  SCM was in need of new lady undergarments, and while she shopped for them [4], P and I played at the mall’s fountain. That is, P and I attempted to play, as much as the fountain’s numerous warning signs would allow us to act in any way that might resemble frolicking.

“No wading in the fountain, no walking along the rim, no sitting on the edge…no furtive glances in the direction of the fountain, no no no no…”

The signs did not say NONONO re using the fountain as a wishing well, and P pointed out to me the plethora of pennies that previous well-wisher had left.  I doled out a handful of pennies, one by one, to P, who tossed them in the fountain one by one, and one by one [5] told me who and what she’d wished for.

fountain

For her mother, P wished for – surprise! – new underwear.  For her father, new trousers. For her various friends, a puppy, a pet, a puppy, a pet, another puppy. For my daughter Belle, a black kitten.

“This is for K,” P told me, as she tossed the last penny into the fountain.

I found it touching her last penny was used to make a wish for my son. “And what is your wish for K?” I asked her.

P paused for a moment.  “Someone to keep him company.”

*   *   *

Department of Ahhhhh…crap.

Readers of this blog may remember my post from last week, wherein I mentioned daughter Belle’s plan to take the train home for a visit – along with seven of her dorm friends who wanted an adventure/escape from college for a few days – this weekend.  The visit is still on…in a different scale.

Belle’s friend MGN has been given a final countdown in her long battle with renal failure.  Assuming MGN makes it to the weekend, Belle will be spending most of her time “home” in the hospital, visiting MGN.  Belle’s college friends, once they heard the news, kindly and graciously backed out of the trip (“I won’t be any fun to be around,” Belle warned them), and Belle will be coming home alone.

MH and I were in Astoria when Belle texted me with the news.  We drove up the steep, winding, road to the Astoria Column and climbed the 164 steps to the top of the column.  I launched a small balsawood glider [6] from the column’s observation deck, in honor of MGN. It was a windy, pre-rainstormy day, and the flimsy glider rode the drafts like a tiny raptor, circling downward until it came to rest in a grove of fir trees.

astoriatreeJPG

Best wishes for MGN…and for her grieving friends, like Belle. The mortality of your peers in your face is just not something we imagine our children facing at age eighteen.

Morgan

*   *   *

The Return of the Old Boyfriends Dream

Scene: A university lecture hall. Standing at the dais is a man who is much too young to be James Watson[7] yet that is who we lecture attendees are supposed to think he is.
Looking around the crowded venue, I spot another young man.  This one, I know. He is standing off to the side, leaning against the lecture room wall, exchanging glances and smirks with his younger sibling, both of them trying to look professorial….

Old [8] Boyfriend Dreams ® . They’re baaaaaaaaaaaaaack.

I’ve had them before, and have noticed a pattern.  An old BF’s appearances in my dreams – typically in supporting roles, sometimes in brief, “walk-on” parts – coincide with times in which I am facing a current or imminent, significant, change in life circumstances.

When I wake up in the morning (or middle of the night) and my first thought it, Yo, dude, why were you (former bf) running amok in my subconscious?, my second thought is, Oh, okay…it’s this, again.

The OBFDs first made their appearance during my pregnancy with K. Those OBFDs also coincided with a desire to listen to my old Led Zeppelin albums, go figure.

A brief donning of my amateur dream interpretation hat is all it takes for me to figure it out.

Not quite as powerful as the Hogwarts Sorting Hat.

Not as awesome as the Hogwarts Sorting Hat.

 

I understand that those dreams signify my concerns for What Is To Come vs. What Might Have Been.  The old BFs represent The Road(s) Not Taken; they symboloize how every opportunity, every fork in the road, every major decision to be made, involves choosing certain paths and thus (by default if not intention) rejecting others.

The reason now for such dreams to be happening now, as in, again, is no surprise.  It’s Transition time.

"Oh, no - not another learning experience!"

“Oh, no – not another learning experience!”

My husband’s workplace offers employees a period of leave every seven years. Employees may use the time for purposes at their discretion (Travel? Classes? Eight weeks of couch surfing?).  As of last Saturday, “We” are currently on MH’s sabbatical.  “We”as in, when MH takes his sabbatical I get one (or have to take one, depending on POV issues), too. [9]

As much as I am fortunate to be able to do this, sometimes the timing is…problematic.  The previous sabbatical came at a time where I was in the middle of what would become The Mighty Quinn, and I was not in the place to be able to put that and other writing projects aside. [10]

FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS ALERT – Of course, I felt guilty for even having such resentments, and was glad I did take the opportunity to make wonderful, life-long memories of travel adventures with MH, K and Belle (and even if Belle hasn’t forgiven me for the holding-my-hand-over-the-still-steaming-pile-of-bear-shit incident, she’s got a great story to tell).

The timing of this sabbatical is more fortuitous in many ways.  It comes at a time when I’ve already taken a philosophical and mental sabbatical of my own, from my work. It comes at a time when significant family concerns (including elderly parents’ health crises on both sides of the family, and K and Belle leaving our nest) are bracketing my slow-dawning realization that I have chosen to devote decades of my life to what seems to be, for me, the wrong profession.

Cliff Notes version:  WTF do I do now?

Not the most convenient realization to have at my age, when my chronological peers are anticipating and planning for their retirements. Sigh. I’ve always been a late/backwards/sideways bloomer.

It’s time for Act Three. There are bound to be more rumination on his subject…or maybe I’ll just spare y’all and extend that particular sabbatical.

forkroad

*   *   *

May your roads, taken and not, be navigable and scenic, and may you know joy that comes from hearing a seven year old’s earnest wishing well announcements, which will surely help the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] Four stalls, in an eight theatre multiplex?

[2] No, that’s not quite a verbatim transcript (Roxanne came out in 1987).

[3] Cinderella doesn’t count.  She is beautiful; her deficiencies are not physical but situational, in the form of poverty and an abusive step family.

[4] At a store, the name of which may or may not rhyme with Shick-gloria’s Meek-fret.

[5] I feel a theme coming on.

[6]  You can purchase the gliders for $1 at the gift shop. On previous visits to the column, I always thought it a cheesy thing to do…and it probably still is.

[7] One of the two scientists credited – mistakenly – as being the “discoverers” of  DNA.

[8] Old as in former, not old as in age seventy-three.

[9] His leave is paid.  Mine is not.

[10] Indeed, returning from the sabbatical, I felt as if I were starting from scratch.

The Pirate I’m Not Talking Like

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If you’re looking for an excuse to bellow, Avast, ye scurvy scum! [1] without having to suffer through a Comcast service call, this be your lucky day, matey.

You do know that September 19 is Talk Like a Pirate Day, aye?  Silly moiself to even ask – you probably plan your year around this event.

Are you sure it's talk like a pirate day?

You sure it’s talk like a pirate day?

For those of you unfamiliar with the holiday, I suggest visiting the TLAP site, for a thrilling historical overview of how two Oregonian buccaneer-wannabees came up with the idea, and how humorist Dave Barry had a hook hand in creating what, I see, now that I have checked the site, is now referred to as International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

It used to be just TLAP day.  I’m not sure what makes it International,[2] but that is neither here nor there tharrrrrrr. I have enjoyed the spirit behind this whimsical, happenstance-of-a-celebration for many years. I even have a pirate costume that has made more than one embarrass-your-offspring ®  appearance over the years.  (Hint: show up for the orthodontist appointment festively attired in your pirate gear – your child’s mouthful of pointy objects will quell their objections).

Even a brief search online will get you all kinds of TLAP silliness.  There are talk like a pirate apps, pirate name generators, suggestions for costumes, parties and other events, and talk-like-a-pirate translators. You can even change your Facebook language to Pirate. [3] You can find bad pirate jokes [4] and worse pirate jokes [5] and even existential pirate jokes, [6] and possibly the best pirate joke ever, if only because it doesn’t end with an Arrrrrrrrrrrrrr:

A pirate walks into bar and sits down. The bartender notices that he has a peg leg, a hook for a hand, and a patch over one eye. The pirate orders a beer, and while he’s pouring it the bartender asks “So what’s the story with the leg?”

“It were many a year ago,” says the pirate, “when I were on the deck a me ship and a rogue wave swept me overboard, and a shark swum up and bit me leg clean off! I swum ashore and were fitted fer a peg leg that very night.”

“That’s terrible,” says the bartender. “What about the hand?”

“Well it were the very next day,” says the pirate. “I were walkin on the deck a me ship and a rogue wave swept me overboard again, and a whale came up and bit me hand clean off! I swum ashore and were fitted fer a hook that very night.”

“Wow,” says the bartender. “So what about the eye?”

“Well it were the very next day,” says the pirate. “I were walkin on the deck a me ship, and I were lookin out fer rogue waves, and a seagull flew over and shit right in me eye!”

“Oh man,” says the bartender. “And that blinded you?”

“Well no,” says the pirate. “But it were me first day with the hook.”

Arrr

Or celebrate your ultimate geekiness with a shirt that acknowledges both and Pi day and Talk Like a Pirate Day.

pirate

 *   *   *

Department of Apropos of Nothing

If you ever happen to catch a glimpse of me when I’m doing my Nordic walking, [7] and you notice [8] that my stride suddenly changes – gets a bit more resolute and strutty, even badass, dare I say –you’ve caught me at that wonderful moment when whatever podcast I was listening to ended and I clicked to my music and The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army began to play.

Of course, sometimes the next song in the queue is The Archies‘ one and only hit.  Livin’ on the edge, what can I say.

*   *   *

Thomas Wolfe was wrong:
You Can Go Home again
(as long as you bring your friends)

Belle telephoned on the 8th, to share some good news. She was quite proud that her Oregon Zoo connections still allowed her to get breaking animal news before the general public, and she knew a “secret” that wasn’t to be announced until the following day: one of the female lions, Kya, had given birth to four cubs.

"Mum's the word, Belle, or the hippo gets it."

“Mum’s the word, Belle, or the hippo gets it.”

Her call was also to share the news that next weekend she is coming home for a visit…long with seven college/dorm friends that apparently and collectively refer to themselves as The Family. Once I got over my kneejerk, Mafia-Charles Manson associations, [9] I was delighted to hear about the plans.

Belle and her college family are taking the train from Tacoma to Portland, then the light rail to our neck of the woods. They plan on staying at our house (“if it’s okay with you”) and returning to Tacoma Sunday morning.  Her “family” consists of roommate JS and six (yikes) other shiny happy young women and men, who, as I informed her, must

(1) not be allergic to cats, or afraid of snakes, and
(2) be comfortable sleeping on the floor
(3) there is no #3
(4) and cool about sharing 3 toilets and one functioning shower with 10 people

As per conditions (2) & (4), Belle snorted with duh-ness and said, “Mom, I live in a dorm.”

dormbath

*   *   *

Department of TMI

This week’s Golden Turd award goes to…well…me.

Thursday morning, while scooping the downstairs litter box,[10]  I noticed a deficiency of, shall I say, the usual volume of deposit. This made me fear that one of our cats, a certain one which is prone to do such things, had produced what MH and I – okay; mostly I – call “a runner; ” i.e., she had finished her job somewhere outside the box.  I made haste to the family room and began scanning the carpet (the usual runner place of asylum), with a look of determination that made MH to ask me what was up.

“Keep your eyes peeled for escapees,” I advised him.  “I just scooped the litter, and there was a disturbing lack of turd volume…. Oh, no.  No no no no.  Did you hear what I just said? Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d grow up to use terms like turd volume.”

turd trophy

*   *   *

Public Service Announcement, also Apropos of Nothing

But, still….

I am not a National Anthem kind of person, and can’t remember the last time I sang along to the USA’s whoop of praise.  There is no maniacal loathing involved; I’m just not keen on it.  I do loathe its mystifying and annoying (to me) use as an opener to sporting events, where it is mangled warbled by celebrities great and small. [11]

Unsolicited anthem singing advice: Yo, all of you Star Spangled vocalists who apparently feel the need to show off your chops by essentially ululating every other syllable – knock it off.  Or, to take a more charitable tack, I’ll grant that perhaps you’re fiddling with the arrangement as a way to compensate (I’ve heard many a Music Person say that it’s a difficult song to sing) for your inability to stay in tune and on key.

Whatever the reason, y’all know what I’m talking about:

Oh-wo-wo-wo say can you-U-uUUou SeEeEeE
Byyyyyyy the dawn’s early li-I-I-iii-i-iIte
What so prowwwwwwww-dly we hay-HAY-hay-Hay-elllll-d…

Please, I beg of you, just find the right note – one per syllable, it’s there in the sheet music – and hit it, okay?

Kids, don’t try this at home:

 *   *   *

Happy Talk Like A You-Know-What Day!  Have fun no matter if/how you celebrate, and if you’ve received any pirate party invitations, be sure to ARRRRRR. S. V. P.

…and the hijinks will ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] And who isn’t?

[2] Some dude in Canada says “Arrr” instead of “Eh?”

[3] In the account settings, go to language and select English (Pirate).

[4] What be a pirate’s favorite vegetable?  Arrrrtichokes.

[5] What is a pirate’s favorite fast food franchise?  Arrrrrrrrrrrby’s.

[6] How do pirates know they exist?  They think, therefore, they Arrrrrre.

[7] And if so, what are you, some kind of Nordic walking stalker?

[8] What else did you notice – that I tried to adjust my underwear without breaking step?  Keep it to yourself, ok?

[9] I’m from a different era; Belle had no idea what I was talking about, when I teased her about the references.

[10] Yes, there is also an upstairs litter box.  Two, in fact. Upstairs, Downstairs – we’re not talkin’ a Masterpiece Theatre arrangement: we have three indoor cats.

[11] I will stand when the announcement Please rise for the singing of our national anthem is made, as the request for standing means everyone is seated, and I take every opportunity to stand up when I’ve been sitting for more than five minutes.

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