Home

The Mental Note I’m Not Making

Comments Off on The Mental Note I’m Not Making

Dateline: Thursday, returning from my morning walk. A black van slowly drives by my house, then pulls up in my driveway just as moiself  punches in the code to open the garage door.  The car is unmarked; I figure it for a delivery vehicle, and indeed, the driver leaves the motor running as he exits the vehicle and approaches me, carrying a white, pizza-delivery-shaped box and three other items in his arms. He likely cannot discern my confused expression that slowly crosses my face (I am masked) when I see that the “packages” he’s toting all bear the Krispy Kreme logo.

“Excuse me,” I say, “I think you have the wrong address.” His eyes and forehead denote that he is smiling beneath his mask, but I’m not sure he understands me. “Do you have the correct house number?” I ask again.  “We didn’t order….uh, we don’t eat…” I gesture toward his armful. “…any of that.”

He says MH’s name, in heavily accented (Russian?) English, and points to the top of the box, where MH’s first name and last initial are written in black ink. Seeing that I have my hands full (hat and gloves in one hand and walking poles in the other) he leaves the items on the front porch and waves to me as he scampers back to his van.

I enter the house via the garage and tell MH, who is in the kitchen, about the delivery.  He fetches the items from the porch, and tells me that yesterday afternoon someone from work messaged him with the news that there would be a “sweet treat” delivered to him tomorrow, in honor of his 30 years with the company.

“I was hoping,” MH shakes his head, “for chocolates.”

Here is what MH got:  a donut assortment and a bucket of coffee and eight cups and enough creamer to drown a possum (*eight* coffee cups?  Whom do they think he’ll be having over during these COVID social isolation times?).

 

 

MH does not drink coffee (thirty years, and they don’t know this?), and doesn’t eat donuts.

Yeah, team!  Way to know and value your employees!

Even as I type this MH is receiving “very nice” calls and messages from people he works with, regarding his 30 years with the company, and I can tell he is touched by their individual expressions of congratulations.  “The company” as such does have an interesting history of less-than-stellar acknowledgements of significant anniversaries, as moiself  noted in this space, five years ago. What the heck; it all makes for a better story than a gold watch.

*   *   *

Department Of What Have I Ever Done To Deserve This?

Thursday was quite the day.  I awoke Thursday morning at 3:30 AM – a good five hours before the surprise KK delivery – and, as always when I awaken in mid-eve/early am, an earworm was infecting my brain.

This time, the song was a particularly odious one.  I’m not talking Osmond Family odious, but almost.

 

“Oh, did you say something insulting? We’re too busy urging agents of the Mormon church to buy controlling percentages of Proctor & Gamble stock – the makers of the Crest Whitening Strips ® we heartily endorse! – to pay attention to your gentile gibes. ”  [1]

 

It was a Bobby Goldsboro song: The Straight Life.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Stranger’s Post I’m Responding To.
Sub Department Of Why. Do. I. Do. This.

A friend posted the following on Facebook (passing it on, I’m guessing, from someone else’s’ post).  Underneath a faded photo of a baby girl and her adorable sisters (all of whom appeared to be under age three), was this entreaty (I removed the names; other than that, the post is as originally written and punctuated.):

PLEASE HELP!!
51 years ago our mother _ _ ___ (nee ____).     Walked out of these 3 little girls lives ___ &  ___ & ___ (last name) Castle . For what reason were really not sure, we have had several failed attempts to find her this is now our last chance of any hope of finding her.  she could have moved abroad Australia or Canada. She will be 74 now born 9th December 1942. Social media seems to help with good things, life can never be  complete when you  don’t know who or where your mother is. We need this to go WORLD WIDE….. PLEASE HELP ….

I kept second guessing moiself  as I typed my comment.  I don’t know these people; they aren’t asking for my advice….except that they *are,* in that internet way.  By asking for their post to go WORLD WIDE they are seeking a worldwide reaction.

As a citizen of this world, I still feel a keen loyalty to a part of the world with which I have a significant history: working in women’s reproductive health care clinics.  Some of the women and girls I served were mired in the myriad of situations which might cause a woman to “walk out” of her children’s lives and resist any attempts to be found.  Also, I cringed to read the post’s – unintentional, I assume, yet inherently presumptuous  – dis of the lives of adoptees and orphans, and others who may not know their biological mothers but who nonetheless live lives filled with love, fulfillment, and purpose.

So yeah, moiself  had to dive in:

“For what reason were really not sure, we have had several failed attempts to find her….” Do you really think it is wise to pursue this? There are probably reasons your “failed attempts to find her” have in fact failed….can you accept that there are likely reasons she may have, that have to do with her not wanting to be found, reasons that might be painful for you to know and impossible (in her mind, at least) for you to truly understand?
I worked in women’s reproductive health care for years, and the stories I heard and was witness to….would take years to describe. Are you prepared for where this might lead?
I’m sorry for your pain; even as I can’t let a statement like “life can never be complete when you don’t know who or where your mother is…” stand uncontradicted, as it is patently false, given the fact that people all over the world have lived fulfilling lives, having to deal with far more in terms of pain and uncertainty.
I wish you and your sisters – and your biological mother, be she alive or dead – all the best, including peace in this matter.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Calling All Math Nerds

Help me out on this one. Dateline: Tuesday, circa 7 am, listening to a podcast while doing The Morning Walk Thing ® .  The podcast (the name of which escapes me now)  [2]  featured an interview with a guest who was a mathematician.  Mr. Math Man was talking about the “perfect number,” a mathematics concept wherein the divisors of said number add up to the number itself.  For example, 6 is a perfect number because 3 + 2 + 1 = 6.

But wait one darn minute.  Just prior to revealing this Perfect Number equation, Math Man said that the divisors of 6 are the numbers 3 and 2 (3 x 2 = 6), *AND* 6 and 1 (6 x 1 =6).  If you add all of those together you get 12, not 6.  Why was he leaving out 6 when he’d just said it was a divisor – as is 1, and he included the 1 in the “perfect number” equation?

 

 

No doubt there is some, because-we-define-it-this-way-that’s-why explanation that makes the less-than-perfect (IMO) definition of the perfect number more perfect – an explanation that would have to involve the divisors of the number but not the number itself being included in the “perfect” addition equation.

But wait, there’s more!

 

Too late.

 

Since every whole number is divisible by itself and one, that leaves the number one as a partnerless divisor in those perfect number equations…and you could never have a perfect number, using the definition of perfect number which the guest presented, unless the number itself was excluded from its divisors addition – again, which leaves the number one missing its divisor partner.  Which seems kinda lonely, to me. Can any number even be considered a divisor without the action of another number?

Yeah, I could google this.  I’d just rather throw out to the universe this silly rumination of arcane concepts question of burning importance to the very nature of our existence.

 

Make that, the divisor stands alone.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Momentarily Missing The Point

Moiself  has been using a new meditation app. One recent morning in a guided meditation, the narrator instructed me to “…make a mental note in my mind…”

Well…yeah…that is where I would make a *mental* note.

The note I was advised to make had to do about breathing, but instead and immediately moiself  started making mental notes about the delightful redundancy of the suggestion.

Yes, my mind is where I make my mental notes,
as opposed to my elbow or my spleen…
Wow! Am I so ahead of the practice, or what?!?!?

That went on for…way longer than it should have.

Although my investigation of the phenomenon assures me that it is common to all humanity, I’ve always thought that the dictionary definition of monkey mind should include a picture of moiself .

*   *   *

Department Of Silver Linings

The Presidential Inauguration.

As much as I was thrilled for the new Prez and Veep to be sworn in, moiself  girded my loins for the inevitable yet no-less-offensive-just-because-they-all-do-it invocation.  Of all the things that should *not* be heard in a secular democracy’s inauguration ceremony, religious rhetoric of any kind tops my list.  It turned my stomach for a variety of reasons.

I don’t care about Biden’s personal religion – that’s the point, it should be *his* personal business.  A nation based on a deliberately crafted, god-free constitution does not need to hear anything resembling advice or entreaties from a minister when we are installing our head of state – in particular, we don’t need the nonsense from a priest who quotes  the head of state of the worldwide cabal of celibate (ha!) sexists and altar boy buggerers.   [3]  

I was saved from my disgust when I realized what was to follow the putrid  proselytizing invocation.  The Inauguration announcer, who used his Solemn And Important ® voice to announce the Supreme Court Justices, and Harris and Biden, and then the invocation speaker, was also going to use that same voice to introduce she-who-was-to-sing-our-national-anthem.

Mere words cannot describe the petty thrill that tickled moiself  from eyebrows to tootsie-toes when I heard those stentorian tones used for the words I never expected would be part of an inaugural ceremony:

“Please welcome Lady Gaga.”

If only Her Ladyship could have worn her meat dress….

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of If I Had My Life To Live Over Again…

…I just might choose a multidisciplinary field of study which would have qualified me to be an “expert” on the recent  Freakonomics podcast I found so entertaining.  “The Downside of Disgust” (Ep. 448, 1-20-21) dealt with the human biological response and reflex known as disgust.

I imagine teaching an undergraduate course in the science and sociology of disgust. I would call moiself , Professor Eeeeeewwwwwwwwww.   [4]

*   *   *

Department Of Blast From The Past

Typing the previous section about disgust led me to trip down the Memory Lane staircase, where I landed spread-eagle on the floor of a recollection I posted about, way back on 10-19-12 (yikes – moiself  has been blogging for that many years?):

October 19, 1945, is the birthdate of Harris Glenn Milstead.  Better known as his stage name, “Divine,” the flamboyant transvestite starred in ten John Waters films,     [5]  and would have been 67 today had he not died 25 years ago from an enlarged heart.

Divine holds a special place in my normal-sized heart ever since we shared an elevator ride in our nation’s capital.  I was in town on a business trip, installing a computer system at WWDC.   [6]  The groundbreaking radio station    [7]   was located in a high-rise office building in downtown D.C. One morning after returning from our daily get-away-from-these-crazy-radio-people fresh air break, my installation partner R and I boarded an empty elevator in the building’s lobby. The elevator stopped at the next floor, and Divine and his PR agent (or so I guessed, from what I heard of their conversation) got on.

Although he lacked his customary stage attire and fright wig, the bald, 300 lb, self-proclaimed “Drag Queen of the Century” was (for me, at least) immediately recognizable. He was in full, eyebrow-elevating makeup, and looked petty much like the picture (below), despite his oddly conservative attire of a Hawaiian shirt, khaki pants and brown loafers.

R and I observed proper Elevator Etiquette and rode in silence, me using the elevator doors as a focal point as I tried to suppress my shit-eating grin.  R stole several furtive/suspicious, OMG glances at Divine, who chatted with his agent about an upcoming promo appearance.

The men exited the elevator two floors before our stop. As soon as the elevator doors closed I turned to R and gushed,
“That was Divine!

R’s cheeks nearly exploded with the force of her sputtered retort:
“That was disgusting!”

Turns out R had no idea who Divine was.

I explained. It didn’t help.

 

 

*   *   *

Pun For The Day

With great flourish, the Spanish magician exclaimed,
“On the count of three, I shall make myself disappear!
Uno!  Dos!” …and then he vanished, without a tres.

 

*   *   *

May you discover the cheap thrill of using your lowest, most somber voice to say, over and over again, “Lady Gaga;”
May you honor longtime colleagues with appropriate gifts – better yet, just tell them something you like about them;
May your favorite memories be Divine (or at least never disgusting);
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Mormons (usually privately) use the term “gentiles” to refer to anyone – yes, even Jews – outside of their LDS faith.

[2] Gasp – ’tis a podcast host’s worst nightmare, to have the name of their show less memorable than a listener’s random memory of it!

[3] Yes, that would be The Pope.  A fucking pope, the most anti-democratic kind of  “leader” there is…

[4] And on the first day of class, I’d ask Lady Gaga if I could borrow her meat dress….

[5] Most notably in “Pink Flamingoes,” as Babs Johnson, the film’s “Filthiest Person Alive,” dog-excrement eating heroine (just imagine what the film’s villains had to do).

[6] A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I worked for a company that designed computerized “traffic” systems for radio and television stations.

[7] “DC-101” was the first American radio station to play a Beatles song: “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” in December 1963.  DC-101 was where DJ Howard Stern was paired with news anchor Robin Quivers and honed his “shock jock” persona.

The Tomatoes I’m Not Throwing

7 Comments

The gentle, good-natured voice on the phone identified himself as the Opinion Editor of our city newspaper.  He’d recently returned from vacation and had only now seen the letter to the editor I’d submitted two weeks earlier. The letter was re the paper’s feature article on how three of Hillsboro’s public high school four football coaches regularly meet with a religious evangelist, whom the coaches allow to meet with the football players in pregame “chapel/prayer/meditation sessions.”

(My communiqué[1] synopsis:  Proselytizing; public schools, Establishment clause, WTF?)

Gentle Opinion Editor said he liked the tone of my letter, and that I’d taken the time to thoughtfully address an issue other than which candidate for state treasurer was in fact an accountant for Satan the various and ubiquitous electioneering rants.

GOE said he wanted to publish the letter. Okey-dokey, I said…but…from one writer to another, how you intend to edit it? GOE said there would be no editing – it would be run in its entirety as a Guest Opinion column, and not a mere letter to the editor.  And since I would be a columnist for one shining guest moment, he also wanted to run a photo of me.

“A photo of the author,” hmmm-ed the notoriously camera-averse moiself. “Ah, yes, so when the I-am-so-offended readers[2] want to hurl the rotten tomatoes they’ll have some idea of which face to aim at. Good thinking.”

As per his request I emailed him a photo, which he kindly acknowledged:
Thank you for the photo and for submitting your guest opinion in the first place. As I said, it was a nice change of pace from the flood of political endorsement (or partisan attack) letters we receive at this time of year.

Later that day, as MH, Belle and I scrounged for substitutes for The Dinner I was Not Cooking, we exchanged how-was-your-day stories and I told them about my upcoming Guest Columnist gig.

“When will it be published?” asked Belle.

“The editor said it would go ‘live’ Thursday morning, online.”

“The paper’s online edition?”  MH gave me a reassuring, the-tomatoes-will-never-find-you grin. “No one but the trolls will read it.”

*   *   *

Blogging, it seems to me, is going to be a lot like having your own school newspaper column.  Which I had, when I was in high school.  The column’s name was suggested by the newspaper’s editor-in chief, who was also a friend of mine. Her nickname for me, Parnal (rhymes with carnal), was a dis-utterance of my last name, Parnell.[3]  “Parnal Knowledge” appeared on the Op-ed page of every issue of the Santa Ana High School’s “The Generator” during my senior year.

I didn’t get paid for writing that, either.[4]

*   *   *

In a radio interview this past Wednesday, Tagg Romney[5] said that during the most recent debate he wanted to rush the stage and “take a swing at” President Obama for telling the truth calling Mitt Romney a liar. “But you know you can’t do that,” said Tagg (who chortled with all the sincerity of a Stephen King-penned whackadoodle trying to reassure the authorities that he’s a-joshin’ kind of macho man and didn’t really threaten the POTUS), “…first because there’s a lot of Secret Service between you and him…”

Yeah.  Bring it on, duuuuude. Because nothing says call Special Ops—this is one tough M-F, badass daddy-defender like a like a war-supporting/military service-avoiding, 40-year-old whiny trust fund baby who hauls his man parts around in magic tighty-whities.[6].

Thus and without further ado, the Asshat of the Week[7] award goes to the eldest Romney male clone. Tagg, you’re it!

*   *   *

Let us now pause to remember this stupid day in history.

October 19, 1739: England goes to war with Spain over disputed border lines in Florida. The War is known as the War of Jenkins’ Ear because the Spanish coast guards cut off the ear of British sailor Robert Jenkins.

*   *   *

The Guest Columnist interlude provided a short but sweet distraction from the week’s pressing task at hand: proof-reading the ARC[8] copy of my middle grade novel, “The Mighty Quinn.”  I need to get the edits back to the publisher by the end of this week, and good-naturedly carped about the chore to a witty and wise attorney, blogging mentor and fellow writer friend, SCM:

Have you ever been sick, sick, sick of reading your own writing?”

SCM recently did some free-lance work for an e-publisher, copyediting some really, really, atrociously composed genre fiction. She shrewdly pointed out that, indeed, although there were times she hated reading her own writing, it is better to be  sick, sick, sick of reading your own writing than to be truly nauseated by reading someone else’s.[9]

*   *   *

The afore-mentioned Dinner I was Not Cooking

Most Americans, likely and sadly, associate the name Aleppo with news of the ongoing bloody battles between the Syrian Arab Army and armed factions of the Free Syrian Army for control of the historic Syrian city. From my privileged perch of safety, I continue to think in culinary terms when I hear “Aleppo.”  Aleppo peppers, grown in the Middle East, are named for one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.  When dried and crushed the peppers look like a slightly smaller, more burgundy-colored version of dried red chili pepper flakes, packets of which are required by law (or so it seems) to accompany pizza take-out orders. In “hotness” rankings Aleppos are milder than other dried chilis, and have a unique, fruity, cumin-raisin like flavor…with a kick. You can find Aleppo pepper in specialty groceries or spice stores. I got my stash at the Portland’s Pezney’s, a great place to wander around and wonder how you ended up at the checkout counter with 15 varieties of mustard seeds in your grocery basket.

Sole with Aleppo Pepper (serves ~ 3-4)
– 2T EVOO
– 1/4 c finely chopped yellow onion
– 1t Aleppo pepper (more or less to taste)
– 3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
– 1 lb Dover sole filets, cut into chunks
– 1/2 c finely diced cherry, pear or plum tomatoes
– 1/4 c + 2T crumbled feta cheese
– 1/3 c evap. skim milk (or cream, if you’ve a yeah, so? relationship with your arteries)
For finishing:  some chopped fresh Italian parsley and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

1.  Preheat oven to 400.[10]

2.  Heat the EVOO in a cast iron skillet[11] and sauté onion until it softens (~ 4-5 m).

3.  Add Aleppo and garlic; sauté 30 seconds.

4.  Add sole, tomato, evap milk; cook, stirring constantly, for 2 m, or until sauce thickens.

5. Transfer skillet to oven or, if you prefer a fancier serving dish, pour skillet contents into an oven-proof baking dish (But really, who are you trying to impress? The kids and/or your spouse won’t care, your friends don’t need impressing, and there’s no casserole dish nice enough to distract your in-laws and/or parents from thinking , Yep, she’s going to serve us yet another one of her foo-foo concoctions that smell like foreign food – organic, schmanic, why not just broil a hunk of meat and open a can of peas?)

6. Either way, bake the dish uncovered for ~6-8 m, until sauce is bubbly.  Remove pan from oven, sprinkle with the feta, return pan to the oven for another 2 m.

7.  There is no step #7

8. Sprinkle the dish with the parsley and lemon juice and serve.

*   *   *

Whaddya mean, there’s nothing special to celebrate this weekend?

October 19, 1945, is the birthday of Harris Glenn Milstead.  Better known as his stage name, “Divine,” the flamboyant transvestite starred in ten John Waters films,[12] and would have been 67 today had he not died 25 years ago from an enlarged heart.

Divine holds a special place in my normal-sized heart ever since we shared an elevator ride in our nation’s capital.  I was in town on a business trip, installing a computer system at WWDC.[13]  The groundbreaking radio station[14] was located in a high-rise office building in downtown D.C. One morning after returning from our daily get-away-from-these-crazy-radio-people fresh air break, my installation partner R and I boarded an empty elevator in the building’s lobby. The elevator stopped at the next floor, and Divine and his PR agent (or so I guessed, from what I heard of their conversation) got on.

Although he lacked his customary stage attire and fright wig, the bald, 300 lb, self-proclaimed “Drag Queen of the Century” was (for me, at least) immediately recognizable. He was in full, eyebrow-elevating makeup, and looked petty much like the above picture, despite his oddly conservative attire of a Hawaiian shirt, khaki pants and brown loafers.

R and I observed proper Elevator Etiquette and rode in silence, me using the elevator doors as a focal point as I tried  to suppress my shit-eating grin.  R stole several furtive/suspicious OMG glances at Divine, who chatted with his agent about an upcoming promo appearance.

The men exited the elevator two floors before our stop. As soon as the elevator doors closed I turned to R and gushed, “That was Divine!

R’s cheeks nearly exploded with the force of her sputtered retort: “That was disgusting!”

Turns out R had no idea who Divine was.

I explained. It didn’t help.

Hilarity ensued.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] Communiqué, for any of you keep-prayer-in-schools fans, is Communist for “letter”

[2] “THAT’S the femnazi atheist witch who wants to dropkick our Lord out of the end zone!”

[3] (pɑrˈnɛl, stress on the second syllable).

[4] See my rant in first blog (10-10-12) re how there are too many ways for writers to write sans payment.  How important must I be, that I am able to reference myself?!

[5] Tagg Romney; Track & Trip Palin– what’s with neocons’ we-be-hip spawn names?

[6] Devout Mormons believe their “temple garments” are sacred and provide protection from the world’s evils, which apparently include the ability to form distinctive personalities and choose outer garments other than those pictured in a 15-year-old JC Penny catalog.

[7] A grateful Yee-Haw! to MH for graphics/logistical support way beyond the call of duty

[8] Advanced Reader Copies, aka, “galleys,” are copies of a book distributed 3-6 months before the book is officially released, to give reviewers, libraries, etc., as promo tools and to give an idea of what the final book will look like.

[9] No footnote needed.  Move along, folks, there’s nothing here to see.

[10] Yes, as in ˚Farenheit.  What else would it possibly mean?

[11][11] You don’t have a cast iron skillet?  You’re not still using that toxic, Teflon/nonstick jive, are you?

[12] Most notably in “Pink Flamingoes,” as Babs Johnson, the film’s “Filthiest person alive,” dog-excrement eating heroine (just imagine what the film’s villains had to do).

[13] A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I worked for a company that designed computerized “traffic” systems for radio and television stations.

[14] “DC-101” was the first American radio station to play a Beatles song: “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” in December 1963.  DC-101 was where DJ Howard Stern was paired with news anchor Robin Quivers and honed his “shock jock” persona.