Thursday, June 29, 2006
“What do you do with yourself?” they ask, as if the prospect of being someone besides themselves is just completely unfathomable. And while I’d like to say that I just drive home in a daze, function switch set to ‘off’ because the only time I feel worthy of living is when I’m in Your Presence, my honesty bone compels me to be, well, honest and I have to tell them the truth:
I lure in stray puppies and sometimes a cute bunny so that I may skewer them for grilling and while I’m at it, I save their wee furry heads so I can crunch happily upon them as an after-dinner snack. And their bony little tails make excellent wind chimes.
FIND THE TRANSITION
This morning I woke up in the foulest of moods, the kind where you dare your fellow rush hour drivers to cut you off or that one person to call who would make just one snide remark, just one, effectively rendering you a veritable missile of hatred-spewing word vomit and maybe a sharp object if they’re unlucky enough to be in the same room. This may or may not be in direct correlation to how much I slept last night and for that, I’d like to thank the really annoying lop-eyed kid from the nursery last night. I know I should like him because he’s a kid and sometimes he gets these moments where you can see how desperately he wants to be loved upon but I got news for ya kid: When you throw tantrums like YOU throw tantrums, don’t nobody want to be all up in your snot-smeared face. He’s got a cry that ceased being a cry about 45 decibels ago and turned into an ear-splitting wail. In fact, he sounds exactly like the tornado sirens that go off every Wednesday at noon and I don’t mean the buffered noise I hear inside an insulated building I mean the sound I hear when I’m standing ten feet away from the damn thing and it takes every ounce of sanity to remember that clawing out your eardrums with your finger is never a good option. Shoving a thin cylindrical object such as a pen or an icepack directly into your ear canal is much more efficient.
It wasn’t even that fact that the kid got on my nerves, though he did, or the fact that he wailed, which he definitely did. It was that during the fourteen times I woke up last night I heard that rising, falling, rising, falling wail inside my head. Which is pretty craptacular if you think about it because I SLEEP WITH EARPLUGS.
This isn’t really a good transition but I never claimed to be good at those so instead I’ll just tell you about the random dream I had last night, which isn’t really random because if all of your dreams are random them they actually turn into Normal but when you tell other people you have to revert back to the Random designation. For instance I once dreamed I walked into my high school gym for an evening of festivities known as “mixers” which I personally think is like a slap in the face because they can’t call it a cocktail party, seeing as how we’re underage, so they call it a mixer because they know that’s all we can buy. And don’t lie, I know you stole your dad’s margarita mix and put it in a glass in an attempt to be cool. Kind of like those bubblegum cigarettes they used to sell – you can’t have the real thing yet but damn if they don’t tease you about it.
Back to the walking in the gym part: When I arrived I pushed open the double doors to see a gym decorated right out of Sixteen Candles. Bleachers still out, disco balls twirling, maintenance men cringing at the hard soled shoes scuffing the gym floor. The only odd thing being that everyone was a vegetable. As in carrots and broccoli and cauliflower. Like they had put on a vegetable mascot suit and yet not because, well, I don’t know. All I can tell you is that they weren’t wearing suits, they were vegetables and I could see their faces and arms and legs sprouting from their vegetable torsos. And, oh yeah, no one would dance with me because I wasn’t a vegetable. Don’t cry for me, Argentina.
As for the dream last night, the only thing that makes it Random was the fact that nothing happened. I was sitting on a plane, ipod in hand. Only, I don’t actually own an ipod because ipods cost dollars and I’m running short on those. But that was the dream. Sitting on a plane with blue seats and the occasional window view. And every time I woke up I remembered having more of that dream, uneventful as it was.
I know, you totally wish you were me right now.
Monday, June 26, 2006
There were three women and one man working the counter inside and while normally I would have approached the man first I decided to scrap that plan immediately. I wasn’t near cute enough in my sweaty pony tail, dirty face and mud-encrusted legs to win over anyone’s attention and though some will find my fumbling neuroticness kind of amusing and cute at first, there is no way that the aforementioned fumbliness was going to work in conjunction with my present state of dress, not to mention the really nice river-smell I was undoubtedly leaving in my wake. So I walked to the side and patiently waited in line to speak with the woman with the super sporty pink scrunchy adorning her permed poof and hella-big bangs greeting the world with enough hairspray to kill a maggot.
When I first opened my mouth to speak, to tell this woman about my desire to forgo the ‘floating’ trip, a spiel that would include witty remarks about how ‘floating’ was actually ‘canoeing’ and while I may have grown up in the Delta I’d never been clued in on the difference and HA HA HA isn’t that funny Miss Convenience Store Worker? And then I got on the bus that said he was going over to the campground ‘round yonder and I somehow ended up here and HA HA HA look how that’s funny again Miss Convenience Store Worker! Look at us faux-bonding! And then I ended up here and it’s now 2pm and I’ve been sweating nonstop since 1pm yesterday and could anyone be so kind as to take me to the next campsite over? Yes, well, instead of all that I got about two words out before big fat tears just rolled down my grimy face and I started to hiccup, loudly, chest heaving out of sync with the deep shaky breaths I was trying to choke down. It was like scraping your knee as a kid and being perfectly fine with it until you got home and mom looked at your knee with such worry and kindness that you realized Hot Damn that DOES hurt and the big fat tears, you could hear them coming a mile away.
In my defense, I hadn’t had anything to eat since 6am not to mention a total lack of caffeinated beverages. This was back before I really started paying attention to the ulcers or the pain of the soon-to-be-diagnosed hiatal hernia so I downed cups of coffee like I should have been downing water but there’s nothing like going through so many packs of Extra Strength Tums that the Walgreens worker eventually makes a recommendation that you try the new vanilla flavored Rolaid chew because her 89-year-old grandma has ulcers too and she just LOVES them. My point being that you could have stabbed me in the arm and it would have been only relatively annoying in comparison to the no-food-and-caffeine-withdrawal headache I was sporting at that very moment.
What’s really unfortunate about all of this is that even though I’d opened up the floodgates in front of the permed worker, she wasn’t displaying a whole lot of sympathy, merely nodding her head and saying I was welcome to wait outside until I could get a hold of a member of my party, you know, with my non existent cell phone, my non existent fundage and my entire freaking party floating on a river in the middle of absolutely nowhere but with a whole lot of beer so YEAH I see one of them having a cell phone on them RIGHT ABOUT NOW.
Well, she wasn’t displaying a whole lot of sympathy until I dropped the Big Fat Lie on her. I may have been in the midst of a 24-hour panic-slash-hissy-slash-menstrual-cycle-approaching-abort!-abort!-fit but I could recognize an unsympathetic ear when I saw one. So just as she was angling her eyes to the customer behind me, my not-so-subtle signal to step to the side already, I dropped the clincher on her:
“It’s just that I’m diabetic and I left my insulin shots in the cooler and it just kind of freaks me out that they’d be so far away if I needed them and I haven’t eaten anything since 6am and I don’t need to go that long without eating and I’m so sorry to cry all over your counter but I didn’t realize it was going to be an all day trip and then I got on the wrong bus, like I told you a second ago, and I ended up here which is totally not my campsite but I’m feeling kind of woozy so I think I should just sit down here for a moment.”
And that, my friends, started a flurry of activity like I have never seen. Granted, I’m not diabetic but I sure do get cranky without a bit –o- food in the tummy. And I’ve never taken an insulin shot but I sure do support research that will get people off needles and bottles. Plus I give to the Humane Society every month and I figure that’s like a Karma Bank, right? So my one Big Lie is just debited against my good Karma credits and I’m fairly positive that saving cute puppies and kittens is way more important than stretching the truth a little so someone will drive me back to camp already.
Within fifteen minutes I’d been handed two chocolate bars, a delicious fizzy Dr. Pepper and been loaded into the passenger seat of the camp owners shiny new Trailblazer. For whatever reason she drove super slow so as not to dislodge my pancreas because obviously being diabetic means you have to drive very carefully so I’d like to stick up for the diabetics of the world and say WE ARE NOT INVALIDS. I mean, I was only diabetic for like 20.4 minutes but I FEEL YOUR PAIN, MY SISTERS.
Back at camp the nice lady dropped me off less than 10 feet from my tent with a sweet good-bye and a pat on the arm, indicating she hoped I got better real soon. Hate to burst your bubble there sugar but I hear that diabetes just isn’t something you get rid of but then, who am I to judge? The woman just drove me in Air Conditioned Splendor all the way to my tent after my word diarrhea combined with my self preservation skills completely took over the functioning parts of my brain. Plus she dropped me off less than ten feet from my tent, which was a mere 50 feet away from my vehicle and though my black Honda was dusty and dirty and the tires were sporting urine-tastic remnants courtesy of at least three females (including myself) who refused to either venture into the wooded area or walk half a mile to the concrete holes masquerading as civilized toilets, I could have given two dead rats and a goat about that. I drove myself to the camp showers three miles up the road and stood under streaming water that alternated between wicked scalding and wicked cold but my industrial strength hand soap came in wicked handy as I scrubbed my body free of the past 27 hours.
With fresh clothes and soppy wet hair I drove into town where I met my new BFF, Janelle, at the local Sonic. After I sucked down my first Route 44 Strawberry Limeade she was kind enough to bring me another, even after I just shook the styrofoam cup in her direction, making a gesture more commonly used in establishments that serve actual alcohol, a gesture indicative of ‘Gonna need another one of these, yeah, thanks.’ I then happily drove back to camp where I decided I needed another shower, so I stopped on my way in and scrubbed the scrubbable bits again and emerged feeling, if not pretty, at least free of residual debris. I then drove back to camp where I alternated sitting in a lounge chair in the direct path of a giant boxfan (amazing how well those things work when you don’t have to share them with ten other people) and sitting in my drivers seat in the direct path of my air conditioning.
The evening when everyone returned was fairly uneventful, unless you count driving to some random guys house, watching Gumby’s doppelganger pass out head first into an ant bed, cramming said Gumby into the backseat of my vehicle and finally passing out (from tiredness, not beer) in a tent around 3am uneventful.
Once the weekend was officially over and I was officially ensconced in the blessed coolness of my apartment, I gave my a/c a big hug and a tickle, just so it knew how much I appreciated it. I also figured out that there is nothing, and I mean NOTHING wrong in being the girl that insists upon staying in a hotel, ordering room service and watching reruns of Sex and the City on TBS. There’s nothing wrong with insisting the air conditioner remain below 75 degrees during the months of April through October. There’s nothing wrong with insisting that your head will viciously and mortally attack some rocks should you stay in that canoe. But I have to give Lilleee some mad props or whatever the hell the younguns say today because without her *sniff* I would never have known just HOW MUCH of That Girl that I most certainly am.
Though in my defense I do kill bugs on my own and fix stopped up bath tubs and stand supportively by when friends have kitchen sinks that spew forth foulness. And I only take like thirty minutes to get ready and that includes shower and putzing time.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Once there I pulled myself up the incline by grasping various branches and trees above me, pushing my feet between the rocky bits and the moderately sturdy clumps of mud. Don’t let this image fool you, however; I am by no means an athletic individual. The image you should have is of a sweaty, red-faced white girl scrambling up an embankment by any means necessary and if those ‘any means’ happened to involve flashing the entire cast of “Dazed and Confused- Gone Campin’!” then so be it. Getting the hell out of that river was incentive enough.
At the top of the embankment was an overgrown rail-road track, the kind where a few years of small weeds turned into saplings turned into giant attack trees insisted on impeding my every step. Back at the drop-off point I again had to demonstrate my mad climbing skills, this time butt-first and with a little less climbing and a little more ungraceful sliding. Also known as tumbling but really, who’s judging me at this point.
The gentlemen at the base of the hill, not so cleverly concealing their amusement at seeing me again, pointed me in the direction of the White Oak bus. Or rather, from what direction the White Oak bus would be coming, you know, in the next hour or so. Rather than let the bandana-ed hippies see my tears of frustration and residual gut-clenching panic, I walked calmly over to the base of a nearby tree and gingerly sat down upon a scratchy root, wishing for a nice cold martini in a nice frosty glass in a nice clean bar, preferably with hot bartenders and padded seats.
Thirty minutes later and I decide it’s time for action. I’ve seen two Shady Pines buses roll by and nary a sign of the one I actually need, so I walked up the gravel road, purposeful-like, to see what I could see. Mainly because staring at the algae floating in the river was about as amusing as watching NASCAR though not nearly as disturbing as watching The Ultimate Fighting Champion, so I guess I had something to be thankful for. That and the somewhat amusing display of watching a man with a 48-inch waist in 32-inch denim shorts cram himself inside a plastic kayak. Fat Man in a Little Coat has nothing on Fat Man in a Little Kayak.
At the end of the gravel road was some pavement masquerading as a highway. Being in the middle of nowhere as we were, the only passerby I laid my eyes upon were a bunch of ants and one lone rusty truck, complete with toothless hillbilly and the soundtrack to Deliverance playing in stereo inside my head. Thankfully I didn’t have much longer to wait as I saw an unmarked bus ambling down the highway, blinker flashing. I flagged down the driver who brought the monstrosity to a screeching halt at the entrance to the gravel road.
“What campground are you headed to?” I ask.
“The one named after them there trees.” he says, pointing to a clump of trees that stopped being a clump about 200 years ago and turned into a forest, complete with underbrush and toothy woodland creatures.
“The oak trees?” I say, attempting to conceal my annoyance and not getting a straight answer.
“Yep, I reckon.”
So I jump inside after I get the go-ahead nod from Mr. Busdriver and take a seat on the empty bus about four slots down from the driver seat. Because while I appreciate the ride I don’t appreciate the ride enough to sit close enough to make conversation.
We waited about fifteen minutes for any individuals disembarking from their canoe trip but it was early yet and someone would have had to start paddling at dawn to have made it back by 11:30am. So after a brief conversation between the river guides and Mr. Busdriver, we were pulling out onto the highway and roaring back towards camp. Top speed: 45mph. At that point I couldn’t have cared less; I was fifteen minutes away from my vehicle and the Air Conditioned Splendor it was going to provide me, not to mention the Sonic run I was already anticipating. So I rested my head against the window pane, feigning an exhausted sleep to keep from having to answer the random questions concerning my marital status and the color of my bathing suit.
Sleeping in a pool of sweat the night before must have actually exhausted me because I kind of dozed off at some point, awakening to the crunch and bump of rough gravel beneath the bus wheels. I could see a collection of brightly colored tents in the distance and I was inordinately excited about some melted Little Debbie snacks and hot Gatorade because the runny eggs from that morning were definitely not holding up their end of the bargain, though I was certainly grateful for their continued occupation of my stomach and not the sudden occupation of a grassy knoll.
As the bus rounded the corner I saw the roof of a brightly painted log cabin and had a moment of utter confusion. My campsite didn’t have a log cabin. My campsite had a silver metal building and cinderblock restrooms. My campsite didn’t have brightly colored flags hanging about the parking lot or handily placed Coke machines.
Then it dawned on me: This was not my campsite and I was eight miles away from my tent in 110 degree heat with no money and a bus driver who only shook his head and said “Oh, thought you meant this one” when I pointed out that this campsite, the one he drove me to, was not named after oak trees it was NAMED AFTER PINE TREES and then told me I had to leave the bus because he was going on lunch.
For the second time in two days I had a mental image of someone coming across my dried-up lifeless body, this time after I attempted to hike eight miles on a dusty gravel road and fell victim to vicious toothy woodland creatures or maybe just a total lack of water. So I turned around and marched my still sweaty body towards the log cabin, hoping to utilize whatever feminine wiles I had left after sleeping in sweat, ingesting runny eggs, having a panic attack in a flimsy metal canoe, scrambling up an embankment, tumbling down an embankment and now being dropped off in the hot dusty parking lot of a campsite that was most definitely not my own.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
On the twenty minute ride in Unairconditioned Splendor, Lilleee did her very best to allay my fears. I, of course, was still struggling with the realization that when Arkansans say “float” they do not, in fact, mean “float.” They mean canoe. With paddles. Over rapids. FOR FUN.
I’ll stop the story here and explain that while a canoe doesn’t scare me, paddling it down a river full of rocks and rapids and currents and creepy river creatures not only scares me, it kind of makes me want to curl into a wee little ball and sing nursery rhymes. Whenever those commercials come on that show people flying down a river in a yellow floating raft, their paddles flailing about, completely ineffectual against the RAGING CURRENT AND ALL, I close my eyes for fear that one day one of those commercial makers won’t pay enough attention and they’ll include footage of someone’s happy smiling face contorting into bowel-loosening fear as they are bumped from their river ride, head first onto an awaiting jagged, protruding rock.
Because when it’s Head vs. Rock, Rock always wins.
At the drop-off site everyone de-boarded the bus with their Coleman ice chests filled with delicious and nutritious snacks of sliced apples and crackers, if sliced apples and crackers are really cases of Natty Light and processed meats shaped in phallic formations. So Lilleee and I proceeded to pick out our canoe and paddles, all while I attempted to hold back the chewy bacon and over-easy eggs from that morning’s Camp Regulated breakfast. We gingerly stepped into our chosen Canoe-o-Death, me in front, Lilleee in back. Theoretically, as Lilleee is much shorter and lighter than myself, those roles should have been reversed. But I think my clenched jaw and white face convinced her that an even distribution of weight meant nothing if we didn’t have someone in back who was capable of using the paddle for more than an attack weapon against the curving, hanging vines and gnarly tree trunks.
As a group we pushed off together thanks to the not-so gentle hands of the river guides, all of whom were highly amused at my state of frozen distress. We got all of two football fields down the river when I saw the first batch of rapids looming in the distance and without thinking I began to paddle backwards, attempting to somehow reverse the canoe towards shore. Then I swiveled around to Lilleee and said:
“Fezik, are there rocks ahead? If there are, we all be dead!”
I think I kind of frightened her a bit because she started talking to me in that voice people use when they’re trying not to distract a rabid dog or an inmate that’s spent a lot of time in solitary. But no matter how many times she told me that everything was fine, no one was going to die, the rocks were tiny and insignificant and that she would bodily throw herself in harms way should my head show any signs of attacking a rock, I just couldn’t fathom spending ten more hours in that flimsy metal canoe. Especially without a helmet and a prescription for Valium.
So I pulled my paddle out of the water, the one that had been attempting to defeat not only Lilleee’s normal forward-moving paddling but the river current as well and placed it on my lap, my head resting on my knees. I took two deep breaths, told myself to stop quoting The Princess Bride and get out of the canoe already because say what you will, I accept the fact that I’m a giant weenie and you know what? This giant weenie still has a head with a firmly attached cranium, not to mention a total lack of bloody gushing gaping holes in said cranium.
Once out of the canoe I realized the quandary in which I had most securely placed myself. The current was too strong and the river too deep for me to walk/swim back to the drop off point. The remaining campers, the majority of whom I’d never met in my life, continued to stare in abject horror at the girl Lilleee had brought as a camping buddy, one who was exhibiting qualities displayed by ‘those’ girls, the ones who squeal at bugs or put makeup on before an all-day river trip. I hadn’t put any makeup on and I wasn’t audibly squealing at bugs but I was most definitely having a hissy fit to end all hissy fits and hardcore campers just do not have hissy fits. Plus, they tend to look down on those individuals, specifically me, who make it quite clear that come hell or high water, they are NOT getting back in that canoe.
After a brief discussion that involved one camper moving into the forward seat I’d previously vacated and one poor (and already vastly intoxicated) kid becoming the lone captain of his canoe, Lilleee tells me to remember to get on the bus to White Oak Campground, not the one to Shady Pines.
“Don’t forget,” she says again. “The bus to White Oak, not Shady Pines”
Monday, June 19, 2006
See, last year Lilleee asked me to accompany her on this yearly trip and I agreed because what sounds better than ‘float’ and ‘trip’ in the same sentence? I conjured up all kinds of images of myself lying languorously upon a black innertube, floating lethargically down a glistening river, making occasional forays into the attached ice chest for a cold beer and maybe even a sandwich.
That Saturday morning Lilleee and I left Little Rock in our cute little tank tops and pony tails, sunglasses perched perkily atop our heads. Our two person tent was shoved into the back of my trunk, along with enough foodstuffs to feed a small Romanian army. Neither of us had sleeping bags but being in the midst of a three-month long heat wave, we were none too concerned with that situation. I’d stripped the foam mattress from my bed the night before and slipped two light coverlets into my travel bag, content that those items would more than serve their purpose of protecting us from flying tent critters and bumpy ground. Well, that and some heavy duty bug spray.
We arrived in the heat of early afternoon, the sun swirling so close to the baked earth I had Indiana Jones-esque images of someone stumbling upon my dried and mummified corpse in fifty years, the pink polish on my toes still faintly visible, my hair dry and lifeless, grayed from the accumulation of dusty sand.
Within two hours we’d folded our sweaty bodies back inside my Honda, giving thanks to the Blessed Air Conditioning Gods and the local Sonic for supplying us with gallon sized cups of cherry limeades. We then perused the local Wal-Mart for travel-sized folding chairs and a pair of shorts that I could deem Of Acceptable Length. I hadn’t purchased a pair of shorts since 1999 and even those were for a summer spent as a counselor at an over priveledged white kid camp and all I got out of that situation was a raging case of mono and a really unfortunate tan line. But after only an hour spent in heat equal to the fourth level of Dante’s Inferno, I was more than willing to toss my pride and don shorts that not only showcased my frightening paleness but the jiggly bits as well.
On the way back to camp we stopped in a moderately deserted strip mall parking lot so I could stand between the front and rear passenger doors while stripping off my soaked-with-sweat cotton pants. I was beyond caring who or what saw my naked ass and all I can say is whatever residual embarrassment there was regarding stripping down in front of a busy highway was completely negated by the instant relief I felt in pulling on vented nylon shorts.
Back at camp we plopped our newly purchased lawn chairs around the nonexistent campfire while swigging bottle after bottle of gatorade and water. Never in my life has Gatorade tasted so good. By six pm I would have traded my car for a case of the stuff, if only for the fact that it meant I could remain seated in relative discomfort while having someone hand me a bottle rather than exert any kind of physical effort which would easily have pushed me into the zone of utter and extreme discomfort.
I think we ate hamburgers that night but I really couldn’t tell you.
The next morning the whole camp was up at dawn, eager for the traditional camp breakfast of bacon and eggs and an early start on the float trip. But the thing about cooking bacon on a small portable stove is that it takes longer than just driving into town and getting a bacon biscuit already. All of this, combined with the the amount of money our fellow campers had spent on air mattresses and battery-less air pumps and vented tents and plastic tarps and special cooking stoves and cooking utensils and travel ice chests made me wish I’d just put my foot down about making a McDonalds run and pinky-swearing that I’d never tell anyone about our little cave-in to capitalist conformism. I’d have maintained our staunch devoutness to Camping Regulations until the day I died or until someone bribed me with some Hawaiian coconut syrup and crunchy waffles, whichever came first.
By ten am we’d driven in our respective vehicles to the drop-off point, the point where everyone else who’d purchased five-hundred dollars worth of camping equipment to pitch tent on flat, tree-less ground was waiting to catch the hourly bus to whatever part of the river someone had deemed acceptable to begin floating upon. About that time I started to pick up on conversation that involved placing ice chests inside... something that definitely wasn’t an innertube. Because innertubes have holes for you to sidle your ample backside into while your arms and legs drop lazily over the sides. They do not, however, have places in which you may place an ice chest.
Then I heard talk of paddles and I started to have that itchy, sinking feeling in my stomach. One doesn’t need a paddle on an innertube. One only needs the gentle river current to push one along.
And then someone had to go and loudly proclaim their excitement over the low-water level and how much fun it was going to be going over the rapids this year.
Friday, June 16, 2006
When you combine my inability to hold back the babbling brook of nonsense with the lack of skills in the Game category, you get one very spaztastic individual. I will attempt to flirt, then backpeddle on the flirting, then apologize for the flirting and then attempt to flirt again. It’s a vicious, vicious cycle and one that gets me nowhere, unless nowhere is now a bright red face and twitchy hands.
So last night, after my ridiculous attempts at behaving like a Girl With Game, I ended up talking with my friend Brittany about the Nature Of Crushes and what I’ve concluded is that the entire human race is in dire need of some Lithium. Why do we do this to ourselves? It’s like repeatedly putting your hand on a hot iron even though you’re quite aware that a) the iron is hot b) exceptionally hot objects leave burns c) burns are vastly uncomfortable and often leave nasty oozing bubbly sores and d) nasty oozing sores get infected, which leads to fever and chills and then DEATH. But then we resurrect ourselves from The Death and walk right back up to the iron and, displaying not one ounce of reservation, reach out, palm up, directly towards that scalding heat. And then we act all surprised when that pesky ol’ iron burns us. For like the seventeenth time.
I’m not going the usual female route with this and saying that everyone gets burned and why should we continue when we’ve got a whole plethora of sperm banks out there and why don’t we just form a giant female army and fly flags with giant furry vaginas on them. The analogy I was attempting to make stems more from the uncomfortableness one gets from having A Crush, how the pit of your stomach gets all roily and toily and the food sticks in the back of your throat when you see The Crush’s number on your caller id. Why isn’t it socially acceptable for me to say, albeit reluctantly and with much fumbling, that I’m totally into recycling and if you were an empty Coke can I’d crush you in a heartbeat? And then The Crush can just respond with a yes, no, maybe. Yes, I’m into recycling as well! No, I’m not that into recycling. Or, Maybe I’m into recycling, maybe I’m not; I’d have to learn more about the recycling to give you a true affirmative or negative.
And then, AND THEN, you know what? The Crush-y feeling could be over! Problem solved! No more wasted half-eaten sandwiches!
But the more I try to behave appropriately, the bigger an Ass I make of myself. I assume that things always have a black and white answer and if two people agree on the same answer then they should just skip all the randomness and stomach churning part and get to the finale already. But then people have to go and point out that the time spent in the stomach churning zone allows details to be hammered out but thing is, I’m so not a detail person. I keep organized piles of crap in my hopes of one day becoming a detail person and then my friend Lillleeeee will get in my car and say “Baby, you know your water bill is down here on the floor board.” and I respond with “Holy catpoop, really?” and then she pulls it out and stuffs it in my purse with a “I know how you are about these things so I put it right next to your debit card.” and I nod my head in agreement and then still manage to overlook it for another five days. My whole point being that I’m fine with getting the water bill and I’m fine with paying the water bill but the part in the middle where I write out the check and put the stamp on the envelope is an awful lot of effort for me and, as mentioned above, I just want to skip to the finale where the water bill is paid already because I happen to quite like taking showers and having sparkling clean dishes. *sigh
I’m also hoping that craptacularly embarrassing myself on this most public of forums will force The Crush to realize I’m not to be encouraged because THIS is what you have to put up with and it’s best to just, you know, um, not encourage. I said that already but whatever. Bite me.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
There is no point to the above observation except that it was a nice lead-in to the statement I am making today with my own hair, unbrushed, and my shoes, bright as yellow (and if you ever owned the soundtrack to the above movie then I heart you for getting that reference- if not- I don’t judge too harshly because I never get movie references and mostly get slightly annoyed that someone knows something I don’t, being as how I’m the World’s Most Mature Individual and all). But there’s no Mental Anguish vibe on my end today, only the Woke Up Late With No Time To Shower vibe. I also have no plans to buzz cut myself because it took long enough to grow out my old lady-slash-lesbian ‘do and what if it turns out that I have an oddly shaped head? It serves to reason that Natalie Portman could shave her head and still look like a sprightly elf. I, however, would shave my head and look like a chubby, if slightly stubbly, bowling ball. A bowling ball with maybe a strange bump on the lower left side or an emerging and previously unknown tentacle on the upper right. So obviously this is just a chance I cannot take. With the head shaving and all. Other chances, like the chance to not wait in line at the Walgreens drive-thru for my entire lunch hour or the chance to not have my shoes rub uncomfortably on my left heel or even the chance to avoid committing a serious overshare offense via email, well, those chances, I AM ALL OVER THEM.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
That evening as I trudged home I saw my parents waiting for me at the base of our driveway, both of them sitting on the tailgate of my dad’s truck, legs calmly swinging back and forth. Wanting to convey the true depth of my hatred I kept my mouth firmly shut until I was on eye-level with their swinging knees.
“You’re not thinking of running away, are you? Because we haven’t got any bug spray to give you and you know the chiggers are out full-force this year.”
To this day I have no idea how they both knew about our plan but I blame Stacy’s mom for foiling our adventure. She was always stingy with her fruit roll-ups. And if I’m really honest, my chin might have been a touch quivery. Seven-year-olds are never half as sneaky as they think they are. Especially quivery-chinned ones.
So my first attempt at running away was scrapped in lieu of eating some watermelon while sitting on my mother’s knee. I never asked but I’m assuming the phone lines ran hot between houses that evening, warning of an impending strike on the seven-year-old front. I can’t say as we were ever a big threat, though. I never could keep my eyes open past ten o’clock and Casey never once managed to make it through a sleepover without having to be walked home in the middle of the night. That left Stacy, and lord knows she’d never have walked up a dark street by herself. She demanded four night-lights, a closet light and a bathroom light be left on well into her early tweens.
Theoretically I should have learned from that episode that packing up isn’t always the best option. But many years later and my first instinct is still to pull out a suitcase and run for the car. Bored? Run away. Angry? Run away. Frustrated? Run away. Preferably to a sunny locale with palm trees.
So I sit here today, knowing I’ve got the vacation hours and a hella huge credit limit, not to mention the residual shakes from a barely-survived Spring Fever combined with the full-on itch of Summer Wanderlust. All of that along with the mental screaming I just had to do, locked tightly inside my office’s hunter green bathroom stalls, has led me to the following conclusion:
I need to get out.
I’d say ‘run away’ but running away now implies a permanence I can’t quite fathom, one involving a bank account with no bi-weekly direct deposits, much less a shortage of bug spray. Also, my cats can barely make it through one morning without fresh food in their bowl so imagine the inevitable throw-down when they realize that Mommy’s last ten dollars isn’t going towards some tasty niblets but some Diet Dr. Pepper and a giant Star Crunch. They may look sweet and cuddly but don’t think they won’t claw my face off if I come between them and some tuna-flavored Cat Chow.
Besides the fact that if I did, just once, succumb to this Run Away Now feeling I get, what good what it do me? I lived in an indisputably fabulous city and was miserable 95% of the time, with the last 5% spent in the Museum of Natural History, a place that at least took the edge off my selfish moroseness. It was quiet and cool and I never once felt the prickle of fluorescent lights on my skin. I learned the hard way that my locale means nothing if I’m not near people I love and who obviously love me just as much in return. It doesn’t matter if it’s one or twenty; the love, it needs to be in the air tonight. Because the thing is, there isn’t a single person in the entire world that I can look at and say “Remember that time in the park when those clowns were playing the bongos?” Because the clowns, THEY WERE PLAYING THE BONGOS. No one can contribute in a discussion involving the lobster bisque from SoHoMade Soups on Houston St. and the bisque made by that crazy guy from Seinfeld, the Soup Nazi. No one can agree with me that SoHoMade is way better, not to mention cheaper, and their sandwiches are pretty fab, too. Maybe it’s a romanticized viewpoint but I truly just like the idea of shared memories, of being able to say, when asked where I want to eat lunch, “That place we had those crab cakes two weeks ago.” My point being that I’m a giant puss-n-boots and I’m too scared to pack up and move somewhere, to a place where nobody knows your name and certainly isn’t glad you came.
So if running away isn’t an option, then a vacation has to be. And maybe that’s really the source of this run-away feeling. I need a vacation that doesn’t involve taking off work to sit in my apartment and lint-roll the curtains. I need a vacation that doesn’t involve me driving four hours away, holing up in a hotel and turning off my phone. I want to go frolic among some palm trees or skyscrapers or vineyards and be able, months later, to look at someone and say “Remember when?”
Friday, June 09, 2006
Last Friday I noticed that for the previous several days I’d been repeatedly lowering the little lever on the air conditioner box in the hallway, the one that controls my selection of heat or cool, fan or auto. By the time I’d pushed it down to 62 degrees it dawned on me that perhaps the air conditioner was not doing its job of, you know, conditioning because I consider a setting of 62 a rather frigid temperature and the only thing frigid in that apartment were my eyeballs as I stared down the temperature gauge as it calmly displayed 84. In case you are wondering, I categorize 84 degrees as sweltering and there is nothing about breaking a sweat in your own apartment that makes you a pleasant person. Nothing.
I suffered through the weekend with the help of my one meager fan, purchased not for it’s cooling qualities but because it was a brushed nickel throw-back to days of yore. Translation: I bought it because it was cute and because I had intentions of always living in an air-conditioned environment, hence negating the actual usage of the fan for anything other than possible smoke dissipation after I’d set something else in the kitchen on fire.
On Monday I made an in-person visit to the office of my landlord where I firmly stated my position concerning the air conditioner: Fix It Now Or I Will Cut You. After last summer’s cooling debacle involving two weeks of laying on my bed in my underwear with the windows open, sweat dripping from my forehead and pooling beneath my back, promising any listening deity my eternal soul if they’d just send me a breeze, any breeze, I was so not about to play the nice card or even the polite card. I wanted it made clear that while I may be a Southern Lady, don’t think I won’t find somebody named Guido who’s willing to break your knees.
So when I came home that evening and saw the foyer light on I was giddy with excitement that someone had already been inside, fixing whatever it was that made my air conditioner unhappy. I unlocked the door and heard the sound of rushing air and I had a whole five seconds of happiness before I realized that the blowing air, it was hot. I walked into the hallway and looked at the wee little box and noticed it had a) been turned back on and b) been set to 55 degrees. I’m not sure what statement you were trying to make by leaving the apartment like that but let me assure you that I knew the air conditioner was off and that one must turn it to ‘on’ before expecting air to come out of those festively placed vents. Also, you left the toilet seat up and the bathroom light on. Not cool.
Tuesday rolled around and I placed a call to my landlord who indicated that the problem had been fixed. It was unfortunate for his sake that I had to correct him that it was, in fact, not fixed and that leaving the a/c on 55 does not guarantee a working system. He promised to send someone out that day but lo, I came home to a very dark and very hot house.
Then Wednesday, another phone call to the landlord and another evening of coming home to a very dark and very hot house.
Finally, yesterday, yet another phone call to the landlord with not-so vague references to property damage and his possible conversion to eunuch status. Apparently this is what got the ball(s) rolling because when I came home the air conditioner, it was working. Working so beautifully that the cats had curled themselves into a onsie in the corner of the couch, noses buried in each others necks rather than lying on their backs, bellies exposed, hoping the wood floor would provide some measure of coolness.
And even though you managed to blow the grid for an entire six-block radius while replacing my compressor, I don’t judge. You have provided me with Air Conditioned Splendor and for that, you are my new BFF. My only request is that you remember to put the seat down when you visit because otherwise, I will have to remove your pinkie toe with pruning shears. Rusty ones.
Group hug with respect knuckles at the end,
Thursday, June 08, 2006
I Feel Like I Should Send Elton John A Condolence Card Because I'm Definitely Not Feeling The Love Tonight
Yesterday evening as I was walking into the nursery, mentally preparing myself for an evening of guaranteed insanity with a whole herd of children under the age of six, I felt my phone vibrate in my purse. By the time I finally succeeded in locating the damn thing from those murky depths I had managed to miss the call, which totally just succeeded in pissing me off as I’m attempting to train myself to always pick up the phone and not choose to just let it ring because what if it’s that British guy from the Transporter calling to tell me he’s desperately in love with me and will I run away to Fiji with him? Seriously, I would stab MYSELF in the eye if I missed that call.
When I looked at the missed call list I noticed that it was an international number. There is only one person in the whole entire world who’s ever called my cell phone, my only phone, from an international number and after doing a mental calculation I figured out it would be roughly 3am his time, not a time usually associated with phone chats. But the displayed number looked roughly the same, meaning that it was an unintelligible string of numbers with a bunch of dashes thrown in just for shits and giggles, so I shrugged my shoulders and sent him an email expressing my deepest deepest sorrow at missing his call. Because if someone makes the effort to call me from another country I might as well be nice enough to pick up the phone, no?
About that time I got a beep on the cell indicating a voicemail had been left. Much like the on-going training of Teaching Robin To Pick Up The Phone, I’ve been undergoing therapy for Letting Voicemails Pile Up Until The Phone Explodes Disease. Part of my rehabilitation program is to immediately check my voicemail no matter how much I’d rather bypass the annoying little reminders and beeps and vibrations.
The voicemail connects and I’m listening to the message, fully expecting to hear one very distinct voice on the other line and then totally confused when that voice isn’t there and I’m listening to a random conglomeration of vaguely Arabic-sounding individuals, all speaking at once and making not one lick of sense. Because we were lucky to get a French teacher in
At this point I’m starting to doubt my original suspected caller identity and I’m getting kind of freaked out. Because who really wants random international calls coming to their phone? Exactly.
Thirty minutes go by and I’m still obsessing over this call. I need a hobby, I know. But about this time the phone vibrates again and it’s the same number, the random international one, so I answer it, still half-way listening for the Expected Voice, the one that speaks Yankee with a Twist-o-Cali. But instead I get this:
Er, no. This is Robin.
Thees ees Mufasninliueoashgiuwer?
Er, no. Still Robin.
I speeeak weeth Mufasninliueoashgiuwer?
Er, no. You speak with Robin.
Yeeww speeeak weeth Mufasninliueoashgiuwer?
Yeeww not Mufasninliueoashgiuwer?
Um, who is this?
She ees meye Umehrican guhlfreend.
Definitely not me, but you have a good night.
Dude, seriously. I’m not your American girlfriend. And neither is Mufasninliueoashgiuwer if she gave you this number.
I speeeak weeth Mufasninliueoashgiuwer?
This cat called back twice that evening, each time leaving vastly unintelligible messages. Personally, I think it’s time that Mufasninliueoashgiuwer gave somebody a break-up call. Just saying.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Sam the Cyst isn’t really a cyst though, he’s a staph infection. A really really nasty dirty staph infection caused by rubbing human waste over open sores which should just serve as a reminder to the rest of you out there that rubbing poo on yourself is never cool. Never. (Disclaimer: I am, of course, kidding. About the poo part, not the staph part)
By nine o’clock last night Amanda was whimpering on the other end of the phone and making not-so vague references to cutting the whole swollen (and growing) mass out with a dirty fork. I don’t condone using dirty forks for anything other than stabbing really annoying people in the eye so I told her I’d be there in fifteen and to have pants on when I got there.
Thirty minutes later and we’re sitting in the emergency room surrounded by people with pink bathrobes, bloody noses, mullets and one very large KFC bucket. I am assuming the KFC bucket was for the occasional vomiter but I could be wrong. Maybe someone just got fucking hungry. I don’t judge.
Before I go any further I have to tell you that I’ve never had a pleasant ER experience. Last year I took my brother to the emergency room three nights in a row because he was just dying from a vicious undiagnosed case of mono. In one night alone we spent six hours staring at hospital walls and smelling really super hospital smells. Four of those were spent in the waiting room. My own personal experience involved being shoved into the back seat of my vehicle after four days of continuous vomiting. I don't remember much about the drive but I do remember passing out in the waiting room after hitting hour number two with a waiting room chock full of three other people. Obviously I'd caught the staff of Conway Regional on their dinner break.
So it wasn't with much hope that I walked into the hospital last night, though I did walk in with four books because I'll be damned if I have to read one more issue of 'Parenting.' Amanda signed in and we took seats far away from the other freaks which gave us a good four inches of breathing room. I'm a little scared to google this but I think that's farther than even the track-n-field lice can jump so here's hoping we both left the hospital lice-free
Not ten minutes later we were called to the front to fill out some paperwork and already I was kind of annoyed because I'd just gotten comfortable and getting up meant that it was entirely possible we'd lose our prime seat real estate. We sat down while the very pale man who actually kind of glowed under the fluorescent lights took Amanda's blood pressure, pulse and temperature. She gave a brief explanation of her symptoms and I was quite proud of her for being so coherent while wanting to stab herself with a dirty fork. The pale one listened intently until Amanda was finished and then without a single exchange of dialogue, picked up the phone to his right and spoke in quiet, clipped sentences.
"I have a 28-year-old female. Two degree fever. Surface abdominal infection. Patient says has grown substantially since afternoon. Changing colors."
He hangs up the phone, grabs a bright green laminated sheet from behind him and slides it across the desk.
"Go give your insurance information to Myrna over there. We're going to go ahead and get you on in."
Amanda and I exchange brief looks, terrified of fucking with our good luck. It was then that we looked at the green sheet that was apparently our ticket behind the waiting room door. In bright pink letters:
We give the insurance card to Myrna and get quickly ushered through the door. We're led past the curtained-off rooms, past the security guard, past the nurses station and finally into a large corner room with an actual door, a big heavy door with a small window with wired, unbreakable glass. Less than thirty seconds later two nurses walk in and lift Amanda's shirt for a quick inspection. I won't give you a description of what Sam the Cyst looks like, I'll just tell you that both nurses did simultaneous OOOOOHHH-hisssss noises and reached for the latex gloves. A bit of poking and they were out the door looking for the doctor.
Three minutes later the doctor walks in and goes immediately for the gloves. She does more poking and prodding at Amanda's stomach and gives us the following stunning news:
"Yep. That's infected."
I can't tell you how much it took for me to shut my lips to the fifty or so responses I had for that phrase but I think I was just too damn grateful that my total estimated emergency room visit was just pushing thirty minutes and we were already conversing with an actual medical school graduate.
Five minutes later and Amanda has her clothes back on and we're pulling out of the parking lot with two prescriptions and a printout on staphalamacaphaussamdma-something-or-other. By the time we pull into Walgreens I've calculated that only forty minutes of my life were spent in that ER and I kind of want to send them some flowers, maybe even a thank-you note. Hell, I'd make out with all of them just to show my utter gratitude and appreciation. Because I've never even heard of best-case scenarios where people get out of the emergency room that quick. People get all impressed and shit if they get out of the waiting room before an hour passes, much less getting a bed, a doctor AND a prescription in that time frame.
So I've decided that I'm taking Amanda with me on all hospital visits because while we always get shitty service at restaurants and end up coming back from lunch 20 minutes late because the waiter at Jasmines forgot to bring me half of my lunch and then acts all surprised and shit when I ask him for the sixth time to put my spicy tuna roll in a box, like to-go, like now- rest assured that should I trip over my cats and need some sort of medical attention I AM TAKING HER WITH ME.
Her luck only runs with hospitals though because we spent two hours in Walgreens waiting on prescriptions. To recap: Take Amanda on hospital trips, not to restaurants or drug stores.
Monday, June 05, 2006
Once I’d cleared my mouth of the nap-fungus I slipped my feet into my ratty black flip flops and grabbed the car keys because nothing was more important than buying some Diet Dr. Pepper. And maybe a sammich. Not even my pure unadulterated hatred for Wal-Mart could keep me away from my goal of a roast beef sandwich and caffeine.
As I was drove into the parking lot, however, I was reminded of why even the sight of that blue and white sign makes my insides clench in panic. I have this irrational fear of being arrested in Wal-Mart. Not for stealing anything because stealing has never really been anything that interested me but for throwing super-size cans of corn at people’s heads when they insist on walking three abreast down the cereal aisle or when the can’t keep their snot-nosed heathens in a single file line.
So I’m driving down one of the parking aisles when two young gentlemen feel the need to walk straight in front of my car. I patiently wait from them to move to one side or the other but instead, INSTEAD, they just continue ambling down the middle of the lot like they’ve got every business holding up me and the four cars idling behind me. So I creep forward, making sure they hear the sound of an approaching engine in hopes it will get them to move their ridiculously obese asses over. And when I say obese I mean that when the fat rolls on the back of your head roll up and over the back of your visor it may be time to put down the bacon sandwich and pick up a celery stick. Like now. And hopefully on the far side of the parking lot so I can fucking pass you.
Eventually I was able to park but not before shooting eye-obscenities in their general direction. On my way inside I picked up a buggy and began my usual marathon shopping trip. I do not compare deals or hem and fucking haw over which brand of bread to buy. I need wheat bread, there’s a stack of wheat bread, in the buggy you go! I need pepper jack cheese, there’s some pepper jack cheese, in the buggy you go! Very easy.
Once all my grocery items had been obtained I rolled up to the self-checkout lane. Now, I recognize that this lane actually takes just a wee bit longer than the regular lane because I don’t have years of experience quickly scanning yogurts and cat food and loaves of bread. But the few extra seconds it takes is well worth it in my book because it means less overall human contact and a much lower chance of me having to waste time wondering if someone actually named their child ‘Bubba Boo’ or if this is just a prime example of what a dank gene pool has done to the human race.
But Saturday my attempts at a quick exit were totally foiled by the broke-ass flat screen thing that insists on beeping and talking to you at the strangest of moments. By the time I had swiped my debit card the screen had turned into a veritable Picasso of flat-screened-ness, leaving the slow-as-Christmas cashier lady at a total loss. She just kept pushing at the random spots on the screen, thinking that was somehow her wicked long fingernails and their tap-tap-tapping on the screen were going to cow the thing into submission.
Right before she walked off to seek further help, the machine randomly spit out a receipt. I was a little confused because I thought the Crazy Cashier Lady with the Wicked Long Nails had canceled my debit card transaction due to its five minute status in a flashing beeping holding pattern. But the lady said I was done so I shoved the receipt in one of the bags and carried the groceries out to the car, driving home in air conditioned splendor, marveling at a song on the radio comparing what I can only assume is female genitalia to peanut butter and jelly. Something along the lines of ‘inside peanut buttah, outside jelly…seben days of da week, something something chevy.’ I’m not really sure how this song got on the radio but someone should tell this gentlemen that if his woman has a yoo-hoo with the consistency of crunchy peanut butter, he might want to get himself checked for The Herp. Just saying.
Back at the house I unloaded the groceries and immediately made myself a roast beef sandwich with pepper jack cheese which was utterly and yummily delicious, everything I’d hoped it could be. But while I was eating I noticed the receipt I’d left on the kitchen table. It only had a total of seven items for a grand total of fifteen dollars. I had at least 30 items, what with my week’s supply of yogurt, and a total of sixty dollars.
And then I got to work today and checked my bank statement. And you know what?
I TOTALLY GOT SIXTY DOLLARS WORTH OF GROCERIES FOR FREE.
Thank you Crazy Cashier Lady with the Wicked Long Nails for canceling my transaction!
I can now eat sushi three extra times this week!
Friday, June 02, 2006
So upon review I’ve decided that the Sick Season is much like Valentines Day. We all know that Hallmark created Valentines Day to sell more cheesy cards and artery clogging chocolate even though we are theoretically supposed to celebrate our significant others and loved ones throughout the entire year. But they’ve got us suckered into buying all of this aforementioned crap because they have really good marketing strategists and hello, someone is going to buy me some chocolate. And maybe even a cookie. You cannot go wrong with this scenario. The Sick Season, however, has no cookies or chocolates or even flowers that die within the week. What they have are twelve dollar boxes of Sudafed and long lines at the pharmacy where you have to prove that you’re not going home to cook meth by showing the window worker your full set of non-meth-damaged teeth and signing a technologically advanced slip of paper. All of this leads me to my final conclusion that the Sick Season was created by a bunch of sadistic pharmaceutical reps who needed to bump their monthly numbers and started spreading these nasty lies about a ‘Season’ and ‘being prepared’ when really we should just be prepared for angry germies to attack our sinus cavities at any given moment. I’m really not so sure now how this relates to Valentines Day but I’m just going to blame my incoherency on the prescription-strength pills that came in a really pretty orange container. Pretty because it had the words ‘codeine’ and ‘Robin’ within bare centimeters of each other.
Speaking of blaming things on drugs, I’m going to go ahead and incite that clause for this morning’s Bust Ass in the parking lot. I’m told it was a very graceful Bust Ass, one where I gently swept my arms above my head in slow motion as my foot attacked the perfectly flat asphalt, turning at an impossible angle before I landed on my hands, one knee, an ankle and a hip. I’m going to let you picture how all those body parts ended up touching the ground at the same time and then I’m going to tell you how I’ve never lost a Twister game yet. Unfortunately this was not a Twister game or even a test of my wicked bendy skills. It was a rough parking lot with a whole crew of landscapers staring at my strangely contorted ass and my friend Amanda beside me, attempting not to laugh and asking in an increasingly horrified voice if I was okay.