Wickedly stolen from Tom Tomorrow, creator of the “This Modern World” comic strip. You can buy this bumper sticker here, although Smirky and Snarly will be out on thier asses by the time you receive it.
I almost always know where Rob is. This is not a psychic phenomenon: all one has to do is follow the trail of open cabinets, lights left on, discarded crossword puzzles, empty coffee cups, and crumbs from whatever he last consumed.
Yet another kind of trail has appeared in our neighborhood in recent months. Someone has taken to writing chalk messages on the sidewalks, instructions to thoughtless dog owners: “Pick up your poop!” “You flush the toilet, don’t you?” “Even little poops must be picked up!” These, along with the poop, are washed away with the rain, but they always return. In front of a nearby house is a chalk drawing of two sinister little girls holding hands. Legend has it that these two creatures patrol the neighborhood, twittering in shrill, scratchy voices (with inexplicably Japanese accents) as they write their admonishments.
The populace is terrified.
The obvious course of action would be to commission the Japanese monster-girls to follow Rob and leave pointed messages around the house, but I have a weak heart and chalk powder is murder on the upholstery.
Update: I’ll be out of town from Sunday until Friday, so blogging may be light until then.
I have been seeing a Rolfer named Jeannine. She is gifted and wonderful and pronounces the word okay as “oh-kye.” I am uncharacteristically willing to overlook the latter.
There are various things wrong with my body involving tension and posture and tendonitis, so Jeannine has been impressing upon me a different way of walking that would address these issues: chest up, shoulders completely relaxed, propulsion with the ball of the foot. There is nothing mysterious about this; I suspect it’s the default for most people, but I just can’t get the hang of it. For weeks, whenever I’ve forced myself to relax my shoulders, I find I’m walking flat-footed. When I correct that, my tendons ache and my shoulders are up around my ears. I get so flustered that I forget how to walk altogether and wish that I lived in an age that I might travel by a litter borne by four husky men. It requires such concentration to walk even to my car that I might as well be defusing a bomb.
Focusing so much on something I usually do without thought has spilled analysis into other areas of my life. I find I’ve lately been overly dramatic in certain ways. I haven’t been wrong (I’m never wrong), but my manner of presenting information possibly could have been less fraught. As the consumption of magical folic acid has begun to rebalance my chemicals, and the fizzing carbonation in my brain begins to subside, I find myself thinking of the word focusing, which the New Yorker spells f-o-c-u-s-s-i-n-g. They also spell traveling as t-r-a-v-e-l-l-i-n-g and place a dieresis mark over doubled vowels, as in reëlection—habits that incense me to such a degree that I plan on buying a large cornfield, taking a tractor and carving out “FOCUSING HAS ONE ‘S’” in gigantic letters, kidnapping the entire New Yorker staff at howitzer-point, taking them up in an airplane that circles around and around in the airspace this urgent message, and exacting a solemn oath from each one that they will theretofore conform with my grammatical demands on the pain of punctuating my portentous cornfield with bloody dots as the disagreeable ones are shoved one by one out the emergency exit sans parachute.
And then I’ll really get dramatic, oh-kye?
The other day, while we were waiting for a train, an older man walked up and said, “Look at those clouds! They’re really moving fast.” Indeed they were, little white puffs scooting across the blue as if on speeded-up film.
“Wow, do you think that means anything?” I asked, half humoring him and half wondering if he thought it was perhaps portentous of a storm or a particular victory in the upcoming elections.
“Wind,” he said.
We then discussed the odd weather from the day before: lightning and hail one minute, bright sun and a rainbow the next. The man mentioned that they had received a sermon on god’s pact with Noah and the significance of rainbows in their church or synagogue or whatever, and having one appear just as the service ended had delighted the children.
At that point, the train pulled up, and I fully expected him to push me in its path.
I had a Eureka! moment last night. After wondering for weeks why my mind seemed to be returning to the paranoid and obsessive state I was in before going on medication over a year ago, I read a health article about how supplementing with folic acid had been discovered to boost the effectiveness of certain antidepressants. I stopped taking folic acid at the beginning of October, and I suspect I’m effectively suffering from withdrawal symptoms from something I’m still consuming.
Or I could just be reacting to spending a night in the Algonquin and seeing something on the menu called the “Dorothy Parker Burger.” If Dorothy Parker were alive, she’d roll over in her grave. If Noah were alive, I’m not at all sure what he’d do.
Just so we’re all on the same page, I want to mention that Mary Cheney is a lesbian. Shocking, yes, but true all the same. But you know what? A lot of people who are pretending to be scandalized by the word LESBIAN are actually falling all over themselves trying to distract us from the fact that George W. Bush did an extremely poor job in all three of his debates and is losing popular support. Further, he’s really sort of evil.
But you didn’t that from me. Not when LESBIANS are frying on the griddle, and Karl Rove has got the spatula. Sizzle sizzle!
People, I have noticed recently, react badly to the truth. If it’s outside of what they’re comfortable believing, they simply can’t deal with it, and they take their frustration out on the person who delivers the news. Don’t want to accept that the country has been hijacked by the Junior Fascist League? Well, liberals hate America anyway, so we can’t believe what they say. Don’t want to accept that certain people are acting like drunken barbarians at a special occasion? Well, let’s blame the person who complains about it. Don’t want to believe that LESBIAN is not a cheap and tawdry insult? Go jump in a fucking lake.
Honestly, I think I’m starting to lose my mind.
If you’re looking for funny, I’m not in the mood right now. But I was last night when I had this Instant Message conversation.
Wait. I wasn’t being funny then, either.
When Bush is in the lead, the headlines say he “opened it up,” as if the percentage points came in a gaily wrapped box with a bow on top. When Kerry is in the lead, the headlines say he “snatched” it, as if he were the Hamburglar.
Today, I went to the doctor and opened up the results of my physical, which indicate that I’m I perfect health. Then I went to the café and snatched a chocolate-chip cookie.
Today, I went to the doctor and snatched the results of my physical, which indicate that I’m in perfect health. Then I went to the café and opened up a chocolate-chip cookie.
Today, I went to the doctor; he opened up my pants and snatched my testicles (not off, just out). Then I went downstairs to the café, ordered a chocolate-chip cookie, and saw him sitting at a table, pretending not to notice me.
Did you ever notice that George Bush laughs like a serial killer at his own jokes, not one of which strikes anyone with a fully functional brain as remotely humorous? Did you get a load of his facial expression in the last debate, a furious smile, a desperate growl, that never touched his eyes? I’ve walked three thousand two hundred eighty-six steps today. That is one point two miles in my shoes, which are starting to squeak a bit.
Downstairs in the kitchen, on the counter next to the phone, are the DVD set of “Wonder Woman, Season One,” a male workout DVD featuring inexplicably soft lighting, four condoms, a prescription for antidepressants, and a colander. The dead plant has been moved to the dining room.
Ask me no questions, and I’ll tell you no lies.
A link on my browser’s startup page announced that I might find out the origin of my name.
Oh joy, I thought as I clicked through.
The closest it could get was “Bushfield,” which means, astoundingly, “field of bushes.”
If I didn’t have the Internet to teach me things, I don’t think I could go on.
I find it interesting (read: terrifying) that the first reaction of every Baltimore City police officer I’ve ever dealt with has been, “How would you like to go to jail?” No matter what the perceived infraction, no matter what I say or how I behave, no matter what I’m wearing, their attitude is the same.
Last night, I walked Goblin down to the train station to meet Rob’s train at 9:30. The Amtrak web site said that his train was only one minute late, so I was puzzled when it hadn’t shown up after almost thirty minutes. By this time, Goblin was trembling in the chilly night air, so I put her in my jacket with just her head sticking out. Then I called Amtrak’s toll-free number; the recording also said the train should be on time, and as it clearly wasn’t, I decided to go into the station and see what it said on the arrivals board.
In Baltimore’s Penn Station, the arrivals board is an enormous structure that would be clearly visible from outside if it weren’t obscured by a hanging banner. With Goblin still in my coat, I walked in the door, looked around the banner to see Rob’s train had the word “DELAYED” next to it, and started to walk out again. With my hand on the door handle, it occurred to me that Rob’s train number was listed almost at the bottom of the board, meaning, since it was so late, that all of the trains that were supposed to arrive before it must also have been delayed for it not to be near the top. I turned around to check if this was true and had barely succeeded in this quest for information before a sour-faced police officer came running up yelling, “Hey buddy! No dogs in here! Get that dog out of here!”
I must be an optimist because I’m constantly stunned by the animal nature of people. I wasn’t carrying a bomb, just a tiny dog nuzzled in my coat. Moreover, it was perfectly obvious that I was only checking the arrivals board from the doorway, just as any number of waiting people must have been doing since every scheduled train was tremendously delayed. “Sorry,” I said. “Just checking the board for a second.”
“Get outside right now! Take that dog outside! Do you want to go to jail or something?”
I straightened myself up and glared at him. “Pardon me,” I said icily, “perhaps you didn’t hear me say that I was only taking a moment to check the train arrivals. I was just leaving.”
I must note here that I had been in the building for less than twenty seconds, probably closer to ten, and I hadn’t seen a sign anywhere saying that pets weren’t welcome in the station.
“I heard you,” he snapped. “Now get out!”
“Excuse me, I’d like to finish checking the board please,” I said. My words were polite in an attempt to contrast his boorishness, but I’m afraid I couldn’t do anything about my tone, which promised a slow and painful torture if he did not stop bothering me.
At that moment, I saw him twitch in a way that indicated he had just restrained himself, probably with great effort, from hitting me. Things from here on out are a blur. He mentioned at least twice more that he was going to take me to jail before I told him at least twice that he could fuck himself. To which he announced that now he was really going to arrest me, presumably for being disrespectful, and I told him he had absolutely no basis for arresting me since he had done nothing to generate any respect other than strap a gun on that morning like any criminal would.
And then I got tired of looking at his wild-eyed, demented face and went home.
Normally, this is where I’d berate myself for not being a better person, but I’ve put up with so much utter nonsense lately that it frankly felt good to let off some steam. Further, a certain righteous fury I’ve been carrying around had found the perfect target. One of the defining characteristics of a fascist regime (the Bush Administration) or a police state (America under the PATRIOT Act) is that everyone must live in fear at all times, if not from mythical terrorists than from crossing whatever mechanism is in place to enforce the rules. The constant refrain of “Do you want to go to jail?”, whether it is in response to the concealing of a tiny dog or standing up for yourself upon getting a parking ticket or arguing about a fee with a bureaucrat, serves to reinforce the idea that, if we don’t just lower our heads and accept whatever nonsense they try to subject us to, we will be subject to even worse.
Yesterday was my brother Mike’s wedding to the lovely Cate.
The ceremony was held in my parents’ backyard, which looked resplendent on that stunning autumn day. I’m not sure that I, myself, was looking my best. We groomsmen arrived on the scene on a trailer covered in hay, a substance to which I am moderately allergic; I’m afraid I walked down the aisle red-eyed and squinty, my hair disheveled from the wind and bits of straw clinging to my black suit.
(You may ask, why hay? I did. Answers were not forthcoming.)
The reception was also in the backyard, around the newly installed pool. Cate arranged everything so absolutely beautifully that the dangers of mixing that venue with an open bar were not immediately obvious. All I know is that several hours into it, my four brothers and their friends were diving and pushing each other into the pool fully clothed, and they shortly thereafter organized a posse to round me up and toss me in, as well.
I don’t think I’d go around radiating such disapproval if the people I encounter didn’t automatically give into their most asinine and uncivilized impulses. What, dear Diary, do you think?
I have been unhappy with my writing here lately. I don’t know why, whether it is the content or construction: a result of writing here over an extended period of time and having my style change (look in the archives at my first posts, if you don’t know what I mean), or if it’s an inconsistent level of interesting things about which I’ve had to write since I left Manhattan.
Luckily, I’m in good company. Last night, I went with my friend Viki to a class called “A Quaker Response to Christian Fundamentalism,” and one of the exercises we did was to look at the first three chapters of Genesis, the first book in the bible and the torah. Notably, the first two chapters contain two completely different Creation myths, as if two different bloggers had decided to cover the event. The first version has a god creating man and woman (as equals) at the same time on the sixth day, at the same time he created every other creature. The second has a god creating man first in the Garden of Eden, and then woman from the man’s rib. In this, the woman is subservient to the man. (I say “a god,” by the way, because there seem to be other gods or divine beings in the mix here, if you read it carefully.)
There you have it: separated by only one page in this book certain people claim is infallible are two wildly conflicting stories. Surely my own writing is more consistent, if nothing else, although I do admire the conversational storytelling style that this Genesis person has managed. He or she might want to spend less time on who begat whom, but there certainly are riveting bits of action.
Incidentally, which of these Creation myths is accepted, or how they are reconciled, reveals a lot about any sect of Christianity, but it takes some philosophical, rhetorical, and historical analysis. Meanwhile, I don’t think anyone who has been following my humble web log would find many areas of divergence. So if anyone’s been looking for a new body of text to base his or her life upon, I feel this one is quite competitive. The writing here isn’t always perfect, but at least there are no entries entitled Leviticus.
On Friday, Rob and I had lunch with Zenchick. I had a salad, and Rob and Zenchick had hamburgers and discussed films of the nineteen eighties for an hour and a half, during which time it became clear that the only movie I had seen in the nineteen eighties was The Empire Strikes Back, which was apparently unworthy of mention.
They were also not forthcoming enough with their French fries, in this blogger’s humble opinion.
Over the weekend, I had occasion to download the photos from my digital camera and discovered one of Zenchick and Goblin that I found particularly interesting. I emailed it to her. She claimed that this particular photograph was revenge for her behavior at lunch, or some such thing, which of course it wasn’t; she begged me to erase it.
So, of course, I’m posting it here for the world to see.
I have also put it through my patented “anonymizing” process.
We’ll see who shares her French fries next time!
Thirty days hath September, and so today is October. But September was fun while it lasted, especially last night. After a wine tasting and Starbucks experience with jwer and Linda, Linda came over to watch the presidential debates. Luckily, we were fortified with lots of little glasses of wine because the sight of George W. Bush, hunched over his podium like an angry troll with inarticulate talking points, didn’t cause the system-wide distress it might have. A Kerry win was expected. Having a bottle of red wine explode all over my clean, white shirt was unexpected.
But there have been many disasters in America this past week besides red wine on a clean, white shirt. Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions have wounded our noble land (and parts of Florida). Red wine on a clean, white shirt, though an offense to my sense of order, comes in a distant fifth on the scale of tragedy.
But it hit the ceiling, too.