A Morning with Isa

There are times when I seem to forget certain words, not because of encroaching age since I am younger than the morning dew, but who knows why. Distraction? Anxiety? Sunspots? This morning, I forgot the word “decaffeinated” when ordering my iced coffee–not what it meant, just to say it–and ended up with with a gigantic terrorist bomb of jittery mayhem with added half-and-half and one packet of raw sugar. I was meeting my friend Isa–and her companion, a baby who kept reaching for my cup, which gleamed entrancingly in the sunlight, sending little prisms of color sparking across his face.

Clutching our drinks, we left Starbucks and strolled to a park, where that baby snatched a bag of almonds from somewhere and ran off down the path, looking back to see if we were watching, smiling like a goon, and running a little further, his arms thrown wide to the world in front of him with the infantile confidence that we had his back. I can’t think of the last time I threw my arms wide to a world, this one or any of the others, but I am working at it.

There is another word I seem to be forgetting, which describes sitting on a park bench with a sweet friend on a bright summer morning, people and dogs passing amiably by, giddiness rising in my body as caffeine hits bloodstream, a baby laughing while he plays in the sun. I think it is something like “magic.”


The Tragedy of the Princess and the Wasabi Pea

Today, I went to the hardware store to pick up a few things, including a new toilet seat.

Today, I learned that one doesn’t just walk in the hardware store and walk out with a new toilet seat. There is a little-known fact that you need to know the size and shape of the required toilet seat in advance. A very little-known fact.

On the way home, I was stopped at a traffic light, eating a wasabi pea, when I felt my car shake. Someone had rear-ended me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!






Well, not very hard. More like a tap, a kiss of the bumper. I wasn’t even sure what had happened. I looked in my rearview mirror and the guy behind me was looking embarrassed and making these mea culpa gestures. I was going to get out and see if there was any damage when a guy in a Verizon van pulled up alongside and started yelling at me.

Look, I just wanted to enjoy my wasabi peas at a traffic light. Terry Gross was on the radio. I didn’t ask for this to happen. I didn’t know why people were hitting my car with their car and other people were yelling at me. And then the light changed and more chaos ensued. The Verizon van and I were blocking both lanes of traffic. I finally got my window open, and the guy pointed to the rear-ender and yelled, “He was taxiing!”


The culprit drove a blue station wagon with a canoe strapped to the roof. Was he taxiing a canoe enthusiast?

I looked puzzled. The Verizon guy looked disgusted with me and drove away. Cars were everywhere. I made a quick decision to just start driving because I was feeling very unsafe and confused at the intersection. Maybe if I pulled over past the light, the guy behind me would, too, and we could figure this out.

Oh, I thought. TEXTING, not taxiing!

I started to pull over. The blue station wagon darted around me and zipped off down the street. I sped up enough to get his license plate number, which I dictated to Siri, who made such a fuss about not knowing what I was talking about that I almost gave up on the whole thing.

Anyway, it turned out there was no damage to my car, just to the wasabi pea-craving neurotransmitters that were ultimately disappointed.



Ghost towns have anniversaries, too, and today is the eleventh anniversary of your friendly “ghost-neighborhood” Upside-down Hippopotamus! Still featuring your favorite wacky “ghost-neighbors”–Rob, Goblin Foo, and moi–two of whom are eleven years older, while I have not changed a molecule! Maybe because I am a “ghost” and do not have molecules! Note to self: reconsider this entire paragraph before hitting “publish.”

Note to self: reconsider the entire previous eleven years.

Note to self: ha ha.

Somewhere around the birth of UDH, I had a freelance job producing an audio series by some finance guy, based on the book he had supposedly written. The book was brilliant, but the man was not;* while he could not hold a conversation about current events and had to have basic concepts about living in the world explained to him, and was not particularly articulate on tape, and was increasingly depressive over his pending divorce, he was at least gorgeous to look at. He also claimed to have something like $100 million under management, which sounded impressive enough at the time that I questioned the justice of the universe in showering abundance on such an apparent dimwit.

Today, it occurred to me to check up on him, and I discovered that he is now some sort of Christian investment guru (“Shoving camels through eyes of needles since 2002!”) with $3.6 billion under management. He is still inarticulate, if the videos on his website are any indication. He is still gorgeous. He has remarried and produced six kids.

I suppose my life has changed a great deal in eleven years, as well, but I am not thirty-six times more successful. My one child, an aging Boston terrier, pretends she is deaf and doddering when I tell her to do anything but appears at the speed of a neutrino when she hears her treat bag crinkle two floors down.

Note to self: I am, at least, gorgeous.


* “Ghost-writer”?