Friday, July 17, 2009

Thursday in Portland

Walking to work from the bus mall after an off site meeting, I pass a man who is walking WHILE throwing up. Like it's part of his routine. Three steps, vomit, two steps, spit. Repeat. From what I can see it looks like he might have had a few too many orange circus peanuts. And wadded up waxed paper?

Three blocks later, a police officer is just beginning to get a statement from a hysterical woman who screams "No, YOU don't UNDERSTAND! I was just MINDING MY OWN BUSINESS and (unintelligible) OVER the HEAD and (unintelligible) RAPED ME! NO! You don't ...(Doppler effect of continued shrieking).

Now I'm being trailed by three teenage boys without shirts. All three are talking continuously, maybe to themselves, based on the fact that they're not saying anything other than what sounds like: "Seriously BIT-CHEZ! Get out the house, be-atch! Got-tamn mutha-fugga! Who said chill? Shee-it!

When I get back to work, open the doors and breathe in that excellent air conditioning and the smell of millions of pieces of paper, the fine semblance of normality is repaired, until I find out that two gentleman have been taken into custody after "defecating in the landscaping" outside the building.

Good thing I'm not a tourist, or I might sequester myself in my hotel's bar for the duration of my trip.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

I have now scanned approximately 500 of what appears to be roughly 19,000 family photos that have all gravitated to my spare room over the past 20 years.

There have been some sorry looking outfits and hair styles coming out of this project:

Let's just say I was 14 and call it good, yeah?

The scanning itself is mindless. It keeps me from thinking about the decreasing value of my PERS account and my sad little IRA. Also about the fact that somehow I became the very adult I swore I never would: tsk-tsking over the price of milk with a complete stranger at the grocery store. And meaning it.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Engine Trouble

Overlapping to-do lists are great if you and your sister get along, can commit to multiple hours in the car and don't mind spending part of the time waiting for her to do overtly embarrassing things, like say, filling the cart with multiple bottles of 100% cranberry juice, Vagistat (Buy 2 get 1 free!), and bodily blocking the birth control aisle while holding two different brands of the same huge bottle of 'intimate warming liquid' and discussing the pros and cons of each in an affected valley girl accent while women with children in their carts give you both the evil eye and rattle quickly past after snatching maxi pad value packs off the shelf.

"So like, this one kind is like, sooo slippery! It really does, like, heat up and stuff. You could totally use it for anal."

Luckily, my sister and I meet the first two qualifications and only speak hypothetically about the third.

The last time we decided to take a joint foray into the world of errands, we found ourselves at Jiffy Lube in July waiting in a tiny, Easy Bake Oven called the Customer Lounge where we stared listlessly at the certificates on the walls and listened to the static on the grainy TV where occasionally Oprah would burst into definition and show us a morsel of whatever emotional feast she was instigating. A heavily tattooed mechanic already talked me into replacing a bunch of parts I didn't understand and we were instructed to "take it easy" until the time he could significantly lower my available credit balance and turn us loose.

We passed a 20-ounce Dr. Pepper back and forth between us and shifted our attention to a newly arrived vehicle pulling into the garage. A woman in her mid-30s stepped out, fanning herself with a piece of paper.

"There's something wrong with the air conditioning. It just blasts hot air and then the car overheats." There were rivulets of sweat running down her like mountain springs headed toward the sea.

"Wow ma'am, you could have opened the windows on the way over here," said Tattoo, stepping involuntarily back from the interior of the car. My sister and I smirked at each other.

The woman was instructed to join us in the Customer Lounge while they "got to the bottom of it", and we dutifully moved over one chair to keep the social balance from getting out of whack.

Not five minutes had passed before she was asked to come and take a look at something.

"I think we've discovered the problem," Tattoo held up her dipstick, a dingy athletic sock dangling from the end. He swung towards her. "Do you recognize this? It was wrapped around the air filter." She stepped back in surprise and exclaimed "How did that get there?" We busted up.

The bell went ding and Tattoo handed off the stick with the offending article of clothing to a colleague (who asked if she wanted the sock back before whipping it across the garage into the trash) and called me up to the desk to go over my charges. I just handed him my credit card. At least the woman knew what she was paying for- how would that be itemized? "Undergarment removal?" "Sock excision?" Maybe someday I'll find out for myself.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Do you hate the planet?

Conversation between a friend and a Safeway checker latenight in SE Portland:
"Hi, how are you? Oh, this six-pack looks like the bottom might be sort of weak."
"Yeah, could I get a bag for it?"
"Do you hate the planet?"
"What? No, I love the planet. And animals and small children. I'd just like a bag for my purchases."
"I hate animals and small children. I find them disgusting."
"Well, I'm going to have to disagree with you on that, but thanks for selling me alcohol."

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Kristi Quote of the Evening

"In all our years together his demeanor never suggested that he would ever lip sync into a spatula."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Burning Down the House

I'm grousing around with my panties in a bunch because I think I've got the whole fireplace thing under control. If anyone would let me near it. I'm swinging a huge log pilfered from our neighbor's yard when they cut down the primary shade tree to our front yard back and forth in front of the hearth, not quite sure if I should just chuck it in or listen to Chris and Kristi and cut it into more manageable pieces.

I have no problem with the idea in principle because I like to do things by the book, but we have no hatchet, no ax, no splitting power. And in order to keep the fire going, I am whining about how, as long as it's hot, we should just keep fueling the fucker. This would be sentiment along the lines of something my grandfather would let loose at Christmas whenever a discussion about how to tend the fire would crop up.

I wait until all backs are turned and then heave it in. It lands perfectly in the crux of the small stack of pine branches and scrap lumber, the latter complete with nails still embedded in some places. It lurches sideways, then settles picture perfectly and the bark goes up in flames.

I'm a huge snot, so I probably said something like "HA!" as I clapped the pine needles off my palms and strutted around the living room.

Twenty minutes later, my sister looks over from her perch on the couch and sees the enormous log now rolling towards her, freed from purgatory by time and simple physics. There is yelling. The log builds momentum for a burst of space, but bumps against the couch and starts melting the varnish on the hardwood floor even before it stops rocking.

I dance around in a circle, not knowing what to do. Chris grabs two towels and, taking it by each end, hurls it back into the fireplace. The floor smokes. This has transpired in the course of maybe 15 seconds. We discuss the pros and cons of putting the grate up. Eventually we all drift back to our little nests around the room. The cats' tails are all normal sized once more.

This time it is I who walk by just as the log crushes through it's cage and comes lumbering towards me. This time it doesn't get as far as the couch, but settles right back into the grooves melted into the floor from the first time it escaped. Luckily, Chris dropped the towels right there and with Kristi's assistance (kicking) it back up onto the bricks, everything is handled with a minimum of issue. We are becoming experts.

Over 12 hours after the fire goes out, uneventfully, I scoop up all the ashes and put them in a paper grocery bag. Kristi walks by as I'm in the other room, up to my elbows in cat litter, scrubbing the floor under the pans, wondering if cats miss the target more or less often than drunken frat boys. It would be a close race.

"Looks like you snagged some live ones from the fireplace. They're burning a hole through the bag."

I rush out to the living room, and there is my bag, going up in smoke, releasing a torrent of ashes onto the floor. Luckily I set the bag on the bricks.

I grab a metal garbage can (yes, I realize this is what I should have been putting them into in the first place) and dump the whole mess in. A pitcher of water follows. I put the entire package out on the patio in the rain.

Kristi is laughing as I step outside into the back yard, and I now know that I should leave all things involving flame to my more evolved monkey family. Thank god I don't smoke.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Quandary and reminiscing

I'm all the way across the building, cause this is the only open restroom at this time of day, and am looking forward to this little activity the same way those guys in "Cocktail" must have looked forward to tossing full tequila bottles in the air all night. This is something I'm good at, but it's also just a means to an end. Efficient and showy.

I pull out the tampon from my pocket and squeeze the end. It doesn't really give, so I flip it around, knowing I'll need to unwrap the squishier end first. In a move practiced yet somehow instinctual, I pop open and peel back the wrapping like a monkey getting into a banana.

As I grab for the end with the hand that just deftly dropped the outer paper in that maddeningly hard to clean mini-can attached to the wall, something goes awry. I'm not sure what. But the next thing I know, my only tampon is flying across the room and bouncing around in the fruit fly inhabited shower stall.

Even as I watch, lip pulled back in a disgusted sneer, the thought flashes through my mind for an instant: "Should I still use that?"

The correct answer is no. But the thought of having to wad up a bunch of scratchy government issue toilet paper and jam it in my crotch, hobble back to my office to try and extract a tampon from one of my colleagues is exhausting.

I wish there was some way to make a tourniquet in situations like this, but other than duct taping my legs together at the hip hinge, I can't think of anything that might work.

I hem and haw for a minute and then do exactly what I have done many times since 8th grade: thank god that I am wearing black underwear.

I dash in and out of my cube. Make it back to find the room unoccupied. Crisis averted.

But this has made me think of adventures from the past:


Working in rural MN in a greasy spoon after school until 8:30 serving endless pots of Farmer's Bros coffee to groups of upstanding citizens attending court-mandated AA meetings.

It's January, which means the temperature is about 12 below the donut. My bag is in my car because it is the only way I'll be able to carry it around at school the next day without it smelling like a bowling alley.

As I'm running yet another order of fries to the back room where the smoke and heat make it seem like a low class vision quest, I get "the feeling." Right after "the feeling" I get another feeling, which is my stomach sinking into my pelvic floor. My bag, which is in the car, has essentially been in a deep freeze all day.

I'm one of two kids working, and my boss is glued to the TV in the kitchen because COPS is on FOX. I have to make arrangements for my surly waitstaff partner to watch my tables and not steal my tips and then duck out into the parking lot and pry open my door, grab my bag and haul ass to the ladies room, where I roll a Tampax Popsicle in my hands like how kids make Playdoh snakes. I think it has warmed up to room temperature, and I can hear the alcoholics getting restless for me to dump their ashtrays into the gallon ice cream bucket I carry in there for that purpose, and banging their cups on the table nervously for more coffee, always more coffee.

I breathe deep and impale myself with a skinny fist of cotton that feels cool at first, which is okay, but then a basic law of thermodynamics proves to me in a demonstration more gripping than any 5th period science class lab ever will that two objects at varying temperatures will seek common ground, making me double over in what can't really be called pain, but can be categorized more as blinding discomfort.

I recovered, of course. The AA people got their new ashtrays and coffee, my coworker was scowly because my tips weren't worth his trouble to pilfer, and my boss got to watch an entire episode of COPS without us hitting the bell on the heat-lamp warmed pick-up counter and screaming "Order in!"