Sunday, May 27, 2007

What's in that suitcase?

My grandmother was finally admitted to an Alzheimer's care facility after wads of unopened mail were discovered squirreled away in the dishwasher and a fruitless search for a missing cutting board revealed that she had packed a suitcase for a trip to God knows where containing three pairs of my grandfather's poop-filled boxer shorts stabbed by numerous ball point pens, topped with a sprinkling of fake flowers all surrounded by rolls of paper towels.

The paper towels were for shredding. She used to knit, write long letters, bird watch with the Audubon Society guide dog-eared in her lap, and bake these delicious caramel rolls. But now she dismantles roll after roll of paper goods and dispatches the super-absorbent confetti across their apartment. It takes her days to arrange the five magazines on the coffee table to her liking. She exclaims in first time delight when my mother brings her a Dilly Bar from Dairy Queen as though they haven't been her favorite thing for most of her life.

My mom had bought her a couple pairs of those elastic waistband pants to encourage her to remove her clothes on her own more than once a week. Instead, they disappeared. Having already given up on finding the cutting board (still missing months later), and sorting through the bills that had been through several wash and rinse cycles, my mom decided to just ask her what had become of the pants.

Grandma perks right up when asked a question she knows the answer to: "Oh, them. They ran off down the street together."

Getting her into the home was, as my mother put it, "not unlike trying to get a rabid animal into a carrier." She may not recognize the man she's been married to for 55 years, she may be afraid of zippers and hairbrushes, she may think that every piece of mail with her name on it is part of a conspiracy and that her pants routinely run off down the street in pairs, but once she sets her mind to something, she sticks to it.

I hope they let her continue wearing the boxer shorts she's become so fond of over the last few years. Finally! Bodily liberation after decades of industrial strength bras and 'shape refining' briefs!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Weeding; not the library kind

Number of weeds, mainly thistles, eradicated by my weeding fork this evening: 65
Number of scraggly-ass irises finally laboriously dug up and tossed so they no longer get their banana-fiber leaves tangled up in my weed wacker and make me have to dig them out with my fingers, as nervous as if I was sticking a fork in a toaster that was not only plugged in, but actually toasting something: 2
Areas of weird mushy bogginess dug up and examined, to reveal only rotting tree roots and weird little pockets of trash wrapped in tin foil that I genuinely hope wasn't the drug-addled former occupant of our house's idea of "saving it for later,": 1
Feral cats scaring the shit out me by buzzing my kneeling form and letting out a low rumble as they pass by not inches from my uncovered arms and their daily frequency of terror: 1 (named Socks) and at least 2 if I'm outside.
Charcoal briquettes tossed into the hedges: 16
Full bins of yard debris: 1
Earwigs obliterated by said weeding fork: 8
Slugs tossed over the fence: 4
Times this year I've thought about getting a compost container: approximately 30
Rank of the smell of rot on the list of why I don't: 1
Bowls of homemade macaroni and cheese consumed after said yard activities gave me a blister on the inside of my thumb and made me retreat to the house like I'd received a mortal wound: 1.5

Friday, May 18, 2007

Tuna Intervention

When I looked over at him, Chris was using his remaining tuna nigiri as a flesh drum pad, whacking it senseless with a pair of those disposable saliva-covered chopsticks, wasabi and soy sauce splattering around.

"What are you doing?" I asked, horrified.

"What do you mean?"

"Why can't you, you know, respect your tuna? Isn't it enough that it gave its life for you? Now you humiliate it by beating on it with a stick to 'Superstition?'"

Of course Chris and Eddy laugh uproariously at this, as would I, if I were them and not suddenly filled with sadness for the indignity of the whole ordeal.

"What if that fish used to be Jesus?" I ask.

"If Jesus were cut up into little sections like this, then I probably wouldn't recognize him."

"That's my point."

"Oh (hahahahaha)!"

I get really emotional at inappropriate moments about inanimate objects. Cartoon drawings of dancing hot dogs have been known to make me break down in tears in the refrigerated section at the grocery store because I don't like that the hot dogs don't know that they look like idiots . One time, a fake fur pillow made me weep because it was just too soft for its own good. It goes without saying that scruffy stuffed animals abandoned on the side of the road send me into a def-con 2 meltdown.

So for some reason that last lonely piece of tuna, looking tired and ready to just be eaten, for god's sake, struck the mis-strung cat-gut stitches of my heart.

This all reminds me of that personality defining moment way back when I was married, and my husband wanted to make me something fancy for my 24th birthday dinner, so he brought home a big package of surf clams, a vehicle for butter that I had recently discovered. He cooked them and brought me a dish of drawn butter and a bowl of steaming yawning clams. As I shovelled them into my mouth, using their shells as spoons, he casually mentioned that it had taken them a long time to die.

I froze. Shell-scoop part way to my mouth, dripping into my lap.

"What do you mean, 'a long time to die?'" Like Tim Curry as Wadsworth in the movie Clue, asking the officer what he means by 'murder' after opening the door grinning like an idiot.

"You know, they open when they die in the boiling water. That's how you tell when they're done. They're alive when you put them in the pot." A look, a furrowed brow. "Angela? What's wrong?"

Tears are running down my face, mixing with the broth already in my lap, ruining my pants. I'm sobbing, yet still scooping up butter and slurping brainless clams into my mouth. My nose is starting to run. It's truly amazing how fast my face can melt into an unrecognizable Butoh mask.

"I didn't, I didn't know they were...ALIVE. Oh, God, that's horrible!" Still scooping, still chewing.

"If you're getting so upset, why are you still eating them?" He's reaching for the bowl, trying to remove the source of my pain. I won't let him.

"Because they're delicious!" I sob again, and sort of hiccup, and I wonder why he didn't just leave me then.

But at sushi now, Chris is so affected my my goofy statements that two veins in his forehead are throbbing in tandem with his heart.

"Are you upset, because you look like your head is going to pop."


And the tuna shares none of this hilarity. It goes on sitting there, slowly oozing into the rice, trying to become invisible.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Stephen King Library Internet Policy Quote from Everything's Eventual

"They had a computer room in the library, and you could get on the Internet at a very reasonable cost. I had to get a library card too, but that was okay. A library card is good to have, you can never have too much ID."

I sort of love Mr. King.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Public Humiliation: Drawer Soiling VS Vomiting

"I have some...concerns," I inform Eddy as I put my coat on.

"Oh...kay...What might these concerns be?"

My activities for the past hour have included crapping my guts out, walking back to my desk, and then running back to the restroom under the influence of what feels like a red-hot poker pressing down on my colon. I don't say this exactly, but lay out what I feel our options might be for geting back to my car, which is parked across the river, driving Eddy to his house and then getting to my own.

"Well, you could go get my car yourself and come back here and pick me up. We could call a cab. Or we could just try walking to the bus stop and see what happens." I fuss around with my sleeve, disturbed to find the lining pushing out past the cuff.

"I suppose I could go get your car. Or we could call a cab."

I have been thinking about the possibility of just riding the bus, and have put a stash of tissue in a plastic bag and tucked it in my satchel. You never know when a ziplock full of toilet paper could save your ass, literally.

The other options seem less likely to produce a scenario where I would have to bolt into the bushes, drop trou, and humiliate myself in front of God and everyone than taking an admittedly short but tortured bus ride over the bridge. I've had a rumbly in my tumbly before on public transportation, and while I've never actually had to pull any emergency manuever, I have run through enough scenarios in my mind (hundreds for sure, more likely thousands-chronic stomach issues can push large critical buttons in the imagination, to be sure) to know that I'd have virtually no problem jumping off a bus and wrestling out of my pants to drop a load on the sidewalk. Considering the alternatives, it's the most pleasant.

Now, on the other hand, the thought of throwing up in front of people in the same forced social situation mortifies me beyond rationality. I mean, I am so anti-vomit that I will lie still for hours on end when I'm sick, feeling like a dog, toughing it out when I know I'd feel better if I just let myself puke. I haven't officially thrown up in over 20 years. I've gagged, dry heaved, and belched stomach acid into the back of my mouth, but never produced a stinking pile of totally identifiable foodstuffs through my mouth.

I try to relate this to Eddy on our way to the bus stop (I've decided to just roll with it), this I-don't-know-if-preference-is-the-right-word preference, and he strongly disagrees with me.

"But vomiting is so much more intimate," I protest. "Your whole body gets wracked, vile stuff is coming out of your mouth, people can tell what you've eaten and if you've chewed it properly. I don't want anyone hanging over my shoulder exclaiming 'Wow, is that a whole mushroom?' You can't tell that sort of thing from excrement." I think for a minute. "Unless you've had corn."

He does concede that if you vomit hard enough, it can and does come out your nose, which is really bad, and there's a taste that doesn't easily go away, but he still sticks to his opinion.

I chalk this up to a difference in life experience at the mercy of an easily irritated bowel and by the time we make it to the other side of the river, I am no longer feeling the familiar yet in no way welcome clenching and twisting of my gut.

Eddy will have to wait until next time to hold my bag and pretend not to know me while I defile the side of a building.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


portly before miso arrived...

Little Portly VS Miso

Portly decidedly does not like the interloper. Miso is quite rightly feeling put out by the fact that he's a laid back, easy-going sort of cat, and yet he has been quarantined in Chris' studio until Portly can get over the fact that someone else wants to claw up the sofa.

We knew Portly was a freak of the evil step-sibling kind, but this new family member is proving that he is as snuggly awesome as she is cranky.

Attempts to move her food dish to the hallway, where the door to the studio is, have shown us that Portly will break her daily ritual of throwing herself in her empty food dish and begging and just not eat if it means she'll have to eat in the vicinity of the smell of HIM.

She will now enter the hallway and scootch around for a few nervous seconds before bolting, tail ramrod straight and as big around as a soup can. This is progress.

Miso, on the other hand, when we go in to pay attention to him, will hop right into our Portly scented arms, wrap his velvety paws around us, and rest his face on our necks. Oh the Joy! The horror of comparison! I can understand how parents can love two children the same, and yet favor one against their will.

It just occurred to me that if we get fleas ever again, that two cats will be far more challenging than one; they can work together to thwart the Time of the Medicated Bath. Maybe once Portly sees that she can utilize this newcomer to her advantage, she'll warm up.

Or maybe she'll just keep hissing at everything until her saliva gland shrivels up.