Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Birthday Party

"Oh my," says Anna's friend's mother, standing in my front doorway, her eyes widening as she takes in the birthday-hat-wearing horde of seven-year-olds who are bounding over the furniture and chasing one another around the living room, squealing and giggling. "Aren't you brave!"

Here's a tip for any of you who are, or may someday become, the parents of young children: If your kid is popular at school, DO NOT INVITE THE WHOLE CLASS TO HER BIRTHDAY PARTY.

The birthday party drop-off is an awkward, but fairly precise pas de deux of etiquette. The guests' parents always offer to stay, realizing that, while the hosts probably didn't factor them into the cake and punch count, and might not relish having to make grown-up small talk in a 240 dB environment, a little additional crowd control would probably be helpful. But the hosts are obligated to give an offhand laugh and a carefree wave of the hand, saying, "Oh no - of course you're more than welcome, we'd love to have you; but if you'd like to drop him off and come back that's fine too!"

Pay no heed to the terror in their eyes, that look that says, please. Please, take me with you. You can't leave me like this.

At this point, 67.2% of birthday guest parents - after the mandatory "Are you quite sure it's all right to just leave her?" - will go ahead and leave, feeling slightly guilty, but heaving a huge internal sigh of relief that they don't have to sit through three hours of sugar-fueled Armageddon. The remaining 32.8% (I looked it up) will stay, compelled by social conscience, or concern for the well-being of their offspring - these are generally the parents of the shyer kids. Maybe they're worried that their children won't be able to handle a house full of rambunctious schoolmates. Or possibly they just have never imagined - who could? - quite how loud a small house crammed with second-graders can be.

Helpers are very good to have, preferably ones you know well. At my house there are two teenagers to assist with the festivities: talk about your forward thinking! Katie baked and decorated the birthday cake, to begin with. And she's great with the little kids, leading them in Duck-Duck-Goose, carrying plates and forks, serving punch, and ensuring that the destruction of the pinata doesn't result in massive head trauma. Well, for any of the party guests, at least. The pinata might not feel so great. Meanwhile, Eric chips in by making sure none of Anna's friends lack somebody to play with on her new Wii.

Still, you wouldn't believe how long just three hours can last. Last year, when Anna was in kindergarten, Katie volunteered to fill out the invitations. A born party girl, she filled in the time on several as "2pm - ???" before we caught and stopped her.

But the party was a grand success. Anna's eyes are shining and she declares this was the best birthday ever. And that alone makes it all worth it. Well, that, and that Katie plopped down next to me on the couch after the last party guest had left, and said, "You know, Mom, I'm not so sure I ever want kids."

Another triumphant moment in parenting!

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Musings to Clean Your Clock By

The other night, Margie and two of her band friends and I were discussing where the phrase "to clean your clock" comes from. None of us knew - and I suppose it's only my own fault that Wikipedia still doesn't have an entry on it - but we did determine that "Music to Clean Your Clock By" would be a great album name.

Also, the band name du jour is "Snotty Literati." I know you were wondering.

Out of curiosity, how many things in your life do you look back on that make you go "Unnngh"? One, or two, or five or twenty? I think I have six or seven: horrible things that never quite fade, and every time you remember that this particular something or set of somethings happened (somethings, of course, that I did), you go "unnngh."

Here's one: I was, I think, 10 or 11, and riding the schoolbus was a nightmare. No, it really was. Mine was one of the last stops, and by the time the bus arrived it was pretty completely full. Nobody wants to let you be the third person in the seat. There was that one small seat in the back, and the person sitting in it used to scrunch down where he wasn't visible from the front. So the bus driver, impatient, would say, "There's an empty seat in the back!" and you knew perfectly well there wasn't, because this had happened several times now; but you had to walk back there anyway because the driver told you to; and as you got close, the kid sitting there would pop up - again - and the whole bus would laugh at you for falling for that one. Again. You dumbass!

So to get out of the ordeal, I started hiding when the bus was pulling up - in the culvert, or around the side of the house, or behind the air conditioning unit. My parents had to drive me to school every day. I told them the bus driver was deliberately skipping the stop where I was waiting.

So they called the school, and some big stink ensued, and I'm sure something happened to the bus driver - he was also a science teacher, by the way, but I was never in his class - and I got in huge trouble at home and had to go back to riding the bus, where the driver was distinctly chilly to me for the rest of the year.


Of course, that one is long enough ago, and comparatively minor enough (though I'm sure it entailed some unpleasantness for the bus driver at the time) that I can write about it; not that much of an unnngh, now. But I have plenty of others much fresher and unnnghier. So I'm kind of wondering why I have so little empathy for my son, who just did himself up a treat, mate.

"Does life always suck?" he asked me, so I said, "No, only sometimes, and then it gets better... And then it sucks again. And then it gets better. And then..."

I don't know, you just try to distract yourself by hanging out with friendly people and coming up with funny band names, right? And thank every star in the sky you don't have to ride the schoolbus anymore.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Things of Value

Only imagine what mankind could accomplish if the energy spent on bureaucracy could be harnessed for good.

A friend and former coworker has now spent almost two full weeks trying to get approval on a single line item from his travel expense report. He's seeking reimbursement for his mileage on the return trip from the airport to his home. They only want to reimburse him for mileage from the airport to the office, which is several miles closer; but his flight arrived late in the evening after work hours.

The disputed amount is $12.32. The number of man-hours my friend has put into researching, documenting, defending, justifying, explaining, and negotiating this claim would get a small start-up company off the ground.

You might wonder why he's putting forth so much effort for such a small sum. But look at it from the other side: by continuing to dig in its heels and fight the claim, isn't his employer explicitly stating that the two weeks of work he would otherwise have gotten done by now is worth less than $12.32? Of course, you can't put a dollar figure on employee morale.

For what it's worth, his trip was to Lubbock.

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Amazing Alphabetical Adventures of Robbie and Elizabeth

Bright and early this morning, Robbie picked Elizabeth up for a day of adventures. "But they have to be in ABC order," he told her. "And we have to go through the entire alphabet today."

A: Apportioning the first part of the morning to Dominican Joe, the pair absorbed coffee and asked the amiable barista - who welcomed them avidly after their long absence - what to see in Fredericksburg on the way to Enchanted Rock. She turned out to be full of answers. Also, apropos of nothing in particular, here's another piece of advice: always wear a bandana tied around your neck, because you never know when you'll want to hold up a bank. Or perhaps an armored truck.

B: Broke into Elizabeth's office - okay, badged in - to pick up a map, a notepad and pen, and most importantly the Buddha.

C: Car maintenance. In preparation for the trip, Robbie filled up the gas tank (at, it goes without saying, catastrophic cost) and topped off the windshield washer fluid, because when you're on a road trip, you hit a lot of bugs. Butterflies mostly, but let's just say they're crickets.

D: Drove! And while driving through Dripping Springs (Gateway to the Hill Country, don'cha know), Robbie and Elizabeth dished some dirt about former coworkers who think they're too good for Dominican Joe now. Just because they felt dissed. Also discussed was how doves always bring another former coworker to mind. Meanwhile, David Bowie played on the car stereo.

E: Elizabeth enjoyed the exemplary cleanliness of the restroom at the Stonewall Diner, as Robbie stood watch outside, lest she be abducted by Canadian Mormons, which don't even have an E at all; what were you thinking, Robbie?

F: Frittered away an hour or so in Fredericksburg.

G: German food is gastro-rrific! Or so the two found at Altdorf's, which is right next door to St. Mary's Cathedral, as a consequence of which they

H: Heard church bells ringing several times, apparently at random, for no particular reason, so they decided that every time the church bells ring, somewhere, an angel must be getting some. Meanwhile, thanks to the filling German food, they found they were no longer hungry.

I: Inappropriate remarks were made: if the church bell idea is correct, angels are apparently insatiable. Onward, then, to Enchanted Rock, where Robbie and Elizabeth found themselves exclaiming, "It's so BIG!"

The parking lot was full, but a car with Indiana plates and an Indianapolis Colts sticker pulled out just as the intrepid pair arrived, giving them a space only a short walk from the trailhead. And a good thing, too. Heaven forbid you have a long walk to the trailhead. It's very hot, and

J: there may have been a lapse in judgment involved in timing this excursion so that they were climbing Enchanted Rock during the hottest part of the day. "It's just a big rock," said Robbie.

K: Karma - "Good Karma," in fact, is what Buddha replied when, 1/4 of the way up the rock, Robbie and Elizabeth sat down, kaput, and asked him whether they were going to make it.

L: Lichens; there are some very cool lichens on the granite, which make fascinating patterns against the rock if you look closely. Robbie and Elizabeth were likin' the lichens.

M: Martinis! Halfway up, the pair stopped to rest on a comfortable rock. It was so comfortable, they stayed there for quite a long time, long enough that the friendly people who had begun climbing at the same time they did, and whom they therefore naturally regarded as arch-nemeses, actually made it to the top first. Robbie and Elizabeth christened the rock the Three Martini Break Rock.

N: Neato, nifty, nice view from the top! Enchanted rock is one of a pair of domes which curve down to a canyon between. This made Robbie think of NICE TITS!

O: "Oh what fun it is to ride with a condom and Buddha!" said Robbie. Elizabeth objected that this was a stupid entry for the letter O, but she was overruled.

At the windy top of Enchanted Rock, airborne soil and seeds have created several small grassy oases in the rock.

P: "Politely, we refrained from peeing off the rock onto the land below," pointed out Elizabeth. It was Robbie's turn to protest; but Elizabeth pressed on, as indeed anyone who is prepared enough to bring a vanilla-flavored condom to the top of Enchanted Rock has every right to do.

Q: "Cheryl's Bitch is SUCH a queen!!!!" quoth Robbie on the way down from the summit, for no readily apparent reason.

R: "Right About Now - The Funk Soul Brother" is a song on Elizabeth's iPod, playing through the stereo in Robbie's car on the way to LLano, but Robbie really likes it, I mean really. Frankly, it's kind of embaRRassing. Rrrrrrrrr!

S: Sweating profusely is what you will do if you climb Enchanted Rock on a hot day, incidentally. You'll also get sticky, and you might even smell.

T: Took the time to indulge in tasty ice cream treats, then traipse around historic Llano, where the llocals, engaging in an Old West reenactment, were so traditional in their dress that Elizabeth felt a bit like a tramp for wearing trousers.

U: Updating the decorations on the historic square is something Llano might want to take under consideration.

V: Vultures have hopefully eaten Robbie and Elizabeth's vanquished arch-nemeses by now.

W: Wildflowers are everywhere! Why did they take down the wildflower hotline at work? Elizabeth was wonderful at waxing rhapsodic about wildflowers. The hotline was taken down because the wildflowers had supposedly all wilted. Wrong!

X: Robbie and Elizabeth had a little trouble with this one for a few minutes, wondering, what on earth are we going to find on a road trip that starts with X? Then they drove past a noisome, bloated specimen of roadkill on the shoulder. "Look!" exclaimed Elizabeth, "it's an X-raccoon!"

Fine, you come up with something better.

Y: Yelled at a passing yokel (that's not what Robbie called him, but the word he used started with C) who failed to wave after Robbie pulled onto the shoulder to let him go by. SO rude. Probably from Califo - I mean, the Yukon.

Z: Back in Austin at last, Robbie and Elizabeth decided to stop for a drink before heading homewards. Z Tejas would certainly have been the logical choice, but they like El Arroyo better: it's a favorite place to sit and relax and enjoy margaritas and chips and salsa.

And then finally back home, after a fun and exhausting day: time to catch some Z's!

See all the pictures!

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Resistance Is Useless

Checking, verifying, and updating information in our branch's evacuation reference manual is not the most exciting work I've ever done. Then I went out and ate a heavy lunch today, instead of going for a walk. I'm having an extremely hard time concentrating.

So it's a really good thing I've found Buddha.

This, however, is no ordinary Buddha: this is a magic 8-ball Buddha, which I got for my birthday. If you ask this Buddha a question, then turn him upside down and shake him, enlightenment floats up towards you from the liquid blue depths of his butt.

This is about as much sense as religion generally makes.

You don't really want to ask the Buddha any terribly concrete questions, because all the answers are vague - I hate to call them evasive. Ask him if your true love loves you back, and he answers "Free your mind." Ask whether you'll finish a big project by deadline: "Meditate on it," he says. Will you have a fun weekend? "In your next life."

Well, dang.

So here I am, it's four o'clock, and I have another hour to slog through, not getting much done. Look at that Buddha. I wonder if "Earlobes Working Overtime" would make a good band name?

"Resist evil," says the Buddha.

I think that means I need to get back to work.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Say WHAT?!?!?

I'm still bummed about not getting to go to Corpus, but my BFF Robbie wants to go on a road trip this weekend. Wouldn't that be fun?!? Somewhere we haven't been before. Somewhere out West, he says. I have a couple of coworkers in West Texas, people I just met in person at the conference in Beaumont, so I send a quick inquiry and get some information.

Maybe an hour later, another coworker from near the Oklahoma border calls me up to get clarification on a task I'd assigned him. I dig through my files for the information, making small talk to kill time. "So I hear you're planning a road trip out West!" he says.

And they say my agency has internal communication problems.

And speaking of not speaking, I got out of an agonizing, 3.5-hour staff meeting this afternoon only to discover a chummy email from a former acquaintance of mine, who owns a small plane and makes his living contracting out to local farmers to spray pesticide over their fields. "How are you doing?" he wrote. "I thought you would be driving to Corpus Christi last week."

Oh, he's a smart guy. Well, ish. He'll never set the world on fire (unless he has a strategically-placed lighter), but sending this message via email shows he has some sense of self-preservation, at least when it comes to his eardrums. It's a good thing computer monitors aren't made of glass anymore.

Finally, a funny story (I thought) from another coworker out West: west, in fact, of El Paso, as far west as you can go and still be in the grand old state of Texas. My coworker was attempting to hire someone, and candidates were sent over from a local employment firm.

The first candidate he interviewed, he said, was absolutely perfect. He didn't need to see anyone else. He transcribed the interview as required, filled out the paperwork, prepared to move ahead with the hiring process - no small task, you know, when you're in state government - and called the firm. "You don't need to send anyone else," he told the representative, "this one is perfect! Please go ahead and extend her the offer."

"Oh, I'm sorry!" said the rep. "I should have told you. She isn't actually available to work at this time. We just sent her out so she could get some practice interviewing."

Exhibiting superhuman patience, my coworker did not bitch-slap the rep into next week, and instead recovered himself and moved forward with the interviews. The next candidate was quite promising; she arrived early; appeared very professional, knowledgeable, and friendly; and he chatted with her while getting everything printed out and ready for the interview. With everything lined up, he asked her the first interview question, switching to English.

She appeared confused. "Oh - I don't speak English," she said (in Spanish.)

"Oh," he said, taken aback. "I'm sorry. You have to be able to speak English." So the disappointed applicant left, and once more he called the employment firm rep, of whom I have to think he was not overly fond by now. "Why did you send me someone who can't speak any English?" he asked.

"We already discussed this," she told him patiently. "You said it wasn't a problem."

"WHAT?!" he said, "of course it's a problem, this is an information position serving the traveling public, why on earth would I say they wouldn't need to be able to speak English?!"

"Well, I did ask you if this position required the candidate to be bilingual," the rep said reasonably. "You told me it didn't."

Maybe Robbie and I will get out there this weekend.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

The Horror, the Overhearable Horror

Today, Ernest told me that Gary inadvertently shortchanged a barista at Dominican Joe, and got bitched up one side and down the other. So they shrugged and went to Starbucks instead.


Which is how Robbie and I always believed our panicmonger boss would ululate when upset (or perhaps merely lost in thought), though we never actually heard it. Really, we were just being childish and inappropriate. You think?

Ernest isn't Robbie, but he's still pretty childish and inappropriate, oh wait, I mean fun. Here are the top ten surprising (not to say horrifying) things you might (and possibly did) overhear when walking past the two of us having a comfy little chat.

10. I'm exceedingly distressed to hear that.

9. What, you mean you don't carry one of those little doohickeys with you everywhere?

8. Who would have thought Lubbock could be so humid?

7. Nobody here is defective. I'm having a hard time adjusting.

6. Have you played with it yet?

5. But I really thought you had to be, at least, sixteen for that!

4. No, get it straight, he fixed his wiener!

3. That's exactly why they call him that. Also he farts.

2. Do I get my money back? I don't think I will.

And the number one thing you may overhear if you walk by:

1. Hey, asshole, it's called a sphincter: look into it!

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Kicking Some Botanical Ass

You never really notice your living room getting dimmer, because it all happens so gradually. Then, one day, it occurs to you, hey, wait a minute. Isn't this room half windows? You know it is because you remember, when you moved in, what a bitch it was finding wall space for all the bookcases. So why the hell is it so dark in here?

Then you spy the tendrils of ivy snaking their way in through the windows and the screen door, and you can almost hear them hissing, and you realize, holy shit. You're mere decades away from being devoured in your own home! And you get out your pruning shears and start committing crimes against botany.

Well, that's what I did, anyway. And in the process, I liberated this hapless victim. See how relieved he is!

It's still a bit overgrown, what with these bushes in the front. They're flowering right now, clusters of little tiny white and yellow blossoms, but there will be small red berries later in the summer. I don't know what other people call them, but I call them goosebushes, because of what they did when I climbed through them to get at the ivy on the windows. Let's just say they're not quite as tall now as they were an hour ago.

Yesterday Robbie and I headed to The Great Outdoors, where I was unable to resist this adorable specimen; and if Anna doesn't coopt it to cuddle up with at night, I'll plant it next to the ferns in the front flowerbed. It's Lamb's Ear, and it's just as huggable as it looks, and the helpful staffer at Great Outdoors assured me I was highly unlikely to kill it.

Well, as long as it doesn't piss me off, anyway, the way the ivy did.

You do not want to piss me off.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Sleepless in Austin

If it's not one thing, it's another: this time, not only did Papa Silhavy's ashes get left on the baggage carousel in Seattle, but so did poor Magda. Oh! the indignity!

Those things pinch, too.

Meanwhile, here in Austin, I had a pretty quiet couple of days off, which I dedicated largely to manicure upkeep. This gets old after a while.

Do you know what a Beverly Hills manicure is? It used to be called an American manicure - as opposed to French, you know - back when I used to do the fake nail thing, which nobody does anymore, except in Beaumont. It's clear pink polish over the nail beds and sheer off-white on the tips, which gives the overall effect that you have really nice nails that aren't all split and peely and uneven-looking; and like a lot of the dumb stuff we dames do in the name of beauty, takes quite a lot of effort to make it look like you aren't even trying.

On those stupid MySpace survey things when one of the questions is "What's the first thing you notice about the opposite sex?" no man has ever, ever, ever answered "Her fingernails." Not the gay ones either. Nobody.

The other thing you can do if you take time off during the week is go to breakfast at Magnolia. Even on a Thursday morning there's a fifteen-minute wait. Forget about the weekend. It's a pity, because I remember a time when you could go there and actually hope to eat something yummy - gingerbread pancakes, perhaps, though my personal favorite is the Popeye omelet - within a reasonable amount of time. Now the waiting area is just as packed as Rain on a Saturday night. They should have bouncers who turn you away if you don't smell like locally-produced, organic personal hygiene products.

You can also go to happy hour and show up early enough that you might get a table and/or a parking space.

When I lived in Corpus, the thing I really liked about it was that it wasn't crowded. There wasn't a lot of traffic, and even Wal-Mart shopping was not a completely traumatic experience. You could pop by the HEB after work to pick up a few items and have no trouble whatsoever acquiring a shopping cart (as long as you weren't looking for one of those kiddie-car shaped ones, because they don't have those there at all) and be in and out in fifteen minutes. If you went out dancing, there was room to get away from the person grinding on you if you wanted to (which you did; there are no cute guys in Corpus). People who live there tend to move away after a while, so there's plenty of elbow room.

Austin is wonderful and people keep moving here in droves and now it's just too crowded to go anywhere, but that's okay because you couldn't afford it anyway.

I hear Barrow is lovely this time of year.

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Friday, May 16, 2008


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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Why You Shouldn't Take Cold Medicine

Do you suppose anybody's ever made coffee by filling up the coffeemaker with cream instead of water? Do you think that would be gross? When it was finished, you'd add water and sugar to it. You'd have to buy a new coffeemaker every day, of course. So you'd probably want to be fairly wealthy. Just a thought.

I think I'm going to see my doctor today, because yesterday my cube neighbor told me she just got diagnosed with strep. I thought it was just a cold but my throat's going all achy and this morning I sound like Kojak. So I think I'll see if I can get in with Dr. Norris, even though his first name isn't Chuck.

Why isn't Chuck Norris my doctor? Not my lady doctor - that would be awkward - but my GP. Wouldn't that be great? You'd never get sick. Viruses wouldn't dare infect you. They'd know Chuck Norris would kick their ass.

I'm going to work! Bad idea? Let's find out!

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day Part Deux: Parenting the Human Male

Last night my son Eric walked into my room, looking glum. "What's the matter?" I asked him.

"Nothing," he said, and sat down on the edge of the bed with his head in his hands.

Well, you know, you can't push a kid if he isn't ready to discuss his problems, you just have to be there for him. So I went back to my book, but after a moment, Eric said, "You know, Mom, girls are confusing."

Ah. I put my hand on his arm. "People are confusing, honey," I told him. "Relationships are confusing. Do you want to talk about it?"

He shook his head. Poor baby. I know exactly what he's going through, really, I do.

"Would you like to go buy some shoes?" I asked.

Eric gave me an odd look. He seemed not to understand the question. "Um, no, I have a pair already, but thanks," he said.

Boys are confusing.

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Happy Mother's Day

My mom wasn't a dog, of course - in fact she was a total hottie - but this video reminds me a lot of her practicing the piano. Partly because, when she first got bifocals, she had to tilt her head at exactly this angle to read the music, and partly because she also used to go "oof" under her breath when she hit a wrong note.

Mom was cute.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Once More Into the Beach, Dear Friends

This post guest-written by Magda Silhavy

The time has come, once again, to leave my remote but dearly loved home in Barrow, and make my way once more to the strange hot lands of the south: to Corpus Christi, whose tepid waters bear so little resemblance to the gray and icy ones I have known all my life. This time, however, I do not journey with my dear brothers and business partners, Edwin and Dumas. This is the busy season for whale marketing, and no time for all three of us to be away. I alone will go, then - yet not alone: two intrepid friends bear me company.

There is Ik-Ik, our family's attorney, who goes to ensure that the terms of my late father's will are carried out according to the spirit, if not the letter. After our last disastrous attempt to scatter his ashes in Mexico, when Dumas absent-mindedly neglected to pick up the urn from the baggage carousel in the Seattle airport, some others of us in the family felt it was time to get the law involved. Ik-Ik - the only son of our long-time family friend and live-in helper of indeterminate gender, Nyuk-Nyuk* - has interpreted my father's will to mean that it's good enough to scatter his ashes in the Gulf of Mexico. We need not actually cross into that unfamiliar land. And I am sure they have mariachi music in Corpus, so Dad should be happy. I look forward to at long last discharging my filial duty - as you may recall, Papa Silhavy died at the age of 97 while crossing the Bering Strait from his native Russia, when Edwin, Dumas and I were in our infancy. So this is long overdue.

Ik-Ik is a friend to the family and I have known him all my life, but another man travels with us who may cause some disquiet in my bosom. His name is Zachary. Zachary is a good man, but a stranger, an adventurer, a loner. He runs his own business from just outside town; he owns a small plane, and earns his living contracting out to local farmers, spraying pesticide on their fields. No one knows his last name: they merely call him Zachary, the crop-duster.

Don't get me wrong! If you are traveling to lands unknown, Zachary is the man to bring, and he comes at Ik-Ik's insistence. But you see, Zachary was once my lover. Our relationship was forever sundered when he was inducted into the elite and mysterious Barrow Fight Club (as a rule, we don't talk about it), and he left me alone to face the sobering realization that the man I once cared for would rather get punched in the face than enjoy my favors.

There's really just no good way to take that one.

Nonetheless, there is a task to be done, and do it I will: I am strong, and determined, and one day I shall be mayor of our village; and you don't get to be mayor by crumbling at every minor little personal setback. No, I shall do my duty, and leave our family business,, in the capable hands of Edwin and Dumas; Ik-Ik will turn his practice over to a junior partner for a few days; and, God willing, Zachary won't even think about crop-dusting until his return home.

We arrive in Corpus on Thursday: wish us Godspeed, my friends!

*Ik-Ik doesn't know either. In his culture, it's considered extremely rude to inquire of your parent whether he (or she) is your mother (or father).

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Friday, May 09, 2008

A Day at the Spa: Now Without Vibrators

Have you ever wondered what a day spa staffed and operated entirely by first-graders would be like? You haven't, have you? Well, I'm going to tell you anyway.

Anna's class set up an hour-long spa experience for their mothers today. Their teacher was very proud, and rightly so: the kids planned and organized everything themselves, made lists of needed supplies, and pilfered a few small items from home. "If you've noticed a few of your things missing here and there," laughed the teacher, gesturing at the tables, "this is why! Don't worry, you'll get them back."

It's probably worth noting here that there was, indeed, a vibrating massage tool among the secretly borrowed items, but no, it wasn't that kind. You sort of have to wonder, though. That could have been a bit awkward, you think?

The kids set up stations at each classroom table: a chair massage station, a nail salon, a gift shop with bookmarks, pictures, and paper flowers the kids had made, a day care in the middle of the reading rug for the toddlers who accompanied a few of the moms, and best of all (because this one was Anna's), the Blue Table Restaurant, which served fruit salad, carrot sticks with your choice of salad dressing, and chocolate croissants that Anna had made herself, plus lemonade and water.

Most good day spas offer wine, but that would probably be asking a little much.

Most good day spas also don't offer quite the type of manicure I got at the nail salon, where I sacrificed a fresh Beverly Hills to allow one of Anna's classmates to lacquer all my fingertips, from the knuckle up, in powder pink. That's motherhood for you.

The kids were great, but after the first half-hour they had about reached their limit - bouncing around the room from station to station, jabbering excitedly, and scrounging for food, while one of the masseuses began chasing the waitress around the room with the aforementioned vibrating massage tool. The staff at most reputable day spas generally do not squeal and giggle quite so much.

As things drew to a close, the clever teacher suggested that, so late in the school day, the departing mothers might as well just take their energetic little ones home with them. I waited while Anna washed out the lemonade pitcher and swept up all the crumbs from the reading rug. Do you know, she never does this at home. I wonder if I could get her teacher to come live with us? There's not room, but that's okay. I'll just spend all my time at the spa.

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Google Would Know

The really cool thing about having a blog - aside, that is, from getting to practice typing a lot, and having the indulgence of many kind friends (both "real" and "virtual") who actually read, and sometimes post a comment on, or even link to, your pointless, yet convolutedly-punctuated blatherings - is that, after a couple of years, Google starts giving you a really good idea of what it is that you are actually all about.

It's like a mirror, or maybe a therapist. Perhaps a combination of the two: Freud with serious hair product issues.

The biggest traffic generator for the last few months has been "reasons not to go to work," which seems rather ironic now that I've got an actual job that I don't even hate. Still, it's something that lots and lots of people google on, and when they do, why, here I am. My #1 answer was of course that my cats weren't heavy enough to hold furniture down on their own, so I had to stay home and lend a hand (or a butt - see next item). I hope this was helpful.

And of course my longest-running, highest-yielding all-time search term is the one that captures readers who are especially interested in the way that cats clean themselves - their nether regions, in particular. By licking. You'd be amazed how many googlers appear to have been previously unaware of this fact. They arrive at my blog in droves* every day, and are duly enlightened.

Another big one lately has been "things to do before you die." Really? I'm an authority?! You'd think I must be leading a much more exciting life than I am. But do you know, I've never jumped out of a plane? Not even once! To tell the truth, I really don't even want to. Nor have I ever practiced bestiality (thank you), yet "but fuck one goat" certainly brings in its share of visitors.

Today for the first time, Google also decided I was an expert on yoinking. Right up there with Wiktionary. Who knew? Also, if you want to know about cockblocking - well!

If it says so on teh interwebz,** it must be true.

*Two or three
**Another popular search term


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Rude Inconsiderate Nasty Horrible People

Newsflash: Women can't pee standing up.

Perhaps you were already aware of this fact. If so, I congratulate you; you're significantly beetter-informed than whoever it was that was in the ladies' room stall at work before me this afternoon.

And of course, this unknown woman (I wouldn't call her a lady) didn't actually think she could pee standing up. She was guilty, not of ignorance, but of one of the most heinous crimes a woman can commit against her sister creatures: the hoversquat.

The hoversquat is only excusable if a woman finds herself forced to use a particularly frightening facility: say, a unisex restroom at a truck stop, or a port-a-potty by the waning evening light as the Bob Marley Festival is winding down. There are times you'll find yourself in a restroom in which no reasonable creature could be expected to sit down, and due to the biological constraints I hinted at earlier, you can't just go contribute to the ammonia content of some nice happy tree's nutrient intake.

But the public restroom at work, for God's sake. Not only are these things thoroughly cleaned every day, but they are never used by drunk people at all - which is a hell of a lot more than I can say for the bathroom at my house. And if you're one of those prissy "ooh my hiney is too good to touch the same toilet seat that your peasant scum hiney has touched" bitchez - the same exact women, I'll lay you money, who have French tips on their toenails - fine. They've got those stupid little paper things. Use them.

Doing the hoversquat in a clean restroom displays the ultimate contempt for your fellow women. Of course the worst-case scenario is that the next woman doesn't see what you've done and sits down. Eeeeeeewwwww! Me, I always check, even though maybe once out of 500 times does it turn out I needed to. But if your predecessor has committed the hoversquat, you have to either go to another stall, or do the virtuous, civic-minded thing and clean it up.

What is with some people?! Don't even get me started on that woman I see walking to the bus stop after work every day who crosses on the wrong side of the intersection, so that all the cars that have been sitting there waiting to turn left are obliged to keep waiting through the short green light until she has crossed; when if she would walk just 20 feet out of her way, only the people waiting to turn right, who can do so on red anyway, would have to wait for her. I suspect she works in HR, and I'll bet she uses paper seat covers, and she might even have French tips on her toes. Maybe she even thinks she can pee standing up.


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Ain't Got Nobody

I first saw this, maybe, four years ago? Big surprise that Yoda would turn out to be timeless.

He has some stylin' dance moves too.


Sunday, May 04, 2008

Next To Godliness

Anna doesn't want to have a bath.

There's nothing at all unusual about this - she always puts up a fight, even though she has a pretty good time once she's in the tub. But Anna is a creature of routine (switched at birth, do you think? I did deliver this one in a hospital), and, for almost seven years now, she's been putting up a reasonably well-organized guerrilla resistance at bathtime. So why stop now?

Not the most fragrant of children, my youngest.

Tonight, bathtime came as her daddy and older sister were about to head to the store. Anna wanted to go with them. But this was completely out of the question: it's past bedtime, her hair looks as if a family of wyverns had built a nest in it, and - not to be crude, but there's really no getting around it - she kind of smells like butt.

So they left, and I undressed my screaming, fighting, clawing, three-and-a-half-foot high Antichrist and muscled her into the tub.

Have you ever bathed a yelling child in front of the family cat? Well, I'll tell you what: it freaks the cat out. Think about it. What could a cat find more terrifying than seeing someone else, higher in the family pecking order than he is, screaming like a banshee while the Big Meow pushes her into a tub of that nasty wet stuff that makes your fur all cold and sticky?!?

So my cat Bingo is racing around the house at high velocity, mewing piteously and knocking objects off the bookshelves. If he had opposable thumbs, he'd probably call 911.

Cats have no particular objection to smelling like butt.

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On the Scene

Generally speaking, you go to the gay bar for people-watching. You don't go to dance - or you could; but the set I hang with rarely does. You're not there for the music, with generic song after song after song underlaid by an unchanging heavy bass beat. You're not there for conversation: man, it's so loud in here! And you certainly aren't there for the elbow room. After about an hour and a half I start having difficulty breathing, but unfortunately I still have to fight my way to the thronged bar to close out my tab. Twenty minutes of pushing forward until I can get the attention of a bartender, and he tells me the guy down at the other hand has my tab, go stand down there.

Like hell I will. But, for future reference, you should always pay cash at the gay bar. Those bartenders are some snippy little bitches.

But people to watch there are, lots of them, all kinds. My set consists of highly attractive, fit, healthy, well-groomed, courtly young men who introduce me to everybody and smell really nice. Still they have no mercy for many others in the crowd: the lesbians and the drag queens fare especially badly.

I chime in, because a few giggling college girls are trying out the pole in the cage in the corner, and they really don't know what they're doing: they're drunk, self-conscious and overcompensating for it, with no fluidity or sensuality to their movements. My friends follow my cue and shake their heads and cluck disapprovingly. "Amateurs," we say to one another.

They can't dance for shit, but they're very pretty. Straight men would probably be a bit more charitable.

Also on the scene is a solemn-looking older gentleman, pairing a neat Stetson, suit jacket, perfectly ironed dress shirt and tie with a flirty little black chiffon skirt. It's a bold look; I couldn't really decide if he was pulling it off or not. Then again, nobody bats an eye at spiked neon hair, extensive tats, or multiple face piercings; if you're going to be nonconformist, it seems silly to be conformist about it.

There was a trio of muscular, shirtless Miller Chill boys passing out free samples and Mardi Gras beads. I was bemused. I didn't get a chance to find out if they were passionate about their product, because no one near me told them it tasted like lime-infused swill. But they weren't working the crowd at all; they seemed a little overwhelmed, and kept mostly to the corner behind the pool table. "I bet they're straight," muttered one of my companions in disgust.

But not long after that, the oxygen started to run out and I had to go, get out, NOW; hugging my friends goodbye, walking outside into the wonderful free air, and making room for the next person in the line that now snaked around the block; for the next aromatic hottie or heavily-made up drag queen or cheerful fag hag or tipsy novelty-seeker to go in and be part of that glittering throng.

Hope they like swill.

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