Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Itinerant Hippies and Scatological Games of Chance

Travel day.

I had, oh, six minutes' notice that I had to run to the Scranton area for two appointments today, which was fine, but I left without my sunglasses or the rest of my coffee or a trip to the potty and I was all out of sorts. My GPS was convinced the development didn't exist and I did a little driving around on gravel backroads in the woods, followed by the airless sun-baked stretch of hell known as Route 81 South, under construction.

When you travel a lot like I do, there are certain things you just have to deal with. One of them is public bathrooms. There is no avoiding public bathrooms when you are on the road for eight hours at a time. This is not a job for the dainty 'ew, I can only poo at home' set. One becomes discerning, one knows where the cleanest ones are. Other times, you 'make do'.

We were discussing this discernment the other night when I mentioned to Himself that I prefer a bathroom with multiple stalls so I can avoid turd burglars.

He had not previously heard this term.

"You should blog about this." he said. "I didn't know what that was, and I'll bet other people don't know either." I sensed he believes I made it up. I did not.

I'm sure that some of my gentle readers know what a turd burglar is, but for the benefit of the others: its a person who knocks on the door of a public restroom, effectively disrupting the progression of events taking place therein. They are the gate agents on the flight to your happy place. And they are not boarding your row.

Sometimes I ignore them, particularly if they knock so soon after I've locked the door that it was obvious they were right behind me and saw me go in. If you are that desperate use the men's room. Women with a small child in tow knock like they are trying to get into the tornado cellar minutes before touchdown. Nothing ups the ante of public restroom entitlement quite like a child who HAS TO GO. Just in case you, in your selfish midstream micturation, don't get the message, they usually say "NO, (insert child's name here), YOU HAVE TO WAIT. SOMEONE IS IN THERE." loudly enough to imply that if you don't get out immediately, you will be responsible for their having to drive the rest of the way home with a pee soaked four year old. Sorry, ma'am. The sooner they learn 1) that its better to say something before they reach critical volume and 2) their days of instant gratification are numbered, they'll be better people. Anyway, I'm in here.

Here's a picture I wish I'd taken this morning-- Wyalusing, PA: a man is shambling up the sidewalk with waist length filthblond braids, a gnome-y beard, a jaunty purple hat with feathers, and an outfit that looks like it might have been left behind in the mud at Woodstock. Hours later when I drive through town I see a red scooter bedecked with all sorts of flags and signs and a satchel to match the outfit and conclude that it can only belong to him. A few yards up the street I see him again, and this time I notice he is also draped with a cord that has about eight little brass horns tied to it. He waves as I drive by.

Just outside of Factoryville, PA I discover that I missed out on the social event of the summer a mere 11 days ago. A large black and yellow tow-behind highway sign, the kind that usually says things like ROAD WORK AHEAD and EXPECT DELAYS bears this message:


Several questions.

1) What is it?
2)Why is the sign still up?
3) Just, why?

Please stop by Humor Blogs and click on my happy head thingy. My husband and his sister are beating me.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Motorola Meltdown

So, Saturday afternoon, having read, oh, 200 or so pages of a very good book, (Oh, and side note to one of the reviewers: "Opaque in places to American readership"? We're not morons. Well, not all of us.) And, feeling quite pleased with myself for getting up at a respectable hour for some time at the gym, followed by a load or two of laundry, I was doing what any self-respected woman would be doing.

I was asleep on the couch with my face buried in the cat.

Himself had gone to get us tickets to Dark Knight, which only had one showing on Saturday. I took his long absence to mean he'd wandered off somewhere else; the library, the bookstore, no matter, I'll just rest my eyes here awhile and....

....the front door bangs open and Himself stands there, wild eyed, like he'd just seen some unsuspecting citizen who'd been pottering along Main Street pulled into a van with tinted windows.

"My phone is gone."

Now, a moment of elucidation. Himself is a champion misplacer of things. We gave it a clinical name. I have been party to many frantic searches of cars, couches, suitcases, and what have you in our nearly 12 years of marriage. When we left the country I kept a death grip on the ziploc pouch that contained all of our tickets and travel documents, allowing him to hold his boarding pass only during those golden moments between "here you go" and "now boarding all rows". But pens, keys, wallets, remote controls, phones, orbit him just out of reach, a saturnalian ring of "I just had it" and "Have you seen my ____".

"What do you mean?"

"I left the house with it. I was talking to (the Sister)."

"Okay, so...let's go look in the car."

"I looked. I looked all over. It wasn't in there. Someone stole it. Someone took it while I was in the movie theater."

I call the library and advise them we are stopping over just to have another look. We arrive 7 minutes before closing and the kind ladies there are padding around on the soft carpeting, looking everywhere they'd seen him, on the off chance it was placed on top of a bookcase, in a cubbyhole. Its not there, nor is it on the grass outside the library. Nor in the sewer grate. (I figured what the heck, I may as well have a look.) We drive to the movie theater. I send him to the phone store, thinking perhaps if someone turned it on and saw the provider name (a relatively small and distinct provider) they'd drop it off, the store is only half a block from the theater. I try the doors, the theater is closed for the time being. I turn around and see a group of kids at the curb. One of them has a phone in each hand. I approach her and realize the phone she is talking on looks very familiar.

I discover that this girl is on the phone with my mother in law. The kids found the phone in the street. They opened it, looked in the address book, and called "Mom", rightly assuming that they'd picked the one person who would know how to reach us. We thanked them profusely, and before we could offer to buy them ice cream or something they scurried off to shop across the street, and we drove home, discussing the merits of a belt-mounted CASE for his small and (apparently slippery) phone.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Manboobs at Dawn

I got up this morning at 5:30am, so I could hit the gym before my dogsitting duties. I'd forgotten a little promise I made two months ago; to feed two furbabies this week who live roughly halfway between my house and the office. So I had to figure out how I could both feed the dogs and meet my exercise buddy Becca AND still get to work on time, with cat feeding, personal hygiene, lunchmaking, and breakfast crammed in there somewhere in the middle. 5:30 it is.

Did you know its dark at 5:30, even in the summer? Yeah? I didn't.

I am functionally brain damaged early in the morning so I try to make it easy for myself. All the clothes are in a pile with the shoes and the barrette to pin back my Peppermint Patty football. The drill goes like this:

Alarm goes off

Sit bolt upright, pull on clothes. Try not to garrotte myself on the Uniboober. (Good God. I tried to find an image for this and found a 'Nursing Sports Bra'. Is anyone so busy they need to combine those two activities? )

Socks/shoes/shuffle to the bathroom

Brush teeth (Why? Why not!)

Drive to gym

Stagger across parking lot wondering if I'm insane

There is a group of women in my gym I like to call The Fantastic Four. Boybody runs on the treadmill, then hits the elliptical both forwards and backwards. (I don't mean PEDALING backwards-- she actually STANDS backwards on it-- a maneuver that would surely buy me an ambulance ride.) She's built like a piece of Shaker furniture. The Elliptical Terminator gets on her device of choice and rides it like it betrayed her in some perverse and bitter romance and dammit, its going to pay. Little House on the Prairie WALKS to the gym, works out, and walks home. She has steel rimmed glasses and a Minnesota Pioneer Woman hairdo and wears a black tracksuit with a hood regardless of the heat, riding the recumbent bike with dogged amusement. The Nurse is, you guessed it, a nurse, who apparently never sleeps because she is at the gym at Zero-Dark-Thirty, works out, showers, puts on scrubs, and goes to work. Yet I've seen her at the hospital all hours. She looks capable of putting unruly patients in a hammerlock.

This morning, they were all there, working away, as I crept in to the too bright room with the too loud morning news with Elmira's favorite perky moonfaced girl. (Would someone PLEASE run over Ana's hair with a paddlebrush and some Frizz-Ease during the commercial breaks? Jeez.) My regular attendance apparently now warrants a NOD OF HELLO from one or more of the F4. I'm so proud.

But today there is someone else among us.

His superhero name is

I sign in and while I'm doing that, I hear the treadmill on the other side of the pillar to my right going great guns. Whoever is on it is just flailing away. At this point, mind, the gym has only been open for twenty minutes. I peek around the corner and get an eyeful of sweat-slicked man teats. The Moisture is not wearing a shirt. Not wearing a shirt and sweating like he's hammering the last mile of the Boston Marathon. He has reached this advanced state of swampage in twenty minutes.

I scurry to the bikes and studiously examine Ana Liss' frizzy hair until the pounding behind me stops. Creeping over for my turn, I can only hope that TM has cleaned up the nimbus of his urgent efforts before leaving. I'm half right. It is apparent that he wiped down the handles and whatnot, but the floor and siderests look as if they were recently occupied by a nervous dog.

I wish Curves was open at 5:30.
Two things: Never do a Google Image search of 'Manboobs'. And go here. Thankies!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Wardrobes of the Malfunctioning Variety

I heard a blurb on the radio this morning about the fine against CBS for our brief peek at Miss Jackson -If -You're -Nasty's pierced niblet, which you can read here.
Or you can skip that and just enjoy this.

I remember that Super Bowl, which is odd, because since I care precious little about sports, most of them run together, punctuated here and there with a vague interest in the commercials. That year we'd been invited to a party given by a man Himself had done a story about, when he came home from Qatar; he was a military strategist of some stripe. At any rate, he had a large, lovely family, and we were invited to his welcome home party, and subsequent Super Bowl party. We all sat in the living room in front of the big screen TV. Most of us weren't really paying attention to the halftime show; it was an opportunity to reload our plates and refill our glasses. Most of us were commenting on the questionable taste of what we were seeing, when.....

IT happened.

I don't know how you remember this, but this was no malfunction. I remember Justin reaching up, grabbing himself a big ol' handful of bustier, and yanking it off. Also, on a big screen TV, this was no 'fleeting glimpse'. There it was in all its glory, with that weird metal thing in it. Then they both sort of stood there with 'Oh S***' expressions on their faces. Like, "Perhaps, just perhaps, we went a bit too far."

Silence in the room.

"Did I just see what I think I saw?" giggled a lady in the back, who'd had a lot of zinfandel.

"Well, tell is what you saw, and we'll tell you if you saw it!" this, from a man who, like the rest of the men in the room, DEFINITELY DID see what she thought she saw.

Laughter. And then a premonition that a poo-storm would be unleashed over it.

Nobody remembers that Josh Groban sang at the beginning, or that it was quite nice.

I'm reminded of 'The People vs. Larry Flynt'. There is a scene in the movie where he is making a speech to a group of people; using a series of slides he shows images of war, of violence, of death, and he asks a compelling question-- what is obscene? I am not making a case for pornography, but the point is well taken. When you consider all of the things that are depicted on television, the murders, the perversion, human beings using one another in every conceivable way (and that's just on Fox News), why did we get ourselves in a sanction and fines dither over a woman's breast? Yeah, it was kind of creepy. But was it worth years of legal wrangling. or were we locking the barn after the horse was already stolen?

Feh, that's enough serious for me today. Soon I'll tell you about my unexpected but undoubtedly generous contribution to the well being of the citizens of Corning, New York. (Hint: 54 in a 30.)

Please visit Humor Blogs, where all the nipples are covered. (I hope.)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Headaches & Miscellany

Just for gits & shiggles I went to the Starbucks website today, curious about where the doomed outlets might be located and whether any of my ridiculously infrequent visits there would be imperiled by their belt-tightening. I am relieved to say that any and all inclination I ever have in the course of my day to pay $4 for one cup of coffee when I can get a whole pound of it at Weis for $7 is safe since my Vestal NY Starbucks with the cool, funny baristas, who once let me use their phone to call my office when I realized I'd left mine at home, will remain open. And, perhaps as an indication that we take our caffeine consumption very seriously in Our Fine Commonwealth, virtually NONE of the Pennsylvania Starbucks are closing. Rock on, Malvern and Exton Mall.

I sit here in mellow mood lighting at my desk, careful not to move too fast, bend over to fetch things off the floor, or raise my voice above a library level. I am coming off of The Headache.
Once in a great while, they steal upon me like an unexpected thunderstorm. There are signs. Sign one is pretty hard to miss, and looking back, I can't believe I didn't see it coming. I call it Superhero Smellability. Imagine you had one of these:

Only it works for your nose. And you can't turn it down.

7pm I am walking around town smelling everyone's deodorant/laundry detergent/dogs/chew funk. I should run for the drugstore to cram Tylenol Sinus caplets in every orifice. But I ignore it.

10pm, I pick up my cat and I can smell his breath and the baking soda deodorant stuff mixed into his cat litter on his paws, mixed with the smell of newspaper and the soap on the shower rack two rooms away. I ignore it.

3am I wake up and the center of my forehead feels like its being pressed by the giant angry thumb of a giant angry giant. I find Tylenol Sinus in the little first aid kit I used to carry in my sword bag and swallow it, assuming I'll just fall asleep and wake up for the gym, all the pain magically spirited away.

3:15 Still hurts

3:45 Still hurts

4:10 Still hurts and I have to pee. While TCOB I realize that moving my head too fast makes me want very much to throw up. I resolve to move my head very slowly.

4:35 I discover that closing my eyes actually makes my head hurt worse, what with the titanic pressure my eyelids exert on my eyeballs. I stare at the ceiling fan quietly hating both Himself and the cat, who are sound asleep and snoring in tandem.

5:30 I get up again and text message my gym partner to let her know I will not be making it. The bright light of my phone and cheerful tootle of the keys as I try to convey my truancy in the shortest message possible almost makes me throw up.

6:15 After about twenty seven seconds of a dream in which I am either Josie or one of the Pussycats, I wake up again. I can now hear the vertebrae creaking in my neck.

7:00 I call my office and advise the dispatcher I will be coming in late. I take more medicine and lay back down, only to be awakened by the deafening crash of the cat playing with a bottlecap. Bottlecap is confiscated by Himself, with my gratitude.

7:15-9:00 Actual sleep and another dream that I don't remember, only that it had the feel, decor, and clothes of a Miami Vice episode.

10:30 After a cautious breakfast of toast and a cup of coffee, I leave for work. When I arrive I do not turn on the lights.

4:22 The day is creeping on, I have a Pampered Chef party to go to and I earnestly hope no one will be smoking there or I may have to make them crawl around on the floor to look for my eye.

My husband sent me an email that said "You forgot the Humor Blogs link in your post. You are going to get kicked off.". Click here to keep me kicked on!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My Grandma Will Be So Proud


As a 1930s wife, I am
Very Superior

Take the test!

I just made it into the 'very superior' category! Of course, I could have clinched it if I managed to make sure my stocking seams were straight. I checked off that I wear red nail polish too, not sure if that is a plus or a minus. I know Himself would tell you its a minus when I'm doing it, since he hates the smell.

Himself and I have been married 11 1/2 years. I was thinking while I was driving yesterday that I need to appreciate him more, this on the heels of a couple of days where little things he was doing were driving me crazy, mostly of the borrowing-without-asking variety. I huffily scooped a couple of piles of dirty clothes up off the floor, threatened him with bodily harm if he helped himself to my pen stash, and lamented the fact that he used my last good razor blade.

I've been thinking how dumb all that stuff is. And I assert that I reached that conclusion all on my own, and not because something like this happened not too far from where we live. At the end of the day I go home to a kind, trustworthy, smart and creative man. One who tolerates my slipshod housekeeping, occasional cooking, endless meetings, and waking at 3am or so weekly to the shattering alarm of my pager so I can go jump in an ambulance and deal with someone else's bad day.

So lets have a little Wednesday morning gratitude. Tell us why your Significant Other is awesome.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Summer Reading for the Terribly Awake

Yep, its 1:41am, and I'm awake in the literary man-cave also known as my husband's office, typing on his keyboard that despite numerous applications of the brushy vacuum-attachment persuasion still sports several ounces of crumbs and a sticky toolbar that feels like 4" by 3/4" of movie theater floor. I usually restrict my forays into this room to standing here, touching nothing, and looking while he says "You have to see this" but I can't sleep. So rather than staring at the bedroom ceiling for an hour woolgathering any and all sources of anxiety I can muster, here I am. The Huz tells me I should keep a reading blog like he does and write reviews of everything I stick my nose in but that's too much like work. He's good at it, though. So we'll leave that to him. This is as close as I'm gonna get.

Saturday night I rode in an ambulance with a fifteen year old boy to a larger hospital from our country one because he rolled his dirt bike and broke his leg in lots of jaggedy we-can't-fix-em-here pieces. Since he was gorked out on the good drugs and drifted off about every third sentence I amused myself by making a list of books I've read this summer. I concluded that maybe I need to get outside more, though in my defense I did some of this reading on the porch.
Here's the story so far, with links to Amazon because geez people, its the middle of the night and I'm too lazy to import all these graphics.

Also, they aren't in exact order in the beginning cause I kinda forget.

1. Bringing Out The Dead -- Joe Connelly

What reading it says about me: I'm that much of a wacker that I was excited that it had an ambulance on the cover.

What it meant to me really: I'm that much of a wacker that I read it because its about an EMT.

2. The Sum of Our Days -- Isabel Allende

What it says: If I like an author I will plunder their entire library and read everything they ever wrote down to shopping lists.

What it meant: My husband brought it home from the library 'cause he knows what I like.

3. & 4. The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian -- Sherman Alexie

What it says: I am actually lazy enough that I'll just read books my husband puts down. Especially if he spends a lot of time snorting in an amused way while reading them.

What it means: They were funny. They were depressing. I feel guilty. You should read them anyway.

5. Bel Canto -- Ann Patchett

What it says: Top of the pile from the rummage sale bookstore. Also: He picked it out for me.

What it means: There are people who write 'romantic novels' who I don't have the urge to mow down with my car.

6. Light in August -- William Faulkner

What it says: "I am so smart! S-M-R-T!"

What it means: Wow. Depressed alcoholics write some depressing crap. Who knew. Oh well, I am so smart! S-M-R-T!

7. Palace of Illusions -- Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

What it says: We got an uncorrected bound manuscript not for sale at a used bookstore in paperback that isn't even available until Feb 2009 and we are such dorks we did like a dorky literary high-five 'woot' dance thing over that.

What it means: I dig Indian mythology, though I am so lazy I actually copied and pasted her name rather than typing it out. For that matter, for the first few chapters I got the names mixed up, had to refer to the chart in the front, and felt like I was back in Dr. Clyde Ross' China and India course in college. (Yes, my whitish liberal arts college saw fit to stick both countries' rich history, art, music, theater, and literature into ONE one-semester course. They may as well have thrown Korea and Japan in there for the heck of it. And don't ask me what I got, only know that with the help of a large can of store-brand instant iced-tea you can cram five dynasties of Chinese history in one night).

8. Lolita -- Vladimir Nabokov

What it says about me: We own classics! I pull them off the shelf and read them for reals!

What it means to me: EW EW EW EW EW!!! Christmas in Killarney, people, this is a creepy story. And if you really need to not sleep ever ever, I see here on good old Amazon that you can get an audiobook of it read by JEREMY IRONS. AAAAAAAAH!

That's the list so far. I'll probably have to jump back into the Chronicles of Narnia to wash Lolita out of my soul, even though I've been reading it over a year and keep falling asleep with the giant book crushing my sternum after half a dozen pages. I welcome your recommendations as well, though I declare this a Nora Roberts and She Who Must Not Be Named-free zone for ever and always.

I hear there's lists over here too. Flying lists. Excellent lists.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Better Living Through Chemistry

I don't want this third cup of coffee. But I'm going to drink it anyway.

Besides, I need something to take the pill with. I hold it in my fingers, wondering whether my feeling better has more to do with feeling like I'm doing something than the actual medical action of this particular drug. I decide it doesn't really matter, that improvement is improvement and whatever dispels the dark is welcome.

I see skinny, tanned, shirtless country boys everywhere, ones like the one we loaded to fly a few weeks ago. The first crew onscene found him standing uncertainly next to a wrecked car, cradling his arm, his shoulder not so much dislocated as relocated. They had to ask him if he was in the wreck. "Which car were you in, sweetheart?" she asked. He pointed to the one wheels up in the middle of the road. He'd been asleep in the back seat, ejected somehow without a scratch on him, except for the shoulder. Twenty years old and terrified of needles. All I could do is stroke the five square inches of velvety crewcut that was not encircled with c-spine stabilizing plastic and vinyl and say over and over, "Its going to be okay, it'll only take a second, you have a great vein there, just relax." I wondered at the sinewy length of him and just how he was ejected without more damage. A perfect jacknife dive out of a broken window. The car was small. With every MVA my grasp of physics becomes less science, more mystery and chance, possibly miracle. Possibly. That accident put my skills in perspective. The damage was done. We cleaned up the mess. Maybe, maybe, we prevented more damage.

You walk out of EMT class with your certificate and your patch and think (secretly) that you are going to save the world. You stare hard at strangers whose perfusion seems questionable, watch them make their tentative way up sidewalks, down steps that never seemed so precarious. You shake your head at bikers gliding bareheaded through intersections. It doesn't take long to learn that your ceremonial duties are limited to cleaning up the aftermath of someone else's choices, or asking questions and bearing witness to forces of time and disease beyond all control, particularly yours.

Later on, after my third cup of coffee, I step to the front of the church and receive the cup, the throaty rumble of motorcycles behind me, headed to their destinations. Perhaps I am headed the same way in a hail of sound and flashing lights, though with a swallow of sacred wine and the knowledge that I do not save anyone, not even myself.

My Day In Pictures

I thought it might be fun to give you a bit of photographic evidence of my typical day. Since I had to go to one of my favorite towns no less than THREE times in the past week, here you go!

Yes, I took this picture while I was driving. No, you probably shouldn't do that. Yes, I could probably get a ticket for it.

First of all, this is what it looks like where I live. The picture may not convey adequately the Misty Mountain-yness of it, but trust me. Its misty. And mountainy. And pretty when it isn't all gray and muggy and gross. This highway has one of those gorges where you could slam on the gas, bust through the guardrail, and do a Thelma and Louise into a public waterway. Cool!

Why do I love thee, O Ithaca? Because 15 minutes from this:

You have this:

Whatever our differences, our common denominator is art.

My favorite place to get bulk mixed nuts and other crunchy granola happy things. Also the place you are most likely to see white folks with dreadlocks. (White folks: stop it.) What you don't see is the cluster of employees hunkered down smoking to the left of the bicycles. Still! Happy happy crunchy place and the best bathroom graffiti in town. I took this picture from the third level of a parking garage, which gives you some idea how high they are. But at least they have Peter Pan harnesses and safety lines on. They spent all day stapling the orange stuff on top of the yellow stuff. Which made me think, I could totally do that job. I wouldn't WANT to, but I COULD.

Home again, home again, giggety giggety. And look! Route 17 is under construction! What a surprise!!!!

Yeah, stuff is missing, like the cool guy from Sydney I met, and our drive out to his storage unit up a section of 13 that has no lines, only cones which are so confusing I just sort of made my own lane while he laughed. Or the Autumn Leaves bookstore, where a kind young gentleman with ice blue eyes made me a fantastic grilled cheese sandwich. Or the sign I couldn't get a picture of, outside Stevensville, NY, of a peace sign, and an arrow, nailed to a pole. What are they saying, exactly? I may never know. Perhaps that is where the gentleman in the white Subaru who tailgated me all the way from the Spencer cutoff should go. Nope, I didn't slow down so you could pass when you tried. You tried in a stupid place. A quarter mile from the highway onramp. Please. And I was disappointed what with your angry gesturing and yelling when, as you did pass two minutes later, I saw all your rainbow and equality stickers. Peace, brother. Its in Stevensville. Follow the sign.