Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Fatsuit fights the Wanton Wonton

A long time ago, I worked as a drone in a custom publishing company on the outskirts of Boston. I was underpaid and underworked, but my coworkers were freakin' hysterical. One lass in particular, one Kate Smyres, was so funny she made me cry a little and sometimes pee my pants.

Kate went to Emerson, where she was pursuing a Masters in TV Wizardry and Media Savviness. As part of her program, she put together a Web site, advertising a fictious WNBA basketball team called the Boston Stranglers. I was the rather zaftig chainsmoking forward, Dutch Hubley. My bio page stated that I lived in an abandoned limosine in Newton, Mass., with my adorable triplets, and that I subsisted mainly on pulled pork sandwiches.

Vanity requires me to stress that I am, in fact, wearing a fatsuit in these photos. Also making a funny face. Also lurching around like a crazy drunken hick. Smyres found the whole thing so amusing that she started to call me Fatsuit, which she does to this day.

I only wish the site were still up. Fortunately for you, though, the photos still exist, and Smyres was generous enough to send them to me when she found out I have a blog now. Here's an expurgated version of the note she sent along with the photos:

fuck me, fatsuit if these aren't the funniest fucking

photos you've ever laid your fucking eyes on!

i can't decide which one is my favorite.



She's right, you know. They kinda are. Anyway, enjoy.

Fatsuit in all her glory.

If any boys see this picture, I'm never getting laid again.

Smoking is bad for you. No, wait! Playing basketball is bad for you. I always get those confused.

Fatsuit fights the Wanton Wonton. Don't ask.

You say it's your ... oh, never mind

Birthdays blow.

I've been thinking about this today, because it's my friend Christine's birthday, and she's experiencing the Birthday Meh. Not the Birthday Blues, mind you. Just the Meh. Think of someone in a slightly crumpled party hat, blowing wanly into a noisemaker.

The Birthday Meh is the natural consequence of getting all hyped up about your birthday. No one is guiltier of this than me. Every year I get worse. I start plaguing my friends earlier ("Do you know what happens next month? MY BIRTHDAY.") and planning ever more elaborate parties ("Do you think we can get the pony on the roofdeck? Is there some kind of zoning thing?").

When the actual day arrives, however, I find that I couldn't care less. I'm not even so much concerned with wrinkles and gray hair and so on. I'm just ... meh.

All major festive holidays are like this. Think of New Year's. Think of Anniversaries. You're supposed to be all excited, but it's just a day.

This is why I have decided to start throwing festive holiday parties for no reason. First up: I'm going to have a bachelorette party. I've always wanted one. Think about it: You get horribly drunk in a limo, go to a bazillion places, some of them with attractive nekkid people, and everyone pays attention to you the whole time. What a great idea this is! The only drawback that I could ever see was the whole having to get married part afterward. So I'll just skip that.

I'm having a bachelorette party. Who wants in?

Monday, August 30, 2004

Cheap-ass IM-based post

JennieSmash: if you never see me again, it's because i've been murdered by this woman

CelliMac: oh no

CelliMac: why are all these women in love with you?

JennieSmash: because i'm super hot

CelliMac: well yes, but you seem to have developed a talent for attracting our own kind...are you wearing a new perfume?

JennieSmash: and i can sing billie holiday songs perfectly and understand the superiority of gerber daisies over all other flowers. i'm basically the perfect girlfriend ... for a chick

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Ain't No Swimming in the Jury Pool

My Official Trial Juror's Handbook for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which I received not once but twice, had a number of interesting and informative sections. There were directions to the courthouse, instructions on when to appear and what to bring with me. There were subsections on conduct, appropriate dress, and qualifications. But my favorite part by far was the section entitled, "Being a Juror is Hard. What if I am not smart enough to be a Juror?" I called up at least three separate friends to read them this hilarious section.

"Dude, listen to this," I said, reading. "'Being a juror is very difficult. What if I am not smart enough to be a good juror? Answer: It is wrong to think that an individual who is highly educated is better equipped to determine which witnesses are telling the truth and which are not telling the truth' ... in other words, it's okay if I'm a total dumbass."

More than one of my friends suggested that this was probably a good thing. And we laughed and we laughed and we laughed.

When I got down to the John W. McCormack Post Office and Courthouse and couldn't find the door, I started to wonder if maybe the Handbook did apply to me ... and was wrong about the IQ needed in order to be a good juror.

The Courthouse takes up a city block in Post Office Square. It sits between Devonshire Street, its official address, and Congress Street, and is flanked by Milk and Waters Streets. It has a number of doors, according to the map, and my Handbook assured me that the ones I wanted were either at Congress or Milk Streets. The Handbook made it sound like they would be easy to find. The Handbook lied.

Or at least, misled me strongly. There were a number of doors. They were all either blocked off completely or restricted to Courthouse personnel. Many of them also featured a cheery blue sign telling me that the juror's entrance was right around the next corner. I started to wonder if I was being filmed.

On my second lap of the building, in which I had resorted to running the toe of my sandal around the foundation like a blind person who had misplaced her cane, I found another juror who directed me to the correct entrance. I knew she was a juror because she looked annoyed as fuck, she was clearly more dressed up than usual, and she was smoking. (Have you heard that people in Boston are quitting smoking? After serving jury duty, I don't believe it.)

"Where's the door?" I gasped, nearly body-checking her as she attempted to run to minimum safe distance for her smoke.

"Round the corner," she said. "Move."

Once I got in, I had to endure a cavity search. Okay, not really. I just had to walk through a metal detector. Unfortunately, I seem to wear a lot of metal. I don't think of myself as a metal-wearing person, but apparently I am. My jacket had all these little hook closures, so I had to take that off. It promptly got stuck on the conveyor belt of the X-ray machine, behind the rubber flaps that keep in terrorist threats such as sweaters and light-weight handbags.

"Can I reach in and grab my jacket?" I asked the attendant. He looked at me like I'd just started babbling at him in Swahili.

"Cawse ya can, sweethahdt," he said. I realized, with my 'burby little accent, that I actually was speaking Swahili. I have this weird thing where whenever I hear a really strong Boston accent, I feel a little homesick, even though I've lived here most of my life. I kind of wish my accent were stronger. Lately, people keep asking me if I'm from Connecticut, and while there's nothing wrong with Connecticut, I don't want folks to start assuming that I'm a Yankees fan.

The courthouse staff was really friendly, directing me up the stairs to the jury pool, smiling as they indicated where to put my Questionnaire, joking around as I asked if there was a lady's room, and if so, if I was allowed to use it at that particular moment.

"Cawse ya can, sweethahdt," said the court officer. That was their answer to everything. I was really tempted to ask them if I could, I don't know, walk down a flight and get a good look at the defendants to see if they looked guilty, or if I could smoke crack, or something.

The room we were in reminded me of a lecture hall at UMass Amherst, where I went to school. Only slightly more comfortable. It consisted of about 300 dark blue upholstered chairs arranged in banks, facing a small podium and three ceiling-mounted TVs. A row of long metal coat-racks lined the front of the room, with hangers that you couldn't remove, just like in a hotel. The hangers reminded me of the whole experience, actually: They were going to try to make the whole situation as easy on you as possible, but it was going to take awhile, so you might want to take off your coat, and just so you didn't get any funny ideas, the hangers weren't removable. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Judicial System: Keeping Honest People Honest since ... whenever all that started. Ah-hem.

There was a desk up front, by the wide double doors, for the court officers. There were at least two of them there at all times, rifling through papers and sorting cards into bins and passing out slips indicating which panel you were on. Behind them were a copy machine and a defibrillator. The defibrillator made me wonder if I might have a heart attack at some point during the day, as those types of machines always do. (Oddly, the copy machine did not make me wonder if I might need to make copies.)

I got my slip from the (friendly! friendly!) court officer. I was panel 5, number 7, whatever that meant. I made my way into the room, which was already pretty full at 8:00, showing that my fellow citizens were just as nervous about being arrested for failing to appear as I was. Or, you know, serious about doing their civic duty. One or the other.

I found a seat, as far away from my nearest neighbors as possible, and opened my book and started reading.

At 8:08, people started coughing.

Coughing, even the kind that's caused by a dry tickle and not a germ, is contagious. And I am, as you may have gleaned from my earlier statement about the defibrillator, a miserable hypochondriac. I covered my nose surreptiously, and hoped I didn't look too much like Howard Hughes.

At 8:10, the sneezing began and I was sure that they would have to use the defibrillator on me after all.

At 8:12, I spotted a sign asking me to turn my cell phone off, and I did so. Since my compulsive nature precludes wearing a watch -- "What time is it? I'll just check. Wait, what time is it now? I'll just check." -- I no longer had any idea of what time it was after that point. As a result, I was plunged into something resembling one of those sensory deprivation experiments in psychology labs. What time was it? It could have been 9 o'clock or six the next morning.

At whatever time it was, but probably not much after 9:00, the court officers called us up to fill out yet another questionnaire. This one pertained to our racial status. I checked "Big Ol' Honky" and dropped the slip in the box.

Our previous questionnaire wasn't much more complicated. They just wanted to know if we had any prior experiences with the judicial system which might prejudice us against a defendant. Had we ever been involved in a criminal or civil trial? I started to check "No" and then realized that I had. In the box provided, I wrote, "I'm not sure if this counts, but had to take out a restraining order against an ex-boyfriend in 1996." I paused. 1996? Was that possible? How was I old enough to have an eight-year-old restraining order? My, how time flies.

Seated back at my chair, I started trying to arrange myself comfortably. This was not as easy as it seemed at first. I'm short. My legs don't really reach the ground in most chairs, not with a comfortable amount of knee bend, especially when I'm reading. But I'm pretty flexible, so I like to fold my legs, Indian-style, and sit that way. Unfortunately, that wasn't not really possible in those particular chairs, because of the armrests. Also, what to do with my purse? It was a dilemma, as I'd brought a good book with me and you could probably steal my pants right off my body when I'm reading a good book and I'd never notice. I could have put it on my lap, but then it would be tough to balance my book on the clasp. I could have put it on the floor, but see previous statement re: pants, reading, etc. I finally opted for that, figuring that you'd need some kind of balls to swipe someone's purse at the Courthouse. In fact, it occurred to me that I was pretty safe in this room altogether. I knew for sure that no one in the room has a weapon, since we'd all been X-rayed. How often can you say that in a large urban gathering?

Unfortunately, X-ray machines don't pick up weird. I managed to avoid any weirdos until after the 10:00 break, but as soon as we got back and settled in, he sat next to me. Greasy hair, permanent slump, patchy facial hair, pants held together with safety pins. I had to look twice to make sure I'd never dated him. Something about the way he was sitting seemed both standoffish and encroaching on my space. He had his knees splayed out, like guys do on the train, as if to say, "My package is too large to be confined by my own legs! I'm going to need your chair, too. Sorry." He hid his face in his hands like he was weeping. He hid it so thoroughly, that I had a weird flash-thought of him looking up and not having a face at all: just a circle of teeth like a moray eel. After awhile, I realized that he was weeping at all, nor expressing physically some larger depression. I realized this, because he started to snore slightly, and began leaning in toward my shoulder as if to curl up against me.

Then I got, suddenly, who he reminded me of. I'd been thinking it was an ex-boyfriend. But all along it was the stray Siamese cat who prowls around my parent's yard, killing my Dad's birds. I made the mistake of petting this cat once, and got actual fleas for my trouble. ("Who's a sweet little kitty? Who's a sweet little kitty? What's the matter, sweetie? Are you itchy? Are you a scratchy old -- oh my GOD, is that a FUCKING FLEA?")

I got up and moved before his greasy head could make contact with my shoulder.

As soon as I settled into my new spot, the court officers announced that no jury would be impaneled today, and we could leave. The woman next to me shot her fist in the air and yelled, "YES!" Like she'd just won a hand at video poker. And then we all got up and shuffled out of the room.

On my way out, I paused before the pictures of Dubya and Cheney in the lobby. Dubya's picture looked oddly airbrushed, especially his eyes. I wondered if some artist had tried to take down his squint. He looked weirdly 3D, like the picture of Jesus that hung in my sister's childhood friend's house. The 3D Jesus hung in the hallway in her friend's house when she was growing up. You'd walk one way, and he'd look sad and disappointed. You'd walk the other way, and he'd look benign and forgiving. "You're in the kitchen! You're damned! You're in the living room! You're saved!"

Even with that, he still looked like a bully. But not as bad as Cheney. Mouth drooping like a stroke victim, he smirked out of his portrait in three-quarter profile, looking at the camera jeeringly, as if to say, "I've got your country. What the fuck are you going to do about it?"

Out loud, I said, "I'm going to vote your fucking ass out of office, that's what." And then I looked around, to see if anyone had heard. I talk to myself more and more. It's a problem.

The best part of the Dubya/Cheney portraits? Between them, hanging on the wall, was a copy of something called "Rules of Fair Conduct." I love obvious irony.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

At last

Dave Matthews Band finally sued for dumping shit everywhere. Okay, specifically the suit is concerned with this one river. But it's a step in the right direction.

This morning's petty gripe is brought to you by the letter "I"

I love the Internet. I love being able to talk to people without having to go to the bother of dialing a telephone or worrying about getting stuck in some endless conversation about something that doesn't interest me. I love Googling myself, my friends, my exes and various celebrities. I being able to research urban legends and failed teenage pop stars from my youth. I love that there's a fan site for everything.

Here's what I don't love, though: I don't love that if you sign up for anything, or somehow get signed up for anything, you will never ever get off that list. Not if you send an e-mail, not if you hire a lawyer, not if you write a horrible malicious virus that eats their network and reduces their servers to jelly.

(I should probably be careful saying things like that now. Isn't that sort of thing officially a terrorist act nowadays? I'll be in Guantanamo before you know it. With no Internet access.)

Currently, I am signed up for: Free Movie Tickets!, Match.com, two astrology sites, and various tech newsletters for Web sites I worked for, oh, say, three years ago. I'm not even counting spam here. I could write you an excellent screed about the various Nigerian fugitives who need my bank account number, but really, it's been done. And you know all about that anyway.

The major thing that annoys me about the sites I've mentioned above is that I've tried, numerous times, to get them to leave me alone. They're like the ex-boyfriend who won't go away. "Listen, Match.com, it's not you, it's me. I think it's really excellent that you're okay with wearing Dockers and lying about your age, but I just, I don't know, need to be by myself right now."

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Let me ask you something:

How hard is it to walk around a corner without banging into the person walking the other way? This is America. Walk on the right. If you walk on the right, and I walk on the right, and we're going in opposite directions, we won't have any problem. If we play our cards right, we won't even have to acknowledge each other's presence. Okay, maybe just a chin-nod, but that's my final offer.

Furthermore, as a member of the Society for the Protection of the North American Short Person, I would like to request that people keep their eyes peeled for me, as I dart frantically around their knees trying not to get trompled on. I'm starting to feel like a pekinese.

If you can look out for motorcycles on the road, people, you can look out for me in the office. Just because I can't hurl hot gears and oil at you, doesn't mean you'll get off scotfree. I have coffee, and I'm not afraid to use it.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Girl Anachronism

I have a tendency to perseverate.

This is my favorite word at the moment: perseverate. My understanding of it is that it means to persevere past the point of health and logic into the realm of obsession. It might mean something different from that. I'm just reading from context. And I'm not really interested in what it really means, anymore. I like my definition better. You see how it all fits together.

At the moment, I am obsessed with: the Dresden Dolls, peanut butter sandwiches, Harp lager, my spikey earrings, my blue belt, writing, the many ways in which I feel myself to be different and special, Netflix, other people's business, and updating my Web site. Some of these things are universal. Many others come and go.

The first thing I can remember getting stuck on was typewriters. My grandfather was an editor at the Boston Globe. He had this old mechanical Remington that was about the same size as me, and twice as heavy, and I used to sit at it before I could write more than twenty words, and type total nonsense at about a hundred miles an hour. My grandparents have a picture of me somewhere, sitting on a high stool in front of the Remington, wearing my play clothes and my grandfather's old fedora with an index card in the brim reading "PRESS", with a pencil stuck behind my ear. I'm looking up at the camera like I'm on deadline and really pissed off to be bothered and I'm about eight years old. I want this picture desperately. It may be the next thing I get hung up on, getting it. You better hope I don't, because I'll probably start carrying it around and demanding that everyone tell me how cute I am.

After that, I was obsessed with the book "Little Black Sambo." This is not a PC thing to admit, anymore, of course. But at the time, I didn't have any idea that it was racist. I just liked the story. Little Black Sambo, in case your parents wouldn't let you read it, was this little boy who outwitted a tiger. The tiger wanted to eat him. The little boy outwitted him by means I don't remember, and turned him into butter, which he then brought home to his parents and put on some pancakes. It's a really good story, and I wish they'd update it so people could read it and not feel like they're oppressing anybody.

After that: Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, the Three Investigators, John Bellairs, Little Women, the Creature Double Feature, the Red Sox (circa 1986, weep), Cheese Balls in the blue aluminum can, Oregon Trail, horses, composition books, colored pens, new pencils, those fat yarn hair-ties, and eventually, tragic crushes.

I haven't changed all that much.

At the moment, I really wish I could play the piano like Amanda Palmer or write like Michael Chabon. But I still like typewriters. I have one of my own now. It's a smaller version of the one my grandfather cranked away at when he worked for the Globe all those years ago, and I guess I could sit at it with one of my press passes and scowl up at an imaginary camera, but really, there's a limit, wouldn't you agree? In theory, anyway.

Weird Auntie Jennie

Up until recently, I really thought I'd grow up someday.

Someday, I thought, babies will seem like a really good idea, and I'll want to date someone for longer than it takes a dairy product to expire, and I'll want to buy a house, and I'll want to keep better track of my finances. I'm 28 years old, and I'm just not there yet.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, because my sister is visiting. My sister is four years younger than I am, but she's married. This means that despite what it says on her driver's license, she's more mature than I am by a decade.

She has glasses that match her plates. She manages the family finances, without bouncing checks or fudging anything when her statements arrive, to make her check register match up. She has a big honkin' ring, and a brand new last name, and she likes babies. She has friends who have babies, married people like her, and as far as I know, not one of them has ever thought, "Maybe I'll just leave this little fucker on the train." Which is probably what I would think, were I compelled to carry a teeny little person around all day.

I, on the other hand, have no savings account. I can barely manage to keep my laundry caught up, never mind run a household. And just this morning, I lost my car keys and I have no idea where they are.

I think maybe I'm going to have to settle for being a fantastically eccentric aunt.

Spam of the Day

I just got a spam e-mail with the heading, "It's okay, honey." I wonder if they only send those out on Mondays. It worked, too: I opened it. I don't need any Viagra or Xanax, though, so that's as far as they got with me.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Sunday with Ma Smash

Sunday night, I hung out with my family. My sister was in town, and my cousin Rolfe came over. We had steak. And then, because I'm obsessed now, I showed my mother my Web site.

"The best part is the statistics," I told her, clicking away from the main page into the back end, where shady technical things happen that I pay other people to do, because I'm too stupid to understand them. I clicked on the Web stats section, and showed her the many little charts and graphs and things of that nature.

"Oooh, look at that!" she said, in exactly the same voice as she'd used when I brought her an egg-carton caterpillar when I was four. "What's that mean?"

"This means I've had eighteen unique visitors," I explained.

"What's a visitor?"

"It's a computer, basically. Your laptop here is a visitor. My laptop is a visitor. Meg's computer is one, and so on."

"Eighteen! That's good."

"Over four days, it's not bad. But look at this: I've been picked up by two spiders so far."

"I'm not generally a fan of spiders, but that's great!"

"Do you know what a spider is?"

"I caught one of them smelling the toilet brush yesterday when I was cleaning," she said, smiling brightly. "And I bashed the little fucker into a pulp."

"Well, that will teach him a damn good lesson. Can I see the computer for a second?"

Fanfare, etc.

So, I have a Web site now. A week ago I didn't have one, but now I do. A monkey could build a Web site now, it seems, as long as he could tap out pleas for help with his long monkey fingers and mail them to the correct "techsupport@".

I decided to get a Web site because it seemed like the next logical step after the live journal, and also because I like polkadots and I was told that I could put polkadots all over the background of my Web site, if I got one ... and also, that someone had already worked up a little template with polkadots all over it already, and that I could take it, for free, and that it wouldn't even be called stealing.

The polkadots are working, and the archives are working, but the profile picture is broken and the site proprietoress is tired. It's a good thing that blogger doesn't allow you to use those little smiley-face emoticons, because otherwise I'd have to slap about fifteen "tired" faces on this entry, and no one wants that. I mean, honestly, one of the reasons I moved to this format in the first place was to discourage myself from over-indulging in things like emoticons. I'm also putting a ban on Internet acronyms and/or initialisms such as LOL, BTW, etc. Those are the only ones I know, fortunately, so it shouldn't be too hard to cut back.

Watch this space. Big things happening. You just wait and see.

Apparently, my grace and coordination are hereditary

The morning before my cousin's wedding, my uncle rented three Segway scooters and brought the whole family down to the farmer's market in Portland to see if we could kill some pedestrians. This is what engineers do instead of golf, I guess.

The guy from Segway who was supposed to make sure we didn't drive into the river or make off with the scooters was a typical laid back Oregonian post-hippie guy. He had followed us on a bicycle and made suggestions like, "try not to run over that baby" and asked questions like, "when you stop a car, do you stick your foot out and drag it along the road to slow down?" To which I replied, "Maybe." I was probably the teensiest bit hostile about it.

The best part though happened right at the beginning. Laid back post-hippie guy gave us our helmets and turned on the scooters and said, "Don't worry. No one has ever crashed as long as I've been doing this." I said, "Oh, man. You haven't met the Hubleys yet."

"I'm sure you'll be fine," he said. Whereupon, my aunt Betty put on her helmet, got on her scooter, and scooted exactly 47 feet before running smack into a telephone pole. At least her arm wasn't actually broken. She did look kinda funny though, all bandaged up at the wedding.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Art appreciation

I wound up in an art gallery again last night. I'm not sure how this keeps happening to me. I'm not cultured, at all, and I don't really understand art.

My friend Meredith, who is an artist and puts up with me because I'm fun at parties, once took me to one of her friend's shows. The guy's deal was that he took photographs of desert scenes and large empty buildings and such, and then photoshopped in a whole bunch of little people with sad expressions on their faces. I'm making it sound stupid, but it was actually pretty cool. I was so pleased that I could relate to something at a gallery that I said, in a really loud voice, "HEY! Look at all the LITTLE PEOPLE!" The rest of the crowd at the gallery compressed their collective lips (and probably sphincters) and frowned at me. And then they frowned at Meredith, as if she had failed to discipline her child.

She should have known better. The last time she'd taken me to a show, it was a performance art thing, and the artist was sitting in the center of the gallery, nude except for an old-fashioned 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea-style diver's helmet, banging on a steel girder with a hammer. I found this so hysterical that I actually had to turn around and press my face into the wall to staunch the giggling.

The worst part was afterward, at the party. Meredith introduced this poor bastard to me, and before I could stop myself, I actually said, "HEY! You were the naked guy in the Captain Nemo helmet!" He looked at me as if I were something he'd just scraped off his shoe.

Anyway, I wound up in a gallery again last night, and it was fine. I drank too much, but I was otherwise well-behaved. I hope I'm not getting old.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Wishing my life away

It's hot out, okay? It's hot out and I'm pale and I only like to wear sweaters and jeans, with the occasional skirt thrown in. Yes, I dress like a Catholic school girl. No, you may not take "artistic" photographs of me.

It seems like only three months ago that I was wishing for the summer, and now here I am longing for fall. Fall is my favorite season. Always has been, even when it meant that I'd have to go back to prison for the year. (If you're wondering why a bookish lass such as myself wouldn't have wanted to go back to school every year, I'll direct you to the following evidence: exhibit A, my hair, which won't behave; exhibit B, my vocabulary, which was always that of an elderly tweed-clad college professor; exhibit C, my big fat mouth, which seems to want to flap all day long, especially when it would be much, much better to shut up.)

This year, the longing for autumn hit me even as I was enjoying my summer vacation in Oregon. Oregon isn't the sunniest place in the world, but it's sunny enough if you're on the beach, which I was. My sister's brother-in-law was very amused to find that there are people who have cover up in the sun. He stood over me as I lay under a towel, coated with 30 SPF sunblock, wearing a hat, and sunglasses, and longing for a hazmat suit, and said, "If you're going to lie there under all that stuff and sleep, why don't you just stay in bed?"

"Stay right where you are," I said. "You're blocking the light."

Fall is coming. I need a new kilt. Also some knee socks. I'll see you all at the uniform store.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Update from the packie

Beer goes fast in the heat, so Cathy and I left Isaac to his Web surfing and went down the block to Fernandez Spa for more booze. While we were standing in line, an adorable boy mugged at us and the other patrons, doing his cute little kid routine, which he probably learned on TV just like I did twenty years ago.

He grinned up us. "When I grow up," he said.

...and Cathy and I melted...

"I want ... a big, big gun." His grin widened. "A real gun! A REAL BIG GUN!"

Cathy and I stopped smiling.

Wednesday, August 4, 2004


I used to like airplane food, back when they gave you some. I know that's weird, but I'm not a foodie. I don't eat sushi or Chinese food or anything that's raw or filled with MSG or comes on fancy plates. I'll take mine fried, thanks, with a beer, if possible. So a plastic wrap-covered tray of chicken n' green beans was just fine with me.

Now, however, you get something called a "Bistro Meal" in a little paper pouch. The pouch contains: a turkey sandwich, a packet of mustard-mayo, a bag of chips, a teeny baggie of baby carrots and a lump of brownie, covered in walnut crumbles and resembling, in many ways, a turd.

"You want my turdbar?" I said to my mother, holding out the brownie thing.

She examined it for a moment, and then took it and dropped it in her bag. "Oh, boy, turdbar! My favorite!" She made a yum-yum noise and rubbed her tummy. "I love a good turdbar. Turdy, turdy goodness."

I started feeling around for my seat belt. "Where's my seat belt?" I asked my Mom.

"I took it."

"First you took my turdbar, and now you took my seat belt."

"It's also a hundred degrees in here," My Mom said. "So I'm glad you've got your jacket on."

"I think I need a little knit hat, like a sick person in the movies."

"I'm going to take my clothes off," My Mom said. "Do you think anyone would mind?" She pointed to my notebook. "Make sure you write that down."

"I'm glad you find this all so amusing, because this journal will have great legal significance at your committment hearing."

A stewardess walked by, holding up a Bistro Meal in each hand. "Bistro Meal? Anyone need one?"

I raised my hand. Off Mom's dirty look: "What? I'm hoarding them, in case of disaster."

"Oh, good. I'm sure those will come in handy on the desert island."

"I'll have enough turdbars to feed us all!"

Tuesday, August 3, 2004

Home again, home again

I almost cried when I saw Boston rising up to meet the plane. I pressed my little face against the window like a puppy in a pet store. It's not that Oregon isn't lovely. It's just that they're so ... friendly there. I didn't know what to do. I kept reminding myself that in most other parts of the country, people who aren't retarded or crazy look other people in the eye and say hello on the street, even if they don't know each other. It was kind of nice, although strange for once not to be the super-polite person that everyone laughs at, but rather the semi-aloof Bostonian with questionable manners.

Anyway. Lovely vacation. Fun for all. I've decided that I don't actually need to have any money myself. I just need rich friends. Or friends who work for big companies with lots of perks. Thanks to my sister's in-laws, we stayed in a redonculous seaside cottage with its own guest house and an almost pornographic view of the water. The guest house had a wine cellar in the basement that you got to via an actual secret passage. You pulled on a false book in the bookcase and the whole wall swung open to reveal a stone passageway with flickering "candles" made out of clever little flickery bulbs. I had an urge to scream, "my glasses!" and then advise my family and friends to split up in order to locate Old Man Withers. Or maybe the other way around. Velma always annoyed me. A little too close to home, and all that.

At night we went down to the beach and roasted marshmellows and made s'mores and listened to the hippies at other campfires sing stoned happy hippie songs. I hadn't had that much sugar in years, and I started giggling maniacally until my sister's brother-in-law (my brother-in-law? my brother-in-law once removed?) accused me of smuggling liquor down to the beach. We didn't actually drink any liquor, or smoke, or even drink that much coffee while we were there. I did eat terrifying amounts of junk food and sleep about eleven hours a night, though, which is apparently par for the course in Oregon, and the explanation for the general populace's ample proportions and pleasant demeanor. You'd be jolly, too, if there were six Dairy Queens within walking distance of your house.

Oh! Speaking of crappy junk food: My family actually ate at a place called the Pie Chateau one night. Can you imagine? "Where shall we eat, honey?" "Well, let's see. I'm really trying to stick to my diet. I know! Let's go the Pie Chateau! Blueberry pie is a vegetable, isn't it?"

Oh, again! The resort town where we stayed was kind of trashy once you left the actual shore, and I saw a pawn shop with the following sign in the window: "YES! We sell guns and gold!"

You can't beat that with a stick.