A Girl’s Gotta Have Her Standards

Tata: Excuse me just a moment.

I dial another university phone number from my cubicle. Voicemail.

Tata: Wuzzah wuzzah wuzzah mu mu mu mu mu I WUV OO!

And I hang up the phone. My co-worker on the other side of the wall cannot resist. He jumps up on his chair to stare at me.

Co-Worker: What was that?
Tata: Sharkey’s on vacation – again.
Co-Worker: Is he exceptionally stupid? You have his phone number!
Tata: You should see what happens when I frisk him for pocket change.

In Thought, Word and Deed

Daria hasn’t called yet today but yesterday’s conversation was truly inspirational.

Tata: Tata speaking.
Daria: I’m calling you.
Tata: Yup.
Daria: I’m going to call you back.
Tata: What? You never call me back!
Daria: I’m going to call you back! Geez!
Tata: Okay.
Daria: So don’t call me back, okay?
Tata: Okay!

She didn’t call back. That was the whole phone call. I have no idea what that was about but sometimes we need assurance that people are where we expect them to be. For instance, were I Roman Polanski I might call Charlie Manson every day to make sure he’s where I left him, and Goddess knows in the wake of those Roberts hearings someone should check on Clarence Thomas.

Tata: It’s so cold in my office I’m wearing a blanket.
Siobhan: Is it fleecy? [Pause] You’re not just wearing a blanket, right?
Tata: I’m wearing other garments, yes, but it’s funny that you had to ask.
Siobhan: I wasn’t worried at first, but then, well it just popped into my head that this might be the day you went round the “inappropriate work attire” bend.

And who wouldn’t frankly? I’ve been moving now since 19 August, and last week I snapped like a twig when I found my medicine cabinet in the old building filled with brown liquid that’d flowed down from the apartment upstairs. I could go no further without help; everything was too complicated. Dad and Darla drove up from their bucolic home below the Mason-Dixon line, sized up the drama and started fixing things, starting with the keys to the new apartment and the building, the windows, the kitchen, the broiler’s pilot light, the locks, the showerhead and the impassable pile of stuff in the living room. In less than twelve hours, they made more progress than I could have made in months, while I packed more things. I’m truly running on fumes here. Last night’s mission was to get very delicate things into the new apartment and grocery shop for both apartments. See, Paulie Gonzalez is moving into the old apartment and he’d take care of everything himself but he’s in Italy and can’t get to the A&P so I picked him up some Lean Cuisines. As Howard Dean is certain to find out, I make an excellent Ex.

Daria and I have a new ritual we observe each time I return from the grocery store. Look for this conversation to happen some time after lunch:

Tata: Okay, so I go armed with coupons, my A&P card and all that change we picked up off the floor of Paulie’s bedroom when we cleaned out his Swinging Bachelor Pad(tm) before he went to Italy and the change machine at the grocery store takes $.089 cents per dollar to count the change and still gave me $25.99 and his coins from Spain. So I work from the list I made with the circular and the coupons and – it’s a bloody miracle! – the things I have coupons for are on special anyhow, which means that the cartful of stuff for both apartments comes to about $350 and when it’s all done I give the cashier $198.10! I am QUEEN OF SAVINGS!
Daria: Tomorrow, I’m going to make a car dealer cry.
Tata: The whole dealership or just a few salesmen?

When this is all over, I’m going to need a transfusion and a financial advisor. You know, to carry me around like Kerry Strug.

Bends Steel With His Bare…Steel-Bending Thing…

There’s a message on my answering machine.

Miss Sasha: Mr. Sasha and I were sitting on the couch, minding our own business, watching something on TV. I don’t even remember what it was. As we watched, our brand new wine glass rack separated from the ceiling and SMASH! There was violence and broken stuff so I thought I’d call. Love you, Mom!

I call back and get voicemail.

Tata: Sweetie, call me back! I’m worried you might be drinking Beaujolais-Villages from jelly jars without irony!

Finally, we’re at two ends of one phone line.

Miss Sasha: Not only did we lose some very nice wedding gift stemware but we also lost a glass I was given in Charleston for doing an event. It was my first big event, and I earned this glass and I’m mad because I worked my ass off!
Tata: Don’t worry, darling, you’ll work your ass off again someday! How are the cats? No one was injured?
Miss Sasha: We cleaned the floor with the wet/dry vac and checked their paws and threw out the food in the cat bowl. They didn’t seem nervous but we were.
Tata: What is that racket? Why are you shouting?
Miss Sasha: Oh, I’ll go outside. My husband is laughing at the Blue Collar Comedy Show.
Miss Sasha: You’re speechless, aren’t you?
Tata: I’ve pictured you in a tube top at a NASCAR race and I need an Excedrin.

In point of fact, Miss Sasha resembles Natalie Portman and would be perfectly beautiful in an ensemble crocheted out of used McDonald’s wrappers. However, I draw the mental line at visualizing my spawn swimming upstream and asking directions from bears. She changes the subject.

Miss Sasha: How’s the blog?
Tata: You know how I say I dated absolutely everyone and it’s become quite tedious?
Miss Sasha: Yes…?
Tata: I’ve decided to go boldly into a new phase of my life.
Miss Sasha: And what is that, Mommy?
Tata: I’m going to break up with people I’ve never met.
Miss Sasha: Will they show up at your place weeping drunkenly at 3 in the morning?
Tata: Not if their husbands and wives find me first!

From now on: no more dating! If I find someone I like, I’ll divorce him or her or it first and if that goes well, we can pursue something more intimate like organizing a food drive for a soup kitchen. After that, there’s nothing to do but set up the Nerf dartboard and aim for Rumsfeld’s nose…

In Time, You’ll Get Over Me

Howard Dean
Democratic National Committee

Dearest Howard,

We’ve been together a long time, haven’t we? I barely remember a time when I didn’t consider myself left of center but slightly to the right of Marxists, and you were there with me. We went through a lot during the sixties and seventies, didn’t we? Even when I disagreed with Jimmy Carter, I never sensed disagreeing with my President might have dire consequences for my children, if I ever had any, and I might not choose not to, because in his own fashion, Jimmy Carter respected my privacy – though not the privacy of our lower-income friends and relations. If it weren’t for those poor Iranian hostages and that bastard Ronald Reagan, I might have vestiges of my privacy rights worth talking about but sadly that’s water under the bridge between us.

During Reagan’s reign and GHWB’s odd visit, you and I suffered some tough years. We fought one another, your insecure friends and the whole world. It was hard to remember our love when every day brought new indignities like “welfare queens” and “ketchup is a vegetable” and I felt you let me down. With me, you were a man of principle. Your friends don’t know that man, do they? I often wondered if you cared as reproductive rights eroded and eroded more. You seldom spoke up when events went so wrong. I was deeply disappointed in your crowd, and always hoped you’d do better, but when Clinton was impeached over a blow job and your friends let it happen, I wondered if I respected you anymore.

With the election of our current administration, which was like a fire sale at the Evil Factory, and Al Gore’s valiant efforts not to become President, I started thinking about all the times you left the seat up and the cap off. When the Bush Armada sailed with diaphanous arguments for war and Congress stood on the pier waving bye-bye, I wondered why I still picked up your socks. When you and your friends let those vicious pigfuckers destroy our armed forces, the federal budget and a second sovereign nation for – we always knew – no good reason and no possible positive outcome, I felt my love for you flicker. Still, I hoped you’d see how wrong your friends were, bring me a lovely bouquet and whisper that soon everything would be different. Instead, every day you smile sadly and I shiver at the thought of Abu Ghraib. You can’t tell me you don’t feel it, too.

For years, I’ve been going through the motions. Your friends have been a terrible influence. The political center is now considered leftist and often termed extreme. The right has gone all Zsa Zsa, and demands outrageous gifts our budget cannot afford. Still, your friends say nothing. Karl Rove is the other woman, and I can take no more.

I’ve changed, it’s true. I will no longer make excuses for the spinelessness of the Democratic Party. I’m not going to tell my friends, “It’s got a headache,” or “It’s under too much pressure at work to vote against corporate welfare bills that plunder the treasury.” No. The time for compromise ended when Osama slipped through the net at Tora Bora, and I was just too stuck on you to notice. Howard darling, I’ve grown a bit since then. I’ve had enough. Though you mean well, I don’t believe your platitudes anymore. No more will I let you wheedle away my self-respect with arguments about unity in the face of our enemies because by joining with them in those ridiculous bankruptcy bills your friends have shown me the true face of my enemy, and it is the DNC.

I loved you, but it’s over between me and the Party, and that means you, too. I’m not going to say anymore that if your friends just start voting in the interests of their constituents things will be okay between us. I’m sorry. It can never be okay. Thousands of American soldiers are dead for no reason. Tens of thousands of soldiers are wounded. Perhaps hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis are dead, but we will never know how many. Osama bin Laden is still a free man and there is no justice for any of us. Our government should be under indictment at The Hague and you say nothing. Civil war in Iraq is and always was inevitable, and your friends are complicit in the murders we will soon see in a country that – frankly – didn’t so much as insult your mother’s casserole. Two hurricanes later, our federal government has fallen over the precipice into the abyss of bankruptcy. Yet, Congress goes merrily on its way to the next ribbon cutting ceremony. Thank God for WalMart, you mumble, because soon we’ll all be working 39 hour work weeks in blue jumpers for minimum wage and without benefits.

In time, you’ll get over me. First, you’ll have to get over your friends’ relentless cowardice, and wondering what we could have had together – if only we could start over. Leaving you is breaking the habit of a lifetime but I have to do it. I’m still sitting on the left, in the same place I always have, the place where education bills aren’t boobie-trapped and workers matter and women matter and the poor matter and the minority opinion matters and equality matters and the environment matters and the common good matters. Hopefully someday we’ll sit together again as friends.

I’ll always love you,
Princess Tata

Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers: XIX

Let the People Do the Talkin’ Rendition

Yes, I’m still moving. No, I didn’t get your message that you’d like to help pack my great-grandmother’s tiny Italian glass ornaments that’d break if either of us breathed on them, destroying these irreplaceable, delicate antiques lovingly transported across the Atlantic more than eighty-five years ago and denying joy to future generations. Why do you not call?

An important reminder: today is Gold Star Mother’s Day, when we honor women who have lost children to military service. Light a candle for all those who can never again look into their babies’ eyes. It’s truly the least we can do for people who have sacrificed more than we can imagine.

Friday Cat Blogging

At about six months’ of age, Zorak sat outside my window and mewed pitifully until I brought him in. He was so frightened he ran straight up one of those old-fashioned 4′ windows. Nobody believed a cat could do that until a small crowd saw him do it the second time. Zorak, who was sweet and humble and crooked on the ground was a flyer. We came to expect to see him flying around the apartment near the ceiling and above our heads.

Zorak was a scaredy cat and he loved only me. He frequently tapped me on the left shoulder blade to shyly ask to have the spot under his chin scratched. He loved nothing better than to sit on my lap and have a chat. He is buried with his favorite toy – a plastic lizard – in my sister’s backyard under a yard pinwheel. Had I realized he was in trouble well before I did or if I’d just been a little smarter he might still be alive today. I miss him terribly.

Just So’s Ya Know

Tata: Please write these words and letters in order for me into the body of this letter and we’ll forward to the vendor: Just so’s ya know.

My student worker, whose name sounds like brushstrokes through the hair of a beloved child, speaks and writes perfect English. Her English is better than mine, and mine is probably just as good as yours because otherwise you’re here for the filthy language (that means you, person who searches “fisting” and winds up here) and naughty picture potential. She and I write business letters all over the world via email. Our words are carefully chosen, our constructions logical and our spelling deliberate. The words I’ve dictated cause her hands to flutter over the keyboard like wounded birds.

Student Worker: What do these words mean?
Tata: I despise the conventional “F.Y.I. It is for the intellectually lazy and the uncurious. If I use that, the reader can be sure I am not interested in the topic at hand and have moved on to contemplating my next peculiar hair color. We have a second consideration: our vendor’s representatives have multiple accounts and may handle many workers like us from a handful of customers. Every letter I write contains a punchline because I am lazy, selfish and demanding, and I want my account representative to love opening my letters. I want my contacts to look forward to talking to me. I want them to want to help me. So I have to entertain us both.
Student worker: I can be lazy! I understand this selfishness!
Tata: Excellent! When you rule the world, kill me quickly.

Just so’s ya know:
1. Somehow, the Carnival of New Jersey Bloggers is coming here this weekend. EnlightenNJ sent me the list of instructions and I’m still making my friends speak slowly to explain all the big words. This week may be the first time we see duct tape hanging off the Carnival. Hang onto your hats! If you’re a Jersey blogger with a post burning a hole in your pocket this week, send it to njcarnival@gmail.com. I promise not to deliberately fuck anyone over, as Miss Manners might say.
2. Miss Sasha mailed me a baker’s rack. I expect the new apartment’s letter carrier to stalk and berate me. I can handle violence but look for me to comfort the wounded feelings of burly dude carrying around my kid’s furniture like he lost me in the mall.
3. Has anyone else noticed Rachael Ray curls her lip all the time? Some might be reminded of Elvis but all I can think of is Popeye.
4. Step right up and volunteer to help me move. I surrender:

Tata: Ned and I moved my queen size futon and its frame over to the new apartment. That wasn’t as much fun as it sounds.
Daria: It doesn’t sound like fun.
Tata: It was less fun than that. While I was disassembling the frame he was distracted by a series of inexplicable phone calls from long-lost high school girlfriends. He can only do one thing at a time so he stood in my kitchen and pretended not to have a nervous breakdown.
Daria: I’ve always liked him. He reminds me of broccoli.
Tata: Then we moved everything and left it in the apartment in pieces. Today, while I was waiting for the cable guy I reassembled the frame without help! I am a genius!
Daria: You did? How’d you do that?
Tata: It doesn’t really matter because I am also too stupid to live!
Daria: Oh. My. God. What happened?
Tata: I assembled the frame! I reigned triumphant over cantilevered furniture! Then I dropped it on my foot. Stop laughing!
Daria: The same foot? The one you broke?
Tata: Nope. The one that still worked. In fact, my only uninjured appendage. I had to call someone who would appreciate the magnitude of my idiocy.
Daria: I can’t breathe!
Tata: Oh, and while wearing shoes and socks I managed to step on a piece of glass.
Daria: You need a keeper.

5. Cap sleeves make women’s arms look like exploded sausages. No matter who you are, you look obese in cap sleeves – unless you are underweight or in a coke-related weight free-fall. Then cap sleeves look great!

It’s true. I don’t know which foot to limp on. Fortunately, this Sunday, we can all read the Carnival sitting down.

She Catches On Quick!

Miss Sasha reports from the Front:

What have I told you about using cheerleaders for evil! Mommy, just cause the majority are as stupid as Barbie doesn’t mean they blow up like Barbie!

Speaking of evil…So guess what?! The inlaws have decide to grace us with their presence for Xmas dinner…The scary part…I am actually excited(and a little stressed) about the whole making my first official holiday dinner for grown ups. I just have a feeling that everything will be going great and BOOM! an I Love Lucy Moment(tm)!

I have been having so many I Love Lucy moments(tm) with the awesome espresso machine! Like, Mr. Sasha and I couldn’t figure out the whole steaming milk skill. First I filled the water tub in the back all the way up not realizing it holds more then the pitcher(…do you mentally feel what is about to happen?!) and when I turned it on I was welcomed with a waterfall of very hot water! And somehow didn’t burn myself or anything else! Then the milk steamer on the side sent milk flying everywhere when I couldn’t figure out if it was on or not. It was absolutely hilarious seeing the kitchen in polka dots! Oh, in case you haven’t learned this one already…Never put painting stuff in the dishwasher! I won’t even go there! Then Mr. Sasha and I bought a bagless vacuum and when Mr. Sasha went to clean out the tube the holds the dirt it popped out and get everywhere…luckily he was outside. Even better was the dryer that wasn’t connected correctly and all the dust(mostly lint and cat hair from clothes) came blowing out the back of the dryer and the dryer started walking away!

My life has turned into a comic strip, Ma.

Among Miss Sasha’s many talents are strength, speed and an innate ability to play Point&Laugh at household appliances, but like all members of my family, she was born without any hope of reading the manual. We marry into, date or adopt that. Daria and Todd have never read a manual in either of their lives, and if buttons aren’t labeled they’ll helplessly paw at the vacuum cleaner all day.

Poor Miss Sasha. If you tell the March of Dimes you have this birth defect kids on crutches trot over and beat you up. But enough about her! I believe she said something about my archenemy – the Mother of the Groom – coming to Christmas dinner in Florida.

Let the Season of Scheming begin!