Not Since the Restraining Order, No…

Miss Sasha, our Ambassador to the Quirky Republic of Florida, reports that our family is not alone in its belief in violence-based peacemaking. Evidently, fear stalked the duck- and mouse-infested streets of Orlando – but hoorah! No longer will theme park animal characters terrorize our off-duty corrections officers!

And speaking of stupidity, Weekend Today in New York mentioned in passing – I’ve been awake for NO REASON since 6:30 this morning – that Mayor Bloomberg offered shelter for “1000 families or individuals”* after Hurricane Katrina. FEMA apparently wasn’t enthusiastic about the offer. Survivors expressed fearfulness about moving so far and what they would find “in the big city.”* You could almost hear the po’ white trash. I wish I could tell you what was said after that but I was too busy performing CPR on myself.

Pardon me. Those who were frightened of the Big City should’ve been shipped like cattle and their ancestors to the Lower East Side. They’ve already lost everything. Let’s help them conquer their irrational fears!

*Yes, that’s what the reporter said. No, I’m not fucking lying. What a mouth on you!

Putting My Foot Down

Anger is so exciting, isn’t it? It’s like your emotional ferris wheel fell off its supports and rolled into the sleepy village, squashing the tiny villagers. And that makes anger scary! Current events give us plenty to be angry and fearful about but now’s a fine time to calm our butts down and think rationally. Listen to these reasonable people:

We are Unitarian Jihad. We are everywhere. We have not been born again, nor have we sworn a blood oath. We do not think that God cares what we read, what we eat or whom we sleep with.

They’re everywhere? Ohmigod!

Brother Neutron Bomb of Serenity notes for the record that he does not have a moral code but is nevertheless a good person, and Unexalted Leader Garrote of Forgiveness stipulates that Brother Neutron Bomb of Serenity is a good person, and this is to be reflected in the minutes.

Are they the godless commies in our schools as predicted by McCarthy and Roy Cohn?

Beware! Unless you people shut up and begin acting like grown-ups with brains enough to understand the difference between political belief and personal faith, the Unitarian Jihad will begin a series of terrorist-like actions.

Eeeeek! Oh wait.

We will take over television studios, kidnap so-called commentators and broadcast calm, well-reasoned discussions of the issues of the day. We will not try for “balance” by hiring fruitcakes; we will try for balance by hiring non-ideologues who have carefully thought through the issues.

Well, that’s a low blow. But how will the fruitcakes live?

We will require all lobbyists, spokesmen and campaign managers to dress like trout in public.

Waittaminit! Aren’t yer trouts nekkid?

Televangelists will be forced to take jobs as Xerox repair specialists. Demagogues of all stripes will be required to read Proust out loud in prisons.

PROUST! Jesus Christ!

We are Unitarian Jihad, and our motto is: “Sincerity is not enough.” We have heard from enough sincere people to last a lifetime already. Just because you believe it’s true doesn’t make it true. Just because your motives are pure doesn’t mean you are not doing harm. Get a dog, or comfort someone in a nursing home, or just feed the birds in the park. Play basketball. Lighten up.

I’m all a-twitter with – um – tranquility.

We can strike without warning. Pockets of reasonableness and harmony will appear as if from nowhere! Nice people will run the government again! There will be coffee and cookies in the Gandhi Room after the revolution.

Hey! Almost everyone wants that! And cookies!

Simple, Elegant, Truthful – Corruption Edition

Miss Alli pours us a shot of the bitter stuff:

Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt that he was being prevented from acting by bureaucracy and the sheer magnitude of the situation. Where are the stories of how he was in his office freaking the fuck out because there were tens of thousands of Americans trapped without food and water? Where’s the story of how he ripped a strip off of somebody, demanding to know what the holy hell the holdup is getting water and food to those people?

Of course, we now know his aides were too petrified of our President’s hissyfits to tell him the Gulf was a shambles until Thursday night. Don’t believe? Look it up.

Pink Soup

I look awful. A person gets used to seeing herself a certain way, then – BLAMMO! – she doesn’t sleep for a few decades and suddenly she’s not the hot tamale she once was. Also – and science has yet to explain this – there seems to be some direct correlation between the dark circles under my eyes and the height of my hair when I awaken. You don’t actually need to know this. It’s not important unless you’re planning to wake up with, you know, gorgeous Me and instead find that guy from Eraserhead.

Trout called me up and said, “I’ve made soup. Come over and take it. It’s pink and full of nutrients.” So I did. This means I am now walking around thinking of pink soups. In the ladies room this morning I was alone and really glad I was alone when I suddenly pictured two bored-stiff socialites in a formal situation and in my head one says, as if it’s such a tribulation to draw a breath and speak, “Dagmar, kindly remove your hand from my borscht.” If you know me well you might not be alarmed to walk into an apparently empty public restroom and hear laughter. I assure you this is not a common reaction. Daria calls before my first cup of coffee.

Daria: My husband’s in Arizona golfing while I set up the new house. Yesterday at 1:30 in the morning Tyler Two wakes me up and says, “Mama, my head’s all hot.” And he was right. Then Sandro picks up the baby and drops her on her head. He shouts, “Mama! I hurt the baby!” And I run in and the baby’s lying on the floor but she doesn’t look particularly upset. So I guess he’s aiding and abetting her escape and not actually tossing her like a drunken dwarf and now I know why mommies drink. All this before 10 a.m. Tyler called at 10:30. I said, “If you hadn’t called I’d have fired you.”
Tata: I’m so sorry your misfortune is hilarious!

Last night, Paulie and I cleaned out the room he’s been staying in. Business is taking Paulie to Rome for two weeks. When I’m finally out of the New Brunswick apartment, Paulie’s moving back in. As breakups go, this is the Gold Standard. Also, his bedrooms are always perilously filled with change and I now know why the U.S. Treasury is empty. It’s not Bush et al siphoning off the federal budget into Halliburton. Nope. Paulie Gonzalez has all the pennies, and now I have them in my lunchbox. I feel I should stop people on the street and hand them out to students, who probably don’t have the sense to refuse money from strangers. Daria calls again.

Daria: And now with the puking!
Tata: That is inherently funny.
Daria: And you needed to know.

I am thinking the Funny Thoughts. This is probably the moment to mention my new kitchen has reached its peak orangeosity. After a suitable drying period, the faux finishing will commence. If you think I feel funny now wait until I’m holding a sponge and dabbing to subtle Tuscan yellowness for eight hours. My brilliance will know no bounds.


Daria: I am a customer service nightmare!
Tata: Absolutely! What?
Daria: So Tyler and I bought furniture, then we moved. Today, I got my fourth phone call asking why my husband’s driver license says different from the delivery address.
Tata: Did you tell them you were moving?
Daria: Did I mention my credit is perfect?
Tata: So if you ask them to deliver your furniture to the Raritan River you’re good for it.
Daria: They know I moved! The manager called yesterday and said, “I’ll take care of it. Don’t give it another thought.” Today, I get another call and now I’m obsessing.
Tata: Are they delivering your furniture or not?
Daria: Every time they call me the date is a couple days further off.
Tata: Fax them a bill for your time.
Daria: What?
Tata: A friend of mine waited all day for the phone company. Nobody came. She sent them a bill for her time. And they paid it!
Daria: I’m home with my children. What are they going to say?
Tata: “That’s time and a half, ma’am. Will you let us pay you double?”

Origami Roadblock

He sounds bored and tired after a five-hour New Brunswick/Albany/New Brunswick car parts run. A hotrod man needs disco exhaust pipes.

Tata: You’re very busy and I’m sorry to bother you.
Paulie: That’s okay. What’s up?
Tata: I need a getaway driver.
Paulie: I’ll be there in ten.

If there’s anything I can count on it’s Paulie Gonzalez’s cheerful willingness to commit misdeanors for the hell of it. Nine minutes later, he appears, ready to work.

Tata: Last night, Siobhan and I bought all kinds of paint and went to the new apartment where a can slid out of her truck, landed on my foot and broke open on the street.
Paulie: How’s your foot?
Tata: Balloony. Better than last night, thanks. Anyway, I didn’t know what to do and Siobhan sure as hell didn’t –
Paulie: Cat litter.
Tata: Of course. You always know. Siobhan said it’d be dry in four hours, tops. So I put down circulars I found in the hallway so people would avoid driving through a gallon of emergency orange paint and pedestrians would know grapes were on sale at Pathmark. Stop laughing.
Paulie: Orange? On asphalt?
Tata: Yeah yeah, it’s a disaster that says, “Hello, new neighbors! I’m HERE!” Today, I went over there to paint my hall a kind of sunny beige. I picked up the circulars and the paint wasn’t dry.
Paulie: What’d you do?
Tata: I called Siobhan’s cell and hissed, “It’s STILL WET!” Stop laughing.
Paulie: She still feeding you mice?
Tata: Then I picked up most of the circulars, stuffed them in a grocery bag and put down more circulars over the big spot but the thing is –
Paulie: I can’t wait!
Tata: Some of the circulars are stuck to the road and the paint is wet even now!
Paulie: No way.
Tata: Way!
Paulie: How do you know?
Tata: I went over an hour ago but couldn’t find a parking space in the same zip code. I wanted to tear up the stuck newspaper again.
Paulie: And put down cat litter. Let’s do it.

Cue the Mission: Impossible Theme. Picture two giggling people riding around a quiet neighborhood in the World’s Largest Pickup Truck(tm) which really hates low speeds. There’s nothing stealthy about us. We’re making a racket. Paulie turns the corner and sees the giant spot. He’s no longer giggling. Now he’s laughing hysterically as he parks the truck.

Paulie: How do you do it?
Tata: It’s a gift. Stop laughing. Man the kitty litter!

I hobble to the puddle with a garbage bag and dig up scraps of newspaper. Underneath, wet paint oozes. Paulie’s shocked. I’m shocked. In the interest of Science, you will be pleased to know that while paint may remain moist on pavement it dries almost immediately on my left hand, forming an uncomfortable yet illuminating orange coat. When the wet paint is exposed, Paulie pours the kitty litter over it, hoping to form a rubbery orange pancake of only mild toxicity. It’s hard to tell if I should pray for rain or stray tabbies.

Then we drive away very fast.

Oranges Poranges – Who Says?

Tata: You will NEVER guess what happened!
Daria: I get so nervous when you say that.
Tata: So Siobhan and I went to Home Depot and spent my vast fortune on a four different paints and glaze and wooden blinds I sort of semi-like for the bedroom and if you can believe it the guy in the Blinds Department actually told me he didn’t think I could install them myself. I went all like, “Dude, I am well acquainted with the use of measuring tape and what’s with the negative when I Can Do It And You Can Help?”
Daria: No! He told you he doubted you could do it?
Tata: Right. I immediately doubled in size. So of course I had a coupon and even so I spent $200 which as you know never, ever happens.
Daria: You had one of those 10% off coupons?
Tata: You know it. So Siobhan and I stuff our major purchases into the back of her Ford Exterminator and head for the new apartment. On the way, we stop at the Dunkin’ Donuts on Route 18 because we’re looking at a long night of work. Siobhan orders a coffee with about thirty syllables and jogs for the ladies room. I ask for a smaller, less complicated version of the same thing. The people behind the counter regard me suspiciously. Suddenly this really young guy who looks like he just beamed over from the set of The Entourage throws open the door behind me, runs to the counter, grabs an awkward handful of sugar packets and spins toward the door again. He stops, says over his shoulder, “I’ll just have this,” and runs out the door. I laughed and said to the counter people, “You guys must have some great stories.” And then I was their new best friend!
Daria: Things just happen because you’re there to see them.
Tata: Yup. So Siobhan and I drove over to the new apartment and I jumped out and with my dislocated left wrist I was going to grab all the bags and boxes and scoot those into the house while Siobhan scoured the countryside for a parking space.
Daria: You were going to carry $200 worth of stuff, plus a coupon?
Tata: Remember: I doubled in size and was still growling.
Daria: I forgot. Silly me.
Tata: So I go to the back of the truck and grab the door handle and yank it open. I am burly! And a one-gallon can of Ralph Lauren Paint launches from the pile of stuff, lands on my right foot, opens up and spills all over the road in front of my apartment!
Daria: NO!
Tata: YES! Stop laughing! So I’m jumping up and down in a huge and spreading puddle of orange paint we’re planning to use in a two-step process to recreate Tuscany in my kitchen and Siobhan runs around to see what happened, stops short and stares for while I’m yelping, “Ow! Ow! Ow!” Siobhan stares. I’m jumping and yelping.
Daria: Is your foot totally broken?
Tata: It’s twice its size but it’s not actually broken.
Daria: Does it have little purple dots on the bottom?
Tata: I’ll let you know when I’ve scrubbed off all the paint. So, this went on for about two years before I realized Siobhan might not be breathing and I’d better do something.
Daria: What’d you do?
Tata: I wiped my orange feet on the grass, took my $180 plus a coupon-worth of purchases into the apartment and when I got back I ordered her to go park the truck. She’d stood up the mostly empty can. I taped off the hallway so I could paint it a nice, warm beige-like tone that reminds me of a fringed suede jacket on a handsome man. She applied every remaining drop of paint to the kitchen wall and then I realized it was the exact same Emergency Orange we’d applied to Paulie Gonzalez’s bedroom walls! Only Ralph Lauren doesn’t call it “Traffic Cone Orange” or “This Is Not A Deer But Your Drinking Buddy Billy Ray.” It’s got a sophisticated name like “Trouser Crease” or “Driver, Anything But the Long Island Expressway.”

Daria’s husband Tyler wants in on the hooting. so I hear him over the dull roar of the children asking what happened.

Daria: She dropped a can of paint on her foot and it spilled all over the street. And it was orange!
Tyler: That’ll teach her to buy orange paint!
Daria: He says that’ll teach you to buy orange paint!
Tata: A lot he knows! I have to go buy more!

When Calvino Makes Housecalls

My co-worker pads quietly up to me as I stand in the building’s atrium staring at the ceiling four floors away. A minute passes.

John: Whatcha doin’?
Tata: There is no ‘up’ and no ‘down.’ There is only that direction or that other direction, more or less in any direction you can point, from wherever you are.
John: You know how when Hilda mentions The O.C. you get a headache?
Tata: Yup.
John: We must never again discuss calculus. Or numbers. Of any kind.

John’s being dramatic because I insist he’s imaginary and tell our other co-workers I made him up.

Tata: Don’t talk to him! He’s not real and you’re just encouraging him! Stop pretending you see a person there!

You might be surprised how often this does not result in a straitjacket makeover. It should therefore come as no surprise that yesterday I said the following words to a complete stranger with a degree in medicine.

Tata: Wrists move in a variety of handy directions but mine stubbornly refuses. When I put weight on it it sends messages to my brain like, “Commence weeping.”
Tata: I think the mystery bruise and lump two inches away may be related to general spazziness and not to the malady of the wrist.
Doctor: Did you hit your hand? Lift something heavy? Did you maybe sleep on it wrong?
Tata: If I were sleeping how would I know?
Doctor: Wait a minute. How do you put weight on your wrist?
Tata: I’m upside down a lot.
Tata: This is putting a real crimp in my plans for tonight.

I maintain that talking to me didn’t injure the poor young woman in any permanent way and perhaps made her aware for the first time of Upside Down-Americans like myself. We may be a minority but with children starting gymnastics now as early as two years of age, our numbers are growing. And this doctor needed to know! She ordered Xrays and wrote a prescription for some painkilling anti-inflammatory potion. I don’t usually take those, you know, without vodka.

New Brunswick is currently filled to capacity with college students. Last week, the freshmen arrived first, anxious to walk ten steps ahead of their parents, Polyester Ed and Edna. And as a townie, you thank Christ they’re on the sidewalk because when you see them in traffic, one of them is pointing in horror at the ethnic populations and the other one is staring at the various construction cranes swinging overhead and neither of them has an eye on the road. It’s a miracle Lewis Street isn’t one giant, smoking ruin. A friend once said that the influx of terrified hicks was an opportunity.

Friend: So if the state budget is in crisis, let’s wait until November. All the tuition checks would have cleared by then, right?
Tata: …right…
Friend: Okay, then. Encourage freshmen to bring their cars and make all the lights in town green until December 1st.
Tata: Do you…smell sulphur?

This is my way of saying the visit to the radiologist would be the stuff of traffic planning legend at any other time and/or in any other place because every third building downtown is named University [insert scary field of medical test HERE] and I went to the wrong one before rushing madly in the opposite direction. If not for double-parked Pennsylvania drivers, I might’ve been ten minutes early.

When I said I had $8.22 in my bank account, I was telling the truth. Today’s payday so Siobhan and I spent the day with colorful thought-balloons over our completely employed heads. I stopped people as they walked past my cubicle and demanded impressions of paint chips.

Tata: Ya huh mmm ya huh oo ya huh no ya huh?
Boss of Similar Ethnic Extraction: If your kitchen is Tuscany, yes!

I have to finish painting the apartment this weekend so the fumes can make like the breeze and blow before we move in. Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, has Feline Leukemia and must be protected from strong chemical smells that some veterinarians believe harm kitty livers. Though I have no actual information about this myself, I trick the cat into taking medicine every day so I might as well give the apartment a few days to freshen up, oui?

We’re going to Home Depot. I have a coupon. This weekend, Siobhan, my dislocated wrist and I will tear up one side of the apartment and down the other. Will I weep for joy? Will I merely weep?

A Fish, A Fish, A Fishy Fishy Fish

The human rescue efforts, though way, way late, are truly under way but there is plenty of suffering to go around.

Every time I think of people having to abandon pets to the boiling sludge of New Orleans I either burst into tears or stifle nausea. Some say they’re not people. I don’t really see any difference other than the ability to tell us we’re selfish bastards, betraying members of our family and leaving them to die wretched, filthy deaths.

My bank account has $8.22 in it. If I had $15 I’d give $10 to the Humane Society or Noah’s Wish.

Since I do not have money, I’m asking you to click on the Animal Rescue Site. It doesn’t cost you anything but about ten seconds of your life. Please.

Crying Won’t Help You, Praying Won’t Do You No Good

Recorded in 1929:

If it keeps on rainin’, levee’s goin’ to break
If it keeps on rainin’, levee’s goin’ to break
And the water gonna come in, have no place to stay

Well all last night I sat on the levee and moan
Well all last night I sat on the levee and moan
Thinkin’ ’bout my baby and my happy home

If it keeps on rainin’, levee’s goin’ to break
If it keeps on rainin’, levee’s goin’ to break
And all these people have no place to stay

Now look here mama what am I to do
Now look here mama what am I to do
I ain’t got nobody to tell my troubles to

I works on the levee mama both night and day
I works on the levee mama both night and day
I ain’t got nobody, keep the water away

I wonder if When the Levee Breaks, which was covered by Led Zeppelin on uber-popular Zoso turned up on our president’s highly touted iPod. Or maybe it was dumped with Teaser and the Firecat.