In Which I Eat A Delicious Salad

For breakfast this morning, I had leftover Thai food from Trout’s birthday dinner. Breakfast foods do not appeal to me much at any time, day or night. There’s no way I could be one of those Lean Cuisine dames who stand outside a bakery and recount last night’s disastrous dinners for the single and pathetic.

One: Last night, I licked clean my vegetable crisper.
Two: I ate Jell-O straight from the box.
Three: I drank mint mouthwash with a Manischewitz chaser.
Four: I ate a reasonably balanced pre-prepared meal that somehow makes me more trustworthy and better breeding stock.

Christ on a cracker, the last thing you want is to share a kitchen with these arrested adolescents who are waiting for some man to jumpstart their lives and culinary skills. Common sense tells you that the man who can cook is going to want something in return; I suspect a pastry chef. How’s your choux?

I tell people I can’t cook. Here’s the secret: I’m not exactly lying. I’m sort of lying. I can’t cook when I’m angry or sad, and never for crowds. For your own safety, do not eat anything I’ve cooked if we’re not speaking. It’s not that I’d poison you – much – but I somehow cannot combine ingredients properly and make delicious food when I’m standing in my kitchen alone, plotting your demise.

Tata: Oh, see how you are? I should have known you’d be such a bitch when I asked to borrow your toolbox and you said you were using each and every tool in your freaking beadloom project and I’m so gullible I forget all about your glass allergy and believe you when you explain about plastics! Was I born last night? No! Could you need a table saw to do beadwork? I don’t think so!

And then rice pudding sets up in my fridge as a solid. I don’t mean like a lovely custard that ripples when touched; I mean solid like sidewalk and just as tasty. I can’t explain it but I’m sure it’s related to the ex-boyfriend who lied and told me his mother had had a heart attack when she was actually in India visiting relatives. He was positively diabolical. All his friends thought I was the one breaking into their bedrooms and dismantling their vibrators until they caught him trying to set fire to the house they were all sleeping one off in and he actually had the nerve to blame the dog. I turned up one Sunday and the housemates were all outside, shuffling and nervous.

One: He told us you were crazy!
Two: Remember that night you were over using his computer? He kept calling me to find out when you left!
Three: Oh, his mom’s fine and you should never offer to bring desserts to funerals unless you want to cause more.
Tata: So for two years you all thought I was a psychopath who was breaking into your rooms and stealing your stuff?
One: Pretty much, yeah.
Tata: Well, you’ve all been very nice for people who might’ve had me arrested.

By then, I was kind of picking up the clues that I shouldn’t cook – or in fact, spend any time near cutlery – when I’m upset. Still, anyone, no matter how sanity-impaired, can make a salad, and I have one for lunch. I may defy convention and have another for dinner. I may be so bold as to have another tomorrow. Maybe. Maybe not. You can’t be tempted lick clean a full vegetable crisper.

It’s Complicated

I talk to the Narrator. You can call that God, or Allah or Fred MacMurray for all I care. Guessing is guessing. My bet is the Narrator’s busy. This does not mean I shut up. I’m walking through KMart.

Tata: Kurt Vonnegut is either about a million or in his eighties. Most of the people who survived the firebombing of Dresden are dead now of old, old age. The least you could do is wave some magic stick and make your characters remember the important stuff. Where are the large kitchen garbage cans?
Narrator: What? Try Housewares.
Tata: It’s raining a lot since yesterday. I’m broke, I’ve had a headache for three weeks, and I’m trying to read Dad’s coming-of-age novel, which can be a little weird. Still, I hesitate to complain about anything since I’m fortunate enough to have a job, a roof over my head and doggedly devoted friends.
Narrator: Yeah…consider getting your oil changed.
Tata: I’ll..do that. Thanks.
Narrator: Where is the stage manager? I could swear Martha Stewart’s new line had colors with a pulse.
Tata: Shoot, you’re barking up the wrong tree there. Last week, I bought red Martha sheets and when I washed them they turned a weird I File my Nails While You Lick Me Orange. Did you know orange could lack passion?
Narrator: Who told you you were smart? I’m going to smite them.
Tata: Let’s change the subject, shall we? Does anyone know the lyrics to “Louie Louie”?
Narrator: Maybe…nope, that guy’s dead. That other guy doesn’t remember last Thursday.
Tata: Hey! If you’re going to answer questions, why are the cruel, selfish bastards in charge?
Narrator: Who said I was answering your questions? CLEAN UP IN AISLE 9.
Tata: Oh, come on. What could you possibly be narrating? Who are you talking to?
Narrator: I love that John Cusack. Ever seen Better Off Dead?
Tata: Sure. It’s one of my favorites. I absolutely hate these garbage cans.
Narrator: Everybody wants some! I want some too! Everybody wants some! Baby, how ’bout you?
Tata: Talking to you is like chatting up a stoned bowling team. What a nightmare!
Narrator: You’d know, Mata Hari!
Tata: I’m making cosmic similes and you’re making like Don Rickles.
Narrator: I want my two dollars!
Tata: Okay, I need a shade for my kitchen window so I don’t get arrested for making breakfast naked.
Narrator: Puddin’, I could use some Snakpaks. Turn right.
Tata: Forget it. Turn left. One aisle up are the blinds and window shades. Bamboo would look all wrong. I hate the blinds. What do you think of the Roman shades?
Narrator: Whoops. Earthquake in Pakistan.
Tata: What? Are you kidding me?
Narrator: During the course of this shopping trip two whole galaxies self-destructed. What on earth – pardon the pun – made you think Pakistan was safe?
Tata: It’s my planet and I’ll cry if I want to! Hey! You are listening to me! Why can’t you fix that starvation on earth thing?
Narrator: Aluminum blinds are for the birds, baby!
Tata: We agree! Look, I’m going to need an electric screwdriver to put this up. Are you coming with me to Sears tomorrow or what?
Narrator: Maybe. I’ve got a 10:30 with Chuck Schumer.
Tata: Face the Nation?
Narrator: Rock, paper, scissors.
Tata: Well, at least you didn’t say Wesson Oil Twister. By the way, I love my new apartment but the wiring is totally inadequate for the modern go-getter’s needs.
Narrator: White Cheddar Cheez-Its!
Tata: I’m thinking this explains the platypus.
Narrator: Doritos? Keen!

Nothing To See, Nothing To See…

My student worker, whose name sounds like those bells on your toes, was overwhelmed by her obligations and quit until Christmas break. Ned’s cat Fang, a 18 pound force of nature I used to carry around on my hip like a baby, died this week after more than sixteen years of mousing, ruling the roost and smoking Ned’s Marlboros when no one was looking. Miss Sasha sent me a baker’s rack for my kitchen, where boxes and bags still form an impressive pile and where that baker’s rack would have been put to good use if UPS hadn’t dicked me over twice and probably sent it back. I say probably because I don’t know. I was at home when the truck should have arrived and nothing happened. It’s an interesting experience to know that something, somewhere is wrong because nothing is happening.

Earlier this week, I woke up in the middle of the night with that creepy feeling that someone was in my bedroom with me. No, not the queasy feeling you’ve been dating drummers again, I mean the one where you feel fear before you open your eyes. The air doesn’t feel still. I opened my eyes, ready to spring up and move, if I had to but there was no one there. I lay down, closed my eyes and tried to sleep. Maybe fifteen minutes passed and it happened again. And again. And again. Figuring the bedroom was giving me the creeps I lay down on the couch and turned on the TV. An hour and a half later I had no idea what I was watching and fell asleep again, for a bit. I’m not one of those big thinkers with wacky certainty about who’s who or what’s what in the realm of the metaphysical. More than ten years ago, I opened my bathroom door one morning, stepped through a small blond woman and thought nothing of it until I realized later that my small, blond, female housemate was still asleep in her bed and in fact not really porous enough to walk through. Generally. Anyway, this week I:

1. opened a window and demanded he leave – the man I saw walk through the front door while I was painting – because it’s my apartment and who signed the lease, huh?
2. looked in the basement and found directly below my bedroom is the wall of electric meters, which is a rational explanation for that lit-up-with-fear feeling.

So: bases covered. My apartment needs a white witch and an electrician. Let the smudging and insulating begin!

In the meantime, insomnia gives a gal plenty of time to survey the culture. Adding to my instability, here’s an incomplete list of haunting-related shows.

1. Ghost Whisperer. Haven’t seen it, but Jennifer Love Hewitt is just as cute as tiny buttons, isn’t she?
2. Medium. Please. I’m begging. Make Patricia Arquette stop WHINING!
3. Dead Famous. These two people should have a look at their own show because they don’t know bupkis. During an episode where they were searching for the ghost of Buddy Holly it played out like Richie Valens was standing around shouting, “Hey! You’re looking for a ghost, right? Ghost here!” Atrocious. Don’t encourage these wankers.
4. Ghost Hunters. Wow. They look rational, don’t they? How on earth did these guys from Rhode Island get a TV show without screaming like little girls every week?
5. Most Haunted. I cannot get enough of this British TV show. Our plot:

a. Haunted location. Stories. Crew visits.
b. Crew member: “Would anyone here like to communicate with us?”
c. A noise. Something falls down. A table shakes.
d. Crew runs screaming.
e. Repeat for 1 hour.
f. Staff psychologist tells them they’re all wankers.

What’s not to love?

Many times, when cats move house they freak, hide, don’t eat or drink for days on end. You will be pleased to know that Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, arrived at his new digs a week ago, skulked out of the cat carrier and straightened right up. He climbs in and out of bags and boxes like he’s got his own National Geographic special and a camera crew. Last night, I turned a corner and found him staring at me at eye level from atop a sideboard, which was a little unnerving since Larry’s not much of a climber. Larry is fat, happy and busy. I guess some things are happening.

Unusual, Even For Me

Tata: The weirdest thing just happened in my office.
Siobhan: Your office? The guy sitting next to me is named Mamadou.
Tata: That has a certain regional flare. No, really. This was strange.
Siobhan: [bored already] What happened?
Tata: A woman over 70 sat in my cubicle and asked me to call RSU and demand they go outside to interview “the naked Indian.” Did I know what those words meant? No. I called anyway. The DJ was alone and most indignant. I let it go. Turns out there’s a block party on Stone Street and something about a petition. It was all nonsensical. Anyway, she says one of our former co-workers is standing outside the student center in a thong.
Siobhan: [bored no more] Umm…Is it warm out?

Unmarking the Spot

Calls to the car insurance company start with one of those directory trees and devolve. Inevitably, there’s an exchange like this:

Tata: Mr. Paulie Gonzalez does not live in the apartment.
Not-Listening Dickhead: You did not tell us that. It’s not noted on your records.
Tata: I notified you in writing and kept a copy.
Not-Listening Dickhead: It’s not in your records. Where does Mr. Gonzalez live?
Tata: He sleeps on the couch of a friend but he’ll be moving into the apartment when I move out.
Not-Listening Dickhead: So he does live there!
Tata: He does not live there. I live there.
Not-Listening Dickhead: He has his own insurance so technically it doesn’t matter if he does or doesn’t.
Tata: Then…we might as well talk about our imaginary friends. I’ve outgrown mine but yours might need a paper trail.

There’s always one question I cannot answer.

Phone Representative: What’s your home phone number?
Tata: …
PR: Ma’am?
Tata: …
PR: Do you have a home phone number?
Tata: I think so. There’s this plastic thing and sometimes it makes an odd jingling noise. God! I hate when that happens!
PR: Ma’am, is your minder nearby?

There’s a lot on my mind. Unless my phone number spells something I’ll never remember it. A few years ago, my phone number spelled AIR YOSA, which doesn’t mean a thing but Siobhan used to call me and exclaim…

Siobhan: AIR YOSA!
Tata: AIR YOSA it is!

…so I didn’t need to pin my address on my coat when I left the house. My brand new phone number has no zeros in it but it does have a pile of ones. I’m doomed! Ones have no letters on the phone keypad. Seven and nine have extra letters. Couldn’t one have a few of theirs? Anyway, I’m sick of New Jersey Cure and their fixation on my ex-boyfriends. It’s time to take my excellent driving record to an insurance company that doesn’t kick me while congratulating itself for great customer service. Sybaritic chipmunks! They’d use metal spatulas in my non-stick pans if I let ’em!

I spent most of Saturday afternoon and some of Sunday searching for my cell phone charger. As far as I can tell, it’s gone straight to Heaven. This is because Mom helped me pack up on Friday. Daria was supposed to come but she woke up with strep and called in sick.

Daria: Ah feel ahhful.
Tata: You better stay home. I fear increased congestion.
Daria: Ah callt Bom. She’lb be dere ad den.
Tata: Hoorah! The cavalry!

Funny thing about two hands packing: at least one person doesn’t know what things are packed together. After about five hours, we’d moved almost everything to our well-insured motor vehicles, up Route 27 and to my new digs. Mom seldom likes my apartments but that’s because some of them have been real slums. When I turned the key and she saw for herself the new place was spacious and clean she was relieved.

Mom: I’m relieved.
Tata: It’s a nice place, isn’t it?
Mom: Yes. Let’s go get your TV.
Tata: Mom, have you noticed we have – like – freakish upper body strength?
Mom: As compared to whom?
Tata: To the people who are not us.
Mom: Don’t be silly. Here, hold this anvil.

Okay, I made up the anvil. The other day, Siobhan and I were moving a few small things. She lifts weights three times a week with a trainer. I handed her my barbell and she lurched sideways. There was actual lurching! So, I can’t recall what ridiculous thing Mom handed me but it was pretty heavy. This is in stark contrast to yesterday when two of my brothers-in-law turned up to heave a dresser from a truck to my living room. They were both sure I couldn’t lift one end of it. I shrugged and held the door open, thinking of my former mother-in-law. The Fabulous Ex-Husband(tm) used to say she lifted the house to sweep underneath it.

Paulie has returned from Italy to an apartment that’s mostly his. I don’t know where anything is at my place. An hour later, I know where a few somethings are. An hour after that, I can’t remember what I knew an hour before. Friday night, I slept in the new apartment for the first time. At 2:41 a.m., I awakened to the sharp, persistent squeals of a carbon monoxide detector running out of battery power. I pulled the batteries out and went back to bed. Yesterday, I turned on the oven and the smoke detector went off. To amuse myself, I bought the cheapest cordless phone I could find and doubt somehow I’ll get my money’s worth before I throw it in a dumpster. This apartment is filled with screaming plastic gadgets and batteries on the floor like the cat’s taken up log rolling.

I have fallen hopelessly in love with my new apartment. This morning, it took twenty-five minutes to find my shoes.

Simple, Elegant, Truthful – Anti-Propaganda Edition

“I have to infer from that (statement) that you would be happier if Saddam Hussein were still in power.” – Paul Wolfowitz

“My happiness was never going to be influenced by Saddam Hussein’s career path. Instead, my happiness is affected by the well-being of Americans and Iraqis who have suffered needlessly as a result of your war.”

R. J. Eskow at the Nightlight.