Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You

I get the Cablevision internet phone service called Optimum Voice for a flat rate so I can call my brother, my sisters, Dad, Grandpa, Siobhan and Paulie. The service has its pros and cons. The fee is less than I paid for regular service and my two-tin-cans-and-string constant connections with Daria and Siobhan. On the other hand:

Siobhan: What the hell’s wrong with your phone?
Tata: What? Nothing. Why?
Siobhan: Did you notice I didn’t call you?
Tata: No. I called you, right? I didn’t notice except I guess I did. Please tell me immediately what you are getting at.
Siobhan: You had no phone all afternoon.
Tata: Hmm. I guess it was just me, Larry and the voices in my head murmuring, “Kill! Kill!”
Siobhan: If only they’d whisper useful things like, “Check your dial tone! Re-grout the tub! Comb the soap!”

Every weekend for the last month, I’ve had no phone service for some period of time. Since I hate the phone, hate paying for the phone, hate talking on the phone, hate the ringtones, hate the interruption of whatever I’m scheming about, hate the whole thing, I haven’t been too upset about it. Every weekend, I call Optimum Voice and tell another disinterested customer service representative it’s happened again. In fact, since moving into this apartment on 19 August, I’ve called Cablevision twice a week most weeks to report some new problem. It’s fatiguing. Setting up the voicemail took three calls to Optimum Voice for a service I should have been able to set up myself. I talked to no less than seven technicians and about half of them were outright rude. You should be shocked that I haven’t said “pigfucker” even once in this context.

Daria: I’ve hit a parenting roadblock. Sandro has strep and wouldn’t eat all day. When he wanted Wheaties, I gave him Wheaties. He wanted bananas. I gave him bananas. When he wanted chocolate milk, I said, “What the hell…” and poured that over the top. If he upchucks I’m calling right back.

I hold a black belt in Ten Words Or Less but the dojo belongs to Daria.

Daria: What up, Dog?

These may be the most densely packed three words you’ll ever see. They unpack this way: “Hi, how are you? I’m calling to tell you two of my three children spent the night puking into every container in my house, including the bathtub and the laundry basket, and the six-year-old woke me up at 2:15, saying, ‘Mama, my tummy hurts’ just in time to throw up in my bunny slippers and since it was too late anyway I heard myself say, ‘Tyler Two, go back to bed.’ I dissed my kid! Can ya believe it? My husband is on a business trip to the golf course but it doesn’t matter because he’s coughing like an old-fashioned fire alarm and the baby’s upset by all the noise. Remind me: why do I have three kids?” I leave a message on her machine.

Tata: I want my two dollars!

This does not unpack. It means “I want my two dollars.” Sort of. It means: “Transmission received,” or “Just checking in,” or “I am eating delicious melted cheese.” Daria, Todd and I quote early Saturday Night Live, Steve Martin, Better Off Dead, and a few Gene Wilder movies. For years, I called Daria’s house and said the same thing:

Tata: Do you take pictures? Well, give them back!

…Until the time her mother-in-law answered the phone and indignantly asked, “Who is this? Who is this?”

Oops. Sometimes I am stupid. At least now I know what it’ll cost me.

A Picture of You, In Uniform

The phone rings. I let go of my end and click on the receiver. It’s Paulie Gonzalez asking if I remember where his tax forms went.

Tata: Sharkey’s here.
Paulie: Oh yeah? What’s he doing?
Tata: Standing in my bedroom holding a tape measure.
Paulie: Stuffing your pinata?
Tata: Measuring my windows for new shoes.
Paulie: Do you remember where you saw my W2s?
Tata: In the living room, with that highly flammable pile of 2005 receipts.
Paulie: I should turn them in, huh?
Tata: Or take up decoupage, you betcha.

Paulie’s dad’s moved into the one bedroom apartment with him. Paulie’s thinking about buying a house because if he doesn’t he’s going to the Big House for tossing his dad into the Raritan.

Now, that’s a fridge you’d clean with a chisel.

Sometimes when I watch TV, I recognize the conversation has taken a turn to the code-wordy. There’s a Stanley Steemer commercial where the white lady in the white sweater talks about her almost-white carpet. She’s gabbing and gabbing and then she says this weird thing: “When I called [someone else], I didn’t know who was coming over.” If you don’t have the secret decoder ring I didn’t know I didn’t have, this phrase might mean she exchanges Christmas cards with every professional carpet cleaner in a ten-mile radius but sometimes they bring dates. I don’t know what she’s insinuating, but what she’s saying sounds more like every carpet cleaning brings her a factory-fresh bunch of potential emergency organ donors.

There’s a new Bally’s commercial for month-to-month membership that tosses around the word commitment like signing a contract gives you herpes. I don’t know what that means, since Bally wants you to pay them and break your commitments. But still pay them. When you break your commitments.

There’s a whole series of diet code words I don’t understand. There’s one commercial for cortisol fighting snake oil that turns my brain on its z-axis. The spokeswoman says, “When is a diet pill worth $150 a bottle? When you’ve tried everything else and failed.” I suspect this pill solves your weight problem by making you lightheaded when you open your credit card bill. There’s also a bunch of really hinky-sounding ads for some vague get-rich-working-from-home scheme where those testifying say things like, “Last month, I made 75,000!” They do not mention money. I wonder if they’re making 75,000 phone calls to ask Dad for ten bucks.

We are definitely standing at the corner of What? and WhatEVER!

Recently, I received a very strange phone call at work.

Tata: Ta speaking!
Nurse Addie: This is Nurse Addie from KGB Dental. Are you Tata?
Tata: I am.
Nurse Addie: Are you a patient of KGB Dental?
Tata: I am.
Nurse Addie: Are you a patient of Dr. Newsome’s?
Tata: I am. Listen, we’ve met. You know me, Nurse Addie.
Nurse Addie: I see. You have an appointment with Dr. Newsome today?
Tata: I do. At 3:30.
Nurse Addie: No.
Tata: No?
Nurse Addie: No. Dr. Newsome no longer works for KGB Dental.
Tata: Get out! What happened?
Nurse Addie: (Squealing) I so don’t know!
Tata: (Yodelling) Omigod, you so have to find out and tell me!
Nurse Addie: (Back to droning) You’ll have to see the new orthodontist on the 16th. After we hire him.
Tata: NO!
Nurse Addie: Oh yeah.

Today, I met my new orthodontist, and he, poor soul, met me. He is less than thirty, and still has that dewy complexion that is the red flare signalling youth. He restrings rubber bands around my mouth. Though he’s dressed as if I’m radioactive, I feel a little bad that it’s been more than five minutes since I brushed my teeth. He drops the spool of rubber ring ribbon down the side of my face and behind my neck.

Tata: Now I know what it feels like to be gift-wrapped.
Young Doctor: Gift-wrapped!
Tata: My days of answering the doorbell in a red ribbon are over.
Young Doctor: You did that?
Tata: Of course. Say, isn’t that a ten-year-old in the next chair?

I considered adding, “…and aren’t I nine hundred years old?” but saying that to the bespectacled doctor whose eyes are less than six inches from my crow’s feet seems rude. After all, if he’s looking down my sweater I’d hate to interrupt with You, my sweet, are too young to fit under my Age Limit Limbo Pole, too young to play original Trivial Pursuit with me, too young to discuss movies or music all night with over a bottle of buttery shiraz, and I won’t be old enough to flirt shamelessly with medical professionals until I’m twenty years closer to actually being nine hundred. I laugh and skip the euphemism. He might not understand.

Tell Me All Your Thoughts On God

Ned knocks on my door at about 3:50. His hands are shaking. He paces around my living room, stuttering, until I’m dizzy.

Ned: I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know if if if –
Tata: I’ve got my keys.
Ned: Are we are we doing –
Tata: Where are you parked?
Ned: I’m not sure I’m not –
Tata: What happened to your windows?
Ned: Long story. I was driving out in the fast lane in Pennsylvania and this utter dickhead was matching me mile for mile. I sped up, he sped up. I slowed down, he slowed down. Suddenly, in front of me there was a dead deer in my lane.
Tata: Omigod! Did you slam into the median?
Ned: I would’ve slammed it and flipped. No.
Tata: Did you – just tell me what happened!
Ned: I hit the deer like a ramp, went airborne and flew like drunked-up Knievel.
Tata: No! Yeah?
Ned: In retrospect, what seemed to be blood all down the side window was really shattered. The windshield’s nothing.
Tata: Anya’s expecting us. Park here.
Ned: I’m not sure I’m not sure are we are we is this the the the right thing?
Tata: We’re here! What’s up, babydoll?
Anya: On the next General Hospital, tunnels will cave in and your mom answers her own phone.
Tata: Nobody would believe that.
Ned: I brought you organic cookies. They’re not made of hay.
Anya: Thank you so much! I’m going to eat them right now.
Ned: Thank you so much for…for…for…
Anya: Would you like to meet the new baby?
Us: Yeah…
Anya: There she is.

Ned and I look around the living room. We don’t see anyone besides ourselves and Anya. We look at each other. We look back at Anya.

Anya: She’s right there, on the couch.

Still staring at my sister, we walk over to the couch. What appears to be a small pile of washcloths now has a tiny round head sticking out. The head is sleeping. Anya rearranges the receiving blanket and a whole tiny person appears. This is my new niece. She is impossibly small. We stare. She opens her eyes and yawns. I always forget kids aren’t born with bookbags and reading lists so newborns are always shocking. At eight days old, Sunny has already been the subject of controversy.

Miss Sasha: AUNT ANYA HAD A BABY GIRL AND I READ ABOUT IT IN YOUR BLOG! MY FAMILY DOESN’T TELL ME ANYTHING!
Tata: Darling, I’m so sorry. I really should have called you but Grandma’s official line is, “I’ve called to tell you something” and mine is, “I’ve called to tell you something she forgot to call and tell you.”
Miss Sasha: Mr. Sasha said I landed on you too hard about this.
Tata: No, no. You’re right. I’m wrong. Poland’s all yours…
Miss Sasha: No dice! I want the Sudetenland.

Ned and I push open the back door. The box of Fang’s ashes fits in the palm of my hand. Ned can barely move and he can’t make a sentence. For a minute, neither of us knows what to do. Anya’s husband was supposed to mark out a burial spot but he worked late the night before at the family store. Also: the lawn pinwheel marking my sweet little Zorak’s grave probably died a blizzardy death some time ago. Ned’s brain has short-circuited with grief. I take a small spade from the potting shed and start digging near where I think we buried Zorak. After a minute or two I hand him the spade. He digs while I retrieve a shovel, which he uses to dig a broader, deeper hole. He places the box in the hole, a favorite toy and a picture. We cry our eyes out. Anya has one neighbor who only ever sees me sobbing, dirty and holding a shovel. That she hasn’t called the cops and the Do Not Dig Hotline is a miracle.

We cover the grave, tamp down the dirt and discover the back door’s locked. We paw it like bedraggled Great Danes because we can see Anya’s got both hands on an entire human being, so we walk around to the front door, where we meet Anya’s mother-in-law, who recognizes us at the couple who wore matching tuxes to her son’s wedding and smoked cigars. Despite this, she is still nice to us. Ned and I stare open-mouthed as the baby mews and the toddler strips and the mother-in-law empties a bookbag full of wet clothing. I just about faint when the toddler reaches into the potty, so Ned and I hop in the car and zip three blocks to Charlie Brown’s for burgers.

Burying one’s beloved pet is serious business. Charlie Brown’s is full of beer. Ned drinks coffee. I drink Guinness. For three hours, I drink Guinness. Ned drops me off at home. Though I assured Katy at thestain that apres-burial I’d embark on a drunken interstate crime spree, I settle on the couch and wait for Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, to sit on my lap and try conning me out of mine.

Man. Woman. Birth. Death. Infinity. Cats.

Talking Through Time

Few things remind me of my limitations like an afternoon spent minding the family store. Anya, Corinne, their mother and their kids have gone to an upstate auntie’s house for the afternoon. The CD player perfumes the store with Waterlily Flower Music. That is the name of the CD that would have driven me out of my mind until fairly recently but now amuses me. While I was listening to a couple of CDs just like it awhile ago, it took me almost an hour to notice the store didn’t actually smell like tropical flowers.

I can’t remember where I read this. When accused witches said they flew on broomsticks, their accusers wrote that they were impelled to accept this as fact. I must paraphrase but essentially the magistrate said: Not to believe is to deny the testimony of the senses. It may have been ergot poisoning working its hallucinogenic magic on whole villages at a time that led the Inquisition to burn millions of witches at the stake but just as often it was spite and greed. Many facets of those prosecutions perplex me.

1. As a fairly secure, twentieth century American woman, it is hard for me to understand how an idea could be important enough to destroy lives over.
2. How could anyone find in him- or herself the hard-hearted malice necessary to burn a human being or an animal alive, indifferent to its unimaginable suffering?
3. How is it that for centuries – centuries – nobody said, “Wait…”?

I have been a notoriously dreadful judge of character most of my life. I freely admit that as princesses go, this one has kissed princes and toads in nearly equal numbers. Good judgment. Bad judgment. I can’t claim any special insight into the soul. Millions of people wake up every morning and fire up brains with greater horsepower than mine, so I get really confused when I see a parade of naked emperors.

Over at Tami, the One True, a commenter (in the interest of full disclosure: a person I know well) asserts that the reason we’re at war now is:

I think it’s a reaction to Vietnam. For years we’ve heard that the reason that it was a clusterfuck was that public protest undermined the effort and made pariahs our of patriotic boys. The pendulum swung and instead of the soldiers feeling shame, the public that had been critical felt shame.

Eager to avoid and make amends, a penitent John Q hesitated before unleashing the awesome force of critical thought.

I know him to be smarter than I am, industrious and accomplished; when he expresses an opinion, I consider it carefully before donning stilettos and foxtrotting holes through it. I gave his idea some thought. Perhaps he’s right about the public’s attitude. I know that in the days and weeks after the Towers came down and the Pentagon went up in flames, I distinctly remember watching the news and listening to the drumbeat growing louder in the distance. When the flag-waving started, I knew brown people somewhere were in for a heap of shit.

In my lifetime, flag-waving has foreshadowed military might unleashed in an uneven power struggle with non-white people. When I was born in February 1963, we were already involved in Vietnam for about four years, depending on whom you believe. In any case, for people born after – say – 1957 until about 1970, our childhood version of normal reality including war rumbling on and on in the background. This abstraction came with one concrete fact: young men became rare birds in the local flock. Older brothers disappeared. Politics divided us. More than anything, it was a desperate time that stretched on and on, and the desperation became normal. When the war ended, a lot of Americans wandered around in circles for a very long time, still having the same arguments and holding the same pointless grudges. You know what? It was a really shitty time. Don’t remember it that way? You were probably young, attractive and smoking a lot of dope. Have a seat. We’ll come back to you.

In the autumn of 2001, a politically varied group of my closest friends on a list discussed military action in general and against Afghanistan in particular. At the time, I said I hadn’t heard any convincing argument for war at all. A manhunt’s a manhunt and not a war. Congress panicked, and the nation panicked – and I understood that being attacked by foreign actors on our native soil shook America so deeply that we as a military power were about to run around like Richard Simmons at a Hostess Twinkie factory. In the days before we attacked, I felt feverish. It was during these conversations, during which one of my friends totally lost it and has never spoken to the rest of us again, that my feelings about Vietnam as a formative experience crystallized: there is seldom, almost never, a reason to invade a soverign nation. In most cases, war is a failure of diplomacy. I am opposed to war, not just this one. I am especially opposed to wars in which combatants cannot be distinguished from civilians, and that this would occur was clear to me from the beginning. Those jokes about Middle East politics aren’t just jokes.

It was clear to me from the beginning that the rhetoric didn’t make sense, that we were doing something just to do something, that the plan had no end stages because it hadn’t taken the Afghani people into consideration. It was clear that the American people were scared shitless, and who could blame them? It was also clear that I couldn’t articulate much of this because all I could think of was the useless, pointless losses of mothers and children and limbs and dumb, rumbling normal. Because now people my age, who were too young to fight in Vietnam, are mostly too old now to fight in Iraq, but our missing older brothers have undertaken warmaking again, this time from the driver’s seat, and this time with our children in the crosshairs.

We have, in the wake of our worst moments as Americans, returned to our childhood normal, and to our denial, and our feeling that it belongs in the background. The administration didn’t stumble on that idea all by itself. It had a lot of help from people who went to school and birthday parties and celebrated Christmas and spared a thought for missing older brothers only when reminded. Self-absorption is characteristic of children. What is our excuse now? How is it we go on listening to fantastic stories and waiting for our children to be burned in the public square?

As I was writing this, chickens came home to roost. A clean, attractive woman, probably about my age, walked into the store and asked if I knew where she could find a soup kitchen. This kind of conversation has never happened in my presence in this town – in New Brunswick, yes, and I’d know what to do – but not here. I looked up the address for Elijah’s Promise and wrote down directions. Half an hour later, the woman was back. It was plain from the way she was talking that she was not well and the story she was telling was not quite right but I had no way to determine what might be true. She certainly needed professional help. I tried to find her a spot in the women’s shelter, making phone call after phone call. Finally, a woman picked up on a homelessness hotline. We went around and around in progressively more horrifying circles: where could this woman spend the night? How about a hot meal at least? No matter how I phrased it or changed the question the answer was the same: Middlesex County had nothing to offer this woman. No food. No shelter. Nothing. I asked about soup kitchens, emergency services, anything. She asked if I wanted her supervisor to call me back and explain it. I asked, “Is that going to find this woman a bed or a meal?”

“No.”

“Then what’s the point if I understand why?”

I gave the woman the two cups of fruit and gelatin I had. I gave her a spoon. I apologized to her for being unable to help her but the truth was that I was shocked beyond my ability to think things through and find solutions. I had nothing more to offer her than two lunchbox snacks that wouldn’t fill up a five-year-old, and the hope that she’d make her way to Elijah’s Promise the next day at lunchtime, when they would feed her. My face hot with shame, I sent her out of the store into the street on this November night. But let’s not make me more important in this situation than I truly am.

Why are the shelters full and the budgets cut? War. Hurricanes. Bankruptcy. Our utter failure to recognize ourselves as part of the fabric of problems and solutions. Middlesex County had exhausted its monthly budget before the second Saturday. This woman is plainly in need of mental health assistance. I gave her Jell-O and a spoon.

Wait…

Everybody’s Got A Little Light Under the Sun

On a shelf above my desk at work various toys keep watch. A stuffed Boris Badenov leers. A gold lame and porcelain doll averts her eyes from the splendor and terrible fury of the Magic 8 Ball. A small replica of Hans Christian Andersen’s mermaid surveys the pennies sliced and folded by friends and Exes trying out new Leatherman Tools, a joke there being too obvious to make. My little Andorian ambassador has apparently cut off diplomatic relations because today he’s turned his back on me and the starfish a co-worker brought back from Florida; to wit, “I enjoyed my vacation! Please have this lovely dead thing!”

And who could blame her? When I bought the microwave, I also bought a small rug to stand on while I wash dishes. It is green and made of fleece, which makes the thing soft and inviting to the pussycat waiting for me to fix him a snack. In this purchase, I am well pleased, since it makes me feel as if I stand triumphant on the cushiony pelts of my enemy Kermit the Frog and all the males of his tribe. Hear the lamentations of their women! I am mighty! So all my might is standing in the shower this morning, soaping up with the shower poof, when the power cuts out. Because I am deeply enculturated, I immediately listen for the killer’s theme music.

…nothing.

So I listen for the TV but Katie has quit yelping where in the world Matt Lauer is. Meantime, I am covered with apricot exfoliating suds. I try keeping one eye on the hallway to determine if I see subtle shifts in light or hear stealthy padding across the floor while I’m rinsing hokey-pokey-style: right foot in, right foot out…

I notice two important things:
1. The emergency light that is supposed to turn on when power cuts out does not turn on.
2. If I had just showered in natural light I would be as sanguine about an outage as Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, who remains perched on a carpeted thing I seeded with catnip but cannot train him to scratch. Until recently, I didn’t bother turning on the bathroom light when I showered because what’s the point? I know where everything is and what I should smell like if I apply the correct goo to the correct surfaces. Then I decided that was silly. Maybe I had it right the first time. Either that, or I’m still silly and haven’t sunk deep enough to strike logic.

In any case, though I would prefer to be snoring adorably in my bed, I am in fact sitting upright at my desk. Earlier this week, one of my co-workers crumpled up the sticky note on my monitor: REMEMBER TO ACT NORMAL. I now lack guidance. Fortunately, there’s good news from the homemade art front:

We’re thrilled to announce that Girl Play will have its network television premiere this Sunday, November 13th on Logo network @ 10 p.m. So, those of you get Logo please tune in and tell your friends!

Also, don’t forget you can purchase your very own copy of Girl Play on DVD, unedited and with special features at http://www.wolfereleasing.com

Thanks for your continued love and support,
The Girl Play Gang
http://www.girlplaymovie.com

Sharkey is one of the most politically conservative people I know yet he is full of surprises like that he tolerates me. This is the conversation we do not have:

Sharkey: George Bush is a decent, honest man of character and faith and I admire him.
Tata: Someone should give George Bush a blowjob so we can impeach him already.*

We don’t have that conversation. We know where we stand. He is open to all sorts of things you might not expect, like when Sharkey turned up with news that a friend from grammar school co-wrote a movie and we were embarking on a class trip to a gay movie theater in Manhattan, and our friends might be the only ones with Y chromasomes in the whole joint. Our excursion was a blast. The movie was and is really funny and worth your time. And I already love LOGO for broadcasting the decidedly cancelled Wonderfalls. Ladies and gentlemen: start your TiVOs!

The distances between people hold firm like anger but are really carved by fear of the unfamiliar, and I wish everyone had a gay son or daughter, sibling or parent. Most of us would find out there’s nothing to be afraid of, nothing to bring shame or to hide. Some will never get it, and I feel sorry for them, really. There’s enough paralyzing loneliness in the world that arbitrarily cutting oneself off from the possibility of friendship, companionship and love on the basis of sexual orientation seems like sad comment on the smallness of a life.

Hey, friends! In the words of Beetlejuice, “Let’s turn up the juice and see what shakes loose.”

*Not actually my line. Can’t remember where I saw it. Senility’s a 9-volt bitch.

The Best Things In Life Are Free –

Except me. I’m moderately priced. If you’re a billionaire.

The election’s over. The atmosphere was starting to reek like Staten Island, so I’m relieved it’s behind us. We can all get back to paying attention to the important things in life – like Me. You’ve been so busy thinking about politics most of you have neglected to bring me tribute. I don’t know how you live with yourselves.

Now, a few details aside –

The Department of Sexual Assault Services and Crime Victim Assistance (SAS/CVA) is holding a cell phone drive. If you have cell phones that you would like to donate to SAS/CVA, please send them to Laura Luciano, 3 Bartlett Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901. Include your name and address, if you would like a letter for tax purposes. Donations will assist the Department in providing programming for survivors of all forms of interpersonal violence and for members of the University Community. For more information, email Laura Luciano at lluciano@rci.rutgers.edu.

– and if you are in no way Georg, it’s time to brace yourselves for the holidays and the joy of giving things – to Me.

UNICEF offers lovely, arresting cards and handmade gift items You’re going to buy cards and lovely baubles – for Me. Why not buy them where they do some good?

The Hunger Site offers interesting gifts from around the world, including many items you may never have seen before. If you look at the tab bar, you’ll find other merchandise catalogs for the cancer-drubbing, future-dwelling, literacy-loving, tree-hugging, animal lover on your holiday list. Which is to say: Me.

The Fair Trade Store offers a variety of artisanal gift items sure to please – I’m starting to blush – Me. I’m not a college student, but you could shop for – it sounds crazy – someone besides Me by choosing to shop for Him, Her or College Students. I may go out and pretend I know one just to buy a recycled can wallet.

But don’t let these suggestions in any way curtail your natural curiosity about new and interesting gifts – for Me. A net search can easily help you locate talented, relentless do-gooders who will help you meet your tribute needs, and I suppose you could buy presents for other people as well. Though I have no idea why when you could spend all your money on Me!

Though someday you’ll break down and buy me the Vespa my heart desires, in the meantime you might consider bicycles – for Me – possibly for yourself, too. Over the past week, I have found myself enraptured by the changing foliage. It’s been breathtaking, hasn’t it? Almost as beautiful as Me, even. And that’s saying a lot. In any case, a lovely walk under the trees or a bicycle ride in the crisp autumn air to the family store would be delightful, wouldn’t it?

Now that the election’s finally over, you’ll have plenty of time, and the world is full of gift wrap and dotted Swiss ribbon. Don’t worry. I’ll act surprised.

But the stars we could reach were just starfish on the beach

Kansas Board of Education
1 785 296-3201
FAX: 1 785 296-7933
120 SE 10th Avenue
Topeka KS 66612-1182

My dearest Kansas Board of Education,

Oh sweetheart, we’ve known one another too long for deceipt. We’ve grown apart. It’s sad, and I hoped it wouldn’t come to this, but it has and must. While we are both to blame in part, I feel you’ve changed. At first, I remember thinking you were constant – a little flat, but constant, and I liked that about you. You were always there when I needed you. I thought that would always be true.

Now you’ve decided to dabble in superstition and hokus pokus. Oh my old friend, how I hoped you would come back to me and our sensible life! You’ve broken my heart! I can never trust you again. I can’t trust the children you pretend to educate. For their sakes, I hope they’re not interested in science because they’ll be laughed out of any serious polytechnic institute in the world for reciting that drivel – not even the Vatican believes it should be taught in science class. You think this doesn’t matter, but it does. America is falling behind industrialized nations in educating its workforce. Don’t you remember reading about that car company that resorted to drawing pictures for its employees and still couldn’t train them to assemble automobiles? That company built its new factory in Canada, where people can read. Jobs were lost, local economies were further weakened in an already weak area. How can I love you when I can’t respect you? Plainly you love you more than you care about the children in your charge because you’ll be fine, but those kids will graduate fit to pick up trash for a living. Well, except for that pesky gravity thing you attribute to “evil spirits.”

I don’t like children all that much, dear Kansas Board of Education, but what you’re doing sounds like child abuse. And while many children could use an abrupt spanking, you’re undermining their whole lives and the future of the State of Kansas. That’s not even the worst thing you’ve done.

No, what I can’t abide is your insufferable arrogance. CNN caught you playing fast and loose with the English language, and the very idea of proof: “In addition, the board rewrote the definition of science, so that it is no longer limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena.” You know words are the jewels of my heart. If I had caught you in a busy three-way Dirty Sanchez with Kevin and Britney I couldn’t despise you more. I mean, unless I later found that icky tableau captioned on Fark.

Do you know Fark? You’re very popular with the satirists.

I’ll never forget you – or to avoid your kids practicing that dumb voodoo. Whatever: I live in New Jersey.

Always,
Princess Tata

The Discordian Meme

Oh Kali, we’re two-stepping again.

Miss Jill at B@B, swatted the back of my head and barked, “Fuggeddabowdit.” Not wanting to get meat sauce on my silk bowling shirt, I comply.

1. Go into your archives.
2. Find your 23rd post.
3. Post the fifth sentence (or closest to it).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag five other people to do the same thing.

This is my pearl of meteorological wisdom. Don’t choke on its uncanny prescience:

Right now, the sky could open again at any moment, so he’s outside bolting his carburator to the engine.

…unless you want to.

I’ve been thinking about this line dance, and I’ll check back about in a bit later. Seems to me compiling random bits of time and space are an interesting project, like spending an afternoon reading the bathroom doors in a punk club. To me, what people say with a pen and a moment alone distills an evening, a season, a relationship, a dry-hump into one often startling revelation. Sometimes it’s funny.

I would not discourage anyone from volunteering to page through their archive and find the fifth line of the twenty-third entry. Volunteer away! But if I must tag, I must think.

Political bloggers could measure their own reasoning.

Mommy bloggers might remember some lost moment.

Art bloggers may turn over a shimmering phrase or forgotten photo.

Suzette would find my house and snatch me baldheaded. Sometimes that’s funny.

I’ll get back to you about it. Too many treats!