I’ve Got the Power

Dad is a decisive person weighing his options.

Dad: InExcelsisDeo’s son graduates from military mechanic school in Pittsburgh on the 23rd.
Tata: That date can only have been set by a man whose wife wipes his nose, and to whom he doesn’t listen. Fucker!
Dad: Do you kiss babies with that mouth?
Tata: What did you say when you heard about it?
Dad: “What fucking madness.”
Tata: Moving on, then…
Dad: Your brother Todd comes in from California on the 30th and stays until the 2nd.
Tata: Really? I knew he’d be here at some point.
Dad: And Dara has to have Christmas with her mother and be back to school on the 2nd. I can only make one trip. What are your plans?
Tata: Gluttony and sloth. Tell me when and where, and I’m there.
Dad: My problem is I promised my sister I’d make Christmas Eve dinner, since she will be out of town until appetizers are plated.
Tata: Don’t worry. My sister, my cousins and I will do it.

OH MY GOD! Did you see that coming? Because I didn’t!

Dad: How’s the apartment?
Tata: I’m considering piling the remaining boxes in front of a vulnerable window and calling it my burglar alarm. I may leave it for my grandchildren to incinerate when they cart me off to the home!
Dad: Serves ’em right! Bastards!
Tata: They’re cashing my social security checks! I would!

So Dad’s staying three hundred miles away for Italian Christmas Eve. This morning, panic set in when Auntie InExcelsisDeo agreed to let the Girl Gang do the cooking because there just isn’t any other way that doesn’t involve folding our arms and blinking forth Emeril. I call my cousin Sandy, eight months older than Miss Sasha, most of a foot taller and 100% more local. Sandy’s temporarily bunking in at Auntie InExcelsisDeo’s family compound in South Brunswick, which gives us access to modern on-site refrigeration in the absence of the homeowner. And salmon!

Tata: Your sister told your mother who told my sister who told me that she, your sister Monday, wanted to make the chicken and polenta.
Sandy: Monday wants to eat the chicken and polenta.
Tata: What do you want to cook?
Sandy: I can’t cook.
Tata: Fine. You’ll make Edith’s bean salad. We’ll make the manicotti together. You’ll make shrimp pose seductively in a circle.
Tata: Are you in traffic?
Sandy: Bumper to bumper.
Tata: You are a danger to yourself and others. Doesn’t your boyfriend have a Costco card?
Sandy: He does.
Tata: Keep your eyes on the road. If you crash, he might be too busy whining about what a marvelous person you were to go shopping for your family. You’re so selfish!

If you read the stories leading up to Miss Sasha’s wedding, you know Daria, Monday, Sandy and I are now lined up to play a mixed doubles game of YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME! Daria calls.

Daria: Did Daddy call you?
Tata: Daddy called me.
Daria: Did you talk to Auntie InExcelsisDeo?
Tata: I talked to Auntie InExcelsisDeo.
Daria: Do you know why he’s not coming?
Tata: He’s coming, just later. Todd’s coming later.
Daria: Stop talking to me like that!
Tata: You stop talking to me like that!
Daria: Don’t be so bossy!
Tata: You don’t be so bossy!
Daria: I’m going to hang up on you in a minute!
Tata: Pot to Black Kettle! Come in, Black Kettle!
Daria: You taking the right half and I’m taking the left half of the buffet?
Tata: I talked to Sandy. She’s psyched. We’re going to cook.
Daria: Oh my God, Sandy’s going to cook?
Tata: We have boyfriends, fiances, cousins and spare moms. With any luck, we will also have other help. It’s going to be fine.
Daria: Are you drunk? They let you drink on university property? Hello!
Tata: We’ll put appetizers on every flat surface and make Monday bake something into dessert-like submission. And fuck anybody who complains.
Daria: My husband will handle the meats.
Tata: …And there’s my cue to hang up.

If I had money, I’d hire a camera crew and a bulletproof director. If I were smart, I’d hide the fondue forks. I don’t, and I’m not, so it’s stuffed mushrooms and a side of SHUT UP AND DICE for me!

Please sign the petition, because voting should be easy as pie.

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Listen To What I Am Not Saying

Daria calls me at 7:45 a.m. because I’ve been at my desk fifteen minutes and that’s too long. My mind is wandering off. Her calling me is practically a public service.

Daria: So tell Auntie Tartar what you did last night.
Sandro: No!
Daria: You took a shower. What happened in the shower?
Sandro: Nothing!
Tata: He’ll make a great co-defendant.
Daria: He was taking a shower and I went upstairs –
Tata: WAIT! I know EXACTLY what happened!

My sisters and brother know I am precisely useless as a babysitter because the moment there’s a dirty diaper I’m on the phone with Mom and Dad.

Auntie Tata: You have to come home now. Baby’s all yucky.
M&D: We just sat down. We haven’t even had girlie drinks.
Auntie Tata: Leave ten minutes ago and arrive now, please. This mess isn’t going to change itself!
M&D: Awwww!
Auntie Tata: Woohoo! Got a mop?

And Daria knows the room goes all fuzzy and my head spins when the subject comes up and since she is the younger sister with whom I shared a bedroom until we were teenagers she cannot resist an opportunity to make my head go fuzzy and the room spin. If she had an extra hand and free phone service, she’d leave messages for me all day.

Daria: Changing a full diaper. Knew you had to know –


Daria: Poop! Poop! Poop!

So I know without consulting the Magic 8 Ball what Daria’s heading for. The room goes fuzzy and my head spins. I emit little “kek kek kek” noises from the back of my throat.

Daria: So I went upstairs and the room smelled bad. I said, “Baby, what, do you have gas?” He said, “Noooo.” So I opened the toilet lid and there was the poop. I said, “Did you poop in the potty?” I was all set to be excited. He said, “No, I put it in the potty.” I said, “WITH YOUR HANDS?” And then I had to bleach everything.
Daria: You could see little handprints in the poop.
Tata: I have to go drop dead now.
Daria: I bleached everything last night. Now I have to bleach everything else.
Tata; Waiter…I’ll have a Chlorox straight up. Make it a double!
Daria: Yep. The shower curtain’s my first target.
Tata: …squazzbats…

A hair-trigger gag reflex is inhibiting. Someday, I’ll be the grandma with a martini in one hand and Ron Popeil’s Baby Bott-O-Matic in the other. If I must. But Daria’s going to hear all about it.

Please sign the petition, because voting rights shouldn’t make you yell for Buicks.

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These Are Ourselves Under Pressure

Auntie InExcelsisDeo: I called your house and a man answered.
Tata: You called my old number! That’s Paulie’s Dad. He moved in after I moved out.
Auntie I.: He said, “Just a minute. I’ll go look.” He came back a few minutes later, “No, she’s not here.”
Tata: That’s hilarious! Wonder where he went! You called because you heard me summoning you?
Auntie I.: Did I? What’s up? I can’t remember why I called you.
Tata: Christmas Eve? Textiles? Got a new pet?
Auntie I.: …No…
Tata: Plumbing repairs? My Dad’s driving you crazy? Vehicular manslaughter?
Auntie I.: …No…
Tata: Stubbed a toe?
Auntie I.: …No…
Tata: I got nothing!
Auntie I.: I’ll buzz you when I remember!
Tata: I’ll be here until I’m paroled…

Last night, a man was executed in California and today the blogsphere erupted in a frenzy of bloody team-bashing. I can’t join this game. I can’t dance on the grave of another human being, no matter who he or she was, no matter what he or she did. And you’d think I’d be entitled to consider the issue as long as I wished and come to whatever opinion I might, morally and intellectually. Nope. Today, bloggers and pundits on both sides insisted not just that theirs was the only position a wise person could hold but that a person who didn’t agree must be morally or intellectually defective.

Yeah. Well. Bite me.

The death penalty in the United States is ridiculous and racist, but that’s because human beings are ridiculous and racist. We can’t fix that between now and the next state-sponsored execution. We can’t fix ourselves, and we can’t fix society. Putting aside the unbearable horror that is executing the wrongly convicted, it is too great a responsibility – for me – to decide that another person should die. Many people argue that the Bible says such-and-such, or the Koran says so-and-so. I know what they say, and they provide certainty for a large part of the populus, but not for me. I’m glad these philosophies help people find moral centers in our difficult world.

Still, the one thing I take away from all my years of study is the very simple Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord. This means I am small and covered with fur, and I cannot possibly know any absolute truth. I cannot know if there is a God, an afterlife, a profound justice, or a call for the blood of the guilty, and I accept my limitations here. My options, then, are limited in pursuit of public safety and bodily security. The option I choose is to incarcerate the guilty. If there is a God, and if God has plans for us, great. I hope God’s plan is a cocktail party where I meet Mark Twain under the table, but if it’s not, then justice is the Lord’s – not mine – to administer.

Some people have dreams under anaesthesia. I do not. During surgery, it’s as if the doctor’s hit my OFF switch, and coming out of it is terrifying because it is not like being ON. It feels like wrestling up from under something heavy on my chest and preventing the drawing of breath. Each time I’ve come out of anaesthesia, I’ve felt like I’d been dead for a few hours. Some say after death, there’s nothing. I’ve already been through nothing. When people argue about pits of fire and demon beasts, I don’t hope for Heaven. I hope for nothing. I wish there were a way to tell if we’re wasting our time, frothing at the mouth about punishments and crimes, but I can’t. And in real life, I don’t have to.

Not every issue requires that I form an opinion. I have the rest of my life to decide what I think, and I may even so change my mind. From Harold Pinter’s Nobel Prize lecture:

Political language, as used by politicians, does not venture into any of this territory since the majority of politicians, on the evidence available to us, are interested not in truth but in power and in the maintenance of that power. To maintain that power it is essential that people remain in ignorance, that they live in ignorance of the truth, even the truth of their own lives. What surrounds us therefore is a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed.

…The United States supported and in many cases engendered every right wing military dictatorship in the world after the end of the Second World War. I refer to Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Haiti, Turkey, the Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador, and, of course, Chile. The horror the United States inflicted upon Chile in 1973 can never be purged and can never be forgiven.

Hundreds of thousands of deaths took place throughout these countries. Did they take place? And are they in all cases attributable to US foreign policy? The answer is yes they did take place and they are attributable to American foreign policy. But you wouldn’t know it.

It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.

By way of contrast, this is something I can form an opinion on. These deaths do matter. I don’t wish to trivialize this vast, unmeasured suffering but it makes me sick that this was done in our name, in the name of the American people. It makes me just as guilty as the black ops fuckers who commissioned these murders. There is no justice for these victims in this world. For them, I hope there is an easy afterlife, if there is one, but I can’t wish eternal damnation or the lake of fire or a red-hot fireplace poker up the butt for the murderers. For them, I wish for exposure and light. I hope their children find out what they did and see their parents with daylight understanding.

Mine are the politics of mercy. It is my wish that the arguments, the debaters, the victims and the murderers go in peace, wherever they’re going in this life or what follows. It is my hope that we think clearly and coolly about the suffering we cause and move to mitigate it. If you believe in God, it’s the least service you can offer. If you don’t, your work on earth is certainly cut out for you.

Please sign the petition, because voting rights are a first step toward justice.

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You’re No Rock & Roll Fun

Apropos of very little, my friends have been discussing being stationed on Guam. You’d think the place was packed with very young fashion victims and very old men who didn’t know when to zip it.

Hey, my Dad was Air Force and he was stationed on Guam, too. Well, it was a strategic bombing group in the Army Air Corps that became the Air Force. I wonder if you and he met the same hookers.

Roman was a very sensory person and would not have appreciated things like mission statements. It’s nice to have something catchy on your patch: I think the space command’s motto was “in your face from outer space”. But this new mission statement…it’s like a motto from a bad yuppie bar. “A nice place to get schnockered and pretend to be interested in sports TV with no sound while you’re striking out.” It’s cheap and I think it sucks like every bad corporate meeting I’ve attended. It makes me think of the uniforms. I have my Dad’s old uniform and it’s kind of cool. For one thing, it’s wool and constructed like a nice suit. Off the rack, but classy. The new uniforms look cheap to me, like a prison uniform. I mean, if you’re gonna drop 500 pounds of burning phosphorous on a field of people living with bronze-age technology, at least you can be the leader and dress classy. Consider that the modern armed services are comprised largely of poor black people. Now if there was ever a demographic that appreciated fine clothing, that’s it. If they made Marine uniforms from fine, black Italian suits I bet W’d have no problems making the recruitment numbers.

hugs and kissies,

This is what happens when comically enhanced rocket scientists become stay-at-home parents and write letters in scurrulous character all day to erstwhile radio comedians and, generally, people who could fashion lasers out of paper clips and duct tape. And me.

Slappy calls me “my favorite octaroon.” His real-life counterpart calls me when the baby’s in the emergency room. Many of my friends and most of my relatives do this: lapse into and out of characters and accents. Thus, nothing Slappy says offends me because from early childhood, I recall the business of imagining what other people might say, and knowing those were not my thoughts. They were a recognition of the world in which I lived and people I would never be.

You’d think I’d be prepared, then, for people who aren’t kidding but I seldom am. Those desperately personal commercials in which black or Latin teens try to convince Mom or Dad that joining the military is a great idea were written by Chris Rock, right? No? How is that possible? Or years ago, I walked up to Easton Avenue to get university keys cut at this old man’s shop that – no lie – was about the size of a cell on death row. Now it’s a hot dog stand or something. Anyway, the first time I walked over there, the old man cut my keys and took his ever lovin’ time about it. He asked if I read books. I said I did. He said he used to read books but he quit after reading about that there Marquis de Sade. I said that must’ve been an interesting reading list. He said – I don’t know what he said. He was a very old man. I was young, a captive – so to speak – audience, and hotter than lava. How pathetic is it to whine, “I used to be HOT”?

The third or fourth time I walked over there he mentioned de Sade again. He asked if I’d ever read that book. I said I hadn’t, which I thought might tamp down the talk. He shuffled weakly around the tiny key shop like Tim Conway character facing a stiff wind. If I patted him on the cheek he might break, but there he was lecturing at excruciating – pardon the pun – length on whips and chains.

Like many men of his generation, he’d been a military man who’d traveled the world and tried to bring something of it home with him. I might’ve picked something from the PX. On Guam.

Please sign the petition, because voting rights should be free, free, free.

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Whisper To A Scream

My brain’s pooped. Daria called at 9:30 this morning, not just because she’s the busy mommy of three children under seven but because she’s bossy.

Daria: What are you making for Christmas Eve?
Tata: WWWHA BHEPGHHLLLFHL stuffed mushrooms, maybe?

An ability to converse in our sleep distinguishes my family members from other crazy people. When our maternal grandmother visited from Cape Cod, Daria discovered our terrible secret. Daria waved me into her room where Gramma was napping on the bottom bunk and mewing like a basket of kittens.

Daria: Where’s the gin?
Gramma: Bottom shelf in the refri- refri- next to the olives.
Daria: Can I have a pack of your cigarettes?
Gramma: Aren’t you a little old to start smoking? Take a carton. Catch up.
Daria: Can I have ten dollars?
Gramma: No..zzzzzzzzz.

You can’t have everything.

Daria: Auntie InExcelsisDeo’s on NutraSystem and looks great. Did I wake you up?
Tata: It’s fine. Can we cook for that? How do we cook for that?
Daria: Beats me. Daddy’s bringing mmmppmmmhhpphh and pppphhhhrrbbbb.

Daria frequently forgets to eat in the course of her frenetic day. The sound of my voice triggers the recognition she hasn’t eaten since Tuesday. She is stuffing something vaguely nutritious into her mouth before she forgets again. Because conversation with her is regularly unintelligible, I don’t ask her to repeat. Daddy’s bringing stuff and roasting it. What else do I need to know? Later, I have an idea and call Mom.

Tata: I am proposing a project in which I do all the work. Stop laughing!
Mom: I can’t breathe! What project?
Tata: I’d like to transcribe Edith’s recipes so everyone can have them.
Mom: My recipe box is filled with –

Mom has her own sense of time, order and sentence structure. I’m paraphrasing because if I didn’t condense you’d stab yourself in the eardrums and threaten grammarians. I can’t be responsible for that, however hilarious it might be to watch Mom make someone else suicidal. Or study interjections. In any case –

Mom: My recipe box is filled with recipes in my mother’s, my grandmother’s and your grandmother’s handwritings. I wrote down a lot of other things over the years. I plan to give this box to Miss Sasha.
Tata: That’s really nice, Mom, but there can only be one of those and the rest of us would like to have our grandmoms’ recipes.
Mom: The recipe box is like a scrapbook…
Tata: Do you realize that some insecure women give their blood relatives family recipes and leave out a key ingredient?
Mom: …filled with important memories…
Tata: And Miss Sasha’s blood relatives will carve her up like a spiral ham if the Edith’s manicotti recipe is bland.
Mom: You’ve got a laptop, right?

I’m also pooped because after yesterday’s excursion to Home Depot, I had a pile of DIY art supplies and towels to wash. Everything is educational if you let it teach you stuff. Yesterday, I learned the full wash cycle wrings clothing to within an inch of its life and sixty minutes in the dryer barely smooths the creases. Today, I learned that running towels through the delicate cycle produces as wet as towels can be. My apartment became very humid after that and for hours to follow. I see clearly I’d better take some vinegar to my windows. At one point, Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, was sitting on my lap when he stood up and growled like an angry dog at…nothing…in my hallway. This went on for a number of unnerving minutes.

Larry: I’m creeped out!
Tata: You’re preaching to the choir, brother.

In between, I drilled holes in the hallway wall and hung a shelf, which I lined with delicate glass bottles. I drilled holes in my closet and hung tap lights so I can pick clothing that might match. I drilled holes in the kitchen ceiling and screwed in hooks left by the previous tenant. From these hooks, I hung the four remaining green-blue Christmas balls that belonged to my father’s parents and the glass Christmas ball my mother’s mother had made when I was born. Yes, I’m tired, but tired and overjoyed.

Is It Love?

You know how refrigerators come in boxes? Washers and dryers come in trucks. What will I play in? That is a trick question. The answer is CLEAN CLOTHES!

Paulie: Tata, don’t even plug in that dryer before you buy a fire extinguisher.
Tata: Why not?
Paulie: What’s the tag say? How many amps?
Tata: I’m reading the tag. I see nothing about amps.
Paulie: What else?
Tata: It goes on and on about a risk of explosion. Like, in four languages.
Paulie: …As opposed to the international language of I’M ON FIRE with subtle undertones of AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

Oh. Well, I guess I’m off to the Home Depot. But first, I’m going to try something no one of my generation in my family has: reading the manual. Stop laughing! I bought some shiny objects, and I want to use them without combining violently with oxygen myself.

I’d pout…but I have Appliance Joy! Joy!

Please sign the petition, because voting rights shouldn’t go up in smoke.

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One, Two, Three, Five!

Week Two.
Siobhan: What are you doing?
Tata: Searching the net for washers and dryers.
Siobhan: Have you found anything?
Tata: I have found that I hate Sears’ website with a fiery passion.
Siobhan: Last week, you hated Home Depot’s website with every fiber of your being.
Tata: I’ve developed enough fiber to hate Sears, too. I can’t help thinking there’s something I don’t get.
Siobhan: Have you picked models you want to look at?
Tata: Damn it!

Week Four.
Siobhan: What are you doing?
Tata: Searching the net for washers and dryers.
Siobhan: Have you found anything?
Tata: I’ve found that poor people aren’t supposed to take decent care of themselves. Or at least appliance manufacturers could make it easier.
Siobhan: Explain!
Tata: Google “110 volt washing machine” sometime and look at the tiny variety of craptastic options. In America, you either have a room devoted to laundry or you carry change to someone else’s coin op. The washer + dryers would be great if they worked but the technology is tragically flawed.
Siobhan: Tragically?
Tata: Yes, I would like to spend $700 on a machine that doesn’t make me want to kill myself during the five-hour dryer cycle, after which I dry the second half of the load and blow my brains out. I was too young to die!
Siobhan: Do those come portable?
Tata: Yep.

Week Six
Siobhan: What are you doing?
Tata: Searching the net for washers and dryers.
Siobhan: I’m so sick of asking. Have you found anything?
Tata: Yes. I’ve made a table, comparing facts and figures. I’m buying something Thursday night or bust.
Siobhan: I’ll pick you up at 7. Wear shoes. Stores like that.

Last night
Siobhan: Shoes on?
Tata: Shoes on. Facts prepared. Credit cards fully greased with WD40.
Siobhan: Are you wearing AQUA?
Tata: Can’t be helped. Must appear normal. Game face.
Siobhan: That explains the Furious Red lipstick at war with your sweater.

[Insert musical interlude HERE. Feelings…nothing more than feelings…]

Siobhan: Holy crap! You haggled!
Tata: I what?
Siobhan: You haggled! He told you a price, you said no and he threw in a TV at a reduced price!
Tata: I was here the whole time. Well, mostly…
Siobhan: Then you handed him a credit card and now there’s a TV in the back of my Ford Exsanguinator.
Tata: I didn’t pass out or nothin’! But if you don’t stop at the liquor store and let me buy a bottle of wine I’ll be up all night hyperventilating.
Siobhan: It’s just like you to hog all the oxygen!

It is absolutely true that I cackled maniacally while picking a wine, and the cashier I’d never seen before earnestly tried to convince me a washer/dryer is not a selfish purchase. In self-defense, I think. I wonder how many times a day that happens in liquor stores.

Appliances will be delivered tomorrow. All my sock puppets will be April-fresh by Monday. Cross your fingers! My hands are still shaking.

Please sign the petition, because voting rights shouldn’t need petitions.

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Never Was A Cornflake Girl

Fresh from a conversation in which my co-worker said the magical words, “Of course, this annoys the chinchilla,” I sit at my desk and Daria calls. It’s serious.

Daria: I’m making a chicken salad sandwich.
Tata: What kind of bread?
Daria: Twelve grain.
Tata: Toasted?
Daria: Golden brown and crisp.
Tata: The chicken salad: does it have capers?
Daria: It could. I possess capers at all times.
Tata: Foliage?
Daria: Celery. I’m out of lettuce so I might have to use arugula.
Tata: I covet your sandwich. It cries out to me!
Daria: You live vicariously through me. And the sandwich.
Tata: Remember the time Daddy went to San Francisco and brought home a loaf of sourdough bread?
Daria: (shocked) Remember? That loaf of bread has spoiled me for all other sourdough bread.
Tata: He cut slices, toasted them and made us peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. What, were we eight and nine, maybe?
Daria: I take a bite now and say, “Nope, nope, I’m done with this.” It’s not the same. Oh no!
Tata: What?
Daria: I nearly dropped the sandwich in the sink.
Tata: Don’t move! I might be able to drive to Flemington in time to save it!
Daria: I didn’t drop it. You might drive to Flemington and watch me eat another.

A lot of our childhood memories involve bread or food of some kind. One of my favorite was one of those little things you might not notice or if you did you might forget it. It was summer, afternoon and the weather was stormy. Dad and I were home alone, so I was ten years or less. He made garlic bread and poured us glasses of red wine. We sat on the concrete stoop with our toes inches from the line where rain dripped. We nibbled crusty garlic bread and sipped buttery red wine. I have no recollection of what we might have talked about but that doesn’t matter, does it?

Suddenly it’s a loaded question. Tomato soup and portents. A salad of baby greens and the verdant scent of rain you never forget. What’s for lunch?

We’ve Got To Find A Way To Bring Some Lovin’ Here Today

Tonight, the Science Channel re-reruns the remastered Cosmos. I’m exhausted from a long day of terrorizing the unsuspecting and caring for several of you mad charmers. If I get especially lucky, I might get to Nair my mustache. I’ve been so busy every pass by a mirror reminds me of Snidely Whiplash. Which also reminds me: what kind of insult is “Get a horse”?

This morning, my brilliant stepmommy Darla, two years younger than I am and twice as feisty, asked my opinion on Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee’s bluntly titled Narnia represents everything that is most hateful about religion. I had to think it over while my co-workers rudely asked me university-related questions. Fortunately, someone came around the cubicle wall with giant leaves of paper so orange everyone who saw it recoiled, then touched it to see if the color stung.

It’s a good thing Toynbee’s throwing this hissy on the east side of the Atlantic, where it’s less likely someone would burn a cross on her front yard for terming Jesus’ resurrection “repugnant.” If you can imagine it, people express themselves in public without fear of – like – ammo and extensive physical therapy. Still, I used to have that right, and no matter that sacrificial figures appear in the mythologies of every people on earth, I’m not sure I have that right in America now. In fact, I’m not even sure I have the simple right to vote. Are you?

Free speech, no matter how cranky or offensive, is one of our most important rights and we defend it by speaking freely until everyone becomes accustomed once again to the idea that dissent is patriotic. Plus, actual discussion is really good for our brains. Our brains like it! Ask ’em! Thus, no matter how you feel about ammo, Jesus, movies and Carl Sagan, your opinion matters.

So’s your vote.

Please sign the petition

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Diode, Cathode, Electrode, Overload, Generator, Oscillator

Sometimes I ask myself the tricky questions like, “WHAT color is my HAIR?” and “Madame, though I could swear I was with you the whole time, I must know: where have you been since Friday night?” Well, who gets to be that rude with me and get away with all their teeth? I mean, besides Siobhan and Daria, and Miss Sasha, Trout and LaLa, Anya and Corinne. Auntie InExcelsisDeo, Darla, all my cousins and anyone who’s ever been my friend? Guess that leaves me.

Tata: Have you looked at our head?
Tata: What’s wrong with our head?
Tata: In case you hadn’t noticed your hair has oxidized back to its natural colors.
Tata: What?! You are blind, lady. That’s red.
Tata: Your nails are red. Your hair is brown.
Tata: Lying bitch! That’s a subtle red, with less subtle red running through it.
Tata: Listen Helen Keller, that’s brown hair! If you don’t do something about it I’m turning you in at the hair salon for punitive coloration. With extreme prejudice.
Tata: Okay! Okay! But I get to pick the color!
Tata: No, you get to shut up and pick socks.

Izzat so? I guess that’s better than nothing because today I wore hospital-issue slipper socks. More than half my pairs have become solitaries and someone was using the laundry room every time I went down there all weekend. Tempers flare when a tenant leaves laundry in the sole washing machine. I’ve got to buy myself a washer before I stick a meat fork into the sternum of the next harridan who takes my clothes out of the machine during the spin cycle. Which reminds me: I have to shop for cutlery if I ever want to have guests over for PopTarts.

So my hair is an exciting comicbook red since I’d stocked up on boxed tints, and the Philomusica concerts are behind us. Did you miss them? The selections were fantastic fun for certifiable music nutballs like myself. You might have enjoyed many aspects of the evening. The church’s atrium was mostly glass, tile and giant potted plants. Whenever the heat came up the glass click-click-clicked, making the whole building feel twitchy. In the center of the lobby stood a holy water font – except that since I’ve never been Catholic, to me it looked like a giant marble egg cup and suddenly I wondered about pteridactyl eggs benedict. The Schubert pieces had a lovely waltzing quality that reminded me of ice skating and cocoa. The Mozart made me think, as Mozart always does, of secrets, clean sonic lines and grave danger. The choir was wonderful and if you can believe it, those crazy people left me in charge of the money after intermission. Don’t think you’ll find my pawprints inside the cashbox. I’m far too lazy for larceny.

On Sunday, I opened my vegetable door and a tumbleweed rolled by. I called Paulie Gonzalez, whose travel schedule almost certainly precluded vegetables green for the first time. We have good talks in the farmers’ market on Route 1. I have to go with someone else because driving on Route 1 makes my eyes ache, body-to-body contact with strangers fills me with rancor, and being poor makes me want to run screaming from retail outlets. Last week, Lupe and I went to Kohl’s with coupons and I had to have a serious talk with myself in the sweater section.

Tata: Sherbet colors. I’d toss my cookies but the whole place looks like someone already has.
Tata: Woman! You are going to pick four sweaters you only mildly loathe, and we are buying them!
Tata: Are you out of your mind? These are acrylics!
Tata: Guess what? You’re allergic to wool. You’re allergic to cashmere and angora. You’re allergic to anything shaved off a sheep or a goat, and remember what happened when you tried to wear genuine lapin?
Tata: Carrots still make me nervous.
Tata: You have enough clothes for a week, and a lost weekend at a costume party. Pick four sweaters. If you still haven’t yakked, maybe you could find a bra. And you need pants, unless you plan on ignoring a breeze and an arresting officer.
Tata: One frightfest at a time! Do you think I could pick out an aqua sweater and follow that with a 3D view of my butt? Not without a handful of Xanax and a badly behaved hypnotist!
Tata: Rock on!

Lupe’s presence made it possible for me to buy sweaters and two bras; Paulie’s invariably delivers to my kitchen a fresh and fragrant bounty. If only I could figure out who are the Good Fairies of Socks, Washer/Dryers and cutlery, I might narrow down who might be the Good Witch, the one who whacks me on the head and makes me gift-shop. I sure hope that doesn’t turn out to be me, too.