The More I Travel Across the Gravel

I called at 7:13 a.m.

Tata: I’d like a cab at [none of your beeswax] to go to the library.
Dispatcher: Okay.
Tata: How long –

She hung up without telling me how long it would be. Blood pounds in my ears. I put on my coat and stare out the window, ready. Time passes.

Tata: This is [my address]. It’s been twenty minutes.
Dispatcher: He hasn’t cleared in Highland Park.
Tata: What?
Dispatcher: Ten minutes.

If I ever see this miserable human in line at the liquor store I’ll bash her over the head with cheap chianti. I am already late for work. I stare out the window. Time passes.

Tata: This is [my address]. It’s been an hour. Is that cab coming or not?
Dispatcher: Number 3, where are you?
Number 3: Benner and –
Dispatcher: He’s five blocks away.

Ten minutes later, the cab finally comes. I squeeze into the front. How I slam the door with all that steam coming out of my ears I’ll never know. By the time Number 3, who is truly making the best of frozen roads and inexplicable gridlock, drops me off at the library I am starting to calm down.

I eat weird food. Awhile ago, I stumbled on this vegan PBS cooking show that never mentioned the word “vegan.” The principles and this particular cook’s reliance on Chinese medicinal techniques interest me. I haven’t got the faintest idea why she advocates dark leafy green like they’re the Second Coming and only steams or sautes them. I plunk them on top of a frozen fish filet, other vegetables and some herbs, a little salt and pepper. When I get up, I throw them in the oven, exercise for half an hour with small weights, then let the packet cool a bit while I shower. Since I started eating this for breakfast, I’ve stopped looking for snacks mid-morning. This represents improvement over eating as if eating were my job.

Last Thursday, Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, became agitated as I sat down to breakfast.

Cat: Dude!
Tata: Dude?
Cat: Dude!
Tata: What is is, Lassie? Has Timmy fallen down a well and he’s in insulin shock and Farmer Jones is crop dusting the south forty with no idea?
Cat: What?
Tata: Come sit with me and explain your problem.
Cat: If you insist. Pardon me while I lick this fish.

Most folks would shove the cat on the floor. I have too much food and enjoy watching an antic play out.

Cat: So as I was explaining while I lick this fish some more, you should buy me more catnip. Mine, while amusing, is stale. Hope you don’t mind that I’m talking with my mouth full. In fact, why don’t I take this bite of fish and get my own plate?
Tata: Certainly, my delight. Care for another morsel, perhaps all the ones you licked?
Cat: You’re so thoughtful!

When I stopped howling with laughter, he was licking his lips and not at all thinking that I am made of meat.

It was warm out this afternoon, most of which I spent hunkered down in my cubicle and avoiding my co-workers. It is no secret that when I’m in a mood the office goes silent. The terror is palpable. I took a cab home. Because I’ve got my priorities straight, I watched General Hospital and couldn’t figure out what’s going on. Not on TV, either. Then I went outside, looked both ways for old ladies, and floored it in reverse until my car broke through the slush and snow and onto street. I parked my car where some decent human being shoveled out yesterday. Then I spent the evening avoiding my windows and small calibre weapons fire.

Tomorrow is my birthday. Tonight I Naired my mustache. Just in case. It’s a miracle innocent bystanders let me live this long.

Anything You Want, Hundred Dollar Bills

Yesterday, I dug my car out of its parking space with a windshield scraper, which is to say I keep looking out the window at my car behind a plow-reinforced wall of snow I’m going to try backing through, after which I’m going to screw over one of my virtuous neighbors by parking in a spot someone owning a shovel carved out via back-breaking labor and hours of effort. It’s a plan. I’m scheming, scheming, scheming – while my neighbors are still at work.

Blast! A squadron of old ladies is shovelling out a few Buicks. I cannot connive properly with spectators. I started my car for a minor thermal advantage and dumped clay cat litter under my tires. Then I kicked down the wall o’ snow with my workboots and – as Siobhan calls it – “almost superhuman core strength.” The snow had nowhere to go but into the street. One of the little old ladies wedged out her Buick, then drove by me in the cul-de-sac slowly, like a shark surveying a netted tuna. My car’s been running about half an hour. In another ten, I’ll go outside and rock the car some more. Perhaps later, I can run her over a little.

Snow and ice defeat me! I can move the car about a foot but no further. My thermal advantage proved only somewhat advantageous. I call Siobhan to commiserate. This weekend, we took turns failing to enjoy one another’s company.

Siobhan: [Insert logical argument here.]
Tata: I can’t talk to you now! [Click.]

Tata: I’m sorry I was dreadful yesterday. Please read me the recipe for crispy roasted duck.
Siobhan: I wasn’t nice, either. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees…
[Ten minutes later]
Siobhan: Sometimes you are such a bitch!
Tata: I hope your red hair goes green!
Siobhan: Talk to you tomorrow.
Tata: Okay. [Click]

I call her cell but wherever she is, she’s not there. I leave a message asking the immortal question, “How does one dig out a car without a shovel and nothing to use as a small snow plow?” While I’m outside, Siobhan calls back.

Siobhan: Hopefully, you’re outside using something as a small snowplow. I myself like using a teenage boy.

Sometimes, Siobhan can be such a bitch! She knows I don’t have one!

What’s the use of having a son-in-law if he’s a thousand miles away and noticeably not digging out my car? That is so selfish of him, to have joined the Air Force and moved Miss Sasha somewhere they can both work on their tans! I plan to spend my evening working up a fine lather of righteous indignation. And growling. Chances are good I will take a cab to work tomorrow morning. It is Mr. Sasha’s fault!

She’s My Bitch

I am sitting in a small room at the hairdresser’s. Rosanna has lightened most of my hair twice and has applied red dye to the roots. Frankly, I look like a tropical fish with an excited orange mohawk. You’d think this would be an obstacle on the path to beauty but you’d be mistaken. This is the exit ramp to Comedy Town, and my foot’s mashing the pedal.

This week, essays on Shakespeare’s Sister have delighted and depressed me. The appointment at the hair salon was made a month ago but I considered calling in sick, since the plan was to put in a full day in Rosanna’s chair and emerge from the chemical cocoon as my own light at the end of my mid-winter tunnel. I wasn’t sure this morning I had the gumption to put myself through a full day of anything, but I stood myself up straight and decided, to paraphrase the philosopher, if I am not for my new hair colors who will be?

My father’s mother was a hairdresser and a successful businesswoman. In my bedroom now stand the appointment desk and chair from Edith’s last salon, where Daria and I played dolls under the desk and read books or on many, many Saturdays. Permanent solution reeks, and yet it is one of the comforting smells of my childhood. To me, its meaning rather than desperation or oppression is carefree experimentation. Within certain limits, a person can recreate her- or himself, and why not? Edith told me all kinds of people came in with the latest photos of Liz or Sofia and said, “Make me look like this!” Edith never said, “I’ll just wave my magic wand…” but she thought it. One of the best things about growing up in the salon, under the desk, was watching the beauticians experiment with color, texture and length on themselves and each other. Edith, who was always the North Star for me even when I sailed off in other directions, did not disapprove of plastic surgery. She was cognizant of some of life’s harshest realities, and though she was both proper and funny, she was the toughest person I’ve ever known.

Beauty has meaning. Beauty is a light over one’s head, mostly unearned and it’s usually trouble. Beauty ought to come with instructions and disclaimers: beauty does not come two-for-one with happiness or beauty may be accompanied by the obsessive expectations of strangers. Beauty does not offer the free ride that may appear as an enviable blur to the stunned observer. My mother was a very beautiful girl and remains a wholly uncommon-looking blonde woman, resembling no one so much as the aforementioned Liz. It was a nightmare for me to grow into my own face and figure with Mom standing around, incidentally spectacular. In retrospect, I see it was no picnic for her, either.

Mom’s beauty made my teen life hellish for several reasons. Let’s make a list.

1. I have dark hair, hazel eyes and paler skin than my siblings by the same parents.
2. My body hair issues became a real problem when I was in gymnastics and Mom saw my maturation as reflecting her own aging. I had to shave my legs in secret. Picture that scenario: “What are you doing in the shower?” “Um…um…nothing…with soap…”
3. Mom and I walk down a street. Frat boys whistle. Not at me. I can’t tell if I should be pissed or if I should be pissed. So I guess I’m pissed.
4. Wherever we go, men turn to putty. Mom doesn’t notice.
5. Starting when I am 14, Mom mentions my weight constantly. We have nothing essentially, so she buys me a leotard I desperately want and tells me I can have it when I get below a weight I can’t meet, not even after I learn from a fellow ballet dancer how to make myself yak. Even after I stop eating, I never get to that weight. When she gives me the leotard later, it is because she’s given up.
6. I could go on, and on, and on.


Now I am at home, and my hair is three colors, and I love it. Five hours after I arrived, I left the salon in a snowstorm and picked up some delights at the grocery store. Food is not love or a reward; it is part of living a fulfilling life. I had a yen for a BLT. I made myself a BLT and I am going to enjoy it passionately and without excuses.

I could tell you a long, boohoo! story about how after my mother left off torturing me, accidentally and less so, society picked up the slack. In the seventies, muscular Italian girls looked like nobody on TV or in magazines. Oh, so sad! Poor me! Fuck that, the eighties meant everybody found a special, individual way to look awful in blue eyeshadow and spring-loaded shoulderpads. I was sorry when Brooke Shields tweezed her eyebrows but hey – they were her eyebrows, right? A girl should tweeze a little if she wants to, and she really wanted to.

Ugly and disenfranchised was going around. And around. Which brings us to the comments on Shakespeare’s Sister, which saddened me. Women are a mess! Fabulous, brilliant women are going down in flames; charming, enlightened menfolk seem powerless to influence the situation in any meaningful way: “Honey, you look meow meow scrumptious!” goes unheard or enjoyed.

Disclaimer: I am smart. I am stupid. I am no raving beauty but I have sometimes benefitted from being attractive. I am brave. I am afraid. I change with the wind. I have sometimes been unbelievably stupid about love and my lovers. I am rebuilding my life after paralyzing depression and stage fright. I cannot reach the ideal weight for my height on the insurance charts no matter what I do, and never will. I have no credentials but my lifelong struggle and a wild idea. A commenter on ShakeSis has pissed me off beyond what I can tolerate without response. Brace yourself. We’re not taking another ounce of that shit!

Women! If I could, I’d grab you by the shoulders and shake loose that lifetime of programming, failure, despair and self-destructive dieting, you’d need some Dramamine and a lengthy lie-down. Forget your doubts. Forget what you think about yourself for a minute. Rosanna said something this afternoon that made me think hard and long about you.

Rosanna: You have to train yourself to see what’s healthy for you.

Women! The ShakeSis commenter advocating shunning, punishment, behavior absolutes stated outright that we should discourage drinking, smoking, drug use, and behaviors leading to obesity. Fuck that. That kind of ill-mannered buttinsky behavior doesn’t go over big with Americans – ask those pesky bureaucrats who failed to foist off safety regulations on mining operations! Because I have a long public history of sampling at life’s buffet table, I won’t condemn others when they do it without hurting anyone else. I’d love for people to live healthy and exercise and enjoy prop comedy in public places but if you think I’m giving up martinis to stand around looking virtuous, forget it. And even though I quit smoking, I love the smell of cigarettes and won’t apologize for wanting my favorite dive bar to stay filthy and smoke-filled.

Being a Good Girl has gotten you nowhere. It’s time to be the Bad Girl you always hoped you could if Mom and Dad weren’t looking, your kids might not notice and the PTA wouldn’t ban you from bake sales. You’ve been good and you can’t win. Stop playing the beauty game in competition with other women. Your only competitor is that voice inside that says you’re not beautiful, you’re not good enough. Fuck that inner voice. Fuck that! Let’s go shopping for fishnets and fake fur. Let’s smash the mental projector and burn the film.

Remember the scene in John Waters’ Cry-Baby where the chubby Rikki Lake says, “Let’s give her a bad girl makeover…our bazooms are our weapons”? I love that scene. Let’s make it our model, shall we? Throw away your pastel jackets! Throw away your uncomfortable clothes and your Disney princess ambitions. You’re a tshirt and jeans girl? Wear ’em and walk away sassy. You’re a Betty Page vixen? Mrrrrrrrow! Your secret mojo wants fresh fruit and palm trees? Lutefisk and turtlenecks? Rooftop gardens and urban skylines?

What are you waiting for? Approval?

On ShakeSis, I said stop it, just stop it. Waiting for approval guarantees a lifetime steeped in misery, resentment and degradation. Stop waiting for the magazines to change; don’t read them! Stop waiting to see your type on TV. Stop waiting for that douchebag boyfriend to quit admiring Lara Flynn Boyle while you rub his back; dump him! Stop waiting politely for politicians to finally get it; vote them out! Register. Vote. Accept no substitutes for representatives who understand women’s political issues. Fat is political. Health insurance is political. Reproductive rights are political. Who has control of your supersexy self is political. There is no escaping it: you must stand up for yourself or you must accept that you are owned by someone besides yourself, and you must never, never accept that. Stop waiting for conditions to be right for you to fit in. Be the character you are and offer no apologies.

And while we’re here, what part are you playing in your own subjugation drama?

Tata: That’s a fantastic outfit you’re wearing.
Antonia: What’s wrong with it?!
Tata: It’s fantastic! You look great in it!
Antonia: What’s the matter with you?

When people offer you compliments, stop oppressing yourself long enough to say, “thank you.” Then consider what it means. You’ve succeeded at something. Register it, and if you like what it means, do it again. Then, you know what you have to do? Pass it on! When you see a woman doing something you like or admire, tell her! There are two kinds of divas: the ones who tear others down to lift themselves up and our beloved Auntie Mames, who make everyone within earshot more and better for their presence. Walk it, talk it, mean it.

You don’t have to be a size 2, a 4, a 6 or a 16. You have to walk with a straight spine and a purpose, even if at first you have to put it on. You take no crap. If someone belittles you, say, “That might really hurt…if I cared what you thought,” or “Gee, I’m sorry you’re having a Bad Self-Esteem Day. I’m not.” Think it through before it happens and spit out that snappy line like it just came to you. Bullies are never expecting you to be unhurt, and they’re frustrated when they fail. It’s good to thwart them with a smile and a bounce.

I can own a room, if I want it. It didn’t come naturally; I taught it to myself. I watched the behavior of the most confident people I knew and imitated them until it came naturally. If I can do it, you can too. Sometimes what you need and want is something life has not trained you to achieve. You have to teach it to yourself.

Stand up, you wicked, wonderful thing. Stand up, you spicy genius. Strut your fabulous stuff. Don’t wait another minute for society to catch up. You’ve got to train yourself that you’re just fine, and what you don’t like – change it. You want to lose some weight? Lose it because you want to, and for no other reason. You will find joy in change you orchestrate for yourself and your joy will be contagious.

I ate a second BLT. It was delicious and exactly what my mouth wanted, as Edith used to say. Tomorrow, I’m going to roast a duck. For myself. And why not? I’m not waiting. Next week, I turn 43. Like you, I am hot as lava.

See For Miles And Miles

Mary opines:

A quick glance at the calender took her breath way. It couldn’t be. Had it been that long? She looked around and slowly the feeling became a somewhat grim certainty. Though the location of her desk, her duties, and many of the faces had changed the harsh reality was that tomorrow it will have been 20 years ago that she started this job. Although there were many accomplishments along the way and her pay had risen dramatically from her meager first check (in point of fact, that was just a testament not to how much she currently made but rather to how truly low her pay once was) she was struck with a profound sense of melancholy. If tomorrow made twenty years that she was employed here and her 40th birthday was coming up in September the reality was that she had spent half of her life in a job she was ordered to get after being caught smoking pot in Johnson park. She stared blankly out the window at the tops of the bare trees, then wrote a note to herself to remind her daughter not to smoke pot in public places…

Ah, the folly of youth! If only we knew then what we know now: some of our high school friends would join the Army to see the world, and some because they knew where to find better drugs. Some would go on to universities and seek refuge in the academe, if you could call what they found there “refuge.” Some of our friends married young and remarried only slightly older. Some of us took our Budding Bad Girl act on the road and came back credentialed. Mary’s philosophical observation made me laugh so hard I almost peed.

Miss Sasha, if you’re reading the blog today please remember it is your mother’s duty to pass along her – which is to say my – worldly wisdom, no matter how hilarious its acquisition: Don’t smoke pot in public places…

Gotta Get Up, Gotta Get Out

Yesterday, Siobhan decided I could have a good day at work, with the added benefit of possibly appearing to have fun. It all seems iffy and oh so tricky.

Tata: Most people would give their right arm for a job like mine. I have to try calming down and accomplishing more – starting tomorrow! But think of the wardrobe demands…
Siobhan: Remember, we’re supposed to be dressing for the job we want, not the job we have. You shouldn’t wear a trapeze artist’s outfit to an office, though, so I don’t know what they’re talking about.

Inspired by our dear ae, we Poor Impulsives are assembling an index of action and charitable organizations. AE’s list is impressive, and it may take us awhile to look at each one and learn how to link them up. As we know, I am small and covered with fur. Siobhan does all the heavy lifting while I lick my paws. Thus: teamwork.

In the meantime, if you have favorite agencies or groups working for the common good please forward your suggestions through comments or email. Meow meow thanks for your help, meow meow meow.

That’s the Way Love Is, That’s How It Goes

Suobhan: Someone must hear of my foolishness. I nominate you.
Tata: Spill it!
Siobhan: That new guy I’m seeing? I have to call him later and I’m rehearsing what I’m going to say.
Tata: I do that constantly. It prevents me from acting on my desire to speak with my tiny fists.
Siobhan: No, I mean I’m rehearsing what I’m going to say!
Tata: Oh. My. God. You’re used to saying the right thing the first time around!
Siobhan: I’m so embarrassed!
Tata: Don’t be silly. I was taking a nap this afternoon and my doorbell rang. Okay, not so much rang as startled me out of a light sleep with the terrifying buzz Sharkey says sounds like ringing my doorbell is always the wrong answer. Anyway, so I open the door and a man I’ve never seen before hands me $4.48.
Siobhan: Why?
Tata: I don’t know!
Siobhan: You don’t know?
Tata: He had a clipboard and needed my signature. The apartment complex was handing out security deposit interest checks without the year-end tax information. I’m truly inspired but I don’t know why they didn’t just mail it to me.
Siobhan: Hey! Email about cheese!
Tata: Send it along, little lady, I’ve got $4.48 burning a hole in my pocket.

LOVE BOX: Why go out to dinner when you can stay home next Tuesday and explore in
seclusion for only $49.99! Surprise your sweetie with a basket filled with two French Crottin, nuggets of goat cheese aged in our caves; a heart-shaped Camembert, bloomy ripe from the Hudson Valley; a rich, triple creamy Delice de Bourgogne; a vial of dark buckwheat honey; and a threesome of mini chocolate bars from Barcelona.

And in case you need some sweet nothings to whisper in your honey’s ear, a Valentine poem from our very own Casanova of cheese, Rob Kaufelt:

There’s a Casanova of cheese! I can die happy!

“on valentine’s day
the cheeses say,
‘i’m such fine cheese,
so eat me, please!'”

He’s not much of a poet but I can’t fault his enthusiasm.

Get your special night rolling with a little extra excitement. Pop the cork and enjoy our Champagne Board for Two, including triple crème Delice de Bourgogne, luscious in your mouth or anywhere else you want it; nutty and sweet (just like your beloved) Piave; and smooth as silk Fontina Val d’Aosta. $40 each, ready to serve on a bamboo cutting board.

Finish the evening with a freshly made tart. Made in individual servings, our Chocolate Tart $6.99ea, is deep, dark and naughty with Spanish artisan chocolate. For a lighter finale, we make a White Chocolate Raspberry Tart $7.99ea, with Vermont crème fraîche white chocolate, fresh raspberries and a dark cocoa crust.

To reserve a Champagne board or Valentine’s tart, call 212-243-3289 ext. 26 and place your order by Saturday, February 11th with Made by Murray’s Manager Sarah Zaborowski. All Made by Murray’s orders can be picked up at our Bleecker Street location beginning noon Monday, February 13th through 8pm Tuesday, February 14th. We’re sorry, but these items are not currently available to ship.
WISCONSIN SAMPLER: Don’t forget that we’re celebrating the fine cheese Wisconsin has to offer with a special, limited edition selection.

Nothing says ‘romance’ and ‘disappointment’ like Wisconsin. What?

Meanwhile, Paulie Gonzalez is using his powers for Good.

You know about my pocket change “thing”. I have been inspired to do something about it!
Garden of delights
Keep a pocketful of dimes and quarters with you at all times, and constantly leave them in knee-level weird places where only a child would ever look. Inside the hollow shafts of toilet-paper holders. Balanced along the ridges of decorative molding. Inside pencil sharpeners at the local elementary school. In the coin slots of gumball-dispensers (give ’em a half-turn.) Imagine the eventual entertainment that will result.

I just need to figure out how to transport the change from my hand, to where I will leave it to be found by children.

On behalf of children everywhere, I’m going to take a breadcrumbs tumbler, wrap a different piece of construction paper around the outside of it every week and stand in Paulie’s driveway like those pop warner players at traffic lights. Maybe one time, I drop the change at the animal shelter and the next, St. Jude Children’s Hospital. I’ll get him receipts. I’d never be so selfish as to save $49.99 and eat Fontina Val d’Aosta. That’d be…wrong…

Since You’ve Got the Pistol You Get the Pesos

Paulie Gonzalez bought a house in the ‘burbs.

I want to go back to the city. Fuck this country living.

I have monsters in my fucking house. After I moved in I started hearing them in the walls. Walking, scratching, bumping around. I pretended not to hear them. I saw squirrels in the yard and assumed it was them just napping in the walls. Squirrels are cute. I was willing to share the heat with them while they work on their nut fortune.

Then last week I walked in the door and Pops was yelling about the lights being out in the hall bathroom. I went to the circuit breaker, nothing, unscrewed the socket, poked it with a screwdriver, still didn’t fix it. Told Pops we need an electrician. I went back to my work, which I am about a month behind in. If I work hard enough, all this bullshit can be solved with money. This is not a problem to get emotional about. I was wrong.

The monsters got louder and much bigger as time went on. I could hear their footsteps in the attic. Big footsteps. You can’t hear squirrel steps, they’re crafty. These were monsters, I was sure of that. Again, I decided that I was too busy to deal with this shit, and completely unprepared. I realized that I am living in the country and hopelessly unarmed. This needs to change. Pops is anti-gun, otherwise I would have shot the shit out of the fuckers right through the wall. Sheetrock is cheap and easy. I had business to work on. My back expenses are closing in on 5-figures, I have millions of dollars in deals depending on me. I decided to drink more, and be home less, this was very effective at mitigating the problem.

Friday, the enormous TV in the living room went dead. Pops really went ape shit at this time. I told him it must be related to our electrical problems. Bad wiring. On previous occasions, we discussed the monsters a bit, but he didn’t listen. He did not hear them, thanks to the ear-shattering TV. Pops did not put the electrical problem together with the monster problem. In fact, he seemed to be in more denial than myself regarding the monsters.

Yesterday evening, the fuckers were really loud. I ran out of alcohol, and the liquor stores were closed. I took inventory of the weapons in the house; Screwdrivers, Mag-light, several lengths of steel pipe, can of gasoline, and various household chemicals. None of these seemed to make a good weapon against the matter at hand. I had some pot, but decided that pot and monsters in the wall would only make the problem worse. Alcohol was the only proper remedy for the situation. I opened a bottle of very expensive 12 year old scotch. Anyone knows from watching horror movies, there are no sacred cows when you need to deal with monsters. Have a collection of silver bullets hand-made by Teddy Roosevelt? Passed down from your grandfather? Werewolf shows up, what do you do?

I was almost asleep when things went from distractedly drunk to bad. It was 1AM, and I had someone shouting and knocking on my door. Pops had heard them. After three fucking weeks he finally noticed the sound of busy monsters right above his head. “Are you sure it’s an animal?” No Dad, maybe a homeless child broke into the attic and is busy walking around slowly, making a nest, and executing his plan to scare us from the house. At which point he will have the house all to himself. Sure dad, maybe it’s Macaulay Culkin. It’s 1AM, we have no guns, what do you want to do? “I want to call the police.”

At this point, even I started to panic a bit as I was sure there wasn’t enough alcohol in the house for this. My panic was justified. He didn’t call the police, but he did say he planned to call animal control first thing in the morning. “Dad, we own the house, Animal Control doesn’t give a fuck about our monster problem unless it escapes to the streets.” To this, he accepted that I was not helping, he was on his own. He closed my door, and went away. I soon discovered his method for dealing with the problem was about as sane as mine. He took up arms in the form of a broom. For the next 1.5 hours he patrolled the house, every 5 seconds pounding on the ceiling. Occasionally, he would shout -“GET OUT OF HERE!” I wondered if the monsters might be illegal immigrants. Could they be sitting up there wondering, ‘Que?’

I was happy in the city. Drug dealers would steal my parking spot, I would kick their asses, peace would follow. Now I move 2 miles away, and I’m in a horror movie. Me, in the master bedroom, drinking as hard as I can to drown out the insanity, my 72 year old father pounding the the ceiling and screaming, a family of small Mexican monsters in the attic cowering in fear.

After a couple hours at work today I got the call that the exterminator found evidence of a raccoon family living in my attic. They went in through the attic vent. They went in there to eat the squirrels that had broke in through the eaves. Supposedly, the ‘coons did not eat the wiring, squirrels eat the wiring, ‘coons eat squirrels. After my father explained this he told me it will cost $900 to seal up the attic. So by tonight, the attic will be sealed. I expect I’ll need to patrol the perimeter. The ‘coons were happy there, they want in. I need guns. This can only get worse.

I can’t breathe! Another rodent-based incident! Poor Paulie! There’s not enough scotch in Scotland!

Say It In Broken English

To say that Mondays suck is to understate the case so completely one’s point may be missed with a microscope. Mondays are the merde-scented essence of suckitude. Mondays are the whirling black holes of cosmic sucktasm. I can hardly stand the sight of my co-workers, who are actually very nice people forced to share a florescent-tinged basement office recycled-air hell with – you know – Me.

John: You write me so…bland.
Tata: You only talk bland. You become more exotic every time you shut up.
John: That’s insulting!
Tata: Only if you intended to keep talking.

He knows that after a third pot of coffee I will help rearrange his office and make each shelf count because he needs help and has no one else to ask, which when you think about it could turn tragic but somehow doesn’t. I point to my Sigmund Freud Action Figure above my desk, next to the Magic 8 Ball, a penny Morgan cut into curliques over ten years ago and a small statue of the Andorian ambassador.

Tata: Note my Action Figure. Those who demand I see a psychiatrist should know I do.
John: There he is.
Tata: It’s almost like I care what people think.
John: No, no, you don’t.
Tata: C’mon, straight man. You can do better than that.

At the very end of my last week, a charming representative of the systems department converted my comfy old browser and mailer into two stiff, new electronic contraptions. This morning, I called Systems, where Mary was already laughing.

Tata: I can’t find my bookmarks. This is way pathetic. Wait! There they are!
Mary: Hahahahahahahahahahaha!
Tata: I’m having Little Old Lady problems. This morning, I discovered the up/down toggle switch on the seat of my car.
Mary: Hohohohohohohohohohoho!
Tata: I’ve had my car for – what? – three months now and today I discovered this switch. Do you know I’ve been driving around in a car I can’t see over the dashboard of?
Mary: I’m sure you’ve done splendidly! Hehehehehehehehehehe!
Tata: Not at all! I’ve been driving by the Braille method. Everytime I shipwreck my car and get out I risk a beating by outraged fellow humans in the 360 degree blindspot outside.

The only reason I saw the toggle switch was because I dropped the bag of garbage I was planning to walk over to a dumpster. That added a certain piquancy to my sucktastic Monday morning I could’ve lived without – and don’t get me started on the early morning athletic triumph of being a five-foot woman holding open a dumpster lid while flinging in a bag of trash like a personal chicken-bone-and-discus-throw competition.

It’s not all bad news, I suppose. At least from now on if I hit you it’s because I aimed.

Friday Cat Blogging: Late To Supper Edition

The car next to mine honks. It’s been so long since I made friends in parking lots that I don’t notice until the third time and finally I turn around. It’s Mom, which I can tell from a distance because Mom’s little truck-like whatsis is a special electric blue that seems to have short-circuited the factory since nothing else on the road is that same exciting hue.

Mom: So many people beep at you you don’t look around anymore?
Tata: Yes, Mom, strangers honking are just friends I haven’t met. As we know, in close proximity to libraries, you are rendered invisible to my eye.

I work in the university library where Mom worked when I was a kid. One day more than ten years ago, I learned not to stare at my feet as I walk when I was leaving the building and found my path blocked by a pair of feet. I tried to go around but the feet stepped into my path again. I looked up and found myself about to curse out Mom.

Mom: I’ve been chasing you for minutes. Didn’t you see or hear me?
Tata: Since you’ve cut me off, at some point it may come in handy to know you can outrun me.

Right: so no racing Mom for the last life preserver. No wonder I spent my teen years grounded. We’re now exchanging oxygen for carbon dioxide outside the public library.

Mom: Did you pick up the yogurt maker?
Tata: Not yet. The food bank’s drop off bin is right inside the door.
Mom: I’m returning a book. Look at my knitting!

She’s sitting in the truck-whatsis, explaining why she chose eyelash yarn and I’m asking through the open window about a casting-on gesture her mother taught me. We look like middle-aged drug dealers in in bright colors and sensible shoes conducting an unwise transaction in the municipal complex. I persuade her to lock up the eye-catching vehicle and go inside with me, where I slip a bag of canned goods into the bin. I remember I’m also on my way to her house to drop off a gift from Miss Sasha just as Mom gets a call. We both walk outside and I skip for the gift to my car and back. As if by magic, I can’t see her again.

I have been gone for about a whole minute and in that time, I’ve lost her. I ask a woman standing by the door if she’s seen the lady I was just talking to. She says the most interesing thing.

Woman: She went outside with you.
Tata: That’s what I thought but now I’ve lost her.

I go outside and look around again. I go back inside and look in a reading room, around the reference desk, past the circulation desk, and there’s no place to go but into the stacks. There she is, picking out a book. I hand her the box.

Tata: Turns out you’re actually invisible near libraries. The woman by the door thinks you’re still outside.
Mom: That’s just silly. Have you read Janet Evanovich’s books?
Tata: Yes, and while they sometimes make me laugh, the constant eating of disgusting, sugary foods makes me sick. I haven’t read the last two because I fear diabetic coma.
Mom: The books on tape are even better. This comedienne reads them and does all the voices. You should here her do Lula and the stalker sounds like, “Stephanie!”
Tata: I’d rather read it myself than get in my car and drive to…nowhere…and drive home after a denoument.
Mom: This author writes about the backwoods Pennsylvania Dolly Parton of detectives.
Tata: My stars! Possum and perm solution!
Mom: These books are very, very funny.
Tata: Since you’re visible again, I’m leaving now. See ya!

I drive to her house to pick up the yogurt maker and stand on the front lawn, shocked. She and Tom are rearranging stuff in their truck-things. I shouldn’t be surprised since this is my mother and we go way back but I’m flabbergasted. How does the person who’s always three hours late move faster than I do?

Mom calls Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, “my grandkitty.” Mom’s grandkitty is quite neurotic about eating in front of his human friends – or as he likes to call us prey. If I walk into the kitchen while he’s nibbling kibble, he’ll gaze at me over his shoulder, past his ivy topiary and around the washing machine. If I don’t turn on my heel and leave, he runs past me, muttering. Though the cat spends every possible moment perched on me, he wants to eat alone – unless he wants company. There’s no telling what with the fickle pussycat!

On the fridge: a red Q. I have magnetic letters, which means the cat may secretly be spelling. Perhaps he’ll be more successful communicating in the mysterious language of magnetic, plastic cats. Watch your refrigerators for the feline news crawl.

Don’t Deny Our Flesh And Blood

I place the back of my hand to my forehead and wilt.

Tata: In the next phase of my life, I will live for others!
Siobhan: Listen, Mother Teresa, you’re much too selfish to live entirely for others. I can’t picture you without someone scooting along behind you, peeling you grapes. And – neither can I picture you not annoyed by that.
Tata: Yes, yes, but I want to place myself at the service of the universe and use my immense personal charm for Good.
Siobhan: We have no answers! We should go dancing.

We settled on Costco. Everyone should have at least one friend who tells the absolute truth about everything from the most trivial detail to the most important life decision, and for me, Siobhan is that friend. Once I turned up at a party wearing baby pink lipstick.

Siobhan: Christ on a cracker, what happened to your face?!
Tata: Nothing an industrial accident couldn’t fix.
Siobhan: Don’t ever do that again!
Tata: We’ll give the lipstick to Miss Sasha. Jeez, don’t get an aneurysm!

She had a point. If I’d picked it out, I guess. People have always given me bizarre gifts. One year, my housemates gave me a vibrator. Conveniently, they waited until my car died on a street in Highland Park and when I called home, they drove over to where my car was beached and gave me a wrapped box plus ribbon. I opened it. At the top of my lungs:


We supposed I was louder than the evening news – or for blocks around, I was the evening news. Anyway, days later, I met Siobhan at a bar.

Tata: Guess where I got this red vinyl skirt!
Siobhan: Off the body of a dead hooker?

The truth is important. So when Siobhan says I’m being overly dramatic and we should buy coffee filters in bulk, she picks me up and we go.

Tata: Brian Boucher was on MSNBC.
Siobhan: In handcuffs?
Tata: He’s a good boy. I was shocked that he wasn’t still five.
Siobhan: Which one was he?
Tata: The one his brother and I chased around with a Nerf bat.

Okay, we might’ve chased a couple of little kids around, but only because they thought we were so cool and they were laughing so hard. Kids!

Siobhan: Calm down or your head’s going to pop.
Tata: The administration has me irate blah blah blah blah blah blah…

Ten minutes later.

Tata: Blah blah blah blah blah –
Siobhan: Endora! Why not get on your broomstick and magic wand some justice?
Tata: What?
Siobhan: Start small. You’ll get more done.

Today, I joined the ACLU. By this I mean I gave them some of my vast pittance and wrote some action letters. I started researching local children’s charities but I’ve had contact with some of these organizations and wasn’t thrilled.

It’s a longterm project and I have doubts about myself but I have no intention of turning back.