Games People Play, Honor Bright

Someday, I will pen a lengthy and erudite treatise on the locus of identity. It will be unlike an other treatise in the history of treatises in that footnotes, while properly formatted, will look a lot like this.* In the meantime, Blogger can kiss my fabulous rump. I can choose my own identity because of who I happen to be, in this time and place, and I firmly believe I can’t afford to give any ground on this. It is the natural state of society and other people to see us their own way, which is why Michelle Malkin can advocate concentration camps for brown Americans without irony. Ultimately, we are ourselves as long as we inhabit those selves and stand that ground.

I’ll be popping in here every few hours to kvetch about whatever crossed my path or smudged my lipstick. Join me when you can. Or not. I’ve got solvent.

Whatever you’re celebrating, give a thought to people who are struggling. They’re everywhere, and you might not see them if you weren’t looking. Go in peace, my pets!

*Motor Vehicle Services should put down the crack pipe if it thinks it determines who I fucking am.

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Tell Each Other Fairy Tales

This morning, I woke up arguing with my sister Anya, and because I was arguing with one of my sisters in my sleep, I couldn’t fall back to sleep. I was all riled up! Fortunately, I went to the orthdontist instead. At the office, I am universally loved because I laugh all the time and bring everyone cookies. It impresses people that I add vegetable oil and an egg to lumpy powder and apply heat. Yeah, I don’t get it either. Anyway, he’d promised me all fall that my braces would come off before Christmas. Blah blah blah before Christmas blah…anyway, today he said no. I almost burst into tears. Since I’m not the bursting-into-tears type, I consoled myself by buying a frozen duck and nail polish, but not at the orthodontist’s. They don’t have those there.

In the big picture, I am one of the most fortunate people on the planet. I have a very nice apartment, a good job, a nose usually found on infants. My sick cat is relatively well. My car runs. I can walk to work because winter has been mild. I have good insurance and can afford to take care of myself. Yet in the smaller frame, aspects of this past year were difficult and painful and news that metal spikes will stab my tongue for another month at least sent me scurrying to the frozen foods section. I even looked at ice cream, which I never buy. The wind’s out of my sails. I’m exhausted and needed some good news. I needed progress I could see. Instead, I got tater tots.

I do love tater tots.

My brain says So what? Something good will turn up. Maybe so. Suddenly, I am not so sure.

In the Garden Where Nothing Grows

If you will just have patience with me for another 7 hours, I plan a return to this version of my self. In the meantime, perhaps you can play the home version of Poor Impulse Control. Blogger is screwing me over. I have to change my names again, and since I’m just not going to tell you the name my mother growls when I show up in fishnets, I require glorious new nomenclature. What should we christen me for the foreseeable future?

If you happen to know the name on my driver license, please don’t enter it into comments. It won’t help, anyhow. So. What’s my new name, lover?

Move While You Still See Me

Weeks ago, Anya’s and Corinne’s mother opened a box at the store and couldn’t believe her eyes.

Nan: Look at these things! What’re they even for, anyway?
Tata: I…I don’t know. How many are there?
Nan: Two cases of these god-forsaken chickens!
Tata: Feathers? Sharp feet? What’s this wire do?
Nan: I don’t know. They look drunk.
Tata: I’ll take one home and present it to Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul.
Nan: My what?
Tata: If he likes it, we tell people the God-Forsaken Chickens are cat toys!

They’re not cat toys. Larry claimed the God-Forsaken Chicken, then sat with his back to this stupid thing. Within a day, he’d lost interest in it completely. I reported my findings to the committee.

Nan: My what?
Anya: Crap.
Tata: Let’s throw them away.

That was over a month ago. They’re collecting dust somewhere, but that’s not what I wanted to write about, no sirree, Bob! in recent years, I’ve noticed something women with credit cards do. It is bad, bad, bad for women, bad for the economy and bad for living rooms everywhere. Watch for these symptoms:

Brittany: Ashley! Look at this! Isn’t this cute?
Ashley: It’s cute!
Brittany: I don’t need it but I have to have it!
Ashley: I don’t know what it is but I have to have it!
Clerk: That’ll be $39.95.

Beware friction burns! Further, turn the cute object over and it invariably has a sticker that says it was made In China, Mexico, or Taiwan by the tiny hands of slave children. The cute object, in a home setting will elicit squeals from other Brittanys and Ashleys, but also Tiffanys and Madisons, so this blight afflicts a whole generation of women, not to mention crippling their financial lives. The cute object will do nothing but collect dust until the day its owner slaps her forehead, mutters, “What was I thinking?” and has a garage sale.

If you find yourself exhibiting these symptoms – if YOU pick up something and yodel, “It’s cute” in tones only dogs, Flipper and Ashleys can hear – put down the offending cute object and WALK AWAY. You don’t need that thing. No one needs that thing. Don’t buy that!

Now, I hate cute down to the soles of my combat boots. You may not realize this because I am completely adorable and tell you frequently you should adore me properly, but that has nothing to do with cute. I am not cute because cute is frivolous and without substance. Thus, you will be shocked – shocked! that this morning, Siobhan and I went positively spastic over this:

Wuzzah wuzzah boo boo boo.

In my own defense, I was able to form words shortly after I saw the second picture of the bottle-fed baby bunny, in which the tiny, tiny baby bunny looks slightly disgruntled. Perhaps he is armed. We don’t know. I liked the disgruntled bunny better – as an individual!

When we were growing up, we often brought home injured birds. Mom taught us how to nurse them and care for them and feed them with an eye dropper. If there was an injured or orphaned animal, my mother was mushing milk into bread. It wasn’t cute when the injured birdies healed up, flew off and Mom got all teary. Thinking of Mom as Snow White with birdies landing on her fingertips is cute but not cute – not like those God-Forsaken Chickens.

You’ll Be So, So Lost

About two weeks ago, Anya, Corinne and Dan stayed up most of one night and reworked the front windows of both stores. The next morning, they stared at the coffee pot like it was the Hope Diamond. I am not exaggerating when I say that after dark, people come rushing into the store, telling the same story.

Enthusiast: I was driving by and I saw your window so I turned around and came back.
Tata: Do you live in town?
Enthusiast: Never been here before! What are those things in the window?
Tata: Ah, the starlights…

The window is breathtaking, as the parade of gasping enthusiasts attests. Anya is not convinced. When someone praises the window of the family store, Anya rushes off to do something else. This frustrates me.

Tata: See? The window is beautiful.
Anya: It’s okay but I wanted a rhapsody in white and blue and I hate those angels.
Tata: But the window is beautiful. Take the compliment! Take it!
Anya: Eh! Phooey!
Tata: Shut up! It’s beautiful!
Anya: Shut up! Is not!

She’s getting coal in those socks! Geez Louise!

It was a dirty trick but I pushed my digital camera at her, said, “Take pictures of the front window from across the street,” and ran away. Wooosh! I went lurking somewhere in the store. I might’ve hidden in the bathroom, but don’t quote me. Anya snapped these pictures. The store names have been cropped so you don’t come around for an invigorating game of Point & Laugh.

Please obey all local traffic laws. And don’t argue with me!

The Bones, The Bo – Bo – Body

A few years ago, the family, consisting of Mom, Tom, Daria, Todd, Anya, Corinne, Miss and Mr. Sasha, myself, our various spouses and the growing herd of children, gave up trying to buy each other individual gifts for the occasion we call Christmas, but who cares? The kids still make out like whole gangs of bandits. The adults have gone to a system: Tom picks names and tells us who we’re shopping for, and we pretend we can keep a secret. We used to give Tom lists of things we wanted, mindful of a $50 limit. This year, we somehow skipped the list-making. Yesterday, I was forced to resort to trickery. Stop laughing!

Tata: Anya, what do you want for Kwanzikkah?
Anya: Why? Do you have me?
Tata: No!

Yes. I’m a rotten liar so I’m lit up like a jack-o-lantern.

Anya: Then why do you want to know?
Tata: No reason!
Anya: What?
Tata: I’m spying! What do you want?

Anya’s inscrutible like the Little Prince and doesn’t answer questions, but she can’t stay in character and eventually gives up when I ask the same question the third or fourth time.

Anya: I want socks and new pillows and a good bookstore in town and socks – did I mention I love socks? And a comforter for my bed and a gift card for Barnes & Noble and socks.
Tata: Awesome.

I hatched a plan I didn’t like. When I woke up this morning, I skipped my usual round of How Many Fingers Am I Holding Up? and went to KMart. Eschewing coffee was a mistake. I shuffled around the store seeing double but eventually, the cart was full of small things I needed and presents. A friend of mine needs pizza pans. He will have pizza pans! Anya wants new pillows. Anya will have pillows! Anya wants socks. Anya will have Betty Boop slipper socks! I’m thinking of wrapping these pillows and socks up in the shape of a fat reindeer and leaving it in my mother’s living room until Thursday, when we celebrate Christmas, but who cares? by eating a great deal and making heartfelt sacrifices to the cruel, cruel wrapping paper gods. Anyway, the cashier told me at checkout it was 9:30 a.m., which was why checkout alone didn’t take two hours.

Meanwhile, the family, consisting of Dad, Darla, Dara, Auntie InExcelsisDeo, Uncle Frank, Monday, Barry, Sandy and her boyfriend, cousin Tony and his girlfriend whose name escapes me, Miss and Mr. Sasha, the Fabulous Ex-Husband(tm) and his fiancee Karen, Mom, Tom, Daria, Todd, plus spouses, children, friends and neighbors, cannot have our customary Italian Christmas Eve because half of us will be elsewhere. The rest of us will have to muddle through extra helpings of amaretto mousse, chicken and polenta, homemade manicotti, savory salads and fragrant roast meats. I may openly weep! A week later, the rest of us will show up and fight for the drumsticks. Dad called this morning and asked the question very stressed people keep calling me and shouting.

Dad: WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR CHRISTMAS?
Tata: People tell me when they’re serving dinner and I tell them I’ll be there.
Dad: Oh. Okay.
Tata: Yep. Did I mention I’m fattening up oddly?
Dad: I’m fat, too!
Tata: Yeah, it’s like my metabolism’s working in reverse.
Dad: I’m impressed your cat’s still alive.
Tata: He’s too cranky to die, thanks!
Dad: There’s a guy near me trying to market sustainable beef.
Tata: Beef, while delicious, is not in itself sustainable.
Dad: He means his farm is sustainable. Yeah, so he’s stupid.
Tata: I wish him luck. And fondue.

I’m not saying my family is too big. When Daria, Todd and I were kids, we had a huge family. We had cousins all up and down the eastern seaboard. As family members of my grandparents’ generation died off, our cousins melted into distant cousins, the kind one never sees. For about ten years, our family seemed very small indeed and holidays felt forced. Then we had children, and we forgave grudges, and my Exes remained welcome at the table, and Daria’s, and Todd’s. For whatever reason, we have this enormous and constantly blending family. God forbid you should pin more than a tennis sock over the fireplace. But this is not what I’ve been thinking about, nope! Ever since TBogg posted the YouTube original version of I Wanna Be Like You I’ve been walking around singing, “Hudle ott de le doo doo” and “Zee ba da ha ba dah!” Perhaps my memory of this is faulty, but at some point, gas stations offered a compilation record of Disney songs. Burl Ives sang Lavender Blue from a movie I don’t remember, and the White Rabbit’s I’m Late, I’m Late. We played records and danced around the living room. This song was one of my favorites. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I recognized Louie Prima’s voice; anyway, it’s all pretty strange that I still love it 35 years later. The gas station five blocks from my house sells soul food. I don’t think that’s going to leave the same kind of mark.

Friday Cat Blogging: Black Nemesis Edition

The alarm clock will protect me! I see how you jump at its every squawk!

You remember Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul. He remembers you. He has feline leukemia, which has been relatively easy to control with obsessive feeding, observation and acquiescence to his many demands. When he first lived with me he’d prise chicken carcasses from the garbage and gnaw on the bones. Oh, how Paulie Gonzalez and I laughed at his kitty insecurity. After all: we were holding the pussycat hostage and any affection he showed us humans could be chalked up to Stockholm Syndrome.

For a few years, I’ve chased Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, around various one bedroom apartments, trying to convince him to eat. This is key to keeping the afflicted feline from succumbing to infections and moral sloth. It’s become clear to me the apartment is his. He’s the guy who’s in it all the time, and I just visit to feed, entertain and rub his fur the wrong way. As the person with the opposable thumb, I should put his name on the mailbox. It’s only fair.

Sometimes, Monsieur smells like a rough night in a canning plant. I could bathe him five times a day but not even the neighbors nonplussed by almost constant Route 18 construction noise bouncing off the river would enjoy the amusing ruckus. I’m still moisturizing scratches and welts from the last time. The reason for the unusual fragrance is oral infections and, as Siobhan says, “Cats aren’t clean. They’re covered in cat spit.” So though Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, is supposed to get a dropperful of kiddie steroids every day, sometimes he’s also supposed to get this utterly vile antibiotic twice daily, too. Last week, this led to holes in my neck and him finding a new hiding place – that scared me silly. I looked everywhere! How many times have you opened a 350 degree oven to find out if you accidentally baked your pet? Well, of course, I hadn’t, but even thinking about it skeeved me completely. An hour later, I discovered he’d made a Batcave out of my bedspread and blankets, which I took as a rebuke of both my cat care technique and slovenly housekeeping. He thinks I’m a total loser and tries to protect me from myself. This morning, he tried to convince me the shower was too dangerous for an idiot like me. There’s water in there, dude!

But just wait. The disease has progressed. The pussycat now drools. We’ve reached the point where Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, must be medicated with the vile elixir one week on, one week off, then on again, off again, every month. I am not enthusiastic about this regimen, and anticipate a similar reaction from Don Gato.

First, I’ll cut his nails.