From A Tuesday Point Of View

On Thursdays, I’m full of the festive exhaustion. It’s nothing and I’m not complaining; certainly, I may be the luckiest girl in Puppetland to be able to eke out a decent living while avoiding a colorful stint in the Booby Hatch. Yes, I am among the most fortunate human beings on the planet: almost nobody is attacking me with fresh fruit. Few people bother arguing with me anymore and those that do bring me plastic dinosaurs of apology. Yesterday’s yoga class turned into a two-hour extravaganza, which means tomorrow I’ll hop around, yelping. These apparent contradictions amuse me. Please accept this token of my esteem while I attempt the fandango of the financially solvent, merry in the sunny meadow of overemployment: the Rakes’ catchy little tune about attractive disaster called The World Was a Mess But His Hair Was Perfect.

Someday soon I’m gonna need new shoes, and at least two of them will be red.

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A Most Peculiar Way And the Stars

It’s late August, when my job gets more serious and making a living requires focus, which would be great if I were serious or focused. Yesterday, my department head introduced me to the new Library Poobah as “our comic relief.” The new Poobah was young and smiling. I offered to tell her knock-knock jokes. Later, though, I’ll want tribute from her. I’m having a problem with a co-worker who – mysteriously – refuses to consider my happiness. I’ll break out the elephant jokes and ask the new Poobah to deliver a righteous smackdown. I’m focused on that, I guess.

Q: What’s the difference between elephants and plums?
A: Plums are purple.

You and I, we don’t ask much of one another. You want nothing less than the hot, syrupy distillate of my hilarious life in and out of yoga pants, served up in a gleaming vessel you can’t wait to hurl at something. I want you to get to the hurling, because of course it’s all about me. For instance, my co-worker asked me why she eats yogurt, and she is not the first one to ask. Let’s pause a moment while that sinks in.

Q: What does Tarzan say when elephants run through the jungle?
A: “Here come the plums.”
(Tarzan is colorblind.)

I just read a yogurt label to one of my co-workers to explain what she should look for on the next one. We were talking about the sugar content of yogurt, which is just silliness. Yogurt doesn’t need sugar and you’re sweet enough as you are, Sweetie. So there I was, pointing out the little logo that means her yogurt has active cultures and, yes, would help with that women’s problem, and how on earth did I become the person who answers questions when I ask questions all day every day? We can’t know for sure, but it might have something to do with that big box on my desk, and sculpted eyebrows that make me look curious.

Q: What does Jane say when elephants run through the jungle?
A: “Here come the elephants.”

In all humility, I’m only thinking of others when I say my happiness is all that matters. It’s in everyone’s best interest that I get what I want, whatever that is, don’t you agree? Of course you do. I’ll entertain the new Poobah. I’m a giver – practically selfless, even. Now, isn’t there a comment you’d like to fling? In other news: this shining vision may not be safe for work, but it’s some view.

You’re Every Move You Make

As I approached the Flemington roundabouts Friday afternoon, most of the sky turned an ominous charcoal gray – except for one patch blue as teacups. Rain drenched my path but it didn’t matter. The passenger side window was open and the air fresh; it was a pleasure to drive the last few miles to Daria’s and Tyler’s house. Just before I parked in the driveway, the sky opened. Tyler, the house’s sole occupant after everyone else left for Cape Cod days before, loaded dishes into the dishwasher as I stood in the kitchen and shook myself like a sheepdog. About a minute later, a sound like dozens of carpenters attacking the roof with icepicks drove us to the windows, where we saw hailstones the size of marbles knocking over lawn furniture up and down the block. We elected to stay indoors and avoid brain damage. After ten minutes, the hail passed but rain fell in sheets. Getting our two persons and Tyler’s two bags into my Grand Am ended with both of us completely soaked. I could only laugh until we drove through the neighborhoods between us and the highway and surveyed the storm damage.

It’s worth noting that no two people in my family may be as different as Tyler and I are. He was a Marine. I am a tree-hugging pinko. He believes in traditional family roles. I avoid traditional families until after happy hour. He works in insurance. I work for insurance. He is an Ann Coulter fan. My politics are to the left of Gandhi’s. By the time we crossed the Bourne Bridge onto Cape Cod, he was lecturing about how the unions destroyed American car manufacturing and I was saying the words bullshit and overcompensated management fuckpigs with fervor and frequency. For now, that’s hours into the future and hundreds of miles away. As we drove up Routes 206, then 287, then 87, then 287 again, the rain and trucks blinded us, and somewhere along the way, we missed seeing the entire Tappan Zee Bridge.

I don’t know if you’ve seen the Tappan Zee Bridge but it’s on the biggish side. If someone had misplaced it or left it in his other pants, we were pretty sure we would have heard but neither of us had. Thus, as we were lost in New York State past the section of highway pictured in the MapQuest directions to someplace I’ve been going my entire life, we both thought back to that place near Mahwah, New Jersey where suddenly the road divided and because the weather reduced visibility to a few dozen feet, we’d had no idea why. By then it was too late, and New York State, with its exits more than ten miles apart, was holding us hostage.

The rain cleared slowly as we continued northward and we took the next exit, where we found ourselves in Outlet Mall Hell. Tyler followed signs for an information booth we never saw. We both looked at the printed directions and came to the same conclusion: we had no idea where we were.

Tata: Scout’s honor: I will never again leave for a long trip again with the blessing of Rand McNally. You know, when Paulie Gonzalez was a repo man they had laptops that had detailed satellite maps.
Tyler: I have that and left it on my desk.
Tata: I guess your car has GPS, yes?
Tyler: No. I didn’t think I’d need it.
Tata: Look, you couldn’t have known we’d see hailstones the size of marbles and houses dropping on my sisters. This isn’t your fault.
Tyler: We’re stopping at the New York State Welcome Center and reading their maps.
Tata: Well, okay, but then we have to stop somewhere for coffee. This might take awhile.

Proof that my manicure survived this terrible ordeal.

Staring at the wall map, we chose a route. Actually, I chose a route back to 95 and Tyler said, “Okay, but I still think we should take 84 to Boston and head south.” I don’t know why he let me have my way. We turned right at Danbury and headed southeast for the coastal cities. I was never so pleased to see New Haven in my life. Actually, I’d never been pleased to see New Haven. An hour and a half later than we should have seen it there it was, and it was pleasing indeed. In the meantime, we learned something about New York State: signs on highways that tell you Dunkin’ Donuts are in every inbred, backwoods town are lying.

We stopped where the town consisted of a strip – maybe ten crumbling businesses and some equally ramshackle houses, then – nothing. We looked at each other and tried not to hear the mental banjo music. Tyler turned the car around and we got back on the highway, a little nervous. After that, every exit had a Dunkin’ Donuts sign. It was like each town thereafter was poking us in the eye with a caffeinated stick. Once we crossed the border into Connecticut, we were driving out in the middle of nowhere and nothing and there it was: a gleaming Dunkin’ Donuts along the roadside.

Tata: Jesus Christ, it’s Dunkin’ Donuts!
Tyler: Are we stopping?
Tata: Damn right, we’re stopping.

Tyler beached the car. We unbuckled our seat belts wearily. “Let us console ourselves with melted cheese,” I said. Until this point, our road provisions consisted of Vitamin Water and snap peas. Next thing you know we’re scarfing down Denver omelet croissants with sausage and bacon, and if we could have wedged another artery-clogging dietary disaster onto the bread we would have.

These are steamers we did not dig ourselves. Usually, someone in the family goes clamming and everyone eats. There wasn’t time Saturday morning. Mom picked these up at a local guy’s shop. Grandpa wanted to know who did the clamming and where but Mom didn’t know.

Mom steams the clams with broth, pours broth into individual cups and melts butter in custard cups. You eat the steamers by prying open the shells, peeling off the sock as you peel the clam from the shell, dunk the clam into broth to swish free the sand, then dip it in butter. You’re supposed to drink the broth, too. Then you are very happy and it is worth a seven-hour car ride during which you say to your sometimes unforgiving brother-in-law, “If I told you this story you wouldn’t believe it, would you?” and he says, “No.”

Friday Cat Blogging: Spiders And Snakes Edition

This afternoon, when I was traveling between jobs and pressed for time,Miss Topaz demonstrated her displeasure with the service around Casa Complaisancy while informing me that she had a tummy ache. In other words, she looked me in the eye and pooped on the bathroom floor. I said, “I’m sorry, sweetheart. This is my fault for overstuffing you with delicious tuna fish.” Yesterday, I foolishly opened a can among many left over from the apartment’s previous feline occupant, divided the can’s contents into approximate halves and presented them at great risk to myself to the kitten riot at my feet. I’m lucky to be alive; Topaz nibbled and kept nibbling. Then nibbled some more. Later, there was nibbling. I’m surprised she didn’t hork. She’s got style, that femme!

This afternoon, I’m packing up and driving. Grandpa turned 95 last weekend so much of the family is converging on Cape Cod for the annual Weekend of Happy Shouting. It’s sweetly unnerving to sit next to Grandpa and yelp about my job at the unnamed university, and asking him questions only frustrates him. It frustrates me that he asks my mother what I’m talking about and she says, “DOMENICA’S FUNNY, DAD. SHE’S MAKING A JOKE.” Then Grandpa pauses a moment and laughs, because he loves me.

Pete will stay with the kittens. They adore him and will nibble his toes. I cannot wait to come home and scritch three bellies.

Double Time With the Seduction Line

Pete’s full of surprises. For instance, I don’t know about you but I get confused when a pastry chef says, “I don’t eat white flour.” It turns out Pete had a life-altering illness about the same time I did, lo when Gingrich roamed the earth, and now dietary elements I take for granted suddenly aren’t. I eat everything. He does not. This is not a problem. It’s a puzzle, and my brain rejoices.

When Dad was sick, I wracked my brains for simple and complicated ways to get a few calories past the bad taste cancer literally left in his mouth. On good days, when I thought of a way to trick the cancer palate, I felt like a million bucks. By comparison, lactose and white flour intolerance combined with an inability to digest seeds and nuts is a walk in the damn park.

I admit the lactose intolerance made my head spin a bit. A zillion years ago, I did a brief, embarrassing stint as a backup singer for this woman who played the women’s music circuit. Yes, there is one. Getting to sing was great fun but rehearsals kicked my ass. She was vegan and fed me gallons of coffee and soy milk, bagels and …something spread-y, I don’t recall what. Her heart was in the right place, but I spent whole afternoons in the bathroom. Thus, when Pete said, “I drink soy milk” I bit my lip and bought a box. I mean, what the hell. It’s not radioactive, right? It can’t hurt me from the inside of a cardboard box. One morning when I didn’t have to leave the house all afternoon, I poured a glooooop! of soy milk into my coffee and waited for digestive disaster.

None ensued. Emboldened by this minor triumph, I began pouring glooooops! of soy milk into my coffee every morning. Then Pete introduced into the diet soy spread, which turned out to be tasty and perfectly okay for frying. I was pleasantly surprised that we weren’t fighting lactose intolerance with saturated fat. A month ago, I would have rejected these products out of hand; now, I am perfectly okay with them. It is slow going to dismantle my assumptions about what is available and edible, but the thinking – all the thinking – excites me.

We agree to disagree: Pete says no one needs cheese. I say you can have my cheese when you pry it from my cold, dead hands. Other than that, planning meals is a blast.