The Bodegas And the Lights

Daria and I, no idea where, about 1965. Also: the last time either of us saw our natural colors.

For a few days, Poor Impulse Control was dead as a doornail, though I wonder if doornails animate. Regardless: it has come to my attention that I handle frustration poorly. Don’t try to dissuade me with your usual and completely justified mitigating praise. No, I may have a problem with poorly timed outbursts. Just this morning:

Siobhan: Jesus Christ, I bought a house!
Tata: You forgot to fix my fucking blog.
Siobhan: I’m so sorry!
Tata: Congratulations! When do we paint?

Two weeks ago, a man with the same name as my father’s mother’s father contacted me to ask if we were related. I read his list of family names and recognized none of them, but I asked about his name and told him to keep in touch. He said he believed he was named for my great-grandfather, and did I recognize this other list of names? It was my branch of the family. I was glad I was sitting down when I read it. We’ve chatted most days since then.

This morning, a woman found me by googling an eminent common relative, though she and I are not related. Mom was surprised and pleased but cagey with information. Siobhan, mysteriously still speaking to me, wondered what that meant.

Siobhan: Your mom is an only child who wants a bigger family but doesn’t want to invite them to dinner?
Tata: My mom wants relatives she can keep to herself on papers that burst into flames upon her demise.
Siobhan: But your mom is so nice!
Tata: Geez Louise, do I have to write my next bitchy line?

I might be a little TENSE.

Take Me To Another Place

Once again, Blogger will not upload pictures. This time, it offers a novel error message, which explains nothing and doesn’t help. I would actually prefer error messages that brought the problem into focus:

* Publish? Fuck that. Where’s our pizza?

* Pictures? Pffft! Send us boobies.

* Lost your blog? Like we care. We’re Blogger.

Obviously, if I ship Blogger techs Skittles and porn, I stand a better chance of being in business.

The Cloud Burst, The Head Of the Tempest

Stop & Shop Consumer Affairs

To Whom It Concerns:

Perhaps you remember my open letter of 14 November 2007, in which I presented problems with the 08904 Stop & Shop including smelly, rotten fruit, an eye-opening lack of products from recycled paper and a peculiar lack of significant baking ingredients for National Pie Day. It’s true that National Pie Day is usually celebrated in January and fruit is supposed to be one kind of smelly but those things aren’t important right now. No, what’s important is that your feedback form and I have established a relationship, deepened by a phone call from a nice lady in corporate, and I wrote down almost everything she said because I have a memory that is for poop, a zany coincidence since she promised an improved selection of recycled products and last Thursday night, I found zero recycled paper products in that same store. But I get ahead of myself.

Scenic 08904 is a tiny town of people from all over the world, though I happen to be a local. This all means that people walk to the grocery store, possibly because they don’t drive, and when they get there hope to be able to pick up staples. It’s a grocery store. You find pantry staples there. So. In November, I mentioned the selection of products from recycled paper was puzzling in 2007, when most people were aware that we were having some trouble with packed landfills; imagine my surprise when last week, which was undoubtedly 2008, I found no recycled paper products on the shelves what. so. ever. Not even one. Trembling with rage, I marched to the courtesy counter, where a manager and an employee pressed themselves against pregnancy tests and pouch tobacco, hoping I would go away quietly.

It’s true, I threw a hissyfit. I expressed my G Rated outrage at this improbable turn of events. You’ll be pleased to hear they were very nice The manager, brow furrowed, turned to go see for himself. I walked a whole step to the Express Lane, where I counted myself lucky to be third in line. Fortunately, that line didn’t move, so when the manager came back from the paper products line, brow more deeply furrowed, he offered to order recycled paper products for me. This is awfully nice but it misses the point. Just today, I took aside the kid putting out the vegetables to tell him his arrangement of lettuces was truly beautiful, but that’s beside the point, too.

Across the street, the health food store sells products from recycled paper, along with organic and natural products. That health food store does a brisk business. Tiny 08904 has set its sights on becoming a green town. In good weather, I myself walk to and from work in the city on the other side of the river because it’s healthier for me and the planet. In 2008, people are more conscious of what they’re doing and what they’re ingesting, and yet your very expensive, very poorly stocked store is sitting right in the heart of town, a giant, stodgy blob of festering 1965. What gives?

Rumor has it I am not the only little old lady delivering this message. I hear that people rant this same rant all day every day, which means others think the same thoughts but don’t bother mouthing off. If that’s true, why is Stop & Shop resisting what customers want? That’s kind of like saying, “Your mouth says ‘No’ but your eyes say ‘Can I get extra styrofoam in my dioxin gazpacho?'”

I would like you to observe that Princeton, a scant few miles straight down Route 27, supports a coop, an Olive May and a Wild Oats. A McCafferty’s is not far and several pretty good large grocery stores do fine. Even Costco now offers organic vegetables, healthy items and Marcal recycled paper products, which I’ve reminded you before are made in New Jersey. So what are you waiting for?

Safety first,
Princess Ta

The Earth It Moves Too Slow

Rock and rock and roll radio!

Pete and I unlocked the front door of Rancho Rococo just before 8 last night, so tired showering seemed both essential and overly ambitious. The drive back from Virginia, which can suck beyond belief if someone sneezes on Route 78, was evidently sneeze-free. We ate Sun Chips. We drank gallons of coffee. We surfed the airwaves and found songs we loved, liked and minded somewhat, but only once did we both reach for the radio in alarm. The words “Monday morning: The Billy and John Boy Drive Time Show – where Rednecks find a home” made us both blink, then shout about locking the doors on that home and issuing flea collars.

Previously on Poor Impulse Control: my dad died 1 April 2007 in a surprising flurry of admirers, ex-wives and current children. Last fall, we had a yard sale of his things and because he was a tremendous packrat we had another this past weekend. If you’ve joined this story in progress, I can sum this up in one little moment from the yard sale, then I have other things I have to do. I will catch up tomorrow, I think. Anyway, Saturday morning, on a lawn in Staunton, Virginia:

A man and woman walk around the yard, then circle the tables and casual ground-level displays of some small number of Dad’s thousands of books. Half a dozen other people wander around quietly. Daria, Todd and I don’t look like anyone else and we’re wearing canvas money belts. My teenage sister Dara looks a little more local. My step-mother Darla is standing near me when we discover the woman is paying attention.

She: Are you a family giving this garage sale?
Darla: We are.
She: Whose books are those? Who is the gourmet, who is the naturalist, who is the writer?
Tata: Those books belonged to one person.
Darla: They were my husband’s.

The woman turns to the only male personage in sight: my brother Todd.

She: Is that you?
Todd: No, I cook but I can’t keep up.
Darla: He died last year. These are my husband’s grown children. They came to help out.
She: He must have been an interesting person.
Tata: He was quite a character.
She: You must be interesting people.
Todd: It’s possible.
Daria: What I wouldn’t give for a grilled cheese…

No One Nice Again

We’re sitting at the kitchen table reading Dad’s antique Playboys. All the male models resemble Tucker Carlson and fuel-injected luxury Volkswagon cost $3300. A person might acquire a very respectable vehicle to do zero-to-fifty – yes, fifty – in 8.6 seconds. Todd looks up and says, “You could jog faster.” Our favorite ad so far declares, “Introducing the new home appliance that answers your phone!” For crying out loud, the page Daria’s reading features six people in some advanced stage of plaid gangrene, and she’s convinced the best-looking person is the dog. The 1974 Spring and Summer Fashion Forecast is truly something special. An orchestra seat for Pippin starring Ben Vereen will run the Broadway goer a big $12.

I’m scritching Miss Samantha, princess and adventurous scrapper in a house full of larger cats. Pete, who should not lift anything, stayed home and whipped up a fantastic dinner of corned beef, latkes and cabbage, while we got up in the dark and had a yard sale of Dad’s stuff. By the time we arrived back at Dad’s house, we were ravenous and ready to bite each other’s arms. Fortunately: latkes! After we stuffed ourselves, we all fell down or cleaned up, and when I woke up later, three cows were walking around in the front yard. We don’t own any cows.

You should see the shoes.

Know When Or Where To Go

I’m packing to go back to Virginia again. The catsitter’s coming tomorrow to adore Topaz and Drusy in my mournful absence. Tonight, I went to pick up snacks at the Extortion Mart across the street from the family store while Anya closed up. A six of San Pellegrino, carrot sticks and Sun Chips later, I found myself flummoxed in front of the toilet paper again when there wasn’t a single recycled paper product on the shelves I’d complained held too few. Ten minutes later, Anya met me at my car a little flustered.

Anya: Where’d you go?
Tata: I had to throw a giant hissyfit, and those take time.
Anya: What happened?
Tata: I can’t believe it! In that store, in March 2008, I didn’t find a single recycled paper product in that aisle – not a napkin, not a tissue, not a paper towel, not a single roll of toilet paper. In 2008, there’s no excuse for this.
Anya: You’re not the only one who has this talk with them.
Tata: I marched to the checkout line but two people were at the courtesy counter so I turned around, interrupted their conversation and described my umbrage. I was umbrageous!
Anya: Is that a word?
Tata: Of course not, so it’s not a cliche!
Anya: Did they say anything or did they hold still and hope you don’t bite?
Tata: The one guy said he was a new manager from Somerset where they have lots of recycled products. I corrected him by saying there’s a recycled product ghetto that was inadequate but better than nothing. Anyway, he looked really surprised so he went to look for himself. Fortunately the Express Line wasn’t moving so when he got back he said I was right but he had the decency to look confused.
Anya: Are you inhaling at all? Because I haven’t seen you breathe for a few minutes.
Tata: He said it’s a small store. I said that makes it worse because people walk to the store but then they have to drive two towns away for recycled paper and what’s that mean?
Anya: Dead dinosaurs weep!
Tata: He said corporate in Massachusetts made the decisions. I said they’d already heard from me, and I was fully prepared to have a conniption up and down the East Coast.
Anya: We buy our Marcal products at Costco.
Tata: Really? I’ve never found them there!
Anya: We buy them for the stores and our houses at Costco.
Tata: I’ll look again. Anyway, I couldn’t believe it. I just couldn’t believe it and I couldn’t even shut my mouth! Hey, did I drive by your house? I can’t tell when I’m nearly hysterical.
Anya: No, it’s actually two ahead.
Tata: Your block has nine houses. Yet I can’t pick out the one in the middle.

My campaign of letter-writing terror begins anew Monday.