And Meanwhile Back

Pennies are humble and beautiful. People are careless with coins, but I adore them. It’s one of the quirks I’ve observed in men: they either collect coins or despise them – sometimes both at the same time. I can’t explain that. The Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction, where gleaming, museum piece cars trade for hundreds of thousands, is on TV in the living room, though my first car was a 1979 Pinto Wagon that by 1985 was still cheap enough to run that I could always get home from the Amoco station on just the change under the floor mats. And when you limp into the Turnpike Toll Plaza in a bland blue Pinto, they’re not surprised when you pay in pennies.

A Dry Dive From A Hotel Room

When someone shows you his true colors, you should believe him.

Yes, “health” is such a nebulous term. It could mean practically anything, like “misogynist” or “complete sellout.” In fact, why don’t we take the dictionary, separate the words from their meanings – since we’re not using those anymore – and shift everything a nonsensical two or three over. Then we can all pretend to be shocked! and surprised! – whatever the new versions turn out to be – when women’s bodies turn up dead – oddly, still meaningful – on hotel floors. Just the way they did in the bad old days.

Won’t that be “funny”?

Like A Red Rubber Ball

In an exciting turn of events, I woke up Sunday without a voice where I could swear I’ve had one all this time. And of course Monday I got that flu shot we’re all desperate to talk about, but beyond that, I immediately drove home and keeled over. Yet today, I bounce back, like one of those inflatable Bozo the Clown things we all punched as angry children. So far, I have to say, these metaphors could go better.

Anyhoo, blogging and hijinx will recommence in three, two, one, and –

Goldfish Shoals Nibbling At My Toes

Topaz and Drusy cannot believe their sensitive ears!

Thursday, Pete went to the doctor and discovered that though he works in a toy store with children his insurance does not cover a flu shot. When I got home, he told me his doctor said it would be cheaper if he went to Costco. I stared at him like he was speaking Urdu, certain I’d misheard. Costco? What? On Thursdays, Pete and I work evening hours at the family stores, so figuring out what was going on took on a certain urgency. I had 90 minutes.

I called Costco and asked about flu shots. The woman who answered said there was a line by the pharmacy, it moved quickly, and though there were no guarantees we should be able to get a shot within half an hour. Pete and I looked at each other, gathered everything we’d need for work and jumped into the car, despite the feeling that we were driving into Bizarro Land.

At Costco, we marched with great purpose to the pharmacy and ran down almost zero little old ladies. I mean, they had it coming. Anyway, at the pharmacy, I didn’t see anything that made sense to me, so I made eye contact with a person waiting in line and said, “Are you waiting for a flu shot?” She pointed behind her to the intersection of dog food and fabric softener. Pete and I turned the corner and found three tables, six workers, buckets of needles and the deadest of dead-end Costco customers in a blessedly brief line. A blue-haired lady at a table parked in front of bales of kibble squawked, “It’s $20 unless you have Aetna! Do you have Aetna?” over and over.

Pete does not have Aetna, but he did have $10. I rummaged through my book bag until I found ten softly rumpled singles. Pete took a clipboard and filled out a form that asked little more about him than where he lived or if he’d ever had a fatal allergic reaction to drugs. Reading over his shoulder, I frowned. He sat down and got a shot. The blue-haired lady who stuck him made him promise he’d walk around the giant warehouse for 15 minutes, so if he had one of those fatal allergic reactions, we could all learn our lesson.

I now know more about bacon-wrapped scallops than I’d like to admit. Pete did not keel over, so we went to work and today, Pete has that touch of flu one gets after a flu shot. It’s disappointing, but he doesn’t fall asleep long enough for me to draw pictures on him with Magic Markers. The exciting thing is that I’m getting mine next week, lather, rinse, repeat. I’m hiding the Magic Markers.

It makes no sense to me that the bulk merchandise warehouse sells flu shots but doctors’ offices can’t administer innoculations because insurance companies decide who gets one by criteria that have little to do with the patients’ needs. My doctor laughed at me when I said I never imagined I’d need a flu shot. The Stop & Shop three blocks from my house is holding clinics. What’s wrong with this picture?

I can only guess what’s going on but I don’t like it, so here’s a present. It’s one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite shows Red Dwarf. The episode is called Holoship. The confusion feels …familiar.

Friday Cat Blogging: Before You Go Go Edition

By the time I got home, Pete had already eaten lunch, so I tossed a few vegetables on little corn tortillas and plunked myself down at the dining room table. Pete sat down next to me, holding a catalog.

Topaz curled up on this old chair and dreamed of dancing mousies. Drusy, wishing to play with dancing mousies, curled up next to Topaz. Drusy, closest to you, waits for Pete to knock it off with the flashy flashy, though she adores him with the purest love and would like to nibble his toes.

Tata: Are you going to read to me? Like a bedtime story?
Pete: This is a story of composting toilets.
Tata: Give me your shoe. I have to yak now.
Pete: Composting toilets use very little water, require no plumbing, and little space. A composting toilet would be perfect in that pantry we’re making into a bathroom. Here, look at this diagram.
Tata: Seriously, I am going to ralph. Wait. What is that?
Pete: An explanation of the composting.
Tata: That, my friend, is an indoor outhouse.
Pete: No. Look, an outhouse is an open hole into which you throw lime. This is a closed system –
Tata: That will stink up my kitchen over my dead body.
Pete: No stink, see? Fresh air! That’s a picture of fresh air!
Tata: And what happens to the poop? Doesn’t someone eventually have to –
Pete: Remove the compost? Yep.
Tata: Forget the shoe. I’m going to throw up down the inside of your shirt. Where’s my phone..?

Gorgeous Drusy and lovely, lovely Topaz cuddled up on afghans Pete’s mom crocheted more than twenty years ago. The pussycats like the afghans because Pete naps on this chair, so it smells like his butt. Pete’s explanation involves less farting, but I have yet to hear it. It’s a secret between him and the cats. I might feel betrayed if I weren’t so glad to be left out.

Tata: I have two words for you, mother of three small children: composting toilet.

I hand the phone to Pete. Daria’s still gagging. The volume’s up so I hear every gasp.

Pete: How are you today? Going to watch football? What’re you making?
Daria: Hot wings, celery, blue cheese dressing.
Pete: Ta’s eating lunch and we’re talking about composting toilets. I just got a catalog.
Daria: (Hacking, wheezing, stuck hairball)
Pete: There are several different models.
Daria: (Hacking, wheezing, hairball now in motion)
Pete: They’re compact, odorless and produce excellent compost.
Daria: (Hacking, wheezing, hairball threatening to make a gooey cameo appearance)
Tata: Tell her about the diagrams!
Pete: The catalog includes various diagrams of the composting process…
Daria: THAT’S HORRIBLE! That is HORRIBLE. Don’t ever speak to me again!
Tata: She is going to mail you a bag of puke, you know.
Pete: I’ll call you tomorrow.
Daria: Bye!
Tata: I can’t eat this.
Pete: I’m going to send her the catalog.

Inside So No One Can Hear

Hush, hush. Out there, words fly and bite and melt where they land like so many snowflakes flung at us by the winds on an icy night, but we have been here before, and we know it can end well, even if the quiet is only for a moment.

The Tomten saves the chickens from Reynard the fox and offers his own porridge to feed the hungry fox so that all ends well for the animals on this winter night.

What matters is whether we can do some simple good when we fear for ourselves and all around us seems very frightening indeed. The answer, my darlings, is yes.

I Need A Moment To Deliberate

I’m thinking of making videos in which I speak slowly, calmly and say fuck a lot. I feel this will add spice to the public discourse. In the meantime, it’s a relief to find people like RH Reality Check speaking rationally and factually on the very serious topic of reporductive health.

RH Reality Check: Framing Reproductive Rights from RH Reality Check on Vimeo.

Of course, he’s acting. But it irritates me beyond description to hear men discuss their opposition to abortion. I simply don’t care why dudes think women should be baby factories, and that includes every dude, no matter who makes his ruby slippers.

To Keep On Keeping On

dday reports:

Yesterday, at two major rallies for the Republican candidates, audience members yelled out that Obama is a terrorist and that he should be killed (or maybe that Bill Ayers should be killed, hard to know from the context, but when you’re talking about someone approving of murder in the presence of a Republican candidate, it’s a distinction without a difference). Today, an audience member screamed “Treason!”

The right has made a cottage industry of whipping up their side into a frenzy, demonizing liberals, blaming them for every ill of society and ramping up that rhetoric louder and louder until it essentially has no distinction from eliminationism. And as much as the conservative noise machine gets all wounded and indignant when you say this, such rhetoric does play itself out into acts of violence.

Indeed, John McCain has actively shielded domestic terrorists from prosecution through his votes in the 1990s. These are the characters, the Randall Terrys, the Chad Castagnas, that are never subjects of ads or whisper campaigns.

Republicans, in the words of the immortal cinematic antihero Marcus Brody:

You’re meddling with powers you cannot possibly comprehend.

For the complete, terrifying rundown of rightwing hate groups operating in the US, the authority is Dave Neiwert, and the last word is Orcinus. If I were a registered Republican voter, I would give very serious consideration to with whom these candidates make common cause.

You More Than Anything

Yesterday, Jim Cramer appeared on The Today Show, a humbled and beaten man. His appearance was no less striking for what he said, but it’s hard to have sympathy for the man who predicted this would happen, repeatedly called for GM to break the UAW and continues to kowtow to unfettered capitalism.

Last night, within only a few hours of his appearance on The Today Show, Cramer turned up on The Colbert Report, where he refused to blame the current administration for the unfolding economic disaster but says Republicans had a lot to do with it. Don’t worry, he finds plenty of blame to lay at the feet of Bill Clinton. I would have been disappointed if he hadn’t. This bit of fancy footwork is unbelievable. If his career as a guy screaming about Wall Street on TV is over, I’m sure he’ll do very well on Dancing With the Stars.

This morning, poor Jim Cramer again appeared on The Today Show, defending his warning to Americans that they should remove anything they’ll need for the next five years from the stock market. Oddly enough, Americans did not want to see the defeated Mr. Cramer admit defeat, and they attacked him for – well, you’ll see. It is the most pointed example to date of the administration’s successful campaign to numb Americans to fear. Congratulations, Republicans. Congratulations, runaway capitalists. Your oracle of venality gibbers on. This disaster is all yours, and none of it was an accident. Fortunately for you, when told to take cover, people who’ve been conditioned to believe you will take care of them still believe it, and they will stand there believing it as the sky falls.

As for Mr. Cramer –

It is impossible to pity him. He will be fine, once the humiliation of being right, a moral failure and unable to see what he could have done differently wears off. It is plain that he will not suffer the loss of his home – or much else, probably. He won’t see what he contributed to the vast harm bearing down on billions of people. His blindness protects him. I wouldn’t want to be him if it fails.