Thursday, December 30, 2004

The Need, The Need

Received an email from the American Red Cross. Of course, if I had two nickels to rub together, I'd give up both, and if I could donate blood I'd do it. Even with iron supplements, I don't meet their minimums.


2004 has been a record year for responding to disasters,
large and small. From floods and residential
hurricanes that devastated entire communities throughout the
southeast U.S....and now preparing to support through our
International Response Fund, relief efforts for the
catastrophic earthquake and tsunamis that struck Southeast

Because of the public’s generous support the American Red
Cross has been able to respond immediately...

But we continue to need your support in the coming months as
we provide relief for victims of local, national and
international disasters.

Additionally, donations from you and other generous
supporters will assure that we meet the demand of collecting
and supplying more than 6 million units of blood for over
3,000 hospitals around the country. Provide classes to
nearly 12 million people annually including CPR, First Aid
and other life saving skills...while keeping military
families around the globe connected. And, prevent 1.2
million measles–related deaths by vaccinating 200 million
children in Africa by the end of 2005.

Your contribution means we can continue to provide these
vital services. Please make a contribution today...and
provide hope and relief for tomorrow. Thank you.

American Red Cross
Together, we can save a life.


Sometimes, I feel small and covered with fur.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Speak Freely, For A Price

What Bizarro World are we living in where we should take Howard Stern's problems to heart? It's ours. In our crappy world, Stern has become the Voice of Reason vis-a-vis free speech (I'm not a fan and personally find him repulsive.) His problems are our problems. Fortunately for him, his solution is to abandon broadcast radio for the satellite service. Unfortunately for us, that means we're surrendering the airwaves to the Bush-appointed, fine-happy theocons one network at a time.

When I'm home alone, I cope with being annoyed or frustrated by getting on my little Sharper Image stepper contraption. Paulie gave me this gadget last year when knee pain put me in physical therapy for months, and if I didn't keep it up, I was going to end up incapacitated again. Anyway, it's good for when I'm in one of those moods, and nothing makes me cranky like every little thing our president and his appointees do. The result: four more years are going to give me very well-toned knees.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Don't Just Stand There, Do Something

The developing earthquake/tsunami situation in Asia and West Africa upset me so thoroughly I turned off the news. One of my relatives reminded me that we don't have the luxury of ignoring these events. So, in full humility, I offer this list of relief agencies.

Center for International Disaster Information

Common sense and experience.

American Council on Voluntary International Action

Let them advise you on what you personally have to offer victims everywhere.

Includes a maps section that turns news reports into shocking recognitions

This is a UN branch. Perhaps you harbor ill feelings from that they-were-right-our-administration-was-wrong practical-joke-thing; now would be a good time to get over that. The UN is the agency you want in motion and on the job. Help the UN do what it does best.

As of half an hour ago, I couldn't get into the Red Cross/Red Crescent site. Hopefully, it was flooded with donors. I don't want to insult anyone's intelligence but I will say the Red Crescent is the branch of this agency that'd be most active in Asia and East Africa.

Mercy Corps is also awfully good.

The common theme in the requests for aid is money because shipping *stuff* that isn't necessarily the right stuff is expensive. The web sites will detail which agencies assume what responsibilities in natural disaster, and how the money's spent.

Go forth, and mitigate suffering.

Monday, December 27, 2004


Though the heat's on, I'm shivering. How am I going to shower?

On Christmas Day, I knocked on some doors and asked a few neighbors if they knew where the older gentleman lived, but the building was very quiet, and I didn't find him. Feeling like a complete failure I packed up and went to Mom's, which is a whole other story I couldn't tell in public without swift retribution, but I *can* say the wild-eyed knife-waving was really hilarious. Anyway, when I finally got home, a grocery bag hung from my doorknob. The bag contained two multi-pack things of ramen noodles. Ordinarily, I would regard a random grocery bag dangling from a doorknob as an excellent prank, especially if I were doing the random shopping and dangling, but in this case, I took it as a sign that the older gentleman had finally been able to walk to a bodega and buy himself food, and that all was now well.

This simple gesture did not mitigate my feelings of failure - really, isn't it all about me? - because if the crisis of the previous day had continued, I was still the person at fault. (I'm having trouble with verb-time here; happiness comes and goes but guilt is *forever*.) In the moment it can be difficult to determine one's actual place in the story. I need a name tag that reads: Hi, I'm Tata, and I'll be your Plot Device.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Three Things I Pray

Yes, I've invoked Godspell. I hope we're all recovering nicely from the shock of suddenly remembered bellbottoms.

Yesterday, just after 8 a.m., an elderly man of my acquaintance knocked at my door. I used to be his bartender sometimes, so I know he has no family. We live in the same building. He asked if I had "a can of beans or something" because it'd been so cold out he couldn't walk over to the store and he had nothing to eat. I started pulling cans out of my cabinets, just because that was what he asked for, but decided that was ridiculous. I'd spent the night before cooking pots of the braised chicken that is my family's ethnic identity on a plate. Instead of canned soup, I gave him a plump chicken breast and some vegetables. He never answered me when I asked if he had a way to heat it, but he went away with some very kind words.

On the one hand, I was horrified that I didn't know which apartment was his, and that I had never found a way to ask if he wanted anything before I went grocery shopping. I could have been clever about this and asked the super before now, so I felt rather horrified that I hadn't realized this gentleman needed help. On the other hand, I was very glad he felt he could come to me and did.

All in all, it was a remarkable experience. I can't imagine how I'm going to find him today without just knocking on doors downstairs until someone points me in the right direction. I don't want to bother anybody - in real life, I'm very shy. I mean, it's Christmas Day, and the stores are closed. What's he going to eat if I don't work up the nerve to find him?

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Pointy, Bitey, Sharp Sharp Sharp

The news has relentlessly publicized the terrible struggle of fundamentalist churches to pressure retailers to specify precisely *whose* birthday we're all supposed to be stockpiling gifts for. Strangely, retailers seem to care. I'm not sure I follow the connection - PLEASE don't bother writing as I'm sure my confusion is more comfortable than my certainty would be - between holiday wage slaves being forced to congratulate consumers on hitting the pushy-religion jackpot and Pauline Christian doctrine, which tells its followers to live frugally. The whole thing just seems like a schoolyard bully stealing smaller kids' lunch money. This makes me want to send out a simple communique, like a newspaper correction.

Attention, Fundamentalist Christians:

You are not an oppressed minority in the United States.

Hope this helps,

- This comes, by the way, from a middle-aged woman with the Jesus Christ Superstar angels tattooed across her back. It just seems so simple: I am free to believe as I feel, and so are you, and so is everyone else. And worship is personal. It does not belong at the mall.


You know, I can see you. While it's adorable that you shower me with persistent attention, we're never going to date. You might as well head to MySpace and find someone who enjoys your panty-sniffing obsession.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The Un-Usual Suspects

Johnny's stream of consciousness overflows the banks, flooding the tiny town and killing thousands, oh the humanity:

Dream I have more and more now that I'm going back to school. Every day is the same. I get to high school, though in the dream I'm in my forties, at nine, and I've already missed homeroom and my first class and I go to the office to try to get them to look up my schedule and tell me where and what my first class is, was, and they tell me, but I can't retain the information and I end up wandering through the halls, peeking through windows into rooms, and I see not high school kids but grade school kids being taught by the habit-wearing harpies of my childhood, or I find the class and it's final exam day and everybody has turned in their exams and I'm magnanimously given five minutes to make up for a year and it's hopeless. At least this time through school I don't have that parted-in-the-middle-feathered-back-on-the-sides disco homo haircut. That makes it less of a nightmare. But then I tell you this every time I email you. Don't mind me.

Another thing that surfaces in the background of my free-floating mind when I dream these moments is something that I guess I understand now as a fuck you to authority but at the time I couldn't make head nor tail of. We had a janitor, back when you could call them a janitor, named Dave. The nuns would tell us not to do it if they saw us, but when they looked away, we gave Dave the peace sign, and he gave it back to us. Very exciting. Damn, we were cool. Anyways, Sister Nebulous or some one of them came into the classroom, flustered more than we had seen her even when Jack Kennedy got shot. Dave had refused to clean up this mess and she'd had to do it herself. Someone had shit and then wiped the shit all over the walls of the boys' bathroom. She just wanted us to know how dirty it was and how shocked. It being Catholic school, she wanted the culprit to confess before God and then subsequently confess to her so she could exact her vengeance, but we never found out who the shit wiper was. During the parts of the dream when I'm suddenly back in grade school, it reappears there, in the back of my mind, wondering why someone would do a thing like that. What the point would be. I almost wish I had been enough of a rebel that young to wonder if I had repressed the memory of doing it myself, but I was always too persnickety with my hygiene to suspect myself, although because I was the only long-haired-hippie-freaky person in the school, I mean, besides my brothers, I think they probably did suspect me. Unfortunately there was no DNA testing back then. I could have been exonerated. Like OJ.


Nothing like truth, justice and a squeaky-clean conscience.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

It's Just This Easy

On CN8, a strange and wonderful sight called The Hampshire Family Fund. A group of about forty people related by blood and marriage decided Christmas had become a nightmarish consumerfest, and they further decided they'd rather quit it than continue. Now, I'm not vouching for the efficacy of this charity, but anyone can see they have a great idea: involve everyone, including children, take the money you'd spend on stuff no one needs and donate it to a charity that really needs it. The thing is you can do this by yourself or collectively. Here's the URL:

Don't send them money. Use their model and create your own good works fund.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Red Wine and White Winter

When I woke up this morning, I thought 'My apartment has no degrees.' It was about zero outside, and the heat seemed to be off. You know it's cold when you've slapped the snooze bar and you can't wait, you have to get up and move around. I often say that *the* best reason to live in New Jersey is that our weather seldom attacks. This morning, when my car doors were frozen shut, I wasn't preaching the gospel according to the Board of Tourism.

I live in a big building in a small city. The company that runs this slum - don't argue with me, this is a warehouse for the working poor - also manages the luxurious apartment building on Buccleuch Park, and the more modern building less than a mile up Easton Avenue. The facilities are very differently maintained. The luxury apartments are clean, spacious and very beautiful, which I've seen for myself. The super of my building pretty much has a hammer and a rusty wrench. The pipes in my building are a wreck. My own hammer sits next to the industrial toilet in the bathroom because half the time depressing the handle doesn't do the trick. No, you whack the bolt on top of the plumbing like it's a midway attraction and hope you hit the jackpot. Sometimes there's no heat because the boiler broke. Sometimes the laundry room is so dirty you wonder how clothes are supposed to get clean. These are facts of urban live, no matter how insignificant the urb, but facts of life for the poor everywhere, if the poor live this well. Yes, in the Big Picture, I realize that I am very fortunate to have a home, a job, a car, medical care. I'm certain my neighbors are not all as fortunate.

My toes are cold. FoodNetwork ran a thing recently where John Cleese went all over the place tasting wine. In the course of the traveling and tasting, it came up that the "room temperature" at which we serve red wine has changed somewhat. Rooms are now around - I think - 72 degrees. The "room temperature" red wine likes is in the low sixties. All our rooms used to be cooler.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Short, Back and Sides

It's Sunday, of course. My vet just called about Larry (the little black cat bent on stealing your soul) and the medication. It's not often a person without small children hears the question, "Is he drooling?" Why, no. No, he's not, but thank you for asking. The cat is very clever. Until a few days ago, he slept wherever he was cozy, which was handy when I wanted to sneak up and squirt medicine down his throat. Picture this scenario:

Larry (dreaming of stealing your soul): ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.
Tata: Pounce!

This was followed by ten minutes of apologies on my part and dirty looks on his. A few days ago, Larry took to sleeping under a side table, behind the futon or on the back of the couch. This means when he's sitting around, being chatty in the way people who don't actually talk are, I sneak off to the kitchen without changing the subject and come back with his medicines and an eye dropper. If the occupants of this apartment were two people and one cat, one person could subdue the cat and the other could play Annie Oakley with the antibiotics; since we're one person and one cat, he has me outnumbered. He's a more strategic thinker than I am, and he's a cat.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Words of the Wise

I'm a big word geek. I love the words. Give me a really good dictionary - because there are also crappy dictionaries - and don't talk to me for half an hour. When I discovered online dictionaries will send subscribers a new definition daily, I subscribed to two in English, and my cousin in Guatemala found one in Italian. It's fun fun fun for me me me.

One of these services is A.Word.A.Day from a woman named Anu Garg, who is witty. Her stories fascinate me. At the end of every communique she includes a quote (or is it 'quotation'? I still have so much to learn) from an observant person with a big brain. Today's was so beautiful.

During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.
-George Orwell, writer (1903-1950)

I should write her another shameless fangirl letter. In a time when mean morons rule the world, people working toward spreading the Smart Stuff should be amply rewarded with love.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Putting That Money Where Your Mouth Isn't

There's an email forward-whatsis going around about what wounded U.S. soldiers want for the holidays:

Yellow ribbons tied around trees and red, white and blue stickers on the backs SUVs saying "Support our Troops" are things that make civilians feel good but do nothing for the men and women actually in uniform.

So please consider the following:

The number ONE request at Walter Reed hospital is phone cards. The government doesn't pay long distance phone charges and these wounded soldiers are rationing their calls home.

Many will be there throughout the holidays. Really support our troops -- Send phone cards of any amount to:

Medical Family Assistance Center
Walter Reed Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue, NW
Building 2, Third Floor, Room 3E01
Washington, DC 20307-5001

They say they need an "endless" supply of these -- any amount even $5 is greatly appreciated.


For $5.37 and an envelope, you can do a kind thing for someone in an unpleasant situation. Now, if only the government would do the same for veterans instead of punishing them for being injured, we could look the enlisting in the eye.

The Personal Is the Political

It's an old feminist maxim I didn't grasp at first, but now I do, and with all ten digits. I trust your intelligence enough that I'm not going to explain it to you. Suffice it to say we're not in a freshman Women's Studies course, getting excited about the idea that Mom *and* Dad handle the housework together (and we should all be mortified that in December 2004, this idea can be news to anybody). I'm interested at the moment in my own internal conflicts about austerity and materialism, independence and security, and the three-day headache in my left eye that makes me wonder if I should overreact and call the doctor rather than stuff myself full of sinus medicine.

What do I want? After a month of thinking about it, I still don't know. I expect to know, since I always knew before what I wanted: to write well. That was fine for the presumed first half of my life. I've written well; now I'm lucky I can still type. Details aside, what do I want to do?

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Scores of Perception

Trout's brother's architectural firm in Seattle doesn't pay undue attention to its hold music. Someone brings in a CD, presses Play, and for a day or two, the music plays when someone calls. Usually, not much is said. The week the CD playing was whale songs was different, however; sometimes the whales sing, sometimes they blow bubbles, and sometimes those bubbles sound like farts.

This drew some comment.

Yeah, Yeah, Futile, I Get It!

I've resisted linking to articles on events and news reports, and truthfully, I don't have any skill in this coding department. Still, this little story has been bothering me for days, though I have no special fondness for children. Okay, I can handle them one at a time, but not in groups. Anyway, my problems aside, the online news has been peppered with stories like this one with disturbing regularity:

Pa. Police Apologize for Scissors Arrest

The common theme is that adults have lost their collective mind since September 11th, and Americans are visiting on their children a plague called "Act Your Age While I Act Like A Big Baby." This Zero Tolerance crap is just that, and it's about time rulemakers and legislators got the point already. When little girls are arrested, cuffed and taken downtown for taking school supplies to school, we need to GET A GRIP. Is there some reason a rational person couldn't have said, "Sweetie, the grownups here are complete spazzes and we have scissors, so please leave yours home, okay?" No, instead we now have at least one child who's learned she can't trust her teachers or the police and that her school system could punish her for virtually ANYTHING AT RANDOM (don't give me that "No, no, just this one particular crime" nonsense; we are talking about the mind of a child). You can also bet your last dollar that all the children at that school learned something this past week, and it wasn't that we as adults have their best interests at heart.

posted by Tata yesterday, reconstituted today when it went POOF!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

A Hit Before Your Mother Was Born

Written to Dad, a Beatles fan from just about the time I was born, who no doubt has swallowed his tongue:

So. My student worker, who is younger than Miss Sasha, has spent the last twenty-five minutes telling her friend the other student worker how she's discovered this great band called The Beatles. And she didn't KNOW they were so popular, and she found this record, and she was just playing a bunch of records to find out what she liked. How could you not like the Beatles? And did you know his wife is younger than even his DAUGHTER? Meanwhile, I'm sitting in my cubicle, mere feet away. The students and the twenty-somethings in my office discuss music on an almost daily basis, and on an almost daily basis, I hear conversations that'd make you want to take a hostage. Sometimes, I get up, walk around the cubicle wall and correct their versions of history or, as when I was asked if I'd ever heard of this thing "Alice's Restaurant," I sat in my cubicle and growled, "I don't know why I TALK TO YOU GUYS." So here I am, and she's talking about the Beatles, and I get up, walk around the wall, grab her gently by the chin and MWAH-kiss her on the forehead. She misunderstands. She's very pleased. She says, "Have I made you happy?" or something just like it. I cannot correct this impression. I just say, "Sometimes, you make me smile."

Monday, December 13, 2004

Giving, Taking, Taking Away

Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, cries when shoved into the cat carrier. It's not that he mews or meows like other cats, no. He says, "Mink! Mink!" all the way to the vet's office, where he is pronounced larger than last visit, and possessed of an absessed tooth. Medicine is prescribed. Larry shoves himself back into the cat carrier and promptly complains. "Mink," he says. "Mink!" The ride home is brief, but not brief enough for the cat. He gets to go home. I go back to work, where everyone wants to know, "Though I fear for my soul, I wonder: how is Larry?"

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Crunchy, Yet Chewy

A peculiar thing was going on at the discount department store: everyone seemed to be speaking another language, everyone was very angry, and nobody listened to anyone else. To those people, I showed a very gentle face, brimming with the humility of a person not necessarily capable of doing the job they were, and in the end that doubt proved to be the truth. Today, I quit the part-time job. For about ten minutes I was relieved, then started to worry about money again.

If you're going to develop an after dinner craving for Triscuits and cream cheese, make sure your manicure is dry. Trust me on this one!

When I'm nervous over a long period of time, I develop a short-term fixation on some character on the ABC soaps. Currently, I want Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, to feel healthy and cantankerous. I want to find a spiffy way around offering my landlord Monopoly money. I want my back to stop aching and making me feel like Methuselah. Yes, I want lots of things. But boy oh boy - I really want Bianca to get her baby back. I want that more than chocolate, more than Italian pumps, more than a clear, wrinkle-free complexion. More than I want Mick Jagger to quit making records, I want Bianca to get Miranda back. I want that a whoooooooooooole lot. I want it! So I can tell I'm anxious.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Brash and Brasher

Blogger gives me fits. Sometimes I can't publish from home. This hardly compares to the annoyance provided by an article in the Guardian about a certain Conservative Christian planning to censor works by gay artists and playwrights. His premise is that Alabamians have to be protected from positive portrayals of homosexuality. This overeducated moron doesn't deserve the time of day from anyone, let alone the ear of the President, and yet he claims to have it. I'm omitting his name because I don't wish to publicize his efforts in any way, but the author of the article is Gary Taylor, whose ability to have a conversation with someone proposing to "tone down" Shakespeare is strangely impressive.

Let's be completely clear about this. The gentleman in question feels the public - he says Christians, perhaps you are one - need protection from four-letter words and gay culture. The gentleman feels your culture is under attack. He feels you're defenseless in the face of A Chorus Line, or The Color Purple. This man doesn't think much of you or your ability as a grown person to THINK FOR YOURSELF.

This man thinks the President's re-election means Concervative Christianity should now re-work American - and therefore, world - culture. He thinks you're the kind of spineless fool who has to be protected from the horrors of Hollywood. He thinks the channel changer and the off buttons on your radios and TVs are not enough. He's in the mood to legislate, and he's got a bill.

Are you scared yet?

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Green Light, Green Light

Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, is leaving a trail of blood droplets wherever he rests his head. The vet doesn't seem to be alarmed, but I am. I'm worried about my small, bossy friend. Our problems with his teeth and the feline leukemia may be coming to a head. He's lurking behind the futon and seems intent on staying there.

In fact, I have the worst feeling something terrible is going to happen.

The discount department store offered me a slightly less temporary version of the part-time job, this time in the children's department. I'm not sure my ancient, arthritic joints will permit it. Plus, when you fold and refold clothes for six hours, you're covered with a wide variety of itchy fibers, and you're a forensic technician's nightmare scenario. Note to Enemies: if you kill me on my way home from the job, chances are CSIs will overlook you as a suspect in favor of a gang of reasonably well-dressed, surly toddlers.

Today, I got to see one of my poems translated into Italian and published. The journal is beautiful to my eye. The experience is strange. It's like someone else picked my shoes, or as if my Self was rearranged for a new public. Buon giorno to you, too.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Don't Box Me In

Today, I don't feel much like talking, but that's never stopped me before. I just finished explaining to co-workers my camping companieros used to play a game invented by Jazz (I think) called "I Am A Sandwich." You can play this game for a few days to while away some hot afternoons, but then you'll never want to play it again - until you do. It's completely addicting.

A person decides what kind of sandwich they are. Players get to ask questions like, "Do you contain vegetables?" and "Are you filled with cheesy goodness?" Eventually, someone guesses what kind of sandwich the first person is or was, and everyone wishes delis delivered. If yours does, chances are the low carb regimen flies out the window.

Naturally, this reminded me I have no eggplant in the fridge. I shopped. I had a list. What was I thinking?

Monday, December 06, 2004

Mirror, Mirror

Jazz at Running Scared linked to Poor Impulse Control, and I swear I sat at my desk, speechless. If you knew me, that'd be shocking all on its own. Here's the date, you can guess at the time: I had nothing to say. I recalled something a friend said once, in the spirit of the Maurice Sendak book on manners for children "What Do You Say, Dear?"

Friend: What do you say, dear, when you're introduced to your daughter's boyfriend and he's three-foot-six?
Me: What do you say, dear?
Friend: You say, "Hello."

Hello. Jazz's intro for his readers - bless his buttons, he should have zillions - hinted that PIC is not a very political site. This was a second wave of "Huh?" I have driven friends, lovers, casual acquaintances, workmates, and family members crazy with my politics. Last summer, there was an online test of where the test taker falls on a political quadrant graph-whatsis. I fell slightly to the southwest of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., but for the most part, I am finished arguing politics in this lifetime. It's a big waste of time for me. Nobody learns anything, everyone gets a sore throat, terrible insults are exhanged. Tonight, Peter Jennings sent some lacky to two different counties in Illinois to talk to red and blue Americans, because it's not enough that nobody's listening but now people have to TELL YOU they're not listening. Result: I finally decided to make myself a sandwich and eat asparagus spears after an hour of being unable to decide how I should eat frozen carrots.

PIC talks about the political in everyday life. Walk lightly on the earth. Give away what you don't need. Make art, not unnecessary trips to the mall. Feed the hungry and house the homeless. Try to buy things that don't hurt other people. Refuse as much as you can to be a cog in the corporate machine. Refuse as much as you can to be the instrument used against your own best interests and the interests of people who have less than you do.

That said, our economic lives are tied so tightly to beating the crap out of poor people it's hard to live this way in a pure sense. I can't trace where my shoes came from, but I can limit the number of pairs I buy to a tidy minimum. It's my responsibility to provide for my old age, but I have little or no control over how the state pension plan invests the pittance I've saved. What I can do is refuse to shop at WalMart or eat Domino's Pizza, and never set foot in a Starbucks. It's not much, and it doesn't make my hands any cleaner than anyone else's, but compromises can be made in suburban life.

It's not that I serve as any shining example - I'm a rather matte example, at best. I am very concerned about the current administration's clear agenda of divide&conquer, and I can't help but feel that real evil is afoot. The rhetoric about gay marriage is a tool used to inspire fear and do genuine harm to a marginalized group, but it really harms everyone. Where fear clouds the conversation, fearful decisions will be made. No one benefits from this process. Anything that diminishes another person or group of people harms me and harms you.

Mine are the politics of mercy and I can always live more closely to my ideals. Plus, you know, I laugh at my own antics. My mistakes are everywhere; perhaps someday I'll learn from them.

Hello. It's just me. Hello, you.

When the Moon Barks *Back*

At 7:20 this morning I decided the Moon must be full. I think it was the school bus turning left across two lanes of roaring mad traffic on grimy Route 27 that did it - not that the children waiting to get on the bus would've cared unless the bus flipped and burst into flames. Kids care about history's highlights. "My day boils down to a fireball that cancelled school," is the kind of summary that convinces me TV reporters have Peter Pan complexes.

Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, did not want me to leave the apartment this morning. He wanted to stand on me. While I brush my teeth, he stands on the toilet lid and demands to be scratched, but a half-hearted head-scratching won't cut the mustard. The moment my attention drifts, Larry attacks. The next time you wish to demonstrate extraordinary dexterity, try this: brush your teeth mindful of expensive orthodontic work, scratch a pushy pet, avoid feline fangs. There ought to be a medal for an entire week without bitemarks.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Chinese Red, Lipstick of the Gods

You know, when you have braces on your teeth, you have to be truly careful selecting cosmetic colors. It's just one of those things you might not consider as an adult if it's not your own experience.

Tonight I zipped over to Highland Park to pick up magazines for the workhouse. I think I've mentioned this before. A friend noted after a weekend's hospitality that the Middlesex County Adult Correctional Facility had a crappy library. Because I work in a library, I called over there, and they said their library would welcome contributions. My library gets gifts it can't use all the time. There's a program that sends books to Africa, but whatever that program can't use, my library - which is not to say it's mine, it's just the destination my car arrives at five days a week - sends to the workhouse.

Now, if you look around your house, my bet is you've got books you don't need or want. If you're not keen on sending your spare, cluttery books to places of unfortunate incarceration, perhaps you'd consider a nursing home. Nursing homes would pinch your kids for the stuff lying around your house you can't stand dusting. Actually, nursing homes would pinch *you* for an hour of your time, just singing to other people's neglected grandparents. If you've got a scout troop you don't know what to do with, call a nursing home near you and ask for the social worker. Warble a few Christmas carols and you are one step closer to Heaven.

I live in New Brunswick, where teachers have so little to work with they often buy their own pencils. If you buy a wide variety of prepared food products, you'll find those Box Tops For Education labels. You can do everyone a favor by doing three simple things:

1. Cut those little labels off the containers.
2. Save them in an envelope in an out-of-the-way corner of your kitchen.
3. When it's full, call a middle school near you, get an address, mail them the labels.

This will cost you an envelope and a stamp, unless you happen to have a really smart dog that delivers and can read signs leading to the Main Office. But hey, I don't know your dog.

If you think about it, you have lots of things you don't need anymore. There are people who need what you have and don't need. It's easy. If you have clothes you haven't worn in two years, fold them, put them nicely into a bag and take them to a clothing drop off. If you have canned goods your mother-in-law left in the pantry after her last visit and you plan on never touching the menudo, box it up and take it to the food bank.

It doesn't take much to do good work in the world. What you have and don't need can help people who have less or nothing. Tonight, there are children in your town going to bed without food, and tomorrow they'll go to schools that have no supplies in clothes that don't fit. It's so easy for you to do something about this without any hard work on your part or loss of dignity on the part of the poor. Why not give away what's weighing you down?