Saturday, December 31, 2005

I Heard It Through the Grapevine

Johnny's new neighborhood has an old problem.
Drinking and driving is a huge sport here. You're not considered racist if you mention that there are terrible alcoholism problems in the pueblos, because the white people are just as bad. Last couple of weeks we've been in the midst of the state's SUPER BLITZ!!! U-DRINK, U-DRIVE, U-LOSE!!! I-25 on my way home is dotted with flashing blue and red lights, and the sheriff of Cochiti Lake is out every night rousting people on the Cochiti Highway. I call it Police Navidad.

You can get used to almost anything. I'm used to the snoring of Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul. Sometimes, he sounds congested but I think chasing him around with the Vick's VapoRub might be a dealbreaker in the relationship. Maybe I'll ask him later.

On Thursday, I did not leave my little apartment except to take out trash and recycling. Joy! I was in my house! I had In My House Joy! Tom called. He and Mom were making the rounds of their kids in Highland Park. Was I going to be at home? I thanked him for the warning, because even though my kitchen was clean, my fridge was not. If I died and my female relatives opened the refrigerator door, I'd have to resurrect myself so I could drop dead of shame.

I clean and tidy, though I've warned I'm cleaning and tidying and I'm therefore neither. Tom says they'll be at my place at 3. At 3 on the button, they knock on my door. The hallway is small and a squeeze. Tom takes off his coat and looks for a clean spot. I surprise them.

Tata: I've got a coat closet.
Mom: You've got a -
Tom: Coat closet?
Tata: I do. Give me your coats.

Let's be honest: they're shocked. I hang up their coats. They don't even pretend this has happened before.

There are still boxes in the living room and along a bedroom wall but Mom reminds me I promised her the Tour de Whirlpool. After I bought the washer and dryer, I called her up.

Tata: Hey! I bought a washer and dryer!
Mom: You did? That's great!

So you wouldn't think we'd have this conversation.

Mom: A little bird told me you bought a washer and dryer.
Tata: I'm pretty sure that was me, and I didn't quit squawking for weeks.
Mom: Really?
Mom: That does sound familiar...

The last time Mom saw the kitchen I hadn't applied paint to the walls. For that matter, I hadn't applied it to the cabinets, ceilings or the street outside, either, so the orange wall, the mottled yellow surfaces, the pot rack, the baker's rack, the washing machine, the glass balls dangling from the ceiling are a long series of surprises. Mom pronounces it "homey." Tom ooohs and ahhhs. They'd both thought the washer would be miniscule and strain to scour a pair of jeans.

They stand in the hallway and ask what's holding up my bookshelves.

Tata: The back has these two keyhole things, so I put two screws into the wall.
Mom: That sounds easy.
Tata: And it would be if the walls were flat. Like walls.
Mom: I recognize those bottles. And what is this rock? Are those cigarette holders?
Tata: Yep. Welcome to Ta's House of Shiny Objects. I've told Anya she can come visit her merchandise and we can design a spring line - for me. You are too big for my hallway. Come look at my room.

Tom helped me tape and paint but he hasn't seen the results. Mom asks the same question over and over.

Mom: Did you put that up?

Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Dad put that up. Before they came over I emptied a giant Rubbermaid tomb for my rollerblades, helmet and pads into a cabinet in the kitchen I can't really use. It's up too high, narrow and inaccessible. When my grandchildren empty my apartment after my death, they're going to open that cabinet and wonder what their little old Granny needed those for. Wait till they find the pipe wrench.

The dryer sits in my bedroom, essentially in a shrine to clean clothes. I put up black grids overhead and laid out shelves on which I can dry sweaters flat. This idea was a big victory for my tiny mind. Daria and I both reached for the phone the first time we saw a commercial for the dryer with flat drying racks and room to hang dry. Well, I created my own humble version. My sweaters are so happy.

In the living room, Mom rhapsodizes about the area rug Paulie Gonzalez brought over the day before.

Mom: Does he need another ex-girlfriend?
Tata: ...Mom...
Mom: Strictly for gift-giving purposes. Paulie has excellent taste in gifts.
Tom: Speaking of gifts, why don't you open yours?
Tata: It's a retro red kitchen chair! In this flattened state, I didn't suspect! Thank you!
Mom: As you can see, some assembly is required.
Tata: That's my favorite part! I love puzzles! I mean, I'm still working out why we're really in Iraq, but see the IKEA desk? It sat on the floor in pieces for a month, then I stared at it, stared at it, stared at it, and half an hour later, it was furniture with a TV sitting on it.
Tom: What's that?
Tata: That? That's the Sharper Image stepper I told you about.
Tom: It takes up very little space. How does it work?
Tata: You stand on it with both feet evenly.
Tom: Then you press down?
Tata: It's the opposite. You lift your foot.
Mom: Can I try it?
Tata: Okay, stand lift up your foot. Now the other. Feel that bump at the bottom? You don't want that. The idea is to keep your feet moving upward. Where do you feel that?
Mom: My rump. Right where I want to exercise. I want a firmer rump!
Tata: This thing's not even expensive and it'd fit in your already tight-fitting living room.
Mom: Ah!
Tom: Aha!

I'd be shocked if they didn't leave my house and go shopping.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Isn't It Funny I Never Get To One?

On 22 December, I'd had enough. My friend Sean Carolan who runs Altrok Radio had irritated me into action. I called his work number, which I dial about twice a week, so on that occasion, my co-workers heard me stand up so fast my ergonomically disastrous work chair flew backward and I punched a bunch of numbers on my phone. I got voicemail.

Tata: Sweetheart -

My father's mother loved me a lot and showed her affection in small, controlled doses. You simply had to know she loved you more than life itself, and would in fact do absolutely anything for you. One time, I made a pot of pasta fasul' and we ate about half of it before it became apparent to us both we had to get rid of it. After she went to work, I flushed the rest of it down the toilet. On her way home from her beauty shop, she ran into workmen she knew in our apartment complex. They were sweaty and working very hard at something in the basement below our two-bedroom.

Edith: Sam, how are you?
Sam: You wouldn't believe it. It's like someone shoved gallons of beans into the plumbing.
Edith: (Trying not to laugh) I'm sure I don't know how that'd happen!
Sam: Anyway, don't flush for a while. I'll bang the pipes.

Many large family dinners included arguments. Edith would express her firm opinion once, then when anyone disagreed, she clenched her teeth and said, "Sweetheart..." I never heard anyone call anyone else "...sweetheart..." without formal cutlery. Often, Edith grabbed an empty bowl or serving tray and walked to the kitchen, where she washed this poor dish with extreme prejudice, warbling, "Ahhhh sweet mystery of life, at last I've found thee..." Edith called herself "the only Italian in the world who couldn't sing." When I call Sean, I'm hissing.

Tata: Sweetiheart, did you ever see Slapshot? If you've never seen Slapshot, you should definitely see it. There's this moment where Paul Newman finally loses it. He's had enough. He goes upstairs in the rink and slaps the organ player on the back of the head. Do you know what he says? He says, "Don't EVER play Lady of Spain again!" Know that Oasis song in your current rotation? Don't EVER play Lyla again!

Sean calls me back.

Sean: You hate it?
Tata: With my whole black heart. Please don't make me kill you.
Sean: I might hate that more that you will.
Tata: I'm shallow. Do you realize prison would force me to be a brunette?

In my family, it's a one-for-one exhange: someone is born, someone dies. My sister Dara was born the day before Edith died fourteen years ago. Eight years before that, I came home from work one night.

Edith: Your uncle called from prison.
Tata: Oh yeah? What'd he want?
Edith: He's sharing a cell with Ellio of Ellio's Pizza.
Tata: You're kidding!
Edith: No. Apparently, Ellio needs a better accountant and a quarterly tax schedule.
Tata: Okay...
Edith: Your uncle said, "Ellio's making bracciole in the hot pot. Can I eat that?" I said, "Yes, you can eat that." So he's happy.
Tata: He should be glad he's bunking with someone who can cook.
Edith: I hope he's using a fresh sauce!

A girl needs her standards.

Motel Money Murder Madness

Miss Sasha calls.

Miss Sasha: I did it, Mommy! It all worked out beautifully and I did it!
Tata: What? You sound happy. Are you under arrest?
Miss Sasha: No...
Tata: You've picked a second husband before you turn 23? You're a prodigy!
Miss Sasha: Mom, I catered a wedding for a hundred people! There was hot food and a beautiful wedding cake with blue fondant and white snowflakes and everyone wanted my business card! It was a total success!
Tata: That's fantastic! And you're so happy!
Miss Sasha: I am! I am very, very happy!
Tata: Excellent! Let me know when I can quit my job and appear on the Food Network as your adorable and vivacious mother. Oh! And I'll need a Mac lipstick allowance, and a trainer named Jurgen, and a plastic surgery Uranium 242 card...
Miss Sasha: Can I cater a second wedding first?
Tata: Well, okay. But throw in frequent flier miles at Harry Winston.

Last night, I picked up Siobhan and we drove out to Bridgewater to meet Trout and Lala at our favorite surreal sushi joint. Trout works for a Dutch company that gives its employees a small hunk of money to spend on food before New Year's because a simple bonus is too complicated. We sit at a table for six. The restaurant is humming and busy and our gift bags and boxes block aisles on all four sides of our tables. Three lovely women turn up and ask us what we'd like to eat, whether they can warm our sake, open our wine bottles. We've brought enough wine for four people who don't have to drive until Sunday.

Siobhan: I bet those kids are thirsty!
Trout: I bet their parents have lawyers!
Tata: Pesty!

Siobhan's Jewish, Lala was raised Wiccan, Trout was brought up folky Catholic and Jewish. I was raised by secular humanists who loved and love shiny wrapping paper. Legally, I'm Jewish - blessed be! The packages on the floor are covered with blue, green, red, white, silver and black paper, with sparkly ribbons of another half-dozen hues. Nobody says, "Ladies, you demonstrate excessive good cheer." Rather, they say, "Edamame? Coming right up!"

They mean it, but tonight, service is a complete failure. Our water shows up warm. Our sake is cool. Edamame could use a little salt. We intended to order handrolls, sashimi and more rolls as we thought of them but apparently the sushi chefs are overwhelmed. Twice, I get up and go look for our waitress. Our main course takes almost an hour to appear. Fortunately, we have a lot to talk about since Lala's been away taking care of her sister, and miso soup.

Tata: Guess what! Guess what! Last night, I was just about to take a nap because I'm on vacation and people can bite me and Paulie Gonzalez called me up! He came over and brought me an ivy plant, and a jade plant and a giant rug for my peculiarly dancehall-size living room. I was so happy I made carpet angels.
Siobhan: My dad's girlfriend - remember the Hideous Beast? - told me not to go to Nordstrom. She'd make sure Dad gave me the watch I wanted for Hanukkah. She asked me what kind it was. I said Skagen. She said, "Let me write that down." They go to Nordstrom but she forgets the paper. They ask, "It starts with S. Where are the Swatches?" Nordstrom doesn't sell Swatches. I get a call on my cell. It says "La Hideosa." She says, "What was the name of that watch again?" I say it was Skagen. The next day, Dad says she's lost the piece of paper again so I sent him the URL. That night, I found a note on the kitchen table: I BOUGHT A WATCH.
Tata: I told her to sniff it for spider venom.
Siobhan: That would be your father's date.
Tata: If Darla wanted me dead, no one would ever suspect her. She's brilliant, you know.
Siobhan: ...whereas the Hideous Beast is truly stupid but see my watch?

It's...a nice watch.

Lala: Emy's feeling better. She had more surgery and the kids were upset every day. Over Christmas -

In secular society, no excuse to give gifts should be overlooked. Birthdays, Valentines' Day, Arbor Day - no excuse! People need presents. If you don't concern yourself with the curiously re-scheduled birth of a baby that may or may not have existed in the first place, December is still a fine time to give your friends and family members presents. Did your year suck? Concentrate on giving gifts to people who've been kind. Did your year completely fail to suck? Share the bounty! Other than Emy's surgery, Lala's year has been one of triumph. Our erstwhile teen bride completed grad school and gave her daughter an elegant wedding in one of New York City's sumptuous botanical gardens, and her son was picked up by one of the big Formula One teams despite being too young to take his New Jersey driver license test.

Lala: - I've never mopped up more puke! Even my little purse dog was sick.
Tata: At least dogs usually lap up their own. What?
Trout: Remind me not to call you when I have diarrhea.
Tata: Eat white rice, drink a lot of water and forget it.
Siobhan: Straight to the solution, eh? No stop for the wallowing?
Tata: I wallow plenty. How much you want to think about the puke before you rejoice in the Pine Sol? So La was saying before I rudely interrupted -
Lala: Right. Then Terrance had his friends over and everyone watched movies, including the ex-husband. I think I put flat food on a plate for them. Either that or they really like my china.
Trout: Alan's treatment is up, it's down, it's good, it's bad. He's sick all the time. We're back and forth to Sloan-Kettering. I don't have time to think twice.
Tata: One day I was over Trout's house and I turned on the kitchen light. Nine-tenths of the stuff mountain in the kitchen was gone. At first, I thought she'd been robbed by the Salvation Army. Then I realized her cousin Cheryl must've taken one look and donned her rubber gloves.
Trout: Something like that, yeah.
Tata: If you called her once a month and said, "I'm lonely," you'd be able to eat off the bathroom floor.

Finally, Lala's got a date and the rest of us have stuff to do. We open presents one at a time. Soon, we are surrounded by shiny glass objects, shiny wooden objects, shiny metal objects, shiny fabric objects and one matte envelope of bath salts. I pile up a block and Sabatier knives, a chef's knife and evening gloves. If ever I could dress formally for a killing spree, it's now.

There's also a matching sequinned bag.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Auntie Meme

Oh good grief! I'm running here and there, hither and yon, and Jazz tags me with the Meme of Fours. He knows I lack an attention span! He knows if I had an Evil Twin I'd have a spare. And yet he tags! He'll get his! To paraphrase The Tick: I'll bake a muffin - that will steal his car! To begin, then:

Four jobs you've had in your life: Waitress (don't cross me), courier (yes, I drove the truck), medical school instructor (so hardcore), visiting artist (school administrators blow, blow, blow.) What jobs have I had that were not in my life?

Four movies you could watch over and over: Better Off Dead, The Blues Brothers, Jaws, Torch Song Trilogy. Generally speaking, I don't watch a lot of movies - that attention span thing again. These movies I can watch any fifteen minutes of and feel like I saw a whole thing.

Four places you've lived: New Brunswick, NJ, Somerset, NJ, Highland Park, NJ, Hartford, CT. Yes, I have lived other places, some of which were not in New Jersey.

Four TV shows you love to watch: The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, Good Eats, Poirot/Midsomer Murders/Sherlock Holmes/Nero Wolfe/Inspector Morse Sunday afternoons/evenings on Biography, Most Haunted. Most Haunted is an hour of apparently accidental Brit hilarity. The second half of every episode:

Delicate Show Presenter: Is there any spirit person here who'd like to communicate with us?

Someone coughs, stirs dust, kicks a table leg. Everyone runs screaming! Repeat five times in thirty minutes. It's no Father Ted, but I feel like I'm going to cough up a lung every time!

Four places you've been on vacation: Maui; Prince Edward Island, Canada; Quito, Ecuador; Italy.

Four websites you visit daily: I go all over the place and read as much as I can every day, but I do not read a lot of the big political sites. I tried reading a little dKos yesterday. The format gives me headaches. Atrios makes me feel like I have an aneurism. People fighting in comments make me want to stab someone, and I just can't deal - and I don't have to, especially if I avoid the conservatives who will make me wish I could scour out my cerebral cortex. No one gets closer to a better world that way. Also: if I stabbed strangers my loved ones would feel neglected. If I must choose:

Running Scared. Between Ron, Jazz and Georg, I learn something new every day, and if I don't understand it, someone with an attention span explains.

Brilliant@Breakfast. How Jill maintains that white-hot fury is beyond me, but thank your favorite deity, she does!

TBogg. He says he doesn't drink but if he did, I'd love to sip martinis and sit between him and Wolcott at the Telephone Bar in Manhattan. Just line up the drinks. The spit takes would be less embarrassing after the third round.

Bitch, Ph.D. Lately, I'm reading her daily. I think it's because Katy Hipke's on hiatus. There are a lot of people I pop in on daily - I mean dozens - and a lot of people I look at as source material for the radio show and the blog. Prime examples: Blanton's and Ashton's, the Big Brass Blog, Pam's House Blend.

This is also why I can't manage a blogroll: I am feeble and give my heart easily.

Four of your favorite foods: Four things? Last week, a tater tot in a bowling alley was - for a moment - my favorite thing I'd ever eaten. A steak marinated aggressively and grilled rare can make me dance in a restaurant aisle, but so can a spicy tuna roll. I've stood up at the table and declared my love for poached scallops, and Hollandaise might qualify as a gift from the gods. On the other hand, for sensual pleasure, what equals standing in one's garden on an August afternoon, picking a tomato one grew oneself and taking a sun-warmed bite of firm flesh? Add a few grains of salt and the tableau turns nearly pornographic.

Four places you'd rather be: I love being in my apartment. I'm serious, I love it, love it, love it but if I must leave it : on the west coast of Maui; Venice, Italy (I would live there if I could); maybe Rome. I love Rome. There are lots of places I'd love to visit, but since I haven't been yet, I can't say I'd rather be there than here. Ask again in ten years!

Four albums you can't live without: I...can't. I can't narrow it down to four. I couldn't even narrow it to twenty. The more I thought about it, the more ridiculous it sounded to sacrifice A Night At the Opera to keep Nevermind the Bollocks... Are you kidding me? Hounds of Love or Live Through This? Prosolar Mechanics' Turn On or Ramones Mania? Which of that long series of Elton John albums from the seventies my brother, sisters and I know every note of, and would never willingly live without? Talk Talk's Laughingstock or the B-52s albums that still fill me with heart-stopping joy? Seal or Tori Amos' Tales of a Librarian? The London stage version of Jesus Christ Superstar, The Weavers at Carnegie Hall, or Lene Lovich's Stateless? Graceland or Rhythm of the Saints? I'm not even picking a favorite Devo, Elvis Costello, Dead Milkmen or English Beat.

These albums are old, worn, beloved. Most albums are composed of one, two or possibly three decent songs and the rest is filler, so my music collection is mix-heavy, with everything from the Singing Nun to the Scissor Sisters. I could pick about ten of those I couldn't live without.

Hush, you! I'm no good with rules!

As for tagging: lots of bloggers are away from their virtual fiefdoms. Tagging's a hit or miss proposition.

Sharon at Center of New Jersey Life. I want to be just like her when I grow up.

Nomad @ Mindsay, who is never less than fascinating.

MEWintle, who will be very surprised.

And for a lovely variety, a new friend of PIC: joated at Compass Points.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Golden Dreams Were Shiny Days

Heaven help us, Johnny was in the office alone on Friday!
It happens every time I put in the ABBA CD. I play it over and over and over again. For days. For weeks. I just can't take it out of the player. It's completely irresistible. I know it's gay. I know it's wrong. I know I'm the tough guy who offered whippets to the cop who busted us sucking them on the beach at night, and here I am listening to Dancing Queen to get my blood pumping on my morning drive, since there's no Howard Stern here. But I can't help it. I love ABBA. I mean, think of the evil genius behind a couplet like "I was sick and tired of everything, when I called you last night from Glasgow, all I do is sing then sleep then sing, wishing every show was the last show." Like the Beatles came back to life as tacky Scandinavian chicks in glitter and platforms. While they were still alive. Well, except Paul.

Siobhan and I realized a few weeks ago neither of us owned even a single song by ABBA. And how is that? Between the two of us, we've re-glittered the gutters across three states. Heaven help us when CSIs inevitably discover our epithelial cells under some bloody wreck - though the scandal and glamorous mug shots would do wonders for our sterling reputations.
Is it me, or is there nothing a celebrity could do that would make me buy one of those magazines in the checkout counter? I admit I got a little interested when Tom Sizemore got in trouble stalking Heidi Fleiss after he left his wife and kids for her and she threw him over, because that's pretty real. But Jennifer Aniston could rob a convenience store nude and I don't think I'd buy PEOPLE to read about it. Well. Maybe look at the pictures.

Johnny, you're positively rampaging! Can I toss this into Poor Impulse Control?
I'd be offended if you didn't. And bear with me. I do this every christmas. I call my folks and ask for all my brothers' addresses, because I can't get it together to keep them up to date and in one place. And every time I want to read your blog, I find I can't find it by searching on your name and "blog" and I have to email you and ask you for the link. I think I may have saved it the last time this happened, but I was at home, and today I'm a high-powered junior executive. Less high-powered the longer I spend here. They've worn me down. It's lonely being the only one in a suit and tie and cufflinks. I have no tie on today and there's a hole in my sock. I feel nude, but at least I'm wearing a silver bracelet made for me by a local Indian metalsmith, with a big wolf's head in the middle and howling coyotes and other night animals around the sides. I told him how I had fallen in love with this place and what an impression it had made on me when we first came and the boys started howling along with the coyotes at night, and he did the rest. One of the agents gets all kinds of entertainment world magazines and gives me the ones with pretty girls on the cover. Very mature. I normally throw them away, but I do admit to reading an article with Val Kilmer talking a little about each of the movies he's done. It inspired me to watch Wonderland, which was pretty good, though of course it made me crave drugs badly. My memory is so awful that [the wife] had to remind me, again, that Val Kilmer lives here in Santa Fe. Who knows, maybe in this business I'll run into him. Him and what's her face, Julia Roberts. How exciting that celebrities live in my town. I wonder if there are any magazines about them that I can read.

First, Johnny discovered he didn't belong in the suburbs, then he discovered he wasn't gay - kind of, then that he was a musician, then that being married - to a woman - could be soul-destroying, then that being divorced could turn you into a gun-toting junkie or worse. Later, he discovered that being married - to a woman - might be okay, and his keen fashion sense wasn't sexually suspect, and he's a fine-smelling unarmed heterosexual with his own dogpack and a slap bass - not that there's anything wrong with that!
I think I understand now how women feel. Jack ate the beautiful pink polo shirt we got him. All he'll wear is a tattered grimy basketball shirt-type onesie with a big number 1 on the back that's, like all of us, lost half the glitter it came with. Boys!

Yeah, I know where the glitter went. Boys are funny. I'll give you that. Boy, why are you playing dress up with your three-legged doggie?
Jack just begs to be dressed up like a little girl at Easter. He is secretly a drag queen. It's not my idea. I'm sure he wants a tiny leather jacket, just like Fonzie. I know this.

It's Christmas morning. Last night, we had the big, crazy Italian Christmas down at Auntie InExcelsisDeo's house. Lupe had the evening free and drove down to join us. This is all a story for later. Right now, Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, is sitting on my lap like a twelve pound furry behavior modification tool while I'm sort of watching Bravo: "Earth, Wind and Fire: Tribute on Ice." I didn't think I could be a queenier queen-in-a-woman's body, but I have to concede this may rank right up there with dressing up one's purse dog to match one's Madonna A Day calendar.

Fortunately, my cat can dress himself.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Friday Cat Blogging: Thursday Night/Between Recipes Edition

Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, menaces you from the new apartment's living room floor. You are terrified! He commands it!

Daria's funniest when she's exhausted and depressed.

Tata: The funniest thing was when I came to visit you in Virginia and we and about a dozen of your drunkest friends went skinnydipping in the reservoir and then the police came to arrest us so we ran away but I'd lost my shoes and the reservoir was surrounded by spiny vines so one of your drunkest friends carried me down the side but he kept dropping me and falling down and the next day we asked Daddy if he would've bailed us out and he said, "No, I drink that water."
Daria: No, the funniest thing was at the top of the hill, I asked you, "Where are your shoes?" and you said, "I lost them," and at the bottom of the hill, I asked, "Where are your shoes?" and you said, "No, I really lost them."
Tata: No, the funniest thing is we're allergic to the same things, so I drove home and started itching and the next day I was covered with poison ivy and after that it got worse and became the worst case of poison ivy I've ever had and, like, my co-workers bought me Aveeno baths and it was the hottest summer in history and I lived in an unairconditioned house so every time I broke a sweat the rash spread. So I called you and I didn't even say, "Hello!" because you were working in the industrial kitchen. I said, "How bad is it?"
Daria: No, the funniest thing happened about two years later, when a bunch of the same people went up to the reservoir again. There was one girl there who would say anything to anybody. So she's hiding in some bushes with someone else and the police point flashlights at them. The police are like, "Hey! What are you doing?" so she says -

Here, Daria's enunciation becomes consonant-heavy and specific.

Daria: - "We're being still, and quiet, like bunnies."
Tata: What happened? The cops give them carrots?
Daria: Nah, they said, "Get over here, crazy people, you're under arrest."

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Step Away, Walk Away

Sandy calls me from the road.

Sandy: In an hour, I've gone three exits. I blame the transit strike.
Tata: Sweetie, you're in Philadelphia. The transit strike is in New York.
Sandy: I'm stuck in sympathy traffic and I don't think I'm going to be at your apartment in half an hour ago.
Tata: That's okay. My batter's rested and Grandma's crepe pans are heated to an exact temperature that makes the palm of my hand - held three inches aloft - feel like Mama's gonna show it to you.
Sandy: You're out of you mind. You know that.
Tata: Yeah, but I'm making manicotti and no union-busting presidential hopeful and his never-went-without-a-meal mayor are going to stop me!
Sandy: You're a doofus!
Tata: Am not! Am not...okay, I am...

It's after 7, and the day has already been long. My day job starts at 7:30 a.m. I get up before six. Last week, the universe gave me a gift in the form of hunky Gilad Janklowitz. In the eighties, I used to get up early and jump up and down four times a week to Gilad's Bodies In Motion. Last Monday, I found my morning yoga program had been replaced, and the replacement was Gilad's new resistance training show Total Body Sculpt. I stared at the FitTV logo and murmured, "Um...I didn't get you anything..."

When I got to the radio station, Bill was playing a song in the small studio. Last time in the small studio, we shared a mic, it was awkward, and the radio signal cut out for about nine minutes. I rearranged the chairs and the weights holding the door open. Bill pointed toward two microphones. He didn't know which would work. We're used to working with full and meaningful eye contact. Maybe that's how other people do radio-give-and-take, maybe not. When the song ended, Bill mentioned the song's name and I laughed.

Tata: Bill darling, tell them we're in the small studio.
Bill: We're usually facing each other but we can't here.
Tata: So we're going to play Radio Marco Polo.
Bill: Marco!
Tata: Polo!
Bill: Marco!
Tata: Polo!

We giggled like toddlers in footie pajamas. I do this blabbity-blabbing about forty-five minutes once a week, for brain-fun and for my friend. How professionals do this day in and day out is beyond me. When I go back to my office, my tongue is always tired and my mouth is dry. My co-workers are far too polite to mention my Tuesday carp impressions - either that, or fish mimicry has gained unexpected popularity in pop culture.

By the time Sandy calls, I've cracked eighteen eggs in six-egg dishes and added water, added salt to flour and mixed wet and dry ingredients. Then batter rests for half an hour. During this half hour, the cook's mistakes in the form of little lumps of flour float to the surface. It is tempting to keep beating the lumps, but, like pigeon-toed younger brothers re-beating batters only makes them tougher. Still, I'm not opposed to tormenting my siblings, and after both crepe pans are hot enough, I magically transform from doofus into crepe making machine, and about two hours later, I've turned out dozens of crepes in four piles, cleaned up the dishes and tucked everything into the fridge. I am extremely pleased with myself. Miss Sasha calls.

Miss Sasha: I want to bake cakes.
Tata: I don't suppose there are local laws against it...?
Miss Sasha: Funny! The other day, Gramma must've been very bored in Heaven.
Tata: What?
Miss Sasha: Suddenly, my fondant is smooth and my cakes are beautiful! Everything comes together!
Tata: Remember how I used to tell you you never know how what you study will come together? You study ice skating, piano and social sciences, and - BOOM! - one day you're Secretary of State. I studied the Bible, gymnastics and the label on the scotch bottle, and look at my illustrious career! Stop laughing! Why can't it make perfect sense that you should bake cakes when at four you complained if my socks clashed?
Miss Sasha: I want to bake wedding cakes.
Tata: Call Grandpa. He studied grammar and basketball with nuns.

Yes, I am beyond stupid. This morning, my hands have Crepe Cramps from gripping pan handles like I was born to it - but hadn't in a few years. At work, I wear fingerless gloves to stave off the soreness. My department makes the mistake of demanding I attend a teleconference meeting and try talking with grownups. After an hour, everyone knows that I am struggling to remain conscious.

Tata: My horoscope said I would have trouble with words today.

This is followed by sounds of twelve people in three counties trying desperately to stifle themselves. Four fail and snort across county lines. Minutes later, an esoteric point on library vendors and databases gives me stabbing pain behind my eyes.

Tata: This conversation makes me...want to kill myself...

These breathing irregularities should be addressed by a physician. The next time I get confused and no one's listening, I say, "Points are better communicated with sock puppets." No one hears me. I slip off my shoe, pull my sock over my left and and squawk.

Tata's Fist: So I sez to the guy - I sez, I sez -

My co-workers may need antibiotics. It's an unbelievably long meeting. Half an hour later, the guy sitting next to me says something I object to. My right hand, gloved for warmth, pops up from the armrest.

Tata's Right Hand: Bark! Bark! Bark bark bark!

My boss pretends to be upset.

Boss: Hey! Put that puppet away!
Tata's Right Hand: (sulks) Poo!

Tonight: I make sauce.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Reach Out, Reach Out And Slap Someone

Tata: Mom, you're too frazzled to talk to me. Go to the post office. You're not making sense.
Mom: You obviously called for some reason.
Tata: I did. Call me when you get back.
Mom: What is it you want?
Tata: When you get back, can you please read me the recipe for the crepes in the manicotti?
Mom: Why?
Tata: What? I'm going to make manicotti.
Mom: For Christmas? You sure have a lot of free time.
Tata: What? Mom!
Mom: I don't have time for this right now.
Tata: Bye! Good bye! I'm hanging up now!

I glare at the phone and curl my lip to hurt the feelings of a plastic appliance. If I let her, Mom will tell me for the next half hour how she doesn't have time to talk to me. Because Mom can turn a half-hour trip to the post office into a three-day ordeal, if I ever want that recipe I'd better call Miss Sasha. And speaking of Miss Sasha, on Saturday afternoon, I told her I'd always resented the way she and Mom ordered from the L.L. Bean catalog together. When Miss Sasha has babies, they're going to have black onesies with red anarchy logos and fishnets for pre-school, where they will be the coolest kids if it kills me.

Saturday night, Paulie Gonzalez picked me up in the giant 1968 Ranger that rattles my windows from half a mile away. I'm not kidding. The previous owner buffed all the paint off every nook and cranny so the truck is all black matte primer and sinew. It is as badass as badass trucks get. It is too badass for seat belts. The radio is mounted crooked where Paulie made it fit.

Tata: I LOVE the truck!
Paulie: Great. The gas tank's right behind you.
Tata: Catching fire would put a serious crimp in our evening plans. Can we have a minimally crashy evening?
Paulie: Do you have change? We're taking the Parkway.
Tata: How can you ask that? Your truck sounds like a tambourine! Nobody else has any change anywhere. Because you hate pocket change and throw it over the seat, little children stare at gumball machines with mounting despair.
Paulie: Good. It's time they learned to steal.

It's like there are two Paulie Gonzalezes. One jets around the world, preventing hackers from swiping money and information. The other should never be left with children whose parents do not want their darlings to learn how to properly grip a crowbar. You can't look at him and judge which one you're talking to. I've seen him change his oil wearing Bruno Maglis. We drive down to Asbury Park, which we both love, on the Parkway, which we both hate. The Parkway is for nice people. We are not nice people. When a Honda full of young women in pastels take too long to find seventy cents, Paulie beeps the horn. Because the truck is gigantic and the CD player is blasting - of all things - Randy Newman, we barely hear it. The young women in pastels spin in their seats and in horror to learn how the Queen Mary docked behind them in the exact change lanes.

Bars in New Brunswick serve a variety of odd purposes: art shows, rehearsal spaces, political hotbeds, live music, memorials and wakes often fill the drunken community centers of a town without other places for its people. Over the years, I have spent a lot of hours with the people in a couple of places in particular. At Asbury Lanes, Sharkey has engineered an excursion of people who've never seen one another in daylight, and some of us haven't seen one another in ages. I am overjoyed when about twenty of us arrive just as the Supersuckers plug in their guitars. We can't say "take the stage" because though there is one, it's in lanes eight through eleven, and in lanes one, two and three, rockabilly freaks who look like they only take off their bowling shirts to get more tattoos are bowling. The women have black hair, bleach blond hair or red hair, so in that respect the room looks like an Italian funeral, but that's where the resemblance ends. Tattoos. Tattoos everywhere. Everyone's got 'em. I decide I need a new tattoo for Christmas, because according to Jewish law, it's really tacky to get them for Hanukkah.

Everyone is decked out. Paulie and I make the mistake of trying to get a drink at the bar, where apparently nobody's supposed to do that. We spend most of the Supersuckers set watching the bartenders serve about ten customers. One odd character stands behind the bar next to pre-poured pints of beer. She picks one up and extends her arm toward patrons who invariably shake their heads and make "What, are you kidding me?" faces. By the time we get beers and get out of the bar, the Supersuckers are closing their set with my favorite smutty, audience-participation-required anthem Born With A Tail. The bowling alley goes relatively quiet for a long while, then the Reverend Horton Heat plays for two hours.

Two. Hours.

I dance dance dance dance dance and halfway through that wish I could borrow someone else's feet. Asbury Lanes sells buckets of tasty tater tots that are hot as lava. I wait five minutes after someone offers me a tot and still burn the roof of my mouth. I do not care, however, because the tater tot is delicious. The audience surrenders any pretext of good behavior. How people get drunk in a bar where getting a beer is a half-hour affair is beyond me, but some people are indeed tanked and stumbling. Paulie shrugs, "Two-beer drunks." Ah! Women of all shapes, sizes and stocking styles climb up on the bowling alley tables and gyrate. In truth, these are my people, and I love this place. When the Reverend says goodnight, we feel seasick and relieved at that always strange moment between band music and house music. The brownie troop breaks up, but some of us have rooms at the Berkeley Carteret, which is just as well because it's December and the police have taken up positions on every streetcorner in New Brunswick and Highland Park, to offer comfort to the communities and ticket people doing 26 m.p.h. on Easton and Raritan Avenues. Paulie knows this well. His truck sports a peeling red REJECTED sticker from the mobile inspection station the Highland Park Police erect because it's Tuesday and my wife won't blow me at a location guaranteed to tie up traffic for five towns. We stay at the Berkeley Carteret, which seems to be an odd wormhole between the guido-mob and hip hop-kid universes. The forced air is so dry I dream about the Sphinx. From my window, I watch people walk at the freezing edge of the Atlantic. With happy dogs.

Fortunately, Dad changed his mind and decided to organize Christmas Eve dinner. Everything I have to prepare will be done ahead so I can chase him around in my Oscar-nominated, familiar role: sous chef. I suppose I should mention this to Mom, who generally avoids being in the same room as her longtime ex-husband, and I probably will. If she calls me back.

Please sign the petition, because voting rights should be transparently clear.

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Saturday, December 17, 2005

But Where Are My Manners?

Numbers and I are friends-of-friends. We wave when we pass on the street but it's not like we talk on the phone all the time. Numbers and Daria are great friends. She balances the family checkbook to the penny and the chitter chatter about little stuff. I don't get it, myself. Siobhan keeps trying to explain Poor Impulse Control's statistics to me. I get all squinty and confused and then a pig flies by when I understand something, like that - if I understand the numbers - about two hundred visitors a day fluff their tutus here at PIC, though about seven or eight dance in the swan chorus - the comments, if we must. Don't be so literal!

I keep baking cakes and the visitors keep coming. How about you introduce yourself? Did we date? Have we traipsed around the net together? Are we kissin' cousins? Simply gorgeous strangers?

My bet is you're here for an outrageous reason and I'm dying to know what it is. Quench my thirst for knowledge, you wild charmer. Who are you, and what's on your shinysparkly mind?

Friday, December 16, 2005

Love, Rain On Me

When the American Family Association went to Ford demanding Ford quit advertising in the gay press I admit I thought Ford would cave. After the Microsoft debacle, I thought Ford would let itself be bullied. I mean, shoot. Who should be less fearful of what Intelligent Design believers boycott than scientists and engineers? Yet, Microsoft crumpled like a Dixie cup under Aunt Annie's fanny before finding the gumption to defend itself. So I didn't hold out much hope for Ford, and initially, they did not disappoint me. Ford caved, too.

Brilliant@Breakfast reminds us that John Aravosis and AmericaBlog are three for three this year against the bigots who want gays and lesbians to live in fear and shame, if gays and lesbians must live at all. Pam declares Ford - eventually - kicked the Donald Wildmon and AFA to the curb, and good for Ford, good for gays, and good for the rest of America. It's about time we stopped catering to bullies and fascists.

Love is love is love. It's not the body that matters; it's the person in the body. Time to get over the idea that other people's love affairs affect us in any way whatever, be it Daddy-Daddy matches or Nick and Jessica mismatches. If we have time to care about these things, we need a hobby.

How about restoring old Fords?

Please sign the petition, because voting rights should be right as rain.

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

I've Got the Power

Dad is a decisive person weighing his options.

Dad: InExcelsisDeo's son graduates from military mechanic school in Pittsburgh on the 23rd.
Tata: That date can only have been set by a man whose wife wipes his nose, and to whom he doesn't listen. Fucker!
Dad: Do you kiss babies with that mouth?
Tata: What did you say when you heard about it?
Dad: "What fucking madness."
Tata: Moving on, then...
Dad: Your brother Todd comes in from California on the 30th and stays until the 2nd.
Tata: Really? I knew he'd be here at some point.
Dad: And Dara has to have Christmas with her mother and be back to school on the 2nd. I can only make one trip. What are your plans?
Tata: Gluttony and sloth. Tell me when and where, and I'm there.
Dad: My problem is I promised my sister I'd make Christmas Eve dinner, since she will be out of town until appetizers are plated.
Tata: Don't worry. My sister, my cousins and I will do it.

OH MY GOD! Did you see that coming? Because I didn't!

Dad: How's the apartment?
Tata: I'm considering piling the remaining boxes in front of a vulnerable window and calling it my burglar alarm. I may leave it for my grandchildren to incinerate when they cart me off to the home!
Dad: Serves 'em right! Bastards!
Tata: They're cashing my social security checks! I would!

So Dad's staying three hundred miles away for Italian Christmas Eve. This morning, panic set in when Auntie InExcelsisDeo agreed to let the Girl Gang do the cooking because there just isn't any other way that doesn't involve folding our arms and blinking forth Emeril. I call my cousin Sandy, eight months older than Miss Sasha, most of a foot taller and 100% more local. Sandy's temporarily bunking in at Auntie InExcelsisDeo's family compound in South Brunswick, which gives us access to modern on-site refrigeration in the absence of the homeowner. And salmon!

Tata: Your sister told your mother who told my sister who told me that she, your sister Monday, wanted to make the chicken and polenta.
Sandy: Monday wants to eat the chicken and polenta.
Tata: What do you want to cook?
Sandy: I can't cook.
Tata: Fine. You'll make Edith's bean salad. We'll make the manicotti together. You'll make shrimp pose seductively in a circle.
Tata: Are you in traffic?
Sandy: Bumper to bumper.
Tata: You are a danger to yourself and others. Doesn't your boyfriend have a Costco card?
Sandy: He does.
Tata: Keep your eyes on the road. If you crash, he might be too busy whining about what a marvelous person you were to go shopping for your family. You're so selfish!

If you read the stories leading up to Miss Sasha's wedding, you know Daria, Monday, Sandy and I are now lined up to play a mixed doubles game of YOU'RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME! Daria calls.

Daria: Did Daddy call you?
Tata: Daddy called me.
Daria: Did you talk to Auntie InExcelsisDeo?
Tata: I talked to Auntie InExcelsisDeo.
Daria: Do you know why he's not coming?
Tata: He's coming, just later. Todd's coming later.
Daria: Stop talking to me like that!
Tata: You stop talking to me like that!
Daria: Don't be so bossy!
Tata: You don't be so bossy!
Daria: I'm going to hang up on you in a minute!
Tata: Pot to Black Kettle! Come in, Black Kettle!
Daria: You taking the right half and I'm taking the left half of the buffet?
Tata: I talked to Sandy. She's psyched. We're going to cook.
Daria: Oh my God, Sandy's going to cook?
Tata: We have boyfriends, fiances, cousins and spare moms. With any luck, we will also have other help. It's going to be fine.
Daria: Are you drunk? They let you drink on university property? Hello!
Tata: We'll put appetizers on every flat surface and make Monday bake something into dessert-like submission. And fuck anybody who complains.
Daria: My husband will handle the meats.
Tata: ...And there's my cue to hang up.

If I had money, I'd hire a camera crew and a bulletproof director. If I were smart, I'd hide the fondue forks. I don't, and I'm not, so it's stuffed mushrooms and a side of SHUT UP AND DICE for me!

Please sign the petition, because voting should be easy as pie.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Listen To What I Am Not Saying

Daria calls me at 7:45 a.m. because I've been at my desk fifteen minutes and that's too long. My mind is wandering off. Her calling me is practically a public service.

Daria: So tell Auntie Tartar what you did last night.
Sandro: No!
Daria: You took a shower. What happened in the shower?
Sandro: Nothing!
Tata: He'll make a great co-defendant.
Daria: He was taking a shower and I went upstairs -
Tata: WAIT! I know EXACTLY what happened!

My sisters and brother know I am precisely useless as a babysitter because the moment there's a dirty diaper I'm on the phone with Mom and Dad.

Auntie Tata: You have to come home now. Baby's all yucky.
M&D: We just sat down. We haven't even had girlie drinks.
Auntie Tata: Leave ten minutes ago and arrive now, please. This mess isn't going to change itself!
M&D: Awwww!
Auntie Tata: Woohoo! Got a mop?

And Daria knows the room goes all fuzzy and my head spins when the subject comes up and since she is the younger sister with whom I shared a bedroom until we were teenagers she cannot resist an opportunity to make my head go fuzzy and the room spin. If she had an extra hand and free phone service, she'd leave messages for me all day.

Daria: Changing a full diaper. Knew you had to know -


Daria: Poop! Poop! Poop!

So I know without consulting the Magic 8 Ball what Daria's heading for. The room goes fuzzy and my head spins. I emit little "kek kek kek" noises from the back of my throat.

Daria: So I went upstairs and the room smelled bad. I said, "Baby, what, do you have gas?" He said, "Noooo." So I opened the toilet lid and there was the poop. I said, "Did you poop in the potty?" I was all set to be excited. He said, "No, I put it in the potty." I said, "WITH YOUR HANDS?" And then I had to bleach everything.
Daria: You could see little handprints in the poop.
Tata: I have to go drop dead now.
Daria: I bleached everything last night. Now I have to bleach everything else.
Tata; Waiter...I'll have a Chlorox straight up. Make it a double!
Daria: Yep. The shower curtain's my first target.
Tata: ...squazzbats...

A hair-trigger gag reflex is inhibiting. Someday, I'll be the grandma with a martini in one hand and Ron Popeil's Baby Bott-O-Matic in the other. If I must. But Daria's going to hear all about it.

Please sign the petition, because voting rights shouldn't make you yell for Buicks.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

These Are Ourselves Under Pressure

Auntie InExcelsisDeo: I called your house and a man answered.
Tata: You called my old number! That's Paulie's Dad. He moved in after I moved out.
Auntie I.: He said, "Just a minute. I'll go look." He came back a few minutes later, "No, she's not here."
Tata: That's hilarious! Wonder where he went! You called because you heard me summoning you?
Auntie I.: Did I? What's up? I can't remember why I called you.
Tata: Christmas Eve? Textiles? Got a new pet?
Auntie I.: ...No...
Tata: Plumbing repairs? My Dad's driving you crazy? Vehicular manslaughter?
Auntie I.: ...No...
Tata: Stubbed a toe?
Auntie I.: ...No...
Tata: I got nothing!
Auntie I.: I'll buzz you when I remember!
Tata: I'll be here until I'm paroled...

Last night, a man was executed in California and today the blogsphere erupted in a frenzy of bloody team-bashing. I can't join this game. I can't dance on the grave of another human being, no matter who he or she was, no matter what he or she did. And you'd think I'd be entitled to consider the issue as long as I wished and come to whatever opinion I might, morally and intellectually. Nope. Today, bloggers and pundits on both sides insisted not just that theirs was the only position a wise person could hold but that a person who didn't agree must be morally or intellectually defective.

Yeah. Well. Bite me.

The death penalty in the United States is ridiculous and racist, but that's because human beings are ridiculous and racist. We can't fix that between now and the next state-sponsored execution. We can't fix ourselves, and we can't fix society. Putting aside the unbearable horror that is executing the wrongly convicted, it is too great a responsibility - for me - to decide that another person should die. Many people argue that the Bible says such-and-such, or the Koran says so-and-so. I know what they say, and they provide certainty for a large part of the populus, but not for me. I'm glad these philosophies help people find moral centers in our difficult world.

Still, the one thing I take away from all my years of study is the very simple Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord. This means I am small and covered with fur, and I cannot possibly know any absolute truth. I cannot know if there is a God, an afterlife, a profound justice, or a call for the blood of the guilty, and I accept my limitations here. My options, then, are limited in pursuit of public safety and bodily security. The option I choose is to incarcerate the guilty. If there is a God, and if God has plans for us, great. I hope God's plan is a cocktail party where I meet Mark Twain under the table, but if it's not, then justice is the Lord's - not mine - to administer.

Some people have dreams under anaesthesia. I do not. During surgery, it's as if the doctor's hit my OFF switch, and coming out of it is terrifying because it is not like being ON. It feels like wrestling up from under something heavy on my chest and preventing the drawing of breath. Each time I've come out of anaesthesia, I've felt like I'd been dead for a few hours. Some say after death, there's nothing. I've already been through nothing. When people argue about pits of fire and demon beasts, I don't hope for Heaven. I hope for nothing. I wish there were a way to tell if we're wasting our time, frothing at the mouth about punishments and crimes, but I can't. And in real life, I don't have to.

Not every issue requires that I form an opinion. I have the rest of my life to decide what I think, and I may even so change my mind. From Harold Pinter's Nobel Prize lecture:
Political language, as used by politicians, does not venture into any of this territory since the majority of politicians, on the evidence available to us, are interested not in truth but in power and in the maintenance of that power. To maintain that power it is essential that people remain in ignorance, that they live in ignorance of the truth, even the truth of their own lives. What surrounds us therefore is a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed.

...The United States supported and in many cases engendered every right wing military dictatorship in the world after the end of the Second World War. I refer to Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Haiti, Turkey, the Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador, and, of course, Chile. The horror the United States inflicted upon Chile in 1973 can never be purged and can never be forgiven.

Hundreds of thousands of deaths took place throughout these countries. Did they take place? And are they in all cases attributable to US foreign policy? The answer is yes they did take place and they are attributable to American foreign policy. But you wouldn't know it.

It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.
By way of contrast, this is something I can form an opinion on. These deaths do matter. I don't wish to trivialize this vast, unmeasured suffering but it makes me sick that this was done in our name, in the name of the American people. It makes me just as guilty as the black ops fuckers who commissioned these murders. There is no justice for these victims in this world. For them, I hope there is an easy afterlife, if there is one, but I can't wish eternal damnation or the lake of fire or a red-hot fireplace poker up the butt for the murderers. For them, I wish for exposure and light. I hope their children find out what they did and see their parents with daylight understanding.

Mine are the politics of mercy. It is my wish that the arguments, the debaters, the victims and the murderers go in peace, wherever they're going in this life or what follows. It is my hope that we think clearly and coolly about the suffering we cause and move to mitigate it. If you believe in God, it's the least service you can offer. If you don't, your work on earth is certainly cut out for you.

Please sign the petition, because voting rights are a first step toward justice.

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Monday, December 12, 2005

You're No Rock & Roll Fun

Apropos of very little, my friends have been discussing being stationed on Guam. You'd think the place was packed with very young fashion victims and very old men who didn't know when to zip it.
Hey, my Dad was Air Force and he was stationed on Guam, too. Well, it was a strategic bombing group in the Army Air Corps that became the Air Force. I wonder if you and he met the same hookers.

Roman was a very sensory person and would not have appreciated things like mission statements. It's nice to have something catchy on your patch: I think the space command's motto was "in your face from outer space". But this new mission's like a motto from a bad yuppie bar. "A nice place to get schnockered and pretend to be interested in sports TV with no sound while you're striking out." It's cheap and I think it sucks like every bad corporate meeting I've attended. It makes me think of the uniforms. I have my Dad's old uniform and it's kind of cool. For one thing, it's wool and constructed like a nice suit. Off the rack, but classy. The new uniforms look cheap to me, like a prison uniform. I mean, if you're gonna drop 500 pounds of burning phosphorous on a field of people living with bronze-age technology, at least you can be the leader and dress classy. Consider that the modern armed services are comprised largely of poor black people. Now if there was ever a demographic that appreciated fine clothing, that's it. If they made Marine uniforms from fine, black Italian suits I bet W'd have no problems making the recruitment numbers.

hugs and kissies,

This is what happens when comically enhanced rocket scientists become stay-at-home parents and write letters in scurrulous character all day to erstwhile radio comedians and, generally, people who could fashion lasers out of paper clips and duct tape. And me.

Slappy calls me "my favorite octaroon." His real-life counterpart calls me when the baby's in the emergency room. Many of my friends and most of my relatives do this: lapse into and out of characters and accents. Thus, nothing Slappy says offends me because from early childhood, I recall the business of imagining what other people might say, and knowing those were not my thoughts. They were a recognition of the world in which I lived and people I would never be.

You'd think I'd be prepared, then, for people who aren't kidding but I seldom am. Those desperately personal commercials in which black or Latin teens try to convince Mom or Dad that joining the military is a great idea were written by Chris Rock, right? No? How is that possible? Or years ago, I walked up to Easton Avenue to get university keys cut at this old man's shop that - no lie - was about the size of a cell on death row. Now it's a hot dog stand or something. Anyway, the first time I walked over there, the old man cut my keys and took his ever lovin' time about it. He asked if I read books. I said I did. He said he used to read books but he quit after reading about that there Marquis de Sade. I said that must've been an interesting reading list. He said - I don't know what he said. He was a very old man. I was young, a captive - so to speak - audience, and hotter than lava. How pathetic is it to whine, "I used to be HOT"?

The third or fourth time I walked over there he mentioned de Sade again. He asked if I'd ever read that book. I said I hadn't, which I thought might tamp down the talk. He shuffled weakly around the tiny key shop like Tim Conway character facing a stiff wind. If I patted him on the cheek he might break, but there he was lecturing at excruciating - pardon the pun - length on whips and chains.

Like many men of his generation, he'd been a military man who'd traveled the world and tried to bring something of it home with him. I might've picked something from the PX. On Guam.

Please sign the petition, because voting rights should be free, free, free.

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Sunday, December 11, 2005

Whisper To A Scream

My brain's pooped. Daria called at 9:30 this morning, not just because she's the busy mommy of three children under seven but because she's bossy.

Daria: What are you making for Christmas Eve?
Tata: WWWHA BHEPGHHLLLFHL stuffed mushrooms, maybe?

An ability to converse in our sleep distinguishes my family members from other crazy people. When our maternal grandmother visited from Cape Cod, Daria discovered our terrible secret. Daria waved me into her room where Gramma was napping on the bottom bunk and mewing like a basket of kittens.

Daria: Where's the gin?
Gramma: Bottom shelf in the refri- refri- next to the olives.
Daria: Can I have a pack of your cigarettes?
Gramma: Aren't you a little old to start smoking? Take a carton. Catch up.
Daria: Can I have ten dollars?
Gramma: No..zzzzzzzzz.

You can't have everything.

Daria: Auntie InExcelsisDeo's on NutraSystem and looks great. Did I wake you up?
Tata: It's fine. Can we cook for that? How do we cook for that?
Daria: Beats me. Daddy's bringing mmmppmmmhhpphh and pppphhhhrrbbbb.

Daria frequently forgets to eat in the course of her frenetic day. The sound of my voice triggers the recognition she hasn't eaten since Tuesday. She is stuffing something vaguely nutritious into her mouth before she forgets again. Because conversation with her is regularly unintelligible, I don't ask her to repeat. Daddy's bringing stuff and roasting it. What else do I need to know? Later, I have an idea and call Mom.

Tata: I am proposing a project in which I do all the work. Stop laughing!
Mom: I can't breathe! What project?
Tata: I'd like to transcribe Edith's recipes so everyone can have them.
Mom: My recipe box is filled with -

Mom has her own sense of time, order and sentence structure. I'm paraphrasing because if I didn't condense you'd stab yourself in the eardrums and threaten grammarians. I can't be responsible for that, however hilarious it might be to watch Mom make someone else suicidal. Or study interjections. In any case -

Mom: My recipe box is filled with recipes in my mother's, my grandmother's and your grandmother's handwritings. I wrote down a lot of other things over the years. I plan to give this box to Miss Sasha.
Tata: That's really nice, Mom, but there can only be one of those and the rest of us would like to have our grandmoms' recipes.
Mom: The recipe box is like a scrapbook...
Tata: Do you realize that some insecure women give their blood relatives family recipes and leave out a key ingredient?
Mom: ...filled with important memories...
Tata: And Miss Sasha's blood relatives will carve her up like a spiral ham if the Edith's manicotti recipe is bland.
Mom: You've got a laptop, right?

I'm also pooped because after yesterday's excursion to Home Depot, I had a pile of DIY art supplies and towels to wash. Everything is educational if you let it teach you stuff. Yesterday, I learned the full wash cycle wrings clothing to within an inch of its life and sixty minutes in the dryer barely smooths the creases. Today, I learned that running towels through the delicate cycle produces as wet as towels can be. My apartment became very humid after that and for hours to follow. I see clearly I'd better take some vinegar to my windows. At one point, Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, was sitting on my lap when he stood up and growled like an angry dog my hallway. This went on for a number of unnerving minutes.

Larry: I'm creeped out!
Tata: You're preaching to the choir, brother.

In between, I drilled holes in the hallway wall and hung a shelf, which I lined with delicate glass bottles. I drilled holes in my closet and hung tap lights so I can pick clothing that might match. I drilled holes in the kitchen ceiling and screwed in hooks left by the previous tenant. From these hooks, I hung the four remaining green-blue Christmas balls that belonged to my father's parents and the glass Christmas ball my mother's mother had made when I was born. Yes, I'm tired, but tired and overjoyed.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Is It Love?

You know how refrigerators come in boxes? Washers and dryers come in trucks. What will I play in? That is a trick question. The answer is CLEAN CLOTHES!

Paulie: Tata, don't even plug in that dryer before you buy a fire extinguisher.
Tata: Why not?
Paulie: What's the tag say? How many amps?
Tata: I'm reading the tag. I see nothing about amps.
Paulie: What else?
Tata: It goes on and on about a risk of explosion. Like, in four languages.
Paulie: ...As opposed to the international language of I'M ON FIRE with subtle undertones of AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

Oh. Well, I guess I'm off to the Home Depot. But first, I'm going to try something no one of my generation in my family has: reading the manual. Stop laughing! I bought some shiny objects, and I want to use them without combining violently with oxygen myself.

I'd pout...but I have Appliance Joy! Joy!

Please sign the petition, because voting rights shouldn't go up in smoke.

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Friday, December 09, 2005

One, Two, Three, Five!

Week Two.
Siobhan: What are you doing?
Tata: Searching the net for washers and dryers.
Siobhan: Have you found anything?
Tata: I have found that I hate Sears' website with a fiery passion.
Siobhan: Last week, you hated Home Depot's website with every fiber of your being.
Tata: I've developed enough fiber to hate Sears, too. I can't help thinking there's something I don't get.
Siobhan: Have you picked models you want to look at?
Tata: Damn it!

Week Four.
Siobhan: What are you doing?
Tata: Searching the net for washers and dryers.
Siobhan: Have you found anything?
Tata: I've found that poor people aren't supposed to take decent care of themselves. Or at least appliance manufacturers could make it easier.
Siobhan: Explain!
Tata: Google "110 volt washing machine" sometime and look at the tiny variety of craptastic options. In America, you either have a room devoted to laundry or you carry change to someone else's coin op. The washer + dryers would be great if they worked but the technology is tragically flawed.
Siobhan: Tragically?
Tata: Yes, I would like to spend $700 on a machine that doesn't make me want to kill myself during the five-hour dryer cycle, after which I dry the second half of the load and blow my brains out. I was too young to die!
Siobhan: Do those come portable?
Tata: Yep.

Week Six
Siobhan: What are you doing?
Tata: Searching the net for washers and dryers.
Siobhan: I'm so sick of asking. Have you found anything?
Tata: Yes. I've made a table, comparing facts and figures. I'm buying something Thursday night or bust.
Siobhan: I'll pick you up at 7. Wear shoes. Stores like that.

Last night
Siobhan: Shoes on?
Tata: Shoes on. Facts prepared. Credit cards fully greased with WD40.
Siobhan: Are you wearing AQUA?
Tata: Can't be helped. Must appear normal. Game face.
Siobhan: That explains the Furious Red lipstick at war with your sweater.

[Insert musical interlude HERE. Feelings...nothing more than feelings...]

Siobhan: Holy crap! You haggled!
Tata: I what?
Siobhan: You haggled! He told you a price, you said no and he threw in a TV at a reduced price!
Tata: I was here the whole time. Well, mostly...
Siobhan: Then you handed him a credit card and now there's a TV in the back of my Ford Exsanguinator.
Tata: I didn't pass out or nothin'! But if you don't stop at the liquor store and let me buy a bottle of wine I'll be up all night hyperventilating.
Siobhan: It's just like you to hog all the oxygen!

It is absolutely true that I cackled maniacally while picking a wine, and the cashier I'd never seen before earnestly tried to convince me a washer/dryer is not a selfish purchase. In self-defense, I think. I wonder how many times a day that happens in liquor stores.

Appliances will be delivered tomorrow. All my sock puppets will be April-fresh by Monday. Cross your fingers! My hands are still shaking.

Please sign the petition, because voting rights shouldn't need petitions.

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

Never Was A Cornflake Girl

Fresh from a conversation in which my co-worker said the magical words, "Of course, this annoys the chinchilla," I sit at my desk and Daria calls. It's serious.

Daria: I'm making a chicken salad sandwich.
Tata: What kind of bread?
Daria: Twelve grain.
Tata: Toasted?
Daria: Golden brown and crisp.
Tata: The chicken salad: does it have capers?
Daria: It could. I possess capers at all times.
Tata: Foliage?
Daria: Celery. I'm out of lettuce so I might have to use arugula.
Tata: I covet your sandwich. It cries out to me!
Daria: You live vicariously through me. And the sandwich.
Tata: Remember the time Daddy went to San Francisco and brought home a loaf of sourdough bread?
Daria: (shocked) Remember? That loaf of bread has spoiled me for all other sourdough bread.
Tata: He cut slices, toasted them and made us peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. What, were we eight and nine, maybe?
Daria: I take a bite now and say, "Nope, nope, I'm done with this." It's not the same. Oh no!
Tata: What?
Daria: I nearly dropped the sandwich in the sink.
Tata: Don't move! I might be able to drive to Flemington in time to save it!
Daria: I didn't drop it. You might drive to Flemington and watch me eat another.

A lot of our childhood memories involve bread or food of some kind. One of my favorite was one of those little things you might not notice or if you did you might forget it. It was summer, afternoon and the weather was stormy. Dad and I were home alone, so I was ten years or less. He made garlic bread and poured us glasses of red wine. We sat on the concrete stoop with our toes inches from the line where rain dripped. We nibbled crusty garlic bread and sipped buttery red wine. I have no recollection of what we might have talked about but that doesn't matter, does it?

Suddenly it's a loaded question. Tomato soup and portents. A salad of baby greens and the verdant scent of rain you never forget. What's for lunch?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

We've Got To Find A Way To Bring Some Lovin' Here Today

Tonight, the Science Channel re-reruns the remastered Cosmos. I'm exhausted from a long day of terrorizing the unsuspecting and caring for several of you mad charmers. If I get especially lucky, I might get to Nair my mustache. I've been so busy every pass by a mirror reminds me of Snidely Whiplash. Which also reminds me: what kind of insult is "Get a horse"?

This morning, my brilliant stepmommy Darla, two years younger than I am and twice as feisty, asked my opinion on Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee's bluntly titled Narnia represents everything that is most hateful about religion. I had to think it over while my co-workers rudely asked me university-related questions. Fortunately, someone came around the cubicle wall with giant leaves of paper so orange everyone who saw it recoiled, then touched it to see if the color stung.

It's a good thing Toynbee's throwing this hissy on the east side of the Atlantic, where it's less likely someone would burn a cross on her front yard for terming Jesus' resurrection "repugnant." If you can imagine it, people express themselves in public without fear of - like - ammo and extensive physical therapy. Still, I used to have that right, and no matter that sacrificial figures appear in the mythologies of every people on earth, I'm not sure I have that right in America now. In fact, I'm not even sure I have the simple right to vote. Are you?

Free speech, no matter how cranky or offensive, is one of our most important rights and we defend it by speaking freely until everyone becomes accustomed once again to the idea that dissent is patriotic. Plus, actual discussion is really good for our brains. Our brains like it! Ask 'em! Thus, no matter how you feel about ammo, Jesus, movies and Carl Sagan, your opinion matters.

So's your vote.

Please sign the petition

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Monday, December 05, 2005

Diode, Cathode, Electrode, Overload, Generator, Oscillator

Sometimes I ask myself the tricky questions like, "WHAT color is my HAIR?" and "Madame, though I could swear I was with you the whole time, I must know: where have you been since Friday night?" Well, who gets to be that rude with me and get away with all their teeth? I mean, besides Siobhan and Daria, and Miss Sasha, Trout and LaLa, Anya and Corinne. Auntie InExcelsisDeo, Darla, all my cousins and anyone who's ever been my friend? Guess that leaves me.

Tata: Have you looked at our head?
Tata: What's wrong with our head?
Tata: In case you hadn't noticed your hair has oxidized back to its natural colors.
Tata: What?! You are blind, lady. That's red.
Tata: Your nails are red. Your hair is brown.
Tata: Lying bitch! That's a subtle red, with less subtle red running through it.
Tata: Listen Helen Keller, that's brown hair! If you don't do something about it I'm turning you in at the hair salon for punitive coloration. With extreme prejudice.
Tata: Okay! Okay! But I get to pick the color!
Tata: No, you get to shut up and pick socks.

Izzat so? I guess that's better than nothing because today I wore hospital-issue slipper socks. More than half my pairs have become solitaries and someone was using the laundry room every time I went down there all weekend. Tempers flare when a tenant leaves laundry in the sole washing machine. I've got to buy myself a washer before I stick a meat fork into the sternum of the next harridan who takes my clothes out of the machine during the spin cycle. Which reminds me: I have to shop for cutlery if I ever want to have guests over for PopTarts.

So my hair is an exciting comicbook red since I'd stocked up on boxed tints, and the Philomusica concerts are behind us. Did you miss them? The selections were fantastic fun for certifiable music nutballs like myself. You might have enjoyed many aspects of the evening. The church's atrium was mostly glass, tile and giant potted plants. Whenever the heat came up the glass click-click-clicked, making the whole building feel twitchy. In the center of the lobby stood a holy water font - except that since I've never been Catholic, to me it looked like a giant marble egg cup and suddenly I wondered about pteridactyl eggs benedict. The Schubert pieces had a lovely waltzing quality that reminded me of ice skating and cocoa. The Mozart made me think, as Mozart always does, of secrets, clean sonic lines and grave danger. The choir was wonderful and if you can believe it, those crazy people left me in charge of the money after intermission. Don't think you'll find my pawprints inside the cashbox. I'm far too lazy for larceny.

On Sunday, I opened my vegetable door and a tumbleweed rolled by. I called Paulie Gonzalez, whose travel schedule almost certainly precluded vegetables green for the first time. We have good talks in the farmers' market on Route 1. I have to go with someone else because driving on Route 1 makes my eyes ache, body-to-body contact with strangers fills me with rancor, and being poor makes me want to run screaming from retail outlets. Last week, Lupe and I went to Kohl's with coupons and I had to have a serious talk with myself in the sweater section.

Tata: Sherbet colors. I'd toss my cookies but the whole place looks like someone already has.
Tata: Woman! You are going to pick four sweaters you only mildly loathe, and we are buying them!
Tata: Are you out of your mind? These are acrylics!
Tata: Guess what? You're allergic to wool. You're allergic to cashmere and angora. You're allergic to anything shaved off a sheep or a goat, and remember what happened when you tried to wear genuine lapin?
Tata: Carrots still make me nervous.
Tata: You have enough clothes for a week, and a lost weekend at a costume party. Pick four sweaters. If you still haven't yakked, maybe you could find a bra. And you need pants, unless you plan on ignoring a breeze and an arresting officer.
Tata: One frightfest at a time! Do you think I could pick out an aqua sweater and follow that with a 3D view of my butt? Not without a handful of Xanax and a badly behaved hypnotist!
Tata: Rock on!

Lupe's presence made it possible for me to buy sweaters and two bras; Paulie's invariably delivers to my kitchen a fresh and fragrant bounty. If only I could figure out who are the Good Fairies of Socks, Washer/Dryers and cutlery, I might narrow down who might be the Good Witch, the one who whacks me on the head and makes me gift-shop. I sure hope that doesn't turn out to be me, too.

Voting Shenaningans

Hello, all. Tami, the One True butting in YET AGAIN.

I am once again going to point you over to Blanton's and Ashton's for a fine post about voting that includes the word "Shenaningans", which I love. And, of course, a plea to sign the petition.

Please sign the petition

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Sing This Corrosion To Me

I am so upset about this I can't even speak. Some people with no shame want us all to live in theirs.

There's no excuse for this girl's prosecution. None at all.

Friday, December 02, 2005

When Conversation Kills Again

Tata: Whatcha doin'?
Siobhan: Working!
Tata: Oh God! It's like a million voices cried out and were silent!
Siobhan: It's OK! I've moved on to filing my nails!
Tata: And now they're making dinner plans...
Siobhan: Whew! That was close! I'd hate to be the destroyer of Alderaan inadvertently.
Tata: Right. You want your genocides to be deliberate and bloody. None of this pussified, nobody-noticed slaughters of innocents. Especially not at work! How will your enemies fear you properly?
Siobhan: My boss stopped by my cube a little while ago. He hasn't done that in a month.
Tata: Did you snap your fingers a few times trying to remember where you'd seen that face before?
Siobhan: No, no. I've seen him, just not at my desk.
Tata: The snapping would have given you time to organize context clues. I believe he would appreciate that kind of logical thinking in his employee.

I can't think or act like most other people. It's a miracle I'm employed, really. Thus, I understand why Deborah Davis did what she did. I have questions, of course, about how any story is reported, about the facts of the case as I've read them, particularly about why a commuter bus drives through a federal facility on the way to other people's jobs. Even so, I wouldn't provide my ID in that situation either. The only point in asking for it is intimidation, and I want to offer as little assistance as possible in my own subjugation.

So yes, I have to go to Motor Vehicle Services Monday evening with all my documents and demonstrate I am who I say I am. I should bring the Fabulous Ex-Husband(tm) to testify that in fact, we are good and divorced. He would find that funny. I wonder if they'd stamp his forehead like deranged notaries. I've had two fights with the agency this week, and I'm sick of their "Because We Said So" and "After September 11th, We Can Make You Dance" attitude. They only get away with it because we let them.

So no. Don't produce ID. Being law-abiding doesn't make you a pussy. And being a pussy doesn't make you safe.

More on the Verified Voting Blogswarm

Hello, Tami, the One True busting right on in again. Tata says that she plainly hasn't mastered things like paying attention, so I should post these blogswarm thingies, and yet, she's paying enough attention to know that the petition support HR 550 is very important, and you should go sign it.

Need supporting arguments? Check out Blanton's and Ashton's, or any of these Technorati Tags:


Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Car Is Dead. Long Live the Car.

Daria and Tyler gave me a car. They had a spare. I don't know how you have a spare, except I now have two cars. One is My Mechanical Nemesis, which has been trying to die. I've mentioned this sleek disaster on wheels enough that people write to ask what new trick I've taught my pet convertible. A few months ago, the car began emitting the your-seatbelt's-off-and-the-door's-open bell every morning as I passed Johnson & Johnson's interplanetary headquarters. This is the Clown Car Noise. This is the noise a car makes as Seth Green leans out the driver's side, wails, "Whooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooaaaaaa!" and steers an English sports car with his feet. These are someone else's sound effects. Then the muffler came a little loose. During my environmentally hostile 1.2 mile commute, I've been making such a racket that singing Little Pink Houses at the top of my lungs along with Jack Radio is less shiver-inducing than listening to the symphony of omens my car's been playing. I made Paulie start the car so we could both lie down in a parking lot to laugh hard enough.

I didn't want to say anything in the blog because I hate to jinx my further involvement with Motor Vehicle Services, which I jinxed more than a decade ago by getting divorced. An employee of Hell On Earth then told me, "No, you get to change your name once." This did not stop me from choosing a series of names for myself and using them legally. My passport and every other bit of ID I possess has my fancypants last name. Attempts to get my driver license to match failed. Before Thanksgiving, my plan was to stay home, lock the door and talk to nobody. I enjoy talking to nobody, with the lovely exception of Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul. He's witty and urbane.

Tata: I'm not coming to your house.
Daria: You're coming to my house!
Tata: I'm not coming to your house.
Daria: Come to Thanksgiving and get A NEW CAR!
Tata: Do you lack...pie?

As I put on my coat to leave their house, Tyler puts documents and a set of keys in my hands. He's an Allstate agent. He says, "Don't hit a deer until after it's on your insurance. Also: your aunt borrowed the car and still has the papers."

Someday, a doctor will step forward and say, "That's when I knew, officer. I should have reached into my authoritative-looking medical bag and pulled out a prescription pad. I should have written her scrip for an All You Can Eat Valium Buffet. But I'm only human."

The next morning, which is to say the Friday after Thanksgiving, I called NJCure because it didn't seem strange that a business might be open for business on a business day. After six attempts to navigate the phone tree and leaving progressively more frustrated messages, I accepted the idea that my insurance company's employees were all out increasing the Gross National Product, and I should suck it up for America and go get the paperwork. Auntie InExcelsisDeo promised to put everything in her mailbox, in case she left the house before I got there. I drove down Route 27 to South Brunswick, toward her very old home in the very old woods on Old Road. Where I turn, I found a detour sign and no recognizable detour. About a mile later on Route 27, I pulled over and called her house. The machine picked up.

Tata: Oh Auntie! Is there...maybe...something you neglected to tell me? Your street doesn't seem to be where I left it. Did your street move and leave your house behind?

When I turned around, which is the polite way of saying when I took my life in my hands by crossing two lanes of traffic in a vehicle SUV drivers don't stop to pick out of their grilles, I found a strange bald pre-construction spot, and Auntie's house no longer surrounded by woods hundreds of years old. I felt sick. I collected the documents from the mailbox, rang the doorbell, got no answer and couldn't leave fast enough.

Calls to NJCure on Saturday didn't help either. Monday morning, I finally got a human on the phone. The human asked lots of questions I mostly couldn't answer, like how many cylinders my new car has. I did not offer to go outside and count, but after that conversation, I could now make a beeline for Motor Vehicles, and I did.

Their system was down. I registered my car and got new plates. I could not change my address. I was given a slip of paper with a phone number on it, like MVS was selling me a used washer/dryer. Reasonably victorious, I went to the university's parking department, where I paid $4 for a new parking sticker. While I was there, I thought I might pay for my 2006 parking "privileges" - which in New Brunswick is a viable defense in a homicide case, and if someone steals your parking space, no jury will convict you of assaulting him with a crowbar, and the jurors would know because they had to do the same thing on the way in. The nice man at the counter said that went on sale on 1 December. I said, "You charged me $4 for a new sticker I can use for 3 days before I need to buy another?" He giggled nervously.

In the meantime, I discovered Daria and Tyler hadn't renewed the registration after July, so with or without the paperwork, I'd been driving around in a forest of moving violation tickets, if caught. Perhaps that's where the woods went. It is extremely important to note that driving the new car is a pleasure compared to driving the car that was trying to die. My stomach is not in knots. I arrive at my destinations without a hint of Mellencampiness. There's no frost on the inside of my windshield. Okay, it took me two days to figure out how to turn off the windshield wipers but since I know Daria never reads manuals I bet they were on the whole time she drove it.

I have two remaining issues:

1. It's white. I - forgive me - am Frau Blue Car. [Lightning strike, thunder cracks, horses whinny, yeah yeah.]

Siobhan: Except for the fact that it's white, it is a very stylish car.
Tata: Paulie says we should take it into the shop and make it all artistic by gluing stuff to it. I laughed so hard I snorted when I thought of pulling into Tyler's driveway with my car covered with art.
Siobhan: Oh, yeah, stuff glued to a car. That's not tacky. Well, unless it's elbow macaroni painted gold. That's very elegant.

While I contemplate the idea that one good rainstorm might transform my automobile into a shiny side dish or a pedophile's dream ride, my other problem is terminology.

2. I'm a Jersey chick.

Trout: What kind of car is that? A Trans Am?
Tata: A Grand Am.
Trout: It's a Trans Am! Admit it!
Tata: ...Grand Am...

I'm telling!
Tata: Trout keeps saying Daria gave me a Trans Am. I say it's a Grand Am, because if it were a Trans Am I would have to buy hairspray and crack my gum.
Siobhan: Can't we call it a Trans Am? That would probably drive Paulie nuts. You can't chew gum - you have braces.
Tata: Ergo, it must be a Grand Am. Did I just say "ergo"?

Another Glimpse of the Madman Across the Water

Johnny and his hot veterinarian wife would have been living the high life in New Mexico all this time were it not for one wriggling fly in the financial ointment: the old house, it would not sell!

Accursed New Hampshire house to close tomorrow. All pieces seem to be in place. Seems too good to be true. LIke the other three times we thought we had a buyer. Crossing fingers. Gobbling tranquilizers. Praying. Actually honest to God praying. I don't even know to whom, but I'm praying.

Don't worry, sweetheart. God wants you to wear silk bowling shirts to work! Well...? Is that fucking house sold or what?

The round table assembles at one your time, three our time. These things can be time-consuming, so who knows when we'll get word. The wife's dad Big A, the ex-Marine, is there on our behalf to kill some people if need be. This is going to be a long day. The Longest Day, you might say. That had Marines in it, too. I feel pretty sure that the wife's dad could beat up my dad, a milktoast MP in Japan after the war was already over, and not even man enough to come home with a tattoo. Jesus. What time was it again?

Darling, three my time is one your time. So is it three my time or your time?

It's like the survey where they ask the young guy do you think the problem with youth today is ignorance or apathy, and he says I don't know, and I don't care. I never was good at math.

Don't kid yourself, sister. We all know that ONE LESS house = MORE Armani for Johnny. That's all the math a pretty girl like you needs.

THe[sic] house back East sold. It will be nice to see what paying one mortgage is like. As God is my witness, I didn't know what I was going to do if this sale didn't go through. NOw[sic] I don't konw[sic] what I'm goign[sic] to do now that it has. But I must say, I prefer the second problem. GOd[sic] help me.

A triumph of the American pharmaceutical industry: the house sells and Our Hero lives to make crosseyed typos another day!

Monday, Siobhan told me I'd make an excellent real estate agent. I don't need another job. No, I think what I need is a more accommodating doctor with a chemical bent.

Yes, I said bent. You heard me!

Siobhan: ...remember back when I wanted to be a webmistress in 1996? When it was all new? And I told my manager that I knew how to make a web page?
S: I can do it, here's a URL for my personal web page "All Siobhan, All the Time." Just don't click on the word "Somewhere," that's a link to the naked women.
Manager: OK, I'll check it out.
(Five minutes later, Manager, with a face the same shade as a ripe tomato comes rushing over.)
Manager: I thought you were kidding!

Tata: That NEVER gets old!
Siobhan: I know! And it's 9 years ago, already!
Tata: Now tell me the one where we sat in cribs in a punk poetry club and almost died on the Pulaski Skyway!
Siobhan: Can't I instead tell you the one about where you protested at a cable station and played kickball while wearing a clown nose? It'd be funny if I told you about it because I wasn't there!
Tata: Will Medicare pay for visiting nurses and a therapeutic raconteur?