It's not about the house.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What I Did On My April Vacation



I mean, like, literally: nothing. 

Sat around on the couch -- slept on the fucking couch -- at Dr. One Friend's place all by myself. Ate. Peed. Worked out. Occasionally took Two Dog out for same. Got drunk with an old friend. Then at the end of the week came home to Much Psychotic Drama I am not ready to talk about here yet. Had the best email conversation EVER in the middle of it all, which culminated in a New Project For Me. Called Marie, who took me out for sushi. Told her all about the Drama and the Project. Came home and got drunk all by myself. Woke up and decided to quit drinking. Again. For good. Or at least until the next Psychotic Drama comes along. 

I think that just about sums it up.

The End.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Starving Hysterical Naked

You probably think I went missing again, don’t you? Well, you’re wrong. I have been here these last few days, I swear to god, you just couldn’t see me because I was lurking in the corners with my tendrils all pulled in. It’s what we unfulfilled-potential, biology-majors like to call an Adaptive Behavior. New threats come at you from on high, you learn to carry a snail shell on your back and walk in zig-zag patterns, stuff like that.

I might have got that reference a little wrong; it’s been twenty years since I was in the lab. And my threats weren’t threats so much as inconveniences, coming at me from the total opposite of high. But the point is: I felt violated. Not by life or by the universe or by my own bad karma (except maybe that karma thing a little), but by—

All right, look: what happened is my GPS got stolen. Okay? There, I said it. Out of my car, in my driveway, right here in this throw-up suburb where we live. Last Sunday (Sunday!), at three o’clock in the god-awful morning.

We know exactly when it happened, see, because the car alarm went off and Johnny – instead of looking out the window to see if somebody might be oh, I don’t know, tampering with the car – came to my bedroom to wake me up and tell me to get the keys and go outside and shut it off. This is the same man who called me into the living room the other day to kill a spider, “because he knows how much I hate them.” There are times I want to tie a rope around his waist and dangle him off a ledge until I can stomach the thought of him again, I swear to god.

But I was unrousable on Sunday at 3:00 a.m., not even for a shouty husband or a car alarm, and eventually they both stopped going off. Then that afternoon I got in the car to find the contents of my armrest/catchall strewn about the front seat, and the GPS – which I got for Christmas and had used exactly twice – was gone. 

I’m working on a larger piece about all that. About how I actually got two GPSes (GPS’s? GPii? GPeez?) for Christmas – one from my husband and one from my dad – and about how metaphorical it is both that that happened to me, and that in three short months I’ve managed to work my way back down to none again. But this Larger Piece I’m working on is Complicated. It has honest-to-god Truth in it and crap –  not just the snarky, button-pushing venom I spill here. So it’s going to take a while to get right and, frankly, I’m hoping it will find itself a nicer home. In fact, if you live in the Boston area (or love me enough to travel), you might just get to hear me read it right out loud, on an actual stage, some lovely (and infinitely more auspicious) Sunday in the month of May...

But anyway. So that GPS thing happened here last Sunday. And then on Monday, one of Johnny’s friends (one of Johnny’s friends I cannot stand, by the way – in other words: not George) walked right into our house at an indecent hour of the morning. And by “indecent hour” I mean ten o’clock, but Johnny was still sleeping (see above, re.: the ledge), and I was passing through the dining room on my way to a post-workout shower. If I hadn’t been so fleet of foot, Johnny’s Hateful Friend would have been permanently blinded by the sight of sweaty me parading around in a ratty towel. Hm. Maybe I should just go ahead and let him see me next time. Teach him to go walking into people’s houses unannounced...

Except that there will never be a next time, because we’re going to start locking some damn doors around here. And if Johnny doesn’t like it, he can get one of his Townie friends to cut him down.

All right, fine, you’re right: that isn’t fair. Johnny has no say in whether or not car doors get left locked, seeing as how I’m the only person around here who drives. And I have not willingly locked a car door since 1991, when someone smashed the window of that poo-brown Buick Regal and stole the cheap-ass, dime-store boom-box I kept on the back seat. That smash-and-grab happened downtown, under the expressway (when the expressway used to be there), and although I can’t imagine that the perpetrator got more than a buck fifty for that gray plastic piece of poo, I’ve always relished the idea of its new owner pressing Play on the cassette I left there, and being blasted at maximum volume with the soundtrack to Jesus Christ Superstar. I did manage to get out of a speeding ticket two months later by pointing to the Hefty bag taped over that still-missing window and claiming to have just that night been burgled of my purse. But all the same: it would have been a much warmer winter if I’d just left the door unlocked in the first place. Which is what I have done, ever since.

So the unlocked car’s not Johnny’s fault. But the house is.


The part that’s not his fault about the house is the fact that the front door doesn’t close for, oh, about thirteen months out of the year. I mean, it closes – in the sense that there’s no space between the door and jamb – but it gets all sticky and it doesn’t latch. To open it from the outside, you have to pull the handle while simultaneously banging the top corner with your hand. From the inside you don't need the handle: just kick the bottom till the top corner juts out, then pull it down.

Come to think of it, that’s Johnny’s fault, too. Yes, it is! Because the whole reason the door won’t close is that it’s swollen, and the whole reason it’s swollen is that when he painted it he never did the edge. It’s a simple enough solution: take it off, plane it down, sand and paint the edges, hang it back up, and voilá! But no. Johnny says it doesn’t close because the porch is sinking. Which it is. That’s true. But my way would work, goddamnit. And when I (magnanimously and acquiescently, I must say) suggested a fix for the saggy porch – which was to jack it up and support it on some of the collection of cement blocks he’s been accumulating in the yard to, I don't know, weight him down so he can stay with me after the Rapture comes or something – he said no. He said we have to dig and pour a goddamn foundation underneath it if we’re gonna jack it up. So instead we have done nothing, and the door still doesn’t close.

All right. You don’t want me going any farther down this road right now, just trust me. So let’s skip ahead to the few days a year the door actually does close, and how at those times Johnny insists that leaving it unlocked is the neighborly thing to do.

There was a time I didn't mind this. I grew up in a small town, with friendly neighbors, and I thought I missed that when I lived in the city. So when Johnny and I moved out to Quincy I used to say I didn't mind. That's when it was only George letting himself in our apartment. George, who always called ahead to tell us he was coming, who knocked when he got there, then opened the door and hollered a hello before actually stepping in. But now, you see, I miss the city. Desperately. I never wanted this goddamn house in the first place, and now I have to share it with all manner of Townville natives who waltz straight in while I’m in my altogether, plus presumed junkies rifling through my armrest/catchall at three in the morning...

And I’m feeling a little violated, if it’s all the same to you.

Hm. There doesn't seem to be much of a punchline, does there? How 'bout this: 

Q: What do you call someone who doesn't fart in public? 

A: A private tutor


Friday, April 9, 2010


It’s not because I’m old, I swear to god. I’ve always done it. One of my very first memories of having my license is not so much of driving, per se, as of getting my brother to put me up on his shoulders after the two of us wandered the Auburn Mall parking lot for forty minutes, trying to figure out where the hell I might have left my father’s car.

Things got more complicated when I grew up (relatively speaking) and moved to Boston, where I often had to go down a thousand one-way streets in the wee hours of the morning before managing to find the requisite fourteen feet of open curb. By the time I squeezed my good old land-cruiser into dock, it was usually all I could do to stumble home, let alone remember in which direction I had stumbled from. Thankfully, the good old land-cruisers (I went through several) were all distinctive enough in their own way – poo-brown with a window missing, yellow with a black hood and a blue part on one side – that most times all I had to do later was walk along the main drag glancing down side streets until I found it. And if not, well, the city would find it eventually and kindly send a notice telling me where I could pick it up.

I can’t pretend the Lost My Car routine didn’t come in handy for me sometimes back then, though. I once, for example, conned a Very Cute Boy into taking me home by letting him drive me past my poo-brown ’79 Buick Regal over and over and over and over again, while I inched closer and closer and closer to him on the bench seat of his light-blue ’76 Chevy Nova, widening my eyes, speculating that I must have gotten towed, and pretending to have no idea where the city might want me to pick it up... 

(For the record: neither of us are nearly as old as those models make us sound, we just had impeccable taste in motor vehicles. See?

 I don't know which of us looks hotter in these pictures, honestly.

And in my defense, the scenario I so seductively wove that night did turn out to be true... eventually. Because by the time I went back for the Buick the next morning -- or possibly evening -- she was as towed as towed can be. Best damn ninety bucks I ever spent, I tell you what.)

Anyway, things got a smidgeon easier when I moved back outside the city, but only because I still drove those shitbox land-cruisers, and there’s never what you might call an abundance of them in suburban parking lots. If I could manage to remember which door I entered the stadium-sized Stop & Shop through, for example (and let’s be honest, vegetables-vs.-ice cream has never been that hard a distinction for a girl with hips like these) then it was usually easy enough to spot Babe, the blue Ford E150 on my way back out. Malls did still flummox me -- they’d gotten so much bigger since I'd last been in one, with so many more ways to go in and out -- but I don’t do the mall thing all that much, so I was fine.

Until I bought the son-of-a-bitch Toyota.

Now not only do I forget where I left the damn thing, but I can also never seem to fucking find it! It looks just exactly like every other stupid small car – even the blues and greens and blacks don’t look all that different from one another at a distance in the sun – and it hides behind every SUV and (sniff) land-cruiser till I trip on it. So lately I’ve taken to wandering parking-lot aisles again, searching for my own car by its license plate, which thankfully I know by heart. It's: something something something-220.

You think I’m kidding about this? I am not. Last week, I drove a friend in to Mass. General for a minor emergency. She’s fine, thanks for asking. And it’s a good thing, too, because she's the only one who knew which button to push in the elevator when we left. If she hadn't pulled through in such Warrior fashion, I might still be looking for my car in that garage.

All of this is by way of explaining why I was so tickled with myself the other day. I wanted to go for a walk, see, but it was very hot out, so rather than get all sweated-up I decided to drive a few miles first and mosey down the beach. But the beach was awfully crowded for an April Wednesday (see: very hot out), so I had to go almost all the way down to the end before I found a spot. And then – here's the good part, brace yourselves – as I was kicking off my Jack Purcells and rolling up my jeans, I made a mental note of where I was.

I know!

Look, I told myself. There’s a stairway to the beach a few cars that way, and down there in the ocean is one of those big ugly things. What are those things, anyway? Giant, sticky-outy sandbar-ish creations poured from crumbling cement. They’re all up and down the beach. What are they for? I don’t know, EGE, I told myself, but they are all up and down the beach, so pay attention: yours is the one just this side of the yacht-club dock. If you walk back under that dock, you’ve gone too far. Got it?

Got it.

I had a lovely time. Walked for more than an hour, all the way down to one end of the beach, then back and all the way down to the other. Probably at least three miles, all together. The tide was low enough that I didn’t have to walk in the hot loose sand, but not so low I had to smell the rot. The air was warm, the breeze was cool. I read a magazine a little, sent a text message or two, raised my harried face into the sun and sighed. My ass cheeks got a decent workout, and by the time I recognized my staircase and cement thing again, I was renewed.

As I crossed the beach back to my stairs, there seemed to be a lot more foot-cutty, dried-up seaweed in the area than I'd felt on my way down. I guess I must have been so intent on knowing where I was that I just didn’t notice it before. Right? Right. Because these are my stairs, yes? Yes. Look, there’s my cement thing, and the Wollaston Yacht Club, just like I said, right over there. So up the stairs, to the left, three cars down and, um...

Where’s my something something something-220?

Up the stairs, to the right, and three cars down?


Up the stairs, to the left, six or eight or twelve cars? To the right and seventeen?


Fuck fuck fuck!

By this point the guy sitting on the sea wall reading his newspaper was looking at me sideways, and I could tell he was gearing up to say something if I walked in front him again. So I made a sharp left at my (or perhaps at this point I should just say “the”) staircase and went back down.

What the hell!? It couldn’t have gotten stolen, could it? I remember thinking that the first few times my old land-cruiser got — oh man, you don’t supposed the Toyota got towed? How ironic would that be, considering? But no. I mean, it was in a perfectly-legal, angled spot along the beach amongst a thousand other cars exactly (fucking) like it. So what the hell? Ah well, at least there’s no foot-cutty seaweed around this other stair—

Hang on.

Hey, who knew the tide could rise enough in an hour to all but bury my giant, sticky-outy, sandbar-ish cement thing?

Okay, but what about the yacht club? It’s over there, not over—


Dorchester Yacht Club. Two yacht clubs. And my staircase smack between them. That probably would’ve been a better landmark for me than one of a thousand identical (and eminently sinkable) cement thingers, don't you think?

Sure enough. Up the stairs, to the left and three cars down: something something something-220.

I have always done it, you know. It is not because I’m old.

I swear to god.

Now, if I could just lay my hands on that Cute Boy after all these years. Purely as a memory-building exercise, you understand...


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Here I Come…

I did this once already!

I wrote an entire freaking blog post (well, almost) yesterday, about me (naturally) and how I can feel myself coming back to life again these days (it’s a very tingly feeling in the extremities, I tell you what). I left the document open on my desktop for hours after I finished it (or after I decided was bored and walked away, I forget which) and when I went to shut the computer down at bedtime and it asked if I wanted to save the changes, I said no because I hadn’t made any changes to it in seven hours. Der. Stoopid computer. (You know where this is going, don’t you?) Yeah, um, it turns out I never so much saved it in the first place. So one of those changes I might have wanted to save at bedtime, for example, was the very first letter I typed. And now it’s gone.

I know what it was, though.

It was a D.

Eh, it doesn’t matter. Truth is it was probably one of those, whatchacall, Freudian mistakes, because I got a bit more maudlin in it than I like to, anyway. It was all I-used-to-be this and soul-curling-up-and-dying that, and when-did-I-become-a-suburban-housewife-anyway the other. Very Women’s-Room-meets-Fear-of-Flying self-indulgent bullshit, only with just minor and largely missable allusions to the zipless stuff.


But it ended with me, here, on “vacation,” putting the past ten years in a little box under the bed to be written about when both my Ladies die. There was this revelatory scene of me standing up and stretching, tits out, vowing to get dressed in real clothes every single day and look as hot as I can while I still can, every waking minute, even if I have no plans to leave the house. Then there was a minor third-act epiphany around the idea that, if the Big Project doesn’t pan out for me (as it’s beginning to look like it might not), it doesn’t really mean I have to put my words away for good like I’ve been planning – followed by a crystalline realization that I couldn’t if I tried.

And then, if I am not mistaken, there was a big Busby-Berkeley-style song-and-dance performance of...

So there you go.

And then of course Lady #2 called and asked me to come take her cat to the vet for her on Thursday and I said I would. 

But I'll be goddamned if I'm not going to look smokin'-hot while I do it.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Can You Picture It Now?

Well, folks, Yours Truly has taken yet another kicking, screaming step into the 21st century. After a fashion.

I've always been what they call a late adopter. Not because I'm afraid of new technologies, or because I can't figure them out. Trust me when I say I'm not one of these cane-shaking blue-hairs hollering at whippersnappers to get their Wii balls off my lawn. It's just that I don't like to stir the pot when things seem to be simmering along pretty well the way they are. And as a result, I don't usually see the need to pick up a new spoon until the old stew start to settle, stick and burn.

I didn't buy a CD player, for example, until 1992 -- and even then only after staring for six months at the jewel-boxed soundtrack to Thelma & Louise that somebody gave to me in '91. In 1996 I actually wrote some ad copy for Sony introducing the very concept of the DVD, but didn't covet my own player till 2005, when Blockbuster all but stopped stocking VHS. And I bought my first cell phone in 2007, under the unfortunate delusion that Important People might soon be clamoring to hear my voice.

I still have that phone, in fact. It looks like this:

Every time I speak to the Verizon people, they offer me an upgrade and then laugh at me when I refuse. Really: they laugh. They think it's cute when I exclaim "No, thank you; I love my little phone!" -- and it only just this minute occurs to me that they're probably thinking "cute" in an Estelle-Getty-as-Sophia-Petrillo kind of way. Ah, well. At least Sophia always did get the best lines.

My latest round of indulgent giggles on that front came the other day, in a customer-service phone call occasioned by the kicking and the screaming, which was in turn occasioned by the fact that I've at long last started sending out text messages.

It began very slowly. When my mother died, an old friend I never hear from sent me a message of condolence, and I had to sit down and figure how to send one back. I'm pretty impressed with myself that I managed to work it out, considering my emotional state and the fact that I'd thrown the manual out with the receipt way back when my little phone was new. Since then, he's been sending me occasional "chin-up" messages and smileys. I never notice them for days or weeks after they arrive, but when I finally do, I always answer. It just seems like the Miss Manners thing to do.

In this manner, little by little, I figured out how to make it work. Punctuation, line breaks, capitals, even how to insert the occasional smiley-face of my own. I wasn't very good at it. I didn't like it. But I knew.

Then, in a sort of settle-stick-burn perfect storm, over the course of a single week I had dinner with a few old friends I hadn't seen in fifteen years, got back in touch with another one from out of town, and tag-teamed my best in-town friend through a grueling medical procedure. And in doing so I learned a whole new language through immersion, in my Estelle-Getty-as-Sophia golden-years.

I haven't been able to bring myself yet to use all the cool-kid shorthand. I still kick it old school, with complete sentences, capital letters, punctuation marks and all the rest -- including the occasional parenthetical phrase or compound verb. I don't "u no," I don't "b4," and I never "lol." I do occasionally emoticate, however, because I've learned that if you tell a straight man he better work without tossing him a wink, chances are he won't get the reference to RuPaul. I still sometimes forget, though.

I've been doing this for just over a week now, and have already: been misunderstood to the point of offense (several times), sent a rather sensitive message to the mortifyingly wrong recipient (once) and, I fear (although no one will say so), made something of a nuisance of myself. I imagine the novelty of it will wear off after a while, but in the meantime I think I've finally sussed out the allure: it's like passing notes in school, only you get to do it everywhere. Even if you're sharing information about the state of someone's lymph nodes, or someone else's safe airport arrival, you still feel like you're getting away with something bad.

At least, I do.

Or at least I did.

I did, until Destructo decided that sometimes, for no reason whatsoever, certain of my texts should go out twice. And until the Very Nice Folks at Verizon said there was nothing they could do about that glitch in the system. So now, whether I'm sharing information about biopsies, dinner plans, or the snake that pooped on me when I picked it up in the backyard...

I still feel like the same doddering old logorrheic bat I've always been.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

He Is Risen!

Since I did such a good job cleaning the closet, I thought I might's well do under the bed. I was surprised: it wasn't nearly as bad as it can be:

That's not the "can be," by the way. That's "not as bad."

Aside from your standard dust bunnies, empty Diet Coke bottles, cat toys, used tissues, and random bits of newspaper, there are really only a few things that merit explanation. This, for example:

It's a book called Paper Lion, by George Plimpton -- in which he signs up to quarterback the Detroit Lions "to find out what it's like from the inside." I don't normally go for sports books, but I bought three or four football ones in a fuck-the-Giants fit after the Pats lost the Superbowl in 2008. The scoop on this said it has been really popular ever since it came out in '66, "even among people who don't read." I figured that meant it was fluffily entertaining, so I gave it a shot despite the fact that it's George Plimpton. Who can usually, you know, suck my fusty old imaginary balls.

I don't know if it was just that I read Roy Blount Jr.'s rollicking About Three Bricks Shy before this one, or if it actually sucks, or if what they meant by "even among people who don't read" was just that it's a decent size and shape for a good Hail Mary pass, but I got about a hundred pages in, said "ugh," and put it down. God, George, yes, we get it: these football players are mostly from poor, black, southern backgrounds and you went to Harvard. Why don't you just pat them on their noble, woolly heads and get it done?

How the book wound up quite so far away from the head of the bed where I dropped it, though, is anybody's guess. Maybe the dust-bunnies find Plimpton insufferable, too.

These, of course, are workout weights (and dust-bunnies, and cat toys):

I forgot I even had the 3-pounders. Obviously. And that's because they are annoying. I mean, the 2-pounders are useless enough, except for times you don't have to be using weights at all (while doing pushups, say, or warming up), but if you were using 2-pounders for working out (because you're Stephen Hawking, say, or Mr. Bill), how big a leap would three pounds really be? Yes, yes: a 50% leap, I understand. But come on. If you can't pick up two loaves of bread without breaking a sweat, then how much difference will a block of butter make?

So I keep the twos for non-weight moments, but I'm ashamed to say I've been using the fives and letting the tens collect dust for quite a while. I ever-so-very-recently picked them back up again, however, (which may shed a little light on my smug attitude above) and I have to say: if you want to know what it feels like to be Mr. Bill, do a set of plank flies with a pair of ten-pound weights and try to follow it with a set of Arnold presses. Oh, noooooooo!!

Speaking of oh, no:

Eh, those cans are cat food. It's a long story and not very entertaining. But that large pink thing in the middle of the picture? That is not -- despite seemingly obvious appearances -- a frighteningly large and fleshy dildo. What it is, is...

 Ask-Me Jeez!

No, no. I don't think it's really called Ask-Me Jeez. I don't remember what it's really called, but it really is a Magic 8 Ball in the shape of the sacred heart of Jesus Christ. And pink, for some reason. You ask it a question and turn it over, and it says things like "Let me ask my Dad," and "Made in China" -- see?

Dr. One Friend gave it to me a couple years ago, but Johnny (go figure) considered it a major sacrilege. So I shoved it under the bed (which is not sacrilegious at all, considering what it looks like), and forgot all about it. Until now.

You know what? Screw Johnny and his miserable Irish Catholic childhood! It's my bedroom, it's my eternal (or whatever) soul, and I say Fleshy Ask-Me Jesus stays!

After all, you never know when a little heavenly bedside consultation might come in handy for a heretic like me.


Oh, yeah!

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Go Away, Little Girl, You're Bothering Me

Dr. One Friend finally found herself an heir to One Dog's throne. We'll call her Two Dog.

She's just an overgrown plush toy, really.

I mean, seriously. That is not a real nose.

If we take the food away and hide all the toys in the attic, she and Charlie get along just fine.

She's very rambunctious, for a plush toy, but he seems to like it.


Really almost always, actually.

That's a happy face right there. I swear to god.

But he's old. He gets tireder faster, and takes more time recuperating for the next round. So even though she's the one who's supposed to be crate-training...

I can't say he's 100% sorry she's gone home.

Got his rawhide chew toy back and everything.

P.S. That's the guest bedroom in the top shots. I wouldn't have a leg lamp in my master suite, don't be ridiculous!