It's not about the house.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The History of the Turpentine Pants

The other day, Johnny spilled paint thinner all over his jeans (not his work pants, but his jeans) and left them to soak in the mop-bucket in the bathroom tub.

I didn’t know this. All I knew was that I had finally cleaned my bedroom – I even vacuumed most of the cat hair off the love seat! – and I needed that mop-bucket to wash the floor. So I carried the bucket to the laundry room and threw his pants, still sopping wet, into the load of jeans and towels that I'd just begun.

It was while lugging the bucket that I first noticed the smell, but I dropped them in before I realized what it was. By then it was too late, so I just washed them. I washed them three times, and still everything smelled like thinner.

I didn’t dare put the clothes in the dryer for fear the AssVac would explode -- then I remembered: it is finally spring around here, right? Sunny, and warm outside? Isn't this exactly what the clothesline I hung up last year is for? I could air out the entire lot, get credit for being a yellowish shade of green, and lower my electric bill at the same time. All those good little birdies killed with a single trip-wire strung across the yard.

Oh, hey, speaking of which: a bird flew into the sliding glass door in my bedroom yesterday. As far as I know, that was the first time it's happened -- although it happened again later that same day, so either we have a particularly stupid bunch of baby birds this year, I've just never noticed them hitting the glass before, or else something sinister and Hitchcockian is going on. Sister Cat didn’t even flinch, and she was in her perch on the back of the love seat as usual, mere inches from the place of impact. Maybe that's another sign that this sort of thing's been happening all along. Or else she only cares about the birdies when they’re still alive. Poor dead little birdy. Anyway…

When I went to hang the spirits-smelling laundry on the line, I remembered that I'd pulled a couple towels from the cracks between the cushions while I was cleaning off said love seat the day before – towels I’d originally laid down after giving Sister Cat a bath, so as to give her something to drip-dry on instead of the mock-suede. Over the weeks and months of my failure to retrieve them they dried out, got covered in cat hair, wedged into respective corners, and ceased -- in my mind, at least -- to exist. But now those towels had burst resoundingly back into this dimension, by way of the washing machine and the Turpentine Pants. When I finally did hang all the laundry on the line, everything was the same shade of mottled grey.

So now I’ve got a basket full of “clean,” dry laundry, all smelling like a chemical spill and looking like Cousin It. The plan (Johnny and I agreed) is to throw one or two pieces in with every wash we do until it’s gone. Hopefully, this way, both the thinner and the cat hair will disperse.

Or I could just toss the whole pile in the dryer with a damp washcloth and hope for the best…


That image, by the way, came from the website of an artist named Ben Grasso. I found him when I searched Google Images for "exploding house" -- which, as it turns out, is his chosen oeuvre.

I think I love him.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Ploughshares, Schmoughshmares

It has been a veritable Mexican standoff around the AssVac lately. Since, oh, let’s say mid-April. Though actually this may not qualify as a Mexican standoff, per se. Because whatever the phrase “Mexican standoff” actually means (and whatever its derivation, which is probably N.P.C.), I assume it has something to do with gunfire, and this one has yet to escalate that far. No, at this point I’d say our standoff feels more Kansan, Oklahoman, or perhaps a unified Dakotan.

I’m talking, of course, about the prairie:

See, for the first two years of our living together, Johnny and I shared a skank-hole apartment in the much greater skank-hole of South Boston. We didn’t have a lawn to worry about then – which did not stop Johnny from planting peppers and tomatoes in the lone square-yard of exposed soil anyway, and then getting pissed when bums ate everything the second it got ripe. You think it’s hard keeping skunks out of your garden? Try turning the hose on Southie wildlife and see what they find to spray you with.

God, I hate that place.

Anyway, the point is that we didn’t have a lawn those first few years, so outdoor duties were not included in our cohabiting negotiations. But when that scab of a Southie landlord kicked us out (for requesting once too often that he provide us with some source of winter heat), we moved to a two-family in Quincy that came with a ratty postage stamp out front, and a half-court’s worth of dandelions in the back.

Our new landlord was not one to do anything around the property. He told us right up front he had no intention of dealing with grass or leaves or snow. We were on our own for shovels, rakes, etc., but he was kind enough (he pointed out) to have provided us with a rusty, ancient power mower. Oh, and:

“Be careful when you use,” he thoughtfully counseled. “That machine, it jump sometime.”


Feeling – and hoping to maintain – a nostalgic attachment to my own feet and toes, I went out and bought a little push mower. You know, the old-fashioned kind? Without a motor? I figured power wasn’t really necessary for that adolescent-moustache of a yard and anyway, this push-thing would be a lot easier when it came time to haul the bastard up and down the cellar stairs.

The unforeseen result of my (I thought) wily acquisition, was that mowing the lawn became my de facto job. The downstairs neighbor did do it occasionally at first, but he always used the jumpy power mower – which may explain his alarming tendency to run over plants and garden hoses – and I liked him well enough to want to maintain his membership in the ten-toe club. For four summers, then, I (and, just to be clear: not Johnny) mowed that half-court lawn with my powerless push-thing.

Then we went and bought the g-d house.

As I’ve said before, we bought the AssVac for her yard, which we saw as much more than a convenient place to throw up after a tour of her moldy insides. It’s big – for the area, anyway – at almost a quarter-acre, and we expanded our collection of lawn-furniture accordingly. We envisioned weekend cookouts, summer gatherings, and quiet drunken evenings spent before a chimenea fire. That first summer, before the puking stopped, the backyard even served as our makeshift kitchen. But what we did not envision was the nosy, stupid, pain-in-the-hole neighbor who would insist we hire him to mow the lawn.

He insisted, I resisted, and he made fun of me over the ugly chain-link fence for using my push-mower of which I was so proud. To be honest, it’s not the best tool for this yard – there are more divet-holes around here than you can shake a stick at, and more sticks than at which you can shake a hole. But it did work, after a fashion, and —

Well, it might also be true that I am just the tiniest bit stubborn.

Because even after George brought over an old gas-powered mower that he had rebuilt for us, for free, I was determined that – until we got a bigger fence so I could concede defeat behind a veil of privacy – I would continue pushing the damn powerless over sticks and divet-holes. Three years went by. No fence went up. And then…

My back went out.


So last year Johnny mowed the lawn. And if you ask me, I think he liked it. What’s not to like, after all? He got to play with a big (compared to 5’3” him, at any rate) powerful machine that came with its own tanker of explosive gas; buttons and levers to push and pull and frustrate you if you get the order wrong; and a big spinning blade on the bottom providing all sorts of ways to hurt yourself and anybody else who dares get in your way (he doesn’t drive, remember). Plus he got to make with the chopping and general destruction, all in under twenty minutes without breaking a sweat.

No wonder he never wanted to play with my powerless little push-thing.

And I was thrilled. I didn’t realize how much time and energy I had spent on not mowing the lawn. Fretting about whether it would be okay for another week, or whether by then the jungle would have grown up too high for the wee push-thing to handle. Fretting whether the jagoff neighbor was going to accost me on the street again. Fretting over the damn tall bits in the corner by the trees. No more. I was free. As free as the grass grows.

It still astounds me.

So anyway fall came, mowing-season ended, and Johnny even hauled the thing down to the basement by himself. But when spring rolled around, he didn’t haul it out.

I’m not exactly sure what happened. Maybe he didn’t like it as much as I thought. Maybe his knees were bothering him, or maybe he was just tired from not really having had a weekend off since work at last picked up again. But I did not inquire. All I cared about was the fact that I had mowed the lawn for seven years and it was his turn now. I would point out every couple weeks that it was getting longer. I would notice, helpfully, as one by one all the other lawns around us got their first trims of the year. But I would not do it.

So instead it just got longer. And longer. And longer. Until it reminded me of that short story we read in middle school where lions in the magic house come to life and take to eating people. I didn’t want to get eaten by lions. I didn’t want Johnny or the cats to get eaten by lions, either. But I really didn’t want to mow the lawn. And so it grew.

And grew.

And grew.

Until, on Wednesday night…

Ta da!

So what happened, you may ask? Who won, and how, after all this time? Which one of us finally caved, strapped on the elephant gun and went out to clearcut the prairie veldt?

I did.

And why? What magical thing occurred to smash down my defenses, punch through my obstinacy and defeat my turpitude? Well, I’ll tell you what:

He asked.

“Hon?” he said. “If I bring the mower up from the basement after work this evening, will you mow the lawn tomorrow morning?”

Blindsided, I said “Okay, hon,” and went and brought the damn thing up myself.

Asking politely. Huh.

Who knew a thing like that was in the rules?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What A Ridiculous Thing To Have To Hear!

Stay tuned at the bottom of this post for a special announcement, but please bear with me while I ramble on a little while first. I know that isn’t like me, usually I’m so succinct and to-the-point. But it’s going to be hard to concentrate this morning, because Johnny’s watching TV at maximum volume in the other room.

See, when I woke up it was freezing in here – that’s what I get for thinking I can actually sleep with the windows open in New England in practically-June – although I don’t know what the exact temperature was because the battery on the thermostat died and I haven’t quite gotten around to figuring out where to open the thing to replace it. So let’s just say it was cold enough that I could see my breath. Because, in my mind, I really could.

Anyway, my choices were to a.) type with mittens on and with my figurative breath fogging the monitor – in which case Johnny would most certainly want to crank the heat when he woke up, in which case (never mind that it’s practically-June and that is patently absurd) I would have to explain to him about the thermostat, in which case he would want to know why, if I’ve known about this for a week, I haven’t done anything about it yet, in which case I would have to kill him – or b.) bang all the windows closed and wake him up, an hour and a half before he had to rise for work.

He was surprisingly calm about the noise, considering.

I mean, considering that these old double-hung windows aren’t all weighted exactly right (this is still the AssVac, after all), so that sometimes they fall like guillotines with just a touch, and sometimes you have to pound them up and down the same two inches with the heels of your hands before they’ll finally fall. Like guillotines. I can’t tell you how many windowsill plants I’ve killed that were nonchalantly basking in the warm but setting sun. I kill plants anyway, though. It’s like I have an inner hostility towards them that I can’t control. But that’s a story for another day.

So I went around bang-bang-crashing all, let’s see, fifteen windows (there actually are seventeen, but one of them has no screen in it and one just plain won’t open), and all he said was “Shut my alarm off for me, love, would you please?” Because, see, it lives across the room from him, so that he has to actually get up. Sometimes there are mornings when he doesn’t – when it goes off for twenty minutes until I finally walk in – and sometimes I see him lying there, awake, having decided to listen to the beeping rather than get out of bed. And so sometimes I kill him.

Not today, though. Today I shut it off for him, fully expecting to have to come back later on and wake him, but as I went about making my coffee this god-awful singing started up, loud enough to beat the proverbial band into submission.

“What are you watching?” I asked him, nonchalantly. Trying to determine if the volume was a.) an accident, or b.) a delayed-reaction, passive-aggressive statement about the window-noise.

Duck Soup!” he said.

Oh crap, I thought. There's a third option that had not occurred to me above:

c.) Honest-to-god, childlike enthusiasm.

So now he’s out there on the couch, rapt and grinning like a kid watching Saturday cartoons, and I’m in here explaining why I can’t write for poop with bombs and chorus girls going off around me. But hey, at least we aren’t the ones doing the fighting. Or the singing. Or, apparently, the jokes.

Ah. It just ended. But of course now it’s time for us to go.

Special Announcement: I’d like to thank you all for playing my finish-the-joke game last week when I was out licking my wounds. Although really most of you were expressing solidarity and sympathy, while only three of you actually submitted possible punchlines:

Su, who admitted that hers was not original, so it doesn’t count (otherwise my integrity would be shattered into a million little pieces).

LadyCiani, who already got a pig rat from me in an earlier contest and I think it’s only right to share the wealth. I’ve only got two left, after all (and there
is a weekend coming up).

And Choosy Mothers Choose Jeff, who therefore wins!

So, CMCJ, send me your address (my email’s in my profile) and I will send you a lovable pig rat of your very own. Plus some other silly things that I find twitching by the side of the road.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Meow, Hiss

Johnny asked me last night if I was planning on spending the rest of my life with my claws out.

I told him yes.

Is that going to be a purrrrroblem?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

He's Baaack!


Please bear with me. Or raccoon with me. Or skunk.

No, no, wait -- don't skunk! I'm stinky enough these days as it is.

Here's a little game to play amongst yourselves while you wait for me to put the pieces of my scattered brain together once again. This a joke from a movie I watched a thousand times a hundred years ago. In the movie, the joke is never finished, and I've never managed to come up with a good punchline of my own. Got any bright ideas?

Naked blonde walks into a bar. She's got a poodle under one arm, and a two-foot salami in the other. Bartender says "Looks like you won't be needing a drink."

Naked lady says: ???

I've got a pig-rat here (and a few more silly things) for anyone who makes me laugh and jolts me off of the blank page I'm stuck on.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

"That Man Is Angry...

"...look at his face!"

Quote courtesy of my Football Buddy:


"Uncle Johnny is a GOON!!!"

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Creature Under The Stairs

Remember I said the other day that Johnny organizes and re-organizes the AssVac's basement in his spare time? I don't know why he chooses to spend quiet hours that way, but he does.

I don't go down cellar much, especially now that I no longer have to kick the boiler to make it run, and I certainly don't have opinions on what stuff should go where (let me repeat: I don't know why he chooses to spend so many quiet hours down there), so I am not often privy to the fruits of all this labor. But today I needed a pliers, the one I keep in my bedside table drawer was missing (bollocks!), and Johnny wasn't home. So I creaked on down the stupid spiral stairs.

Well, not really "spiral," really bent at a 90-degree angle so that you can't get anything bigger than a breadbox down them, but I liked the near-alliteration of "the stupid spiral stairs." And, as we all learned from Oprah Winfrey: when it comes to telling a story, how it sounds is way more important than telling the truth. Anyway...

Would you like me to show you what I found? Okay, c'mon!

I found the paint cans, small tools and accoutrements all neatly lined up on shelves along the front wall...

(Oh, plus the door from my ex-ironing-board-, was-going-to-be-spice-cabinet. We'll talk about that later.)

I found George's mechanic tools put away in the George's-mechanic-toolbox, with the drawers all closed and everything, against the middle wall under the (I think) leftover strapping from I-don't-know-when...

I found the -- well okay, this part's not exactly neat and organized. But I ask you: how would you go about neatly organizing an acre's worth of protective plastic?

(Whoops! Looks like he missed a couple paint cans. Ah well. Three out of a hundred ain't that bad.)

I found the door- and window-trim from the kitchen leaning up against the side wall, waiting for me to shake the doldrums and strip it off...

(Keep waiting, doldrums, it's gonna be a while.)

And then, I turned around, and I found this...

Everything else.


Oh! And would you like to know what I did not find?


I looked, too. Sort of. I mean, I walked around the pile and peered in at all the edges, but I can't honestly say that I actually touched anything. No, I kept my hands clasped behind my back the entire time, just leaning forward and looking with my eyes. You know, the way boys look for things in refrigerators and medicine chests. Places in which, incidentally, I actually do have opinions on what stuff should go where.

Huh. Maybe I've just accidentally understood another thing. Maybe I finally see why I am the official Looker-For-Things in the rest of the house.

After all, I sure wouldn't want to bespoil that Funk & Wagnalls organ-eye-zation!

Friday, May 16, 2008

This Cord is Continual Strife

Johnny and I (ahem) “disagreed” for months as to whether or not we had to call in the electrician. And then, when I went away, Johnny went ahead and called.

Unfortunately for him, she couldn’t make it over until after I got back, so he couldn’t get the job done and paid for without my knowing. Instead, he reported it in the list of his accomplishments as soon as I got home:

“I cleaned out the basement,” he said.

He cleans out the g-d basement every time he’s feeling yantsy. In other words, probably once a month. The basement doesn’t need cleaning out that often (whose would? it’s a basement for heaven’s sake!) and it’s not like it ends up any cleaner, anyway. I don’t even know what the heck he actually does all day down there besides drink beer and spit (a disgusting habit I’m not even going to get into at this time), but it is his default Thing to Do. Better, I suppose, than spending all day at the pub, but could he maybe clean a bathroom once in a while? I was just home from vacation, however, so what I chose to say was…

“That’s great, honey!”

Oh what the hell, I had literally just walked in the door. I could resume my regularly scheduled nagging after the I-missed-you-honey moon. He peacocked on:

“And did you notice that I cleaned the porch?” I hadn’t.

I must have been really tired from the trip to not have seen a thing like that, because the porch is usually my job, and it’s something of a contention-point between us. I wouldn’t say I do it every time I’m looking for something to do (although, to be honest, I wouldn’t say I’m looking for something to do that often; if I’ve got nothing on my schedule I’m perfectly happy to loll in bed with a book and a Dirty Jobs marathon), but I’m the one who does it when it needs to be done – say, before company comes. Big company, I mean. St. Pat’s or 4th of July-type company. Not just a friend expected for a cup of tea. Because, you see, although cleaning up the porch may have become my de facto responsibility, Johnny’s the one who keeps messing it up.

It’s where he piles his stray dogs: a broken old picture frame he “saved” out of somebody’s garage; the Christmas gift that never worked but he never got ’round to returning; pretty much anything I decide has lived out its usefulness but he can’t bear to let me throw away. I’ve come to terms with the fact that these things live out there, because at least there they can be considered on their way out to the trash; at least they aren’t shoved in a dark corner and forgotten, left to become part of our permanent stash. At least, since I’m the one who cleans it, I can sometimes sneak a dog or two off to the pound when he’s not looking. And at least it’s a three-season porch: the Collyer-clutter is at least hidden from the neighbors. (Although I do have to admit: the motley assortment of pocket-tools he drops by the door on his way out to the pub each night – the sandpaper and five-way and nail punch and needlenose and lord-knows what-all else – that shit steams my meat if I simmer on it.)

But what I said was…

“You did? Let’s have a look. Ooh… Looks great, honey!”

I can keep the peace all right. But can I keep it down?

And,” he concluded proudly, “I called Kat. She’ll be here in the morning.”

I shot him a look. No, not just “a” look – I shot him The Look. He knew I was against this. He knew. But I had just walked in the door from driving clear across the continent with Dr. One Friend – who, incidentally, was standing right between us in the front room as we spoke.

Who says the male of the species is ignorant in the ways of psychological warfare?

So what I said was…

“You—? She’ll—? …okay…whatever.”

And that was it.

This is why I hate should-we-or-shouldn’t-we conundrums. Should I eat that ice cream even though I’m on a diet? Should they build that house even though it’s on a wetland? Should we tear out the ironing board even though it would make a lovely spice cabinet?*

As long as the answer is no, the question's still out there, hanging like a sword all over everything. Until you let it drop – answer yes, do it, and move on – the issue is never really resolved. But once it’s done, it’s done: there is no going back. Trust me. I’ve wound up neck-deep in Ben & Jerry’s enough times to earn my bona fides on this one. But at least the Ice Cream Battles were all me against myself. This one was me v. Johnny, and he had dropped the sword. I’d lost. It's not easy for me to admit that, but I had.

And thank god I did, too.

This time.

to be con’t (again)…

*Foreshadowing: your key to quality entertainment.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Powering Through

Johnny and I were of two minds regarding the electrics in our ongoing kitchen project: He thought we should call in the electrician; I thought we were poor.

Turns out, we were both right.

See, Johnny – being a guild-trained, degree-holding, actually-knows-what-he’s-doing Master Painter/Decorator – generally believes that the DIY movement is a cruel hoax perpetrated on the noble and ancient Skilled Trade Tradition by a bunch of granola-eating pinko hippie freaks. This, coming from an avowed socialist who skipped barefoot through most of the 1970s and smoked pot through his guild-training, is a pretty powerful indictment.

Though to be fair he never actually said the part about the pinko hippies. Those are my words. What he says is that there’s a right way and a wrong way to do things, and that the Y in DIY would generally not know the right way if it waved its arms and hollered how-de-do. Oh, sure, Y could look it all up in a book, but book-knowin’ ain’t know-knowin’ – and not all necessary knowin’ can be found on bookshelves, anyway.

He told me a story the other day, for example, from back when he was being trained. It seems a job was turning out more complex than they’d expected, and they hadn’t brought along the right materials for what it was shaping up to be. Instead of backtracking to the paint-supply and losing a half-day’s wages, the master opened Johnny’s lunchpail and did the job with what he found inside.

I missed the point entirely, of course. I thought the point was Mastery and Guild-Training and Blah-De-Blah (in my defense, with these sorts of stories the point usually is Mastery and Guild-Training and Blah-De-Blah) so I oohed and ahed and said I thought it was pretty cool that you could do that with those things. Johnny gave me a blank look and sighed.

“That was my lunch he was using.”

Oh, sorry. This is not a “mastery and blah-de-blah” story, it’s a “crisp bag in the middle of a lake” one. Got it.


He’s right about the DIY thing, I believe. Even avowed DIYers have to admit he is. You may be able to figure out a lot of things yourself, but a Master Blah-De-Blah can do it better – and faster, and probably safer to boot.

The question is: is it worth the cost?

And here’s where it gets sensitive. Because – while most homeowners would agree they want a trained electrician or plumber, or even a trained carpenter for many jobs – most DIYers think that painting is a breeze. (Remember the old “Cheers” episode where Cliff got an orangutan to paint instead of Norm? It still rankles around here. Damn postman. I’ll ring you twice, I will!)

Sure, slapping the final, finished coat on can be easy, even fun. But for all the taping and patching and plastering and caulking and fixing that comes before it – for older houses, anyway, and if you want the job done right – it makes a giant difference to get someone in the know. Your house won’t fall down if you don’t, but it will look that much more like it’s about to.

So to Johnny, mastery is always worth the cost. Fortunately – for our purse as well as our relationship – other masters tend to feel the same (plus they also tend to really, really hate to paint), so the cost can often be worked out by trading trades. When we did the first half of our kitchen a couple years ago, Johnny called in a few favors, promised a few more, and we paid not a single dime above materials. If you count beer as a material. Which I do. Can’t do the job without it, so it counts.

Unfortunately, our electrician from back then (who didn’t do the work but merely supervised, which Johnny and I both count as a DIY compromise, and who was actually paid in homemade jelly and banana bread along with his O’Doul’s), is gone now. Cancer. Poor old Jack. And our other electrician, our original electrician – a She-Lady Electrician, by the way, who makes this bike-riding-fishy very jealous with her truck and her tool belt and her IBEW sisterhood – has a live-in painter of her very own.

There’d be no trading with (let’s call her) Kat. If we called her in, she would have to be paid. She would give us a good deal, being a Sister Master and everything, but it would still be a good deal more than what we’ve got to spare.

So Johnny and I went back and forth for months. I wouldn’t say we argued, but we discussed. Volleyed, let’s say. Some new thing would go wrong – the light commenced to flicker, all the switches in the house stopped working, or the oil-burner switch fell off the wall – and Johnny would say “Let’s call in Kat. Should we just? Do you want me to give her a shout?” I would answer “No, Johnny, we need to not pay for things that we can get away with not paying for.” Then we’d wait another two weeks for our schedules to sync up with Andy's, or for something else to go horribly awry.

And then, when I went cross-country, Johnny called her.

I think this post is long enough for one day. I’ll continue it tomorrow. Don’t worry, he didn’t diddle her or anything.

I’d also like to point out that this post, almost verbatim, I wrote in its entirety last week. The monster had me convinced it didn’t make a lick of sense. I almost tossed it in the trash this morning without even looking at it, out of fear the clap was hiding in it somewhere, but then I got lazy. Fixing something old is
always (well, almost always) easier than starting something new. So I took a deep breath, and I opened it.

You know how many words I had to change? Probably eleven. Turns out the damn thing made complete sense all along. A lick and a half of it, in fact.

I mean, at least I think it does.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Got 'Im!

Writer's block, feh. He's really not so terribly unfriendly, once you get to know him. The question is: which is to be master?

Oh come on, now. Which do you think?

Sound the heralds, please...

I think I'll call him "you there." As in "you there, count my words. You there, laugh at my lively and astonishing wit. You there, do my proofreading for me." And then---

No, Tedy! I said "heralds" as in trumpets, not Herald as in trash!

Oh, what the hell. Have at 'im.

Which is to be master? Feh.

That's all.

When I Asked You to Hoover...

Can anyone tell me why Johnny keeps receiving these things in the mail?

I'd like to think he has no use for Biofit Uplift, whatever it is. And I know for a fact he's just not organized enough to have a secret undergarment life.

Monday night, he had a wake to go to. It took him an hour to find the one white t-shirt with no paint spills on it that he saves aside to go beneath the dress shirts that he only ever wears at times like this. (You didn't think he was going to wear the white tee by itself, did you? No, no. We're versed in our Miss Manners. We know that one wears black t-shirts on such occasions. But poor Johnny doesn't own one, so the white-tee-with-something-over-it would have to do.)

And that dress shirt? The one he wore over the Hanes white tee it took so long to find? He pressed it on a towel on the floor -- kneeling in his jockey shorts to do it. He insisted that was how his mother always did their clothes, and maybe that's truth (crisp bag in the middle of a lake, remember). But I think it highly unlikely she would have used the damp bath towel that moments before had been wrapped around her newly-showered hips.

The truth, I suspect, is that he has no idea where we keep the ironing board and was hoping to look pathetic enough that I'd offer to help. I didn't. What? I don't know where the hell the ironing board is!

I should probably point out here that the deceased was a casual acquaintance of Johnny's from the pub. The tall guy from three stools down. All the bar patrons attended, which was nice, but it's not as if he were a near-dear friend. If he had been -- if Johnny was in genuine mourning -- I certainly would have sucked it up and pressed the shirt. I would have gotten a fresh towel, though. And I would have put it on the table.

Then which one of us would have worn the panty?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What I DIDN'T Do Instead of Writing Last Night

I did not eat chocolate...

You see? All that cellophane is still intact.

I did not do dishes...

Fortunately, Johnny did.

I did not do anything else around the kitchen, either...

I actually do have a kitchen-progress tale to share,
but Mr. Writey's got it in the basement with a knife to its throat.
If you want to hear it, tell him he knows how to get in touch --
but I don't negotiate with terrorists.

I did not make the bed:

In my defense:
I was just about to (make the bed, that is),
but then I discovered Johnny had gotten confused,
thought the clean sheets I was about to use were dirty,
and threw them back in the washing machine.
So then they were all soapy and wet, and so
-- yes --
I slept last night with no sheets on my bed at all.
And no, they are not the only set of sheets I own.
But they were the ones I
and no sheets are better than wrong sheets.
(It made sense to me at the time. Shut up.)
Look at that center pillow.
Tell me I did not dream failure last night.
Thank you.

And last but not least, I did not fold laundry:

Come on, now. We have met, right?
You know I don't fold laundry until it interferes with the television!

So, then, you have every right to ask: what did I do?

Well, I won't say. But I was not inseminating turkeys, that's for sure!

Some very handsome fellow in that clip apparently fancies himself Destructo.

He is Wrong.

Monday, May 12, 2008

What I Did Instead of Writing Last Night

They were on sale, and I had a coupon. The box cost two dollars, so it was like a moral imperative or something for me to take it home. I figured the chocolates could be my once-nightly reward for being industrious and uncomplaining and just generally all-around saintly over the coming weeks. That is, if I could keep them hidden from the monkeys.

What monkeys, you ask? Why, the ones that flew out of my butt after I ate one chocolate and walked away, of course! In my defense, the twenty-seven minutes it took me to scarf them down weren't consecutive. It was more like eighteen 90-second bursts. And I was really good and generally saintly in between.

I had imagined that the whole sale-plus-coupon bargain was Something Special Orchestrated Just For EGE -- a Chocolate Present From Ye Gods, if ye will, to get my creative juices flowing. A metaphorical bouquet of doghouse roses from a certain A-hole looking to Make Nice. But it occurred to me this morning that perhaps the promotion was organized around a certain holiday that took place this past weekend. That I was meant to wrap the box of chocolates and give it to someone else, not spit them on the comforter at the latest nut-kick from "America's Funniest Home Videos."

Man, even after two decades of that show, a good old toddler face-plant can still make me stain the Cuddledown.

Then again, maybe the Russell Stover was a little cosmic thank-you for me, after all. From all the lucky, lucky children I've decided not to have. And if that is the case, then apparently there was going to be four. Or else one total brown-nose.

The rest, though, I really will save for when I'm saintly.


What I Did Instead of Writing This Weekend

It didn't work.

What do you think I should do today?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

I'm Still Not Writing...

...because Writing is still being an a-hole. Until it apologizes, I'm pretending it does not exist. If it tries to talk to me, I plan to drop my eyes briefly, then raise them to smile a warm hello to the person standing next to it.

This is called a cut. It is both more polite and infinitely more effective at getting the point across than any of the ruder things one thinks one wants to say or do in such a situation. One doesn't. Trust one. It also has nothing to do with cutting-and-pasting, because it has nothing to do with writing whatsoever!

Ahem. Here's a picture of my cat:

You see? How bad it's gotten? Gratuitous cat pictures. That's how low I've been reduced to stooping.

So if you happen to see Writing, you would not be out of line to remind it that I like interesting flowers, Totino's Pizza Rolls, expensive chocolates, the Dirty Jobs Guy, and hoppy beers. And the Partidge Family. I like the Partridge Family a lot, and I was reminded this morning that I somehow lived this long without getting my hands on the naked-David-Cassidy issue of Rolling Stone.

I don't know what Writing might see fit to do with all of that information. I'm just putting it out there. But I do know it's time for that A-hole to shape up and start thinking about creative ways to kiss my A, or so help me I will not stop at cutting his.

I will find and g-d replace it.

I'm waiting...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Vigorous Writing is What, Now?

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not doing so well with the writey this week. I don’t know if it’s the moon or — no, it couldn’t be the moon. The moon isn’t going to be full till Monday week.

(“Monday week” is the Irish – and maybe English, I don’t know – way of saying “the Monday after this one that’s coming up.” The phrase doesn’t make obvious sense when you first hear it, or at least it didn’t to me when I first did, but it has the benefit of being shorter and, since I am from Boston (or, well, Boston-ish), I’m a big fan of abbreviating things whenever possible. Not that you would know it from my writing. I am, after all, in the middle of a 128-word explanation of a phrase I used to save myself a mere 6. I should have just said “the Monday after this one that’s coming up” to begin with. You see? I told you: not doing so well with the writey this week.)

Well, all right then, it’s not the moon. But some sort of cyclic boogaloo is wreaking havoc with my inner sanctum, because no matter what I do, I just can’t seem to get it – intellectually-speaking, of course – so much as halfway up.

It’s gotten so bad that I’ve started having that failure dream again. The one where you’re trying to make a phone call but over and over and over again you keep hitting the 2 when you mean to dial 9? And those two keys aren’t even next to each other, so it’s not like your finger’s simply slipping. It is drawn, repeatedly and inexplicably, to the wrong end of the pad like there’s some sort of magnetic forcefield. And the person whose wrong number you keep dialing is getting really mad at you, threatening to send policemen to your house, but somehow it doesn’t occur to you to just stop trying. To put the phone down and forget about it for a while. So you keep going, more and more slowly on each go-round, punching each number with painful deliberation. And yet, every time you come up on that wretched 9…

2! Again! Argh!

You know. That dream?

So I’ve decided to communicate from now on strictly by semaphore. I figure that way I’ll be killing two birds with one stone (or one really big stick with a flag on it), because: #1. I won’t have to bother writing anything down ever, anymore, and #2…

If I do it right, I won’t have any need to use the phone.


Dang. Those two pictures really ought to sit next to each other, but I don’t know how.

Dang! I can’t even make with the writey when I trade in my words for flags and sticks!

If you need me for the next few days, I’ll be in the dank, dark corner. Scratching, and muttering to myself in hieroglyphic.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


It almost got even worse, but then I fixed it with the help of girlie screwdriver.

Trust me when I tell you that this one was the bestest of the worstest of the things that have happened to me so far today.

At least I could fix this one.

At least I think I did.

yay, me?

F Squared

Worse yet!

F F-F F F!

It just got worse.


I am having a Bad Day, and it's not even 9:00 yet.

O, great. Yes it is 9:00 yet.

F again.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Mini-You-Know Redux

I did it, okay? I put on the second coat of mini-you-know.

First, I almost forgot. Honestly. But then I remembered and I almost just decided not to do it – which I feel no need to verify, because I imagine it’s a little easier for you-all to believe. Seriously, I looked at the sink with the finally-dry you-know, and I thought to myself “Eh, one coat is probably good enough.”

But then I thought, what if it fails? What if, in a week or a month or a year or however long is not long enough for you-know to fail, it fails? Pulls away from the wall, or allows water to get through, or just generally crumbles into dust? How will I know, then, whether it’s because the product’s faulty or because I did a shoddy job? (Of course, I suppose it could be because I am generally Destructo, but there’s nothing to be done about that now.)

So I finished it.

It was harder this time, if only because I knew it was the final-final so I was trying to be careful and therefore ballsing it up more than when I didn’t care if I made a holy mess. I’m good like that. But I got it done, and for all intents and purposes it looks exactly the same as it did before.

(Not before I started it, of course – there would be much more pooping and swearing and trashing the peace here if that were the case – but before I went ahead and did the second coat. If you see it – if you saw it before (or, rather, during, I suppose) and if you see it now – you can tell the difference, but not in a picture. Or not in any picture I can take, at least.)

So when I finished, I ran out to the living room to fetch and demand kudos from the only other creature on the planet besides me who will have seen this project up-close in all three of its stages. I found, instead, this mélangey snooze-a-rama on the couch:

He caught the crud. The bigger one, I mean. The less-hairy fellow. On the left. But he’s going to work this morning anyway. Because he’s nowhere near as big a baby about being sick as I am. And I am. I am a ba-by.

But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t really, really sick. I was. Still am, in fact.


Monday, May 5, 2008


Apparently, I wasn't supposed to post that you-know-what thing that I posted here this morning. Wasn't supposed to put it on the same page as the little box on the right-hand side (over there ----->) they pay me money for.

I have no defense, except to say I don't know nothing about these big-city, business-type whatchamahoodies. I spend my days playing with alphabet blocks. I won't even get the magnetic numbers for another couple years.

Anyway, so I've taken my mini-you-know (I like "Mini-You-Know," Sparkle, I think I'll keep it!) down from here like I was told (are you shocked, Su, that I did what I was told? Actually, though, technically I was asked, not told. But hey, Su, when are you going to start blogging again, anyway? Consider yourself told! I mean asked!).

In fact, I took both this weekend's posts down -- just to be safe and not get anyone in trouble. Because I hate trouble. Trouble, to paraphrase a new blog friend of mine, is an asshole. So I took them down. Even if I did spend a grand total of seven hours writing them. And even if I did have to be propped up in my sickbed to do it. But no, really, it's fine.

This time, I followed the directions I was given (ahem, the new directions I was given) best I could, I fitted tab A into slot B like I think I was supposed to (and no, Other Bear, I meant nothing dirty by that, either), and created a whole new shadow blog to be used precisely, and only, for reviews of things like this.

Although there may never be any more reviews of things like this. This may turn out to be the only time I ever use the shadow blog. Who knows?

Oh, come on, say it with me. Please, say it with me!

Who knows....?

The Shadow Blog knows!

Bwa ha ha ha ha ha (with creaky doors and stompy footsteps and other sinister sound effects ad infinitum or at least until the King Biscuit Flour Hour ends -- plus shout-outs to Renovation Therapy (nee ILU) and Amalie, who both left comments on the now-ex-Mini-You-Know which have now been ex-commenticated with the rest of them but I couldn't think of clever ways to work them in like I did with everybody else)

And oh crap.

I just realized that now I have to go and do the second coat of mini-you-know.


Think I could just throw it under the sink for another couple years?

Friday, May 2, 2008

Ribbit Ribbit

We found this dude in the Shedd Aquarium...

... and he came home in my throat.

Well, actually he came home in One Friend's throat, but before she headed down to Connecticut, she handed him off to me.

I'm sick, is what I'm saying.

Feel sorry for me.