It's not about the house.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Too Big

I cleaned the rest of the closet, okay? Folded all the goddamn clothes, washed the ones that needed washing, tossed the ones that were irreparably torn or grotty-looking, and made a very small pile to give away. I even made the requisite pile of “save them until I’m skinny and beautiful again” clothes – although that one I pretty much just lifted down off the top shelf intact the way I stacked it up two years ago.

It’s one of those too-small things I want to talk about this morning, as a matter of fact. Because let’s face it, neither of us have the patience for a faux-droll play-by-play on the seven hours I spent folding clothes while running back and forth to the office to check email. I really need to get me one of these new-fangled wirelessy things. Or learn to type a text message so that it takes less than twenty minutes and doesn’t leave me with a twitching palsy of the thumbs. Seriously, for a girl who could type 132 words a minute before the internet was so much as a Hershey bar in the CIA’s back pocket, that thumb shit is like trying to talk with one lip tied behind my back.

Anyway, the pants:

They were my show breeches (no, I didn't make my bed this morning: so?). I only ever wore them once, and I was sixteen when I went off to college and said good-bye to the horse, so that ought to give you some idea of just how long ago it was.

I only wore them once because the horse I had in high school was (like most other things I'd sit astraddle of in the ensuing years) psychologically damaged. He didn’t handle competition very well. Or traffic, for that matter. Loud noises. Cameras. Thunderstorms, sudden movements, dogs, anything blue, children, men, furniture, or running water. Random invisible beasties would leave him white-eyed and tonic, and the one and only time I decided he was being genuinely bratty and broke myself off a twig-crop to convince him to behave, all I did was show it to him and he went belly-out through hell and half of Georgia. Or the Douglas State Forest. One of those. All I know is that when he finally shuddered to a foam-flecked stop I had to give him his head and trust him to take me home, because I didn’t have the foggiest idea where we were.

I’d been in a few small shows before I got him, but that was with a different horse named Tally Ho – whose fuh-fuh name had to have been a joke, because he was retired rodeo, Quarter Horse cross. So with him I’d always ridden western. For those shows I used to wear a red cowboy shirt with black piping, black bolo tie, black jeans, and a black cowboy hat. Oddly enough, I don’t remember anything about the boots, but they were probably black, too, and they probably came from Thom McAnn. All our shoes came from Thom McAnn back then, because they had a very generous return policy. They would exchange anything my mom brought back, even boots that had quite obviously been on the business end of a Quarter Horse cross.

But the spaz – Corrie (full name: Wrongway Corrigan; so called because he’d been a breech birth; the poor old bastard was just fucked right out the gate) – was a Saddlebred. They're a notoriously hot-blooded breed to begin with, but his burner got dialed up a notch at the age of two, when he escaped from his paddock and got hit by a passing truck. He was astoundingly lucky, though (except, you know, for the getting-hit-by-a-truck part): he escaped without a single shotgun-fetching broken bone. Just 150 stitches across his chest, a lifelong fear of everything, and a coat like none I'd ever seen.

See, the cortisone injections he got as part of his recovery gave him a full-body case of raging hives (I'm telling you, this poor creature was cursed.) And when they healed, every one of them left behind a scar-white spot. People always used to ask me if he was an Appaloosa, but come on:

Does that look like a Nez Perce horse to you? (Yes, that's me in the saddle. And no, I don't want to hear word one about that coat. Or hair, for that matter.)

Now, you don’t ride a Saddlebred – not even a spotted one – like a cowboy, you just don’t, so I had to learn a new seat and get new gear. I learned, I switched, I got, and through it all poor Corrie twitched and shook. My instructor got fed up with me because I couldn’t make him trot without extending, but when she got on to show me how, he freaked out and dumped her in the mud. She wouldn’t come back after that, and I gave up any hope of developing show-worthy equitation.

Instead, I discovered a natural knack for soothing him down from a panicked ledge, and – although no-one was using the phrase “horse-whisperer” at the time – I became a sort of go-to girl for calming wild horses. Hauling them out of rivers, getting them to stand still for a bath, untying them from stall walls that they’d managed to pull down. I was able to do these things – and still have the scars to prove it – because Corrie taught me how to put aside my fear at crucial moments, when he needed me to be an apogee of calm.

Still, though, I did have that gear. Those breeches, a pale green ratcatcher, dark green coat, and honest-to-god, from-the-tack-shop, hunter boots. My folks spent so much money on it all, money that we really didn’t have (Corrie cost us nothing because of the PTSD problems, and we boarded him for $25/month). So I decided I would take him to a show.

It was a small one, put on by my local 4-H club, and I actually rode him all the way cross town to it at daybreak, just to avoid having to put him in the trailer. I changed into the show gear when we got there and spent the morning whispering sweet nothings in his ear, just barely convincing him not to bolt. Finally our class was called and we rode into the ring, both of us dark by now with his sweat. I tried to breathe serenity down through myself into his insides while he jigged sideways around all the other horses, but a minute later I gave up, asked them to open the gate, and let him take me straight back home, vowing to never again make another decision regarding Wrongway Corrigan that wasn’t 100% completely about him.

The next summer, when it was clear to everyone that we would never show again, I decided I might’s well use the show breeches for everyday – but by that time they were already too small. So I put them in the back of the closet, figuring maybe I’d be the first girl in the world whose hips actually got smaller as her puberty progressed.

Funnily enough, that’s not what happened, but I’ve kept them with me all these years. On the bottom of the skinny stack in the back of the top shelf of every closet I’ve ever used, even though I know for sure they’ll never fit. I keep them partly as a reminder that I discover things I’m very good at when I allow myself to be led down unexpected roads. And partly to honor poor old Corrie, whose tortured days did not end well after I passed him on.

But mostly, to be honest with you, I keep them to preserve the memory of my dear, departed, tiny, little fourteen-year-old ass.

P.S. I still have the boots, too.

They'll never fit me again, either, but I hang onto them because they’re hot.

Monday, March 29, 2010


I'm going back to bed.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

There is No Antonym, Don't Be Ridiculous

I finished cleaning the whole closet, and I'm working on a really good post about some pants, but Dr. One Friend arrived yesterday afternoon so I've put it on hold. Between us we have one hundred and sixty-five pounds of enthusiastic dog, and that doesn't make for an atmosphere very conducive to the craft.* So I'll let you in on my pants when she goes home.

In the meantime, here's a punchline from Johnny's medicine chest that I've been ruminating on for quite a while, and am now officially giving up on finding a way to turn it into a whole story:

It's a nose-hair trimmer.

*"The craft" -- ha! How d'you like them apples? Like what I do takes some kind of practice or skill or shit. Boy, am I blowing smoke up my own ass or what? All I do is throw a thesaurus at a fart joke or two and go back to bed. Look, I'll show you: see that white box under the Device? Hemorrhoidal unguent. Yeah, that's right: unguent. 

But because I love you I'll give you a second tip for nothing: whatever you do, do not click on the Wikipedia entry for hemorrhoids.

There isn't a thesaurus in the world big enough to throw at that.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Don't-Don't-Don't-Don't-Look at What's in Front of You

Remember this?

In case you can't tell, it's my bedroom closet.

I’ve cleaned it twice – and written about cleaning it twice – since I started this here blog, but both times I left the bottom part alone.

I don't know. I got too bored with the whole thing before I hit the floor, I guess, and justified it by telling myself I always did manage to find the pair of shoes I wanted. Eventually. I’m not saying it didn’t get ugly, especially when I was looking for the white high-heeled sandals on a sticky summer’s day -- already pressed and powdered and slipped into the salmon chiffon sundress -- swearing like a sailor and sweating white eyeshadow-trails all the way down to my strapless bra. But I did find them. Eventually. Fuckers gave me bleeding blisters in an hour, too, which handily (or footily) defeated the whole purpose of a fresh French pedicure and white strappy high-heeled sandals.

But I digress.

The point is that this time I started with the shoes. Except for actually that isn’t true. I started with the random articles of clothing that had accidentally (or otherwise) wound up among the shoes. And I say “(or otherwise)” because there is someone in this house who thinks the best way to find the thing you’re looking for – that particular pair of painter’s pants, for example, because lord knows they aren’t all exactly the freaking same – is to pull everything else out of the cubbyhole and leave it in a pile on the floor. And so someone else in this house decided to stop bothering to fold the goddamn painter’s pants (for example) and put them in the goddamn cubbyhole, since they were just destined to end up in a pile with the strappy sandals, anyway.

Have I digressed again? Oh, golly.

Anyway. I began this time by pulling out all the random bits of non-shoe-ness and arranging them — well, arranging them in a nice, neat, hip-deep pile on the bathroom floor. Hey man, that’s tomorrow’s job. Leave me alone.

Once the clothes were out of the way, I gathered up the shoes in pairs and made three rows: one for his, one for hers, and one to give away. The throw-away ones went straight in a trash bag, into which I then dumped the dirty cat box, tied it up, and carried it outside to the curb before Johnny could come home and insist the nine-dollar black stilettos with a heel-tip missing, or the faux-Keds that even after Clorox-treatment remain a noxious Cape Cod grey, might be worth saving.

Despite what some of you advised me a few weeks ago, however, I did not work up the nerve to throw out anything of his. Call me a pussy if you want to, but I’ve been through it, and there are only so many screaming-yelling fights about moldy old Birkenstocks a girl can take before she decides the twelve cubic inches she might free up aren't that important.

You think that Birkenstock thing was a bit of writerly hyperbole, don't you? Unfortunately, no.

 Bleah. And they're broken, too.

Turns out when you leave old leather buried in the back of the closet for four years worth of sticky summer days, it actually gets moldy. Freakin’ yuck. So I started a fourth pile for Johnny’s yuckies, hoping he’d see the light – or the blight, as it were – and work up the common sense to throw them out himself when he got home. You know how that turned out for me, don't you? Yeah. He says he's going to get them fixed. Eventually.

The sad part, though, is that his Birks weren’t the only things collaterally damaged. Look:

My spare pair of oxblood Fryes! Boo hoo. I got them at a flea market, used, for like five bucks, but they were relegated to the back of the closet almost immediately because it turns out they’re a size too large. I really should have tried them on first and left them there for someone else, but I don't ever try anything on -- and besides, then someone else would have gotten a pair of vintage oxblood Fryes for like five bucks! Now nobody gets them. Freakin’ yuck.

Aw, hell. Johnny’s not home yet but even I know you can’t just throw out a pair of vintage oxblood Fryes, even if they are a little moldy! If I’m not going to wear them, I should at least give ‘em to GoodWill. But you can’t go giving GoodWill moldy shoes, now, can you? Even if they are some seriously stylin' oxblood Fryes...

And this is what I meant when I said the other day I got distracted. Because I cleaned those kick-ass boots with Murphy’s, I polished ‘em with Mink, and when I had ’em all shined up I stepped into them just to see how nice they looked -- and damned if they didn’t fit me after all! I don’t know if my feet have been expanding recently to keep up with my ass, or if the mold has magic leather-shrinking powers, but now those too-big, five-buck, Frye boots fit! So now I have two pairs of stylin’ Frye boots for kicking ass!

And one slightly-worse-for-the-wear pair of red faux-Keds for running fast.

Flush with that success, I decided to tackle some of the other grossness. Because I knew damn well Johnny wasn’t going to get rid of any of it. Not the broken Birkenstocks, not the board-stiff Thom McAnn wingtips he seems to think are actually nice, not the black hand-me-down workboots that are obviously too big for him and never worn. The workboots were still new-looking, but the rest of them I cleaned. Got into a kind of groove, actually, and enjoyed it.

Even if it did take me two freakin' days.

Oh! And I finally figured out why he’s never worn the throwback Desert Boots I bought him back in 1997. Because look:

Just not the same size whatsoever, even though he tried on six different pairs in the store.


I wonder if the new pair would fit me.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Oh, Blogger!


I know that Google is perfect and big-hearted and all-fired world-dominatey and everything, but I really wish they'd just leave well enough alone. Seems some genius in Mountain View has scratched his balls with his wireless mouse or something, and now my blogger interface won't let me upload any photographs. Again. And you know how wordy I am when I can shortcut a thousand with a jpeg once in a while -- you sure as shit don't want to read about my moldy shoes in sensory-descriptive long-form. So it looks like you'll just have to wait another day for the delicious treat I promised yesterday, and if you've got any problems with that you can direct your complaints here.

In the meantime, though, just so y'all don't start a panic-stampede thinking I've gone down the rabbit hole again (speaking of which: if Johnny Depp doesn't stop playing creepy child-molester types I'm going to have to ask him not to call me anymore), here's a little something-something that I think should get you through:

There once was a man from Nantucket--

No! No! Who said that?

You people are disgusting.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Concentration and Self-Sacrifice and Toil and Doubt

I got a little bit distracted.

I was going to pull the wood-paneling down in the dining room yesterday, but I realized before I started that it might be one of those talk-to-your-husband-first kind of projects. Not that I need his permission, mind – I don’t need anybody’s permission to do anything. I am a grown-ass woman, and if I want to pull the fucking roof off my own house I’ll damn well do it. But I don’t. A girl’s got to know her limitations. One of mine, oddly enough, is sleeping in the cold, spring rain.

And another one is hanging drywall.

Actually I can hang drywall, but I can’t do it alone, and if Johnny came home to discover I’d gutted a room without so much as a heads-up, he’d find a way to be too busy to help me put it back together for a month, I know it. By which time I will have found a Real Job, or gone off on some worldwide tour, and the wall-less dining room will become one of those eyesores we all have in our houses that we simply fail to see after a while.

We do all have those, right? It’s not just me? They could be as small as the rolling-pin that has for some reason taken up permanent residence on the steamer-trunk in the corner, as dire as the water stains on the living-room ceiling, or as just plain odd as the creepy catch-all cubbyhole under the stairs. Once in a while these things sort of pop into my line of vision and send my heart-rate soaring, but I’ve learned to rub my eyes until they disappear again. Yesterday, though, realizing that the dining room would be a bad idea but determined not to derail my do-something resolution the first day, I tackled one of them.

I put the rolling-pin away. There. Aren’t you proud of me?

The End.

No, no, no. The rolling-pin's still on the steamer-trunk, don’t be ridiculous! I did do something else, though, but you’ll have to wait to hear about it. Partly because it isn’t so much finished yet (I told you I get distracted), and partly because I have to actually be somewhere in a few hours, so I don't have time to tell you now about my moldy shoes...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Fasten Your Seatbelts

 Where's EGE?

You may have noticed that I stepped away from my computer for a while. Well, mostly. Those of you who are Facebook friends were privy to my lamentations on the state of toiletry in the AssVac as of late – unless of course you did the responsible thing and hid my status updates from your feed. But facebook isn’t writing. It’s not computering. It’s more like running out to check the mailbox and announcing to the neighborhood what you’ve been up to while you do.

“I broke the toilet!”

Ooh, two letters!

“I hope Obama passes health reform!”

Ooh, three letters!

“I’m having SpaghettiOs for lunch!”


This is all very gratifying, especially when you can make someone laugh two minutes after he posts that his dog died (it was a joke about Celine Dion in my underwear – you had to be there), but it still is not the same as working.

Speaking of which: I haven’t been working in a while. Officially unemployed now for a day short of a month, I spent the first two weeks frantically revising the Big Project I thought I’d finally put to bed, then another week or so polishing my Florence Nightingale impression (for this go-round I added elements of tuna casserole and a dash of apple pie). Then I got sick myself and went to bed for more time than was strictly necessary, hauling my ass out just in time to throw a party for what was supposed to have been 25 but turned out to be just 15. That was Saturday. Yesterday passed in a leftover-appetizer haze, and now here we are at this morning, which I have decided to call my First Real Day of unemployment.

Now, I don’t want to give the impression that I'm a Lady of Leisure. I really can’t afford to take time off. There’s an almost 100% chance I’ll be regretting it in a monumental way, and very soon, but my decision was arrived at as rationally as I am capable of arriving at anything these days – by which I mean to say: feet first and skidding. But I do have reasons, and I’ll present them here in decreasing order of importance. Which is, perhaps not coincidentally, inversely proportionate to their potential for entertainment value.

#1. I have a lot of wounds from this past year that still need licking, and my psyche simply can’t handle an intense job search right now. I’d wind up using my interviewer’s necktie for a hankie if he so much as asked me why I left my last place of employment, and since I did so without so much as a letter of recommendation, I’ll need a bit more time to get my story straight about the twelve-year gap in my CV. Which brings us neatly to...

#2. I’d like to wait and see how the Big Project pans out. I’m under no delusions that it’s going to fund my immediate retirement, but I’d like to wait and see if I’m going to be a janitor at Wal-Mart who does Big Projects on the side, or if the whole idea of Big Projects will get shoved under the bed so I can be the next CEO of Morgan Stanley. I wouldn’t think they’d care too much about the twelve-year gap in my resumé, seeing as how the last time I had a Real Job the economy still made some sort of sense. Which sets us up nicely for...

#3. If I started looking for a Real Job tomorrow, the chances are slim to none that I'd have any luck. And there’s a lot of little things that should be done around the AssVac in case we have to sell up and move out. I haven’t put any thought into the old girl for a while, but she is still, for example, sporting a wood-paneled dining room, two poo-brown linoleum bedrooms, and a giant pile of assorted shit in the backyard, all of which could be productive uses of my leisure time. And all of which, I’d like to think, would pay off in the end. Perhaps not handsomely, but at least as well as mopping floors for Mr. Walton, anyway.

So I’m giving myself another month or two. I intend to get the house in order, stitch my soul together, and (hopefully) get something tangible to fill that twelve-year gap. After that, who knows? But in the meantime, you – my dear, sweet, and almost certainly slightly deranged readers who have stuck with me through all these fevered ramblings and recent blank spots – will get dragged along through the mud for the entire bumpy ride, if you should be so foolish as to accept the invitation.

It’s a dirty job, I know. But if you can't make a person laugh when his dog dies, then what's the point of writing, anyway?

Right, boyo?

I missed you, EGE!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

There is a Lion in the Way

I wasn’t going to work out today.

That is, I was. After all, I am officially, 100% unemployed these days. The Big Project is in Bigger Hands, and until those big hands slap me with a verdict either way, working out is really my only job. Six times a week. One hour. No excuses. Fit back in my favorite jeans or bust.

Unless I have Plans or something. Which I do, today. If I have Plans or something then five times a week ought to be plenty. After all, if I’m thinking of it as a freaking job...

But then I had four cups of cocoa last night and decided to work out this morning after all.

Then I woke up.

I woke up and remembered how I wasn’t going to work out today, and how very good not working out can feel, and decided five times a week really ought to be enough on an ongoing basis. I’d take the dog out for good long romp instead. Climb hills. Throw sticks. Hoist bag after bag of steaming poo (seriously, he goes once a day at home but four times in an hour at the park!? I don’t know. I think he’s trying to make some sort of statement, but I’m loathe to whip out the decoder ring just yet).

Yes. Dog. Park. Right now. Romping. That’s what I’ll do. But oh, it’s raining...

Well, not technically, not yet. But it is awfully grey and damp-looking out there. What if it rains? That park gets really wet when you add water. The dog comes out all crusted up with mud. If I take him, if that happens, I won’t have time to clean him up before our Plans. And we do have Plans today. I wasn’t lying about that.

I know: I’ll weigh myself. That’s what I’ll do. If I weigh less than yesterday I get a pass. But if it comes out the same or more, then I’ll work out. I get to strip, though, because yesterday’s was a post-workout weight, and my outfit was so drenched in sweat I took it off. Speaking of sweat, I ought to subtract an extra pound, just to be fair...

Three pounds I’ve gained!? Since yesterday!? Who knew four cups of cocoa weighed so much!?

All right, then. That does it. I’ll do both. First dog park, then work out, then off to Plans. Except, jeez, I just remembered: it’s been more than a week since I’ve posted on my blog. Okay, so: blog first, work out second, dog park third (if I have time), then off to Plans...

Two hours this damn thing took me? To write four hundred and sixty-seven words? Christ! I better put the keyboard down right now and go work out!

My shoulder hurts.