Saturday, December 31, 2005

It's not the first time I've been busted by a cop.

It is my natural tendency to try to always do what cops tell me to do. It's not that I'm an obedient person by nature, it's just that I like living outside the prison walls. I will do pretty much anything a cop asks me, within reason, but the kinds of orders I'm used to hearing from cops include the following:

"Drop your weapon!"

"Back away from the body slowly."

"Do not swallow that baggie!"

"Put your clothes back on, ma'am."

In the past, when I've disobeyed the commands of police officers, I've ended up maced, in leg irons, or with broken ribs. In my defense, I'd just like to say that I would probably have obeyed the orders cheerfully had I not been high on PCP at the time. But ever since I quit doing dust back in 9th grade, I've had almost no trouble with the police whatsoever. Well, significantly less. A bit less, anyway. Okay, less.

So when Frankie The Cop recently told me I had to make a full confession, I felt I had to comply. He wants me to confess to 3 things I do that others don't know about. The problem with this is that I've pretty much spilled my guts here on this blog, so I had to think long and hard (yes, with the same tiny brain I've been using all along). Haven't I already told you guys every Thing Wrong With Me? (Well, the first 90 out of 100, anyway.) But again, I'm obedient when it comes to orders barked at me by cops. So here goes. Please, officer, don't hit me with your nightstick again.

1. My friend Becky and I used to shoplift when we were in high school. We didn't really need any of the stuff we stole--mostly it was clothes, and neither of us was destitute--we just did it because we were bored and it was fun. We probably only did it for about a year, if I remember correctly--at some point it occurred to us that we might eventually get caught and then sent to a women's penitentiary where we would become lesbians and develop an appreciation for flannel shirts and corduroy pants. So yes, I was a teenage criminal. But don't worry, I'm not going to hell for that. There's a long list of other things I'm going to hell for.

2. This is almost too silly to confess, and up til this moment, I've never told anyone about this except my husband (who looked at me like I was an escaped mental patient): I have a paranoia about being knockkneed--meaning I'm afraid that my knees are too close together. All my life since the age of about 13, I have consciously stood in such a way as to push my knees apart while leaving my feet together, in an effort to create more space between my knees. Not only do I do this when I'm out in public, but I also do it when I'm alone and no one's watching--every day, all the time. Here is a picture of me standing the way I would naturally, if I weren't so freaking paranoid, and a picture of me pushing my knees apart like I normally do.

I know what you're thinking--that I have too much free time if I'm spending my energy examining the distance between my knees. Either that or I'm deeply, unbelievably self-absorbed. Yes, and yes.

3. Sometimes customers at work show their appreciation for us by baking something--cookies, cake, banana bread, etc. These offerings go on the table in the breakroom, where employees can partake of them at their leisure. We rarely know which customer made a particular item, because it's not like anyone goes to the trouble to label the food; it just gets unceremoniously dumped on the table by whatever employee happens to receive it. I eat this food. I know a lot of you are thinking you wouldn't eat mysterious baked goods because you don't know if the maker of the item washed her hands, or if she lives in an abandoned RV with 35 cats, or if she has hepatitis C and a flesh-eating skin rash, etc. I think about those possibilities each time I pick up a mystery cookie, I really do. And then I think, "Yum, cookie." Now, in my defense, I will say that I do make a judgement call based on the appearance of the gift. If it's cream cheese cookies in a festive holiday tin that's streaked with bloody fingerprints, I wouldn't eat that. If it's blueberry muffins with enough strands of human hair scattered on and around them to make a wig, I wouldn't eat that. If it's a loaf of pumpkin bread with a mouse tail baked in, but protruding halfway out, I wouldn't eat that. The tail, I mean. I'd eat the bread.

So there you have it. Three more reasons to be glad you're not me. Thank you, Frankie, for further alienating me from my people. I'll probably grow old and die alone like a former child actor. Is that what you want?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The new Karla in 2006

Okay kids, Christmas is over. That means it's time to stop goofing off and get busy making New Year's resolutions. This is a time-honored tradition which every living human is required to participate in. Everyone understands and follows the unspoken rules of New Year's Resolutions:

1) Set lofty goals for yourself that you have no reasonable expectation of ever accomplishing. Generally these are the exact same goals you've been setting for yourself every January 1st since you were 18 years old.

2) Spend the first two weeks of the new year pretending you're really working at these goals.

3) Give up entirely in week three, and sink into a depression in which you berate yourself for the next month or more for failing to achieve your New Year's resolutions yet again. By mid February, the cheer and general good will of the Christmas holiday has completely evaporated and you are now nearly suicidal and full of self-loathing. If your goal was to lose weight, you are now stuffing your entire face into fast food containers and potato chip bags to ease the depression of failure. If your goal was to stop smoking, you're now smoking three cigarettes at a time to distract you from the self-deprecating voice in your head. If your goal was to start going to the gym every day, you are now napping five times a day because in sleep you are able to forget for awhile that you are too unmotivated to go to the gym.

Well, I'm not falling for it this year. I mean, I'll definitely make New Year's resolutions, because it's a tradition. Without traditions our society would spiral into chaos, and eventually cannibalism would run rampant. But the difference is that this year I'm not going to set myself up for failure. I'm going to set goals I can actually achieve, so that I end up feeling good about myself all year long instead of wishing I were dead by April. To ensure victory, I'm also going to set up a reward system so that I can celebrate my successes along the way. This will be an added incentive beyond mere personal growth, which is the only reward people usually expect to get from accomplishing their resolutions. And personal growth is a lousy prize no matter how you slice it, so it's no wonder people give up before February.

And because you guys are a nosy bunch, I know you want to hear what my resolutions are.

Karla's New Year's Resolutions for 2006

1. I will not scale Mt. Fuji.

2. I will eat only edible food, and drink only potable water.

3. I will wear a bra when out in public. Usually my own.

4. I will speak English primarily.

5. I will do all I can do prevent flies from breeding in my car.

6. I will use the phrase "gutless swine" in a sentence at least once in 2006.

7. I will not kill anyone with a machete.

8. I will drink more in 2006. While everyone else is promising to drink less, I will take the path less traveled, and I will drink more.

9. I will not sleep with any dictators this year.

10. I will read great works of literature to sharpen my intellect and help develop my analytical thinking.

11. I will wipe front to back.

12. I will steadfastly refuse to participate in any plots to overthrow the government. And this year I mean it.

So there you have it: My New Year's resolutions, hereafter referred to as The List. At the end of each month in 2006, I will review my performance for that month. If I can honestly say that I have stayed on my chartered path and am still well on my way to the New Karla in 2006, I will reward myself with a handful of ecstasy tablets and a bottle of cheap 100 proof whiskey, which I will drink alone under the bleachers at the local high school on a weeknight. By the time 2007 rolls around, I'll be dead of liver disease, possibly following several arrests for public intoxication, but I'll have accomplished all my New Year's resolutions for 2006, which is more than most of you will be able to say.

And I call that a successful year.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

The true meaning of Christmas

Christmas isn't supposed to be about the gifts you get. It's supposed to be about the spirit of something-or-other, and family blah blah blah, and now that I think about it, I think some famous guy was born that day or something. So yeah, it's this magical time when people come together in love to share their joy and...some other stuff that sounds like it came straight out of a Hallmark card. And that's what it's about; that's all it's about.

But I got some really cool stuff this year! I got a Roomba, which hopefully will allow me to get drunk and eat ice cream with my bare hands while it does the vacuuming for me (because that is always what I'd rather be doing when I'm vacuuming). And I got Sirius satellite for my car and home, which hopefully will help me teach Jake all kinds of dirty words as we listen to Howard Stern together. And I got an iRiver .mp3 player to replace the one I lost a few months back, which will allow me to tune out the rest of the human population when I'm forced to be out among the heathens while shopping or working out at my gym. Plus I got gift certificates to several cool places, which will keep me from having to shoplift things I want, at least for awhile.

These things, of course, are just things. Not important at all, and not what Christmas is about. But they do help to make up for a few of the downsides of the holiday season:

Like candy canes. As candy goes, candy canes are at the very bottom of the barrel. They are not tasty, and barely qualify as candy at all. They're more like a breath mint than a treat. And yet all December long, every time I turn around I'm getting a candy cane shoved in my face along with a shout of "Merry Christmas!" There is nothing merry about these little striped mouthwash sticks.

And fruit cake. I know there are going to be a few of you freaks who disagree with me on the candy cane score, but not one among you has the nerve to pretend that fruit cake is edible, or that you don't promptly toss them in the trash when they are given to you. Know what fruit cake is good for? To take as a gag gift to a white elephant gift exchange, in the event that you can't get your hands on any chum.

And canned cranberry sauce. Adam Carolla claims the homemade stuff is good, although I've never once laid eyes on a homemade batch, since everyone in the world buys the canned stuff. And as I once told this crack junkie I sometimes fraternize with, cranberry sauce is disgusting and vile. What other food do you eat that's purple? And it's got that creepy jelly-like consistency, making it look like muppet phlegm. Somehow we as a society have been brainwashed into putting this crap on each and every holiday dinner table, all of us blithely ignoring the fact that it does, in fact, taste like can-shaped shit.

And poinsettas. These are the world's ugliest plants, and yet people hand them out cheerfully this time of year, smiling like they're giving you something worthwhile. I'd rather receive a can of cranberry muppet phlegm than one of those tacky neon red monstrosities.

And that, my friends, is why the gifts are important after all. I spend all month saying thank you for the candy canes I get shoved up my ass every hour on the hour by every person I come into contact with, pretending to admire the beauty of a lot of ugly red plants that look like they've been fertilized with nuclear waste, taking pains to discretely throw away the fruitcakes I'm given before they attract the cockroaches that are the only living things who enjoy eating them, and biting my tongue to refrain from speaking out against the cran-slime that is wiggled under my nose at the dinner table. The gifts make it all worthwhile.

And oh yeah, that family/love/religion stuff, too.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

100 Things Wrong With Me (Part 9)

It seems like every blogger out there has a 100 Things list, in which they detail 100 miscellaneous facts about themselves, usually along the lines of "I believe the eyes are the windows to the soul," and "I once broke my arm in two places." These are the kinds of facts that are probably interesting only to the blogger's mother and therapist. Therefore, I give you my list of 100 Things Wrong With Me. I'm posting the list in installments, on the assumption that the majority of my readers either have Attention Deficit Disorder or are chronically drunk. Here's 81-90.

81. When I brush my teeth, I get toothpaste everywhere. In my hair, on my feet, on the floor, even on my back sometimes. The problem is I try to multitask, and put things away or clean things up while I'm brushing. So the end result is that, yeah, I do manage to put away my comb, some makeup and two barrettes, but now my bathroom is coated floor to ceiling in foamy white slobber.

82. I hate winter. I would be happy if I never saw another snowflake again--which is weird because I'm originally from Alaska. We moved out of the state when I was 8 years old, which I'm really glad about because people who live in Alaska statistically have a 1 in 5 chance of dying by freezing into a solid block of ice while reaching into their mailboxes to check their mail. And to add insult to injury, those same people are often then eaten by polar bears during the next thaw. In fact, a recent ad campaign supports my claim: 83. I was a cheerleader in high school. If you knew me, you'd recognize the irony of this, since I'm hardly peppy and enthusiastic, nor particularly athletic. I didn't even look good in the skirt, because I had sad little stick legs and arms back then. And I don't even really like sports. I'm also not all that coordinated, or good at dancing. I think in most school these things are on the list of requirements for potential cheerleaders, but at my tiny-ass school I think the only requirement is that you be a warm-blooded mammal. Luckily for me, I was able to barely qualify on that score.

84. I love going to parties where there's a white elephant gift exchange--you know, the kind where you bring a gift without knowing who will receive it. People take turns at either picking a wrapped gift, or "stealing" one from someone who has already unwrapped one. There's nothing more fun than buying a random gift for a random person. Usually when you buy a gift for someone, you try hard to get them something they'll like--not so much because you want them to be happy or any of that do-gooder BS, but mostly because you know they'll mock you behind your back if you give them something they consider strange or undesirable. My mom once received a two-foot tall, pink and white carousel horse figurine as a gift, although nothing in her house or personality would lead you to believe she was a collector of huge, frightening carousel animals. This is the kind of gift that nets the giver a warm, "Thank you!" to his face, but many snide comments behind his back.

But the white elephant gift exchange is a thing of beauty. You can buy any bizarre, insane, useless thing that strikes your fancy without fear of repercussion. Gifts I have brought to such parties in the past include: A Spam snowglobe, a bag of shark chum, and a travel urinal. I consider this a Thing Wrong With Me because of the perverse glee I get from watching someone unwrap a package that they're surely hoping will be something decent, only to discover it's something no one would ever want, like a bag of chum.

85. Brian and I have an ongoing squabble over whether to leave the blinds in the house open or closed. He wants them open all the time, while I at least want them closed at night. I am perpetually convinced that someone could be looking in at any moment. This bothers me for at least three reasons: 1) The potential peeper might be aghast at the condition of my toy-littered house, 2) He might be scouting potential rape and/or murder victims, and decide I look puny enough to overpower, or 3) He might see me slobbing around the house in my Olive Garden boxer shorts and ratty striped tank top. I'm not sure whether I'm more afraid of being violated or being spotted in clothes that look like they should be in a Goodwill box, but Brian does not understand my paranoia. He considers this a Thing Wrong With Me. Maybe the reason he can't identify with me on this is that not only does he statistically stand less chance of being raped by an intruder, but he also doesn't have to worry about being seen in slob clothes because he doesn't have any. When he gets home from work, he simply leaves his work clothes on, including shoes and socks, until bedtime. Sometimes I'll look over at him, laying on the couch watching a movie in his tucked-in, button-down shirt, slacks, shoes and socks, and I'll think, "Holy cow that's weird." I assume he occasionally steals a glance at me laying on the other couch in my Metallica sweatpants from 1987 and my Eric Clapton t-shirt from 1990 and thinks, "Holy cow, that's weird."

86. I have no problem getting up and changing seats in a movie theater to avoid the screeching a-holes in the seats next to us. My polite husband thinks getting up mid-movie to switch seats is akin to causing a scene, and would rather sit there and basically miss the entire movie rather than quietly moving a few aisles away. Come to think of it, this sounds more like a Thing Wrong With My Husband than with me. Strike this one from the record.

87. I have a ridiculous number of shoes. I realize most girls have this same problem, but my shoes aren't even a collection of varying types of interesting and different styles. Most of them are black, and even the black ones don't vary all that much from one pair to the next. And in spite of a shoe collection that probably outnumbers that of Imelda Marcos, there are two pairs among them that I wear 98% of the time, while the rest just sit in my closet looking fabulous.

88. Sometimes I steal money out of my friends' purses to buy heroin. Okay, that one isn't true. Believe it or not, I'm starting to run out of Things Wrong With Me. Maybe I should let my husband write the rest of the list for me. (In which case, I might need to expand the list to 1000.)

89. I eat this on a regular basis:

And yes, it looks just like that every time. It's a veggie burger, and I purposely burn it beyond all recognition. I don't put it on a bun or anything like that, either. I eat it just like you see it in the picture. I don't even use a plate or a fork, I just hold that piece of char in my hand and munch on it like a hobo. Except I'm pretty sure no self-respecting hobo would eat that. All I can say in my defense is that I like char.

90. I have a collection of cigarette lighters, some of which are old and hard to find. I bought most of them in little antique shops, but some one eBay. The strange thing about this is that I don't smoke, and never have. I mean don't get me wrong, I can definitely see the appeal of smoking. What kind of person wouldn't want to put a burning object in his mouth and suck on it? Especially if it made his breath stink, made his clothes smell like they were scavenged from a house fire, turned his teeth yellow, and killed him slowly over time? Plus, it's a fun way to spend money, which everyone has lots of. But perhaps even stranger than someone who spends good money to stink, turn yellow and die is someone who collects cigarette lighters and doesn't smoke. It's just plain odd. Although I will say that a real smoker could never collect lighters, because other smokers would just steal them. Have you ever noticed that 90% of a smoker's energy is spent trying to steal the lighters of other smokers? Go to any bar on a Saturday night and you'll see a big crowd of sneaky lighter thieves; all of them stinking and turning yellow as they nervously eye each other's lighters, waiting for just the right moment to make a grab.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Your prizes are on the way!

It's time to announce the winners of October's caption contest! When asked to find a funny, lighthearted way to interpret the horrible, possibly illegal picture I took of my son, you rose to the occasion like yeast rises in a Mexican border town prostitute's panties.

First prize goes to Soapbox Superstar, for this entry:

Pot-Luck (just not so lucky for some)

Congratulations, Superstar! As you surely remember, the first prize is my son, Jake. You are now the mother of a cheerful, chatty, snaggle-toothed infant. You can look forward to many exciting times ahead, especially if you like being repeatedly rammed in the shins with a walker that looks like a car.Nothing that's less than 18 inches off the ground is safe from the grubby hands of my--ha! I mean YOUR--precocious young son. Just beware of his fecal hijinks. He's well-known and feared for his diaper pranks, also referred to as "Trick or Worse Trick."

My dear friend Donna (also known as Boom, Boomer, or by any one of the hundreds of aliases she rotates through in an effort to evade capture and subsequent death by lethal injection) slides into second place with her entry:

"Wait 'til you see the special sauce I'm cooking up down here!"

Donna might have taken first place if not for the fact that she stubbornly refuses to get a blog of her own for me to link to here, in spite of the ridiculously long list of stories she could tell you that would no doubt blow your collective mind. If you ever see her on the street, ask her the meaning of this phrase from her past: "Actually, it tasted kinda salty." But I recommend only asking on an empty stomach.

Donna, since you and I have been friends since we were little kids, I thought your prize should be something more personal. I thought of giving you my virginity, but we both know where that went. So I've decided to give you my liver. It's in about the same sorry shape yours is in, but I figure if you put the two of them together, you'll almost have the equivalent of one healthy, functioning organ. I thought about giving you my dignity as well, but that's in worse shape than my liver, and in your hands it would be reduced to charred tatters in about a week and a half. So take the liver and be happy with that.

And third place goes to Lee, for this caption:

What do you call a baby boiling in a pot?


Admittedly, it would have been funnier if my kid were actually named Stuart. Lee, you should talk to Soapbox Superstar; once she has legal custody of Jake, she may consider changing his name. The third prize is a lifetime subscription to! That's right, you won't ever have to pay monthly dues again! Really, this should have been first prize, now that I think about it.

As you can see, I'm in the process of packing the first prize to send off to Soapbox Superstar. Am I supposed to cut air holes in the box? How much should I insure it for? If anyone has any experience shipping human children via the US Mail, I'd appreciate any advice you can give.

Friday, December 16, 2005

It's only fair to warn you: You're probably too smart to be reading my blog.

You know how every once in a while you hear about someone who is mentally handicapped, with, say, the mind of an 8-year-old, but they are living on their own, maybe in a little apartment in town? Don't you wonder how they do it? Wouldn't you think it would be dangerous or scary for someone with limited mental faculties to run a household alone? Make dinner, pay the bills, go to the store and make it back safely? Yet somehow they do it, and we are often a bit awestruck that they are capable of so much despite being technically handicapped.

That's me, folks. You should have seen me at the post office today. It would have made you clench your fists in rage at the ineptitude of the public school systems that are responsible for educating our youth. Either that, or it would have made you shake your head sadly that I was so lazy in school as to let my perfectly healthy brain stagnate and bloat like a diseased liver rather than taking the opportunity to learn a thing or two.

Yes, it's true, I hate the post office. I avoid it at all costs. I'd rather remove my own appendix than go to the post office. And at this time of year, it's the worst-- every time I've driven by one in the past week or so, the line has been so long it looked like a Hands Across America photo shoot. But this trip would be a relatively painless one, because I was driving out of my way to go to a location that was equipped with plenty of gadgets to prevent people from having to negotiate the surly cashiers and the snaking lines. This particular post office has a digital scale with a vending machine attached, so you can weigh and post your own packages, paying by credit card if you prefer. If that machine is busy, there's a regular scale for weighing, plus two other vending machines that sell stamps by the book or individually, although you can only pay in cash at those machines.

While the scale and stamp vending area is nowhere near the cashiers, the lines were so long that they coiled back well past the stamp vending area, so I felt a certain sense of glee as I excused myself to step between the people slowly decaying in the eternal lines so that I could get to the do-it-yourself area. The listless people in line turned their dead eyes toward me, sadly jealous that they still had approximately 42 more hours to go before completing their transactions, while I would apparently skip in and out of there like a child playing in a department store's revolving door.

I had a few Christmas cards to buy stamps for, and a book I needed to mail to someone who had purchased it from me on It was The Dr. Drew and Adam Book, if you're dying to know what a deep thinker and intellectual reader I am. Although I didn't end up reading it, now that I think about it. I tried, but it was really very silly. I love the radio show (Loveline), and thought that must mean I'd like the book. But I learned a valuable lesson: Hearing a free-running conversation between 3 or 4 people can be interesting. Reading that exact same conversation verbatim on paper is more tedious than reading this blog. But I digress.

I plopped my cheerful infant on the clean-looking floor in front of the vending machine. (I know, you're thinking, "Ew." Hey, I'll tell you what: Next time, you come with me and hold him for me, okay? He doesn't crawl, having deemed that "too babyish" for the rock star image he's trying to cultivate with the ladies, so I didn't have to worry him putting his hands on the floor as long as I gave him something to play with. So I handed him my wallet and went about getting book of stamps from the vending machine. Normally when I come to the post office to use the self-serve area, I spend a certain amount of time digging through my purse while clutching the baby by one or more of his chubby limbs, so this time I left my purse in the car and carried only my wallet and keys, so I'd have less junk to contend with. I think ahead, my friends. That's my middle name. Karla-Think-Ahead, they used to call me in prison.

I put stamps on my letters and fed the letters into the letter slot. Now it was time for the package. I set Jake's butt on the counter and pinned him there with my body while I weighed the package. He attempted to grab everything within his 12-inch armspan, as I struggled to block his pinwheeling arms with my body and navigate the digital scale. To send this package Media Mail, it would cost $1.84. Sounded fair to me, so I began peeling stamps off my new book of stamps. Here's where the action stopped. Hmm. Stamps are 37 cents. How many times does 37 go into 184? I stared blankly at the book of stamps. Seriously, if there were a video recording device in my head, you would have seen snow on the screen, like when a TV station goes dead. Seconds ticked by as I stared. Okay, let's do it this way: I know 37 plus 37 is 64. Wait, that's not right. Okay, 40 plus 40 is 80, minus 6 makes it 74? Okay. Now how many times does 74 go into 184? Blank stare. That didn't help at all. Normally, this is where my cell phone would come in handy. There's a calculator function on my cell phone--probably on yours too, but you wouldn't know that because you never use it, right? Because you can add in your head, like every other normal person on the planet. The calculator function on my cell phone is perhaps the most important feature, with the calling feature coming in at a close second. But remember, because I'm Karla-Think-Ahead, I had left my purse in the car and brought in only my wallet, so I could minimize the amount of things I had to juggle. Now here I was, not juggling anything but the helium balloons bumping up against each other in my head.

I looked up. I was inches away from roughly three thousand people who were standing line. I looked them over. All with working brains, all of perfectly normal intelligence, I guessed. Any one of these people could answer this Super Duper Advanced Level math question for me. Some of them were looking right at me anyway, making funny faces at Jake, having nothing else to do while waiting. And I might have asked one of them for help, too, if not for the fact that I was holding my cute baby with red cheeks and a funny blue hat on his head. If I revealed to them that I was operating on a 2nd grade intelligence level, the crowd would have closed in on me in mere seconds, snatching my child from me and whisking him off to Child Protective Services, where he would go into The System, and eventually be placed in a home with fully functioning foster parents. I had to play it cool. "Look smart," I told myself, "Pretend you're capable of raising this child."

I decided to just put a ton of postage on the package. I figured I'd just plaster enough stamps on there that it'd be guaranteed to make its destination. But here again was something I wasn't smart enough for. I had idea that 5 stamps would be enough, but I wasn't sure, so I added a sixth one just for good measure. As I started to drop the package in the slot, I thought, "Wait. Maybe 6 isn't enough, either." I stared at the package. Should I add a seventh stamp? Should I buy two more books of stamps and just put them all on the package, covering every inch of space except the address label?

In the end I gave up on the whole "thinking" thing, and just went out to the car and got my cell phone. Turns out 5 stamps was enough. Back into the post office I went for a second time, defeated, meekly excusing myself to get between the people in line so I could slip my package into the slot and then speed away in my car before anyone caught on to what I had been up to for so long in there.

So yes, this is a sad tale of a halfwit trying to make it in this great big scary world, getting by largely on luck and the kindness of strangers. But there will eventually be a happy ending to my sad tale of unchecked stupidity. The good news is that in few years Jake will be able to tell me how many stamps to put on my packages. If I can just make it that long without someone taking him away from me.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I am a thoughtful friend.

The other day, my friend Brooks left his hoodie sweatshirt behind when he took off to do whatever it is that he does when he's out of my sight. As I sat there idly looking at his plain black sweatshirt, I got to thinking about him. Brooks is a quiet guy, intelligent and thoughtful. He's not the kind of person who wants to be the center of attention, and certainly not someone who wears his heart on his sleeve. If you want to get to know Brooks, you have to be patient, because you're not going to figure him out in one day. You know how there are some people that you seem to know everything about in the first 5 minutes of meeting them? Not Brooks. But he's so worth the effort. Once you get to know him he's funny and friendly and kind and interesting, and just plain great in general--but upon first meeting him, you wouldn't understand all that, not yet.

And there's nothing wrong with that, of course. But I love Brooks, and I just wish more people knew him the way I know him. I sat there and thought to myself, "What can I do help broadcast the truth about the real Brooks?" It would have to be something people could recognize immediately upon seeing him for the first time, the way a big, broad smile lets you know that a person is friendly and approachable. Then it hit me. I could personalize that simple black sweatshirt for him in such a way that it telegraphed to the world "I am Brooks, and here's what I'm about."

So I did it. I put some vinyl letters on the back of his sweatshirt--just a few concise words, not a whole book-length speech. Just a simple statement to distill my friend Brooks down to the core element of his personality, the thing that really makes Brooks "Brooks." I did it out of love. I am that kind of friend.

And then I had another friend model the new-and-improved sweatshirt so I could get a picture of it for a memento.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Dear Jackass, Volume 6

Dear Every Employee at Every Post Office I've Ever Been To:

Okay, I get it. It sucks to work at the post office. That's clearly the message you're trying to telegraph to every customer who patronizes your workplace. I'm unclear what's so bad about the job--from what I see, it's a lot like being a cashier in a grocery store. Not an incredibly fun job, but not backbreaking work, either--just a lot of "That'll be $54.68. Next customer in line, please." Maybe what makes you bitter is the stuff I can't see: Bad benefits? Long hours? Mandatory employee beatings before and after each shift? I don't know. But maybe it would be more constructive for you to voice your complaints to The Man instead of taking your frustration out on the line of average citizens just trying to send a birthday present to Aunt Pearl in Minnesota.

For one thing, it's not physically possible for you to move one bit slower as you go about doing your job. No one expects you to be huffing and puffing, sweating and exhausted from processing packages at light speed, but may I suggest you step it up just a tad, asshole? I can literally hear the scraping of your shoes as you drag your feet crossing the small area between the package window and your cash register. You move like mommy's calling you to come to the living room for a spanking. Now you appear to be straightening pens and idly shuffling through the stamps in the stamp drawer, emitting a long sigh for dramatic effect while I shift my heavy package on one hip and my infant on the other. The eyes of 15 people stare intently at you from the long line as you yawn and stretch and ask the employee next to you about her weekend. Finally, with another heavy sigh, you roll your sad Bassett Hound eyes toward an empty spot on the wall and mumble, to no one in particular, "Next," in the same tone of voice you might use if you were dictating your suicide note. Then, when I finally do have your attention, you act as if I showed up at your mother's funeral to ask a favor of you, instead of coming to your place of business to ask you to do something you're being paid to do.

Why are you so miserable? I'm the one who should be unhappy--I've never made it through a post office line in less than 25 minutes, no matter how many or few people are in the line. And I do take into account the busy times, and try to plan it so I get there when it's slow. But you're one step ahead of me, Angry, Passive-Aggressive Postal Worker, because while you stock the cash registers with a whopping two or three cashiers during the busy times, you reduce the number of cashiers down to one for the slow times. So despite my moment of joy as I park in a nearly empty post office parking lot, congratulating my genius and my sense of timing in managing to get there at the slowest possible time so I can get in an out of the line before my next birthday, I am quickly reduced to tears when I see that there's only one clinically depressed cashier at work inside, who seems to be deliberately taking 20 minutes to process each of the 4 people in line ahead of me, each of whom she treats like a retarded kid brother that Mommy forced her to take along with her to the movies with her friends.

What are the requirements for getting a job at the post office? Do you have to flunk out of Toll Booth school? Do you have to have failed the psychological profile at a minimum of four other jobs? Do you have to check Yes in the box on the application where it asks, "Do you hate all humans equally, living or deceased?"

If anyone reading this is a post office employee, incensed by my depiction of your brethren, and prepared to leave an indignant comment letting me know that you are a postal worker who loves his job and has great customer service skills, then my apologies to you. I will retract my statements if you will tell me which post office you work in, so that I may go there to mail my packages from now on, where I can presumably be waited on by someone who doesn't appear to be off her antidepressants. And yes, I'm in Texas and you may be in Ohio or New Mexico, but no matter; it's worth the drive. With each subsequent visit to the post office, I lose a bit of my will to live. At this rate, I'll have the personality of a postal worker by this time next year.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Public toilets are useful for many things. Lunch isn't one of them.

As I've mentioned before, I'm a little creeped out by people who are way too comfortable with public nudity. One particular woman at my gym can often be seen lounging around in the locker room naked for ridiculously long periods of time. She's just not one of those people who gets out of the shower and changes into her clothes with any kind of sense of urgency. Rather, she ambles about completely nude, fixing her hair, applying her makeup, chatting up passersby, in no hurry to cover her parts.

Now, I have no problem with how Barebutt looks nude, although there are plenty of people I'd go to absolutely any length to avoid seeing in the buff. But she's a workout fiend--she's at that gym every single day, as far as I can tell--and she's in great shape, which is maybe why she's so happy being naked. Maybe she figures the locker room is her one place to showcase the fruits of her labor. I've often lamented that it seems like the people who are the most comfortable being naked in the locker room for the longest periods of time are the people you'd least want to see in the nude, so it's nice to know that, mixed in with all the visual punishment you're guaranteed to get in the locker room, there are a few sights that don't make you want to ram a ball point pen in your eye to blind yourself.

However, there are limits to what I can accept. Here's what went down recently in my locker room, in two separate incidents of Unforgivable Nudity.

On a day like any other, Barebutt was trotting around the locker room executing her usual list of 150 Things To Do While Naked In Public. The hair drying and the mascara application were expected, as were the 10 conversations she managed to strike up with everyone who got within earshot of her. Then came the lotion rub which covered every square inch of skin, twice. Then came lunchtime, apparently. She pulled an apple and a granola bar out of her bag and sat down on the bench, her well-socialized private parts presumably immune to whatever germs typically lurk on the surfaces of locker room benches, and proceeded to dine. Picture me, a foot and a half away, respectably clothed, staring slack-jawed at her like a mental patient, too stunned to unclench my fist from around my hairbrush.

Perhaps it's the fault of the gym itself. Maybe it's their duty to provide a lavish dining area so members can relax and have a proper post-workout meal, rather than having to scarf down granola bars while slouching naked on germy benches, surrounded by sweaty women in varying stages of hairy undress. I don't know. All I know is my brain can process "vagina" or "lunch," but not both at once. When those two concepts bump into each other in my brain, the whole system shuts down like VCR after a 2-year old shoves a peanut butter sandwich into the slot.

But last week Barebutt managed to use her excessive comfort level to kick my discomfort level's ass. She came racing into the locker room, clearly late for a workout class or some other engagement. She had her gym bag over her shoulder and a huge box of energy bars under her arm. Not one of those 5-bar packs, but more like a 15 or 20-bar pack. She charged into a bathroom stall, chirping away to no one in particular about how badly she needed to pee. I thought to myself as she passed, "Why haul all that stuff into the stall with you? There's no place to set it down." I usually put my towel and water bottle on the shelf by the sinks when I go into the stalls, because the idea of flushing the toilet anywhere within 50 feet of a bottle I'm apt to drink out of makes me want to cut out my tongue. After all, while my gym is very clean and nice, this is the same gym bathroom in which I once saw a cockroach the approximate size of my head cheerfully waving his antenae at me from the back of the toilet seat I had just risen from. So scarred was I by this incident that I ceased peeing on toilet seats for a month, instead catheterizing myself with a Ziploc freezer bag and some rubber tubing. (Okay, I made that last part up, but the rest of it, including the cockroach, is true.)

I was actually in the process of setting my water bottle and towel down by the sinks at the exact moment she buzzed past, since I was on my way to a bathroom stall as well. I thought she must just be so frazzled from running late that she'd forgotten she was carrying all that stuff with her, and therefore forgot to set it down by the sinks. But as I entered the stall next to her, the unthinkable happened: She sat down on the toilet, throwing the box of energy bars on the bathroom floor. Just as I busy reeling from the ick factor involved in putting anything on a public bathroom floor that you intend to pick back up--much less food--she tore into the box, ripping it open as she peed. She then proceeded to hastily unwrap a bar and begin eating it while peeing! Once her bladder was empty and the toilet was flushed, she exited the stall, still munching on what was left of the energy bar.

Am I a prude? Am I old fashioned? Am I too germphobic? Am I uptight? I would eat my own kneecap before I would consider bringing food into a public bathroom stall, much less noisily chowing down on it while urinating. And what ever happened to being afraid of the scorn of your peers? What kind of person wouldn't at least be embarrassed to be caught eating on a public toilet? What kind of world am I living in?? I mean, I know there are plenty of people out there who are exceedingly comfortable with their bodily functions, and occasionally I run across some whacko who's downright proud of them. But Barebutt is in a category by herself. I hope.

I go to the gym to stay thin, and I recommend it highly because it works. It works in two separate and distinct ways, one of which might surprise people: I burn a few calories during my workout, sure, but more importantly, I completely lose whatever appetite I've worked up in the locker room afterward. Try it yourself: Next time you're about to take a bite of a candy bar or a french fry, picture Barebutt eating food off the bathroom floor while urinating.

And no, she didn't wash her hands after she left the bathroom stall, either. And at that point, I have to admit, it did seem rather arbitrary.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

100 Things Wrong With Me (Part 8)

If you missed the first 7 parts to this long-winded series, congratulations: You clearly have a life. Here's a short recap:

Many bloggers have a 100 Things list, in which they detail 100 miscellaneous facts about themselves, usually along the lines of "I'm a people person," and "I believe in love at first sight." However, I don't want to get to know you any more than you want to get to know me. So how about I just make a few self-deprecating statements about myself? It'll entertain us both. I give you my list of 100 Things Wrong With Me. I'm posting the list in installments, because seeing an entire 100-item list of my faults might drive me to suicide. Here's #71-80.

71. Even though it takes all the joy out of eating, I can't help reading the nutrition labels of everything I eat. For the most part it's a good thing, because it stops me from eating fattening things most of the time. But reading the nutrition info of certain products can be dangerous, too. Once, I bought a Haagen Daaz ice cream bar at a convenience store, saying to myself, "Don't read the label, just enjoy it. You can afford the calories." I almost made it, too. But then, as I was taking the last bite, I caved, and turned the box over to peek at the numbers. I almost went into cardiac arrest. I consider it a feat of modern science that they managed to cram that many calories and that much fat into that little bitty space. That was over ten years ago, and I've never eaten Haagen Daaz since.

72. I don't drink beer. I want to be "that girl," the supercool girl who drinks beer right alongside the men, and doesn't require the skills of a bartender to make some kind of fancy, frilly girly drink for me, but sadly, I can't drink beer. I tend to feel full after a just a little food or a little drink, and if I drink beer I can only have one or two before I feel like I need to go buy new pants. However, give me a gin martini with three olives and I'll...drink it and order another one. Then another. No new pants required. Unless, you know, I get drunk enough to pee myself. Or unless I wasn't wearing pants in the first place.

73. I don't ride roller coasters. I don't understand you goofballs who do. Is life so boring to you that you need to vomit on yourself while loop-de-looping at the speed of light in order to say you've had a good time? Fine, call me a sissy and a baby and whatever else you thrill seekers want to call me to justify your own death wish. I doubt I'll be laying on my deathbed someday thinking, "I wish I'd spent more time standing in long lines in 90 degree heat waiting to wedge myself onto a bench seat next to a fat guy with sno-cone syrup on his shirt so I could lose control of my bladder while careening upside down on a tiny track at 120 miles per hour."

74. I'm a fast eater. Often I will eat standing up, or while driving. I rarely make a whole plate of food, but instead grab something that I can eat out of my hand like a chimp. All this rushing while eating would give you the impression that I'm so incredibly busy and in demand that I can't afford the 5 minutes it would take to sit down and eat at a normal pace, but that's not the case. The truth is I'm usually rushing for no reason. I'll swallow my food in 3 bites like a Rottweiler, only to then stand around trying to figure out what to do next. I am one of those people who keeps busy constantly, so after inhaling my food I'm off to the next project, but the next project is never anything so pressing that I couldn't have sat down and had a normal meal like a respectable human; the next project is usually some aspect of house cleaning or other busywork. Because all the food I eat in a day has to be something that can fit in my hand, my diet consists pretty much exclusively of bananas, apples, cheese, nuts, fat free hot dogs, grilled chicken that I've cut into strips and bagged in Ziplocs, energy bars, carrots, beef jerky, Lean Pockets and canned tuna, which I eat straight out of the can.

75. I get June and July mixed up, as well as March and May. So if you tell me your birthday is July 24th, I will spend the entire month of June trying to figure out if I need to buy you a present this month or next. No matter how many times you tell me it's July, I will never be able to commit that to memory. Of course, I keep all birthdays and appointments and other important dates written in the calendar in my purse, but still, I find it maddening that I have that June/July, March/May mental block. Along those same lines, I also get meeting times mixed up by 30 minutes. So if you tell me we're meeting for dinner at 7:30 tonight, I will spend all day wondering, "Did he say 7 or 7:30?" I'll call you and confirm that it is, indeed, 7:30, and then later that day I'll be wandering through my house eating some crappy food out of my hand like a hobo, wondering, "Was it 7 or 7:30?"

76. I have to be entertained 24/7. Mostly this involves having something funny to listen to. I have an .mp3 of the Howard Stern show loaded onto my .mp3 player at all times, and I keep it in my purse so that if I am in the grocery store or standing in line somewhere, I can take it out and be entertained. I record, on cassette (what is this, 1981?), Loveline with Dr. Drew (and formerly Adam Carolla) so that I can play it on my home stereo while I'm taking a shower, fixing my hair, doing dishes, etc. I keep magazines in my car, books and magazines in my gym bag, TV shows and movies recorded on my Windows Media Center (kinda like TiVo, for the uninformed). I'm like a 3 year old with a red balloon. I have to have something to play with or I get antsy.

77. When Brian and I are going somewhere in his car, he's usually driving and I'm in the passenger seat. I find great big fun in putting my bare feet on the passenger-side windshield of his car while he tries to swat them away. I try to keep it interesting, and arrange my grimy footprints in a different way each time. You know, toes pointed inward for a knock-kneed look one day, heel-to-toe as if walking a tightrope the next day.

78. I drink pickle juice from the pickle jar. Or I pour it into a juice glass and drink it that way. I'm sure this isn't entirely unheard of, and I'm not the only person who does this. But I also buy these little packets of pickle-flavored salt for ten cents each. I buy big handfuls of them and keep a few in my purse at all times. For, you know, those times when you really just want to dump some pickle-flavored salt into your mouth.

79. I would make the world's worst teacher because I'm terrible at explaining things. It goes badly awry in one of two ways: Either I talk way over the person's head so that they have no idea what I'm trying to tell them, or I dumb it down so much that I insult their intelligence. And it's impossible for me to know which is the case and make an adjustment, because either way I find my pupil staring at me with a look on his or her face that seems to register either total bewilderment or perhaps fear. When I ask, "Does this make sense," they nod mutely. If you think I'm making this up, I'm not. I can't tell you how many times this scenario has played out. To make matters worse, I talk fast, so the person probably spends most our time together trying to figure out what language I'm speaking. All of this explains why I like blogging. Because, even though you're almost certainly sitting there right now with a look of bewilderment or perhaps fear on your face, at least I can't see it.

80. I know this makes me a bad mother, but I really want to get this baby t-shirt for my 10-month old son. The text may be hard to read in this pic, but it says, "Hung like a five year old."

Don't worry, I'm sure my husband wouldn't go for it. One of us has some sense, at least.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Merry Bitchmas

I have a bone to pick. (What the hell does that mean? How do you pick a bone? Why is bone picking a euphemism for complaining? It sounds incredibly gruesome, as if it has to do with picking clean the bones of a corpse. Which I also intend to do today, but later. For now, I just have a complaint I want to share with you.)

It's about Christmas. Actually, I have a list of complaints. I've tried writing them all out in list form and sending them to Santa, but the asshole never responded. So I'll post them here for you, not because I think you can do anything about them, but because there's no real joy in being grouchy unless you can infect others with your misery.

1) Why am I being tortured for a month and a half with the worst music ever created? Everywhere I go the same 15 bad songs are playing over and over, til not even the voices in my head can drown them out. I'm humming them under my breath while I wash dishes, to my unspeakable horror. They're more catchy and insipid and torturously omnipresent than Madonna songs were in the 80s. And it's not the subject matter of the songs (Christmas and Santa, etc.) that grates on me, it's the bad music itself. Somehow in every other aspect of the music industry, making a meaningful song with a good beat is the focus. (Not that they always succeed, but at least that's the goal). Yet when it comes to Christmas music, you can put out any piece of half-baked crap you want, and if has the word snowman or Christmas or sleigh in it, people will add it to the cartoonish loop of bad music that we're forced to listen to exclusively this time of year.

2) Why can't I go to the mall for the entire month of December? Every store in town is bulging with angry, frantic people and their crying children, and they've all gotten together at some point and made a pact to drive no faster than a turtle with Muscular Dystrophy can crawl. No checkout line in town has fewer than12 irate, eye-rolling, toe-tapping people in it, and every cashier is sullen and bitter. I know better than to wait til the last minute to do my Christmas shopping; I'm usually done well before Thanksgiving. But if December rolls around and I decide I need a new pair of jeans or a spice rack for my kitchen, the world suddenly conspires to prevent me from buying those or any other items. Oh sure, I could go out there and do battle with the mall traffic and the disgruntled customer service agents and the hateful shoppers, but someone's going to get hurt. And don't underestimate me. I'm small, but I'm scrappy.

3) Why do I have to send a card to everyone I've ever met? I understand why I'm expected to send them to relatives in Canada that I never see, but why do I have to send one to my friend who lives 10 miles down the road from me? Here's how most Christmas cards are conceived: You buy a box of 50 or 75 or however many identical cards, and you send that same card to everyone on your list. Very impersonal. Worse, you don't even include a handwritten message tailored to the individual recipient, just your name scrawled at the bottom. When the stack of cards with the signatures is ready to be stuffed into the envelopes, it's totally arbitrary which addressed envelope gets which card, because the cards are identical, inside and out; totally impersonal. If you've enclosed a picture of your kid, that's a different story; everyone likes getting pictures. But why must I send an impersonal card with my illegible signature to my neighbors who live down the block? The only time it's worthwhile to get a card in the mail with nothing but a signature inside is when that card is coming from an incredibly famous celebrity whose signature is worth big bucks. Even better if the celebrity manages to die in the few days before the U.S. mail delivers the card to you--but that's a long shot. Don't even dare to hope for that.

(That said, do not take me off your Christmas card list. There's nothing sadder than a mantle in late December that's completely devoid of Christmas cards except for the one from your insurance agent. As an adult, we get few opportunities to look really popular, and an empty mantle in December smacks of extreme unpopularity. If necessary, I can forge your signatures on cards I buy myself, and put those on display to fake popularity, but do you really want to reduce me to that?)

4) Why does a holiday for which everyone is expected to travel have to occur in the dead of winter? Who wants to pack up the family and travel across the state or country in December? I spend the entire winter season thinking up excuses not to leave my home. Now I have to bundle up and leave my nice, warm house to take a trip across the state? Can't we all make a pact to use the Easter holiday for cross-country family bonding from now on, and just sit at home with our immediate families at Christmas?

5) Why do I have to engage in a whole decorating project just for this one holiday?

I have to redecorate my whole house? I have to hang wreaths, put up cutesy little knicknack snowmen, big gold bows, garish silver garlands, fake greenery, hideous red tablecloths and sappy welcome mats? I have to use Christmas plates? Christmas napkins? Everything in my lovely, tasteful home has to suddenly turn red and green, the two worst-matched colors on earth?

I'm expected to climb up on my goddamn roof and risk life and limb to put some lights up there that are only going to cause a fire hazard and potentially burn my home to the ground with my family inside?

I have to chop down a live tree and drag it INTO my house? A beautiful tree that was formerly growing just fine outside, where God put it? Now I'm going to kill it and schlep it into my freaking living room? Then cover it in trinkets and more fire-hazardous lights? Am I really going to celebrate Jesus's birthday by killing one of his trees?

6) Why do I have to feel guilty about writing the word Xmas instead of Christmas? It's just faster and easier, which accommodates my incredible laziness. Anyone prone to indignantly shouting, "You're trying to take Christ out of Christmas!" is overestimating me. That would indicate that I'm ambitious or dedicated to a cause of some kind, when the plain fact is I'm just trying to shave off a couple of letters so I can finish writing whatever it is I'm writing and go take a nap.

Now that I've gotten my list of grievances of my chest, I will say that I love one thing about Christmas--the gift buying. I really do love buying things for people, and I put a lot of thought into what I get each person. Oh wait, I love another thing: The booze. Well, okay, and the food. And the family. In that order. Wait, no--put booze at the top of the list. Really, the booze is the only thing that keeps me from losing it when I hear "Jingle Bells" for the 2,679th time, and stabbing the nearest 5 random people in the eye with a photo Christmas tree ornament.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

I will kiss Paul English's feet...then massage his toes and paint his toenails

During a very dark period in my life, I used Sprint for my cell phone service. The reception was decent, but I hated the company as I have hated few things in my life. I switched providers specifically because it was simply not possible to reach their customer service department. I'd call and spend a small eternity listening to a robot voice slowly dole out tedious instructions--"Press 1 to pay your bill, 2 to hear our mailing address, 3 to get very, very angry, 4 to tear your hair out and stuff it down your own throat, 5 to throw your cell phone at a passerby and scream til one or both of your eyeballs explode." I'd press the appropriate number, and then be transferred to another department with a robot voice which doled out new instructions at the same incredibly slow rate. I'd pick the appropriate number again, and be transferred again...only to be offered some more robot choices. It was like being on a ferris wheel against my will. This went on and on, with no opportunity to speak to a person. Eventually my call would just be cut off. Seriously--after I'd spent 10 minutes pressing 2, then 5, then 1, then 3, then 72, then 119, then 2577860287, then 4, then 9, then 666, then being put on hold, my call would just get cut off. This happened enough times that I eventually just switched providers. Once I sat on hold for 45 minutes, only to have my call cut off. Christ, I hate Sprint.

But as you know, most companies have that same passive-aggressive robot answering their phones, doing nothing at all but making nice customers turn violent. That's why Paul English is going to get his feet rubbed. On his website he has posted an insanely huge list of companies and the shortcuts you can press in their automated systems to get right to a person. In some cases, it's as easy as pressing 0, but in others, it's more complex. For instance, with AT&T, you press the pound key four times, then 1. With Aetna, you press the star key three times. With Dell, you press 1, then extension 7266966, then press 1, then 4, then 4. This is the kind of information that would have saved me several pieces of broken furniture and 2 ruptured eyeballs.

How does Paul get this info? Does he spend all day, every day on the phone calling up Target and American Airlines and IBM, pressing crazy combinations of buttons til he discovers the the loophole? Or does he travel the country, sleeping with customer service reps from each company til he can dupe them into giving up the coveted phone system secret, then dumping them like cheap hookers? I don't know, but whatever his methods, I endorse them--even if animal testing or POW-style torture is involved.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to rub some feet.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

You assholes think you've cornered the market on thankfulness? I beg to differ.

It's Thanksgiving, and you know what that means: It's that time of year for everyone to guilt-trip you into coming up with a list of things you're thankful for. I know you guys think I'm an ungrateful asshole who does nothing but spout off a bunch of sarcasm and ridicule, but it's just not true. I'm as grateful as the next guy, and I'll prove it to you by listing a couple of things I'm especially thankful for this holiday season.

I'm thankful I'm being invited to someone else's house for Thanksgiving, as opposed to having to host it at my house. Actually, I've never hosted a holiday meal at my house. No one would give thanks for the inedible crap I'd cook up if it were up to me to serve dinner. They might give thanks for still being alive after eating it; they might give thanks for Tums; they might give thanks for the fast food joints they'd be passing on the way home afterward, but they would not give thanks for the slop they'd be served at my table. So I'm doubly thankful--not only am I thankful to my kind and generous in-laws who are having me over to their house this year, but I'm also thankful for my God-given ability to somehow weasel a Thanksgiving meal out of friends and family every year. I consider that to be one of my most impressive skills.

I'm thankful that the house I'll be dining at on Thanksgiving this year isn't inhabited by people who think it's acceptable to serve ham on Thanksgiving instead of turkey. Do you realize there are people out there who try to pull this crap on their loved ones? Imagine this horror show:

You're invited to someone's house for a Thanksgiving feast. You look forward to it with great anticipation, prepared to enjoy good food and great company at this magical time of year. You get all dolled up in your holiday best and head over to the appointed house for the big meal. You take your place at the table, all smiles and good cheer--and then it happens. The commie pinko host trots out a platter of HAM! HAM!! You sit there, bewildered and in denial, thinking, "Okay, that's an odd side dish, but to each his own. I'll probably be too full from turkey to try the ham." And you remain frozen, starting to sweat now, expectant smile plastered on your face, waiting for the golden bird...that never arrives! Holy hell, this is like a bad movie! Now you're trapped here, unable to leave without appearing rude, but these assholes are the rude ones for tricking you into wasting a whole Thanksgiving listening to their insipid chit-chat in return for a few slices of ham! How would you feel if you were unlucky enough to be put through this hellish scenario?

Well, cheated, robbed, obviously. Suicidal, probably. Jaded, bitter, at the very least. Thankful? Ha. No one gives thanks for pork.

Along those same lines, I'm also thankful my in-laws are not the kind of swindling shysters who would stoop so low as to try to pawn off a slice of pecan pie on me, or worse, mincemeat pie, on Thanksgiving. No, these are good and decent people, the kind who do the right thing and serve pumpkin pie. With whipped cream. As God intended it to be.

So there you have it: Proof that you're not the only ones who are giving thanks this time of year. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to eat my in-laws out of house and home, and then spend the next few hours complaining that I've eaten too much. When that overly-full feeling starts to subside a bit, I'll eat some more.

And while I've obviously already committed myself to dinner at my in-laws house this year, I'm already accepting invitations for next year's Thanksgiving dinner. As long as you adhere to the rules regarding turkey, pumpkin pie, and the absence of ham, I'll be happy to consider your invitation.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Dear Jackass, Volume 5

Dear asshole who lets your dog crap in my yard:

Are you high? You must be, to think it's acceptable behavior to trot your ratty-ass mutt around the neighborhood on a leash, pausing patiently and admiring the scenery while your dumb dog giddily craps in your neighbors' yards. It's not like you're on vacation in some country you know you'll never visit again; you live here! What cajones you have, to casually deposit fecal matter on my property as if you were dropping off a handful of daisies, and then continue to saunter past my yard-turned-toilet day after day, without a hint of shame, as if you didn't just recently leave a steaming pile of crap in my yard a few days before! In my fantasies, I am the kind of person who repays you by saving up my own dog's crap for a month in a big plastic bag, and then dumps it on the hood of your car. (Sadly, in reality I am merely the kind of person who gripes about you on my blog--which you will never, ever read.)

Dear fitting room attendant at Academy Sports:

I'm sorry, did I interrupt something? Because when I approached the dressing room with some clothes I wanted to try on, you acted like I had showed up uninvited at your home and asked to try them on in your bedroom. I promise, if you're mistaking me for the person who peed on your pillowcase last week, it wasn't me. If you think you saw my number on your boyfriend's cell phone caller ID the other day, that wasn't me, either. So whatever grudge you're holding against me, real or imagined, what do you say we bury the hatchet, at least until after I finish trying on a few pairs of shorts and a couple tank tops?

Dear goofball in the bathroom stall next to me who talks on your cell phone while peeing:

Okay, I get it: You're not uptight. Your feel your natural bodily functions are nothing to be ashamed of; fine. But really--you don't see anything trashy about entering a public restroom while talking on your cell phone, then going into a stall, peeing, flushing, and leaving the bathroom, all while continuing to yap loudly and excitedly to your girlfriend on the other end of the phone? Only two possibilities exist here: Either you were raised in a bus terminal, or you're the head of no less than 7 of the largest corporations in the world, and simply don't have time to do drop everything to go to the bathroom. Judging from the sheer stupidity of the conversation I was forced to bear witness to, I'm guessing the it's not the latter of the two.

Monday, November 21, 2005

I hope I'm that funny when I'm living in the old folks home

If you haven't been reading Old Horsetail Snake--well, frankly you're just nuts. You'd have to be. This guy lives in an "old folks home," according to him. How many people do you know in the old folks home who have a blog? And it's not the kind of blog you'd expect from somebody's grandpa or great grandpa, either. The guy is a real writer and a great wit, and I'm continually amazed at how he finds something clever and interesting to write about every day. He's funny and smart and sometimes he really needs his ass kicked. I can't remember how old he has said he is, but I know the first number is a 7. (It's only a two-digit number, though, so that's not too old.) If you comment on my blog you're probably familiar with him, because you've seen his comments here, which are some of the funniest ones.

His daily posts are always a scream--although his most current post is the only one I've seen of his that isn't funny; it's his wife's obituary. She passed away Friday. Go pay him a visit. Give him some love, and while you're there, check out some of his other posts. If you don't pee just a little from laughing, I'll personally come to your house and mop your kitchen floors for you.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

I'm still wearing the frilly red dress

My score on this silly little online test proves it: I'm not quite as stupid as previously thought!
You Passed 8th Grade Math

Congratulations, you got 7/10 correct!

Still stupid, yes, but stupid on at LEAST an 8th grade level! This is way better than my previous belief that I was stupid on a 3rd grade level.

I've told you before (pay attention, people) that I'm beyond dumb at math. I'm dumb squared, in fact. I count with my fingers to add. Often, when presented with a simple math problem, I cock my head to the side like a Labrador puppy and go all glassy-eyed. I get that Anna Nicole look, without the inconvenience of porn star-sized boobs getting in the way.

On every standardized math test I've ever taken, I have answered the first few questions diligently and thoughtfully, and then as the questions went on, I would eventually reach a point (often around question #10) where I would surrender, and just begin putting down C for all my answers. I tended to do well enough in the other areas that it all worked out without my having to attend classes in the special ed trailer. (I still went there looking for dates, but didn't have to stay.)

Upon entering college, I was informed that my unspectacular performance on the math portion of the entrance test doomed me to having to take Basic Math, a class that the gifted--and even the merely normal--kids didn't have to take. As it turned out, I loved my teacher in that class, Professor Gann. He was one of the few instructors I'd ever had in that subject who had a way of explaining that weirdo math stuff so that I sometimes got it. I managed to maintain an unimpressive-but-passing C in that class all semester. On the day of the last class before our final exam, Gann gave the standard speech about how there would be no makeup for the final--you had to be there for that test, no excuses, and if you didn't make it, you would have no opportunity to retake the test. You'd get a zero for the final, and the average of that score and the scores you had gotten on the other tests and assignments throughout the semester would result in your final grade (with the final weighing heavier, naturally). If you had a high enough grade prior to the final exam, missing that final exam might not cause you to fail...but if you had a C like I did, you better be there, or you were screwed.

I woke up the morning of my math final convinced that I'd flunk the test...and why go through the humiliation? I made a spur-of-the-moment decision not to bother. I skipped the final and my roommate and I went shopping. And I failed the class, of course. But I got some really, really cute shoes at the mall.

So I had to retake Basic Math. I chose the same instructor. When he spotted me in class, he shook his head and admonished me for not attending the final last semester. Clearly, the guy thought I was nuts. "You had a C! You would have passed if you'd just come to the final!" I gave him a slack-jawed "I ain't too bright" grin and mumbled something incoherent.

You'd think perhaps I'd do better in the class the second time around, since we would just be going over the same material as last semester. But I have never actually "learned" anything that has to do with math. I have memorized a few things--for instance, I have memorized the answer to 6 x 8...but I've been resolute in my determination not to actually learn anything in any math class. Since I have an incredibly short memory, and since I have a cruise ship-sized mental block regarding math, I had taken a moment at the end of the previous semester to shake my head like an Etch-A-Sketch and empty it of whatever math principles might be cluttering up the space I normally reserve for memorizing song lyrics, and poof: The Basic Math stuff was gone. So in semester #2 of Professor Gann's class, I maintained my same old C average. And when finals time rolled around, I again woke up convinced I'd flunk.

Now I know what you're thinking--no way would I skip the final a second time. That would be so incredibly stupid, so self defeating. Who would sit through a hated class twice, only to force failure both times? Me, apparently. I skipped the final.

The next day I was surprised to get a phone call from Professor Gann. He told me there was no way he was letting me get away with skipping the final two semesters in a row after maintaining a passing grade both semesters up til finals time. He said I'd better get my ass to his office that afternoon and take the damn final. So I went, marveling all the while at the fact that he was breaking his sworn promise not to let anyone retake the final for any reason. I sat at a lone little desk right outside his office door and took the test, while he sat at his desk two feet away, probably asking himself over and over, "What is wrong with this jackass?" When I finished the test, he made me wait while he graded it on the spot. I got a C. He rolled his eyes at me and said, "See? You passed. You would have passed it last semester. Stop skipping finals." I gave him a slack-jawed grin and mumbled something incoherent.

Poor Professor Gann. I'm sure any teacher would tell you there's something incredibly satisfying about finally "getting through" to a student who was previously having a hard time learning something. I imagine teachers live for those really rewarding moments when they can sort of see a light bulb go off over a kid's head as he or she suddenly understands and maybe even begins to enjoy the subject. A giant dum-dum like me makes it hard for a teacher to feel good about his teaching abilities, and poor Professor Gann must have had a moment or two when he wondered why the hell he bothered working so hard to teach something that some students work so hard at not learning. Hopefully he had lots of rewarding moments with smarter, more eager students than myself, and hopefully those rewarding moments made up for the times he had really thick-skulled morons in his class who seemed to be intentionally dumbing the place up.

My apologies to you, Professor Gann. The light bulb never went off for me, and I never got any smarter or enjoyed the subject any more. But you were a great teacher. If there's a lesson to be learned here, it's that you can put a frilly red dress on a hog, but you can't teach the hog to flamenco dance.

Friday, November 18, 2005

100 Things Wrong With Me (Part 7)

If you missed the first 6 parts to this series, good for you. But here's a short recap:

Lots of folks in Blogville have a 100 Things list, in which they detail 100 miscellaneous facts about themselves, usually along the lines of "I read my horoscope every day," and "Turtles scare me." Because I'm not a very interesting person, I knew simply stating harmless facts about myself would bore the pants off of you. And trust me, no one wants to see you pants-less. Therefore I give you my list of 100 Things Wrong With Me. I broke it up into parts, so that one of the Things Wrong With Me wouldn't be, "I create ridiculously long lists and post them whole, knowing full well that no one wants to sit in front of their computer for 78 hours straight reading them." Here's #61-70.

61. I'm killing my plants. It's sad, really, to see them sitting in their various locations throughout my house, dry and parched. Their leaves are crispy and brittle, the soil hard and sad. Really, these are more like corpses of plants than actual plants. I wish I had a green thumb, but apparently I have a black thumb. You'd think I would do myself and these skeletal plants a favor and just throw them out, but I'm stubborn, so I continue this sick little dance. I remember to water them only often enough to barely bring them back from the dry brink of death, where they hover for awhile til the grim reaper begins his approach once again. Then I give them a little water, and they cling tenuously to life for another day. Exhibits A-C:

62. I won't go to the bathroom in front of my husband. We have those silly little swinging saloon doors in our master bathroom, making the toilet semi-private from the rest of the bathroom. "Semi" is not enough privacy for me. Only in the last year or so have I agreed to occasionally let him be in the bathroom while I pee behind the goofy little saloon doors, which is a big step for me. But no way would I pee in front of him with no doors to partially obscure me. Oh, and we're only talking pee here. I would never, ever do anything more ambitious than that in front of him, nor give him the slightest hint that such an activity was even on the horizon. In fact, when we stay at hotels, I don't use the hotel room bathroom if I have to do anything more than pee. I make up an excuse to go to the front desk or the ice machine, and then I scurry off to the bathroom that's usually located near the front desk. He'll be shocked to read this, because I'm sure he has no idea I put this much thought and effort into this silliness. But what can I say in my own defense, except that I have no interest in my husband discovering that I'm human.

63. I hate Chihuahuas. I know I'm supposed to love them as I do all other animals, but God help me, I detest them. I think they're awful, wretched little yapping assholes who seem to hate everyone but their owners. After an ear-splitting 30 minute session of psychotically barking at you without pause, they then have the nerve--the NERVE! to beg from you the second they see you with food in your hand. Feed them if you want, but the very second you're finished with the food, the little attention whores will resume psychotically barking at you. Oh, and for some odd reason, 97% of Chihuahua owners let these horrendous beasts get away with their atrocious behavior, to include barking, biting, jumping on people, snapping at people, scaring children, taking over the furniture, begging for food and just acting like assholes in general. The owners never seem interested in training them or reprimanding them or raising them to be good pets tolerated and loved by all. So the bad behavior goes entirely unchecked, making it impossible to carry on a simple conversation while visiting the home of one of these idiot mongrels. Chihuahuas are as angry as they are stupid, and I usually want to stomp them with my shoe. (I do happen to know at least one Chuhuahua owner who is a responsible owner. I mean, her dog is still a total dick, but at least she recognizes that and keeps him away from company.)

64. I picked a boring name for my blog. My husband tried to talk me into getting a blog for maybe a year before I finally did it, but I was reluctant because I really didn't think I'd have anything to say that would interest anyone, and I wasn't entirely clear what the hell a blog was supposed to be for anyway. But he wanted me to start one and he offered to set it up for me, so I finally told him to go ahead. He asked me what I wanted to call it. I had no idea. I thought about it for a few minutes and finally said he could just call it Karlababble. Of course, now that I read other blogs and have figured out what to do with my own, I see what an incredibly boring title that is, and I can think of about a billion much cooler ones. But I'm stuck with this snoozer. How any of you managed to find me is beyond me; generally when I see a list of links, I click on an interesting-sounding one, which Karlababble most certainly is not. Seriously, I can't tell you how much it bums me out that my blog has a boring name. I wish I could go back in time and change it.

65. When my husband takes off his wedding band, I like to hide it. He doesn't take it off often, but two situations he's guaranteed to remove it are when he mows the lawn and when he feeds the baby (so the ring doesn't thump Jake on the spine when Brian's burping him). He always puts it in the same spot--a little glass ring holder I have on my bathroom vanity. When I see it there, I hide it. The first couple of times, Brian panicked, fearing he'd lost it, but my gleeful snickering soon revealed otherwise. Common hiding places are along the tops of hanging picture frames, inside the cap of a can of deodorant or hair spray, inside the cotton ball dispenser, etc. This is my way of punishing him for not following instructions, since the ring is clearly inscribed with the phrase "Put it back on." How can this marriage survive if he won't obey?

66. I've had C Is For Cookie stuck in my head for 2 weeks now. And no, I haven't seen Sesame Street lately, and haven't heard the song in years. But the lyrics have been tormenting me, so I've been tormenting the people around me by singing them out loud. Over and over. Cheerfully.

67. I hate being tickled; really, seriously hate it. Which is hard for an observer to discern, because I'm incredibly ticklish, so I'm laughing my ass off even as I'm getting truly angry and begging for the tickler to stop. Clearly, it looks like I'm playfully protesting but still enjoying the tickling--but not so. It took my husband a while to understand this when we first got together. He would tickle me at length as I protested, and when I finally got him to stop, and when my giggle fit had finally subsided, I'd look at him solemnly and tell him "Seriously, don't do that again. I hate it." But he didn't think I was serious, and it would happen again later. Finally I found a way to get back at him. I'd bide my time, and later we'd be going somewhere, with him driving and me in the passenger seat. At a busy intersection, I'd slouch down in my seat and look idly out the passenger window as I reached over and laid on the horn. He'd wig out as other drivers turned to stare at him with that "What's your problem?" look. I'd giggle like mad, and he'd say "Seriously! Don't do that, it's not funny!" I'd reply that I was just getting him back for tickling me earlier. So the tickling promptly stopped. As it had to, before some angry trucker beat the living hell out of him with a tire iron.

68. The sound of my dog licking her paws totally repulses me. That slurp-slurping sound makes me want to ram a coat hanger into my eardrum to deafen myself. I don't want to reprimand her, because I don't want to make her think it's bad to clean herself; I like a clean dog. But at the same time, I do want her to cut it out so I don't vomit. So my solution is to toss something near her but not at her, so that it lands about 6 inches from her and distracts her. This totally works. I'll throw a pen or a Kleenex box or whatever's handy, it will bounce a few inches away from her and distract her, and she'll stop that disgusting licking and just lay her head down and relax. I've been so successful with this tactic that I'm going to try it with Brian next. When he starts telling me about some new techno-gadget out on the market, or begins describing the software he's working on at his job, I'll just toss a pencil about a foot away from him and distract him. Then maybe he'll forget what he was telling me.

69. I refuse to make goofy faces at babies and children other than my own. You know how every goddamn time you fly somewhere in a plane, there's a 5-year-old in the seat in front of you who remains turned completely around in his seat the entire flight, staring you full in the face like you're a zoo animal? I hate that kid, regardless of whether he's quietly staring or actually causing a noisy scene as he stares. I know, I know, he's just a kid. But he's a kid I hate. I had an ex who would always indulge that kid, and spend the flight making funny faces at the kid to make him giggle, which, of course, always prolonged the staring. Isn't that sweet, that he loved kids so much, and had such a playful nature? Puke.

70. I hate to iron clothes. Every once in a great while, when I'm feeling particularly magnanimous, I iron a couple of Brian's work shirts and he jumps for joy like I just coughed up a gold brick. I know he's praising me so highly in the hopes that I'll repeat the gesture in the future. Poor thing. He must lay in bed at night and fantasize about those women who cook every night for their husbands and iron their work shirts every day. And at that very moment, as he's fantasizing about those kind of wives, I'm probably somewhere else in the house hiding his wedding ring or throwing things at the dog.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Getting drunk in costume: Way better than getting drunk in your own clothes

If you're still interested (were you ever?) in seeing our Halloween costumes, check them out here. We didn't end up doing anything too creative because we went to a party where costumes were optional and we didn't know how many people would be dressing up. I was a Catholic school girl and Brian was a priest. Some of you may recognize my friend Vanessa in some of the pictures, who was also a Catholic school girl.

Oh, and the last couple of shots are of Jake in his costume, even though he didn't go to the party. (Lame ass said he didn't feel like getting drunk two nights in a row.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I seem to be trapped in a poop theme.

Imagine it:

Somewhere, in a bathroom in the not-so-distant past, a man sat patiently on his toilet as he waited for his body to do its thing. He had some time on his hands while he waited. But he was not one of those unimaginative fellows who just sits and stares blankly at the wall while waiting for something, oh no. He was always thinking, this guy. At that particular moment, the thought in his busy, crafty brain was this:

"Why are toilet seats all so plain and boring? I should be crapping on a beautiful arrangement of seashells instead of this plain white seat. Nay, I deserve to be crapping on a beautiful arrangement of seashells!"

And that, folks, is how all great inventions start: With one simple idea. Soon this industrious gent made his brainchild a reality, and voila! Now every one of us, as well as our children and our children's children--will have the ability to crap on seashells, and all for the low, low price of $69.99. Heck, if you're one of those fancy types who always has to have the best of the best, you can spend $89.99 and crap on a blue toilet seat with little fish inside. It's like all my childhood dreams are coming true!

And all thanks to that innovative, constipated genius who refused to settle for the status quo. I salute you, Constipated Genius, whoever you are.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

His bowels move in mysterious ways

It was one of those cute mother-son moments that you can only experience with a child still small enough to carry on your hip. I was parading Jake through the house pointing out different things to him. He was fresh from his bath and had that new-baby smell. I bounced him a little on my hip as I "beeped" the tune of La Bamba--come on, try it, it's fun. Instead of singing the lyrics--which no living human knows anyway--just sing "be be be beep be beep beep be be be beep beep" to the revoltingly cheerful tune of La Bamba. It may make you physically ill, but your baby will love it.

Jake was laughing and trying to grab at each thing we passed. We be-beeped into the kitchen, where I took a glass from the cabinet and was in the process of filling it with water from the refrigerator door water dispenser when I shifted Jake a bit on my hip to get a better grip on him. "Hmmm," I thought. "That's strange." My arm, the one supporting Jake's back, felt wet. How could that be? Any time a baby is found to be wet, it's a good bet that he's peed himself--but pee has a tendency to present itself on the baby's front, not on his back. That's when I was hit in the nose by a rolling wave of mystery-solving stench.

I hastily set down my water glass and took a gander at my son's back. What I found there cannot be described...but lucky for you, I'm handy with a digital camera. I galloped to the changing table and plopped my filthy progeny on the floor so that I could prep the area for the hell I was about to unleash upon removal of the diaper. Here's what the shameless little Pig Pen looked like.

How did he manage this? This is not the first time he has defied gravity and crapped upward, but each time it happens, I question the laws of the universe. To answer the most obvious question, no, I certainly did not hang him upside down from a shower curtain rod, nor did I tip his crib at an incline and put him to sleep head-down. In my house, we have a strict "upright baby" policy which dictates that we strive to keep him head-up and feet down, unless he's laying down. In that case, we tend to keep him level, with his head at approximately the same height as his feet. That's just the way we roll. At the time of The Incident, hereinafter referred to as The Crap Carnival, Jake was, in fact, standing upright in his Exersaucer, watching cartoons and blithely gnawing on a plastic fish. He looked quite normal, even innocent, and gave no hint that he was even then performing a modern-day miracle and crapping skyward.

If you're foolish enough to be asking yourself why I set the putrid little fellow on the floor instead of just putting him directly on the changing table, then you don't have an accurate idea of what I was contending with. While my changing table was no doubt specifically designed to handle a certain amount of poo, it was simply no match for the scene I knew was awaiting me in and around the general vicinity of that diaper. What I needed was one of those power hoses they use at the zoo to bathe the elephants, but I was forced to make do with the inadequate tools I had at my disposal. I deposited Filthy McBaby on the floor while I grabbed a towel to cover the changing table with, as well as several hundred baby wipes and a clean diaper. In hindsight, I should have taken a few quick swigs from a bottle of Wild Turkey as well, but that's a lesson learned. I'll spare you the details of the scene that unfolded next, but suffice it to say that I'm currently undergoing treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. At the end of a grueling, protracted struggle, I came out the victor, having finally restored my son's derriere--and his back--to their formerly pristine condition. Here's proof that beneath the thick coating of feces, an actual human child existed:

In a completely unrelated matter, I have a onsie (size large), a pair of navy blue infant sweat pants (size 9-12 months), and a large green bath towel that I will generously give for free to anyone who wants them.