Wednesday, September 28, 2011
I didn't used to hate bananas. They weren't anything special, but they were easy to peel and dispatch, and easy goes a long way in my book. They're high in potassium. You jam one in the top end, and you ward off foot cramps at the bottom. As long as they stayed out of Jell-O, they were okay. But after a few decades of bananas, I began to realize I didn't like them very much. It took another decade to realize I could just stop eating them. Same thing happened with pot; I'm a slow study.
Then I heard a couple things on NPR that really sealed the deal for me. They said the bananas of my youth had given way to an inferior variety, mealier, drier, and less tasty, because the original kind got buggy or blighty or hard to box up or something. So I wasn't making it up: bananas are worse than they used to be. The second thing was a statement made to the effect that enlightened American consumers don't buy bananas. This is because bananas have to be shipped from somewhere else in the world, and thus incur a cost to the planet of fossil-fuel use. Thoughtful consumers try to buy closer to home.
That meant I could now embrace my bananaban with a light heart and a sweet whiff of righteousness. Here was a policy that felt right to my core, in a way that taking short showers with a puny water flow just doesn't.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Not only that, but the safes are only being made available to people born on or before 1959 who live within a 50-mile radius of Portland. Why--that's ME!
The safe is designed to replace the ubiquitous "important stuff" shoebox that we elderly keep underneath our beds. I don't have one of those boxes. Most of the stuff I think is important at any given moment is in my refrigerator. The sorts of things they're talking about would be your wills, your financial information, your maps to the treasure. I have no idea where I put all that stuff. It couldn't be safer. There is a will in the house somewhere, and our heirs will have to trip over it at some point, but there isn't a one of them that's going to raise a stink over it. Don't tell me I could be mistaken--I'm not. They're all good kids, and one of our life strategies has been to appear to be worth more alive than dead.
The kinds of things I might want to quarantine in an armored safe used to be the nude photos, any one of which could have kept me out of public office anywhere other than Italy. My attitude towards the photos has changed over the years and at this point, when my best cleavage is in my neck, I'm thinking of publishing them on the internet. What I do not want to see survive is my early writing.
I even remember some of it. In fifth grade there was a tiny copse behind the school and one day I sat in it and wrote a dreamy essay that started out "The Beech is the queen of the forest" and rolled downhill from there. I squoze everything I could out of that royal metaphor. If I'd known what "raiment" and "diadem" meant I would probably have shoveled those in, too. The only thing that should have been obvious was I didn't know a beech tree from a beach ball, but my fifth-grade teacher, who also couldn't have recognized a beech, nearly swooned over it. She cut me from the herd and funneled me into the creative woo-woo class where (this is true) I daydreamed we would be graded solely on our booger collections (mine was under my desk). This may seem immature, but keep in mind my skills in musical flatulence were not well-developed at that point.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
This will no doubt resolve itself in time, but for now the thought of plunging in and learning the ropes makes me spin into reverie. This is a cherished ability of mine, to look clear-eyed into reality and veer away, and it's a significant component of my mental health regimen. In my reverie there's an on-ramp, and a man is walking up it towards me. That's me at the top of the ramp in a long homespun dress and a bonnet, a goose quill behind my ear. Sure, it seems a little girly now, but that's what everyone is wearing, and you don't have to put on any underwear. The man gets closer and closer. He has a broad, infectious smile. Why, it's Dwight Eisenhower, sure as shit! He gets up to where I'm standing at the top of the ramp and sweeps his hand downhill, indicating a mighty tempest of traffic going every which way. He's so friendly and pleased I can't help but smile back. But I'm uneasy. I'm sensing disapproval from my father. My father did not like Dwight Eisenhower.
"Why not?" asks Mr. Eisenhower, which startles me. Then I realize Mr. Eisenhower and my father are both dead, and had probably already had words. Daddy didn't mince them. He flang them out fully-syllabled in impeccable order, such that, even listening, you could tell they were spelled correctly, and anyone arguing with him was likely to realize he was losing even if he didn't know why. Mr. Eisenhower was still smiling. He was hard to dislike, actually.
"Well," I said, thinking back, "I'm not exactly sure. I was pretty young. There was that whole Richard Nixon thing, and his obsession with the Communists."
"Was your father a Communist?"
[Pretty much. Let's just say he might have had Bolshevik sensibilities.] "I'm not sure it's any of your business," I said, getting my back up a little. Dad might have been on to something. "My father didn't think much of Republicans, and that was well before they all turned into lunatics."
"True," Ike said, his smile faltering a little. "Well, you're a nice girl. Interesting get-up. Weren't you born in 1953?"
|Daddy, the Peugeot, and friends|
"Don't mind me. You can wear whatever you want in your own reverie. Now," Mr. Eisenhower went on, putting a hand on my shoulder and fanning the other towards the swirl of traffic below. "Have a look. It's my Interstate Highway System," he said. "Do you like it?"
It looked pretty scary, tell the truth. I edged a bit further into the past. "I don't rightly know, Mr. Eisenhower," I said. "I reckon I can purt' near walk just about anywhere I've a mind to. And if there is somewhere I need to get to in a hurry, why, I can just ride my old donkey. I have a whacking stick to get 'er going with, too." I did, but I couldn't bring myself to use it. Don't tell Mr. Eisenhower, but I'd just carry it under my arm and bounce up and down on my ass, going unhh, unhh, unhh. If the donkey felt like going somewhere, off we'd go. It was good enough.
"You'd never use a donkey-whacking stick," he said, reading my mind again. "You're not the type. Try my Interstate Highway System instead. You'll love it. In no time at all you won't know what you did without it."
I transferred the goose quill to my other ear. "I don't know," I said. "I guess I don't see the point. Everything I need is right nearby." More important, I am uneasy about taking on something I'm currently quite capable of living without, and then not being able to live without it. Seems burdensome. Pick up too many things you can't live without, it seems like you're setting yourself up for a flame-out. Autopsy results indicate she died from a lack of an ATM, wasabi peas, and early internet withdrawal, compounded by the end of Boston Legal reruns. I gave Mr. Eisenhower an apologetic look. "It's so busy and loud. I don't know how to drive."
"Nothing to it." Mr. Eisenhower opened the door to a big, shiny car. It might have been an Olds. I sensed a cosmic raised eyebrow from my father, but I couldn't help but look inside. At least it was a standard transmission; that wasn't Republican. I got in and sat down, smoothing my dress over the bench seat. There were no seat belts, and plenty of room for the donkey. "I don't know," I repeated.
"You'll love it. Off you go," Mr. Eisenhower said, grinning wide, leaning into the window and smacking the shifter into neutral. The Oldsmobile edged down the on-ramp and picked up speed. "The manual is in the glove box," he hollered. I pawed at the glove box in a rising panic but found nothing but neatly folded state highway maps and a bar of dinosaur-shaped soap from Sinclair Gas. Below me the traffic was a blur. I braced for a terrible collision but when I opened my eyes again I was coasting to a stop on the highway with the traffic parting smoothly all around me. I sat in the car and looked around, then perused a map before snapping back to the present.
So I'm on Twitter, I guess. If you see me, honk. I'll be the one in the bonnet.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
|Turned out to be a painter, not a moose|
"No, I mean it smells like something really died around here," I said. "Something big." A moose, maybe. I poked around a little, more curious than eager. Dave came along and put in a better effort, snooting around under the larger shrubs. Nothing.
Later in the day I passed by a different corner of the yard and suddenly knew, with every appalled cell in my body, that I was within three feet of the item. My nose grew eyes and went blind. My nose sprouted legs and chewed one off. I crouched down and gave the radius a cursory glance and fetched Dave. He waded into the shrubbery and swept things aside with a big stick, then stopped and leaned over.
Dave made an unidentifiable sound, all vowels and revulsion. "I'm going to need a flat shovel, a garbage bag, and a bucket," he said.
"What kind of bucket?"
The bucket was for his personal use, and a five-gallon one, he thought, should about do it.
"So what is it?"
Raccoon or possum is always a possibility, but domestic cat also seemed likely. We're overblessed with them here, courtesy most of our fine neighbors. Frankly, I'd be okay with the idea of having one fewer. I love cats, but in their place--that place being inside, stalking the wily moth, or between my lap and a good book. One of my neighbors was missing a cat and asked if I'd seen her just the other day. I hadn't. I listened to the description, but it didn't sound familiar. All of those subsidized killing machines look the same to me with a warbler stuffed in their front ends. I said I'd keep an eye out and refrained from my outdoor-cat rant. I'm at the age where it would be too easy to become the neighborhood crank, and you never know when you're going to need an egg.
Found a cat. What did your cat look like again? Oh. Okay then. No, this one is about an inch high all over, semi-liquid, with one fuzzy eyeball and a maggot crust. I'll keep looking.
Then the flies come in and have themselves a time and lay eggs in the dead thing so their children won't go hungry. They wouldn't have to do this if they had breasts, but they don't. The maggots hatch right on top of their own breakfast, and they look enthusiastic. These were partying like there was no tomorrow, and I can't blame them. They don't have much to look forward to as adult flies: eat shit and die.
If you don't count the fifty-dollar tip for the garbage man.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
That reminded me that I probably wouldn't have found my collarbone in the mirror anyway. My collarbone, as well as most other items in my skeletal kit, is submerged. I'm pretty sure I still have a pair of clavicles, because my shoulders are about where I left them. But any dress designed to show them off would look more like the wrapper on a loaf of bread. Not white bread, either--the seedy kind.
When I was much younger, I was apt to put my cleavage on display. Later on I developed a personality instead, and no longer sought out that kind of attention. Plus, whereas I still "had it," things had gotten sort of disheveled. My chest skin had grown mottled and pebbly after years of exposure. We could put a shine on it by calling it "sun-kissed," but it's more like a collection of solar hickeys, and I am disinclined to show it off.
But all is not lost. I discovered, finally, that the article in question was written in 2007, and for all I know nobody talks about collarbones anymore, or anything in the vicinity. For all I know the latest thing in fashion now is lap hooters. And bingo, I'm back in the game.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Then there was also the dunking technique, whereby the amount of water you displaced and the amount you weigh could be wrangled into a useful fat-to-muscle ratio. Muscle weighs more than the same volume of fat. As a side note, pizza and beer make you really, really strong.
Both of these methods seemed likely to produce meaningful numbers. I never did either one of them. But no one does anymore. For years they've been using the Body Mass Index. It's entirely a function of your height and weight. That's all. It gets you nowhere other than to let you know if you're too short for your weight, which you knew anyway. It just gives you another number, which you can compare to a chart to determine where you stand on the spectrum between Attractive and Dead. All the recommended healthy weight charts top out an inch before Dave's height, so he's not on the graph, and has interpreted that to mean he can weigh whatever he wants to, since his mom told him not to extrapolate right after a meal.
But the BMI is almost useless, except to those without access to a mirror. It would lead a slight stringy woman who happens to have hooters cantilevered out to Kingdom Come to believe she needs to diet, when all she really needs is bigger feet and a counterweight.
Anyway, I was pleased to learn that now there is a Body Adiposity Index. And it gets right to the heart of the issue, which is the butt. All it cares about is your fanny volume and your height. To get your BAI, you need to measure your can with a centimeter tape. (You don't have one. They're made for European people, who are smaller.)
Your BAI is your butt measurement divided by your height multiplied by the square root of your height, minus eighteen. What's the eighteen for? I don't know, but I will divulge that when we were working in the chemistry labs, sometimes we'd have to put in a number like that just to get the experiment to come out right. It's a fudge factor, or something a lot like fudge. You want the experiment to come out right, don't you?
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
It's the Nixon-goes-to-China thing. (Thanks for that, by the way, Dick.) No one but an ardent anti-Communist could have gotten away with opening up trade with a Communist country. In this country, you're not allowed to accomplish what you want, but sometimes you can do what no one expects of you. Obama can't act peeved, but Mitt Romney could fling himself down and have a tantrum in the grocery aisle, and be praised for unanticipated passion.
Some Democrats think Hillary Clinton could have accomplished more, but she would have been thwarted too. Any woman in that position would have had to whomp up a war so as not to appear too feminine, except not during her period, when it would just look bitchy. The only person who could get away with introducing real socialism would be Donald Trump. Myself, I want a president who will value education, make decisions based on sound science, institute a steeply progressive tax structure, and get serious about global warming.
I'm voting for Rick Perry.
Somewhere over there on the left you'll see an invitation to follow me on Twitter. It's not a very shiny button, but that's only appropriate. I barely know how to twit. Tweet. Whatever. But someday I will, and it might be funny. If you sign up real quick, you can be my fourth whole follower.
Saturday, September 3, 2011
The emotional transformation did not go without a hitch. While home, he peered at the progress overmuch, noticing a bit of overspray here, a lack of industry there. I tried to demonstrate serenity by my reactions to the tromping of my garden. The fothergilla I'd been nursing for years was stomped at its roots. "It wasn't doing too well there anyway," I said. The whole south side was draped in plastic on a hot day, instantly frying all the foliage. "I meant to re-do that part of the garden anyway," I said.
This is something I'm pretty good at. When things go sideways, I adjust my attitude. It comes naturally. I have a strong aversion to despair, and I will totally make shit up if I have to. If my sandwich falls jelly-side down, I figure I'm gaining some fiber. If I have something amputated, I'll say I dropped a few pounds. I can even look at the state of the world and note that at least it's good for the handbasket industry.
Then I came home to find the offending killer plastic stretched over my boxwood topiary salamander and blew a gasket. This was an outrage. This was a cocker spaniel puppy locked in a car on a hot day. This would not stand.