Friday, October 22, 2010

If You See Kate

I hate it when a fresh roll of toilet paper falls into the toilet when I am trying to load it into the dispenser. This happened last night when the dispenser rod misfired and shot my Charmin into the toilet bowl. The resulting soggy mess, a total loss of perfectly good merchandise, made my heart sink: I had guests and that was my last roll. I fished out the dead and bloated wad of tissue, wrapped it in a towel, and—feeling like a criminal—discreetly disposed of it in the garage. There I sawed a roll of paper towels in half, smoothed the rough edges, and flitted back to the bathroom to hang that up instead.

It’s just been that kind of week.

It started out on Monday when I was driving around in my car and thought, Hm, it smells like manure in here. Where did that manure smell come from? Sniff sniff. Why does my car smell like shit? I bet a dog got in here and took a big dump in the back seat. That is really ripe. I can’t believe my car smells like shit! Whosever dog shit in this car is going to pay to have this cleaned. When I got home from running errands, I tore the car apart: no poop. I popped the trunk and grabbed the bag of organic plant and tree fertilizer I’d purchased earlier. Holy, this thing frickin’ reeks. I’m not keeping this in the garage. I placed the bag near some bushes in the front yard and forgot about it. A few days later when I was outside raking my gravel, so the escapees’ footprints would be easy to identify, my thoughts once again turned toward the ongoing persecution of me. Jesus Christ it smells like shit out here. I am so frickin’ tired of every cat in this neighborhood using my yard as a litter box. I would die if my cats did this to someone else. What is it about this one spot—that must be one big nasty cat leaving that kind of stench… I looked up from raking and saw my bag of organic plant and tree fertilizer cowering by its bush, quietly waiting to be whipped.

And then maybe the most egregious offense I committed against myself happened earlier today. To relieve stress, I was on my hands and knees in the living room, vigorously running the tips of my fingers between the baseboard and the carpet, picking out wads of cat hair. I had enough hair to make one kitten and my spirits were rising when suddenly it felt like my middle finger got shot off. I howled and leaped up and shoved that finger into my face, but was unable to detect a wound. I hopped around, finger to the world, wondering Why no blood? Why no mark? Why such pain?

Who knew that impaling myself on a carpet staple would make the same questions I’d been asking all week resonate with such force.

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Zero Tolerance

I had a friend visiting from Pittsburgh this week and wanted to show him a good time in Sunny Arizona. Over breakfast one day he picked up the newspaper and said, “What’s up with this beheading in your town?”

I glanced at the article; the names of those involved jumped out at me: Moroyoqui, Aguilar, Reyes, "El Joto". The phrase “undocumented immigrant” was front and center, and the crime had occurred just miles from my house. “Uhhh…that’s a fluke,” I said. I didn’t tell my friend that I had recently clipped out another local news article reporting on a fatal shooting in “self-defense”. A police officer in that article had said, “People in Arizona carry guns. You better be careful about who you are picking on.” The two men who got killed had been stealing beer at a keg party; the shooter will not be going to jail.

To get our minds off the beheading, I suggested we go for massages. On the way, my guest asked about a police photo radar van he saw parked on the side of the road. “We have a lot of those,” I said. “Last year some driver went crazy on one of those speed enforcement guys and shot him to death. Guess he couldn’t take being watched anymore.” We nodded in understanding. We drove through a few more intersections very carefully, our picture being snapped by more photo radars, and watched our speed monitored by several large flashing signs on the side of the road.

After the massages, we came home and had a glass of wine. My friend wanted to head out for dinner, and I said we couldn’t. “You can’t drink and drive in this state. It’s zero-tolerance. If you have any alcohol in your system and get caught with a taillight out, you’re going to jail.” I know someone who was recently stopped for speeding and the officer asked her if she’d had a drink in the last 24 hours. I found that nosy at best.

I can’t speak for everybody who lives in Arizona, but personally, I find all the flashing radars and neon speed signs maddening. I hate being stopped by teams of drug agents and German shepherds who search my car on the way to San Diego. I don’t carry a handgun and I don’t think anybody else should either. If somebody wants to steal your beer at a keg party, let it go. As for that beheading, well…in this state, you have to be careful who you’re picking on, right? That guy must have been really super irritating.

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sometimes You're The Bug

I run the book club at my school, and one could say that I’m the president. I like to say that a lot. Every semester we read a book, usually of my choosing, and we meet twice for discussion. Everyone is invited to join Book Club: students, faculty, staff. We eat Little Debbie snack cakes, drink punch, and reveal our personal and political opinions in ways that would never slide in the classroom. I love it.

One semester I agreed on somebody else’s choice for reading material: They Poured Fire On Us From The Sky, a memoir written by several Lost Boys of war-torn Sudan. I didn’t know if I wanted fire poured on me all semester, but I wanted to remain president, so I agreed.

After one particularly harrowing weekend of living vicariously through the Lost Boys (trudging through Africa on our skeletons, plump greedy lice the size of thumbs falling from our hair, all while Russian airplanes dropped bombs on us), I had to come up with a set of discussion questions for Book Club. To start, I simply plagiarized the questions listed on the book’s web site. While some were good, I thought about adding a few of my own:

1. Many people snack when they read. When Benson got his hair cut and wrote, “[Big] lice dropped on my shoulders and crawled away like fat sesame seeds with my blood boiling in their abdomens”, what were you snacking on and why? How long did it take before you vomited?

2. Many of us are single, middle-aged women. (If you aren’t now, there is a great chance that you will be one day.) When Benson’s father killed the lion single-handedly, how many of you wondered, “Why can’t I find a man like that?” Explain.

3. What was your reaction when the driver of the tanker that was carrying the boys to safety turned out be drunk? Did you know that drunk-driving was a problem in Sudan? Do you have a drinking problem? Tell us about it!

4. When Benson describes being so frightened that he “ran up a bare tree trunk, monkey-style”, did that phrase give you pause? Did you have to struggle as racial slurs tried to force themselves into your brain after Benson mentioned his climbing abilities? When Benson went on to describe the jiggers that infested his feet, did this struggle become more intense?

I can’t help the way my mind works. Is that bad of me?

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