Sunday, December 31, 2006

Bring it on

I'm so ready for 2007.

Bring. It. On.

I wish you all a very happy new year - may you all be happy, healthy, and prosperous. I think the whole planet could use a little peace and contentment.

For my part, I will spend my last night of 2006 in relative quiet. Watch an old movie. Ponder the past year a little bit. Think about where I want to go in the next. I think my catchphrase has to be "no place to go but up!" I can live with that.

By the way, I have a new radio commentary that will be broadcast on WAMU's Metro Connection show on Friday, January 5th. You can listen on your radio, listen online live, or listen to the show archive at your leisure, as usual. This piece reflects on all the cosmic dung I slogged through in 2006. Writing this was a way of shaking off the bad ju-ju of this annus horribilis. I hope to be back to funny in 2007. Dear god, I really hope so!!

While I was back in Illinois for Christmas, I wrote and recorded three more commentaries for WVIK, the public radio station at Augustana College in Rock Island. These three are focused on books and reading (and one of them is pretty funny.) I will see how I can make them available for you to hear. (If I can't, I will share the text of the pieces out here.)

I feel I should note that I wrote the last commentary (the funny one) at midnight after watching Jackass Two.

With my 55-year-old sister.

With us both laughing (and dry heaving) like 12-year-old idiots.

Previously, I'd never thought of Johnny Knoxville and Bam Margera as muses for public radio writing, but, hey, it worked for me. Apparently, men wrestling with (and getting bitten by) anacondas in a kiddie ball pit is all I need for the words to pour forth. Go figure.

Anyway, I'm wishing you all a happy new year. May 2007 be a very good year, indeed. A very, very good year.

Oh, and before I go... am I the only person who is wondering what South Park will be offering us now that Satan is permanently stuck with his on-again off-again love interest??? Matt and Trey must be working overtime on this sucker...

But I digress... have a good one, y'all. I'll raise a fine glass of vintage 2006 Chateau d' Coke Zero to you tonight. Cheers!

Just another dork in a wreath...

Monday, December 25, 2006

Thursday, December 21, 2006


Things have been a blur today. Such a blur that I didn't notice that I had my 50,000th hit at 2:01 this morning.

And, as it should be, my 50,000th visitor was the Sasquatch, who had just returned home after an evening of Dolby music with me and Gonzomantis at Sonar in Baltimore.

More on that later. Right now, I'm totally beat. Wiped out. Zonked.

More soon, although my posts will be spotty until the New Year.

Monday, December 18, 2006

More Adventures in the Bad Date Zone!

Dear God,

I know I've not been a very good Christian. Or much of anything, for that matter. Yeah, I stopped going to church back in college. And I have many, many dark thoughts these days - mostly directed at other commuters here in DC. (And the White House.) And now, you're punishing me, aren't you? You're being all Catholic God and vengeful and pissed that it's been, like, 34 years or so since my last (and only) Confession, right?

How about this - I'll go to Midnight Mass this year for Christmas. I'll sing and pray and kneel and all that. But, God? Just one thing, okay?

Please, oh please, oh please, let this year end now!!

Here at the Radio Ranch, I'm still feeling sick, I'm still feeling wobbly, my eyeglasses are still clogging the toilet (despite the $15 I spent on a toilet auger tonight), and I just about started to sob when I looked around and realized how much I have to do before Friday. I will feel better about the world once I'm feeling better physically, but for now, I feel a little defeated.

I'm waiting for my laundry to finish up and figured I should check my e-mail.

Big mistake. Biiiiiig freaking mistake.

I just got a "wink" from some guy on this dumb dating site I signed up on ages ago, mostly for my amusement. A "wink" is a way for members to express their interest in you. The only date I went on with anyone from the site was a year ago. The guy showed up for coffee, told me he was an alcoholic ("but I only drink a coupla times a week!"), taking a couple of anti-depressants and an anti-anxiety drug, and had an ex-wife with a hording disorder. That was the first five minutes. He then went off to the bathroom, came back and said, "Oh, I figured you would have left after I told you all that. Hahahah..." Eek.

So, from the same place that offered me that option, I present the "wink" message I received tonight, unedited for your horror and amusement:

"I am 6'-0" tall and I weigh 190 lbs. I have a short haircut for job safety reasons, and I have 5 tattoos and no piercings. I am a crematory operator, so I spend most of my day with the dead. I am a very passionate, if not neurotic, nerdy guy. When I am not burning dead bodies, I am making leather and sewing costuming stuff for the Medieval and Renfaire and Fetish folks. I have a suit of EPIII Clone Trooper armor and an officer's uniform from SW as well. I had a vasectomy at age 19. I never want children. Or anybody else's. Ever."

Ahhh, classic TMI, TMI, TMI. But he's right up there with the guy who showed up for our one date ever with red splotches all over his pants. He'd told me was a detective with a local police force.

Not quite.

Turns out, he picked up bodies for a coroner's office in Southern Maryland. He bagged, tagged, and lugged the dead for the police. But he had a fake police badge! (Nice.) Charmingly, he hadn't changed clothes after dealing with a car crash before driving up to DC to meet me at some happy hour-ish place at Dupont. He simply told me as I stared at his stains, "Oh, this? Eh, it's corpse blood. If ya date me, you'll get used to it! I washed my hands, so it's cool." When I went to the bathroom to dry heave, he started to hit on other women in the bar. I came out, told the ladies to be sure to ask him about the "corpse blood" and I left.

I think it's clear. I'm never going on a date ever again.

Somebody buy me a nice friendly cat - STAT!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

That did NOT just happen

Oh my f-ing god. I was feeling lightheaded, wobbled over the bathroom, started to pass out toward the toilet, and - I cannot believe this - my fabulous little black eyeglasses fell off my head, into the can, and reaching out to steady myself, I flushed the goddamn glasses down the john.

RIP, fabulous little black eyeglasses.

Damn you, damn you, foul evil stomach bug!

My driving glasses are in the car. I'm now wearing some vintage giant owl-eye glasses I dug out of my crafty girl art box.


As I just wrote to a friend, is there a prize for "Worst Freaking Year Ever"?

My coworkers are right, I just need to travel around in a giant bubble.

Stomach bug from hell

So much for me attending the one and only holiday party I was invited to this year. Feh!

Instead, whatever evil lurks in my GI tract is keeping me pinned down to my apartment and feeling like death on a cracker. I'm being genteel here and calling it a stomach bug, but it's worse than that. I'll just leave it there.

I called my fine hostess, begged off - probably all the better for her guests, honestly - and am now hunched over the keyboard, hoping that the demon in my guts will stop dancing soon. I've been sick since Thursday, and fortunately I have a doctor's appointment on Tuesday afternoon, in case this is still vexing me. Nothing says "Happy Holidays" like abject intestinal misery.

But, enough about me.

How the hell are you guys doing? Since I can't go anywhere, I'm going to address Xmas cards tonight. Want to exchange Christmakwanzakkuh cards? Let me know. I love holiday cards. Total sucker for it. And it's about all I can afford this year, so I hope everyone likes paper!!!


Slightly delirious,


Friday, December 15, 2006

And brilliant stars do shine

My hands smell of evergreen sap now.

I've spent the past fifteen minutes affixing plastic-stemmed pine cones to a magnificent balsam fir wreath. The wreath arrived, amazingly enough, the day after I discovered my artificial wreath missing. I came home from work to find a large white box in front of my door, and in it, a grand, old-fashioned wreath made of thick evergreen branches from Maine. My friend Heather, now in Moscow, toiling away at the place where we first met (and where she once was my boss), had it sent from a small company near her parents' home in Maine. I opened the box immediately and unwrapped the great Victorian circle from its plastic wrap and breathed in the gorgeous scent.

I meant to put the wreath on my balcony a couple of nights ago, but the heady smell of balsam has been intoxicating, and I like coming home to that flood of fresh tree when I open the door. Tonight I finally added the bits and bobs to the wreath, and I will put it on the balcony in the morning, so I can see it each night as I arrive home. A welcoming sight. A homecoming.

I will try to call Heather tomorrow in Russia and tell her how much this meant this year.

It has been an emotional week, and the coming week will be full of small sparks and moments, too. I've been very grateful to the Sasquatch and the lovely Scandahoovian for sharing some of their very precious limited time with me in recent days. They are a pretty damn great couple. Although she will be slightly annoyed, I will say it was the lovely Scandahoovian's birthday this week. And I hope she had a very fine one, indeed, in the company of my dear arboreal friend. The Sasquatch and the Scandahoovian have been generous and kind and supportive of me in so many ways, and there is no way I can adequately express my gratitude here. I'll just have to offer up a virtual hug to them both and hope they know how much it all means to me.

On Wednesday, I was feeling fairly down and lonely (and quite possibly coming down with the stomach bug that's vexing me today), and I stayed at work until 8:30, just trying to focus on papers, papers, papers to keep my mind off my singular sense of aloneness. I left the office to find the city in a fog, and with my impaired night driving, I slowly crept home to Bethesda, slightly jumpy at every turn. I found myself pulling up to my favorite tiny Thai joint at 9 o'clock and stopping in for a plate of spicy noodles. I was the only customer, and they brought me a Thai iced tea on the house, probably because I greeted them in Thai with a wai and chatted with the bored waiters for a few minutes. But in the end, I wasn't really hungry. I was just lonely. I took my food home for lunch the following day.

My building was bathed in fog when I arrived home. But still, in the hanging mist, at the top of the stairs, I could see an enormous box leaning against my apartment door. I was baffled. This thig was humungous. Ginormous. It was, simply, pretty awesomely huge. And it had a UPS tag. It had been mailed from Colorado.

And then, my brain started to put two and two together.

And I cried.

A couple of months back, I started to put some things up for auction on eBay in order to help finance my ongoing eye injections. (And let me tell you, it's a laugh riot. Bring on those needles! Whoo-hoo!) I parted ways with two vintage Thomas Dolby posters, from the days when he was my big crush - that blond Englishman with the great little glasses and the fabulous electronic pop hooks and... and... swoon. The crush is over, but I still adore him. And it was painful and sad to divest myself of these things. But you can't look at posters if you're blind. So, eBay it was.

A bidding war ensued over one of the posters - a stranger bidding against my friend Beth in Colorado. In the end, Beth was victorious, and I was delighted the poster would go to such a lovely person. Through a Thomas Dolby mailing list, I've known Beth for more than a decade now. We've met in person once in all that time, but e-mail has a way of compressing space and time, and I've watched her kids grow in Christmas photos that make me wonder just how much older I've grown, myself. I sent the poster to Beth with every good wish and all the gratitude in the world, and told her she should take it to an upcoming Dolby concert (two, actually) in Colorado for him to autograph for her. I even sent Dolby e-mail mentioning she'd likely be there poster in hand.

But what I didn't know, what I could not have known, was that Beth had Dolby sign the poster to her...

...and to me.

The box outside my door? It was my lovely old poster, signed, with love, from Thomas, and beautifully, magnificently matted and framed. I bawled like a baby. I stood in the entryway of my apartment, in a sea of packing peanuts, looking at this lovely thing, reading the lovely letter Beth wrote to go with it, and I just cried until I couldn't make any sound.

What good fortune I have. What wonderful friends around me! I find words failing me more and more lately. I just know I am lucky.

My friend Cynicsgirl has been hunting down geneaology of my mother's family this week, too. Each time I open my e-mail, there is another gem of information and names, some hazy in my memory, some unknown, that appear to delight me. What a Christmas gift this has been!

And this coming week, I will go to Baltimore with the Sasquatch and our dear friend Gonzomantis - my favorite Nebraskans - and we will see the lovely Lunesse and Thomas, and I will give them both big hugs of gratitude and appreciation. And I hope Beth will know those hugs are for her, too.

Today, I saw a magnificent photo of the Northern Lights over Oslo, snapped by Rarity, a very talented woman in Norway, over on the blog of another very talented Norwegian friend, Scholiast. The timing was marvelous. I had been talking to the Sasquatch and the Scandahoovian about seeing the Northern Lights on my polar route flights from New York to Moscow years ago - how unearthly they looked outside the window of a jumbo jet. I remembered how the stars were so magnificent shining through the shimmering, shifting curtain of the Aurora Borealis.

And I have been thinking of those stars tonight. My friends are like those stars in my life, which is shifting now, shimmering and unpredictable, with dark spots and sudden bursts of light.

You are my brilliant stars. I thank you all.

My wonderful friend Dariush told me today is blog crush day - where you write about the bloggers you have a crush on (for their blogging, mind you!) And while I haven't written about any blog crushes, I hope my friends see this as a love letter to you all.

And to my friend and benefactress, the good Dr. B in California? I'll give you a hug in your own time zone early next year!

My hands still smell of balsam sap. I think that's a lovely bit of aromatherapy for sleeping tonight.

Sleep - and the last few minutes of the Return of the King on TNT - calls.


Holy shit, Batman!

Toronto scientists have cured diabetes in mice. As in, over-freaking-night!

What this means for humans? Who knows, but jeezus. Just imagine...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Puttin' on the ritz, one last time

RIP, Peter Boyle. Rest well. I didn't know he was a monk before making his way to the big screen (and the little screen, too.) What an interesting life to have lived!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Wreath Thief

Someone stole my nice Christmas wreath from the storage room.

Frankly, that sucks.

I discovered the theft tonight, when I finally decided it was time to take down the autumn leaf wreath I've had on the door for a couple of months. I am, at heart, a crafty girl (yes, it's a bad "fat middle-aged woman" kind of stereotype) and I make most of my own greeting cards, decorate my own wreaths, and on the spur of the moment can put together a pretty darn nice homemade gift.

A few years ago, I started decorating my own wreaths, using basic fake fir guys or the bent wood ones from Michaels (on the weeks when they're ridiculously cheap) and "picks" - the wee bits of seasonal decoration designed to be wrapped around and tucked into the wreath frames. The Sasquatch still has the Christmas one I made for him years ago (and it makes me happy to know he still uses it each year.) I made a couple for my old office, Job X, and I took one of them when I left, which has been tucked away in the basement since March 2005. It was a more basic wreath, without all the bells and whistles I put onto the one I made for my own apartment door. My home wreath had berries and funky leaves and pine cones, a handful of tiny bells, and a great red velvet bow. It was, if I say so myself, a pretty nifty number.

But it's gone now. Such a stupid thing to steal. It's not as if anyone could hang it on their door here in the building. (That would require a rather un-seasonal asskicking from yours truly.) I can only assume it's either hanging in someone's office somewhere, or it was maliciously tossed out by someone. Regardless, it made me sad to see it gone.

I dug through my dusty boxes and found the simple wreath from Job X to hang on my door. It's just got holly berries and a little gold and a big plaid bow. Nothing special. And yet, perhaps in putting it on the door, I'm reclaiming a little more of myself. It's an inanimate object, after all, not some dark talisman reminding me of how little those people thought of me. It's something I made. Time to take it back.

It's on my door now, and at the very heart of it is the small copper kokopelli figure I bought in Riverside, Iowa last year, on my trek with my brother's ashes. Having that little guy around is a reminder of my brother, and he's been on my door since I came back from that trip. First, he was alone, and then, he swayed in the center of my autumn wreath. Now, he's in my Christmas wreath. My nondescript Christmas wreath, made for a place where I was not wanted.

I hope that whoever stole my nice wreath finds pleasure in it. I hope that other people see it and find it festive and beautiful. I will take solace in that thought.

For now, I'll enjoy the simple wreath at home. In a way, it speaks to this whole year for me. A time of change, a time of adaptation, a time of downsizing, needing and wanting less, but hoping for more.

For hope really is a very good thing.

I think the Bataan Death March would have been more enjoyable...

I've just seen the worst romantic comedy I've suffered through in a very, very, very long time. Omigod, it blew, it sucked, and I kept checking my wrist, despite knowing I hadn't worn a watch. Guys, I'm giving you a heads-up here: if your woman wants to see this, pass! PASS! PASS, I TELL YOU!!! Tell her it sounds like "a great movie for you and your friends to see!" You, on the other hand, might go blind, as you put your thumbs through your eye sockets, somewhere in Hour Two of this shite. I have "guys taste" in interior design and movies, trust me.

So much dripping sugar and saccharine enveloped this wretched piece of cinema, I wasn't sure if I was going to go into a diabetic coma or die like a Canadian lab rat. In fact, I may have to find an episode of "Hitler's War Machines" or "Monster Garage" or one of the tattoo shows just to cleanse my palate of sweetness.

Look, I'm a single woman, and, even if I am a horrid, horrid failure at relationships, love, and all that good stuff, I still have to find a little romance in my life, right? This afternoon, I tried by taking myself to see "The Holiday." Jeezus Christmas, it was a stinker. At one point in the treaclefest, I actually said out loud, "Oh god, stop the cuteness!" and some guy two rows back sniggered loudly. At least I wasn't alone in my pain.

Here's the deal: Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet play women who have just gotten out of bad relationships and switch houses (a huge LA monster pad and a modest, cutesy Suffolk cottage) for Christmas. Being a practical woman - and unable to willingly suspend my disbelief for this load of crap, I was astounded that Winslet's character, who writes the wedding announcements for a London paper, was able to cough up the cash for a last minute flight from London to L.A. for this trip. Must be a helluva nice paper to offer that kind of salary!

Cameron Diaz plays a producer of movie trailers in L.A. To be kind, I'll simply say, Ms. Diaz ain't exactly believable in this role.

Really not believable.

Throughout the movie, she hears her life played out in her head, complete with movie trailer announcer guy voiceovers, like a GEICO commercial. Within six hours of arriving at this quaint English cottage, she screws Winslet's drunk brother, played by Jude Law, who phones this performance in like he's on a bad cell connection. Jack Black plays Winslet's unlikely romance in Los Angeles, and, while I loves me some Jack, good god, is he ever miscast.

But, seriously, the worst part of this nightmare (besides the $7.50 matinee ticket price and the 2-hour+ length!!!) was the inane dialog. Honest to god, a stoned chimp with a headcold and only one typewriter could have written better, less schmaltzy stuff.

Guess you can tell I didn't dig this, huh?

I love movies. I really do. But I'm not a sophisticated moviegoer. I'm not likely to go to a festival of obscure foreign film just because it will expand my mind...

"Ahhhh, the lingonberries are ripe."

"Yes. Ripe. Ripe. Ripe with life."

"The lingonberries burst with life!"

"And death."

I just love adventure films, comedies, sci-fi, good drama, and really good romance.

"The Holiday" does not fit that last category. This is, I'm pretty certain, the worst romance I've seen since "Autumn in New York" (on cable) or "Sweet November" (which I only went to see because my friend Heather had the hots for Jason Isaacs and I'd had two HUGE margaritas...)

Actually, a really huge margarita might help now. And something on the History Channel... It's Sunday afternoon - I'm sure WWII is in full swing right about now...

Non-RFID passports - am I too late to get one now?

Can any of my tech-savvy friends (or State Department friends) tell me - have I missed the period when I could still get a new passport without an RFID chip? Not that I have any international travel planned in the near future (that would require funds and a destination), but it would suck to get a new passport, finally travel overseas again, and have my information snarfed by some criminal-type person.

Anyone have solid info on this for me? I should have done it months ago, but it hasn't been possible...

Thanks, kids!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Death of a Tape Deck

My dual cassette tape deck just died. At 2:58 Eastern time, I declared the Teac dead. It woke me from a sound sleep with a horrible shriek from the living room. As it's death rattle vibrated along with the noises from the mechanical closet, I initially thought my furnace was dying, which, of course, set me into a "I'M WIDE AWAKE, NOW, THANKS!" kind of panic.

But then I realized, it was coming from the stereo shelf. Rattling away, thrumming with an awful high pitched whine, and strangely warm to the touch, was my old trusty Teac, maker of quality mix tapes since 1988. Frankly, I didn't even know she was still turning on and off along with the rest of my equipment. I guess I've just grown used to the small row of green lights from the top of the unit. I haven't actually used the Teac in, probably, 6 or 7 years. Although my car only has a tape player in it, I haven't made a mix tape for ages. I used to buy the 3 for $10 cassettes at Tower Records (generally my only purchase from that massively overpriced, dying retailer) or just use a portable Discman-type critter in the days before MP3 players.

Yeah, I've just ignored the Teac for too long, I guess. And tonight, she died of old age and neglect. The Teac was purchased off a clearance shelf at a stereo store in Moline, Illinois. I was quite excited by the buy back in '88. She made dozens and dozens of mix tapes over the years, including many in Moscow, where she provided endless entertainment for me, spitting out music I played in U.S. embassy vehicles, driving way too fast on craptacular Soviet roads. I had the "motorcade mix" tape, which I played when I had to drive in police-escorted caravans out to the airport for the arrival of dignitaries, and a different mix for the departures, which almost always started with Erasure's "Star": We go waiting for the stars/to come showering down/from Moscow to Mars/universe falling down... it required speed, and a feeling of release.

But time moves on. The Teac got horribly dented and abused on the return trip from Moscow, and her black paint job was scraped and peeling on the top. Yet she still produced fine entertainment. I made tapes for the Sasquatch, I made tapes for myself. I made tapes for friends for birthdays and holidays and as peace offerings and quiet signs of love, just like any good schmaltzy American who grew up with John Cusack movies and John Hughes movies and believes that a good mix of music can sway anyone's heart. Christ, I am stuck in the 80s, huh?

By the way:

Which John Cusack Are You?

That result did not surprise me.

But I digress...

I hit the off switch on the Teac a half hour ago. I turned off the life support. Frankly, I didn't want to wake up with the apartment on fire.

But I felt awful about it. It is the end of an era. I carry an iPod with me everywhere. I haven't bought a blank cassette tape in so long, I'm not even sure where they're still sold. Staples, maybe?

I'll take the Teac down to the trash room tomorrow. Or maybe to Salvation Army. Perhaps there's a kid out there who can revive her, stop her from shrieking and shuddering (and getting frighteningly warm.) Regardless I know her days of service to me are over.

And Sasquatch? I guess this means you'll never have to gently complain about my inability to get recording levels right - or the old, long spaces between my songs - ever again. But I hope, somewhere in your car, you have a little bit of my musical affection still floating around in a plastic case with my awkward handwriting spilled out on a tiny piece of cardboard wrapping.

(I still have tapes that this nice kid from Nebraska made for me in 1985 or 86. And I smile whenever I see his handwriting, which hasn't changed at all over the years...)

So, goodbye tape deck. May you rest well in the great stereo afterlife.

Thanks for all the memories.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Bears for Dariush

Yesterday, we had a Guinness World Record certified and awarded at work. The record was for the most plush stuffed animals collected in one place - 2,304 critters, all of which will find new homes for Christmas through the US Marines' Toys For Tots program.

My friend Dariush of American Twentysomething asked me to take a picture of a critter for him - a bear specifically. As Madame Bonehead forgot to bring her camera to work yesterday, I took photos with my phone and e-mailed them to myself for the very first time. The quality ain't great, but the ability to take spur of the moment shots like this is pretty cool.

So, Dariush, just for you - enjoy some of the critters that kept us company in our cafeteria yesterday.

Feelin' pretty warm and fuzzy,


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

What happens to a low-traffic blog...

...when you get linked on DC Blogs and Wonkette on the same day:

Tuesday, 6:30 a.m. Ha. It will fade in a day or two. Makes me wish I'd spelled Wilford Brimley's name right the first time in that John Bolton post, though!

Amusing update - lunchtime and 555 hits today. Damn! And among those, much to my amazement - one from Macalester College, my alma mater, and another from the London School of Economics, where I once studied 1980s nightclub life and sweet ciders of England (in the guise of a Soviet Studies program...) I don't think anyone from Mac or the LSE has ever been here before.

Monday, December 04, 2006

John Bolton, We Hardly Knew Ye

I've just read that Dubya has accepted the resignation of porn star-mustachioed UN Ambassador John Bolton. All America weeps, surely.

In honor of the occasion, I'm dredging up my ode to famous Boltons from May of last year, the Bolton Files.

God bless us, everyone.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Spinning the dial

The odometer here at Church of the Big Sky just flipped over to 48,000. (And g'day to the visitor from Sydney who was customer 48K, whoever you are!) I know my numbers are small potatoes for big time bloggers, but it's a little triumph over here, where I'm amazed folks continue to drop by.

I'll have to devise some interesting prize for visitor 50,000.

Later, gators!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Another night in suburbia, and the radio calls...

The fine people at WAMU have asked me to do a new piece of commentary, likely to be broadcast the Friday before Christmas. Unfortunately, I am finding the words difficult to put together this weekend. Not completely sure what my problem is, but I'll sort it out.

I'm lacking the holiday spirit this year, and I tried to jump start it this afternoon by compiling an iTunes playlist of appropriate tuneage. A lot of old stuff, a little new stuff, a handful of kids' show tunes... Then, I took a drive up the Pike tonight to listen to it. I still didn't feel the feeling, no matter how plaintively Judy Garland pleaded for me to have myself a merry little Christmas. Not even Burl Ives could kickstart my holly jollies. Feh. It'll come eventually, I hope.

I sat in the parking lot at Target for a while, just listening to music, not eager to go in and spend money. But life without toilet paper and laundry detergent is simply not worth living. Trust me.

I dragged my carcass into the Target entrance and immediately felt that sensation of "Mall Head", as if I'd already been there too long and needed out. I stood, nose to the wall, reading the posted weekly circular in what has become my normal stance for reading text. A woman came up next to me, laughing. She said, "I've got the opposite problem, I have to stand back to read 'em." There we stood, doing this squinty review of the ad. I told her with a chuckle, "Last year my eye doctor told me that my vision would start changing around 40 and I'd be holding things at arm's length to read 'em. And then, I end up going partially blind this year, and BAM. It's the exact opposite." I was wearing my new driving glasses. I smiled again, "Hence the jumbo frames here."

My presbyopic compatriot smiled and said, "Actually, I think those glasses make you look quite lovely. Very striking."

I'll be damned.

I wished her luck and headed for the cleaning supplies area, feeling a little better about the world. Still, I wanted out. I hit the check-out as quickly as possible, where a young skinny guy clerked and joked, and tried his hardest to be a modern day Duckie, channeling Jon Cryer with modest success. As I unloaded my Tide and Scrubbing Bubbles, I realized my wallet was sitting in my locked car, fortunately just two spaces away from the door. "No problemoooo!" chirped Duckie Jr. "If you write a check, sometimes it doesn't ask me for ID." Of course, this time, it did.

I turned to the woman behind me and apologized. I quickly explained that I was rather night blind and didn't see that my small black wallet was left on the car seat. I'd be right back. She rolled her eyes, clucked her tongue and sighed. I apologized again and asked the clerk if he could clear my transaction for her. Again he said, "No problemoooo - I'll just suspend it."

I headed for my car, and as the automatic doors whooshed open, I heard the woman say to the clerk, "Her ass is so fat, it's gonna take her ten minutes to get to her damn car." "Oh, yeaaaaah. No kidding!" said the chirpy twerp in response. I clocked myself on my wrist. 1 minute, 15 seconds. I was back before they'd finished their tacky chatter at my expense.

"Was that fast enough for you?" I said to the woman, who was studiously ignoring me. "Excuse me?" She said it in that way people do when they've been caught at something and are embarrassed.

"Did I move my fat ass fast enough for you?" I spoke sweetly, like a southern woman asking if she'd like another mint julep. She fixed her jaw and avoided my eye. I looked at the clerk and said, "Here's my ID." He looked at me and jerked his chin. "Soooo sorry. You'll have to go to the end of the line-o." The line-o was one guy-o. I considered just leaving my goods there and going to the Giant store around the corner, but I was tired. I just replied "Fine-o. I will-o wait-o." Duckie cast a baleful stare my direction. The guy behind the cranky broad chuckled.

When I took my place behind him, he turned to me and said, "It's amazing, isn't it? People feel like they can be assholes and no one will call them on it." I nodded quietly and half-smiled. I've been feeling tired and worn down lately. I just didn't want to cry in Target of all places. He then addressed the woman in front of us, who was juggling her ringing cell phone and $60 worth of holiday party supplies: "Excuse me, but can you move your fat ass a little faster? I think it's gonna take you ten minutes to get out of my way, huh?" She looked shocked.


The man spoke again. "You can dish it but can't take it?" Clearly she was rattled.

"Screw you," she hissed, grabbing her bags and throwing them into the cart. She fled to the door, but had to return to the counter, where she'd left her credit card hanging out of the scanner. The man half-bowed to her and said, "Your credit card, madame." There was almost visible steam coming out of her ears at this point. My volunteer supporter finished his transaction, turned to me and said, "You have a nice evening, ma'am." He smiled and left.

I looked at the clerk, who wasn't really looking at me. "Here's my check-o, ID-o, and I'd just like to go-o."

"Heh, uh heh heh, yeah," the clerk was nervous. I'm sure he wondered if I was going to complain about him agreeing with the customer about the velocity of my fat ass. He tried to joke as he awkwardly ran the check through the machine. "Heh, uh heh heh... check, check, check... check... republic... uh heh heh heh heh." My receipt appeared and he thrust it at me, but never met my eye.

I took the paper from him and offered a barely audible "Thank you." And I left.

Some people really do feel empowered to be mean and callous and rotten and some others are just cowed into playing along. And yet, for every jerk, there are, I hope and believe, at least two to counter them.

And blessings upon them and their parents for raising them well. Job well done, Mom and Dad.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Driving Glasses (yeesh)

Yep. It's come to that. I now have driving glasses. I think that's pretty much when you turn in your youth card.

While the eyeball injections are helping me rather amazingly well, my vision will never be the same. Everyone looks like an alien with a bulbous, misshapen kidney bean head. Text floats like the 3D credits in Parasite. (And yes, sadly, I saw that in a theater. On a date.)

Most frighteningly, I have real trouble with street lights and glare, especially at night or in inclement weather. Images smear, one set of red lights becomes two or three. Distances are altered. I get quietly freaked out.

Knowing this could become a real safety issue, I finally caved and scratched together the cash for a pair of driving glasses. I realized I would have to be less funky and stylish in order to give myself a wider field of vision, and I'd have to cough up bigger bucks for good lenses. (In the old days, I just bought the cheapest stuff around.) So, I now own a big pair of clunky tortoise shell rectangles with Teflon lenses. Not very fashion-forward, I'm the first to admit, but it's like having a Cinemascope screen for viewing the world.

Driving home from the optician today in overcast skies and dribbling rain (and massive wind gusts), I could see so clearly, and the large lenses allowed me to see my mirrors without problem. It was pretty flippin' beautiful.


So, hello, Buddy Holly! No glamour behind the wheel, but a lot more confidence. And that, as my favorite ex-con would say, is a Good Thing.

I guess they could be worse, eh?
(And, helloooo humidity hair!!)