Sometimes when you take care of a person’s dogs, you bring home fleas. Other times? You bring home a turtle.
I don’t know anything about turtles but this little fella hadn’t been fed in a week or let out to roam in quite some time. He was pretty dirty and sad looking.
A quick Googoracle consult revealed that these guys like having water to lounge around in. A mini turtle spa, if you will. I dusted off our special casino giveaway dish reserved only for guests and filled it with purified water. Just outside the reach of the heat lamp, I served him his shredded carrot, Romaine, and diced banana salad that he has added to his room service tab.
After a brief dip, the casino lap pool has become a bidet and he is now requesting his banana salads be served on a chilled plate with a sliver of shaved carrot on the side. He has informed me that he will no longer go by his slave name Morty and will henceforth only answer to his proper gladiator name.
Ladies and germs I present to you:
(if you wondered how long it will be until I figure out which Barbie clothes will fit him…well that is well under way and in the sorting process. In this lifetime, if only briefly, he will be posed artfully in a plastic cowboy hat)
The following is a cautionary tale, not so much of star crossed lovers nor two cities. It’s not even a story about a man named Jed trying to keep his family fed, but rather a story about nerds, nerd-dom, and a meteoric descent from a yet-to-be-paid-for-how-many-deferments-can-they-give ivory tower (soon to be seen under the Craigslist missed connection ad with the heading: Philosophy degree for sale or barter….barely used).
Ever since I was young, I’ve been playing Jeopardy. My dad and I would sit down every night at 7:00 and duke it out. Anyone who has ever lived with me, or even been near a tv in my company at that time, knows that I’m physically incapable of having any kind of meaningful dialogue. It consumes me. I don’t really care if there are people around or if I’m playing alone. I’ll chirp in the form of questions not so much all day erry day but all day as long as it’s between 7 and 7:30 PST. For that ephemeral half hour, it’s like all of the things I once read or studied that people said I would never use or need come rushing back in a funhouse mirrored carnival of minutiae that flirts on the tip of my tongue. Ready to fire out into the city around me with the velocity and furor of a sheer hollow point randomness caliber.
When I went to Mills, there was a common area in one of the dorms that had a tv. 7:00 was typically dinner time, so I usually had it all to myself. Like Gollum…hunched over my precious remote. One night, all of the stars aligned and there laid out before me in blue were all the categories in my wheel house. Both rounds. On that fall evening, I was one with Cliff Claven.
Nobody can play Jeopardy without blurting the answers out loud. I tried it once. It’s like walking without swinging your arms. I don’t think it’s physically possible for extended lengths of time. While in the Zen zone of barking answer after answer, I didn’t realize that the crew team had walked in and were standing behind the sofa where I was sitting. I don’t know how long they were there (I was a Shaolin monk of nerdville at that point), but as the final jeopardy music sparkled in the twilight around me, the last answer escaped my mouth in a twinkling decrescendo of potent potable perfection. One of the crew girls burped. Like a dude. I think it even rattled the light fixture. And the moment was gone.
I’ve been chasing that night ever since. Like the fish that got away…or the lottery…or the girl from high school…or a picture of the Yeti. I was one with the quadratics and I keep trying to recreate that.
Along came the internet and within a few short years, online tests were given annually to screen contestants. I don’t know how they used to find people. Sometimes I imagined they had scouts that would sit around bookstores and wait for someone to be reading something heady or say something super profound, and they’d shoulder tap them with 2 tickets to LAX. Crikey. Not kidding though, it’s my favoritest time of year. There are 50 questions in 50 different categories and you have 15 seconds total to read and then type in the answer. The first year I tried was the antithesis of my glorious Mills moment. All sports, modern television series, and pop culture type questions. I bombed. Terribly. Second year? A little better. But the pop culture and modern music questions slayed me once again.
So this year I decided to take a different tact. I watched a brief moment of the AMA’s and Grammy’s. Didn’t recognize a single act and the music was so awful I had to turn each of them off. There was a dude in a hipster suit who sounded like he’d just graduated from the critically acclaimed Eminem for dummies online program, kinda dancing, not really singing or rapping, and then somehow for some odd reason his manager thought it would be a good idea to bring out some dancers dressed like freakin Chaka to leap in arrhythmic circles around him. That was officially the end of my modern music experiment, but I desperately clutched out at the hope that maybe in those excruciating forays somehow I would have taken in something…anything…through osmosis.
This year was the 3rd time to take the goddamn test. There were a few things I didn’t know (opera…sports…ballet…and modern fiction which I default answered Verdi, Buccaneers, swan lake, and ‘who actually reads new fiction?’). When the last question came up, I was feeling ok. Civil War was the category. I wrote a report about it in the 6th grade. I got an A because I soaked the paper in old tea bags which made it look super authentic. I don’t remember the question but it was something about the nickname of this general blah blah blah. Jackson. Goddamn Thomas Jonathan Jackson. They didn’t ask for the nickname, but I figured I would add it (and maybe detract from the fact I didn’t know the name of some Adele song….I’ve never heard her music…never been that interested…the world could be filled with rotten avocadoes and if someone offered to lower a rope in exchange for the name of one of her songs, I’d be stuck like the old Pitfall game swinging from brown avocado strings for the end of my days).
Did I write Stonewall? Noooooooooooo.
My dear friends, in my smug and giddy attempt to recapture a long ago evening, I wrote Stalwart. General Stalwart-Laura-really wtf you should stick to Wheel of Fortune or the Price is Right at this point in life-good thing you spent 2 hours researching the history of the Supreme Court -Effing Jackson.
With this I lovingly conclude the cautionary tale of the dark side of nerddom,
I just found a bag of poems I’d written over the years. Some of them survived my bunnies’ nom nomalypse. Some have all of the first or last or middle parts completely chewed away. Others are mainly non magnetic refrigerator phrases with hair stuck to them. That’s where interpretive dance comes in handy. Picture me…and probably a one finger salute…and maybe an old Ice Cube song. For some reason he’s been in the playlist recently. Here is one that was mostly intact. ish.
Editor’s note: If Monty Python’s Holy Grail ever comes up non sensically, it’s because I’ve absorbed it through osmosis. It makes more sense to me than most things. The world would be a better place if we all rode invisible horses and had minstrels
I remember laughing here
More than once into breathlessness.
They’re stepping on plastic now,
wishing it were glass
because scars seem to have a way of making the journey
On the outside anyways.
I don’t remember her ever smiling at me
But she did
In a way that seemed to ask:
You sure you want to go down that road again?
I came in a different way this time
where the angles aren’t as steep.
A man with no teeth used to stop by here
to ask what I’d become.
He’s gone now.
I heard the needle was still in his arm two weeks later.
They found him and a note
that said only that the light was changing.
Learning about love’s role in life
requires winding through the finer times.
Mastering the art of falling into the space
where the moon holds her tiniest secrets close.
Just beneath the skin surface
as though a small flower were planted
to mark the passage of the times nobody ever speaks about.
Those scars are ones we hide even from ourselves.
Learning about love and life
necessitates the mirror being touched and touched again
from the inside out.
And sometimes not knowing what will fall away or who
makes you better at being quiet.
Most people really only turn up for the afterparty.
I trace circles in the sand now. Try to write my name in spaghettios.
Sometimes god comes to visit
Asks me for a light and if I’ve got the time
I’ve been meaning to tell this story for some time. Partly because it is one of the many tales that explain how it is I ended up this way, and partly because, as of today, March 27th, we still have our wee plastic tree perched precariously on a box of old LP’s by the front door. I was never entrusted with any festive family heirlooms (the hippie wanderer and breaker of valuables gene in me runs strong). So our tree is a glorious random collection of Star Wars figures, Hot Wheels, owls, ever beloved members of the Fellowship of the Ring, and a solitary lonely pickle. The exception being Buddy the Elf. He is welcome to grip his light anywhere and anytime. Even if it’s on our late March 2017 Comic Conzaa tree.
One of my Mom’s ears sticks out more than the others. She says it’s the one that the nuns used to drag her around. None of us children ended up with a wonky ear, so maybe she’s right. We were raised in a somewhat Catholic-Lite with lime style. Baptisms, first communions, confessions, church on holidays, etc. Once we were confirmed and had the Holy Spirit riding shotgun, it was kind of a laissez-faire affair. If you wanted redemption, it was up to you. And you had to walk to church to find it. Plus you had to bring the donation envelope because my Mom said they wouldn’t bury or marry us unless we showed proof of attendance.
Christmas was another story. From the time we could walk, we went to Midnight Mass because it was less crowded and reliably fell in the start to finish 45 minute time span that my Dad could tolerate. All business. Once Pops popped the wafer, he was out the door and had the car running out front to usher us off into the night. The dangling carrot that kept us going year after year? We got to open a present when we got home. Nothing like childhood greed to spark the flames of piety. I would sit quietly through mass hoping that my new pony wouldn’t eat the reindeer carrots. It never did…mostly because it was never there…but it kept me quiet in mass for a few years.
All that changed when, on a lark, my dad decided we could choose from the random boxes and open a gift before mass. I got a 3 pack of white socks (not kidding…but in my defense they were wrapped super fancy). I don’t remember what anyone else got, but Christmas changed when the last bit of wrapping was torn clean from its innards.
My dad’s gift? The VHS director’s edition of Godfather I.
His eyes lit up like our friend Buddy the Elf. He said when it first came out he wanted to lean out of every window and scream “F&*k you world! I’m Italian!!!”. And promised we would want to scream it too. Except we had to find a non swear word. Or say it in Italian so people couldn’t understand. We weren’t raised heathens after all.
And just like that, my dad decided that exploring our Italian roots Coppola style would substitute for Xmas mass.
The following year brought VHS Godfather II. The next year? Godfather III which we all decided had ruined the tradition and we would have been more entertained and/or redeemed at church. Awful awful movie. I fart in its general direction. I’m not entirely sure, but I think the floaters in my eyes are the scar tissue left over from watching Sofia Coppola’s incessant hair flipping. The pattern is eerily similar.
After dinner the next year, my mom handed my dad a VHS tape shaped bundle of gold and silver foil wrapping. We eagerly anticipated and yet dreaded the course of the next few hours. What could it be?
Gentle readers, if any of you guessed The Deer Hunter- I applaud you. And caution that we should probably never meet in person.
As the popcorn hovered seconds before the too burned to eat because too much wine had been poured mark, my parents set up the movie only by saying we would appreciate it because it was set in a town much like the one they called home before heading west. We should know what their lives had looked like when they were young. Plus it had Fredo and Don Corleone in it.
183 minutes. I don’t remember much of anything other than the movie playing and then somehow for some reason they sang God Bless America. I looked around and all of us were in a strange quiet daze. My dad sprung out of his chair, clapped his hands, and announced it was ‘present time’. My sisters’ boyfriends grabbed their coats and headed for the door. My parents laughed and laughed at their candy ass California kids. We skipped gifts that night and all went to bed. I remember my parents still laughing downstairs as I frightfully tried to keep Walken from entering my dreamscape.
The next morning, shockingly, my sisters’ boyfriends showed up again. Everyone was quiet as the gifts were passed out. It seemed strange to open and marvel at a sweater or singing wall fish after that night. We all sat in a circle with an unopened box on our laps and nobody wanted to start the rotation.
And then suddenly there was a tiny murmur. Di di. I looked around. Di di. And out of nowhere my sister’s fella yells “MAU” and slapped the box on his lap.
It could very well have been the fractured remains of my psyche, but I don’t know that I’ve ever laughed as hard as I did that morning. Every tear of paper, every unraveling of a bow, or opening of a box came with a side of Di Di Mau.
For some reason that made it all dysfunctionally ok again.
The tradition lasted as long as the boyfriends did. Once they were gone it was too awkward a story to try to explain to a new face trying to find their hue in my family’s strange off color kodachrome pallette. Plus it really wasn’t funny. Still isn’t. But goddamnit it still makes me laugh.
The next year we went back to the log with songs channel and pretty much stuck with that in lieu of church (except for the year my dad taped the evening horse races over the log so I wrote into the local tv network to get a copy and they fedex’d a tape that I gave to my mom that eve thinking I’d saved Christmas but really it was just a silent log burning for 6 hours).
Another di di story for another di di time….
The following is a dramatization of virtually every social media interaction I’ve had in the past year. Some details have been changed to protect the innocent…or the guilty…depending on what you think of red and yellow and maybe skin cancer. And apricots. Please never give me a *hugs*
Original poster (me): I absolutely love the color orange. There’s something about it that really seems to tickle the nether reaches of the soul. Any other orange lovers? Holla yo!
Person A: I hate everything about orange. How could you possibly find any value in it?
Me (in response): Sometimes when I’m having a really hard day (the kind that takes a potato peeler to your hope and self worth and sense of belonging), I watch the sunset. On those days, it’s usually orange and somehow it rights the ship, plugs the holes, and realigns myself with my Self again and I make peace with the world around me.
Person B: The sun kills millions of people. Have you ever seen the statistics on skin cancer? Not to mention that sunblock is tested on animals so you have to add those deaths to the equation. Plus, no offense, your face is looking wrinkled. *hugs*
Me (in response): well typically the amount of radiation when the sun is going down is minimal so the risk of cancer is virtually nonexistent but thank you for sharing. My face is more wrinkled from the bad days than it is from the sun.
Me (new mainline post…part of the original thread but I’m tech challenged so I don’t know the proper terminology): Even the soft sweet smell and feel of a freshly picked apricot. Like baby fuzz perfection wrapped in a tiny orange orb. Regardless of any religious or spiritual affiliation, the first bite of a perfectly ripe apricot is absolutely heavenly.
Person C: Orange is a combination of red and yellow. Red makes me think of all the people who are needlessly dying all over the world today because they couldn’t afford an apricot. Yellow makes me think of bananas, whose growing and harvesting are completely decimating the rainforests.
Person B (joins the thread): the sun is yellow too. It’s funny you chose to combine the two colors of destruction. I’m sorry you’re so dark these days. *hugs*
Me: I see what you’re saying, but colors are really just wavelengths of light that the brain registers at a certain point in the color spectrum. I hope you don’t have any issues with lemons because life has thrown all of us plenty of those (where my shuggah at?)…lol. As for the sun, it’s technically UV light that our eyes and brain don’t recognize so in the scrambling to make sense of the experience our brain calls it yellow. In regards to being “dark”, ironically it’s the orange that pulls me out. All I’m saying is give carrots a chance! Lol
(person B never responds and unfriends me…then two hours later friends person C)
Person D (randomly two days later) copies and pastes an article from WaPo about a study that found a small percentage of people who like orange are social deviants and possibly defective. There is no context so I’m not entirely sure if I am effective or defective.
Then A, B, C, and D all click ‘like’ on each other’s comments and have a conversation about the awfulness of the color orange. They mutually agree that they hope I’m doing ok and that I’m able to move through my struggles.
Me: Deletes the original post. Once again signs off and deactivates my social media presence. Goes outside to watch the sunset.
*whispers to the glorious celestial event above* :
I fucking love you Orange.
Dear Future Self:
Should you happen to find Tom Waits bowling in the next lane again, I implore you…lay off the beer. Give yourself time to come up with a witty but politely non-intrusive ‘hey there Tom’ and sing a riff of 16 Shells from a Ten-ought Ball. Or maybe ask him if bowlers in Minneapolis send Christmas cards too.
Whatever you do or however it is phrased, please refrain from telling him you use his music for cooking ambience…and, should the urge strike to give him a simultaneous bro pat on the shoulder, just keep eating your cheese sticks.