July 29th, 2005

Mia has a new collar on, and it’s a major change for all of No. 6. For eight months now, we’ve all been living one way and, like pretentious phonies, portraying ourselves another.

As you may know, my move from Georgia did not include Mia Jane. A bad traveler who is among the slim percentage of the cat population who has an adverse reaction to tranquilizers, Mia was no way riding in the car with us across the country. Instead, she shacked up at Spa Marietta with the Edgars (my dad and Pauline), where she enjoyed a new diet of mostly treats and tuna, which she still screams to be given despite eight months of denial. The airlines refusing to fly pets in the heat of summer, Mia had to remain in her deep South homeland until my parents brought her along at the end of the year.

Mia arrived very changed. Not only was she a food snob, she was also rib-skinny from outdoor play. And she was wearing a collar with peace signs all over it. Peace signs. On Mia. Since her hissy, territorial ways had not been one of the facets to change, Mia proceeded to terrorize Linus for months until he finally lost patience and mustered the energy to pounce on her. So since then, there’s been anything but peace at No. 6. The battles are one-sidedly loud (Mia, aka “Banshee,” aka “Raccoon” making all of the noise), and one-sidedly won (Linus, weighing in at twice as much as said raccoon, packing all the punch). Sometimes these battles take place while we’re gone, which we know because when Linus starts after Mia, Mia immediately drops half the hair from her body in the place where she’s standing and then flees, leaving behind a crime scene of fur. Sometimes these battles take place while we’re home, and we can easily stop them by touching, or motioning as if to touch, the affection-insatiable Linus. Sometimes these battles happen while we are asleep, on our bed, on top of us.

Anyway, as of yesterday’s fun shopping excursion with Sarah and Christina, Mia now wears a more appropriate collar. It’s “Look Out” orange in color, “Punk Ass” suede in texture, and adorned with small charms depicting fish skeletons. No more will the peace signs tell a tale untrue. Now we live with our hearts on our sleeves and our souls—our hissy, fish-bony souls—on our collars.

Burn this Motherf*&#@r Down!

July 29th, 2005

(If you saw “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle,” you just laughed.)

I’m wearing a bra today, and I don’t like it. I had gotten very used to wearing just those little stringy-strap tank tops as, or under, my shirts for the summer, but today I went with a t-shirt and bra, and my my, the bra is a cruel invention. It is time to bring back the fainting couch. My corset is too tight!

I have to ease myself back into bra-wearing, though. Since I’ll be instructing again this fall, I’ve had to beef up my “professional” wardrobe. No more pink satin roller-skater shorts. No more backless, see-through shirts.

Madagascar, Fantastic Four, Willie Wonka

July 27th, 2005

Madagascar sucked the first time I saw it, but was surprisingly entertaining to me the second time (auntie torture). I especially enjoy when the lemur king says, “You are right, Maurice! All is lost! My plan has failed, and we will all be eaten by the dreaded foosa!” Steve likes it, too; although he hasn’t seen the movie, I think he secretly enjoys when I begin shouting this when we are in public. Secretly. Anyway, I can’t say if I recommend this or not. If you’ve seen all the other cartoon-movies, then see this one. If not, there are so many better ones.

Fantastic Four has some of the corniest dialogue ever. Still, I liked it. It’s family fun, but do not pay to see it in the theater.

And now for the movie everyone must go see TONIGHT: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is so brilliant I laughed throughout it and plan to see it a second time in the theaters, which is an extreme rarity for me (unless my auntly duties call). If you do not see this movie, I just can’t call you my friend anymore.

Update on The Experiment

July 27th, 2005

Linus is not interested in becoming my blood brother. Turns out he doesn’t like being almost pricked. I used some of his eye goo instead, but in the tests that followed, the brownies were as tasty as ever. Perhaps too many variables in the makeup of the eye goo.

The Cat Dysfunction Diet

July 27th, 2005

I just read this article (thanks, Bridget), and I have a brilliant idea that will help all of mankind (thus my quickness to publish it, rather than hoard it and become the next John Basedow). We need to bottle this dysfunctional gene and replace our own sweetness-receptors with cat-sweetness-ignorers! As I eat what must be my 15th two-bite brownie of the morning, I am thinking of how great it would be if I just didn’t want those brownies, because I couldn’t even taste them. If they were no different to me than cardboard, or a square of carpet.

Right now Linus is lounging here beside me in a box that something from IKEA came in. As an experiment, I am now going to become his blood-sister and then try another brownie. I’ll keep you posted.

Groundhog Web

July 26th, 2005

I dreamt I was staying with strangers in a house that was part my parents’ house and part not. There was a large garage shared with other families that was carpeted, and in which everyone let their babies crawl around. There was a windowsill made of cement with graffiti carved into it. There was that character Grace from the old sitcom “Grace Under Fire,” and she was watching TV in the bathroom. Her daughter lent me a piece of paper outlining the classes she could take at school, and I left it upstairs where I had been watching “Law and Order” (after watching it downstairs with my grandma), but then I couldn’t remember how to get upstairs to get the paper back for the daughter, so much of the dream focused around my trying to fit into the air conditioning ducts until I remembered the stairs. But then there was this long, weird part where I was coming back to the house after leaving it and going through the front yard. The yard was thick with vegetation but had been sprayed for insects. Still, there were gigantic spider webs, and these large, bright green, hairy spiders running around. Totally scary. Just as I was thinking, what are these spiders eating if all of the insects have been sprayed away, I noticed a small groundhog struggling in a net … and then another. It was horrifying, and I rushed inside. Alas, I could gain no sympathy from the residents for the awful scene I had encountered in their yard. They were proud of their groundhog-eating spiders.

And thus, my dreams have truly become multimedia. So much for reading friends’ blogs at bedtime.


July 25th, 2005

Unlike her sister, Dani had no trouble choosing one item in Toys ‘R’ Us. In fact, she knows exactly where the aisle she wants is, the aisle with the babies.

Dani loves babies, and I used this to my great advantage, several times throughout the visit successfully buying her cheap baby dolls as bribes for good behavior. And bribe you must, because to this child right now, “no” means “yes” and “I said no!” means “Bite me.” I even managed to take her incident-free to a restaurant where you have to wait for a waitress to bring your food by using the power of quarters in vending machines full of those plastic bubble-encased toys. I loaded my purse with them and made them last the entire meal. I’m just so proud of my auntie brilliance.

Speaking of meals, the poor kid had a lapse in potty training on day 5 of my visit. My mother, handling the event, called out accusingly, angrily from the bathroom to my sister, “She has diarrhea. What have you been feeding this poor child?” My sister looked at me, since I, and not daycare, had been feeding them much of the week. Hm. Day 1: Wendy’s with me. Day 2: Burger King with my sister. Day 3: Gino’s pizza with me. Day 4: KFC with the family. Earlier on Day 5: Hot dog and cheese fries at the mall. Well.

Dani has a great walk, a mess-with-me-I’ll-mess-up-your-face-Punk-but-not-if-it-will-mess-up-my-hair walk. She is fairly prim but with the standard 2-year-old layer of food slime on her face. In addition to babies, she loves climbing up to precarious locations and standing up in her high chair and car seat in order to turn those into precarious locations as well. Most of her sentences start with “I want,” but her manners are impeccable, and she needs no reminding.

I especially enjoyed taking her to the park and playground. She led the way, trooping with long (for her) strides so that her adorable blondeness swished back and forth on her head. She wanted to check everything out: every piece of playground equipment, the walking trail, pavilions, piles of goose droppings. And she never, not for five seconds, stopped narrating the entire adventure. Yak yak yak. A happy girl.


July 22nd, 2005

The two greatest highlights of my visits to western Pennsylvania are always my nieces, Erica (6) and Dani (Terrible 2). Erica, who will start first grade in the fall but who can read entire books as if she is my peer, sounding out words like “directions” and “aviation,” and who is tall enough to pass for 12 (she is my sister’s daughter for sure), is going through two phases right now.

The first phase is a picking-up-”treasures”-everywhere-she-goes phase. Had I known about this phase, I might not have taken her along to wash my parents’ car. In the parking lot, she found a rubber ball (filthy), an armless plastic foot soldier (filthy), a temporary tattoo sticker (surprisingly not filthy) and various other items. I kept encouraging her to stop this treasure hunting, but she was obsessed. When we got home, I emptied her tote bag to find even more “treasures,” among them various pieces of broken car-window glass. She was proud of all of it.

In an attempt to draw her attention to some less filthy treasure, I took her to Toys ‘R’ Us and told her she could pick out one item. Had I realized she would have had an easier time sawing off her own limbs, I might have avoided the agony that ensued. She cruised the store, every aisle, noting the options. Each time I suggested that the current option seemed perfect, she replied, “Maybe, but I might like something else better.” Finally, starving and dehydrated after three days in the store, we found ourselves in front of a display of miniature plastic puppies. This was it. She wanted a puppy. But which one?! I could take no more. “If you choose within 30 seconds,” I said, “you can have two.” She began to hyperventilate in panic over the deadline. “29 … 30.” She grabbed two packages and reluctantly followed me toward the registers.

Just four feet from the cashier, though, she spotted a stuffed dog tossed on top of a display of scooters. “Oh! I want that dog instead,” she said. Hm. You see, I recognized that dog. I had bought her the same dog at this same store during a previous visit. When I reminded her of this and posited that she might have more fun with the puppies, she explained that her other dog needed a friend. So fine. We made the trade, and I rushed her through checkout and to the car.

I hereby predict that this child will never go to college, accept a job or get married, because how on earth could she pick just one of any of these things.

On to the second phase. In addition to the compulsion to touch and collect litter, Erica is obsessed with the constant picking of a perma-wedgie. My sister explained that Erica insists on pulling her underpants up to her armpits and so must spend all day removing them from her butt crack. The result is a permanent fusing of hand to bottom. Now, my nieces can do no wrong, but by day 3 of my visit, this fusion was getting on my nerves. I joined the adult chorus of “Remove that hand from those pants” ‘ers. It was no use. I tried to sympathize. We’ve all been there at one time or another with a certain pair of pants. The battle between waist-comfort and butt-comfort becomes all-consuming. Now imagine this is every pair of pants. Poor kid. Still, when I was getting ready to take her to see “Madagascar” and she came to me cuddling the new dog from Toys ‘R’ Us and asked if she could bring him along to the movies, I said, “Oh! Yes!” By all means! Anything to occupy those butt-picking hands!

We had dinner before the movie, and on the way to the parking lot, Erica stopped randomly and said, “You want to see my plan face?” Her what? I nodded tentatively. She clasped her hands and rubbed them together, hunched slightly, raised her shoulders and squinted her eyes. As if scheming, as if … making a plan. “Great plan face,” I said, and she went back to smiling, and we continued to the car. Isn’t age 6 great?


July 16th, 2005

I’m having a nice visit here in Western Pennsylvania. I’m pretty sick, but that’s OK. My grandparents are here, and my nieces are, as always, adorable. See new pics on bebo, those of you who have accounts.

Lemony Snicket, The Terminal

July 13th, 2005

We also rented The Terminal, which is a little contrived, but clearly for the sake of being labeled a good family movie (which it is for sure) and thereby making it onto cross-country flights. I think even kids of grade-school age would like it.

The Lemony Snicket movie was awesome. Terrific. Although not for the kiddies. Too scary. I recommend it for my friends, however. Fun rental.


July 13th, 2005

As we walked back from Akbar last night, Steve and I had this conversation:

Me: I know you’re thinking about code. You’re holding your hands like this [weaves fingers together at chest level while continuing to walk]. You do that when you’re thinking about code.

Steve: I do? Nah. I don’t think I do.

Me: This is you right now, “Code … code … code …”

Steve: You just don’t understand. When you start writing code, you will understand.

Me: I don’t want to start writing code.

Steve: I think it’s time you started.

Me: OK, then I think it’s time you started writing 20-page seminar papers.

Steve: Can I write them in code?

Just Imagine My Hindsight

July 13th, 2005

I’m going to reveal a little secret about myself that few people know. I have better than perfect vision. At last test, I think it was 20/15 or something like that.

Now, before you go saying to yourself, “Isn’t it exciting that we have a friend who has a super power!” let me tell you that my power is a curse. Yes, I’m great at navigating road-signs and avoiding drug interactions, and yes, I found those prized mini-seashells every summer at the beach, but I can see every aphid on my patio plants. I can see the poop that the fleas on our cats have dropped into their fur. Hence my horror over small, organized insects.

And I can see dirt. Oh man. I can see every fluffy, orange hair Linus so casually sheds onto the carpet, every shard of cat food Mia explodes into the atmosphere when she crunches her car-crusher teeth into each morsel, every miniscule crumb of Saltine under Steve’s desk chair. That is why, as I prepare to leave for a week, I have to clean. Because not only do I dread returning to a house full of filth invisible to the normal or Stevel human eye, but I fear that if my powers grow, I might look west from Pittsburgh and be able to see No. 6, and I will die and have to be revived.

I should note to avoid misrepresenting him that Steve is not messy or dirty. He lives a very simple, normal life when I am gone. It involves code and Saltines and sleep and code. It’s only that he cannot see what I, with my cursed super-power vision, can. If duty calls me to join the forces of super-heroes, I think I will call myself “Ionic Breeze.” What do you think?


July 11th, 2005

Here’s another story from our trip to Virginia: In the Dulles Airport waiting to come home, Steve and I sat down at T.G.I.Friday’s for some disgusting, greasy breakfast. Our table was on “the patio” aka out in the terminal hallway. Here we had a good view of the passengers coming and going and also of the abandoned hostess stand.

Midway through our meal, a woman with a baby strapped to her front and two BRIGHT red-headed twin boys, estimated age four, in tow came by. These boys were trouble. Begging for stuff, whining, lagging behind. While Mom forged ahead, they spotted the basket of mints on the T.G.I.Friday’s hostess stand and conspired to sneak a handful. Together they reached up and grabbed their stash, and then they chose, as a hiding place, one of the twin’s pants. That’s right, he put a handful of stolen mints down his pants. At this point, Mom spies them and returns. She’s mad. The twin takes the mints back out of his pants, and Mom sees the handful and, unaware of where they’ve been, directs his hand with hers to put them back in the basket before she hurries them onward.

At this point, only Steve and I know that the topmost selection of the hostess’s mints are tainted. They have been down a four-year-old boy’s pants. We watch more people come and go in the terminal. We see the twins again. Now with Dad, they’re out for a walk. Dad doesn’t have luggage or a baby strapped to him, so he can be a little more watchful. This time when the boys go for the mints (again), he’s right on it. “But Mommy said we can take some of these for later,” whines one of the boys when Dad begins to jerk them away from the hostess stand. “No, she did not,” Dad is quick to reply, “Don’t fib.” BAD little twins!

Still, the tainted mints lay in wait for an unsuspecting mouth. As Steve’s and my dishes are cleared away, a small group of blinged-out ballers comes striding along. Casually, smoothly, entitledy, the top baller diverts his course to scoop out a handful of mints from the T.G.I.Friday’s hostess stand and then keeps on walking toward his gate. Yes, he stole some mints meant for patrons of a restaurant he did not patron. And oh, did he deserve them.


July 11th, 2005

The night before last, I woke up at 4 a.m. FREAKED OUT that fleas were in our bed. Why? Because they were. Linus, who was sleeping with us and rocking the bed all night with scratchings, had brought them. (Yes, everyone, we use “the drops” on Linus. He is just too big for them to work for more than two weeks, and the directions are very specific about how often you can apply new drops.) I tried sleeping on the floor, but the fleas followed, so I moved to the living room couch, where Linus followed. Steve thought this was crazy on my part, but I took a bath in the morning, and a flea floated up in the water, and then, when I made our bed, I found three dead fleas in the sheets. Steve says I planted these, but he’s obviously in on the conspiracy and can’t be trusted. This flea-freakout happened once before to me, in Savannah. I woke up at 3 a.m. and immediately bathed Mia and laundered my sheets. Then I was able to sleep. I know no one likes fleas, but I just can’t handle them. They’re so jumpy and sneaky and miniscule, and you can’t squish them. You squish and squish, and then when you open your fingers, they hop right out and disappear. I bathe Linus and Mia every week, but it’s just impossible.

While I was asleep on the couch, I had a vivid dream that a dog attacked me and bit my hand and wouldn’t let go. So the rest of the dream was me walking around in agonizing pain with this dog’s teeth clamped onto my hand while I tried to find someone to help me.

In other news, I am sick. Some kind of sore throat/congestion thing. Boo.


July 11th, 2005

We rented this movie and watched it last night, and wow, it’s great. I’m still in the movie place this morning. You know the place.

Everyone should rent this.


July 5th, 2005

One quick, weird story from Charlottesville: I get into the the elevator of our hotel, and a woman, mid-fifties, is in there. When the doors close, she says, “How are you?”

“Good,” I say, “How are you?”

“Good. You ever listen to country music?” she asks.

“Now and then.”

“You know that song, ‘Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy?”"

“I know it,” I say.

“What do you think of that song?”

“Mm, it’s not my favorite,” I reply.

“Well, that [word I can't make out, a name maybe?]‘s my son,” she says in an enthusiastic, proud and friendly tone. “He’s playing at the fourth of July special for CBS [or something like that].”

“Wow,” I say as the doors open and I get out, “Congratulations. I know the song’s doing really well.”

And the doors close. Isn’t that so weird? I met the mother of the guy who sings that God-awful song. But good for her, you know?


July 5th, 2005

The cats missed us. Cute, you say? No, not cute. Well, sure it was cute when we first got home and they were all purry and lovey and talky. Aw. But now they have been fighting all morning, because I am in the guest room typing, and each one wants to be in here with me, and of course they can’t be in here at the same time, it’s just not big enough for two of them (well, Linus is pretty enormous). Hiss hiss, chase, chase, Banshee-noise, Banshee-noise.

And Linus apparently came down with the squirts while we were gone. While amazingly neither cat [Mia] did anything deliberately outside the litter box, there are a few drips here and there that I “get to” clean up today with the Industrial Strength Carpet Cleaner I took out a second mortgage to buy from Home Depot’s Aisle for Professional Career Janitorial People for just this purpose. But here’s what’s going to really gross you out, and I mean that as a very real warning: When Linus misses us, he stays awake all night trying to show us how much he missed us by walking around on our pillows and heads and organs with all 20 pounds of his I-missed-you, loving weight. Add a squirty ass, and, you guessed it, on one of the many, many, many, many times he woke me up, I discovered tracks on my pillow. I repeat, on my pillow. Horrifying.

And no, this isn’t the first time Linus has inadvertently smeared poo in our bed. Oh no. Holy Jesus, you say, and why don’t my seemingly intelligent friends shut this orange menace out of their room at night? Well, because then he cries softly outside our door, and it’s too sad. And it’s not his fault he’s too fat to reach his ass to clean it. He wants to be with us so much. Besides, I can always take a shower with Industrial Strength Antibacterial Soap and then wash the sheets in Industrial Strength Laundry Detergent. Eight times.

But here’s what puzzles me. Steve is so grossed out by baby poo [and incidentally, hates the word "poo," so for all you Steves out there, please substitue "feces" or better yet "defecation"] and dreads the far-future in which a stork will leave us a wailing poo-maker. And that’s weird to me, because here we have this 20-pound cat whose ass we have to clean ourselves and whose little smears of poo have three times now made their way onto our sheets, and yet Steve would defend him from any slander, rescue him from any fire-breathing giant [including his wife, should she take it upon herself to bathe the Biggie while Steve is home to hear his cries], buy him anything he desires, and, yes, has proposed that in that far-future-stork-time, we name our own kid after this cat.

Show me the logic. Please.


July 5th, 2005

Steve and I returned yesterday from a trip to Charlottesville, VA, where we attended the BEAUTIFUL wedding of Susan Manning and Bobby Parmar. The wedding included some traditional Hindu elements as well as an exchange of vows, and much to the delight of Steve, aka man-who-would-eat-at-Akbar-every-meal-if-it-were-open-for-breakfast, the reception fare was Indian food.

We took a side trip to Lexington, VA, where Steve was born and lived until he was nine years old. We found his old house and ate pizza at Frank’s, where Steve remembers having a birthday party with an R2-D2 cake.

It was also our first wedding anniversary. What a fun way to spend it, huh? I thought it might be neat to tell the story of how Steve “proposed” and then ask my married friends reading this to post comments telling their proposal stories. Will you do it? So, here’s how Steve asked me to marry him:

Steve and I met at a wedding in Savannah, GA, where I lived, and where he was visiting from L.A., in October 2002. We became pen pals, started talking on the phone, and in March 2003, I flew to L.A. for our first date. (Can anyone guess where that was? Yes, Akbar.) We dated long-distance that spring and summer and into the fall when I moved to Las Vegas to begin grad school there. I knew pretty early on that Las Vegas wasn’t for me, a large reason being that Steve, aka-man-I-could-somehow-no-longer-stand-to-be-apart-from, didn’t live there. So I was thinking of moving to CA. Steve and I had not talked about marriage at all, in fact, I think I had mentioned that I didn’t want to get married. But when we took a trip to NYC in September 2003, and Steve had a little too much to drink and said, “I was thinking of looking at some rings. Do you think that would be OK?” I found myself saying it would.

Of course, I was thinking that in man-time, I wouldn’t see or hear more about the aforementioned ring for months or even years or until my next life. But Steve is not your typical man. Steve is an exceptional man, and when I landed in L.A. for a visit in October, he suggested we go to Canter’s for dinner. Canter’s is an old and old-school diner/restaurant. A description wouldn’t do it justice, so we’ll just have to go when you visit next. Anyway, while we waited for our food, Steve took a little box from his bag and put it on the table and slid it toward me. “I got you this,” he said. That was my proposal, and it was perfect. I was completely surprised and moved, and he had found the most perfect ring for me that I could imagine. I cried some, and called my sister, and then I think I ate a sandwich, and Steve ate some matzo ball soup.

So, what’s yours?