I drove over to the beach to see if all this nonsense about an approaching tropical storm might be true and in fact I guess it is. The waves were huge, so I got wet and salty and took some pictures. Normally our ocean looks like a swimming pool, so a bunch of surfers were out too.
Here is a better perspective of how high the ocean is. It's overflowing the sea wall and spilling over onto the street, which is how I got wet. I also went to the grocery store to get candy and thankfully no one was in there panicking and buying bottled water, so I'm relieved that we South Floridians seem to have gotten over our hurricane hysteria which we all seem to have collectively acquired in 04 and 05. Right now it's just very windy out. And hot. It doesn't feel like Halloween should be tomorrow. All holidays here are like the fourth of July.
Wide Lawns Birthday Charity Challenge Update: We are doing really, really well, but we're still in third place. Thank you again to everyone who has donated and linked. We only have until tomorrow night so donate now before you get distracted by all those dang kids knocking on your door wanting all your candy. Also to the person who requested I add Leveled Readers for Little Hands, I did it, so pay up! Thanks for letting me know about that one. Click HERE for the charity challenge. We're almost up to $1100 and I have to be in second place or I will not be able to function properly all day and I might accidentally eat mayonaise or pet an iguana or something.
I'm scared of all kinds of things. Most of them are stupid, some of them are terrifying, which sounds like I'm stating the obvious because duh, if I'm scared of something then naturally it should be something scary, but actually, a lot of the things that scare me aren't truly scary. Like mayonaise. I'm very scared of mayonaise. I find it to be the most revolting substance on earth. I've stopped ordering chicken sandwiches all together because although I always clearly state no mayo, I inevitably dread that slow peel back of the bun because more often than not I will see that oily, white horrifying substance that I have despised since I was a toddler.
Halloween is this week and Halloween is my favorite holiday. Recently a few people have asked me why I like Halloween so much and I think it has to do with a certain sense of abandon people get around this time of year. I like the creativity. I like that Halloween validates the darkness in us all, or at least the darkness in me. My inner teenage goth girl loves to surface on Halloween where that day only she may wear her spider pin and burn a tacky candle in the shape of a skull head without people sending her in for psychiatric evaluations.
A lot of my love and adoration for Halloween has to do with candy, but I try to sound all smart and lofty and usually don't admit that I just like Reeses Cups and cream soda Dum Dums, as well as Snickers Minis and those wax bottles filled with some kind of scary chemical water that looks like Windex or antifreeze. I love those wax bottles. I pour out the scary chemical water and chew on the paraffin. See, something else I'm scared of - chemical water. It's probably just water and food coloring, but what if it's like amoeba water from Mexico or what if the food coloring is made out of beetles or worse yet, what if it's some cancer causing pesticide derivitive, because I'd rather drink beetle water than cancer causing pesticide water, because then I'd end up dead in a ditch somewhere and I'd be dead of cancer. You see how it goes now? I went from candy to dead in a ditch in just a few run-on sentences. You too can be totally neurotic in just a few short steps.
Perhaps, and this is just a theory, I love Halloween so much because in some odd way, I think I enjoy being scared. Dr. Phil (whose show has gone to beyond shit and is now at the level of Jerry Springer and Maury Povich and not that it was ever that fantastic to begin with, but still) would say that being scared of everything must be doing something for me. I think it provides me with a certain safe thrill, especially since my myriad fears are mostly mundane.
The other night I went to a reading given by one of my teachers and she read an essay where she talked about her fears that she can't explain and it was hilarious and brilliant. My own ranting about being scared can't even come close, and I don't want anyone to think I'm ripping her off. I'm writing about fear because it's Halloween and because at this very moment I am scared in a house alone on a proverbial dark and stormy night where I know with at least 99.9% certaintly that nothing will happen.
Most of my fears, and really most of everyone's fears come from things they heard, saw or experienced in childhood. They become almost like fear fetishes. This is how the majority of my fears developed, such as the fear of German Shepherds because one bit me in the ass when I was 9 and wearing lavender pin striped culottes. I'm also scared of culottes as a result. I'm scared of food poisoning because I had it, scared of anything made with cream of mushroom soup, velveeta, harboiled eggs and crushed ritz crackers or any combination thereof because most of my childhood meals involved casseroles guaranteed to send one screaming in terror over the Mason-Dixon line into the North where people eat normal foods.
My mother scared the crap out of me telling me I was going to get two deadly diseases called crotch rot and trench mouth. Crotch Rot could be a number of things I really don't want and trench mouth I think is actually tetanus. Crotch Rot is caused by wearing wet bathing suits, too small pants, not washing, boys and playing with yourself or all of the above because all those things usually go together and all of them will eventually lead you to death in a ditch. Trench Mouth on the other hand you get from eating dirt and drinking out of mudpuddles, which I have never done, I assure you, so I have no clue why my mother feared I'd get Trench Mouth. You'd think with all the cussing I do that Trench Mouth would be my middle name by now.
I have a ridiculous fear of being poisoned and since I've never been poisoned I'm assuming this came from a past life where I imagine that I was the person hired by a king to test all of his food and honey mead to be sure that his evil brother in law, who was second in line for the throne, wasn't trying to do him in. One time maybe he was and maybe that was the end of whoever I was. You can see how that job could cause someone a phobia that transcends incarnations. My fear of being poisoned gets on the nerves of everyone who knows me. I'm always sniffing and smelling and inspecting my food and I won't eat at a lot of places because they seem like their food would definitely kill me, hence the fact that I will not be eating Ox Tail Fish Dinners at the B & M anytime soon. See picture below.
I'm scared of iguanas because we have them in the wild here and they get big and look mean. I saw an orange one the other day and that scared me a lot worse than the green ones. I'm not entirely fond of pet birds because they seem like they want to poison my food and eye me suspiciously out of the corner of their eye with their head all cocked to the side. Birds are also sharp. I have a mild fear of people who go out in public with snakes draped around their necks. I'm not scared of the snakes, just the people who go out in public with them draped around their necks.
I love scary things too. I like scary movies but then I get scared and change the channel, which I also love, so I won't go see scary movies in the theater, because you know, that is just TOO scary.
I TiVo Ghost Hunters and watch that, but it's boring as watching 12 cups of coffee brew so I fast forward to "The Reveal." They never find anything though. That damned show. I swear to God, it's the same thing every week. They go to the home of some inevitable, total white trash family who has clearly watched too many B-Movie Horror flicks and tried to contact their dead Grandma on the Ouija Board a case of Labatts more than they should have, and then they get to thinking that they have a poltergeist and call in TAPS. Since the show is in New England the families are that particular New England type of white trash which is very different from my kind of Southern white trash. New England white trash is a little more urban and a little more into sports, so you'll get some 400 pound woman in a Patriots Jersey, who lives in some run down house outside of Boston, who is on disability and swears that the ghost knocked down all her framed posters of unicorns, wizards and Josh Beckett. She will then assure TAPS that her ghost is "Wicked Scary" and her oldest son will then come into the 1970s style harvest gold and wood paneled kitchen to comment that this whole thing is "Retodded." Because it is.
Then TAPS will setup all kinds of equipment, and turn off all the lights, which does nothing except make it more scary. I'm serious. Do ghosts care about the lights being on? No they do not, but TV producers do and they want the show all Blair Witch, Night-Vision-y looking, but personally I think that a lot of these people's houses are a lot more scary with the lights on where you can see their mirrored sunburst headboards and the fact that they didn't bother to clean at all despite a TV show being filmed on premises. Maybe they get it confused with Clean House. Oh I just thought of something brilliant - a Clean House Ghost Hunters combo!! They can get rid of the ghost AND the 27 trashbags of junk the home's inhabitants have saved since they were five, although they are now 43. It would be perfect.
So TAPS turns out the lights, waits around, and scares the holy mother of shit out of themselves until they imagine cold spots and things brushing against them that are probably only fuzz balls since none of the homes they visit have been vacuumed since ever. Then they get sick of nothing happening, pack up, turn the lights back on and go back and find nothing except that the house has a leak, the furnace is loud and the cat is behind all the eerie sounds. Every single show is the same thing. Crazy people, dirty house, turn off the lights, get scared of nothing, find leaky pipes and faulty wiring and leave with the people disappointed because for some reason they all seem to WANT a portal to Hell in their kid's bedrooms. Yet I watch in hopes that once, just once, TAPS will actually find something. I can not explain my insistence. I guess it's like why little kids won't go to bed. I don't want to miss something because you know just as soon as I stop TiVoing, they'll find something cool and I won't see it and that would be tragic. See, I'm afraid of missing things too.
Because I'm petrified of carpal tunnel, I'm going to stop. I would like to announce though that in honor of Halloween, this is officially SCARY WEEK!! Every post will be related to something scary, all week, or, um, all half a week since Halloween is Wednesday.
As I am exploring fears, tell me what things scare you.
UPDATE: I am so thrilled and so excited to tell you that we have already raised almost $900.00 for the Wide Lawns Birthday Charity Challenge!! Thank you so much to everyone who has linked and donated. I know my birthday is not going to suck ass this year now. If you haven't seen the challenge yet go HERE and check it out. We are also in third place on the General Blogs Leaderboard which has aroused my competitive have to be the best at everything nature, so I'd really like to move up to second place. First place is some Tomato person who knows Claire Danes and has raised $100,000 so I'm not even going to try to touch that, but I know we can at least do second place, right? Of course we can.
From The Colbert Report I learned about Donors Choose, an organization which allows teachers to submit proposals for the things they need and ask for donations. Once the money is raised Donors Choose purchases the materials and delivers them to the school. If you visit their web site you can read all the different proposals from teachers and pick which ones you want to help out.
This year we're celebrating my birthday early. I've created the Wide Lawns Birthday Charity Challenge, where I hope to raise $20,000 for teachers and I hope that every single one of you will give at least a dollar to help these teachers out.
This is really important to me, because as you may recall, my goal is to help as many people as possible and I am very opposed to giving money to people who don't work, people who make terrible choices and organizations that don't help people sustain themselves. I believe in generously giving to those who can't help themselves (like kids and animals) and to people who are willing to work hard. Teachers were the perfect choice for me this year. I know so many teachers who work unbelievably hard and have to spend their own money to buy supplies because they are in poor districts. I've even seen teachers buy poor children clothes and food. We have to help them out.
For my challenge I've selected several proposals and I will continue to add even more. The ones I've chosen so far reflect the things that interest me such as schoolyard gardens, autism, creative writing, inner city schools and then I chose some projects in Miami and LA as well to represent my home cities, being that I'm all bi-coastal now.
I am asking you all to give a little. Email my challenge to as many people as you can even if you can't afford a donation. Link to my challenge (not my blog because this is not about my traffic) on your own blogs. Send it to those three friends you have who are obsessive forwarders and who send a million emails a day out that say that people trying to sell you perfume at the mall are going to chloroform and rape you. This will at least give them something real and productive to forward and it will be a lot more helpful than bad poetry and pictures of puppies and American flags.
If we are able to raise 20,000 I will post a picture of myself on this blog for you all to see. With clothes on. Sorry. And I will just be really, really happy and for once not have a suck ass birthday.
Thank you all. And if you need my email to do this, as someone mentioned in the comments section, it is: firstname.lastname@example.org
And you could just email for fun if you feel like it too.
Update: I owe a gigantic thank you to Violent Acres. V I just want you to know that I would totally make out with you, with tongue, and that I have a little overbite and wear reading glasses. I will not flip my shit, and in fact, I encourage you and everyone else to steal my birthday charity idea. I will also try to make my font bigger because I can barely see it myself.
I agonize over trying to find pants that fit right. For some reason I am never satisfied with pants. If they fit my ass the waist is wide and I look like a funnel. If I fit my waist the butt and crotch are tight and wrinkle up and I spend the whole time I'm wearing them picking at my butt and crotch which is really, really not attractive. Then my pants are always too short so I look like I'm waiting for a flood. If I buy Tall sizes the cuffs drag behind me. Now I am really average sized and shaped so I know that millions of other women endure the same pants buying agony as I do. I know because all my girlfriends have expressed to me their own suffering. I haven't even started complaining about low rise pants that even make slender women all muffin toppy and severely lower one's self esteem.
All I wanted was a pair of flat front, mid-rise, side zipped, no pocket, slightly stretchy, non-wrinkling, long enough damned pants. In other words I wanted the holy grail.
Readers, after a long search I have located the perfect pants and since my search was so arduous and I am sparing you the work.
Here is the best pair of pants in the entire world. They are 80$ but it's worth it. I am only mad that I didn't buy all the colors because now the brown and grey aren't available in small. I find the sizing to be accurate too by the way. I'm a little over 5'6" and 128 pounds and the small was perfect and oh my god, LONG ENOUGH. I can even wear low heels with them. Miraculously I can even wear flats and they don't drag on the ground. I think Jesus himself designed these pants. I hope they get the other colors in. Go buy them and rejoice.
My parents were supposed to leave Sunday night in their gigantic RV, dogs, multiple scented candles which were purchased in bulk and on sale, and the entire contents of three Chico's stores, included. But then they kept stalling. My mother felt like she was rushing and forgetting things that they might never have in California. My father assured her that Los Angeles was not a third world country and that they did in fact have scented candles and (gasp!) even a Chico's, but not just a Chico's - a Target. There is a Target in Los Angeles. Who would have guessed?
My mother said she would like to leave Monday morning. My father said fine. She wanted to have one last dinner with the family so we went for Italian. Husband and I spent the night since we are going to live here while my parents are away.
Monday morning I got up and went to school having said an emotional goodbye. I expected to return to an empty Casa dei Sogni, but no. The RV was still there and my parents didn't look any closer to leaving. They were going to leave at 9 at night. My mother was cleaning out the garage and moving the garage into the RV because in an apartment in Los Angeles you just never know when you'll need a chafing dish, a three foot Santa Claus that waves, a box of old books, a half used can of wood stain and some fire ant killer.
8 'o' clock rolled around and no progress had been made. My mother decided that it was too late and she was hungry and could not leave Florida without another last dinner. The second last dinner needed to be at the Japanese Steakhouse place where they cook at your table and get on your last nerve with corny Bob Saget-like jokes, because they obviously do not have places like that in California.
So we went to the Japanese Steakhouse Place of which I am not an enthusiastic fan for several reasons. I like the food ok because I am goat-like in my appreciation of culinary delights and will eat just about anything that is clean and not involving weird animal parts. I don't like the Japanese Steakhouse place because I don't like sharing a table with strangers and I hate the corny Bob Saget-like jokes and not very authentic Japanese-ness. It's all about that damned Orientalism again. Edward Said would not be OK with the Japanese Steakhouse place. Mostly I just don't like the strangers and the bad jokes. I can't abide by a bad joke.
I need to say a word about sitting with strangers. In many restaurants in LA I noticed an interesting trend called the community table. Instead of having your own table you can choose to sit at a big gigantic table with a bunch of strangers. It's a good way to meet people and there is a generally friendly, festive atmosphere. You choose to sit there and on a couple occasions I have indeed chosen to sit there and have met really nice people. At the Japanese Steakhouse Place one has no choice.
Additionally, Husband pointed out to me that the Japanese Steakhouse Place is "Super Red Lobster." It's Red Lobster Deluxe. The people, like my extended family, who live to go to Red Lobster on very special occasions like birthdays and liftings of restraining orders, would throw a small child (their own, pending DNA tests) under the wheels of an approaching UPS truck for the chance to eat at the Japanese Steakhouse Place. They go there for events like 21st birthdays, favorable results of paternity tests (the guy who has the job turns out to be the dad), and the first disability check. If anyone actually got married they would probably also go to celebrate their six month anniversary, if the marriage actually managed to last that long. I think next year I may hold the awards ceremony of the Ghetto Superstar Awards at the Japanese Steakhouse Place.
Naturally we were placed at a table with a peculiar couple. In their defense they may be blogging somewhere that they were placed at a table with an entire peculiar family and that would be true.
The couple were a bit white and trashy. The male half of the couple significantly less so than the female. He seemed like a nice guy; the buzz cut and military tatoo type. The girl on the other hand was total trailer park and had the biggest boobs I have seen in a long time, and they were real. She was not a petite young woman. Her boobs were like a shelf. She could have set her sake bottle, sauce ramekins and a sushi boat on top of them and been totally comfortable. Boobs are great and hers were natural so we can't fault her for her breastulence, but I did fault her for exposing 3/4s of them. I'm serious. There were several areola sightings. I feared a hot shrimp tail might flip off the griddle and burn her nipple. My mother, who is a very modest and classy dresser and who also has really big boobs, did not approve. Incidentally I need to mention that my mother has really exquisite taste in clothing and always looks glamorous. I love that my mother is really not conservative in any way whatsoever, but that she dresses very modestly because she believes that woman can be sexy without being sex objects. I'm glad she taught me this philosophy.
The girl at our table's mom didn't teach her the same thing. We noted that the couple was on a first date. They were making first date small talk. It may even have been a match.com kind of thing. Between the fried rice and shrimp appetizer the girl asked the guy if he had condoms. This is how the conversation went.
Girl: Do you have any rubbers?
Guy: Huh? Rubbers? Condoms? Umm. No.
Girl: No big deal. I have some in my purse. Oh yeah, I love lobster tail. Where's the waitress, I want some more sake.
Guy: You carry condoms in your purse?
Girl: Well, yeah. Doesn't everyone?
Guy: I don't.
Girl: You don't have a purse.
Guy: In my pockets.
Girl: You never know who you might fuck. (my comment - don't say this on a first date)
Girl: I want to fuck you in the car in the parking lot.
At this point the guy looked like he was about to feign food poisoning and escape, but the girl grabbed him and kissed him, involving more areola sightings for us.
Guy: Stop, that's embarassing.
Girl: I'm not embarassed.
I almost, almost said "You should be" but I held my tongue and ate my shrimp appetizer.
I almost forgot the other interesting thing about this meal. Our chef was not Japanese and he was extremely dour, which kind of relieved me. He never looked up, did not do tricks, did not make a volcano out of an onion and mildly attemtped to flip shrimp into his hat and then missed. He did not make bad jokes (thankfully) and he was Indian looking. He looked as if he hated his job more than he hated life itself, which got me to wondering. How does an Indian man end up a Japanese Steakhouse chef and why is he so deeply unhappy about it? I want to write a story about this very subject some time.
Last week I saw that they had razed the Chocolate Gas Station. It's gone forever and then I thought, hmmm. What if the owner of the Chocolate Gas Station sold his gas station and became a Japanese Steakhouse Chef instead? I could write a really interesting story about that. But anyway, I'm way off topic again.
After dinner we went home and my mother said she would leave Tuesday. I started to think they would never leave. I think my mom was stalling because she was going to miss us and that made me very sad, but this is what she said before she finally left and this is her advice to the world that she told me to write for you all.
"Don't get stuck. You have to keep moving so that you meet new people and see new things. don't make excuses for being stuck and don't feel like you have weights and ties holding you down to certain people and certain places. Don't think you have to stay somewhere just because you have children. They need to see things too. Take your children all over the place. Experience everything in life."
I like her advice, though, as her child I must add that I would have preferred moving less, although I was fairly flexible and adaptable and still am as a result. The good thing about this was that when we were growing up, my parents really did take my sister and I everywhere. They weren't like the parents I see now who always leave their kids home when they go places. They really did take us everywhere with them and as a result we experienced things a lot of kids don't get to. I'll tell you about the part of my childhood spent hanging around with a bunch of Chelsea artists in New York City sometime.
So they finally did get out of here Tuesday and they did leave Bomboclaat here for me after all because he is old and hates the puppy. The puppy drives him crazy and we all decided that a move would be too stressful for him now and he'd be better off staying here with his best friend Canela. This means that I have inherited a small headed, deaf dog who smells like hot garbage and has mental problems. Canela is inexplicably overjoyed.
My parents have made it to Texas now without incident. They are staying there for a few days because my mom likes Texas. I'll keep you updated. They sure picked a hell of a time to move to California didn't they? They're driving into the fire, which is an apt metaphor for their entire life together. It could be the title to a book about them - Driving Into the Fire - 30 Years of Chaos and True Love and Doing Whatever the Hell You Want Whenever You Want.
I'm settling in to my new home fairly well. I'm getting to know a lot of the neighbors and let me tell you, there is some material to write about in this neighborhood. I'll be telling you all about Basura del Este in the coming weeks and you will definitely enjoy some of the tales out of this place.
I also have a new healthy routine that I'm excited about. Being that there are no window treatments and most of the house faces East, each morning very early I am nearly blinded and simultaneously baked out of bed by the sun. I can't fight it. I have to get up. If the sun weren't enough to make me uncomfortable the entire neighborhood is under massive and very loud construction that involves jackhammers, tile cutters, the Roach Coach and a lot of things backing up and beeping. You can't sleep past about 6:30, so I'm getting up and taking a long walk with Bomboclaat first thing.
This morning it was cool and misty so Bomboclaat and I took a very long walk. A few blocks down the road I thought I had a vision.
In front of me, also walking down the road, was the Dalai Lama. I was definitely having a vision. I was about to have a moment of intense spiritual enlightenment, I thought. Or else I was just really tired and maybe having a dream.
But no. It was real. The Dalai Lama was walking towards the beach so I decided to follow him. I had to see what he was doing. As I got closer I saw that it was not in fact the Dalai Lama because he was not wearing glasses, but it was a real Tibetan Buddhist monk, complete with shaved head, and flowing garnet and saffron robes which fluttered in the sea breeze. He also had an ipod. I followed him all the way to the beach and watched him stand and look peacefully out at the silver ocean while fiddling with his ipod, and it was just a beautiful picture. I wish I had my camera.
I came home and called Husband who was very excited because he is a fan of Tibetan Buddhist monks and said I should have talked to him.
The monk appears to live in or at least be visiting the neighborhood, but I can't imagine why a Tibetan Buddhist monk would live in Basura del Este. I'm going to see if I can find him again tomorrow and take his picture for you. I want to be his friend.
My first morning in Florida I woke up way too early. When going through a traumatic break-up which involves your fiancé, with whom you have lived for seven years, changing the locks on your house while you are visiting your grandparents and moving in his new girlfriend, I firmly believe that you have every right to sleep in. In fact, if you would like to sleep for seventeen hours straight and not move from the bed for a solid week, I am perfectly OK with it. But no. I was not afforded this luxury because, having nowhere else to go in the entire world and fearing that my fiancé in Atlanta was going to kill me, actually kill me, I ran home to my parents in Florida and at their house, I would never be able to get a full seven nights’ sleep.
I could not sleep in for several reasons. None of the reasons made me feel any better about my unfortunate situation. First, my parents have an inexplicable aversion to any sort of window treatments, so if you’re staying at their house and you don’t get out of bed before 8 am, you’re in danger of getting a blistering sunburn from the intense concentration of ultra-violet rays which blaze through every window in the damned house making it feel like it’s about 125 degrees. I nearly burnt alive in the guestroom bed with the scratchy, bedazzled comforter that my mom got on closeout. Could my mother possibly own something that was not covered in sequins, beads, rhinestones or large plastic jewels? Just something? Couldn’t she for once just purchase a simple cotton bedspread that was not printed with an elaborate scene involving an epic battle between what appeared to be snow leopards and…robots? That couldn’t be a robot, could it? Why would snow leopards fight robots? Why would snow leopards fight robots on a bedspread? No wonder it was on closeout. No, it wasn’t robots, it was just a weird configuration of beads that ended up looking like a robot when your eyes were swollen shut from sobbing for two solid days, you were sleep deprived and when you were practically blinded by the sun, because although your mother could buy bead encrusted bedspreads, she could not buy window shades.
The second reason, well really the second and third reasons, that I could not sleep had to do with my father who was listening to the classic rock station on the radio and had The Who turned up so loud that the bass was literally rattling the windows. As if that were not enough he sang while he cooked eggs and onions. In our family, you don’t even dare eat an onion unless it is shriveled and black beyond recognition, so my dad burns his onions first and then mixes them into scrambled eggs. I have to admit, the eggs and onions are pretty good, but they stink and that morning the entire house smelled like burnt onions.
The sun, The Who and burnt onions would have been enough to rouse even the deepest sleeper, but readers, there was more. This was Casa Azul after all – my parents’ house, so of course there was more. Light, noise and bad odors were mild. In addition to these three things the dogs were barking so frantically that I almost thought intruders had stormed the house and were stabbing my mother and sister to death while my dad made eggs, but my mother was already enjoying probably her third or fourth cigarette of the morning, so I knew she was alive. I could smell the smoke mixed with the burnt onions. The phone rang, a door slammed (probably my sister, equally as irritated as I was about being woken up), and torrents of water fell from somewhere with a deafening roar that nearly drowned out The Who.
Where was this water coming from? Was someone pressure cleaning the roof? If so they were making a mess because from all the water you would have sworn it was raining. It couldn’t be raining though, because as I mentioned earlier, the sun was shining all too brightly. It looked like rain. It splattered on the patio and poured from the eaves and the calm surface of the pool was dappled with spatters and speckles like raindrops. Water beaded on the Saint Augustine grass in the side yard, dripped from the date palm’s fronds and puddled under the oleander bush. For all intents and purposes, it was raining, but there were no clouds in the sky. Not a one. And it was so bright that we may as well have been on the sun and not light years from it. This did not make sense. I had to get up and see why this was happening and if I could immediately make it stop, because this was not OK. It should not rain with the sun out under any circumstances and especially not when I was going through the worst breakup in the history of all breakups and had just lost my house, my cats, my stuff, my jobs and my fiancé.
The instant I opened the bedroom door my parents’ psychotic, 150 pound Doberman lunged for me, hackles raised and teeth bared. I nearly peed my pajamas, and slammed the door shut so the dog wouldn’t disembowel me before breakfast. This dog was certifiably wacko, something about him growing too large and his brain being too big for his skull. Dobermans are not supposed to be 150 pounds. Regular sized they are scary enough, but at that size I can assure you they are the most terrifying thing you have ever seen. The dog had attacked several people already and more than one vet advised that he be put to sleep because DUH, he was extremely dangerous. They sent him to special dog training schools and all of the trainers agreed.
“This dog has to be destroyed. He’ll turn on you one day,” they said.
My parents did not listen because they are not in the habit of listening to things involving common sense. They loved the dog and the dog loved them. They couldn’t imagine him turning on them because he was a 150 pound teddy bear when he was alone with them. Yeah, I thought, a 150 pound teddy bear with fangs bigger than my index finger and a taste for fresh blood. I wasn’t a fan of the dog, clearly.
In order to avoid being forced to put the dog down, my parents had him fitted with a shock collar and they each carried its remote control wherever they went. That way if the dog went ape shit on someone, before he could maim or dismember a person, one of my parents could essentially taser their dog, knock him out and save whomever the dog had been attacking. It’s a great mental image, isn’t it? A one armed child and a tasered dog. Beautiful.
Trapped in the guest room I began to scream for my mother to come get the dog, to shock it, to hold it or whatever she had to do in order for me to be allowed out of the guestroom to see why water was falling from the sky.
“What is the matter with you?” she asked through the door.
“Your god damned dog won’t let me out of the room!!”
She laughed hysterically, or maniacally. Pick one.
“I got him!”
I inched out. She held the dog by his collar while he growled.
“Cut that shit out! Do you want me to taser your ass? Stop it. That is your sister!”
Yes, over night I had become the older sister to a one year old, 150 pound Doberman with a serious mood disorder. That sounded about right. For my whole life my parents had been referring to their pets as their children. Growing up I had three monkeys as siblings; actual, honest to god monkeys. By this point the monkeys had gone to live “on a big farm” somewhere where they were rumored to be playing with lots of other monkeys in monkeyfied bliss.
My other brother came running, a hundred miles an hour down the hallway, his black nails skidding on the tiles, sending him slamming into the baseboards before he latched onto my leg with his very sharp teeth. The small dog was probably equally as psychotic as the big dog, except, when a dog is only eight pounds its psychosis just doesn’t merit the same degree of concern. This one I just shook off in the way that you might brush some toast crumbs or a Daddy Longlegs off your pants. The small dog definitely instigated the big dog. He totally egged him on because as soon as the small dog arrived the big dog resumed lunging and snarling, while the small dog jumped straight up and down yapping as viciously as an 8 pound Miniature Pinscher can manage.
The small dog was an exact, scale replica of the big dog – his Mini-Me, as everyone liked to joke. I had to admit it was kind of cute, but just kind of, because honestly how cute can anything be that wants you dead?
“They just need to get used to you.” My mom said, “Let them smell you.”
I let them smell me. Big dog lunged and growled. Small dog jumped and yapped.
“I’m going outside.”
“The sun is out!” I argued.
I opened the front door and stepped out into a veritable monsoon. It rained so hard that the tissue thin blossoms of the red hibiscus collapsed in upon themselves and crowds of grey lizards huddled beneath the ledges of flower pots waiting for it to end.
I looked up at the sky. The sun was out. If there was a cloud I couldn’t make it out. I started down the driveway, having no idea why or where I was going, only that I needed very desperately to get to the bottom of why it was raining with the sun out, but as soon as I took one step off the walkway and onto the patterned concrete, I slipped, fell hard on my ass and went flying. The driveway was like a Slip and Slide. I spun around and flipped myself over, but I couldn’t stop. By now I was soaking wet. I looked like someone had picked me up out of the shower and thrown me across an especially slick driveway where I was now testing out the whole object in motion tends to stay in motion rule of physics.
The end of that rule is “unless acted upon by a net force.” My net force was a brand new, gleaming, silver, hard topped convertible Mercedes S600. The Mercedes, parked at the end of the circular driveway was the only thing stopping me from hurtling into the street where a UPS truck that had just turned onto our street surely would have flattened me.
“FUCKING NEAL!!!! God Dammit!! I told him not to use that driveway sealant. I knew it wasn’t the right one and now look!!” I heard my mother yelling.
She called for my dad who stopped burning onions and came to see why she was swearing.
“Are you Ok baby?” my dad asked.
My mom stopped him from coming to my rescue lest he slip too.
“Did you dent the car?” she asked “Please tell me you didn’t dent that car!”
I stood up and looked at the car door. It wasn’t dented because I hit the tire. I reassured her.
“And I’m fine too, by the way. I mean, in case you were wondering,” I added, rubbing my ass.
Throughout all of this it had not stopped raining and the sun had not stopped shining. I tiptoed very carefully back to the front patio where my parents stood protected by the front door.
“What were you doing?” my dad asked.
“Why is there a Mercedes S600 parked in the driveway?”
“Oh that’s Mohammed’s,” My mother replied as if I should have known that already.
I looked towards my father, who nodded.
“Who is Mohammed and why is he parking his Mercedes in your driveway?”
“He lost a bet with me,” My mom explained, “Then that motherfucker tried to tell me he wasn’t gonna pay up and I said I will tell you what Mohammed your ass better give me that god damned car unless you want me calling your wife and telling her what you did in the champagne room at the Bubblegum Kittikat and by God he brought that car over here at 4 ‘o’ clock in the morning last night and took a cab home.”
I knew better than to ask what the bet was on. Some things you just didn’t ask when you were at Casa Azul. Many things you were better off not knowing. Instead I asked “Why is it raining with the sun out?”
“Oh lord, it always does that,” my mother said before she went back inside.
“Baby you’re in a different world now,” said my Dad, “A Mercedes appears in the driveway overnight and it rains with the sun out. The rules are different here. Welcome to Florida.”
“There are no rules here!!!”
“Make your own.”
He patted me on the head and went back in the house.
Welcome to Florida, Baby. The rules are different here. If you don’t like them, make your own. And that my friends, is exactly what I did. And the first rule I made up was that I was allowed to drive Mohammed's car.
I definitely think this constitutes an emergency. Earlier I said I could only leave my desk and all this unfinished work if there were a definite emergency. This is clearly an emergency. I have to go to the Likka Sto. I have to. Right now. I have to stock up on this stuff since it isn't around much longer. I was thinking to ask for it for my birthday, but I don't know if I can wait that long.
Aunt Janey nicknamed me “Pinky” when I was about three. She had a name for everyone in our family. In fact, my cousins and I later realized, that none of us had ever once heard Aunt Janey call anyone by his or her proper name. We wondered if she actually knew our real names. She called Cousin, Tink and Mommom “Dule” because apparently as a child she couldn’t say Jewel and it came out as “Dule” and somehow stuck, though at times we joke that it’s actually spelled “Duel” because Mommom Jewel is the contrariest human being you would ever want to meet sometimes. But anyhow, Aunt Janey called me Pinky and I still consider it a huge honor because pink is her favorite color.
Pink defined Aunt Janey. She wore pink short-shorts, had pink sunglasses, a pink bedspread, planted pink peonies and even drank Tab because it came in a pink can. She loved the flair, femininity and intimacy of pink. At one point she started selling Mary Kay because she heard that if you sold enough you could even get a pink Cadillac. My grandfather liked to call that particular shade “titty pink” by the way. Aunt Janey always talked about one day even having a pink house, but no one in Millpond had never, and would never, ever have a pink house. Millpond just wasn’t a pink house kind of town. Once I heard a rumor that back in the 20s a bootlegger in town built a gigantic garish replica of a Spanish villa and painted it pink and that someone set fire to it and the whole thing burnt to the ground, but I’ve never been able to substantiate the story as anything more than a Millpond tall tale, so I’m sticking to my statement that Millpond has never had a pink house.
“I oughta go to Bermuda.” Aunt Janey said.
No one in Millpond had ever gone to Bermuda. In fact, most of them hadn’t even gone to the next county, and they all thought Aunt Janey with her loud pink short shorts was out of her ever-lovin mind.
“That Janey needs to settle down and wipe that hot pink lipstick off her mouth,” they said. You don’t think for a second that she listened, do you?
Aunt Janey played poker. She went to the dances at the fire house and drank pink champale. She had two kids by the time she was nineteen, got divorced when she was thirty and moved in with her mother, who had long since given up trying to tell her daughter (the youngest of twelve) anything.
Aunt Janey was my favorite because she was fun and since kids are famous for not having any taste whatsoever, I thought her outfits were the most beautiful, glamorous things I’d ever seen. When I grew up I wanted to wear all pink outfits too, but I am pleased to report to you that I can’t recall actually having done this thank God, although I do have not one, but two, pairs of pink shoes.
One day Aunt Janey just picked up and moved to Italy. You would have thought she went to the moon. All of Millpond went into a fit over the news that Janey Lynn’d run off and got married to some guy in the Navy (who was 15 years her junior, God forbid) just so she could live in Italy, except they called it IT-ly.
Aunt Janey wrote letters and sent them in pink air mail envelopes. She sent mine addressed to “Pinky” and told me of all the wonderful sights, smells, tastes and sounds she experienced. Aunt Janey lived in a rose colored apartment building where vines climbed the walls and a fountain splashed in the courtyard. She ate cappellini in pink sauce, sipped rose wine and danced under blush colored sunsets in a place where it seemed all the women wore big sunglasses, bright lipstick and platform shoes. She told me about a little girl who lived in her apartment building and played in the courtyard and how she just couldn’t get over how much the little Italian gir; looked like me. She also wrote to me about seeing the Pope on Christmas Eve, eating wagon wheel shaped pasta, how Italians eat ice cream for breakfast and then she told me all about the vineyards in Tuscany and about a perfume factory she toured.
“Pinky, you wouldn’t believe this place!” Aunt Janey wrote, “One day you’ve got to leave Millpond and see the world.” (Aunt Janey is now very happy that I have done exactly that.)
Aunt Janey came back a few years later and up and got another divorce. Things didn’t work out with the Navy Officer. Turned out he was a drunk and had been hitting her. Aunt Janey lost her dogs, the dream house she was building and all the beautiful things she bought in Italy because her abusive ex-husband either took them or destroyed them. He was horrible and Aunt Janey had the wherewithal to give up everything she had just to get away from him, and last we heard he had married a teenaged mail order bride from the Philippines.
“Don’t you worry about me,” Aunt Janey told everyone, “I can get new stuff. I’ve started all over before and I can do it again.”
She went to work at the Buttered Biscuit Café and moved back in with Mommom Jewel and Pop Byron. She was close to sixty. At the café she charmed a farmer who came in a lot into teaching her to drive a tractor so she could help him plow his bean fields. I have no idea what in God’s name would possess her to ever want to run a tractor and plow a bean field, but she said she thought it would be fun and she wanted to do it, so By God she was gonna do it. People asked what on earth Janey Lynn would do next. I must confess that by this point in the story that I was old enough to be one of those very people. The farmer joked that he’d have to paint the tractor pink to suit her. I kind of thought he might really do it, but he never got around to it.
The best thing is that if it weren’t for her pink sunglasses Aunt Janey might never have been reunited with the long lost love of her life.
Darrel Brown left Millpond in his 20s to become a cowboy in Colorado and he came back a couple times a year to see his Mama, and as he drove west on Greenbranch/ Millpond Highway past the endless miles of soybean fields, he could have sworn he saw a woman driving a tractor and that she was not just driving a tractor, but also wearing pink sunglasses and drinking a Tab. He thought he was losing his mind but then he remembered that in all of Millpond there was just one woman who’d dare wear pink sunglasses and she was exactly the kind of woman who would drive a tractor while wearing them and drinking a Tab. He pulled over and tried to get her attention. She ignored him. I mean, you can’t exactly blame the poor woman. She was trying to get the bean field plowed and all and here comes some stranger in a cowboy hat jumping up and down on the side of the road. Aunt Janey was pretty used to men in cowboy hats jumping up and down over her, so she tried to ignore him and hoped he’d go away, which he eventually did.
But Darrel couldn’t get Aunt Janey out of his mind and he asked around until he found out that she worked nights at the Buttered Biscuit, which meant that he was in luck because he was planning on going there anyway. It is after all, one of only three restaurants in the vicinity; although Millpondians would have my hide if I didn’t let you all know that there are in fact, now six, possibly seven restaurants in town now. So Darrel went in for his slice of pie and when he saw Aunt Janey he thought she was just as lively and magnetic as she’d been when she sat beside his hospital bed as a bereaved thirteen year old, with a bittersweet crush. She thought he looked a lot better as a 67 year old cowboy than he did when he was nineteen and wrapped in bandages, and cut him a wide slice of banana cream. Because you see, Darrell and Aunt Janey knew each other a long, long time ago.
Janey’s older brother Wallace drove like a maniac and wouldn’t listen to anyone, not even his best friend Darrel. They’d been out drinking one night and Darrel told him he shouldn’t drive, which resulted in a fight. To settle the fight, Darrel said he’d ride with him, but he’d had a few too many himself and passed out in the passenger seat. They hit a tree on one of those dark, winding country roads, killing Wallace instantly and Darrel woke up weeks later in the hospital with Wallace’s baby sister at his side. The first color he saw was the pink of her blouse and she visited every day for three months. She imagined that they would get married and have sixteen children and the thought of this helped her feel better about the death of her older brother. When Darrell got out he broke her heart, telling her he was too old for her and he didn’t ever want to get married anyway. Now, forty something years later and never married, Darrel wondered what he had been thinking. He had missed out on all those years that he could have been having fun with this extraordinary woman in her pink lipstick and hot pants and platform shoes.
He extended his visit, saying the cows back in Colorado could wait, and he began to court Aunt Janey. They went out every night and before the month was over Darrel bought her a pink sapphire engagement ring. Aunt Janey said she was pleased to see that after 40 something years, Darrel Brown’d gotten some sense. On account of that she married him and moved to Colorado. Now they live in a trailer (it’s not pink) on an elk farm in the middle of nowhere, miles from civilization and have no running water or electricity. They have to run a generator, but you know, they love it. Naturally, I wouldn’t love it at all. I had enough of that life when we had the hurricane two years ago, but Aunt Janey sees it as another one of her adventures. She also wears sweatshirts with airbrushed pictures of howling wolves in front of glowing moons and apparitions of Native American shamans. You know the type I’m talking about. I’ll bet your trying to figure out exactly where you can order one right this second aren’t you?
When I was going through my horrible breakup and wanting to throw myself into the sea Aunt Janey got pissed at how pathetic I was acting and gave me a lecture, which is in many ways extremely, unashamedly trite, but dammit, sometimes the way the realest people actually talk is trite, and just because you’ve heard it a million times already doesn’t mean that one more time’s necessarily going to kill you. In fact, you may at this very moment be needing to hear something again that you already know, just like I did when Aunt Janey said this to me:
“Always do exactly what you want to do and don’t worry about what anybody else says. You be brave in life and don’t let people stop you from doing things just because they want to bully you and boss you and try to make a fool out of you to make themselves feel big. You want to drive a tractor, you go on ahead and drive a tractor, and make sure you live your life with a little flair in the process and you tell everyone else to kiss your ass Pinky. And let me tell you something, there’s a shade of pink to suit everyone. You just have to find yours and when you do, ain’t nobody, not some fiancé, not some boss at work, some trampy girl that stole your man, and not nobody else on this planet is gonna be able to get in your way.”
Naturally, I listened to her. Not about the tractor part though. And if you’re wondering, my very own shade of pink is definitely “titty.” I mean, how could it be anything else?
As you know my parents are here until next Monday packing up their house so they can up and run off to Los Angeles to do things like lunch, make movies, wear big sunglasses and argue with movie producers over where the best sushi in LA is. In the meantime I am back at Millipede Manor, which is fine because I really like my apartment and I went through a massive millipede eradication this weekend so all of them are gone. Things are good in my world. But back to the story, because I am reigning empress of the tangent and digression over here.
So the other day I had some free time and I can't believe I am actually admitting this, but I made a special trip over to my parents' house for no other purpose than to walk Bomboclaat, because I felt like taking a walk. My husband works 473 hours a week and we live in a neighborhood where if I were to go on a walk alone at least five old Buicks would pull up to ask me if I was workin'. Several people would then ask me for money, I would encounter a heated argument between a drag queen and the daytime bartender at the S&M club down the street, the weird guy across the street who honestly believes that he is from outerspace would attempt to engage me in conversation and sell me something he made from a palm frond, and a group of teenaged boys would inevitably attack and try to steal something from me. My parent's neighborhood, though equally strange, is a whole lot safer than where I live so I felt like I'd be ok walking alone with a useless small dog. It was evening so I wouldn't encounter Arthur Leigh Allen and his muzzled pitbull. They only go outside at midnight.
My dad was standing around in the yard looking at the landscaping and talking on the phone. He always does this. He spends a good 79% of his life on the phone with someone and he seems to have something against actually using the phone inside. He prefers to pace around outside and survey the yard while he converses. When I pulled up he got off the phone and I told him I was there to walk Bomboclaat.
"You are not going to believe what happened last night," my dad said rubbing his new buzzcut, which is another whole story in and of itself.
This was a very true statement. I still don't hardly believe it.
At five in the morning the dogs woke my parents up because they were raising holy hell. The dogs never do this because they are lazy and like to sleep and can't usually be bothered by anything that doesn't involve food and boxes of meat from Costco.
And yes, I said dogS. There are two. The second dog is a puppy and the reason I didn't have to contend with him while my parents were away a few weeks ago is because he was at the vet getting trained and socialized. He is a Doberman so he has to be thoroughly trained and sent to obedience school so he doesn't destroy the house and its occupants.
So both dogs were pitching a gigantic fit, jumping and barking and howling to beat the band and they would not shut the hell up, so my parents got out of bed to see what the problem was. The puppy barked and barked and barked, but Bomboclaat led my father to the window.
Across the street a robbery was in progress!!
For the entire time that my parents have lived in Casa dei Sogni someone has been building a truly ridiculous house across the street from them. Someone could have built an undersea tunnel from here to Jamaica in the time it has taken these people to get 3/4s of the way done with this ridiculous house. I say ridiculous because it is. It's one of those tacky mega-mansions with a rotunda, balconies, seventeen bedrooms, and a massive front entry that looks like the entrance to the Florida Museum of Gaudiness and Displays of Garish Excess. There's something very weird about this house that makes it look like it has a face and is wearing a hat. I'll take a picture of it for you this week so you can see it too. The house looks like a cartoon character.
No one knows who the house belongs to or why it's being built. For a while the rumor was that it belonged to a big NFL star, but that seems to have died down and now no one knows anything except that this house will probably never ever be finished ever. They had the roof tiles stacked up for six months. Only recently someone saw fit to finally install some windows.
I know why they'll never get it done. The workers don't do anything. I observed this all while I was staying at my parents' house. The workers would all get there around 9 in the morning and stand around for a while discussing their lives with one another. At exactly ten the Roach Coach, possibly known to you as the lunch truck, would arrive playing La Cucharacha for the whole neighborhood to hear.
The Roach Coach serves tortas which are these big, disgusting sandwiches the size of a professional wrestler's head. Inside the tortas are all the parts of animals that the people who make hot dogs thought were way too gross to use. These disgusting animal parts are then pressed into terrifying deli meats that do not have English names and then layered a foot high with some mayonaise and Latin American cheeses on bread that looks like a football. Tortas are really nasty and the people who are supposed to be working on the house across the street love them. All the construction workers buy tortas from the Roach Coach and then sit around and eat them in the dirt yard of the house that will never be finished being built ever. Then they buy pastelitos from the Roach Coach and eat them. In all the Roach Coach is around playing La Cucharacha until after noon, and no work has been done at all. When the Roach Coach leaves playing La Cucharacha, all the workers who have eaten 30 pounds of disgusting animal parts on bread, washed down with Jupina and Materva, and followed by a pastry that is essentially sugar flavored lard, are too full to do any work on the house, so they sit around in the shade and talk about their lives again and show one another their tatoos. By the time they get done it's four, and that's close to five, so they go home. This repeats every single day. Also at some point during the day, possibly between torta and pastelito, someone decides to randomly throw nails all over the street. We've all been through several tires on account of this. The people at the Costco tire department know me by name, and they always ask if that house across the street is done yet.
Well, the other night the ridiculous house that will never be done ever, was in the process of being robbed. How, you may ask, can a house be robbed that isn't even done? It's big business around here, and other places too, to visit houses that aren't finished yet, under the cover of night to steal building materials and appliances.
Remember my Evil Ex fiance, the one who got the other girl pregnant? His mother used to do this. I'm not kidding you. On numerous occasions the woman, who was tiny and in her 50s, would suit herself up all in black, ski mask and all, and drive her gigantic black Chevy truck up into unfinished housing developments and proceed to plunder everything from these half built homes, that she could get her little hands on. Then she would either use it to fix up her own house or she would stack up all the stuff in her garage with the intent of I don't even know what, because I don't remember her selling any of it. She also used to steal patio furniture that wasn't bolted down. Clearly the woman who was, thank the Good Lord, not meant to be my mother-in-law, had some issues. Big issues. And in Evil Ex's defense, this behavior of his mother's used to upset him terribly and there was nothing he could do to make her stop. I can only hope that she no longer does this, otherwise if you're in her area you may want to tie up, bolt down or lock up your patio furniture at night.
It was not Evil Ex's mother stealing out of the house across the street. At least I hope not. It was some people with a big truck though. Bomboclaat led my dad to the window so that he would see the robbery in progress. The thieves had all the lights in their truck turned off and had the truck backed up to the front door of the house. Someone stepped on the brakes, causing the brake lights to glow red and reflect into my parents' house. When my dad saw the brake light he realized what was happening and switched on all the lights to the house, so the robbers would know he saw them. They took off and he called the police.
Thus Bomboclaat, with help from the puppy, became Bomboclaat Crimefighter.
I kind of wish they were leaving him now.
Last week I saw Elizabeth Gilbert on Oprah. The women in the audience were all clutching her book and screaming and hollering like damned fools. Oprah called Elizabeth Gilbert a “rock star” and talked about how everywhere she went over the summer women were reading Eat, Pray, Love. Then Oprah screamed and yelled over it some and Elizabeth Gilbert came out to more screaming and yelling. I don’t think I could ever be in Oprah’s audience because those women make entirely too much noise for me and I would feel like a real idiot jumping up and down and making a spectacle of myself the way they all do. Ok, maybe if I was on the holiday show where you get all that free stuff that costs like eight hundred thousand and twenty three dollars. Maybe then I might be able to muster up a few woo-hoos, but not over a book.
This past summer I was one of those women Oprah saw reading Eat, Pray, Love. I don’t mean that Oprah saw me literally, because trust me, if she did, she would have been mentioning me by name, but I was one of the apparent bazillions who read this book. I read it because someone lent it to me and because it involved food.
I kind of liked it. Parts of the book I loved. I enjoyed the chatty, mostly funny voice that Gilbert writes in and I love stories about people going to places where I’ve never been that explain cultures I’ve never encountered. I liked all that. Then I got my book club to read the book too because there were some things that I wanted to discuss. Guess what, they didn’t like the book. They didn’t like it for the same reasons that I didn’t. Then I heard some other people talking about how they didn’t like the same things either, and I got to wondering if all those women Oprah was talking about felt the same way. I think they probably did.
But back to the show for a second. Elizabeth Gilbert came out and I was expecting her to be the same sweet, silly kind of chatty personality that was in the book. In actuality she came off as a real asshole and then I had an epiphany of sorts. The reasons why no one I know liked the book were that A. the book was inaccessible because it describes a life that really only like .00001% of people can actually attain so all of us normal people can’t relate to it. B. Elizabeth Gilbert chose her own suffering. Now I’m sure that a lot of her depression was biological in nature, but she caused her own problems. No one did anything to her. People tend to relate more to stories where someone or something did something to a more innocent seeming person and then the innocent person had to find his or her way out of the mess. (hey, how about her ex husband’s story?) We don’t like stories about some fabulously rich and successful woman who has the life that everyone wants and then decides she doesn’t like that life that most of us would have gladly traded her for, and simply wants a different version of the fabulously rich and successful life she already had. And C. Elizabeth Gilbert came off as being appallingly self absorbed both in the book and on the show.
All the parts of the book I hated were about her self absorption. The parts I loved were where she talked about food and then talked about other people.
On Oprah, Gilbert talked about how women keep coming up to her and saying “Oh you wrote this book for me! I really needed this!” Gilbert, being an apparent self absorbed asshole turned around, ON OPRAH people, and said “No I didn’t, I wrote this book for myself.” Even if this was true, which I will argue that it isn’t, she could have at least been polite and gracious to her fans and said “thank you, I’m glad I could help you.” That’s all she would have needed to do.
But Elizabeth Gilbert did not just write this book for herself. She wasn’t some struggling writer who wrote the book all by herself at her desk not knowing if she would ever get it published. She planned it all out ahead of time. She wrote a proposal for the book, got a whopping advance and used that advance to travel for a year before she even knew what would happen to her. So that to me is not writing a book for yourself. That is writing a book you already know is going to be published, which means that you already know that book is for lots of other people. And seriously, who really writes a book for his or herself anyway except crazy hermits? Writers are all a bunch of exhibitionists and attention seeking whores whether we admit it or not. If we weren’t, we wouldn’t write. The intrinsic nature of writing is that it is almost always for other people to read and even if you say you just write for yourself, then you must know that at some point you will die and someone will find your writing and read it. So there, it isn’t just for yourself.
While reflecting on this book and the Oprah interview, it occurred to me that much of Gilbert’s depression surely stemmed from this self absorption. Thinking about nothing but yourself and your needs and your feelings and your appearance and your goals and your plans all the time endlessly is fucking depressing. Every single miserable idiot I have ever met in my life, every depressed person, every unhappy, dissatisfied, trouble making, party pooping, pain in the ass human being I have ever met has suffered from the disease of self absorption. And I’m not immune to it either. The times in my life where I was at my lowest were the times when I was too concerned about myself.
So here’s a cure for you depressed, unhappy people who hate the way you look and hate the way your life turned out and hate the situation you’re in and hate your job, your car, your classes, your partner or whatever. It’s not all about you. I know it’s hard to believe but it’s true.
Try thinking about other people for once. Distract yourself a bit by realizing there is an entire world of people besides you. Instead of constantly thinking of how to make yourself happy, because that’s not working clearly, think about how to make someone else happy. Instead of thinking about what you can do to alleviate your agony, be it eating, drinking, smoking, doing drugs, acting like a jackass or clinging to people who don’t want to be clung to so you can cry and bitch and make yourself the center of attention all the time, why don’t you instead work on bringing others pleasure? That’s all. Think about other people instead of yourself and you will be happy. You won’t even need an Ashram in India and a bunch of mosquito bites and amoebas flying out of your ass to learn this. In fact, don’t even learn it, because that’s more thinking. Just do it. Who cares what you think anyway? It’s more important how you act.
After I watched Oprah and got all disappointed in Elizabeth Gilbert, I started thinking of other break-up/ divorce memoirs that have been published and how they were very similar – privileged, educated rich girl gets dumped or goes through a breakup of sorts and has to find her way through life in the big city/ big world. Big damned deal. Where's the real struggle? A spoiled girl doesn't get her way? So what? It's probably healthy. We know these girls are going to be fine ultimately because they're rich, educated and cute. There's no real conflict or lesson to be learned. All they have to do is just wait until they get their way again, which they will. These stories are all martinis and shoes and more things that normal people just can’t relate to. Most of these books are sold in stores like Target and Wal-Mart, and umm, publishing industry, the women who buy those kinds of books aren’t the same women who can afford a year of traveling or a Gucci purse. These books make us sick.
I’ve got a memoir for you that people can really relate to. How about this? Dirt poor, uneducated girl with a GED’s fiancé gets another girl pregnant, kicks her out of her own house and sues her while she has to go live with her parents in Florida and deal with the constant parade of freaks and strange animals that come through her parents’ house on a daily basis. Then the girl, who used to be a kindergarten teacher’s aid, ends up working in a strip club. After that the girl dates 87 certifiable lunatics, finds a cat in a parking lot, shops at Target and Payless, becomes mildly slutty because she is desperate, gains 15 pounds and despite having a bad case of irritable bowel, works up the nerve to go to community college. After that she gets a disease while she has no health insurance, takes six remedial math courses, learns to sail boats, grows a garden of black sunflowers, gets an Indian name and has a three year long distance relationship. Eventually there is a happy ending when the girl realizes ITS NOT ALL ABOUT HER! Then she buys her own apartment, graduates, gets married, gets some health insurance and goes to grad school.
I even have the title.
Binge, Bitch, Fuck - How I Learned to Stop Thinking About My God Damned Self All the Time and Become a Productive Human Being.
The good news is that I have officially received my new diner nickname and it is (drumroll)...
Is that not the best nickname in the world for me? The waitress called me that this evening and I nearly went over the counter and hugged her.
The bad news is that apparently millipedes are taking over the world. Look at THIS. I'm not the only one with the millipede problem. I'm calling the damned exterminator tomorrow morning. I mean, I tried asking the millipedes very politely if they could please leave and they said "No" so now I'm going to have to put the smackdown on their asses. Damned millipedes are so rude, I swear. Can you imagine being asked to leave a place where you weren't even invited and then turning around and being all like "No, this is MY place now bitch!" I kept demanding and they had the nerve to say "Talk to the thousand hands, because the face ain't listenin'"
The news that I can't decide if it's good or bad is that I just found out I only have four more classes to take, plus my thesis and then I'm done my MFA, which means that I better decide what to do afterwards pretty soon. For one thing, I want to go to Japan. When I finished my BA I promised myself a trip to Paris, which I took, and then I said well, if you get your MFA you can go to Japan, so I've got that covered, but what the hell am I going to do when I get back?
Maybe I'll just wait and see what comes about. Usually when I sit around and ponder what to do next something fantastic and extraordinary will happen to me.
Oh Fuck you millipedes. You know what those bastards just said? They all were reading over my shoulder and they started laughing at me and calling me a professional student and said I should just keep on going for four more years and get a PhD.
"USC has a great creative writing program you know," said a particularly crunchy and robust millipede.
"How are your GRE scores?" asked another.
"She'll never get in, " added a third.
"I think she could actually," said the crunchy one.
I'll be sure to include on my application that I was referred to the program by three insects. Maybe the crunchy one will write me a letter of recommendation.
So add all this real work, which makes me feel like such a grown-up by the way, to the fact that my parents returned unexpectedly. That meant I had to pack all my shit back up again and go back to my apartment where I totally rained on the parade of 1500 milipedes who had been squatting here in my absence. When I walked in they were having a drum circle. Imagine for a moment a drum circle in which all of the participants have a thousand hands. It wasn't cute. The milipedes had also eaten all of my food, slept in my bed without making it up again or changing the sheets, and they had apparently thrown several wild parties where I think they had sex orgies that resulted in the births of an entire new generation of milipedes, while the old generation died off, curled up on my bamboo flooring. Where in the name of the Good Lord above, are all these milipedes coming from?? Can someone please tell me?
My parents are going to be home for two weeks or so to pack and take care of matters here before they return to their new apartment with a bar in it, in Los Angeles. They are going to pack up their RV and drive it to California, which honestly could be the screenplay for a great slapstick comedy right there. I can only imagine those two driving across country. They did it once when they were in their early twenties and decided to go on tour with a Southern Rock band.
The big news is that Bomboclaat is moving to California after all, and I have to admit, I was a little sad. I actually miss our late night walks. Canela will miss her friend. When I move permanently into Casa dei Sogni I may have to get her a new little friend of some sort.
So anyway, I'm delerious so I'm rambling. When I get done my work, which should be soon, hopefully, I have many more stories ready to be written. Just bear with me. I love bears.
I need coffee.
Someone asked me how the cat feels about her new home, so I thought I'd reveal her whole side to this story.
To your left you see The Cat. This is my cat. Normally she lives at my apartment, but since we're here now, The Cat had to come too. We actually brought her over here when we went on vacation, so she's been here for about 3 weeks or so. She likes it here, mainly for the lizards, but also because there are a lot of windows and one of her favorite activities is looking out of windows. This is what led me to the brilliant idea of putting her on a leash so that she can take long walks with Bomboclaat and I. Because cats love walking on leashes.
The Cat, whose stage name is Canela, surprisingly adores Bomboclaat. You would think a cat, MY cat, would have better taste in animal companions, but she apparently sees some hidden virtue in the dog to which I am utterly blind. Perhaps he is like an older brother to her. When I found Canela in the parking lot of the Bubblegum Kittikat, as a tiny worm-butted kitten, I brought her home to my parents' old house, Casa Azul, because that is where I lived. Bomboclaat had already established his dominance there and Canela perhaps looked up to him. I'm not exactly sure. There was none of the expected chasing, hissing or barking one would normally expect. There seemed instead to be a mutual admiration.
I moved out into my own place shortly thereafter and Canela came to my apartment as my roommate (a demanding one who wouldn't clean up after herself). Canela and Bomboclaat had not seen one another in years. I assumed they had forgotten each other, but I was wrong. Apparently animals can remember one another just like people and where again I expected a knock down drag out, instead I witnessed the sweet reunion of old friends.
I'm fascinated by how they communicate, because Bomboclaat is deaf and Canela is not. They both make noise, but I'm guessing that Bomoclaat being deaf, can't speak properly dog language, or if he can, he's really hard for other dogs to understand. Then there's the whole issue of dog vs. cat. I thought each species had its own language and there was little to no crossover. I thought Canela spoke Cat and Bomboclaat attempted to speak Dog. Someone here is bilingual. These two seem like they have in-depth discussions about last night's Charlie Rose.
Maybe by living together they developed a hybrid language. Since Canela did not grow up around other cats, Bomboclaat was her mentor. Maybe he taught her his kind of language and she doesn't know any different. I've always thought she had a speech impediment anyway. She doesn't meow like a normal cat. There's now oww, only a one syllable meee. Most of the time it comes out as"EHHCHH" which isn't a cat sound at all. Sometimes I think Canela is trying to bark. Other times she goes around making throaty, chirping noises, but I think that's pretty common.
So whatever odd noises are coming out of these two animals, they communicate effectively and with a mutual respect and Canela has managed to convince Bomboclaat that she doesn't want all the garbage he hides in his bed, so he never snarls at her like he does everyone else.
Occasionally Canela sees fit to administer doses of Tough Love. Being my cat in so many ways, Canela can't stand a bunch of unnecessary racket. Recently Bomboclaat was having a gigantic, hissy fit of shrieking and howling for no reason at all and Canela calmly walked up to him and busted him right across the face, which is exactly what I wish I could do to people who behave the exact same way. I can't express the great love and pride I felt for my cat upon seeing her haul off on Bomboclaat that way. It made him be quiet too.
So since they're such great friends I thought surely they'd want to go on a walk. I felt terribly because Canela sits by the glass door and stares out the whole time I'm walking him. If you look closely you can see her little mouth opening and closing as if calling to us, which is painfully cute and sad. I thought, maybe she wants to come along.
She wears a collar when she's here so that I can find her. There are too many places where she can get lost. Just yesterday she was stuck in both the guest room and the pantry for several hours and she won't meow to get out, so I rely on her collar bell to find her. I figured I could just clip a leash right on the collar and go on. This was not true.
Canela acted like I had doused her in kerosene and tossed a lit match onto her back. There was high drama. She threw herself on the floor as if being killed and refused to move at all. Then she crouched stiffly. Then she tried to kill the leash. I actually think she may have thought a snake had gotten ahold of her. Bomboclaat came to her rescue and tried to pull the leash from her. Then he got bored and went to go hump something. Canela stood up, walked a few inches and then threw herself dramatically on the floor again. I should have filmed it. When I took the picture, she was in Crouching Phase Two, and I felt guilty so I gave up.
I have researched leash training cats. Canela is not that bright as cats go and I don't know if it's worth it with her now, but then I think, I taught her to fetch and she will roll over on command, which is a lot more than we can say for Bomboclaat, so maybe there's hope of one day the three of us all taking on that creepy pitbull together, as a team, like one big Interspecies family.
So part of this whole deal of getting to live at my parents house and take baths and cook on the grill, is that I have to take care of this here dog. I don't know if they're going to take him to LA or not. Frankly, I think they should because he is the exact kind of dog who would actually like to wear outfits and sit in a special, bejewelled dog purse while he shops at Kitson. I really think this dog would be happier in Los Angeles. I mean, for the record and all.
It's not that I don't like dogs. I do. I like all animals really. I am definitely an animal person, however, I just don't usually like my family's dogs as much as other people's dogs. I like dogs with fur and I like big dogs much better than small dogs. I like dogs who run on the beach and fetch things. I like dogs who do work and who can flip milkbones off their noses and into their mouths.
My family has always had fairly useless dogs. All of our pets have "issues." None of them are mentally stable and I don't know why this is, although I have a few guesses which I won't mention because the novelty of the bathtub and the grill still hasn't worn off. The dog you see above, is useless. He has all sorts of mental problems. I don't even think Cesar Milan could whisper to him (partly because the dog is deaf). He can't hunt, fetch or do tricks. He also has no inclination to play or move and he greatly prefers to pee IN the house thank you.
I think the dog's problems started with his unfortunate name. My mother had the bad timing to bring her new puppy home while our dear Jamaican friend Ackee-Man was staying with us. Ackee-Man looks exactly like Emeril, which has nothing to do with the story, but I thought was interesting to note anyway. Now Ackee-Man is one of those guys who is always with women who are total, raging maniacs. He loves women who scream at him and practically blow out the speakers on the cell phones because they are so mad at him. He calls them "passionate." Some of them he gets pregnant which makes them rage more. He never has any money because he has to pay them all child support, so at various times and between various jobs, Ackee-Man has come to stay with us to get some peace and quiet from all his screaming baby-mamas. We like this because he is a good cook and whenever he visits he makes us authentic Jamaican food that is really spicy and yummy. Ackee-Man is a good cook but not a good dog namer.
Ackee-Man thought it would be hysterical to name the new puppy Bomboclaat. Since no one really knew what it meant, everyone called the dog Bomboclaat, which is one of the most vile and insulting Jamaican cuss words there is and means something along the lines of a used tampon, although there is some dispute. In any case, it's bad. Never go to Jamaica and call someone a Bomboclaat, or you will get your ass beat. Ackee-Man thought this was a very funny trick to play on us.
Some time after Ackee-Man left the puppy was out in the yard when the Jamaican landscapers were there cutting down a tree. One of them asked my mother the puppy's name and she simply replied "Bomboclaat" which sent the landscapers in a fit because they thought she was calling them names. They left the tree and never came back. But Bomboclaat remained the dog's name.
Then my parents decided to take the dog to the new Jamaican vet. When she saw the dog's name on his chart she had a fit and wouldn't treat him.
"Dat a terrible word!" she scolded.
My parents had no clue. The dog faced a lot of rejection. To make him feel better they spoiled him. When they learned he was deaf, they felt badly and spoiled him more, although the good part about his hearing loss is that he has no idea he is named after the worst Jamaican cuss word, so it may actually be a blessing.
One of the ways they spoiled him is by indulging the dog in a truly bizarre habit he had of wanting to suck people's thumbs. I thought it was disgusting. I have no desire for a dog or anyone else for that matter, to suck my thumb. This dog would thumb-suck for hours. He will practically maul you to get at your thumb which he will then jam down his throat and proceed to nurse upon, drooling all down your hand. It's gross.
They also spoiled him by letting him eat near constantly. Bomboclaat began to think that all the food in the house belonged to him. When we brought in bags of groceries and set them on the kitchen floor, Bomboclaat would stand by them, bristled and growling if anyone tried to get near his groceries. Once he almost ripped my throat out over a box of filet mignon from Costco. At times he takes fallen scraps, things like a piece of a cheeto that fell on the floor or a wrapper of something he pulled out of the trash, and he hides these things in the cushions of his dog bed. Then whenever someone walks by he turns into a Mini-Pin version of Cujo, starts snarling until he hyperventilates and then foams at the mouth and pees on himself. We've tried to explain to him that we have no interest in an old butter box or a pbj crust, but he won't believe us. Oh wait. He's deaf and he can't read lips. He imagines we are saying:
"Bomboclaat we are going to steal your stash of green potato chip edges and twist ties because we can't live without these things and want to take them and hide them under our own beds!"
So because Bomboclaat ate constantly and without any discretion, he became morbidly obese. The dog actually had rolls. He looked like a sausage on toothpicks. All you needed was to wrap him in some puff pastry and dip him in honey mustard. His obsesity caused his trachea to constrict so he constantly made these horrible coughing, choking, wheezing noises, especially if he got excited over things like boxes of filet mignon from Costco. The sound didn't add to his appeal.
Maybe I could have overlooked all of this had Bomboclaat been nice, but he's just never been a very friendly or affectionate dog. He hates to be picked up or pet and he won't walk on a leash like a normal dog. He chokes himself worse and refuses to move most of the time until you get sick of him and take him back inside the house to pee. I've tried just letting him wander in the backyard for a little while but he stands at the backdoor and shrieks with a sound I have never heard come out of a dog, although I once heard a 40 year old Jewish woman do the exact same thing in the airport when she found out her flight to JFK was delayed. Bomboclaat hates being outside. It's like he's yelling:
"God Dammit you assholes!! Let me back in the house. I have to pee!!!"
Another problem this damned dog has is that he stinks, but it's not an ordinary dog stink at all. It can't be cured by a bath. Bomboclaat smells like his name. He's like walking, rotting garbage on a choke chain. Someone suggested that he needs his anal glands released. I suggested that they do this because I want nothing whatsoever to do with a dog's anus, especially if this awful smell is emanating from it. I will take him to the groomers and have them do it. He seems to enjoy his horrendous odor though and loves dead things and stinky things of all kinds. In the yard he tirelessly searches for dead animals, especially the dead worms that collect mysteriously on the patio. I call them worm jerky. They are Bomboclaat's favorite treat. First he rolls in them and then he eats them. Then he screams to go back inside.
I've got Bomboclaat on a new program now. He's on a diet and he gets no people food. I swear he's lost several pounds or the equivalent thereof already. I don't care how much he begs or how much he coughs and sputters, I am not sharing my BBQ sandwich with this dog. He got so desperate he even begged me for some watermelon.
Bomboclaat and I are also walking on the leash, although the first few times he freaked out and pulled and refused to move. I was calm and assertive and it worked. Now Bomboclaat and I take a long, long walk every night and I wear him out.
Can I just take a moment to tell you how much I love Cesar Milan? I love Cesar Milan. Even though I don't have a dog and probably won't, I like watching The Dog Whisperer. I admit it. I watch it because Cesar Milan is one of the hottest men I've ever seen, even if he is only about four feet tall. My friend DD agrees with me. There's just something sexy about the man. I guess it's his calm assertiveness. He also has this wonderful zen-like quality. I would love him to "CHHH" me, which brings me to the sad fact that all of Cesar's tactics work on Bomboclaat, except the CHHHing. I learned this the hard way.
Each night a very scary, creepy weirdo guy decides to walk his dog, a golden pitbull, at the exact same time that I walk Bomboclaat. He walks and listens to his ipod which I am positive contains an long collection of Nordic Death Metal, although Husband argued that he thinks its the World of Warcraft Podcast. Since this guy is so freakishly weird Husband now comes along. The guy looks like Arthur Leigh Allen, and has this terrifying way of standing in the middle of the street and looking down with his head, but up with his eyes, and staring directly at me in the dark. It's a terrifying effect, let me tell you. And his dog is even worse. The pitbull is apparently so dangerous that he suits the thing up like Hannibal Lechter before he lets it out of the house. It has all sorts of harnesses and muzzles and things all over it. At first I thought maybe Arthur Leigh Allen guy did this on purpose to make the dog look scary, but then Bomboclaat decided to mouth off to the pitbull and I saw the reason why the thing can't go out of the house without a cage-like mask around its whole head.
Whenever I see ALA Guy walking down the street I go in the opposite direction. Last night Husband was with me so we decided to keep walking. Bomboclaat, having no sense of his own size in relation to the pitbull's mass, started barking and lunging, at which point the pitbull showed Bomboclaat how to really bark and lunge. I almost had coronary arrest. I was CHHHing like crazy to get Bomboclaat to stop, but he wouldn't back down. So not only is the dog deaf, we now know he is also severely retarded. No amount of CHHHing would make him stop and the scary guy had to drag the pitbull down the road, his nails raking across the asphalt. It was awful. I am now walking Bomboclaat at a different time and if that scary guy is out there still I'll just give up and go walk on the anonymous gay sex beach instead, because that is obviously a much friendlier place.
After we got home Bomboclaat was all worked up and feeling the testosterone racing through his little body so he treated me, while I tried to sleep, to a raunchy threesome that he decided to have on his two stuffed cats. The perversion is too much to write about. He drags around these two, now unidentifiable, stuffed cats and humps them constantly. They've taken so much of his abuse that they just look like lumps of grey fuzz. All night long the threesome wore on. I tried to get him to stop but he made the screeching noise again. He humped and humped and humped. He humped these stuffed animals until he couldn't breathe and he became ragged and weary, but still he forged on until I wondered if he'd somehow found a Viagra on the floor. I did find a weird blue pill on the floor last week. I mean, I don't think my dad would be on - Oh nevermind. I don't want to think about that at all. The pill was probably a valium that fell off of Aunt Kiki the last time she was here. At one point Bomboclaat rested and I honestly thought he had humped himself to death. By about 4am he finally stopped and fell asleep.
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