Monthly Archives: May 2012

One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.

It’s almost New York City time – less than a week! I’d say I was getting excited, but that’s really an understatement. I’ve BEEN excited. I suppose you could say I’m getting MORE excited. As each day passes, more butterflies move into my tummy and start doing the Riverdance. The Riverdance? Or just Riverdance? What do you think? Eh, who cares, they’re Riverdancing up a storm, all fluttering and clogging and shit with their little butterfly-feet.

Damn you, Riverdancing butterflies. DAMN YOU.

I was doing a little research recently for the trip so Susie and her husband and I can just pop on the subway and zip zam zoom around to wherever we need to be (I’m not ANTI-walking, but I also might die, and don’t especially want to die, you know? Since I don’t walk a lot? Also, that’s what the subway is for. Transporting lazy people from here to there. And also? Peoplewatching!) and I was taking notes like “take the F train” and “take the 4 train” and “exit at 14th Street/Union Square Station” and I got reminiscey. 

Listen, I love New York City. I love it. If I had the money to do it justice? I’d leave where I live in a minute and I’d live there without a second thought. And you all know how much I love where I live. I’m a huge Capital District supporter. I’ve never loved anywhere I’ve lived more, and don’t plan on living anywhere else ever. But New York City makes me so happy. 

When I was a kid living in the middle of nowhere (Middle of Nowhere! Population as of last census: 1,676! No, I’m not kidding. The population of the ENTIRE TOWN WHERE I GREW UP is the size of SOME OF YOUR HIGH SCHOOLS) I read. A lot. And some of the books I read were about big cities. And I dreamed of someday going to a big city, and what that might be like. Scary, I thought. Probably really, really scary. Killers would lurk in every dark alley! Men would try to SELL ME MARIJUANA CIGARETTES! There would be PROSTITUTES! PROSTITUTING!

Man, I couldn’t wait to go. 

I’d been to a couple of cities before I went to New York for the first time – Syracuse, Toronto, Montreal, Binghamton. (Don’t you even tell me some of those aren’t real cities. When you grew up in a town where you went to kindergarten with the same people you graduated with, anything with a building taller than three stories was A VERY BIG PLACE.) Toronto was pretty. Montreal was nice. Syracuse was ok. Binghamton was gray and kind of dirty (but oh, how I loved it there, the five years it was my home.) But, freshman year of college, a few months into the semester, one of the girls in my dorm asked if I wanted to go home with her for one of the Jewish holidays, to see a concert. She lived in the Bronx. 

“We’d go to New York City?” I asked. 

She laughed. “The Bronx IS New York City,” she said. “But yes, of course. We’ll go into Manhattan. I’ll show you around the Bronx. We’ll take the subway. We’ll see Times Square. All the touristy stuff, if you want.” 

Oh, I wanted. I so wanted. 

I honestly don’t remember how we got there. It’s been twenty years. The bus, I’m thinking? I thought for sure she’d live in an apartment like I’d seen on all the sitcoms. Probably with a lot of garbage cans outside. And rats? Probably there’d be rats. I was prepared for rats. I WAS A BADASS COLLEGE KID NOW DAMMIT. 

Her family lived in a very nice house. A house! In the Bronx! Not even an apartment! She even had a teeny tiny lawn! A lawn-let! 

We went into Manhattan. We rode the subway. They were still using tokens back then. Remember tokens? I wish I’d saved some. I’d love to have a subway token of my very own right now.

She bought me my first egg cream. We saw a concert at Radio City Music Hall. We walked until our legs hurt. 

My mouth is watering for one of these right now. SUSIE! You have GOT to have an egg cream. HAVE TO!

I feel madly, passionately, crazily, forever in love with New York City. 

It’s a city you can get lost in. No one cares. For a girl from a small town where everyone was always watching everything she did? This was a revelation. NO ONE CARED. You could strip down naked and run down 42nd Street and no one would bat an eye. They were too busy doing their own thing. There was always something happening. You couldn’t see enough. I felt like I was walking around with huge eyes and craning my neck and constantly at risk of tripping over my own feet because I wanted to see EVERYTHING. (Psst, I totally still feel like that, only I restrain myself so I don’t look touristy.) A whole STORE just for PAINTBRUSHES. An entire WAREHOUSE just for LIGHTBULBS. People selling things on streetcorners! People walking super-fast! Businessmen! Kids in little school uniforms! So much theater! Another hundred people getting off of the train! 

I couldn’t live there, though. I knew that. Oh, not that I didn’t WANT to. But in order to live there, I’d have to have the money to make living there worthwhile. I’d want to go out and do things. I’d want to see shows and go to concerts and go to the fanciest of fancy restaurants and on whatever salary someone in clerical would get (which is, let’s face it, pretty much what I’ll be doing until I go toes-up) I’d be lucky if I could afford an apartment and something to eat that wasn’t peanut butter or popcorn. I’d want to do New York City justice, were I to live there. So I don’t. But I would. If that ship that I’m pretty sure sank years ago ever comes in? See you, Capital District. I love you, I truly do. But I’ll be living in New York City and visiting you every now and again. 

After that, I went back whenever I could. I went with some friends to see some shows a couple of years later and a man thought I was a prostitute and asked me “how much?” which alternately amused and horrified me. (In his defense, my sundress was pretty risqué.) I had a job where I was required to go to our satellite office in the City once a month or so for a while, and I felt SO FANCY, taking the train with the business people, walking all official-like to the office, getting buzzed up to their floor in the office building like a real PERSON doing a real THING like a real JOB or something. I kept thinking that there were probably videocameras following me, because something this cool couldn’t happen to me. Country mouse! I was country mouse! This was NOT ALLOWED! 

I went and stayed with a friend who lives there for a long weekend once. He’s a bigwig. Like, a total bigwig. We did the town right. Broadway show. Fancy dinner. Again, I felt like I didn’t belong. But that’s ok, because I often feel like I don’t belong in my own life, so at least I was feeling like I didn’t belong in a FABULOUS life. 

I went for a long weekend with BFF. We played tourist for five days. That was the best trip I’d ever had. I highly recommend, if you’ve never done it, going to a city you don’t live in, but you love, with your closest friend someday. You will have adventures and you will laugh until you cry and you will talk until you fall asleep and you will make the best memories. We ate amazing food and we walked until we were too sore to move and we touristed everything there was to tourist and we took every subway known to man and it was the best. Just the best. 

I’ve gone for the day to shop. I’ve gone for the day to watch a show. I love living where I do, because even though I can’t afford to go very often, if I want to go, it’s not far. Just a trip of a few hours. It’s right there.

Not long after I moved here, I went with a group of friends for the fourth of July. I didn’t know them well. They went every year. They did their thing, and I had friends to see, so I went and did my thing for a while, and we met back up in the evening for fireworks and drinks. They collapsed and slept away most of the day on the fifth. Since I hadn’t been drinking much – I came in late to the drinking portion of the evening – I woke up early. The fifth was a Sunday. I crept quietly out of the hotel room, tiptoeing around so as not to wake anyone, and out onto the streets, looking for coffee and some breakfast, maybe the paper. I knew my friends would be out for a while. There had been some…um…upchucking the night before. The bathroom wasn’t looking great. Or smelling like a rose. Let’s just say that. 

I walked out onto the street and it was just me and some street cleaners, cleaning up the red plastic cups and the beer bottles from the night before. The sun was coming up. The streets were bare in the part of town where we were staying. (It was right down by the South Street Seaport, if that means anything to people savvy to the ways of New York. Our hotel was right near the water.) You could see the Brooklyn Bridge from where we were. It was sparkly in the sun. There was mist coming up from the water. 

And it was so QUIET. Even if you’ve never been to New York City, you’ve been to SOME city, at some point, I’m sure. They’re not quiet. They’re never quiet. They seethe, no matter what time of day it is. That morning, the City was so, so quiet. Everyone was sleeping off the festivities from the night before. The businesses hadn’t quite opened for the day yet. There was the sound of the hoses from far away street cleaners, the occasional groan of their trucks as they moved from one area to another. The sound of the river. The sound of traffic from streets away, muffled by buildings. And only me, walking around the street. I felt like an explorer. I felt like the City was mine. 

I found a little shop that was open and got a coffee and a bagel, and a copy of the Post (it was too pretty of a day for the Times, which is SRS BSNS, yo), and sat on a bench, in a street that was all mine, and ate my bagel and drank my coffee and just kept looking up, and it was warm but not hot, and breezy but not too windy, and perfect. Just utter and complete perfection. I had my MP3 player but I didn’t turn it on. I listened to the sounds of the city waking up. It was better music than I’d brought with me. 

I wasn’t out there for more than an hour. People started to show up, stroll the street; shops started to open. Garbage trucks started garbaging. Cars started honking. People sat on the benches around mine, then someone asked to sit at my bench, and the day belonged to everyone else again. 

But I’d had that hour. I’ve lived a lot of hours in my life, and some were wonderful, and some were interminable, and some I’d like to never think about again, but that one is one of my favorites, and I go back and I dwell in it, every now and then, when I need a little peace. It was like peeking backstage of a flashy Broadway show, or seeing a rockstar chatting with an old friend at a bar; it was the City without its makeup on, without its sequins and sparkle and glitter. And it was beautiful and it was stately and it was fine, and it was all mine. Just for an hour. It was magic. Just true, absolute, everyday magic. That happens now and then, you know? I’ve never seen anything like it before, and I know I probably won’t again. Well, until the rapture comes, I suppose, and there’s no one left but me and the rest of the sinners, and won’t we have fun in our quiet, quiet world? 

I can’t wait to see New York City with Susie. We’d have a great time anywhere, up to and including meeting in an abandoned truck stop in North Dakota haunted by thunderwolves, most likely, but it makes me happy the first time I’m meeting her is in my favorite place in all the world. I can’t wait to make more memories there, and I can’t wait to make them with her. Five days, Secret Sibling! FIVE DAYS!

(Title is a Thomas Wolfe quote. I can’t write something that lovely. Nope, not me.)


Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude. (Part 2)

Welcome back to *LOVEFEST 2012*, in which I blather on and on about how much I love my friends and the awesome presents they send me even though I totally don’t deserve them.

Yesterday, we learned about Jim and his wonderful t-shirt present which I love love love. Thank you again, Jim. You are great.

Today, we learn about a present from ACROSS THE SEA. I got this one during tax season, and had no time to dedicate to how amazing it was until now. Now I have more time. Not ALL the time, but more. So let’s talk about my present that winged its way to me across the sea!

Today’s present comes to me from the lovely Elaine. Elaine lives in England. She is funny and intelligent and wise and I like her very very much. She has a beautiful dog named Poppet who I want to snuggle someday and writes a great blog and is savvy to the ways of the interwebs in a way I only wish I could be.

One day, Elaine emailed me and said, “I found something I think you would like. Could I mail it to you? It is a book of fairy tales in both German and English. With frightening illustrations.”

Now, listen. I have learned that, out of nowhere, I love German. (Well, not out of NOWHERE. It helps that I know someone that lives there. But I mean, I was never obsessed with it before, and I’m not a spring chicken.) German is my new favorite thing. German has words in it that are both whimsical and evocative, and also there are umlauts. What? You want examples? Oh, don’t even worry, I have examples.

Here’s one. Ready? Gemütlichkeit. It apparently means (per an ENTIRE WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE!) “an environment or state of mind that conduces a cheerful mood and peace of mind, with connotation of a notion of belonging and social acceptance, of being cozy and unhurried.” All of that, in one word, WITH AN UMLAUT.

Or – I have more, I totally have a notebook of them started, don’t even think I don’t – überglücklich, which means delirious or jubilant. TWO UMLAUTS. Two! I like all the syllables in German words. They’re totally a mouthful. Also, I kind of want to learn German JUST to read poetry in original German. Because when I find a pretty German poem, and then I look at it in German, it looks a hell of a lot more interesting in the German. And not just because of the umlauts.

Anyway, Elaine, as she also loves German, found this book, and thought of me, and then sent it to me. I had never heard of this before. Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you: STRUWWELPETER.

Super-upsetting, right? Look at his scary fingernails and creepy long braid and one squinty eye! I think you have to click to see some of that detail. Sorry. Cell phone camera is the easiest way to get photos on here, but the quality – meh, not so much.

According to Wikipedia, this was a book of children’s tales written in 1845 by a German psychiatrist (you’ll see, as we go on today, why NO ONE SHOULD HAVE GONE TO HIS PRACTICE EVER) as warnings for children, just in case they were to misbehave. You know. That’s not upsetting at all. (SIDE NOTE: this is not the first time things like this have crossed my path. For example, when I was a child, that children’s rhyme “if I die before I wake” used to PETRIFY my poor little brother. He was CONVINCED if someone said it, he was GOING to die before he woke. There are a lot of scary nursery rhymes and fairy tales for children. People that wrote them were kind of a twisted bunch. I mean, you’ve read Grimm’s original fairy tales, right? Or Hans Christian Andersen’s? Those don’t end well. Not well at all. Children get eaten and die and such.)

There have also been operas based on this. Here are a couple of clips Elaine sent me. Listen, they’re kind of creepy. Heads up, people.

That one’s in GERMAN. Sigh. I like that a lot.

This is the creepy one. I couldn’t get far. Things are happening in here that look like what might happen if you dropped acid and then went to the circus.

Anyway, who wants to learn about Struwwelpeter? Also known as Shockheaded Peter, here to scare children into behaving? What’s that? You all do? Oh, excellent. I took a lot of photos.

First, here’s the awesomeness. See, here on the right side, you have the story in English, and the illustrations. The terrible, bloody, horrendous illustrations. We’ll get more into those in a bit.

Then on the left, you have the entire story in GERMAN. Which makes me happy, because I can look at it in German and try to puzzle out which word means what.

So, you’re asking, what’s Struwwelpeter/Shockheaded Peter about? Oh, don’t worry. I’ll tell you. It’s worrisome, though. Just so you know.

There are ten stories. All are worrisome.

First, there’s a little story about our titular (hee! Tit!) character, Shockheaded Peter.

Shockheaded Peter is a worry (his photo’s the one above with the gross nails and hair and such) because he doesn’t take care of his personal hygiene. His nails are all “grimed and full of soot.” And he has NEVER combed his hair. Not even ever. What a mess you are, Shockheaded Peter. What a mess.

On the cover of the book, he has a belt buckle that says “Life” and it’s all covered in blood. On the back, he’s standing in a graveyard and his beltbuckle, still all bloody, says “death.” I THINK SHOCKHEADED PETER IS THE DEVIL OR SOMETHING YOU GUYS.

OK, so let’s see. What’s first?

THE STORY OF CRUEL FREDERICK.

That’s the photo of Cruel Frederick above, the screamy-ass kid with the yellow pants.

Cruel Frederick “caught the flies, poor little things,/And tore off all their tiny wings” (yeah, so…budding sociopath, I guess) and “threw the kittens down the stairs” (WTF) and – AND! – “far worse than all beside,/He beat his Mary ’till she cried.” Um. He’s like a little kid, he has, what, a girlfriend? That he beats? What the hell? Also, in that photo up there, if you click, there are DEAD BIRDS all around him. Cruel Frederick deserves whatever he gets.

So one day, our boy Freddie beat a dog with a whip until he was almost dead. That dog had enough, so he bit Fred “until he bled.” Shit, I would have ripped his damn leg off, dog.

This is a FULL PAGE ILLUSTRATION of a boy beating a dog, and the dog getting revenge. This book pulls no punches.

Guess what happened to Fred?

He apparently got some sort of heinous infection, which is lovingly detailed in the ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING ILLUSTRATION, and, well, he died.

Here’s his little coffin, with his dead arm hanging out.

What did we learn in this one? Don’t abuse animals or people or you will die of an infection, possibly rabies, or whatever the German equivalent thereof might be.
What new German word did we learn that we love the most?  Bitterböse. It seems to mean indignant. I am often bitterböse. Also? UMLAUT.

Next: in a title that should win many of you over, we have “The Dreadful Story about Harriet and the Matches.”

I bet, if you apply yourself, you can imagine what happens to Harriet.

Harriet was an efffing firebug. Her mom and nurse told her not to touch matches, but then one day went out and left her alone with these two meddlesome cats and a metric shit-ton of matches. She knew she wasn’t supposed to touch them, but “…when they burn they look so pretty!” (ZOMG TOTAL ARSONIST.) The cats, who apparently talk, tell her that she’s going to burn to death. Worrisome deathmonger cats.

So Harriet started lighting all the matches and dancing around all entranced by the fire while the cats were all “YOU EFFING FIREBUG YOU’RE GOING TO BE THE DEATH OF US ALL.”

She then set her apron on fire and burned to a crisp while the cats supposedly were horrified but it sure as hell looks like they’re cheering on the fire in the photo.

Then all that is left of her is her apparently flame-retardant shoes, and the cats cry a river. No, literally. Look. LOOK AT THE RIVER.

What did we learn in this one? Don’t play with matches or you’ll burn to death and die and your cats will talk and also cry.
What new German word did we learn that we love the most?  Schürze. It means apron. But I like how it tastes in your mouth. SCHURZZZEEEEE. Also? Umlaut.

Next: “The Story of the Bully-Boys.”

This one’s a little confusing.

So it was a hot day, and a man with a green umbrella went for a walk, and three boys came out and…I’m not sure what happened. It doesn’t even say they bullied him. It just says they came outside, with their accouterments, like a wooden hoop, flag, and toys. To be honest, one of the toys seems to be a noose, and in the photo, one of the bully boys seems to be flipping off the air, but no one’s bothering the green-umbrella-fella. Is green umbrella a euphemism for gay? Are they gay-bashing him? I don’t get this one at all.

Then a giant comes out and tells them to leave green umbrella alone, but they don’t. The giant is four times as tall as they are. So, because they aren’t listening to him, the giant “smashes all their tiny heads.”

What? You want to see? Oh, you can, it’s ok, the book shows you. IN DETAIL.

Boy, there’s a lot of glee in these kids’ deaths, considering they weren’t even DOING anything.

This one’s so dead he’s green and rotting. THANKS, BOOK!

And these kids are in a pool of blood. Nice job, giant. Nice job.

What did we learn in this one? Don’t live on a street with a giant, because he will kill you. Gleefully. For doing nothing wrong at all.
What new German word did we learn that we love the most?  Ruckzuck. It means jiffy. Like, in a jiffy. RUCKZUCK! I’m totally going to start using this. Ken, do people use ruckzuck in really real Germany or only in this book that would warp a child’s mind were you to give it to them? Also? Ken? We need to have a talk about what constitutes correct children’s literature in Germany at some point.

Next: “The Story of the Man Who Went Out Shooting.” No, no. That’s not a euphemism. He really went out shooting. With a gun. A GUN gun. Not a…nevermind.

The man who went out shooting was a rabbit hunter, and the rabbit didn’t like that, so when the hunter got hot and sleepy and took a nap, the rabbit stole his gun.

AND WENT ON A MURDERING SPREE.

Here is the rabbit hunter, before the murder spree. Here is the rabbit, plotting ALL THE KILLING.

When the man woke up, the rabbit was sticking the gun in his face. He ran away, but the rabbit kept chasing him until he fell, “arse over tit” (heh) into a well. As he fell in, the rabbit shot him.

Also, the rabbit’s tongue is sticking out in every single picture. It’s strange. It’s like he’s concentrating really hard on the murdering.

Was the rabbit done? Nope.

He then went to the hunter’s house and murdered his wife as she was drinking her morning coffee. Think this is bad? IT GETS WORSE IN A MINUTE.

Is that a fountain of blood or coffee? Both. I think both.

Then the rabbit went to HIS OWN HOUSE and murdered HIS OWN KID. Why? Doesn’t say. Because he was a psychopath, I think. Listen to this: “And as she stood upon her toes,/The hare shot her through the nose./She died with nose in hand,/And she didn’t understand.”

WHAT THE HELL. “Nose in hand?” WHAT THE HELLLLL.

Then, for whatever reason, the rabbit committed suicide. Probably because the cops were coming and the rabbit didn’t think he was cut out for the big house. And don’t worry. It’s totally shown. In really crisp detail. Nothing kids like better than watching an anthromorphized animal kill himself and his child, and seeing all the blood. NOTHING.

What did we learn in this one? Anya from Buffy was right. Never trust a bunny.
What new German word did we learn that we love the most?  Spritzt. It means injected. I like it because it sounds like what it means. “I just spritzt him with his medication!”

OK, these have been pretty bad. Ready for one that’s worse? Sure you are.

“Snip Snip – The Story of Little Suck-a-Thumb.”

This isn’t going to end well, you know that already, right?

Little Suck-a-Thumb’s real name is Conrad. Conrad can’t stop sucking his thumb. Listen, THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. Someone I know VERY WELL sucked her thumb until THIRD GRADE and she turned out JUST FINE. I mean, so she tells me. Heh. Heh heh. I don’t know her THAT well or anything. I CERTAINLY don’t know her well enough that she’s the one writing this post or anything.

Conrad’s mom is a horrible woman who liked to scare her children, and much like Harriet the Firebug’s mom, leaves Conrad alone one day. She tells him as she leaves that he’s not to suck his thumbs. Why? “That great tall tailor, he always comes/For naughty boys who suck their thumbs;/And ‘ere they wonder what he’s about,/He’s got his great long scissors out.”

He sounds like a child molester full of euphemism to me, but whatever, maybe things are different in old timey Germany.

You know Conrad was all sucking his thumbs the minute his mom left, right? Right.

What happened?

A man with a huge head came in with gigantic tinsnips and cut Conrad’s thumbs off, of course. I mean, what else were you expecting?

When Conrad’s bitch of a mom comes home, SHE LAUGHS AT HIM. “Ha! Ha! said Mama, I knew he’d come/For naughty little Suck-a-Thumb!” WHAT THE HELL GERMANY.

Then Conrad bleeds to death as his mom points and laughs.

Can you read this? “And Conrad bleeds to death AT LAST.” Like he was a BURDEN.

What did we learn in this one? Sometimes your family members are assholes. Wait, that’s not what we learned? Get better locks? Did we learn get better locks? No? Oh, don’t suck our thumbs? FINE. Don’t suck our thumbs.
What new German word did we learn that we love the most?  Geschwind. It means quickly. I like it because it has WIND in it. You go QUICKLY as GESCHWIND.

Now: “The Story of Augustus and the Soup.”

You know nothing good’s going to come of someone named Augustus. Augustus GLOOP! Augustus GLOOP!

Augustus was a fat, fat child who liked to eat all the food.

Randomly, he stopped eating. It’s not explained why, and I can only assume, as all adults do in this book, the parental units in his life failed to care enough to do anything about it.

After five days (BEST. DIET. EVER.), healthy, plump Augustus went from the boy above, to:

And then “on the fifth day, he was – dead!”

Well. Thanks for bringing him to the DOCTOR, Mom and Dad, which might have saved his LIFE. Also, the only thing they served this kid was soup. Maybe you could have given him something else? I know, I know, kids that refuse food, we’re not supposed to cater to them. IF YOUR CHILD IS STARVING TO DEATH YOU CAN GIVE HIM SOME TATER TOTS.

What did we learn in this one? Um…five-day-soup-diets are really effective? Old-timey German parents didn’t care if their children starved to death? What’s that? Always eat everything that’s put in front of you? FINE.
What new German word did we learn that we love the most?  Vielleicht. It means perhaps. Vielleicht you should have parents who let you have chicken nuggets once in a damn while, old-timey Germans.

Next: “The Story of Fidgety Phil.” Hee! “Fidgety Phil.” That’s so a name I would give someone. I already love this. This can’t be that bad, right?

Fidgety Phil can’t sit still at the dinner table. He “wriggles and giggles” and he rocks in his chair like it’s a rocking horse. Do you think his parents are understanding and sweet about it? IF YOU DO YOU HAVEN’T BEEN PAYING ATTENTION. Also, there is a good chance that Fidgety Phil is the first documented case of ADHD. THIS IS SCIENCY YOU GUYS.

So his shenanigans caused him to fall over, and in his haste to pull himself back up, he yanked on the tablecloth, causing everything on the table to fall down on him. Food, dishes, silverware, etc. Oh, PHIL.

Oh, shit. Oh, wait. OH PHIL.

“Where is Philip, where is he?/Ah, there he is and he bleeds./There’s a blood-stained table cloth lying on him,/There’s knives and forks, they’re all stuck in him!”

So Phil died. Probably his parents were totally sad, though, and tried to save him?

“Mama and Papa wonder how/They’re going to have their dinner now?”

THESE PARENTS ARE TERRIBLE TERRIBLE PEOPLE.

What did we learn in this one? Sit still at the dinner table, I suppose, but also, THESE PARENTS NEED TO TAKE A CLASS OR SOMETHING.
What new German word did we learn that we love the most?  Runterkippen. ZOMG RUNTERKIPPEN! It means to drink something in one gulp. In college I did a lot of runterkippening which led to making a lot of bad decisions, like peeing behind an abandoned hotel.

“The Story of Johnny-Head-In-Air.” Huh. I’m often Amy-Head-In-Air, this ought to be enlightening.

Johnny-Head-in-Air doesn’t pay attention to what’s going on around him because he likes looking at the clouds instead. One day this led him to smack into a dog, and they both fell down. You’re an asshole, Johnny. Pay attention. If you want to look at clouds, go sit in the park like a freeloading hackysacker or something.

Then because he can’t learn his LESSON he goes for another head-in-the-air stroll BY THE RIVER. Do you think he paid attention? Nope.

Fell right the hell in. Died dead dead dead.

And then this happened, and I’ve been laughing about the awesomeness of it for days, and I think it should be my new avatar everywhere that needs one.

These totally awesome fish swam up over his dead body and sang him a little song. “DEAD! DEAD! DEAD!” Look how cheery they are! I mean, they’re total assholes, but “Dead! Dead! DEAD!” This is HYSTERICAL. I mean, if you ignore the dead drowned child in the photo. Don’t feel too bad, he got what was coming. (Also, this book seems to tell me that dead in German is “tot.” I like that because it reminds me of “totally.” This kid is TOTALLY dead. The fish tell us so. Over and over and OVER.

What did we learn in this one? Pay attention to where you’re walking, ya damn hippie.
What new German word did we learn that we love the most?  Erschreckt. It means frightened. Doesn’t it LOOK like it should mean frightened? “I was so erschreckt of those death-fish I peed behind the abandoned hotel.”

Finally, FINALLY, we have: “The Story of Flying Robert.” Oh, fun! He’s going on a plane! Right? Right, you guys? Right?

Robert liked rainstorms and going out in them with his green umbrella. Didn’t we learn that was a euphemism for him being gay? So is Robert gay? THIS IS CONFUSING, OLD-TIME GERMANS.

One day there was a gigantic wind and it took him away. “One thing is plain;/He was never seen again.”

He didn’t die in a bloody fashion? It’s like someone else wrote this one and the Shockheaded Peter one at the beginning that was barely a story. I’m not even giving you pictures of this one, because seriously, they are BORING. They’re a guy with an umbrella, then a teeny guy and an umbrella floating over a town. That’s it. BORING. What a letdown, Flying Robert.

What did we learn in this one? Don’t carry green umbrellas in the wind and rain. IF YOU LIKE PINA COLADAAAASSSSS AND GETTING CAUGHT IN THE RAIIIINNNNN….sorry, the 70s slipped in, it happens, moving on.
What new German word did we learn that we love the most?  Regenschirm. What do you think this means? Something EXOTIC and MYSTERIOUS? Just umbrella. That’s why German makes me happy. REGENSCHIRM! Get out your regenschirm, Frances, we need to beat our way through a crowd of homeless to get to the Land’s End outlet!

OK, so now you can see: this is obviously THE BEST BOOK EVER, except if you are a child. Then you should NOT be reading this book. NO NO NO. Ever. It will turn you into a killer of epic proportions. DON’T DO IT SLAPPY.

Thank you, Elaine. Hours and hours and hours of entertainment from this, seriously. And more hours to come. So, so appreciated. (I do think, however, I may wait til he’s 30 to share it with The Nephew.)

Happy Wednesday! Watch out for The Great Long Legg’d Scissor Man! *shudder*


Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude. (Part 1)

Back to work. Boo. No one likes the day back to work after a holiday. It makes you totally depressed and cranky.

Do you want me to make it better? Because I can. I totally can. And I will! All for you, Damien. All for you.

I’ve been meaning to talk about one of these things for a while, and then ANOTHER thing came recently, and I thought, STOP DRAGGING YOUR FEET AMY YOU ARE SLOW LIKE MOLASSES.

Slooooooowwwwwwwwww.

This is a post about PRESENTS!

OK, so because I have some of the loveliest friends anyone has ever met online in the history of the land, on top of being funny and intelligent and supportive and sweet and kind, they ALSO sometimes send PRESENTS. I know! Can you even imagine? I don’t want to think too hard about what I did to deserve such wonderful people in my life, but I’m not going to think about it too hard, because what if they disappeared? Then I’d be bereft. Utterly bereft.

(SIDE NOTE: this is not a hint that anyone reading this needs to be sending me presents. It is actually the opposite. I am NOT soliciting presents. People I don’t know sending me presents is a little strange. Someday, when I am a fancypants blogger, maybe I’ll set up a PO box so people I don’t know can send me all the presents? But that shit costs money, yo, setting up that PO box for presents that might or might not come. I’m not The Bloggess over here. And I can’t be putting my actual address on my website. Because that’s how the killers come and steal you away and cut you into pieces and throw those pieces into the ravine. So, no. I am not soliciting gifts from strangers. Thanks, though. Much appreciated, the thought. Much appreciated.)

I have TWO LOVELY PRESENTS to discuss. One from near and one from far. See? This is a way to make your Tuesday back-to-work more joyous, right? Totally. Totally is. But I realized while I was writing this, it would be MUCH too long a post for one day, so you get a two-day present-post EXTRAVAGANZA. Aren’t you excited? Yeah, thought so.

Let’s start with Jim.

Here’s Jim. Pinkies up, yo.

You all know Jim, right? Jim is my blogger friend who makes me laugh and laugh. He’s the one who was in Florida when I was in Florida and we did not cross paths (and, due to that fact, he is DEAD to my father. DEAD TO HIM.) Jim is a wonderful writer for many blogs, which are all in the blogroll over there, and an amazing dad and husband, and was on Facebook for, like, six hours, before he conquered it and now owns it and rules it completely. But not with an iron fist, that’d be rude. Probably with a fist filled with bacon or something delicious like that. Oh, here, you can see a Jim Twitter interaction. It’ll make you laugh. Also, I win Storify. Here is Late-Night Twitter Intercourse. There’s innuendo and/or euphemism. If you like that sort of thing.

ANYWAY, two weekends ago, Jim and his family and a gigantic group of supporters walked in the Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community to benefit ABOARD’s Autism Connection of PA in support of his wonderful daughter Lily. (He has another wonderful daughter, too. I AM NOT SLIGHTING EMMA. She is equally wonderful.) His group won fundraising. WON. Here, I’ll let him tell you: “We ‘beat’ all the teams but one! The team we didn’t beat was captained by someone on ABOARD’s board. . . so they weren’t competing. I’d still have liked to pummel them too. . . but it’s nice that of all the teams that ‘counted’, we winned. We winned hard.” Jim set an original goal of $1,000 for his team. How much did he end up making? $2,500, baby. $2,500! I’m not going to say I cried a little bit with happiness when I saw that total, but I might have…um…had some allergies act up. Yep. Allergies. Then I looked at the photos in that post and MAN were my allergies bad that day. WHOO. Damn spring allergies. That happen all year long. Whenever I feel ALL THE EMOTIONS. You need to click on that link and look at those pictures. You can have some allergies, too!

While I was in Florida, Jim sent me a message telling me he’d like to send me a Team Lily t-shirt, if they had any left over once the race was finished. Listen, I’m a huge sap, but unexpected kindnesses really make me totally teary. I know we’ve discussed this, but I went a very long time without any. People or kindnesses, I mean. So now whenever they happen, I kind of look around me all, “What? No. Me? Nah. That guy, right? You mean that guy. You can’t possibly mean me.” I also assume there will be takebacks, and I never, ever count on anything unless it’s in my hand, because I’m pretty sure if my heart gets broken one more time it’s toast. I think it’s held together with spit and twist-ties at this point, to be honest.

Do NOT count these chickens before they hatch. Don’t you even.

OFF TOPIC SHIT SORRY. So anyway, I was all, “JIM THAT IS SO NICE.” Then Dad was all, “Why do you look like you’ve been crying. Wait, you were just on your phone. WHAT DID YOUR INTERNET PEOPLE DO TO YOU.” So I had to explain that maybe Jim was going to send me a t-shirt from Team Lily, then I had to backtrack and explain Team Lily, and even though Jim’s still dead to Dad, he was a little LESS dead to him once he realized that the reason I was all weepy-eyed was because Jim had offered, just because he is nice, to send me a t-shirt.

So remember Sunday I was all, “I HAVE A PACKAGE I CAN’T HAVE???” I finally got to pick it up once the front office opened on Sunday afternoon, right before I went to my play. (Oh, side note, my play Sunday was wonderful. I saw God of Carnage. It was intelligent and it was well-written and it was well-acted and it was one of those shows where I left all, “MAN am I happy I live where I do. WE HAVE SUCH EXCELLENT THEATER.” Also, the ushers were nice, I didn’t have anyone yell at me about my seat, my seat was great, and all the patrons around me were quiet and nice. It was just a perfect theater experience. I deserved one, I think. I’ve had a crappy stretch lately. YAY FOR A HAPPY THEATER EXPERIENCE!)

Anyway: the package from Jim. So, first, I got the package from the lady in the office, and I grinned and grinned when I saw what it was. She laughed and said, “Wow, you seem really happy to get this one.” “It’s a present! From a friend!” I said, and apparently I sounded as excited as a kid taken on an impromptu tour of Toys R Us, because that made her laugh. But not meanly. Joyfully. I totally brought vicarious joy to the lady in the front office. I’m INFECTIOUS. (Ew, no, NOT LIKE THAT.)

Jim totally wrote his return address on the envelope. This means he doesn’t think I’m going to kill him. Or, maybe it means he thinks I MIGHT want to kill him but he can efficiently defend himself against me. Or I suppose it might be a fake return address, like when I have to fill out internet forms and I put in fake telephone numbers so I don’t get telemarketing calls. Or he knows how poor I am and that I can’t even afford to get all the way down there for murdering. One of those things, I suppose it means.

So, first, there was a NOTE. I love notes. Notes are almost better than presents.

(You can click on that to make it bigger. I tried to make it bigger for you, but the next biggest size was GIGANTICCCCC.)

Jim likes to give people nicknames. I hate nicknames, but I allow him, because he’s Jim. It’s hard to explain. Certain people get away with certain things others aren’t allowed to. Because I love them. That being said: ONLY JIM IS ALLOWED TO CALL ME AME. Or give me any nickname at all. Oh, well, ok, I take that back. Ken makes up names sometimes. Like “my little gingersnap” or whatever. Those are allowed (and strangely don’t put me in a sugar coma, even though they’re sweet. I know. I’m telling you, it’s the old double-standard of friendship. I’m not perfect, you guys.) And BFF has a nickname for me that’s allowed but it is PRIVATE and you can’t KNOW it. Hell, if BFF wanted to call me Jackass McJerkface I’d let him. He’s BFF. He’s earned it. (SIDE NOTE: he’d never do that. Are you kidding? He’s BFF. Why would he do that?)

This note made me laugh and laugh and snort a little, and maybe also have a few more of those allergies. Unexpected kindnesses. They’re my kryptonite. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Unexpected kindness! I AM POWERLESS IN THE FACE OF YOU!!!

Oh, probably you need an explanation of the murder thing. We joke about murder. Me murdering people, my internet people murdering me. I really have no immediate plans to murder Jim. That I want to talk about, anyway. Not here. NOT HERE.

And yes, that’s my thumb. And my nailpolish. There’s nothing wrong with my thumb. It’s those Sally Hansen nail strips that have patterns on them. This one’s called “Aflorable.” Gag, “Aflorable,” gross. Most of the patterns are cooler than this one. I don’t love this one. It makes me look like I slammed my nails in a door and I have bruises or something. Not a fan.

As much as I’m meh on this color, I LOVE these strips. Can’t recommend them highly enough. Easy, quick. last for over a week. Excellent. Expensive, but excellent.

And then…A LILY SHIRT!

What, you want to talk about the production values of this photo? FINE. Listen, I’d love to take a photo for you all someday where I am not making an insane face but I look WORSE when I’m not making faces. I promise. When I’m trying to look serious or happy or whatever, I look like a dummy. I look much better when I’m being a weirdo. YES my hair is a mess today. It’s ALWAYS a mess. I’ve TOLD you that. And YES I took a photo in the bathroom. A., there’s a mirror in there so I can see what I look like before I take the photo. And B., it’s the only room with light in here, I live in a cave. There aren’t enough plugs so I don’t have enough lamps unless I stretch extension cords all over until this place looks like a campground. I LIVE IN A DARK CAMPGROUND WHERE MOST LIKELY STABBERY IS ABOUT TO OCCUR.

Anyway, LOOK AT MY CUTE SHIRT! It has Lily on it! Aw! I love it so much! I wore it all day Memorial Day!

Thank you, Jim. I’m glad I know you. You are such a happy addition to my life. You have brought me much joy. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Not just for a present, obviously. For being you.

Tomorrow: part two. A present! From ACROSS THE SEA! With FOREIGN LANGUAGES and WACKY ILLUSTRATIONS! Are you already so excited? Well, if not, your excited-er is broken. It’s going to be ROCKING.

Also, here’s an added photo of Dumbcat, who was sitting pretty and posing for you all this morning. Like a pretty pretty cat-model. He looks sad, but I assure you he wasn’t. Right after this he flopped over and rolled and rolled like a weirdo.

You can see his little stub-tail, aw! Hi from Dumbcat! (Shush about my awesome tiger-rug, I know it’s probably for babies but I love it so much.)


The stars are not wanted now: put out every one; Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun

I know most people celebrate their loved ones who died in military service today, and I do truly appreciate all those who served. However, I am lucky enough not to have any family members who died in the military. Both of my grandfathers and my father were all drafted (World War II x 2 and the Vietnam War, respectively), but they all came back safely. Which is good, because otherwise, what would you be reading right now? Someone ELSE’S blog. Because I would not EXIST. DUN DUN DUNNNNN Twilight Zone! TWILIGHT ZONE!

But I do always think about my loved ones who have passed today. Well, not JUST today. I mean, it’s not like the rest of the year I’m all blithe and lighthearted and shit. Because I’m not. I’m dark and twisty a lot of the time. But on Memorial Day I tend to, more than most days, think about my dead.

See, here’s the thing, though. I don’t HAVE a lot of dead. I’m really very lucky in that respect. My people are mostly all living. Which, honestly, worries the shit out of me, because what the hell am I going to do when my people DO start dying? I don’t handle loss or change well. Really, the best way for them all to deal with this is to live forever. I hope you’re listening, loved ones. You all need to live forever. Thanks a million, because the thought of any of you not being there when I want to chat or laugh or cry or the trillion other things I rely on you for makes me itchy and teary and super-worried and kind of chest-tighteningly anxious. I know, no one is sick or anything (well, a couple of very elderly people aren’t well, but they’re old, so I’ve had time to get used to the potential of the loss, which totally makes me sound like a HEARTLESS EVIL HAG, I’m not saying I won’t be SAD, but I’ve been preemptively sad for a while now, so it’s not as sad as out-of-nowhere death. Does that make sense, or am I a sociopath?)

But today, I wanted to talk about my grandfather. I don’t talk about him much. No one in my family does. You can ask and ask and ask, but they’ll clam up like mafia wives when you ask about him. It’s all very strange and it’s all very upsetting because I want to hear all about him. I think he and I would have been good friends. So, even though apparently it’s not allowed? I’m going to tell you all about my grandfather. Who died less than a year before I was born, so I never met him. I’m just about the worst person to tell you about him, since I never met him and no one will tell me anything about him. But I’ve gleaned a few things over the years, almost by accident. I’m like a magpie when it comes to things about my grandfather. I’m hungry for any information anyone can give me. Desperate for it. I don’t like when people refuse to tell me things. It feels like they’re keeping secrets. I might be getting some of this wrong. What I don’t know, I tend to fill in with fiction. I’ve been writing things in my head since I was young. Apparently, I was doomed to be a writer before I even knew what a writer was.

My grandfather’s name was not Jim, but that’s what everyone called him. He hated his given name. He refused to use it. (Side note: I love his given name. Most of my relatives do, too, as there are a ton of their children with that name as their middle names. He would have HATED that. He hated it so much that if anyone called him that name, he would correct them. He refused to acknowledge it.) He had bright blue eyes that very few people in my family inherited and was left-handed, which they attempted to beat out of him in school, but the minute he left school, he went right back to being a southpaw with a big old screw-you to that school. He was very obstinate, my grandfather. I didn’t come by this out of nowhere. I’m from generations of obstinate humans.

I don’t know anything about his parents, other than everyone on my dad’s side of the family, both his mom and dad’s side, are descended from French-Canadians. So, apparently at one point we lived in Canada, and moved on down to New York at one point. He lived in Chateaugay, which is about twenty minutes from where I grew up. It’s a very small town. I can only assume the name “Chateaugay” means “Gay House.” I’d live in a gay house. We’d have a fabulous time. He had quite a few brothers. I don’t remember if I knew any of them. I think they died when I was quite young. And I think he had sisters, but again, I think they died quite young. The life expectancy in that branch of the family wasn’t good. At all good, actually.

At some point he was drafted into the military but I know nothing about it because no one will talk about it. I only found out about it this past December when I noticed there was one of those veteran things on his grave, and I asked my mom about it. “Sure,” she said. “He was drafted at one point. We don’t talk about it.” And we don’t. I asked Dad – nope. Change of subject.

He must have come home. He met my grandmother fairly young. He married her. They had four kids in rapid succession, as people did, back in the day. Three boys, one girl. Dad is the oldest. They lived with his parents for a while, until they got a little home of their own about 40 minutes away from them, in the town where my father and his brothers and sister grew up. My dad’s youngest brother still lives in that house.

My grandparents at their wedding, 1948. Look how young! They were just babies! Also, is my grandfather not the most handsome man you have ever seen? He looks like a 40s movie star.

He worked a lot of jobs. I don’t even know half of them, and I feel like maybe I’ve made some of them up in my head. I think maybe he did something with cars. I thought there was something about mining? This is the one I feel like I’m imagining. I don’t even know that there was mining upstate. Finally, he settled into a steady job as a school busdriver. Dad told me once he was very good at this. “No one dared misbehave on your grandfather’s bus,” he told me. “He was a lot of fun, but not if you screwed around.”

My middle uncle, my grandfather, and my dad (aw! Wee Amy’s Dad!), in probably 1952-ish. I love this photo to distraction. Everything about it makes me happy.

That’s it. That’s the whole biography of my grandfather. The factual stuff, anyway. Boring, right? See how no one tells me anything?

I’ve gotten a little more, over the years.

He was funny. Everyone I talk to, everyone who’ll talk, even if they only say one thing, says that. How funny he was. Without even trying. Not all cracking-stupid-jokes funny. Not slapstick-funny. He never had to try. He had that funny, dry, sarcastic humor. Darkly wry humor. Dad said his jokes were sometimes so dry you didn’t catch them right away. Then it would hit you a couple of hours later what he’d meant, and you’d just laugh yourself sick. My uncle, my dad’s youngest brother, apparently is very much like my grandfather. And he makes me laugh. Oh, does he make me laugh. More than almost anyone.

He was fiercely loyal. His family came first. If you crossed him or crossed his family you were dead to him. He didn’t forgive easily, or at all, once he’d written you off. But if he loved you, he loved you for keeps. You were his people. He kept you close and he kept you safe under his wing. Dad says when he watches old John Wayne movies, John Wayne reminds him of his father. His quiet cool. His calm bravado. The way he takes care of business. The way the right thing isn’t always the easy thing, but you choose the right thing, because that’s what you do, because that’s the measure of a man. I watch old John Wayne movies for a hint of my genealogy, because it’s being kept secret from me. I watch a man I’m not related to to get clues about one who makes up a quarter of my DNA.

He used to watch television and yell at it like it could hear him. He will be pleased that both his oldest son and I have continued that tradition with much gusto.

He was honest. Dad is just as honest. He learned it from his father and passed it down to me and my brother. (Yeah, it mostly stuck.) You take what you earn in this life and you don’t ever, ever steal. I remember asking my father about this once, and he said, “My dad told me you didn’t. So you don’t. That’s it.” That’s it. That’s the kind of command he had. He said you didn’t, so you didn’t.

He was very, very old-school Catholic. And very Republican. Dad said he would have argued with me until we were both blue in the face. “He’d still have loved me, though?” I asked. Dad laughed. “Oh, yes. I think he would have loved you more than you can even imagine, Amy.”

One of the only stories I know about him was that when he first met my mom, he was very quiet. Didn’t say much. And then he looked her up and down (she was very thin at the time, and young – when my parents met, my mom was only 19) and finally said, “Huh. Nice to meet you, Olive Oyl.” After that, he always called her Olive Oyl. It became their thing. I asked her why, since she wasn’t especially tall or anything, and she said, “Oh, that was just Jim. If he gave you a nickname, you knew you were in.”

My grandparents at my parents’ wedding, 1972. They were a handsome couple, weren’t they? Also, my grandmother, even though this post isn’t about her, was one kickass woman. I loved her. So, so much.

Were there bad things about him? I’m sure there were. Those type of stories don’t often get passed down, especially about beloved family members. He had a quick temper. He was a flirt. He could be mean, sometimes, in the way intelligent people can to those who are less well-endowed intellectually. But minor things. Nothing egregious. People remember him and smile, even non-family members. He left a good name. He left good memories behind, when they’re allowed out to play.

And that’s it. That’s all I know, from when he was alive. Except the last day of his life. I’ve heard the story of that. I’ve heard it more than once. I asked to hear it. I’ve examined it from a lot of angles. I’ve studied it. I think if I study it enough, I can figure out how to fix it, because the day my grandfather died, my dad’s side of the family broke, and I think if he hadn’t, they’d still be ok. They’d still be whole.

The day started normally. He drove the students to school on his bus. His own kids were adults, some with families of their own. He had four grandchildren and a fifth on the way. He lived alone with his wife for the first time in a very long time. He loved his wife. He loved his children. He loved his grandchildren. He was in his late forties. (I told you they started their family young and had those kids one after the other.) It was December, a couple of weeks before Christmas. His wife had hidden presents for him in the attic. He knew they were there. He was looking forward to seeing the family all in one place for the holiday. It was cold. No one remembers if it was snowing.

Every day, he’d drive past my grandmother’s office where she worked and honk and wave. It was a small town. Those things could happen. That day, she was in a meeting with her boss. She missed the honk and the wave. She remembers missing it. She never missed it. She was sorry she had. She reminded herself to call him later to see how his day was going.

He went home. His middle son was there when he got home. They chatted in the driveway. No one remembers what they chatted about.

He then had a massive heart attack, to all reports with no warning, no tightness of the chest, no pain, no feeling just a little bit off, and, as his middle son watched in horror, he crumpled to the ground. He died almost instantly, no matter what my poor, lost uncle, who was only 23 at the time, did. There wasn’t even time for the ambulance to do any good.

Bad hearts run in our family. Even when we don’t do anything to warrant them. I blame it on us always wearing them on our sleeves, and then I laugh about it, but it’s not really funny, and there’s really no explanation other than genetics. People in my father’s family have hearts that fail and stop and die. We tend to carry little heart-shaped time bombs in our chests that go off without warning.

My family still hasn’t stopped grieving. It’s been almost forty years and they still cry when they talk about him. It’s why they won’t tell me any stories. It still hurts too much, almost a lifetime later. They still cry. They can’t. They can’t remember. It causes too much pain. My grandmother never remarried, or even dated again, and she lived for another twenty-five years. She was done. She’d had the love of her life. No more. When she died? And they were cleaning out her attic? They found his Christmas presents, still wrapped, still in her attic. She couldn’t throw them away. They were waiting to be put under a Christmas tree that had never happened, twenty-five years prior to that.

My mom was either barely pregnant with me when he died or got pregnant with me right afterward, but, either way, they never got to tell him. He never knew his beloved oldest son was going to be a dad. “He would have liked you,” Dad told me once. “You two would have gotten each other. He would have liked knowing you. You’d have made him proud.”

I would have liked knowing him, too. I would have liked knowing that he was on my side. I would have liked knowing he had my back. I like fiercely loyal and darkly funny. I like them so much I’ve co-opted them for myself.

Once, my father was going through a box of old things, and found a reel-to-reel tape recorder and some tapes. I was excited. I love old things. I asked what they were, and he just shook his head. Repeated questioning from me finally uncovered that they were recordings his father had sent him while he was overseas during Vietnam – letters, but recorded, so the Skyping of the 70s, I suppose. I wanted to listen to them. I wanted to listen to them so badly. I wanted to hear my grandfather’s voice. What a gift, the gift of his voice! But my father refused. “These won’t be listened to again until I’m dead,” he said. And he meant it. I’ve asked again over the years – and there have been many years, it’s been probably thirty years since I found them – and the answer is always the same. No. No, Amy, you can’t listen to them. They’ve taken on iconic status in my mind. I feel like they would solve all of life’s mysteries, were I only allowed to listen and hear my grandfather’s voice from a time before I was even dreamed of, before my parents had met. Someday I’ll get to hear them. I’d like to listen to them with my father, though. So he can explain the things I don’t understand, the inside jokes; so he can fill in the blanks that exist because the tapes are coming from a time of which I have no prior knowledge.

Every once and a while, someone who knew my grandfather will say, “You’re funny. You remind me of your grandfather.” And I’ll just beam. Because, what a compliment, you know? What a compliment. Maybe someday, once I’m gone, people will remember me and think about how funny, how loyal, or different things, things that are just mine. But I hope they talk about me. I hope they don’t keep it inside. I want to be talked about. I don’t want to be kept secret. I want to be shouted from the rooftops, even if doing so makes them cry.

Happy Memorial Day, Grandpa Jim. I wish you were here. I’d like to talk to you. I’d like to see if I could make you laugh. I’d make it my mission. I feel like I could do it. Your kids have trained me well. I’ve got this thing down.

Happy Memorial Day, everyone. Remember your people. But not sadly. Tell stories. All the stories. Don’t keep them in. Tell them until your whole chest aches with them. Let your people live forever through you. It’s the best way you can memorialize them. It’s the best way you can remember. Do it all year long, but especially today. It’s not mourning. It’s celebration.

(Title’s from W.H. Auden’s Funeral Blues, which was a good poem- still is! – before that horrible Four Weddings and a Funeral put its grubby paws all over it, dammit.)


A duck walks into a bar. Animal control is called and the duck is humanely released into a nearby park.

Happy Sunday! It’s a two day weekend for me! I know, I know. It’s a three-day weekend for most of you. But since I worked yesterday, I have a TWO day weekend. Which is JUST as exciting for me as your three-day weekends. I promise. Because what would I even DO with a three day weekend? All that decadence. I would just fall apart and die. OK, fine. I would probably have the best time ever with it. But whatever, I worked yesterday, it’s done now.

Also, side note, work was the worst, and I totally misbehaved and probably will be fired for my misbehavior. I know. I KNOW. OK, well, wait, I didn’t misbehave, per se. I just refused to kiss ass like I was obviously being pushed to do, because I don’t know how to do that and refuse to try. Listen, there’s only so much being pushed around I can take? And I can take it for a little while (especially when it’s coming from someone in authority who can easily tell you to leave and not come back because I really need the job.) But when it keeps happening and keeps happening and KEEPS EFFING HAPPENING sometimes you say (or, I guess, send a memo,if you want to be proper and tell it how it really happened) to the person using grown-up language and semicolons and a vaguely supercilious air, explaining why you are right and they are wrong? Well, you might well not have a job the following week. It’s happened before over there for less egregious offenses. Would it have been worth it? Would it really? Well, overall, probably not, but in the moment – OH HELL YES BABY. I know, I know. Amy, you need anger managementttttt. Probably. Probably I do. But I think there are worse things in the world than not allowing people to walk all over you like you are a dirty disgusting dishrag. However! If I lose my second job and have to go live in a cardboard box down by the river, I hope you will all enjoy my new blog which will be entitled “Please Don’t Steal my Grocery Cart of Cherished Personal Items, Homeless Lady Wearing a Stockpot as a Stylish Hat!” It will be hard to be filled with righteous anger when I am cooking cans of dented baked beans over fires burning in abandoned oil barrels. I’ll still DO it, it just won’t be as EASY.

Anyway, SO listen, I got SHIT to DO today, yo. I’m going to a PLAY and I’m watching a MOVIE (ok, FINE, it’s on DVD, but it still counts) and then watching Game of Thrones and RELAXING. It is going to be great. Then I can stay up late as I want (two nights in a ROW! It’s like a whole ADVENTURE!) and do it ALL OVER AGAIN MONDAY. Ok, fine, I’ll also do a ton of writing and such, but in my own house without being stuck behind a desk. So that’s a win. So this is not going to be the longest thing you have ever read. Are you disappointed? Nah. It’s a nice day. You could go frolic. You know you could.

OK, so what’s going on in the world? Other than I might totally have lost my cool yesterday at work, oops?

Well, there’s the guy who tried to bring his pet zebra and macaw into a bar.

In Dubuque, Iowa (motto: “Showing the Spirit”), a man tried to do what a lot of us do on a Sunday night (what? don’t you all do this on a Sunday night?) and go out for a drink with some family members. But – GASP! – the totally uptight jerks at the bar! They wouldn’t let him stay! They didn’t like his family members, you see. Because his FAMILY MEMBERS were a ZEBRA and a MACAW. Listen, he was just trying to show the SPIRIT, Dubuque. Or the spiritS. Whatever. Why you tryin’ to waste his flava, yo?

The bartender of the Dog House Lounge (heh) sent Jerald Reiter, his zebra, and his macaw packing, so Jerald and his “family” members (no, seriously, he and his girlfriend consider them part of their family, which, whatever, Dumbcat’s part of mine, I get it) (SECOND SIDE NOTE if I write “family” members like that, do you think of the Manson family? I do) got back in the car, but the other barflies were all “DUDE THERE ARE ZEBRAS AND MACAWS AND SHIT IN THE PARKING LOT CHECK IT!!!” so they went out and took the following photo:

In this photo, it looks like the macaw is driving. That makes me happy.

…and then posted it right to Facebook. You know. As one does. (No, listen, I’m serious, AS ONE DOES. Don’t your friends do this? Mine do. They take photos of EVERYTHING and post them to Facebook. Like, “here’s the turkey I had for dinner” and “here’s the screen of my video game I’m playing on Wii” and “here’s a flower that kind of looks like a leaf.” And you know, that’s fine, but some people have mad photography skillz, you know? Like looking at anything they photograph is a joy? And some people have NONE. Like me. None. I don’t have that kind of brain. If the photo I take looks like what I want it to and my thumb’s not in it, I’m happy. So I feel like whoever took this photo is probably one of my Facebook friends, except I don’t think I have any in Iowa.)

But THEN one of the barflies called the COPS and the police showed up and arrested Jerald. And listen, you know how I like beards, right? And also animals? Well, so you’d think this guy has Amy written ALL OVER HIM.

But you would be wrong, because he looks like a dead person. Also, tank top much?

Also, listen, the bar is not the only place Jerald and his lady-friend Vickey Teter bring their interspecies friends. NO NO NO CHARLIE.

“We take them for car rides and they go and they get the mail with me. They are a big part of the family,” Teter said.

To get the MAIL! Listen, I get the mail EVERY DAY but I never ever bring EXOTIC ANIMALS. I really need to start doing that. I want to bring exotic animals with me to get the mail!

I know, I know, this is not an exotic animal. But, aw! SQUEE!

Like, right now, there’s some mystery package waiting for me locked up in the office over here that I can’t have until this afternoon and I’m totally pissy about that because WHAT COULD IT BE? But listen, if I brought like a grizzly bear or maybe a Tasmanian devil with me to get my mail, I would get some RESPECT, dammit. I could get my packages WHENEVER I WANTED. It would be ALLOWED. Who would mess with the chick with a Tasmanian devil?

GIVE AMY HER MAIL DAMMIT!!!!

No one. No one would. (SIDE NOTE: what do you think my exciting top-secret package is, you guys? I totally haven’t ordered anything. All I can think of is I think I have a book coming that I’m reviewing. So it could be that. But I like to imagine that it’s something even MORE exciting. Like maybe a pony! Do you think it’s a pony? Or a new pair of sneakers? I totally need a new pair of sneakers. OOH OR NAIL POLISH? What if it was nail polish I would just die. Oh, shit, wait! Someone that I will not mention because I want to surprise everyone when it arrives said they were mailing me something. Maybe it’s that! I AM SO EXCITED RIGHT NOW! It’s like Christmas with the anticipation!)

OK, so the article says nothing about whether or not it’s legal in Iowa to own exotic pets like zebras. I like zebras but I don’t know if they’re a housepet. I mean, they’re like little horses. Little horses aren’t housepets. Also, wouldn’t it poo all over? I mean, just to be practical, here. I would think it would. Also, wouldn’t it be kicky? I’ve seen zebras at zoos and they seemed to kick and such. Like little high-strung horses. Pretty? Yes. Kicky, also yes.

I am one kicky pet! I will poop in your house! I am not welcome in bars! ADOPT ME PLEASE!

Listen, I love Dumbcat but even HE sometimes is the worst housepet. I had this whole plan to make you all a video of him begging for treats, which is adorable, but instead of doing it, he vomited on my sock. My foot was in my sock at the time. So I had to go all “EW EW EW” and kind of mince over to the paper towels and clean that up and GROSS, Dumbcat. Also, the video was a bust. I promise a cuter, less vomitorious Dumbcat video in the near future. (Don’t worry, he’s fine. Sometimes he just gets pukey. He’s a cat. It’s what they do. Also, I think he was having some stage fright or something. He’s so not ready for his closeup, Mr. DeMille.)

OK. So, we have learned that YES, you can have pet zebras and macaws but NO, you can not bring them to bars called the Dog House Lounge or you will be arrested and also your macaw and zebra will end up on Facebook. This is good stuff and good to know because you never know when a situation like this might come up, you know? You never know when you might become a zebra and macaw-momma or daddy. YOU NEVER KNOW.

Happy Sunday, beautiful people! Enjoy the middle of your long weekend! YAY FOR TIME OFF!!!

(Als0, psst, happy 40th anniversary, Mom and Dad. Try not to kill each other on the road trip you’re currently on. Love you both! Thanks for getting married and having kids and junk, that worked out well for all involved!)


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