Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sometime My Brain Feels Like It's Going To Explode

Last night I felt a tickle and looked down to see a BROWN spider scurrying up my leg. In my house, because I have been bitten and had to take several rounds of knock-ass antibiotics (do you ever read the possible reactions on those things?) a spider colored BROWN equals DEAD—my doctor has an undergraduate degree in entomology and says not even he can identify brown spiders as anything but brown—so I hit it with a shoe. It rolled into a ball and I went back to typing, thinking I would futilely try to species it later. Later it was gone.

This morning a smaller, though same type, BROWN spider ran across the couch, and I killed it with a sock. Two spiders, BROWN, same couch, two too much. Today was deep vacuum day. By the time I finished I had found three more spiders, one of the same BROWN variety and two of a different, bulbous and golden, brown, all sucked up in the vacuum cleaner. Under another couch I found a crippled BROWN spider. Man, what could I do? It had survived the whacking last night, and now was trying to skitter out of the path of the BIG THING, just trying to survive (so it could bite me later with its very toxic venom pouch or whatever it has if it were the same as the undetected spider that had left four, FOUR welts that had become infected with MRSA, required several rounds of etc etc etc and itched for two years. I did the only thing I could. I scooped it up on a note card that had a quotation from A Course in Miracles and flung it out the door.

Once I peeled my thumb nail back trying to corral a cockroach with the empty cardboard paper towel tube. Ouch. A long time ouch. Now cockroaches live or die according to my whim and how easy they are to catch in an actual paper towel and what’s on my agenda for the next few minutes.

Shug the dog is allergic to many, many, many substances, including fleas, including anti-flea medication. Since we’ve had upwards to ten house pets at one time, we’ve been able to keep the fleas at bay by Advantageing the rest of the animals, and leaving Shug toxin free. Only this year Shug has fleas. What’s the difference between killing fleas with a toxin administered to your dog or cat, and personally picking them off your allergic dog and squashing them between your fingernails? Blood-lust. Sentient beings or not (and I know they are because they run like hell and deviously hide—they know enough to know they do not want to die, ‘don’t got to the out back,’ I imagine them saying to their adolescents, ‘for the Big One will surely kill you.’), I track those suckers like the Terminator after Sarah Conner. Only I get them. It’s easy to get addicted. Sometimes I wonder if there is a flea-crushing competition, I’m that good.

A lone ant traveling the sunroom we call Paladin, you know, a knight without armor in a savage land. We might blow it off our arm, but otherwise we greet it by name. An ant on my food counter? I think of it as Borg, those mentally linked Star Trek cyborgs. “You are about to die,” I tell it. “Warn them. Warn the others not to come.” One dead to save thousands. Those ants that congregate in the cat food bowls? They get washed down the sink while I sing, “it was sad, sad, sad, it was sad when that great ship went down, down, down.” And the ant families swirl around the drain as I finish up, “husbands and wives, itty bitty antees lost their lives.” Yesterday there were no ants on the pet food bowls, but the yard stick in the corner was covered in them.

And that’s not all. As I wash those battalions of ants down the drain, I know those ants want to move into my house, set up housekeeping, share my food, eventually devour me after they starve me to death, and even if it’s not personal, the result is the same, so it’s me or them, Buddy. And what is the difference between ants and people? What if I were the leader of a marauding population, be it space alien or Attila the Hun, if I didn’t need the folks I was conquering for labor, and I needed their resources? Would the ability to make war on the insect world allow me to massacre populations? Just a thought while I’m feeding the cats.

And I am BIG—maybe bigger than the ant, the spider and flea can conceive? Am I capricious fate to them, or something akin to the Hand of God? “God created man in His Own image, and man immediately returned the favor,” says one variety of a quote attributed to many people. I think of how I treat the insects and know I fear God feels the same about me. Two-and-a-half billion people in 1950, with a projection of nine billion in 2050. Was the God of the wooly mammoth and the great auk not paying attention? And while the number of polar bears are at a historical high and the notion of man-made global warming has become a hysterical religion that brooks no heretics, can Mother Gaia sustain nine billion people and the polar bears? And is one single one of one worth more than one single one of the other? Is your head spinning yet?

Okay. I believe God and ant and woman are all one, and having my brain scream “we’re all going to die” while I refill the cat bowls is merely drama entertainment. Let’s not move on to starving babies, plague and how my neighbor hacked a branch out of the magnolia so she could park her son’s run-about golf cart there, and now will the magnolia catch a virus from its injury and die. Bombs. Bombs and waterboarding. STOP.

A Course in Miracles says we have two choices: heaven and hell, and we call our witnesses to prove the one we want see. This has proven true to me so many times, yet I stand by my sink, drowning ants, and wonder how to call forth heaven when hell is obviously, disastrously exploding in my future like I have no choice in the matter at all, I’m either ant fodder or ant executioner. If I get an inkling, you’ll be the first to know.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Even If He Likes You Better Than The Kids, He’s Still Gonna Have To Pay Child Support, You Betcha’

Last night Kent and I ate at the Mexican restaurant at a little after five—latish for us, but early enough there was only one other family in the section where we eat: an attractive couple and two cute kids. The couple was seated together and the kids at another, fairly trashed table, kind of the way multiple adult mixed groups and their off-spring eat together. I noted that because Mommas and Daddys and Jrs. usually sit at the same table…it’s the mixed groups that give the kids the treat of trashing a table with their friends. Even then the Baby Sister, even if she’s all of five like this little one, usually sits with Mommy. My mind works this way ALL THE TIME.

The woman was attractive in that big-haired Barbie-Doll camouflaged make-up way that is common in My Town. The guy was starched shirt and pressed jeans handsome. They were talking to the waiter. “Going to the carnival?” the waiter asked him as we passed. The carnival was parked in the strip mall lot across the street. “As soon as we leave here,” the guy said.

“Don’t you do carnival rides before the kids eat?” Kent whispered in my ear. “That usually works out for the best,” I whispered back.

We sat at the table at the very back. That also usually works out for the best, given my tendency to stare as I get trapped in other people’s lives. Maybe we should sign up for cable t.v., or whatever people are watching these days.

The woman was querying the waiter about spinach. Apparently he had served it to her once, and it had been good, and even though it wasn’t on the menu, she wanted more. Spinach in a Mexican restaurant? Of course I was intrigued. She interrogated and badgered him as another waiter brought us chips and salsa, went back for cheese dip, returned again with our Cokes. They serve it in Grenada and Batesville and ah, um, oh Greenville. The other Mexican restaurant said they would get it, butI like it better here, why didn’t they get the spinach, I don't want to drive to Grenada every night, I mean every week-end to get my spinach, you should talk to the management, it was so good, I love the spinach, why didn’t they serve the spinach? she said in a margarita wheedle that some women think is sexy. If you do, let me tell you: not that I’m your type or anything, but I don’t think so. The whole time the little girl in her fancy pink flares and crop top, a little like Bo-Peep without the flounce, played up and down the section, stopping several times to flirt with us. Nobody ever said, “honey, come on back now.”

The man said, “Kids, y’all ready for that funnel cake?” Kent and I gasped at the same time and I could feel the drop in my stomach as the Ferris wheel swooped toward earth. We caught each other’s eye and sniggered. As the kids hoorayed for funnel cakes, the spinach segued into salsa. The waiter left to fetch the grown-ups some very hot salsa. Is it time to go? I wasn’t talking to him, you were the one who kept talking to him, I said, uh-huh, you were the one that asked him about the spinach, it wasn’t me, I wasn’t the one that kept talking to him, she said, her eyes fastened on her guy as he bounced Little Bo Peep in his lap until the waiter brought the very hot salsa. Um, good, it’s really good, don’t you think it’s good? she said. “You don’t want that,” the man told the kids. The little girl ran back to make eye-contact with us, because she knew we were seeing her, and that we thought she was cute. (By the way…the outfit was a tad fancy for a Saturday night at the Mexican restaurant, but it was lopsided, and her hair needed brushing. Just the facts, m’am.) The little boy picked up the salsa and pretended to slurp it down and nobody said put down the damn salsa, we’re going in minute. The woman never quit looking at the man.

Eventually they gathered up and wandered off, the man and the little girl first. The woman slid out of the booth and the boy made wild, wavy, I’m-gonna-get-you hands at her. I couldn’t really hear if she said stop that, but her flat expression and tensed body (boobsied, little-waisted, toned butt, every bit rigid) indicated if you touch me with that frog I’m going to kill you. Then they all were gone.

So what do you think the relationship between all those folks were? Have you got a little back story going on in your head? I know I do. I’m all about back story, including how how hormones interfer with recognizing a magnolia. I could be wrong. One thing was for sure, though…somebody was going to at least want to puke before the night was over.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Thanks, Mr. Peale

Yesterday was a rare day of eating lunch out at the Katfish Kabin, yum yum, my fav. The buffet at the Katfish Kabin is a risk, because I always want the occasion to be perfect and sometimes when we go we can’t get a seat and the fish have been sitting too long in the warming tray. Yesterday the noon crowd had thinned out, the seating was easy, and we had to wait a tiny bit for the catfish to come from the kitchen, just fried and very hot. I snagged a table in a empty corner of the back room and waited for Vernell to join me. What could be better for two friends who seldom get to eat out or visit each other?

Except by the time Vernell brought her tray and sat down, the table next to us began filling with up with hefty, hungry, HAPPY women. Hefty, hungry, happy, LOUD women. First there were four, then six, seven, eight. Did I tell you they were happy? And LOUD? And that there were ten before they were all seated? Ten hefty, hungry, happy, LOUD women?

Vernell has a soft voice, and my hearing, it isn’t what it used to be. I felt tricked and abused. I thought about changing tables, but that would have been obvious and cranky, throwing the happy women, the waitresses, and Vernell and me all off-kilter. In desperation I imagined me standing up, prim as a librarian, tapping on my glass, and roaring, “WILL YOU PLEASE HOLD IT DOWN!”

Also nada. They probably couldn’t have heard me, anyway.

Then it occurred to me to visualize being able to hear everything Vernell was saying. Perfectly.

And I could. And for some reason, though she has older ears than mine, she seemed to be hearing me, too, without my having to raise my voice. Instead of listening to the roar next to us and that voice racketing in my head telling me about our lousy luck, I listened to Vernell. The conversation was swell, and did I say the fish were hot? Hot! Lunch was everything I always want it to be, but don’t always get.

“That sure was noisy,” Vernell said as we left. “It sure was,” I said. “That was a noisy group,” she said, three times before we got to the car. Probably because she still felt as stunned as I had before I gave up defending myself from the noise and started listening to her. Probably she didn’t know I was contemplating positive thinking, and how powerful it is. And that group?—they were like rain or wind or the hot, hot sun—a force of nature I really couldn’t control, not an enemy to be attacked and condemned. If I could decide to hear Vernell under the surge of their voices, what might I decide to do next?

She probably couldn’t figure out why I agreed with her and was still grinning. How could I explain to her when I get a gift like that, I’m always HAPPY?


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Raptor Rapture

I'm that woman...the fat,frumpy one walking her dogs and carrying a bag on her arm to pick up the poop, not because I'm a good neighbor--I was once told you could be arrested if you didn't pick up your dog's poop in Savannah, but if you walked down Grand Boulevard in my town picking up your doggy poop, you would very shortly land in Whitfield, which for those of you that don't know, is the state insane asylum, is that okay to say....insane asylum?-- But the neighbors know me after all these years, and I can pick up my dog's poop without fear of the consequences, and I do it now because the Sugar dog EATS THE POOP, and really that's grosser than picking it up and tossing it in the trash. As long as I'm cleaning up poop, I also pick up trash, kind of making amends for all those years I skirted being locked away by not picking up the doggy poop (though generally I only let my dogs poop in obscure places or in the yards of people I knew had dogs and walked them without bags on arms, it was a mutual poop exchange) and because it's my neighborhood, and I like it better without trash than with, so I am that fat, old lady who picks up other people's trash, and because of all those years of my dogs depositing doggy poop, I don't even get cranky at the louts who throw out fast food trash and rubber shoe insoles? though the rubber shoe insoles did lie there and hang there (one in the leaf-thick ditch and the other dangling from a stunted crepe myrtle) for several days. Only today they had been joined by a scrap of newspaper several years old and some crumpled piece of gunky paper, and I decided today's the day. So when Sugar pooped, I scooped it up and turned to pick up the trash, only Sugar planned on going in the other direction, and I jerked and she pulled and she SLIPPED OUT OF HER COLLAR, and once when I dropped her leash she jumped on some walker's dog, and he had to hang her, like Muriel had to do with the Welsh Corgi Edward in The Accidental Tourist, if you haven't read it or seen it, do both, and when the walker set Sugar down, she looked bemused and then gleeful, because she could then jump his other dog, and she had that same hound-jumping glee on her face today, only I used my most intimidating you-best-not-even-think-of-it voice, Sugar, Sugar, Sugar, as I dropped my poop bag and then stepped on it and slid, but I didn't fall down, and apparently was threatening enough that Sugar hunkered down and I caught her, and as I slipped the collar back over her head, I saw IT, and IT had something long and drooping in its beak, and IT landed high in a tree two houses down. I made note of the tree, then quickly walked the dogs, stuck them in the house, grabbed my bincolulars, rushed back out, looked for the nest, couldn't find it, until IT flew back into the tree again, this time with a long weedy strand, and there IT was, at the nest with a mate who was arranging the building material just so, and I now knew where a MISSSISSIPPI KITE couple was nesting, like a gift from the God of Spring. If I had not slid on the bag of shit, I never would have seen them. I would have spent all of my life, not ever knowing about the nest high in the tree. I thought that. I did. Because I am that kind of woman.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Slap Yo Momma

Okay, I'm fat. And possibly one of the reasons is that I've been craving (and eating) grilled sourdough cheese sandwiches, with a hint of red pepper for breakfast. I've been thinking about making a change, and today was the day. Breakfast: falafel (Tarazi gourmet falafel veggie burger mix was my short cut--and I used the last of it today) on whole-wheat pita, dressed with tomato, lettuce, and raita, with a side of canteloup, hummus, and a dollop of cilantro chutney. And a few Kalamata olives.

Not that anybody cares what I ate for breakfast, and it's not exactly diet food, but I'm just saying...stop by. Bring the Tarazi mix and I'll make breakfast for you, anytime.

Come back tomorrow and I'll tell you about the Mississippi kites, which you do not eat. Though they may eat you.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

More Six Word Memoirs From the Woman with a Way With Words

from Memphis:

"Fun, yes. But I must stop."

"I should be working on that."

From her boyfriend: "I know it all about everything."

Her 12 word rejoinder:

"You, who think you know everything,
irritate those of us who do."

And my memoir describing the rest of my life has been reduced to two words:

"Still painting."