Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"Yea, We Should Just Build That Fence Already"

Okay, so Pyramid Man has been having a few more (mis)adventures, which will be forthcoming. However, since my Groomeo has been spending much of his time this week working on assignments for the three art classes he's taking--and also hours and hours painting our upstairs hallway (that area is the final domino that toppled during the kitchen remodel and is in the process of being stood up again...once we finish the painting, including the stairs that lead to our second floor, we'll have a new runner installed, and then, Poodles? We's DONE!)--well, he hasn't had much leisure cartooning time. The sub-story here has to do, clearly, with the fact that he's not spending enough time in the bathroom to doodle on the easel as he's doodling in the toilet. I'll feed my man Fiber One for dinner tonight, and Pyramid Man will be back to befuddlement in no time.

Moreover, because I am all about following every biblical edict (I don't eat pork, nor do I trim the corners of my beard, nor do I braid my hair [rot in hell, Bo Derek]), I try to be a help meet to my husband. This week, that means I volunteer to help paint the trim and the five doors that ring our hallways, and then I kind of get that white paint in all sorts of places it wasn't supposed to go, and after a bunch of unsightly drips start taking over the banister and I cry a little bit, I offer to go empty the dishwasher.

The upshot is that I'm paint-covered and tear-stained (although my glassware is spotless), which means I haven't been the blogger I (and God; remember the edict in Revelations that dictates, "Thou shalt publish to your blog at least twice weekly and visit the blogs of thy neighbors, lest ye be hobbled by an angry computer virus"?) would like me to be.

Fortunately, I have this lesbian friend named Kirsten. The fact that she's a lesbian is only pertinent here because I met her when she married one of The Galpals of My Life, a woman named Virginia. Without the lovely lesbians, I would have no Kirsten, so praise Jesus that the bible fully supports their love!

Anyhoodle, Kirsten's life labels are not only restricted to "lesbian"--she's also funny and compassionate and Canadian. That she's Canadian is the basis of the article below, which she wrote for the Austin (MN) Human Rights Commission a few weeks ago. Although Kirsten and Virginia live in Minnesota, theirs is clearly not a Green Card/citizenship marriage (Duh. The U.S. not only sucks with its health care and immigration procedures, it also smacks down gay and lesbian marriage, and I think we can all see that I'm about to launch into a really unpleasant middle class white liberal rant, so I'll stop now. But just one more thing before I cuddle up with the ghosts of Martin Luther King, Paul Wellstone, and Seymour Hersh: don't you think everyone should have at least one home before anybody has two? Yes. Yes. My work here is done):
Here, then, is Kirsten's story:

I'm just a girl wanting to live in the United States...

I have been thinking a lot in the past weeks about my immigration journey. In 1990, I left Canada and joined a theatre company located in the Unites States. I worked with them for 5 years. Maintaining status while working for this entity was always a challenge, but the company did the work, tracked my status, giving me the luxury of not really having to worry much about coming and going to and from Canada. After my 5 years on tour, I decided to pursue my degree and did so here in the US. As a student, once again, maintaining status was relatively easy. While in grad school (7 years later) the true work began. I had an agency wanting to hire me and they were willing to file for an H1B temporary work visa for me. I received my visa and began work in spring of 2001. Getting a Green Card was the goal. The agency hired an immigration lawyer and the work began.

My H1B turned into a second and then a third...the costs mounting with lawyer fees and filing fees and more filing fees. My favorite of these fees (NOT) were those asked for from the Department of Homeland Security to expedite requests. Twice, the visas were not processed on time (the date in which the US is required to respond by). Upon inquiring, TWICE, we were told that they would expedite the request (do what was already theirs to do) for an additional fee of $1000....INFURIATING. We paid! And waited...waited...waited.

In 2006, my lawyer told me that it could be another 3 years...that I was in a backlog of 750,000 people. But that one day, he would call saying that the window had opened and that I would be allowed to make my final application for permanent residency. I did not have to wait 3 more years. In March 2007, the window opened. It was open for a VERY short time and during that time I needed to complete a mountain of paper work and get a physical done. This was not as easy as one would expect. I made 26 phone calls to Civil Surgeons throughout the state of Minnesota before finding one that would see me in time to beat the deadline. I was tested for every communicable disease known to man. I found myself joking with the Doctor while these tests were being completed. By this time I had been in the US for 12 years and any disease found through these tests would have been things I contracted here in the US. I also needed to be fingerprinted and have my "mugshot" taken. I say mugshot because the process, location and staff for this part of the process was very fact the woman taking my prints did not smile...did not speak...except to give instructions and corrections. this place and the people working there were civil but not I watched others I decided it was even unkind...and certainly un-welcoming!

Anyway...I made the deadline and once again found myself waiting....waiting...waiting. On March 25, 2008 (March 25th is my birthday by the way) I received word that my Green Card had been issued and that it was coming. In the meantime I was travelling to Canada and had to make a trip to immigration services in the Cities on my way out to receive a stamp in my passport allowing me to travel. This stamp was in essence a temporary green card. When I arrived, I was welcomed...I was congratulated...I was smiled at...

I am a white girl from Canada (who speaks English) who wanted to live in the US...I am still 3-4 years from being able to apply for citizenship. To date, between fees paid by me, by my sponsoring agency and those fees waived by an incredible law firm, the cost has exceeded $30,000.00. It has been 9 years...I am through the hardest part, of course, but continue to wait...continue to wait. I think about my counterparts...the others trying to make their way through this system...I speak the language, am educated and had the financial support of an employer and a kind hearted lawyer who waived thousands in fees and in this process, this journey, I am challenged...I am frustrated...I have felt cheated...I felt un-welcomed and un-wanted. Oh what the others must feel...

Kirsten also provided this link, which is to a really wonderful chart that lays out the process:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

"If you'd like to have a logical explanation/How I happened on this elegant syncopation/I will say without a moment of hesitation/There is just one place/That can light my face...And It's Called In Front of the Easel in Our Bathroom"

If you were able to find a scale the size of Gary, Indiana, you could hoist upon it all of the toys, puzzles, and games in our house and weigh 'em--at which point, even though you weren't actually weighing the toys ON the town of Gary, Indiana, I'm pretty sure, in a moment of transcendent empathy, the the nice little town of Gary, Indiana, would explode with a loud pop, just from sensing that a scale its size somewhere else on the planet was holding all that kid crap and measuring its heft.

In so many ways, not the least of which is that such an explosion would signal the end of Mayor Rudy Clay (who, based on what I see on his Website, is teeming with pos-i-tiv-ity), this would be a tragedy. Maybe, at least for the mayor's sake, it would be prudent for me to consider cutting back on the piles and piles of child amusements that fill our house so that no scale anywhere ever has to blow up--and so that all mayors, no matter the burg, can continue planning back-to-school picnics for their cities.

If I had to whittle it back to a mere 5 pounds of toy-ish stuff, I know one thing I'd keep: the easel.

Our Girl has used it for years when she is acting as teacher to a class of 26 babydolls; we have used it to pose a "Question of the Day"; both kids have created paintings of robots and sunflowers on it; and, in a pinch, it's a helluva coathook. I also sometimes prop myself against it when I get tipsy.

Transformers, stuffed animals, and board games alike know the Sheriff Is In Town when Easel stops by. Easel kicks toy ass (including that donkey from SHREK).

A few weeks ago, Easel stopped by the bathroom--on a campaign to intimidate the bathtub toys, metehinks, which live in a bucket under the towels--and has been hanging out there since.

Can I just say there are few things more fun than an easel in the bathroom? For one thing, it negates the need for magazines and the crossword puzzle. Because? Punky? You can spend a lot of toilet time creating art when Easel is hovering nearby.

It's a venue for a whole new kind of toilet humor.

Even better, since Paco is waaaaaaaaaaay into reading comic books and graphic novels, we can pretend we're upping his literacy by drawing cartoons on Easel that the lad then has to decipher while he, as we say, "makes a pooper."

In recent days, we've had a variety of panels appear and be wiped away (simultaneous wiping: the hidden bonus of a whiteboard in the bathroom!), including my personal favorite, an alien guy named Brainiac who can't figure out how to eat chicken nuggets, what with him being only a brain on a body and having no mouth.

However, I'm also really enjoying Groom's latest creation, "The (mis)Adventures of Pyramid Man." First, Pyramid Man showed up like this:

His triangular shape makes him wonder, "How am I going to get in?"

See. Rectangular doors are discriminatory.

Today, I switched up Pyramid Man's house and thoughts, though, which delighted Paco during his early-morning toilet ministrations.

Here, Pyramid Man looks befuddled because he didn't actually order that new rug.

As Paco noted while his undies and shorts fell to a puddle around his ankles, "Pyramid Man can't even get inside to call someone and tell them they brought the carpet to the wrong house!"

Poor, poor Pyramid Man.

Clearly, Easel will continue to amuse us as we brush, floss, and wipe. I invite you now into our bathroom, so long as you're willing to ignore the grey ring running around the inside of the tub: if the marker were in your hand, what scenario would vex Pyramid Man next?

Monday, September 21, 2009

“I’m Kind of An Old Woman, and While I Don’t Live in a Shoe, I Believe I Could Cobble Together a Modest Colonial Out of Boots and Flip-Flops, Featuring a Sunroom Constructed of Cleats”

Personally, my waters are a bit muddy. I don’t perceive things as black or white, and my moral compass has never tweaked to true north.

Hmmmm. There have got to be a few more metaphor/analogy/simile/personifications I can toss into that confusing mix. Try these: "my integrity shifts with even the smallest seismic activity" and, um, "my moods waft in and out with the tide."

There. That linguistic mess should have Strunk and White reaching for each other in a darkened library somewhere, seeking comfort, fumbling around for each others’ “ink pens” with their lily-white, uncalloused editors’ hands.

The point is that, due to all the mud and shades of grey and spinning compass needles, I am eminently casuistic and corruptible. If it’s shiny and hanging in front of my face, I will reach up, drooling, and snatch at it.

This tendency proved particularly unfortunate when someone hung a set of Ginsu knives from a maple tree down the street.

It’s not so hard to get by with seven fingers, I’m here to tell you.

Plus, thumbs are overrated.

Anyhow, due to all my suspect internal bidness, I’m a swirling mess of happy-crazy laxity.

And you know how traditional wisdom dictates that, in good relationships, partners complement each other? Like if one partner in a lesbian union owns Carhartts, the other partner in that relationship should have a great toolbelt and a black lab?

Holy Indigo Girls, but I scored just that complementarianship in Groom. Remarkably, despite being an American adult, he has remained, well, pure. Don’t get me wrong: he’s fun in all the important ways. He’ll drink beer with me and cackle when I call our attitudinal daughter a “roiling bag of butthead.” But, overall, he meets the world with a level, steady gaze. In the time that it takes me each morning to hum a few songs from the SHOWBOAT soundtrack and dither about what earrings to wear, his Groomishness has shown up, put in some good thinking, and done the job beautifully--whatever that job may be, from making baguettes to staining windows to biking to the grocery store for a 20-lb bag of rice. In fact, the only negative thing I can say about his performance in a multitude of daily activities is that his ears don't glitter very much, nor can he warble a single show tune.

Despite that lack, I still gotta love one man ‘til I die.

For, you see, I can’t help lovin’ that man of mine.

Yea, so, as I was noting: Groom is very adept and able and solid and clear and junk. Thus, when he speaks, I pause my yammering and listen up.

One of his greatest pieces of wisdom is something I can agree with, intellectually, yet I just can’t get my heart to follow.

See, he maintains that shoes are one of the evils of the world. We have too many; we don’t need so many; they clunk up our lives; they defy corralling; they are symbolic of all hollow excess. Moreover, they are often expensive and uncomfortable and stinky. In Groom’s ideal world, everyone would whittle his/her shoe stash down to only a pair or two.

The world not being ideal, Groom himself wrangles a handful of pairs of Vasque trail running shoes (justifying at least one with “that pair is old, but I wear them when I mow”), a couple pairs of Crocs (which he has to wear around the house, lest he break a toe, as is his wont), a few pairs of flip-flops, and maybe even something he could wear to a funeral or a job interview. Or to a job interview at a funeral home.

This shoe issue has been highlighted once again these last few months when we’ve dragged and toted around our heaps of crap during the remodel and floor refinishing. Twenty-seven trips later, and the shoes have been moved from the front coat closet out to the porch and then again from the back porch to the front porch and then upstairs and, on Sundays, into the basement.

Feh and patooey.

Imagine, then, how giddy I was that last weekend’s garage sale would help reduce this problem. If we were shedding crap and more crap, a few shoes would have to scootch out of our lives, right?

And they did! Approximately five pairs took a walk. Good riddance, cheap leather; hello, $2.25.

Even better, to help organize the remaining household shoes, I had ordered a cabinet devoted to that one task. After the cabinet arrived on our porch with a thump the other day, Groom sighed a bit, crossed himself, and set to putting the thing together. I was upstairs admiring the way a pair of silver hoops jangled as I enunciated "Fish gotta swim, and birds gotta fly."

He only grumbled “shita$$” once during the process.

But lookie! Lookie! We have a home for shoes!

What's more, if we ever get truly resolute and actually pare down our pairs, we can open our own post office and give everyone a mail slot! For now, though, we’re a family of four whose shoes are all nicely stored, which means that I must be a good person and maybe even grown up!

Sure, it’s true that not all the shoes fit in that one cabinet. We also have a little shoe annex in the coat closet. That’s still reasonable.

And, uh, naturally, because we live in a climate of four profound seasons, we also have snow and ski boots stored in the basement.

This is not a problem. It just means we’re warm and active, as all the most clever shoe owners are.

Just ask Imelda.

The other thing we are is environmentally conscious; when people give us hand-me-downs of things like soccer cleats and puddle boots, we’re much too deliberate about our footprint on this earth to say no. It’s all part of reducing and reusing, ja?

That's why we also have this shelf next to the washing machine. I’m only wheezing neurotically the very smallest amount as I type this.

Strangely, the wheeze is intensifying as I recall--GACK--that we also have another bin of hand-me-down shoes in a basement closet, awaiting our kids’ future growth.

As the presence of enormous plastic bins always indicates, we engage in some serious tree huggery.

Since the air in the basement is so thick, I need to head up to the light, maybe to the haven of the bedroom...

...where, Sweet Snoopy On a Cracker, I’ve just remembered I have a closet full of very special shoes that make my feet feel like life is a party

--even when my eyes are crying at the fact that my perspicacious Groom is right:

Evil abounds, lurking everywhere, just underfoot.

The way I feel right now, I can’t imagine what will ever relieve this doleful, sucking feeling.

But I'm guessing a new pair of Teva flip-flops could be balm to my sole.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

"All I Know Is I Sure Ate A Lot of Jelly Bellies As These Photos Uploaded"

Alternate titles in the running for this post were "Doing Our Part to Revive the Economy"; "At Least It Got Us to Dust"; and "So, I Suppose If We Have a New Kitchen, That Means We Should Wash the Dishes?"

Naturally, because my brain is cacaphonous and full of conflicting shouts and yips, I have yet another option: "Some Weeks, I Find Myself All Balled Up Inside Because I Have No Time to Write." The subtitle for this option would read: "Groom Is Doing His Stint Today as a Newspaper Reader on the Radio for the Sight Impaired, and Paco's Testing for His Orange Belt Tonight, Followed by a Soccer Game, Followed by a Parent Meeting for Girl's Class Regarding an Upcoming Trip to an Environmental Education Center, and, Oh Yea, I'm Also Having a Garage Sale This Weekend, and Because My Neighbors Rock, They're Letting Me Use Their Garage, and That's So Cool Because Our Patch of Asphalt Could Not Be More Low Rent, but That Also Means I've Spent the Last Two Days Not Only Dredging and Pricing but Then Carrying Every Last Damn Piece of Crap the House Is Pooping Out Across Two Lawns--Oh, One More Thing, I'm Also Trying to Find Time to Grade a Passle of Run-Ons Activities, Get to the Grocery Store, and Go for a Sanity-Maintaining Run on a Beautiful Trail Where I Can Smell Some Pine Trees and Remember All That Is Good."

That last title's kind of catchy, inn't?

Adding to the kerfuffle has been the in-and-outing of construction guys and carpet layers (new rug on the back porch, as the old one got trashed during the kitchen work) and the fact that each of them is very chatty and has to ask me if I have a wrench and, inexplicably, an iron. Then I make them mochas and find out they hate their jobs and bemoan the lack of healthcare in this country, and before you know it, there's another hour I'll never get back.

Yet, somehow, it's all a bit of giddy fun at the same time. I kind of like making mochas for people, a skill that could come in very handy, should this teaching gig ever get tired. Mocha-making, coupled with a penchant for random chat, could turn me into Starbucks with personality, friends.

Anyhoodle, as of yesterday, the interior of the kitchen is done (a bit of exterior work remains). And, yes, I know I've rather gone on this summer about the remodel and have posted pictures time and again, but since we aren't so much Christians at our house but more Foodstians, I guess I can't help myself. It's like some disciples came and built us a new worship space.

So here goes again: the most recent views of the narthex, the pews, and the altar.

Tony, the tiler, came last week and put in the backsplash. White subway tile is almost as nummy as homemade croutons (which is what Groom's got drying on the counter there).

Backsplash from a distance. You can also see a silver-bullet looking flask on the island; I got that for Paco, in an attempt to get him to take a stainless steel water bottle to school. It has a skull on the front, and that has made all the difference. That skull is at first grade today. I think Paco is, too.

Technically, this would be the altar, methinks. Miss Silva, vixen of the village of Rancilo, has had me on my knees, kowtowing in gratitude, more than once.

The hood here--with the push of a button--rises majestically out of the countertop. In the presence of such technology, every testosterone-driven being who has come into the kitchen in the last two days finds himself struggling to catch a full breath. Gasping, the individual in question eventually asks, "Can I push the button again and watch it retract? And then push the button again and watch it come up?"

The vanity in the new half-bath has been installed. Get this: when you add another sink and toilet to the house, that means there's ANOTHER SINK AND TOILET THAT NEED CLEANING.

My antidote for this? Don't clean.

Groom painted the back porch, and then a really sketchy guy who seemed suspiciously tight with his bottle of glue came, cursed a lot, and installed the free carpet (kitchen remodelers paid for it).

What were you doing at 9:34 last night? I was shrieking at the appearance of yet another disembodied head in my day. The first one had been that of a Barbie (I put a price tag of $.10 on it). This second one looks like Librarian Ken's, eh?

Part of the domino effect of switching up the kitchen was the floor refinishing and--aw, what the hell--a rearrangement of furniture. Most important is the presence of the Playmobil castle on the radiator, of course.

See the heap of junk on the sideboard there? This morning, I carried it across two lawns and tossed it into a garage. With any luck, some poor sod who needs a fleece ballerina blanket will drive through my neighborhood this weekend.

You know, overall, as the various projects start to move towards a close, it's not so much about "stuff" and "having" and "shedding" as it is the creation of a space--and a house can be synergistic, more than the sum of its parts--that feels right,

a space that feels like a haven from the meetings and kid activities and grading,

a space that makes me want to take Communion.

In my case, of course, Communion consists of Triscuits and a hell of a lot of wine, often sucked straight from the bottle.

I would use a glass.

But with all the household transitions, I can't find one.

Monday, September 14, 2009

"As Henry VIII Would Tell You, Heavy Is the Head That Bears the Seed"

My lad Paco is generally regarded as quite tall for his age. On more than one occasion, the drunken college students who rent the house behind us have tossed him their car keys and asked him to be their designated driver. As well, he could trounce all his fellow first-graders in a tetherball tournament, simply because he has the ability to keep the ball a'spinning far above each opponent's reach. Even better, he's tall enough to open the medicine cabinet and retrieve his own Valium when the world is too much with him (spelling lists have sent stronger kids straight to Oxycontin).

However, compared to what's growing out back in the garden, Paco is Lilliputian.

We have cultivated a sunflower so prodigious, it can't handle its own enormity.

My cousin had a breast reduction for the same reason.

For the last few weeks, I've been watching Sunny peak and then begin his gentle decline; briefly, he reached towards the sky, but all too quickly, his frame slanted into a gentle bend of abatement. He is a metaphor for so much, from midlife to sex to friendship to appetite to the new cast members of Dancing with the Stars.

Mostly, for me, Sunny is what he is, though: taking a bow at the end of another season.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

"I Am So Over All That Midnight Dreary, Pondering Weak and Weary"

For me, the last couple of decades have been a glorious gambol. Sure, a couple of guys broke my heart, and a slew of annoying fine lines started creeping in around my eyes, but, on the flip side, I began investing in more expensive shoes, spooning every night with a man superior to those who previously dented me, and discovering that a full-time salary can purchase heckalotta dark chocolate.

Oh, and I also realized poetry doesn't always have to make me lie down in a darkened room and long for a pretty boy to place a moist cloth upon my brow.

When I was studying English in college, poetry felt like the suck. I was always, "Huh?" and "What the fetzpah?" and "Who said hummanuh?" in class, cowering in the back row, trying to avoid participation--yet ready to blurt out, if called upon, "It's a Christ figure and/or beauty is a means of conveying the truth! And if neither of those, then dusk is imminent death, and every rose has its thorn!!"

My head came to hate poesy.

Being so negative, I was, thus, primed for a dramatic turnabout. Because--who knew?--there is actually a fair amount of kickass poetry in the world. Too bad Them Alls in Charge don't teach it in the stuffy classrooms.

Hey. Wait. I think I may just be one of Them Alls in Charge these days. On occasion, when I've not been able to sidestep it (such as when one-third of the curriculum in my British Lit class focused on The Romantics, and damn my hide but those poncy absinthe-drinking boys only cranked out rhymers), I've had to bring poetry into my own classrooms, which, yes, are literally quite the hell stuffy because my college is ventilation-impaired and likes to take one big classroom, chop it into three smaller ones, and then not actually consider airflow in the new layout, which means that the new classrooms are generally, kid you not, 86 degrees and that--HELLO, PLATO--is not exactly the best path to good education. Seriously, is there any other more stultifying English equation than poetry + 86 degrees + class held after lunch = kill me now?

So, anyhow, for a variety of reasons, I am profoundly appreciative whenever I find a poet who actually keeps readers awake and writes clear sense in real words and doesn't stress out my fluffy brain or cause my armpits to sweat even a tidge more because then those big perspiration circles would reach down to my waist.

The latest find in my continual search for Poetry That Keeps My Humours in Balance came, as so many good things do, over the airwaves of public radio. Some weeks back, I heard an interview with Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno, herself an English teacher, but, in the case of her latest volume of poems, more importantly a mother...whose daughter was murdered--strangled by an ex-boyfriend. In Bonanno's recounting, the poems come together to form a narrative of that event and its aftermath.

Clearly, Slamming Open the Door is not low-density reading.


Bonanno's style is accessible, frank, heartwrending. Most refreshing of all, she's one poet whom I'm pretty sure I'd like, were I to meet her. I would like to invite her to come sweat and do a reading in my non-ventilated classroom.

I would bring her a Frappucino. At the end, the students would clap with more than vegetative politeness, for she would leave them sitting up straight, amazed at the power of a words strung together with great deliberation.

Here, then, is an introduction to Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno, a woman who will make a true English major of me yet (in this, my 19th year of teaching English). In this poem, she draws upon the experience of her daughter's memorial service and dispenses advice to all mourners, everywhere:

"What Not to Say"

Don’t say that you choked

on a chicken bone once,

and then make the sound,

kuh, kuh, and say

you bet that’s how she felt

Don’t ask in horror

why we cremated her

And when I stand

in the receiving line

like Jackie Kennedy

without the pillbox hat,

if Jackie were fat

and had taken

enough Klonopin

to still an ox,

and you whisper,

I think of you

every day,

Don’t finish with

because I’ve been going

to Weight Watchers

on Tuesdays and wonder

if you want to go too.

Monday, September 07, 2009

"Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Parents"

Do you ever get in your jammies and contemplate bedtime and then decide that you need to make a movie, real-quick-like, before you sack out all Tired Tiger on your sheets?

And if you do, do you then ask your parents to do "something"--so long as it contains all the best of cinema, from conflict to action to tension...with a few lulls in the middle for character development? (like showing how your sister has a penchant for "grooming" your hair, in ape-ish fashion?)

If you've answered these questions in the affirmative, then you just might be my son. (reminder: when the lad is "Paco," he's being a 14 month old and therefore talks in his special baby voice, calling his sissy "Dee-Dee"--or, better yet, "The Deetinator")

Sidenote: not too far into the video, I mock-elbow Groom and actually whack him quite nicely in his cracked rib (he was mountain biking the other week and went over his handlebars; current practice for a cracked rib is to just leave it alone for a long time--too bad, current practice doesn't also dictate that Your Wife Should Not Mock Elbow You In the Ribs During Healing).

What do y'all do before bedtime for fun?

And, yes, I am a leeeetle bit afraid of the answers that question will prompt. Especially if your activities, like mine, involve going bra-less.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

"I Need Pa"

I grab comfort wherever I can find it--

especially at the gym. To ease me through time on the treadmill, I rely heavily on my Ipod (having to hang onto the treadmill's bar when I am thrust into a "Laugh at The Zany Mess That Is My Personal Taste" moment as my playlist cycles from the thrash of Norwegian punk to the surprising infectiousness of Miley Cyrus' "Party in the USA.")

Shut UP.

It's a good song.

In addition to the music and the handbar, I also rely heavily on celebrity gossip magazines. One one hand, I love encountering stories about beauuuuuuuutiful people who share my birth year (I believe we're referring to it as being "of a certain age," ja?) because, by extension, that means I'm not a total loss; indeed, I am heartened by the loveliness and continuing appeal of stars who are my peers--thriving talents such as Julia Roberts, Salma Hayek, and Anna Nicole Smith (hey. wait. a. minute.).

Even more, it's amazing how the miles fly by as I read about Britney's dress at the Teen Choice Awards, how that Bradley Cooper manages to break Jennifer Aniston's heart without ever seeing or speaking to her, and how running burns off belly fat (them is BIG BELLY FAT LIARS, says A Flopping Bit of Firsthand Knowledge named Jocelyn).

The other day, as I inched up towards Mile 4 and kept my feet turning over in rhythm to "Jane Says" by Jane's Addiction, I came to the end of my magazine (squawk not on my behalf, intrepid readers: I had an US Weekly back-up awaitin' in the wings).

The last page of the magazine had a profile of legendary sculpted rapper L.L. Cool J.

Although, in my life, he's never been a Particular Person of Note, I have always had the impression that he's less of an idiot than most of 'em alls in Celebrityville, so I read on. "Well, whaddya know," methought, panting, "L.L. is only 9 months younger than I! He's part of my validation-that-I'm-still-viable-because-he's-hot strategy!"

Three sentences later, he became even more def to me.

You see, the interviewer asked him, "When was the last time you cried?"

And his answer was off the hizzy--it showed undeniably that L.L. and I share points of identification in the world; even though he grew up creating tunes on a mixing table purchased by his grandfather at Sears while I grew up creating Tic Tac Toe games with a Mason jar of buttons saved by my grandmother during the Depression, we shared the same cultural touchstones.

Here's the thing: his answer to the interviewer's question was, "I cried when Michael Landon died. I was all broken up; you just don't get an icon like that everyday."

That's ma boy, L.L.! That is what this pasty Rush-loving girl from Montana is talkin' about to you, darkerish Hip-hop-loving boy from Queens: Mike-ay-el LanDONE!

As I trotted along spiritedly, it slayed me that L.L. clearly had loved those moments when Pa Ingalls would sit with Half-Pint next to the creek and, against the burbling auditory backdrop, give bucktoothed Laura a gentle lesson in pioneer values.

In fact, since L.L. and I grew up during the same decades, he probably even shared my earlier recollections of Michael Landon on Bonanza in his role as that rapscallion charmer Little Joe!! What's more, L.L., seeming to be a man of sense, doubtlessly knew, with well-developed street instinct, that we don't say aloud the words Highway to Heaven.

Dudes, nothing had ever made my treadmill time more fun than knowing Michael Landon's death had caused L.L. Cool J to cry! That was an even chicer clash of tastes than my schizophrenic Norwegian punk vs. Cyrus Ipod battle!!!!!

I was so excited, to tell you true, that I neglected to wipe the sweat out of my eyes for a few minutes there, and I was bouncing around even more than usual due to the running coupled with chortling and savoring the rare awesomeness that was L.L. Cool J mourning Michael Landon.

Clearing my eyes and slowing the bounce, I finally glanced back down at the magazine profile of my newest hero, one Monsieur Le Cool J.

Huh? What the...?

Turns out the words "Michael Jackson" read as "Michael Landon" when a half-focused person is also kicking along to "Party in the USA" and--hahahahahaha--burning off belly fat.

What. a. downer.

At least, however, I have my answer ready for the celebrity gossip magazine interviewer when he comes a'knockin':

the last time I cried, you ask?

On the treadmill at the YMCA.

Oh, L.L., you may have been born in 1968, but I hardly know ye. You're all Billie Jean and PYT and moonwalking, and I'm all cornbread in a skillet and currying the horses and Sister Mary going blind.


Except. Wait.

THANKS TO YOU, ELL-ELL-IO, NOW I'M HUMMING "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough,"


even if--actually, because--it's not sung by that upstart pole-dancing Cyrus girl,

I suddenly feel twelve again (rendering you a mere eleven, young lad in Queens)...which means

I just might have the pep

to get to Mile 5.