A Bad Way to Go


Squinchy almost did me in last night. We were sleeping at my parents’ house in the room off the bathroom downstairs.  I was sound asleep, when Charlie, my parents’ dog, woke me up by scratching at the door. He wanted to go drink out of the toilet, thank god. If he hadn’t, I don’t know what would have happened to me.  But he pulled me up out of a deep, foggy sleep into the awareness that something was very wrong.

I was sweating like crazy, couldn’t see, couldn’t hear, and felt nauseated and loose at both ends. The air felt like poison. I stumbled into the bathroom, threw open the window, interrupted Charlie’s drink, and collapsed onto the toilet.  I was sweating and shaky and had a roaring in my ears I have only had once before, standing naked except for a pink stocking cap on the side of a frozen mountain in Idaho. That is a different story, but I knew the roaring meant I was on the edge of passing out. I braced myself on the wall, leaving invisible sweat prints I’m sure you could find with your tongue if you felt the need to lick my parents’ bathroom wall.

Turns out, the air was poisoned: poisoned with dog farts. Dear, sweet little Squinchy, who slept through it all in his own haze, was poisoning us both with his terrible Special Christmas Dinner and Compost Pile Foraging Gas. I worry about his old age. And I never thought I would say it, but thank goodness for Charlie’s toilet water habit: dying of dog farts on Christmas night would be a bad way to go.


Machetes, Wheat, Etc.

This is about the end of the world. I know that’s so yesterday, but this is about yesterday. Yesterday, I helped my friends Matt and Elana move out of the Alder St. Co-op, where I also used to live. We put their stuff in a storage unit in Mt. Vernon while they prepare to head out across the world. It was an end of an era.

I met Matt years and years ago at my dad’s old work’s Christmas party, which I almost missed in favor of a dance performance.  This was back when he was dating a 20 year old Vietnamese girl and I was only interested in people who were leaving town within a month. So we’ve always simply been friends. He was my toe in the door at Alder St. and I worked for his brother for a while. I’ve always wondered what would have happened if I’d gone to the dance performance instead of the Christmas party. Would I have moved to New Zealand with a Sri Lankan deep sea diver? Would I have discovered I was actually a lesbian rockstar?  It feels like one of those junctures where anything is possible; so much of my life the last few years opened out of that night.

When Matt and I were housemates, we were pretty close. We did projects together, critiqued each others’ writing, and gave each other good hugs. Sometimes we would help each other out with our online dating profiles. Sometimes we made each other cry over things like raisins. Often we had great, rambling conversations about life and literature and agriculture and everything else worthwhile.  Sometimes I would come upstairs, and his door would be ajar, and candlelight and soft music would be smearing out and I could hear grunting and heavy breathing. This was Matt doing his candlelight workouts. You’ll have to ask him what wacky things I was doing.

Detail: Urban  KamiWe spent a lot of time talking on the upstairs landing. I was usually brushing my teeth, and he was messing around on the chin-up bar in the doorway to his room. His old-school Tolkien poster was on the door behind him, and back in his room — along with some gorgeous but gigantic rocks from Utah and a bunch of knives from South East Asia — was his Yoda altar. Matt, you are never going to get a girlfriend with a bunch of knives over your bed and a Yoda altar, I’m sure I was blunt enough to tell him.

But I was dead wrong. Not only did he get a girlfriend, he got Elana — who rocks his socks off and keeps him in line and more than that is his all around equal — and they got married. And now they’re headed off. All their things are packed and stored, including many boxes marked things like Machetes, Wheat, etc. Apparently, Matt has a lot of machetes.

And yesterday, while we were sitting in the co-op in Mt. Vernon eating lunch in the middle of the desperation of moving, the world ended. This is how it was: the co-op was filled with people. Outside, suddenly, was a flurry of snow. A ripple went through everyone, a murmur, a moment. Then, between the buildings down by the river: a rainbow.

Goofy and Pete Celebrate Ref. 74

File:Goofy toy.jpgA five year old friend recently filled me in on the love lives of Disney characters:

“Minnie is marrying Mickie, Daisy is marrying Donald Duck, Goofy is marrying Pete, and those chipmunks? Well, Chip is the girl and she’s marrying the other one. OH NO! Goofy and Pete can’t marry each other — they’re both boys!”

“Actually, boys can marry each other.”

“Oh right! I forgot. But they can’t have babies. You have to have a woman to have a baby.”

“Well, they could adopt, or they could get someone to help them out.”

“Yeah, they could just borrow a sperm. A sperm or a womb. Yeah.”

Kind Friends

I have kind friends.  Last week, I took my car in for a new timing belt. I need my car back tonight, I told them. If that won’t work, I can come back next week.  They assured me it would be done, but when I called them at 4:30 to ask when I should pick it up I was told that they had taken it apart and then sent the technician home. The parts just got here. It will be ready tomorrow. I didn’t know what to do — not only did I have to use my car to cart all my teaching supplies to Frog Hollow the next morning, but the supplies were in the car, in the shop. Cara doesn’t have a car. Nate has a mean commute in the opposite direction. There I was, standing in the thickening dusk, teetering on a minor catastrophe.

So I called Alice and Mark.  They are the folks I babysit for, and are two of the kindest, most loving human beings I have the pleasure of knowing. I have a huge favor, I told Alice.

And she lent me their Mercedes.

Alice and Mark inherited this car. It is an old green boat of a vehicle, and was missing a window from being broken into. Next time take the whole car — we need the insurance money. God Bless, read the piece of cardboard they had propped in the hole. Classic Mark humor. Usually, they drive a Honda CRV with three car seats crammed in the back. Until recently, their other car was a mid-eighties golden Honda Accord they had dubbed Goldmember, which has now been “crushed up for metal!” according to their five year old.

These guys have busy, lively lives, but they didn’t even hesitate to lend me their car.  There’s Cat Power and some reggae CD’s, Mark told me. You can’t tell it at first until the turbo kicks in, but this car’s got power.  He showed me the basics of the car. Thank you, he said.

No, thank you.

Oh right. Well I’m so used to thanking you. Which is true — both Mark and Alice are consistently appreciative and considerate, and if you want some test subjects on the link between gratitude and happiness, just look at them. These guys know how to live.

Alright, And he gave me the key.

And that is how, instead of having a hellish logistical disaster, I got to drive a Mercedes. I picked up my supplies from the car shop — they lowered down my car to let me into the trunk. I drove to my class. Cara watched Squinchy for the day. The Mercedes had great speakers and the pleasing air of a well made thing. And driving it, I could feel the good people who have my back. People like that keep life okay.

I got the car back to them just in time for Nate to steal me (and the Squinch) for a secret romantic weekend in a cabin on the coast, with plenty of tranquility and seagull chasing and good, good, Nate-cooked food. Like I said, I’ve got some good people.

And don’t be surprised if someday down the line, I turn up driving my own Mercedes.

Amazon is Hilarious

I happen to really enjoy kid humor, which is lucky since I spend a lot of time with kids and they tell a lot of jokes. While my teacher-self is eavesdropping and my inner ten year old is cracking up, my inner anthropologist (you didn’t know I had an inner anthropologist?) is taking notes.

Here are some preliminary conclusions: Farts and dumb puns are perennially funny. That joke where you’re forced to say that you blew up is still not quite as funny to you as it is to the other person. The pee green soup joke is out of style, but the “What is your name? How do you spell it? YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO SPELL IT?” joke may never die.

Ross Perot is no longer funny.

There is, however, an entirely new genre of kid humor. PhD. students, listen up. Kids think Amazon is hilarious. Basically, the idea that you can order anything on Amazon makes it really funny.

What if you could order human flesh on Amazon? You just click on Mystery Meat and Mmmmm!

Or there’s the true story of someone’s wealthy friend’s nanny who went on Amazon to order them seven single-serve boxes of that toasted nori snack that is the lunch treat du jour in foodie children’s lunches in Seattle, but somehow ordered seven cases of a thousand. (For real? Didn’t they look at the total price before they checked out? I want to know. But it’s beside the point. The point is, it’s hilarious. Seven thousand! And the kids are eating some of the famous surplus nori right then, so it has to be true, right?)

Or what if you accidentally ordered a baby on Amazon? You meant to click on baby food, but you accidentally clicked on baby? What would you do if you opened your package from Amazon and there was a baby inside it? The kids really want to know. One of the girls looks up and, perfectly deadpan, drawls, “Send it back.”

Now there’s an improvement on the stork.