Monday, December 10, 2007

About a Fish

I got this fish. A goldfish. Originally, it was slated as food for a turtle but after watching the turtle eat one, I couldn't take anymore and put the goldfish in a tank. The turtle soon died, not of starvation; I fed it turtle food, but of a respiratory infection.

Do you realize how hard it is to tell that a turtle is sick? I mean, they're all in their shell. They stick their necks and scrawny little legs out once in awhile, but they drop a little weight, who notices? The poor little bastard. He was alive at the moment I took him from his turtle habitat, and dead by the time I got him to the vet 2 miles away. There was no question of resuscitation. I have never, in my entire life, heard of anyone resuscitating a turtle.

But back to the fish. Ten years later and I still have the goddamn fish. I can hardly fucking believe it. One of them, he's just regular: torpedo shaped, cloudy eyes like any elderly thing. Sometimes, he's got bruises on the top of his head because he gets over enthusiastic at feeding time and bangs his head on the top of the aquarium. Other than that he's a pretty normal fish.

It's the other one who is the problem. He is about 4 inches long and looks like he swallowed a golf ball. You would think this was something a person might see developing over time, but that's not what happened. One day I just looked into the tank and said, "wow fish. It looks like you swallowed a golf ball." Since then, the golf ball has not only remained, but gotten bigger. Now it looks like the fish has swallowed, hmm... maybe a squash ball.

It's horrible. He's all distended. His scales won't stretch far enough to cover his bulk. His anal slit is way distended. If I was going to make up a creature for a monster movie, the only thing I would do differently is make it clay colored. This fish is a marval of survival, and to be honest, there are some days he's almost too much for me. Some days I can't stand to look at him.

But he eats. He swims, although not to the top of the tank. He waits until the food sinks down. And he persistently refuses to go belly up. Sometimes I catch him with my hand. He's, like, easier to catch than a dirt clod, and rub his sides and his belly. I don't know whether it feels good to him or bad. It is very hard to tell what a goldfish is feeling.

Anyway, the other day I couldn't stand it anymore. I just thought to myself, "this fish has got to be in horrible discomfort. He's already lived longer than, like, 99% of the fish in the universe, so maybe I should do him a favor and put him out of his misery." Oh, I'm sure there was a little of wanting to put him out of my misery. I have enough to worry about besides some horrible, mal-shaped fish.

But how to do it? I don't like violence, and I distain pain ever more. I didn't want the poor fish to suffer. I just wanted to help him along to the next world. I could have taken him outside and hit him on the head with a brick, but how is a person supposed to do something like that to a fish she's held in her hand and whose belly she's rubbed? No, hitting it in the head with a brick was impossible. I thought about suffocating it. Hold it out of the water for awhile, but I've seen that kind of shit before, and fish can hold on gasping for breath forever, all the while their gills and blood vessels straining against the oxygen and other diabolical gases brutalizing their breathing apparati like there's no tomorrow. No, holding him out of the water was an impossibility.

But... but... Owing to my rash of bad luck, I've in my possession more pain pills than the pope's had hot lunches, and an idea began to germinate. What if I mashed up a percoset, mixed it in a bucket with water and put the fish in it. Wouldn't it simply breath the narcotic and die? That seemed like a pretty painless method of execution. Don't you think?

I created said mixture, grabbing said fish. Have I mentioned that he's easier to catch than a dirt clod? You would be too if you were only 4 inches long, yet had a belly the size of a tennis ball. I placed him gently in the bucket, put the bucket in the shadows so it would be nice and peaceful, and went away for three hours.

And when I came back, the fish was as alive as ever. Swimming around. All mellowed out and happy. His tank mate however, looked exceptionally depressed. Dorsal fin collapsed, head lowered. Clearly pining for old basketball belly.

There is nothing sadder than a pining goldfish. If anyone can look at a pining goldfish and not have an emotional reaction, then I'm sorry, there's just something wrong with them.

I scooped up old zeppelin belly, which was, like, about a hundred times easier than picking up a dirt clod, and put him back in the tank. I try not to look at him much. He swims, he eats. He does not go belly up. What is a gal to do?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Curved Space and Electromagnetism

I come in one driveway, the soon to be ex comes in the other. One of his headlights is out and I tell him so. He's into brightly colored geometric patterned polyester shirts these days, for 2 reasons. One, he's not living with me anymore and he can, and 2, he doesn't have to iron them. I believe somewhere in his consciousness, there's a whole London Mod thing going on. His stepfather was a hipster type. Engaland swings like a pendulum do. I've seen this side of him before, like a beat down herpes virus that can only muster the chutzpah to break out every ten years or so. It will visit more frequently now.

This kid, ours, whatever, he's around somewhere. I can't hear him but I know. I saw him slink in, dreading the whole family dinner thing. Oh, he'd hate it much more if it didn't happen. Certain things are just supposed to happen. The laundry gets done, the refrigerator is filled, the electricity flows through the wires, lighting bulbs, powering computers. And Thanksgiving dinner appears on Thanksgiving. Even if he doesn't feel like eating it, it must appear. It's the way the universe works. It's curved space and electromagnetism.

But I begin to question his presense. Maybe it was yesterday I saw him. Of course, he may have crawled under the carpet in his bedroom. He may have disappeared into a space behind the wall, like the little girl in that old episode of The Twilight Zone. One minute she's laying all comfy in her bed, the next she's been sucked through the bedroom wall and into another dimension.

So I figure I'll go get the mail and think it over. The geometric polyester shirt and its inhabitant have headed to the kitchen with a bottle of 11 dollar wine. He won't even miss me.

In the old days, I never forgot to bring in the mail. These days it happens all the time, primarily because there are bills to contemplate paying. Not that I actually have to pay them, though that's coming; it's contemplating paying them I can't cope with. The soon to be ex has been doing it for so many years I may have forgotten how. I think I can write a check, stick it in an envelope and put a stamp on it. I sort of believe that one day I'll be able to go out and earn the money to back up the check that goes in the envelope with the stamp stuck to it. Someday I might even be able to understand automatic withdrawals.

Anyway, the problem with being an efficient, competitive guy is that mere mortals routinely defer to your superior ability and before you know it, you wind up doing everything. No wonder the marriage blew apart.

Then again, it could have been some universal force. Something like curved space or electromagnetism.

But the point isn't the mail itself, it's what's in the mail, which is a report card. It's not so hot all around, but the stand out is the "C-minus" in European History. C-minus you see, is the new "D." I don't know what calling it a C-minus instead of a D is supposed to do exactly, except reinforce the idea that the kid's not below average. The Lake Woebegone Effect. I don't think it's at all like electromagnetism, but there it is.

"I thought you were doing better in this class!" Me, huffing and puffing. "A "C" is like a B-minus, but a C-minus is a "D." "You got a "D!" You've never gotten a "D" before.

"I did bring it up!" He protests. "He hasn't read the notebook yet!"

I have a feeling the notebook was probably actually due about 2 weeks before he handed it in. "Did he have time to read it?"

"How should I know?"

"You know," I say. "In the real world, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If Dad has work due, then he has to have it in on time or it can be fucking Einstein and it won't matter."

"I know! I'll bring it up."

He doesn't know. He just says that. Teenagers know everything.

"You got a "B" in Graphic design!" (N.B. remember, a B is now a C-plus.)

"I'm never going to do well in that class. I try my hardest."

"Fair enough. But European History... do you even breathe when you go into that classroom. Because if you breathed, you could do better that a "D."


"Whatever the fuck!"

The next morning, he's all nice. For a minute, he's lulled me into complacency. Maybe he feels bad because he's slacked off too much. Maybe his conscience is bothering him for fobbing me off a million times and not doing his work.

"Did you ever cash that 50 dollar check?" He's talking about the one from his birthday, a month ago. I haven't."


"Will you?"

I'm cleaning the pool. See, in a week I'm going to lose my right arm to surgery. It will be back after awhile, but I'll be off line for six to 10 weeks. I've got to do all the physical work now that I can. And the fucking Desert Broom has clogged the pool filter. Again. "Yes."

After I finish dismantling the pool, I head out to the Circle K. Okay, the machine charges a 2 dollar service fee, but it's convenient. That's why it's called a convenience store. When I get back, I give the kid, mine, whatever, his 50 bucks.

"How about allowance?"

Well, it's after Friday, so I guess he's owed that too. Even though I had to remind him to bring the recycling bins in, twice. I lay another 20 on him. "Don't spend it on drugs," I say.

"I won't." He's convincing too. But then it doesn't take much. Anything but that "fuck you" attitude makes me roll onto my back and pee myself with joy.

How I long for the days of Lego and Dinosans.

Monday, November 19, 2007


The Buddhists say you can't step into the same river twice. Some of them, those Zenny ones who think they're really clever, say you can't even step into the same river once, since by the time you get the other foot in, it's already a different river. Zen Buddhists? They're mostly mean. They get off on fucking with peoples' heads. You wanna meet a nice Buddhist, you gotta go to the Mahayanas.

In any case, the Zennies are confusing the water in the river with the river bed.

Metaphysically speaking, I only know what it is like to be a rock in the river. Water rushing by, changing and re-shaping me and everything around me without giving two shits as to whether we want to be rearranged or not.

Last night, a friend in LA sent me to his website, asked me to listen to a tune. It took me awhile. He's got a MAC, I've got a PC and everyone knows what kind of trouble that causes. But finally I found a format that would work and listened to the tune. I recognized it; it made me cry. But I had no idea what it was.

He said it was a melody I'd written 25 years ago. Man, I hate time. It is the most goddamn powerful force every spawned by physics. The egghead crowd-- you know the ones- they get their pithy articles published in the New Yorker, are forever saying droll shit like, "time is what keeps everything from happening at once." Oh, how clever. Ooooh, let me wrap my mind around that one.

Later last night, I woke up and remembered the first verse to that 25 year old song. "Winds that say your name. Colors that don't ever change. I stare at the night. Wishing you could somehow make it right. But Venus it don't rise any more. And I sit back and wonder what I ever came here for. To the Milky Way."

Kind of cute. Kind of sweet, right?

And it reminds me of that old joke. Guy number one says to guy number 2, "Where'd you go to school at?" Guy number 2 says, "Wherever I went, they taught me never to end a sentence with a preposition." Guy number one says, "Okay, where'd you go to school at, asshole?"

I think about love sometimes. About youth and the things that go with it. I think about laying on a diving board at 2 AM, looking at the stars not wondering so much, why is there something rather than nothing, but, "why isn't there more?" Why was it, I wondered, that there had to be millions of light years between stars, blinding me with deep purples and blacks, when they could all be closer together, illuminating the night sky like a never ending fireworks show?"

The answer of course is, they can't. Not and keep the rest of the shit from flying off into nowhere or imploding like a suicidal poet.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Halloween Night

So this kid, mine, whatever, he's sitting on the loveseat like an ugly girl waiting to be picked up for a date. Says he's going trick or treating, only he doesn't have a bag and as the silver pick up truck pulls up on the side street-- it never comes in the driveway-- he tells me it doesn't matter as he dashes out the door. Part of me supposes he's going to get a bag somewhere else, but given that he doesn't have a costume, the bigger part of me knows it's bullshit. That he's not going trick or treating at all. He's going somewhere with the guys in the silver pickup truck. The brand new one. The driver's parents bought it for his 16th birthday, on account of being blind, deaf, and dumb, to who their own kid actually is.

Which is the neighborhood dope dealer. I've been soft peddling it in my head, but there it is. This little wanker, he avoids my eyes when I look at him. This kid, mine, whatever, he sidled up to the passenger window of this truck yesterday, maybe the day before as well, like a snake crawling up the backyard wall. If I'm cool and flat enough, the wanker, the one with the silver pickup truck, will like me, thinks this kid. And that's all he really wants of course. Same thing every teenage kid wants, to be liked. To fly under the radar 24 7 and still be noticed for something ineffable yet at the same time solid.

This, of course, is impossible. But this kid, mine, whatever, he doesn't know that yet. And this night, Halloween, he gets into the truck with no hesitation. No sidling required at all.

Seven, 8, 9. Late by my estimation on a school night, but what do I know? Ten, 11, long past the time the sweet goblins and ghosts have been tucked into their beds. But this kid, mine, whatever, is nowhere to be seen. At least not if "nowhere" means our house. He's definately not to be seen anywhere around this particular nowhere. I ring the cellphone and after 4 or 5 rings, no one picks up. The next time I call it goes straight through to voice mail. Same the next time, and the next time. I leave a text message. Says, "Call me." Nothing. This kid, mine, whatever, he has checked out.

I worry. The last time this happened, he got his father evicted from his apartment. Long story, but believe me when I tell you, it has something to do with the wanker in the silver pickup truck. I don't know if he had the silver pickup truck back then. Probaby, his parents bought it for him as a reward for getting my husband thrown out of his apartment. "Aren't you clever, little no-eye-contact-wanker." "Here, have a pickup truck and while we're at it, let us light that bongload for you. The fact that you exist, sure enough, is proof positive of our parenting skills."

"Here, maybe you can run yourself over with this shiny new pickup truck. And while you're at it, go ahead and run over this kid, her's, whatever. The one that sidles up the side by the passenger window like a cobra stoned on Mexican dirtweed from Guadalajara."

Parenting has very low standards these days.

Me, I'm trying to keep cool. Reading a page turner by Greg Iles, a capable enough page turner writer I guess, but no sense of humor at all. How do such people survive day to day, that's what I'm wondering. Don't they know that what they're writing is trite? That all the death and rape and sadism has been done a million times before? So what if they come up with a new way to kill people. Death is boring. So fucking boring. Death is the most boring thing ever. There's so much of it around. Mud is more interesting. Dirt, dust, laundry is more interesting than death. I could feel more stimulation watching motes change trajectory when my eyes blink, than I do hearing about more death.

I ring the cell phone again. It's 11:35. This kid, mine, whatever, answers all chirpy-like. Hi Mom, what's going on, having a smashing game of pingpong and drinking Mountain Dew spiked with cough syrup, thank you very much.

Course by now, I've left several nasty messages along the lines of, "this turning off your cellphone doesn't work at all. If you don't call me back in 15 minutes, you're losing it." The 15 minutes has long since passed. He's already lost it.

"Do you know what time it is?" I say.

"It's Halloween!" he says.

"On a school night! You still have to get up in the morning at the regular time."

"Okay, I'll be right home."

Minutes later, a truck pulls up in the driveway. I want to pull down my boxers and moon all the little bastards, but of course that will only get them all worked up and they'll never go away. Eventually, after much gay banter, no doubt along the lines of, "you're so busted, dude," the truck drives away. This kid, mine whatever however, is nowhere to be seen.

Close to midnight and I want to go to bed. He's sitting in the gravel on the driveway, and when he hears the door open, gets up.

"You been smoking pot?" He's got no candy. Not a Snickers, not a Butterfinger. Not a candybar to be seen.


"What the fuck? You said you were going trick or treating. It's nearly fucking midnight!" He's slinked in, is pouring apple juice from the pitcher, cap pulled low over his brow. "Who were you with?"

"Perry." Perry the wanker. Perry the Pear. Perry the punk with the sway and the dough. The cut-off kid and I don't give a fuck. Not anymore than I give a fuck for scabies or a persistant case of ringworm.

This kid, mine, whatever, he says he's sorry. Comes over and hugs me. He never does that. I can count the number of times he's hugged me on one foot, even if I'd blown 4 of my toes off with a pistol, I could still do it.

I figure he must be on acid or something.

Greg Iles is waiting in the bedroom, with his flat dead prose and his hundred ways of killing somebody. He ain't much, but he's all I got.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Anatomy of Love part 2

The point is, I used to think of love as some sort of Platonic form. If only I wiggled right and squeezed real tight, I might fit in and get it. But it never worked. I don't believe in Platonic forms anymore.

Because what I've noticed about love is that it's very much like "cancer." Cancer is a word that everybody thinks of as one thing, but it's really a lot of different things. Cancer can be in the bones or blood. It can be in fat cells, or muscle cells. It can be in your bladder or your boobs. And the kinds; it boggles the mind. Fucked up cells that look like amoebas. Fucked up cells that look like silly string. There can even be fucked up cells that look like footballs or beef jerky. But they're all still cancer. Just like "love," is always love.

In the end what I think it means is that whatever you latch onto as a baby, that's what you love. If it's your parents; and your parents are Ozzie and Harriet, then that's great. Unless of course, the Harriet you see on screen is guzzling gin between takes and putting cigarettes out on your forehead. Then you're stuck somewhere between real reality and fake reality, and bound to be really lost and miserable. Like someone who went to Limbo after the Catholic church cancelled it. It never changes. It never ends. It never goes anywhere.

I knew a guy; he's dead now. But his mom had 9 children. This was during the Great Depression and she breast fed him until he was five. As far as I can tell, that's all she ever did with him. Instead of her, he imprinted on the draft mules on the farm. When the farm went mechanized and they sent the mules off to the slaughter, he went stark raving mad. He spent all of his life that way. Trying to pretend that he wasn't.

Which is why I think love is so random and hazardous, and why you really can't help who you love. I think we see someone from across a crowded room who's exactly that perfect combination of our mothers, our fathers, the cuddly toy Aunt Ruth gave us when we were three, the samari sword drunken Uncle Daniel gave us when we were 4, only our parents took it away because what the fuck is the matter with him anyway, giving a 4 year old a sword? Those people, those ones across the room, they're the exact right concoction of the mutt dog we could never have, the postman who gave us a kind smile and a candy, the babysitter with the saggy arms and mustache, and the turtle that got run over in the street. We see those people and we're hooked. Hopelessly and forever. Until the gods pull us up short and we finally understand they were only kidding.

I only wish my friend, before he left this world, had been invited to one single party, consisting entirely of of mules. If I could have him back for only one day, I would throw that party. The cake would be made of alfalfa and carrots; and everything there was to drink, would come from a trough.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Anatomy of Love

I haven't been blogging lately. Mostly because the things that I'm thinking are too weighty for a blog. Blog is such a stupid word; it annoys me. I know it means "weblog," but isn't that just an excuse for walking around with your pants down in public?

When I was younger, I was a Southern California hippie. The only problem was that before I was a hippie, I was a Roman Catholic. I was taught from an early age to believe in God, only I couldn't understand Him. To me, He just seemed like a nasty, vengeful bastard who lived in the sky. From a very early age, I understood that if a person wanted to suck up to someone that nasty, they were going to have to eat a heck of a lot of crow. So I elected not to.

But years later, some bearded guy with alfalfa sprouts in his beard had a talk with me. He said, "there is a God, only God is love." Being a mathematical nincompoop, I took that to be commutative. I figured if God is Love, then Love is God. Therefore, love was all powerful.

But what the fuck is it? This "love" thing anyway? The first people I can remember loving were my parents. My mother, blond and soft, was easy. Even though years later, her eyes would get slitty and her mouth so pinched she looked like a mailbox from the 1950's, she still felt relatively safe and stable. My Dad was harder. I remember him sitting at our kitchen table, really a card table with a red top and black legs, smoking Kent cigarettes and playing solitaire. If I got up early enough, he would teach me card games: solitaire, War, gin rummy. Kid games easy to understand. He wore a black, grey and white checked shirt, though not lame; black was the dominant color, just enough white and grey to bring out his hair. He blew smoke rings and tried to teach me how. I never learned, though I remember something about curling your tongue. By the time I was 9, I was scavenging his butts and trying to figure it out for myself.

I remember a time when my Dad laughed, had patience and time for children, but bye and bye something happened and it vanished. My love for my mom though it wavered, never left. She always felt safe to me. I don't know when it happened, but somewhere along the line my father's physicality started to put me off. His scent, the angular yet subtly sharp shape of him. There came a time when I didn't want to be in his lap anymore. There came a time he got complicated and scary.

Contrary to what the hippie with sprouts in his beard told me, love never felt like a universal thing. Not in a meaningful way. Love, as I grew older, was clearly a template laid down by my experiences as a small child. I don't know if it's that way for everyone. I only know it was that way for me.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Not Tonight. I've Got a Headache

I might just be to tired to blog tonight. Maybe too shagged out, fucked up, stove in and beat down. Some days, well you know how it is. The atoms that came together to make a person, carbon and whatever, just don't feel all that tightly strung together. Like they might fly apart at any second and turn back into space dust.

Young people never worry about turning back into space dust. When you're 15 you are convinced that all the scalding hot thoughts bubbling up in your brain are only being thunk just now, for the first time. You think the love you feel is the only love that's ever been worth feeling. And the fact that you don't like brussel sprouts is an absolute truth, that it says something significant about the true nature of brussel sprouts.

When you're 20, you begin to suspect, but only when afflicted with a terrible hangover, that some people may be made of space dust, but certainly not you. When you're vomiting everything up but your pancreas, you might get an inkling of the fact that somebody somewhere might have felt what you're feeling now, before. Maybe, if you're very lucky, you have slogged your way through Romeo and Juliet, thereby admitting to yourself that once, but only once in the history of humankind, somebody loved as strongly and tragically as you do.

You still, however, don't care much for brussel sprouts. Anybody who likes them must be clinically insane.

When you're 30, all the things that seemed so dire in your twenties, settle down a little bit. You start to suspect that it might be time to quit all the hard drugs, 'cause you just can't shake it off the way you used to. And the drinking, it has become not so much a problem, not even a concern really, just sort of something you're developing some consciousness about; and aren't all those people stupid and lame who never do. In your thirties, you stop ordering that third martini, that second bottle of wine when you're by yourself, but only because you don't want to turn into your parents. Perish the thought. Or if you're Catholic, parish the thought.

Forty is a bitch. In your 40's if you're a woman, you want to have sex all the time. This is because your ovaries are screaming out, "hey, do it girl. This is your last chance. If you don't spread your genetic material now, your line is gonna go dead and that's hardcore death for sure. Get to it woman, hump the busboy if you have to, but get the job done.

If you're a guy, you start wondering if it's your belly that's getting bigger or your dick that's getting smaller. You're not sure which you're hoping for, but if it's the latter at least you can keep eating buffalo wings and curly fries.

Fifties. I don't know because I'm not there yet. I will be in a month or so, and I suspect it will be bad. Even now, sometimes I look in the mirror in the morning and wonder who that old woman is. I suspect when a person turns 50, they no longer have any illusions about originality, love, or even brussel sprouts. I suspect that when a person turns 50, she lays abed at night trying every goddamn argument she can to counter the stark fact that she probably came from space dust and she's gonna turn back into space dust in hardly any more time at all.

I suspect this is what happens to such people, but of course I don't really know.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Why I'm not an Afghani, and You Can Too

I just took a look at my Google profile, and apparently I live in Afghanistan. This is unfortunate. Afghanistan is a horrible place. I know this because I'm currently reading a book about it.

It previous blogs I have admitted to only reading crap. While this is generally true, it is not always true. Right now I am reading a book by the guy who wrote "Kite Runner," although the title eludes me at this moment. It's about a couple of women both of whom grow from girlhood to motherhood in and around Kabul. Their lives start out as shit, continue being shit, and will no doubt end up shit unless they get out of Afghanistan. With every page I turn I hope ever more fervently that these poor females escape.

In the beginning of this book that's not The Kite Runner, these 2 females are born, albeit in different parts of the country. One is a bastard born of a mother who just barely refrained from aborting her with a coat hanger, the other has it relatively okay, except for the fact that her 2 brothers have been killed in a war and her mother is permanently abed with severe depression. Still, this girl has a boyfriend, and even though he's only got one leg, he winds up giving her a good schtupping before he goes off and gets himself killed by standing in front of somebodies mortar shell. The bastard girl gets married off to a brute with a hairline like a werewolf, who quickly grows to hate her for miscarrying all his kids. Then after the Mujaheddin bomb the other girl's house, and all the rest of her family are killed, she's unlucky enough to be dug out of the rubble by this very same brute and his miserable wife who hates her for a couple of years, but eventually ends up befriending her because what the hell else is she going to do?

Hilarity doesn't ensue.

They point is that with most stories of countries, bad periods are described, but good periods come afterwards. Germany, Britain, Argentina, Chile. Yeah, it always gets sucky somewhere down the line, but then the good times come and people go dancing again, are able to get wine, plant flowers, and bury their dead.

As far as I can tell, Afghanistan has been shit forever. This book that I'm reading, the one that's not The Kite Runner, hardly has any laughs at all. I can smell the brute husband's breath: of cigarettes, pickled onions, and rank meat as he mercilessly humps his hapless wives, see the cracked brown skin of his fist as he beats the crap out of them, and hear his slobbering apnetic snores. I can smell the stinky, litter, filth, and vermin infested streets down which he rides his bicycle to work, as well as the smelly leather with which he fashions shoes. Worst of all, I can feel the hell his two main characters are in. The one in which intelligence atrophies from lack of use, bitterness and sadness grow like tumors, and the only reason for not committing suicide is that if you fuck it up, some turban wearing uber misogynists will come along, nail you to a tree and flay you alive.

So I'm glad I don't live in Afghanistan, though it's fine if Google thinks I do. It can think I live on the moon for all I care.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Oh Well Whatever Never Mind

Blogging is such a load of crap. Anybody can say whatever they want anytime, and make it sound so authoritative and true; so well laid out and fonted. Right now, here I am blogging with half a bottle of wine in me and God knows what else. Actually, He doesn't know because I never told him.

But then when it comes to God, he may know anyway. There used to be a sect of Carmelite nuns who bathed with their clothes on because, they reasoned, the Lord can see all things. They thought the Lord was a voyeur. I read this in a book by Bertrand Russell. I used to read such things, now I mostly read crap.

But maybe He is all knowing and the Carmelite nuns were onto something. Every time I do something bad, He punishes me. Of course, sometimes He punishes me when I haven't done anything bad, so I guess in reality, he's a voyeur and a drunk. Certainly His rationality is not all it's cracked up to be.

We all know this. God is not an omnipotent, all knowing, beneficent being. He is a back room gambler with a drinking problem and a warped sense of humor. More warped than anyone you've ever known.

So maybe, the best any of us can aspire to, spiritually speaking, it to be a Holy Enabler. "Oh Lord, yes I agree that those motherfuckers that threw you out of the bar should be flayed alive; damn trailor trash motherfuckers."

Forever and ever, amen.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

About a Bong

The kid's on his way schlumping home. I can't tell if he got off the bus--but it seems that way. He wanders over to a brand new truck, or maybe he was already there. Two kids in it, won't look me in the eye.

I'm on the way to the grocery story, but this kid, you've got to keep an eye on him. I pull up close to the driver's side door of the car. He comes over, wool hat pulled low on his brow, pants hanging down. Like that kid on The Simpsons. He says, " I gotta tell you something."

"What? I'm on my way to the store."

"I'll tell you when you get back." He's got that look on his face. That cornered one that means whatever happened, he has to tell me because I'm going to find out anyway.

I drive off. I only have to get a few things, and know I won't be too long. Still, I can't wait. And when I'm in the supermarket parking lot, call him on my cell phone.

He tells me he got in a fight at school. Thinks he broke his hand.

I'm thinking SHIT. I don't want to spend the next five hours in an emergency room. It's nearly 4 in the afternoon and I have plans. So I call the doctor's office, ask if they can get him in first thing in the morning. They usually can. They're not all that busy an office. Maybe the doctors aren't that good. One pissed me off royally, when I asked him to put this kid on anti-depressants. It wasn't that he had any moral qualms about it. I mean, I didn't get the feeling that was the case. It was that he was afraid of getting sued should this kid commit suicide. There have been , like, three people who have, but since it got on CNN it's a big deal. Nobody ever talks about all the teenagers who commit suicide who don't take anti-depressants.

Sure enough, they give him an appointment for first thing the next morning. I get home with the groceries, give him a couple of Advil and wrap his hand. Two hours later, he's got the wrap off. He doesn't seem all that uncomfortable and there isn't much swelling.

"Why did you fight?" I say. He's all slumped on the couch. Knows he has to put up with some level of interrogation, but resists all the same. "Who did you fight with?" I say.

"Jason." This surprises me a little, but only a little. Jason is one of his buds, but way Eddie Haskell-ish. "Yes Mrs Cleaver. Why, I'm so fond of little Theodore." Of all this kid's friends, Jason is the most polite to me. The last time he was around the house, I admonished both him and the short greasy kid, "I know you're this kid's pot smoking buddies. But that's not allowed around here. I like you both but I'm keeping an eye on you." This kid, mine, or whatever, glared at me the whole time. Like he wished the both of us were dead all the while I was saying that. Jason, he said, "Oh no Mrs Cleaver. I get drug tested every week, and I'm moving to Oklahoma soon."

I find this odd. "They got drugs in Oklahoma too. You know that?"

"Yes, Mrs Cleaver."

So this kid, mine or whatever, he's still sitting on the couch. I've got the groceries put away and am holding a cold pac on his hand. "What were you fighting with Jason for?"

This kid slumps further down. He's got fuzz on his upper lip. His eyes always look shadowed. Not in an unhealthy way, like brown eye shadow, alfalfa colored eyes peeking out. Some nature's grace-note only she understands. Young people must be attractive, all in different ways. "He took my Ipod."


"I don't want to talk about it." This is followed by tantrums, screaming, his father on the phone resulting in his throwing it across the kitchen counter.

"What? He just randomly took your Ipod?"

"He's a fucking idiot. I don't wanna talk about it." He storms off to his room, trailing clouds of teenage angst and anger.

Why would Eddie Haskell take his Ipod. Could it be that he thinks this kid, mine, whatever, took something of his? That's when I get to thinking about the glass bong I found in this kid, mine, or whatever's room a few weeks ago. The one I smashed against the backyard wall. "That wasn't even MINE!" He said.

Today, at the doctors, then at the x-ray clinic. He missed school entirely. It was "early release." He would have gotten out at 11:00 anyway. His hand wasn't broken. I knew it wasn't. No discoloration. Not all that much swelling.

At the end of the day, there was probably a little more to it than just a broken bong. Eddie Haskell probably called me a bitch or something. Who knows? Maybe this kid, mine, whatever, just lost it for whatever reason teenagers do. They're all hormones, all the time. Hormones, angst, and in this particular case, a little THC. Eddie Haskell? He moved to Oklahoma today. They say God made Oklahoma, but I've heard rumors He probably had nothing to do with it at all.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

A Classless Society

My 16 year old son keeps getting in trouble for not making it to his first period class. I've had a hard time figuring this out but then since I'm old, I'm a little slow. I mean, he always gets to the bus on time, so presumably, the bus drops him off at school on time. But something is happening between the time the bus drops him off and the time they close the locker room door for 8 AM weight training.

He came home from school the other day with a scrape on his arm. I said, "What happened to your arm?"

He said, "I fell out of a tree. A stupid teacher yelled at me."

"Is tree climbing what you do before weight training class? Is that why you're late," I said.

He rolled his eyes and exhaled. I'm clearly hopeless.

The next day, he said he had a sore throat. I said, "is that why you can't make it to your first period class. You have to stop in the restroom for a good gargle?"

He rolled his eyes again, cleared his throat and grimaced.

The day after that he said he had a stomach ache. "Is that the problem with your first period class?" I imagined him, all doubled over, hobbling to class.

"They, they lock the door, like, the second you're late," he said.

"So get there the second before they lock the door."

The next morning, he's schlepping around the house. I know the bus is due any minute. "Maybe you better drink some coffee," I say. "So you can walk faster and get to class."

He slams the door on the way out. I'm getting a little tired of all this grouchyness first thing in the morning, so I follow him out. "It's a girl, isn't it?" Before I said it, I didn't even know I was going to. But it all comes clear. He's making out with his girlfriend between the time the bus drops him off and the time the first bell rings.

If looks could kill, I'd be on fire. Nothing but a smouldering heap of old pajamas in the driveway. He looks towards the other kids waiting at the bus stop; they get smoked too. Lucky for him he's the biggest kid on the corner, and with that stoner dude hat and the "I don't give a fuck about anything" look he's been cultivating ever since he started to grow body hair, not a one of them dares to give him any shit.

I head back into the house to get another cup of coffee.

Nailed it.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Not Even Trying to be a Journalist

Journalism is okay. We all want to know what's going on, but the problem with "journalism" is it's always a little Heisenbergian. Just the act of choosing what to write about means I'm directing others what to think about. Even if I simply document the facts of a plane crash in Bolivia, it steers readers' minds onto thinking about that rather than the equal number of people who may have been killed, for example, during a two week period from a sewage spill in Albania.

Nobody likes to document diarrhea. Not on paper anyway. I figure that's what blogs are for.

Ergo, I hereby dedicate this blog to everyone who has ever, in the entire history of the world, died from a sewage spill in Albania.

Thank You,
Catherine O'Sullivan