Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Fast

I was in a car going about 140 mph when this was taken, and that wasn't even the fastest I went yesterday. We were at a racetrack doing ridealongs, and this shot is from a pace car. The second ride was in an actual modified race car, and I was told the top speed for my ride was 162 mph. Forget about taking pictures at that speed.

A Burrito Would Have Been Nice. Sniff.

Apparently, our neighbors don't like us anymore.

Last night, as the Mr. and I were heading out the door to go to dinner, four of them were congregated in front of our house talking. They said, "Hello" and G said, "How are you guys?"
"We're good," I replied. "And how are you?" G's wife turned her back to us and continued talking to the other two.

I thought it was a little strange, but didn't think too much of it. Maybe they were having an important conversation. G and I continued to chit-chat while the Mr. locked up the house. Then our neighbor across the street, S, came bounding out of his house. I waved to him, but he said nothing. And that's when G's wife said to everyone except the Mr. and I, "So, we'll see you at the restaurant?" And they all piled in their cars and took off. G did at least ask what we were up to this evening before driving away.

And then the recess bell rang.

As we got into my car, the Mr. said, "Did you hear that? They're going to dinner without us."
"I know! WTF?"
"It's a little weird."
"Did we do something?"
"Not that I know of."
"We're fun, right? I thought we were cool."
"I thought so, too."
"Why do they hate us?"
"They don't hate us."
"No, I'm pretty sure they do."

At this point, I was near tears, because I am adrift in a river of PMS and everything is magnified times 1,000. Normally, I'd be wounded but otherwise fine. The kicker was learning they were going to have MEXICAN. I love Mexican! Stuff wrapped in stuff and topped with cheese. What's better than that? Why didn't they just throw me to the ground and kick my prostrate body? As it happens, we wouldn't have been able to go if we had been invited, but still. It's the principle of the thing.

The Mr. and I went 'round and 'round over dinner, licking our wounds, trying to sort out why this happened. Actually, I was the one obsessing over it and licking my wounds, and he was listening politely. He didn't seem to take it personally, but I absolutely was. Our block was, I thought, fairly close. We all know each other. I think all our neighbors are pretty bitchin' people. We've had barbecues together, they came to our housewarming shindig in January. We talk when we see each other outside. They often invite us to things, but last night, we were shut out. We're not best pals or anything, but I was under the impression that we all enjoyed one another's company.

"Maybe they forgot about us," the Mr. said.
I wanted to say, "Forgot? But our house is RED. You don't forget about the people in the maroon house. Maroon will not be ignored." Our house doesn't boil bunnies, nor does it kidnap children and take them to amusement parks, it should be noted.

That's when the Mr. suggested I drop hints such as, "I'm off on Wednesday nights! Allll alonnnnne, yep." I declined to do that, because not only does it sound like some kind of really inappropriate come-on, but that's just sad, dropping hints in a bid to be invited. Beggars can't be choosers, I know, but I'd still rather be invited because our presence is wanted, not because someone is taking pity. Also, I said, there are a great number of nights where I'd rather be alone or just spend time with him. If I drop hints that I want to be invited, and then we do happen to be invited on a night when we'd just rather not, it makes it a little more difficult to say no.

So, what it boils down to is that a) I am impossible and b) I want to have my Mexican and eat it, too.

Mocha

Hey Jude

Now, I'm not at all religious. I know the Mr.'s mom is not going to like to read this, even though she may have already suspected it, but the truth is, we only go to church on Christmas and Easter. Except I didn't go this Easter. I slept in. And it was GREAT, sign of the cross, amen. The Mr. went without me, but he gave me a full report later. That has to count for something. Sure, I felt guilty, but not guilty enough to get up. It's going to take a whole lot more than the threat of a little hell to get me out of bed. The Mr. has a raging case of the Catholic Guilt, however, and even if he wanted to sleep in he couldn't, because he would only dream of eternal damnation, his guilt is so strong. My parents did something right (or is it wrong?) because I only felt guilty for about 5 seconds. "I'm going to hell for skipping mass on a sacred holiday. Ehh, I was probably going anyway. Now, let's fluff up this pillow here and crank up the electric blanket. Zzzzz."

I spent most of my childhood actively trying to get out of going to church. I was scarred early on when mom would say my nightly prayers with me and we'd get to, "In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost" and I'd stop her to say, "Don't say 'Holy Ghost,' mama. Scare me." Apparently, it scared lots of other kids too, becase it's since been changed to Holy Spirit, which frankly, still scares me.

When I was old enough to figure out that I hated going to church, mom was fairly lenient and if she was going to force me to go, she would at least let me bring a book so I could tune out the sermon. The only time I recall dad letting me out of it was one Easter, when they thought we could all go for a fun, fun sunrise service. This is at, like, 5 a.m. That is just cruel. When my brothers and sister said we would go if we could bring blankets and wear our pajamas, they gave up and went without us. But they let us think we were still going, and it was only when we all woke up well past 5 a.m. that we realized we had gotten out of it.

Dad forbade us from bringing books to church, so my stepbrother Glenn and I would instead spend our time engaging in the very Christlike activities of making fun of people who sang too loudly or priests who just got way too into it. Eventually, we couldn't stifle our giggles and my parents would banish us to the lobby until we got control of ourselves. Good times.

I still enjoy Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, though. They have a concert before Mass that is quite pretty. I love hearing Ave Maria and Amazing Grace and all the other Classic Catholic Rock. Hearing the sopranos' voices bounce off the walls of the Cathedral is enough to give you goosebumps. Plus, I'm usually already awake at that hour, so it's no big deal to just head on over to church. Being dragged out of bed is what I really resent.

After telling you all of this, I feel funny telling you this next part: we were married in a church. I don't regret it or anything, but even as we were preparing to do it, it struck me as kind of strange. But I was already planning to get up early that day, throw on a white dress (shut it) and some makeup, so...may as well just head on over to church, right?

It seems like a lot of people do this, get married in a church when they're really not all that religious. There was just something that felt right about doing it that way. I may not have much of the Catholic Guilt, but I think I would have had a little of it had we not been married in some sort of religious ceremony. The Mr. would have been overcome. The priest who married us was the liberal, cool sort of priest, and he didn't make me say any of that "I will obey" business, because like hell will I obey, and he didn't mind that we were living in sin and overall, he made it a really nice, personal ceremony that felt like us.

So, where I was intending to go with this post is not where it wound up, you should know. I was originally going to talk about how I don't really pray, but I totally use St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes. He's my favorite saint, and he did me a nice favor the other day. He hooks a girl up, even when she doesn't go to church. A good, all-purpose dude to pray to. You should check him out if you've got a lost cause or two. I'm also a fan of St. Christopher, the patron saint of travelers. I have a St. Christopher visor clip in my car that my aunt gave to me before I drove across the country years ago, and what do you know? It worked.

It's more of a habit, begging these saints for this or that, much in the way that I still say the alphabet when twisting the stem off an apple to reveal the first initial of the name of the man I'm going to marry even though clearly there is no need for that anymore.

Reason #543 I'm going to hell: praying to the saints when it's convenient for me.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Sing, Sing a Song

Have I not told you about our favorite activity on the ship? Did I conveniently forget to mention this? Since I was exercising restraint at the buffets (usually), I needed a new addiction to supplant the old one. I can't ever have a completely addiction-free life. There always needs to be something consuming me. And I found it: karaoke. However, we were actively voyeuristic about it. No, no participation for us.

I now understand how people can get sucked into participating in something like this, though. On our last night, the Mr. and I were sitting there, he drinking beer, me drinking wine. After a few glasses you start thinking, "Hmmm. Maybe I could get up there and sing." And then you drunkenly blurt, "DJ, gimme the songbook! I'm a-gonna find me a song." I looked for something cool to sing in my "range."* The audience doesn't know what a bullet they dodged, because I couldn't find anything that sounded appealing. I never did get up and perform, and neither did the Mr.

But nearly every night, it was the same thing. We'd have dinner at 8:30, then rush over to the karaoke lounge around 10. We couldn't wait to watch karaoke. I know this sounds sad.

We saw the same people in the karaoke lounge most nights, and almost all of them were regular performers. Some of them could really sing, but if too many good singers went up in a row, it started to feel like we were at American Idol auditions. "You were a little pitchy,** but you finished strong and made the song your own," I wanted to tell them.

From what I could tell, there are three types of people who participate in karaoke: a) the type that knows they can't sing and makes self-deprecating remarks before they croak out a song; b) the type that thinks they can sing, but really can't. This type is most often spotted at American Idol auditions blaming their bad performance on a cold; c) the type that can actually really sing and make you wonder what they're doing in a karaoke lounge. B is the least fun to watch, because it's incredibly uncomfortable.

We heard a lot of songs we had never heard before and aren't inclined to want to hear again. Lots of country. LOTS of country. I recall at least two nights that ended with rousing, drunken renditions of "Friends in Low Places," which actually didn't bother me because it reminds me of college when we'd all go out after putting the paper to bed and have a few*** drinks. Inevitably, Garth Brooks or the Counting Crows would wind up on the jukebox.

I found myself particularly inspired by one man's version of "It's the End of the World As We Know It," so much that I asked him to do it again, just one more time. That has to be the first known karaoke audience request made by a total stranger. But this guy, he was that good. He nailed every word. I think he practices in his living room or something.

That's what I'm going for. In karaoke, it's good to have goals and dream big.

*"range" being "dog's hearing"
**the most obnoxious word in the English language
***anywhere from 1-100

Some Kind of Pole Thing

Monday, August 29, 2005

Losing A Little Weight: The Good, The Bad, The Sad, The Ugly, The Mork

Clothes starting to fit again: good

No more muffin tops: really, really good

The fact that there ever were muffin tops: bad and ugly

Measuring ice cream into "reasonable" portions: sad

One's definition of "reasonable" vs. Weight Watcher's definition: bad

Favorite denim skirt just barely hanging on hips, threatening to fall to the ground any day now, and with one's luck, it would be at work or in public: good, but bad

Considering suspenders so one can continue to wear favorite denim skirt after it no longer fits: bad, sad, ugly and Mork

Having an excuse to go clothes shopping: good

Scale at home says one weighs 2 lbs. less than scale at Weight Watchers. On the same day.: bad

Clothes get expensive fast: bad

The elliptical says 700 calories have been burned, which is probably a lie: good

The fact that one's new favorite snack is non-fat, plain yogurt, fresh fruit and 14 cups of Splenda: sad, but good. One guesses.

Lying to the cardio machines about your weight: good, but sad

Getting all the fiber: good for me, bad for you, and a little ugly

Seeing a little muscle in the gym mirrors: good

Passing up M&Ms at the store, especially the new mega size (though utterly pointless, still tempting): sad

Nanu Nanu: Mork

Rufus

You get more Rufus today, because I have some evening out to do in the dog photo department.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Rollercoaster

Some people who are actual parents of real, live human beings might take some offense to this, but...is it safe to say that having dogs is somewhat like having kids? Not that I would know, exactly, and I know there are some crucial differences. I don't need to buy the dogs diapers, for starters. And I won't ever need to help them with their math homework. Actually, I wouldn't even help human kids with math homework, because it would guarantee an F. My dogs would never put me in a nursing home. But, in some ways, it seems as though this is how it would feel to have children.

Like, when I came home on my break Friday night to see how Nabby and Rufus were doing. Each time I went to pet Nabby, Rufus would come over and want some attention too, so I gave them each an arm. But Nabby, she wants both arms. All for her, nothing for Rufus. She got up in a huff and walked away, and it broke my heart. "I ruined my dog's life," I thought. Suddenly I wanted to climb into bed and cry. Instead I had to finish my shift when it was the last thing I felt like doing. It was awful. She's never had to share, she's always had every last ounce of attention devoted solely to her. And now it will never be that way again, and for that, she hated me. When I come home now, I half expect to see her dressed in black, sitting in a corner reading Camus and smoking a cigarette and sneering, "You don't understand me."

I knew it would be an adjustment for everyone, but I had no idea it would make me so sad at times. Is this how my parents felt when I was always trying to kick my brother's ass? Because, wow. I never thought they enjoyed it, but did it stab them in the heart like that?

Corgis are smart, though, and Nabby seems to be catching on quickly that not only is Rufus not Satan and here to siphon the attention away from her, but that I can cuddle them both at the same time. Belly rubs for everyone! And better yet, I see them becoming friends. They ignored each other yesterday, but today, they are following each other around with intermittent periods of tussling.

That's more like it. You damn kids better learn to appreciate each other! Or else!

Fuschia

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Loom

Friday, August 26, 2005

Disturbed

By those Pepto Bismol commercials in which a row of people is doing a synchronized dance/mime of their diarrhea symptoms. It seems to me that it's more of a "don't ask, don't tell" affliction, yet here these people are, holding their asses and shaking their groove thang in public and letting the WHOLE WORLD know just what's going on in the digestive region. If your diarrhea makes you dance like you're in an R.E.M. video, maybe you should take it to the nearest bathroom.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Lil' Brudder

Yesterday was one of those days that was so insanely hectic and involved that as I'm beginning this post, it's really still Thursday and I haven't eaten since breakfast at 7 a.m. and it's now 8 p.m. Anyone who knows me is now picking themselves up off the floor, because it's well known in certain circles that I'm a major pig and crabby without food and generally like to eat something in 3-4 hour intervals. But not only am I not crabby, but I'm just now starting to feel somewhat hungry. And all this, on only 5 hours of sleep. It would normally be a deadly combination for anyone unlucky enough to be around me.

The reason for the insanity: we got another dog! Ladies, Gents and Assorted Others, meet Rufus.


His name at the shelter was Gordy, but I don't think he's had a stable home in awhile, so he wasn't attached to the name that I could tell. He's a little underweight, needs a bath and the cartilage in his left ear is broken, so it hangs down, while the other one sticks straight up. I love him.

No, seriously. What are you doing here?

It wasn't long before they began to play, much to my relief. I was starting to feel kind of guilty. Nabby was looking at me like, "Um, are we cool? Did I do something? You like him better, don't you?" But then she realized what little brothers are for: terrorizing.


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A Little More Sobbing Than Usual

My original post today was going to be about this one time in New York two years ago where I had a complete meltdown in the dumping snow because we were decked out in formalwear and I was walking in about 6 inches of it in strappy heels, and I was ready to tell snow to just pack its shit and get out of my life for good. We've since kissed and made up, obviously. But I really come off like a hugely whiny baby in it. Not that I feel this need to paint this lovely little picture for you guys, but it was just getting painful to read. I would never want to hang out with me if I read that. I might even delete myself from my bookmark. Let's just say there was lots of crying, maybe I yelled at a couple strangers for snickering at me as I limped along with my almost-frostbitten feet and I might have even ordered two cab-stealers to get the hell out of our cab and wait their turn like everyone else and they listened to me, which was a little startling. I was on a rampage, and it was ugly. And then we got to our destination and drank a whole lot, because we had earned it. The End.

It's been four days, and the end of Six Feet Under is still sticking around in me. The thing that resonated is that when I moved from California to Florida, I took the same road Claire was on, I-10. Except I picked it up in San Bernardino. They kept showing her eyes as she was driving, and maybe I was projecting, but it seemed to mirror how I felt on that empty road. It was a hugely depressing trip. I remember as I left the 5 and picked up the 10, I sobbed. The 5 took me back home, and suddenly I was on this road that had no connection to anything I really loved. I was on my way to live with someone who can only be described as An Asshole and wasn't really looking forward to it.

As we saw each character's life come to an end in the finale, I realized there's still so much more to come and I don't know what's in store, but I hope it's good.

Buuuurp

Tunnel

Ain't Much to Rake Anyway in the Fall

Every year around this time, summer clothes begin to go on sale and I realize I don't want any of them no matter how cheap they are because what would be the point? Fall is coming! However, I'm going to miss my Summer 2005 UniformTM, which was my black flip-flops, white t-shirt or black tank top and swingy salmon-colored skirt. Ben Lee probably saw me in this getup about 18 times, which might be one of several reasons why he cuts a wide swath around me now:



Fall and I haven't always been on the best terms. My primary bone to pick with it was that school started in the fall, something I didn't approve of one bit. The other is that my birthday is in the fall, and I still have psychological scars from celebrating my 5th in Mrs. West's kindergarten class. The routine was that the birthday girl/boy would stand in the middle of the room, then half the class would form a circle around you, then the other half would form another circle outside the first circle. And then they would sing "Happy Birthday to You" as both circles moved in opposite directions. It was so creepy and Twilight Zone that to this day, I really do not like to be sung happy birthday to. After that, we would eat cupcakes, but it was too late; the damage had been done.

Here is a helpful illustration of how this whole thing worked:



Get me a cake (heavy on the frosting, and I call dibs on any balloon or flower sculptures), give me presents, just please don't sing to me. Can we do this quietly? Not that I'm not gracious about it when it happens. But if people knew that instead of feeling warm and fuzzy and loved inside, I was picturing their heads on my old classmates' bodies spinning around me like some deranged carnival ride, and how weird it looked, they would probably stop. Probably. Some of my friends like to tease me, and this information will only encourage them. Like the time I told a friend in 3rd grade, Cynthia, that I was extremely ticklish and I hated being tickled. Well, she proceeded to tickle me until I peed myself. I always seem to wind up with people like this -- button pushers. What would Dr. Phil have to say about that?

Anyway, I was jealous of my brother for a long time, because his birthday is conveniently on August 1 and he never had to deal with any of this.

Fall and I started to cozy up a little when I began to realize how energizing those crisp, perfect days are, how nice it is to be outside with the colorful leaves, getting pink cheeks, how wonderful it is to get new sweaters and boots and not need a jacket just yet. You can leave the air conditioning and the heat off.

Winter and I, on the other hand, have always been BFF. Now that I live in a place where we usually get at least a little snow, it's heaven. When the Mr. is out of town, Nabby will sleep in bed with me all night. In the summer, we don't even think of dragging her up there. It's too hot and we're all miserable and she sheds like a mofo. In the winter, Nabby is all about the snuggling and the eager-please-feed-me-oh-and-good-morning kisses. When it's cold, I love to bundle up and make a cocoon. Being buried under a pile of blankets with a cup of coffee and a book or remote is blissful.

Some of my friends think I'm insane, but I would love to be snowed in someday. Except, with the power still on. And it would be nice if I had recently gone grocery shopping so no one starves to death. So, essentially what I think I would like is to do what I usually do, except with a really good excuse for why I'm doing it. After a good snowfall, I love going to the parks in our neighborhood and watching the kids sled and try to kill each other with atomic snowballs. I love watching Nabby try to figure out if she shrank, or if the ground just suddenly rose up to meet her chest. The world seems so quiet and still when it's covered in new snow.

You bring the blizzards. I'll bring the hot chocolate and sled. I am so ready.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Three Strikes, You're Out

I'm left-handed. Not only does this mean I had the privilege of sitting at a wonk-ass desk and using funky scissors in elementary school, but I'm also allegedly creative, which comes most in handy when figuring out seating arrangements so I'm not bumping elbows with all the right-handers at the table. This usually involves me being crammed at the back of a booth next to a wall. I said allegedly creative. That's the best I can come up with, which makes me a complete embarrassment to all southpaws, and just tell me where to send my membership card for destruction. Or I can shred it myself. Whichever you prefer.

Sometimes if my left-handed sister is around, I can arrange to have her jammed against the wall instead. That's sort of creative, because it involves tricking her, which is really hard sometimes. Coming up with excuses for Why Something Isn't Logistically Possible and Thus Can't Be Done was a sport in our house when we were growing up, my dad and stepmom playing the part of referees and bullshit detectors. Karen usually won.

Truth be told, I usually only eat and write left, everything else is done with my right hand. Or it would be, if I golfed or played baseball.

I guess I should be grateful that I was spared the most common and embarrassing affliction of the left-handed writer: crappy penmanship. I've got lefty friends who hold their papers at a 90-degree angle, then angle in their hand another 90 degress and, then, commence chicken scratch. I don't know why I'm one of the lucky ones. Maybe I was the Patron Saint of Lefties in a past life. But if that's so, why can't I come up with a decent seating arrangement? We all have our crosses to bear.

Anyway, strike one. My next strike could very well have me banished from the human race: I don't like beer.

Oh, I did once. That was a nice day. Many moons ago, I had five Budweisers at a club, followed by a very long morning of playing Sweet Jesus, Keep It Down. When you've showered while simultaneously leaning over a toilet, you know you've hit new lows. I'm a little mad at myself that I didn't at least have a good brand of beer and go out with a bang. The Mr. drinks Sam Adams. Maybe I would have chosen that had I known I was just going to ruin it for myself for the rest of my life.

Nobody likes to accept that there are some people (five of us) who just don't like beer. "You don't like beer?!" they shriek. Everyone else's eyes widen and they back away, pretending not to know me, maybe a little afraid that I'll snap because I don't partake of the beer. They slam their steins down, look deep into my eyes and demand, "WHY NOT?" Then they grab their torches and run me out of the saloon and right past Old Man Johnson's farm. "If you show your face in these parts again, we'll hang you by your dadgum toenails!"

Life has gotten easier for beer haters, though. Cider is all over the place now. And I've grown to love red wine. But every once in awhile I'm still reminded of what an abnormal freak I am. Last week, some friends and I went to a place that has like 8,000 brands of beer. You would think they'd have a bottle of cider somewhere, because it's almost like beer. It counts! Why? Because I say so.

I asked if they had any in a bottle or on tap. "I don't drink beer," I said to the bartender. "Um, I had too much one night, and...yeah..." She looked bored. "I can see that you don't care." She didn't argue with me.
"Hey," the bored bartender called out to the other bartender. "What's our most cider-like beer?"
Oh no. Cider-like? People have tried this with me many a time. It doesn't work. But I decided to keep an open mind and give it a shot. The bartender brought over a sample of cider-like beer. I did detect some apple, but I also detected the faintest scent of Hops Of Barf. I didn't want to see my Lean Cuisine again, so I told the bartender no thanks and had some wine instead.

Hell, I'm just glad I found a beer drinker who accepts me for my sad non-beer loving self. It's a cold, unfeeling world out there.

They're Forming in a Straight Line

Monday, August 22, 2005

Wondering

If I should have finished Six Feet Under BEFORE putting on my makeup, because now I'm just crying and thinking about mortality and how I should have bought the waterproof mascara, dammit.

Binoculars

Part V: Cozumel, Mexico


I came home tonight/today expecting to watch the Six Feet Under series finale, but then I forgot that I had set up Celebrity Fit Club to record at the same time I got home, which means that not only am I getting a jump on this while I wait it out, but I also watch way too much damn TV. It also means we need a dual receiver DVR, something I say to the Mr. at least once a week. Actually, I don't even have to complete the sentence anymore, as the scene usually goes:
(something annoying happens that wouldn't happen if we just had the freaking dual receiver)
Me: Do you know what this means?
Him: I know, I know. Dual receiver!
And it's funny to think the VCR used to be enough.

So, anyway. Like Jamaica, Mexico was not what I expected, except this time that was all good. The only other times I'd been there were on a cruise to Ensenada, and a drunken expedition to Tijuana in college that ended with some shenanigans at our hotel in San Diego that I'll save for another time. I blame it on the two-for-one margaritas. The Caribbean side of Mexico is much, much nicer, a thousand times hotter and it was by far our favorite stop. We had one excursion: a trip to the Mayan Ruins of Tulum. After a brief guided tour, you have about an hour to explore the area, then you're out of there and back to the ship.

On the bus ride to the tour, we saw a lot of devastation from the recent hurricane. They really got smacked...trees were completely stripped of their leaves and there wasn't much shade anywhere. One giant electrical tower (is that the right word for it?) was folded over itself. There were some people who had clearly lost their homes.

Our tour guide, who could speak Mayan. It was pretty cool!

Just below that door in the middle at the top is a sacrificial stone. You have no idea how much I wanted to climb up there and check that stuff out. I had some macabre questions, too, but I kept them to myself.




These iguanas were all over the place.

And this concludes the guided tour. As Strongbad would say, be sure to experience the fury of our gift shoppppp.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

I Don't Know. How Much Were You Planning to Give Me?

Saturday, August 20, 2005

One


Photo Friday entry.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Cher Is Playing the Role of My Mother

One of several complexes I have is that I have a big head. Literally, a big head. Now, there is no need to comment and try to tell me I don't have a big head just to make me feel better, because when I look in the mirror, the big head is what I see and well-meaning comments can't convince me otherwise. You know the scene in So I Married an Axe Murderer, where the dad is talking about that boy's head?: "Would ya look at the size of that kid's head! It's the size of a planetoid and it has its own weather system! Looks like an orange on a toothpick!" Totally me, except not so much with the toothpick.

Unlike the rest of my complexes, I have no idea where this one came from. The others can be pegged to an offhand comment or something nasty said in the middle of an argument. When I was 9 and my sister was 7-ish, she looked over at me while we were playing and calmly stated, "You have a big nose." Whether that was true or not, I've hated my nose ever since. I'm convinced my feet are massive because you try finding cute shoes when you're 9 and have the feet of a fully grown adult.

My big head doesn't hold me back, really. I don't think about it all that much, or go around asking people if this outfit makes my head like huge, or cry myself to sleep at night on my specially-made pillow to support the weight of my head. I don't scream "I AM NOT AN ANIMAL! I AM A HUMAN BEING!" when people are laughing and I think it's all about my giant head. The only time I'm reminded of it is when the Mr. and I do something that involves protective headgear (such as riding the ATVs) and I need to borrow the Super Giant Head Ginormo size helmet, of which there is only one, kept way back at the bottom of a closet collecting dust, because who has a head this big? I do, kind sirs. I guess it could be worse...tiny heads are even crazier, in my opinion.

Anyway, I lost my sunglasses in Grand Cayman (whoa, how is that for a segue? Smooth, right?). I was too lazy to return to the boat when I realized they were on my head, so I just stuffed them down my bathing suit. They inched their way out and eventually floated away. It was just as well. I had had them for several years, and was surprised that they lasted that long anyway. When we got back to the ship, I bought a new pair in one of the shops and wore them for the rest of the trip without incident. But last week, the piece of garbage broke. The little arm just fell off and the lilliputian screw is gone forever.

So on Tuesday, I went out to get another pair, this time heading to Target. With my bad luck lately, I decided to get the cheapest pair on the planet, just in case. They will probably last forever now.

You've seen Nicole Richie in her massive sunglasses, right? She just looks ridiculous, considering that they appear to be half her total weight and they eat up her entire face. But then I thought, maybe I need some big sunglasses. Really, really giant ones. Perhaps those other glasses breaking/running away was the universe's way of telling me something: they were just too tiny for this noggin. People will look at me and instead of thinking, "What's with the giant head?" they will think, "What's with the giant sunglasses?" Then I will take them off and they'll say, "Oh, Jesus. I get it now! Put them back on, please!"

So, here I am with my new, giant sunglasses. You can barely tell I have a big head! It's all about emphasis in the right places, isn't it?


As an aside, I wanted to take this picture outside, but my neighbors insisted on hanging out in front of their houses and I didn't want to them think I'm some weirdo who just sits around admiring my reflection in the camera all afternoon.

Splash

My Dreams Aren't Normally This Violent, That's For Sure

I don't normally like to talk about my dreams, because they're usually only interesting to me. But this I had to share: I had a nightmare about rats this morning.

I was looking outside our second-story window in the back of our house, and there were about a dozen rats running all over my neighbor's deck. I could see Nabby down there too, rolling around in God-knows-what on her back. One of the rats then stopped, looked up and saw me and pointed. Then he flung himself through the air, crashing through the window and landed on my neck.

I woke up before he could take a juicy bite, but I'm pretty sure that's where this was headed.

I'm Working, But I'm Not Working For You

I've been fired twice. Not laid-off, not "I'm sorry, we're downsizing and there's no room here for you anymore." Straight-up fired. Both times were in high school, which meant that not only was I fired, but at home, I was also totally grounded. And not only was I fired and grounded, but I had no money, so I couldn't run away from home.

The first time was while working at a pet store. It was actually my first job. I don't count my 2-week stint at Burger King because I was put in the mental hospital for a month shortly after starting there, and I didn't want to go back. You can't just disappear for a month and not expect to answer some questions. People talk to you differently after you get out of a mental hospital. I couldn't bear the pitying stares and the kid gloves and questions from people who barely acknowledged my existence before expecting me to spill my guts to them. I could barely communicate to my friends and family about what was going on inside me, and I certainly wasn't going to share my suicidal thoughts with the manager of Burger King.

So I decided to start fresh and since I love dogs and had no idea about where they were actually coming from or how bad these places are, I decided to work in the pet store.

It was actually a really fun job for awhile. My favorite part was being down in the basement listening to music and giving all the little puppies their baths and playing with them. Those dogs were all so damn cute, and I cried every single time one of them got sold. I wanted them all for myself. You're thinking I got fired because I took them all home one night, aren't you? I didn't, but that would be pretty awesome.

Things went south when my friend Christy came in for a visit with her mom one night. Now, when I was hired, I was told that I got a personal and family discount. I think dogs were 40% off and supplies were 20%. Christy had her eyes on an adorable cocker spaniel and begged her mom to let her have it. Her mom was kind of wavering, so I said, "Why don't we just say you're my cousin and you can use my discount?" Hey, that's good salesmanship! Er.

That clinched the deal. We drew up the papers, got supplies, and I rang them up, plugged in the discount when one of the associates, Bunny (her real, honest to god, try not to snicker when you say it name), said, "What's the discount for?" I said, "Oh! Family discount. I'd like you to meet my cousin, Christy."
"You can't give her a discount."
"Why not?"
"She's your cousin."
"Yeah. Family discount."
"No. Immediate family."
"Oh."
But the paperwork had already been drawn up, and it's a long process, and no one wanted to just throw it all in the trash and forget about it. Bunny decided to call my evil, cranky old boss Charlie at home. She put me on the phone with him and he said, "You can sell her the dog with the discount, but you have some explaining to do tomorrow."

The next day, I went in, and Charlie said he wanted me to pay back the money, which was $280. At 15, there isn't much difference between owing that and $20,000. Plus, this is after he authorized the sale when there was still a chance to back out. I didn't think that was right. It wasn't right what I did, either, but he approved it and then started singing a different tune the next day. I should mention that Charlie expressed skepticism that Christy was really even my cousin. Man, he's good.

Anyway, I avoided Charlie whenever possible because I was not going to pay back that money, and he cornered me at every opportunity to find out just when and how I was going to pay him back. I stalled and stalled, until one day, he called me into his office to give me the ax. And that was fine, because it really is exhausting trying to hide from your boss all the time. Plus, they were sticking me in the fish department more and more, and I think fish are kind of gross. And don't even get me started on the people who came in ordering brine shrimp. Barf-o-rama.

But then I had to go home and tell my dad and stepmom why I was home so early. They took away my car and said I had embarrassed the whole family. I said I didn't see what the problem was. "Everyone gets fired at some point!" Which enraged my dad even further and he yelled, "NOT IN THIS FAMILY THEY DON'T!"

The second time I got fired, thus putting the final nail in the coffin in which our family name lies, it's not as exciting a story. It was the job after the pet store job, and I was working as a restaurant hostess. Which is a horrible job, and you should always be nice to your hostess, people. Don't whine about long waits or act like being a regular will get you moved up in line. They get a ton of shit, no tips and really don't feel like hearing you being a big fat crybaby. And you don't want to sit next to the bathroom, do you? I was a very vindictive hostess.

Once, Jerry Rice came in and he was actually pretty nice. Except, the problem was, I didn't recognize him. I mean, I knew who the 49ers were, and I knew his name, but I'm not really into football, so I don't know all the faces. I told him there would be a wait, and he said that was fine.
I asked for his name to put on the list, and he said, "Jerry Rice." I laughed and said, "Funny! What's your name, really?" "Jerry. Rice." "I'm sorry." The rest of the night, customers came up to me asking, "Is that Jerry Rice sitting over there?!" "Oh, sure. That's him, all right!" Like I had any clue. Anyway, if Jerry Rice can wait for his table, so can you. And he's probably hungrier than you are, with all that exercise he gets.

I managed to keep the job for a year or so, until junior year, when William Faulkner made me nearly fail English. I was grounded for that, and not allowed to work during the week so I could focus on reading his shitty books instead. The restaurant let me go since I was essentially useless with my limited availability. At least I didn't get grounded this time, because I was already so grounded, the only option would be to literally put me in the ground.

Since they couldn't legally do that, they instead removed my bedroom door. Ouch.

Mask

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Part IV: Grand Cayman

Oh, did you forget I was doing this? So did I.


I don't have a whole lot to say about Grand Cayman, other than that we enjoyed ourselves there. None of these pictures really excite me, either. Our first excursion was snorkeling, which I always enjoy. They first took us to a reef and let us hang around there for a bit. The water was just full of fish. I freaked out the first time I looked in the water, only because I didn't expect to be completely swarmed. Guess they know who has the food. Some people were saying there was a lobster, but I looked and looked and did not see it. Liars.

The Mr.'s $10 watch, which is still ticking as I write.

After that, they took us to a shipwreck. It's not the most exciting story: the ship got caught in a hurricane and took on some water. The cargo just happened to be rice, so when the rice expanded, the ship split open and sank. I don't think Jim Cameron is going to be doing a movie about it or anything. But it was still really cool.



After snorkeling for a few hours, we had lunch at some place near the water, where the Mr. downed two $9 mudslides. I hope those things were good!


And then we went hanging with the stingrays, which I wrote about before.


Why Was That Loser Invited?

I sent out an evite last week for a party. Actually, it's a brunch. And while it feels so adult to be throwing a brunch, it also feels a little pretentious to actually say we're having a brunch. Whenever someone RSVPs, I get an e-mail notification along with this message: "View this invitation to see who else is attending this event and what they're saying."

I half-suspect that if I click on it, it will take me to a chat room where my guests are all talking shit about each other, coordinating their outfits and hoping I don't decide to do the running man after a couple of drinks. That should kill any notion that I'm actually adult enough to put together a brunch.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Leaded

My friend Shawn has a freaky piece of pencil lead embedded in his arm (it's that bump right next to his thumb), the result of childhood shenanigans.

Self-Discovery

During Saturday morning spinning class, I realized that I will never, ever, EVER be the kind of exerciser who feels the need to "WHOO HOO!" no matter how good a workout I'm having. You could tell me I'm burning a pound an hour, and still, I will not "whoo-hoo." I will also never understand the people who do. Why? Aren't they embarrassed to be doing that? What compels them to make such a spectacle? When I get stuck next to a "whoo-hoo"er, I just want to die.

However, I don't want to be totally rude to the instructor by my refusal to signal approval of the workout verbally. I'll usually give a slight smile, which I hope conveys "I don't think you suck, and your music isn't bad, except for when you played the "Rocky" theme, because seriously, what was that about? Please don't do that anymore. And also, don't make me whoo-hoo, or I will have to bounce resist-a-balls off your head after class."

What?

Artisan

I've been slacking on the vacation stories and pictures, I know. I shall try and get to it this week.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Possibly My Most Embarrassing Post Thus Far

I had an entirely different concept for this post that would have made it approximately 200% more entertaining than it will be now. I accidentally just typed the $ key instead of the %, and I hope none of you are paying $200 to read this site.

There's this letter I wrote to John Schneider when I was 7. As you'll read later, I asked him to come over to my house on some Saturday night in June, 1981. The letter was also full of declarations of love, a request for roses and, oh, Happy Flag Day! When I finished, I stupidly gave the letter to my mother to mail. Then I waited. I still remember that Saturday night. I didn't tell my parents that I had a request out to Bo Duke to stop by, and figured that if he did, it would pretty much be the most awesome surprise EVER and they wouldn't mind making room for my future husband at the dinner table. I had plans to take him around to all my friends, then over to my stepsister's house to rub it in a little. I hung out in the living room all night reading, getting up occasionally to look out the window to see if the General Lee had pulled up yet. I remember at one point peeking around the corner at my mom and stepdad watching TV in the family room and thinking, "Boy, are they in for the night of their lives."

This is probably going to come as a shock to you, but Bo Duke never showed up. Stood up! At 7 years old!

About 15 years later, mom confessed that she never sent the letter. "I was so confused about why he never showed up!" as if he would have, had he just gotten the letter. After I gave it to her, she read it, cracked up and filed it away for future torture purposes. I begged for it back that minute, but she refused. Thankfully, a few years ago, I got a letter in the mail from her and enclosed was my Bo Duke letter. I read it again, cringed and put it away. But now that the "Dukes of Hazzard" has been ubiquitous lately, I can't stop thinking about this damn letter.

First, I tried to scan it, but our scanner was being weird. Then I tried to take photos and photoshop them to make them readable, but hot pink pen on hot pink paper is a little hard to work around when you don't have the mad skillz. I gave the scanner another shot last night, but it took 15 minutes to scan one page before the computer crashed, so I gave up and went to bed. Had I been successful in getting a strong image, I was going to add funny little comments.

Thankfully, the letter is pretty funny on its own merits, so here's the text, which follows exactly as I wrote and spelled it. I can't believe there was ever a time when I wrote "your" instead of "you're" Pictures of the letter follow:

Dear Bo Duke,
I love you. Can you come over my house on Sat. night? You should be here at six o'clock. My phone number is 793-9439. I live in fremont. My address is 4508 Angeles. Calif. is my state. my area code is (415). My zip is 94536. I am 20 yrs. old. My sister, Kim is 20, too. My sister Amy is 20, too. My nam is -----. All my friends are:
Jill
Sally
Serena
Katie
Dorothy
Bekky
Susan.
They all like me. We all play together. I love you so much I can't stand it. My brothers don't like me. They get me in trouble. you look real handsome. I have a book collection. I love you so much. I like one of your songs called "Lady." That is the nicest song you ever sang. That was a Kenny Rogers song too. you sing just like him. I know you are a very nice man. I hope you can come over my house. We have to go to my sisters because she dosn't live with me. My mom's name is Cathy. She is nice. I have so much to say because I love you so much. "Dukes of hazzard" is my favorite show. because your in it. I wish i was in it.
I wish you would bring me some flowers. I just love roses. They smell good. I never had the chicken poks. all my freinds had them. I wish you were my husband. I hope you marry me. I am a tap and ballet teacher. I made twelve shows on stage.
Love, ---- and Kim
happy flag day!
A few notes:
  • I have no idea who all those girls names were that I listed except for two: Sally was a girl I totally hated that lived around the corner from me. Dorothy was from Kansas and wore ruby slippers. Other than that, I maybe had three friends. None of whom were 20.
  • Strawberry Shortcake paper just screams "grown adult woman" doesn't it?
  • Mom's name is Kathy, not Cathy.
  • "Lady" is a terrible song.
  • Why did I need my zip code?
  • Handsome? Handsome? Was I a 90-year-old woman?
  • The part about my brothers not liking me was true.
  • I have no sisters named Kim or Amy. However, there is one named Karen. Kim was one of my few friends. We used to dance to the Grease soundtrack in our babysitter's living room, and also dig holes in search of the Earth's core. We thought it was at most 20 feet down.
  • Note that I gave mom a high approval rating just before she took this and didn't mail it, which led to my heart being shattered until I discovered Ricky Schroeder.





What? I Like Jon Stewart Too.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Wings

The Opposite of Tattoo

She did not terrorize me after I took the photo, but probably because I asked to take it first.

Chippendales: The Days of Yore

Last night, me, jasclo, maliavale and another friend were sitting around discussing bachelorette parties, as maliavale is attending a particularly saucy one this evening (however, no stripper will be there). The word "penis" may or may not have been mentioned approximately 400 times during this conversation as it relates to straws, pin the what-on-the-who, cupcakes, headbands and a number of other horrors that must be seen to be believed. I, for one, am relieved to not be going to this shindig. And also, I am feeling thankful that when it came time for our own parties, all my friends and I wanted was the kind of bachelorette party where you just slap on a veil and have some drinks.

Conversation turned to "male theater" and the confusion over the first picture I posted yesterday that said, "I'd prefer to be a m--- theater." Since the building this sign is on is in a very old part of town...

Nabbalicious: I wonder what colonial male stripping was like?
Maliavale: They stripped off their clothes, but left on their sock garters.
N: And their wigs!
M: Yeah!
N: Or, maybe they left most of their clothes on.
M: Yeah, like they took off just their overcoats.
N: Hahaha. 'Did somebody order a patriot?'
M: 'Who's ready for some founding father action?'

Dissolve into choking, sobbing laughter -- the best kind.

And...SCENE.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Let's Try This Again

My Angel Is the Centerfold

You may recall when I wrote about the ridiculous number of magazines we'd be getting, thanks to a few unused airline miles. They've started arriving. In droves. Some wino at Wine Spectator thought it would be funny to send me three giant issues at once, so instead of feeling glee at the wine-y goodness gracing my porch, I felt terror. Why did they do that? I wasn't thinking, "Gee, if only I had been able to subscribe sooner, because I heard the May issue was just off the hook."

Then more Newsweeks started coming. Then Lucky. An issue of Everyday Foods or whatever it's called. I don't even remember the names of half the magazines we get anymore. Then W (which actually was awesome because they sent me the infamous Brangelina issue, plus one with a very creepy interview with Katie Homes). And Star, after which I always need a hot shower to kill the paparazzi germs.

I was suffocating in this stuff, so I decided to start knocking some of them off. First I prioritized: EW is always first, followed by Newsweek, Lucky (only because its catalog format allows me to get through an issue in about 20 minutes) and Star (also because I pretty much just look at the pictures, read the headlines, and maybe read a story if it sounds plausible enough). W isn't bad, and Esquire has a couple regular features I like to read, plus maybe one of their longer pieces.

A ton of headway was made, and last week I plopped a 20 lb stack of magazines in Jasclo's lap, glad to be rid of them. Then I tried to get back to Jon Stewart's book. And now I can't focus. I've only read 10 pages, and while they've been a very entertaining 10 pages, I'm looking for a quiz about my personality ("Are You Blogger Material?" "Do you have any personality?") or maybe some tips on how to maximize what I've got using only mascara. These damn magazines, they have bored holes into my brain.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Well, I'd Prefer to Be a Millionaire, But Things Don't Always Work Out Now, Do They?

The speech bubble is a nice touch, though.

Our House Is Cursed

I went to Bikram Yoga this morning with maliavale, who was awesome enough to share a gift certificate she had gotten with me since she won't get around to using all of them before she leaves us for greener pastures.

We took a few pilates classes together at the Y, but then stopped. Last week, while she was murdering me with an abs routine, our old class let out and I confessed that I never really enjoyed it that much. Sure, I could feel my muscles working, and it was nice to stretch out. But I just can't be zen like that. I don't get the high from yoga I've heard other people talk about. I can't quiet my mind and stop thinking about random things, people I know, stories I heard, stuff I have to do. I wouldn't characterize myself as particularly stressed out, but I just don't want to lay in a room staring at the ceiling for an hour. My mantra is, "I could be doing stuff (inhale) I could be doing stuff (exhale)..." I barely tolerate the time I'm doing weights in the gym, because it's only about 20-30 minutes of my time, and the promise of somewhat flat abs is a powerful lure. But I can't wait to get on the cardio machines and start reading a book or magazine.

So, anyway, maliavale thought that despite all that, I'd like to give Bikram yoga a try. I guess there are two things I keep trying, despite the fact that they never do much for me. One is salmon. I can't seem to convince myself that it is the nastiest, fishiest fish in all the sea, so about once or twice a year, I try a piece and then remember that it still sucks. The other is yoga.

When I arrived at the studio this morning, I had to sign a release. That was my first clue that I was in for some hardcore yoga action. The room is heated to 105 degrees and 60% humidity, so pretty much like doing yoga outside in Vegas without drinks, fliers full of large-chested women you can hire or the promise of hitting a jackpot. Then they told me that no matter how much I wanted to, I was not to leave the studio because the difference in temperature from studio to lobby is so great, it would kill me on the spot.

As we were laying on our mats waiting to start, I mouthed to maliavale, "It's not so bad!" Probably should have waited until I started moving before making that statement. It wasn't long before I was completely covered in sweat, my hair and clothes were drenched and you try holding onto your sopping foot, pulling it back behind you, balancing on one leg while keeping your knees locked and keep your eyes on the ceiling, abs in, hips forward, don't forget to breathe. Actually, of all the yoga classes, it was the most fun, if only because I found a new mantra to focus on: "Don't throw up, don't throw up."

I'm not sure I'd regularly pay to torture myself like this, but I'd certainly go for free again!

Anyway, so, I drove home with my jelly legs and arms and went back to bed. I slept for an hour before I opened my eyes and saw a wasp hovering above my head. I'm this close to pathetically wailing "WHY ME??!!!" like Nancy Kerrigan. This crap has got. to. stop.

The Mr., my hero, was actually home and leapt into action. And not his usual, "Aww, I'll just catch the little bug and send him back to his little creepy bug family" action. He freaking whipped out the bug spray and slaughtered the little bastard on our bathroom floor. Master bath, not guest bath, the scene of prior carnage. He's awesome.

What's next? Locusts?

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Horse

The Very, Very Definition of Laziness

Just now, while I was playing on the computer, I wondered if there was anything on TV. Instead of getting off my ass to go find out, I just went to TVGuide.com. Hi, brain cells! I like you, really I do. Please don't leave me.

Don't Even Ask for Pictures. I Wasn't About to Take Any.

Well, good morning! Are you enjoying your breakfast? Have a little coffee, didja? What's that, a Pop Tart? Mmm, those are good. I'm having the usual oatmeal, myself. Gotta get that fiber in and all. Anyway, I have a really, really, horrifically gross story to tell you. OK? You ready? Can you stomach this?

4 a.m. last Wednesday: Nabby started barking in the guest bathroom. The Mr. got up to inspect, then came back and announced, "We have a mouse." Great.

The last time we had a mouse, I was home alone in our old house. I strolled into the kitchen, and there it was, just camping out on the counter, defiant, as if to say, "This is my house too and I won't move and you can't make me, so I'm just going to sit here and admire my kitchen. Could you get back on your side of the line, please?" I called the Mr. to whine, but since he couldn't really do anything, I then called a guy we work with and begged him to come over and take care of it, pleeeeeaseohmygod. He was all excited, because, hey, cute little mousey. However, he was indisposed at that moment, so he said it might be a few hours. That's fine, I said. I can just hide in my room. But then it came time to go to work, so I peeked in the kitchen and the mouse was no longer in sight, so I canceled the call for assistance and left. We never did see the thing again.

Back to Wednesday morning, the Mr. said he saw the mouse peering out from behind the sink and Nabby had it cornered. I ran to get the trap we have, which is the kind that zaps the mouse when it goes for a little morsel of peanut butter you've put inside. And who could blame them? Peanut butter really is good. I'll bet I'd have trouble resisting, too, even in the face of a little electrocution. We shoved the trap in the bathroom and slammed the door shut. Meanwhile, I sprinkled bait behind furniture just in case the mouse brought friends. Then we went back to bed.

Later that morning: I had to take the Mr. to the airport to catch his flight to Indianapolis. Before leaving, I asked if he had checked the bathroom. "No, I don't have time." He's a closeted chicken! I'm out and proud, get used to it, and no way am I going in there. He asked me to call pest control at some point and have them come out and take a look. Well, that I can handle.

Thursday morning: Pest control arrived. The guy said he doesn't see a major bug problem, but he did see some mice droppings. After he outlined the treatment, I took Nabby outside and waited. When I came back in he said, "I went into that bathroom where you said the mouse was and there's blood."
"Um...huh?"
"Yeah. Blood!"
"From the mouse? There wasn't any blood when we closed the door in there, and we haven't opened it since."
"That's waaay too much blood to be from a mouse. Ain't no mouse you got in there!"
"Meep."
"I don't know what's going on in there."
"Did you see the mouse?"
"Nope! I just closed the door back up!"

I know what you're thinking. First of all, what kind of pest control person just closes up the door? I can do that myself and it doesn't cost a cent. Second, why didn't I make him go back and look harder, and if it "ain't no mouse," what the hell is in my bathroom? Well, I come from a little school of thought that says if the door is closed, in isn't there. Door closed=no problem! See how that works? It's neat. Who needs the guest bathroom anyway? I wasn't really using it. I will happily cede the guest bathroom to the mouse if he and his blood just leave me and my family alone.

Plus, the thought of blood in our bathroom was, frankly, unbearable and disgusting, and I wasn't in the mood to force the issue or hear anymore about it. I'm like the cop friend in "Garden State" who doesn't want to hear about the time he was doing coke off the toilet: "Lalalalalala!" But I don't know from disgusting, as you'll see later. Anyhow, I figured that if a mouse died in there, it would just shrivel up and go away without a lot of trouble, right? We can all go on with our lives.

After pest control left, I called the Mr. Now, I debated whether to tell him what the guy said about the blood because I knew he would try to make me go into the bathroom and look. Sure enough he asked, "Well, did you look?"
"Um...nope."
"Are you going to look?"
"No."
"Why not?"
"It's blood! There's a mouse! I can't handle it. God, it's so gross. I'm going to barf just thinking about it."
"You're just going to leave the door shut? You're not going to go in there?"
"That's pretty much the plan."

And that's how the rest of the week went. Nabby kept vigil by the bathroom door, waiting for her little buddy to come out and I pretended like our house had just lost a bathroom.

Monday night: The Mr. came back home, and braced himself for the Blood of Mystery. I sat downstairs and watched "The Comeback."
"AGH! OH MY GOD!"
"What?"
"It STINKS IN HERE!"
"What stinks?"
"AGGGGHH!"
"What's going on?"
"FLIES! Everywhere!"
Uh-oh.
"There's a DEAD RAT IN THE TOILETRIES BASKET AND IT'S ROTTING! JESUS!"

Oh, man. I just threw up in my mouth a little typing that. I started to go upstairs when the smell of rodent death hit me, and I could see flies of death everywhere. I can honestly say that it didn't smell until then. I smelled nothing all week. I thought whatever was in there was still alive, because every once in awhile, Nabby would go nuts and bark and scratch at the door. I figured it was wandering around in there, and she wanted a piece of it. But Ol' Ratty Boy had packed it in.

The Mr., bless his heart, took care of disposing the rat, basket and all. He said he didn't look at it too closely, but held up his hands to indicate that it measured roughly 7-8 inches long, including the tail and that it was a little shriveled. Gag.

I peeked into the bathroom after the rat was gone. Pest Control dude waaaay understated the extent of blood. It was the Valentine's Day Massacre. Blood on the walls. On the curtain. In the bathtub. On the toilet. Freaking everywhere. Jason came by and hacked that rat to pieces with a machete is what it looked like. And the poop. The rat took advantage of the fact that he was in an actual bathroom. And then, as a final middle finger to us all, the rat decided to lay its rotting carcass in my toiletries basket, thus destroying years of hard work collecting hotel mini shampoos for the comfort and enjoyment of all seven overnight guests we have ever had in this house.

The prevailing, but still implausible, theory is that Nabby (now aka "Killer") got a piece of the rat when she spotted it, and it frantically ran all over the bathroom over the next few days while bleeding to death, thus making the bathroom resemble something we'd have to disclose when we sell the house. Thing is, we have a hard time believing Nabby would actually bite another animal like that. She likes to tease and play, but she doesn't have a mean bone in her body.

In talking to our neighbors tonight, we were informed that there is an entire NEST O' RATS behind one of the houses around the corner from us that's being rehabbed. Our neighbors looked off their deck one night and saw them having a little meet n' greet. The owner of the house is going to put out bait and traps, or so he says.

So, who's coming to visit?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Candles

Angel

Monday, August 08, 2005

Part III: Jamaica, Say You Will Help Me Find a Way to Fill These Empty Hours

We docked in Montego Bay, and booked an excursion to ride ATVs to the top of Mt. Zion. I was initially nervous to do it, because the only thing I ever hear about ATVs is how you either get paralyzed or killed on them. In fact, last week's Intervention was about a guy who became paralyzed from the waist down when his ATV flipped and landed on him.
We caught a shuttle where our good-natured driver, at right, said our only responses to any questions should be "Yeah, mon" "No, mon" and "Irie, mon." He wasn't joking, either. If you said, "Yes" he said, "What?!" "YEAH, MON!"

We had a minor freak-out on the way to the ATV place, in which a car in front of us (a winding, hilly two-lane road, it should be noted) wanted to pass the truck in front of him. He went over into the right lane (they drive on the left), passed the truck...and pulled over in front if it with about 2 millimeters to spare to avoid a head-on collision. Everyone on the shuttle who saw it sucked in their breath and marveled at the stupidity. So, the tension was understandable when our driver decided to pass the truck as well a few minutes later. He barely made it, too, but it wasn't as close as the first driver, thankfully. "Hey, you guys trust me?"
"Uh...yeah, mon."
"Hey! You'll be safe, mon! You have to trust me! I will get you there, and I will get you home. OK? You trust me?"
"Yeah...mon..."

Signing our lives, or at least our legs, away. Note that it is, of course, a Marriott pen.

They told us that you couldn't ride these things under the influence of drugs. I almost laughed out loud, but no one else did, so it was a good thing I didn't. It's just that one of my preconceived notions about Jamaica is that everyone is smoking the ganja all the time and is totally stoned and it's acceptable, and I figured they were just saying that. But actually, they seemed serious. Some friends at work told me that when they were on their respective honeymoons in Ocho Rios that locals would pull boats up to them while they were in the water (as they weren't allowed on resort grounds) and whip out giant garbage bags full of weed, so hey, my thinking couldn't have been that far off. Anyway, I digress...

The view from atop Mt. Zion.

We got filthy.

The other notable thing is how very, very revered Bob Marley is here. That's not really a surprise, except, it kind of was. On the way home, our driver asked if we minded hearing some Marley. "NO MON!" So he cranked it up and we listened the rest of the way back to the ship. It just amazes me that not only was he not doing it for the benefit of the tourists and that he truly loves this music, but no one there seems to be remotely sick of it. The Mr. went into a gift shop, and they were playing "Jammin'" in there. He thought that shop owners must get so sick of hearing it, then noticed one of the salesgirls dancing and singing to it. Pretty cool.