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Archive for July, 2012

Cockroaches: Every last thing about them conjures up the most profound grossed-outness that I can humanly muster. Where I’m from, cockroaches signify that you are Nasty and not in that fun-sexy way the kids all dream about. Cockroaches signify that you are white trash, and not only are you white trash, you are white trash, you diseased-vermin-having motherfucker.

So, you know, I have a huge aversion to them. I wouldn’t say I’m terrified, but I could say with a good deal of surety that more than five of them gathered together in one spot would drive me right up to the ledge of Seriously Skeeved In A Way That Might Make Me Irrational.

Where, you know, ‘Irrational’='blowtorching a twenty-foot surface area’. Okay. Now you’re clear on my stance toward cockroaches.

When my boots hauled me out of the South, I ended up bobbing in the Pacific on this hunk of lava that many people believe to be some form of Paradise. Okay, overrated, but whatever. My time in Hawaii was weird. Not your standard operational weird, but the kind of weird that makes you believe that maybe everyone has a ‘Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas’ experience under their belt, just stretched out over several months, all skewed landscape and protracted pace instead of crammed into a jaunty weekend journalism expedition.

I’ve had a couple, but we are talking cockroaches here so I’m stuck with Hawaii for this story. Did you know that there are Big Mystery Bases in the pineapple fields? Well, one for sure (I’m surmising the rest). And I don’t know if it’s such a mystery anymore? My friend from work, a Navy wife, invited me home with her one day and I’ll be damn: We drove off into a sunset of pineapple stalks and arrived at the heavily-manned gates of a tiny military installation that I’d no clue existed until that moment.

While I was slipping my military ID out of my wallet, I asked her quietly, Your husband’s MOS?

Oh, computers and stuff, she said glibly. ‘Computers’ wasn’t really a throw-away word yet in 1990, you know? It was still very weighted with science fictiony overtones.

Right, cockroaches: One night I was watching television with my first husband (third time’s a charm). I’d been putting things back for my first home since I was a little girl, and by the time I was a senior in high school I had what I needed to modestly equip a house. I went into that marriage ready in ways that most people aren’t; I had already put the work in to make myself a standalone model, no relationship or kickstand required.

As a result, I had no obligations toward the frenzied buying of things like spatulas and rugs, so I was able to push some decent money toward a really fucking good console teevee.

Thus me lying in the floor on my belly, elbows crooked and hands propping head, watching I-don’t-even-know-what.

I just remembered part of the reason cockroaches skeeve me so: Their incredible speed. Their nervous system may be underdeveloped compared to your basic biped, but a cockroach can get the jump on a human every fucking time. Their speed is creepy. Their unapologetic will toward survival is disturbing.

I wonder if God ever thinks this way about us?: Their unapologetic will toward survival is so disturbing, so downright creepy. Reason number 10,428 that I could never be God. Humans are pretty dang creepy, film at eleven.

On my belly, one ankle kicked up in the air, foot at the end of it lolling in lazy circles. My eye catches it, my brain is slow to register it, and before I can even figure out what I’m freaked out by, my body has already coiled, leapt to its feet, and offended the air with a shriek. The cockroach whose carpet-scurrying had sent me flying in the opposite direction was approximately an inch long.

Which, you know, was what I knew of as a Bigun up until my residence in Hawaii.

I immediately became militant about bombing the shit out of our domicile, which was on the seventeenth floor of a forty-four story apartment building. Having never been an apartment dweller before, I had no understanding that such an endeavor was futile and that, unless you get everyone in the building to have a go at the Raid all at once, we were doomed to cohabit with roaches forever and ever amen. I also had no logic to tell me that I lived in a tropical locale whose mild climate and propensity toward moisture was not only Paradise for spoiled white folk and obnoxious Japanese tourists (yes. there are obnoxious Japanese. I was startled, too), but for your basic Periplaneta americana, as well.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking I’m fancy. I had to look up that clever little snippet of Latin. I can’t believe how pretty the Official Scientific Name for cockroach is. Just look at that, would you? Periplaneta americana. That shit looks like whatever it’s naming represents pure possibility, dunnit?

Oh, cockroaches. I guess if you wore a bag on your head, you would live up to your fancypants name. In theory, you are possibility: You survive no matter what. I hold fast to my theory of thirty years that if we were to suffer a nuclear holocaust that you and Tupperware and Twinkies (preservatives) would survive. Let’s hope I never get to say “I TOLD YOU SO!!1!” on that one.

Anyway, I hadn’t the climate and dwelling logics to tell me that I needed to just get over myself where roaches were concerned. I was convinced that our immaculate new dwelling was somehow Nasty and that I needed to stage Cockroashima. The first bombing kept them away for three days, then they were right back to startling me when I opened the cabinets to reach for my cornflakes.

The second bombing bought us twenty-four hours. We started to catch on a little that they were just packing it in and moving to the neighbor’s until the air cleared. While I was fumigating a third time, a pretty Chinese girl laughed at me and my efforts. I had been bemoaning our situation over coffee at work.

“OH, you don’t get it, do you? In Hawaii EVERYbody has cockroaches. The clean people have the little ones”
(here she held her finger and thumb an inch apart)
“and the Nasty people have these ones,” whereupon she indicated a critter of about four inches.

It was then that I knew I’d never, never be home in Hawaii. Not ever. I was right. I appreciated my time there, but when friends from back home sent me missives about how lucky I was to be where I was, I rolled my eyes. I didn’t try to explain because I knew they’d not get it. Even Paradise is not without its troubles.

 
|| July 29, 2012 || 10:30 pm || Comments (13) ||

I want to try something. It’s only going to work if you take off your Mittens of Writerly Silence and hit the keyboard running. Like, several of you. Let’s arbitrarily pick a sport with which to illustrate what I’m doing here. Fuck that, that’s a dumb idea; I’ll just explain.

I’m going to set you up with a pretty cool sentence. This sentence is a beginning, and it is a prompt. But –unlike other writing prompts people tend to put on the internet– it’s only for one person. That person is the one who gets there first to write the next line in the narrative. That next line? It’s also a prompt for one person only. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Comments will have more meat than the post….not like that hasn’t ever happened before around here, and let’s be truthful: I miss that, I miss that thing where the comments take on a form and flavor and generate this community content that I’ve not had an active hand in molding.

So maybe eighty of you will comment, and maybe none of you will. We’ll see when I hit publish, I reckon.

Of note is the fact that if you’re a new commenter here or are commenting from a new location then your first comment will be held in queue. I’ll try to clear comments as quickly as possible on my end, and try to keep the train on the rails. Feel free to have more than one go at it, too; the only thing I ask is that you give at least three other people a chance to jump into the volley between each of your entries.

If you are unsteady and nerved up at first then just pick a pen name, no sweat. I won’t rat you out and the only thing that I ask is that you don’t try to derail the story or the other contributors; be at least somewhat mindful of story flow.

Here we go.

(hopefully we’ll all get to a place where I can just title the thing next line please, two or eleventy or whatever and post a sentence for you to hop on)

*AIRHORN!*

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

“I gave you my fingerprints,” she had written, “because I thought they might come in handy. You know, someday.”

 
|| July 20, 2012 || 7:45 pm || Comments (9) ||

Guys with guitars will always get laid; it’s a law of the universe. If you’re not a musician? Easy: Be a passionate lover of music and come equipped with the right song. You’ll always get laid, too.

I first heard Half Moon Run’s ‘Full Circle’ a couple of weeks ago; it was one of those pulled-up-short moments where one minute I’m cruising down the road, hunting a picture or a bargain or some peace, take your pick. These days I’m happy with any one of the three.

Okay, then, back on track: That next minute consists of me being in the parking lot of the janky (but useful!) quarter car wash, scribbling lyrics as hard as I can because KAPOW this song has hit me in the guts and the brains and the past and the heart all at once and I’m immediately sucked in and possessed.

Some people are not moved by music, not at all, and when I hear this admission I feel like I could not be shocked or disturbed more if This Soulless Entity were to grow a third arm out of their forehead. That sounds overwrought and angsty, yeah? Well, it apologetically is. In fact, I’d probably feel more comfortable in the presence of Armed Forehead than in that of This Soulless Entity.

It’s that dramatic. It absolutely is. I stand by the term ‘possessed’.

So this song gets all inside me and it rattles around and I ask Uncle Google about Half Moon Run and their music, specifically ‘Full Circle’. And then, there is this video,

which is just so many ways enchanting and exactly right. The first time I saw it I was taken with the notion of the lead singer’s bottom lip and how I felt like it needed biting. For the record, I felt that way up through the fifth viewing, too. It was the fifth viewing that called up an additional notion that says I’m so voodoo-ed by the video because I’ve spent more than one afternoon rehearsing or listening to others kick some music around and that kind of thing is such a beautiful, intimate space to inhabit (even if there is someone in the band who’s prone to throwing things, and then it takes on a whole different vibe that is no less cool but potentially bloody). When you witness the birth of an amazing song there is this powerful moment that you’re locked into, whether or not that song stays there –in the room or the truckbed or the garage or laying in the bed of the creek it first floated across– with the few or spirals out and thirty ears hear it, a thousand, three-billion.

I imagine that this is one of those songs that, when it started pushing its way past vocal cords and fingertips, made itself known as something singularly great. I bet every hair stood at attention. I know this because I can’t stop singing it in my head or under my breath and it’s not driving me nuts to do so.

In the past week I’ve been enthusiastically pointing ‘Full Circle’ out to anyone who will listen, because I can’t possibly the only one who is knocked the fuck out by it. Also I would like the comfort of knowing that I’m not the only dirty old(er, AHEM) broad out there who’d take a tumble with two-thirds of this band if I weren’t spoken for. And hell, if the other guitar player would comb his hair, I’d be all over that, too.

(pee ess….leave me some knockout music in the comments;  what has you all fixated and squirrelly? doesn’t have to be new, just has to be amazing)

 
|| July 19, 2012 || 4:06 am || Comments (8) ||

My father has spent most of his adult life being a success.
Cancer is beating the shit out of him.
I feel terrible for him.
Lots of people might ask me,
“How could you spend and decade-and-a-half without someone
Who was supposed to love you, to be there for you

No Matter What

and then love him and tend him and fret in your heart over his pain
when he shows back up only to
promptly get sick?”
(It is indeed a long-winded and big-ass question)
My answer to them what would ask this is,
pretty much:

“Man. I don’t even know.
I do not know
and
I’ve come to realize that
I do not care

and

All I know is that this is in my heart, this thing,
a knowledge that says, concrete but sorta kind,
This is what You Are Supposed To Do.
Not just that, I guess.
There’s some sort of biological imperative
thing at play that won’t let me peel off
Or turn away
Or fall down and holler quits.
I guess I’m finding out, too

that

This is maybe just who I am.”
“Thank God, because seriously:
If you’d have asked me as early as ten months ago
to predict an outcome, well….
I’d have never put money on myself.”

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

(you might want to hold your breath a little for this one, y’all)

About four years ago I set out on a mission to get rid of every ugly coffee mug we own. Well, if they were the right shade of ugly (you know, like ugly-interesting) they could stay. If they were just sheerly ugly-ugly, they had to go, sport. Shut up, this is my logic and you maybe just need to take your opinions and/or household management style over to your OWN voyeurnal that you have carefully cultivated in literary mediocrity for fourteen years day before yesterday*), holla.

So, in short, I fucking failed. Failed!

This is because I have a husband who actually smuggles horrid mugs out of the donation box I’ve packed, lets them ride around in his car for a couple of months until he thinks I won’t notice, and then sneaks the dang things back into my cabinets. Please insert four years’-worth of manic mug-related cycling here.

Let’s address the inevitable FAQs here so that the comments aren’t cluttered with them:

READER: Jett. You’re showing marked restraint. Why don’t you just smash them and have done with it?
JETT: ……

READER: Why don’t you just take them to the thrift yourself?
JETT: a) THIS MARRIAGE IS A PARTNERSHIP and I’ve already done the hard part, which consists of bitching and putting some shit into a box and placing said box into my husband’s car, and b) I didn’t bring those fuckers into this joint and I shouldn’t have to wag them out of it.

A couple-three years back I made the very conscious decision to actively seek out mugs I deemed as cool and fold them into our cabinet, so that my eye would be drawn to something besides the annoying mugs and so that I would be More Overjoyed At Mundane Things In General.  I think this hunt, too, was triggered by the fact that the Chieftans mug that I’d won in a music store design contest had gone a-wanderin’. People, –so help me God– I love cash, but I loved that mug more that the prize money that accompanied it.

(aside: As I was typing, I remembered how when my insanely cool Chieftans mug disappeared I practically put that thing on the side of a milk carton because I missed it so badly, and then I thought I had let it go and made peace with it except that now I’m mad at Maxim because I know damn well he carted it off somewhere and lost it because that’s what he does with my awesome things that he ‘borrows’ in an ‘I don’t have permission but maybe it will be worth the rage?’ fashion. In fact, I just stopped typing for a minute to glare at him one more time and say, “Maxim. Whatever happened to my fabulous Chieftains mug that you disappeared AND YOU BETTER NOT EVEN PLAY DUMB ABOUT IT BECAUSE I’M WRITING MYSELF INTO A LATHER AGAIN.” The case is still cold. Maxim better do the rest of this day correctly because CHIEFTANS MUG.

The case is still cold, I said.)

Okay. So I started snagging mugs I deem cool. With every one I found, I made a polite-but-firm announcement:

“Family? Family. This is mommy’s new mug and she superfuckingduper likes it, please use one of the other eleventy-gazillion mugs in the cabinet instead of this one. Please. Please?”

And to date, I’ve bought five such irresistible mugs because their design or size charmed me. Also to date, each one of them has come up profoundly broken (bye, handle, you were so useful while we knew ye) or just plain ole chipped. Apparently the hideous mugs envied my affections for the Chosen Mugs, because they ended up mysteriously beaten up with no one –NOT A SINGLE SOUL– in my family having an active knowledge of how these chips and breaks were occurring. The ugly mugs are staging big rumbles when the cabinet doors are closed, is what I’m saying.

That’s not crazy at all, right? I mean, my family would tell me if they’re guilty of destroying my property, right?

There is only one thing I’m really concerned about figuring out, though: Are the Chosen Mugs getting chipped because they are the most-used and loved, or because of the fact that they are mine and mine is the only shit around here that ever gets broken (and not by me, is what I’m saying)? Hmmm, Muffinasses, just hmmmm.

I even bought a control mug with which to perform an experiment. I did the requisite announcement and mild fawning about how much I really dug this Monopoly mug that I’d picked up on thrift for seventy-nine cents. Only, my family didn’t know that I’d only spent seventy-nine cents. I left that part out. My logic is that the less I pay for it, the less of a magnet a coffee mug is going to be. I pulled the mug out of the cabinet once, twice, three times. It was on my fourth reach for it that I saw this:

chipped

AH-HA! Also, motherfucker. But mostly AH-HA!

….but not really, I realized, because there is no real way to sort the result into one of the two named categories. But still: These things are mine and these things end up broken.

One day I was out Spejunkin’ (spelunking for junk=Spejunkin’, in case you don’t follow me on Twitter**) and I came across a fifties stoneware mug. It was putty-colored and sported the name ‘George’ across it in this awesome, delft blue vintage script. George’s mug had gotten away from him through death or a change in tastes (kind of the same, really, when you consider that nineteen-eighties coke-loving me thought that black lacquer furniture was the very pinnacle of style and also taste, my hand to God) had ended up at the thrift for thirty-nine cents.

I immediately had a lightbulb moment. I would start collecting vintage mugs with the names of other people on them. There were only two rules to start: 1) Mugs carrying the names of people in my immediate family could not be collected, and 2) I have to find the mugs myself or be along for the ride when they are found; they cannot be purchased for me as a gift. Since then, I have added two more rules: 3) Tackiness is very much desirable but a mug cannot be terrible, horrible, no good or very bad. I know what these things are when I see them but not until then. 4) The mugs, no matter how old, have to be in like-new condition. BONUS POINTS: An obscure/unusual name, for example:

elfriede

There is a quiet brilliance behind my Collecting Other People’s Mugs project: I will gather these particular things to me because I won’t give a real shit about a mug if it’s actually someone else’s in theory, right? Riiiiiight. You can’t see me, but I am winking both conspiratorially and sarcastically at you and that’s called ‘foreshadowing’.

Plus there is the bonus benefit that I hadn’t anticipated: The name mugs are actually actively repelling my family through a clever combination of being significantly smaller than contemporary mugs and the fact that they have someone else’s name on them, thereby subconsciously casting blame when pulled out of the cabinet. The sad part is that these same exact factors have caused me not use them, as well, but yet I still look every time I go Spejunkin’. Because thirty-nine to fifty-nine cents, usually, that’s why….and sometimes even a quarter. A quarter!

I may also be a little addicted to this goofy-harmless activity, as well.

I’ve found about five so far, but my favorite is this one:

inez

I expect at some point I will fuck up and let someone within these four walls know that it’s my favorite. I am here to tell you, spirited reader, whosoever breaketh ‘Inez’ will be forced to move the fuck out of the house and only visit on Christmas and maybe the nights when I cook too much spaghetti and need to get it gone. If it turns out to be Maxim, then he can visit to satisfy conjugal interests.

Mine, not his. Of course. Are you thick or something?

UPDATE: I was going to include a picture of ‘George’ in this post, since it was the trailblazer in this accidental project. George is absolutely nowhere to be found and the family, upon cursory questioning, has no earthly idea what I’m talking about. But! George is the only name-mug that I announced with a flourish when I brought it home; I gloated over it while explaining my brilliance in this new and challenging (but cheap! oh so cheap!) undertaking.

I AM OFF TO STAGE AN INQUISITION ABOUT THE WHEREABOUTS OF GEORGE.

*some of whose archives are like playing dodgeball with horrible writing as the projectiles, forewarned
**
if you don’t, then I totally forgive you, go with God and such