About Me

There isn't much to know. I'm trying to be more like Audrey Hepburn and less like Lucille Ball. And honestly, I'm not trying that hard.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Native Americans are Getting Screwed....This Time Out of Historical Pride

From my limited knowledge of the history of the wild west, it is my understanding that General Custer went out west, climbed up a mild slope and got his ass whopped by a mess of indians.

So my question is, why does everyone call it Custer's Last Stand.  It seems to me it was Custer's biggest fail and that he did shockingly little "standing" during the event.  When two guys get into a bar fight, the one who gets his ass handed to him doesn't go to the hospital and say "Man, I just took a stand." So why does everyone act like it was this proud American moment where our great General won one for national pride.  I'd say in this case the score ended America: zippy, Native America: Big Win.

Interesting fact, in the battle of the Greasy Grass (or the Battle of Little Bighorn as the losers call it) Gen. Custer also got two of his brothers, a brother-in-law and a nephew killed.  So, let's stop kidding ourselves.  Custer was a dope.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Nationality of Sea Food

I'm not sure this is normal but sometimes I imagine what the food I'm eating sounded like when it was alive and could talk.  Not that I'm eating food that could talk, that would make me a cannibal.

But when I'm eating say, a cheeseburger, I imagine that is was once a talking cow and I imagine how it sounded before it was slaughtered for my enjoyment.  Cows are British.  They speak with snooty British accents.  Probably why they go so well with sharp cheeses and rich sauces.

I'm working on a nationality for tofu (and what it would look like as an animal (which I suppose defeats the entire purpose of tofu).  I'm pretty convinced it's deformed, whatever it looks like).

Shrimp are French. All crustaceans are actually.  And they are really pissed off about the whole boiling thing.

But I'm perplexed regarding the nationality of all other seafood.  When I eat a nice piece of salmon or a tuna steak, I can't imagine it's voice.  This should probably lead to a dramatic rise in the amount of fish I eat since it's pretty creepy to imagine your food talking to you but I'm just sort of annoyed that my creative side can't find a voice for finned foods.  Perhaps its because they have such freedom of movement swimming around like they do.  They are creatures of the world and are therefore without a homeland.  Wait, I think I've got it.  What do eskimos sound like?  I'm pretty sure that's what fish sound like.

Except catfish, which of course sound like James Carville.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Route 50--Saint Louis to Washington, DC

When Fish and I left Saint Louis, we did so sadly.  Our road trip to discover the Midwest's least-publicized roadside oddities was over and now we just had the unhappy task of getting back to DC and returning to work.  

We waved goodbye to Kat, hopped in the Prius and fired her up.  After checking to make sure that my push of the button had actually started the absurdly quiet car I came up with what turned out to be one of my least intelligent, most-regretted ideas.

"We should drive Route 50 all the way back to DC.  Look, it starts here in Saint Louis, and the mall is on Route 50 in DC.  It's totally a highway, shouldn't take any longer and we won't have to be on the interstate." I explained, thrilled with my idea and hoping that Fish would bite.

She did.  "OK, you don't think it'll take any longer do you?"

"Nah, look the line on the map is shorter too.  We make actually get there quicker!"

With that it was settled, we pulled onto Route 50 satisfied with our navigating abilities and sure that in 13 short hours, we'd be back in upper northwest DC, drifting happily off to sleep.

It wasn't until several hours into our journey that the folly of our decision became clear.  Route 50 crosses mountains!

"Oh, yeah, okay.  Now I see why the interstate isn't a straight line.  They were trying to avoid these mountains.  Well thought out on their part."  I said in what must have been slightly too academic a tone for Fish.

"What do you mean WELL THOUGHT OUT ON THEIR PART!??!  You didn't notice when you struck up this genius plan that we were going to spend the bulk of the trip driving 40 miles an hour through mountains?"

"Well, no, I just thought it'd be nice to say we drove the whole of Route 50.  Like one last little adventure for the trip."

That softened Fish's position a bit as she is a bit sappy when it comes to things like that (which I knew and expertly took advantage of since it's really uncomfortable to get yelled at by Fish.  She's loud and a little scary sometimes).

"Well, how far are we from the Interstate?  Maybe we can cut over."

"Yeah....nope, looks like a REALLY long way on even smaller roads.  We're just gonna have to push on."

Fish gave me a sideways glare, sighed heavily and sped up slightly.

At hour 16 we were tired, starving, and cold (which was weird since we could control the temperature of the car but I think maybe its just a feeling you get at 2 am in the mountains of West Virginia.)

We stopped at a 7/11 to buy provisions and ask some questions about how much longer it was going to take us.  The two ladies working at the register seemed puzzled by our sudden appearance in the store as well as by our purchases (diet coke, coffee, Cheetos, cookies, a deli sandwich--which they seemed to indicate we shouldn't eat--a post card, and cigarettes.)  As we were headed out of the store one of them said "You girls should really be drivin' with the doors locked" and then glanced at the other one who knowingly nodded.

We thanked them with puzzled looks on our faces and got back in the car. We locked the doors and started driving in silence.  Fish finally broke it with "Why would we need to have our..."

"doors locked when we're driving 40 miles an hour?" I answered.

"yeah, so that's weird right?" she questioned.

We talked about what other possibilities there would be for suggesting that we lock our doors other than the obvious, we're in West Virginia and mountain men humming the deliverance song were surely hiding in the woods waiting to kill us and then play banjo music while cooking our cut up bodies.  No matter how hard we thought, no other scenario seemed more likely to us than that.

We both got very quiet, processing the deadly situation we found ourselves in and praying that we would make it home alive.  At the very height of tension we rounded a corner and Fish screamed.  There was something in the road about the size of an ostrich and at the speed I was driving there was no time to swerve.  We hit it with the right front bumper and it tumbled off to the side of the road.

"Just keep driving" Fish yelled.  In a flash she had made the decision that it wasn't worth risking being raped and murdered by toothless citizens of West Virginia to make sure that her car was okay.  I was totally cool with that and kept driving.

The car was silent for probably four and a half minutes.  Then we simultaneously burst into over-tired, adrenaline-pumped, scared, giddy, crazy laughter.  Fish was laughing so hard she was crying.  Every time we started settling down, one of us would say something about this horrible, epic trip we were on and it would send us into another fit.

Around 4:15 am, we rounded a bend and saw the lights of civilization.  The road widened to four lanes and we picked up the pace.  About an hour later we pulled into the parking lot at my house.  We grabbed only the essentials and sluggishly walked in the house and up to my room.  As we lay there in my bed Fish said "That trip totally sucked.  Lock the doors." and we laughed so hard we snorted.

More Blogging, Less Slacking

I've been claiming that I have a blog for over a year now.  I've been shyly suggesting that my friends become followers of my blog for about eight months.  I have been drafting blog posts in my head for about two years.  A pretty active blog-life if you ask me.  But what I have failed to actually do is consistently write my blog.

Some of this is due to laziness.  Okay, most of this is due to laziness.  But some of it is also to do with fear of ridicule and embarrassment and elaborate daydreams that I have about people telling me how much they hate my blog and then throwing orange juice on me.

To get over this irrational fear I look to Audrey and Lucy for help.  We'll start with the fact that Audrey would never write a blog.  That doesn't help, it suggests that I should stop.  But if we suppose that Audrey did write a blog, it would be fabulous and everyone would love it.  If Lucy wrote a blog, which seems more likely, and if that blog were ridiculous and people didn't like it and threw half-full, extra pulpy glasses of orange juice at her, Lucy would probably just wail for a minute and then forget about what those people think.  In this one case, I think I want to be more like Lucy.

And so I've decided to write my little heart out.  I've decided to write a post every day in February.  You may notice that I didn't post a blog yesterday right after deciding to write a post every day.  Well, all I can say is, how very Lucy of me....

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Harrowing Battle with One of Nature's Scariest Beasts

I awoke at 2:30 am to Kat whisper-shrieking at me.  In my groggy haze I understood that there was something wrong in her room and that I should be taking it pretty seriously.  After a few moments the sleepiness cleared from my brain and I finally started to comprehend what she was saying.  

“That fucking cat brought a bat in through the kitty door and is batting it around on my bed” she exclaimed with outrage as she shut my door and plopped down on my bed in a little scared ball.  

“WHAT?!? There’s a BAT in the house?” I questioned as I bolted upright and pasted myself against the wall farthest from the door.  

“Yes, haven’t you been listening to what I’m saying?!?”

It was three-quarters of the way through our summer in Oregon and we were house-sitting for a friend of a friend of my parents.  Most nights, we would call the cat in and lock the kitty-door for the night before trooping off to bed in semi-intoxicated stupors.  This night had been no different except for that when we called the cat to come in, it didn’t.  Rather than wait up or look for the cat, we’d made the decision to leave the kitty door open and hope for the best.  That is how we’d ended up with an injured bat in the house, being stalked and toyed with by an unruly cat.  

From the safety of my room we made a rough plan that included somehow shutting her door (to contain the cat/bat situation) and running past her room, down stairs to get weapons in what was surely going to be an epic battle of cat versus bat versus Anna Maria and Kat.  

With a few false starts punctuated with whimpers and shrieks we managed to close her door and get to the kitchen.  There we put together a cadre of supplies--a broom, dustpan, large aluminum bowl that we’d been using to float corn chips in during our nightly wine-in-the-hot-tub sessions, and a few spatulas.  

We slowly crept back upstairs and pressed our trembling ears against the door to see what we could hear......nothing.  I think that actually terrified us more as if the bat and cat may have taken the time we’d been using to prepare to team up against us and make an equally absurd battle plan to the one we had outlined.  

We slowly opened the door to see the cat flip the bat off the bed with one paw stroke and jump down after it.  The cat was most certainly thrilled with its game of cat and mouse....well, cat and bat I guess.  

It took us a few harrowing minutes to get the cat away from the bat and lock it in my room, slamming the door with a “BAD CAT!”

We steeled ourselves for the task at hand.  We now had to find, trap, and dispose of an injured, but very much alive, bat that had flopped its way into hiding in Kat’s room.  We went at it tentatively, moving articles of clothing, books, and random other possessions with a broom stick while clinging to each other and making indecipherable noises of fear.  

Within moments, we caught the flapping of a wing under Kat’s dresser and watched in horror as the bat flopped its way into a pile of clean clothes on Kat's floor.   

“Okay, we’ll lift each piece of clothing with the broom stick until we find the bat, then we’ll trap it under the bowl” Kat said in a lightning-speed whisper.  

“um, okay, yeah, that sounds good.  Here’s the broom.” I answered

“I don’t want to do the broom part!” Kat answered in a panic-stricken voice.

“Well, I don’t want to either” I cried.  “Would you rather do the bowl part?”

“No! I don’t want to do ANY of it”

“Well, neither do I!” I whimpered back.  

“Okay, give me the broom and get ready with the bowl” Kat said in a voice that showed that she had a slightly better grip on her fear than she had moments ago and certainly a better grip on her fear than I had on mine.

Kat slowly inched toward the pile and with the broom handle extended as far from her body as she could get it slowly started lifting clothes and transferring them to a new, bat-free pile a few feet away.  A shirt, a pair of shorts, another shirt.....this went on for 8 to ten articles of clothing until we unearthed the bat. It began panic-flopping in all directions and Kat screamed “BOWL!”  

I sprang forward (my movements resembling those of someone trapped in pudding--my fear holding me back slightly while my adrenaline pushed me forward) and slammed the bowl down on the bat.  My aim was less than perfect.  One of the bat’s wings was protruding from beneath the rim of the bowl but the bat was contained.  

We began screaming at each other in incredibly high-pitched voices.  “What do we do now?”, “Oh my god”, “Now what?”, “We did it!”

It may have been a little early to be congratulating ourselves as we still had a dying bat under and aluminum bowl with no clear game plan.  

“Okay” I said, “go downstairs and get that pizza box and rip the top off.  We’ll slide it under the bowl and then we can move it.”  

Moments later, Kat returned with the pizza box top and we carefully slid it under the bowl.  After one deep breath, Kat grabbed our containment contraption, and took off down the stairs.  As if we were communicating telepathically, I ran past her, flung open the front door and watched her bound into the yard and, in one graceful move, pitch the whole set-up into the street, where it bounced and landed with a clang.  

We stood, breathing heavily, and looking at it tentatively.  The bat flopped from the street to the underside of a bush.  Without retrieving our bat-containment contraption, we went back in the house and screamed “OH MY GOD” at each other.  The smiles on our faces showed the pride we felt in ourselves for being so brave and ingenious.  

Then we did what any normal people would do and had a snack.  While spooning raw brownie batter into our mouths we decided that our parents would be as proud of us as we were of ourselves and would probably like to hear about this right now.  

It was about 3:15 Oregon time so calling my parents was out of the question.  We rang the Valencia’s, as they lived on the east coast and we were sure that upon hearing our story, they would be thrilled that we had called even if it was only slightly past 6 am on a Saturday.

Mr. Valencia answered in that special way that a parent answers the phone when it’s the middle of the night and their children are not under their roof. “What, huh, what, hello!?!”

“Dad” Kat exclaimed, slightly louder than she should have for 6:15 am “There’s a bat, and the cat brought it in, and we had a bowl, and a broom”  The story starting tumbling out, in no particular order, until Mr. Valencia interrupted her.  

“Kat!  It is 6:15 in the morning and you are 3000 miles away.  If there is a bat in your house, you are going to have to figure out how to deal with it without my help.”

“No, dad, you don’t understand” Kat said, slightly dejected but sure that once he heard the whole story, his voice would shift from alarm to pride “we dealt with it.  We trapped it and we got rid of it.  All on our own!” she finished emphatically.  

“Then why are you calling me?!?” After realizing that we were not in danger, or even any kind of remote physical or mental distress, Mr. Valencia’s voice had gone from concern to anger.  I leaned back from the position I had been holding pressed up against half of the receiver, grimaced at Kat and whispered “he sounds mad...”

Kat’s voice softened in tone and volume as we back-peddled our excitement slightly.  “We just thought you’d be proud that we handled it.  Sorry, we can talk about this later”

“I am proud of you.  That’s great, but call back later” Mr. Valencia said, with a little less anger, and then hung up.  

After a few more spoon-fulls of brownie batter, the adrenaline began wearing off and we agreed with a shrug, “we should go to sleep”  trudged back up the stairs, let the cat out of my room, and got back in our beds.  

I heard Kat call from her room, “night AM” and I could tell she was saying it through a smile.  I grinned and replied “night Kat” and we drifted off to sleep, our hearts full.  We had gone to battle with one of nature’s beasts and we had won.  In the morning we retrieved our bowl (which we only then realized was no longer a hot tub-snack-floating option) from the street and briefly looked for the bat.  It was no where to be found.  

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

More Sushi, Less Laundry

The laundry mat seems like it would be a really depressing place.  It's sort of shabby and in my slightly snobby way I've always considered it a last resort, only frequented by those who aren't well-off enough to afford their own laundry machines or those who rent in big cities (and aren't well-off enough to afford an apartment with laundry).  

But I don't find it depressing.  I sort of like it.  Other than the soda machine that just stole a dollar fifty from me, it's a pretty great place.  It smells nice, I can watch the news, there are tables to fold my clothes on, no one is looking at me funny for eating my take-out sushi with the same hands I am about to fold clothes with, and my clothes are getting clean in a remarkably efficient amount of time.  

I think if i was really rich, I would just get 4 washers and 4 dryers and have my own little laundry mat.  You might wonder why, if I was that rich, I wouldn't just hire someone to do my laundry.  Well, I don't want to be that sort of rich person.  

I would have my sushi chef make me elaborate sushi dinners while I did my laundry.  I might even put in one of those rotating sushi bars in my in-house laundry mat.   And maybe the sushi chef could just start and change the loads for me while I sip drinks on the veranda.  While he's at it, he can just fold the clothes and put them away.  And serve me the sushi (again on the veranda).  Ok, I guess I would be that sort of rich person.  

But, I'd buy my sushi chef 4 washers and 4 dryers so he could get this warm, fuzzy laundry mat feeling that I have going.  

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

More Missing Planes, Less Making Them

On October 10, 2010 my dear friend Noel passed away.  Noel was one of the smartest, funniest, most caring people I have ever known.  His humor was unparalleled and he used it to make articulate, thoughtful, moving speeches to all sorts of crowds.  From bars to congressional offices, Noel was always happy to deliver his thoughts to lucky members of the public at large.  Often disregarding whether people were interested in hearing them -- he knew they'd be better for it.  

In the end, Noel lost a well-fought battle with a horrible disease surrounded by people who loved him as I did -- truly and overwhelmingly.  He unfortunately left shortly before his beautiful daughter, Emma, was born -- almost as if the world couldn't handle that much heart at one time.  

Being that Noel was "our little pimp" in our first days in DC, Guido and I felt it only right to attend the memorial.  And, being that the memorial was taking place in Chattanooga, Tennessee over Thanksgiving weekend, and being that we are not rich, our flight schedule was less than ideal.  We were to leave Ithaca at 3 am on Saturday morning, drive to Rochester and board a plane at 6 am.  That part all went according to plan (even with being at the bar until 2).  

We arrived in Atlanta at 9 am, picked up the rental car and drove to Chattanooga (still according to plan).  Checked into the choo-choo hotel and changed into appropriate memorial attire and made our way to the Baylor school where the memorial was being held.  The service was emotional and moving and there was not a dry eye in the house.  A reception followed and then another.  

It was at that second reception that Guido and I started making poor lucy-like choices.  Gin and tonic and gin and tonic followed which meant that when our friend Cubby asked if we wanted to after party at a bar, we immediately agreed. (who after-parties for a memorial I ask you?  That's right, we do!)  

We spent several hours at the bar and when it was time for everyone to move onto the next bar, we made our only semi-responsible move by conning the bartendress into selling us a bottle of wine to drink in the hotel room.  We got back to the room and then, luckily, Guido spilled half of the bottle.  We drank the remainder of course, while sobbing and hugging.  We drunkenly set the alarm and then passed out in a pile of our own spittle.  

When I awoke the next morning, I knew that it was too bright out for us to still be on schedule.  I woke Guido up with a shriek and demanded that she start packing.  We threw all of our things in our bags and ran to the car.  It was not until the car was on that I realized that a.) I was still intoxicated and shouldn't be operating a motor vehicle, and b.) there was absolutely no way we would make it to Atlanta in time for our flight.  I calmly called Delta and spoke to a lovely representative who rebooked us for a nominal fee on the 12:50 flight.  Then I told Guido that we could go back to sleep for a little while because it would only take 2 hours to get to Atlanta and our flight was at least 3 hours from now. If you know anything about air travel, physics, traffic, or really anything, you know that this was the wrong move.  We went back to sleep, got up a half an hour later and got breakfast sandwiches (see, it hadn't set in yet that I had made a mistake).  We leisurely set out on our way and for probably the first hour, I felt calm and in control.  Then I started to do math....and immediately began driving faster.  

We arrived at the airport and returned the car with 20 minutes until our flight.  Here's a tip for the less well traveled of you -- they don't let you check in for a flight at a major international airport twenty minutes before said flight is set to depart.  I think the helpful desk agents took one look at us and knew that we were desperately in need of some compassion and a hell of a lot more sleep.  They rebooked us -- Guido straight to DC rather than back to Rochester with me and sent us on our way.  

In the end, both of our flights were delayed.  Mine because the pilot was late (to which I say, my first two flights weren't delayed because I was late.  Why does he get special treatment?  Because he can fly a plane and I can't?  Oh, ok, that makes sense.)

It was actually sort of the perfect way to say goodbye to Noel.   Because it was then that I knew he will never really leave us.  He was right there with us for the intoxication, the miscalculations, and the sweet sweet justice of us having to eventually wait around for planes.  I will miss him forever but knowing that I'll always have him with me a little bit takes the sting out it.  

RIP Noel Christian Smith (December 19, 1980-October 10, 2010)