Tag Archives: rant

How *you* doing?


Me? Over here?

Oh, you know, just having one of those weeks where it feels like every single thing I write or do or even think seems to me like a sentient pile of bear poop that is, itself, shaped like a bear. A bear with sharpened poop claws and poop fangs just waiting to slice into me for the crime of bringing its poopy mass into existence.

You know, a week where anything I create just gloms together into a seething, roiling mass of crapness. So much crap that it begins to collapse under its own weight, swirling and coalescing into a crappy black hole in my backyard; a black hole into which I might gladly toss my laptop, my current project, my other previous projects, and any and all potential future projects I might have thought about conceiving of. An entire alternate universe of projects that never had a chance of existing; those can go, too. Reality and possibility themselves bend around the gravity of my ineptitude.

Drive it all into the ocean and drown the world in the tsunami.

Douse it with gasoline and outshine the sun with the fireball.

Bury it underground and dwarf Everest with the displaced earth.

Ahem.

How am I doing?

Fine. Everything is fine.

How about you?

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A Beach Story


The scene: a beach at the height of vacation season. Surf music sallies forth from a jauntily tipped stereo. In the near distance, a volleyball game played by tanned and toned collegiate types. Farther down the beach, a handful of pasty kids slathered in sunscreen splash around in tide pools. Eventually, our focus tightens on a young girl of vaguely foreign lineage building a sand castle. It isn’t much, but she’s quite proud of it. She sticks a flag on the highest tower.

A shadow falls over her castle — a big one. She turns. The sun is eclipsed by a bulbous figure with flyaway coppery hair. She has to shield her eyes to look at him, and this was clearly his purpose. He sneers, chomps the last too-big bite of an over-condimented hot dog, and tosses the wrapper in the sand. Then he plasters a smarmy grin across his chops.

Bulbous: That’s a really, really nice sand castle. Just the best.

Vaguely-Foreign Girl: Um, thanks.

Bulbous: I mean it. I really mean it. I really want you to know that I support you, okay? Building this great sand castle? It’s what we need. Very good people. Sensational.

VFG: O…kay?

Bulbous: It would really be a shame if something happened to it. Such a shame. Terrible.

VFG: (a look of concern growing.) What?

It’s unclear if Bulbous actually hears her or not.

Bulbous: Here are the facts, okay? Are you listening? Here it is: In an hour or so, I’m going to come back here and kick this castle over.

VFG: Why would you do that?

Bulbous: Listen. We’re making the beaches great again. I’m not doing it now. Nobody’s kicking over your castle now. But, okay, in a little while, right? An hour. I’ll be back. With the kicking.

VFG: But I worked really hard on this. I’m not hurting anybody.

Bulbous: I get it. I get it. And these guys over here? (He gestures without looking behind him.) They’re going to build you a better one. The best. Believe me. It’s up to them.

She looks. The guys in question seem to be engaged with the sand in every way except building castles, or in fact building anything. Rather, they are shouting at each other, throwing sand, crying; making a whole lot of noise and accomplishing nothing. There is not a grown-up in sight.

VFG: Them? They don’t look very capable.

Bulbous: They’re with me. Well, kind of. Well, maybe. I’m not sure. We’ll see.

VFG: That one is dumping sand in the other one’s shorts.

Bulbous: Yeah, I’m not too sure about him.

VFG: And … that one’s eating the sand.

Bulbous: Him either.

VFG: And that one? The one pouring sand into his own eyes? He looks like a turtle.

Bulbous: The important thing is, it’s up to them.

VFG: It’s just that they’ve been there all morning.

Bulbous: Uh-huh.

VFG: And they haven’t built any other sand castles.

Bulbous: (quickly losing interest) Uh-huh.

VFG: And they haven’t shown any interest in building any sand castles. In fact — I don’t even know what they’re doing over there.

Bulbous: Right, right.

VFG: So … what makes you think they’re going to build one, for me, in the next hour? I mean, I don’t even know them. And I’m pretty sure they’re playing over there so they can pretend I don’t exist.

Bulbous: Believe me.

VFG: Believe you, what?

Bulbous: Believe me.

They stare at each other for a moment. It’s tense. But then, suddenly, Bulbous seems to forget about her entirely.

Bulbous: Well, I’ve got to go meet with some of the beach authorities and see about putting a tax on all this sunshine.

VFG: This is cruel. What did I ever do to you? Do you just hate me?

Bulbous turns to her and smiles, and behind his eyes is the confidence of a man who knows he will get away with any lie he chooses to tell.

Bulbous: I love everybody. Nobody loves everybody more than me. Now get the hell off my beach.

*********************

It bears saying again: the people who voted for this guy and aren’t working to stop him from all his evil — today it happens to be throwing out of the country people who have committed no crime and have no ties at all to whatever country he might send them to (sorry — not throwing them out today, throwing them out six months from now) — those people are complicit in all of this.

 


Sparks! (and spiders)


Yesterday I wrote about the occluded flow of viable ideas making it from my brain to the blank page. Here’s why I think my particular eclipse might be waning:

In the past twenty-four hours I’ve had a couple of ideas penetrate the mental fog, strike me as amusing, and stick around for more than a few moments (of late, the ideas strike and then vanish again into the ether like Batman knocking out a criminal and disappearing into the night). Both spurred by simple real-life situations that could easily have been left alone and forgotten about!

Situation 1:

I’m at work. I get no cell service in my building. So if I receive a text, it doesn’t usually land until I’m in the parking lot, leaving school. As it turns out, I receive a text from my father as I’m pulling away from the building. It’s time-stamped around 2:00: “What is happening?”

I reply “not much” and don’t think of it again until the following morning. A response never comes. Now, it must be asked: who sends a text to ask “what is happening” without that being pretense for actually asking something more significant, a la “let’s get together for dinner” or “are you going to be available on Saturday” or “do you still have the shovel and duct tape and garbage bags and lye that we used for that one thing that one time, I kinda need them right this minute”? Nobody, that’s who. You ask somebody “what’s happening” so that you can talk to them about something else and you don’t know how to begin the conversation without a banality. And, by the way, you say “what’s happening” like a human, not the more formal “what is happening” like a robot.

But there it is. Just that question — “what is happening?” — and nothing to follow.

Right around the time of the eclipse.

Then, in my head, the scenario plays out: the eclipse has come, the sky is dark, and my father rushes out into the yard, beseeching the heavens (and then also texting me, because of course he would do this): “WHAT IS HAPPENING?”

Read with the proper inflection and emotion, this makes perfect sense. All it needs is a second question mark to fit perfectly — ooh, or perhaps the saucy interrobang. The world needs more interrobangs. Doesn’t it?!

Ahem.

And why no response? Well, that’s easy. He was taken by the lizard men, obviously, and spirited away to their space station on the far side of the moon.

This is much more palatable than the probable actual truth, which is that he just sort of wanted to check in with me.

Right. Situation 2:

I was out for a run this morning. Gorgeous one, actually. Starry sky in full glory, perhaps trying to make up for being overshadowed (haw) by the eclipse yesterday. I’m plodding on, eyes skyward, when I tear through this massive spider web.

And I do mean, massive. The web happened to be strung across the gap between a football fence and the bleachers behind it: a four-foot gap, and right at head-and-chest height. I’ve got strands in my mouth, on both shoulders, even trailing the tops of my knees. I’m pulling webby gunk out of my eyebrows, off the back of my hands. The dog is freaking out because I’m stumbling all over the place like a drunk trying to pick a fight with a bar stool.

While we’re on the subject, have you ever run into a spider web while bald? I can’t say I recommend it.

Of course, I don’t stop running while I’m trying to de-web myself (NEVER STOP RUNNING, the demons will catch you). So about fifty yards later, when I’ve collected my thoughts a little bit, the real horror strikes. What’s unpleasant about spider webs is not the webs themselves, but the spiders they conceal. And now I have to contend with the possibility that a spider is on me right now. Worse than that, massive, human-sized spider webs are not woven by tiny house spiders. This web was a doozy, which means the responsible spider is a doozy by proxy and I know spiders don’t always just sit in the middle of their webs but SOMETIMES THEY DO OH MY GOD HELP.

But I can’t feel the spider, despite lots of swiping at my face and neck and back and various other parts.

And I figure that means I’m okay.

Unless the spider is one of those weird anomalies of nature like that parasite that takes over an ant’s brain and drives it onto the top of tall grass at nightfall to be devoured by a cow. If it were, couldn’t it conceivably have wiped out the past twenty seconds of my memory, when it crawled up through my nose and buried itself in my brain, and only made me think that I hadn’t found the spider?

Couldn’t it, then, be driving me around like a meat puppet right now?

Could I really be the spider right now? Thinking spidery thoughts that just happen to be the thoughts that spiders would think if they found themselves embedded in human husks?

We can’t be sure that I’m not.

So I’ve spent the past several hours wandering in and out of a dreamland in which my father was abducted by eclipse-riding lizardmen and I was being piloted by a mind-controlling spider. Which is a weird headspace, but not a narratively unfertile one.

Still, it’s got my brain percolating, so that’s good. Even if a spider is to blame.

(Spiders are usually to blame.)


Because Banks


Who said moving house would be easy? In the past 48 hours of our house-buying saga:

  1. Appraisal report comes in (several days late) severely undervalue, causing us to scramble in last-minute negotiations for our new house. We end up buying the house for less money overall yet paying more on our monthly mortgage, because banks.
  2. Negotiations concluded, the updated sale price has to be returned by the same appraisal company that borked us a few days ago. We are still waiting, and if past is prologue, we will wait for a few more days just because.
  3. Something about a fridge. Apparently a box was checked on a form somewhere in somebody’s basement and now the fridge is a major issue. The sellers write out a bill of sale to sell us the fridge for zero dollars. This resolves the issue. Because banks.
  4. Thanks to the holidays and all kinds of people taking extra days off, documents can only be submitted by Monday. And thanks to government knowing better than we possibly could, we have to take three additional days to “think it over” once those documents are in, even though we are ready to sign and have been ready to sign for four weeks. Because banks.
  5. The lender financing the purchase of our current home has a last-minute issue crop up that requires immediate attention and a several-days delay. (Because banks.) Our agent finds this out from the closing attorney because our buyer’s agent for some reason doesn’t think this is useful information for us to have.
  6. The lenders (both ours and our buyers) refuse to commit to dates and what they’ll be able to get done when, leaving the rest of us (those with their entire lives in boxes and moving trucks) in limbo and unable to even reschedule the myriad of services and family help and pet boarding and all of the rest of it.

TL;DR: We’re not moving for about another week. We’re pissed. Our agent is pissed. The people we’re buying our house from are pissed. Their agent is pissed. And we are still living out of boxes.

Because banks.

Oh, and that novel I wanted to work on? Those lesson plans I planned to plan? LOL I have no more fargoes to give for a scrap of that.

This is life on hold.

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I searched Pixabay for pictures of boxes and this is what I found. Apparently the internet is just as over it as I am.


Watch Out — There’s Girls Driving


We’re in the supermarket. It’s a weekday evening, and I dunno about you, but where I live, that means the grocery store is absolutely idiotic. Overcrowded, understaffed. People stalking you in their cars in hopes of a good parking spot, even though there are perfectly good spots at the end of the lot, which, if they’d just suck it up, park out there, and walk, would get them into the store and on with their idiotic days sooner. This one person — I swear to goodness — gets a cart in the front vestibule, moves through the doorway at an angle, then stops — blocking the entire entry/exit door — to root in her purse for something. It’s as if people have radar for the most inconvenient things they could possibly do, and then they do them, for the sheer hedonistic joy of blissful oblivion. Maybe they subconsciously feed on the pissoffs they’re sowing in the people all around them. (Man, that’s a good story idea. A semi-sentient lifeform who derives life energy, not from consuming or harming, but from irritating other creatures.)

Where was I? Right, the supermarket. On a weekday. *involuntary shudder*

We’re weaving our way through the aisles. Both of our kids are in the buggy, in that little plastic car thing that they bolt on to a normal shopping cart to give the kids the illusion of driving. My son is really too big for the cart, but that doesn’t matter — with the store as crowded as it is, letting the munchkins run free only makes us part of the problem, and we try whenever possible not to be part of the problem. Anyway, my kids are seated side-by-side in the pretend car, not screaming at each other (for once!).

We take the corner and almost mow down a kid who looks to be about three (plenty small enough to be in the cart, you know, NOT being part of the problem), with an open bag of goldfish in his grubby fingers and stains all over his shirt.

I don’t begrudge the stained shirt or the bag of goldfish straight off the shelf. I’m a parent too; I get it. But I heartily begrudge the kid running free and making me feel like a jerk for nearly running down a kid next to the canned corn. That’s on mom.

The kid stomps and stumbles to a halt as I put the brakes on the cart. The kid dashes around us as mom calls out, “careful kiddo, there’s girls driving!”

I had to stop breathing to stop my natural reaction. I dead-eyed and white-knuckled it down a couple of aisles before I started venting at my wife. Let’s just say you were dangerously close to reading about this incident on the police blotter instead of my humble internet abode.

“Careful. There’s girls driving.”

Where to begin?

First of all, she obviously mistook my son for a girl, which is, well, special. Usually it’s my daughter getting mistaken for a boy. Or maybe she mistook me for a girl — you know, my bald-on-top-hairy-everywhere-else self.

But more importantly, we’re just gonna go ahead and make the horrible joke that girls are bad drivers — even here when the girl is just pretend driving the car. Okay, that’s great.

And finally — she’s a woman. Making the no-thought-required, loaded-on-the-tip-of-the-tongue automatic joke that women can’t drive. To her son. Who is just on the threshold of understanding language itself. Sure, let’s go ahead and start filling his head with tired old stereotypes that will form the basis of his understanding of the world and the people in it. And just cap that with the mind-boggle that his own mother is debasing her own gender. In public. To strangers.

Just one more reason we usually shop on Sunday morning at eight AM.

Because everybody else is either at home or at church, and I can grab some cornflakes in peace.

 


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