Saturday, March 18, 2006

state o' the nation

How am I?
You are adorable and kind to worry.
In answer, I only have two words:
banana slugs.
Send rum.
*stumbles back to her bed of pain*

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Indian Lore, or, Fuckin' with your stereotypes, part un

I am a native american so don't go getting yourself in a bunch over the following. I can do this stuff. I have permission. And you know how I'm always talking about white folks, and calling the catholics a pile of twats? I'm part white and I was raised catholic. See how this works? And using the same logic, you will never find me referring to the spoos, the zippyheads, the kites or the eelshoes in a pejorative fashion, mainly because I made those up.


Back , back, my children, back in the dim mists of time, the Flatbutt tribe lived their charming, primitive lives undisturbed by the passing parade, amid the peaceful ponderosas high in the hills.

Yes, it was a time of innocence. The mighty Flatbutts stalked game (mainly Twister) in the primeval forests. They raised bonsai Republicans, which they later sold as chum to the fishing tribes living along the coast, or sometimes traded for Altoids. They made highly sophisticated pottery and are known from the archeological record as the inventors of the booby mug. They were particularly known for their greeting cards, which they imbued with powerful magic charms and a strong, greasy aroma.

The children of the Flatbutts were reared with a keen appreciation of something. Nobody knows what exactly. They spent much of their youth high in the elms, waiting for salmon to pass beneath, attempting to hit them with water balloons. Life for the young Flattbutt was idyllic, and most of all, unhygenic. When a Flatbutt lad or lassie came of age they were initiated into adulthood by members of the secret tribal Amish Death Metal Society...felled from their lofty aeries by setting light to kilos of Matanooska Thunderfuck beneath their dung-whitened roosts, and then flung headlong into the mighty Lager river, which ran, strong, foaming and yeasty, through the center of their ancient tribal lands. For days afterwards those living downstream tasted, and knew.

Using pool cues, the newly-made adults were then rescued from the malty torrent and greeted by the tribe. A huge bonfire using wildcrafted sofas was set ablaze. The next three days were passed in feasting, catered by Port O' Subs, attempting to light off damp fireworks with gasoline, peeing for distance, fart tag and Twister. During this time, and for some afterward the buffalo were wary.

The adult male Flatbutt was of average height, not counting the additional inches added by the ceremonial pirate hat and cuban-heeled boots. Adult males wore a penis sheath, a ribbed length of dryer vent decorated with feathers and crackerjack prizes, held fast to the body with duct tape, and many inches longer than was entirely necessary. This article of clothing, it was believed, aided the hunter in attracting the police. Sometimes in bad weather the males would burrow deep into the forest duff in search of Playboy magazines cached earlier in the year.

Women were revered as givers of life, and they alone carried Israeli manufactured automatic weapons with taped clips. Women customarily went topless (inspiring the tradional indian war cry WOO WOO) wore raffia platform shoes with cherry toe clusters and midlength tulip skirts adorned with poodles, eiffel towers, and Frenchmen riding bicycles. No ensemble was considered complete without the traditional Hermes bag where the scalps and genetalia of their enemies were carried. During the winter the females would often drive in to Portland and take in some shows, maybe do a little shopping, and later hunt elk with stone-tipped spears through the center of town, dodging busses and gorging on the thrill of potential bloodshed.

Then came the pioneers... Europeans banished from their own lands by a populace sick to death of their constant whining about being too cold and too wet and too muddy and oo, can't I have another blanket and oh dear the thatch is leaking again and could somebody bring me something hot to drink? and maybe a magazine? and could you turn the channel before you leave?

They crossed the plains leaving trails of used tissues, and the rumor of their passage was told in the sudden increase of postnasal drip among the tribal peoples with whom they traded for Vicks and aspirin along the way.

The first doomed meeting between the Flatbutt tribe and the ofay happened on Friday. Everyone was settling in for a nice picnic lunch and maybe later a swim in the river if it wasn't too chilly (making certain they waited the traditional one sacred hour after eating to appease Douglas, the giant monster lager lizard who was rumored to live on the bottom of the channel eating the adidas of the unwary.) Without warning, from over the rolling hills in the distance appeared the Pintos and Gremlins, the Chevrolet Caprices and Pontiac Sunbirds of the settlers, drawn by tired oxen with large crayons.

Without so much as a howdy do they headed toward the river, heedless of the noshing natives, and then into the very river itself, where they drank their fill, promptly passed out and floated away downstream.

The Flatbutts rallied. Gathering up their blue tarps and styrofoam coolers they waded in, chunking rocks and bottles, sandwiches and eight-track players, and finally, desparately, pelting them with the used diapers of their own children. But a sense of destiny hung over the whole scene, a portent of doom, a scent of failure, and several other things.

And so history was played out on the sage-strewn stage of the painted praries.

Intermarriage alloyed the pride and strength of the Flatbutts. Competition for cigarettes drove the price up. Korean and Japanese investors swept in and bought up the primeval forestlands for a pint of pee and a box of Kotex and built mini malls where once proud Flatbutts had hunted in proud and flatbutted nudity. Although that was supposed to be a little Flatbutt secret.

But a ray of hope gleams through the crack in the bathroom stall of history, blocked though it may be by the wadded up toilet paper of Caucasian revisionism. Today, using laptop computers whch they cleverly assemble from sticks, rocks, pinecones, and some of those carboard tubes that paper towels come on*, the Flatbutts are slowly regaining their former status as the savage investors they were of yore.

Given time, a clearly written pattern-preferably Bernina- and the right yarn, they will rise again.


*a perfect example of Flatbutt injun-uity.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

i hate my lungs (warning: contains dickensian childhood scene)

Is this a 'pity me" post? Why yes, I think it is.

I have had asthma for 39 years, starting abruptly in fact around October-November of that year. One month into first grade.

Many specialists say that childhood asthma is stress induced. Let's examine 1966, shall we?

I was in a first grade class that contained 41 children in a single room, with one teacher. (Mind you, this was a private Catholic school that charged an obscene sum for enrollment.)
Surprisingly, despite the asbestos wrapped pipes and the shredded textbooks, this wasn't too horrible in itself. It was in the classroom next door that the real concentration camp conditions were.

Unbeknownst to everyone at the time, the nun who taught that class was suffering from a brain tumor the size of a golf ball. When she became irritated at one of her six-year-olds, she would draw a circle on the blackboard, have them touch their nose to it, and then smack them in the back of the head with a hardcover math book. This we knew because our nun described exactly what was taking place over there, and threatened to have that teacher come and take care of us similarly if we acted up.

She lit into those children so hard that the chalk would bounce out of the trays on our side. The kids seated closest to that wall would get so scared they'd start to cry...and in true 'Catholic school horror story fashion', our nun, Sister Mary Petronella, would go crimson with rage and start slamming books on her desk and shouting at us to mind our own business... while in the background you could hear the kid in the other room screaming and crying and getting his skull cracked off the slate board while the nun bellowed gibberish at the top of her lungs.

I mentioned this at home, and my mom only laughed and showed me the scars on the underside of her wrists from the whippings she got in Catholic school. 'Hurts more there' she explained.

Finally one of the little kids from the other room ended up hospitalized with a concussion and a broken nose, and his parents had money, so of course then the shit hit the fan. But up until then, why, you could always tell the kids from Sister Clementines class...they were the ones with the bloody noses and two black eyes.

So yes, some stress.

Then of course there were the less-than-ideal conditions in the patient-run mental ward I was growing up in. I've treated that elsewhere, so 'nuff said on that point.
The punchline? Because childhood asthma was written off in those days as a 'psychological ailment', I was perceived as 'faking it' ( i.e waking up from a dead sleep unable to breathe, coming out in hives, coughing up things I refuse to describe, turning blue from lack of oxygen, sneezing so many times in a row that my throat bled and capillaries burst in my face) I received only token treatment for my asthma. At the time I was told that too many doctor visits cost too much money.

But see, my father was a career man in the navy. We had 100% medical coverage.

In spite of taking all the required precautions, asthma is a 'the more you get it, the more you get it' scenario so I'm only one or two jumps ahead of the game at any given time. I've always had respiratory problems-bronchitis, pneumonia of every stripe, bacteria busily evolving primitive societal structures in my sinuses, it's been pretty bad. In fact its been downright nightmarish. I've lost quite a few jobs because my resistance is so low I start racking up the sickdays as soon as I come into regular contact with the public.

And now I've got bronchitis again. Dammit to HELL! Every! Fucking! Spring!

Of course the days of 100% medical coverage are a thing of the distant past, so like most Americans in my income bracket, what I'm reduced to doing now is calling around to my friends and asking do any of them have any partial prescriptions of antibiotic laying around could I buy. Yeah, like trying to score weed. Not that I couldn't go to the doctor, but weigh half a day out of my life and the cost of the gas, and the cost of the visit, and the cost of the perscription without any co-pay, and well, fuck it.

So I sit here, full up to the tits with contraband Cephalexin. And, my darlings, I can only pity the holy, bleeding FUCK outta the next goddamn person who crosses my shit.
Have a nice day! :)

Monday, March 13, 2006

agitatos and girlbogs

I always wonder what third world citizens must think of the way Americans treat their pets. We own dogs, and while we are not disgusting in our dog ownership-no outfits, no oojy cuteums voices-we are kind of stupid when it comes to them. For one thing, they eat WAY better than us, at least if you look at cost percentages. And this we spend on animals who lick their own asses.
We must be doing something right, though...we seem to have had the evil dogs forever. First came Jett. She was to be my husbands' dog. She was followed several years later by Opie, who is supposedly my dog. The truth of the matter is both animals exert equal satanic dominion over our household, friends and guests. And, uh, we actually bought Opie for Jett. We didn't want her to feel lonely. Yeah, its pathetic.
Both dogs have nicknames. Jett is the Girlbog, because she is a girl, and like bogs, poo is inevitable. Opie is the Spud, a.k.a. AgiTato, because he is in some mysterious way very much like a potato.* He does not walk; neither does he amble or stroll. He tatoes. Stubbing along in a perfect state of zen mind, head lifted, eyes closed, completely enraptured by some divine odor, oblivious to everything in his path, unhurried, unworried...this is Opie, passant, tatoing.
Jett grew up into a diva of the first water. Opie was already full grown when we got him. Despite being older, male-er and stronger, he is completely happy to let Jett have the run of things.
This is not passivity, however, even though he allows himself to be grabbed mid whiz by Jett and humped-it's complete and utter indifference. He will let Jett-or any dog, for that matter-hump away on the south end of him as though he were one of those nickel horsie ride at the grocery store. Dog X might even work itself into doggie paroxsysme (that's Fronsh, y'all), panting and grinning and drooling and losing its footing, tossing it's head like a ponygirl...meanwhile Opie will be blinking sleepily, chewing his toe.
Jett is a dogs' dog; there is nothing cute about her. The poor thing is caught in a terrible dillemma, though, because for all her instincts she is no bigger than a rat terrier and the fact simply hasn't registered. If you go to pick her up she'll go all stiff and awkwardly twist around exactly the way a large dog does when you try and lift it; kind of ridiculous in an animal no larger than a loaf of bread. She won't sit on your lap for the same reason-she is a BIG dog, not a baby lap dog. She digs dens. She points birds. I once had to pull her away by the collar from a muskrat lodge she was desparately, even compulsively, trying to pull apart...a pile of logs and limbs the size of a city bus. The oddest behaviour is her fascination with white rocks. She would spot one while she was wading and completely submerge, head and all, open her eyes, then crawl across the bottom army-man style until she was able to grab the rock in her mouth. Then she'd stand, trot back to shore and put it on the ground. Lather, Rinse, Repeat. She'd leave a conical pile of round white baseball sized rocks next to every body of water we visited. Is she a breed example of the rare submarine baseball hound? Like Area 54, Stonehenge and much of the Catholic religion, it is a mystery.
My husband is Opies' manservant. I am a convenient source of warm flub when the heater goes off. Opie is Opie. The rest of the world exists only per its relative utility vis a vis Opie. He is a benevolent despot, but a demanding one nonetheless; he wants what he wants, but when his wants are satisfied, why then the rest of the world may proceed. He will be picked up and put on the bed. No matter the bed is scarcely more than futon height from the floor, more than simple for him to waddle up on despite his stubby legs. No, he will be lifted. If you choose to ignore him, he will voice his displeasure and generally Agitate. He does this by repeatedly flumping his butt on the floor and sighing heavily in disgust. He will nose. He will bump. And he will make a sound in his throat I have never heard another dog make.
Imagine you sing bass. Now imagine you also have a terrible case of bronchitis, and that during the past day you have eaten a large amount of elderly beans and that they're reeeeeping and buuu-orpping around in your gut. Now-the sound you might make if someone slowly sat down on your stomach-THAT is the sound Opie makes when something displeases him. OO UHHHrrrrr MMM rr MM. RRoo nnn? MMoooo rrrr.
Neither dog has aged badly. Of course where once they were entirely black they now have white points, and they spend lots more time sleeping, but other than that they are still exactly the same. This must be hybrid vigor or something they're putting in cat food that my dogs are reaping the secondhand benefit of; either way. Both of them are doggie Methuselahs and neither one is showing it in ill health, deafness or blindness and for that I am so grateful. They get so much enjoyment out of the things in their world that its heartwarming to be able to provide them with a comfortable version of dog retirement. Rotton smelly dogs.

* opie even has his own emblem, *, an asterix. If you see this sigil shining on the clouds some uneasy, dismal night, stay indoors. the Dark Tato is abroad.