October 30, 2006

A crabwise and a crustacean foolish.

Today's word of the day:

crabwise \KRAB-wyz\, adjective:

1. Sideways.
2. In a cautiously indirect manner.

"Without taking his eyes from the road his left hand moved seamlessly from the old-fashioned gear stick to Sally's lap where, after a brief professional rummage, it moved crabwise on to me in the back seat."

-- Sue Arnold, "The difference between a grope and a caress", The Independent, October 4, 2003

First, awesome word. Second, awesome quote. Third, awesome article title.

I assume The Independant runs somewhere other than the US, though, as our friend the groper's left hand is on the gearshift (and in laps), indicating that if he's in the U.S. he's got bigger problems than just a sexual harassment suit.

Namely, a head-on collision and/or major traffic violation.

October 26, 2006

Lois and the Catholics: Danke Schon.

On the plains of the Palouse -- a great, flat stretch of grassland that covers Eastern Washington and Western North Idaho, over which the wind whips like it's Siberia in the winter and where the lentil grows plentifully, but tastes like hippie dog food -- I had many of the formative experiences of the 17th-23rd years of my life.

Yes, in Idaho I learned to drink, to (sorta) write, to "ice block", and to roll a joint. I also learned about the sound a VCR makes when you drop it from the window of an 11th floor dorm room, and about home-perms and friend-administered hilights (neither a good idea). I learned what happens to boys who shave their legs and pierce their tongues (homosexuality and a beagle) and what happens when they build 9-foot beer bongs (my friend pees her pants at a party and I punch a boy in the face).

And last weekend, I learned that delicious food and funny stories come from diners inside which hicks wrangle pancakes and scrambled eggs while staring down girls in heels with lattes in hand and boys with well-pressed shirts.

It was on our way home -- we decided to take the long way, detouring through Coeur d'Alene so we could see some family on the way back to Seattle. As we got a God-awful early start, we were on the road and nearly to our first family-members' home before roosters even started crowing. So we did (surprise!) what I wanted to do: stopped for coffee and food.

The coffee appeared in a semi-populated stretch of highway in the form of a roadside stand. Caffeine? Check. We pulled back out onto the road, happy with our nonfat sugar-free vanilla lattes warming our hands, and started looking for someplace to get breakfast.

We squinted, and drove, and drove and squinted some more before we realized we were in the middle of the country. Not the "country", like the "Cunt-ry". There weren't so much a bunch of sprawling farms as there were the occasional 1972 Chevy rusting alongside the road with a man swathed in plaid leaning against a holey silo.

"Hey -- what's that?"


"That building..."


I squinted harder. I must get Lasix.

"Oh! Yeah! That looks like a diner!"

"I thought so."

"Can we go? Please? Pleeeaaasssee??"

"Yeah, sure."

I am persuasive, clearly.

My companion cranked the wheel, bouncing us into the gravely parking lot of "Lois". I think it was supposed to be "Lois' " (like, posessive), but it seemed the intricacies of the posessive form of the name were either unimportant to Lois or worn away by time. Either way, the building's name now appeared to be "Lois".

I clutched my latte, flug open the car door, and stepped under my friend's arm, and through the door into...


Once our eyes adjusted, we saw a row of farmers at the bar, drinking coffee and spitting tobacco into bronzed spittoons. There were a few women who didn't work there sitting in a booth next to the dingy yellow-curtained windows, discussing a 4-H steer show, and the politics around the events in the local chapter.

"gorrr innn..." I urged to my awestruck friend without moving my lips, nudging him in the side and smiling at our dining companions.

The other patrons lost interest in us a few minutes later, as we slid into our back corner booth. I pulled out the crossword and we started working on it, after deciding we'd both have one of the four things on the menu -- a scrambled egg and homemade toast.

"Okay. One across is five letters for 'a chapter in nove-"

"What can I get for you two? No coffee, I imagine?"

The waitress.

"Oh, no thanks," I said, "But we'll both have the 'little farmer' breakfast."

"You're going to have to slow down, honey," the waitress said, rolling her eyes and sitting down in the booth next to me. "That was two... what?"

"Little Farmers," I offered. "One scrambled, one over easy."

She proceeded to take our orders, and then tell us about her morning, particularly about the overflowing toilet (apparently this was a weekly thing, and caused her great inconvenience) and the 'ol gal' who was supposed to relieve her of the afternoon shift who just called in sick.

After she sidled away, the two of us resumed work on the crossword. Shortly, we were stumped by a clue for which the answer was clearly Danke Schon, but we didn't know how to spell the "schon" part.

As we were discussing, our waitress reappeared with our food (by the way, the best damn scrambled egg I've ever eaten -- and toast made of homemade bread like you wouldn't believe).

"What's the clue?" she asked.

We told her, and explained that we didn't know how to spell Danke Schon.

"Is it an 'e', or an 'a', or an 'o'?" I asked. "Neither of us knows."

"Ooh," she said. "I can't help you with that one." She leaned in conspiratorially, and whispered "There aren't any Jews here today."

As we looked at each other across the table incredulously, she straightened up and continued:

"In fact, you're presently surrounded by Irish Catholics." She paused, then finished with "Y'all enjoy your breakfast now."

Satisfied, she nodded as if for punctuation, and retreated to the kitchen, leaving us with the best damn breakfast west of the Missisippi, "5 across" unsolved, and a pretty funny story.

Oh, Idaho.

October 24, 2006

Awesome weekend in I-D-A-H-O, football, fans, etc.

I went back to Idaho last weekend to watch the UI vs. BSU game -- and what a game it was!

UI actually lead or were tied with BSU for the first three quarters. Of course, in the fourth, the wheels came off and BSU won, but still. For a college football game with an anticipated 30 point spread (and U of I anticipated to finish last in their division while BSU is ranked 18 in the nation), it must have been pretty discouraging for Boise State in the Kibbie Dome with 18,000 screaming UI fans standing in seats and packing up all the exit rows.

Fire hazard? Yes. But I'm pretty sure most of the UI alum wouldn't have cared if they died at that game.

They were already in heaven. Yes, the fans were frenzied spectacles in their own right.

Every garbage can within a three-mile radius of the stadium wasn't just full, it was overflowing with beer cans and keg cups. So much so, in fact, that fans had started to just pile their cans and cups in the general area of garbage bins, in some cases nearly burying the overflowing receptacles. I have a picture of this, and will post it here shortly. Watching people do this was completely bizarre. It was like all the out of control garbage didn't even phase them. They just put their can on top of the heap and tottered on, obliterated.

The old guys were great, too. Fifty-year-old alums wobbled around the stadium waving glittery gold and silver pom poms and yelling "GO VAAANDIEEES!!" like slightly retarded 7-year-olds.

And while I was standing waiting to scalp a ticket to the sold-out game, a chain of wasted sorority girls, holding hands and walking single file towards the dome stepped, one at a time, directly on one of my feet. After it happened the first time, I was stunned enough that I didn't move much, and then the remaining four girls all followed directly behind their leader, each stepping on the same foot in turn and not one of them noticing.

It was one of the best weekends I've had in a long time, truth be told. A great game, a happy reunion with a bunch of my old college cronies, a solid night out on the town, complete with dancing (yes! dancing!), a fishbowl of beer (a real fishbowl, full of beer, all to myself!) and general debauchery.

More coming soon...

October 23, 2006


Today I found myself late to work because I discovered the simple joy of hot laundry.

When I got out of bed, it was freezing in my house. This is because I love to sleep in the cold, and because I love fresh air circulating through the rooms of my house.

[Note: One of the most disgusting things, in my humble opinion, is when people sleep with their windows and doors shut in their bedrooms. In the morning, their rooms always have that weird "sleeping people" smell - it's kinda warm, and stale, and filthy, like old socks and dirty hair and a mixture of sex and bad breath, all combined and made airborne. Totally wrong.]

This morning, though, the chill was more than refreshing -- it was possibly dangerous. As I lay there in bed (a pillowtop, with a heating mattress cover beneath my sheets and a feather comforter over me -- glorious) with my nose peeking out, I actually saw my breath -- my breath! -- puffing out over the top of my covers and lighting up the dark room like a warning. The warning was that if I set foot out there I might not make it.

But I had to get up a bit early, having left clothes damp in the dryer the night before. I knew if I didn't get up to turn them on, I'd have nothing to wear to work -- a fate worse than frostbitten extremities.

Propelled by this thought, I gathered my courage. After taking one more deep breath of the warm air beneath my comforter, I threw off the covers, sprinting for the door. Pausing to slide into my cheetah-print slippers, and sidestepping the cat, I flung the door open, raced down the stairs, turned the dryer dial and slapped the "high" and "on" buttons before spinning around and hurtling myself back up the stairs, through the door and back into bed (slippers still on). The whole trip likely took me less than 2 minutes, but my nose was still an icicle by the time I finally jerked the covers back over my head.

25 minutes later, my alarm went off. This was the second call -- the one where I legitimately had to get up in order to get the laundry, dress, make coffee and get to work on time. Again, I steeled myself. At least this time I already had my slippers on.

Off, again, went the covers and out the door I scurried, down the stairs and to the dryer. I whipped the dryer door open, plunging my hands into my clean, dry clothes, gathering them to my body and taking them back into my living room.

Only once I was back in my apartment did I realize my arms and chest were suddenly nice and warm. The almost burning-hot clothes were heating me up, and it was heavenly. No sooner did I discover this than I found myself lying on my floor in my pajamas and slippers, covered in my pile of scalding hot laundry.


There I lay, a ridiculous-looking, breathing pile of laundry on the carpet, moanind and reveling in the sensation of the metal buttons of my just-dried jeans burning my exposed knees and forearms, the glorious waves of heat from the dark, heavy towels pressing down... I was euphoric, delirious with pleasure and brilliantly saved from a certain death in the frigid duplex I call my home.

A half hour or so later, I woke up on my floor to a rapidly lightening sky and the nudging of my purring, drooling cat, who was deliberately and happily adjusting herself in her little hot nest on top of me and the pile of cooling clothes.

If I could have re-heated them I might have done that all day.

As it was, I heaved the cat and clothes heap off me and went about my morning routine after hanging up the clothes, my temporary escape, under the resentful gaze of the displaced (and newly chilly) feline.

If you haven't done this, you must. Pick a cold, rainy day, put in a huge load of towels, and heat 'em up. Best 30 minutes you ever spent on the floor.

October 19, 2006

Shoulder, surgery, sports, plea.

Well, it's finally happened. After years of competitive volleyball, I'm having a minor athletic crisis, and sometime around Thanksgiving will be holding a funeral for my favorite passtime in the world.

I played volleyball from about the 6th grade until, well, the present. Competitively for seven years, and then more recreationally for the last six, because:

1. There's a good chance of meeting cool girls to expand my ever-growing (read: fairly small BUT RAD) social circle who don't have eating disorders

2. There's a good chance of meeting charismatic, athletic men who don't smell like french fries made in an auto parts store restroom

3. I love the game, and am lucky enough to still have an impressive vertical and a pretty nasty outside hit, I do say so myself.

Until now. A few weeks ago, I started feeling pretty significant pain while playing, which turned into significant pain while playing, getting dressed, driving and sleeping. I finally went to a shoulder guy -- formerly with the Mariners -- who put me through an MRI. After two hours of whirring and thumping in that tube and three days of waiting for results, I got the call from Doc. Apparently I not only have a tear in my Labrum, I have completely torn my rotator cuff. I guess this is one of those things you kinda have to have to use your arm, so the only option is surgery. And three weeks in a sling. And 6 weeks of physical therapy. And some really awesome pain meds...

Anyway, there goes volleyball, the only sport I ever loved. At least for a few months.

A little history:

I was never much for other sports, finding softball boring and the uniforms totally unflattering. Basketball I would have loved, but I didn't have a dad who taught me to "shoot hoops", and so got a late start in the sport. Soccer I played, but after 5 years on a team ironically named "The Stars" that never won a single game I was finding it hard to stay optimistic.

I did track for a few years, jumping the triple jump and running a dash and a relay occasionally, but soon I got a license and therefore outgrew childish (and inefficient) "running".

No, traditional sports weren't for me. Instead, my athletic career included the following:

- Dance, in the early years. Ballet, tap, jazz.

- Dance evolved into gymnastics when my dance teachers recognized that clumsy and stupid were more likely to be successful while hurtling over the vault than in a tutu in the Nutcracker. (I turned down a role as a one-legged rat in that production, by the way...)

- I also spent some time in Synchronized Swimming (again, hard to hurt or embarrass yourself underwater). No joke.

- Gymnastics was my passion until I was about 14, when three things happened to me. First, I was on the beam attempting a backhandspring when my feet slipped out from under me and I "crotched" the beam. Crotching a beam basically consists of getting the equivalent of a sandpaper burn all up the insides of your legs and then landing with all of our weight on your crotch on the beam before sliding to the floor in agony. Fun. Second, I became anemic one summer and fainted, hurting a vertebrae in my neck. Gone were my days of complicated floor moves, as putting my chin to my chest was painful. Third, I grew. Like 5 inches. TOO tall.

- Enter Volleyball, my love for more than a decade. It has it all: action, intensity, jumping, hitting something as hard as you canl, diving onto the floor, smack-talking, teamwork, and really, really hot uniforms.

(Okay, maybe they were more like this, but nobody likes a stickler for details.)

Now I have to find a new sport that isn't dependent upon the critical right shoulder and that I don't hate/suck at.

I have picked up both golf and tennis recently (pre-injury) and loved them both, but they're out of the question, post-surgery. I'm actually having a hard time thinking of a sport not dependant upon the shoulder. Bowling, curling and table tennis are out. So is cricket, lacrosse and hockey. Downhill skiing, maybe - but only if I avoid moguls and pole-planting. Frisbee and tetherball? Out. Dodgeball? Definitely not. Where have all the good sports gone?



I'm going to have to start running again. Upside? Fabulous ass and increased skinniness. Downside? The running.


If any of you have fun little gadgets that make running more fun, easier or generally less completely fucky shitty, please let me know. Otherwise, hold for stories of torture and months of complaint... just the way you like it.


October 11, 2006

Potatoes and Planes: Don't kill the messenger.

Apparently it's both Vegetarian Awareness Month and Breast Cancer Awareness month, two causes I can (and do, regularly) get behind. To celebrate, I plan to feel myself up in a bathtub full of mashed potatoes.

That was the most nonsensical thing I've ever written. A total lie, just for the sake of lying. But actually, that sounds nice. The bathtub full of mashed potatoes part, I mean. Not the feeling up.

Probably good for the skin, too, as MP's contain milk, if they're made right, and milk is very moisturizing, I hear.

But in truth, a potato is really a root, isn't it? Or a tuber? Definitely a starch. So a potato may not, in fact, be a vegetable at all, rendering this whole bit even more pointless than I ever imagined. Fuck it, then. I'll just do a regular self-feel, sans veggies. A tub full of peas just isn't that appealing.

Don't say I never touch on critical news and health issues. Because I do. Sometimes.



Breaking news: NY Pitcher Flies Plane Into Building.
While all of NY city is busy flipping the fuck out over how in the world, post 9/11, a plane of any size could possibly fly into a building almost entirely un-noticed until after the plumes of black smoke and screaming people began pouring out of buildings, let me just make one other note:

In the New York Times, the late Lidle was quoted saying "The whole plane has a parachute on it,'' Lidle said. ``Ninety-nine percent of pilots that go up never have engine failure, and the 1 percent that do usually land it. But if you're up in the air and something goes wrong, you pull that parachute, and the whole plane goes down slowly."

In the Philadelphia Inquirer this summer, he boasted "The flying? I'm not worried about it. I'm safe up there. I feel very comfortable with my abilities flying an airplane."

Yikes. If there's one thing that's always made me a little nervous, it's needles. If there are four things that have always made me nervous, they're needles, the giant squid, somebody cutting my achilles tendon from under my bed when I get up for water in the middle of the night, and flying.

Call me supersitious, but you'll never catch me saying I feel perfectly comfortable with sitting surrounded by thousands and thousands of pounds of metal while it whizzes through the sky on thin air like magic. No sirree. I'm sure there's a perfectly logical explanation for why flying's a piece of cake (likely involving physics, aerodynamics and something called "drag", but not in context with the word "queen", rendering it totally uninteresting to me). Yes, there's a scientific reason flying is safe, but I don't care. It's strange, and unnerving, and amazing. I have a healthy respect for flying, and I'm just crazy enough to believe it's that twinge of anxiety that will keep me alive.

Just as the twinge of guilt when I eat a pound of chocolate covered gummi bears will (hopefully) keep me from obesity, and a hideous hangover will keep me from, in the future, drinking entire bottles of wine back to back at sushi and sake bars while repeatedly yelling "THIS ISN'T SAKE, THIS IS SUCKY!!!".

Okay, that one's a stretch. But you get what I'm saying.

October 09, 2006

A pulse: something I have.

To those of you concerned that I've died, been abducted or otherwise been sucked up into the non-blogging vortex of lameness, I say this: I'm here! I'm alive! I'm working frantically!

But I have a little something for you, and will hopefully get it up today. If not, tomorrow. And if not, whenever the hell I feel like it.

This is an update, guys. I'm not signing in blood or anything. You can expect the same mediocre content to resume shortly -- a timeframe I refuse to define. Have a fabulous day, and we'll talk soon.