Disaster Capitalism or How I learned to Love the F-Bomb

 

Acceptance can be a difficult act. It takes time and several stages of rage and depression before you’re able to simply admit the absolute fact that you have hired the most incompetent roofers in the history of houses.
I’ve written them a corporate jingle to the tune of “The Pina Colada Song”:

If you really like roofers, and a house full of rain
If you´re not into dryness, if you have half a brain
Then hire our company, and invest in duct tape
We can ruin your whole home, you will never escape.

This week, while at the Kerrville Folk Festival, the G.P. (my Dad) received a phone call from the company we hired saying that they were “sorry,” and that the roof they took over a month to install starting last October had (for the second time) failed the windstorm inspection. They evidently didn’t use nearly enough nails.

I don’t know if you guys remember my column from around Halloween. I wrote about how we had a big rain during the roofing process and my living room ceiling leaked. I lay prone on my floor, watching my ceiling balloon like an anaconda who just ate a goat, drinking tequila and waiting for the collapse. It didn’t ever happen, and I got a mighty hangover for my troubles.

We finally got the process done, and they even picked up the tons of sheet metal they left abandoned in my yard after the job. I thought all was well until early one morning, after a medium rain, I slipped in a pool of water on my tile floor and busted myself up good. The roof was leaking.

Dad came over, furious, and climbed a ladder in the drizzle the figure out where the hole was. The conditions were not amenable to doing this, and I held the ladder terrified that he was going to plummet to his death and leave me to deal with the vile company.
Spoiler alert: the G.P. didn’t die. Using what we have come to describe as “Bair Ingenuity” he wired a trashcan lid to a broomstick, crawled up into the eaves and jammed the device under where the leak was. “Well, I think that’ll get it, Ab,” he said as he descended the ladder. “The Bruce Bair Mighty Portable Rain Catching Trashcan Lid Device has been deployed! All is well!”

I was skeptical, but the leak stopped. After the roof dried, Dad fixed the hole with silicon compound.

A few weeks later, roofers showed up. They hadn’t scheduled an appointment, and I was pretty confused when they rang the doorbell to announce that they were there. No one spoke any English, so I had to use Google Translate to figure out what was going on. They spent about half an hour hammering and left.
Cut to yesterday.

I came down with a nasty case of what I thought was food poisoning last Friday. It was the bad kind, with both cylinders firing at the same time, if you know what I mean. I spent a lot of time crying in the shower. That lasted two days, then I spiked a fever.
Anyway, when the preppy little brat from the roofing company rang the doorbell, I was in no mood to deal with him. They had called my father at 7 a.m. that morning to tell him that they were coming to my house that very day to rip off my entire roof, so I had been forewarned. However, there was not enough warning in the world sufficient to prevent what happened next.

“We’re here,” announced the annoying man-child happily, like I was supposed to have some kind of glowing gratitude. Really, I’m super glad we paid seven thousand dollars for a job that is evidently going to get done right around the beginning of the next millennium.

“Yeah, okay,” I replied. Let me interject here, guys: I looked scary. I had on a tank top, jammie pants, and a sleep mask that advised anyone viewing it to *expletive OFF. My hair was sticking out like the wild man of Borneo, and I was as pale as a vegetarian vampire.

“Don’t block my driveway,” I continued.

“Oh, which side?” he asked.

“ONE CAR GARAGE, ONE CAR DRIVEWAY. DON’T BLOCK ME IN!” I yelled.

“Well, I can’t guarantee that…my guys unloaded our stuff there.”

I live on a half-acre corner lot. There are literally a million places to put trucks and ladders and shingles that are not on my driveway.

…and that’s when I lost it.

I don’t remember all of what I said (I did have a pretty high fever) but there was cussing and a lot of “incompetent idiots” thrown in. I also read him the riot act about carpet bagging disaster capitalists (the company isn’t local), but I think that went way above his head. They did, however, unblock my driveway.

I went back to bed and stayed there the entire day. I am nothing if not a woman of principle.

They only ripped off and replaced half of my roof. I can’t believe they thought we wouldn’t notice. They used totally different colored shingles.

The second verse to my song probably needs to have something to do with litigation. Luckily, I won’t need to bust out a rhyming dictionary to find words to go with “damages,” “jury” and “sue your ass to the moon.”

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Better Living Through Dentistry

If you have the gift of terrible anxiety, like I do, you know that it comes in many forms.  Sometimes, it rests on your chest like a bowling ball, making it impossible for you to draw a breath.  Others, it sits in the pit of your stomach like a particularly dense walnut, causing various and sundry ulcerations as your body deploys Alien-blood-worthy concentrated acid in an attempt to dissolve it.

Impending dental appointments are the worst for me.  Instead of death by acid or suffocation, the stress over a simple cleaning feels like gigantic anacondas writhing all over my body, slowly constricting – until I can just let out the tiniest of rodent-like “eeps.”

At this point I usually go and hide under the bed until the appointment has passed and I am once again safe from invasion by sadist.  This did not result in my having excellent dentition.  By the time the Rev got her hands on me, I was 34 and needed all of my wisdom teeth removed, and a gum resection to reverse the damage I’d done by not going regularly to the bad man.

The first time she hauled me to the office, I ran away and got about half way home before she caught up with me.  Mom knew about my horrible childhood dental trauma (a very bad dentist removed two adult teeth without anesthesia when I was about nine years old), and so thought something of this nature might happen.  My chicken-out reflex is strong.  It’s like a super power.  I can see stupid suggestions coming and bail before they’re even out of the mouth of the other person.  This has resulted in my friend Paddy being abandoned in several bars – but for reasons of safety.

Anyway, it didn’t take my family long to come to the conclusion that I was going to have to take a “boat-load of Xanax” to get me through even talking to a dentist.  It took a while (and the G.P. spending eight grand on an implant), but we finally found an understanding doctor who would not only drug me to kingdom come, but also could perform the oral surgery I needed in-house.  I’ve been going to the same guy ever since.

The Rev and I have a pattern now.  I can’t know when the appointment will be, or I’ll freak out for the months or weeks in the interim, so Mom plays Reservations Secretary and sets it all up.  Then, the night before, she comes to my house, throws a barrel of drugs at me, and says, “YOU ARE GOING TO THE DENTIST TOMORROW. TAKE A PILL RIGHT NOW. YOU CAN’T GET OUT OF IT. DON’T YOU DARE GIVE ME ANY CRAP.”

So, from the night before to well after my appointment, if you had to describe me, you’d probably say something like, “High as a kite? No. She’s as high as the Mercury probe. She’s so stoned that she’s first in line for contact with alien life on other planets.”  You would not be wrong.

Monday morning, I got up and got ready for my appointment (after taking three or four more happy pills).  I decided that I was going to “dress for success” so I threw on my Admiral Akbar “It’s a trap!” t-shirt (because my subconscious is a winner), gray sweat pants, flip flops and a stripey cardigan.  Nothing matched. Then I cut my hair some more because (this was seriously my logic) I couldn’t work my lipstick.

The Rev arrived and herded me out to the car.  I admit, I was fairly docile at this point.  She drove us the five miles to the dentist’s office and left me in the car, by myself, to my own devices while she went inside to let them know that we had arrived.

I took a couple more pills and waited.

Then I started messaging my friend Suzie in France…only I couldn’t work the keyboard, so I kept leaving her weird voice messages.  Here is an actual transcript:

Suzie: Do you have good drugs?

Me: Notgungbl hsoolp93 bee (this was my only attempt at typing)

Suzie: Awww. You can see the trauma in your wee eyes (my pupils were tiny little needle pricks)

Me: (sounding like a fairly good imitation of hobo who has been drinking Mad Dog for 9 years straight) Nothing even happened, I’m just high high high in a car, I haven’t even been inna office yet.  I don’t go inna office until it’s time to go get the gas.

Suzie: Stay calm.  Just do grounding exercises until it’s time.  You will be okay! I promise

Me: I’m like woozy, but super panicked, so I gotta figure a way out of this…um, the best I’ve got is that maybe I’m gonna go hide in that tree.

Suzie: DO NOT HIDE IN A TREE. YOU ARE NOT A SQUIRREL.

Me: It looks like a pretty nice tree.  This is a definite hiding occasion.  I could be on the roof of the next building in (really elongating) NOOOOO TIME FLAT.

And then, five minutes later, the Rev pulled me out of a tree.  I thought I was totally hidden because I was holding a leaf up in front of my face.  I was not.

As I sat in the chair, disgusting pink mask affixed to my face, the last thing I remember is the Dr. asking me how many pills I took.

“I took ‘em all,” I proudly slurred.

“Ut oh,” he replied.

I don’t remember anything until Tuesday at around 4 p.m.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Grammar NOT-zi

Over the last year of writing this column for the Island Moon, I’ve had a variety of questions regarding my qualifications like: “This is great! Do you teach creative writing?” or “To [sic] long. You need to learn to edit.”  My only real qualification is my Bachelor’s Degree in Literature from a defiantly mediocre university (unofficial school motto: “Meh!”) Aside from that, I’ve been writing humorous stuff for as long as I can remember.  My first novel, written at age 11, was called “This Plane Was Once a Pepsi Can,” and (despite the misleading title) featured my California adventures with a boyfriend I called “Fierce Surferboy.”  This cracked up not only my parents, but all the staff at their respective jobs (English Professor and Journalist) to the extent that I couldn’t go to a family barbecue without being asked about Fierce until I was thirty.  This is one reason I’m thankful we moved to Texas.

Many of you have noticed that my grammar is not always perfect.  You’d think that after the semesters I spent diagramming sentences (horrible — I’d rather be stabbed repeatedly with a rusty prison shank), I’d be better at the whole “placement of punctuation thing.”  I could probably do it correctly — given an infinite time line – but long ago, in the interest of efficiency and fewer headaches (try to navigate The MLA Style Guide sometime), I developed a new method of English Grammar called Punc Shui.

Both the Rev and Pat Fellers (my high school English teacher and Chuck-Norris-level badass) would puff up like peeved porcupines at the very thought of “alternative grammar.”  Mrs. Fellers would assuredly respond by making me write the rule for comma placement after introductory adverb clause/phrases ten thousand times (which she did a total of five times during my high school career).  Mom might punch me when she reads this.

“Grammar,” the Rev will pontificate, her chin jutting out with stubbornness, “is what allows us to communicate as nuanced human beings in a manner that lasts. Grammar is the very continuity of our culture.”

Mom often forgets that I mainly talk to the dog, who is about as subtle as a neon sign on a strip club. If you’re wondering: yes, I do both voices.

My new method of Puncshuiation (Punc Shui for short) follows the Chinese idea of Feng Shui, a “system of physiognomy that focuses channeling forces (qi) to harmonize energies within the environment.”  According to the pseudoscience, this has lots of benefits including spiritual freedom, financial success and physical well-being.  In the early 21st Century, Americans have mostly used it to mathematically figure out where to put their fish tank in relation to their front door so that the universe would send them a new Chevy pickup.  Most people didn’t get the new truck.  Fish are nice, though.

Punc Shui shares the aims of Feng Shui in that it seeks to make grammar “feel correct and harmonious to the writer.” Essentially, if I feel like I need to put a comma in a sentence, I just drop a comma – which is why my comma usage often seems like I’m sowing wheat rather than writing columns. Dale is the opposite.  He’s a comma miser — after a career in writing, Dale is probably able to go home and dive joyously in his pool of retained punctuation like Scrooge McDuck – but, in terms of Punc Shui, we’re both correct.  You guys probably know what we mean most of the time.  Why get all Style Guide about it when we can just relax and have a beer instead?

“What is right?” I sometimes ask the Rev, adopting my finest oratorical stance, as though I’m about to argue with Phaedrus.  She always responds with, “WHAT I SAY IT IS,” and then takes away my margarita.

To Mom, grammar has few options.  She even follows multiple “hilarious” grammar sites which make frequent jokes about the ever-controversial Oxford comma.  She likes to share them with me on Facebook.  The webpages would probably be funnier if I had any earthly idea what they were talking about.   To put this in perspective, most of my Facebook shares are videos of squirrels trying to climb up greased poles to get at a birdfeeder.

I realize that grammar is important.  Punc Shui is mostly for me, anyway – an excuse for being too lazy to look things up. They say that you have to know the rules before you can break them, but I’ve gone even further – I knew the rules, forgot them,  made up my own rules, then unconsciously adjusted my grammatical ethos to parallel the rules I forgot.  I’m like a grammar Columbus – mostly lost, but totally pretending I meant to hit the “wrong” continent the entire time.

This being said, if you make a grammatical error, and I catch it, I will rain down a torrential downpour of passive-aggressivism (made-up word) at you the likes of which the world has never seen.  I dare you to use “your” (genitive) when you mean “you’re” (contraction).  Come into the Moon office on a Wednesday during the 15 minutes we spend proofreading  the paper and see if you don’t hear me snottily yelling something like “No, dammit, it’s used there as an adjectival.”

Everything with a Pacific-sized grain of salt, however.  It could be said that I only invented this new method after flunking Modern Grammar twice in college because the homework was so boring that I couldn’t force myself to do it.  Maybe I should rename Punc Shui  “Modern-ER Grammar?”  Although the name change might make my poor, beset professor Dr. Faulkner (really, I swear) explosively dissolve like a Mentos in a Diet Coke, it so nearly adequately explains my overall stance on style.

Rules were made to be broken, just try not to look too stupid in the process.

 

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One Tough Mother

It’s difficult for me to imagine what you folks think of the Rev (my Mom) after reading this column for the past year.  I’d guess that you might think that she’s a witty, last-worder with a deep interest in religion, and you wouldn’t be wrong.  However, as I was brain storming for this Mother’s Day column, I realized that I’d left out some very important bits of who Mom is.

My Grandfather on the Rev’s side was a professional horse trainer.  I don’t know if you’ve ever met someone who deals with equines for a living, but they have a tendency to get tough or get stomped.  While my Grandpa Curt was a small man in stature, he was gigantic in his total authority, and (more importantly) in his absolute certainty of his own will.  Every dog, horse, and kid in the world either started out believing this, or got there real fast.  Grandma Betty was another story — we figure that’s why he married her.

In any case, Grandpa Curt passed this trait on to the Rev., who adamantly refuses to take crap from anyone.

Saying that I was (am) a difficult child is an understatement on par with, “My,  that 130 foot tsunami seemed like a large wave, didn’t it!?!?” The Rev was teaching school for much of my infancy/toddler hood, and Dad was working on the family farm.  It seemed like an excellent child care solution for me to hang out with my father.  Which I did, and between the G.P. and a nanny goat named Schwanlea, I got mostly babysat.  I also developed a taste for dirt, bugs, farm animals, barn cats, about a million different dogs, tree climbing (as soon as I was big enough), mechanics, books, swimming in literally anything, adventuring and Bob Dylan.

Mom didn’t mind.  She liked all that stuff, too.  She did not, however, like that I didn’t voluntarily wear underwear until I was 8, or that any time she made me wear a dress and tights to an event, I pitched a fit so severe that you’d think my sports team had lost the NBA finals.  Pictures of me survive from that era, dressed to the nines in a dirndl that the Rev made by hand, the hated itchy tights, and toe-squashing Mary Janes.  In every single photo, my expression mirrors the rage-filled mien of a cat forced to wear people clothes.  I look a lot like furious Drew Barrymore in Firestarter – except for the dirndl.  I still hate the dirndl.

Eventually, my Dad decided to leave the farm and begin his career as a writer.  We moved to Montana, and I had to go to day care.  “It’ll be fun,” said the Rev.  “You’ll have other kids your own age to play with.”  I had my doubts, and thought I’d probably prefer my eight imaginary friends who only did stuff that I wanted them to do, but I had very little choice in the matter.

From day one in the “Suffer the Little Children Early Education Center,” which was conveniently located in a dank church basement, I was not a popular child.  I could already read, which was viewed as awfully cocky when most of the other kids couldn’t recite the alphabet.  Not only that, but in my Oshkoshbigosh overalls and striped shirt (even then I dressed like a Muppet), I didn’t look like a little girl was “supposed to look.”  Things got appreciably worse at recess when all the other girls wanted to play house with their dolls, and I didn’t know how.  They told me exactly what they thought of me, which wasn’t very nice, and I subsequently got into big trouble for climbing 14 feet up into an old oak tree and refusing to come down until my Dad came and got me.

It didn’t get any easier after that, and I cried myself to sleep often.  I also became a hypochondriac.  My parents were distraught, but they knew that I was adapting to an enormous transition, so most of the time they let me be.

Finally, one evening right after my Mom had put my baby brother to bed, I crawled into her lap, tears pouring, and asked in a pitiable little voice, “Why do they hate me, Mommy?”

“It’s because you’re not like them Ab, and they can’t understand.  I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but that’s how people are.  It’s not right, it’s not fair and it’s not good, but that’s how it is.  You just remember this, and you remember it as hard as you can: ‘You are not any better than anyone else, but you’re not any worse either.’ Don’t you dare let other people tell you what to be or what to love.  When others treat you like this, it’s not you who’s failing, but you will fail, at times, too.  You get to be you, and you are wonderful.  Don’t forget.”

She said this with zero doubt, her voice ringing as though this was the truest thing anyone had ever said, or ever could say.*

That was by far the most serious thing an adult had ever said to me, and I held it as hard as I could. It gave me hope.

I’d love to say that things got better for me as I adjusted to society, but they really didn’t until college — when suddenly being different was interesting rather than terrifying.

I still think about what my Mother told me, way back when, and I am so grateful for it.  Courage isn’t easy to come by.  I know that many of you reading this are feeling hurt, alone, rejected, disenfranchised and voiceless.  I know that many of you reading this are yelling just as loud as you can. Just remember, in all of this political cacophony, that everyone is someone — no better, no worse. You, too, will fail.  People deserve to be treated as people, no matter what’s in their pants, no matter what their skin color, no matter what God they choose, no matter who they love, no matter what they say, no matter how cruel they are…

If loving our neighbor was easy, we wouldn’t have to be reminded all the time to do it.

If you’ve got a problem with that, go talk to the Rev.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.  I love you.

*The Rev reported, after proofing this article for me, that her grandfather told her the same thing, with the same certainty,  after she crawled into his lap crying for the very same reason.  The outcast runs strong in my blood.

me and rev

Here’s my favorite pic of the Rev and me, featuring a dog that is very probably Oat. Yes, there was color photography back then, but Dad has forever been an “artiste.”

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Of the Wild, There is Something Left

This story begins with a family car trip.  The Rev (Mom) the G.P. (Great Provider, Dad), Rowlfie and Stadler (the big dogs) and I were headed to Port A. to check out what remained of SandFest after last weekend’s shindig.  We are not an idyllic 1950’s style family that looks like we should be on a Rockwell-painted Saturday Evening Post cover. Rather we are a roly-poly-loud-rock-n-roll family that looks like we should be in a mugshot.

in perspective, one of the earliest bits of automobile etiquette my Dad taught us is what we still refer to as the “Family Flip Off.” It’s where everyone in the car collectively presents the “demon finger” to bad drivers.  The expressions of offenders when they witness an entire family aged seventy to toddler-in-a-car-seat hitting them with both barrels whilst grinning maniacally is priceless.  It’s become one of our most cherished traditions.

So you can see how maybe our road trip conversation was a bit strange.

Inspired by the two big dogs leaning on me (so that I’d put an arm around each of them) I said, “I wonder if there’s a story of a king who got a lion because he figured he’d look really cool.  Then, because he was a king, he totally got a lion and kept it by his throne so that he could rest his hand on its head and look really regal while dispensing death sentences for stuff like whistling or being red headed.  Then one day the lion just bites off his hand because regardless of what it’s being used for, it’s still a gigantic cat.”

“I think there are stories like that,” said the Rev, “only the lion ate the whole king instead of just his hand, which caused them to pull out lions’ teeth because kings still wanted to look cool, but they also didn’t want to get eaten.”

“It’s not just lions,” added the G.P.  “Every day on the news you see something about some idiot with a tiger getting mauled or a dog eating a baby.”

“No one ever says it, but house cats are essentially just hellish, bi-polar attack ninjas,” I enjoined.

“Yeah,” said the G.P., really sinking his teeth into the conversation, “what about that guy in Vegas who damn near got his head bitten off by a tiger?”

“I don’t know, Dad.  I’m kinda on the tiger’s team there.  That guy looks like he tastes like self-tanner and perm solution.  I don’t care how much I love somebody, if they stick that combo in my mouth enough times, I’m gonna bite them.”

We all cackled.

This little talk got me thinking, as the wind whipped in through the windows (open for the enjoyment of the canines).

“Why, then,” I thought, “are we so focused on keeping animals around us – even dangerous ones?”  The question worried me, because the answer was both obvious and unfortunate: to dominate the danger.  Even though my dog is about as fierce as a dust bunny, I was still pretty grossed out by that idea.

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The Wild Things

We stopped on an empty stretch of beach to give the hounds a brief interval of blissed-out puppy freedom.  As I was playing in the surf with Rowlfie and running across the sand with Stadler, I came up with another answer to why we keep animals close to us – one that I liked much better than just being a scardey-cat jerkwad who wants to conquer everything (and, frankly, who deserves to get eaten for it).

The reason I think I love the dogs so much is that the element of wildness in them is a bit closer to the surface, and that serves as a catalyst to bring forth what’s left of the wildness in me.  There’s a term for this feeling: biophilia.

The Biophilia Hypothesis suggests that humans have an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life.  Since this idea was put forward in 1984, psychologists have discovered that spending time in nature is an effective way to alleviate depression, and that people who spend more time outside are happier overall than those who don’t.  I think that a long time ago, humans made a compromise where we got increased safety, but sacrificed an ethereal but important connection with nature.  Sometimes, this sacrifice is necessary in order to be able to live with animals – we need our wildness in controllable doses.

For instance, when my parents adopted their gigantic Newfoundlands (Fergus and Farley), the G.P. insisted in stentorian tones that there was no way the Rev was going to, “DEPRIVE MY BOYS OF THEIR MANHOOD!”  Then one day he was out walking them in a field, and paused to crawl under a low-strung electric fence.  Right when he hit the halfway mark, both dogs simultaneously hit puberty and started humping him.  Dad was stuck for a few minutes. When he tried to crawl away, he got shocked with enough juice to deter a steer.  The dogs, at that point, weighed about 245 pounds combined, so it took him about five embarrassing and uncomfortable minutes to get them to disengage via a combination of screaming and kicking.  The boys lost their respective “manhoods” the very next day.  Wildness is all fine and dandy, but no one really wants to get humped by it.

I, for one, enjoy indoor plumbing.

Compromise is necessary for life in society, but it’s healthy to put down our modern conveniences and pause to just breathe the air and feel the ground under our feet.  As Henry David Thoreau once noted, “In wildness is the preservation of the world.”  I don’t ignore the sea when it calls me, and I always bring Stadler – even though she usually digs a hole under the car and sleeps in the shade until I’m done being a nature dork.  We are exactly what we are, but we are more than what we know.  In all of us, there is still something left of the wild – and it is exquisite.

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Bang Nabbit!

It all began when I was four years old and decided that cutting my own hair with my mother’s pinking shears would be not only a grand idea, but would also make me look like my very prettiest Barbie – (a realistic expectation since I also cut her hair with the same scissors).  My Barbies often wound up being more like “experiments” than actual toys, and endured multiple terrible haircuts and torturous “meltings” with the magnifying glass my father insisted a four year old (with zero observable  tendencies towards responsibility) was “ready for” – honestly, we’re lucky I didn’t burn the house down.

I like to think that my readiness for responsibility has increased in the last 30 some odd years, but it can’t be denied that two weeks ago I definitely cut own bangs with a pair of eyebrow scissors.  The result was not optimal.  I’m pretty sure it’s driving my boss, Jan “Perfect Hair Life” Rankin absolutely insane because this week she bought me a hoodie with a shark head to wear around the office.  She’s right.  It does represent an improvement.

Now, I know that all of us ladies know that we shouldn’t cut our own hair.  We’ve all had this conversation/scolding numerous times with our hairstylists/friends/mothers/strange-women-we-meet-on-the-street-who-will-criticize-you-about-anything.  Honestly, it’s been drilled into me so hard since the age of four, I thought I was the only person left on the planet with the fatal combination of implacable self-confidence regarding do-it-yourself projects and just enough Miller Lite beer to make playing home salon seem like a good idea.

It should also be noted that I’ve never stopped cutting my own hair for any real length of time.  When I lived in Honduras, I cut off my braid with a fish scaling knife.  I’ve been known to cut my own pony tails off because my hair was getting in the way and I was busy – although a lot of the “busy-ness” was me being glued to or caught in something by said pony tail.  This resulted in several accidental mullets.

I also cut my own bangs (when I had them) in college and often got referred to as, “That art girl who looks like she was just in a car crash.” That caused me to grow out said bangs, and not go back until…

I got forehead wrinkles.

Melissa Bratten, my friend and pre-eyebrow-snippers-and-poverty hair stylist, talked me into bangs by pointing out that my forehead looked like a series of repeating Marianas Trenches and saying that a fringe was “nature’s Botox.”

“I thought ‘nature’s Botox’ was just straight up, old fashioned, mayo-in-the-sun, botulism?” I quizzed.

“That, too.” Mel replied, twisting my hair into some kind of mysterious (probably Freemason related) triangle and chopping.

And so, my short side bangs were born.  I liked them okay, and they did conceal my copious frown lines (it looks like someone is about to plant corn).  However, bangs require maintenance, especially if they are being serviced by a professional.  For some reason, when Mel was handling my whole fluff situation, they needed trimming once every couple of weeks.  When I cut them myself, they don’t grow back for at least 8 months.  This is not a good thing.  I think they get mad at me and go into hiding.

bangs

It got worse after this…I kept cutting.

The main problem with doing it wrong – other than the fact that you wind up looking like an especially austere Vulcan – is that it is absolutely impossible to stop trying to fix it yourself.  The first cut I made wasn’t the deepest and it looked okay if I took my friend Karly’s advice and “just combed it all messy.” However, I kept seeing little notches that needed to be evened out.  “Just a little snip,” I thought, “and all will be well.”

 

So I snipped and kept on snipping over the next few days — to the extent that I just left my little Shark vacuum in the bathroom to suck up the minute puffs of hair.

Finally, I gave up and posted a picture of myself on Facebook, lamenting my sad state of affairs.  The reactions were mixed, spanning everything from: “OMG I feel your pain. I do that, too!” to “I think it’s great that you don’t care how you look.”  My friend Erin had actually cut her bangs the same night I did.  Hers are worse.  I’m a terrible person, but somehow the solidarity made me feel

Poor erin

I really threw poor Erin under the bus this week.  She’s in the local paper with a caption that reads, “Match.com’s #1 pick for Uncle Fester’s girlfriend.  Sorry, kid.

better.

Because I am obviously never going to learn not to cut my own hair, I decided to learn how to do it right.  I turned to the internet for a tutorial.

I clicked the play button on the screen and a very pretty girl came on, cheerfully letting us all know that today she was going to teach us some “fail safe” techniques for chopping our own bangs.

“Provided,” she said, “that you use the right shears and don’t try this drunk.”

I watched the entire video (12 minutes of chipper Hell), and ordered an appropriate pair of scissors – which will stay sharp until I’m forced to resort to using them to create an emergency Godzilla-pop-up-card.  I’m not going to be able to try any of the other techniques for a while, though.  If I cut my bangs any more, I’m going to look like PeeWee Herman had an unfortunate encounter with a wood chipper.

Until then, I’m the girl in the shark hoodie.

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Stuff I Say to My Dog

A few weeks ago, I read a 2014 blog post by Eve Apple about a young mother’s amazement that her children could be so gross called, “20 Things I Never Said Before I Had Sons.”  Here are a few excerpts from her list:

  • Put your penis away.
  • Bees are not pets.
  • Where are your pants?
  • Why does it smell like pickles and syrup in here?
  • No, you may not take apart the microwave.
  • Optimus Prime is my favorite Transfomer, too.
  • Yes, you can be a dinosaur when you grow up.
  • Who peed on the floor?
  • Dude, seriously. Put on your pants.

Having observed my own nephews, I can attest that a conscientious caregiver of small boys spends a lot of time trying to convince them that wearing pants is a plus.  I was never very good at that since I stolidly support a “no pants whenever possible” initiative in my own life – to the extent that were I ever to run for public office at least some of my campaign posters would read, “PANTS SUCK.”

This article (you can read it in its entirety at thatsmyapple.com) got me thinking about things I’ve told Stadler during her six year reign as “The Dog.”  She doesn’t care at all about any of them, except perhaps the last.  Stadler will go a long way for a treat, although (as Dale and his office floor found out last week) she will not eat a tomato.

“Stop licking my glasses.”

“ACK! Are you aiming for the rug?!? The entire house is wood floors and you puke on the ONE rug.  You have to be aiming! STOP AIMING FOR THE RUG!

“Please stop standing on my face.”

“You can’t bury an ICE CUBE.  I mean, technically you can, but you’re not going to be able to dig it back up.  SEE … Fine!  I’ll get you another ice cube.”

“No you cannot have any eggs.  No! My refusal to give you eggs is not the equivalent of the doggie holocaust. Oh for the love of…ok, how do you want your eggs?”

“Please remove your nose from that stranger’s crotch/butt.”

“Why are you licking the wall?”

“We’ve walked a mile and you’ve “peed” 727 times.  You don’t have to pee again.  I promise.”

“I seriously doubt that you were descended from an apex predator since you often fail to catch the food in your bowl.  Apex snuggler I could see.”

“OMG!  AHHHH! Why did you just give me a damp mouse!?!”

“Stop eating the car!”

“Why are you standing on my foot with three of your feet simultaneously?  Is this some kind of secret, online Doggie Twister Challenge?”

“You can’t fly.”

“You have the personal survival abilities of a damp Kleenex.”

“There are no monsters in your water dish.”

“It’s a vacuum cleaner, not a doggie death vortex.”

“Why have you made a nest out of my dirty pants/ GIVE ME BACK MY PANTS!”

“Why would anyone eat THAT MUCH string?”

“I DO NOT WANT TO SMELL THAT!”

“Sticks are outside toys.”

“If you want my bacon, you’re going to have to get a job.”

“The car window is not a lollipop.”

“You do not like carrots.  I promise.  Seriously.  SEE!

“It’s just thunder.  The sky gods aren’t hunting Labrador.”

“Please stop drooling on my foot.”

“YOU MAY NOT HAVE A CAT!”

“AHHHHHHH!  Why would you roll in a dirty diaper?!?  Who does that!?!?”

“That’s a dead lizard. Give me the dead lizard.  DON’T EAT THE DEAD LIZARD. ACK!!! You’d better not barf on the rug.”

“Are you just going to stand there and breathe on me?”

“STOP TRYING TO LICK THE ROUNDUP BOTTLE!”

“NO! You can’t take your food bowl outside.  I know you’re sneak-feeding the squirrels.”

“If water is so terrifying, then why are you neck deep in the drainage ditch?”

“Please don’t knock over the children/furniture/beers.”

“ROTTEN FISH ARE NOT HIGH END DOG PERFUME!”

“I’m pretty sure that your anus isn’t as interesting as you seem to think it is.”

“Do you want a treat just for being you?”

Although canine frienships can be trying at times, Stadler and I always work it out in the end.  Compromise lies at the heart of any productive relationship, however.

Right now, Stadler is standing on my foot.

 

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