Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Cleanup on aisle 2

How have I gone so long without visiting the Ballard Market? I made my first visit last night. Screw you AND your club card, Safeway! It was so nice--both organic and regular, cheap, possibly toxin-coated produce; chipotle peppers and good ol' Western Family canned tomatoes; Kraft dinner and raw bulghur in bulk. Much less intimidating than Whole Foods, where I fear that all the Hostess cakes and pigs-in-a-blanket meals of my past are visible on my person. Plus, according to this article, the Ballard Market has a motto: "Experience Fresh the Ballard Way." This is much funnier if you know Ballard--sort of the elderly-Scandinavian ghetto.

Anyway, I rambled through the store in happy shopping awe. It smelled good, a positive sign. Actually it smelled kind of zippy. Vinegary, even. Actually, people were starting to sniff and peer around the displays curiously. Actually, it smelled like pickles. Like picklespicklesPICKLES!! right over there, where a weary teenager in an apron was swabbing broken glass and kosher dill slices into a heavy-duty dustpan. Whoopsie.

I was nowhere near the pickles when whatever happened happened, I must insist.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Dos gatos

Yeah, I know, it's been awhile. Life, she intrudes.

One of the things keeping me busy lately is the fact that I've acquired a second cat. This is the part where I should probably point out the big "Sucker!" decal on the back of my t-shirt. I am afraid of being That Lady, a little; I've asked friends to stop me before I get to six.

I already had Tulip, a portly gray tabby a friend had gently foisted on me New Year's Day. She is timid and talkative and so mild-mannered that even interactive kitty toys intimidate her: if you poink her lightly on the flank with one of those feather-wand toys, she scurries away in fear. She prefers the passivity of her catnip-stuffed banana, which she can drool and nap on in peace. So I figured it wouldn't be too difficult to introduce another cat...

...especially the one I'd picked out. I'd first seen his picture online, where the accompanying kitty personal ad listed his favorite activity as "hiding" and his name as the peculiar "Baked Bean." I have a soft spot for orange tabbies, and the PAWS satellite adoption center is walking distance from my house. I dropped by to meet this Bean, who crouched trembling at the back of his cage but, even in his terror, was a Slave to the Kitty Brush in my hand. One of us is a sucker.

I brought him home a week ago Tuesday. I was surprised when he hopped out of his carrier and de-huddled: he's twice the length he appeared in kitty jail. In 24 hours, he was squeezing his lanky frame out from under the futon to greet me when I called; in 48 hours he discovered the cache of heretofore ignored kitty toys and threw them all over the living room in drug-induced bliss. Tulip looked on agahst: "What is wrong with that guy?" He chewed on my plants, splashed water out of his dish for fun, and is sitting on the document shredder beside me as I type this. He is not the shrinking violet indicated in his Web profile. (And THAT has never happened to me before, oh, no.)

After a few days of going through every orange soda, snack food, and baked-bean pun I could think of (Frank?), I settled on the moniker Julius. Hee. There's been a lot of trash talking between the cats, but no real fisticuffs that I've noticed. Tulip has voiced her displeasure to me readily ("That guy is STILL HERE!") but seems to have resigned herself to having a big little brother, as long as he observes a few simple guidelines: he may not sit on The Couch, The Bed, or The Mommy. These are her rules, not mine. So far, peace reigns...aside from the 4 a.m. intervals in which Julius has dragged his favorite mousie into the tub and sent it pattering around and around the porcelain ellipse like it's the Seattle International Raceway.

Yes, do stop me well before I ever get to six.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Unsettling dream

So last night I had one of those extremely detailed, geographically precise dreams in which I apparently was engaged in some classy White Trash Shopping with my mother. We were on Aurora Avenue*, where we intended to do some browsing at Ross Dress for Less...but not before stopping for a meal at the adjacent Burger King, where I was adamant about having "a BK Broiler with bacon." Is that even a thing? I'm scared to find out. Why would I desire this? I haven't been in a Burger King in a decade.

(*For any non-Seattle readers...every decent-sized city has this road: four to six lanes, lined with car lots and motels and check-cashing establishments, coyly named sex-toy stores like "The Love Pantry," and pancake restaurants that started out as a Sambo's or a Denny's but have changed hands at least three times and now have scarily handpainted signage and a big Bud Light neon sign in the window. Yeah, that road. In Yonkers, NY, it was Central Avenue, I remember.)

Monday, June 07, 2004

They've gone and grabbed old Ronnie

(Bonus points if you can identify that line.)

I suppose I should talk about the death of Ronald Reagan. I don't know that I have much to add to the discourse, though...I mean, I have no love for Reagan, the President; I'm a little flabbergasted at the media hysteria, in fact. The Great Communicator! The most beloved and popular and cherished and adored President of all time, forever and ever, don't even try to argue, amen. Really? I don't get it.

I mean, I was a free-lunch kid. So I had Reagan to thank for the threat of a lot of ketchup. He invented and demonized the Welfare Queen; we weren't on the throne, but we were definitely part of the court. I spent no small amount of time in my adolescence fearing a nuclear holocaust, fearing The Russians, fearing it would be "Red Dawn" in the school-bus zone outside Washington Middle School at any moment. (I also feared algebra, the aliens in the movie version of War of the Worlds, and that my mother would die and we'd be sent to live on the farm with our dad, so take that as you will.) I don't remember gleaning anything in particular from the Iran-Contra scandal except, Politicians lie. All the time, like rugs, lie lie lie.

Reagan was the first President I can remember paying any attention to. The pompadour! The apple cheeks! The scary wrinkles! The "Well..." I mean, I knew who Carter was, but I couldn't tell you a single word he ever said. A kid on my bus in second grade went to Washington D.C. on vacation and returned with a wind-up toy, "Jimmy the Walking Peanut," the buzzing clockwork hilarity of which was the sum total of my political consciousness at the time.

Reagan was the first President I could quote. "Honey, I forgot to duck." The Challenger speech, its ending swiped from a poet I could Google in ten seconds but can't remember now. "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" I've heard that 20 times in the past 48 hours...thing is, it gives me a little shiver still, because...they did. Eventually, they did. A big hunk of it stands in my company's conference center, as art. Holly roves freely about in a unified Germany. I don't lie in bed worrying about The Bomb any more...though as an adult I've discovered that there are things so much scarier that it's better to not think of them at all if you ever want to sleep again. Dubya, I'm looking at you. Whatever Reagan's legacy, he was better than the current guy holding the contract for the big red phone.

But. Forget the President. I can spare a little grief for Reagan, the man. There are more violent, more painful ways, perhaps...but I can't think of a crueler way to die than Alzheimer's, for victim and family alike. Nancy, scary Nancy, tiny and brittle and fierce--she looks like my grandmother, who always loathed the comparison--it was obvious that they adored each other, and that she loved him to the end. I cannot imagine the horror of watching your husband, partner, father, friend, recede into silence, an enormous speechless toddler, mobile but without thought. A windup toy. The Walking Peanut.

I've read a lot of bitter forums today, people complaining that however much the Reagans suffered, they had help: Nancy could get the best medical treatment for her husband available, could have respite care whenever she needed a break, had coverage and concern her husband denied scores of poor Americans. It's true.

But. I saw that clip half a dozen times today, while I chugged away on the eliptical trainer at the gym: Nancy, putting her ferociously coiffed head down on her husband's coffin, bereft. Goodbye. I have said those goodbyes, myself, recently enough. Say what you will of the President, but...I can grieve a moment for the man.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Bowled over

My team at AllYourBaseAreBelongToUsCo is having a Morale Event this afternoon. As the fiscal budget comes to a close in June, we're always subject to a sudden flurry of presumably attitude-enhancing activities, ballgames and picnics and harbor cruises. Today's excursion is bowling. I'm a little nervous.

I'm a terrible bowler, for starters. In one of my few prior games, I believe my score was 11. So there is that fundamental humiliation forthcoming. Then, too, it's with your work colleagues, so you can't really prepare yourself appropriately for bowling by getting completely shitfaced and grabbing the Rock-n-Bowl karaoke mike. You still have to see these people on Monday.

But I have some body issues, too. I'm not a tiny girl, and bowling involves a lot of specialized postures. What if there is pants splittage?


Plus, Darcy told me that the last time her team undertook a Morale Event at the lanes, she got a little overzealous and, in hurling the ball at the ol' tenpins, actually flung herself to the floor. It's slippery there. So now I have that to worry about as well. Actually, I admire her self-possession under the circumstances. If that were me, I think I'd just have had to get a new job, possibly in a different state.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Your tone of voice is not very motivating

Whew...that was kind of heavy. Let's move on!

Any 24 fans out there? I hope you've enjoyed Chloe, the social-skill-bereft, slightly Aspberger-y computer genius and new addition to CTU. But have you ever wondered what Chloe dreams, what she'd like to be if she wasn't having to save the world from terrorism and point out everyone else's personal shortcomings all freaking day long? Like, maybe...she'd want to be an indie rock star. (Note: it's Quicktime, takes up some bandwidth, and features some f-bombs, so be careful with the clicky-clicky.)

I actually saw the Girls Guitar Club open for Janeane Garofolo a couple years back, but had no idea that the one on the left would end up my favorite tertiary television character of the year. Mary Lynn Rajskub is totally my pretend television friend now.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Thanks for the liberty, and stuff

Yes, I know--I'm coming to Memorial Day a bit late.

Anyway. Over the weekend, I saw this Bon-Macy's commercial on television: people in convertibles, kids frolicking in sprinklers. The voiceover lady declared with warm pomposity, "Memorial Day...a time to remember...a time to relax..."

Me, scoffing: "A time to shop!"

VO Lady: "...A time to SHOP!"

And I've been thinking about it since, trying to parse out how I feel...wondering how I should feel. How should this make me feel?

I think first of WWII, I guess: because it was a just war; because the memorial (which, honestly, I find pretty ham-handed) was dedicated this weekend; because all the news sources and Toms Brokaw and Hanks are quick to remind us that members of that generation, Great and Merely Average, are dying at a rate of 1,100 a day. A day! I had a grandfather in each theatre: Dad's dad went ashore in Normandy, though several days after D-Day; Mom's dad roved the Pacific, performing some sort of clerical duties in the Navy; a family photograph shows him impossibly skinny and jug-eared, hunched over a typewriter with a worried look. Neither one lived to see their memorial; neither one spoke a single word about their war, in my memory. My mother told me later that her dad's only request upon returning home was that his wife never serve him stewed tomatoes again. Grampa was a legendary junk food junkie, true--but it wasn't that he'd grown weary of canned tomatoes, out at sea. It was that it reminded him of the carnage he'd seen.

What to make of it, then, the crass commercialism that's turned a day of reflection into a bargain bonanza? Should I be offended on behalf of all our granddads, the teenagers in sailor suits or olive-drab helmets who saved the world or died trying, who came home and golfed and mowed lawns and kept their nightmares to themselves? Should I be horrified, being urged to grease up the MasterCard as if it would "honor" the current crop of America's sons and daughters have volunteered themselves for George's morally ambiguous train wreck in Iraq?

Or...is that the point? Did (do) these men and women fight to uphold our standards of freedom, right up to and including the big-dumb-goodnatured-Golden-Retriever qualities of the American people? Is democracy's best feature the way it entitles us to surfboards and hot dogs and bad television and good deals on bathmats and crockpots and a Free Gift With Purchase at the Clinique counter?

I really am asking, actually. Because I've been thinking about it, and I really don't know.

* * * * *

Hard to tell--after looking at these for half an hour, they're ALL him--but I think that the Wilson in the front row, far left, is my Mom's dad. Have a Snickers or a packet of corn chips in his memory, won't you?

* * * * *

At the grocery store tonight, in their display of red-white-and-blue picnic-type items for either last weekend or the upcoming Fourth of July, I saw a case of what were basically battery-operated, strobing red taillights, like a cyclist would use...except that these had American flag stickers on 'em and were labeled "Spirit of America Patriotic Flashers."

Yep. Expose yourself to democracy!