Monday, August 28, 2006

Imaginary Conversations with Bastet

We’re going to Utah on Saturday to visit family. I’m excited about that. I’m a homebody, for those of you who don’t know that about me.

The strange thing is that I’m a homebody for this home here, now, the one I’ve made with Stoker and our two cats. I’m nervous about leaving it behind. Nervous about leaving the cats. We’ve arranged to have a trustworthy friend (Kevin) take care of them, but I’m the kind of person who projects my thoughts into their beautiful little minds. Perhaps, I think, they’ll worry. They’ll wonder when I’ll come home. They’ll be waiting for me, to see me, to have me open the door and come inside and feed them a tiny bit of tuna fish as their evening dinner. And I won’t open the door for many days. Will they worry? Do cats worry? I know, I know. I’m ridiculous. But that’s me.

I wish I could call them up and talk to them. Tell them that I’ll be home soon and have them understand that I haven’t left for forever.

Bastet: Hello?
Me: Basty?
Bastet: Yes, this is Bastet. Who is this?
Me: It’s your mom. It’s me.
Bastet: Ah yes. Where the hell are you?
Me: I’m in Utah visiting my mom. How are you doing?
Bastet: I’m starving. Where’s my treat?
Me: Kevin is supposed to be stopping by to check on you and give you your treat. He hasn’t been there yet?
Bastet: Kevin? Who the hell is Kevin? I haven’t seen anyone all day. I’m hungry and Sobek [the kitten we adopted] is bugging the hell out of me.
Me: I just wanted you to know I miss you and that I’ll be home before you know it.
Bastet: All I know is I miss my treat. Man, I’m starving.

Bastet has an attitude. I’m sure that if she could talk she’d say things like ‘hell’ and ‘damn.’ Perhaps a well-timed f-bomb when Sobek startles her. No, I’m kidding. Bastet is very regal and classy. She’d never stoop to cursing. But I do.

I’m not quite sure why I made her so unfeeling about our relationship. I suppose because it wouldn’t be funny to read about a cat telling her owner that she misses her. It’s much more humorous to have the relationship seem one-sided. But I know she loves me and will miss me. I like to think, anyway.

As this weekend approaches, I feel myself becoming more anxious, nervous and stressed. And I don’t want to go. At least, a part of me doesn’t want to. Like I said, I don’t want to leave the cats. I worry about the most impossible things happening. Like that Kevin won’t be able to come by and feed them because he gets in a car accident or something and so the cats starve. My mind goes so far as to supply images of them trying to scratch their way through the pantry door to get to their food. Or, the apartment burns down and no one is around to care enough to rescue them. Or there’s a tornado. Or an earthquake. Or some kind of enormous gas crisis and the airline can’t buy gas to fuel the plane and so we’re stuck in Utah.

It’s ridiculous. I know. Where do I get these ideas? Don’t ask me. A friend told me, recently, that these are things I can’t change so don’t worry about them.

But she’s wrong. I can change them, right? I can simply refuse to travel ever again.

Stupid, real stupid.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Steal this Car Stereo!

My truck was broken into last night. I found it this afternoon (see flickr site for photos). What do you do?

Because I was disoriented, I probably touched everything inside. Obviously I was crying, but out of frustration, not because I was sad. I was enraged. I wanted to destroy something, or more accurately, the someone who had done this.

At first I thought I’d forgotten to lock my doors, but then I noticed that the lock had been broken out. The console was ripped out, the vent was on the floor, the change from the ash tray was everywhere. Why hadn’t they taken that? I wondered. Several of my cd’s in their plastic cases were still in the door pouches or boxes (who knows what those things are called). I guess the bastard thief doesn’t like Van Morrison, Of Montreal, Garth Brooks or Beirut. All the stuff from my jockey box, or the case beneath the arm rest, was strewn everywhere. I wonder what he was looking for (I’m stereotyping, the thief was clearly male. Girls don’t break into cars. Right?).

I called Stoker and cried to him on the phone. I’m under the impression of myself that I’m not one to cry often. So when I tell you that I was crying, I rely on the fact that you know this about me and you know that I was unusually upset to be crying. Stoker knows this. And he understood that I was crying from rage and frustration. Not because I missed my stereo.

Though I do. What is life without talk radio or music? Just an angry internal monologue of my thoughts, being annoyed that I’m hitting every possible red light, being annoyed at the stupid school bus full of stupid children throwing trash out the bus window, angry at the line of traffic keeping me from my destination—Starbuck’s to turn in an application, to get another job, to earn extra money, to rid us of debt, to pay for the small life we live. The not even middle class life we live. Why steal from me? I have so little.

And what I have, I have paid for. I have earned. This is why I’m enraged. This month is my last payment on the truck. I was feeling thrilled to have that out of the way, to be planning other places to spend that money. So what happens? Murphy, that bitch, tosses a proverbial wrench in the works.

Or I could not let it get to me. As I write this, the event is hardening into my past, a thing to take care of. A thing to let go. And with it the anger. But not the lesson.

Or you’d think I would have learned from my last lesson, from the last time a car stereo was stolen from me. You would think I would be a miser about keeping the faceplate of that stereo close to me. Yes, I let my guard down and it was destructively taken from me. What I’m worried about isn’t the stereo. I’m bitter that the rest of the truck was damaged in the theft.

But at least the bastard didn’t break the window to get to his meager prize of my five-year old stereo that will probably get him, at the most, $50 from a shitty pawn shop. That’s a generous estimate.

The cop dusted for finger prints, but I’d touched too much in the truck for it to do any good. When I found myself at the crime scene initially, I was so distraught I didn’t think the police would dust for finger prints, or even care really. I figured that if I did call the cops, they’d take the report and not really look into it.

The strange thing is that before this happened, I took the stance that government shouldn’t interfere with people’s personal lives: if some loser wanted to take drugs, let him! It’s a personal choice, I thought. And I don’t take drugs. I just figured the war on drugs was a waste of police time and tax payer’s money. But now, now I blame this theft on drugs. And I say let’s throw the loser drug users in jail. Drug users don’t work (according to the cop). They get money for drugs by stealing. They steal from me and other average people who work hard within the system to pay for their small lives.

I’m really frustrated about this.

Also, I say to hell with pawn shops. I blame them for the dross of society. They encourage crime. I’ve always thought that you could judge a town by how many pawn shops they have. And this theft only reinforces my negative opinion about pawn shops.

And I’m tossing into that lot, Payday Loans, Check n’Go’s, EZ Loans and all businesses of that ilk.

The ironic thing was that when I got to Starbuck’s, because I did go there with the console and all its pieces hanging out, “Me and Bobby McGee” was playing inside. When I left, some Carly Simon type song about greeting the day with a smile was playing. It was depressing.

Friday, August 11, 2006

John Denver: Relief During Troubled Times

In light of recent events in the world, I am doing three things:

1) Listening to John Denver. He calms me. Reminds me of home. Makes me feel comfortable again, and relatively safe. I love the song “Fly Away.” It reminds me of my sister.

2) Obviously the world is a dangerous place and feeling safe is more about your state of mind and how prepared you are for an emergency, rather than actually being safe. Dangerous things are unplanned for, generally. Even when a person puts themselves in a risky situation, they try to do it safely, like with rock climbing. It’s not safe to climb up the face of a rock wall, but you still give yourself safeguards (most climbers do. The ones who don’t, die climbing at some point)—ropes, harnesses, anchors. In light of these things, I’m figuring out how to be prepared for an emergency. For Stoker, for our cats, for me. I have some water stored up and something of an emergency kit with extra clothes, medicine, blankets, matches, etc. But I know it’s not enough. I heard an ad on the radio today for a web site maintained by Homeland Security. I’m looking at it, thinking about what I need to do to become more prepared.

Being LDS, emergency preparedness is not a new thing. Growing up, my parents often went to a place called the dry-pack cannery something something, where they helped dry- pack (I guess) and in exchange, they received a discount price on dry-packed food. This food was stored in (surprise) the storage room in our basement along with other sundry items, such as our dress-up clothes and Christmas decorations. Also, regularly, as in monthly, leaders counseled having at the very least, a 72-hour kit ready (for the mathematically impaired, that’s 3 days) for emergencies. What I didn’t realize then was that meant my mom had to have enough stuff for her five daughters, her husband, and herself. That’s a lot of stuff. It was a good thing we had a storage room.

When I got into college, the same counseling from church leaders persisted. In wards full of single people living in apartments and student housing, we were counseled to be ready for emergencies. Where was I expected to keep it? In my small closet? Obviously I didn’t do anything about it. I figured in an emergency, I’d find my way home, whether in a car or by bicycle. Or on foot. This was dumb thinking. 1`

And I can't get by on that anymore, being that my mother’s house is 1600 miles away. Plus I’m 28 and responsible. For Stoker, myself and our cats.

Whatever you are, Christian, agnostic, Buddhist, peace of mind comes from being prepared for anything. You can’t know what will happen, but you can do your best to be ready for what might come next. Leaning on the government, your church, your parents, doesn’t bring the satisfaction of knowing that you have done whatever you can to be ready.

3) And finally, I’m listening talk radio, trying to make sense of what’s going on. I prefer Glenn Beck, who, in Nashville, is on 1510 AM in the morning. It used to be that when I missed him, I could catch him at night on XM 152, but for some reason the jerks stopped carrying him. They’d be wise to go back to airing him. He’s insightful, funny, and seemingly, really genuine. I’d counsel anyone to listen to his show.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Arresting Intelligent Development: Fox's Fall Lineup

This really gets me.

Anyone who really knows me, knows I'm a huge fan of the series Arrested Development. Not a fan in the sense of, crazy, stupid time-waster fan who creates a web site devoted to the show or any of the actors/actresses in it. Not like that. No, I just love the show.

I don't have an enormous dvd library. I have a few dvds (good dvds like Annie Hall, Manhattan, American Beauty and Harold and Maude [which actually belongs to a friend of mine. It's not my fault. I tried to give it back to him several times.]). Among my small collection is one season of Frasier and two seasons of The Simpson's. I also have both seasons of Arrested Development, with plans to get season 3 when it comes out on August 29th. Of the three television shows, I have watched Arrested Development the most. That I even own it is testament to my loving it. It should feel lucky. Lucky that it’s in my collection.

Stoker and I have found innumerable moments in our lives that can somehow relate to a comical or quotable phrase in Arrested Development (such as when Lucille says, "If that's a veiled criticism, I won't hear it and I won't respond." You can use it for just about any thing, from conversations with annoying co-workers to breaking awkward silences). It informs our lives almost as much as our religion. Does that sound psychotic? Or perhaps, crazy? Maybe it does. But I don't think of myself as an Arrested Development fundamentalist. I just worship the show in my spare time, that’s all.

So, what gets me is that the series wasn't renewed for the fall. In fact, last season was cut short. I don't know what the problem is with the retarded powers-that-be at Fox. I'm sure they'd say they gave it a fair shot. They gave it three seasons and it didn't turn into some shameless cult thing like American Idol. Their problem, then, is expecting every show they air to draw as many inane viewers as the embarrassing spectacle that is American Idol.

I know, I know. American Idol is like the ultimate American dream. It's the king of all game shows. It's the game show that never ends for the lucky final contestants who go on to riches and fame and a prolific recording career or sponsorships or something equally enriching and exciting. I just find it vulgar, that’s all. It embarrasses me. It embarrasses me to see artistic expression like singing, turned into a glittery spectacle. It embarrasses me to see, or rather to know—since I’ve never actually watched it—that there are horrible singers putting themselves out there to be ridiculed, laughed at, and verbally decimated by Simon and the viewing audience. In that way, in that some people know they suck, but they want to get on television at whatever cost, I see that American Idol is no different from Jerry Springer. It’s all trash.

Arrested Developtment is gone and what gets me is that Fox’s fall lineup consists of a bunch of crap. Crap that I feel pretty certain doesn’t, or shouldn't, get ratings as high as Arrested Development; crap that isn’t visionary, but is instead the recycled tripe of debased 1980’s television fare like Married with Children (The War at Home); crap that is essentially C.S.I., 24, Law & Order, Alias and E.R. all tossed into an Oster, pulverized, poured into a glass and served like it was something different, something new. But it’s not. It all tastes the same. It all sounds the same. The characters are all the same. (House, Bones, Standoff, Justice, Vanished, et al).

So finally, a show arrives that is insightfully funny, innovative, clever, witty, and that allows itself to be watched over and over again because of its deftly layered humor. It bursts upon the tired scene of lawyer/cop/doctor/FBI agent dramas, and exhausting and embarrassing “reality” shows, and what do they do? Essentially, they leash it and then as though punishing a bad child, take away its freedom (by cutting the number of episodes last season) and then in a final act of violent discipline, completely sever it from its friends. Me and the rest of the devoted fans and viewing audience. We should be happy, I guess is what they're saying, with drivel like Happy Hour and Standoff.

Monday, August 07, 2006

South Beach Diet Novices, et cetera.

We started the South Beach Diet today. And I feel pretty strange. Kind of tired. I suppose I’m not eating enough. But the good news is that I feel thinner. If that’s possible. If it’s possible to be thinner the first day. I’m sure it’s all in my head.

It’s not like Stoker and I need to lose much weight. If the scale we bought today is accurate, I weigh about 125, which is probably a decent weight for a girl with a relatively athletic build. When I started working a desk job (when I began keeping a blog), I gained a few extra pounds. Mainly noticeable around my waist. I’d just like to lose it. Plus I’d like to ingest less sugar and keep a healthy diet in general—hence the sugar purging. Stoker would too. We both figure it’s best to start now and try to maintain a good weight, rather than gain a lot of weight later because we drink Dr. Pepper and Coke and enjoy Lay’s potato chips. And chocolate chip cookies. And frozen pizza. I’m coming up on my thirties—a frightening prospect—and I don’t want to blimp out.

Speaking of blimping out, I heard the most awful commercial during a talk radio program, Dave Ramsey I think. It features an alarm siren and a voice saying something like, “Attention swimmers, please vacate the pool.” And then some swimmers say there’s a pair of thunder thighs on the loose, or the like, and those are dangerous. I don’t even remember what the advertisement was for. But it was disgusting, conjuring up grotesque images in my head of a pair of thighs, sans a body, floating in a pool. I mean, the commercial wasn’t even funny. Just awful. Who wrote it? Who writes that kind of crap and what were they thinking? Where were their parents?

After having worked in advertising myself, all I can think about when I see or hear terrible ads is that some copywriter somewhere wrote it, and I imagine their train of thought, how they got to the end result. Usually I think they were bored in their cubicle, hating their job and the deadline, feeling stumped for something good or classy, so they resorted to the dross floating around in their brain—hoping that if it truly sucked it wouldn’t get far down the production line before being pulled. That’s where I think ads like “loose thunder thighs” come from. Lazy writers, lazy bosses.

Another ad that got me all riled up was a La Quinta Inn billboard. It says “La Quinta Inn, Spanish for free high speed internet.” I’m not sure why it bugged me so bad, perhaps because I could imagine myself coming up with it, thinking it was clever but knowing it sucked. With the Spanish speaking population so high in the U.S. and many average Americans knowing enough about Spanish to know that La Quinta doesn’t mean free high speed internet, it just seems like a bad call on the advertising manager’s part to let it go to press. It’s a cheap language ploy. It’s like they didn’t want to simply say, “La Quinta Inn. Enjoy free high speed internet with your stay.” Because that’s not clever enough. They wanted to push themselves, demonstrate a sharp wit, but lacking that, leaned on a weak crutch.

I’m a super critical person, I know. It’s difficult to be around me for some people. Sometimes it’s difficult for me to be around me. Especially when my blood sugar is low. I’m really dragging here. Yesterday Stoker and I ate lots of carbs, in anticipation of today. I had several Krispy Kreme donuts—they’re better here than in Utah—and a baked potato and a Mountain Dew Code Red mixed with lemonade, and then later, a 32 ounce Dr. Pepper. In an attempt to be a tad healthy, we also had salmon with the potatoes. I’m not big on fish, you know. When you live inland, it’s tough to get good fish. Unless you go fishing yourself. I don’t enjoy fishing. Gutting them, you see. It’s given me nightmares in the past. So, I’m training myself to like fish. It’s a long road.

Friday, August 04, 2006

A Live Update from Nashville, TN

Recently in the news, Stoker and I got a new kitten. We adopted him for $100 from the Nashville Cat Rescue, via Petsmart. Supposedly this boy, who was named Ken for reasons beyond me, had been treated for fleas. Stupidly I took this at face value.

When I got him home and secured away from our ‘resident cat’ Bastet, I noticed fleas in his incredibly blond fur (which hereafter will be referred to as ‘buff’, should I have occasion to mention it again). I’m not sure if it’s one hundred percent accurate to say, but I’ll say it anyway, in Utah we didn’t have problems with fleas in our cats and nearly all of our cats had been strays. Maybe I just never saw the fleas, I don’t know.

But that’s one of the big problems I have with the south or mid-south, whatever you want to call it. The humidity makes it prime for millions of bugs to flourish. I’m not kidding. Some of the scariest bugs I’ve ever seen and I’m what you might call a bug-lover. At one time, during college, I considered becoming an entomologist. That was back when I was na├»ve about bugs. The bugs in Utah are generally small and non-threatening. That was before I’d encountered a cockroach. Damn the cockroaches! They scare the hell out of me.

Anyway. Sobek*, as we named him later—choosing to stick with the grandiose Egyptian pet-naming tradition (though, I must say, after being at my job, plagued by Egyptian history day in and day out, I’m weary of Egyptian anything)—had fleas. Obviously I freaked out. I hurried to the nearby Petco and bought some stupid flea shampoo. It didn’t work because Ken (as he was known then) went ballistic when I tried to give him a bath. You have to keep it on them for about 5 minutes. That wasn't going to happen. And being a novice at animal grooming, I avoided washing his face and ears, the spot you should wash first because the damn fleas hide inside the ears as soon as they’re threatened. Apparently. I tried a stupid flea comb (also purchased at Petco) and that didn’t work on his short hair and bony body. But I had a grand old time picking a few fleas off him with my fingers and drowning them. A tip: you should use soapy water for that. In plain water the fleas just swim around looking for a way out. They’re survivors, you know.

That night I couldn’t sleep. I was thinking about the fleas. Succumbing to buyers’ remorse, which is horrible because the kitten was sweet and needed a home and Bastet needed a friend. I itched everywhere, thinking in my sleepy, delusional state that I had fleas and the bed was full of fleas. I was worried that our apartment was going to quickly become a breeding ground for fleas. The next day after work, I went to the vet and got some Frontline. Two doses: one for Bastet, one for Sobek (as he was now called). Two doses were $30. I also bought some flea spray for the apartment. That was about $20.

Did I mention that the kitty bed and kitty food for Sobek was about $18?. And the flea shampoo and book Kittens for Dummies was about $28. You should be keeping a total.

So I sprayed the entire apartment with the flea spray. The Frontline began working immediately, paralyzing the little bastards. By my count he had about 15 fleas, but some of them might have fallen off into the carpet. I’m not sure. I also washed the bathroom towels, the comforter and bed sheets and any blanket he laid upon. Stoker thought I was going nuts, I’m sure. But I wasn’t. I’m the wife, the protector of hearth and home, or at least hearth and apartment (we have a fireplace). I was simply being radically practical.

At some point in the few days we had him, Sobek hurt his paw. He began limping. It turned out to be an abscess. Stoker fretted. He couldn’t sleep. He adores Sobek, you see. Which I find adorable. On Saturday, Stoker and Sobek went to the vet. They sedated him, lanced the wound in his paw, drained it, flushed it and sent Sobek home with antiobiotics. This cost $118.

Have you kept track? I haven’t. Until now. My rough estimate is somewhere in the neighborhood of $330.

But he’s worth it. At first it was hard to think so, because I hadn’t bonded with him. But we’re good friends now. And he and Bastet, while getting off to a rocky start, are learning how to play together. She’s not so lonely anymore. We got Sobek so her days weren’t spent in so much solitude. Now they chase each other down the hall and it makes me happy.

In other news I’m looking for a better job. A job with higher pay and benefits. Stoker is doing exceptionally well at his job as a staff engineer. I’m really proud of him. The other day I met a woman who is either a pathological liar, or she leads a completely unbelievable life. She claimed that the first three season of Alias were based on her life. True? Or delusional? It’s hard to say, isn’t it.

*No, he does not resemble a crocodile.