Friday, May 25, 2007

Aunty Christ is no day at the beach

This house makes me sad.

We’re at the Bachelor family’s beach house for the week—the same beach house that I heard about at length at Rich’s grandmother’s funeral, her friends speaking not so much about the woman who had passed but about her vacation house (see: graciousness of, relaxation therein). Of course, I’ve heard stories from Rich as well, about how the house provides everything you want, even if you don’t exactly know you want it, and all the friends he’s brought here, and all the ladies, and all the fun they’ve had.

And still I must repeat: this house makes me sad.

It is a lovely piece of 1960s-style architecture, never really updated or remodeled (except in the barest of nods of modern conveniences—the dishwasher is a recent addition, for example), and thus charming in the way that most vacation homes are charming, I think; they have the feeling of something you’d once loved and then almost forgotten about—like a jacket you wore every day in high school which has been sitting in the back of your parents’ hall closet for the past 15 years, and now miraculously not only fits but is somehow in style again. The house is cozy and familiar, but the grounds are what really make it special, I think. Rows of close-clipped hedges form a path from the deck to the street, and at the back of the lot is a waterfall, mostly hidden from view and a good 10-foot drop from the line of the yard. The deck is large and weathered and sunny, offering a view of the ocean, just across the street, only seconds away.

Rich’s uncle and father have decided to sell the house this summer rather than continue to maintain it. It’s possible that this is the reason for the unhappiness of this trip. The house, thus rejected, has decided to not provide anymore, thank you. It is under contract, and escrow is set to close in about a month. I wonder about this, as it’s not the way my family would do things—or perhaps I flatter myself to think so. In fact, to my memory my family has never owned a beloved piece of land to sell, and maybe that’s the difference. (In fact, it’s true that I have no idea what my family cherishes above all, if anything. I have a feeling it’s nothing, since it surely is not, once you examine it, real property, most things, or other family members. Ahh—I know: Money, and an unexamined feeling of betterness.) But still. I can’t help but feel that it’s wrong to sell a place that provided so many generations so much pleasure, a place that has defined (according to speakers at the memorial service, anyway) Bachelor hospitality for decades. (Oh, but what do I know about such things? If I’m honest with myself, I’m probably best suited in life to become a meddling, overbearing matriarch, and nothing good has ever come of that kind of thing.)

“The ocean is life and death and everything in between,” Rich said yesterday. Walking along the beach, one first notices millions of scattered bits of what used to be animals: A scene of carnage. Crab shells separated from their legs, the occupants long since plucked out by sharp-eyed, long-beaked birds; broken sand dollars emptied of their gooey contents; mussel shells, the little guys who once lived inside now in the belly of some bigger guy; pinkish-grey husks of ghost crabs, only some of them rent apart and bleeding orange guts as their legs skitter futilely in the air; the rest completely empty, like the rest of the surrounding exoskeletons. But the rocks—covered with mussels and barnacles and starfish—now uncovered as the tide goes out, are alive—and singing. Rich and I make up things that the animals say to us as we pass by, including “It’s a living!”—popularized by any animal unfortunate enough to be forced into labor at the Flintstone residence—and “Kindly remove your paw from my ass or mouth, sir,” when Goofus steps on a contracting sea anemone.

On the subject of marine life, the beach house has provided a lovely manual titled Beachwalker’s Guide: A Pictorial Introduction to Marine Life of the Pacific Coast, notable primarily for its unremittingly judgmental stance on the creatures of the sea, and only secondarily for its black-and-white photo of dead things, including a skate (said to be a “smelly prize” to the boy holding it—and, dramatically, his nose) and a sea gull. The brown pelican is described thusly: “A grotesque, awkward appearing gawk of a bird … its tail is too short, its feet too big. It is a creature to inspire amusement.” A hermit crab without its shell: “A sad looking creature. The front end is well developed … but the rest is travesty. It consists of a misshapen, grub-like abdomen, twisted to the side, bare, and having a swollen appearance. No wonder it seeks a sturdy home in which to hide this monstrosity. The poor hermit needs a shell to preserve its dignity and to protect its person as no other creature does.” When the nudibranch washes up on the beach, “their color is completely lost, and they appear brown, dingy, and repulsive.” And an interesting bit of anthropomorphization, this time on the subject of the captive octopus: “Other times it gathers the luckless crab beneath its tentacles and broods over it as if in anticipation of its meal.” It’s almost as if these creatures developed with flagrant disregard for author Dick Smith’s needs and aesthetic tastes! Boo, brown pelican! Next time, think about a smaller beak, eh?

But the death Rich speaks of I think mostly refers to death to thug dawgs, or death to us, if the waves get too high. Da thugs like the beach; not so much the water. Or, that is to say, they seem to like the water just fine when they can comprehend the waterness of the ocean, but mostly to them it is just a loud thing rushing at them. When it is not a loud thing rushing at them but is instead comprehensible water, I get nervous. What if a big wave sweeps over them while they aren’t paying attention, and it drags them off to sea? I am not a strong swimmer, I tell Rich. I cannot save them. But no large wave comes in, and I have to admit the thugs’ primary threat is in the self-inflicted drinking of too much salt water.

What is in between life and death is anyone’s guess. Here’s mine: Change.

And this is why I’m sad, I think. This past year has been all about change for me, but overall the changes have been good ones. (Aside from the new gray hairs and the creeping colonies of cellulite, I mean.) This said, I miss the tiny mountain resort town I left behind, and my friends there too.

And now a new wave of change is coming: Rich is moving in with me this week, or maybe staying out here at the beach, until we can find a bigger place—one with room for two people who sometimes can’t sleep in the same bed (one of them a ridiculous clotheshorse, though I will make you guess as to which of us is incredibly vain about his collection of haberdashery), and Goofus and Gallant and a to-be-determined kind of cat, named (I say) Sir Pancake Millage or (he says) Kiisa, a cat that I hope is round and plush and orange and white. This isn’t a bad thing, this moving in together, but it’s a change. Yeah, you say—but is it a good change? And I—heartless realist that I am—have no answer for that. We all hope that things work out, whatever that means, that, at the very least, feelings won’t get hurt and we will be mature and kind to one another. And, gosh, I have been through relationships before, and I know that this is not only the least, most insignificant kind of promise that we as people can make to one another, but it is also an impossible promise, a foolish request. And still I promise: I will love your misshapen, grublike abdomen, even if you do sometimes misplace your shell. If I see the pieces of you scattered along the sand, I will pick you up and love you anyway.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Aunty Christ can haz Robotuzzin?

Well, Aunty Christ has learned a few things in the past few days, most important of which is this: Being sick for three weeks is a fucking bitch. Next time I get a cold and I ask someone (Rich) to shoot me, I sure hope he does so, because I never fucking want to go through that experience again. Uh-uh. No way. After the first course of antibiotics it became clear that the cold had moved from my sinuses to my chest. I coughed so much I vomited. I coughed so much, I thought I had cracked a goddamn rib. Oh fuck, I coughed.

Anyway, it appears to be going away now, slowly, so long as I do not breathe any air in which a cigarette has even been thought of, lit or unlit, real or candy. It seems like hyperbole, but honestly? A guy said the words “pole smoker” next to me, and immediately I launched into a coughing fit. True story.

Another important thing learned by me is that, in Saskatchewan (or wherever I live), it is illegal to harbor a raccoon for any purpose, due to the fact that they carry distemper. Oh man, that is a disease that I simply must try to avoid: Conjunctivitis, diarrhea, fever, cough, labored breathing, vomiting, runny nose … Wait. Did I say I had a cold? It may have actually been canine distemper virus, now that I think of it. Oh, no matter about the shooting bit, then, Rich Bachelor. I will no doubt die within one to three weeks, according to the wikipedia there. So, raccoons here in the Great Northwest carry distemper, and even if they are very, very adorable and cannot help but be supertiny, helpless balls of fluff, they must be euthanized rather than bottle-fed and brought back to health if their mothers abandon them. Though honestly, why the mothers would abandon them rather than luff them all over furever ’n’ ever is beyond my cognitive grasp.

I mean, I’m no fan of babies, but given the choice between

this and

this, well …

I’m not alone in picking the furry ones, am I? By the way, I advise to all my friends and many of my enemies NOT TO google image search the term “ugly baby,” if you would like to avoid a lifetime of nightmares. No joke. It’s disgusting. (Also, please do not click on that link, I beg you.) Also, I would like to note, since we’re on the subject of babies, kind of, that I had a dream a few nights ago in which a man’s disembodied head and his baby’s disembodied head were positioned turduckenlike inside one another—and I don’t have any idea where that came from. It was a bizarre and violent dream in many other ways as well, but that’s the standout image from it. Thank god, eh? What if there was some even worse torture that my mind had dreamed up? I’ll be making an appointment with the therapist Monday, for sure.

Back to the subject of raccoons: I was walking da thug dawgs yesterday morning, and we came across a ball of fluff trying to make itself tiny against a garden wall. Goofus and Gallant did not notice it, luckily, but I took note of its location and resolved to go back in an hour, giving Raccoon Mom ample time to come get her baby. One hour later, and no change. I made some calls. The first place, Animal Control, said they could come get the baby, but they would have to euthanize it. I called the zoo, who referred me to the Audubon Society, who gave the same answer, adding that it is law in Saskatchewan to kill raccoons and not harbor them, due to the distemper thing. Oh, well, distemper does sound pretty bad, I guess. But give me a diseased baby raccoon any day over a world where these things are allowed to run around unchecked.

I swear to god. Someone give me a canvas bag and some rocks, and I’ll take care of this myself.

Oh calm down, you all. It’s spring! You can’t look anywhere without seeing Daddy’s latest fashion accessory. And, as we overheard some diaperbag say the other day, “Babies are amazing.” Oh, I don’t know if you’ve heard? But babies? They’re wonderful.

The last part of the story—well, there’s a happy end and an unhappy end. Which would you rather hear? The happy ending is this: I noticed another raccoon kit on the other side of the road, also balled up small, next to a curb, in the street. Not knowing what else to do, I left the two babies for another few minutes while I got ready for brunch. When I drove by later, a crowd of concerned citizens had gathered around the sidewalk raccoon (someone had placed a bowl of water nearby), and the street raccoon appeared to be gone. “Where’s the other one?” I yelled out my car window. “The mom”—the girl speaking nodded her head at a large tree in the yard—“came and got him. I think this one is sick, and that’s why the mom hasn’t taken him yet.” “I’ve been worried,” I said. “I noticed them a few hours ago.” “Oh, they’ve been down here since three in the morning, at least,” said a man, coming from across the street. So, the water, the concern, the outreach, the one saved kit—all good things, right? I’ll stop the story here, and we’ll all enjoy our happy ending, shall we?

But really, I think the other kit is dead now. We barely knew ye, Bandit! Bravely battling starvation and dehydration, he finally was welcomed into his Loving Raccoon Father’s arms. Or legs, or whatever they’re called. Boo, hiss. Shame on you, Saskatchewan lawmakers.

Onto other kinds of kits: I assume you’ve heard of I Can Has Cheezburger?, the ridiculous animal photocommentary site that traffics in cute animals and cutely incorrect English? One photo (of a fuzzy kitten), for example, is labeled, “no kitteh… you get all the chzbrgrs u can eat… at least until u is fatty, then u is become pillow.” To sum up, I kind of love it, and I kind of hate it. It’s funny … unless you find the intentional dumbing down of American culture completely repulsive, in which case it’s completely repulsive. My favorite/least-favorite section is the “lolrus,” which I don’t even know how to describe without telling you that it’s a bunch of pictures of walruses and seals who are said to be complaining about someone taking their “buckit.” Rich will like this one in particular, since it will, I think, remind him of this piece about Wilford Brimley. Neither here nor there, but it does rather disturb me that this blog has turned into a forum for pointing out to Rich amusing things that I’ve found on el internet. Oh, I used to be no one’s blog-whore.

Anyway, this is getting rather lengthy—and linky—but my point (I do have one, kind of) is that there is a name for this dumbed-down American version of Engrish, and it is kitteh. Kitteh (for those over, let’s say, 33) is to written English as Hello Kitty is to fine art. Just look at the so-called rules of kitteh: Use the word “with” inappropriately, misuse gerunds, misspell everything, add exclamations and extra words. … The result is, like I said, kind of cute and kind of stupid and kind of funny, if you’re willing to enter into this pact with Satan that allows you to overlook that, in with all the smart people pretending that it’s cute to act stupid, there have no doubt slipped a few actual stupid people, pretending that they know, well, anything, really, and that’s kind of sad, as is the fact that we’ve all regressed to some moronic form of seventh grade, where it’s adorable to wet ourselves and not know how to multiply or add.

On the other hand, just look at the fucking lolrus, will you? He can duz melting teh blakkend hart of a cinick! Sumbuddy gives with him hiz buckit! Lol.

Aunty Christ <3 u, lolrus!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Aunty Christ has been on a Robotussin holiday

Oh, I’m sick. Sick, I am! Speaking like Yoda suddenly am I! Oh fuck, it’s even worse than I thought.

And I had a lot of stories to tell you all—y’all, all of you—too. Stories like: The Pancake Employment Seminar, and What the Fuck Was Up with That Too-Broadly Smiling Honolulu Hilton Refugee in the Tropical Shirt? (Not to even mention that other guy, in the pressed suit, or the two teenagers in hats, or the fact that nary a pancake was to be seen in special Pancake Employment Seminar Room. Oh, and then there was the lady who was running the joint—who took an instant dislike to me, after I splashed her by accidentally turning on the water too high in my neighboring sink in the ladies’ room—as thick and broad as a water buffalo, clad in discount-rack Macy’s tweed pants and with a sour look on her face that begged to be smacked with a pancake. Well, that’s about the whole story, right there, since we sat outside the seminar, not feeling like being bored to death first thing in the morning.)

Then, there’s this: I shot my first gun. Very fun, though a bit shocking to realize that a careless move could mean death, or, more likely, injury, as I was only firing a .22-caliber. Yes, the holes it produced on the target sheet were far less satisfying than those of Rich Bachelor’s .45, which marked the sheet with an explosive tear, but still. I do not see myself ever being comfortable with the sound and kick of a .45. Then again, only days ago I was ardently against firearms, so I guess things change.

And I testified before a grand jury—another first. It was a much more relaxed experience than I expected. I arrived about ten minutes late, kind of thinking that I’d be greeted by The Law (arms folded to note unhappiness with me), stating, “Well, now another bike thief will be loose on the streets, thanks to you.” And then there was the thought that I might be directed—or at least interviewed—by the assistant D.A. pre-testimony, which is what always happens on Law & Order, anyway. Oh, not like Law & Order highlights bike thefts every week, I know. I suppose the Saskatoon D.A. office has more on its plate than me and my beautiful bicycle. Anyway, it was all very informal, and the assistant D.A. was fresh out of diaper school—pink-cheeked and optimistic, as opposed to worn-out and hardened to the realities of bicycle thievery. I answered a few questions from Mr. Diaper School, and then took questions from the crowd of my adoring fans (grand jury, I mean), and that was it. By the time Rich had parked the car and come to get me, my part in the legal process was over. Well, presumably I’ll be getting a summons to testify at the trial. That will be fun for me. Yay public speaking!

The highlight of last week, though, was to be found in Eastern Saskatchewan, where Rich and I spent the weekend. I’m sure he has more to say on the subject of the trip in its entirety, so I’ll not steal his thunder. I’ll not rustle his cattle or pinch his cap or swipe his pickle! But I do have this to add to the discussion: While Rich and his She Bear were off getting coffee our first night, I took da thug dawgs on a walk around the outside of the hotel—unleashed, since the hotel backed to a large, mowed lawn holding a duck pond, and surrounded by what I think was a wheat field. Or an empty field of some sort. After walking down to the pond, we went back toward the hotel, to a sidewalk that abutted the building, and continued down the sidewalk, past the pool, toward our room. A few steps past the pool, however, was an open door. Before I had even taken notice of this fact, Goofus was already inside, running around A ROOM OF MIDDLE-AGED WOMEN ATTENDING A SEMINAR. Not even thinking at this point—in fact, totally ignoring the fact that this situation was actually occurring—I grabbed Gallant and carried him inside the room, where some 60-odd menopausal women are oohing and ahhing and giggling over Goofus, who is skittering his way down the aisle between the folded metal chairs, and the woman with the microphone is kind of muttering her disapproval of the whole event—“Well, I suppose no one’s able to pay attention to me anyway”—and then the tiniest of bitter forced laughs. I mouth, “I am so sorry. Sorry. I’m sorry,” and try to look contrite. I scoop up Goofus and run out of the room, hunched over the 51-pounds of thug dawg in my arms, as the women cheer. Highly embarrassing, of course, but also, strangely, empowering—to be applauded by strangers for being the worst dog owner ever. Thank you, thank you.

This week has been filled with lots of lying in bed, coughing myself awake, pressing fingers to cheekbones in order to (try to) relieve pressure in the goddamn sinus cavities, cursing my existence, weeping, living in fear of the next big coughing attack, aching, Robo-tripping, drooling, farting, mumbling incoherently, etc. In the midst of all this, I eked out a single dream out of all my hours spent in bed. In it, I was told that my recent blog entries have been so bad as to be embarrassing. Embarrassing! Well, point taken, Subconscious Me. I will try harder. For now, though, this is the best my virus-weakened mind can muster.