Friday, June 29, 2007

Aunty Christ gives as good as she gets

The Yahoo! homepage typically offers no end of amusing links to American Idol video recaps, grilling recipes, and bad relationship advice, and yesterday’s link was no exception. Just in case you have a busy day planned and need to get on with it, I’ll do away with the suspense and just let you know that the 10 compliments that your man might like to hear are:

1. “Your arms are definitely looking bigger.”

2. “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.”

3. “Wow.”

4. “You the man.”

5. “The kids just adore you.”

6.What do you think?”

7. “Cute feet.”

8. “Meow.”

9. “Impressive.”

10. “I want you.”

Of course, coming out of my—or perhaps any sensible woman’s—mouth, these sound highly sarcastic. I tried them out on Rich Bachelor last night and he wasn’t having any of it. “What kids?” he said. “And since when do you care what I think?” “Cute feet?” I tried. He said, “Woman! What the devil’s gotten into you? I’m outta here,” and then stormed out, not to return until many hours later, smelling of liquor and hotcakes. “Impressive,” I whispered. “I want you!”

So, that didn’t work out as well as one might have hoped. Even better than the compliments themselves are the expanded reasons given behind the compliment:

Guys spend all of high school, the better part of the work day, and at least 12 times a day via e-mail trying to make people laugh,” writes the editor-in-chief of Men’s Health. The editor-in-chief! What’s Men’s Health again? A magazine, or a special-needs project?

Oh, so anyway, it seems the editor-in-chief is trying to tell us that the funny is gender-specific, for some reason. Well, of course it is! I don’t have time to be funny, what with all the cooking and cleaning and pussy-waxing I have to do.

About “You the man,” he says, “Guys hear this all the time. From other guys.” Oh wait: I guess this late edit didn’t make it to press: “From other guys in beer commercials and cop-buddy films.”

The reasoning given for the “Cute feet” compliment is too good to edit down: “Typically, it doesn't matter much to men if women like a part of their body that they don't control, like their eyes, jawline, or body hair. And typically, guys care for the word ‘cute’ about as much as Paris cares for the penal system. One exception: The part of the body that is classified as being especially gross. Tell a guy he has good feet, and somehow he takes it as a double-bagger compliment -- that you not only like his genetics, but also that you appreciate he can keep himself better groomed than the rest of the gnarly-nailed heathens out there.”

First of all, having seen photos of Paris with a mouthful of penal system, I have to think she likes that particular phenomenon quite a substantial amount. Moreover: Really? “Good feet” is a “double-bagger” compliment? And since when is “double-bagger” a term that’s in any sense a good thing? Oh, it makes no sense at all. It makes the mind hurt.

Even better still than the reasons behind the compliments are the user comments on the post:

Ncnurfoust writes (edited for length; not at all edited for spelling, grammar):

oh my, I could not beleive what I was reading. All of these compliments have in one way or another had an effect on my marriage. About 2 years ago I was sleeping. My husband came to bed late and proceeded to talk to me. I was dreaming..not really sure about what. I told him i my sleep state, "you know your arms are not really big at all." Oh my was I awake after that. To this day he has not let me forget that. He has a great sense of humor and most everyone likes him. He is an ego driven, testosterone high "real man." He is MY HERO. … He never admits fear, always denies defeat, and is always right. However, his goal every day is to make someone if not everyone smile. He can find the most unappealing women and make her feel like a million. I love this about him. … I hear him lighten up when I belly laugh at his latest storfy. … I have a good idea that I know will rock his boat, I make it his idea and it fyies well. When I doubt is advise and find he was indeed right, I make a big deal out of it. " … It is true but no matter issue, men need and desire our praises and gradafications. they don't know how to ask for it like we do. Thank you David for more help getting into the psychology of "My Man." Val

Surely I’m not the only one who suspects that Val’s Man is a bit of an asshole, right? Never admits fear, always denies defeat, ego-driven, testosterone-high, more interested in the size of his arms than whether or not he wakes his sleeping wife up. Oh, whatever, Val. I’m sure you’re totally happy, what with your judgmental optimism and his dickishness.

Peter Shaughnessy writes:

Why is there no hint that men might like to be commented on their intellect, personality, or achievements in fantasy sports?

And some bright shining star gives him his answer:

here's your answer; because that's not for men, that's for geeks. Real men play real sports.

Zing! That’s right, Peter Shaughnessy. Your kind don’t deserve no complimentin‘, ya hear? This is Bush’s America now, professor smartypants!

I kind of have a little crush on deirdre.nakita now, after reading her words of wisdom on the gender wars:

One more something could have helped, The way you look at him. Keep on a little smile, because some guys can't navagate the mood with out some sort of feed back from your face. My guy for example has a tendency to react to my ever facal expression. This is hard ladies. I mean its like guys dont have their own way of thinking. All they want to do is please us. So ladies we hold the power while our compassionate hearts let our guys believe they hold it. Another, men like women who have great self confidience. So you could say something about your own body,(softly.). like “I love my sexy body, I could make love to myself all night long if you had to go out. Beleive me it works. Guys need just as much as girls but they have to hide it. Ladies we all should be confidient of our sexuality for we are all beautyful people and if your guy is with you all he wants is to be loved. We sometimes get caught up in worldly bull that we forget or dont know that men just need to feel good about themselves. If we take them to another world mentally I think they wouldn't cheat on us and they would treat us the same. So stop complaining or hasseling men ,try instead to show them love. You know the love that only us women can give threw our own wants and needs. The perfect relationship is possible threw all this lifes mess. We only live once so love, and let go of unnessacary hasseling. It can be true .

All men want to do is not think and please … me? This is awesome!!!! Us women should totally give that love threw our own wants and needs threw all this lifes mess, whatever that means. Thanks, diedre.nakita! Thanks for everything!

What’s that, diedre.nakita? You have something else to say?

Some guys need to have that hard to get type, but once they've got you you need a mixture of both You can playfully joke with them with a smile. But there are times when the hard to get role gets annoying and you should switch it up. Mess around alittle with his head, but always let him beleive what you say. If you know you love him you should give him complamantes even if he doesn't deserve them.

Yes, yes, that sounds like just the thing. I’m totally going to only date guys who are totally without worth, but then I’ll mess around alittle with his head with complamantes he doesn’t deserve. Wise advice, my friend. I’ve been doing this relationship thing all wrong! When Rich gets over his hungover anger about last night, I’m totally going to switch it up and playfully joke with him with a smile. Maybe I could even take him to another world mentally! That sounds great!

So that wraps up this edition of “Making Fun of Stupid Ideas with Aunty Christ.” Next up, for those who are keeping track of such things, our agenda for the next few weeks:

Visiting friends—and babies—in Remote Mountain Village, Colorado, through the Fourth of July. Rich Bachelor and I will enjoy such family-oriented activities as hiking, soaking in hot springs, hanging out, pretending to look at babies, and pancake-eating!

Second interview with a Big-Name Company, which for some reason, despite my many flaws (alcoholism, insanity, man face), seems to like me. Or perhaps they are simply messing around alittle with my head, letting me beleive what they say. I am so in love with this company, and not just because they want to pay me an unreasonable amount of money. Well, maybe it’s mostly that. But I must say that Big-Name Company’s arms sure look big, lately. Has it been working out?

Moving into the house, which henceforth on my blog shall be called the Dawg House. Or maybe that’s best left in my mind. It’s clearly not a clever name, but then, this is not a very clever blog. Would it be better in half-German? Der Dawg Haus? Anyway, the move is forthcoming, and then the settling in, and then the slow slide into boring communal-living hell. Or not. Oh, not to be all stupid and sentimental here, but I’m truly happy with Rich. Sometimes things feel wrong, and you don’t really have anything to compare them to because nothing’s ever felt right either, so you think, “Well, maybe this will work. This could work.” And of course it doesn’t, no matter how much you try to force it and overlook the fact that this isn’t the right person, this isn’t a good match. Well, Rich is a good person, anyway, and this living together project does not seem wrong.

I fell asleep last night in his lap, and woke up around midnight to him saying, “You’ve been sleeping in the most uncomfortable positions. Let’s go to bed.” You know what? It was the most comfortable sleep I’ve had in ages.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Aunty Christ is interviewed by Mr. Middlebrow

1. Aunty Christ is a __________, wrapped in a ________, inside a ___________.

Aunty Christ is a delusional battleaxe, wrapped in a leopard-skin blanket, inside a thick candy coating of undisguised bitterness and tragic despair.

Oh, my goodness! My apologies. That photo is actually not of me, but my friend, who goes under the name Camilla-Jane, when she’s not working as a singer/songwriter/model/entertainer. Good luck to you in your new career, Camilla-Jane! Rock on.

2. What's your pitch for the next big reality show?

Argh—so many ideas, and, frankly, what hasn’t been aired as a reality show already?

Two thug dawgs, raised as brothers, learn to live—and love—in a South Boston law firm.

Or perhaps …

Baby makeovers!!!

Or …

Tube-topped grannies bouncing on trampolines!

In any case, isn’t reality TV pretty much over? I’m hoping for a new scripted show I can get behind, á là Deadwood or Heroes or Perfect Strangers, in the next season. Speaking of which, I keep meaning to write a blog post about the top 10 overrated shows ever, including Dharma and Greg, Wings, Becker, Sisters, and Picket Fences.

Of course, my favorite new reality series is online. Oh crap, I do not really want to enter into any kind of internet-based catfight, but I shall say that, if one has read the funny blog I just linked to and one has read the blog that that funny blog is parodying, perhaps one will find oneself with hours of entertainment on hand. However, if one has not read either blog, perhaps one will be confused and befuddled by this paragraph. Enough said.

3. Who should play you in the movie?

Talk about a no-brainer. The answer, of course, is Charlotte Rae. She would also sing the theme song.

Number two on the list: Tiny Tim Blake Nelson. I met him once. That makes me famous, right?

4. What is it about your navel that drives Indian men into a Google-mad frenzy?

Finally! A serious question.

It’s true that by Western standards my navel leaves something to be desired.

However, in India it is revered as the 431st incarnation of Apam Napat, who, insofar as I am able to understand, is a god of the Hindoo religion, whatever that is.

Anyway, far more troubling is India’s obsession with raping my blouse. Honestly, it’s a lovely blouse, and it’s very flattering to a lady of my size, but enough is enough.

5. If you could live in another time in history, what would it be? What would you do?

The problem of course with this question is that the people who say things like, “It would be so cool to live in the 1960s, with all the flower children and love-ins and bell bottoms!” and those who say, “I really feel that I should have been born in the Middle Ages, with the courtly love and chivalry and so forth,” are idiots, who forget things like the draft and Peter, Paul and Mary and the plague.

If I could live in another time in history, it would be the future, baby! And I would go up to people, cigarette in hand, and say, “Hey, I’ve got a message for you. I was sent here from the past.” And then I would tell them that by quitting smoking, they destroyed the planet, because when all the tobacco companies went under and all the tobacco plants were destroyed the planet suffered a shortage of O2-producing … stuff. So then, once I’ve convinced all the morons from the future that they should start smoking, I will go back to the past (now) and buy some Philip Morris stock, and never trouble myself about retirement again.

The rules of this meme compel me to ask if anyone reading it would like me to ask them five questions. However, keeping in mind that I am very lazy, let’s just say that perhaps no one should want me to ask them such questions, yes? And let’s also say that this meme has run its course.

RIP, fair meme. When we think back on all the joy you have given us, we shall be forced to wipe a tear from our giant-ass collective eye, and smile.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Aunty Christ feels so much

God saw fit yesterday to present me with an image of what the next several years of my life will look like, as Rich and I ran across a man pushing a baby jogger containing a small thug dawg. The thug dawg did not appear to be impaired in any way—only, the man explained, quite bossy and pampered.

Gallant, on the other hand, has been poorly lately—sleeping even more than usual, limping, licking his paw. It’s only a matter of months, I imagine, before I am wandering the streets of Saskatoon wheeling a wagon fulla thug dawg behind me. Rich reminded me the other day of a moment this last winter, when we had gone to pick up Goofus and Gallant from the kennel after some trip or other, and we were carrying them back to the car (having forgotten their leashes, as per usual). A lady looked over Gallant’s corpulent body, into Rich’s eyes, and said, “Why bless your heart!” It’s true that we are not very giving or helpful people in general, or even very loving, or kind or friendly or sympathetic, but we carry halt and lame thug dawgs and keep them from running into traffic, and I suppose that makes the world a better place in some small way. Oh, we are blessed! I wanted to say to her. We are rich in thug dawg hair, and bad smells, and expensive dental treatments. Thank you.

Other blessings that one might choose to meditate on, if one were a disciple of that Sarah Ban Brethnach lady (fuck—I’m so unhappy that I was able to remember her name without the help of Good Lord Google), include a new house, with a double lot (and not much else to recommend it, but still: house! Double lot!) Which means that Rich and I can soon get down to the business of living together, with “together” meaning in this case “with all our crap around us and out of storage bins and boxes.” Oh, our poor books and tchotchkes! They must miss us so.

The double lot will allow us to leave the thugs outside most of the day, when it’s nice out, at least, and much has been made in my own mind of the opportunity to buy a small pool for them to sit in. Nothing better than a sopping-wet thug dawg on the deck! There’s a country hit right there, I tell ya.

The other nice thing about the house is that we have finally procured a fucking house, which means we can stop all further efforts to procure a fucking house. Whew. Now, onto the job search! Yes, in an effort to look as though I am “responsible” and “not a giant greasy mess of a human being,” shortly after starting the house hunt (which at first entailed me emailing prospective landlords from Craig’s List with a long list of my faults as a tenant, such as, “I have no job! Also, not a long rental history! Also, two thug dawgs!”, and then never hearing back from them), I began working on my resume and cover letters and sending them out into the dark darkness that is the Saskatoon job market, 2007 edition. Anyway, I figured, even if we can never find a rental house that accepts such people as ourselves, perhaps with a little scratch in the bank and a steady income, I can procure a mortgage loan and buy a house for the thugs and ourselves. But, as things have it, I have found myself mulling over, well, not a job offer (or anything like it), but the possibility of a job offer and the subsequent going back to work full-time that would lead from it. Like the house hunt, a lot of resume submissions resulted in silence. Chirp chirp!, as my stoner friend from Crestone would say. But I had two interviews yesterday, and another one set for Monday, and I won’t say for sure, but it sounds like the money might be enough to make me consider leaving my current position, here, on the couch, next to Gallant’s arthritic bones. Not that it’s good money or nuthin‘. But when I consider that other possibilities include working part-time stacking produce at the whole-foods grocers down the street, or what seems like a glamorous position at a fast-cash check-cashing establishment that I saw advertised last night, ummm … well, the grocery clerk position seems okay. That bunch were voted “sexiest staff” in by the Saskatoon alternative weekly, so there’s a chance I could, well, engage in some unwanted lecherous gawking, anyway.

So, everything appears to be going nicely, at least in so far as I feel remarkably effervescent right now about my chances in life. I recently read about a web site that publishes every time the words “I feel” occur on any blog, so I don’t want to say anything as pedestrian as “I feel good,” you see. “Effervescent” isn’t quite intellectually honest, but, it’s at least a little bit unusual. Incidentally, other ways I am recently include: I feel hotdoggy. I feel shockingly hatted. I feel raw and itchy below deck, if you know what I mean. I feel like starting a web site that records all online occurrences of the words “I feel” is a craptastical waste of time.

More about that strange, new feeling of improvement: After my last interview yesterday, I received an email from the interviewer, saying that I was to come in Monday to interview with some more freaks, and that he was sure they would be impressed with (among my many positive attributes) my “delightful personality.” Now, whether or not he was being sarcastic is hard to discern over email. (The quotation marks are mine. I would have been quite pleased to see a message filled with such forthright sarcasm as, “I’m sure they will be impressed with your ‘delightful’ personality, lol.”) But the point remains that I am easily won over by such cheap tactics, and as quick to believe wonderful lies told about myself as I am to dismiss those who would tell the truth as horribly mean meanies who should take a look at their own glass houses, thank you. For most of the early part of this week, I spent my time saying hello to the various animals and insects I encountered, and having them say hello back to me in a dopey voice, so pleased was I when Rich furnished the voice for a bird or some such thing I had greeted Sunday. “Hello, Pillbug,” I would say in my own voice, and then, in a deeper and thus inherently stupider (right?) voice, “Hello, Aunty.” Well, that’s all over now. My new thing is, “I am supremely delightful, personalitywise! Why, you must certainly be impressed by my remarkably delightful personality!” Luckily, this conversation is happening mostly in my head. Otherwise, Rich would certainly have moved out by now, or perhaps simply conked me over the head with one of those rusty sharp farm implements he’s always going on about.

Current mood? I feel … cautiously optimistic. Also: procrastinatey. Mr. Middlebrow will know to what I am referring, but I’ll have that done next week. For the rest of y’all, I leave you with Stella D’ora breakfast treats. I hope you choke on it. (I’m delightful, goddammit! Delightful!)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Aunty Christ loves all god's creatures, just not in that way

Lots of craziness going on outside my apartment this morning. Kitty-corner to my yellow apartment building, a man standing outside of a different yellow apartment building is pounding strips of wood, set on top of a plastic garbage can, with a hammer, while a woman closely examines other strips of wood on the grass next to him. Two identically dressed people, both potato-shaped (russet potatoes, mind you—lumpy and oblong), wearing oversized T-shirts, stretch pants, and oversized fanny packs, gape at the house for sale down the street from me, through its eight-foot-high chain-link fence. One is clearly a man, as he has lost most of his hair, leaving only a white fringe around his ears and neck. His companion (a foot shorter, gray buzz cut) is of indeterminate gender, and stops gaping at the house for sale long enough to give Goofus and Gallant a good stare. Goofus looks likely to confuse the couple’s jerky, arrhythmic steps with the movement of a far more interesting animal: a bear, perhaps, or a cow. He strains at the leash, and I fear he will bark, causing me to say what I always say in these moments: “That’s a person, buddy.” Ha ha! As if there could be any doubt in anyone’s tiny mind!

The house for sale is still being worked on daily by contractors. Clearly the owner is hoping an infusion of earnest money will allow him to finish this project, which has gone on for at least the seven months I’ve lived here. The house has been gutted, and it’s still on stilts from when the foundation was repaired, and the exterior has been stripped but not yet repainted. The owner is crazy to try to sell it now, but he is—trying to sell it, that is—and his contractor is crazy. He arrives as the couple lurches away from the house, trying to keep his barking pit bull in his white rapist’s van, yelling nonsense phrases—“That’s a happening forestry kit in the party room!” or “Good to forget the Saturday pants that other time!” I’ve never seen him completely lose control of the barking pit bull, but I’ve considered that a crazy guy is perhaps not the best person to be in charge of a potentially dangerous animal. But what would I do? Call animal control? Call crazy guy control?

I resent the thug dawgs their bodily functions, which wake me before 8 every morning and drag me out of the house at inconvenient times. But one of the true joys of dog ownership, for me, has been the requisite walk down the street multiple times a day. Most of my favorite memories, in fact, come out of things I was forced to do.

Not that walking down the street this morning was a really great memory or nothing, but you know what I mean.

Hey, speaking of great things to do with your pets, you know what else is a great thing to do with your pets? Have sex with them. For purposes of the ongoing Untimely Movie Review portion of this blog, I should mention that I saw Zoo several weeks ago, and it was pretty jaw-droppingly beautiful and equally jaw-droppingly, um, odd. I’ve been interested in bestiality for a while now, by which I most certainly do not mean that I’ve been interested in pursuing it as a lifestyle of my own, thank you, but I find it weird and kind of crazy and kind of funny. Several years ago, when I was invited to write a play for the local theatre, I made one of the main characters a hotel detective who falls for a woman who keeps talking about how she was crowned Jerry Falwell Little Lamb of God 1983—that is, when she’s not dropping hints about how she likes having sex with horses, using biblical quotes to support this activity. When my computer crashed a few years later, I lost the script, which is quite a loss for future directors hoping to stage a festival of badly attempted imitations of Joe Orton’s works.

I think that was all inspired by this site, which may or may not be for realsies, but sure is complete and detailed. And furries—I think that was around the time I first heard about furries. Which isn’t the same as bestiality, I know, but frankly I’m not sure which is more disturbing—being sexually attracted to animals, or being turned on by putting on a big fuzzy outfit and boning some other dork who is turned on by putting on a big fuzzy outfit and boning some dork.

Hey—I think I dated that orange thing!

The weirdest thing about Zoo is the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about (but everyone wants to have sex with! Hell-o! Am I right?), which is that, as cute and adorable as animals can be, and as much as people are prone to interpret an animal’s actions as based in human emotion (“The way that horse looks at me, I just know he understands me”), and as much as other people suck sometimes, and are boring and silly and hurtful, if you’re having sex with a horse, that still means that you like having horse penis (Have you seen one? Those things are enormous!) thrust repeatedly inside you by an animal that weighs, probably, six times as much as you. But no. The zoos interviewed in the movie kept to the party line, repeating that it was all about loving the animal and respecting the animal and the animal doesn’t want to talk about Britney Spears’ marriage or Lindsey Lohan’s hoohah, it just wants to love you.

And as amusing as all that is, and as much as I, too, hate people, I must say that there’s a line that Aunty Christ has drawn when it comes to her sexual partners, and on the side of the line against which she refuses to rub her pink, swollen genital region (oh, go read the dolphin link, above) live not only animals, but most of humankind as well. So it’s nothing against you animals! Sorry. Go have sex elsewhere, please, animals!

The zoos also supported their behavior by saying that the horses wouldn’t become aroused and have sex with the humans if they didn’t want to have sex with the humans. This is no doubt true, but perhaps because the horses didn’t have the opportunity to have sex with other horses, and perhaps because the horses were attempting to establish dominance, and almost certainly because things, in general, like having sex with other things.

Why that is, however, remains uncertain to Aunty. Further research may be required.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Aunty Christ has a disjointed conversation with herself about the meaning of money


Last weekend I saw the documentary Maxed Out, which I read about a while ago, and which is out on DVD now, I think, though it’s also only just now made it to the Saskatoon theatres (or theatre—singular). It’s a pretty good movie, in case you haven’t seen it. It doesn’t offer much in the way of new information to anyone who’s owned a credit card or two, but it does tell some pretty horrific stories about the various ways that credit companies, collections agencies, banks, and lenders screw average Americans. Afterward, Rich and I contemplated a new documentary series called They’re Out to Fuck You, highlighting the multitude of ways that big business and government join forces to make every part of life as unfair and unpleasant, as short or as filled with malignant lumps, as dangerous and as diabetic as possible.


As an employee of a title insurance company, in the remote mountain village I moved here from, I didn’t see too many examples of unscrupulous lenders. There was one, though, who, every 12 months or so, would convince one elderly couple to refinance their million-dollar home, pocketing tens of thousands in closing fees (and, not incidentally, garnering a thou or so for our office as well) and sticking the homeowners in the stupidest, money-wastingest mortgage plan available—usually a high-interest ARM or some kind of weird balloon loan that would come due almost immediately. Both homeowners were tiny, at least in their 80s, and soft-spoken. The man had been diagnosed with some kind of degenerative disease, and his wife—though clearly a competent caregiver, if her husband’s appearance was any indication—was unsure how to handle the financial burden of staying alive longer than they had expected. Their son was the occasional cause of the released jail-bond liens on their real-estate record, so presumably he was in no position to offer filial advice about mortgages. If they had been a different type of couple, or lived at a different period in history, maybe she would have been taken in by a snake-oil salesman, a smooth-talking evangelist, a deposed Nigerian prince, or a clairvoyant, but instead it was the charismatic mortgage broker who ruined them. Shame on him, and shame on us for not stopping this couple from entering into what was very clearly an extortionate relationship.

In our defense, though, I must say that an escrow agent is supposed to act as a neutral party—giving information but not advice. Had our escrow agent said anything, not only could she have been reprimanded by the state licensing bureau, but the transaction would have simply been moved to another title agency and closed there. Our notary public might have wanted to question whether the man fully realized what it was that he was putting his signature to—it was, frankly, unclear how much he was able to grasp—but it would have been insulting to his wife, and it was clear, at least, to the man that his wife wanted him to sign this paper. If he didn’t know what he was signing, he at least knew that he was doing it to help the woman who bathed and fed him.


When I was a college student, I got suckered into a lot of things—quite by choice. Alcohol and drugs cost a lot of money, and at first I got around this by photocopying pages of books I needed for class from the library, and spending book-buying money at the bar. At some point—if not immediately—I realized that, although most of my college friends wore the same kind of second-hand store clothes that I did, some of my new classmates were quite rich, and wore designer labels, and did not smell like anti-lice powder. So began my never-to-be-resolved desire to be cute, which added a new dimension to my expenses.

Like every other college student, I started receiving credit card offers. Like most other college students, I got a card. And, like some other college students, I defaulted almost immediately. Stupid, right? I had no idea I’d be expected to pay back anything that I had borrowed anytime soon. I believe that my dad started getting phone calls from the credit card company, and that he, out of concern for my future FICO score, paid my credit card balance in its entirety, and never required me to reimburse him, thus furthering my misunderstanding of the meaning of “credit,” if we are to be honest with ourselves, and for which I kind of love him, and I kind of resent him.


A few months ago, while my dad was out here visiting my sister and me, he dropped off some mail he’d been saving for me, including one envelope that contained a warning from a collections agency that was trying to collect on an overdrawn checking account I’d closed almost seven years ago. After some digging, I started to remember a little bit about what might have precipitated this, and what I thought I remembered were several conversations between me and a bank VP all those years ago, about a debit charge that mistakenly had posted twice, and that this all had been resolved back then, or at least I thought it was. The lady I spoke to at the collections agency, however, said that she would be forced to report this uncollected debt to the credit agencies if I didn’t pay them a hundred-some bucks by the end of the week. The agency offered to knock off some penalties and interest, so they certainly didn’t rape me as hard or as violently as they might have. “This is fucking extortion!” I yelled at one, very polite collections agent. “This! Is! Extortion!” But I paid anyway. And apologized for my behavior.

Oh, the bank was U.S. Bank, I should mention. Not that I’m mad still about their exorbitant practices, I mean, but I believe in full disclosure.


These days I tend to be pretty mindful of my finances. I spent a long period of my young adult life—post credit card fiasco, pre-living wage job—under the pall of bounced checks, late rent payments, surfing, and “borrowing” from my parents (in quotes, since I rarely, if ever, paid back these “loans”). I don’t need a lot of money to be happy, but not having enough money mostly means unhappiness, I’ve noticed. If you can afford to buy your friends a round of drinks, that makes you feel nice; if you’re constantly hoping that your friend won’t notice that you’ve never offered to repay him that $20 you borrowed that one time, that makes you feel bad. That kind of thing.


Last week, I was talking to a friend of mine about the changing situation at my apartment. With Rich moving in, I told her, I am suddenly surrounded by things. A chair, a TV, a table. Things that, quite frankly, today’s American household is considered incomplete without. When I sold my remote mountain condo, part of the reasoning behind it was that ownership—of the condo as well as all the stuff inside it—had become suffocating. I’d moved to the mountains with the back of my Subaru filled with books and clothes, and over six years had amassed a two-bedroom condo full of crap. Crap that made my life nice, yes. But also crap that I felt I needed to buy, for other people. I’d invite a guy to my house for the first time: “Where’s your TV?” he’d ask. Or my parents told me that they wanted to stay with me instead of at a hotel. “Oh, don’t worry about us. We’ll just take your bed,” they said. So, I ran to the store and bought a bed for the guest bedroom too—a $1000 expense so that they could save $100 a night. (At least I repaid those old debts somehow, right?) Before I left, I started feeling that everything was a chore. The coffee grinder owned me—“I’m filthy! Covered in grounds and oily!” it screamed at me from across the kitchen. Houseplants mocked me—shedding dead leaves and dirt, peeing excess water from their pots. The hallways smelled of thug dawg urine, the appliances were magnets for grime, the furniture required constant vacuuming, lest the fur grow too thick. I sprayed, vacuumed, steam cleaned, and wiped, and still the stains, smells, dust, and residue grew and grew and grew.

So when I moved to Saskatoon, I bought only a few items: A bed, a few pans and dishes.

“So, you’re zen,” my friend concluded, as we discussed the new chair and television set. “Rich isn’t.”

But that’s not it. I am as acquisitive and grasping as the next person.

But for right now, I’d like to get back to a place where I can balance enjoyment of life through ownership of things and exasperation due to the obligation borne of owning things. I think I’ve kind of done this, or I’m on my way. Rich says, “I should have brought the large sauté pan from my house,” or “I should go get the coffee grinder out of storage,” and I think, “Yes, that would make life easier, I think.” And then I think, “Oh crap. More stuff. Didn’t I just do that?”

Not that I’m much for self-help Oprah bullshit, but I do buy into what Suze Orman says: First people, then money, then stuff. One theme throughout Maxed Out is that people who have spent their money on stuff that was meant to make them happy—skis, Rolexes, stereo systems—become miserable because of debt accrued through these purchases. This doesn’t mean that things make people unhappy, mind you—but it certainly doesn’t say much on behalf of the “material objects = happiness” cause that all those big business interests, including the credit card companies, would like to advance.


Some of what was highlighted in Maxed Out made me furious at the lenders: The scene where a mother of a mentally disabled man told how her son was told to sign his name on a loan that he clearly did not understand, for example. Some made me furious at the government: Footage of President Bush signing the bankruptcy bill into law, surrounded by grinning, soulless bank execs.

But mostly, what made me sad were the examples of the kind of human greed that got me in trouble with my first credit card company, as a college freshman, and that I still find myself struggling with. I remember, as an 18-year-old, reading Madame Bovary for the first time, and feeling that, if I didn’t stop myself, I could be the uncute embodiment of Flaubert’s heroine. That I would wake up one day and find that my life had been spent putting money and things, first, and ignoring the things that matter.

Fifteen years later, and I still worry.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Aunty Christ sweeps up the crumbs

Well, since my last baby post was so well received, no harm in writing something new about how ugly people-babies can be, right? Settle down, now. I said, “Can be.” They certainly don’t have to be ugly, lord knows. Take a note from the late Anna Nicole, people, and put those chubby babies on a diet! Speaking of which, here comes the li’l plastic surgery candidate now!

Now, I admit, I’m biased. Not only against the human babies in general, but against this particular atrocity’s father, whom I dated briefly in college, and who, being Christian, could accept my mouth around his penis, but was forbidden by holy scripture from doing much else. Oh, I know … I know! It was a long, long time ago, and, frankly, it was even before I really figured out how to enjoy myself in that way anyway, so what am I complaining about? What can I say? I like to complain, dammit.

Anyway, back to that picture. To me, that unholy creature looks like nothing so much as the tiny, unfeeling emperor of some planet of reptiles or some such thing. “Yessss, yesss,” it says, rubbing its scaly mitts together. “Onssssssce the humans accept Bill O’Reilly assss one of their own, we will implement sssssstep two of The Plan.” I know what you’re thinking, and yes, it is very mean of me to make fun of an innocent baby because of its hopeless, genetically inherited unattractiveness. Oh yes it is. But hey: At least I’m making fun of it here, and not to the father’s face. I mean, what could he do, anyway? Hit it with a shovel, before it sucks his brains out through his nostrils while he’s sleeping?

On to something a lot more fun, by which I mean looking for a rental property for two more-or-less unemployed or underemployed people, with seven months’ usable rental history between them, and their two thug dawgs to live in. Oh yeah, and we’re lazy. And we have a meth lab. Kidding! I’m so kidding about the meth lab! But does saying that I did and then saying that it was just a joke make the part about the not having a job and the destructive, unhousebroken thug dawgs sound a whole lot better? Because I’m thinking I could say that to a prospective landlord! Like, he’s all, You guys are the worst tenants to ever apply! And then I’d be all, Oh come on … we could be so much more undesirable!

Last week Rich Bachelor and I went to see a house that was perfect for us—and similarly perfect for every other couple, it seemed. We were lined up along the sidewalk, in fact: a whole J. Crew catalog’s worth of mid-20s to mid-30s hetero couples in dressed-down Sunday morning schlub. We were second in line and were invited in along with Couple Number One, comprised of a very young girl wearing both a dress and pants and a boy with a very expensive haircut and an even more expensive pair of jeans. “What about that apartment building across the street?” the boy asked the landlord, as we filled out applications in the kitchen. “Do you have any problems with them?” (They were black!) No, no, the landlord said. The tenants of that particular building are refugees from Sierra Leone. “That’s awesome!” enthused the girl. Yeah, said the landlord, they were brought to Saskatoon by a neighbor, who also had escaped the civil war. “No, yeah ... That’s really awesome,” Pants-Dress repeated.

Am I wrong to feel that any response to a civil war in which people’s arms and legs have been hacked off which contains the word “awesome” is, you know, a little crappy? A little, um, how you say, not really understanding the situation in whole?

What I did not have the balls to say, of course, was: “So your take on this situation where people had to flee from their native country because hundreds of thousands of people were killed, and thousands more were orphaned, rendered homeless, raped, or had their limbs amputated is that it’s … awesome?

And what she did not actually say (though I was expecting her to) was: “I think it’s really awesome that now they live in a country where they don’t have to decide between a dress and pants. They can totally make redundant clothing choices, and that’s, you know, awesome!”

So that was who ended up getting the house, in case you were wondering: The beautiful house with the fenced-in yard that was perfect for tha thugs. Oh well. I’m sure someone—someone really retarded probably, or perhaps blind or masochistic—is just dying to rent their beautiful house to a pair of no-accounts like us.

It’s worth mentioning that, after a week or so of living as if joined at the hip, one half of this no-account pair has absconded to Seattle for the day, leaving the other half lonely, yes, but moreover kinda looking forward to some alone time. My plans for the afternoon included:

Trip to dog park
Short jog along the bluff
Watch stupid rom-com
Eat dinner at Ethiopian restaurant

Most of these, it should be noted, are things that I either cannot do or will not do with Rich. He dislikes Ethiopian food, for example. Or, I’m sure that when he reads this, he’ll claim not to “dislike” it so much as prefer other kinds of foods to Ethiopian, which, he has explained on at least one occasion, has an uninteresting flavor palate, to which I say, We all are allowed our opinions, as mature adults, and phhhhhhhhllllllllllllllbbbbbbbbt. You are wrong! Ethiopian food is singularly delightful, as anyone knows. Go ahead, ask anyone. But then, he doesn’t drag me to pizza restaurants, so who am I to force him to eat food he does not enjoy so much? Even though, let’s face it, there can be no comparison between wat (yum!) and disgusting pizza.

The trip to the dog park isn’t something that Rich would dislike so much as it is something that would be done solely for my (and the thugs’) benefit, while the nap is something that Rich and I could both use, I’m sure, but that I find myself never getting around to as long as there’s someone in the room for me to yap at. “Oh, did you see that funny picture in the paper?” I’ll say, and continue muttering on and on. It’s one of my best qualities, I’m told. I’m a delight.

The rom-com in question—I know you think you know what I wanted to see, and it isn’t that one. Oh, I know we all, as thinking people, have to suck the cock of Judd Apatow and his irreverent comedy, but please. I cannot. I will not. In fact, instead of doing anything on the above list, I ended up taking Goofus and Gallant to get their nails trimmed and made some turkey burgers and drank almost an entire bottle of Pinot Gris and watched King of Queens (no Patton Oswalt—boo!) and So You Think You Can Dance? I am not a fan of King of Queens, but to everyone out there saying that Judd Apatow is a creative genius who has redefined romantic comedy to make way for the less-attractive man/more-attractive woman combo? I give you King of Queens. And According to Jim. And The Honeymooners. None of which also featured the most ridiculous contrivance to get two people together since the Virgin Mary sat Joseph down and said, “There’s something I need to talk to you about.” Oh, I suppose it’s just me being all cranky again. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to trick some schlubby man into marrying me and caring for our child, so clearly I’m bitter. And have reason to be, I think!

I guess the point of all that, though, was (1) that I miss Rich Bachelor, even though he’s only been gone for a few hours, or (2) that I was glad to have some alone time today, even though I did not put it to very good use, or (3) that I am extremely lazy, and must be flogged into action immediately, or perhaps at some later date. Must we choose? All three options are pretty good.

Oh, back to the housing situation: I was thinking today that as a half-art project, half-means to an end, I could hide in the attic of above-referenced perfect house with the perfect yard, wearing a sheet and chains, rattling chains and making other spooky sounds. I don’t think it worked on The Brady Bunch, but that doesn’t mean the dress-over-pants girl wouldn’t buy it. She’d be all, “Oh, hey, about the ghost in your attic? It’s awesome! We can’t get any sleep and it scares us? Which is really awesome? But fuck this, we’re outta here, bye.” Which, when you think about it, would be totally awesome.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Aunty Christ will get out of her defective car and into your dreams when she's good and ready

For some reason lately, I’ve been unable—or unwilling, probably—to just let things go. Little things, you know? Snide comments (muttered or otherwise), intentionally irritating silences. The heat has made all us Saskatoonies foul-tempered, cranky, or irritable. Hell, I’m looking forward to the return of the rain. Depressed people are so much easier to deal with than bitchy ones.

Today, for example, I had an appointment at a car dealership I’d never been to, to repair a defect in my car—a defect that, the manufacturer was so kind to notify me, could have caused my car to malfunction and kill me at any time! What’s that? I’ve been driving an instrument of death all these months? Thanks for the warning, Unnamed Automobile Manufacturer Whose Name Rhymes With, um, Meep.

So, yeah. I wasn’t happy to be there in the first place, but I was and it wasn’t supposed to take long to replace the defective part and I had a coffee and a newspaper with the crossword puzzle I can do (it being Monday and all), so I wasn’t super unhappy either. Until I spoke to the receptionist. “Oh, this is sales, this is for the bigwigs [a statement that made no sense to me, either, in case you’re wondering—it was a new-car showroom, which, as far as I know, is for new-car buyers, bigwig or not]. Repairs is across the street.” She motioned in the direction I had come from, meaning that I’d either have to pull a U-turn in the middle of a busy six-lane street or go around the block—assuming it was as easy as all that, given Saskatoon’s penchant for one-way streets, and considering that the street was the one diagonal street in a traffic grid of otherwise perfect parallels.

“And how do I get back there?” I asked.

“Oh, just cross the street and the door’s over there,” she said.

“And you think I should just leave my car parked here? I shouldn’t drive it over? Even though I’ve brought it in to get this defective part replaced?”

“Um, I’m not sure. Maybe.”

“You’re affiliated with Meep?” She nodded in response. “I’m just wondering. I mean, I’m a Meep customer, and a Meep owner, and you’re not even trying to help,” I said as I walked away from her desk, toward the door.

“Hey, I like your bag,” she called after me. Parting shot, and I’d been Gershoned (see: Showgirls). Fuck, man. I’ve been meaning to find a new purse for ages; the one I’ve been humping around is coffee- and ink-stained—just awful. But now? Oh, I don’t even know. Stained bag or no, I will not be buying my next Meep from an establishment that hires such awful girls, but I hardly think that matters, since in the end what I really feel bad about is me, my response. I mean, she was unhelpful, but since when do I feel charged with the responsibility to point out personality flaws to flawed personalities? Presumably I had hoped to feel better having pointed out to the girl that she sucked, but in fact I left with the overwhelming feeling that I sucked. My life sucks. My fucking bag sucks.

This kind of thing has been happening all week. Like I said, maybe it’s the heat that makes me address these small quibbles that normally I would (probably) ignore, and maybe everyone else is even more of a diaperbag than usual because of their similarly caused physical discomfort. What’s important for me to remember, though, is not that everyone has bad days, or that we’re all human, man, or it’s all good, or, like, you know, karma, but that I have never mastered the comeback, making it very difficult for me to win any fight I’ve started.

In fact, what typically happens is this:

1. I make critical, sarcastic comment.
2. My opponent makes critical, sarcastic comment.
3. I run away / cry / run away crying.

I thought of a good comeback yesterday, actually—about 45 minutes too late to be of any use for the situation that birthed it, though I will be saving it for the next suitable application. It’s a long story, why I was arguing with the diaperbag down the street, so I’ll cut to the unused comeback, for the purposes of scaring off any of you who might otherwise be tempted to pick a fight with me (there’s more where this comes from, I’m sure, though I don’t know what, nor do I know where it came from): “Just so you know, sarcasm sounds ridiculous coming from the deeply stupid.”

You’ve been warned! I can come up with a somewhat-cutting response within one to two hours … so, you know, watch it!

In an effort to offset this heat-induced mass nastiness, and—more to the point—to spearhead my own idea-project (thus making me feel less sucky about myself, and my bag), I have decided to run an ad on Craig’s List for new life-cheerleading team members. I’m thinking that we would meet every month or so and cheer people on while they’re doing their thing. Like so:

Hey, hey, it’s okay / You don’t have to work today / Look busy! (clap clap) Just look busy!
Hey, hey, office jerk / You don’t have to go to work / Play hooky! (clap clap) Play hooky!
Hey, hey, cell-phone dick / Hearing the details of your pathetic life makes me sick / Talk quieter! (shh shh) Please talk quietly!

Or, around MLK and Lloyd, where the Mexican day laborers wait for work:

We would like to be your friend!
Gracias for coming
To our town
We can’t believe our pols and teens are acting like clowns!
Yay Mexicans! (hurkeys, ad nauseum)

You get the idea.

Prospective members may apply in person on Friday from 10 a.m. to noon. Men will be required to wear short skirts and are subject to sexual harassment by the management (me). Women may wear anything they like, as long as it somehow makes me look thinner.

Your sister in school spirit,

Aunty Christ