Monday, July 16, 2007

Aunty Christ, Your Working Boy

First impressions are so very important, as you know— as everyone knows—which is why I showed up for my first day of work five minutes late, bleary-eyed, with a stiff, swollen, purple leg (bike accident—pilot error). Can I start counting the days before my promotion? Oh, probably. If I didn’t win them over by almost falling asleep during the software demonstration, surely my constant comments about how we used to do it in the old country (hint: Not Like They Do It at My New Office!) helped make a few new friends.

My coworkers are all fresh-faced young-’uns who have never produced a title commitment in their lives, and yet were so much faster than I will be by this time next week. They are cute, too: A lanky boy fresh outta diaper school, his friend the adorable lesbian (or faux-lesbian? I can’t tell, and I don’t know that it matters), and my new best friend, a teenager who wore teal eye shadow and told me all about it. All about what, you wonder? Oh, wouldn’t you like to know. All about everything, of course, like: Her boyfriend, where she lives, what she thinks about bankruptcy, other jobs she’s had. She seems ridiculously bright. It leaves one wondering if the office life is meant for other, younger people.

But then there was the gentleman whose job it was, presumably, to chat with me. He’s at least 70, has been CEO of two companies, and is working 12-hour days in my department for no reason that I can think of, unless it truly is, honestly, to brighten my dark working hours. Reminds me of a gentleman who worked at the encyclopedia while I was there, and perhaps still does, who we called Mister (Mister Something, actually, though I don’t remember what the something was), and who would shuffle onto the third floor most afternoons and install himself at one of the long tables in the library, doing research or something, when he wasn’t regaling us with stories about Charles Van Doren and the influenza outbreak of 1918, which nearly claimed his life as a child. Or maybe he reminds me of some kind of terrier with a ball. Same same, really. It’s hard to say.

Oh, I don’t really have enough coherent thoughts in my brain at this point to write anything … coherent, or anything. So let’s dabble, shall we?

I was thinking of writing a list for McSweeney’s—I’ve been mulling it over for the last month or so, and it suddenly occurred to me, as I tried for the first time to transfer it from head to computer screen, that it’s not that funny. Not McSweeney’s-funny, anyway. Maybe Aunty Christ Loves All Her Children-funny, though…

The actual playlist from EMF’s spring 1991 concert in Chicago (as I remember it)

1. “Unbelievable”
2. The second song off their album
3. “Unbelievable” (dance remix)
4. Cover of Jesus Jones’ “Right Here, Right Now”
5. The first single from their forthcoming album
6. “Unbelievable” (unplugged)
7. “Unbelievable”
8. Encore (“Unbelievable”)

Other things that aren’t quite funny enough for publication include the fake news story that might have emerged from this headline that popped into my head during the commute home:

US Warns Chinese Infants Latest Toxic Export: Minister of babies to be executed at dawn

Lately I keep seeing people with Asian toddlers—that’s all there is to that story. Kinda makes a person want an Asian baby of her own, though. Or, not baby, really. How old does someone have to be to run an electric lawnmower? Four?

Next post ought to be something I’ve put some effort into—a lost book of the Bible, perhaps, a restaurant review, or an advertisement for a new brand of deodorant. I’ll work on it. When I’m not hard at work at my other job, I mean.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Like god, Aunty Christ hates you

My horoscope from Tuesday: This is not the time to make sweeping changes, and any mistakes made now could be particularly difficult to undo. Keep a low profile and stick like glue to the status quo.

Soooooo yeah. On Tuesday, I unpacked my belongings from the move from my old apartment, assisted (read: watched) Rich Bachelor with his unpacking, finished cleaning said old apartment, and accepted a new job, which I begin Monday. To the stars, I say: phhhhhhhhhhhlllllllllllbbbbbbbbbbt, raspberries to you.

(To anyone who does not care to hear the intimate details of my life, I repeat: phhhhhhhhhhhlllllllllllbbbbbbbbbbt, raspberries to you. Come back next week or something.)

The new house, which for the time being lives up to the moniker Fix-Um Haus, is tiny, cramped, dirty, outlet- and closet-poor, hot, needy, needy, needy. The backyard is another story. The house sits on two lots, and since the house itself is tiny, the fenced-in yard is huge, encircled with grape vines and blackberry bushes. Which sounds like paradise, right? It’s actually kind of a white-trash paradise: yellow grass, crumbling concrete driveway, weeds, overgrown bushes. We have a hammock, backyard lights, a pool that tha thug dawgs are afraid of, and a lawnmower that no one wants to use. Oh, it’s magical, after so many years living in apartments and condos, to have a yard of my own to obsess about. So many dead leaves! So much cat poop!

I spent much of the day today at a laundromat across the street from a Chinese joint named Lung Fung, which sounds suspiciously like “lung fun” or “lung fungus.” In actuality the interior reminds one more of the latter than the former, as no fun is, can, or ever will be had in Lung Fung’s greasy, MSG-soaked bar. I’ve always been partial to shitty areas of town, and our new neighborhood is pretty darn shitty. In a good way! I mean, in a good way, totally! The heavy police presence is a really good thing, I think.

Three more days of un-paid labor, before the office job begins. Oh, I am so looking forward to/dreading this thing. When I left my previous position, last August, I was determined to find myself in a work situation that I actually, at least, might enjoy when next I found myself in a work situation. Instead I am finding myself in exactly the same work situation I was running away from last year. Aww shit. A moment of silence, please, for my unacknowledged dreams of a superior life.

Umm … what else? Well, lots of weird overheard conversations lately, for some reason. In Remote Mountain Village, while walking to the ATM machine, this one caught my attention: “I have this mnemonic device I use when I’m trying to remember things. Like, if I go to the grocery store, I’ll be like, ‘Milk, butter, eggs. Milk, butter, eggs.’ You know?” “Yeah,” his companion said. “I know.”

Ohhhhhh right ... repetition. I think Ive heard of that.

There’s a whole shitstorm of writing to be done about our new neighborhood, and all the conversations we’ve had or overheard with people here. It’s an entire neighborhood of characters, frankly, and not in a good way, that I can see. Several weeks ago, we were ambushed at a bar by a miniature former nurse who wanted to talk about the head injury she had sustained at least a decade ago, including what she has done pretty much every day between said injury and now, including that day’s trip to the food pantry. A few days ago (Tuesday, perhaps—the day of the horoscope), we went to breaky at a pharmacy with a lunch counter, complete with weird, 1970s-style manikins dressed in sequined berets and Brownie uniforms, and were treated to a soliloquy about how wonderful she, the speaker, is—she’s 80, and she’s irrepressible! The couple who were her presumed targets could do nothing but laugh and laugh—uncomfortably, and without humor—before she made her excuses and traveled to the sidewalk cafĂ©, where she found more unwilling conversation partners.

Any mistakes made now could be difficult to undo. Nonetheless, they are done. Oh fuck, these mistakes are done.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Your Aunty Christ loves you already, No-Toes

The presumed point of our trip to Colorado, you might be surprised to learn, was baby-viewing, and we did as much of that as anything, I suppose, except driving, which we did too much of, and sleeping, which was sometimes done concurrently with the driving, at least on my (the driver’s) end.

Babies in Remote Mountain Village tend to be small—so small that when I was asked by the helpful shopkeep at the baby-gift store what size of baby I was buying for, I said, “Oh, he’s big. He’s seven pounds or so.” Oh, no—sez shopkeep—that’s very small. “Not for Remote Mountain Village,” sez I. “At that altitude (9,000 feet), all babies are born tiny.” I later heard shopkeep repeat this tidbit to another customer, who then denied that mountain babies are born small. Oh well. I stand by my assertion: Every baby I’ve ever heard of being conceived, carried, and born in Remote Mountain Village is a wee slip of a thing, hardly worth notice. Whether it’s the altitude or the molybdenum in the water, I have no clue. The molybdenum has been blamed for both the town’s high incidence pregnancy (I myself blame the residents’ reliance on “hippie birth control”—i.e., smoking pot in order to lower sperm count) and the town’s high incidence of miscarriages, so perhaps it also creates these bonsai babies.

The particular infant we were visiting lived in a vibrating chair. He was jowled and sleepy. He was the approximate shape of a dollop of jam. He also had only half a foot on one leg, topped with one tiny toe-ish nubbin, mismatched by a giant foot on the other, crowned with five fat toes.

In what seems like a completely separate story, an ex-boyfriend gave me a hedgehog for Valentine’s Day one year. I had been talking for ages about wanting a hedgehog, so it wasn’t as ridiculous as it seems now. I loved that hedgehog, until he met his end one day at the veterinarian’s office, having been overtreated for dehydration and handed back to me, a sopping-wet balloon of liquid flesh plopped upon a damp hand towel. The ultimate reason for his dehydration—and death—was the same as the reason my ex chose this particular hedgehog out of the mess of hedgehogs for sale at the pet market: He had a funny ear, shaped like a broccoli floret, turned in upon itself, and prone to infection. One had to be vigilant about cleaning it and treating it with ointment; and I certainly tried to be. Alas, I was not as vigilant as I should have been, it turns out.

What a weird Valentine’s Day gift, though: a hedgehog with an infected ear. “I thought you’d like him better if you had to nurse him to health,” the ex said. And he was kind of right. I never liked him much (the boy, not the hedgehog), but he knew me rather well.

It likewise occurs to me that perhaps I liked the baby a little better than I might have, if he had been one of those perfect gifts from god you hear so much about. I’ll like him even better once he’s out there gimping around with the rest of ’em, I suspect. Winners—bah! You can keep ’em.

Since I’ve returned, the gimp-mom sent me a batch of photos involving her half-footed babe. I’m featured in many of them, as well, and Rich Bachelor is in some too. I considered posting one here, or perhaps sending them to relatives and friends as a joke: “Sorry we didn’t tell you, but we had a baby!” Wouldn’t that be hilarious? Or stupid? Wait … is there a difference? I made some unfortunate clothing choices that day, however, which, along with my unfortunate diet and exercise choices and my parents’ unfortunate genetic choices, have resulted in my looking like a Mexican taxidermied frog holding a baby. I couldn’t find a photo of such a thing online, so here is a picture of kind of the same thing, except replace “baby” with “guitar.”

In fact, this is pretty much what I look like right now, except that Im wearing a sombrero. I'm about to go see a Vanilla Ice concert, you know. Gotta look good.

For more information on our trip to Colorado, please see Rich Bachelor’s blog. There’s much to add to that, of course, but I’m hardly in the mood to do that sort of thing. Besides, it was new to him. To me, same old.

Going back to the hedgehog thing, though, would anyone think less of me if I admitted that I have a soft spot for losers, lost causes, the underdog, hopeless cases, etc.? I live my life exactly the opposite of those who make my heart melt, too, by which I don’t mean that I’m a huge winner, but only that I’m afraid to try. I keep thinking about this. If gimp-baby grows up to be that guy who’s ashamed of his gimp-foot, I’ll be so disappointed. If he ends up being that guy who always tries out—pathetically—for the track team only to get his hopes dashed again and again (of course … what do you think this is—a movie?) and never learns any valuable lesson from it or becomes a better person or anything, well, I’ll be quite touched. I love a story without a happy ending.