Saturday, June 03, 2006


What's the deal with you and water?

The deal with me and water is that I freak out if I don't have a cup or a bottle of it near me at all times. Perhaps this stems from my college voice teacher telling me at our first lesson, within ten seconds of shaking my hand hello, that I needed to "drink water until you pee clear." Well. Now it's off to Broadway.

Then when I began to work at the Kennedy Space Center, I was in and out of air conditioning a lot, and I never shut up, and needed to speak in tones that could be heard over many cranky children as well as flocks of hell-spawn, parasitic grackles. (Indestructable, the common Florida grackle. If NASA can't fix its tank issues by the next launch date, I suggest an insulating layer of grackle.)

I am a member of the Water Bourgeoise. I am not a water snob, nor will I drink just any old clump of hydrogen and oxygen molecules. Nothing from the tap, as Florida water tastes like the barely-filtered liquid leavings of a fifty-large French tour group, which it basically is. It's gotta be Zephyrhills, or Crystal Creek, or the grocery store generic (Eau de Water From the Wal-Mart Bathroom Sink.) This cuts down on my options, as most bottled water is Dasani and Aquafina, the primary component of which is eighteen pounds of Morton's Salt.

I used to drink that crap, until I tried pouring it into a glass once. Something tells me that you shouldn't have to use a spatula to get WATER out of a bottle. It was a viscous mass of yuck, it was wrong, and I'm just saying-- even the grackles don't touch it.

cheepcheepCHEEPCHEEPcheepcheep at:

Friday, June 02, 2006

Carol The Reader Rocks Right Hard!

Here comes a big ol' shoutout to Carol The Reader, who is awesome, generous, and probably also very attractive and talented. Thanks Carol!

Thursday, June 01, 2006


Jim The Small Child Nephew is right at this moment dragging a small tin cup across the toddler gate that blocks his room, for tonight, he sleeps in his Big Boy Bed.

I hope it went better than the first night this was attempted. Julie The NephewMama and Country the Brother In Law have this child wrangling book, and the book told them to let him cry for very short, but gradually increasing intervals. The theory is that he will eventually figure out that he can function on his own, and simmer on low accordingly. Which sounds precisely like the following corresponding foreign policy advice: "Well, if Israel and Palestine would just agree to disagree, everything would be fine."

This has been a months-long process, and I cannot imagine how much it must have sucked for my sister and her husband. They were allowed to go to Jim's gate and tell him to go back to the Big Boy Bed, but otherwise he was on his own, here in his enormous carpeted room with two beanbag chairs and seventy million books and every toy ever manufactured in the history of the universe.

"Mama?" he called.




Which is how he refers to his grandmothers. He didn't get far enough down the list to call for Aunt Beth, who certainly couldn't let him out of jail from Florida anyway, because at this point he slammed the door and nobody heard anything from him again until six AM, when his detailed plans for retribution were complete. (The door-slamming, he inherited from his godmother, I'm afraid. Well, another 27 years and it won't be an issue anymore.)

Jim would happily stay in his crib until it's time for college, I expect, since he would pass hours in there sitting quietly, writing polyphonic symphonies and working on his memoirs. But Schnitzel draws nigh, and out he goes. And thus begins a life of Let Your Brother/Sister Play.

It's difficult for an adult to understand how a baby can function as a threat to a toddler. Jim has been warily approaching his pending role as big brother, for, as my mother says, he is beginning to smell a rat. And who can blame him? In two months, here will come this...totally non-Jim related... thing which he will be expected to love on sight. We will, of course, but the thing will have... taken over his crib.

Jim just acquired a new cousin, whom he greeted with a hearty "Hi, baby!" before wandering away. It was difficult to buy a "Congratulations!!!! Your life is no longer your own" card, because they all contained the word "bouncing," which is the biggest baby-related lie I have ever seen. Newborns do not bounce. They are lumps, and if you do anything to make them bounce, Dr. Phil will yell at you.

The lumps are shaped by the forces around them. I, for instance, was born in 1977, most notable for "Margaritaville," Star Wars, Seattle Slew, and the first test flight of the space shuttle. I stand before you today a Parrothead with a plastic lightsaber on her television set who moved to Florida to work for NASA and occasionally writes for the Thoroughbred industry as a side dish. A 2006 birth likely means that Schnitzel will go through life shrieking into cellphone headsets and insist upon referring to everyone as "dawg," but you could do worse.

I can't wait to meet the lump, but then again, I have been long accustomed to my own Big Girl Bed. It's the twin of Jim's Big Boy Bed, actually, the completion of the bunk bed set that my sister and I slept in as children, which is either very sweet or extremely creepy. In any case, someday Jim will be pushing thirty and have a job and look longingly upon the matress, but for now, if The Prince doesn't sleep, Mama and Da and Schnitzel don't either.

I also have a Big Girl Futon at:

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

He Helped a Sista Out

So many thanks to Kyle Minor, fellow Formerly SuperSecret Double Probation Project author, who generously shared of his (massive, I'm sure) Ohio State salary with me. An overwhelmingly kind act, Kyle, and I am very touched.

Go see Kyle's website. Look at his picture. That is an author People Will Take Seriously. Unlike others I could mention.

Happy Hurricane Season

Florida just had a week's tax-free holiday on certain hurricane kit items, such as batteries and candles and Valium.

I'm sitting here wondering if it does one single bit of bloody good. Every season, the media solemns at us to have these items on hand, and every season, 95% of the state looks at its empty propane tanks and unboarded plate glass windows from ceiling to floor and goes, "Eh." Then, they wait until four seconds before landfall to be all, "Oh-- perhaps I ought to have some ice on hand. You think 105 MPH winds might take out a highwire?"

One woman on the radio today did this screechy scenerio in which you have fifteen minutes to get everything out of the house... what do you take? Which is outrageously Lifetime Movie Of the Week. Like you're only going to have fifteen minutes worth of warning to cram your prized collection of Post-It notes into the trunk of your Civic. It's my very favorite Florida transplant media fallacy; these days, a guppy swimming off the coast of Liberia sighs, and NOAA starts drawing up a projected destruction cone for Miami as the local media wets itself. We've got days and days and days to panic and run around in small circles.

I would take my stuffed purple kangaroo, by the way.

box 'o' water in my living room at:

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Many thanks, you... person!

Some kind reader made a donation at the Amazon Honor System, but left not his/her/its name. Anyway, thanks.

YOU'LL leave your name, I'm sure at:


I think it says good things about America that Taylor Hicks won American Idol. It was a smug moment when he drubbed KathElectra McBoobs, with her duct-taped behind and her shiny, shiny hair.

I was especially glad that Capt'n Spazzalot won, because I... I... voted. For him. I interrupted my life to help determine the outcome of reality TV programming, and there's nothing for it now but to find an enclosed space, park, and turn the key.

Well, the victory of Taylor made it worth it, a little, because here's a person who was almost passed over for the show, who made the whitest attempt ever to kick over a microphone stand mid-performance, who approached the competition as though it had just jacked his '82 Volvo.

I say this even though I hate with a grand, wide hate his new single, the lyrics of which involve the words "That was not me," which I never ever want to hear in a piece of popular music, unless the singer is denying paternity.

Taylor, despite an alarming propensity for referring to himself as--I'm quoting directly here-- "TayTay"-- is far more likable than Katherine, whose most prominent feature was her father, who always managed to have pools and pools of tears ready to go whenever the camera was focused on him. Why exactly this made me squicky inside, I cannot say; it normally tears me apart when men cry, but during the finale, when McDad was all, "She... takes my breath away!" all I could think was: Woe to the unfortunate man attempting to woo her from Daddy's house.

And I guess I wasn't alone in thinking this; at KathElectra's "hometown party" on the night of the finals, the camera zoomed in on the host and the other two people who happened to wander into the frame. Both people had signs, as all good party people do, but the signs were all exactly the same size and bore the name of a Los Angeles radio station. Somebody had a Sharpie-and-glitter promo party!

The entire Top Twelve was a glorious representation of non-glossosity; it included a Hobbit, the reincarnation of General Custer, every used car salesman in America, the love child of Mr. Clean and Mr. Miyagi, and the USS Nimitz. Now that is a nation comfortable with its tacky, Chia Pet-purchasing self.

Taylor is America, after several drinks, because, see, when he missed that microphone stand, he just kept kicking at it until it fell down. Were that we all so persistent. Or sad. I'm trying to decide.

The Catholic Church really hates women, again, some more.

welcome noah at:

Sunday, May 28, 2006


In honor of the day.

War began on my thirteenth birthday, alien blue tracer fire arcing over the minarets and round curving buildings of Baghdad. I sat cross-legged on the couch with an open notebook in my lap, not studying for final exams. There were too many journalists swearing comically into gas masks for such things.

Between the first Persian Gulf War and last Wednesday, I graduated from high school (“Did Nina say I sent Tim a note? I never sent Tim a note!”) earned two college degrees (“Did Nina say I let Tim buy me a shot? Tim can’t buy squat when he’s face down in a puddle of Yaegermeister! Go ahead, email him!”) and completed a Master’s in nonfiction writing (both Nina and Tim were published in The New Yorker the same week Newsweek gave me the brush-off; I sat and smoked and mourned the clearly imminent downfall of Western civilization).

I boarded turboprops. I ordered extra cheese. In later years I moved to Florida, unmarried and unchaperoned. My parents waved good-bye. “Find a good church,” my mother said. I was paid to watch space shuttles leave and the waves of the ocean return.

And somewhere in another hemisphere lives a woman whose homeland came under fire on her thirteenth birthday. The wailing air raid sirens drove her under cover but she had no scrawled study sheets to ignore; she left school several years ago because the cost of supplies—pens, paper, tape, things I mislay on an hourly basis—became too dear. Her mother was tossed from her secretarial work in Saddam Hussein’s government shortly after the end of Desert Storm.

Her days are occupied with hunting down fresh food and clean water for her family, a task once punctuated with the discovery of the head of her obstetrician displayed on a spike in the marketplace. Last year her sister was raped by an Iraqi intelligence officer as her brother-in-law watched from a few feet away. She has no idea where her younger brother is—he was taken in the night by the Republican Guard under suspicion for having warmish feelings for Iran. When her father is asked how many children he has, he names only the boy.

Although my counterpart is not forced to wear the head-to-toe burqua that swathed the women who lived under the Taliban, she is draped in the heavy knowledge that if someone, anyone, so much as whispers the word “adultery” in connection with her name, she will be stoned, beheaded, maimed, or, if she’s lucky, merely suspended by her hair for a few weeks.

She fears the day her sons become men, when what little protection is offered by their youth will vanish—if one falls into Saddam’s disfavor, chances are good that he will be shot before her eyes. The soldier performing the honor will then turn to her and demand that she pay for the cost of the bullet.

Here, I take a hot shower and dive into my little car to attend a University-provided therapy session designed to help me withstand job stress. There, she faces south, shading her eyes against the desert sun, nervously awaiting the first glimmer of American tanks. She has heard reports of Saddam’s banners destroyed in Umm Qasr, rumors that Hussein himself may be dead, he and his sons with him. If it is true—that the Americans have come at last—she will celebrate, tentatively, with her friends. She will search for her brother, maybe move to the northern country, find a nice mosque somewhere.

But first, she must find water.

thank you so much at:

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