Monday, March 30, 2009

The politics of playing


" Can I pleeease go to Max's house today?" 

Lou wants to know, as he does every morning, because he is sick to death of our house, our five broken toys and the horses they rode in on.  Its been a long winter and he wants to go be someone else's boy for a while.  I try to explain that we cannot invite ourselves over to Max's house, we don't have that kind of friendship. I can't just show up in a paint splattered sweatshirt, with no socks on under my boots, open their fridge and start eating their way better snacks. 

"They have to invite us, honey. Or we can invite Max over here." 

But he doesn't want Max to come here, because here would still be here and here sucks. Especially after seven months of winter lock down.  I don't blame him, I'd like to be elsewhere too.  Lou asks me every day if he can go over to "someone's house", and his tone lilts between "Drive this car to someone's house, bitch, or you will know the meaning of hell!" and "Can no one hear my cry for help?!"  

What I can't understand is why we don't get more invitations.  I would go pick out hammers at Kmart if someone asked me to tag along. What I've come to believe about our lack of social life is that its because I'm off-gassing liberalism. I think the parents in this republican bedroom community take one look at me with my frantic hair and no makeup and they just know I'm growing a pot seed in with the cilantro.  

On my dark days I imagine that all these parents are having some giant party in their finished basements, all the kids in an orgy of enrichment games, while me and my kids hand plow our driveway with broken Walgreens shovels.  I feel there must be some better kind of life happening behind my back.  A secret life that those people don't want me to know about because I would sully it with my loose morals, foul language and dearth of hostess gifts.  

This winter I volunteered in Lou's classroom for a party.  One of the good moms brought those little upside down plastic champagne bottles filled with tiny explosives that shoot confetti out the end when you pull the string.  The adults yanked the yarn on about four of them, to thrill the kids, and the whole room filled with blue smoke.  I don't know what possessed me, but I actually said, out loud, "Nothing like the smell of gunpowder in the classroom."  

Silence.  

I don't know if I can't fit in or if I just don't want to.  

But I do know if someone doesn't invite my kid over to play soon, this liberal may just start to enjoy the smell of gunpowder. 


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Tit for Tat

I'm accused of being a tit-for-tatter.  Well, if I'm a tit-for-tat kind of girl, then you're a lazy sot! See, there I go again.  I'm not saying they're wrong, but the scales are forever tilted, and they need righting.  

I hauled my weary ass out of bed this Saturday morning, to go meet a potential handyman at one of the rental properties.  Vildy has some kind of sore throat and accompanying Giant Pussy disorder, so he got to be a head on a pillow, while I drove the 35 minutes, again, to the m-effing rental property du jour.  Because of his terminal case of whineasitis,  added to my sojourn was a visit to the Auto Zone on Scuzz Avenue, Cleveland Heights, so I could get his check engine light diagnosed.  

After that it was a stop at Marc's, the poor people's grocery store, where I now shop for dented cans of corn to feed my budget fatigued family.  The lines there are not short. Apparently we are not alone in our love of canned corn.  At Marc's they have not yet discovered the scanner, the conveyer belt, the credit card swiper or whole grain bread.  Which is why its cheap and why I shop there, writing my check and showing my driver's license for the first time in eight years.  

At Marc's you can find boxes of Quisp Cereal, and King Vitamin, by the way for those of you who, like myself, are connoisseurs of the boxed breakfast jewels.   I'm not sure if these are the same exact boxes from my youth, or if there is in fact a post 70's distributer of these off-brands, but no matter, they can be found at Marc's. Checking the date is your problem.

In line, listening to acrylic nails tap out the prices of my Suave shampoo and ground beef, I feel a sudden and urgent clamping down in my bowels.  My sister and I call this SP, code name for Sphincter Poke, which, as you may imagine is an urgent call to arms.  But this is Marc's.  They cannot suspend a sale here without a sign off from the assistant manager who is selling baby formula from behind the locked pharmacy counter.  

I am sweating with the effort and urgency of my predicament.  Those two giant cans of Folgers coffee are still a manicure away and I don't know, I just don't know...  Someone butts in to ask the price of some colored plastic easter eggs.  For mercy! I hear my duodenum cry. 

I am granted a stay of execution by some sympathetic force in my colon and make it to the car to load the groceries, and then to the nearby Sears for ultimate relief. Praise Allah. 

At home I discover not unexpectedly that my four year old son has been staring at screens for the past three hours, my daughter is unsupervised in the yard, and Vild would very much like me to make him a sandwich.  

When I shoo everyone away and ask what anyone's done for me lately, they all stare at me with wide hurt eyes, accuse me of being cranky, tell me not to be so mean.  Now I have to go, someone needs soup and a widdle sammy, and while I'm up, could I watch the kids, he's feeling a little nappy.

I've given my tit, now where's my fucking Tat?

 









Friday, March 27, 2009

Spring Shhpring

Its nearly spring here.  I can tell because two days ago I watched a Cardinal make sweet love to himself in my car's side mirror.  He hopped up there, as he had the day before, pecked and fawned over his own reflection, until he was sure the foxy bird staring back was picking up what he was laying down.  It was quite a show, lifting his tail feathers, bobbing and weaving, doing an R-rated  hoochie-coochie dance that was, frankly, starting to work on me.  My side mirror he had at hello.

Last week, as I took Lily down the driveway to the bus, the grass was all crystalline with frost and the sun shone down on it and made it look like the Emerald City.  Across our road, in the orchard, ten dear froze at the sounds of us, then shot off into the woods, tails flicking white as they ran.  Its all very Walt Disney and miraculous, and if mushrooms could sing, I'd really have something.  

But the downside of spring here in Ohio is that everything is laid bare in the melt.  Seven months of McDonalds wrappers, beer cans, road kill and rot has been indelicately plowed under, and now that the snow has melted the scourings are revealed in muddy heaps on the side of the road. Everything is brown and flattened and soggy.  Winter winds have blown our asses sideways, and we have to begin the tentative process of rebuilding a fair season life. 

This is not an easy process.  Not when you live on five acres and not when you grew up in a high rise in New York City.  Spring here is a lot of work.  You don't just jump outside in your skort and prance around optimistically; that would be an amateur move. 

You have to harden off, like a new green shoot.  Start by taking off your scarf and hat, but don't go putting them away. It can snow in April, and it may well do that tonight, though it was 70 degrees here last week, and 60 today.  Don't plant anything, not outside and not until May shows up after about seven weeks of April. This, if you know what's good for you.

Get a good rake. Metal.  That plastic thing is fine for your postage stamp in Glendale, but it ain't gonna cut it here in the hinterlands.  There are about three inches of pine cones under that leaf hummus and those plastic tines don't take kindly to the bulbous nodes and small branches that have fallen under the weight of winter. 

A power washer is not optional.  You ever want to see those lawn chairs again, you're gonna have to blast about 2200 psi of hose water at them.  Gasoline powered. You need enough power to blast the bad attitude off your soul and electric is all weenie; your soul is very very dirty, and its gonna take some fossil fuels to get it clean. 

Prepare to shovel some gravel.  The snow plow will have shoved that to either side of your driveway in long drifts of rock.  You'll have to get that back on the two-track, or you'll be picking it out of your bent lawn mower blades before too long. 

Spring is wet and your septic system is overtaxed, so hauling a few bales of hay in the mini-van is a good idea if you want to stay on the top side of planet earth. You need to sprinkle that around to create a little terra firma from the yard to your front door. 

Anything you built last spring out of wood, you'll need to rebuild this spring out of a complex polymer.  Raised beds, stair treads, trellis' - start thinking about materials that will withstand nuclear winter, because that's what we're dealing with.  

Your gutters, filled with pelts of flora that peel out like sod, will be hanging off in places. You'll need to get up on the roof with some big aluminum gutter nails, try not to slip off the shingles covered in the green slime of decomposed tree droppings, and bang those fuckers back into place. 

Pick up a lot of windblown trash, move a mountain of leaves over there, throw away your "perennials", plant something else, pull a few trillion weeds and maybe by July you'll be able to sit down and have a glass of lemonade.

Ah, spring!

Butt of the Joke

Ta Da! I'm a blogger.

Just yesterday I was guiltlessly not doing laundry, paying bills, grocery shopping, cleaning tampons out of clogged rental property toilets or listening to hold music at my health insurance's 800 number, but instead watched Clear and Present Danger, with Harrison Ford. It's my two hours of free time and if I want to squander it watching tired Tom Clancy vehicles you can't stop me.

For about the thousandth time in recent memory, some secondary character in a film made reference to Cleveland in a condescending way. This time the comment was about ripping the stars from the lapels of some well-meaning officer and stowing the poor bastard behind a desk in Cleveland. Cleveland, spat from his mouth like he just discovered ass lint on his tongue. The assumption being that Cleveland is cosmic landfill, the junk heap for all the people, things and ideas that don't make it in real places like Los Angeles or New York, or in this case D.C.

Its ironic that this should bug me, considering how I so enjoy disparaging Cleveland myself. There's a lot wrong with this town, and I plan to bitch about each and every one of them in future posts. I fucking LIVE here, so I get to say whatever I want about it. But rich screenwriters living in the Hollywood Hills, who have never even stopped over in Cleveland on their way to New York, don't get to. People who enjoy ordering food in the middle of the night from really good Ethiopian restaurants, after attending art openings in cool re-purposed auto-body shops don't get to. Until you know, really know, how badly a place can suck, I don't think you should be able to casually include it in your knowing derision. Plus, Cleveland isn't Detroit. I've never been there but Detroit fucking blows.