Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Horoscopes and the Art of Womanliness

Pisces (2/19 – 3/20):  A friend has been promoting The Art of Manliness website, and it's caused me to consider womanliness, which has a pretty big branding problem.  Manliness conjures someone strong and capable, a stand up guy who wouldn't stiff a waitress or lie to a friend, the kind of guy who could change a tire for you but wouldn't just assume you need help, someone who knows how to cook an omelet and comfort a child.  The guy with the trick to opening a bottle of wine with a shoelace.  (Wait, I know that trick!)  Womanliness?  I'm curious what you all think, but for me it conjures curvy and sensual.  Nothing wrong with curvy and sensual, but shouldn't it also involve integrity and being capable and strong?  Here's how I know it's not a great word:  a man would be insulted to be called womanly, but the reverse isn't quite so true.  Pisces, see what you can do.

Aries (3/21 - 4/19):  Acting on a tip, I watched the video, How to Make Small Talk With a Stranger, which didn't teach me a whole lot, but it did have a little mnemonic device (I just had to look up how to spell mnemonic.  This, apparently, is the first time I've ever written that word.  Could that be?).  Little memory devices always makes things seem solid and like there's new complicated information.  But the video essentially said to notice something about the person and comment on it.  But the video took the strategy into the ridiculous and hilarious, like, "Oh, I see you're wearing blue.  Do you like blue?" and almost, "Hey, I see you have boobs!  I like boobs!"  

Anyway, shortly after watching, I went to meet a new customer and I thought for a minute that we were IN the video.  As we stood by my car he said, "Oh, I see you have a yoga mat.  Do you do yoga?"  And, "Oh, I see you have a carhart jacket.  I have some carhart pants." And so on.  It felt so much like we were in a parody of the video that I almost said something but I wasn't sure if I should.  What's the womanly thing to do, I asked myself?  Aries, you'll have plenty of chances to small talk with strangers.  Remember the rules:  notice and comment, self reveal, and encourage sharing.

Taurus (4/20 – 5/20):   I listened to the latest 99% invisible podcast, Structural Integrity.  Go listen.  But in case you don't, here's the gist [spoiler alert!]:  The Citicorp building was built in 1977, and in 1978 a Princeton undergrad studied it for her senior thesis, and had questions about why it would stand up if a strong wind hit the corner.  Turns out it wouldn't!  The lowly student's questions of the world-famous architect caused them to secretly re-engineer the thing, drilling and reinforcing during the night while hapless employees trustingly spent their days in the building.  

Anyway, the architect spoke of it 20 years later, and referenced the anonymous student as a male, when in fact, it was a woman.  A woman who, by the way, had never been told that they took her questions seriously; she learned about it 20 years later.  She assumed she had done the math wrong, because duh, she was just a lowly undergrad and the building was standing up.  I could go off on a tiny tear right now about how infuriating the whole thing is, in so many ways, but fer crissakes these are horoscopes, people, not rants.  Taurus, be wary of the corner winds this week.  They'll knock you down.  

Gemini (5/21 – 6/21):  Ok, just a tiny bit of the infuriating tear.  The architect was lauded for his humility, in bothering to listen to an undergrad, and acting on it, and telling the story.  Right?  Apparently its an extra special grand trait if a person listens to someone with less education than himself?  The woman who asked the questions wasn't called a hero, even though her questions potentially saved thousands of lives.  I think saving lives is so very womanly. Gemini, continue to save lives, the way you do.  Every single day.

Cancer (6/22 – 7/21)
So, speaking of womanliness, the 6 pounds of honeybees (22,000 ish) bees just arrived.  It's been a while since I had bees, and I'm indescribably excited about it, because bees are fascinating, and dare I say, womanly?  It's all girls who make the honey, in case you didn't know that.  But I ordered a bee suit from the internet because I wanted one that fit, not some big zoomy floppy thing that makes me even more uncoordinated than usual.  Eventually it arrived, and sheesh, it has a little embroidered bee on the ass.  Right?  GRRR.  Does womanly always involve a bee on the ass?  Is that what girls really want?  Cancer keep the bees off your ass in all the usual ways.  

Leo (7/23 – 8/22):  Every day, Leo, it's breathe breathe breathe.  All day long. Cool or tedius?  COOL! It's what connects us with all the other breathers on the planet.  Be sure to exhale at least as much as you inhale, Leo.

Virgo (8/23 – 9/22):  I have a customer who owes me a bunch of money, and everytime I send him a bill, he replies with a medical and financial dossier on himself and his family.  The brother in law was misdiagnosed, the wife and her surgery, and so on.  I gather it's offered by way of explanation for why he isn't ever going to pay, but each month I look forward to our little exchange.  I almost said womanly little exchange, because sometimes there's stuff about breasts in it, but sheesh, do you see what I mean?  Not paying is NOT WOMANLY.  Woman up this week, Virgo.  

Libra (9/23 – 10/22):  Sometimes I scan the horizon, looking for signs of hope, and it stretches out flat as far as I can see.  Sometimes there are situations and people in our lives that, at the very same time, both create and dash hope.  But maybe, Libra, the fact of the horizon itself is the hope.

Scorpio (10/23 – 11/21):  If I had to pick a super power, I used to always select invisibility.  (I know, that's the creepy one.)  But when I really stop to think about it, the superpower I really want is the ability to swap perspectives with people, get into their heads, see how it feels to be them, see if I can understand things better.  Scopio, you're pretty good at that naturally.  Keep it up!

Sagittarius (11/22 – 12/21): I'm spending a lot of time trying to learn more about bees -- reading books and listening to bee podcasts and so on.  And I've noticed this one thing.  (Well, lots of things, the most obvious being some podcasts are just lame.  But that's not your horoscope.)  It's this other thing about metaphors.  People come up with a metaphor for something, and then act like it's relevant.  Example:  the question I was trying to understand is: when is the best time to add more boxes and frames to the top of the hive?  There are a billion different opinions. So one video I watched showed an experiment with fleas.  When put in a glass jar with a top on it, they jump to hit the top once, and never jump that high again.  When put in a topless glass jar, (I used the word "topless" to get more hits to this blog, btw.) they will jump higher.  This, the video claims, proves that you should add extra hive boxes before they are needed.  Huh?  Different species, different goals, different everything.  Sag, never confuse yourself with a flea circus.  You're so much better than that.  

Capricorn (12/22 – 1/19):  Ever since the little thing that allows me to play my iPod in the car broke, I'd have to say, my quality of life has dropped down a tiny bit, and it's made me think about how lame radio is.  I want to be able to turn on the radio and hear things that interest me, like breakthroughs in poetry and paleontology, and weird coincidences that people have had, and I want someone to explain quantum entanglement in a way that I can apply in my own life, and of course, I want good music that i've never heard before, and I don't want sports to even be mentioned unless there's a seriously relevant human interest angle, and I want the suffering in the world told in broad brush strokes, because I already get it.  I know that people are starving and being murdered and drowning in water and mud and manipulating systems for their own benefit; I can't keep hearing about it in such gruesome detail. Is that really so much to ask, Cap?

Aquarius (1/20 – 2/18):  The bees only live for a few weeks, and they work hard (well, the womanly bees do) every single day until they die.  BUT, they do change jobs.  There's room for advancement, and the highest job of all, the culmination of a bee life, is the field bee.  She gets out of the hive and visits flowers all day every day.  Well, for like, 5 days maybe.  It's such a womanly heirarchy, Aquarius.  Out of the office and into the garden.  Do that this week!  And work on rebranding Womanliness!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Horoscopes: The taco truck edition (corrected)

Pisces (2/19 – 3/20) How about that, Pisces, you're first!  

I went to the new taco truck yesterday, and since I was at my booty call job, I was in The Man's truck.  There are a few men sitting at the picnic table, and one said, "So, you work for the County?"


"Oh.  It's just weird to see your trucks so far off the beaten path.  Usually I just see them on the freeway."

I was kind of happy with this conversation, because for route talk, it was way better than the usual, and I was already sort of amused. The beaten path?  

We did the 'what do you do, what do you do thing, and I learned that he delivers appliances.

"Weird coincidence.  My son has a washer and dryer," I replied.

He turned to his coworker, as if I were invisible, or at least deaf.  "Did she just say her son has a washer and dryer?"


He turned back to me.  "Did you just say your son has a washer and dryer?"

"Yes. He's sort of a man of means.  Or at least the means to wash some clothes."

I could tell he didn't think it was funny at all; quite possibly he thought I was not quite right in the head.  In the gentlest, most pitying way, he said, "You can have lunch with us if you need to."

(Of course I said yes.  You knew that though.)  

Pisces, in the least pitying way ever, you can totally have lunch with me if you need to, or even if you just want to.

Aries (3/21 - 4/19):  I downloaded some new podcasts, and I picked one called, The Why Generation, because truly, isn't "why" the best of the question adverbs?  So I listened to a few, and at first it seemed kind of random.  One about the hosts childhood experience with a pervy stalker, then one about Amanda Knox (sort of local, sort of timely).  And then one about Jon Benet Ramsey.  (Does she ever sleep, you may wonder about me?)  But then I get to one about Ted Bundy, and I realize that this is a true crime thing.  

Aries,  in your opinion, would listening to tales of young women being raped and murdered be a reasonable cure for  insomnia, or even a pleasant way to pass the time?   Your horoscope:  claim the question adverbs as your own.  Use them for curiousity but try not to stray into prying.  

Taurus (4/20 – 5/20):  Meanwhile, back at the taco truck, my buddy looks up at the sky.

"So, what do you think about the contrails?, he asked.

(By the way, I'm quite pleased that already, we're on some weird topic and no one has even taken a bite of a tacos yet.)

"Hmm.  I'm not sure.  How 'bout you?"

"Well, my friends say that the government is seeding the air to help prevent asperger's and alzehimers.  I don't know about that."

"Hmm.  So you think they're just starting with the A problems, and when they have those licked, maybe they'll move on to the B's?"

"Maybe so.  I just wish they wouldn't do it.  I wish I could look up at the sky and think it was pollution."

He was dead serious, Taurus, and that's the kind of earnest joyfulness I wish for you this week.  Get to a place where pollution is the bright side, and mean it.

Gemini (5/21 – 6/21):  I was at a little party the other day, and the bucket list topic came up.  One guy said that he doesn't have a bucket list; as soon as he thinks of something for it, he just does it.

"So, what are some of the things that you've done?" I asked.

"Well, one thing is I learned to fly."

"That's so cool! Can you do a demo for us?  Just fly around the room a little?"

"Oh, I learned to fly an airplane," he clarified.

I can hardly begin to describe my disappointment.  I'm still not over it, in fact.  But Gemini, you people actually can fly.  I've seen it!  Keep it up.

Cancer (6/22 – 7/21):  I was on a walk in the woods behind my house yesterday, and as I've mentioned, it's a weird sketchy vortex and although there are millions of signs of humans, many in the form of shotgun shells and budweiser cans, I hardly ever see any people.  But I was walking up the hill, and it was getting close to dusk, and I heard the very distinctive sound of someone digging a hole.  I stealthily crept a little closer, and could see a guy in the woods, about 100 feet off the trail, digging.  I hid behind a bush for a while, watching, but I was too far away to really see him, or what he was doing 

But I thought it out.  There are two reasons to dig a hole:  excavate, or bury.  What do people excavate?  Valuable minerals, or things they buried in the past (for example, if one were to rob a bank and bury the loot, they might return to exhume it after they break out of jail.)  I'm pretty sure there aren't valuable minerals here.

What they bury is things they revere (like pets), or things they don't want anyone to know about (like murder victims.  I learned about murder victim burying in my all night true-crime podcast extravaganza, in case you're wondering how I know so much.

I sat crouched in the woods for a while with no plan, and then after a bit, got up and walked home, because I couldn't really think of anything else to do.  I'll go back today or tomorrow and maybe dig up whatever it was, and hopefully I won't get implicated in a crime.
Cancer, is "why" your favorite adverb too?  If so, come with me on this expedition!  I may need an alibi or at least a witness.

Leo (7/23 – 8/22):  I asked another person at the party what was on her bucket list, and she said skydiving.  That's the most cliched bucket list item ever, but it also made me realize why I don't have one.  To be on a bucket list, the thing has to be something you could die doing.  It turns out I'm not that interested in doing that stuff.  My bucket list involves dying quietly in my sleep before it's too late. Leo, you can be a hero without a bucket list.  You can even be a hero without a bucket, but get one, because we might need it for crabbing this summer.  

Virgo (8/23 – 9/22):  I was in the field yesterday, and some customer wanted to tag along, which used to be fine but now that I listen to true crime at night, it has the potential to be creepy.  Anyway, we're crashing through the bushes, and he falls down, or maybe he sits down, and says, "OH, my hip, my hip."  [Do you remember that crutches thing that Bundy did?]  And I sit there for a minute with him until he can get up, and he does and we walk back to my car but I'm just thinking what a weird life it is, the kind of thing where one minute, you're talking contrails with a guy at a taco truck, and the next minute, you're sitting in the woods with a stranger with arthritis of the hip, and then, I dunno, one thing to the next.  Is that good?  Is there any continuity, Virgo?

Libra (9/23 – 10/22):  I'm eagerly awaiting this book, which should arrive in the mail any minute now.  If anyone else wants to read it, we can have a tiny little book club.  It's written by a brilliant, hilarious, and remarkable friend, the kind of person who only comes along once in a long while, and her writing is exquisite.  I hope you all buy it.

Scorpio (10/23 – 11/21):  Speaking of digging things up, it did occur to me that maybe that guy in the woods had some sort of vision, like the lady who got a feeling about where Richard III was, and dug up a parking lot to find him.  More than 500 years after he died.  Maybe that's what was going on in the woods, Scorpio?  

Sagittarius (11/22 – 12/21):  R. has asked me to draw a bee that he and his sister M. can get as tattoos.  "Why a bee?"

"Well," he said, "we're hard working, community minded, and make sweetness out of whatever we get handed."

That seems to be absolutely true.  Sag, continue to make the sweetness whereever you go.

Capricorn (12/22 – 1/19):  I was at an art class last week, and the teacher asked, "what makes us women, and different from men?".  I wanted to raise my hand and say, "Oh, OH, I know!  We have vaginas, commit fewer murders, make less money, and report significantly less happiness than men. Can we go make art now?"  But it wasn't that kind of thing, we were supposed to get in touch with the ancestors, and listen to one another's thoughts on womanhood, ponder the women who came before us, and talk about how our needs are really never met because of our caretaking instincts, and it went on and on and on until I wanted to cut off my arm, because I thought that might get us moving along towards the actual painting.  After a while I stopped listening and started thinking about that guy who sawed his arm off with a swiss army knife when he got stuck in a rock.  It all served as a reminder of what an impatient human I am, and why it's a good thing that I don't carry a knife.  (Hey, interesting fact:  the present, which we're all supposed to live in, is three seconds long.)

But one of the people answered the question by saying she got tested and has a really high percent neanderthal, and she feels really kindred with her cave woman ancestry.  That was a rather unexpected answer, so just like that, I was happy again.  I didn't want to tell her that we're pretty sure the Neanderthal didn't make art, but I did seek her out to learn what her percentage was, and she had no idea.  Couldn't remember.  Grr.  Cap, find your percentage.  Bonus points if NH#>LH#, whatever that means.

Aquarius (1/20 – 2/18):  Speaking of caves (were we?) I just learned that 30 million people in China currently live in caves.  So there's a much higher cave man population today than there was during the stone age.  Anyway, Aquarius, step out of the metaphorical cave and into the springtime!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Mittens and Mortality

I heard something on Wiretap about a website that tries to reconnect people with their lost mittens.  It was a sweet and quirky piece on loss, about how a mitten is sometimes one of the first losses we suffer that no one but us really cares about. Parents don’t post signs all over the city, trying to find your mitten.  If you’re lucky, you get new mittens, but the new mittens aren’t as good as the ones you had.  It might also be one of the first times we notice that the value in some things is because it’s a pair.  Half becomes useless. 

There’s also something tender about mittens themselves.  They convert our dexterous hands into little warm paws that you can hide things in, like a dime to call your mom if you need to.

About 25 years ago, I bought a book on knitting mittens.  Pretty standard: a dozen patterns with pictures and instructions.  For some reason, maybe because I was on a long car trip across the country with little to read, I read the introduction, and it got me really choked up.  It was one of those things, like Pirate Radio, that always gets me, because it's about trying to bring your better self into the world.  It said something about how it doesn’t matter if you pick patterns from this book or a different one, but find a mitten pattern, memorize it, make it your own.  Knit mittens for everyone you love, and when the mittens get lost, knit them a better pair.  And when the person seems a little lost lost, knit them a pair even if they don't need it, because actually, they do.  Because life is about losing and carrying on with dignity and with luck, two mittens.  It’s about people noticing and caring for one another, and offering what they can, even if consolation is in the form of two tiny woolen paws.  

I just went to find that book and couldn’t.  I looked with my other knitting books, and also with my writing books, but poof.  Maybe I gave it away.  Would I do that?  Yes.  Because I haven’t made two of anything in a long, long time.  Hats.  That’s all.  Two heads are not better than one.  If people had two heads, there would be nothing left for a person like me to knit.

I’ve been having the same dream over and over lately, not like MLK’s dream or anything.  In my dream I realize I have to leave, go away from my loved ones to a far away place, and I can’t take anything with me, and I have no work or housing or anything in the new place, but there’s nothing I can do about it.   BC says it probably means I have some undetected disease that only my subconscious knows about.  Don’t we all.  Mortality, that’s the disease. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Horoscope in Pictures

These are a few pics from the desert.  I don't have a real camera, just an iPhone, and it was so bright that I couldn't really see, I'd just aim the phone and hope it captured some of it.  I guess the way I'm living the rest of my life.  Can't really see, just hope I get some of it right. Thanks for bearing with me.  Route talk.

Aries (3/21 – 4/19):  

A gorgeous house made out of bottles in 1906 by an old (drunk?)
man in the ghost town of Rhyolite, NV.  Aries, begin gathering bottles.

Taurus (4/20 – 5/20):  
Does this seem like your life?  Kind of gorgeous, but sort of missing a
piece, but quite possibly, that's where the beauty lies, Taurus?

Gemini (5/21 – 6/21)
Gemini, I think you can fly!!  (Be careful.  Maybe I don't know what I'm talking about.)

Cancer (6/22 – 7/21) 

Cancer, sometimes everything is just a little off.  Like, maybe,
instead of skin, you've got a blanket-like plaster covering?  Or worse, you don't, and
everyone else does.  See if you can peel off blankets just a little bit.
 Oh, and pump the tires.  (The sky really was that color.  I think.)

Leo (7/23 – 8/22):  
Sometimes life is a weird mix of dusty artifacts, bones,
dead things, and hope.  Leo, focus on the hope.

Virgo (8/23 – 9/22):  
Be careful.  Weird stuff is happening on the planet.  Secrets, mysteries, and areas that we know
nothing about.  51 is just the beginning.  Area 52 is the pink building to the right, a brothel.
Not to digress from all the hopey changey horoscopish stuff,
but one of the saddest things about Nevada is all of the sorry looking brothels.   I just picture
women sitting in these trailers in the desert with big signs, like "BAD SUE BROTHEL", waiting
for someone to come pay to have sex with them.  Ugh.  Lose lose.  

Libra (9/23 – 10/22):   
The last supper, Albert Szukalski.   You will not have your last supper
this week, Libra.  But slow down and enjoy, as if it were.
(Sheesh, I've gotten preachy.)

Scorpio (10/23 – 11/21): 
I couldn't resist.  One of my pollinator drawings.
They look better all reduced like this.  In real?  Pretty wonky.

Sagittarius (11/22 – 12/21):  
Sag, enjoy the week.  Nap and be merry.

Capricorn (12/22 – 1/19)
Sometimes things are so beautiful and mysterious you can't really
tell if you're on this planet or another.  And so it is, Cap.

Aquarius (1/20 – 2/18):  
M. hiding in a cave out of the sun in some weird formations near Beatty.
Don't hide out in a cave, Aquarius!  Hang out more with the humans, especially me!

Pisces (2/19 – 3/20) 

Little Ubuhebe Crater. Is that the coolest name ever?
Pisces, everything's looking up.  Crater already happened.

Friday, March 14, 2014

What happens in Vegas....

Aries (3/21 – 4/19):  My little M. and I are perhaps the last people on earth who haven't been to Las Vegas, so it's probably weird to write about it, like, um, yeah, we knew that, we've all been there.  Like a post about Christmas.  "And then people SHOP.  A lot!  And bring a tree inside!!"  But I had no idea.  I can't even find words.  All I keep thinking is, my sister must never come here; she would be so over-stimulated she would be throwing up within minutes.  

M. and I were wishing R. were here because he'd totally know what to do with this place, and he'd make us laugh, not that we aren't, but it would be funnier with someone who wasn't quite so busy taming the voices that say, FLIGHT FLIGHT FLIGHT."  Aries, quiet those screaming flight voices in your world this week.  Yours or someone elses.

Taurus (4/20 – 5/20):  Speaking of flight... on the plane yesterday, I was trying to do a complicated knitting thing because I could.  Knitting is super boring unless you're either 100% distracted or the project is complicated enough to take all your focus.  But still, as far as string tricks go, it's a good one:  fuss with a ball of string and poof, a hat!  So I have this complicated thing I'm trying to do and it's all P1 K3 YO K2B PS3B, blah blah blah, and it repeats every 10 rows, and I keep mucking it up and when I do, I have to start at the VERY beginning just to figure out where I am.  Oh, I'm at the beginning, I tell myself.  (In so many ways, but that's not the point here.)  

So I'm trying to create a cool leafy habitat out of string, and count and focus.  But at random unpredictable intervals, the woman next to me asks a boring question, basically, route talk.
Me: (in my head: K1, KSP1, YO - wait, is that the row I'm on?)
Her:  So, what are you going to do in Vegas?
Me:  Oh, just a quick vacation. You?
Her:  Same.  Coming from Juneau.
Silence. so I go back to it, Sl1, P2B, K2,P2tog, etc.
Her:  How's the weather been in Seattle this year?

I won't bore you by typing it out the 16 times it happened, but eventually, I decided sheesh, stop knitting and listen to this woman!  DUH.  Because if we're going to die in a plane crash in a few minutes, why not at least get to know one another first?  That's what I always say.  

So I put my knitting away and tried to talk and it was the strangest thing, we still just had this one sentence deep, totally boring conversation, and I was totally giving it my all.  I mean, I was asking questions, trying to think of interesting stuff, and it was pretty much like, "Yup, penny slots."

Taurus?  Don't try to do anything too complicated this week.  It just won't work out.  

Gemini (5/21 – 6/21): At the car rental place, the guy behind the desk was all, "So, first time in Vegas?"  Which didn't bother me at all, in fact, I'm kind of sad in a way that I've lost my Vegas Virginity.  (What, tevas and socks isn't a look you see here much?, I wanted to ask.) But then he said, "So, you're here for the slots, aren't you?”  And proceeds to give us tips on how we shouldn’t drop more than $50, but if we’re gambling we’ll get drinks for free, like Zombies and Margaritas, so even if we don’t win, we’ll come out ahead. 

Sheesh.  I don’t know if I was more insulted by the slots or the girly drinks.  Really, I wanted to say, if we were here for gambling, which we’re not, it would absolutely NOT be just dropping coins in a slot.  We’d be doing something complicated, maybe counting cards, maybe a heist. Oceans 100.  “Perhaps,” I wanted to say, “my adorable daughter and I are renting this big-ass shiny red SUV because we are up to no good.”  Why don't people suspect that?  Gemini, pie day.  Enjoy.

Cancer (6/22 – 7/21)  So also on the plane, in the seat directly in front of me, is some seahawks guy, which is like a religion in Seattle, and his shirt, instead of saying 12 was like, 11.  And everyone was fawning over him and his name meant absolutely nothing to me, but we get off the plane after that terrible part where you think it's all over and you all stand up and wait for like another 3 hours while everyone gets their stuff from the overhead bins.  Right?  WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH THAT?  But anyway, when we're all finally off, he stops and does like, I dunno, a dozen or maybe a hundred pushups while people watch.  Except me.  I was NOT watching.  Gemini, your week will be filled with metaphorical pushups.  Do a few real ones just to remember that we're all here right now, it's not so terrible.  (Well, it sort of is, but sheesh, we can still do pushups!)

Leo (7/23 – 8/22):  So we stop at this grocery store, and sort of forget where we are, because it feels like any discount grocery store anywhere.  In fact, it feels strangely like Monroe, WA. I glance at the bananas as we’re selecting other produce, but I don’t make a move towards them, because I know, though we’ve never talked about it, that it would go against M’s moral code to eat food that’s so not local or sustainable and I don’t want to be the one who leads her astray.  But she notices my look, and walks over and grabs 2 bananas, and says, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”  
I know, car rental guy.  We are not who you think.  Leo, step out a little bit this week.  Have a banana.

Virgo (8/23 – 9/22):  Driving down the strip, I thought I might actually have a seizure, there were so many flashing lights, and I also constantly thought I was under arrest, because flashing lights from behind, isn’t that what it means?  To the point where I think M. thought I maybe have some weird criminal history.  But we both tried to get in the spirit, and watch giant tv screens that are placed on the sides of huge flashing skyscapers, and look at the nude-ish women.  And we were following a red convertible with the top down, and the woman pasenger kept holding her phone out and taking selfies, and I thought, oh sweetie, your arm isn't long enough to explain this whole situation in a picture.  But she was also taking pics of the other side of the camera, and it just made me kind of sad, like, someone taking a picture of the Milky Way with an iPhone, and coming home with a picture of three stars.  It was so mystifying.  But your week, Virgo, will be mystifying in just the right way!  Enjoy it.

Libra (9/23 – 10/22):     We eventually made it to our room, which, though I like to think we’re not naïve, they do make it complicated.  Like, if your room was the twelfth room on the fifth floor, for example, I would call that “812”.  But here, they distribute zeros randomly, making it 08012, so it’s more like a zip code.  We get on the elevator that serves our range of floors, and press 8 because it’s our floor, and happens to be the top floor in the range.  And one guy on the elevator says, “oh, thank god.  I was on here earlier, and people kept getting on pushing like, 3, and 5.”  And another guy says, “I hear ya, man.”

And I’m thinking, really?  This is a problem?  A 2 second stop at a floor that’s not your own?  Where could you possibly be going in such a hurry?

Scorpio (10/23 – 11/21): We get to our room and I see that look in M's eyes, like, “May we never have to go out there again.”  But I prod us to go down and have a drink, just to experience the full thing, and it’s vast, looking up at the starry night and you’re just one tiny person.  Which, when it's the sky is strangely comforting.  Look, I can only do what I can do, try to understand, try to do the right thing, but obviously, I'm tiny, and how could I?  But I probably can't mess up too badly either.  That's what the sky is like.

This is like slot machines, and it looks like we have messed up, and badly, and all the water that should be going to Mexico is going here, and the jobs that follow the water are custodial.  

We each order whisky, M. rocks, me neat, and they give her like a whole bucket full of ice instead of the three she prefers, and it costs about a thousand dollars, and I feel bad because she’s bought this drink for me, and by the way, she tips generously.  Of course she does.  And we sit in the lobby and sip our whisky I think how lucky I am to have this kindred little person with me in the big vast world.

Sagittarius (11/22 – 12/21):  Did I mention about the smells here?  Our rental car has this distinct odor of axe body spray and weed.  I spent a while trying to figure out if those smells overlap in the real world, and I don't think so.  Do you, Sag?  Wish you were here.

Capricorn (12/22 – 1/19): Every so often you have a person in your life who's so unique, the connection seems so rare and important that you wonder what its about, and if it's in your head or in the world.  It's confusing but you try to enjoy it while you can.  And life goes on, the truth has it's own life to live, erodes its own path, and the humans have very little ability to control that.  

Did you ever see that little spot in the alley where the water drips, right across from the gum wall; it's a very tiny drip.  I haven't actually timed it (sheesh, who would do that!), but I'm guessing maybe one drop per 12 seconds, possibly 14.5.  Some days when I walk by, I don't actually see a drop.  But it's made a pretty big dent in the concrete.  Have a good week, Cap.

Aquarius (1/20 – 2/18):  So E-bro gave me this really cool blue trackball that looks like a very small crystal ball, and I was so planning to bring it with me and maybe tell fortunes.  But alas, I forgot.  And, what looked so shiny and magical in Duvall, well, I don't even think it would be visible here.  Aquarius, be visible, but not in a shiny way.  In your usual magical mystical way.

Pisces (2/19 – 3/20) To the desert today.  Thank goodness.  (What does that mean, anyway? Thank goodness?  Really?)  Speaking of language, is it the lamest thing ever that "za" has become acceptible shorthand for pizza?  GRRR.   Again, my dear Pisces, you've been short changed, but I will totally make up for it soon.  Because we're on our way to Area 51.  Oh, and that woman next to me?  Bud light with a shot of crown royal in it.  Right?  But she just ordered it, "Bud and crown" and the flight attendant couldn't hear, or maybe, like me, she couldn't believe it.  But let's not think about her anymore, on her 7 day vacation here to do the penny slots.  By herself. 

And today, the desert.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Ice Fishing in America

On-line dating, it turns out, is not unlike ice fishing.

Ice fishing: Bundle up, venture into the biting cold in a location that may have fish. Act like it’s not terrible.

Internet dating: Dress up. Go out alone to meet a stranger. Act like it’s not terrible.

 Ice fishing: drill a hole through several inches of ice, accidentally drop a mitten into bitter cold water, hope to catch a fish. Pretend this is a super fun lark, and you’re getting a huge kick out of it.

Internet dating: Conversationally drill through layers of protection and scar tissue; hope to connect with another human being. Pretend this is a super fun lark, and you’re getting a huge kick out of it.

Ice fishing: Hold the metal drill with a bare wet hand in wind chill that makes you wonder how much of your skin will remain with the drill.

Internet dating: (I won’t carry the metaphor here, that of holding a cold drill with a bare hand.)

Ice fishing: After the line is in the water, go into a cozy hut with good friends, drink beer, and tell stories about the weird thing that got snagged on your line.

Internet dating: After the date, gather with friends over a drink and trade stories about your weird experiences. This is that moment. 

Here’s a date I went on. He arrived late, really late, allowing me wonder if I was in the correct location, if I’d been stood up, how long I should wait, and whether I should start out this potential new relationship by calling him on his tardiness. But he eventually arrived and I swallowed my irritation, although I resented that my timeliness gave him the advantage -- I was the eager one, the one who’d gotten there first, the one who had approached seven strangers, hoping each was him, and had to face the brush off every time, and then stand there with those same men who were waiting for wives and girlfriends, but now I’d been revealed as the woman on a blind date who was probably being stood up. He was the one who breezed in late.

We walked together to the hostess. “How many?” she asked us. “Twelve. I mean two,” my date replied. I assumed he was trying to be funny, and chuckled to be polite.

 The hostess directed us to a different hostess for outdoor seating, so we approached her.

 “How many?” she asked.

 “Twelve. I mean two,” my date said again.

 It definitely wasn’t funny the second time, but I tried not to hold it against him. Now there were two things I was trying not to burden our relationship with: his lame sense of humor, and his tardiness. I felt guilty that we hadn’t even talked yet, and it was already like that tired old marriage with built up, unspoken resentments. I reminded myself that most of us aren’t very witty on a first date, that lateness happens.   As we sat down, I wondered what he could be thinking about my nervousness, quiet manner, and the massive sweat stains under my armpits from the half hour of anxiety I felt while waiting for him. He’s bound to be disappointed too. Forgive, I told myself. Show up. Be generous.

 We sat down across from each other, and he stared at my hair.

“Wow,” he said, “you’re my kryptonite. I’m speechless. I can’t tell if it’s red or blond.”

 I chuckled, in an effort to lighten things up while he stared at my hair, muttering “kryptonite. Total kryptonite.”

The space where a conversation belonged became filled with uncomfortable silence. His comment might suggest that my hair is an amazing color, or that we’re both twelve, or that it’s a meaningful factor in a relationship, hair color. But it’s dishwater blond heading towards gray, and we’re 50.  I wondered if he used the kryptonite line a lot, and if it worked.

“How’s your summer been?” I asked.


 “Have you done anything fun?”


“Anything you want to talk about?”

“Went to the Mensa Gathering.”

“Oh, what was that like?”

“Interesting.” I felt like I had drilled, with great effort, through a thick block of ice and had gotten to something I was genuinely curious about. The Mensa Gathering. Here was a man who allies himself enough with his intelligence that his summer vacation was designed around a club that’s only criteria is that you have a high IQ. I was curious, but he offered nothing.

Although I was weary of the surgery required to extract a conversation, I was on a mission now. You don’t go ice fishing because it’s fun or comfortable. You go because you’re from hardy stock.

“What were some of the interesting talks you went to?” I persisted.

“Well, the one I didn’t go to but wished I did was about sex toys. All the women who attended got vibrators -- small purse-sized units with 5 speeds.”

 I tried to imagine a vibrator that couldn’t fit into a purse, but was brought back to the present as he illustrated the five speeds with sound effects and hand motions.

“Vroom, vroom, vroom,” he said very slowly while he curled the fingers of his flattened hand toward his palm, in creepy slow motion, over and over, as if he were gathering something. He demonstrated the five different speeds by increasing the rhythmic hand motion while rocking back and forth. I wanted to look away. I wanted to yell out, “Please, put your hand away. Stop.”

 But I didn’t, partly because I was shocked. But, let’s face it, also curious. Where could he possibly go with this conversation? Is there really a person who thinks this is a good topic for a first date? 

The waitress arrived and he ordered for both of us without consulting me. “We’ll each have an IPA, and we’ll share an order of nachos with chicken.” I repeated my mantra. Forgive. Be generous. He’s doing the best he can.  But the pile was getting bigger: lateness, lame jokes, vibrator talk, and now chicken, which absolutely doesn’t belong on nachos. I comforted myself with the thought that at least, if he were taking charge of the ordering, he would pay. That hope evaporated like the icy mitten falling into the lake when he later announced that he’d forgotten his wallet.

 “The vibrator,” he continued, “looked just like a mag light.” “It wouldn’t arouse attention if someone saw it in your purse.” He laughed, and I wasn’t sure if his laughter was related to his use of the word, “arouse”, nervousness, or if he was suddenly reminded of a funny experience he’d had looking through a woman’s purse.

  Ice fishing: It yields few fish.

  Internet dating: Ditto.

 One of my favorite dates was with the sausage maker. On the day of our date he wrote and said, “I’ll be bringing you some sausage tonight.” I told this to a friend, who commented, “Ha! Are you sure he means actual sausage?” The sausage maker spent the first 45 minutes of our outing clarifying that this wasn’t really a date, just a meet-up, something I’ve found to be common – a reluctance to name anything as a date. He seemed inordinately confused by the menu; it took him quite a while to understand that you could select three out of the five options for the appetizer platter.

 I was relieved, at first, when he stopped talking about how we weren’t on a date and started talking about sausage.  It turns out that my attention span for sausage-making is significantly shorter than the 60 minutes of our “this-is-not-a-date” that he spent on it. He talked about the recipe, the process, and so on, hardly pausing for a breath.

After a while, I was bored enough to stop ignoring my friend's barrage of text messages: “Did he give you his sausage yet?” “Why aren’t you answering me? Too busy with the sausage?” “Sheesh, are you actually eating sausage on a first date?” But as we parted, he said, “You know, I was told that this would be really harsh, that women I meet online would be hard on me, judgmental, but you were really nice. So thank you. This was my first outing since my girlfriend died a year ago.” And I felt terrible about the texts, that I had been privately laughing at his expense. I was the mean girl he’d been warned about.

 I went on a billion first dates, and found some common threads: men were usually quite late, often disheveled– not that I’m big fan of the GQ look either, but a number of times I wondered, wow, what happened to you? All that mud on your pants… Or other creepy things, like blatantly checking out 16-year old girls, or the guy who told me, within a few minutes of meeting, that he wishes he’d had more sex with his wife while he was married and “could have at her anytime.”

Another man told me his beloved wife had died and he was finally ready to move on and settle down with someone else, which appealed to me until I learned that his wife, the mother of his four-year-old twins, had died exactly 30 days before our date, which he spent talking about how easy it is to have sex with the women he meets online.

 Another man, who, after we agreed to meet at the pig at the Pike Place Market, told me I’d be able to recognize him because he’d be holding a red balloon. I couldn’t understand why we’d need a red balloon to find each other in an area that’s the size of an actual pig. I wondered how it would work – would he carry the balloon with us on our date? Give it to me? If we entered a restaurant, would he tie it to the chair, or hold it?

 One man I met started the conversation with, “I hope you don’t mind that I’m wearing six shirts. I couldn’t decide which one to wear, so I wore them all.” And indeed, stacked near his neck, were the collars of six different, not particularly color coordinated, button-down shirts. Like so many people I met, I couldn’t decide if he was charming or nuts. I later settled on creepy when I learned that one of his hobbies was attending rape trials. A rape trial enthusiast.

 For a long time I was mystified by all of this. Is this truly your best foot forward, I wondered, after each of these encounters? But I eventually came to realize something else. Single people at this age are beleaguered, lonely, discouraged. This most basic human instinct and need, to love and be loved, has eluded us, separating us from the rest of the species. Maybe this behavior, of showing their worst card first, is a strategy built on a foundation of disappointment. Hope has been dashed so many times that they don’t want to even pretend it has a solid launching place. “Look,” these men seem to be saying, “I’m chronically late, I’m unkempt, and all I have to talk about is sex. I’m basically pretty weird. Are you still interested? Because this is what it will come down to eventually. If you’re not up for it, let’s not even get started.

 You know that game you play the first time you’re hopelessly head over heels in love, but still deeply insecure, the game of, “would you love me if I lost a leg? How about two legs? How about two legs and a hand? How about two legs, a hand, a disfiguring facial scar, and I get really mean?” Etc. It’s like that, but minus the part where you’re hopelessly in love. Just random people wandering around, saying, “look, could you love me like this?”

Dating requires that we’re vulnerable and forgiving, that we show up, put our whole selves out there in the face of rejection after rejection, with people sizing us up, over and over, and saying, no, I could never love you. And still, we wear our six shirts and carry our red balloon if that’s who we are, and doggedly hope to find our person, the one who thinks its charming not tiresome that we speak of vibrators and sausage. We hope to find the one who can see through all that to something tender and worthy of love in spite of our abundant and obvious flaws.

 Maybe there’s more honesty in their approach than I bring on a date, even though I claim to value authenticity and strive for it. I try to dress up a little and be interesting. I try to be normal, when it might be more truthful for me to say, look, this is it. I’m quirky. I nap a lot. I’m messy, and I have a million incomplete projects and the attention span of a gnat. I need tons of time alone and I use some of it to do math problems. I take the water temperature before I pour it over the coffee grounds nearly every day, for no apparent reason. I have an imaginary pet rabbit named Geoffrey, and its spelled with a G. I wear clothes from a dumpster. I probably drink too much, and I don’t do the dishes after dinner. Sometimes I leave food out overnight and eat it the next day anyway. Penpal might be my highest and best use on the planet, because I usually write back. I’m better on paper than in real. I take a pottery class and never touch the clay; instead, I sit on the sidelines and draw bugs.  I’ve never been to Las Vegas or the Space Needle and I don’t know the first thing about actors and actresses or tv or sports. I wouldn’t recognize Tom Hanks if he walked into the room. In fact, I hardly recognize anyone. We could sleep together for six months, and two years later, I wouldn’t know you if I saw you in the store. I’d clean my house the first few times you came over, but eventually, there would be clothes on the floor, dirty dishes, clutter. I’m demanding in some weird ways that you won’t notice at first, but at some point, you’ll find me tiring, because I have to get to the bottom of everything. I expect emotional courage and fully showing up 100 percent of the time. I get disappointed easily, I’m painfully direct, and I’d break up with you if you said Happy Monday in a non-ironic way, or if I think you’ve underestimated me. If I get a whiff of you being insincere, I’ll be gone in a flash, even if it’s the best you can do. I’ll try to communicate when you just want to hide. I’ll probably get fat and bitter, and eventually see everything as half empty, and you’ll find me depressing and cynical. We’ll have a fight and you’ll hide behind flowers and chocolate and I’ll hate you for it, because I’ll want your words, and you’ll hate me back for not taking the damn flowers and moving on.

 But I’m here because I imagine I have something to offer, and if you could bear with me through all of that, it might turn out good. Contrary to what you’d guess from the life I’m living, which we’ll call “100 Years of Solitude” I love people, and I can be unbearably loyal and forgiving, and, to those I care about, their biggest fan ever. I’ll try to figure you out, and you might find that intrusive but I’ll mean it, I’ll want to understand you, what you care about, what makes you tick, where it hurts, and why. I’ll try to be gentle and generous with you, and I’ll encourage you to do your best all the time, even though you might experience that as nagging and wish I’d leave you alone. But I’ll believe in you, maybe more than you believe in yourself, and I’ll be right.

 The best thing about ice fishing, as I’ve said, is hanging out inside the cozy hut with your friends, thinking optimistic thoughts about what might be on the line, and what a great fisherperson you might be.  Thanks for being in the hut with me.

Monday, February 24, 2014

We're still at war, right? With unknown terrorists?

I believe this is my favorite movie.