Boo

There are probably a million reasons why Halloween has started to suck hard over the past decade.  But suck it does…

i still dress up, play, and use the holiday as an excuse to fart around with reckless abandon.  It’s not as though i really need an excuse, mind you.  The degree of commercialized contrivance has simply trumped everything i used to love about it.

Starting with Beggar’s Night.  That’s when children are encouraged to dress up, wander their own neighborhoods collecting treats in the dark!  My memories of Beggar’s Night are at the top of my childhood “Top Ten”. 

We would plan our costumes for a month.  Even as children, we weren’t big fans of the store-bought variety – with the hard plastic masks that were not only uncomfortable, but impossible to see through.  In hindsight, we never came up with any particularly brilliant costumes, but it didn’t matter.  They were ours.

The “Route Planning” would start about a week before the big event.  We would be turned loose for two entire hours – after dark – and were limited by time and suburban geography as to how much turf we could cover.  We’d draw maps of the neighborhood, identifying the shortest routes to cover maximum territory.  The goal?  Fill at least half a pillow case with loot.

With warnings from the parental units not to eat anything until it had been brought home and inspected for razor blades, tampering and whatnot, we generally ignored that shit, and ate the stuff we knew would be confiscated while we were on the road.  Forty years ago, there were still sweet old broads who would make popcorn balls and caramel apples for trick-or-treaters! 

We were daredevils.   If Granny wanted to poison us, we’d take our chances!

Halloween sleep overs?  The best!  Listing to scary records, haunting the laundry room, and telling ghost stories until we were all shitting our collective shorts.  One year, in the throes of the seasonal frenzy, we made a rather serious decorating faux pas which had lasting impact on a local family basement.  We ran out of scotch tape to hang the ghost and goblin drawings, and we thought it a brilliant plan to use Elmer’s Glue instead.  The parents were pissed, but patient, as it took us a couple of weeks to finish scrubbing all that crap off the walls.

Now?  Whether it’s “Fear of Child Abduction” or “Fear of Stranger Poison” or “Fear of The Devil” or “Fear of Things We Can’t Control”, we’ve sucked that joy from our kids.  Churches hold “Trunk or Treat” – good God People decorate trunks of automobiles and hand out candy to children in the church parking lot.  Whooptie Fucking Doo.

Oh, and there are Harvest Festivals!  More neo-religious influence trying to squash the pagan spirits and keep our babies out of hell.  No ghosties and goblins or devils or witches!  Pumpkins and inflatable bouncy castles and handing out pencils with bible sayings on them at the MegaChurch…  Again, Whooptie Fucking Doo.

In my neighborhood, here in God’s Waiting Room, there are no trick or treaters.  Zero.  There are maybe two or three kids who live here in the suitable age range, but if i were them, i wouldn’t want to knock on the doors here either.  If you’re lucky, you might score a Metamucil biscuit or some grapes…

Adults have further jacked up Halloween.  Costume shops make it easy to just buy “persona du jour” off the rack.  For us gals, it’s an excuse to be skanky*.  For the gents?  Seems to be a lot of cross-dressing.  Any fantasy will do, and if you don’t have one?  The racks at the Halloween Megastore can help you find one.

Nothing is as much fun as it was when we were kids.  At least that’s how it seems.  Probably because i’m now a crabby old fart.  Makes me wonder, though, if the current generation will look back on their childhoods with the same sweet memories.

* Again, i don’t need an excuse.  For the charity party i went to last night, my daughter had the good sense to stop me as i headed out and say “Jesus, Mom!  Is that all you’re wearing?  Can you cover those up a bit?” before loaning me a tube top to add a strategic layer to my costume…

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When I Grow Up…

From the Trailer Park this week…

My niece, DQ, and her husband, BJ, decided that a weekend of rest and relaxation was in order.  They arranged for one of DQs cousins to stay at the house, to keep an eye on the 3-year-old, DQ, III and Mom. 

They packed up the 15-year-old, DQ Jr, and one of her friends, along with the gnarly off-road 4×4, and headed to the hills of Tennessee for a couple of days.

Never one to go “off-grid” for long, DQ provided a fairly continuous stream of Facebook updates over the course of two days.  From her “I’m freezing!” tweets, to the rants about their brand new 4×4 when the transmission crapped out, she was broadcasting for all to see. 

Including a very difficult to read “TMI Collection” about great sex with BJ when they found some time alone at the hotel.

One cringe-inducing post after another.  Watching a UFC fight at the Hooters.  BJ puking his guts out after the visit to Hooters.  Photos of the teenage girls shooting automatic weapons at the gun range. 

The crowning glory, however, was the photo she posted when they finally made it home.  Apparently there was a bit of souvenir shopping for the littlest member of the trailer park.  From the Hooters gift shop…

Just in case you can’t read the shirt, it says “Future Hooters Girl”.  Awww…

Why i don’t work on committees

Part A: Committees with Women

A friend of mine, KT,  is a member of an engaged group of women living with* breast cancer.  The group does education, outreach, holistic health, nutrition and lifestyle support.  They have one big fundraiser every year, and it is a themed fashion show.  This year, the theme is “Broadway: The Show Must Go On!”

As KT was working with the planning committee, and they ran into trouble thinking of how they could fill a large space with Broadway-related props and decorations.  She remembered my connection to local community theater, and asked if i could assist the decorating committee.

Since it was KT, a woman who humbles me on a daily basis through her strength, compassion and ability to live well, i had to say “Yes”.  i’d take a bullet for her, so working with theater people again shouldn’t pose too large of a problem, right?

Managed to make a few theatrical connections, and get leads on some items that might be useful, and i contacted the three women on the decoration committee.  We arranged to meet up at the facility where the fashion show would be held, so i could get a better idea of the size and layout of the venue.

They were lovely women, and we wasted minimal time getting down to business.  Yes, the size of the venue was going to be a challenge, but they already had an idea of what they wanted, and we were able to quickly agree on the next steps.

From there?  A slight disagreement among committee members regarding the color of the programs.  You see, the color logo would be clashing with the colors of the chosen table decorations, and since the program would be on the table, it was ALSO doing double duty as a table decoration. 

Oh, and there was more discussion regarding the “party favors” – the take home item from the luncheon.  One of the members was lobbying hard for a monogrammed martini glass, which could be used to serve dessert, and the other two were worried about the cost, and were arguing hard for the logo on a refrigerator magnet.  They tried to draw me into the discussion, but i knew better…

Bottom line:  Committees with women get bogged down in the most minute details.  In the end, these things never really matter, but many hours are wasted in endless back-and-forth discussions that are one freakin’ annoying ‘road to nowhere’.

Part B:  Committees with Men

Going away party at work for the beloved, and departing, Division Chief.  His five subordinate Branch Chiefs stepped up to work logistics, agreeing to foot the bill for the Division going away gift, and each one would pay for some aspect of the party.  A rational way to do things, much better than the ol’ “Let’s pass the envelope around the office to collect for a gift for the boss” routine.

i agreed to work with my boss to handle our Branch going away gift (a gag gift and a nice bottle of single malt scotch).  She had included me on the party planning e-mail thread as a result.  The “committee” then consisted of 6 men and 2 women, all enginerds.

JT (my branch chief, the chick):  I got the quote on the Division gift – should be able to do it for what we estimated.  How are logistics coming?

Branch Chief A:  I’m planning to get two cases of regular beer (bottles).  Some Budweiser / Bud Light.  Also, going to pick up some additional six packs of “specialty” brews.

Branch Chief B:  What sort of “specialty”?  Something more special than Sam Adams, please!

Branch Chief C:  Are you getting soda, too?  Not everyone is going to want beer.

Branch Chief B:  Should I bring some chips or something?

JT:  Hey, B!  You and C signed up to bring food.  You haven’t even thought about it yet?

Branch Chief C:  Got it covered.  Ten bags of Cheetos.  No napkins.

Branch Chief B:  Oh, yeah.  Forgot about that.  Weren’t we supposed to do something about a cake, too?

Branch Chief A:  Blue Moon, Leinenkugel Oktoberfest, Guinness and some sort of IPA – haven’t decided which one yet.

Branch Chief C:  Do you want me to bring some of my homebrew?  It’s not the best I’ve made, but it’s passable.

JT:  B and C, you were supposed to cover food, including a cake.  I’ll bring some wings, a veggie tray and maybe a cheese plate.

Bottom line:  Committees with men get bogged down worrying about the beer.  Nothing else will get done unless there are women on the committee.

* “Living with…” as opposed to “Dying from…”.  They all have advanced cancer, and for most it’s a question of “When” not “If” they will die from it…

Ghost in the Graveyard

My condo is located in a small development adjacent to a cemetery. Not only does this feed The Boy’s notion that the development should be called “God’s Waiting Room” – due to the geriatric nature of many of my neighbors – but i am often witness to funerary rituals that leave me saying ‘what the fuck?’

Last weekend, i got a “new neighbor” on Saturday – seeing the gravediggers do their business on my way out to the market, and later seeing them prepare for a graveside service as i went out for a ride on the motorcycle.

As i was coming home at lunch today, i caught a glimpse of some modifications to the mound of flowers on the newest gravesite. Worth a closer look…

Autumn is in the air, and it seems a pumpkin appeared…

Well, lookit that?  A ghost in the graveyard!

Awww… not just a ghost, but a ghost that’s been impaled through the eye with a pumpkin stem!  A nice fuzzy spider and a rubber bat to complete the tableau!

Oh, but wait, we’re not done until there are rubber cockroaches and a nice black rubber skeleton in place!

Ok.  i know there’s no prescribed method for grieving.  But i couldn’t help but imagine the discussion that started with Mom greeting the kids after school:

Momma:  Hey, kids!  It’s nice outside today!  Do you wanna go decorate Grampa’s grave?

Little Margie:  Wow, Momma!  That’ll be swell!

Billy, Jr.:  Can we decorate for halloween?  Make it spooky?

Little Margie:  We promise that no matter how gruesome this is if you really think about it, we won’t wake up screaming in the middle of the night thinking that Zombie Grampa is coming to get us!

i dunno.  Maybe it didn’t play out that way.  But i sort of like these people.  Especially because they took a sharpie and had everyone sign the pumpkin – including the inscription “We don’t die, we multiply!”

Squattin’ in the rice paddy…

Monday morning staff meeting.  It’s merciful, in a way, given that most of us are groggy and not feeling up to mindless chatter – the meeting goes far more quickly than when these meetings were held in the afternoon.
 
After all of the big news items are covered, we do “Around the Room – an opportunity for each Supervisor and Tech Advisor to share up-coming events, news, personnel changes.  Anything that may be of general interest to the other assembled management-like-objects.
 
This week, as we got to TN (supervisor in a different branch) he said “Emily was in labor this morning – if things go well, she’s planning on being here late next week to give her poster presentation at The Big Review…”
 
Emily, despite being very pregnant with her second child, worked hard on a technical poster for an upcoming review with senior management.  Given that she was expected to shell out around the time of The Big Review, she worked ‘tag team’ with another scientist as back up – in case she was unavailable due to childbirth.
 
i was inadequately caffeinated to have working filters, so the words came out of my mouth while the rest of the group shook their heads in amazement at her ‘pluck’…
 
daisyfae:  Awwww…. That’s adorable!  i remember when i was young and still gave a shit…
 
TN:  It’s her choice!  i’ve told her it’s up to her…
 
daisyfae: Tell her to forget this whole “squatting in the rice paddy” thing.  Stay home and take the morphine….

pic found here

62 Miles

That’s roughly what i’ve ridden on the old Honda motorcycle i brought home last week.  At the moment, i remember every single one of those 62 miles.

Adrenaline.  That’s why.  A good dose of being absolutely scared shitless does wonders for heightened awareness. 

The ride from the shop?  About 18 miles from there to my garage.  Even with a friend following in a “chase vehicle”* to keep people off my ass, the pucker-factor was at “eleven” for the entire ride.  i can remember my first left turn (hop-launched when the light changed), can remember almost nailing a curb in the construction zone while stumbling with my left foot to find the next gear, and remember almost losing it completely for no apparent reason in a curve…

Yesterday, he wouldn’t start.  After beating on the battery for far too long, trying to get him to turn over, i hopped on the kick-start!  Big fun when it turned over – but disappointment as he promptly stalled out. 

After a few more hops on the kicker, i managed to lose my balance and drop the bike the driveway.  Jumped wide to keep it from landing on my leg, and managed to crunch the left turn signal lens on the driveway… and as a result, have now ordered my first replacement parts, as well as the Clymer manuel, which i am certainly going to need if i’m going to keep this bastard on the road.

i could continue to bore you with more details of every subsequent mile i’ve put on the ol’ fella**, but it means nothing to anyone but me.

i’m not going to be adding too many more miles this season.  Winter in these parts means short, cold days.  i’m a recreational motorcyclist, and will not be suffering frostbite just to feel the wind on my face… i’m focused on skills development and building “muscle memory” – there’s a great deal of multi-tasking required to ride a motorbike, and most of it should be instinctive so you can deal with the unexpected***. 

There are 15,159 miles on the odometer.  The bike was built in 1974, which makes him 36 years old****.  Parked in a garage for at least the last three years, that means he was averaging about 400-500 miles a year.   i have to wonder about what the other 15,097 miles were like.  Who rode them?  What about the first 100 miles?  Did anyone ever get laid as a direct result of owning this bike?  How many people have straddled that torn leather seat? 

Although it’s only been 62 miles, i’ve changed a bit as a result.  It’s long been on my “to do” list.  That box is now checked.  That’s part of it, but not all of it….

Hanging on at 50 miles an hour, feeling like the wind is going to blow my ass off the bike.  Watching the pavement blur under my feet.  Knowing that i’m exposed.  Knowing enough physics to know that i’m going to lose every battle – solo or entangled with other objects. 

It just feels right…

image found here.  and i’m pretty sure i’d be willing to have my tubes untied in order to have this gentleman’s baby…

* Studly McRocklegs only had to turn on his emergency flashers a few times, as i slowed well below the posted speed limits.  Mostly while fumbling to up-shift…

**  This one is a “male”.  The default gender for most vehicles seems to be female for some reason.  Never understood that.  My jeep?  Female.  The bike?  Not sure what it is, but i’m quite certain that the growling, cranky beast that i now ‘straddle’ is male…

*** Gravel, possum or blue-haired granny pulling out in front of you in her Oldsmobuick, seatbelt sparking on the pavement, turn signal perpetually on, as she ventures out on a quest to purchase hearing aid batteries…

**** i’m 48.  having a 36 year old between my legs does NOT qualify me as a cougar, thankyouverymuch.

Bounced

During the course of my life, i’ve been thrown out of a few bars.  Not physically tossed out on the sidewalk by a large man, with biceps bigger than my head, who is wearing sunglasses at night…  just asked to leave for a variety of reasons. 

Most of this occurred during my university years, but there have also been a few “incidents” while at technical conferences.  Generally the Dawg Boyz have been my partners in debauchery for those…

Last night, however, it was the way we were asked to leave a local establishment that cracked me up…

One of my nephews* was in town on business, and we met in a local Mexican restaurant/hole-in-the-wall for a Bad Juan.  Or two.  He was accompanied by some of his mates, and we ended up meeting up with a few more folks they knew at the restaurant. 

Somewhere around 9:30pm was “last call” at the restaurant, so we wandered across the street to a local dive.  The kind of place that has no windows, plywood doors on the restroom stalls and an old fire truck parked out front.  We got silly.  We made friends with some of the “regulars”.  It was just big ol’ goofy fun…

Having no concept of the time, it came as a bit of a shock to me when the cranky barmaid –  a tiny, tired looking platinum blonde, leathered from too much time spent in the tanning booth – yelled “Last call!”  But we were all done drinking, and mostly just yakking and telling tales.  It was perhaps about ten minutes later that the cranky barmaid came by and yanked the half-empty beer bottle out of my hand.

In addition to our group of six, there were about another half-dozen regulars still hanging around.  Finally reaching her limit she stood in the middle of the room and screamed “GET THE FUCK OUT!  WE’RE CLOSED!”

* Not of the Trailer Park, but the son of my ex-husband’s oldest sister.  A very sharp product engineer, i’ve known this kid for almost all 30 years of his life, and absolutely adore him.  Was delighted when he sent me a text saying he was in town on business, and wanted to meet up for a beer…

Achievement

Poof.  My Outlook Inbox was empty.  So was the “Sent” folder.
 
Just. Like. That.
 
Given that i’d changed jobs over a year ago, it was time to turn in my old laptop back at the prior shop.  Well, that laptop and the two ancient, fossilized laptops that i’d checked out over the previous decade.
 
On the bright side?  i had kept close track of the business equipment that had been loaned to me – and had no trouble locating all three bricks.  The downside?  Needed to crank them up and clear off my “Stuff”.  From photos to documents to all the e-mail that had been downloaded onto the desktops. 
 
Always a good plan to purge* prior to returning your equipment.
 
The first mistake i made on Thursday night was letting the laptop connect to my home wireless network.  That assured that my current outlook inbox was happily downloaded to the laptop.  The other fatal mistake?  Forgetting to re-set the ‘over-rides’.  This assured that any changes i made on the laptop would trump whatever was on the desktop system back at the office.
 
Oops.
 
When i arrived at work Friday morning, and realized my boo-boo, it was a blip.  Nothing.  Instead of rage and frustration at my own stupidity, it was “Well, huh.  How about that?” 
 
Granted, anything of size or substance had been downloaded to my desktop.  i can find it if i have to.  There are archives, too.  But the last time I’d archived was around April, i think.  So the ‘current events’ message traffic was all vaporized.
 
Now, here’s the funny thing.  Ten years ago?  i’d have been a salivating, ranting, hot, screaming mess.  It would have been debilitating, and i’d have been down at the IT help desk, asking them to pull the most recent weekly ‘back up’ files to restore what i’d dumped.  “Veins popping on my forehead” rage. 
 
Now?  i can hardly muster the energy to give a shit.  It’s sheer magic, i tell you…  
 
This is a milestone of note.  i have achieved irrelevance! 


* i’ve been a supervisor.  i know first-hand that the IT folks LOVE to root around on the returned equipment and see what folks have been up to.  i didn’t have anything on my equipment that would get me fired.  Not by a long shot.  But there were some personal e-mails buried in the mix – scheduling a booty call,  post-game analysis of a booty call, making fun of other people i work with, horrific foul language – that had to go.

Unbridled Joy

She was manufactured in 1974.  Back when motorcycles had banana seats and mirrors that made them look a little bit like grasshoppers.  With the help of a friend in the “chase vehicle”, i rode her home from the shop today. 

The shop?  Everything you ever want in a motorcycle repair shop.  Two guys who’ve been mechanics from birth.  Their children now working there, while going to school. 

They got a giggle out of me yesterday when i called to enquire about the readiness of my little beater.  “Tomorrow?  Fan-damn-tastic!  Momma needs her bike…”

This thing is so old it has a kick start.  Nice that it’s got an electric start as well.  When i told Joe at the shop that i needed to get comfortable with the kick start, he grinned.  i said “a friend of mine met her husband kick starting an old Ducati” and he knew exactly what i meant.  Something about “ass slappin’ on leather” that makes you smile….

Once i got over my jitters – by bopping around in the parking lot for awhile – it was into traffic.  Other than some awkwardness where boots meet gear shift, it’s working out pretty well!  Tonight, on another run with a friend, i even learned what it feels like to run out of gas. 

Fortunately i was able to ditch into a parking lot when i lost power…  Flipped to the reserve tank, and then spent a whopping $4.30 to fill the 2 gallon tank!

It’s inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.  “Mouse nuts”, as a friend of mine would say.  But the feeling when i tucked in that little beater next to my Jeep tonight in the garage?  Joy.

“Just wrap your legs ’round these velvet rims, and strap your hands ‘cross my engines!”

Snake Tales

Although the rubber spider infestation in my home has become more manageable, my daughter’s boyfriend, ZZ, still likes to exploit my sheer hatred of spiders.  The last one?  He threw a piece of pocket lint at me after he’d mashed a big spider in the bathroom, making me think he was tossing the corpse on me.

Not pleasant.  And although it happened a couple months ago, not forgotten.

My biking buddy, Studly McRocklegs, was aware of the on-going arachnid warfare.  He also knew of my plan to exploit ZZ’s weakness – a fear of snakes.  When Studly came across a freshly crunched garter snake* on a Sunday bike ride, he dumped his water bottle and collected the foot-long specimen for me…

Studly delivered the dead snake, and i arranged it neatly near the drain in the downstairs bathtub, keeping the shower curtain open enough that ZZ would notice it whenever he went in to use the toilet.  Giggling with anticipation and childish glee, Studly and i waited upstairs – hoping to hear the scream, the yelp, the hollering… Awaiting ZZ stomping up the steps indignantly saying “Yeah, yeah… You got me!”

After about an hour, ZZ and The Boy headed out to move some furniture for ZZ’s brother.  i snuck downstairs to check on the snake – and was surprised to find the bathtub empty!  “Whaaaat?”

The Girl [surly, annoyed monotone]:  Yeah.  He found it.  Very funny, Mom.  He thought it was fake, picked it up and threw it at me.  Hit me in the legs.  I yelled at him for it.  Jesus.  That really wasn’t funny…

daisyfae:  Where is it?  Where did you put it?

The Girl:  You’ll find it eventually… I’m not at liberty to tell you.

daisyfae:  SHIT!  i gotta make sure that it won’t start to smell.  That the cat doesn’t get it and eat it… or drag it to your bed as a present.

The Girl:  It’s not somewhere the cat can get it…

With a bit more badgering, she was able to give me enough clues to track it down – the stunt snake was nicely arranged on the floorboard of my car.  Needless to say, i left it…

The following Monday afternoon, ZZ caught me as i came home from work…

ZZ:  I wanted to apologize to you for this morning.

daisyfae:  What?  What happened this morning?

ZZ:  Your car?  The snake?

daisyfae:  What the fuck are you talking about?  The Camry?  Huh?

We both went to the garage, where i pulled open the car door, revealing the empty floorboard.

ZZ:  It was right there! [looking under seat] It was dead!

daisyfae:  Yep. It was right there this morning.  And Mr. Snake is prepared for another round.

ZZ:  I checked my car this morning!  I thought you’d put it in my car…

daisyfae:  That would have been pretty obvious… Oh, he’ll turn up again.  With the cooler weather outside, he’ll keep a long time.

ZZ:  You threw him in the dumpster, didn’t you?

daisyfae:  Yes.  That’s what i did…  That’s exactly what i did….

And the games continue…

* Garter snakes are cute little things.  They don’t bite, you know… They ‘snap’…