Tuna, Tab and a Twinkie

Tuna-Sandwichestabtwinkie

 

Navin Johnson’s (Steve Martin’s character in the iconic film, The Jerk ) meal that his adopted mother served him on his birthday was a tuna sandwich wrapped in cellophane, a Tab and a Twinkie.  Most of my favorite things are like that- simple, cheap and uncomplicated.  I  share Navin’s enthusiasm for Tab, and I like a good tuna melt from time to time, although I’ve not had a Twinkie in at least ten years.

classy

I’d like to admit to complicated tastes, as in: oh, yeah, I sit around drinking vintage Cabernets and imported cheese while conversing about world history and literature with influential and erudite people.   I study some rather obscure and esoteric subjects (have you seen my collection of 19th century postmortem pics, for instance) from time to time, but in social circles, I’m not that good of a performer. I’m not that pretentious. Since I am pathetically socially inept, and not at all well connected, my evenings are usually spent watching Jerry empty out the Natties, go from just a little drunk, to full-on fall-over shitfaced drunk, as he attempts to argue philosophy with the dogs.  Jerry is not an eloquent conversationalist even when he’s stone cold sober.  Alcohol does not enhance his verbal communication skills.

Natty

FYI: Natty does NOT make you an enchanting conversationalist.  Ever.

Jerry isn’t the greatest company, but he is predictable at least.  He tolerates my eccentricities, which is saying a lot. It’s easier that way, and I don’t have to worry about what to wear or whether or not I am avoiding eye contact again.   To him, I’m just the tepid body that pays the cable bill and medical bills, buys food, and wanders around cleaning up the beer cans.  He’s doing good to refrain from calling me Mildred and asking me about my diarrhea, but that’s OK.  I’ve been married to him for 19 years and neither one of us has succeeded in killing each other or making good on threats made in the heat of anger to leave,  so it must be all good.

I don’t know what to make of current events.  Robin Williams committing suicide was just plain bizarre, although I can certainly attest to the truth that comedy is the flipside of tragedy.  We shouldn’t really be surprised that comedians invariably suffer with depression and all the psychological baggage that goes along with it.  Humor is a defense mechanism. Usually the funnier a person comes across, the more tragedy that person has endured. Most of the time I try to laugh to keep from crying- or to fill that awkward void when I just don’t have the words or when that proper, polished façade just doesn’t materialize when I need it to.

man in pink tank

This dude must have had some pretty serious childhood trauma to try to rock the Daisy Dukes AND the crop top.

Perhaps it is better to elevate sarcasm to an art form than to take out one’s pain and hurt and anger in more destructive ways.  I don’t want to hurt anyone, especially in the ways that I have been.  It might be a bit mean-spirited to show pics of people who have made unfortunate fashion/life choices, but hey, you set yourself up for those.  If I appeared in public looking like a crack ho, or morbidly obese and/or otherwise badly dressed, then someone posting my sorry ass pic online should be a wake up call, a sort of, “Get your shit together, bi-atch!” statement.  I would be asking for it.

Now, going as a Twinkie for Halloween might actually be funny, but I don’t think that was this chick’s intent.

twinkie

Sort of like a Twinkie, anyway.

Putting the “SH” in IT, Central Ohio Winter, (Behold the White Death,) and Nasty ’70’s Cars

Why is it that technical people (and being a techie type I have to include myself in this critique also) can be so dour?  Computer professionals, especially, seem to have especially shitty attitudes.  I can’t blame them based on the capricious nature of IT in general, but a joke?  A smile, maybe?   Perhaps it has to do with being emotionally stunted or having an undue emphasis on the life of the mind versus the life of the heart.  It’s just not a balanced way to live, and sometimes the emotional demons break through at the most inopportune and irrational times.   I trust my mind most of the time- it keeps me on the steadfast and staid (though often boring) path of reliability and predictability.  When I “follow my heart” it almost always leads me to trouble- although the path to trouble often includes some intrigue and adventure.  Though it defies my sense of rationality and order, a little unpredictability and intrigue is essential for mental health.  So from time to time even I have to go off the deep end, even as much as I despise maudlin displays of emotion. 

I think it’s interesting that it’s occasionally necessary to simply take a mental vacation (especially when a physical vacation isn’t feasible) and just do something goofy for the hell of it.  Perhaps this is the logic behind the human need for humor.  All work and no play makes me even more boring than I am already.  Lately I find myself so boring I put myself to sleep- so I have had to find a few irrational pursuits.

Target had some novelty fart putty cups for $1 apiece in their discount section.  Of course I couldn’t pass up something this crude and sophomoric at such a discount price. Fart noises are always funny, so I have periodically been annoying my coworkers with fake flatulence.  Everyone needs a hobby.

Vacation is one of my favorite movies.  The car is a modified (tackily, but that’s the point) Ford LTD Country Squire station wagon.  Mom actually had one of these (without the modifications.)  I think that was the last V8 Dad let Mom have.  It was a typical old Ford in that the steering was horrid (the wheel had about 2 inches at least of play in it) and the suspension was spongy- but it would go like a bat out of hell in a straight line.  I think Mom got the 95-in-a-25 violation in the ’77 LTD sedan, but both the ’75 station wagon and the ’77 sedan had the 351 Windsor engine that Dad liked.  Both cars were horribly fugly, a handling nightmare, and did good to get 12MPG- if you kept your foot out of it.  I think Dad disengaged the secondary advance on the ’77 after Mom got busted in it, which is sort of like closing the barn door once the horse has run away.

70’s domestic cars were most abysmal.  FYI: The “wood grain” was actually adhesive stickers.

Mom actually had a 70’s car worse than the LTDs.  At least the LTDs would start and run.  The Dodge Aspen wagon generally wouldn’t even do that if the temperature dropped below 60 degrees F, which is quite often in beautiful Central Ohio.  If it got hotter than about 70 degrees, the thermostat would stick shut and it would overheat and/or the fuel pump would vapor lock.  I can’t remember how many times Dad had this POS towed, or how many fuel pumps, carburetors and thermostats he put on it, but when all was said and done I think he wanted to fire bomb it.  It was simply a piece of really shitty engineering.  The plus side of the Aspen, at least as far as Mom’s driving record went, when it did run, is it was a very underpowered 4 cylinder.  If you were lucky enough to get it up to 60MPH it would shake and shimmy like nobody’s business, then it would sputter and die.

Fugly, and not terribly functional.  The 1977 Dodge Aspen Wagon.  Now you know why I drive Toyotas.

These things, by comparison at least, made a beat up old VW Rabbit look like (and perform like) a freaking sports car.

Today we are supposed to get some snow and freezing rain.  I’ll believe it when I see it, but I am sure that the local redneck population will be clearing the stores out of Velveeta cheese and Marlboros before the end of the day.  Some things never change.

At least the cop got HIS smokes.

I sincerely thank God I don’t smoke anymore.  And I already have Velveeta cheese.

 

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Mortality, and a Working Dryer

Jerry came off the $300 for a dryer last night from the discount appliance store.  Yay! It has a small dent near the top, which is the reason why it was $300 rather than $450.   I could care less about cosmetic flaws.  Nobody is going to come down to my basement for the view, much less to admire the appliances.  I just need them to work. The model we ended up with was actually one I hadn’t researched ahead of time online because it was out of my price range.  It is larger than the old dryer (7.0 cubic ft. vs 5.8 cubic ft) and according to the reviews I have trolled through so far (why bother to read reviews after you buy something, but what the hey?) most people who have bought this model report that you can dry a large load of clothes in less than an hour.  I would delighted if this is really so, especially in an electric dryer.  I am further along the road to being able to do laundry again.  The new dryer is sitting in the garage waiting for whoever Jerry can bribe to help him 1. get it down the basement stairs- which is not going to be a good time, and 2. remove the power cord and vent from the old dryer, 3. attach the power cord (correctly I hope…) and vent to the new dryer.  Whoever is willing to help him get this beast down the stairs is cordially invited to haul the old one away. The old one has to be worth something.  The motor, heating element, and timer still work.

I would be pleasantly surprised- no- elated- to come home and be able to wash and dry clothes again.  Especially if I can have dry clothes in three hours or less.

Today is one of those holidays I have to explain to Jerry.  Otherwise he will be taunting all the Catholics (a good number of Lutherans, and even some Methodists too) he encounters today for having “dirt on their heads.”  Since I grew up Catholic I know all about Ash Wednesday and Lent and the rituals surrounding the season- as if Mom would let one forget that you better not even think about eating a Sloppy Joe for lunch on a Lenten Friday- even if it is served with the school lunch.   What I don’t understand about the no-meat-on-Friday-during-Lent rule is, what part of a seafood dinner is self-denial?  You can’t have a bologna sandwich because it’s meat, but you can have catfish nuggets or a 21-piece shrimp dinner, or even frigging lobster instead?  What kind of a sacrifice is that?  I’ll gladly trade a bologna sandwich or a Sloppy Joe for a shrimp dinner any day.  It would be more sacrificial in my opinion to say, “No, I’ll have the bologna sandwich instead of the cocktail shrimp and catfish nuggets.”   Lutherans also observe Lent, but with a little less focus on strict ritual forms.  I like the idea of taking up a good habit- like getting some extra exercise, or taking up a devotional series, or doing an anonymous act of kindness every day, rather than giving something up, or being weird about food, but to each his or her own.   

The whole point of observing Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent in general, at least in my opinion, is to remember one’s mortality.  Life on this earth in these flawed and wretched bodies is a limited time offer.  So what’s the purpose of life?  From a Christian perspective, the apostle Paul explains the purpose of life as follows:

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV)

I have heard it said that a person is immortal while God still has work for them to do here on earth.  I’d like to know what it is I’m supposed to accomplish so I can get it done and over with if that’s the case- but it’s not about what I do. It’s about what God wants done.  I am somewhat surprised at the lengths He has gone to in order to keep my sorry carcass alive.  If one were to adhere strictly to the odds of natural law I should have been worm food many years ago. I’ve been very close on more than one occasion.  The theology behind the immortality of those who have not completed their earthly mission seems to be correct at least from my observation, (God is omnipotent after all) but it does open up a can of worms.  The implication is that God had a purpose for both Mother Teresa- and Hitler.  The Old Testament is full of examples of God using “bad” people to get the Israelites back in line, time and time again.  In accepting the omnipotence of God, one must take the downright evil and tragic in the world along with puppies and flowers and rainbows.  One must also accept that there is a reason why some children die very young, why kids go out and rob and rape and shoot each other, and other people manage to outlive all their friends and family and languish for decades in their dotage, senile and crazy and crapping their pants. 

I don’t have an easy answer for any of that.  I don’t think I’m supposed to.  I’m not God.  That job is taken, and I am supremely grateful for that fact.

In accepting the omnipotence of God, one must accept suffering and the truly mind-numbing and tragic in the world.  Believing God and questioning Him doesn’t mean we will ever have clear explanations or complete understanding, but there is comfort in knowing that sooner or later things will be as He intended them to be, which is an important point.  Whether I understand God’s purpose or not is not as important as being compelled to ask Him the questions and accept the answers He is willing to give me.  The primary sin of humanity (according to C.S. Lewis) is pride- wanting MY will versus THY will.  That’s the paradox the apostle Paul speaks of in Romans 7.   We might not like the processes God uses to put us in our proper place.  I know a lot of the time I ask God, why this, or why that, and either He is silent or I’m just not hearing His answer.

I know I am a cynical and often sarcastic individual and those really are not good qualities.  Behind the humor is tragedy, a sense of longing for something better, of wanting something beyond this life. 

I freely admit it’s hard for me to see Jesus through my own apathy.  I am not at all effective in seeing Christ in others (I try to avoid most people, truth be told,) and it’s especially difficult to think of doing things for Jerry as serving God.  It’s hard to imagine Jesus acting like a petulant, whiny child. 

I am not always a very thankful person, either, which is also shameful.  I should not be so willing to criticize, or to covet what I simply don’t have.  I should be more grateful for what I do have.

God put me here for a reason, even if I don’t understand it.  Maybe I’m here to expand others’ vocabularies- or to learn to love the Great Unwashed.

I can see people looking at me and laughing at the visual.  This is plausible too.

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things (Yeah, Right…)

Cooking, I don’t mind.  I am a good cook, thanks to both of my grandmothers (God rest their souls) and the fact that I did the cooking and cleaning at home from the time I was 12, when Mom had her bad back injury and couldn’t do much of anything for several months.  I sort of ended up responsible for meals and laundry and cleaning by default.  My sisters were pretty much always out either playing sports or socializing.  Since I was forbidden both by health issues and by abysmal coordination from participation in any type of organized sport, having a good excuse for getting out of the house was a lot more difficult for me.  I couldn’t actually live at the library even though I spent plenty of time there. 

As an aside, I truly wonder if my heart valve damage would have been bad enough to make me drop dead from playing basketball like that poor kid in Michigan.  Is a “sports physical” for middle school or high school sports really anything more than simply checking to make sure you can breathe and have a pulse?  If that’s all that’s done, I probably could have passed a “sports physical” had I attempted it (not that I would!) because my valve defects are not always audible.   Even if I would have kept my mouth shut about having heart valve damage from rheumatic fever and went through gym class in spite of having the Doctor’s Note (oh, thank God for the Doctor’s Note that released me from that humiliation) would it really have made a difference?  I’d probably sat on the bench most if not all the time anyway.  I should have asked the cardiologist who did my echocardiogram back in 2001, just for my own personal curiosity.  I’ve been warned about getting my heart rate too high because I have an irregular heart beat and I’ll pass out- but I’m allowed to do all the swimming, walking and bike riding I want.  Unless I pass out, that is.

I didn’t do too much socializing either, other than avoiding getting my ass kicked, until I got a car.  Having a car- even one as distressed as that poor Subaru DL- afforded me both protection and people to party with, which was nice.   I am thankful for spending a good part of my teen years learning how to cook, fry, stew, bake, and make decent gravy. When it comes to acquiring Life Skills, nothing facilitates learning like being tossed in the trenches.  I know when I moved out Dad really missed those home-cooked meals.  Taco Bell just isn’t the same.

Cleaning is not one of my favorite things by a long shot.  There’s something about being awakened to way too many of Mom’s late night cleaning frenzies that has put me off of power scrubbing forever.  Especially because she is one of those types who worries about the crap you can’t see.  I am not going to lose sleep over dust bunnies under furniture, dog hair under the carpet, or that sort of thing.  I like clean laundry, a clean bathroom and kitchen and relatively clean floors, but I don’t have to Clorox the entire house every other day like she used to do.   I have a job and a life.  I also have dogs.  Large dogs.  Large dogs with hair.  The only time the dog hair issue really gets disgusting is in Spring and Fall when they blow their coats.  Sheena for some reason- probably due to the stress of her spay/partial mastectomy surgery- blew her coat in January, so I don’t anticipate her Spring blowout to be terribly severe.  Lilo is always an adventure because of her intense hatred for either bathing or brushing.  Thankfully she doesn’t have a really outrageously thick coat like Sheena does.  Clara’s seasonal coat blowings are barely even noticeable (gotta love that Malinois coat) and even if she were a heavy shedder, she adores being de-haired with the blade.

For those unfamiliar with the use of the shedding blade, it’s not cruel.  It’s actually a Godsend for short-to-medium haired dogs.  You glide the serrated edge of the blade with the grain of the dog’s coat, and all the loose undercoat, etc. is just peeled right off.  If Clara had her way, I could brush her out with the blade for hours on end.  The blade does not work well with long haired dogs, or dogs with heavy undercoats, such as GSDs.  GSDs, Huskies, Chows- (i.e. Sheena and Lilo…)-heavy coated medium haired dogs- require the rake.  That sounds like a cruel implement too, but it’s not.  It just digs deeper in the coat to remove all the loose undercoat.

Sheena is quite fine with being raked out, which is nice, because she has that ungodly wooly Husky undercoat.  Lilo also has a thick undercoat but she is incredibly body sensitive so I let Jerry go after her with the rake, and with the bathing.  None of our dogs like water.  I find it funny when we take the dogs near any body of water.  They all avoid getting wet, as if the water was hot acid, especially Lilo.  That is particularly amusing – our dogs cautiously avoiding the water- as we watch other people helplessly getting dragged into the drink by their Labradors.   Never take a Labrador to a body of water unless you are planning on either you or the dog or both getting wet. 

Sometimes the girls just plain get gamey. In spite of their dislike of water they must be bathed on occasion, which inevitably ends up with me, a boat load of towels, and the entire bathroom being thoroughly saturated. (Another reason why I need a working dryer!)  Clara tolerates her bath.  Clara is compliant, but she doesn’t like anything to do with getting wet, and she’s very glad when it’s done.   Sheena is mildly uncooperative with her bath and requires a little elbow grease to keep her contained.  Lilo positively despises being bathed, and has to be physically picked up and placed in the tub, but the last time I was able to keep her under control and get her reasonably clean. 

This is the reason why I never, ever touch the undersides of tables or desks- or the sides of bathroom stalls for that matter.  I remember way too many study halls in high school watching the gross kids scrape their boogers under the ledge of the desk. 

We had a particularly sadistic English teacher (thankfully he wasn’t smart enough to teach AP English, so I never had him for class) who was also a wrestling coach.  When he monitored study halls he liked to slam books on the desks to wake anyone who thought about sleeping.  I wonder if he quit or if he was fired for (allegedly) knocking up those cheerleaders.  That was back before DNA technology could scientifically pin him down as The Baby Daddy, as opposed to being maybe one chance in five, so I would assume the former.  I doubt if those dingbats even knew for themselves who the baby daddies really were.  The key to blaming one guy for being The Baby Daddy is to only do the horizontal mambo with one guy- unless you’re up for DNA tests on Montel, which was not possible back in the mid 1980’s.

I usually occupied myself by reading or drawing on the rare occasions my schedule allowed me a study hall.  I was very good at hiding my National Lampoons and MAD magazines inside of Scientific American (which I also read) or other serious-sounding techie type magazines, to enjoy throughout a mind-numbingly boring study hall if I wasn’t already in the middle of a Stephen King novel or other “recreational reading.”  Teachers generally left me alone as they just assumed I was reading above their heads (sometimes I was) and therefore was not into “contraband.”  I liked humor and smut as much as the next person. Unlike other people who were too stupid to change the covers on risque books, I got away with reading them whenever I wanted.  I read anything I could get my hands on, but even with a collection of smutty literature that would have made a trucker blush if it were illustrated, I could not completely ignore the depraved humanity around me.  The sight of assorted unwashed losers picking, examining, and then scraping their big slimy greenies under the desks is still enough, even after all these years, to keep me from touching anything under a ledge with my bare hands.

Humor Is Where You Find It, Somewhere in the Generational Disconnect, and I Hope the Stupid People Stay Home Today

I can imagine Steve-o’s embarrassed indignation yet again at Mom as she is trying to pry into his sex life.  Steve-o is not Catholic and wasn’t raised Catholic so he really doesn’t understand that Mom learned sex-ed- from nuns.  I tried to impart to him at least a nominal Christian education in the Lutheran tradition.  Therefore the oddly Catholic concept of “sex-is-sin-except-if-you-are-married-and-actively-procreating-and-even-then-you-better-not-enjoy-it”  is not a concept that is dear to his heart.  I will add, that as in line with is correct Protestant theology, he has been taught that abstinence is the correct course of (in) action before one is married, but after marriage sex is perfectly hunky dory, and you can enjoy it without procreating, as long as it is consensual and with one’s spouse.  Of course for me, this concept of  “sex after marriage for recreational purposes” is merely a theory and not something I’ve experienced any time recently.  But I am an old cougar whose carnal drives went away pretty much completely after the hysterectomy anyway.  In contrast, Steve-o’s a 19 year old male for heaven’s sake, and there would be something wrong with him if he didn’t have a healthy case of cat scratch fever (as Ted Nugent called it.)  I was going to say “perpetual boner,” but I don’t want to imagine that.  Ever. Eww.

I would rather have Steve-o be honest with me.  I know he has been doing the dirty deed ever since Jerry caught Jezebel riding him like a pony when he was 14.  I am glad to have been spared the visual, and no I don’t approve of it.  However I am a realist, and I know that I didn’t practice abstinence until I was married.   If  lust is a difficult thing for women to resist, (and I struggled with it for many years, and still do in some ways) I know men in their impulsiveness have it a lot worse.  It’s a high standard, and even if I expect him to uphold the abstinence standard, I would rather he trust me enough to be honest with me if he doesn’t.  I understand.  Really.

Mom on the other hand does a very good impression of the Spanish Inquisition, which is what she did to him the other night of her own admission.  I know she means well because she fears for the state of Steve-o’s soul, (and I think Catholics still regard fornication as a mortal sin) but the Inquisitional method isn’t going to work with him.  The old-school Catholic guilt complex doesn’t register with him.  He was never taught to be terrified of dying with unconfessed sins, and I don’t think he’s even heard of the concept of mortal sin.  I wasn’t about to tell her what I know about Steve-o’s amours and break Steve-o’s confidence. I know that she more or less browbeat and cornered him into a sheepish denial, a denial arrived at specifically to appease her and to avoid her wrath.  I don’t think she really wanted the truth anyway.  Sometimes the truth is exactly what you don’t want to hear.  He told her what she wants to hear to avoid her inevitable diatribe about fornication and mortal sin and how the “pecker leads the way down the path to perdition.”  I think she learned that speech from the nuns way back in 1960 and can still quote it verbatim. While as I said earlier, I don’t approve of what is technically fornication, and in my own life transgressions of that nature have caused me a great deal of regret and heartache.  God put the boundaries around our behavior for a reason, and when we cross those boundaries there are consequences.  Even so, I can think of much more harmful offenses.  In spite of my Catholic upbringing, I find it hard to believe that sex is the unforgivable sin.  I know that sin doesn’t have categories and one is as bad as another and we are all guilty.  I am not the one Steve-o or anyone else will have to answer to.  We can sound the warnings but ultimately each one of us is going to make mistakes and each one has to live with the consequences of those mistakes. 

I have to find some humor in the fact that I got the same Inquisition from Mom, years ago, and I pretty much reacted the same way.  I was the Queen of Denial (he-he.)  My sister was nominally less fortunate, as she got the Inquisition after Mom found her birth control pills.  That was not a pretty scene. 

I think my generation views things carnal in a different light than Mom’s generation.  While technically she and Dad are “boomers” (came of age in the 1960’s) one has to remember they grew up in a town that is chronically 20 years behind the rest of the world.  The 1960’s for them meant 1940’s social mores, not hippies or Woodstock or free love.  My generation was into the whole “love the one you’re with” thing- at least until the advent of AIDS.  Then we started getting picky.  When I was in high school it was not uncommon for girls to get pregnant and not even know who fathered the child.  When Mom and Dad were in high school if a girl got pregnant either she was Sent Away to have the baby and then give it up for adoption, or forced into a shotgun wedding at age 16.  Neither of these scenarios are good, and both of them underscore the fact that behavior has consequences.  Waiting is better but waiting isn’t easy- especially when you’re 18 or 19 and a month seems like an eternity.  All I can say is time moves faster the older you get.

Today is election day and it is long awaited for those of us who abhor Obama and his dreadful administration.  I hope for a few things.  One, that the stupid people stay home.  Two, that we here in Ohio get a new Governor, and three, that enough Republicans make it into Congress to stop the Obamanation in his tracks.  I have never loathed an American President this much.  Carter was terrible- I remember writing him letters as a nine year old kid pleading with him to do something about the coal strikes and the hostage situation in Iran- but Carter at least had some humility if not sensible ideology.  Obama has abhorrent ideology as well as he is an arrogant fool.  May he please be a one term president!!!