I Have Learned THE HARD WAY Category

Now Comes the Night

5 Apr 2012 In: I Have Learned THE HARD WAY, In Memory..., LIVESTRONG

Yes. It was “all about me” in the first place. It was one of those deliciously selfish, “Why can’t I have this?” songs. My wallowing in it – my interpretation – was a lovely version of “But WHAT ABOUT ME????”

Then came that endless week – not even a week – when my Grandma was slipping away. And, no, she was not leaving gently and romantically, but struggling for breath and crying out in the night. I’m sorry, but I will never “pretty it up.” I cannot.

They forced me to go home at some point each day so that I could try and sleep without one eye open and listening intently all the while. This was the song I listened to as I drove back and forth to her condominium. And the very first time I heard it during that time, it became HER song. It was my promise that I was there all night, every night, even if I didn’t know how I could truly ease a journey like that. I don’t know if my words and my singing were irksome or soothing. And at this point I most certainly must not second guess it any more.

I thought about you a lot this week, Grandma, and I told the story of being with you when you left this world. I tried to explain what a privilege it was, yet how I struggled with the idea that ANYONE, especially someone who’d been so patient and lived through the most unimaginable tragedies and joys, had to die that way.

I stood in the LIVESTRONG Headquarters in front of the manifesto and looked at your beautiful ring that I only take off to shower and I cried again for you and for all the collective loss suffered by that amazing group of people. Then, because there was ALWAYS someone to put their arm around you in such remarkable company, I cried for the beauty of a singleness of purpose in which we try to make the world better.

And since that first week of January, 2009, it has remained your song:

When the hour is upon us
And our beauty surely gone
No you will not be forgotten
No you will not be alone

And when the day has all but ended
And our echo starts to fade
No you will not be alone then
And you will not be afraid
No you will not be afraid

When the fog has finally lifted
From my cold and tired brow
No I will not leave you crying
And I will not let you down
No I will not let you down
I will not let you down

Now comes the night
Feel it fading away
And the soul underneath
Is it all that remains
So just slide over here
Leave your fear in the fray
Let us hold to each other
Until the end of our days

When the hour is upon us
And our beauty surely gone
No you will not be forgotten
No you will not be alone
No you will not be alone

Oh, Grandma, I think I need it back – just for a bit. I know the danger of self-pity and wallowing (yes, I know – WHAT???). But I need to find the hope; I need to find it in myself and then believe that I have enough value that someone will make this promise to ME at some point in my life. I promise it will be about you again. Or perhaps someone else who needs, in the dark, to know that someone is there to hear them when they cry out.

“Stocking Stuffer” Product Review

25 Dec 2010 In: I Have Learned THE HARD WAY

I received a lovely selection of gifts and candies in my Christmas stocking (which is a freakin’ awesome homemade concoction, but that’s a story for another time). I also received this item (Oh, yes! As SEEN ON TV):

Bottle Top AS SEEN ON TV
Bottle Tops

What a fantabulous idea! Save your soda for LATER without loss all that invigorating carbonation! Oh – here is great propaganda description straight from a very educational website: AsSeenOnTVGuys.com:

Bottle Top As Seen On TV Features:

– Keeps the fizz<
– Helps avoid spills
– Just wash and re-use
– Fits most beverage cans
– Keeps carbonation longer
– Assorted colors – Avoid drink mix-ups

Bottle Tops is the new product that turns your ordinary soda pop or beer can into a soda pop or beer bottle. Bottle Top turns your can into a spill-proof bottle. One size fits all cans. Just snap onto the top and enjoy your favorite beverage without spills. Keep unfinished drinks full of carbonation with the snap-on top sealing in freshness. Reusable and great for travel. Set of twelve in six different colors.

Bottle Top is a great invention that everyone’s got to have. Imagine turning your favorite drink can into your favorite bottle drink. It’s easy to do, just snap on Bottle Top and your done. Bottle Top keeps your soda carbonated because it has a tight leak proof seal. So now you can travel with your canned drink without the fear of spilling. It’s especially great for children. Bottle Top’s lid top prevents bugs from crawling into your drink at picnics. Finally there’s a way to enjoy economical canned drinks with the benefits and convenience of a re-sealable bottle. So get your Bottle Top now!

Ooooh! How handy! How useful! What a crock!

Ostensibly, you just “snap it on.” I of course thought I needed to try this out. I was having a little difficulty, I admit. I thought I could finesse it, and all was going well, I was using my left hand, mainly (I am NOT left-handed nor unreasonably strong, I should add) and whilst attempting to “snap” the “Bottle Top” onto my soda can I managed to literally COLLAPSE the thing and EXPLODE its contents over a surprisingly wide area. SURPRISE!

After cleaning diet soda with a touch of lemon juice of myself and the floor and a variety of kitchen surfaces, I was determined not to be defeated by a STOCKING STUFFER and thought I’d have another go.

I VERY, very gently tried to “snap” the “Bottle Top” onto a new can of soda. Let’s just say I am, at this moment, drinking an extraordinarily banged up and dented can of soda, SANS “Bottle Top.”

My assessment in a nutshell: The “Bottle Top” should be called the “Bottle Crusher and Exploder of DOOM.” I’ll get my people on it.

POSTSCRIPT: So later Christmas day my brother walks into the room with the “Bottle Crusher and Exploder of DOOM” successfully placed ON a soda. He bandied words such as “finesse” and “instructions” about. When I protested he and my mother both came back at me with the phrase, “Man Hands.” Whatever. Pfft.

POSTSCRIPT II: THE REVENGE (December 30, 2010) I have now sustained an injury from the “Bottle Crusher and Exploder of Doom.” Yet I still have not successfully ensconced one on a can.

Alas!

8 Oct 2007 In: A Little HELP HERE?, I fell down, I Have Learned THE HARD WAY

My Powerbook is sick – VERY ill. It happened last night so suddenly; one minute my baby was perfect (as usual) and then – BLACK SCREEN. A spontaneously black screen on any computer is very disconcerting, needless to say. I won’t go elaborate on all the things I attempted to get it going again (switching batteries and power sources, etc., etc.).

I will say that Kate Logic™ (remember – like standard logic but with half the fat) dictated that since the screen was black (I could still hear a slight noise when I booted up that indicated SOME sort of processing – but no comforting boot-up “bong” – like that has anything to do with the keyboard), I removed all the keys and cleaned out as much cat hair and as many lint balls as I could. I got several bloody wounds in the course of this endeavor (what a surprise). This did not fix it. Even my life-blood did not fix it. The LIFE-BLOOD from MY VERY BODY.
Come on - IT'S SO COOL.

It looks like the image above, incidentally, except with a few lil’ dings and scars and such. Oh – and it doesn’t have the posh Intel Core 2 Duo processor in it like the newer models. This does not mean I love it any less.

And just so you know, I have NOT dropped it recently. The Guru’s reply the that statement was, “Recently??”

Speaking of the Guru, he has taken my precious baby home with him to try and fix it (because I cannot imagine that he has anything better to do). Bless him (again and again).

When I ponder this serious problem, I wonder if it has something to do with Murphy’s Law or Karma or wretched irony. Why? Because just the other day I was thinking, “I haven’t backed up my computer in a long time!” See?

Please, people around the World who may read this blog (even if it’s just two or five or nine of you), pray or meditate or send positive energy to my beloved Mac (whichever method floats you boat). I love it so (too much, no doubt – though I DO love my Kitten Children more)!

This entry was typed with much resentment towards Windows on a wretched PC.

This is riveting stuff, I assure you:

I was carrying my laptop under one arm, my cell phone under the other, and my big cup of water with the lid and the super-cool straw (all Tupperware®, of course) in my left hand (Janet would call that “my BaBa” – evidently you’re never too old).

I did not fall down the stairs. I did not fall up the stairs.

I reached the end of the downstairs hall (in a hurry?) where there are two doors – one to the right and one to the left. Then I did a fantastically spectacular gymnastic maneuver towards the floor -perhaps the ceiling? (well, the wall, really). Let us say I tripped over something. It’s possible – the Kitten Childrens’ scratching post is to the left. Their food mat is there, too. Air? VERY HEAVY AIR???

I hit my right knee on one edge of the right-hand door frame on my way down, flung everything up in the air -WHEEEEE – (including, remember, a large cup of water, which, despite having a lid, has a VERY LARGE HOLE FOR THE SUPER-COOL STRAW). Then I hit the right side of my head on the other side of the right-handed doorway. This bent the right ear-piece of my glasses (and hurt my ginormous head, I must say).

I spent one split second thinking, “WHAT THE…????” Didn’t even have time for proper sailor language. Then I RAN to get towels from the right-handed bedroom closet to dry off my two most beloved (well, I’d put my iPod in that ranking, too, but that was safely ensconced elsewhere) pieces of electronic equipment.

My phone still seems to work; that’s good. I shut down my laptop as fast as possible, dried it off and took the battery out (luckily it wasn’t wet inside there…). Now it is sitting on a very soft pillow in a dim, quiet room with the door closed while it is recuperating. I’m hoping for the best. It didn’t smoke or sparkle and still had normal screen images as I shut it down; I’m taking that as a good sign. Everyone please think healing thoughts for my beloved PowerBook.

In – what – two or three years Grettir managed to only put the tiniest dent on one side (which I couldn’t find for two weeks after I had the thing and then I had to wonder if I’d done it myself). I’ve made a lovely scratchy mark on the right side top already (yes, I’m right-handed – talk about your dominant sides) and another not far from that one.

I suppose what I’m saying is I’M TALENTED LIKE THAT.

Oh – and I did some sort of damage turning off the main water source to the house, but you mustn’t tell my Dad. First of all, I turned the water off (I’m so happy to have the valve IN MY ROOM) being snotty (for a good cause?). Secondly, my Dad takes that joke about engineers being “glorified plumbers” seriously. SERIOUSLY. He should not plumb, for the most part, I assure you. Secretly I will blame him for that faucet being in bad shape because he has turned it soooo hard that part of the knob has actually broken off.

Being a brilliant scientist he does not think the water in the house is off if you can turn on a faucet and ANY water comes out. My Mom and Shirleen and I have all tried to explain the logic of BLEED OFF – the idea that there is still water in the pipes that HAS TO COME OUT even AFTER you’ve turned the main valve off. He has never believed us. A MAN told him that one day and I swear he shouted, “EUREKA – what a brilliant thought? It never, EVER, EVER would have occurred to me!!! Why didn’t someone tell me that before?” As though he’d never heard such an amazing concept before. Argh.

I did learn something very important because of Labor Day. Well, I suppose it’s completely coincidental that I got “schooled” because of Labor Day (which I’m feeling too pissy to spell the cool “Labour” way), but then I can pretend it was part of a celebration.

As I need to take my glasses to be bent back into shape (I learned the lesson about trying to do that yourself a LONG time ago – during an era when every single time I set my glasses on the bad I assured myself I’d remember they were there and then I sat on them about forty-seven percent of the time – maybe even forty-nine percent. It’s the early-onset senility…) I took them off and had a nap. After taking some ibuprofen. I’m tellin’ you, that’s what you do.

And when I awoke, the magical shoemaker elves, as they didn’t have their normal duties today – it being Labor Day and all, had FIXED MY GLASSES. And as it was a holiday, they stuck around (instead of following their normal proclivities to mysteriously disappear leaving being many gorgeous pairs of Italian shoes in MY SIZE) to play some board games (they cheat, but they are so cute it’s just funny). I made some great hummus and we all had a snack and it was just the BEST TIME EVER.

And then I woke up with Kitten Child clear under the covers near my RIGHT FOOT – sooo very cute, but not an expensive Italian, custom-made shoe. Oh, leave me alone; I can dream (I wish I dreamt such nice things).

I went to put my contacts in. This is still a slightly tenuous process, as I’ve mentioned. Let me preface my next adventure by explaining that a day or so after I first got the contacts, they were bugging me a little (because of STICKING MY FINGER IN MY EYE ONE TOO MANY TIMES) and I called the optometrist to ask how I could tell if I’d put a contact in wrong-side out. The reply was a slightly impatient, “Well, can you SEE?” to which I answered in the affirmative (good thing, too, as I was driving at the time – conscientiously using my Bluetooth® headset). “Then they are in right.” I felt like I’d called and basically been told, “Duh, duh, duh – DUH DUH DUH, Dummy! Have a nice day.”

My eyes were a little sleepy/irritated, so I wasn’t entirely surprised when the right contact bothered me after I put it in. I put the left one in, and it was a little better. I took the right one out, my eye was still a little buggy, so I just put the contact back in. After five or ten minutes of blinking and wandering around closing one eye and then the other evaluating whether or not I could see (I could) I thought I’d better check the damn thing again.

Okay – BRILLIANT PEOPLE FROM THE OPTOMETRIST’S OFFICE – it was inside-out and I could still see (when I wasn’t blinking tears away or just blinking for FUN).
Happy Labor Day. Phhht.

I Am Still Learning

15 Jul 2007 In: I fell down, I Have Learned THE HARD WAY

I believe it was the great Michelangelo – or perhaps one of the other Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (not to be confused with Teenage Mutant Kitten Children) – who said something about you should learn all your life or there is always something to learn in and/or from your life or life = LEARN, LEARN LEARN. Who knows, as it was originally penned in Italian (possibly Latin, if he was trying to be posh).

Okay. Truth? I’ve seen so many resin-cast-to-look-like-old-engraved-stone replicas sporting this motto in my Mother’s vast catalog collection that I would be unfair of me to say that I could not find the quote:
Ancora Imparo

Yeah – he was being grandiloquent. And if you’d like to know what it means, please refer to the title of this post. I was very clever and put it right out there so that people might think that I was writing about a substantive topic. I’m guessing everyone knew better.

Ah – so what is it that I’m still learning? Apparently EVERYTHING. Indeed, is it not the life aspiration of most people to try all new things when they are in their late thirties? Come on!!! There may be some of you who would forewarn me that this is leading me down a slippery slope and that I am in great danger of pitching headlong into danger and/or oblivion. I would answer, “That’s immaterial.” (Why am I quoting myself while writing in the first person? Why am I asking myself rhetorical questions?) As most people know, I am perfectly capable of toppling over, stumbling, falling on my substantial ASSets and/or taking a header WITHOUT any sort of impediment in sight. What’s more, I mean ON THE FLAT, DRY GROUND.

  • I decide that my underwear doesn’t have to be white, black or beige/nude, and I end up with a very large hole in my pants strategically displaying my choice that very day to wear the knickers that say, “Wish on This!” across that back. You think I’m kidding?
  • I decide to dye my hair for the very first time… just search through my blog an you find five thousand entries about what that started (like this one).
  • Then we have my eyebrows. Never had I plucked them or waxed them. Having started, I have yet one more thing to “maintain.” (Here’s one of THOSE entries.)

I believe it was dear Pamela who suggested perhaps I go back and embrace my “hippy” proclivities (something to that effect). Unfortunately, it’s simply TOO LATE. Vanity is involved, now; jeopardy has been attached (who watches too many re-runs of Law and Order (all flavours)? Pas moi!). How else would I end up with major chemical burns because of INVISIBLE PEACH FUZZ?

By the way, just because it takes me more than 450 words to get to my point does not indicate that I do not have one. To get down to the heart of the matter – the crux, the pitch, the gist, the nitty-gritty (dirt band – sorry), the thrust, the substance – the purpose of this entry is to discuss my eyes.

My eyes are hazel, incidentally. That is neither here nor there, but I’ve always described them as “khaki with an amber ring around the iris.” No, it’s not poetic (especially if you pronounce “khaki” the British and/or Canadian way – that is to say, “CAR-KEY”). Also, they seem different colours depending on what hue I’ve donned. I have “mood” eyes.

ALRIGHT! The point is I had taken my “mood eyes” for a long-overdue eye appointment. Luckily my prescription has not changed THAT much in the interim (and it’s long – embarrassingly long) because the last time I changed prescriptions I had also waited too long and I got new glasses RIGHT before a big trip, and the glasses made me dizzy for two or three days. This truly enhanced my motion sickness plight.

I do have a slight astigmatism now. It makes me feel more urbane (grant me these tiny delusions, please – I ask for so little). Wow. I just realized I’d have to look at my prescription to realize in which eye it is…

SOOO, in the spirit of Ancora Imparo I also was fitted with my very first contact lenses. I was excited at the prospect of seeing my eyes looking all deceptively naked and such. And I dreamt oh-so-fancifully about a ridiculously handsome stranger being able to now “fall INTO” my eyes – unimpeded by anti-glare lenses for the myopic. To be sure, I am not rich, but my fantasy life can be.

Sometimes I feel self-conscious because I am a neophyte at certain things at the ripe old age of – well, any state of “maturity” that can be prefaced with “the ripe old age” should be self-explanatory. In other words, I figured that I’d have a little difficulty putting the lenses in and when you see thirteen-year-olds pop them in and out blind and lubricate them with saliva (at least I know THAT’S stupid) and all that, I thought I’d feel “impaired.”

Impaired ended up being an understatement. A VAST, GINORMOUS (just recently made it into the dictionary – so there!) understatement. The doctor was extremely kind and helpful, but I was unquestionably handicapped at successfully getting contact lenses ONTO MY EYEBALLS. He finally had to do it for me, taught me how to remove them, and then let me try again. Seventeen hours later (SLIGHT exaggeration), I was successful. Of course my eyes were practically swollen shut and so blood-shot that it looked like I’d been on a three-day (maybe week-long) bender.

Here’s my problem: I blink. Excessively. This is why many a photograph (for which I deign to pose) catches me with my eyes closed. Also, I’m fairly light-sensitive, therefore I blink to excess in the sun. My eyes are vulnerable, delicate…creatures.

Don’t mistake me, some people have difficulty touching their eyes; this is indubitably not my problem. You know that expression, “It’s better than a poke in the eye?” I often disagree. A poke in the eye is NUTHIN’. Given the choice, I’d oft choose a poke in the eye over the alternative. Yes, I can touch my eyes – I’ll poke myself in the eye right now if someone asked. There are those who claim I have ELBOWED others in the eye (for the record, I was ASLEEP – and that whole incident is the definition of the phrase “alleged assault” – no cooberating witnesses, no physical evidence).

No, I’m just Blinky McBlinkster. Sometimes I get the lense in right off the bat, sometimes I practically push my eyeball clear back into my skull, pull my finger back, and see that the contact is still ON MY HAND. That’s when the sailor language comes in.

This made it rather difficult on the occasion that three of the four children we were babysitting watched me put my lenses in one day – fascinated by the process despite the fact that BOTH their parents wear contacts – perhaps it’s because I let them touch them (the CONTACTS – not my eyes – though they’d have probably done less damage) – never fear, I re-sterilized the things. But I had to keep it CLEAN – my “potty” mouth, that is.

I AM learning. But if you see me with bloodshot eyes it’s no doubt my doing – DIRECTLY AND PHYSICIALLY.

There is also an “eye-opening” aspect to this whole affair. (ugh.) Most of it has to do with luggage. I like to joke th
at I always carry too much luggage (and that’s not just when I travel, that’s a day-to-day crack I like to make because I embarrass myself by carrying fifty-two or three bags everywhere I go (yeah, yeah – but it’s no fun if I don’t embellish a LITTLE)).

This little quip hit me very profoundly yesterday (I’d started to notice, but OH, THE DENIAL) as I sat down to have my stylist trim my hair. See, when you TAKE OFF YOUR GLASSES for this procedure you are granted a fortuitous amount of “airbrushed” effect on your reflection. With contacts, you must STARE IN THE LOOKING GLASS WITH CORRECTED SIGHT. That’s when you know, deep down in your heart, that the “luggage” joke can rightly be applied to the immense bags under your eyes.

Having been blissfully unaware of and not requiring (I THOUGHT) “under-eye concealer” all these years, it’s disturbing that I’m contemplating it now. Maintenance is a bitch.

A wise man once said:

ASSUMPTION makes an “ASS” out of you and “UMPTION.”

Insightful words, indeed.

I haven’t been “back East” since I chopped off my hair. I ASSUMED that the humidity would make it more curly and frizzy. I was prepared to tame the wild curl, I was ready to battle wanton frizziness. I was an idiot.

The first time I washed my hair and utilized my various products was on LIVESTRONG® Day – the day that we were to go visit the legislators and have a press conference and all that.

It was not long before, “OH, the horror, THE HORROR!” And that wasn’t just because I hadn’t realized until it was too late that someone had “lightened” my luggage by removing my antiperspirant/deodorant. MY HAIR HAD TAKEN ON A LIFE OF ITS OWN. Now, as many of you may know, this isn’t the first time that has happened. But this was EXTREME. It wasn’t super curly. It wasn’t even exactly frizzy. It simply had taken on, root to tip, an unimaginable VOLUME defying every law of gravity old and new. I was speechless (imagine that) and awestruck.

But doesn’t everyone DREAM of having a bunch of very important meetings and being part of a press conference when they look and smell their very worst? I thought not.

Throughout the wretchedly hot/humid day, I kept trying to calm my tresses (I spoke gently to them, touched them softly – I was the “hair whisperer”). I continuously tucked and re-tucked the whole lively shebang behind my ears. The gallons of sweat seemed to weigh it down – don’t think I’m going to pretend for one moment that I was merely “glowing” and not drenched in my own wretched FUNK and FETOR.

At our rest building – WHERE I WOULD REMOVE MY JACKET AND LET PEOPLE SEE MY ARMS IN A SLEEVELESS BLOUSE – THAT’S HOW HOT I WAS – I had a couple of moments here and there in which, from the front, my coif still looked really horrible, but it seemed I had domesticated it just a little – smushing and sweat soothe the savage beast?

Then the “official” pictures, taken by the professional photographers, were released. Here’s the one that let me know that truth – the entire, awful reality:
We looked like bees and were accordingly dive-bombed by them.
Delegates Mill About Prior to the Press Conference

Perhaps you don’t see it? Get a little closer. I’ve blurred the unessential parts:
I really want you to focus on the frightening part.
Kermit & Kate Confer
(I somehow blurred off my own nose. I’m talented like that.)

Still can’t see it? I doubt this very much. But just in case, let me REALLY focus in on the ghastly part:
Good grief

I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but I made it even more grotesque. Now EVERYTHING is blurry, even the sections I did intentionally “soften,” and I somehow made it look like I’m bleeding from the ear and that I have a mole on my jaw the size of a quarter (American).

I thought I’d “tamed” it, while it had just HIDDEN from me. I look like I’ve affixed a wild animal to the back of my head. Dead? Alive?! You decide. But WHAT IN THE HELL IS THAT THING?

I’d have loved to say which animal, but I honestly couldn’t think of a genus and species that repelled me so much that wasn’t in the arachnid family; this is quite obviously a mammal. I’m open to suggestions.

On a more positive note, my skin, for the most part, liked the humidity. My knees have never been so very soft. My hands were spotted and irritated on and off (I never did figure out why – perhaps an acute case of temporary leprosy), and I was bitten by several DOZEN anonymous creatures (of the insect variety*, no doubt), but for the most part it was pleasant not to have the flaky dry places – ‘specially under my nose, because MY ALLERGIES DID NOT COME WITH ME – rather a miraculous thing. In fact, I just laid in bed sometimes, luxuriating in the fact that I could BREATHE THROUGH MY NOSE completely unencumbered and giggled with delight.

As for the *insects, David, in his über-unflustered way, almost SIGHED one day because of the fifty-third time I’d cried out, “I don’t know what it is, BUT IT IS GOING TO EAT ME!” or something else along those lines. He calmly said, “Kate, it’s like being in National Geographic.”

He lived in Brazil for two years. I had never thought of Maryland as that…mysterious. Perhaps all the nature film crews should now quietly crawl through the gardens and bathrooms and attics and guestrooms of houses there whispering, “I have NEVER seen anything with so many legs that moves so FAST.”

Now I’m finding a certain logic to the idea of moving LIGHTENING-fast if you have three million legs. You think I exaggerate? Ha!

Self-Surgery

16 Apr 2007 In: I fell down, I Have Learned THE HARD WAY

Just because one determines they have designed a medical strategy that incorporates Universal Precautions and therefore have designated it as a “sterile surgical” procedure does not mean that it should be performed.

In my bathroom.

By me.

On my own face.

I am not a doctor, nor have I ever played one on TV. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever played a physician on stage either – a man, a pirate, severally mentally insane individuals (type-casting), and a myriad of other lively characters – but no doctor.

I did have a Fisher-Price® doctor’s kit, but I don’t know where it is, and the one they sell now looks like cheap knock-off crap.

There are those who don’t believe that my reasons for not leaving the house much are compelling. Ah, but consider this: Last Wednesday I’d fallen asleep in a chair and missed the dress rehearsal for “The False Prophet.” Yet Sarah still needed me to bring her the video of The Natural History of the Chicken during her lunch break so they could watch it in her religious studies class.
Great Cinema.  Seriously.

I drove the tape over to her high school and happened to park right behind a police car. While in the process of “tele-locating” Sarah, I noticed that in the cop car, on the divider window between the driver’s seat and the “perp” section of the vehicle (that should answer the question about whether or not I watch too many re-runs of all various editions of Law and Order and CSI) there was a sign – a professionally-lettered sign in large capital letters (big enough for me to read even though I’m extremely overdue to get new glasses). The sign read, “STUPID.”

I REALLY wanted a picture of this. But by the time I had re-set my camera phone with the right flash setting so that I take ANY semblance of a recognizable image at all, the police officer got in his car and drove away. Little did I know, this was not merely an amusing oddity, but a SIGN (metaphorically as well as literally) – something portending events in my immediate future. Alas, I did not recognize this foreshadowing.

So after purchasing Gerbera daisies for the Monkey Cats in four different hues (a mistake, I came to find, because NO ONE WANTS ORANGE) and paying a little extra for them to use lemon leaves instead of odious leather-leaf and making sure there were water tubes and purloining tons of little insert cards that said things completely irrelevant to a vocal performance like “Get Well Soon” and “It’s a BOY” and “Happy Birthday,” I was on my way.

I was driving through the “river-bottoms” (as the locals say) and, admittedly, not really paying attention to my speed, etc. Then, as a wretched nightmare from my past, I saw flashing lights in my rear-view mirror. Yes, I was speeding. And though it has been ages since I got a ticket (I’ve grown a little and chilled out the lead foot – REALLY), I know the drill. I don’t get warnings. I get CITATIONS (with the one notable exception of my twenty-first birthday upon which I deigned to use a pitiful, wheedling voice and say, “But it’s my BIRTHDAY” – I almost was serenaded by police officers, but they were too shy in the end to sing to me). I don’t have the necessary blonde bimbo appearance to avoid tickets, I guess (my apologies to blonde bimbos but your sexy wiles deserve a SMALL mention because I sincerely doubt you’ve gone to traffic school five gazillion times and had your license suspended, etc.).

And I knew it wouldn’t do any good to attempt to explain to the officer that after I’d delivered The Natural History of the Chicken to my niece who’d HAD CANCER and run an errand to purchase gifts for DESERVING YOUNG PEOPLE, that it had been imperative, for reasons that I couldn’t really put into words, that I sing along intensely and vociferously (and repeatedly) with a delightfully angry Avril Lavigne song and that’s why I hadn’t noticed my speed. But, OH JOY, since my record has been clean, I CAN GO TO TRAFFIC SCHOOL AGAIN!!! By now I am practically a traffic school connoisseur. I shall have to post an update as to how the local traffic school stacks up to my previous experiences.

Later in the afternoon, it was time for the “Solo and Ensemble” competition. I should say right off that I am NOT a great pianist at this point in time. I do have the ability that I consider imperative from a singer’s perspective for any accompanist, which is to damn the torpedoes, JUST KEEP PLAYING. Nevertheless, every so often, when I’m teaching a voice lesson or the like, I start the introduction to something and I just HAVE to stop because the piece of music I’ve just played has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the notes or the key or the time signature on the page. Then I halt, momentarily baffled, and start again playing something much more akin to the written music.

Now, in my defense, I’d run through “The False Prophet” with the Monkey Cats on what I must describe as several different “honky-tonk” pianos (each incapable of playing several key notes – different ones, depending on the piano). Then I’d run through the accompaniment on my own piano (admittedly not enough). But when we went to perform, after I’d reminded them to all look alive (unlike the bulk of the singers we’d seen who looked more or less like zombie automatons) and to NOT utilize the “Adam and Eve” hand position (just think about it – you’ll get it), I sat down at the grand piano in the High School Choir room.

I’ve never played this piano before (though I don’t suppose that’s really an excuse). So the Monkey Cats are standing poised and ready, I’m poised and ready at the piano, and I proceeded to play an introduction so completely unrelated to the piece that follows that I might as well have favoured everyone with an impromptu rendition of La Marseillaise or Pour Some Sugar. I did have the presence of mind to just keep going, squelching the nigh-unto-overwhelming impulse to make it into a most amusing Victor Borge-esque moment in which I would have stopped, looked quizzically down at the keyboard, had a “light-bulb” moment, opened the piano lid and pulled a rubber chicken out of it. Then, after tossing the chicken into the audience I’d have sat down as though nothing had happened, played the introduction semi-perfectly and everyone would have had a hearty laugh. Ha ha ha.

Luckily, I don’t believe that the skills or lack thereof of the accompanist made any difference in the scoring of their performance. The Monkey Cats did very well with their singing even after hearing the somewhat Avant-garde selection I sprung on them right before they were to open their mouths.

Last year, after singing, I took the Monkey Cats and at least one Monkey Cat Boyfriend to Taco Hell, where we spent $42.11 on food. AMERICAN. I kid you not. ALL of the girls remembered the amount to the penny. They wanted to go again this year (tradition, of course), but we had fewer Monkey Cats in the first place (and we were missing one, actually, so they substituted the “Honorary” Monkey Cat, Josh) and everyone’s boyfriend was either gone or being a “dweeb.” Consequently, we only spent a paltry $26 and forty-something cents.

At Taco Hell, when the subject of my butt somehow came up (it always “ends” up there, no pun intended), and they all reminded me with pride that they’d not poked me in the tookus or jiggled my posterior, Monkey Cat Nessa proceeded to poke my left lunch-lady arm and exclaim loudly something to the effect of, “See, she JIGGLES.” I laid down the law at this point, saying that Hoppy and Bob were OFF-LIMITS, too (thank you, Garrison Keillor).

Then I told M.C. Nessa to “look right at me and pay attention” and went on to regale her – and yes I used these very words – with a “cautionary tale” about making fun of certain behaviors or parts of peoples’ bodies because Karma would come and, pardon my saying so, BITE YOU IN THE ASS. I
used several examples from my own life.

I think, perhaps, the timing might not have been right, as they were well onto their way to being completely punch-drunk. Oh well.

But, HEY MONKEY CATS!!! YES, OVER HERE!!!! I’M HOLDING UP SOMETHING VERY SPARKLY AND SHINY!!! Okay. My young and innocent friends, please consider what I had to say when you are feeling calm (perhaps at the dentist – semi-anesthetized) and if you REMEMBER what I said, know that it is true and beware of the Karma. Thank you.

Just a few other things briefly:

  • Josh, the Honorary Monkey Cat, can “read” your nose. I’m not going to attempt to explain this right now. And he has a Cherokee butt (he said so himself – don’t think that I’M being inappropriate).
  • The daisy lies to “Doris.” Also, that song could be made ribald, lewd and utterly FILTHY with very little effort.
  • A Mr. Pringle wrote “The False Prophet.” I do not know whether or not this is the perfectly-shaped potato chip magnate Pringle or a completely random Pringle who had nothing to do with the idea of smushing up the potatoes and then reforming them into symmetrical potato-smush shapes (genius, really – processing processed food for symmetrical/aesthetic purposes and so they fit such a lovely cylindrical container).

A Few Quickies

20 Jan 2007 In: I Have Learned THE HARD WAY, My Kitten Children

Though I have a longer entry in mind touching on recent interesting events in the household and holiday reminiscences and all that jazz, I’m not ready for it yet. Please don’t cry; I know you wait with bated breathe for my next entry novel. I do have these noteworthy tidbits:

  • The GURU reigns true and mightily as always forevermore and tomorrow! Thank you so much for finding the requisite secret places. And curses on the wretched hackers who try to plague your existence. I spit on them; phhhht.
  • The Cativity is ON SALE! Hurry now before the limited supply of “sweetly sculpted polyresin” has been depleted!
  • This item has taken away any vestige of what scant innocent memories remain from my childhood.That reminds me - Where is that edible underwear, Grettir?

    “Candy” Bra

    Moreover, it does NOT look very supportive. And I feel bad for the person who had to Photoshop® her nipples from between the rows of candy beads that make up this “sexy candy lingerie.”

  • Less is more when it comes to hair products for one’s Kitten Children.

    Today I bathed them – after cutting their claws and shedding them – they still are keeping their distance from me.

    I still find the incongruity of the fact that my Kitten Children are completely fascinated by the bathtub and/or shower yet you’d think that giving THEM a bath was medieval torture at its best (worst?). They want to watch ME bathe. They’ll even drink soapy bathwater (yuck). They want to chase water from three ounce bathroom cups down the drain (I should explain this game some time). But God forbid I get THEM completely wet.

    So suffice it to say, despite my Father’s firm belief that any respiratory distress is caused by the Kitten Children (as opposed to POORLY TREATED ASTHMA – and PETTING THE KITTEN CHILDREN AND THEN RUBBING ONE’S EYES AND NOSE AND SUCH – WHICH IS JUST STUPID), I gave in to his badgering and attempted Operation Feline Bath (and if you don’t think it’s a major to do you’ve never bathed a cat).

    I got all five thousand towels at the ready, as well as their shampoo and Kevlar body armor for me (I wish). Then I got the BRILLIANT idea that since they get dandruff, especially when it’s so cold and dry, I should use the same treatment I use when I think my scalp is dry. My strategy is so use copious amounts of jojoba oil (theoretically the most like the natural oils in one’s skin). So I dumped jojoba oil on each FURIOUS Kitten Child and tried to really work it in. Oh how they loved that. Then I did the regular shampoo and rinse (and desperate wrestling while attempting to keep my voice soothing and evenly-modulated). I snuggled them in towels and tried to get them to sit by their favourite heating vents. But – OH – they were having none of it. They wanted to go far, far, far away from me and then “re-bathe” themselves (which somewhat defeats the whole purpose of the “allergy” wash since saliva is usually the most severe feline allergen anyway).

    Later, when I did catch a glimpse of each Kitten Child’s wee, resentful face, I realized that the simple shampoo would have been best (not to mention it would have made Operation Feline Bath SHORTER). They look like greasy porcupines. And you can tell that they detect a residue on their fur that they cannot seem to lick off (and I tell you – they are being persistent). I’m hoping the oil soaks in and they feel so luxuriously moisturized that they love me all the more. Or ever again.

I just thought give you an update on my first day teaching music hour for Leif’s Kindergarten class (from which he was ABSENT today – Janet claims strep throat, but I think she just wants him to have as little of my influence as possible). As I’d mentioned in the comments to the previous entry, I couldn’t “WAIT to terrify a bunch of five-year-olds with slightly tenuous control of their bladders.”

Fortuitously, several friends came through with some excellent suggestions. Zina suggested:

You should tell the kids that that’s what happens to you when you do drugs.

Yes, INDEED. Though I’m not sure I’d know how to explain dangerous TOPICAL chemicals, such as thioglycolate, to that age group (even though I also ended up with the more (theoretically) sophisticated first-grade class as well – only TEN kids – private school ROCKS).

Jenny was MOST helpful:

Just wear a neckerchief over the lower half of your face and sing cowboy songs or “She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain” or something like that. Use the little sand-paper blocks for the train sounds, and dowels to make the horsey clip-clop noises and let them gallop around the room. And ALWAYS pass out some sort of sweets at the end. The point is to draw as much attention away from your grossly, appallingly disfigured visage as possible.

…I’m afraid that if you don’t create a major distraction the entire class will spend all of “music time” staring at your big ol’ sores with their mouths hanging open and glazed, half-horrified/ half-fascinated looks on their faces.

NOTE: I have expurgated her self-deprecating remarks (here, anyway) because she has not SEEN my current facial situation, and she has the visage of an angel, damn it.

Here’s an irony: I’d actually considered (okay – WISHFULLY imagined) using some kind of stereotypical “far east” face veil. You know – those mysterious ones that obscure the bottom of your face. AND, as in the movies, you must make bedroom eyes while wearing one and cast ostensibly bashful sidelong glances (surreptitiously imbued with unadulterated LUST and SEX) at attractive males. Oh – and you have to wear “harem” pants.

While I do have zils, I do NOT have a face veil nor harem pants. Moreover, I don’t know any old Turkish music (circa the Ottoman Empire). Okay – I don’t know any NEW Turkish music either. Nor do I have any ancient Persian songs in my repertoire.

I do, however, own a bandanna, as well as an instrument that makes a train whistle sound, claves, AND sandpaper and wooden blocks and I can ACTUALLY REMEMBER THE LYRICS to She’s Comin’ Around the Mountain. I can also gallop. So why didn’t this much more LOGICAL option occur to me?

Well, it’s because, as I recently explained to someone, “Kate Logic” has half the fat of “regular” logic. And logic “lite” (I’m not especially fond of that spelling/term, but it seemed apropos here) has all the TASTE of “regular” logic, but substitutions have been made in the ingredients for the sake of the health-conscious. OR, the product has been whipped and whipped so that it contains many tiny air pockets, therefore rendering a serving lower in calories. “Kate Logic” is like that, too.

But, getting back to the music class, playing “cowgirl” today would have been a rather inappropriate choice, as it turns out that today was “Native American” day. They’d been learning all about Native American culture and history, and when I arrived they were all decked out in headbands, “leather” vests made of brown grocery sacks, and strings of beads. Their endeavor to be multicultural and P.C. might have made “Kate the Cowgirl” seem insensitive.

In the end, I started the class by introducing myself, and then promptly acknowledging that that they were probably curious about my face, as I would have been, and that I’d had an allergic reaction to some cream I’d used and it had made sores on my face. I added that it was NOT contagious, no one could “catch it” from me.

Their response was less than “Ho Hum,” it was non-existent; they couldn’t have cared less. Instead, someone immediately wanted to know if I could do magic tricks (alas, not in my skill set) and said something to the effect of “wouldn’t it be cool if I could make something disappear.” (OOOOH! Like my HIDEOUS FACIAL LESIONS or my PERSONAL DEBT or my DEBILITATING DEPRESSION or – even better – WARFARE, POVERTY AND DISEASE THROUGHOUT THE WORLD? Of course he meant like a coin or a rhythm shaker…) And they ALL were desperate to know what was in the egg shakers I’d brought. For those who have not seen me perform with breathtaking skill utilizing my vast rhythm egg collection, they usually look something like this:
I am an egg shaker VIRTUOSO.

I made them patiently wait to find out. You’d have thought their little lives depended on knowing about those silly eggs. Ah – that age before you are jaded, cynical and world-weary; I long for the time in my life when simple pleasures were enjoyed so effortlessly.

Oh – P.S. We had a great deal of fun. The children were delightful.

Cheese Wisdom

“The advantage of the cauliflower is that if all else fails, you can always cover it with melted cheese and eat it.”
— William E. Simon

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