Monthly Archives: June 2011

The purposeful tourists

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A crowd had gathered in the street. Mom and I joined the throng, curious to see what kind of spectacle was in progress.

A scream pierced the air. We got there in time to see a man hoist a thrashing woman on his shoulders, her flailing arms useless against him.

“This is so cool,” I whispered to Mom.

We were strolling through Colonial Williamsburg, taking in the free sights. It costs money to go into the stores (that’s right: you have to pay money to have the opportunity to pay more money), but walking around outside is free. This is how we stumbled across an army camp, and how we came to witness the public arrest and banishment of a woman, guilty of selling spiritous drinks to the soldiers.

It was a good day to play tourist. Seeing folks dressed in eighteenth-century garb loses its novelty after a while; once you’ve seen Thomas Jefferson buying kitty litter, the magic kind of wears off. But Saturday was unusual in that uniformed soldiers had joined the mix. Armed with muskets and sporting brilliant red uniforms, the gentlemen were striking to behold, though frankly if I’d been wearing wool in that heat I would have fainted. Which would have been okay. Fainting was a very historical thing for women to do.

We saw dead people as well as living. Call me morbid, but I love to visit graveyards. The colonials had macabre sensibilities, decorating their headstones with skulls right alongside angels. We also saw flora (we tentatively identified one tree-looking thing as pomegranate) and fauna: horses, a cow, her calf, and some dogs.

Encounters with wildlife were plentiful during Mom’s stay. Quite apart from the tick who latched onto me, we saw squirrels, ducks, fish, itty bitty frogs, beetles, many dogs, and ants (this at Waller Mill Park) and more squirrels, bunnies, deer, ants again, a turtle, and another dog (this at York River State Park). And then, as a surprise bonus, we saw a few feral cats hanging out with two raccoons behind the Farm Fresh.

Ran some errands, too, over the three days of Mom’s visit. Recycling is just more fun with another person, and when it comes to purchasing a bathing suit, it helps to have your mother nearby.

You may be under the impression that Mom and I walked into a store to look at swimsuits. You would be incorrect. Mom and I have walked into stores to look at swimsuits in the past, many times, but the important takeaway lesson here is that none of those times were successful, at least not since I was ten. Your average swimsuit is not designed for women of my uncommon stature.

Instead, I prevailed upon Mom to help me take measurements. There’s a beach trip coming up in a few weeks, and I decided that this year I’d break down and order a suit that fits. Between us we took about a gazillion measures, and– this time using Mom as a fashion consultant– I selected the cut, colors, and trim, placed the order, and panicked over the $226 I’d just spent.

Two. Hundred. And Twenty. Six. Dollars.

By God this suit had better fit. It might not be flattering, but for that much money it had better fit like those catsuits you see on Catwoman in the movies.

And I will need to stay at precisely this weight for the rest of my life.

Might have some uncommon news to share within the next few weeks. For now I’m keeping things under wraps, but for now I ask my faithful readership to send generic, all-purpose good thoughts my way. Stay tuned!


Curl up and dye

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Though I still occasionally eat meat and still consume dairy products (though I am weaning myself, painfully), I have over the past year made enough healthy diet changes to qualify as an obnoxious twit. No one likes vegetarians. Their eating habits are a continuous reminder that you, the omnivore, live a morally inferior lifestyle.

I’m not fully there yet and may never be, but now that most of my calories are coming from vegetables, fruits, and grains, I am well on my way to alienating everyone I know. It’s no fun being friends with someone whose diet is superior in terms of personal health, animal welfare, and ecological sustainability. Makes me a total drag at parties.

As part of my quest to become an insufferable self-righteous prig, I joined Off the Vine Market. In exchange for a whopping big check, they send me local foods every other week. Culled from local farms, the shares include items such as eggs and vegetables and fruits (there will be cherries this week!), as well as occasional surprises like grapeseed oil or muffin mix. Last time around I got a ton of greens, which I promptly turned into palak paneer.

I also got beets. I was wary of them, having been underwhelmed by prior encounters, but it turns out they’re not bad little vegetable. The fresh critters taste much better than the tinned variety.

I was quite proud of myself for cleaning, chopping, cooking, and consuming the beets without staining anything. But, as I discovered the next day, I should not have been so quick to pat myself on the back: Evidence suggests that I stained the hell out of my intestines. That, or my maroon-colored poo is a symptom of a dread disease and I am about to fall over dead.

(I wonder if it is a sign of fatal low blood-pressure.)

Dyeing of a more deliberate nature was undertaken the other week when I dealt with my hair. First I went to visit Hairdresser Jeff. I wanted a variation on my usual cut, and showed him the photocopy of Lady Gaga on the cover of Vogue. Not that that man needs any more pictures of Lady Gaga.

Then I went home and attacked my dark red with a bottle of peroxide. I do not think I will have the willpower to stay away from my beloved raven locks much longer, but with summer coming on, I figured I may as well go for a fling with blonde. And with blonde hair it is much more likely that people will mistake me for Lady Gaga.

After enduring the unpleasant tingling sensation of bleaching my head, and by “tingling” I do mean “burning,” I rinsed off in the blessed relief of a cold shower and discovered that my hair was still dark red. So then, contrary to all instincts of self-preservation, I applied a second bottle of peroxide.

We shall skip the next portion of this narrative because probably no one wants to read my description of the agony that followed. Let us skip to the shower scene.

(Other storytellers would at this point inject a sexy interlude, or possibly a murderer. Sorry to disappoint.)

I rinsed off Bottle o’ Agony #2 and discovered that my hair was… still not blonde, not really, but neither was it dark red. It was lightish reddish blondish.

I think the color is what is called strawberry blonde, the same shade sported by Nancy Drew. Occasionally the books described her as having titian-colored hair. It is thanks to those mystery novels that I encountered the word “titian” and incorporated it into my vocabulary, though back in those days I pronounced it with a rather lewd inflection. I was only eight and didn’t know any better.

Titian. Heh.

At any rate, this is very nearly exactly what I look like now:

A few weeks have passed, but my head is not quite fully recovered from the chemical scalping I gave it, twice. I was gingerly feeling for damage this evening when I discovered a new bump.

“That bump wasn’t there last ni— ohgodohgodohgod it’s a tick!”

I shrieked. I shrieked again. I tore the tick from my scalp.

[Aside: do tick diseases cause maroon poo?]

The tick landed on the bed. I raced to the next room to find some tape.

As I was running, and I should mention here that the lights were off in the rest of the house because I am the sort of insufferable self-righteous prig who likes to conserve energy, I slammed my hand into a corner.

“OW! FUCK! FUCK OW!” I yelled. This is a direct quote.

In the dark, with my now bleeding and already-bruising hand, I located a piece of tape. I raced back to the bedroom and assaulted the tick with my weapon. Merely hoisting him would have been sufficient, but I folded the tape so as to immobilize and, I hope, suffocate him.

Then I ran back out of the bedroom, past the treacherous corner, through the living room, and out the door. When dealing with ticks, time is of the essence. Calm and rational behavior has no place in tick disposal. This is why I did not hesitate to fly out my apartment door and straight to the balcony rail, nevermind that I had mussed-up hair and a bleeding hand wound. Or that I was wearing, um, basically only a t-shirt.

If the neighbors noticed a half-naked woman acting crazy on the porch, they’ll understand. It will confirm their suspicions that the apartment formerly rented to the librarian is now home to Lady Gaga.

Fascinating rhythm

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“Oh, I’ve never heard a pulse like that before,” said the nurse. The words sounded ominous, but the nurse’s tone was cheerful. It seemed unlikely that she would deliver my death sentence in a perky clip.

“Most people’s pulses are boring, DUN-dun, DUN-dun,” she went on. “Yours is da-DUHN, da-DUHN.”

“Very bluesy,” I agreed.

A few minutes later: “You’ve got low blood pressure, though. Has anyone ever told you that?”

“No.” Though it would explain why I’ve been feeling dizzy and faint lately. I went home that afternoon to read through the information about a prescription drug I’d started a few weeks back, and sure enough, lowered blood pressure turned out to be one of its many effects. There was no mention of funky rhythms, however.

High blood pressure is a pretty common problem, but I didn’t know much about low blood pressure. I poked about online for a bit and determined that low blood pressure is not generally a bad thing, unless it kills you.

That evening I got a call from a different medical professional. The vet was calling me with the results of Bubby’s lab work.

Beelzebub is my thirteen-year-old lazy tom cat. Beelzebub is also the epitome of all evil in the Christian worldview, but I’m not the one who named the cat, don’t blame me. I’d hauled him to the vet (the cat, not the devil) the week prior to have them look at some gunk in his ear. They gave me some goo for the ear infection and brought Bubby up to date on his shots.

“But I’m worried about his weight loss,” said the vet. “Two pounds in sixteen months is a lot.”

Maybe, I thought, but he’s aging. It’s normal. And he’s always been hefty. This is a cat who can afford to drop some weight.

But still, I ponied up for some tests, to find out of something sinister was at play.

Three hundred and twenty four dollars later, the vet called back. “He’s fine.”


“Absolutely fine. Completely healthy.”

Wretched beast. I paid how much money to find out there’s not a single thing wrong?

“As for his weight, maybe you could start feeding him treats or canned cat food.”

Well that’s just dandy. Next time I go to a human doctor, I want him to tell me to start snacking more.

So I’ve been introducing Bubster to new culinary delicacies. He loves them. He loves them so much he yakked them back up on a pillow. I tried cleaning it but the water penetrated it pretty far, so now I have a mildewed body pillow.

Ah well, time for a new one, I guess. This time I think I’ll opt for the body pillow with a removable cover slip.

It can double as a shroud if I drop dead from my low-key jazz pulse.