Friday, April 30, 2010

Mouthy ...

Today I went to what was supposed to be a half-hour consultation with an endodontist, and left two and a half hours later with a partial root canal.

I was rammed, prodded, poked and scraped for two hours. Have you ever smelled the inside of one of your teeth as it is being singed? That's nothing that should be bottled, sold, and spritzed on pulse points. Somehow I lucked into an office where the person running the satellite radio and I have similar taste: Modern English, Depeche Mode, New Order. When I thought it couldn't get better, it did: The Smiths, Cure.

I left with half my face numb and tongue numb.

"Can you tell?" I asked Chuck.
He laughed.
"It doesn't look that bad. Maybe like you got hit with a softball," JCrew said.

For many hours, it was merely a discomfort of not being able to talk or laugh. Then I passed out, and woke up to face-on-fire-itis. I felt like I was a cartoon character on the hilarious end of a cast iron skillet. I took enough Ibuprofin to make Meth in my stomach.

More surgery Wednesday!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A brief-ish history of Tooth No. 30 ...

Tooth No. 30 cracked like $2 lipstick on sunburned lips in 2004. Flecks of bone chipped out, starting at my gum line. The medical term for my affliction escapes me, but this forgotten piece of Latin loosely translates to: Repeated Abuse of The Cool Ranch. The tooth failed to regenerate. Roughly 1/3 of Tooth No. 30 eventually ejected itself with the help of Orbitz Bubblemint.

The root canal was a generic experience in a generic office with a generic dentist. He acupunctured my gums, while I laid there gap mouthed and wide eyed like a blow up doll. Later I would hear fantastical tales of similar surgeries with sexy black lights and access to techno music and virtual beach scenes. Futuristic sounding root canal events, the hygienist wearing white thigh high leather platform boots, the doctor with a superfluous ascot, where afterward patients bragged: "I didn't even have to open my mouth. Fucking lasers. They're amazing. I swore I was at a Yanni concert."

What remained of No. 30 was filled in with a tooth-like material. The intent was good, but the application was a foreign boulder-like mound that I didn't trust to pummel meat, or to not go flying like a $900 ceramic spit wad from my mouth when I sneezed.

About two years later, I lost the prosthetic tooth bit when I pitted it against a bag of sourdough pretzels.

Introducing a new dentist to the mess in my mouth was a lesson in humility. She was pretty. You could eat off her shiny clean, clean face. I think she was wearing pink. This was not the sort of person I'd ordinarily invite to plunge mask-first into my horribly marred and infected face hole. Not without hip waders. It was like inviting a freshly sanitized gentleman caller into my bathroom, belching, and apologizing for not flushing after that righteous deuce.

She was a true artist with the tooth reinforcement project, and for a few years I celebrated that smooth porcelain molar as if it was one of my own. I used it for eating and everything. Then it, too, broke. 

I can live like that, with a broken tooth, for longer than you would imagine. We eat a lot of grits around here.

And then there was pain. A throbbing jaw pain that goes from the center of my face, all the way to my brain. Like someone beat up half of me, while the other half watched. I've self medicated with long brushing sessions, attacking the spot with ferocious Listerine tornadoes. Ibuprofin has worked. And more ibuprofin has worked more.

Today at the dentist, they told me that the area near the root is infected. That another dentist sort in another building is going to have to dig in there and abort the bacteria. This is good. I was imagining that this would end with face reconstruction surgery where I turned out looking like half John Travolta, half Nic Cage.

The point of all of this is that now I am knee deep in generic pain pills and I have spent two hour increments of my day on virtual beaches, with techno music and thigh high platform boots. I hate to be that cliche: Just another girl with a broken No. 30, sacked out on the couch with a sleepy smile and "Cheers" reruns on the Hallmark channel. But that Sam Malone ...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Choice phraseology and meat raffles ...

Chuck and I headed down the street to the Entertainment District on Thursday night. A little night on the town for this little couple. What with the Wii-steaming-Netflix thing that happened to our TV, I'd say we were about 23 hours from needing sewing scissors and Crisco to surgically extricate ourselves from the L-shaped couch of leisure.

Our options for neighborhood bars are: A room full of Pete Wentz look-alikes yodeling outside of their vocal range; a room full of Moose Lodge hopefuls line dancing while someone in mom jeans goes belches out 70s pop songs; out-of-season rec softball players sitting around watching Animal Planet and dishing on how to handle dating a woman with children. It's all very anti-Cosmo magazine.

I love this neighborhood, where you can always find a meat raffle.

***

My friend Hank was on his way to town. God bless him, he's a BMW-driving Blues fan and half of the stuff that comes out of his mouth would a) offend your mom; b) should be cataloged and preserved at Library of Congress.

He ordered a Summit from our booze-pushing bar keep, and she laughed like he had just ordered Foie Gras. He went backward down the beer chain, getting denied denied denied. Finally she climbed deep into the refrigeration system and dusted off a Fat Tire. She had some choice phraseology for the kind of person who wouldn't lay down his life at the altar of Bud Light.

***

I ingested enough beer to beg the question: "Why, Christa. Why didn't you just position yourself open mouthed beneath a leaky keg?"

***

Obviously TiVo has a breathalizer attached to it, and rewarded us by recording "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."

***

JCrew manhandled me into going to Pizza Luce tonight for more QT with Hank. With this particular friend, sometimes it requires less effort to take a shower and smear contacts into one's face holes than to try to fit the words "No I'm not going out" into the ellipses of her hard sell. Whatever. I needed a reason to wash my hair anyway. I was starting to smell like a bacon cheeseburger and feet.

On this night, she was a one-woman cleavage parade, allowing me to refer to her as The Real Housewife of Duluth behind her back. It made it all worth while.

***

JCrew asks me to go to the bathroom with her for reasons that remain unclear. I stand there awkwardly in the coed space, looking at my phone, looking in the mirror, studying the big round sink similar to the one at Harriet Bishop Elementary School, where I had my lone year of public schooling.

A woman totters in on high high heals. She's like a toddler in her mom's shoes, kinda running, kinda tumbling. She breaks for a stall, and a tall dude and I crack up at the sight. The she starts barfing. It sounds like a one-woman sorority formal coming from Stall 3. Barf, gag, barf some more.

Bulimia or common drunkeness. The verdict is still out. 

***

Confession: I wear what JCrew (affectionately?, Nay, violently) refers to as "jeggings." These are leggings in a material that looks like denim, down to the seams, but really are just leggings. I make no apologies for this particular fashion decision. I like wearing leggings. Tonight my friend Cork1 looked at these feats of science and said:

"ARE THOSE LEGGINGS MADE OUT OF DENIM!"

I gave him an affirmative. He told me this wasn't working for him. He's not a fan of the leggings and tall boots thing. And he knows what he's talking about because one time he dated a girl who was really into fashion and so he used to read Harper's Bazarre. "And wasn't Ozzy Osbourne wearing those boots on the cover of one of his albums?"

Sigh. Tough town.

***

Anyway, the night ended with break dancing hippies in the bar and a band of DFL conventioners singing The Star Spangled Banner in the middle of Superior St.

"I wonder if they'll feel social shame tomorrow?" I asked, as they sang and swayed in a massive wave and a woman provided a the cymbal crashes with a Rockettes brand of flare.
"I think they'll feel more like patriotic pride," Frenchie answered.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Pista fun: The Fitzgerald edition



This was so fun. Seriously. Have you swung, swang or swinged recently?

I love how it is like Christa Pista having fun, circa 1926.

Photo by Chuck. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Lies told to a magazine salesman ...

A mini meth head just busted up the front steps and gave me a wicked weird sales pitch that took me five minutes to understand. First he said he was in a contest to meet as many people as he could; He mentioned politics; Then it segued into something about American Idol. Finally he flipped a plastic pamphlet out of his pocket and asked me to buy a magazine subscription so he could win a trip to Cancun.

Lies I told him as he became increasingly pushy:

1. That I do not have a car. I ride the bus everywhere. I even did a fist raise when he said "Go Green!"
2. That I'm married.
3. That I'm not wearing a ring because we bought a house instead.
4. That I do not read magazines because we subscribe to a paper-free lifestyle.
5. That I was born and raised in Duluth.

Ways in which this conversation became creepy:

1. He told me he wasn't just using this as a way to "pick up girls wearing pajama pants."
2. He told me he was wearing a $300 outfit, and I told him mine was about $25, then I peeked inside my hoodie to see what shirt I was wearing and said "Oh. Wait." To which he replied "Victoria Secret?"
3. When he saw I wasn't going to buy anything, he told me I looked "radiant today, by the way."

Something I learned about myself in the process:

1. Aggressive young Camp Miller candy bar pushers, I'll buy from.
2. Weird shivering boyz of indiscernible age who don't seem to be from Duluth, and throw empty complements at a woman dressed in a hoodie that looks like a much-loved stuff toy from childhood, just say no. And fast.
3. I'm going to become a "Who knocked on the front door today" blogger instead of a cat blogger or house blogger or cheese whiz blogger.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Greetings, Earthlings ...


This is my friend Radzamataz. She claims to be a loyal reader of this here site. Last week she helped Chuck and I decide what to have for dinner via Facebook, and was really supportive of our decision to get Hugo's Pizza. Hi, Radzo!

***

When I was in elementary school, my friend Bets and I found a black and white photograph in the back of Teen Beat magazine of a man named Hank with floppy brown hair and acne, one of those misguided "I'll wear a suit for picture day" souls who was 16 and looking for a pen pal. He had a lot of interests that were pretty dorky, but probably not stuff I'd find dorky now.

We decided to send him a letter. All I remember is that we opened with "Greetings Earthling" because we thought it would make him fall in love with our fictitious letter writer.

By the time we heard back from him, we'd both matured enough to know that this was really a mean trick.

***

NOTE: Also, see that skinny little thing on the right side of the screen? That's where I keep recommendations of movies, music and books that I like. Like, REALLY like. And if you are lucky enough to have the exact same taste as me, you'll like them, too. 

***

Anyway, Greetings, Earthlings. This is what I did this past week when I wasn't schlepping my dogs around Millenium Park and hosing down the 22 year old boys who were gaga for Ma Pista.


FUDE
[There would be a photo here, but I deleted it in an aggressive attack of my cell phone photos. It was the best photograph I'd ever taken. Serio.]
Thai Drunken Noodles: This was ... not even close to what I wanted -- which was a replica of what they make at Thai Krathong -- but it was okay. I'm on the right path, and this one made my nose gush, which is one of the joys of drunken noodles. I'll keep trying.


Red Quinoa with Beets, Avocado, Pistachios: This seemed more effort than it was worth, but that is just because it takes forever to roast the beets and by then I'd eaten enough crackers and cheese to render the meal worthless. So it comes out as a bed of arugula, arguably my favorite green, a few scoops of quinoa, a dollop of a sort of guacamole combo, covered in diced beets. Pretty. Tasty. My hands looked "CSI: Farmer's Market" when I was done; no beeturia. Can't win them all.

FLICKS
Up (Single Disc Widescreen): Oh my Gah. Talk about a toughie. I guess this counts as the first time I cried over the death of something animated. Aside from the wrenching start to the movie, the rest of it is only super good when the characters are in the air. When they are on land ... snooze.

RRRRREADIN'
The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni: This isn't the most eloquent thing I've ever said about a book, but holy schmoly "The House of Tomorrow" by Peter Bognanni is just so freakin' cool.

Full review will be here, but other peeps have already raved about it there. What the hell. Why not browse anyway. Best. Site. Ever.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Cougarville ...



Ma Pista (green coat) met me in Chicago this past weekend. I had to remind her a few times not to read every sign, menu, and store name aloud, but that is to be expected. She did the same thing in the 1980s when we took a Pista family road trip to Montana, and then again when we went to Colorado and Florida. (There are a lot of things to read aloud between Rochester, Minnesota, and Orlando, Florida). In other news, remind me to tell you about how she inspired Mrs. Robinson complexes all over Wrigleyville. I laughed so hard I almost cried.

I plan to revisit this topic after I find a sharp object to shove into the balls of my feet, with which I will extract enough pus to make a creamy blister chowder.

Speaking of creamy chowders, one of the last things I saw in Chicago was a man face first on the concrete at the bottom of the steps of my El stop. We all kind of gawked a little bit while a worker person called for help. He had a huge gash in his head, and when he moved there was a huge pool of blood. The weirdest part is that we all kind of made a single file line and paraded around him sneaking peeks at him.

It's a cold, cold world.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sudsy ...

One of our deal breakers when we were house shopping was: must have a dishwasher. Now, we weren't like those dull eyed couples on HGTV who inevitably walk into an otherwise kickass place in their price range and in the right neighborhood and give the realtor a crusty look and say: "YELLOW WALLS? Absolutely not."

We understood that dishwashers can be purchased. But the houses in this city are old. And if a house didn't already have a dishwasher, there was a good chance that adding one would require some sort of circus freakery where you store the appliance in a pantry and wheel it into the kitchen like its a grandfather at his last birthday party, attach hoses (again with the grandfather metaphor), run it. Wheel it back to the pantry two hours later.

This sounded like a good way to end up with a kitchen that doubled as a science lab.

So our house has a dishwasher. It also has central air for whatever reason, and a dimmer light in the same bathroom where the water pressure allows for a shower that trickles like a urinary tract infection. Someday when you're older, I'll tell you about the mural.

We hadn't even unpacked all of the dishes when the dishwasher earned the unique award of being the first thing in the house to break.

This has been a ugly, ugly time for us. Or, more specifically, our kitchen. I don't mind doing dishes that much. I can build up a frothy lather to my elbows and write all sorts of "Little House on the Prairie" fan fiction in my head. So I did dishes about every three days until I got bored with it, then took a week off from it. Fire up the dawn for another go-round. Break time.

It became so taxing that the litter box wouldn't be cleaned, the clothes wouldn't get washed. Actually call someone to fix it? Couldn't. I was crushed beneath the weight of glassware. Finally I manned up and called appliance fixers, who gave me the universal advice that goes with all things that require power: Turn off the power. Turn it back on.

Thank God that didn't work, or I probably would have just stuck my head in there and set it on pots and pans.

Now, as I reach the climax of the story, I realize that it isn't very interesting at all. A repair man came, wiped off a wire, popped it back in and the dishwasher worked. I guess the real moral of the story is that now I'm a house blogger.

Know your disasters ...

I was like a block from Target when I heard my tire pop. It sounded like a soggy ba-dump bump punctuating the hilarity of trying to return an item from Mossimo's spring collection.

I totally blanked. Like BIG TEST blanked. And then solution neurons started firing. Tow truck? Are my rims going morph into modern art if I drive into the parkng lot? Am I going to have to take the bus home? Should I just walk away from this car and start a new life as one of those insufferably -- albeit ham-thighed -- bike hippies?

Then I remembered the whole spare tire choreography and got a little excited. If I could find mine beneath kitchen appliance graveyard in my trunk, I would have a pretty kickass experience on my hands: Changing my tire. In the Target parking lot. This wielding of tools brought to you by Merona and Converse. How Xhilerating.

But something didn't feel right, as I limped the Civic into the lot. Frankly, I'm not a "flat tire" person. That's just not the sort of thing that happens to me. I'm not, like, passing out pamphlets on tire health awareness, or wearing a black rubber bracelet. But I know my disasters and this one was out of character.

I'm more "spill coffee on a white shirt," or "lose important documentation." I'm like "Miss the bus. Chase it. Get splashed when someone drives through a puddle." I'm "zipper down all day", and "accidentally make a joke that might or might not have tweaked the person who's uncle just died."

And I was right. When I got out of the car, I realized I'd just run over a cardboard box that got jammed under my car.

By the way, I'm definitely a "person who brags on the internet that getting a flat tire is out of character, and then gets a flat tire." So we have that to look forward to.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Two things that would make me happy ...

Edit: In order to avoid further confusion, the person in line in front of me was a stranger. I realized after receiving a "Give me the initials of who you are talking about" IM that just because I know what I'm talking about doesn't mean I'm making myself clear. And confidential to he of the IM: I think we're good enough friends that if I was talking about someone I knew, I would actually give you their name. Not to mention that I wouldn't be snarky about someone I know on the internet. I'd save that for slurry face to face gossip. I like to keep it classy.

1. When that plucky coworker in the too-tight pant suit and Popsicle colored lipstick offers to "Make a Subway run" it would be helpful if you preempted your order with: "Cheddar. Um ... not toasted." (Or whatever the case may be). Because I'm going to end up standing behind her in line, my own individual personal order memorized like the lyrics to a one-hit wonder from 1982, and she's going to end up calling you. On the phone. To ask what kind of cheese you want. Then she's going to call you back to find out if you want it toasted. It would not be beyond her to have already called once so you could remind her you want it on Italian Herb and Cheese.

I think there should be a mandatory default. Like, if the Subway employee sees this woman's thumb angling for the keypad, the Subway employee should be like: CHEDDAR. NOT TOASTED. WE HAVE TO GO WITH THE DEFAULT! STEP AWAY FROM YOUR CELL PHONE!

2. Suction cups for the bottom of my feet that would make it possible to climb the side of a building.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

We. Like. To. Party. ...

So ... you will notice that I had plenty of free time this week. Just because I couldn't breathe or exert any sort of energy or go more than 6 minutes without either coughing or snorting doesn't mean I couldn't stream Netflix.

Here is all the stuff I made and ate or watched or read!


FREAKING FOOD


Potato-Cheddar Chowder: I'm calling for a cease fire on the war against butter. Potatoes, butter, onions, sage, a roux, and then glops of cheddar, you'd have to try pretty hard to make it suck. This was so damn good. I left the skins on the potatoes because skins are good and I'm lazy.


Chinese Broccoli with Oyster Sauce: This one is from VT, which never posts recipes until the next issue is out. But it's pretty easy. nix oyster sauce, dry sherry, sugar, and sesame oil -- heat it up, put it on your Chinese broccoli or anything else that would taste better with a thick salty sauce. Fingers, included. I liked this a lot. Although, I don't really require a sauce to improve on my veggies, so this is just extraneous.



Grapefruit Clafouti
: This one is from VTimes, too. But you can find Clafouti recipes pretty damn easily. I've made one of these before and loved it. This one was not my favorite. Strawberries, cherries, raspberries. Even oranges would have been better. Lessen learned.


Strawberry Risotto: I went off-roading with blogs again, and landed on this recipe that sounded so interesting I had to try it -- even though I knew I'd be in it alone. Chuck doesn't like the mix of fruits with meats or not-suppose-to-be-sweet things. (There will never be pineapples on our pizza or a honey glaze on a ham. ... This is a small sacrifice I use to ensure there will never be wild mushroom ravioli). I liked this, but probably won't make it again. But I like that it exists.


PICTURE SHOWS
We Live In Public: Well. This was certainly an enjoyable hour and a half of my life. This documentary about Josh Harris, Internet soothsayer, is fascinating. He basically invents chat rooms, then Internet TV, then he goes on to set up a camera-saturated underground society in 1999 where100  people live in pods and have every moment recorded for a month. When the 50 busted that down, he and his girlfriend did an experiment of living online. They hung cameras all over their apartment, including in the crapper, and let the world log on, watch and comment on everything. Everyone goes loco. This documentary is so freaking amazing. A real talker. My head is spinning.

Don't You Forget About Me: Well thanks, Canada. You let seven inane douche lords break what could have been a decent documentary about the greatness of John Hughes. I hope you're happy. Somehow these film curious clowns got access to all sorts of Hughs heads include Kevin Smith, Andrew McCarthy, Cameron from Ferris, the Juno director, and freakin' Long Duck Dong to talk about the impact of John Hughes on teen movies. So they intersperse these great clips of his films, dialogue from the heavies, and the footage from their creepy road trip to Chicago to descend unannounced on Hughes' home, an area one of the worst documentarians refers to as "his sanctuary." They rent a big white van, and sit in the van talking and talking and talking about John Hughes in a way that is less insightful than it is interesting. They took something I would watch and rewatch on VH1 and turned it into a glorified home movie. They pull a Ferris cliche at the Sears tower, and then find Hughes' home where they are denied access. They leave him this film, their love letter, and a note. He pulls the ultimate twist on the fuckers.

This whole thing made me want to drive to Canada, show up unannounced on the doorstep of the director of this documentary, and make the asshole watch the home video of the time Fannie and I took a road trip to Santa Fe. I'm actually mad.

Big Fan: Every movie like this reminds me of "The Wrestler." Except this time it is a huge NY Giants fan, a regular caller on a middle of the night sports talk radio show who lives in his mom's basement and takes the waxes and wanes of his team personally. Then his idol beats the shit out of him at a strip club.

Whatever Works: This is a moderately drawn caricature of most Woody Allen films, but still is better than most of the movies I watch. If I can like a book because of one great sentence, I shouldn't feel weird about liking this movie because I laughed out loud three times at least. I wish I'd written down the funnies, though.

A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy: Yeah. I liked this one, too. Musical romantic alliances. This little mini Woody Allen marathon made for a fun Saturday night.

TOM BOOKERY
The Ask: A Novel by Sam Lipsyte: I was Sam Lipsyte’s bitch for the first 60 pages of his novel. I mean, he really had me in the zone. I was ready to sell my stuff, buy a psychedelic van, and follow him on a book tour until the restraining order caught up with me somewhere near Missoula.

Then I became exhausted. Sam Lipsyte is so freaking hilarious, too freaking hilarious, that I actually started to drown as I slogged through his super clever sentences and whack, sarcastic dialogue. I couldn’t follow the thin plot (really just seemingly an excuse to make said sentences, more than a story begging to be told); I couldn’t remember the lesser characters.

Verdict: Awesome chops. Exhaustingly hilarious.

Full review here.

Shoplifting from American Apparel (The Contemporary Art of the Novella) by Tao Lin: Of all the vapid crap in all the vapid world over, this is the vapid-est. I have not been able to get that word out of my head -- vapid! vapid! vapid! -- since I finished Tao Lin's vapid "it" novella "Shoplifting from American Apparel." A task completed over the course of an hour and a half that would have been better spent watching "16 and Pregnant."

True story: I read more than half of this in the cafe at Barnes & Noble and knew I hated it. But I still...more Of all the vapid crap in all the vapid world over, this is the vapid-est. I have not been able to get that word out of my head -- vapid! vapid! vapid! -- since I finished Tao Lin's vapid "it" novella "Shoplifting from American Apparel." A task completed over the course of an hour and a half that would have been better spent watching "16 and Pregnant."

Verdict: Oye.

Full review will be here.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Chronology of a common cold ...


DAY 1
My throat is on fire. It's like someone tried to milk my tonsils, then rubbed them with lemon juice. I try not to swallow -- rue that drooling is passe -- and when I do swallow, it's like I'm in an anti-swallowing Pavlovian experiment. I blame our bedroom, which is so dry that when I wake most mornings I look more like beef jerky than I look like any of my ancestors.

I finish the day without incident.

DAY 2
Sore throat, check. Frequent Tourette's-like explosions of sneeze. My eyes are running, and my nose is watering. It feels like someone is manipulating my uvula with a feather. Hack, hack, hack. I'm coughing up crap that looks like pureed pea soup. My skull is like sausage casing around my brain, where someone is throwing an unauthorized rave.

"Why?!" I say to an innocent bystander. "I eat vegetables! I take vitamins!"
"Sometimes you're white blood cells just need to --" he starts. I miss the rest because it seemed like he was leaning medical, whereas I prefer superstitious remedies.

I crawl into the sweet spot of the couch. Low lights, and try to heal myself with a mix of orange juice and TiVo. When Chuck wakes up, I'm curled into my best imitation of the star of an anti-abortion billboard. I grunt once for yes, twice for no.

On this day, my cold bores of the usual escape routes, and tries to forge a path through my cheek. Acne.

I go to bed at midnight, which is, like, epic.

DAY 3
Hm. Deceptive. I feel a little better, and set out into the world. It is brought to my attention that I am a cacophony of sniffling and hacking. And when the sneezes return, and my eyes start watering and I've blown my nose every 15 minutes, I boom-a-rang back to the house.

This coincides with Chuck's weekend. We both set up shop on a faction of the couch, with our heads meeting up at the sweet spot. This is both good and bad: He is able to change the channels and fill my orange juice goblet. But this means I need to have sick manners. No balls of used toilet-paper-as-Kleenix laying on the coffee table. Especially no decorating my sweatshirt with slug-like snot trails. And every so often, I have to wash my hands so he doesn't think I'm trying to poison him.

I have the best intentions of sleeping, but instead scrape reality TV's dingiest barrel, and eventually feel like I OD'd on donuts and where I'd stayed awake for 28 hours straight. I'm in bed by 1 a.m., which means I'm closer to Amish than ever.

DAY 4
Chuck and I get omelets at Sunshine Cafe. I consider snorting hot sauce. I feel like I tried to make a hop scotch board on the sidewalk, using my nose as a writing implement.

I'll be fine tomorrow.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Blah blah blah. Food. Books. Movies. 

TOM FOODERY


Tortellini Primavera:This is one of those so-cheap-why-are-you-eating-at-Subway meals. And it took about 20 minutes to make. Oh, and it was good. But it wasn't hard and I used frozen vegetables and a package of tortellini, so I felt like I was cheating. But I did mix flour and veggie broth to make a sauce, so I guess it took a bit of muscle.





Thai Tofu Stir-Fry with Spicy Peanut Sauce: Well, well, well ... take my vegetables and dump peanut butter on them. Why the heck not? I used baby corn cobs because they're adorable, water chestnuts because I couldn't remember if I liked them, snow peas because they're delicious, and red pepper because I always use red pepper. The sauce is a witches brew: peanut butter, water, sherry, soy sauce, lemon juice and brown sugar. This was pretty damn good.

FLICKS
The Men Who Stare At Goats: I swear I had my eyes on this film the entire movie, but I cannot tell you one thing that happened. But watching it was fun.

Brothers: There is a scene when Tobey Maguire returns from a stint as a POW and he's standing in front of the mirror with back lesions, and bones that jut like a xylophone and I thought: "Was this really worth it, Tobes?" A glorified Lifetime Original Movie, and you ate like ... what ... dry tuna fish and apples -- the Christian Bale diet -- to get down to a cool 110 pounds? On the other hand, Jake Gyllenhaal looks nice with a neck tattoo.

Paper Heart: Hm. The bizarre mating ritual of two seemingly A-sexual people.If I had never seen this movie, I would never believe that Michael Cera had ever kissed a girl. He's such a  ... cousinly sort. This film strikes me as a homework assignment someone started late, panicked about, then turned it into something quirky to distract people from the lack of planning.

TV MARATHON
Weeds: Season Five: Mary-Louise Parker is so damn cool. 


READING
The Tale of Halcyon Crane: A Novel by Wendy Webb: This is what reading is supposed to be like: A story that comes across so well, so seamlessly that it is like a brain movie, that reminds you of the first books that kidnapped your attention. The kind where the bookmark is still warm when you reopen it. 

Full review will be here

Imperfect Birds: A Novel by Anne Lamott: Characters in Anne Lamott's novels say things like this:

"To begin with, you need to tell me all of your unsaids, Elizabeth. They're killing us. You've been using your sincereness in counterfeit ways."

And that's not even the Mother Earth character. Because there is always a Mother Earth character, a spiritual hippie with a warm aura and a soft lap whose words are a higher grade of fortune cookie wisdom. 


Full review will be here, too. 


Saturday, April 3, 2010

The day the cat's balls grew back ...



We wanted a free cat. One that was excess, part of a mewling litter of rejects. One that the owners would hand over like he was a piece of Big Red pulled from a fresh pack. An ad boasting kittens! took us to one of Rochester's treeless neighborhoods, where a gigantic man with a gnarly red mop of hair and a fucked up face showed us the goods: The cats, definitely not kittens, skulking around angrily. That new cat smell wiped clean. These were hissers, surly teens from a broken home. "Three months old," he croaked, obviously lying. More like 6 years old. I didn't even like cats -- this was Oneniner's idea -- and I planned to ween myself toward the possibility of not hating one by starting with something cute and furry and pocket-sized. Something more like a balled up wool sock with eyeballs, than a python with peach fuzz.

Next stop was a place with acreage near the outskirts of town. An ancient red stripped tiger rested in a patch of light from the window. A retiree accustomed to lazy afternoons in Naples, punctuating each sentence with a yawn, disregarding SPF as a fad, mice served on a tray with a straw wedged into its gaping neck hole. We took her son. She didn't seem to mind.

***

I wanted to name him Perro. At 3 months old, he already looked like a dog. The big-pawed hero in a picture book prancing grandly and checking his appearance in shop windows. Oneniner thought that was mean, that it would confuse the cat. The kitten hadn't yet learned that the sandbox under the bathroom sink was his toilet, but he was fluent in Spanish. "Una pescada, por favor," he said, his eyes shaded beneath a sombrero. 

***

By the time I scheduled Toonses' vasectomy and manicure surgeries, Oneniner and I had broken up. I understood that he was special -- not everyone has the fortitude to get expelled from community college -- I eavesdropped on myself telling people about him and understood that I'd been  duped:

"... Wants to work in forestry. He's a great fisherman and has a natural way with animals. He's a great hunter because he thinks like a grouse and isn't afraid to smear his pulse points with deer urine."

"... Pool is his hobby. So, no. I don't think it's weird that he is at CJ's at 11 a.m. drinking bloody Mary's and working on jump shots. Plugging the juke box with enough loose change to make the bar echo with Randy Travis's Greatest Hits."

"... Yeah, the new waitress is pretty hot. But he hates that long hair, full lips, toned body look. And he wouldn't lie to me."

"There is a lot of pressure on him. He's the youngest of eight, so, like, everyone is always harping on him about finding a job and not drinking so much. They need to just be a little more hands off with him. Just let him play softball and figure it all out. And pay for his softball league fees."

***

Fannie and I went to the vet's office to pick Toonses up. The doctor worked out of his home, his basement had a steel table and jars and cabinets filled with sharp utensils, and gauze to undo what the sharp utensils did. Toonses was out cold, and the vet whooshed him around the table like a dust mop, showing off the kitten's neutered zone. His front paws were wrapped like boxing gloves. We drove him home, his lifeless body in Fannie's lap like a fur stole. 

***

A few months later, Toonses and I moved into Fannie's apartment. This was a reason for celebration, kind of like Tuesdays were a reason for celebration. We bought beer. We bought tequila. We had friends. Things were getting ramped up when we decided to examine Toonses' intimate areas -- more a scientific curiosity than stone cold animal perverts. There, beneath his squinched cat anus was a soft round area. Twin round puffs, like fuzzy dice.

His balls had grown back, we decided. Or rather, the tequila decided.

"Call the vet," Fannie urged.

So I did. I called the man's home and left a rambling message about how Toonses' surgery didn't take. Through some feat of feline testosterone, little nubbins of procreation had sprouted. Never mind the fact that Toonses never went outside -- Greatest fear: Grass -- we were going to have a roving man whore on our hands, trying to plant his seed in the arm of the couch or Steve Madden footware. By the time the doctor called back, it was well after 10 p.m. and even more tequila had been consumed. He must have explained cat genitalia to me in the compassionate, albeit uncomfortable way of a single father who is charged with telling his daughter that those flecks of muddy red in her Rainbow Brite drawers do not mean that she has leukemia.

I just remember the sound of my own slurred voice asking the kind of questions that I now recognize as Yahoo Answers fodder. And his ultimate diagnosis: Toonses' balls had not grown back.