There I was, standing in line at Taco Bell

I take Jackson to Taco Bell maybe once or twice a month so that he can have tacos whose shells are made out of giant Doritos. I have eaten one of these amazing creations myself and though it's unclear whose hand I would shake were I to congratulate the inventor of these marvelous things, I don't make a habit of them because they're so delicious it makes me suspicious of what's in them. It seems simple enough, but I know they have some terrible, addictive ingredient in there that I can't help but want more of, despite my better judgment, like lard, or Channing Tatum's tears.

So there we were, waiting for Jackson's tacos, standing next to a white, middle-class, hetero couple who were also waiting for whatever they ordered, when in walked a large, middle-aged white man whose shorts were hanging halfway down his ass. The woman and I looked at each other.

"You can't look away from something like that," she said.

"If I were a different kind of person, it would be all over Instagram right now," I said.

"The People of Taco Bell," she said.

"Mom, sshhh," Jackson said. 

Then her boyfriend piped up and said, "Excuse me, sir! Your shorts are hanging down, you might want to pull them back up!"

"Oh my God," said the woman, "What are you doing?"

"I'm telling him that we noticed --"

"I'm sorry?" said the man with the prodigious butt crack as he pulled up his giant basketball shorts. "I'm hearing impaired!"

"It's okay!" yelled her boyfriend. "You're fine now!"

"I didn't hear what were you trying to tell me," yelled the man.

"I didn't want to embarrass you!" yelled the boyfriend.

"Oh my God," hissed the woman. "Why did you do that?"

"It's a side effect of being brain damaged," said the boyfriend, "I have no filter! It's okay!"

"No, it's not!" she said.

"And now we're the assholes," I said. Terrible, judgmental assholes making light of some man who was simply out living his life and couldn't hear that his shorts were falling down, and it took a brain-damaged man to bring us to our senses. 

She sighed. Her boyfriend picked up their order.

"Have a good night!" he said loudly to everyone in Taco Bell as they walked out the door.

And it was then that I vowed to only go to drive-through restaurants for the rest of my life in order to spare humanity from having to deal with me. Jackson, unfortunately, is stuck with my faulty example of adulthood full-time.


The reason I skipped last month's monthly post is that I had set a September 30 deadline for myself to finish the second draft of this novel I'm writing, and that deadline made a lovely whooshing sound as it went by. October 30 is likely to go by as well without a completed second draft, and while I am only four chapters away from finishing this beast, I find that a lot of loose ends need tying up and I can't just send it off into the world with a note pinned to it that says, "Please read this, it's pretty much done but I can probably make it better." So I'll be going back to it this afternoon, because that's what keeps me off the streets and away from harassing the hearing impaired.


Every post needs a photo, so here's one I took in the library yesterday. I was busy erasing all the underlining someone did in a book about Mozart's life when I came upon this persnickety little correction, done in pen. In pen. GODDAMNIT, PEOPLE.

According to Grammar Girl, this pen-correcting person is WRONG and I am tempted to go back to work tomorrow and amend his or her work with a little Post-It errata note. The library vigilante within me is currently squaring off with the Joe Orton-style library vandal, so no one's really going to win. (I know, I am full of links today, but if you're only going to click on one, choose the last one, I beg of you.)


More shocking developments

We have a new microwave oven, after having spent the last year without one. Heating our tea water in a kettle on the stove like savages. Yesterday afternoon Jack walked in on me heating soup for lunch, on the stove, like you do when you forget you now own a microwave oven.

Jack: "What are you doing?!"

Me: "Uh . . . not using the microwave?"

Jack: "Don't hesitate -- irradiate!"

I had been perfectly happy without a microwave, but our son mounted an extremely determined offensive to change my mind. Three days ago we were walking past a movie theater and Jackson was all, "Oh my God, that popcorn smells so good. I wish we could have some popcorn."

My response was to take him to the grocery store and show him bag after bag full of Jolly Time popcorn ready to be popped in a pan on someone's stove. Our stove, perhaps!

"Nooooooooo," he said, looking longingly at the individually-expensive, cellophane-wrapped packages of extra cheesy microwave popcorn waiting to be plucked off the shelf and taken home to explode into life within a microwave. A microwave that, sadly, did not belong to us.

It's just that we left our old, cranky one in the condo when we moved out, and there wasn't one already installed in this house when we moved in. And for the last twelve months I haven't particularly felt like spending a hundred bucks on a metal box whose main purpose is to make it easier for my son to eat junk food.

So I have no good reason to explain why I finally gave in after a year of being asked every day, "When are we going to get a microwave?" Apparently my goal was to teach my son that if he behaves as gently and persistently as water, he can carve a Grand Canyon through the microwave-resistant portion of my heart. Just like Lao Tzu prophesied in his deathless work, How to Succeed by Being a Really Stubborn Eleven-year-old. And honestly, though I may not be up on the current literature, I don't think microwaves are causing a lot of extra cancers, or damaging the brains of our nation.

Why haven't I been posting drawings? New excuse! My camera battery died and I couldn't find my camera battery charger, so I had to order another one online, where they're cheaper, and it finally came yesterday, and then my website was over quota on disk space usage. The whole thing was just tragic.

Anyway, I was feeling bad about the drawing I did for the person who asked for a fat old lady talking about sex, I felt it was too depressing and could be interpreted as the fat lady in the drawing was sad that she'd never fully explored her sexuality because she was fat. I might be overly fat-sensitive, but in order to correct an imbalance that may only exist in my own mind, I drew another picture, this time of a fat young (whoops) lady quoting Mae West (love her) talking about sex:


The lettering, sadly, isn't that great, but at some point you just have to let go and move on, even though I seem to be allergic to doing that. (Just ask Alice how I wanted to rewrite Let's Panic! when it was in final proofs. I win at being both fun and insufferable at the same time.)

This next one was for a friend who wanted me to draw of a cup of coffee saving the world. Coffee has naked arms and legs! I hope you're not shocked by this development.


Lastly, I have two Popcorn Whisperer posts you should see:

Sesame Street Does Downton, where you get to see the Muppetized versions of the Dowager Countess and Mr. Carson, and

Goodbye, Lurz, where I speculate wildly on what would happen in the not-happening eighth season of 30 Rock.

I invite you to go elsewhere

I have two posts up in other places this week, both of them exciting investigations into the deep, dark subject of celebrities that I think are cute. The one up at The Popcorn Whisperer is entitled, Movie Clips I'd Like to See at the 2013 Oscars. My main goal was to write something that would reveal myself to myself, but then I got lazy and stopped wondering why I have so much affection for a bunch of famous people I've never met. How adorable do I find Drew Barrymore? Very. Paul Rudd? Charming as pie. But it's Laurence Fishburne I'll always adore no matter how pouchy he gets, because I remember when he was just Larry, a gangly teenager grooving his way upriver in Apocalypse Now, and then the next thing I knew he was goofy Cowboy Curtis wooing Miss Yvonne with all his twangling heart, and then what? Super sexy in Deep Cover (with my other boyfriend, Jeff Goldblum), and then bam! Othello! Which you'd think would be the pinnacle of his career, but no, suddenly he's wearing a long leather coat and unlocking the secret of time itself for an addled Keanu Reeves. He's just two heartbeats away from becoming Darth Vader's cranky grandfather in a chrome helmet, and I'm probably going to start a Tumblr called fuckyeahlaurencefishburne. I'll let you know if that happens. I'm still kind of busy unpacking. The other thing I wrote is 5 Ways to Meet Celebrities Without Looking Like a Stalker, which started as an off-the-cuff idea that a couple of editors really responded to, but writing it made me realize how sadly excited I've been to run into movie stars throughout my life. I'm not sure if it's because I'm kind of repressed and these people get to be emotionally vulnerable for a living, and so they appear to be living out parts of my life that I don't have the guts to inhabit, or what. I'm sure studies have been done. (Oh, look, here's one: Celebrity Worship Syndrome. I'm going to go ahead and self-diagnose on the not-pathological end of the scale.)

In conclusion, thank you for reading, click on those links and read me elsewhere if it sounds like something you want to do, and let's all have the nicest weekend possible!

What is this?

Jack says it's a "potato bug." I almost stepped on this little fellow last week when we were walking along the bluffs. Since it was still wiggling its feet a bit, Jack flipped it over so I could take a proper portrait. It was huge! Like, two inches long. My god, it looks like a dinosaur, doesn't it.

This handsome dinosaur bug is most assuredly dead by now, and I say it like that because I've been reading Evelyn Waugh.

Growth is painful

Yeah, I cut my hair again. (Did you really think I wouldn't?) I may have to finally admit that long hair is for those who have long-hair lifestyles and long-hair self images. People who are able to ignore the pain and frustration of hair blowing into their face/eyes; who are not irritated as fuck when their hair gets tangled in their bag strap or zipped into a dress. These are the blessed, for whom being romantic and windswept looks natural, instead of laughable.

Unfortunately, my son is in the thick of his need for me to look "like other moms," for which this hair cut does not qualify. The only other short-hair mom at his school moved back to the Netherlands (so now I'm the tallest mom, too! The obviousness of my sticking-outedness is mythological in scope. Grrr, Mrs. Kennedy SMASH!). Last night, after I came home from work and he saw what I'd done to myself, he stopped just short of begging me to wear a hat. But this is a child who also thinks I should drive a Mustang, wear knee-high boots, and take him to Disneyland for a week. I don't really understand how any of that will help me blend in.

(Video made using Everyday.)

The widening gyre

STRANGE NOISE UPDATE: After I posted yesterday, I went outside to have a look around Jackson's window to see if there was any evidence of foul play from the outside of the building. Here is what I found! 1. A slight vertical shadow of dirt or something on the ledge below his window, and a smudge of something above it that could have been created by some sort of impact:

2. And in the bushes across the sidewalk, this:

I don't know exactly what it's composed of, of course, but it wasn't like any other rock on the ground nearby. I took it in to work, just in case anyone knew anything about geology. My boss suggested putting it on the check-out counter with a little sign that said "Do you know what kind of rock this is?" but it got busy and I forgot. A Google image search for meteorites makes me think maybe I'm in the ballpark, but it's still pure speculation. Thank you, everyone, for your interesting explanations for the many things that go bump in the night, I think we all need to catch up on our sleep.

SECOND THING UPDATE: Now that the holidays are over and everyone's life sucks again, hardly anyone asked me "How are you?" at work yesterday, so when it did happen I was able to get closer to what exactly it is that bugs me about it. And then I did it to the guy checking my groceries at Vons! Oh my God, I was all, "HOW ARE YOU?" and he ducked his head and gave me this totally affectless "Fine, thanks" which clarified everything. My new theory is: "How are you?" is a totally bland, rote, inauthentic way of beginning an interaction with someone you don't know, which is fine except that it throws up a barrier to any real further exchange between you. It can actually establish a polite distance between you, as opposed to the possible intimacy of a companionable (or even a purely functional) silence. So if I ask the check-out guy at Vons how he is, I could be doing it because I really don't want to talk to him.

OR I might assume that he has hundreds of meaningless interactions during the day and (a) I think that must suck, or (b) I feel sympathy for my idea of a downtrodden, ignored check-out guy, even if that has nothing to do with who he is and is actually pretty patronizing, to assume he needs me to uplift his probably-fine existence, or (c) I don't want to be another face in the mooing herd of people buying beer all day long, or (d) I don't want to live through another thoughtless interaction with a stranger myself. And all this is going through my head, while the check-out guy at Vons is probably thinking, Organic produce is bullshit, or, I wonder if I'm going to get in trouble for coming back from my break ten minutes late? or This lady in front of me is smokin' hot, I sure do like middle-aged white women with frizzy, graying hair.

LAST THING: It's my birthday today, and if you're feeling at all depressed about slowly becoming old and decrepit, you need to go here. It's a long right-scrolling line of photos of white girls/ladies from the ages of 0 to 100. (The link for white boys/men is here.) If you start at 0 and watch as they all slowly fall apart, it can trigger some feelings of doom, BUT if you start at 100 and scroll left and watch everyone get younger, suddenly 70-year-olds look fucking fantastic. So being on the slippery slope to 50 feels A-OK today, folks.

Day Nineteen

I was at work today looking around for books to add to the Staff Picks shelf. There are a few books that I'm continually putting up there, like The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate and The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing, but when all my favorites are checked out I have to start grabbing stuff that you'd reasonably believe a middle-aged woman whose book club only keeps on their e-mail list out of pity would recommend to you. I was wandering through fiction hoping for inspiration when I found an old Wodehouse novel called Jeeves and the Tie That Binds. The inside flap said rather effusively that P.G. Wodehouse published this book on his ninetieth birthday, and that this was his best novel yet, and also that it was clever, delightful, uproarious, entertaining, and fun. Skeptically, I flipped the book over to see if there was more hyperbole on the back:

Nope! But he could still touch his toes. Best author photo ever.

Day Fifteen

Draw a squirrel choking a chipmunk. Why does the chipmunk look like Hitler?

Put sunglasses on the squirrel!

Put a fedora on the squirrel.

Now give him a beard.

Let me do something to the chipmunk! *Adds little mustache*

Yes, Chuck Norris squirrel with platypus feet is killing swollen Hitler chipmunk.

You are welcome to suffer through me learning how to draw cartoon characters, but it's not going to be pretty.

This is how I know my dog can read

Peewee had been eating the same canned food pretty happily for the last six months and then all of a sudden I couldn't find it in the store. After digging around a little while I realized that they'd changed the label on the can. Nutrisca food was now Dogswell. I bought the Dogswell, and yesterday I was trying to figure out why he won't eat it. We'd always mixed a few tablespoons of the canned food in with another brand of dry food and he'd always vacuumed it right up, but now he was walking away, leaving the whole mess untouched. Did they change the food inside the can along with the label? It looked the same. Was he just sick of it? He rejected all three different flavors. Was he feeling unwell? He was acting normal on all other counts. Was there something else going on?

More to the point: can my dog read?

I feel like they want us to read Dogswell in two ways: "dogs well" (Our dogs, they are well) or "dog swell" (My dog's doing swell, thanks). The second way is kind of a stretch, as I know no one who uses the word "swell" as a descriptor in the year 2011 unless maybe, MAYBE, they're over the age of 90. As a child of the 70s I've been known to say anachronistic things like "Right on," and a friend of mine who's slightly older says "Far out!" once in awhile, which reminds me of John Denver, who was once so earnest, singing about chickens down on the farm, and this friend of mine raises chickens.

But the third way I read Dogswell, and which had to have come up in a meeting or two, is "dog swell" as in Dear God, my dog is swelling, and if we don't do something soon he's going to burst.

I know nothing about creating brands beyond the fact that it must be terribly difficult. Even my non-swollen dog who can read knows that. (Not being a member of the Grammar Police, I'm not sure if you're supposed to use "who" when referring to a dog, but writing "Even my swollen dog that can read" seems callous. My dog, apart from being 7/8 human, reads human gestures and body language at at least a middle school level. He's no Albert Einstein (nor is he a swollen Albert Einstein) but I'd pit him head to head against any one of those mob wives on TV.)

My point is, if your brand name word play is successful in only two out of three interpretations, and the third one makes dogs who can read walk away from your food because all they can think about is puking or bursting, maybe you should dig a little deeper for a new name. Admittedly, this is coming from a woman who saddled herself with the name Fussy ten years ago, and half of whose search referrals come from people who are clearly misspelling the word pussy. So, yeah, measure twice, cut once.

I just went to their site and laughed out loud because they also have a "Catswell" line. Oh, God, I need to leave the house today.

I am tired

I've decided to continue ignoring Flickr and keep posting MY random photographs here on MY site. I don't care if it's inconvenient for everyone to have to come over to MY SITE to see MY THINGS. I don't care if no one misses me over in Flickrland. I'm happy that I have a bunch of old photos stored there, especially after my back-up hard drive ate the high-res versions (low-res is better than no-res at all), but fuck Flickr. Thank you, and fuck you. I frequently have both of those feelings at the same time, as I'm sure many people do. I love you but I fucking hate you. Equally. It feels right.

Here's the birthday cake I made for Jackson.

He wanted a bunch of Naruto stuff for his birthday, some of which he got. It turns out that the red cloud symbol is actually used by the Naruto bad-guy gangster types, the Akatsuki, but whatever. We can't all worship Pat Boone. I had an unhealthy desire to be a Playboy Bunny when I was a girl, but I got through it.

Man, I am cranky. Week-night sleepovers are a bad idea.