August 24, 2015 § 3 Comments
It is absolutely, 100%, seriously-for-real still summer. It’s August, for damn sake. Yet the other day I noticed a little flock of leaves blowing across my windshield. And tonight, the temps where I live will drop into the 50s. Cool your jets, fall. Stop breathing down my neck.
My spirits always take a little dip when summer ends, probably because deep inside I’m 11 and still think of it as “back to school” — but also because there’s less sunlight when fall comes. Brain science. Luckily, this time I’m prepared. Like a squirrel stockpiling acorns for winter, I’m storing up funny things. Here’s a starter pile, in case you need some, too:
1. Every time he yells, “Sonofabitch!” I laugh.
2. I also laugh every time I hear the line, “You pretend every slot machine is a robot amputee waving hello.” Picture that for a second. That is EXACTLY what slot machines are.
(Actually, that first song is about alcoholism and the second is about . . . Las Vegas and/or emptiness? But still. They make me laugh.)
3. My friend Sissy sent me this the other day. Either I never watched this when it came out OR I watched it and totally forgot it (the latter of which is just as possible as the former). Watch it while you’re stuck in a waiting room or something. Tig Notaro is what would happen if Louis CK and David Sedaris magically had a baby. Fabulous storytelling:
4. Oh, and here’s a floating owl.
August 17, 2015 § 4 Comments
I was just huffing and puffing my way around the bend in the hiking trail — the one where you really have to pay attention, because there are wild turkeys living in the woods here, and if you’re not careful, you’ll make the turn and come face to face with a mama turkey and her baby turkey, and even though they’re just standing there doing nothing bothersome, you’ll involuntarily startle and yell TURKEYS! and then feel terrible for introducing a tacky human scream into this peaceful mother and child silence, as if they didn’t already know they were TURKEYS.
And that’s when I saw the strangest thing.
Flattened on the path in front of me was a creature unlike any I’ve seen before. It had green scales and brown fur. Little paws and a slinky reptilian head. A fluffy patch of white, striated with silver, like a . . . what? What the hell kind of creature lay before me? Was it Tennessee’s version of the Loch Ness Monster, but freakier and indigenous to wooded mountain trails? I wish I’d had my phone with me so I could have snapped a photo. This is my best (by which I mean “worst”) artistic interpretation of the thing:
Upon further study, I realized that this was not some mythical fur-dragon, but two perfectly common animals, all mashed up together, dead. Somehow, a squirrel and a snake — I don’t know what kind, but definitely the snake kind — had become entangled and then gotten squashed as a whole.
Do snakes and squirrels often hang out so close to each other as to get smushed by the same bike tire and/or falling log and/or very large man’s shoe? Or did some sort of Shakespearean-style tragedy go down, like their young star-crossed love ended in a miscommunicated suicide pact — or perhaps a case of mistaken identity caused one to kill the other and the other to strike back before they realized in their final dying moments that they were actually friends and O, YE FATES! then they bled out? Or maybe this was some kind of kinky psycho-social power experiment gone wrong, à la Les Liaisons Dangereuses?
There was definitely something going on between these two. Murderous or amorous — OR BOTH? — the embrace was total: limbs around snake around tail around head around hair around skin, all entwined then flattened. I just wished I knew what the story was. Because you know there was a story there.
Literature is everywhere.
August 11, 2015 § 14 Comments
Last week, I had the opportunity to play some golf. Well, not so much play golf — I’ve never played golf in my life — but I got to play caddy.
My spouse invited me to come along in his cart on a pretty day, and I decided, hey, why not? I like nature and making ball jokes, so OK. After a quick flurry of wardrobe consultations (“Is this outfit good for sportsing?” Dress, no. Shorts, yes.) and a liberal application of sunblock, I was ready to go. If you ever find yourself in this situation, here are some tips I can offer you from my first caddying experience.
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1. Practice patience.
The original idea was that I’d drive the cart all day. But yikes — the slopes were steep, and sometimes we had to drive practically sideways. Although I didn’t see any flipped carts, I become convinced that I’d crash because SOMEONE has to be the exception (and because I’m so hardcore at caddying). I gave up on zooming around and drove verrrrrrry carefully. So carefully, in fact, that after hole 4, I was relieved of my driving duties and moved to the passenger seat.
There was more stopping than I had anticipated as well. I didn’t realize how often I’d be called upon to make a visual note of where the ball landed. “Are you watching?” the golfer would call. (I’m calling him “the golfer” here to keep things professional.) To which I’d answer, in this voice:
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2. Bring a book or perhaps a craft.
Luckily, I was prepared for some waiting, because hooooo, is there a lot of sitting-and-waiting in the caddying biz. This didn’t bum me out, though. On the contrary, I was psyched, because I’m always behind on my reading and it just so happens that I drag a little bookbag around with me everywhere I go. (I actually like waiting rooms and reception areas for this same reason.) So I pulled out my bookbag and made some pretty decent progress. If you have an activity you like to do and which is small and portable, I highly recommend bringing it along. Knitting. Origami. Sock puppets. Maybe not whittling, because that makes a mess.
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3. Take advantage of every breeze.
One thing that really surprised me was the presence of these enormous airplane-engine size fans on a few holes. Whether you’re the golfer or the caddy, the right thing to do is to pause your game to cool off for a bit. I’m proud that I introduced my golfer to the Beyoncé wind machine pose, and I hope my demonstrations proved useful to others.
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4. Respect the course.
My favorite responsibility of the day was filling the divots. Every now and then, when my golfer whacked a big chunk of earth out of the course, I got to hop out and fix it. To fill the holes in, I just poured sand from a little tube that came with our cart. I have a strong internal need for order and tidiness, so it was deeply satisfying for me to smooth the ground over until it looked perfect again. This is a great fun. Even a child could do it.
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5. Take your job seriously.
When instructed to get out a particular club — the sand wedge, say — I enjoyed pretending to be a scrub nurse handing it over to a surgeon while saying grimly, “SCALPEL” or “PLIERS.” I only got to do this twice, though, because then the golfer just started picking out his own clubs. So I guess my advice here is that if you’re going to make a joke about what you’re doing, make sure it’s a joke that your golfer finds funny. My golfer doesn’t watch many medical dramas, so that was my mistake.
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6. Pack a small cooler.
Here’s what you do: Load a little cooler with ice, then pour in a few cups of water to create an icy slush. Toss a few hand towels in there. When you get so hot you think you’re going to die (or the golfer might), just pull out the icy cold towels, wring out the water, and ice yourself down. You can also put a few Diet Cokes and beers and frozen Twix bars in there, whatever suits your fancy.
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I hope these suggestions will save your ass whenever you’re called up for last-minute caddy duty. When I do it again — and I feel sure I’ll be invited to do this again very soon — I’ll take note of anything else I learn. In the meantime, happy golfing!
August 5, 2015 § 3 Comments
What could a wimpy little scrap like you or me learn from UFC champion Ronda Rousey? Plenty.
First of all, after seeing “UFC” all over the headlines, I’ve finally figured out it doesn’t stand for Ultrafast Fieldmouse Carriage or Unscented Fruit Candles. It’s a sport called Ultimate Fighting Championship. (That’s the thing Monica’s boyfriend did on Friends. Remember, when Pete was like, “I’ve conquered the business world. I’ve conquered the intellectual world. Now I must conquer… the physical world,” and then he got the bejeezus beaten out of him?) Rousey’s in the news right now because she keeps knocking people out so fast that her fights are over before even they even start. Shazam.
Personally, I’m not really interested in getting clobbered on the regular. I think the worst fight I could muster would be a purse fight. It’s like a cage fight except you just slap your handbags at each other until one person’s bag spills all over the floor and then you kick their lip gloss across the floor and you win. Then you get a giant fancy belt.
I do, however, think I could learn something from the way Rousey sets goals. She said this to a reporter last week:
“Here’s pretty much the plan: I’m going to beat up [my opponent] Bethe. Then I’m going to take a couple of weeks to rest. And then I’m going to go beat up Miesha. And then I’m going to go to Thailand, or wherever we decide to film [a movie with Mark Wahlberg]. I’m going to prep for a month and start filming for 8-10 weeks, and then go beat up the next chick. That’s pretty much my plan.”
Damn, that’s resolve. She doesn’t envision herself stepping into the cage and then wondering if she’s made a huge mistake and then tapping on the cage door until someone lets her out (which is what I would envision in that scenario, because I don’t really like touching strangers and I’m very afraid of hitting). She pictures herself doing exactly what she set out to do, and then she DOES IT. She even accounts for rest! Genius! Now, I’m not into beating people up, but I do have some stuff I need to get done — so here, let me try:
“Pretty much the plan is: I’m going to start making coffee at home instead of ordering it from that dumbass who yells WHAT? every time I say my name. And then I’m going to sit somewhere — not sure where? maybe somewhere tropical with Matt Damon? probably just my office by myself? — and work on some rhymes and shit. And then I’m gonna sort this stack of mail like a boss. And definitely go to bed by 11. So yeah. That’s the plan.”
Bam! I’ll channel my inner super-fighter, do some intentional thinking, and kick some (metaphorical) ass. What’s YOUR plan? World domination? Whatever the case, let’s all get big fancy belts that say “CHAMPION GOAL-SETTING MOFO.”
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PS: If your plan is to coast through the end of summer without having to make any decisions, you might consider obtaining a whole stack of Penguins with People Problems. This little book comes recommended by sources such as The New York Times, BuzzFeed, Travel + Leisure, BookPage, and Glommable, which called it, “so adorable and true that you just want to share it with everyone you’ve ever met in your life.” Then you can use it for everything:
- Perfectly rectangular gift for easy wrapping
- Thoughtful pick-me-up (as long as the recipient has a sense of humor and is not a child)
- Surprisingly productive book club choice — after all, who *doesn’t* have people problems?
July 31, 2015 § 7 Comments
Ladypeople, listen up. Are you carrying the right bag? And furthermore: are you carrying that bag right?
If you’re unsure, don’t fret. I’ve studied the latest fashion ads for instructions, and the great news is that there’s a style to suit every one of us, no matter our needs or personal tastes. Here’s what I’ve learned:
1. Family doesn’t have to mean frumpy.
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2. Be all your YOUs at once.
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3. Make that bag work for you, ladyboss.
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4. Embrace the symbolism in every choice.
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5. Get whimsical with purse alternatives.
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6. Catch his or her eye with details, details, details.
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7. DON’T: a warning
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8. Another DON’T: also a warning
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9. Take what you please from man-style.
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10. Supersize it.
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11. Survive at all costs.
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12. Remember: One is never enough.
Life’s a grab bag. Reach in with both hands, girl.