A Cold Day in Hell

Well, it’s the End of Days here in Austin, folks. For the last 48 hours, the news has been a grim parade of warnings on the radio, the TV, the internet: Stay inside! Do not attempt to contact loved ones! Lock your doors! Mercy kill your children! Prepare to use your orifices as currency to escape certain death at the hands of roaming bands of marauders!

I’m told we’re caught in the cross hairs of God’s very own wrath. Quiver before it, ye mortals.

mushroom-cloud_897102_GIFSoup.comNice try, but the Texan apocalypse looks nothing like that. Behold:

sleetwithface

The beast shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell in Texas  shall wonder,what is this SLEET?

Yes, sleet. Sleet has transformed the proud population of Austin into a quivering pile of  yellow-bellied Jello babies. I mean, management distributed “In case of a Freeze” disaster manuals to everyone in my apartment complex last night. HR sent an “EMPLOYEES: Don’t be killed!” email yesterday at 2pm. Schools were delayed or closed long before the storm system approached the state. The streets are empty, save for the odd scrap of newspaper that blows across the road, borne aloft by arctic winds.

Let’s review the current weather forecast, shall we?

EVERYONE PANIC

EVERYONE PANIC

Mass hysteria, you contagious bitch, you’ll never have me! My Midwestern ass understands the mechanics of operating a vehicle in wintry conditions. I get that my pipes never have and never will freeze and explode, and I know we aren’t on the cusp of a societal collapse that will force us all to barter the profane use of our mouths and other parts to escape certain cannibalization. And yet….

And yet this morning I was peeking through the slats of my blinds into the parking lot to gaze upon the natural disaster that had been wrought upon the city overnight, praying to God my eyes would be met with horrors so I could just stay in my pajamas and drink coffee all day on the futon and not die like a dog in the frosty wreckage of my car at the bottom of a Hill Country crevasse.

But a couple of puddles and a light rain are all that met my eyes, and too proud to hide, I drove to work without incident and nary a patch of ice or snowflake met me along the way. But as I sit here in my mostly deserted office, drinking coffee, writing emails, billing, estimating, being mundane in every way, I wonder…do the Jello babies have it right?

The Enemy is Everywhere

Austin, TX. Monday 7:56 am:

“WHAT. IS. THAT.”

“What’s what?” Erin answered from her room.

“WHAT. THEFUCK. IS. THAT,” I repeated, my tone drawing her out of other room immediately.

A very large…something. On the floor. Unmoving. But with insect qualities. My brain wanted it to be a rabbit foot key chain.

Sometimes Erin wears barrettes and brooches like this.

Denial.

Is it…an orange and black feathery accessory that fell off of one of Erin’s purses?

Is it a moth? It MUST be a moth. Look, those..that..part appears to be…wings? And antennae. I walked to the other side of the couch, away from it while Erin performed her inspection from a safe distance.

“Uhhmm. I think it’s a roach?” Erin offered delicately.

I thought of my bed and its proximity to this creature. Cottage cheese and coffee threatened to come up on me. I have a hard enough time getting breakfast down as it is. I couldn’t get any nearer than three feet to help confirm. I couldn’t help confirm.

We put a tupperware over it and some weight on it and resolved to tell my pal Juan, the building guy, as soon as possible. “We will tell them. And they will SPRAY.”

I got in my car to head to work. My breakfast was still sitting high, ready to defy gravity with one mental misstep. I hoped his friends wouldn’t come to visit him while we’re gone. I considered the warnings that we’d received from our friends: bugs are a given here. I didn’t believe it, but here it was. Fruition. Then I wondered what other kinds of bugs we would encounter here in the wilds of Texas.

You see, Erin and I, we have a long and loathsome history with bugs. Continue reading

Pack That Ass Up

The best moving advice I ever completely rejected was that I should sell/trash all my possessions and buy new things where I landed. But I was like, look at my stuff! I refinished that coffee table and bureau, I reupholstered that chair, I made that painting! It’s been 10 long years since the collected furnishings of my life have been in the same COUNTRY. Now is the time to feather my glorious, mismatched nest. Now is the time to pack. Marvel at my latest efforts:

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fat stacks

In the dead of a winter’s night, that crap was Tetris’ed  into a 6’x7’x8′ cube for to send to Texas (IT’S GO TIME). This is a packing masterwork; the photo doesn’t begin to do it justice. You can’t see the boxes cleverly stuffed into bookshelves, or how, like a true professional, my wall art is secured between the mattresses so’s not to be broken on their journey.

Like all great art, this piece was also an outrageous pain in the ass. It wasn’t even the furniture that was the problem. It was, and try not to judge me for this, my relentless book habit. It’s been growing, unchecked, for twenty years. It’s old fashioned. It’s a waste of space. It’s heavy as balls. It’s super flammable. It’s the only thing I actually care about in the world and it has made me a very smart person that uses a lot of words to express herself.

My greatest achievement will one day be owning a library with a wheelie ladder.

I haven’t inventoried my library in years. I’ve felt too guilty about it; I know I’ve been greedy. Over time I’ve squirreled novels away in boxes of kitchen gadgets, in my underwear drawer, in purses. I have no idea where they all are anymore. And still, at the end of the day, I was able to round up eleven (11) boxes EXCLUSIVELY of books. That’s 11 boxes measuring about 2’x2’x1.5′ – that’s 6 cubic feet, 11 times. (Right? Someone check my math.) It seemed wise to let Megan know a metric ton of knowledge was about to descend on her living space. She said not to bring it all. I’m bringing it all. It fit in the cube.

Eventually Megan will escape our living arrangement and I can use her room to hoard more books. I have, after all, mastered space-saving stacking techniques. I’m prepared to be the old lady from Fahrenheit 451.

No reeeeegggggrrrrreeeeeeettttttssssss…..

Good God, someone please buy me a Kindle.

The Curse

The Scene: New Year’s Eve, 1999.

I was 15 – the high water mark of my teenage angst. I wore lots of black, drew on my hands with Sharpies, wrote (exceptionally literary) vampire novels in spiral notebooks til 2 am, and nursed unnecessary suicidal thoughts and unrequited loves (Why won’t you look at me Chris Saylor, whyyyyyyy? Your Jnco’s are the widest.). You might have called me a nerd, but you wouldn’t have called me openly emotional. Irish blood courses through these steely veins, repressing all feelings until a perfect storm of alcohol and family gatherings unleashes them. This is important to remember, given the tale that follows.

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Honestly Chris, it blows my mind that you managed to rock these.

That New Year’s night I was a combination of John Keats + Anne Rice – dangerous territory. While everyone else was setting off fireworks and listening to that FINALLY RELEVANT Prince song, I stared down the grim barrel of The Millennium, the history and future of the world spreading before me, knowing for the first time that everything was the worst and would only continue to go straight to hell, that God was dead, that all the computers would explode and plunge us into darkness (Y2K!!!!), that I was completely mediocre and should just roll up in a ball in the attic and die. They would find my mummified remains months later, unrecognizable because the rats ate my face off. Hibernating emotions stirred. Rising throat lump….tears brimming….my mind vice didn’t activate. I became, to put it mildly, loudly overwrought.

The next day I was puffy-eyed and embarrassed, but otherwise fine. No computer explosions, no death in the attic. Only confusion as to why I had dissolved into an unrecognizable mess for a few hours. The hysterics shamed me, and I spoke not a word of it to anyone, thrusting the experience deep into my subconscious (mind vice fully functional now), until the next December 31st…when I repeated this noisy existential crisis in a new basement, with a whole new set of sorrows with no basis in reality. Every New Year’s since has become an iteration of that first nervous breakdown, with the awful additions of jungle juice and champagne, friends having good times just begging for me to ruin them, dubious men lurking in frat houses or bars. As a result, 12:01 a.m. usually finds me doing something that warrants an apology the next day.

Fact Analogy: full moons are to werewolves as New Year’s Eve is to me. One night of the year I will disgustingly eat my feelings and inflict physical/psychological damage to anyone around me. The only option I have is to quarantine myself.

But of course I’m not doing that this year.

Still, there’s hope here, readers. Objectively, and for the first time in twelves years (Christ.), I’m better off this year than I was last. I’m employed, doing something I actually like and continue to enjoy almost a year later. I don’t need to bother with bullshit Lose That Weight! Resolutions everyone is so fond of making this time of year (Zumba? Really?). I’ve succeeded in getting my extended family to believe that my sexual expiration date is not anywhere near approaching, so it’s cool that I don’t have kids. I’m writing lots, I’m traveling all the time, I’m putting stuff back IN to boxes instead of living OUT of them. I have plans, I have prospects. I’ve got a glorious move on the horizon where there is beer, music, friends, bearded men and never ever any snow. I could break into song about how fucking rad things are right now.

But just in case, if you live in the Denver area, I urge you to stay indoors this New Year’s Eve. Your city is mine, and you can never be too careful. Play me out, boys.

Fun Facts: North Dakota Edition

this.

When faced with uncharted territory, the savvy businesswoman must educate herself on the ways and interests of the people she will encounter, the general climate and landscape of the foreign land in question. Her travels have taught her to prepare for anything, for anything can happen…in North Dakota.

Continue reading

Sunday Morning Existential Crisis

Oh, of course no pickles. That would make this disgusting.

Whyyyyyyyyyyyyy: Why is this a thing? Why did someone get paid to design this recipe? Why does White Castle even feel the need to provide recipes to the world? Why would anyone think it was a good idea to fist a million shitty little hamburgers up a turkey’s ass?

Why was this goddamn ad looking at me from the Sunday paper, as there are no White Castles even in this goddamn part of the country??

Why is the universe conspiring to kill everyone I know thru congestive heart failure? Why is this the world I live in? Why is humanity fat and doomed?

WhhyyyyyyyYYYYYYY???

Disaster Relief

Nature was some bitch this week, huh you guys? What an epic short stick was drawn by New Jersey and the rest of the eastern seaboard/various, devastated Caribbean islands. By God, these are good days to be landlocked.

                                         And yet Florida….unscathed.

As in the wake of every tragedy, with a healthy dose of reality and appreciation for our boring old lives, those of us not directly effected return to the business of living. We feel the need to be louder, better – we’ve been spared and it would be ungrateful to waste this new shot at life. We must go to that Whigs concert we have tickets for on Tuesday night (LISTEN), and we must look a billion times more fabulous than originally planned, because life is short and we need to get laid. To this end, it is imperative we go boot shopping.

Boots! The bane of my existence and one true love! The object of my desire, the most unattainable of goals! See, I too am a victim of fickle Nature. Not the big disaster version of Nature, but the smaller, more immutable and damning Nature. The nature of genes.

Specifically, the dumb genes that gave me the calves of a Fernando Botero nude.

                                 JUST THE CALVES

 I say this objectively and without body-image anguish: my lower legs are extravagantly disproportionate to the rest of my body. It’s a fact. Imagine stomping around the mall with those tree trunks jammed under your knees, trying to find a pair of boots that will zip up beyond your ankle. Nigh impossible! Hence my years-long struggle, condemned to flats and gym shoes.To fulfill my post-Hurricane Sandy dreams, I had to continue the hunt, doomed though I may be.

So there I was at the store, moping down the aisles of boots meant for the spindly-legged, the trendy, the stiletto heel favor-ers. I feared the shame of trying on yet another pair, forcing the zipper up as far as it would go before it caught my flesh between its teeth and refused to move either up or down until it drew blood and I had to alert the sales staff. I dragged my cumbersome legs to the abandoned discount section of the store and collapsed. I hung my head, for how could anyone like me ever hope to find hot Angelina Jolie boots and wear them to a Whigs concert where the lead singer would fall in love with me and induct me into the band and we would tour the world together, royal ambassadors of rock n roll?

Lo! There, wedged beneath the rack of hideous Kardashian heels  was a large, boot-sized box. And within that boot-sized box, a pair of boots! Attractive, knee-high boots, grey, glorious. Could they…? Would they….?

Ziiiiiiiiiiiiiiiip. Right the FUCK up to my knee.

Holy. Balls. It was a Hurricane Sandy Day miracle!

Nature giveth (to me), and nature taketh away (from everyone else, that day). And so that night at the show, as I jammed in a crowd of 15 people (median age roughly 65) in my tall boots and short skirt making eyes at the drummer, I thought, “Let this be a sign unto you, New Jersey, Hoboken, NYC. You too can overcome the shit hand you were dealt. You can rebuild. You will be so much sexier this time. Nature can’t keep us down – let’s dance!”

Insensitivity, thy name may be Erin, but goddamn if you don’t look good in those shoes.