Monday, June 30, 2008

Son of a..

God Dammit. I'm sorry to swear so much but seriously. 2 gluten-free weeks of stomach joy and I had to go and jinx it. I had lunch out with my sister today and ate a gluten-free, perfectly healthy lunch (salad, grilled fish plain, sauteed spinach) and within an hour came home and was violently, violently ill. There was blood involved. That's all I'll say. Blood, pain and oh, just take my word for it it was terrible. This is not food poisoning because my sister was fine and ate the same things and I have no fever. Five hours later I'm feeling well enough to eat rice for dinner with a little sprite and I may have a banana. So I was violently ill all afternoon and watched "The Prestige" which was excellent. I really liked it. Not that I'm all that into giving movie reviews or anything, but it was really good.

The good news is that my sister has given me full permission to write her story which no longer makes me feel icky. You know, sometimes you don't want to write about your family's drama unless they say its ok, and she did, so give me some time to recover and we'll finish the funeral story and I'll begin my sister's saga. It's long. It's like a soap opera (maybe like Falcon Crest?). You all will love it.
People often comment about my outrageous life. People who sort of even know me in real life sometimes express disbelief until the people who really do know me confirm to them that it's all true. People who don't know me at all usually think I make all this crap up. The funniest part of this to me is that there is so much that I actually don't write about that is about a hundred times crazier than the stuff I actually do write about. If you all only knew. That's all I have to say. If y'all only knew.

Right now is one of those times. I have a story and a half going on in real life right now, but I have chosen not to write about it. I feel it would not be prudent and I'd feel icky writing it. But I want to write about it. I have about a million things that I would like to write about, believe me, and they would make great stories, but a lot of times I choose not to write about things in order to protect family and friends. Other times it just doesn't feel right. Most of the people I write about know I do it and don't mind. A lot of people that I know have asked me to please go ahead and write about them. Some people have asked me not to write about them in a tone that actually means "PLEASE write about me but just change my name." Still others I know would never want to be written about, so I leave them out because I know they are delicate or private or just don't want other people thinking about them. I'm fine with that. Another rule I have is that I don't write about stories that involve pending litigation and lord knows there are plenty of those and luckily none of them involve me and I'd like to keep it that way.

The current story has pending litigation. I want to write about it. I am also trying to be sensitive to the parties involved. BUT OHHHHHHHHH I want to write about this story. It's driving me insane how much I want to write this story. All I can say is that maybe one day I'll get to.

I kind of feel like a jerk telling you all this. I feel like that asshole who says they have a secret but won't tell it. I know I am being that asshole BUT OH MY GOD how I want to write this story. It's causing me physical pain how badly I want to write this story. Maybe I'll just write the story for myself in Word or something and save it and perhaps that will get it out of my system.

In the meantime...

I am going to Iowa in less than a week. This is very exciting. I'll be there almost a month in which I will most likely starve. I have this terrible fear that there won't be anything that I can eat there. I also have a fear of flying on a little plane to Cedar Rapids.

I am still on my gluten-free diet and it's going well. I feel a lot better. I need to stress here that this whole gluten-free BS is not some whim. It has nothing to do with Oprah. I'm not trying to cleanse anything. I just wanted to stop having crippling stomach problems and by God, I have. Acid reflux - gone. IBS - gone. I still don't trust it though. I feel like it's going to come back. I saw last week that the Dooce lady went on some gluten-free diet too. She was totally copying me people. That woman so wants to be like me. It's very obvious. Only she had to stop hers because it wasn't just gluten-free. It appeared to be food-free and she got sick. That does happen when you go food-free.

So yeah, I'm happy with eating gluten-free. I got some good recipes and ideas about what to eat from this girl. I don't know if I have celiac disease or not quite honestly but with my auto-immune illness and thyroid condition I am, apparently, at very high risk for gluten intolerance and I said to myself: "Well it's certainly not going to kill me to not eat wheat and it's not like you need wheat, so what the hell." And it's not big deal. All of my favorite foods are gluten free anyway. Lobster doesn't have gluten. If lobster had gluten I might have a problem. I don't care about bread. I love potatoes and rice. The gluten-free waffles ended up tasting better than the whole grain waffles I was eating before and rice mac and cheese is not discernibly different, so all is well there. I panicked slightly at the thought of not being able to eat mac and cheese, but Annie's rice mac saved me.

Did I mention that I wanted to write that story?

Bella is coming this weekend for the 4th of July with some friends of hers and although I have to leave before she does I am still very happy to see her. I wish she'd bring that stinking kitten of hers.

I want a kitten. I also want to write that story.

It now rains every single day. It's not summer. It's the rainy season.

My parents decided to stop going out this week so they haven't had anymore celebrity sightings. They're just doing boring things like going to the dog park and the gym. They hang out at Urth Cafe from time to time as well, so if any Angelenos would like to stalk them...

Ehn, I am feeling particularly blah today. Must be the weather. I am going to go and think about the situation that I want to write about some more.

I'll probably come back later and write the rest of the funeral story.
Friday, June 27, 2008

Mamarazzi Report

This isn't a very good star sighting, but I thought it was somewhat interesting and funny nonetheless. My mom sent me this email yesterday while I was so busy reading and trying to comment on all of your suggestions that I got too lazy to actually post something myself. Also I need to mention that it is kind of odd when your mom is reporting on LA's hottest clubs.

"Last night we took off with a crew of people and a driver thank God, and went to meet this guy we met from down the street. There was a total of about 15 people. We had drinks at Besos and some delicious food. All went well, we had a ball there. We left around midnight and went straight to The Villa. This is one of the hottest most hard to get in clubs besides STK which is now off the chart. Paparazzi were all over the place. Like bees swarming. All of a sudden they come running and nearly jump inside this car. All of them have got the car covered so that it can’t even move. They are covering the car with their bodies - flashing lights going off by the hundreds. After they finish, I asked the guy from TMZ who the hell was in that car. He said Lorenzo Lamas’ ex-wife. I said who the heck cares about her? He said right now she’s involved in a big lawsuit that is being reported on. Seems they are in a lawsuit with a big plastic surgeon that has been pumping vegetable oil in people’s faces. Can you imagine? He said they needed pics to go with the story. They got plenty.

Here she is: http://www.vanityspy.com/tag/shauna-sand/

Shauna Sands. She is one of Lorenzo's ex-wives.

Botox injections, hair weaves, fake boobs, platypus lips and all, I still have NO clue who this fake is. Nothing on this woman is real."


I have no idea who she is either. I had to ask my mom who Lorenzo Lamas even was. She said he was on TV show in the 80s and was really good looking back then. I decided to look him up on Wikipedia and lo and behold the dude was on Falcon Crest and the Bold and the Beautiful. Well that just explains everything doesn't it? I mean obviously he was a huge star. Jeez, Falcon Crest. Wow. It looks like now he's in a bunch of crappy D-movie, straight to video projects that probably barely pay his rent. Even so, I mean I would be thrilled to meet someone who was actually on the TV show that came on after Dallas when I was little (this should be read as sarcasm obviously). Not that I ever stayed up that late but I do have vague memories of my grandparents and Aunt Janey discussing the capers of Angela and that no good, lazy Lance over Saturday morning breakfasts. For a while I thought they were their friends or something, along with JR, Bobby, Suellen and Lucy, their friends from Texas.

But this Shauna Sand woman, Lord have mercy. She looks like she could be Michael Jackson's sister with all that surgery. She's hideous. She looks like every worn-out, aging stripper that hangs around in the bars down here in South Florida looking for rich old men. Except the rich old men don't even want these old whores because they like their whores right out of high school. I can't imagine why the paparazzi would make a fuss over this woman and who cares if she got bad plastic surgery? From what I saw in LA she's in good company. Shoot, she'd fit right in down here in the Platypus Lip Capital of the World. Shauna if you've done a Google Alert on yourself and are now reading this let me just tell you honey that you'd be totally welcome in South Florida. You'd feel right at home and the paparazzi wouldn't bother you down here because they wouldn't be able to tell you apart from anyone else.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Read This

It looks like it's about to storm and I am in a wild fit of procrastination at the moment so naturally the internet offered to assist in that endeavor, as it often does. Well in a wild clicking spree I found THIS which I have decided you all must read because it cracked me up like nothing has in a long time. It's this guy, who seems like someone I could easily be related to although he isn't, and he just started taking advice columns out of the paper and answering them himself in the way they really ought to be answered. Unfortunately he just started so there are only a few entries so far and no archives. If there were archives I'd be here until the Daily Show comes on looking at them.

And while I'm at it, periodically I'll ask you all to recommend some new blogs for me to read because I get tired of the same old famous ones all the time. I need some new, fresh material. Got any suggestions for me? And no Pioneer Woman. She put peanut butter and marshmallows on a ritz cracker, stuck that shit in the oven and called that a recipe. That is not ok with me. And of course 400 people commented about how good it looked and how clever she was and what a good cook she must be to make something like that. So until the Pioneer Woman redeems herself by making a decent recipe again (and she has a couple times in the past so I know it's possible) don't you all be telling me I need to read her. Pioneer Woman is on notice. Also, if a blog has been in the paper, on CNN or has a book deal I want no part of it. I want non-famous blog suggestions so they can have a chance to be read too.

Someone Give My Mom a Book Deal Right Now

Yeah, forget about me, someone needs to give my mom a book deal right now. Lately she's been writing me the most entertaining emails on the most random of topics. My particular favorites are the ones concerning her celebrity sightings in LA. They're usually the most funny when she recognizes the person as a celebrity but doesn't know their name. I can't tell you how many times my parents have called me wanting to know someone's name.

Last Fall they were getting takeout from an Italian place in Brentwood and they had a waiting area with coffee. My mom wanted some coffee and this guy who looked really familiar poured her a cup and started talking to her and she knew he was famous but couldn't remember who he was or what he had starred in so she just acted like he was anybody else. He and his wife got their food and left and then my dad called me and went through this long elaborate process of trying to explain to me who poured my mom coffee. All I could figure was that he was Jewish. Then my father goes "I've got it!!! OPERA MAN!"

"Adam Sandler?? You just got coffee poured by Adam Sandler?"

"Yes! Yes!"

How do you not remember Adam Sandler and then when you do remember Adam Sandler you remember him by one of the stupidest and least memorable things he's ever done? Only my parents.

"What about Big Daddy?" I asked, "Or at least if you want to go with the whole Jewish angle you could have at least remembered the Chanukah Song. If you're going with SNL skit songs I'd say the Lunch Lady song was way funnier than any of his Opera Man songs. What about The Wedding Singer? Or some of his more serious roles like Spanglish which no one liked except me I think?"

"Never heard of any of it. I just remember Opera Man," my dad said.

I love when my parents see celebrities and definitely not so much because I am star struck but more because my parents' stories about seeing celebrities are often like this and my mother describes them in, well, her own unique way. I'd love to see her doing the red carpet at the Oscars for E! or something. She'd be way funnier than Joan Rivers or Star Jones or whoever they've got doing it now.

I've decided that whenever my mom sees someone famous she has to email me and I will post her star sightings on here for your pleasure. It just isn't fair that I'm the only one who gets to read these.

Here is the first one from about ten days ago.

"I saw Gwen Stefani at Mastro’s leaving the restaurant. I was the only one that saw her. The rest of the table missed it so when I said quietly: There goes Gwen. They all stopped talking and said: Gwen who? I said: Stefani. As soon as the words got out of my mouth they all hauled ass out the door to take a picture. I was so damn embarrassed! Holy shit it was like a stampede for free cheese and milk at the welfare line. Well as they all ran Gwen got in an older pick up truck and quickly left. They saw her but only for a few seconds. Funny how everyone expects to see these stars in limos etc. when mostly they are pretty normal. I mean shit, she’s not a rapper."

Then over the weekend I got this one.

"9:00 we decide we are going to BLT. We made reservations and as we arrived our friend called. He said Hey add me on the list. We did. We get seated when all of a sudden we see our friend entering the door with his cousin. He comes to the table and whispers in my ear: There's your girl Viviana Fox. I said who the hell is Viviana? The only one I ever knew worked for us back when we were doing the green lipstick. I turned around to the table and looked to see who he was talking about and there she was, sitting there the most gorgeous ever - Vivica Fox. Looking like an angel. Wow is she beautiful. She was sitting with co-stars from a TV show. Don't ask me who 'cause I don't know. Everyone else did. Believe it or not, no one even looked their way. Just like normal dressed people having dinner. I really think people don't recognize them. I certainly hardly ever do. They just look so much better on TV. It’s amazing how glamorous they get them looking. By the way, her body was very tall, butt a bit on the big side and her legs a little crooked. Face is heavenly. Very classy acting."

Vivica A. Fox has crooked legs? What on earth does she mean by crooked legs? I wonder if she was with the cast of "Curb Your Enthusiasm"?? Can I just tell you 1. how much I love that show and 2. how much I loved HER on that show? That scene in the finale of the last season where she cusses out Suzie on behalf of Larry was the funniest shit I think I have ever seen. I had to rewind the TiVo and watch it 3 or 4 times, I kid you not. I thought she was hilarious the whole season. Of course in the past I've tried to get my mom to watch "Curb Your Enthusiasm" with me. A friend of mine was even on one episode, and she couldn't do it even to watch him. She thinks Larry is an asshole. I tried to tell her that was the point.

I also need to add here that I am extremely jealous of my parents for going to BLT Steak which is my favorite restaurant in the entire world at the moment. I can't wait until the Miami location opens. It's all about the cheesy popovers. If you live in a city or visit a city with a BLT you have to go to have the popovers. Mastro's is pretty good too. We went over our Christmas vacation. Steak is pretty much steak most of the time. I don't get excited over it, but Mastro's had this butter cake with strawberries on it that was indescribable. I almost caused a scene in the restaurant over it. Ok, that's enough of my restaurant reviews, but I wonder what's up with my parents and the fancy steakhouses lately.

So I will leave you with something sweet my mom wrote that has nothing to do with stars. I am posting it because I thought maybe someone out there needs to hear it besides just me.

"I don't know if I told you this but I believe I did. Being in your 30s is the most difficult time in one’s life. By the time you get 40 you will already have learned that worry is destructive. Being positive even when times look dreary will get you where you have to go faster."

She's always right.
Monday, June 23, 2008

One of the Old Graveyards in Millpond


This is one of the old graveyards outside of town that I was describing. This isn't where Pop is buried, but there are these small, old cemeteries all over the place. This one is next to a field. There used to be a church here but it was torn down. I've always wondered why.
Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Funeral, Part 3 - The Internment and How I Wanted to Whip Someone's Ass

The funeral service was perfect. I won't get into all the details of that because no one wants to hear about that, but I will say that the two preachers did a beautiful job, the flowers were lovely, no one acted a fool during the service and my aunt gave a eulogy that was eloquent, hilarious and perfectly described my grandfather and all the best things I remember about him like his white patent leather, zip-up, ankle boots and his insistence on the rules of card games. She talked about his garden where some of my life's best memories grew and were picked along with potato bugs and she made us all remember the fun we had in his pool many years ago. I know this may be strange to say but even though I was sad there were more times at this funeral that I found myself filled with an exquisite sense of joy and I felt over and over again that although my biological father is an asshole that he is just one insignificant person and does not represent the whole family at all and that I am very lucky to be related to all these wonderful people. I am very lucky to be Pop's oldest granddaughter.



After the service I was worried because it was now even hotter and there were too many old ladies that should not be standing in a cemetery. Bella and I went outside and I kid you not, it was 108 degrees and the humidity made it seem like 120. It was the kind of heat where you can't even hardly breathe. You just go outside and you're instantly soaked and your hair immediately wilts and looks awful for the rest of the day. Luckily Millpond is small and the old cemetery where the Hollands get buried is really walking distance from the church, except of course when its 108 degrees. We drove through town which is all old houses, past the armory, through what used to be called the "colored section" where people were barbecuing in their backyards and sitting on lawnchairs in spite of the heat. No one has AC, save for a few window units, so it's hot inside too and you may as well just be outside under a mulberry tree. We passed the house my great-grandparents used to live in and my elementary school where I lost the spelling bee and won the cakewalk. We passed a huge old Georgian style mansion, now surrounded by an unsightly chain link fence and I remembered how I wanted desperately to live there and always wondered who owned it. I asked. No one knew.



The Millpond Cemetery is very old. The town has been around since the 1700s, so there are graves there nearly that old and when I was a teenager and used to come home in the summers I liked to hang out in the graveyard and read the names. It's very peaceful. Millpond has a lot of old cemeteries that you can find in the woods, on the edges of fields and behind plantations way out in the country. My cousins and I loved exploring them. I've always thought old graveyards were beautiful.



This graveyard has a stone wall around it that is about waist high. I sat on it many times with my friends drinking Slice out of green cans and ripping bites off of Slim Jims when I was growing up. The edge of the graveyard where the Holland plot is faces the street which is lined with white, craftsman style bungalows all of which have tall trees in the front yards and big front porches. It's so quaint and lovely you could just cry looking at this street. The yards are wide and green with birdbaths and every porch has hanging flower baskets and windowboxes. The whole town is pretty much like this. I swear I will never reveal its location because if tourists knew about this place they would descend on poor little Millpond in droves and ruin it. The damned Super-Walmart outside of town did enough damage.



As we arrived for the internment I felt great satisfaction that this is where Pop would rest and I thought, I would like to be here too one day. One day VERY far away of course. But then some jackass had to ruin it for me.


We decided that because of the heat that the internment would be extremely brief and attended only by immediate family. This would relieve people of feeling like they had to be out in the hot sun. There was a small tent that we huddled under and the pastor said a few words and we started to say a prayer, but before we even got the first line said we hear from across the street the ring of a cell phone.


"Hey! I don't know. What are you doin'? No. I'm watchin' a funeral. There's a funeral goin' on across the street in the graveyard. Well I know it's hot. They just started. I can't see. I told you I can't see. I don't know who died. I didn't hear anything about anybody dyin'. Probably some old person or somethin' -"

Then the woman, for it was a fully grown woman acting like this, called inside to presumably her husband.


"HONEYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! DO YOU KNOW WHO DIED?? THERE'S A FUNERAL ACROSS THE STREET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

He did not know so the woman got back on the phone.


"I'm guessin' it was an old person. I see a bunch of old ladies standin' over there. Old people die everyday. At least they had a long life. You know, I never did think it was sad when an old person dies, just a young person. Ok. Ok. Uh-huh. Yeah. I have to go too. Ok. Mmm Hmm. Bye."


We tried to ignore this and go on with the prayer but I couldn't focus on the prayer. My mind was just focused on how badly I wanted to storm across that hot street and whip that woman's ass right in the middle of it. Honestly I could think of nothing else. I guarantee you that every single other person at the funeral with me was thinking the same thing and trying to act like they weren't. It was really appalling. I guess she thought we couldn't hear her, but a good rule to govern yourself by is to always act like other people can hear you.


I did not end up whipping this woman's ass. I think the main thing stopping me was the heat. It was just too hot to get into a fist fight. Also I had on high heeled Mary Janes that looked like tap shoes and they hurt my toes and heels and wouldn't do for a streetside brawl. Here is what I hope though. I hope that my grandfather, having to rest across the street will become a poltergeist and terrorize her. I hope he hides her car keys, throws her coffee cups all over her kitchen and takes the shape of a dark form and stands at the end of her bed at night and scares the ever loving crap out of her until she moves away. If none of that happens then I at least hope birds poop all over her car. Just something you know? Because you shouldn't be able to act like that and get away with it.

Oh, and as we were leaving the cemetery to go back to the church for the luncheon, I saw a gravestone with the name "Cleora Sipple" on it and I thought that was one of the best names I had ever seen. She died in 1907. I should have taken a picture, but that would have been very inappropriate of me. I want to write a story about a woman named Cleora Sipple.
Friday, June 20, 2008

The Funeral, Part 2

It had never been that hot in Millpond. A bunch of old ladies were standing around outside the church fanning themselves with funeral programs and arguing about when the last time it had been that hot was. One said in the 40s. Another said it got hot in the 50s. My grandmother's friend said it was definitely this hot in 1976. I was two and a half in 1976 but I remember bits of the bicentennial and it wasn't this hot. I wanted to settle the argument for them. It has never been this hot in Millpond. It was, at ten in the morning, a hundred degrees.

Millpond isn't exactly a cool place. It's swampy low country and even though it's surrounded by water it's surrounded by stagnant water that never seems to move. I rarely remember breezes during my childhood. I remember a lot of mosquito bites. Horseflies. Haze. We never had air conditioning in the house so we opened windows and used fans. Summer sounds like a fan, like locusts and freight trains far off in the distance. Sometimes late at night I would hear car accidents on country roads where cars hit phone poles. Then I would hear the fire whistle which was blowing when Bella and I pulled up to the church and walked past the old ladies arguing and fanning themselves. One had even gone so far as to pleat the program so it looked like a real fan. I remember learning how to do that in first grade. For a while I made fans out of everything.

First we had a private viewing for just the family. I was disturbed by this. I like how the Jewish religion handles this sort of thing a lot better. Jewish people have to be buried in 24 hours in a pine box. There is no fawning over a body. There is no dressing up a body, embalming it, kissing it or talking to it. It goes in the ground and then the people who are still living mourn and talk and share for a week afterwards. The way I see it a body is not a person once the spirit leaves. It's a waste product. The body is like a spacesuit for the soul. It gives us what we need to experience this reality and then when it's done we cast it off. To me, a body is a thing and without a spirit I don't want any part of it and frankly, it creeps me out to decorate it and touch it and have discussions with it. Also, and I have been to a lot of funerals, every dead body I have ever seen looks nothing like the person did when they were alive. They look waxy and strange and there's always something funny about the mouth that doesn't sit well with me. Is this just me?

So there was a great controversy about my not wanting to view the body. I explained that my last memory of Pop was so perfect that I didn't want anything replacing it. Everyone threw a fit. Since my family already thinks I am crazy and a pain in the ass with all sorts of bohemian ideas doing God knows what living in Florida (probably selling drugs because that's all anyone does in Florida) I decided to just give in. Mainly I did this because I knew it wouldn't kill me and because I didn't want my grandmother any more upset than she was. But first I had to prepare myself. So I stood in the hallway for a while with the funeral director who thought I was in high school. I guess this is a compliment but I wanted to take my high heeled shoe off and smack her with it for being so patronizing. Then I watched all of my relatives going through the same motions of trying not to cry as Bella and I had done.

The Hollands are a bunch of hard asses; a family who does not ever, no matter what, give in to frivolous displays of emotion. At least they weren't until my generation, but we'll get to that. I also noticed that we're a family of very dominant women and somewhat passive, quiet men. I mentioned the not crying thing to Bella and we agreed that's where we got it from. We must have been taught somewhere that it's not OK to cry. Pop was a service man after all. Maybe he instilled some military discipline into us all. I only saw Pop cry once and it was over me. At funerals his eyes never even got watery. It's like there's a pride that comes from controlling one's emotions so absolutely, but I don't think it's healthy. It's probably why we're all crazy to varying degrees. You have to let it out once in a while.

In the back of my mind I had been dreading the inevitable having to see my biological father. I haven't seen him since 2004 and by the verb "seen" I mean that literally. I "saw" him from a distance in 2004 but had no interaction. I don't remember the last time I spoke to him. I mean that literally too. "Seeing" him makes me nervous. He creeps me out. I also knew that he had just lost his wife and had up and run off to do missionary work in Africa and had recently returned from that. You see, my biological father is a Baptist missionary, but his views are so radical that he goes to an independent church that is not affiliated with any type of national Baptist organization. We normal people would define this as a cult. The best way I can describe him, and really I don't even know him all that well, is that he is like an angry, bitter robot for Jesus. Who is bald and has a moustache. Whenever I've seen him he's just spouting off about Jesus and faith and being saved and loving the Lord and Hallelujah and all the stuff his church brainwashed him into saying.

You can't trust him at any function because he's always busting out with the Creepy Jesus. I have to make a distinction. There is normal people's Jesus who is nice and carries lambs around in his arms and was born on Christmas and rose at Easter and loves the little children, all the children of the world, red and yellow black and white. This Jesus is welcome and appropriate at weddings and funerals and at Thanksgiving grace. But then we have the Creepy Jesus who has a terrible chip on his shoulder and wants to boss us around to no end and throw us all in a flaming hell pit. Creepy Jesus seems to ignore the whole rest of the Bible and focuses solely on the Book of Revelations. I swear I don't think my biological father even cares about the rest of the New Testament which is all PG rated and full of lilies and sheep and fisherman. He just likes to skip straight to Revelations which is like Apocalypse Now combined with The Exorcist. Everywhere Ronald Holland goes he wants to "save" people and indoctrinate them into the Cult of the Creepy Jesus. How I owe half of my biology to a person like this I shall never understand. I try to imagine him doing missionary work in third world countries. I'm sure he doesn't do any damage and I hope the relief work he does outweights the Creepy Jesus aspects of it. I imagine the poor, heathens he witnesses to are all like: "Yeah ok YES JESUS LOVES ME now give me some rice and clean water white man. I'll take a vaccination while you're at it. Amen."

Standing in the hallway I asked Bella's dad, "Where is Ronald?"

"He said he'd try to make it."

It was at this moment that I had a profound, life altering epiphany. I always knew my biological father was an idiot but it was always like I was sort of in denial thinking that my perceptions were distorted and maybe it was really me in some way or that I couldn't trust my memory and maybe I had somehow made it up. I don't know. Troubled childhoods make you not trust yourself sometimes, but here was the evidence and the proof. Ronald Holland, my biological father, was a fucking asshole.

How exactly does one "try to make it" to one's own father's funeral? How? I can see it only if one had a father as horrible as he is, but Pop was an outstanding father and grandfather and a honorary man, who was of course not without fault, but was overall a hell of a lot better than most people and certainly a hell of a lot better than his youngest son, especially when it comes to fatherhood. I don't know why Ronald had resentment towards Pop, but he clearly did. And it makes him an asshole. The reason he gave for "trying to make it" was that he had to drop two of his kids off at summer camp or something so I guess that was a priority over their grandfather's funeral? Great values. I'm sure Creepy Jesus is mighty proud.

I decided to go stand outside for a while and Bella and I found our other first cousins, the sisters Sandy and Lou who are both extraordinary human beings. I love them all more than you can even think about all at one time. I love them so much that when thinking about how much I love my cousins you have to think about it three or four times to fit it all in. I was so happy to see them. Red birds were flying all around in and out of the trees around us and it was even hotter.

"This has been a horrible week," Sandy said.

"I know," I agreed.

"NO this is a particularly horrible week for me," Sandy repeated, "I'm so stressed out."
"We all are," I said.

"DID YOU NOT TELL HER????" Sandy said to Bella, just about knocking her down on the sidewalk.

"I didn't know if you wanted her to know," Bella said.

"We have a lot of catching up to do," Sandy said, "My court date is Monday."

"Court date?" I asked.

"Get your asses inside!" Sandy told her husband and sons.

"I allegedly assaulted Pendejo's girlfriend and that bitch had me arrested but I didn't do it," she explained once they were in.

"Have you renamed your husband Pubic Hair?" I asked.

"Yes I have."

Pop rolls over in his coffin upon hearing this and spills white roses all over the church floor.

My cousin, in a very difficult time has managed to make me unbearably happy. I start cracking up, which was totally inappropriate and as we are standing there a pair of mockingbirds gets into a big fight.

"Jeez, those mockingbirds are always fighting," I mentioned, "They are the meanest birds."

Then I realized that what I had believed all my life to be fighting was actually crazy mockingbird kinky sex. Mockingbirds are everywhere in Millpond. I don't know why but mockingbirds love the town. Maybe it's all the trees. When I was little I used to see the birds behaving in this manner - flying at one another, chasing around, making all sorts of racket and with great bravado and Mommom and Pop told me they were fighting. They were actually mating. At least these ones were. So it was over a hundred degrees, my cousin ALLEGEDLY kicked her husband's girlfriend's ass or something (I still haven't figured this one out), renamed her husband Pendejo, which no one in the family knows the meaning of except me and Sandy, so now everyone is calling him that, which is freaking hilarious, mockingbirds are mating with wild abandon and then my biological father drives up in what can only be described as your stereotypical B-movie serial killer van.

You should have seen this thing. It was old, red and beat up. It apparently had no AC because all the windows were down. It had faded patches and there were probably Creepy Jesus bumper stickers all over the back of it but I didn't look so I can't say for sure although I'd be willing to bet dinner at Red Lobster on it. The van just looked pitiful. It looked like the van of a person who strains under the pressure of having five kids, no wife and needs something he can barely afford to drive them all around in that he sincerely hopes will make it to the grocery store. It also looks like the car of someone who doesn't care about stuff and probably gives a lot of money to his church. Seriously, it was just sad. I can barely even make fun of it. And then he got out and he looked exactly like the kind of person who would be driving such a thing.

My first impression was "Wow, he hasn't bought any new clothes since I was little because oh my God, I remember this outfit." High waisted pants, wide tie, short sleeve button up shirt. He looked exactly like he could be in the Beastie Boys "Sabotage" video, moustache and all. Pitiful and not scary at all. He just looked like a small, confused, bitter, sorry little person. And I thought "I must be extraordinarily intimidating to this man." So I turned, grabbed Sandy's arm and walked into the church.
Thursday, June 19, 2008

Iowa

I'm supposed to leave for Iowa City in a little over two weeks. I've been planning this for a while. I'm supposed to be there for almost a month. Now it looks like the city has just washed away. Having some experience with this sort of thing I know that the news can make disasters look worse, or at least, different than they actually are. On many occasions I have been in the middle of something and then have seen how the news has portrayed it and thought "Jeez, it wasn't even close to that in real life." I have called my landlord and some local businesses and all assure me that everything is fine up there. So I have no idea if I have any readers in or near Iowa, but if I do I was hoping maybe you could comment and give me a realistic assessment of the situation so I will know if I am going there to write or if I'm going there to do relief work. I just kind of want to know what I'm in for.

Also please don't blame me for this Iowans. I can't help it that whenever I go somewhere or am about to go somewhere that dramatic natural and unnatural disasters always seem to occur. I don't really know why that is.

Today I have school and tonight I get to go to a fancy party, but I'll write the second half of the funeral story tomorrow wherein I am blamed for the worst heatwave to hit the East Coast in pretty much ever.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Why?

The other day I was in the bookstore bathroom of all places (because God knows I am very familiar with bathrooms these days) and I go to wash my hands and see this on the soap dispenser. It reads "Don't not put Soap in till 11:25 am." Because I am the kind of person who thinks deeply about these sorts of things I began to ponder this note. My first thought was naturally "How come? WHY can we not not put soap in 'til 11:25 am?" These are the sorts of mysteries that could drive one out of one's mind. I began to perform a close reading of the bathroom note.


Naturally the eye is first drawn towards the use of the double negative "don't not put soap in." Does this in fact mean that we ARE to put soap in before 11:25 am? When before 11:25 am? Just any time, but no later than 11:25am? Considering the matter further I realized that the note likely means that we are to put the soap in but this must be done after 11:25 am. The mistake they made was not to use a triple negative, which would read as follows: "Don't not put NO soap in til 11:25 am." See, had we been in the real Dirty South instead of the tropical New York of South Florida the note likely would have read correctly, especially if one of my relatives had written it.

Still though, I felt dissatisfied. It really ate at me wondering why we couldn't put soap in until 11:25 am. I also have to add in that this photograph was taken around 2:30 pm and that there was no soap in the dispenser. My theory is that the note was just too vague. It didn't say to put the soap in AT 11:25. It just said don't not do it "TILL" 11:25. Well that could mean that as long as you don't not put the soap in until 11:25 am that you could really not put it in anytime after that and anytime after that could mean pretty much whenever throughout the entire infinite future. It could be somewhere around 2017 until we get some soap in the bookstore ladies' room with instructions like that. But still I wonder, why not before 11:25 am? And why specifically 11:25 am? What would have happened if someone had tried to put soap in say at 11:23 am? Why would the time matter when it comes to the not putting of soap in a dispenser? And why not just make it an even 11:30 here? I mean honestly, would those extra five minutes have mattered? I tend to like things that happen at even 15 minute intervals. It has always irritated me to no end to see train schedules and the like where modes of transportation arrive and depart at odd times such as 5:58 pm. Why can't they just say 6:00? Do those extra two minutes make that much difference in the grand scheme of things? I don't not think they do.

Perhaps the reason there was no soap in the dispenser was because the person who was supposed to put the soap in was out working on a garden. Given the instructions this was entirely feasible. Read as such: "Don't not put the soap in. Till 11:25 am" the note takes on a very different meaning. It really says DO put the soap in (but this can easily be mistaken as simply DON'T put the soap in because double negatives are confusing) and then "Till 11:25 am." Obviously the bathroom person read this and thought his or her instructions were to go and till a field at 11:25 am, so he or she probably did that, wondering all the while where in the job description of bookstore bathroom attendant, farm work came into play.

I considered sending this here for further examination, but as there were no quotation marks I thought it wasn't appropriate content. Oh, how much better this note could have been with some quotes. Imagine if the quotes had been around the word "soap." Think of all the possibilities for meaning we could have found there.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Gratuitous Kittenry

These days it just doesn't feel quite like a real blog without gratuitous kitten shots so here you go, as promised. This is Bella's kitten Pepper looking uncharacteristically pensive. I think a second after I snapped this he sprang at my face, climbed on top of my head, leaped to the bookshelf and somehow ended up wobbling on top of the doorframe. He's cute though with those big ears and the little black nose. I think he's going to be a pointy-faced cat when he grows up. Does anyone else say that? There are some cats that are pointy-faced and some that are round-faced. I tend to favor the round-faced camp myself. Canela is very round-faced. When I went to Israel all the cats there were pointy-faced. In England the cats were all super-extra-round-facers.

The Funeral, Part 1

I still have that overwhelmed feeling for some reason, but I feel inspired to blog again. This has something to do with the fact that I have a paper due for school. It's about why all of a sudden there are so many memoirs being published about people adopting different types of movements in eating like Slow Food and Locavore and all that. When I have papers like that due I suddenly feel an irresistible urge to blog. I have no idea why that could possibly be, ahem.

Speaking of memoir...I normally really follow the biggest rule of memoir writing on here, and that is to never write about shit you're going through right in the middle of the going through it. This is because you run the risk of sounding like a crazy person for one and secondly because to tell a truly good story and to make your life into a story and not just a ranting diary entry, you need some time to reflect and get a sense of distance from the events. You have to think about what happened after the whole thing is over and then you'll gain insight and depth about the situation. This is something that I really "get" about writing. That has a lot to do with why I didn't want to write about Pop's funeral and my grief and all that, but I've decided that I will try to write about it and that I will try to break the rule and see what happens. I mean, my God, what are rules for if not to be broken sometimes? Pop would totally disagree of course because he was all about some rules. Pop loved rules so much that my aunt even mentioned in his eulogy how much of a stickler he was about the rules of card games. He also hated surprises and planned everything out endlessly to the last second. That must be where I get that nonsense from.

I am now 100% convinced that Aaron Spelling is up in Heaven writing out the remaining script of my life. There is just no other explanation. Eudora Welty is helping him because my time up in Millpond last week was like a prime time soap opera set in the South of 60 years ago. To make matters worse it was exactly 9,081 degrees for the entire time I was there and I nearly roasted alive on several occasions and I began to curse the tradition of wearing black at funerals. I was like a live solar panel standing in the cemetary.

Bella picked me up at the airport and we commenced a five day marathon of trying not to cry. I don't remember ever in my life trying not to cry for such an extended period of time. I had a constant headache from the pressure and I couldn't talk right because every time I tried to say something this awful, high pitched Minnie Mouse voice would come out. Every time I would look at her we would get that feeling like we were going to fly into hysterics and for some reason we just wouldn't allow ourselves to cry. See, this is one of those things that if I had the distance I would probably be able to reflect philosophically about, but since this was only last week I am still in the middle of trying not to cry, though it has gotten better. I think maybe we were afraid we wouldn't be able to stop. Maybe if we let ourselves cry we would cry for years and fill up drained swimming pools with tears and our faces would be splotchy and red forever.

And so we began to compartmentalize, something I do disturbingly well. Bella and I had nothing to do the first day I was there. Her parents were taking care of everything and they told us to just show up early to the funeral the next day. That left us with a day to fill. We decided to go to JC Penney's. I haven't been to a JC Penney's since I was about three. I don't even think we have one anywhere near where I live. It was like going back to 1977 again. Bella decided she wanted a Tank-kini or some such and most of a trailer park was in the store the day we were there buying prom dresses - big taffeta and tulle, yellow prom dresses guaranteed to make anyone wearing them look like a baby chick that has been recently blow dried or electrocuted.

Surprisingly I found some really pretty dresses and I was all excited thinking I was going to buy some crap I didn't need to make myself feel better for about two minutes. This was not to be. The dress I wanted in JC Penney's cost $80.00!!! I thought JC Penney's was an inexpensive store. I was outraged. Who knew there was a dress for sale in Millpond that cost $80.00? I tried to find it on the Penney's website so you all could see it but it isn't on there. Another thing I discovered is that all the dresses at Ross come from JC Penney. Same brands. So I guess maybe I can get the dress at Ross next summer for about $5.99.

That night Bella and I got the brilliant idea to eat dinner at Red Lobster, for the seafood lover in us, because it was Pop's favorite restaurant. Pop loved him some Admiral's Feast. Please don't get the idea that there is a Red Lobster in Millpond. There is not. One must drive some distance to get to the Red Lobster and this must only be done on very special occasions. At the risk of sounding icky, can I just say that Red Lobster is the ghetto-est place I think I have ever been? Wow. Red Lobster is a hot ghetto mess, but you know, that just made it all the more fun and entertaining. There was a girl in front of us who had one some Daisy Dukes that were so short and so small that we could see 3/4 of her behind and most of her cooch hanging out. And she had on fake eyelashes, glittery aqua eye shadow and a merlot colored hairweave. I wish I were kidding about this, but on the way out I stepped on a piece of the hairweave that had fallen out. She and her friends were all drinking Hypnotiq and having a really good time, which made me happy to see. But hot ghetto mess aside, I confess that my Red Lobster dinner did not disappoint. Where else can you get a steamed lobster and a baked potato for under $25 and how can you screw up a lobster and a potato anyway?

Afterwards we went back to Bella's apartment and played with her kitten. The highlight of my trip had to be this kitten, which is so tiny that he could fit into a clutch purse with extra room. His name is Pepper. He looks kind of like Canela and he gets into everything. He's at that stage kittens go through where they try to climb up your bare skin and where their teeny weeny claws and teeth feel like needles. I'll post some pictures of him because you will die from cuteness. I'm not kidding. The cuteness will turn you to stone if you look at it too long.

Bella and I had to drive some distance to get to the funeral and we had to drive very early in the morning and it was a very foggy morning. Naturally I got diarrhea. I am beginning to think that I have somehow acquired amoebic dysentary. I swear to God I have an intestinal parasite. I'm trying a gluten-free diet and everything but nothing is working. Maybe I just had terrible nerves. Maybe I have celiac disease, amoebas AND nerves, which would be just my luck, right? I'm beginning to pop the Immodium chewables like they're buttermints here lately.

We're driving in Bella's Mini-Cooper and I'm in a cold sweat, cursing this desolate stretch of state we're driving through that has nothing but fetid swamp land. I broke out into a cold sweat. I considered going to the bathroom on the side of the road.

"STOP SOMEWHERE!!!" I yelled at Bella.

"I don't know where you think you are, but there is NOWHERE to stop!!"

Finally we found a diner off an exit. The diner overlooked some more swampland. It was still very foggy. As we pulled off the highway (if you can even call it that, really) a guy with no helmet passed us on a motorcycle.

"He needs to be wearing a helmet," Bella said.

"Jeez I know, what's wrong with these people?" I replied.

I ran in to use the diner's bathroom. I heard a terrible noise, which I took to be the clanging of the short order cook's skillets. When I came out Bella was freaked out and everyone had rushed out of the diner, coffee cups in their hands to stand on the corner of the road in the fog looking at something. The guy on the motorcycle had been hit and the ambulance hadn't even arrived, but it was pretty obvious the ambulance wouldn't be doing much more than taking this guy to the morgue. It was a mess and they closed the road so we were stuck for about a half hour while they cleaned it up.

"We JUST saw him," we kept repeating to one another. It was the strangest thing, seeing someone, seconds before their death. And he was young. Unlike Pop he was healthy. He was going somewhere. He was perfectly fine. Then he was dead. Just like that. Dead. In situations like this I always wish I could have warned the person. I wish I knew and I could have rolled down the window and been like:

"Hey man, you're gonna die in less than two minutes. Don't make that turn."

Once I went to a dinner party. A man there had to leave early to pick up some work associates at the airport. Then he was to drive them a few hours north of here for a conference. On the way, after picking the men up, the man I had dinner with fell asleep at the wheel, ran off a bridge and died along with his three other coworkers. I shared this man's last meal with him and for years, still even, I am haunted by this. I wish I could have said:

"Maybe you should rest a little before you leave. Don't have the decaf. You'll need the regular."

Or:

"You're going to die tonight. Be careful driving because you're going to kill yourself and three other people tonight. This is your last meal. You better have dessert."

I wish I knew the dates of everyone's deaths so I could tell them in advance so that they could make the most of what they've got left. Pop, you're going to die in June, 2008. Take the trip to Vegas. Just do it. I wish I could have told my stepmother she would only live to be barely 50. I think this might have made her a better person. I also think I am wrong about that.

It is a cliche of the worst kind. We're all dying. But we're all alive.
Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sad News

I debated for a while about announcing this. I don't like to broadcast things like this so publicly (unlike everything else) but my grandfather died and I have been in Millpond, which is the reason for the abrupt interruption of my coconut posts. I've been very busy with this, and sad and overwhelmed to a point where writing was about the last thing on my mind. Plus, there is no Internet in Millpond. I think maybe some people have it at work if they work in other cities and maybe like the mayor has an AOL account or something, but other than that for the past week I've been stuck in some kind of Flannery O'Connor/ Eudora Welty/ Carson McCullers story circa about 1950 and that just served to make me sadder in that awful nostalgic way I get sometimes. I think that I will write about all the things that happened, because Lord knows in the midst of tragedy odd, funny things are bound to happen, especially in the South and especially when it's 108 degrees, but I need a few days to get myself back in order and feel a little better about things. I'm back home now and catching up on my work. Every day I wake up feeling better than the day before and I know Pop is at peace now and not in pain anymore which makes me less sad, but even when you're as prepared for these things as I was, it doesn't seem to make it any easier I guess.
Thursday, June 05, 2008

More Coconut Insanity

A lot of people have sent me this link, and I thank every one of you very much. The problem is that it refers to the brown, fuzzy monkey face kind of coconuts you get in the grocery store. My issue is more complicated. My coconuts are encased in very hard, fibrous, thick green husks so I can't even get anywhere near the monkey face nut inside. I've been struggling with how to get the green husk off and it is tough. I think they call the coconut fiber from the husk copra and in other countries they make things out of it. I'll bet the things they make are extremely sturdy.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Part 3 Coco-Explosion

Do you have any idea how much being right in this circumstance made me happy? Can you even comprehend my joy when the next day after Husband removed forty coconuts from the tree, forty more coconuts really did fall out of the tree? See, people always make fun of me for worrying about nonsense that could never really happen. Well, it did happen. We were having breakfast when we heard a startling cacaphony. It almost sounded like thunder, but that's so cliche. It sounded like a deadly construction accident. It sounded like a car fell out of the sky and into a backyard. We ran outside and this is what we found. Coconuts were everywhere. It looked like a coco-explosion.



Coconuts were all over the place. You wouldn't believe how far they rolled. They fell into a flower bed and crushed all of my California Poppy seedlings and threw dirt all over the place.



This should offer you more perspective of how far they traveled. They were all on the other side of the tree and not visible in the picture too. This left us with even more coconuts on our hands and still no way to open them. But I was right. Coconuts really do fall out of trees. Can you imagine the injuries someone would have had if they had been standing anywhere near the coco-explosion? Worse yet they could have been killed. I am right. Ha. Coconuts really do fall out of trees.

Coconuts Part 2



Husband was very excited to get the coconuts down from the tree. As you remember from the last installment, the coconuts were giving me a panic attack because there were so many and I was convinced they were going to fall and kill someone or destroy the neighborhood in the event of a hurricane. Husband, who doesn't perceive the world as I do, did not think for a second that coconuts could ever fall out of a tree and hurt anymore, but still was quite excited to get the coconuts out of the tree because he believed we were sitting on a coconut goldmine. Money, in other words, really did grow on trees. He also wanted to eat the coconuts and I admit I kind of did too. So Husband pulled out the ladder, set it up in an extremely dangerous fashion, climbed up it with pruning shears and proceeded to cut down about forty coconuts. The picture above was taken immediately after the removal of the forty coconuts. The tree looks a lot lighter.

But then there was the question of what to do with them now. Husband wanted to eat them. I thought this sounded interesting. I had just read somewhere that coconuts are the same chemical composition as the human body or some such and that they have more electolytes than Gatorade and are really good for you if you're sick or dehydrated or hung over. I don't know if this is true, but it was intriguing. We decided to eat some coconuts. We felt all locavore and like we were living off the land and this was a very exciting feeling for all of about thirty seconds, because then we had to face the big question of the day - How Exactly Does One Open a Coconut?

I have seen the Discovery Channel people. I knew how to open a coconut. You have to have a sharp stick, upon which you impale the coconut and then hack at it with a machete. The problem was we didn't have an sharp sticks or machetes. Well, surely, I thought, it can't be that hard because people who wash up on desert islands manage to survive on them so that means they can open them without any fancy tools. I saw "Castaway".

I figured the coconuts needed a good smack which would make the green husk split open. Then I could peel it away and get at the nut inside. I banged the coconut on the patio. Nothing happened. It didn't even bruise. I banged it a few more times. Still no results.

Next, I threw the coconut on the ground. This did very little as well. I also hurled it at the trunk of the tree from which it had just been cut. After that I went up on the second story and threw it out a window and down onto the patio. My first few attempts ended up in the pool but finally one landed on the concrete. I ran back downstairs and...guess what? It still didn't open. I threw a few more out the window because it was fun. None of them cracked.

At this point I realized that I must never ever go on "Survivor." I would be the first person voted off and I guarantee you that it would have something to do with my not being able to open a damned coconut.

Perhaps, I thought I could run the coconut over with the car. My car didn't work. The coconut just rolled out of the way, so I realized that the coconut just needed a more formidable car. Like a Hummer. The guy next door drives a Hummer, so I went to his door all prepared to ask him to run over some coconuts for me, but sadly, he wasn't home.

I dragged out the power drill and tried to drill into the coconut. It broke the drill bit.

I tried to stab it open with the heel of one of my mother's five inch stilettos. It ended up pock marked, but the good parts still were nowhere close to being accessible.

This got me to wondering. How did early man realize that coconuts were edible in the first place? If I were stumbling around in animal skins in prehistoric times, or whenever it was that early man ate the first coconut, I would probably eat what animals were eating - berries and things like that. I don't think it would have occurred to me to eat one of those big green rocks hanging from the palm trees. How did they get the idea to get them down and then how on earth did they get them open to get the meat and water out and what made them want to open it in the first place. I wonder this about shellfish too. I'm sorry but shellfish don't look like food to me. They look like stones.

I exhausted every possibility (except the chainsaw, but chainsaws scare the crap out of me) that I could think of to open the coconut.

Meanwhile Husband was imagining how he was going to sell the coconuts and drawing up a business plan.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Hurricane Season Again


I didn't even want to say those words. I just hope that we don't have to deal with this crap this year. That's a real picture by the way. I took it towards the end of Wilma in October of 2005. If I had taken it at the peak of the storm you wouldn't have been able to see anything except white, swirling tornadoes of water. The house that's straight ahead had to pretty much be condemned, because, as you can see, waves were crashing into it and the roof was mostly gone. They still haven't finished building the new house three years later. Also, that poor little shorn up palm tree in the corner has grown massively since then and is the one that is exploding with coconuts at the moment. That dock you see was destroyed and had to be rebuilt as well. The neighbor's docks are underwater in this picture. Hurricanes like this are not so much fun overall and I would really rather not have another one.

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