Monday, August 30, 2004

So, Sean and I Took Turns Paddling Each Other for Three Hours Straight

It was a hot, muggy afternoon--the asphalt melting down the rubber on the soles of my shoes, sticking to me with gummy determination. I trudged up the stairs, still achingly sore from hauling Forrest's stuff down 38 flights of stairs (at least, it felt that way...). Now he's off to broil his snake and cat somewhere in the desert of the American West, and I'm the new owner of many of his canned goods. Frijoles Negros, anyone?

Sean shifted the items he was carrying around and reached for my hand. I closed my hand around his two middle fingers, the way we always "hold hands", and picked up my pace to keep in step with his brisk stride. "Do you think that that one's ours?", I asked, looking dubiously at an immense, sleek, white vessel that curved under gracefully like a reverse Cheshire Cat.

Sean laughed. "I don't think so. God, that thing's huge!"

I nodded agreement. "It looks like something from a Charlie Brown cartoon."

We picked our way down what appeared to be the path, watching as workers in Tevas and splattered t-shirts cleaned up for the night. "Here. You need to sign a release form.", I stated, handing one to Sean. The legal eqivalent of I will not sue you if I die. Love, Sean

It took some time before all the takers were assembled, then a brief introduction to the art of paddling was given for those who had never paddled before. Sean and I are both experienced paddlers to some degree, although we hadn't yet paddled each other. We spent the time the unneeded introduction provided us with discussing who would be behind who. Even though I personally like it in the back, I conceded that since Sean was larger and heavier than I (not to mention Strong Like Bull), he should be the one in the rear.

That decided, we lined up and readied ourselves for an intense bout of paddling. I had a few butterflies in my stomach, but they were the sweetly nervous kind, not the Holy Fucking Shit Nervous kind. (Much preferable.)

Finally, they called us over, and we quickly readied ourselves for what was to be an enlightening excursion. Our canoe was a red one, so it matched my life jacket.

The Moonlight Canoe Tour was to take about 3 hours (Yes, a "Three Hour Tour". That already occurred to me, thank you.) and go at a leisurely pace down the Charles from Newton to Waltham and back again. "Leisurely pace", I will have you know, is a fairly relative term.

My nerves were already frazzled before we had pulled too far from the dock. The canoe was leaning, quite obviously, to the right. I was convinced that this was a sign that one of three things were true:
1. Sean Has Really Bad Posture and Leans to the Right;
2. I Am Too Damn Fat to be In a Canoe; or
3. Sean Has Really Bad Posture and Leans to the Right and I Am Too Damn Fat to be In a Canoe.

I wasn't really sure which one of those was preferable, probably #1 because, truth be known, I would rather be pitched screaming into the polluted Charles and forced to have a tetanus shot after being half-consumed by leeches than have someone tell me I was Too Fat to be In a Canoe. In fact, there are very few things I would not prefer to the Too Fat scenario.

Luckily, I stayed in the canoe. For all that Sean tried to pitch me out by not only leaning obsessively to the right, but also repeatedly standing up and sitting down with almost enough force to send me to the very moon we were supposed to be enjoying during our trip, I stayed in the canoe. Sean's Gatorade did not, but that is another story entirely.

Gatorade bottles float, by the way. Even if they are full of blue Gatorade. In case you ever need to know that.

We saw numerous birds, from your standard mallards to pairs of swans to different kinds of herons and cranes. Several small annoying dogs yapped at us from houses on the shore that we will never be able to afford, even though we are more deserving of them than the current owners simply by virtue of not being the kind of people who would keep annoying yappy dogs.

The moon rose, a splendid vivid orange gumdrop in the sky, when we were first beginning our excursion. With the reduced light, the water shown an oily, inky black (although in retrospect, perhaps it was both oily and inky), rippling like a thousand garter snakes when I dipped my paddle into it.

The highlight of the trip was being rammed by the Asian Canoers from Hell from anywhere between 10-56 times. Each time included the same series of events:
1. ACFH's canoe is heading straight for ours!
2. Redpanda dips paddle into river and tries to slow canoe.
3. After slowing canoe, Redpanda begins paddling away from ACFH's canoe.
4. ACFH's canoe continues heading right for ours, even though ours has changed direction.
5. ACFH's inhabitants seem to be paddling canoe directly at us.
6. Redpanda says "Look out!"
7. ACFH canoe rams our canoe.
8. ACFH's inhabitants smile glibly and say "Sorry!" in an amusing, heavily-accented way.
9. Redpanda laughs and thinks about how much fun she and Sean will have making fun of them later.
10. Redpanda runs into another canoe.

It should be noted that the running into other canoes was mostly the fault of Sean, the All-Time Worst Canoe Steer-er Ever in the History of the World. His steering was so bad, in fact, that I was forced to think that perhaps he was the captain of both the Titanic and the Edmund Fitzgerald in previous lives. Compounding his Monumentally Terrible Steering was the fact that he is a proponent of "Frequent Breaks". This is a good thing when one is a cubicle monkey like me or Sean, spending endless hours pressing stupid little keyboard keys while hunched over a crappy monitor. However, when canoeing, this can be translated into Does not do much of the actual paddling. Sean, god love him, kept saying "Take a break, honey! Take a break!". Unfortunately, for all his thoughtfulness and concern for my well-being, Sean did not seem to realize that someone needs to be paddling the canoe at all times, or the canoe will not go. I came to realize this was an issue when the canoe kept coming to a tentative halt, wavelets slapping merrily against her hull as she rested against a lily pad we would not have been anywhere near if the canoe was being properly steered. A look over my shoulder would reveal that yes, indeed, Sean was taking a Frequent Break. "Take a Break, honey!" he would insist, as I dug my paddle into the river with a degree of determination only one who is afraid of being left behind on the Charles can muster.

We did the circuit, easily 6 miles of calm warm river, without event (save for the loss of the blue Gatorade). I'm comfortably sore today, well-exerted but still able to move. And yes, I'd love to do it again. And no, next time I won't be steering, because I recognize that doing so may lead to a new nomination for All-Time Worst Canoe Steer-er in the History of the World. And we can't have that.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

My Boss Called Me Boho and Other Quick Musings

Yeah, she called me "boho". Something about an article in the Globe that talked about different "looks" women choose. She said that it was So me! Because of my vintage clothes and neverending supply of Mary Janes. I don't know that I'd pigeonhole myself that way, but I think it's cool that my boss is reading articles in the Globe and thinking of me. Even if it is mostly just my clothes she's thinking of.

A good excuse if you get pulled over for "weaving" and "crossing the yellow line" is not: "Gee officer, I was twisting the tops off of my Oreo Double Stufs and putting them together to make a Quadruple Stuf." Even if it is true.

Origami is harder than it looks.

Doubling the number of cat litter boxes available for cat elimination (that's what it said on the box--"elimination". As if my cats are in the lightning round of a game show or something...) may halve the chances of said cats eliminating on the bathroom rug, but it also quadruples the amount of annoying litter granules scattered about the floor.

The secret ingrediant in my pulled chicken is almost always Jack Daniels.

That is all.

Saturday, August 21, 2004


Saturdays at work are eerie, silent, and surreal. The quiet is almost stifling sometimes, closing in on us like white padded walls.

There are 5 of us in an office that usually holds over 40, in a building that holds hundreds.

My God, but it's quiet.

You would think that the icky weather would make it more bearable. Nope. It just makes me want to go back home and crawl under the covers.

No one answers the phone on Saturdays, and those who do are not so eager to talk to you, I find.

Hey, at least I'm only here till 3. And I get the Friday before and the Monday after off; so I kind of consider it a 4-day weekend interrupted by a 6-hour stint at work.

Still. Very quiet. Very boring. Very creativity-sapping.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Chiropractic Bra

I am going to the chiropractor today, and I have to pick out the perfect bra.

You may think this sounds silly, or perhaps a wee bit breast-obsessed. I say to you--I can be no other way. To ask such a thing of me is madness.

It's a delicate matter, this choosing of the chiropractic bra. If one goes too far in either direction, one risks ridicule or mocking. For instance, I cannot wear the bright blue lace bra with the itty-bitty straps that lifts and accentuates the fuckers (see? "fuck"!), or I risk the chiropractor raising an eyebrow at me and scrawling on my chart: Patient is a raging whore. Bra very inappropriate.

This, in essence, eliminates roughly half of my bra drawer's population.

Furthermore, I cannot very well show up in one of my standard minimizer bras. If I did that, the chiropractor would surely stifle a giggle and note: Patient has enormous knockers. Bra seems to be military-issue. Has 27 hooks.

So you can see my dilemma.

I wore a bra that lightly toes the line between slutacious lovliness and suck-those-fuckers-in utilitarianism on Wednesday. I can't very well wear it again. Then the chiropractor might write: Patient has only one bra. Or has closet with 43 of the same bra. Either way, patient insane.

I'm pretty much screwed.

I've resorted to wearing the red velvet bra, and praying that I never have to take off my jeans, allowing the chiropractor to see the matching panties (Patient is clearly trying to seduce me. Either that or is anal-retentive.).

Not that it matters. Velvet is a winter fabric. It is not yet Labor Day. Patient is a walking fashion violation.

Why is everything so darn complicated?

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

"This is My 301st Post!", and Other News of Interest

So hey, no shit! This is Post 301! I realize that it might have made more sense to celebrate at a nice, normal, round number like 300. But why would I do something nice or normal? I say fuck nice and normal sideways with a wiffle-ball bat! That's right, a wiffle-ball bat!

301 posts, each one more scintillating than the last! Can you even fucking believe it?

Me, either. Especially that "scintillating" part.

I think I am going to use "fuck" in my posts much, much more. I enjoy the word "fuck" and use it with relish whenever the opportunity arises. And when I say "relish", I really mean relish. The word "fuck" just drips off my tongue and slides down my chin as if in search of a wayward hot dog. Mustard, anyone?

But I fucking digress.

This past weekend, the wondermous Sean and I took full advantage of "no tax day". You see, in order to help defray the costs of the Democratic National Cluster, Massachusetts offered a day in which no sales tax would be assessed on items costing less than $2500. That, incidentally, leaves quite a bit open. Now, with New Hampshire, land of No Sales Tax, directly north of up; we don't really need to make too big a deal out of no tax day. But since I take such singular glee in anything that resembles "sticking it to The Man", we did it up right.

Our first stop was Target, or "Tar-Jay" if you feel the need to be cute, where we stocked up on stuff we would normally buy anyway, and now could not pay tax on. Ha-HA The Man! We will now NOT pay tax on contact lens solution for AT LEAST TWO MONTHS!

After that, we hit Pier 1, where I elected to buy the shelf I've been eyeing for some time now. Luckily, I happened to see a notice next to the register that stated: Show your student ID for an additional 15% off all regularly priced merchandise! Well, don't mind if I do! That Emerson ID may pay for the 40 grand it cost me in tuition yet! No tax and 15% off! Hoofa!

Fuck! I just realized I've been forgetting to say "fuck". Fuck!

So, yeah, I saved all kinds of fucking cash at Pier 1. I even got some fucking silk-ass pillows for the motherfucking sofas! They are fucking gorgeous, all iridescent and shit.

Did we fucking stop there? Fuck, no! We got back in the car and heading for fucking Natick, where Sean's favorite scuba shop was hosting a one-day sale. I'm in need of some fucking snorkeling equipment, which is pretty fucking expensive--so one-day sales are always welcome (especially when they just happen to fucking fall on no tax days!).

When all was said and done, the fucking Passat (who I usually would refer to as "Gunther", but that doesn't go nearly as well with "fucking") was fucking stuffed full; and I was the proud new owner of a mask, a snorkel, and a pair of motherfucking flipperfins! Fuck, but I was jazzed!

And as if that weren't enough, the evening was capped off by a visit to the home of Wes, who is one cool motherfucker! We shared a fucking scorpion bowl and bunches of sushi, then threw a frisbee for Oliver the Sheepdog till the wee fucking hours.

It was a pretty fucking cool Saturday. Now I just have to wait for my motherfucking shelf to arrive.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Have You Seen August?

August was always, for the most part, a hot summer month. It was sticky and sweet, a month for jamming as much watermelon in my mouth as I possibly could while listening to the cicadas buzz in the pine trees. It was a month for sitting in the hot sun, washing bushels and bushels of tomatoes from my grandparents' garden in ancient metal washtubs big enough to bathe a collie (and probably utilized for that just as readily), the stems floating like drowning spiders. It was a month for picking plump, juicy blackberries from the bush behind the barn--picking them until my fingers were all stinging from the tart juice that seeped into a multitude of thorn-pricks. It was a month for climbing mountains in cool moist forests, bursting out of the trees and into warm hazy sun over the Blue Ridge, looking down to see white clapboard houses peeking out of acres and acres of fields.

But here, in New England, it seems like August is nothing more than a plank bridge of a month, keeping a tenuous hold between summer and fall. It's been chilly and damp as of late, and by the time I leave work for the evening it's already dark out.

I feel like someone has taken Indian Summer from me. Shouldn't we still be lazing in the hot sun? Shouldn't sand still be burning the soles of our feet? How is it so cold and dank and October-like?

Don't get me wrong--I adore October. But that's assuming it actually occurs in October--that it doesn't bully its way up to steal August's late-summer sun and replace it with a cool damp blustery-ness.

So I implore--if you have taken August, put it back. Please. I won't tell anyone. You can slip it back into its calendar slot, no questions asked. I will simply turn my head and take sudden interest in a fruit fly buzzing against the wall. No one has to know you took it. Just replace it.


Thursday, August 12, 2004

For Matt*

Being cajoled into spending hours upon hours sifting through slick, grimy sand in search of shark's teeth was not what I had in mind for the day. But Marilyn was good like that--a fleeting flash of toothy grin, a quick sparkle in her eye--and I was sold. It was inevitable. I would be there.

Standing on one leg, storklike, she pushed her foot through the water, sending ripples across the surface until her toes at last broke through and spattered brownish droplets all over the front of my khaki shorts. Crap. "Marilyn," I complained "I have to work later. In these shorts."

"Oh, like they really are going to care at the marina," she laughed, a tinkling bell. "Don't be so rectitudinous. I swear, you're turning into the biggest stick-in-the-mud!"

They might care, I thought to myself, they just might. In the boss's eyes, showing up to work with soiled shorts was tantamount to insubordination. But as long as I could get through the door and past Mr. Weston without him seeing the stains, I could probably pass them off as an on-the-job casualty. I hastily licked my fingers and rubbed them against the spots, hoping I could remove the obvious traces of dirt before the stain became set in.

"Got one!" a triumphant Marilyn exclaimed, whipping her hand above her head, water streaming off in an inelegant arc. Something small and black was held daintily between her thumb and forefinger. "Wanna see?" Her eyes held mine for a second, then darted back to her prize.

I sloshed carefully through the muddy sand, trying not to get any more dirt on my shorts, and held out my hand. Into it she dropped the sharks' tooth, inky black and smooth as a polished stone. "I thought it'd be white." I said in awe.

"Nope. They're usually black around here. I'm not sure if it's because they're fossilized, or because the sharks around here just have black teeth."

I looked down at the tooth. "So, how old do you think this is?"

Marilyn shrugged. "I should look up more about them some day." She grinned. "Or not. Remember that movie Can't But Me Love? Where the guy showed the girl the moon through a telescope, and then she said that the idea of the moon was less romantic afterwards?"

I nodded, a quizzical expression on my face.

"I'd hate to feel that way about anything."

I raised an eyebrow at this. "So, you're saying that you don't want to learn things for fear of finding them less interesting?"

Marilyn rolled her eyes heavenward and smiled at me with an expression of amused patience. "Jon, I'm not saying I'm planning to become an abjurer of knowledge. I just don't need to know all the little details of every little thing I find interesting." She laughed a short, bemused laugh at the very idea. "You goober!" she finished.

I smiled a bit at this, focused on the tendrils of iced-tea-colored hair that looped wildly around her ears, wanting to twine my fingers in them. "Well, I didn't mean to imply that you didn't want to learn anything. I mean, I didn't mean to disparage you or anything. I was kidding, mostly."

Marilyn smiled, her face a mask of imperturbability. "Don't worry about it." She held out a cupped hand for me to drop the sharks' tooth into and our fingers brushed briefly, a small electric jolt.

I stood awkwardly, my hands at my sides, clenched into fists of hesitation and self-doubt. Still smiling, she came closer and closer, clouds of dirt billowing up around her feet like watery smoke. She didn't stop until one of her feet slid against mine under the sand. "Ow!" I exclaimed with a start, jumping a little and reaching for the scraped limb.

Her hand moved to my foot, up the curve of my calf, sliding to the side of my thigh. Surprised, I let the foot drop back into the water with a splash. Droplets erupted around us. Double-crap. "Now, I really am going to have to change before I go in to work..." I said remorsefully.

"Or, don't go in at all." She looked at me imploringly, hazel eyes fringed with iced-tea eyelashes. I wondered if everything was the color of iced tea. Work suddenly seemed a sad, faraway place; one laden with hebetude.

I caught her hand suddenly, laced my fingers through hers as she pulled them both slowly towards her, grazing her left nipple ever so lightly, flashing me the kind of grin you usually get only from tawdry street-corner types.

I never made it to work.

* You will note the absence of subpoena, jimjams, and quiddity. The first two just didn't work, and although I could have worked in quiddity, well, I just plain didn't. But there ya go, 9 out of 12.
The Sound of Silence

I've spent the last few weeks scrolling through my links, despondant that no one seems to be blogging much as of late.

I'm a huge hypocrite that way.

The thing is, stuff has been happening. I've had things to say. I just haven't been blogging them. Blame late-summer ennui.

Give me a topic. Someone. Anyone. I'll discuss.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

The BeetleBugCar Gallavants

Gustav the BeetleBugCar has spent the last few days hanging out with his friends at the Volkswagen dealership. It was initially supposed to be just a short daylong outing--he would arrive, have a delicious cup of fresh new oil, and veg out in front of an episode of Square Pegs while Mrs. S. made cookies.

But I guess it was just too much fun to end there, because Mrs. S. called that day and said that Gustav was having so much fun with his Volkswagen friends, and he was such a pleasure to have over, couldn't he stay overnight? Please?

I sighed. (It's always so hard, their first overnight trips away!) Hesitantly, I agreed to let Gustav stay the night, but only on the condition that there would always be an adult present, and that he would not be allowed to stay up all night. Did he need me to bring him an extra car cover?

Mrs. S. assured me that there were plenty of car covers around that they would be happy to loan him, and that I could pick him up on my way home from work the next day. Reluctantly, I consented. Gustav could stay the night.

The next day, I was pondering about how absence really does make the heart grow fonder--I really missed the little guy!--when I was interrupted by the twittering of my office phone. It was Mrs. S. again. Gustav was enjoying him self so much, and he got to see his friends there so rarely--couldn't he come with them on an overnight trip to the seashore?

I furrowed my brows at this.

Sensing my hesitation, Mrs. S. suggested that if "now" wasn't a good time for Gustav to go to the seashore, I could come and get him that night after work and he could go with them on another trip, next time.

Realizing that this would just mean another trip down the road later on, and more time without Gustav, I relented. He could stay another night and go to the seashore, if she was certain that they were actually going. But again, adult supervision required! And don't let him go out in the sun without a nice thick coat of wax to protect his sensitive paint job! And tomorrow, he is coming home!!!

He's waiting now for me to go pick him up, but I know things won't be the same any more. He's been staying up late, swigging high-test gas with his fancy new friends. Now, he'll be all "Why do we always have to get regular gas? No one uses regular gas anymore!" And when I try to explain the value of a dollar to him, and that people are dying while (so?) he has a full tank of gas, he'll just roll his headlights and call me "lame".

I'll give you a heated seat, bub.