Sunday, January 28, 2007

32 things i love about my brother

Today my brother Billy turns 32 and my youngest niecelet, baby Grace, is 3. Though Grace's arrival was all too early, I love that her unexpected debut made them birthday buddies. I'm sure mathematically it should be little wonder when people you love share birthdays. Still, I like to think there's more to it than simple chance and probability.

When I first considered crafting this entry, I worried this list would be a tough one. Growing up, my relationship with Billy was more adversarial than affectionate. Even now, I tend to refer to him as my "other brother" simply because my youngest brother (Kevin) is so clearly my other half. Billy's birth made me the middle child - my psychological destiny - where Kevin's birth just made me a little less lonely. Billy's birth was most unsettling not because I was no longer the baby, but because I came to understand that I wasn't a boy. As he grew, I could see just how eagerly my dad had longed for this, his number one son.

Billy, because of his gender it seemed, got away with murder. His every wish was (and in many ways still is) Dad's command. I remember I first realized how much influence he had when Billy got our dad to voluntarily enter a mall (the then-new Plaza Bonita) to purchase whatever it was that Billy so needed (I think it was a baseball). Not a big deal, you might think. But this was our dad, the man once described so eloquently by my uncle as "tighter than a donkey's asshole facing uphill against the wind." And so, in the language of our family, money equals love and, in my young mind, every dollar my dad spent humoring Billy was a dollar less he loved me. Twisted, I know, but no less true.

Although my husband disagrees, I feel I've gotten over much of my first-born-penis envy. I see now that we were all over indulged, ungrateful brats and I no longer begrudge my brother for being more successfully spoiled. In fact, I now appreciate his persistence and the guile behind his tactics. Billy's dedication to his goals, though somewhat demented, was not so much a character flaw as a personal strength. I've also come to realize that my mom was right and Billy, in all his antics, really was just seeking attention and approval. While he could get whatever he wanted from our dad, Billy could never get what he wanted from his sisters. Our exclusion of him was so complete that we once made up our own board game (called "Money," funny enough) and labeled it "for ages 7 and up" (as Billy was still 6). Boys can be violent and dirty, but girls can be downright cruel.

And so imagine my delight when I found it easy to express my admiration for the boy my brother was and the man he has become. Here are 32 reasons I love my brother:
  1. He made my nieces, Savannah and Madisyn, and he loves them wholly, even though they aren't boys.
  2. He had the good fortune to marry a good woman and the good sense to feel nervous about it. I love that they eloped on New Year's 2000, making it nearly impossible to forget their anniversary.
  3. He's super coordinated. He can ride a unicycle and juggle and, with practice, he can even ride a unicycle while juggling.
  4. He embraced all the 80's fads, especially break dancing.
  5. He once won a trophy for weight lifting. He still has ginormous forearms and I hope someday to convince him to dress as Popeye for Halloween.
  6. He's not horribly sentimental. He doesn't hold on to relics from past relationships.
  7. When he was learning to talk he had difficulty expressing himself and I was his sole translator. I still remember him struggling to form the "J" in my name with his incredibly unhelpful tongue. It always came out, "ya.. ya.. ya, yenni."
  8. He runs his own business. In fact, he's always been an entrepreneur. He used to buy candy in Mexico and resell it in school.
  9. He dreams big - too big, sometimes. He wants to add a parapet and a multi-story parking structure to his house.
  10. He's artistic. He wants to weld a sea creature sculpture and place it surreptitiously in the bay by his home.
  11. He's fearless. He used to dive into our swimming pool from the roof of our house. I shudder to think of the things he would try when he was away from home.
  12. He's got quick reflexes. What helped him master video games in his youth allowed him to successfully remove his girls from a runaway truck before it crashed into a tree.
  13. He's always been popular. I have few social graces and I'd like to think this flaw is genetic. Clearly I am wrong.
  14. He once cut his finger tip nearly off and he waited politely outside while I fetched Mom so that he wouldn't bleed on the hardwoods.
  15. The last time we fought he was almost 13 and I defeated him after unexpectedly punching him in the face. I love that he remembers it wrong and thinks he won.
  16. He slipped off to Tijuana the morning he was supposed to meet with a military recruiter.
  17. School was never easy for Billy and, after failing English, he found himself one class shy of graduating high school. I love that he took the class over, got a B all by himself, and earned his diploma.
  18. He was into skateboarding and he forgave me for being upset that he bought the same board (a "hippie stick") as a friend of mine.
  19. Much as I died of embarrassment when he'd pee in the street in front of my friends, I love that he's teaching his girls it's okay to go outside if you want to.
  20. He didn't poop the whole time he was at 6th grade camp. That's like a week. I don't know if I'm more impressed our disgusted.
  21. Once, on one of a million boring road trips we took together as children, he startled two unsuspecting passersby by shooting his cap gun out the crack of the van window.
  22. He makes cool bird houses out of old license plates.
  23. He's pretty honest - he'll tell you anything.
  24. He's willing to help out. He installed a much needed water heater at Eloise's house.
  25. He takes his trash to dump himself instead of paying to have it hauled away weekly. I thought this was because he was being cheap, but it's not. If he takes his trash to the curb weekly, you see, he has to think of it 104 times a year. If he takes it to the dump say monthly, he only has to think about it a dozen times each year. Gross, I know. And tellingly eccentric. What I love even more is that my sister also has to make trips to the dump (she uses more cat litter than the law allows). Better still, they both loaded their trucks the day before Thanksgiving only to discover, independently, that the dump was closed for the holiday. I chuckle when I imagine them hauling around household garbage and cat shit for the entire holiday weekend.
  26. When he was young, my sister and I convinced him he was a boy-girl so he would let us put barrettes in his hair. I distinctly remember explaining, "there's boys and there's girls and then there are boy-girls..."
  27. He's gullible. Not once, but twice, he has purchased bogus stereo equipment while waiting in line in a drive thru.
  28. My sister and I, while babysitting him, once inflicted him with rug burn while dragging him upstairs to wash his mouth out with liquid soap to punish him for cussing. (Why liquid soap? Again, girls can be cruel. Why not bring the soap to him? I guess we were caught up in the moment...) I love that he not only forgives us but he counts this memory, along with the one where we insisted he strip and show us his first alleged pubic hair, among his favorites.
  29. He once bought movie tickets for the entire family at Christmas time. I'm fairly certain we never used them and I remember my mom scolded him for not buying them through the military where they would have been cheaper. I personally was touched that he had gotten us anything at all. In fact, I'd venture to say that that unused movie ticket was the best Christmas present I've ever gotten.
  30. He's good at chess. We don't play chess in our family so I have no idea where he even learned it.
  31. He loves eggs. It's disgusting how many he can eat. Yet he doesn't like cake. Who doesn't like cake?
  32. He built an entire house (without a permit, on my parents' easement) because he felt like it. For whatever reason, we call it the Devil's Whore House.
I still worry about Billy. I'm no longer concerned that I'll find him running around naked and peeing in front of my friends. Instead I worry that his dreams are bigger than reality. I can't imagine, being a princess and a parasite, what it really means to be self-employed and responsible for the health and well-being of three other people. It must be exhausting, overwhelming. I'm confident, though, that Billy's got the drive and the determination to get what he needs, even if he can't have everything he wants.

Happy Birthday, Brother.

Friday, January 26, 2007

two years ago yesterday

Yesterday was my sadiversary. Like my December sadiversary, I found myself unable to blog about it on the actual date. Perhaps this is because I so often choose feeling drunk over feeling sad. While I know all too well how easy it is to drunk dial, I have learned it is a tad trickier to drunk post. In any case, it's now been two years and one day since I killed my cat.

Officially I considered yesterday a celebration of Fabe's life. I toasted his magnificent being, the heft of his body, the length of his tail, the aging of his distinguished whiskers. I heard again his impatient "harrumpfh," saw again his bored acceptance of my affection. I asked him again (always in Spanish) "cuantos besos quieres tu?" and I heard again his answer "zero" and replied (as usual) "cien?" I recounted his adventures and triumphs. I begged his forgiveness for the times I let him down.

I remember after he died I realized he had really had exactly 9 lives. I'm certain they're more meaningful to me than you, but since I am convinced I'm doomed to get Alzheimer's some day, here they are for the record:

  • 1. abandoned by owners to be euthanized - presumably for anti-social behavior (1990)
  • 2. kept at evil small town pet hospital, used as blood donor until considerably more anti-social - finally stolen/rescued by my sister (1991)
  • 3. poisoned by incompetent pet sitter/unauthorized flea bomb, summer of love - hacking cough lingered for years (1992)
  • 4. let out onto third story roof by brother - Billy swears it was Fabe's idea (1994)
  • 5. bit on the ass by neighbor dog - scar the size of a quarter (1995)
  • 6. trapped in neighbor's garage 3 days - Erik went searching door to door after I'd given up (1997)
  • 7. threatened with "social consequences" for fecal incontinence (a.k.a. "poopetas") - turns out he didn't have sphincter failure, just an unfortunate reaction to a change in the menu... I'm sure I wouldn't have followed through with it anyway... (1998)***
  • 7. dehydrated during do-over move from u-hell - the day I learned never to tow a car in 1st gear (1997)
  • 8. developed stomatitis - had to have all his teeth pulled (1999)
  • 9. developed squamous cell carcinoma - couldn't open his mouth to eat (2004)

I still feel guilty. Not for killing him, but for not killing him sooner. He couldn't eat. His eyeball had collapsed from the pressure of the abscess that grew behind it. I had him addicted to morphine. But I needed some time to get used to the idea of letting him go. He was okay with it, I think. He continued to worship the sun, he still watched the birds (though without depth perception, I suppose). He came home promptly for his fix. He let me sleep on the floor beside him (though he left in the night when I snored...). He'd sometimes purr. And when it was time, really time, we both knew.

My two new kitties insist it was a good thing that Fabe passed. They are enjoying his house, his furs, his hundred kisses. Today OC even enjoyed the company of a bird. I'm not sure if it is good or bad that he didn't kill it right away. I woke up to the familiar sound of too much fun and intervened. It was ultimately able to fly away, but is it dying somewhere now of an infection?

Anyway, I know that OC and Pequeno are right. And I know that I should be appreciating them as in a dozen years or so I will be toasting to their memory... (maybe even sooner in OC's case as I calculate he's already used at least 3 lives...) And so I'm glad my sadiversary has passed. But I'm also glad I had such a great cat to be sad about in the first place.

***The poopeta story, though deleted, deserves further explanation. I've crossed it out not only because Erik came home and remembered a much more legitimate near death cat experience, but because I really wasn't all that close to killing Fabe in the first place. I was frustrated, yes, and disgusted, for sure. And desperate, even. Definitely desperate. But murderous, not quite. In fact, I was appalled to learn, after consulting my veterinarian sister about the alarming number of pellet sized cat turds I had begun to find in the house, that cats with sphincter problems often suffered "social consequences" for their incurable fecal incontinence. After a few weeks of poopetas, though, I must admit I had begun to have some insight into the phrase "social consequences." Indeed, I would often blurt it out when stumbling across yet another tiny turd as I shuffled through the darkness towards the toilet, half asleep. All too often a poopeta would be left in my lap after a love session, an accidental token of affection. So often that Fabe was exiled from my lap. I lived in fear of the poopeta. I calculated the likelihood that the next poopeta would find a way to touch my now watchful body and the odds were high. Imagine my guilt when I realized the poopetas were all my fault. I had, for whatever no good reason, recently switched cat food brands. This, like towing a car in first gear, is apparently not a good idea. The sad thing was that switching back was equally confusing for his delicate constitution so the solution to the onslaught was slow in coming. In any case, eventually my cat's digestive track was returned to normal and he was spared the social consequences of my actions.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

tall, dark, and cursing

My husband doesn't understand why the cats fear him. Sure, he's big even among guys, a full foot taller than me. So he's what? 700% taller than they are? And at least 1250% heavier...

And his height is greatly exaggerated by his recreational hair growth. You see, he hasn't had a haircut since September 2005. At first he claimed he was doing it for me, as I told him I missed his hair. Now it's nothing short of a full blown science experiment. Though he hates dealing with it - all the washing, the detangling, the finding of it in his food - he is determined to see how big he can get his white boy afro. (He actually even combs it with a pick. He was so excited when he discovered this tool. Until then he'd just been breaking all our combs.) Depending on the humidity, I sometimes call him Erik Africa. I took this shot thinking I could mock him, but it actually looks pretty good. This is probly what Lilt meant to do to my third grade hair. But Lilt could have never given me his volume. Only Dad could have done that. But no, he just gave me his exceptionally large forehead and his Rosacea. (Thanks, Dad.) Erik also has naturally long eyelashes that any self respecting girl would kill for. Like his hair, he considers his lashes a nuisance. Apparently they have the audacity to brush up against the lens of most sunglasses. Darn, I hate when that happens. Is it wrong to be jealous of your husband's hair?

But I don't think his size is what the cats fear most. I think it is his volume. The cats, like myself, are both nervous by nature and frequently sleeping, thus they find loud noises disturbing. They especially hate the trash truck or, as we call it, the Kitty Grinder. (Funny aside: I thought I coined the phrase "Kitty Grinder," using it to tease my then-living kitty. Each week Fabe seemed grateful that I hadn't turned him over to the authorities, but I could tell he was angry that I had considered it at all... Then in a totally random pre-Tivo channel surfing session, I saw a Kitty Grinder in a Felix the Cat episode. It was more meat grinder than trash truck, but still, it was actually labeled "Kitty Grinder." I was at once delighted and disappointed. I am never quite as clever as I think I am...)

Tonight, when I woke at 3 am to hear my husband cursing, "F@ck you, you f@cking @sshole!" I too was startled and a little afraid. Of course I knew this meant he had stumbled across a cat, presumably the black one, as he is basically invisible - "blacker than night," I say - and because the orange one is, after 2 weeks of captivity and 2 good stool samples post emergency enema, free once again to roam the neighborhood and slaughter small animals, thus he is seldom home...

Sometimes cats deserve cursing. Sometimes they intentionally trip you or at least foolishly don't not trip you. (Which brings to mind another of my favorite mother quotes - "I don't not dislike you," a miscalculation on her part of the number of double negatives needed to say she loved me...) Tonight, the cat's chief crime was falling asleep in front of the heater (and therefore squarely in the path to the bathroom) and assuming that humans, like cats, can see well in the dark.

I can't expect my cats to understand about rods and cones - though the black one was home today when I watched the Mythbusters Pirate Special... Together we learned that pirates wore eye patches not to cover unsightly gouged out eyes. Instead, the eye patch served to keep the concealed eye prepared for fighting in the dark. The pirate, when moving from a well lit place to a darker one, would move the patch to cover the sun bleached eye and carry on with the necessary plundering and pillaging. Very keen, those pirates... So perhaps he assumed that sleep was like the ultimate eye patch and he expected that Erik should have been able to avoid an obstacle such as himself. I can't say for sure.

In any case, my husband took his hair and went back to bed. My cat went outside but has since returned, unscathed. I made a pot of tea and here I sit, realizing that one unexpected byproduct of my life as princess parasite is that, by sleeping as often as I want, I can't always sleep when I'm supposed to. No big deal. Tomorrow I'll take a nap.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

a little tied up

I was tied up yesterday (helping a friend move out of her house and away from her marriage) so I didn't get to see Shawna's entanglement. Even so, just viewing the aftermath - the exaggerated, artificial smile cut into her cheeks, the deep fleshy gash in the back of her neck, the tangle of netting that half filled a kitchen trash bag - made my vagina hurt. You know the feeling. It's the female equivalent of what guys experience when they see another guy get kicked in the balls. It's that twinge triggered by empathy that's followed by an ache born of cellular memory. It's a physical protest to life's many injustices.

It wasn't just the obvious wounds that made my cervix wince. Entanglement affects more than just the surface of a seal. Shawna, though 2.2 kg heavier than Famous, was significantly more emaciated. Famous was scrawny but scrappy. Shawn was the saggy and sorry. And no wonder. In addition to the difficulties of being recently weaned, Shawna was forced to dive while wearing a green plastic afro. Even if she had been fortunate enough to catch a fish, it would have been impossible to swallow as the netting stretched across her mouth like a horse's bit. Dehydrated seal eyes are often described as gummy; Shawna's were downright crusty. She was so depleted she didn't even have the energy to be tube fed last night. Her breakfast, 300 ml of electrolytes, was the first thing to reach her stomach in a long while.

Shawna isn't nearly as cute as Thornberry, Marciel, and Cranny (who are all, by the way, faring quite well in the company of nearly 20 others of their kind), but in many ways her rescue is much more satisfying. Fur seals are warm and fuzzy, but entangled animals we know we owe.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

this is how dorky i am

It's cold right now. Not snowing cold, of course, but California cold, which means I've been relatively bundled up. So I was bummed when I couldn't find my gloves before leaving this morning for my follow up visit with Dr. Wonka. (Where, by the way, I stole my first pen of the year... though I'm not even sure it's stealing since the drug reps probly want their pens out there in the world. Even so, I was all sly and used the pen to write a check and then "absent-mindedly" dropped it into my groovy new skurvy purse.)

Instead, after a brief search, I located and wore my back up gloves. (Which are actually much nicer, thus they are my back up. I have a tendency to save everything nice for some never-to-come later time. Usually this strategy backfires. Just ask Erik about the infamous moldy Tastykake. My grandmother had sent a box all the way from Philly. In the beginning I was all happy, on a nostalgic chocolate high - eating, sharing - like a normal person. Everything changed when my supply was reduced to one lonely kake. Erik foolishly contemplated eating it. Of course I wouldn't hear of it. Instead, I saved it for myself, for my future more-deserving self, and, as the title of the tale implies, I rediscovered it, moldy and quite inedible, weeks later...)

I ran a few errands on the way to Dr. Wonka's. One stop was Home Depot where I was exchanging a dimmer switch I had attempted to install. (The Home Depot guy swore it would be easy. "Easy, as in 'even a girl could do it', easy?" I asked. "Yes," he assured me. The hardest part would be picking out which one I wanted, he said. Well, I assumed he meant I would have a style conundrum. I am, in fact, often painfully indecisive. But I live in a rental which means the choice was easy. I picked the cheapest one. Well, as it turns out, there's more to a dimmer than just style. There are two different types of wiring one might encounter when digging around in walls and I had, of course, bought the wrong one. Indeed, the act of turning off the power, unscrewing the wall plate and connecting the wires did not seem overly complicated, but I wish Home Depot man had been a bit more specific with his cryptic warning. I would have totally spent the extra five bucks for the one that could accommodate either type of wiring. I love things that can do both. Both is always the right answer, I say.)

Home Depot, I know from experience, has a decent bathroom. (My mother and I, thanks to our shared genes of thin hair and overactive bladders, keep a mental map of all the best public restrooms within a 200 mile radius of our homes. In fact, on Christmas Eve I added a most delightful loo to my list. While driving through Big Sur, Erik and I stopped at a little roadhouse whose restroom had an actual (optional) potty seat built into the toilet lit. Although I don't have children, I was touched at the thoughtfulness of the management and the cleverness of the person who designed it.)

While washing up afterwards, I happened to glance at myself in the mirror. I noticed my cosy winter hat was more askew than it normally is. I am accustomed to finding it poofed up a bit in the back from my perpetual pony tail, but this lump was strangely peaked and forward. I took off my hat to investigate.

I had found the missing gloves.

Monday, January 15, 2007

of famous & feces

I didn't actually make any New Year's resolutions this year, so I can't say I'm disappointed in myself. I auditioned all the standards - exercise more, eat better, drink less, spend sparingly, and write often. My good intentions are apparently dyslexic, however, because instead I find myself exercising less, eating more, drinking better (only top shelf margaritas for me this year), spending often, and writing sparingly. I'm fairly certain I even blew "be a better vegetarian" when I partook in the broccoli salad at a recent potluck (pretty sure that was bacon I tasted...). Oh well.

It took a seal rescue to bring me back to my blog. This super cute recently weaned California sea lion was brought in yesterday on my grandfather's would-be 91st birthday. In honor of Pop (who passed last year, the day before his 90th) we named him Famous. Famous rejected his breakfast (insisting mama taught him never to eat dead fish), so we soon tube fed him and sent him on his way. Though he was only in my life for a few brief hours, he was just what I need to pull myself out of a growing funk. I'm constantly humbled by how young and small these sea-faring animals are (Famous is just 7 months old and 23 pounds) - put in my place by the majesty of nature.

Intellectually I know I have nothing to complain about. By definition, the plight of a princess parasite is pretty darned enviable. Even my semi-dreaded trip to Anaheim went swimmingly. Seeing Disneyland through the eyes of a three year old was nothing short of splendid. My niece's spanking clean karma brought us all kinds of good luck. Costume clad employees were constantly popping out of nowhere, stopping to greet a bewildered Grace. Donald Duck was noticeably stand-offish - but I guess that's consistent with his character. Minnie Mouse was her absolute favorite and accordingly we met her the most. We literally stalked her at breakfast - for which we were rewarded with a balloon...

And then there were the princesses. All day long Grace looked forward to getting to "Eat Ariel" at dinner. (Would she taste like fish, I wondered?) And yet, once we were seated, all she wanted to do was ride the "alligator" up to the second floor and watch the near by roller coaster go upside down. We barely made it back to the table in time for our photo op and even then she was every minute a fussy toddler. It was the only time my father had to use his border voice (first discovered when overzealous Canadian mounties wanted to search our car...) which effectively prevented her from spilling her dessert.

Other than the border voice, which she took in stride, Grace was only truly traumatized a few times. She now thinks whales are scary (thanks, Pinnochio), bugs get you (in fairness, that show was marked with an exclamation point and came with 3D glasses), and she's none too keen on ladybugs (they spin like tea cups). She concluded that dragons are the scariest, however, as even Grandpa was frightened then. In fact, the next day she wouldn't even go close to the Chinese restaurant that was sporting decorative dragons out front. She has no fear of heights, however. I found Dumbo disturbing, she wanted to ride it twice. This will surely come in handy in her future cheerleading career. The only ride she refused to board was the one with Frog & Toad. After riding it, my mother and I agreed she made a sound decision.

The funniest moment happened when my folks and I attended the other exclamation pointed show - "Honey, I Shrunk the Audience." My mother actually believed that our 3D glasses were
"safety glasses" and she was shocked that they effects were all aimed exclusively at her. Shortly thereafter we found ourselves in the audience at the Silver Horseshoe enjoying a live rendition of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." Dad took the opportunity before the show to sneak in a nap and we all left feeling strangely refreshed. There's something to be said for the fiddle.

My trip to Disneyland confirmed my hubby's conclusion that "girls have ruined pirates." I am now the proud owner of pirate princess mouse ears, pirate princess pants, and, of course, a pirate princess tiara that actually stays in place even in my pathetically wimpy hair. I have a Paul Frank purse that celebrates "skurvy" (particularly appropriate since Grace was sporting a spot of skurvy on her lip the whole trip) and a fancy skull ring that matches the skull necklace my red headed niecelet, Savannah, bought me with her very own money last year.

The most magical thing that accompanied our trip to the magic kingdom happened while "swimming" in the hot tub of my parents' very expensive hotel ($500 a night - don't tell Dad...). Grace commanded that we should "make the bubbles go down" and instantly the timer ran out. Unfazed, Grace continued swimming. My sister and I were totally creeped out.

The minute my family parted ways, however, the magic ended. My sister's plane was delayed and her car seat misplaced. She got home hours later than anticipated - frustrated, frazzled and famished. I drove away from the hotel and realized one exit later that I had left some luggage behind. The challenge of retracing my steps paled in comparison to the 90 minute detour I'd endure later. I left the air mattress I bought for my parents' pending visit (intended to balance out the very expensive hotel stay) at the register and didn't realize it until I got home.

Wasted time and gasoline was nothing compared to the lost sleep I spent capturing OC (who had elected to run away from home the whole time I was in Anaheim, his longest absence since he was abducted). His return home was accompanied by enough resistance that my vet prescribed Progesterone for my black cat. I was expecting Prozac or Paxil, but Progesterone gave me some pause... The violence has decreased notably since OC's emergency enema, however, so I've held off on the hormone therapy.

Yes, I said enema.

In his previous life, OC was known as Thomas, the Buttless Wonder. He came into my life via my sister who was supposed to euthanize him after he collected a mass of impacted feces the size of a golf ball. Instead, she found a generous donor and a skillful surgeon who spared him from his congenital bilateral perineal hernias. My only instruction as his adoptive mother was to be sure he never got backed up again. Imagine the guilt I felt when, after nine days of captivity, he revealed his constipation to me this past Saturday.

My veterinarian, bless her heart, put the blame on OC. While I assigned his lack of bowel movement to his forced sedentary lifestyle and rodent-free diet, she likened it more to a kid at summer camp, unwilling to use the unfamiliar facilities. Though he was going, it wasn't often enough and as a result he ended up backed up.

Unfortunately, I could identify. I am the reluctant victim of vacation constipation. Normally a very regular pooper, on vacation I often find myself dreading the act of excreting. Not an avid traveler, I can only recall a few mortifying occasions where my output has unfortunately exceeded the capacity of the local plumbing. Most notably, I had trouble while visiting my brother in Portland. It was here that my dear sister agreed to dispose of my problem in exchange for the right to pick the restaurant for dinner. Kevin and I exchanged troubled glances as we shared a bowl of tortilla chips that night. Most recently, I visited my dear sweet Yvette. Yvette has been my friend since fifth grade and so she quickly assigned my inconvenience to her insufficient plumbing and her paper happy son. I knew better, though. I have a history. It was at Yvette's that I realized I had never learned to properly plunge (as I usually have a man around and plunging is most definitely penis work...) - my agony and embarrassment prolonged while I puzzled through a personal science lesson.

Speaking of home science, my how I have been enjoying the static electricity lately. In my previous life as an employed person, I used to follow my mentor/coworker into the dark room on a regular basis hoping to catch a glimpse of the static jumping off a newly opened package of OVM (orange vinyl mask). OVM quickly became a dinosaur in the now digital printing industry so after six long years I retired having never seen the mysterious sparks. I learned, however, that orange cats are equally adept at generating static and I've enjoyed petting OC in the dark ever since. And last night even Pequeno (aka Blackers the Attackers) was reluctantly putting on a light show.

So how is it I've been feeling so funky? I've been sipping top shelf margaritas, reminiscing about magical moments, shocking my unsuspecting cats with static electricity. I have enjoyed the regular movement of my bowels and even the emotionally draining emergency enema was free of charge (my sis had to agree to pay all of OC's butt related vet bills before I would adopt such a medically needy cat...). My husband rearranged all the furniture while I was gone (something which is very sexy - just ask Springfield's Apu who garnered great interest in the bachelor auction after announcing that his hobbies included talking about where to place furniture in a room...) so my computer could have an ocean view and a heater. What could be better?

Okay, so I haven't enjoyed being a slave to the litter box. Seriously, it is not my fault if OC finds the facilities sub par. I scoop that thing so regularly that I have even begun doing it in my dreams. And my hormones haven't exactly been friendly to me, an unfortunate byproduct of my dyslexic good intentions... Nothing extraordinary, though. Just the usual bloatation and crankiness. And then there was that one supremely horrible day that started with 3 am caterwauling followed by vitamin-on-an-empty-stomach vomiting that ended with cracking my head on the bathroom countertop. Now that day I know I had a reason to cry. But over all, I figure maybe I really am just disappointed in myself for not resolving something in the New Year. So, here it is.

I resolve to steal more pens.

My employment free lifestyle has left me sorry little access to office supplies. Gone is the joy I find in swiping a fine writing instrument. You know, one that feels heavy in your hand, or writes in purple or green, or lights up or otherwise celebrates itself. God, I love stealing pens. Buying them is a rush too, don't get me wrong, but a stolen pen is a prize for life. I reconnected with this joy at Dr. Wonka's office when left alone for my torturous scratch test. If you've never had one, a scratch test is a modern day torture device where your back is covered with 73 itchy stimulants that you are not allowed to scratch for 20 minutes. It begins with the control stimulant, histamine, which always itches, to ensure maximum discomfort. After about 15 minutes I bored of my gossip mag and began snooping in drawers. It was then I found the wealth of drug rep pens. I chose a lime green one, obviously well loved as the name of the drug is all but worn off. They owed me that pen. And more...

I'm not sure how I will achieve this pen swiping goal (I seriously seldom interact with the real world), but resolutions are not supposed to be easy. At least this is one I haven't already broken.