Candy Rant

"I killed a rat with a stick once."

Friday, September 29, 2006

Just a Gentle Reminder to the Meat-necks Who Go to the Same Gym I Do

Hello, Gentlemen. Let me first say that I fully realize that you have many important things to ponder. Your worlds are filled to the brim with crucial meetings and high-level intellectual explorations into topics that are woefully over my feeble head.

I get that. But I would like to, Your Excellencies, remind you that there are people outside your ilk who frequent your gym. With their horribly ordinary bodies, it is no surprise that you either don't notice them, or that you simply have become so appalled that you've blocked them out of your collective consciousness. Very understandable. How could you bring yourselves to look at those of us who are:

1. So shamefully not addicted to bodybuilding that we can actually let our arms rest along the sides of our bodies. Yours stick out so enticingly in that akimbo way.

2. Wearing plain old sweats and T-shirts instead of those mucho sexy tank tops you wear. The ones with the speedo backs and the armholes big enough to show us your nipples and man-boob-ish pecs. Mmmmmm. And don't get me started on those big thick leather belts you wear. Very hot. Really. They don't look anything like a William Shatner truss.

3. Drinking from plain old humdrum water bottles. We should be ashamed of not sucking down the mysterious chemical mixtures you guzzle, filled with space-age polymers and pony-urine.

We are not worthy of your orbit, it is true.

But just one request. You fancy using the weight machines by altering them with 17 other added-on weights, none of which are suitable to be added onto a weight machine in the first place. You do this to increase the meager maximum weight available on the machine. And then you do your 1600 reps, (all the while grunting and wailing like a pygmie woman giving birth to Louie Anderson) you pick up your bottle of yummy 'nad-slush and walk away. When one of us, of the unworthy, goes to use said machine, we have to unload it of its many cumbersome extra parts, and that in itself can be a workout for us. Because we are not as big or strong as you. Or nearly as cool.

So, if you could just walk that swaggering, unnaturally high butt-crack-up-to-your-neck body of yours back to the machine and undo your metal mess, it would be much appreciated.

I know you like to add extra weight. Perhaps you'd like to try weighing down your mental capacity by, say, sharpening a pencil, or unwrapping a piece of Juicy Fruit, or even trying not to cock your head sideways like a dog hearing a high pitch when someone asks you what time it is. Onward, I say!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Healthy Food Makes Me Want to Hurl

I've been on this feeble quest in the last 4 months to bring down my very annoying, problematic blood sugar. And to do that, and to lose the 10 pounds that will assist me in doing that, I must eat much more in the way of healthy food and less of the food that I worship.

I despise healthy food. I hate it like a paper cut between the fingers. Right at this moment, I'm boiling half a dozen eggs so I can inject some protein into my breakfasts. I have never been fond of eggs in any fashion, mostly because when I'm chewing them, I invariably have a moment when I realize exactly what they are, and my gag reflex kicks in so hard that my head flies backward like a Pez dispenser.

And then there are apples. I have tried to work on my relationship with apples. My sister, who sickens me in many ways with her healthy lifestyle, eats, you guessed it, an apple a day. She rarely goes anywhere without her apple and her water bottle. In contrast, I prefer to carry a chocolate bar the size of a life raft and a liter of Pepsi.

I do my best with apples when I bring home small ones. They look manageable. I can eat one quickly and be done with it. I don't have to get all involved with them. And their pitiful smallness makes me feel slightly sorry for them and I hate them less. But yesterday at the grocery store, all the apples were huge. Obnoxiously huge. I bought 5, and they were $5.21. This is ridiculous. This is, like, a nickel a bite. And that's if I could finish one of the appalling things in 20 bites, which I can't, because they're basketball sized and the little stickers on them look lost and overwhelmed, like the label on a fat girl's jeans. And I won't tell you how livid I became when, at the check out, I looked down at my precious friends the candy bars, and realized that for the price of these bald red medicine balls, I could have given a home to eight of my real friends. I realize that most people don't devour their friends, but I'm astonishingly complex, you know.

How did Eve ever throw all of the future of mankind away for a dull, benign apple? If the serpent had told me I could gain knowledge from eating from that tree, I'd have told him to stick one of those apples up his tight serpent ass. And as he was pondering the painful Richard Gere-ness of his situation, I'd extract the directions to the Cadbury factory (which I'm certain originated in Eden) from him. That's all the knowledge I want. As for the rest? I'm happy to stay in the dark.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

No Actual Snakes Were Used in This Blog Post

I'm done with snakes. Let's pretend my mother has wiped them all from the face of the Earth. I won't mention snakes anymore.

Even though my gigantic pile of work is slithering its way through my psyche to devour my last BB-sized bit of sanity. And my sidewinding attempts to avoid a total breakdown have left me nothing but rattled.

Don't asp me if there's anything I can shed from my vast amount of work. There isn't. I tried. My fiance is very supportive and tells me to relax and take baby steps. And I say "Adder boy."

Sometimes to deal with the stress I eat lots of desserts. But if I eat too much cake or py-thon I won't be able to fit into my jeans. And of course there's the whole blood sugar thing I'm trying to control. But I don't want to boa you with that right now. Let's just say the diet constricts my choices of meals. Rats.

I am very very sleep deprived and now I have to go to the dentist. If you need to reach me, call me there. My dentist is a good guy. Eel let you know venom finished.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

My Mother Just Corrected a Detail About Her Most Recent Snake Murder

Here is what she just emailed me:

"That was some story you wrote about me killing that snake. Only I didn't have a 2 by 4, it was an old mop handle with the metal on it that used to hold a rag. I gave that snake a good chance to get out of our shed, I encouraged him to the door and he wouldn't go out. So I said if that's the way you want it, that's the way you'll have it. So that's when I took over, we didn't want to work out there if he was staying."

So you see, my mother did show mercy on a snake. She tried to show him the door but he was enjoying the party too much to leave.

What Will You Be Doing When You're 84?

If you're anything like my mom, who turned 84 on Saturday, you'll still be taking big old waffle-sized bites out of life.

A few months ago, she started taking organ lessons. She has always wanted to play the piano or organ, and instead of taking lessons herself decades ago, she made her four kids take piano lessons. None of us kept playing, of course, because we suck. And because we weren't in love with it. I could not possibly be in love with it because my piano teacher, Francis, had such a distracting and grotesque mustache. I could not focus on her bits of musical wisdom because each time she spoke there was a definite Fuller Brush thing going on. I quit my lessons soon after we got to the "use both hands" part.

Mom now plays "Tiny Bubbles" with panache, and she is living out one of those lost dreams that got packed up into the mothballs.

Here, in tribute to her, are a couple of her illuminating sayings:

1. "All you do when you get old is sit around and grow things you don't need. Tumors, corns, bunyons, bone spurs, cysts, stiff hairs on your chin, moles, lumps, ingrown toenails..." (I'll stop here, although she went on for a good 2 minutes.)

2. "That kid should have been drowned when he was born." (A scathing critique reserved for the worst of kids; originating with our neighbor Tom, who rode his bike by our house and, with a squirt-gun, shot ammonia into our German Shepherd's mouth.)

Nothing about my mother has ever impressed me as much as her bitchslapping pioneer woman ways. On the farm where I grew up, we were regularly visited by snakes. Big fat horrible black snakes, hungry for the juicy rodent delicacies they could find in the fields and grain bins. For as long as I can remember, my mother has shown no snake any mercy. More than once when I was an impressionable young girl, Mom would be out hoe-ing in her flowerbed in the front yard, and would see a black snake slithering among the hedges up against the front porch. She would stop her gentle care of the flowers and turn her blade on the serpent. Without so much as a deep breath to prepare her for battle, she would start chopping that f*cker's head off. It would take 3 or 4 whacks, her blade whizzing through the air and coming down with a thud into the unsuspecting neck of the slithery one.

When she had finally offed the "ugly bastard," she would pick it up by the "tail," carry it across the road to the creek, and unceremoniously toss the headless corpse into the water. Then, back to the waiting flowers.

Perhaps there are few things that will stick with a girl more than watching her mother perform a primitive Lorena Bobbitt on a 6-foot-long phallic symbol.

Just 3 years ago, when she was 81, we were all pitching in to clean out the enormous tool shed in order to sell the farmhouse and move Mom and Dad into the condo where they are now. A snake appeared. My brother had made the mistake of disturbing it by lifting up an ancient, disintegrating piece of cardboard. My brother is a big guy, and not a wussie. But when he sees a snake, his balls wither to the size of two beads on the necklace of a dust mite. He slammed the cardboard back down and as he was taking some me-time to let his bowels turn to water, Mom came calling. With a two-by-four.

And although they had witnessed brutality like this before, my brothers gained new respect for the woman who saved their nancy-boy selves with somewhere around two dozen blunt whacks of the two-by-four.

When I asked her, later on, what that snake had ever done to her, she looked at me like I was spouting lava out the top of my head and said "He came in my shed."

Friday, September 22, 2006

Back to My Real Life, With an Even More Fierce Intention to Live Well

And by living well, I don't mean trying to collect some designer goods, like a Gucci nose hair trimmer or a Tiffany cat food bowl. (Although I must admit to occasional daydreams of owning a solid gold K-Tel Pocket Fisherman. Why doesn't Ron Popeil answer my calls?)

I mean I need to live well.

I spent 3 days with the World War II vets and their wives. It was not easy. I tried to savor the time and to take that pain that I felt when I saw them hobbling around and put it in a mental safe deposit box to unlock later. But the sadness was unavoidable. They're such phenomenal guys, and they're fighting all kinds of illnesses and the general chronic fatigue of the elderly and it twisted me up to witness it.

Tom, a retired judge, is stooped over almost in half with osteoporosis. The latest development is an aortal aneurysm his doctor found on an ulstrasound the day before the army reunion. Tom's wife told him they could still go, as long as he sat and rested the whole time he was there. Normally he gets up to sing a solo during the sing-along on the night of the banquet. But he was out of wind.

Art, a former butcher who used to brag about his "million dollar thumb" (used to discreetly add weight to the meat scale) has, out of the blue, taken up smoking cheap, heinously smelly cigars, and has, for the most part, stopped speaking. His wife tells him what to wear and where to sit and watches him all the time. My mom said "I feel sorry for her. She's in the same boat I am."

Only 8 men made it to the reunion this year. One of them was in attendance for the very first time. He was a nice surprise. The 85-year-old new kid.

Each year, on the morning of the last day of the reunion, there is a business meeting to decide on the plans for next year. In an odd ritual, this meeting invariably takes three hours and the result for the past 5 years has been the same: Charlie will be in charge again next time, and we'll come back to the same motel. Again.

But this year there was an added guideline. It was decided that the reunion will take place next year only if at least 5 guys can come to it. If you had seen the 8 there this time, you would see the chances of another reunion happening as extremely remote.

Late at night, after all the vets were sleeping, I would debrief by talking to my fiance. While I sat in the stairwell on my cell phone, filling him in on the day, we got that umistakable feeling of "Pay attention. These are the good years." A sticky note from the universe saying "Don't bitch about anything. You're healthy. Shut up and live."

Those who know Candy Rant well know that if bitching were an Olympic sport, I would disintegrate even the surly Russian thug-girls. The really seething ones, no doubt angry from waiting in endless lines for hand razors and vodka. But I could perhaps drop down to the bronze medal next time.

It's not like I don't pay attention. I do. It's just that after I've been to that reunion I feel the urgent need to hold a big magnifying glass over my life so I don't miss even a speck. And to keep in mind that it can all be gone instantly, but to somehow use that mindfulness to savor life, not to imagine every possible horror that could happen. It's a tricky balance.

There was another small group of WWII vets at our motel. They served on the U.S.S. Thatcher, which was the target of not one, but two kamikaze attacks. One guy had on a hat that read "Kamikaze Survivor - USS Thatcher." That carries slightly more weight than the hats on campus that say "I survived Spring Break 2006."

When my dad was serving in Finchaven, New Guinea, the big treat was movie night. He and a group of about 500 were watching a movie on the beach, on a set-up screen. (The movie: “Checkers” starring Jane Withers.) ((I got all these details from him years ago.)) A Japanese plane dropped a bomb on the beach.

“We heard him pull out,” Dad says. “4 people on the front row died, but the screen was still standing.” It was terrifying. They all scattered. When I asked him-- being of the let's-talk-about-it baby boomer generation-- if they gathered afterward to talk or something, he said “No, we went back to our pup tents.” I'm guessing he got out my mom's latest letter and read it for comfort.

“How many times would you read each one?” I asked him once.

He said “Till I got another one.”

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Nobody Will Ever Impress Me More Than These Guys

A group of men. The youngest is 83, the oldest is 93. They are the men of my dad's World War II battalion. There are 9 left.

Every year for the last 25 or so, the men have had a reunion. Way back when there were so many of them that it took a few minutes to organize them for the group photo. They and their wives and sometimes a kid or two and very rarely, a grandchild, would gather in a hotel for 3 days to check in with one another. It used to be that each year they'd go somewhere different. A city with some history to it, where they could explore and sightsee. Like Charleston, South Carolina to see Fort Sumter. But nobody is much able to get around to do the sightseeing anymore, so they've been meeting for the last 3 years in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, at a motel. This is because Charlie, the old guy in charge, always gets drafted to be in charge again for the next reunion and he lives near there. Charlie drives a Corvette. Or he used to. Now his daughter drives him there, in his bright blue Corvette, with its handicap license plate. You don't see that combo very often.

My sister and I started taking our parents to the reunion 4 years ago, when they stopped feeling up to making the trip on their own. It's time to go again, on Wednesday.

I don't want to get all sappy and make anybody puke, especially my own bad self, but it is an absolute killer to watch these guys stand up, or sit at attention in their wheelchairs, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. It gives me goosebumps. They do it every evening when they gather in the meeting room to visit. The wives sit together and talk a great deal about various medical problems. Not their own...mostly those of their men. Sometimes they talk about how little they know of what happened mentally to their husbands during their time at war.

In the case of my own father, there are numerous pieces of circumstantial evidence suggesting that while he served as the scout for the battalion, he was captured by the enemy. Years back when my mom told me this, I said "What? What do you mean you're not sure?!" To which she replied: "He never told me, and I never asked." And now that he has Alzheimers, he doesn't have any memories of it. It's lost. And I think I'm glad it's lost. Although I wish he wasn't.

So that's where I'll be for the next 3 days. My sister and I are the youngsters there, and when one of the women starts going to town on her portable keyboard, we dance with the old guys who have lost their wives. Charlie, the Corvette owner, always makes the same joke: You girls remember, old wood catches fire quicker than green.

My mom says men "don't stop thinking about those wieners of theirs until they're dead."

Friday, September 15, 2006

Pardon Me For Jumping From Cat Feces to the Meaning of Life

But that's in the annoying, bubbling crock pot of my head today.

And it just could be that that pungent pile of haute couture crap from the House of Hankie cleared my sinuses all the way to the brain layer representing Deep Existential Questions.

The following question has never seemed tough to answer before:

"Why should I bother being a good person?"

I just took it for granted that that was my job. As a human. Especially if I believe in good and evil (I do) and God (I do) and in trying to grow and develop and achieve as much self-actualization as possible while living on this very challenging planet.
(I do.)

But sometimes the ethical tectonic plates shift in Candy's cranium, and suddenly what was just moments ago a quiet, semi-contented tribe of natives sitting down to an evening bowl of seaweed and grublets, turns into a shrieking band of angry pygmies who have, every one of them, accidentally sat down on hot pokers. Really hot pokers.

And when I ask questions like "why should I bother being a good person," I feel like a pygmy. A spiritual pygmy. Like if my spiritual capacity was measured and documented, I'd be placed on the Eternal Shortbus. And while the more advanced humans would, in the afterlife, be given subjects to ponder like "Why was evil allowed to dwell on the face of the earth?" I would be in the group assigned such quandries as "Should you have thrown away your empty Pringles cans, or used them for craft projects?"

Here is why all this is bothering me:

Today, I was involved in a very intense road rage interaction. I did not start it. But I jumped in full blast and the whole thing was dangerous and stupid. On both sides. The little voice of reason in my head had no chance in hell of stopping my participation. It was dissolved in the adrenalin rush of my brain like a Cheerio in hydrochloric acid.

My heart pounded all the rest of the way home. And it hit me. I've had a mighty temper my entire life. I've wrestled with it, indulged it, hated it, taken strength from it, tried to pray it away, taken it to therapy, hidden it from some, shown it to others. And no matter what I do, it's still here. It still comes out and acts like a total assh*le, it still makes me feel like a sub-human, and I still feel powerless against it. Whether I'm really happy with my life, or as miserable as I can imagine enduring.

Thus came my question. Even when I do bother, when I make the effort, albeit feeble, to be "good," I lose. Regularly.

Is it the effort that God wants? The intention? Or is that so futile and worthless that even He rolls his eyes?

I would prefer not to have these questions pounding on the bongo in my brain.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Surviving the Noxious Fumes of an Elderly Feline

First, let me say that my cat, Hankie, age 19, has been and still is the best cat in the world. He outlasted my marriage (and was way more fun) ((and way smarter than the spouse)) (((and had better table manners))), moved back and forth to France with me, and even learned to hate the French with me.

He is incredibly affectionate, purr-y, cuddly, all the stuff emphasized in the "How to Be the Best Cat in the World" manual.

And he also can drop a pile in his litter box that is weapons-grade nuclear in its olfactory explosiveness. If the fumes catch you off guard, if you are untrained in the ways and odors of Hankie, your head will instantly become a mushroom cloud, and there won't even be the briefest of warnings in order to allow your life to pass before your watering eyes.

Case in point: Night before last, still hacking from my student-induced flu, and still nursing my stuffy head and paralyzed sinuses, I decided to reward myself with a long, hot, relaxing bath. I went all girlie and used bubble bath, positioned my high-falutin' inflatable bath pillow behind my tired shoulders, and lowered myself into the steamy world of No One Can Bother Candy Here, Can They?

Hankie's litter box is about 8 feet from the bathtub, just past the open bathroom door. I don't close the bathroom door when I'm bathing. It just feels more luxurious.

The very second my whole body was immersed, Hankie very innocently approached his litter box. A bit of a surprise, since, when I ran my bathwater, he had been sleeping the peaceful sleep of the sinless on the living room floor.

But stealthily, he approached. I became nervous. From my reclined position in the tub, I could see only his face looking outward, over the side of his litter box. And then I saw the look. The one of deep philosophical concentration that comes upon his face when he is dumping a supreme load.

I was trapped in my own sanctuary. He jumped out of the box and ran. Another sign that the thud has come down. I was doomed. The smell would reach me in seconds. I leaned up and grabbed the sparkly shower curtain and yanked it closed. Maybe that would save me.

Let me tell you how effective that was. Like holding an umbrella over my head to shield me from a falling anvil. Like stretching saran wrap around a pen of lambs to keep the wolves from attacking. Like spraying Lysol in a house that you've built on Love Canal.

When the stench hit my lungs, I had no choice but to climb dizzily out of the tub, hand over mouth, soapsuds flying every which way, and stumble to the litter box to pour in more litter. You see, Hankie, in his way of thinking, has decided it is simply undignified in one's golden years, to cover up one's steaming creations. He lets his freak flag fly.

I have heard my students overuse the saying "I threw up a little in my mouth." I had never experienced it. Until the very moment that I crouched too close to the fresh pile as I was covering it. It did hit me that I was naked at a litter box, covering up someone else's crap. Even a cave woman would have protested. It was one of many moments in my life when I wondered what other people are doing.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Back into the Germy Cesspool of Academia

Life on a college campus is a cesspool for many reasons. Ideologically, it's difficult to survive the verbal/social/job threatening bullets if you happen to disagree with the "scholarly" status quo. It can be overwhelming at times. You either sign this petition to get rid of blah-blah-blah in all its political incorrectness or else. When you are crazily outnumbered, you have to remind yourself that most of the academes around you are nothing more than self-important blowhards who, in their numerous publications are doing the verbal equivalent of whacking off like a monkey.

That said, the particular facet of the cesspool on my mind at the moment is more about literal germiness. When the students come back after summer break, they bring with them every sickness known to bipeds. They have traveled the planet, gathered up exotic snot-inducing strains of flu from the tiniest village and its donkey path main street, from the Big European City espresso cups which have never once been washed in hot enough water, and from their shady families of origin in all their dysfunctional glory. Mix these germs with the wildly sickening layers of ooze collected in the corners of dorm showers, and let the rotten little coeds track this stuff all over campus, and you gotcherself a bunch of nose-blowing, hacking, pissed off instructors. Like me.

Normally I can make it to mid or late October before one of the Pus Princes brings his filthy bounty to lay at my adenoids. This year it came early. I got crazy sick Thursday night, and as my throat swelled up like a piece of dry cat food in water, I quickly lost the will to live. I got worse and worse and sicker and sicker. Just for sport, I went to the urgent care place Saturday night, knowing full well they would not give me any drugs because their answer for everything is "It's viral. You just need to wait it out. Take some Tylenol." But this time, after enduring the medieval torture of the stick down the throat, I was given some codeine. Yummy, blessed codeine cough syrup.

When I returned to school yesterday, my brain fully drenched in my magical liquid happiness, my students seemed much more interesting to me. They had intuitive things to say. Like "That kegger was f*cking awesome." and "Old people are too patriotic." I was enamored with them. I couldn't get enough. I took notes.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

There is Nothing Like Coming Home to My Sixteen Cats

When I come after a long day, like this one, and walk in the back door, all sixteen of them are waiting for me in the kitchen. And they are always in the very same spots. That may be because they're hanging on the wall. No, they are not massacred cats. They are heinously bad pieces of art.

Actually, I just feel obligated to say they're bad pieces of art, because it's more cool to like "bad" art for its "badness." The truth is, I adore them. Anything that involve a cat or a dog wearing clothes does something to me. It apparently hits a resonant frequency in my skull, which leads to the firing up of my cranial pleasure center. This started when I was very young, and would pull my elastic-waisted skirts over the very aggravated butt of our German Shepherd, Buck. Not only was Buck uninterested in wearing clothing, but had he been interested in dressing up, he would not have selected my wooly teal blue pleated skirt.

It is now decades later, and I'm still made stupidly happy by dog and cat art. I've evolved, of course. After Buck went to the big dog pen in the sky, we got a pekipoo who had a little red turtleneck sweater. In college I purchased a cheap, felt, 6-dollar gas station wall hanging of the classic dogs-playing-poker scene. Later there were William Wegman books and the like.

I used to dress my cat in a small blue-striped rugby shirt (size 12 months), and push the sleeves up. Cats do not take well to clothing. I stopped doing that when I heard of a friend of a friend taking their cat to a Halloween party, dressed in a little tuxedo, and he had a heart attack and died when they got home. Besides that, my cat is 19, which is 92 in people years, and his elderly state has earned him some dignified treatment. But not such dignified treatment that I talked myself out of dressing him like Mother Teresa for last year's Christmas cards.

Why am I bringing this up? Because Sarah, a friend of mine, gave me a great gift in celebration of my engagement. It's called a Cat-a-pult. A plastic catapult equipped with 4 tiny rubber cats for me to shoot across the room in delight. It is the perfect gift. And it came into my kitchen to take its place among the old-timers already there.

My two favorite framed cat prints:

1. A cat couple sitting upright on a couch, fully dressed, the "man" cat in suit and red polka-dotted tie, the "woman" in her June Cleaver best, apron and all.

2. A cat working behind the counter at an ice cream parlor, scoop in paw, wearing a red striped soda jerk apron. The sign behind him says "Paw's Ice Cream Parlor." It's giant. It's framed. It was 7 bucks at a flea market in Florida. Beat that.

No one will ever make me believe that anything Monet did is better than these. No painting of wussy lilies in a pond can rise to the level of feline and canine art. And don't even get me started on the Mona Lisa. That bitch is a two-bagger. Keep your hoity museum pieces and give me a dog in a fedora.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Pterodactyl on the Covered Bridge

It's hard for Candy to remain her bitter self and to keep her heart as crusty and hard as a four-day-old baguette when happiness keeps swooping in.

My brain is like one of those things they used to have behind the front desk at hotels, with little pigeonholes for room keys and phone messages. Every room had its own compartment. Every key had a place to go. In the Brain of Candy Rant, there have always been many, many pigeonholes for each of the following categories: Things to Dread, Bad Memories, Things That Suck, Things That Might Get Messed Up, Reasons Candy Might Go to Hell, and the like.

When something good happened to me, the key that went with that particular thing got lost on the floor behind the counter, because there was no place to put it. When I tried to push it into one of the dark and dreadful pigeonholes, it was rejected. Spat out. Like those maddening change machines that seem to think your dollar is not quite up to snuff.

In the past year, good things keep happening to poor Candy, who is too mentally warped to know what to do with them. Good things cause discomfort. Case in point: when a nice work promotion came along a few years back, out of the blue, I was in Immediate Cognitive Distress. Ten minutes later, I walked to my car and someone had bashed the side of it in. Hit and run crunch. I felt so much better. The other shoe had dropped almost instantaneously. Ahhh, sweet relief.

But now, something big has happened. Remember the Best Boyfriend in the World? The one who's been so mesmerizingly good to me? Well, a week ago today he became the Best Fiance in the World.

He proposed to me on a covered bridge in Indiana, close to where my family lives, and when he did, Happiness swooped down and sat atop that 100 year old bridge like a pterodactyl. Screaming like a banshee, just like at the beginning of "Jonny Quest." (And if you got that reference, I love you.) It flapped its prehistoric wings and did a little Jurassic dance and there I was, on the bridge, crying like a wussie-girl as the shiny rock was sliding onto my finger.

There is no getting around this. I have to tear down some old things and build something new. I have to demolish the giant steely 90-storey hotel and its hundreds of "the shit is gonna hit the fan" pigeonholes, and start up again with a tiny bed and breakfast where there is only one room. Then I don't have to pigeonhole everything into Good or Bad. I can just go into the teeny tiny hidden house in the woods and try to get used to the idea that life doesn't have to be polarized. You can have joy and fear and confusion all at once.

OK, I'm making myself puke. I need to break some glass.

I wouldn't have to ponder all this if Happiness hadn't made me her bitch.