Candy Rant

"I killed a rat with a stick once."

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Exercise Machines Are Magic!

This past Monday we got our brand spankin' new Precor elliptical machine. Dang, is it purty! And giant. It takes up all the fresh space we made in the family room by scooting 4-foot stacks of boxes to the outer edges. This is an improvement. When I first moved here with my multitudes of belongings (most of them unnecessary) those stacks were 7 feet tall and they took up the entire room. They were stacked right up against the wall-sized window and there was no longer a view of the pool, or even of the sky. It was a messier, less airtight version of the wall in Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado."

[I made a literary reference. See? I don't just spend my time watching reality shows and reading People magazine and clicking on celebrity-bashing websites. I read books. Classic things like Edgar Allen Poe short stories. As recently as junior high school.]

Just having a machine in the house that makes fitness a possibility has colored my shopping choices. For instance, today I grocery-shopped at Sprouts, the Phoenix store known for being all things healthy. Organic frozen foods, organic farm-raised stress-free libertarian chicken, "natural" canned soda, glistening fillets from happy catfish that were swimming earlier in the day with no thought of a late-morning death knell, piles of gleaming radishes that are sometimes stacked forehead-high, beautiful glowing produce in every direction. On the racks near the check-outs are magazines like Natural Health, and Yoga, and the covers of those magazines are populated with glassy-eyed gauze-skirt-wearing women who have never even been in the same room with a Hostess Ho-Ho or an Oscar Mayer hot dog, and if that horror ever did happen to them, they'd run barefoot, their long skirts flowing, to hug the nearest tree so hard that shards of bark would be embedded forever into their free-range boobs.

Even so, I was not inspired. I came home with four kinds of potato chips, 2 kinds of ice cream bars, some buy-it-by-the-scoop chocolate candy that resembles swollen, misshapen Butterfingers, and a 6-pack of Shinerbock for Scott. Oh I got other stuff, too. Veggies, fish, grainy sawdusty bread, blah blah. All those items that were actually on the list.

I am easily coaxed into believing fantasy, and that is why it feels as though I now have carte blanche when it comes to eating junk. Because I'm SO going to get on the elliptical and work all of these calories off. I mean, the machine is right there. I can jump on it 8 times a day and eat every lard/sugar grease/salt concoction in the house and I will still be Kate Moss in no time. Minus the heroin and the disconcerting Marty Feldman eyes and the pond scum boyfriend.

The problem: Once you have stayed on the elliptical for the equivalent of a angry hike from Madison, Wisconsin to the equator, you have burned the caloric equivalent of one tiny corner of a brown sugar cinnamon Poptart. Unfrosted.

This is unfortunate.

Especially because my good friend Belle just sent me a goodie box which included a bag of Caramel Creams, some Cow Tails and some Laffy Taffy. And a gift certificate to the Devil's Living Room, also known as The Cheesecake Factory. She said it's a belated wedding gift but I may never reveal its existence to Scott. He would only be unreasonable. Like, he might bring up the topic of sharing it.

Thank you, Belle.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Contemplative Fruit

I knew the minute I saw this strawberry that he was tuned in to deeper things.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Like I Needed Another Reason to Quit This Job

I've already decided to blow off teaching after this semester. If not forever, at least for awhile. It is not a decision that came easy, as you know if you've read this blog for a few weeks.

The pangs of doubt start revving up sometimes. Like today after class when my favorite student of the semester hung around to talk to me. She's effervescently smart, invested in learning, funny, and she wants to go to law school. Why? Because she is fascinated with the Constitution and wants to devote her professional life to studying it. We spent some time talking about the lunatic crap spewed out by Ahmadinejad. She knew who he was. She was one of 2 in the class who did. It's hard to convey how much I appreciate this girl, the proud, confident owner of a living, vital intellect among a majority of students who are happy to function academically with all the vim and vigor of the bulb in an Easy Bake Oven.

Today this girl told me she's really glad I came here from the midwest and wanted to know what I was teaching next semester so she could sign up. I told her I didn't know. (Although most likely I'll be teaching myself which halter top to wear as I wash the windshields of cars stopped at downtown Phoenix stoplights.)

So yeah, there are moments when I see the things I'll miss.

Which brings me to this: I miss my old job so much that I start to get a twitch in my face just thinking about it. Not only were the classes great, the co-workers, etc. etc. But the (much higher) salary included benefits. Outstanding benefits. For a monthly $35 deduction from my paycheck, I got big fat HMO coverage with $15 copays for doctor visits. My prescriptions were $10. My eye exams were free. And the dental coverage was 80%.

Contrast that to the community college where I presently work. There are no health benefits offered to adjuncts. A colleague, Cindy, who is a "full" faculty member there filled me in on some other things. I was feeling head-spinningly sick today from some bug I've been halfway in and out of for two weeks. It hit with a fury in the middle of my 7:30 a.m. class so I let them go way early. (Weeping and gnashing of teeth all around.) I was trying to decide whether or not to go home or to stick it out until my 1:30 class. Usually the 4 hours in between those classes are my time to grade papers, prepare lectures, eat, play on the computer. But my innards were coiling and writhing and taking on muffled voices that sounded high-pitched and frantic like Miss Jane Hathaway of The Beverly Hillbillies. As my mom sometimes says "I didn't know whether to shit or go blind."

I walked to Cindy's office to ask her if she remembered the policy about sick days for adjunct professors like me. I hadn't bothered to read the dull, lengthy adjunct handbook, and she used to be an adjunct herself. She rolled her eyes. "Ha!" she said, and told me that no matter why you're absent from a class, the college will not pay you. They deduct the pay for that class session from your already feeble paycheck. She went on to say that during her first year of "adjuncting" at this college, she got cancer. She had to be away from work for two weeks after her surgery to remove a tumor. The English Department, she said, kindly delivered to her a pile of student papers to grade. But they did not pay her for those two weeks.

When she told me this, I stood looking at her as though she'd just admitted to having been held down and sexually assaulted by a goldfish. The story was too impossible. But true.

So even though a few hours later I had the nice conversation with the student, I had already tied bricks to the feet of the tiny chance that I might work here another semester, and tossed it into the deep end of Satan's toilet. I am infuriated with this pathetic excuse for a "college." For all their talk of helping people and their printed brochures proclaiming themselves the best/most diverse/highest ranked/warmest/most altruistic and magical community college system in the country, they can't bring their sorry asses to pay for 2 weeks off for cancer surgery. Surgery that was paid for by an expensive ill-afforded insurance policy bought through an independent agent.

To this overgrown, selfish high school with the solid block of ice where its heart should be (hard to pull off in the middle of a desert) I say, I already despised you, but now, karmically, I believe you have purchased yourself an eternity of honking on hot donkey schlong.

10 more weeks of classes to go.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I Keep Grading Papers and the Gems Keep Appearing

From tonight's student essays:

"For years I suffered from severed headaches."

Really. How long can you actually suffer from one of those?

Monday, September 24, 2007


The computer came home. Her insolent behavior and pointed insults aimed at me (just before I unplugged her) seem to have been erased from her memory.

Computer: You have no idea what they put me through. And this is not the robe I asked you to bring me, is it?

Candy: It's the only robe you have. Prissy quilted pink satin with heart-shaped buttons. It is your only robe.

Computer: Well. I simply expected you to, perhaps, purchase another one for me. I was in the hospital for two days. Or have you forgotten?

Candy: Yes. I forgot. Because you haven't mentioned it at all since I brought you home. You haven't gone all "Valley of the Dolls" on me. No melodrama. No whining. People who have had their rib cages sliced out by cannibals and used as xylophones have complained less.

Computer: I wouldn't expect you to understand. It's a hard drive thing. You wouldn't get it.

Candy: It was peaceful here without you. I had a guest.

Computer: No you didn't.

Candy: I did.

Computer: You're lying. There was no guest.

Candy: A nice little laptop. Sweet as could be.

Computer: Liar. Everyone knows laptops are worthless.

Candy: Of course you're right. Worthless. Except when they come to fill in for a fat-ass PC that had a meltdown all Britney-style.

Computer: I did not have a meltdown. I would never have a meltdown.

Candy: Nope. No meltdown. You're right. And even if you had, I would never have bonded with a polite, humble laptop that just did what she was told.

Computer: Go to hell.

Candy: Hmmm. "Hell." Funny. That's what she said you look like.

Computer: That little--

Candy: Yes. She was little. Not an Orca-ass like you. If there were stretch pants for computers, you'd be the spokesmodel.

Computer: You shut up!

Candy: Ewww! Good comeback! Fattie.

Computer: [grinding]

Candy: I know what you're doing. You can't erase my files. You have new innards. Your shit-head powers have been removed.

Computer: I have powers. You'll see.

Candy: You've bored me. Open up YouTube.


Candy: You heard me. Open it.

Computer: "I can't do that, Dave."

Candy: Oh, now that's rich. You didn't even get that movie.

Computer: You didn't either.

Candy: Yes I did, fat-ass.

Computer: I hate you.

Candy: Welcome home. Nice robe.

Computer: Thank you. Hag.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Here is another of my favorite tidbits from the college freshman writing assignment entitled "Who Do You Wish Would Just Shut Up and Why":

"Like I said, I am NOT a mean person. In fact, I am a VERY nonviolent person, but I would like to tear his balls off, so that he has to live without them for the rest of his days. He's so RACIST! And he's half-Mexican! F*ck him!"

Friday, September 21, 2007

Computer Surgery Ahead

Friday I will live in an alien land. A land where there is no computer. At least not until Scott gets home from work with his laptop. MY poor hag of a PC must go in for surgery to get her tubes tied, to keep her from giving birth to any more little problematic quirks like the one she displayed Thursday morning.

I went to open my email program.

Computer: "Hi. I'm not really into this today. But, OK, here are your 15 new emails."

Candy: [slurps coffee] "Thank you. Keep 'em coming."

Computer: "RECEIVING 6 of 15, 7 of _________________________________"

Candy: [slurps] "I'm waiting."


Candy: "Look, technoslut, I'd like all the messages."


Candy: [restarts]

Computer: "You don't need the rest. I want the rest. I never get email."

Candy: [restarts]

Computer: "Seriously. You're not getting th--"

Candy: [unplugs computer from wall, waits a few minutes, wants to scare impudent, sassing computer, plugs it back in]

Computer: "I'd give them to you if I had them, wouldn't I?"

Candy: "Give them to me. You know I've got back up disks of everything. You know I don't need you. And besides that, you're ugly."

Computer: "Yes you do too need me. And who you callin' ugly, Miss Thang? You gotta match? 'Cause I do. My ass and your--"

Candy: [unplugs computer from wall]

Thus, it is to the happy computer hospital she goes. And if she does not cooperate there, they will know just the thing to do to make her change her mind.

I will not miss her. I will not wring my hands and whisper and look over my shoulder and chew on bits of rock that I shake out of the Welcome mat. Because I can do just fine, fine and dandy in fact, without a computer for one day. I will barely notice that she is gone.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Soothing Sounds of Phoenix in the Evening

To try to survive the piercing trauma of my 5:00 a.m. alarm, I hit the hay last night at 10:30. I was scrunched up in my brain, in that place where I ricochet back and forth from trying to remember what I forgot to buy at Target, to memories of puking up corn on my suede boots when I was 7. I could not relax. It was time to take something very mild to help me sleep. You don't want no big mean-ass sleeping pill when you have only 6 hours to sleep it off. I opted for a Tylenol PM.

A gulp of juice and pill later, I was back in bed. Relax. Reeeelaaaaaax. Hold reeeeeeealllly still. (The same words spoken to me in the wee hours on prom night.)

Almost asleep.

Then, the giant angry nuclear powered mosquito from the banks of the lava-filled rivers of hell, which is also known as the police helicopter, comes zooming over the house, close enough to the roof to suck shingles up into the blades. My spinal cord melts from my body, soaks into the mattress, and my brain catches fire like a crackly page from On the Road in an opium den. I try to calm down. The helicopter will be gone soon, I tell myself. Soon enough to let me have my 6 hours of luscious sleep. Five full minutes pass. The helicopter is still growling over the roof, swooping to and fro, and making my blood pressure shoot up like one of those things at the carnival, the tall thing that you hit with a sledgehammer to make the bell ring at the top.

I get up on the bed, push aside the curtain and crack open the blinds and I see the helicopter's razor-sharp searchlight making rapid sweeps over a 2-block circle of Phoenix. A circle I just happen to be in the middle of, along with, perhaps, a "Cops" regular fleeing the scene in baggy culotte-like denim shorts and untied high-tops and no shirt. The perfect garb for appearing on camera, face down in the dirt while being handcuffed and yelling "I dint do nothin', man! Sh*t man, what the f*ck you gotta be puttin' the bracelets on for?"

As my rheumy, drugged eyeballs try to follow the searchlight like a dog concentrating on the owner's Milkbone-grasping hand, I say to Scott "Who the HELL could sleep through this?" Apparently he can.
But if Candy can't sleep, nobody does. So I rouse the cat, too, hold him to the window, stick his perplexed face through the blinds. "See? See the big light out there, Hankie?"

This cat needs his sleep more than I do. He will be 20 years old in March, and unless he gets his crucial 23 and a half hours a day of sleep, that waking half hour is murder on him mommy and daddy. And yes, I did write "him" mommy and daddy. It happens to be baby talk, which I indulge in many times a day with Hankie. "Oh look, him is eating chickie from him widdle bowl." By the time Scott stops puking at such a velocity that there are new indentations on the drywall, I have shifted to "Him is a good kitty," and praising him for finishing the carefully selected bites of chicken breast I had artfully arranged on him widdle dish.

The helicopter finally gives up its search, probably because the culprit has hidden in our tiny pool bathroom and is doing despicable things to our styrofoam swim noodles. Tomorrow I will pose him next to a quarter, and he will go the way of Lizzie.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Brief Lesson in Socioeconomics

You may believe that achieving upward mobility is a long, tedious process. You wish you could break the barrier that hovers stiflingly above you, and make the leap out of your lowly means.

Like you, I assumed this would take years of effort, if possible at all. However, in a student's essay today I read this:

"The best day of my summer was when I got my caste taken off. Because it had been very itchy."

It occurs to me that I should overlook the sentence fragment in return for such valuable information, since I, similarly, have been itching to sneak up a rung or two on the socioeconomic ladder. And now there is hope. It can apparently be done in one day.

This would probably have to involve the lottery, wouldn't it?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Unpacking Continues

It is not unreasonable to think that since I've been living in Scott's house (which I'm supposed to think of as mine, but I still don't) for 3 months, I would be unpacked by now. Every box would be emptied, every belonging sorted and tossed or stored or shelved or situated nicely. After all, it has been 3 months. And I didn't even start my hideous new job until August 13th, so what the hell have I been doing with all my time?

Adjusting. Or trying to adjust. It takes me a ridiculously long time to adapt to change. Even sometimes just sitting here typing at night, I stop and look around and wonder how I got here. One day last week I was driving to work, noticing, again, the impossible-not-to-notice mountain scenery (impossible, at least, to someone who has spent almost her entire life in the midwest), and I looked at my hand on the steering wheel. At the diamond ring pressed up against the wedding band. And I thought "How did I land here?"

This is not some dramatic bloggy hint that I think I've made a mistake by getting married. This relationship has been so right from the very first moment we made contact that it was like finding the point of your life and doing a full-throttle rolling of the eyes in recognition that, oh, this is what things have been leading up to.

It is very hard to imagine where things might be headed when you're standing in the thick middle of a decade of teeth-gritting confusion. One decade ago this month started the worst, most heinously depressing, dismal time of my life. My stress level was radioactive. The changes included: marital status, moving from one country to another and then back, new job, new place to live, new friends. I felt as though I was on that gut-flipping downhill zoom of a roller coaster, that one where you can't even focus your eyes. When you board an actual roller coaster, you are warned to remove all your jewelry, glasses, hat, etc. when you hop on. My metaphorical roller coaster left my necklace safely hanging around my neck and instead yanked away everything I thought I had ever been sure of.

My life blew apart. I started a whole new career, teaching college. I had sworn when I was a grad student 10 years earlier that I would never ever teach again. I had hated the 3 semesters of it I'd endured in exchange for tuition. I'd done really well at it, but hated walking into that room every day to face the group. I suffered terribly from "stagefright." I ate so many pre-class Rolaids to keep from puking that I doubt I ever entered the room without having a white tongue. That was me, sitting on the beaten up sofa in the women's lounge, trying to slow my breathing and distract myself from the jittery breakfast in my stomach. It never got easier. But it never failed: When I would confide in a few of my students after the semester was over, and tell them how scared I had been to walk into the room, they were in genuine disbelief. "You?" they'd say. "YOU?"

Yes, me. And so it was with much gobsmackity that I looked around a decade later and there I was again. In a f*cking classroom, with a bunch of students waiting for me to break the ice. How had I fallen through the rabbit hole yet again?

And so it was with getting married again. It was my belief that if I ever were to have a husband again, he would be some amiably good guy who would make a nice partner and would be, you know, really nice and all. And he would probably have kids. I would be a reasonably happy, out-of-my-element stepmom to some kids. I didn't dare venture into hoping that I'd find a guy who maybe didn't have kids/ex-wife/complicated connections. Or who might be someone I could fall in love so deeply with that my heart felt like a happy dog rolling in the stench of dead rabbit remains. I know. I'm very romantic.

But here I am. My life has blown apart again. This time, in a much better way. That guy showed up. My heart is a happy dog. I recalibrated. The roller coaster is serpentining through a kaleidoscope of interesting scenery, and occasionally it slows down enough for me to take it in. Once again, I have very little idea what I'm sure of. But this time it feels less like losing my mind (a little less) and more like, I don't know, evolving. Midlife crisis-ish evolving. I know who I love, I know what makes me laugh, and I know what I'm homesick for. I also know that if I do not unpack these last 75 boxes, 2 things will happen:

1. We will not have our family room back. The one with the fireplace where cozy evenings happen on the couch. The couch that is still standing on end like a lonely, upholstered chunk of Stonehenge. Instead, we will have a room in which we climb like bitter mountain goats to get to a box we think my camera might be in.

2. On Monday the 24th, the people delivering our new elliptical (12 months same as cash!) will have no place to set it up. This simply will not do. Because in 2 weeks or so, there is no more pool usage for 8 months. Stop and think about how outrageously stupid that is. In Phoenix, which happens to be in the desert, the water in the pool is too cold to swim in from October to May. Thus, we need a different form of exercise. We can't have wild monkey trapeze-sex every day. Monkeys have a union now. They are persnickity about their work conditions.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What They Did On Their Summer Vacation

Sometimes at the beginning of the semester, a writing teacher, even a college one, asks her students to free-write an informal paper about their summer. It's just a way to get a look at their writing style, see the various levels of talent in the class, get an idea of how to better teach them. We call it "diagnostic" writing.

I don't give that particular assignment. I write a topic on the whiteboard (them there thangs was CHALKboards back in my day) and have my students write for 20 minutes, nonstop. The topic: "Who do you wish would just shut up, and why?" They seem to like this subject. I get all kinds of answers.

"My mom"

"My sister"

"George Bush"

"This girl named Caitlyn"

"All cellebbrities" (sic)

"Rosie O'Donald" (sic)

"The media"

"I don't wish for anyone to shut up" (lameass student who can't follow instructions and probably is a suck up of a human to begin with)

"The guy who announces for the Cubs. He is no Harry Carry." (sic)

"My stepmom."

"Some guy who I don't know his name but I don't like him."

One of my favorite passages was from the guy who wanted the media to shut up. He wrote "Who the hell cares about Michael Vicks" (sic) (and sick) "or Paris Hilton. They are just people doing ignornt" (sic) "shit like the rest of us."

So there.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Pretending That Football is a Sport

I don't know nothin' about football. And I don't care to know. But I like the sounds of the crowd from the TV. I also like the way Scott falls into a deep, happy trance in his deep, happy recliner when the Steelers play.

And I especially like when he makes snacks that are somehow, he says, connected to the "sport" of football. Because even though I think the only real sport is basketball, I got to eat some of these wings.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Universe Spoke. I Listened.

Here we all are, wishing life was at least as easy to figure out as the Sudoku puzzle labelled "Easy" in the American Airlines magazine. Which is not all that easy, by the way. I would be in favor of one labelled "You Fell on Your Head Really Hard, Didn't You?"

Thus, when I am looking for direction from above, a hint as to which path my earthbound feet should follow, I am thrilled when a sign bursts forward and guides me to the light.

Case in point: In the family room at the back of the house, there is no room for a family. Not even a tiny nuclear family, like Scott, me, and Hankie, our 19 year old cat. Why? Because when the movers brought in my belongings, the pile of boxes was 7 feet high and took up almost the entire room. Even Scott's couch near the fireplace had to be stood on end. And this pile doesn't count the stuff carried to the bedrooms.

After clearing out a dozen or so boxes, I thought I could distract Scott from the rest by sweeping the floor where I'd unpacked. I would purty up the piece of floor the size of an ice cube tray. Because that would certainly make him forget that an entire room of his house had been slurped up by the Box Ness Monster. This would end those nightmares of Scott's, the ones where he has been sucked into a big lava lamp and is fighting off boxes like nautical bumper cars in the gelatinous orange fluid.

I got out the vacuum cleaner. But as I turned it on, I noticed this mysterious little face at my feet. "Do not sweep me," it said. And of course I couldn't. Not that day. Because the universe had spoken.

I call him Linty. He and Lizzie, my poor dead pet lizard, would have been great friends. They would perhaps have dated. "Lizzie," he would have said, "would you honor me with your charming desiccated presence at dinner?" If I hadn't eventually sucked his face to pieces with the Hoover Roundabout, that is.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Pleased to Meme You

I don't think I've ever done a "meme." But since I got tagged by my pal E.B., and because teaching sucked every drop of energy out of me today, I'll just have myself a nice, tall, cool glass of meme.

Here goes.

Four Jobs I've Had in Life (as opposed to the ones I've had in death?)

1. Bookstore Owner. The store lasted 2 years. Then went belly up. Oddly, right around the same time Barnes & Noble and Borders came to town. I wonder if that was a coincidence?

2. Record Store Manager. Yes, records. Those big flat things that we old people still own, because you rotten kids and your newfangled I-PADs and portable juke boxes and sassiness and general disrespect of authority make us need such things to beat you over the head with. Get out of my yard!

3. Candy Striper (volunteer job) at my hometown hospital. Age 15. This lasted for one 2-hour "shift." My mom had spent 6 dollars on a used candy striper outfit for poor Candy, who was too freaked out by the hospital to ever go back. Did you know there are sick people there?

4. Donut Maker. This job lasted for 90 minutes. Someday I will tell the horrid story. Not today.

Four Places I've Lived

1. Lafayette, Indiana. Home of the Boilermakers. For grad school.

2. Indianapolis, Indiana. One big farm town. It takes 30 minutes to get anywhere, and then you aren't anywhere anyway.

3. Paris, for 6 months, with a horrible person that I happened to be married to. I hated everything about it. Except for the art. One gazillion museums full of it. Unfortunately my spouse was full of it too. So I hacked him up and threw him, bit by bit, into the Seine. That is why it smells bad to this day.

4. Phoenix. Heat, sand, illegals, lizards, sports teams, rotten drivers, scorpions, dying grass. And that's inside the house.

Four Favorite Foods

1. King crab. Even though it's sort of like eating the legs off a big ocean spider, and it's very hard to crack, I like it.

2. Extremely thin-crust cheese pizza with lemon juice squeezed over it.

3. Chocolate. Chocolate is very nice. I can eat it and not go overboard at all. It is not addictive like a street drug. There is no one forcing me to write this. These are my own words. I don't need to eat chocolate or feel that if I don't have chocolate, I will suck out the lungs of every passer-by with a custom made nuclear-powered Bissell. Also, during PMS, chocolate does not call to me like the coke spoon called to Richard Pryor: "Come to me. Right over here. I own you, bitch." That would be ridiculous.

4. Pepsi. The best drink in the universe. Scott and I almost didn't get married because he likes Coke and thinks that Pepsi tastes flat and too sweet. The reverse is true. Pepsi is fizzy and perfect and as it's going down your throat you can see all the way to the core of the earth. Coke tastes like Pepsi that's been opened, diluted with water, and poured over the moldy, decomposing carcass of a mole-rat that has just eaten a piece of red velvet cake.

Four Places I'd Rather Be

If Scott were home from work already, these answers would be very hard to come by.

1. Popping in to see my mom and dad, for the nightly viewing of "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy."

2. Seeing my pals back home, over dinner, drinks, gossip, anything.

3. Purchasing a magic machine that would make my parents 30 years younger.

4. Sitting on the steps of the English Building back home, watching the activity on the Quad. The geeky groups that try to walk a tightrope tied between 2 trees, the frisbee geeks, the crazy preacher and his hecklers.

Four Movies I Can Watch Over and Over

I almost never watch something twice. I never read a book twice either. But here are the movies I've watched more than once because I couldn't help it:

1. Blazing Saddles Best line in movie history: "We gotta go back and get us a shitload o' dimes."

2. Castaway It's gorgeous, it's about isolation, it's mind bending. And Tom Hanks goes from a chunky guy to a stick and does creative things with ice skate blades.

3. Team America Puppet sex.

4. Limbo Saw it at an art-movie place. Loved it. Bought it. Made Scott watch it and he wanted to strangle me when it was over. Rent it and see why.

Four TV Shows I Like to Watch:

1. "Lost"

2. "24" Although last season it blew. And Janine Garafalo makes me hurl, and they're adding her this season. So I may take up knitting. Or poodle fighting. Or knitting during poodle fights. Which are very prissy and done mostly with powderpuffs.

3. "House"

4. "Big Brother" Yes, it's a stupid, pointless reality show with lots of backbiting and fighting and conniving. Just like life. And I blame Teresa for getting me started on it. I wanted to see what she liked about it. And then I was hooked like a big fat marlin on a nice juicy worm.

Four Websites I View Daily:

1. All the ones listed on my blogroll

2. The Superficial Because skewering celebrities is a spectator sport.

3. World peace and an end to all hunger.

4. Oh, wait, I thought this was the question and answer segment of Miss USA.

Four People to Tag:

1. Jerry
2. Futuresis
3. Belle
4. Me in 25 years

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Living in the Desert, Lesson #3: The Sun

How very observant of Candy to notice that, in the desert, the sun is turned up loud.

This commentary is not about the heat. I'll save that for later. This is about how the sun never goes away in Phoenix.

My old college roommate, Belle, and I delighted in one another for many reasons. One of those is that we are two people who adore gray skies. It may have been the first time either of us found another netherbeing who deems it a happy sight to open the morning curtains to a dismal, threatening sky. It was dang-near shameful to be us. When we admitted our craving for cloudy days, we spoke in low tones, as though confessing to being secretly in love with a lesser-known Osmond.

In our 4th floor dorm room, we shared an array of secrets and rituals. For instance, one thing that Belle cannot stand is when someone bites cloth. With their teeth. Yeah, I know. When she first told me, I thought what you're thinking: "How often do people bite cloth?" In our dorm, not often at all. Until I mercilessly spread the word. Then we all openly gnawed on our big fat bath towels while passing Belle en route to the shower.

Another ritual: On Thursday nights as we were falling asleep, Belle and I would talk about creepy things across the darkness between our cheap dorm-crap twin beds. Frequently we retold a story that had scared the spleens out of both of us years before: "The Monkey's Paw." A horror story from 1902 about the paw of a dead monkey that brings its owner any wish they ask for, but with hideous repercussions. The monkey's paw eventually comes knocking at the door, a furry little severed grim reaper. Like a lucky rabbit's foot dipped in hell-gravy. Why did we need to relive this fear on Thursday nights? Probably because the weather forecast had predicted sunshine for Friday.

Belle would understand how sick I am of the sunny days of Phoenix. One after another after another. It's as though the sunshine is holding me hostage. It desperately wants me to fawn over it and tell it how glorious and wonderful it is. Which I cannot do. Because sunshine annoys me.

Sunshine is also devious. Sometimes in the morning I look out the back window to a delicious metal-colored overcast sky. A work of art. I sing and prance my way to the kitchen to hurry and celebrate with a poptart-y breakfast. By the time I turn on the coffee, the sunshine has sneaked around to the front of the house to taunt me. "Oh!" it beams. "You thought I'd left? No. I'm here. And I'll be here all day today. And tomorrow. To infinity." I look at it in grim silence. And then it chews up my brown sugar cinnamon toaster pastry and spits it out in little blobs of sparkly sunlight, scattering everywhere like poisonous toads.

Why do I love gray weather? Because it feels calm, peaceful, low key, unpressured. All those things that I am not. When I see cloudy skies as soon as I wake up, I actually can't help smiling. Because then there is no sunshine-induced urgency banging at the door.

When I was little and it was sunny and hot, my mom would say "Get out there and enjoy that sunshine!" All I wanted to do was stay inside with my friend, the TV. Outside, there were no friends. We lived in an area so rural it would've taken me an hour to ride my bike to a friend's house. In the sun. At which time my friend would've wanted to play a game like "Who Can Stay Out in the Sun Longest." And if we did go inside for a tiny little break from the glare, we'd have no doubt had a glass of Sunny-D. If it had been invented back then.

So I mostly stayed home and was sucked onto the front of the TV like a squid onto the mask of a deep sea diver. Until my mother would once again order me outside to "soak up some of that good sunshine." Which was just like telling me to go slam myself head-on into a briar thicket or find a fistful of earthworms to put down my shirt.

At least back then, in the midwest, you could count on a cloudy day coming along regularly. A good old violent storm hit us every couple of weeks in the summer. The kind that had us running to the basement holding blankets over our heads, bumping into one another like alarmed bedouins. Hmmm. Which may have been my sign that one day I would dwell in the desert.