Candy Rant

"I killed a rat with a stick once."

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Disturbing Christmas Ornament #3

Think back.

Do you remember when you used to go and sit on Santa's knee? You'd be all "...and I want a bicycle and a little book about cats and a..."

And he got a weird look in his eye and then his nice red suit started to bulge (do not make this dirty) and then his muscles mutated and popped the buttons off his coat and tore it to shreds. Remember?

And then in Santa's hideous green glory he asked you, in an unearthly death growl, what else you wanted ole Santa to bring you. But by then you had already peed on him from the sheer terror, and as you were jettisoned across the velvet rope into the line of whimpering, also-peeing children, all you really wanted for Christmas was to escape Santa Hulk before he ripped out your greedy little heart and made you eat it.

At home, you changed out of the pants you'd laid your own yuletide log in and hid under your blankets.

But Santa will still find you. On Christmas Eve he will be squeezing one bulbous green thigh at a time down into your chimney. Visions of sugarplums? Yeah. Sure.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Disturbing Christmas Ornament #2

It was a long, long night of travel for the three wise men. The desert sand blowing into their burning eyes, the camels trodding along wearily. The two gifts for the baby Jesus were wrapped in the finest linen and tied down securely on the saddles.

Oh, you thought there were three gifts?

In the cloisonne translation of the story of Bethlehem, there is gold, frankincense, and Merv, the slow-witted "wise" man on the last camel. He insisted on coming along because of the rumor that the newborn messiah was also one of the piglet-faced people. Merv longed to be accepted by royalty.

The only thing better than finding this ornament at T.J. Maxx was finding it at 60% off the already reduced price.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Disturbing Christmas Ornament #1

I present to you one of my favorite creepy Christmas ornaments: a cloisonne version of the baby Jesus and the vigilant Mary and Joseph.

I do understand that it is probably a difficult thing to make anyone look good in cloisonne. But I am of the opinion that:

1. Joseph's hands should be hidden beneath his shepherd's cloak, not put on display with their 5-on-one-4-on-the-other deformity.

2. The baby Jesus should not be given the face of a piglet.

3. It is disturbing to look directly at Joseph's face, which is a mixture of Yasser Arafat and a guppy.

I'm leaving Mary alone. Because I'm sure it was a long day for her.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Scott and Candy's Christmas Halfway House

Before you drop your boozed-up uncle and your toothless meth-faced co-worker off here, it's not that kind of halfway house. Back off, Corky.

This is the house where all holiday preparations are done halfway, then left to simmer, then eventually returned to.

Take our Christmas tree, for example. I have not put up a Christmas tree in 11 years. Not a regular-sized one anyway. For Scott it's been even longer with no tree. A couple of years during the "single" decade, I put up a pitiful 2 foot tree that Hankie would momentarily observe, then knock over. I didn't blame him. I couldn't respect a tree like that either. My lack of enthusiasm hung on its branches like the stench on a soggy cigar. It wasn't even Charlie Brown cute. It was just unloved. Propped up and plugged in and forgotten, like the severed head of Ted Williams in its cryogenic cubbyhole.

Being single at Christmas sucked in many ways. But at least there were no hideous in-laws to have to go see, and no rip-roaring arguments with the spouse over his gracious yuletide tradition: striving for surgical precision in the exactly matched hours we spent with his family, vs. those spent with mine.

There was also his nightmare aunt who could not stop asking me when I might be going to have a baby.

Me: "Well, first I'd have to start sleeping with him again."

All this while she and her sister prepared their special holiday hors d'oeuvres: celery with Velveeta smashed down into it with their own fingers. The only thing better than Velveeta? Velveeta with fingerprints. Lord knows what went into the cheese ball.

But I digress. Don't you hate it when people say that? I do.
Look. I digressed again.

Now I'm smack dab in the middle of the future that I'd hoped for, for many many years. My in-laws are freakishly great, my husband is so adored by my family that I could puke, and life has reached a place where I have, to a large degree, stopped gnashing my teeth in agony. I'm actually excited to do sappy traditional Christmas things. Scott bought us a pre-lit tree at Costco, and last night he got it out and assembled it and fluffed and re-fluffed the branches and plugged it in. Today he put another string of lights on it, the crystal-cut colored ones that resemble a Lite Brite.

We have reached the halfway point on the Christmas tree. Time to savor it a little before the final round. We still need to put a billion ornaments on it, but I did dig out the exquisite angel to top it off today.

Yes. She is a German Shepherd. I suppose you thought that the celestial beings with wings had human faces? Oh that's rich. God is not nearly so banal. He selects his angels' faces not from the likes of Jimmy Durante and Ernest Borgnine and whichever of the Gabors has kacked. He instead goes directly to the neglected mutts of the rural backroads. "Come, Buster!" he says. "Stop rolling in dead bird and letteth me putteth thy wings upon you!" And Buster runs up the dirt road toward that voice. He does not even stop halfway to lick his butt.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

You Have Summoned Me?

That's right. Take a good look.

I have always been this ugly. I never went to the prom. I frightened young children. And I was picked last for every barnyard game. Even when I got onto a team, the game was almost always Red Rover, and I was too weak to break through the link between the cow and the goat, no matter how fast I ran.

So go ahead. Chop off my head and cook me and eat me. What do I care? I long for the afterlife where I might become a fuzzy bunny or a cute yellow chick.

What's that? You wish to know if there is anything I'd have done differently in my life? Yes, many things. I'd have tried to be more of a leader than a follower. I'd have eaten on the good china every day. I'd have come inside the barn when it rained, instead of looking upward to my near-drowning. I would tell someone, anyone, the key to life that I've discovered. In fact, I will tell you.

All you need to know is--



Monday, November 19, 2007

The Shiny Mirror Ball in Hell

Futuresis says: For the jobs I would apply for in the afterlife question...I thought of a job that I would really, really like. I would like to be Hell's DJ. I would love to be in charge of compiling the list of music that the folks in Hell would have to spend eternity listening to.

Which songs should be included?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Candy's Extra-Special Monday Meme

In honor of Futuresis's birthday today, I have made a special meme. I answered the questions and now am tagging her. And anyone else who drops by. Answer any question that appeals to you. Happy Meme Birthday, Futuresis!

Pick your most despicable ex. Name 2 things you would like to throw at him/her:

1. A sledgehammer, on fire.
2. His mother. Naked. And on fire.

Name 3 jobs you would like to apply for in the afterlife:

1. Loading up the "Glass-Shard-and-Lava Shooter" pointed at O.J.'s rectum.
2. Forcing O.J. to load up the "Glass-Shard-and-Lava Shooter Superdeluxe 2.0 Version" aimed at Mohammed Atta's rectum.
3. Personal Chef to Osama Bin Laden, specializing in the Rancid Pork Omelet for breakfast, the Hot Canine-Dingleberry Stew for lunch, and the Maxipad Pot Pie for dinner. Every day.

Describe your most gluttonous moment:

2 years ago I bought 6 Cadbury Creme Eggs, with those fake syrupy yokes inside, and I ate all 6 in about an hour. I was gagging from the twisted traffic jam of sugar coating my tastebuds and it was magnificent. I want to go back there.

What is your strangest possession?

A box of unopened tampons, still shrinkwrapped, from 1979. (To be explained later in the week.)

Your surgeon is going to leave something inside you. It will be either a sponge, a scalpel, a pair of tweezers or his Harvard class ring. Which do you prefer, and why?

First I need to know: will I be passing it? If so, I choose the class ring. I would at least have something shiny in my poop.

Which flavor of ice cream have Ben and Jerry overlooked?

"Guiltberry." It would be very gritty, dull gray in color, with a nasty aftertaste. Will it sell? Of course. People eat guilt every day.

A typhoon is coming. You are allowed to go back to your house and get one thing. What will it be?

The house.

Name a word that would be a beautiful name for a baby girl, if only the word didn't mean what it really means:


You have just been made captain of a cheerleading squad of 20 girls. What will you teach them first?

A little move I like to call the "Blindfolded Freeway Tumble."

Think of a moment when you were rejected by someone you had a crush on. If you could go back to that moment right now, what would you say to that person?

Guess what? In 15 years you're in prison.

Describe something you said that you wished immediately that you hadn't:

1987, at my first appointment with a very good looking gynecologist in Indianapolis. Dr. Garrett. I was freaking out when he started his examination. "So," I said, "how does your wife keep it interesting for you? Shave it to look like Abe Lincoln?"

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Weekend Art

A piece of a brussel sprout that looks like a tree.

Guggenheim, here I come!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Always Looking for Answers

Writing in a private journal doesn't help me think things over like it used to. I've filled dozens of them over the years, and that process undoubtedly protected my sanity many times. The slow, longhanded action of it was a catalyst for sorting out my latest confusion and making, if not complete sense of it, at least enough to snap the journal shut and go on about the business of life for the moment.

At some point, from years of emailing, I could no longer stand the slowness of handwriting. My brain was out of synch with my pen, and I got more agitated instead of less if I wrote that way.

Then I got in the habit of writing personal things on this blog. I'm still not sure this is a good idea, but the impulse to do it is too strong to squelch. I cringe mightily sometimes when I look back at things I've written. But I still do it. It's a pressing need to push certain experiences out into the blog-light of day. I send them out like disoriented orphans, their eyes squinting in the sun, to walk around the neighborhood, hoping someone will recognize them.

When I was home in Indiana last weekend, my mom was ready to get out of the house and do something. (During my visit in October she was too sick with the stomach flu to do anything but barf and sleep.) She wanted to go to the mall one town away to look for some pants and shirts for my dad. Then we would eat somewhere and come home.

When we got there, I dropped her off at the back of the mall, at Penneys, and then drove to the front entrance. My dad is struggling to walk these days, but refuses to use a cane or walker. So my plan was to get him as close to the door as possible, then borrow one of the mall's wheelchairs for him. We went inside, me holding his arm. His shuffle gets confused, and he also cannot stand straight up anymore. So already the laws of physics are against him.

He got going too fast. I told him to slow down. He kept going faster, I kept trying to slow him down. He went faster. Then he fell. He was too heavy for me to hold up, and all I could do is make his fall more of a collapse. There he was, lying on his left side on the floor of the mall. I felt like I was having a car accident. The slow motion, the shock, the sick feeling.

Panicky, I yelled: "Somebody help us!" My dad was embarrassed by that. I was embarrassed. And I was mad at both of us for being embarrassed.

People came to help. By a nice grace note of divine intervention, the first person to approach us was a nurse. She understood exactly how to get Dad up without hurting him, and helped me get him to a bench in the mall. A second good samaritan took my driver's license so she could use it to go borrow a wheelchair. She came hurrying back as the nurse was making sure once more that Dad wasn't dizzy or in pain. I thanked both people profusely.

I tried to gauge my level of "upsetness." I always do this. I'm always very suspicious of myself in situations that upset me. Am I over-reacting? Am I being a wimp? Should I be able to keep from crying? What the hell is wrong with me? How would a better, more capable person handle this?

My gauge wouldn't work. I felt as though I was going back and forth inside. First turning to concrete, then cold muddy water, then back. I wheeled Dad the length of the mall, him asking several times "Where's your mother?" She's in Penneys, I told him. We're on our way to meet her. How do you like this ride? "Nice," he said.

There was Mom, trying to find his size of corduroy pants. I told her what happened. I almost didn't.

When Dad needed to use the bathroom, I propped the men's room door open with the wheelchair and went inside with him, making sure he got into a stall OK, and I was mentally daring anyone to bitch about it. I would've welcomed it. I wanted someone to punch.

Besides the complete horror I felt seeing my dad so vulnerable when he fell, the other thing that I will never forget is how it felt to be wheeling him through the mall, looking at the putridly artificial Seasons Greetings-themed store windows, hearing the mediocre brass quartet playing "Silver Bells" and breathing in the oppressive scents of vanilla and cinnamon and pine from the festive holiday candle kiosk. It was, very pointedly, the most empty feeling I have ever had in my life.

Mom shopped a little more while I wheeled Dad around. He had totally forgotten he had fallen. This, I suppose, is one blessing of Alzheimers.

And here I am, slicing open the whole ordeal in a "public" forum. I know I'm just one of millions of bloggers who do this. I wonder if our motivation is similar. For me it's this: I want to know how other people live, I want them to tell me how they get through the hard parts, where they draw strength, what enrages them, what makes them feel full-blast joy, what makes them want to give up. And somebody has to go first.

Hankie Ponders the Big Questions

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Ear of the Hank

I admit it. I'm thinking of heavy things this week. And since I'm not up for blogging about those, I will devote a few days just to Hankie Themes.

Such as his left ear.

Hankie's ear is very helpful. When things in my brain pan get too preoccupied with the maudlin, I make myself very very tiny. So tiny, in fact, that even when standing straight up I can walk inside this ear, find a comfortable spot (there are many) and sit down.

I take out a Lilliputian box of saltines and a jar of peanut butter the size of half a grain of rice and have a snack. Hankie's ear sometimes involuntarily twitches from all the hubbub inside it, and I fly against the earwall and am momentarily confused. But then he falls asleep and as I enjoy the amber/pink stained glass of such a paper-thin ear, so do I.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Time to Beat the Husband

I have no choice but to beat him.

Why? Because the entire time I was back in Indiana with my parents, Scott sent me one after another photo of Hankie, just to make sure I wouldn't go 7 minutes without missing both of them.

What you see above is an example of Scott's new series of Hankie photos. I call this genre "Make Hankie Look Kidnapped." Instead of using a real digital camera, Scott uses his computer to take shadowy, grainy, felony-oriented photos of poor Hankie. I fully expected to get one where Hankie was holding up the latest newspaper, a ransom note around his skinny neck.

Oh, and the still photos weren't enough. No. I was also tormented with little videos of my poor cat, only 2 seconds long, of things like:

Hankie on Scott's lap

Hankie on Scott's lap during a football game

Hankie looking forlornly into the camera while silently begging me to come home and save him from the Olan Mills of the elderly feline world.

Scott has now made the foolish mistake of falling asleep before I do.
And I have quickly taught Hankie how to use a tripod.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Back to Indiana Again

See? That's me, standing next to the USAirways jet, flexing my arm muscles preparing to strangle whichever toddler decides to scream for 3 hours as though she's being drawn and quartered. I will threaten to make that a reality. There are all kinds of clever things you can rig up with a heavy steel beverage cart.

This will be another quick trip to see the family. I'm taking advantage of having Veteran's Day off. I cannot wait to get away from Phoenix. Not that I don't love pollution so thick that your lungs escape through your esophagus during the night and leave a sticky note telling you to "Eat Dogsh*t." And not that I don't simply adore constant road rage and police copters circling and swooping as though I have used a staple gun to attach a gaggle of felons to our roof. I love these things!

But there is nothing like the hometown, and driving the parents' big Lincoln from one end of town to the other in 2 minutes without even speeding. We cruise around together and I get to relieve my mother of her driving duties, as we frequent the usual haunts: Walmart, Long John Silver's, the holistic pharmacy.

"This is nice. I miss being able to just ride and look at things," she says.

After Mom and Dad have gone to bed each night, I sit outside in their garage to talk on the phone, so as not to wake them. My spot of choice: the seat of their golf cart, with my feet propped up onto the drink holder. Scott and I talk until my cell phone sizzles into the side of my head like a branding iron.

When I'm in Phoenix I miss my family. When I'm "home" I miss Scott. I am now nothing but a big perplexed cat. I want out this door. I want back in.

Now out.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

This Thing, I Will Not Purge

It's my dad's old typewriter. Approximate vintage: 1935.

When I was in college, and my older brothers had already moved away, my dad would type a weekly letter to us. (My sister lived in our hometown and didn't get letters from home. She was sometimes envious of that even though she lived 3 miles from our parents.)

Dad used 2 pieces of carbon paper to type three copies of his letter. When he wrote a two-page letter, 2 of the 3 recipients would get one original page and one copy. The unlucky third person got only copies. The copies were not terribly easy to read, because my dad would refuse to take a new piece of carbon paper out of the box until he had depleted every last speck of "ink" on the one he'd been using and even with the pounding of the ancient typewriter keys, the carbon paper could only cough up so much blue. You have never seen anything so pulverized as the carbon paper he finally threw away. Mostly it was just vapor that he blew like a kiss over to the wastebasket.

The man knew how to get the "good" out of something. Still does. If all of us in the family took a piece of Doublemint gum, all of us but Dad would abandon it within an hour, two at the most. Dad would be chewing his at the end of the day, claiming there was still "good" in it. Nothing was to be wasted. This is a common trait among Depression-era people, but even more so from him. Which is how he managed to keep us all fed and clothed and educated and driving cars on the income of a dirt farmer.

At some point he started to write his letters with a pen. And they were individual letters, with pertinent newspaper clippings or photos added in. These were wildly comforting to receive, no matter how small the news inside. I saved every one of his letters for years, his and my mother's (which were almost as regular), the typed and the longhand, then finally burned about half of them. I now have only two suitcases full of their letters. It's one of those odd things you can look at and see the accumulation of love in an actual pile. I don't care if this makes me a packrat. I have been called worse.

Anyway, the typewriter stays, and it resides on top of my computer desk. I've given it a young pup of a halogen lamp as a friend. The lamp listens to all the old stories, and falls asleep at night resting its head on the keys.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Next in Line to Be Purged

Don't let his cutesy face fool you. He is guilty.

Soon after this mug shot was taken, he was identified in a line-up as the current most useless object in Candy-World.

It might be different if I knew where he came from or what sentimental value he might hold. But I don't. He was just there, a pebble man at the bottom of a packing box, in his badly painted polka-dot Fort Myers vacation shirt, and his globs of dried rubber cement that attest to an exploded and released internal organ. He was hoping not to be detected and sent the way of the torturous Minnie Mouse shoes. But that is where he must now go.

A moment of silence, please.

A Fresh Week Begins

Before my 7:30 class this morning, I stopped by the Campus Safety office to confirm that a security guy would be hanging around outside my classroom for the first 20 minutes or so. (Just in case the frothing at the mouth girl decided to pay an angry visit.) I'd forgotten that one of the kids in my class actually works for Campus Safety. He's an excellent student, funny, laid back, so I motioned him over to ask him about it, with a brief explanation of what happened Wednesday when the circus of crazy came to town. I didn't say who the offending student was, even though he would probably figure it out when the girl (hopefully, please God) would not be in class. The dean had emailed me that the student would not be returning to class, but I was not very trusting.

"Wow," my student said. "Was it the Alabama girl?"

"No," I said.

"Was it the tattooed-up girl?"


"Was it the girl who always draws pictures and looks drunk?"

"No. But it occurs to me that it's not a good sign that you have so many candidates to choose from."

He asked his supervisor if he could be the one to stand outside the classroom door. "I have to go there anyway," he said.

"No," the supervisor said. "Paul will do it. He's an officer."

OK, I thought. That makes sense.

And it continued to make sense until I saw Paul.

I went to the classroom at 7:20, and I saw the officer outside the building, looking around the parking lot. Now there's a guy who takes his job seriously. He's even checking out the parking lot for suspicious goings-on. I'm impressed.

I went inside to get ready for class, came out into the hallway at 7:27 and there was Paul, very focused on playing with a squeaking door handle a few feet away from my room.

"Hi," I said. "I'm the instructor for the class you came over for."

He looked up into the air, at the ceiling, as though the voice had come from there. Then he finally looked at me, a tilted look of dog-who-has-heard-a-high-pitch crossing his face.

He said "I don't know what we're doing here."

"Oh," I said. "You mean maybe I'm being too cautious?"

"Are we supposed to do something in this building?"


I explained things, again.

"What's the student's name?" he asked. I told him. Then as I started to tell him what she looked like, he went back into the fascinating world of the door handle. And never looked up again.

At some point about 55 years ago, Barney Fife bred with an expired box of Shake 'n' Bake, and this is the love child from that coupling.

Luckily, the guy student showed up proudly in full security-polo-shirt regalia, and said "Don't worry. I've got your back. And if I can't handle it, we'll turn the big weight lifter loose on her."

I had decided to give my students a quick heads-up. I told them that one student would not be back in class, but on the very slight chance the student returned, I would dismiss class, and they should leave. "I'm sure we're not in any danger, or I'd have requested a new room, but I'm erring on the side of caution."

This set into motion the whirling around of 18 or so heads, searching for the suspiciously missing person.

"Yeah, good luck with that," I said. "There are so many lame-asses who don't show up you'll never know, will you?"

We then went forward with our discussion of Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal." I challenged them to think up an equally ridiculous suggestion to solve a current societal problem. Their idea: Make furniture out of illegal immigrants. Specifically, it would take three fat illegals to make a comfortable recliner. Children would be used as footstools.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Weekend Spam

The content of the spam was a perfect mixture of bad translating and cheesy writing:

If your "pr*ck-horse" is not glad for you and give brake for you come to us.
You'll feel that curb "it" is impossible.
You must come to us now and you'll be a real cowboy legend.
We wait you today, because the hot week of discounts is now.
Don't miss your chance.

The subject line did feel a bit lacking: "Good Clothes Open All Doors." Rather blah.

It paled against my favorite: "Better Life, Yard Donkey."

Friday, November 02, 2007

Brief Update

Thankfully, The Abyss will not be back in my classroom ever again. The methodology of the process is mostly kept secret from me, and that's fine. Except for the fact that I'll never know if she got help. I'm 99% sure she didn't get help, and that she won't. Because she isn't forced into counseling in order to stay enrolled. That would be illegal.

I found out the name of the professor who had had The Abyss in this particular class before, this past summer, when she got a D. I wanted to email the woman and see if I could meet with her, to find out if she had come to the same conclusions I did about The Abyss. But the part of me that takes blame anywhere I can get it was too reluctant to contact her. My fear was that she would say "Oh, no, not at all! She was as normal as pumpkin pie in my class." So I decided to put that idea on hold.

Yesterday, as I went upstairs to see the department head, I stopped at the women's bathroom first. There was one other person in the bathroom. She came out of the stall. It was that professor. She and I have said hi once or twice, nothing more. We don't run into each other. Before I could say a word, she burst out with "Hey! You and I had the same psycho in class!" About 80% of my stress left the building. Because of this very self-serving thing: I had confirmation that I wasn't psycho for thinking this student was psycho. I was somehow freed of my self-imposed sentence.

For a few minutes, she and I were both in the department head's office. She wanted to offer to go to bat to the dean if needed. Also, she actually had kept one of The Abyss's papers from her summer class, and went and got it, and showed it to the dept. head. It was gibberish, just like the ones I'd gotten. More relief. (This professor had given The Abyss "a charity D." I don't do that. I flunk them.)

And yes, I find it troublesome that when this is about a student whose head is filled with lava and who is phenomenally unhappy, I'm all about self-preservation.

My department head was very, very supportive. In a job that screams with hideousness in many ways, he is a bright spot. Why? Because he has already walked through the fire of having taught high school (also known as the Poofy Engorged Spleen of Hell) for many years, and has been threatened by parents, had his house and car damaged by students, and been left twisting in the wind by the administration. He is no beginner.

And now I must insist that this problem go away, and that the weekend be devoted only to activities that supply oversized barrels of fun and/or relaxation, for me and for the visitors to this blog. What will you indulge in? I will start with happy hour tonight. And then perhaps later a ridiculous inebriated scene where I try to construct a toothpaste sculpture. Not that I've ever done that.