Archive for August, 2009

The funerals of strangers

Friday, August 28th, 2009

In a very – SUPER – weird coincidence, the second I typed the title to this blog, a song started up on my iPod, which (to add to the freaky and coincidental element) is set to random, with its choice of about 900 songs.

The song that is playing – “Be a Simple Kind of Man” by Lynrd Skynyrd – is on my iPod for one reason, and one reason alone: A funeral I attended about five years ago.

To be frank, it was the funeral of a stranger, the husband of a co-worker who had died unexpectedly and way before his time, at about 41 years old. And I didn’t even really want to go – because I didn’t know the guy at all – but I got guilted into it by a coworker, on the grounds of supporting the widow, which was something I really couldn’t argue with. My heart did break for the woman.

She was a fellow manager and VP at the bank at which I worked at the time, and he was a machinist. They had met as children and fallen in love in their late teens. They’d been married over 20 years when he had a sudden aneurysm in somebody’s basement while taking a look at their broken washing machine.

As I learned that afternoon, as bawling men in blue jeans and business suits recounted their memories and photos from his childhood and teens and early marriage and just months ago were projected up on the wall, he was the kind of guy who would show up and help you whenever you needed him. He was, in short, a good guy.

I never met the man, but watching a slide show of pictures of him hunting and fishing and smiling into the camera while ‘A Simple Kind of Man’ played overhead, and a greasy machinist smelling faintly of motor oil leaned up against me and cried, I got the sense that I had missed out.

Similarly, I have a clear memory of coming up on my mother when I was about nine years old. She was sitting on the couch, crying, and watching a funeral on TV. I was worried about her, and asked with no small amount of anxiety, stressed by the sight of tears flowing down her cheeks, “Who died!?!?”

There was a long pause, and finally she confessed.

“I don’t know!!!!” she cried, and threw her face into her hands.

At the time, it struck me as absurd.

Who cries watching the funeral of a stranger of…nobody!? If you don’t even know who’s being buried, isn’t it kind of nobody?

But I get it now.

For those of us burdened with empathy, there’s something contagious about someone else’s grief. There’s a certain inherent understanding that if another human being is moved to real pain, then their pain matters. That clearly someone came here and did the best they could and made a difference of some kind in the world. And even when you simply read about their funeral on Yahoo – as I just did about Senator Ted Kennedy’s memorial tonight (Kennedy family and friends tell warm, funny stories) – you feel like you knew them, and you feel a certain tender loss at their passing.

So, like I started out saying, it strikes me as a sign of some kind that I got no farther than writing the title of “The funerals of strangers” when a song that I downloaded only because of its impact on me at the funeral of a stranger started up.

I guess if there’s anything any of us can do, it’s to strive to make enough of a difference in the world – even on a small scale – that someone who never met us when we were alive is moved to give a damn about our death.

And only because the lyrics have struck me with their pleading simplicity ever since I heard them that first time at his funeral, here’s A Simple Kind of Man (and, in all fairness, they also played AC/DC’s Have a Drink on Me, but I’ll let you look up those lyrics yourself)

Mama told me, when I was young
Come sit beside me, my only son
And listen closely, to what I say.
And if you do this
It will help you some sunny day.

Ohh take your time… Don’t live too fast,
Troubles will come, and they will pass.
Go find a woman and you’ll find love,
And don’t forget son,
There is someone up above.

And be a simple kind of man.
And maybe some day you’ll love and understand.
Baby be a simple kind of man.
Won’t you do this for me son,
If you can?

Forget your lust for the rich man’s gold
All that you need is in your soul,
And you can do this if you try.
All that I want for you my son,
Is to be satisfied.

And be a simple kind of man.
And maybe some day you’ll love and understand.
Baby be a simple kind of man.
Won’t you do this for me son,
If you can?

Boy, don’t you worry… you’ll find yourself.
Follow you heart and nothing else.
And you can do this if you try.
All I want for you my son,
Is to be satisfied.

And be a simple kind of man.
And maybe some day you’ll love and understand.
Baby be a simple kind of man.
Won’t you do this for me son,
If you can?

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There is no Keyser Soze

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

That has nothing to do with anything.

I just thought it was a good title, and realized I’d probably never have a legitimate reason to use it, and figured a whining post about my circus freak, insanely huge and wildly painful, venom-filled arm was as good a cause as any.

This morning I awoke with one crushing realization: I cannot move my right arm.

One of these things is not like the other...  (check out the difference in my wrists!!!)

One of these things is not like the other... (check out the difference in my wrists!!!)

I cannot bend it.

I cannot make a fist.

I cannot hold a knife or a pen or even type.

And, god help me, it hurts like a mofo.

What kind of supernatural venom was in that wasp anyway!?!?!

Something godawful, that’s for sure.

So what’s a newly crafted left-hander to do? Hit up Google for bad advice on home remedies, that’s what!!!

First I read that apple cider vinegar would make the swelling go down. Apparently venom is alkaline and vinegar is acidic and blah blah blah…enter wishful, stinky thinking. After two hours of this, my arm reeked so bad I could barely stand myself.

One shower later, I went back to the bullsh*t drawing board.

What’s that?
Lemon will reduce the swelling and neutralize the venom!?

Lemons do NOT reduce swelling. Lemons do nothing but sting.

Lemons do NOT reduce swelling. Lemons do nothing but sting.

Bring on the lemons!!!!

Well, let me break it down for you: Fresh lemon juice squeezed all over yourself does NOTHING but burn like hell and get sticky.

I spent the better part of the day basting myself like a filet of halibut.

So I would know.

Once your arm turns into a fleshy wiffle ball bat, it’s pretty much just a waiting game (and – long story that I won’t get into – my dentist tells me it’s a three-day waiting game.) Save the lemons and leave the vinegar in the bottle.

Thus, after trying to undo this painful and ridiculous situation, what I eventually had to admit to myself (lamentably) was that I got it all wrong: Here I fancied myself some kind of benevolent wasp ruler, their magnanimous and beneficent queen. I’ve rescued no less than 30 of them from the pool, and felt a certain amount of pride at our ‘bond.’

I was one of them – if only in spirit – and they respected me on that level.

But today?

Lugging my useless freak arm around and trying to ignore the pain?

Realizing I was unable to hold a pen or – god forbid – cut up an onion with the now-useless limb? Being forced to brace my arm against my stomach in order to carry my purse?

Yeah, baby.

Yeah, baby.


This relationship is 0-v-e-r. You are as good as dead to me, Waspy.

See other people. Screw other people. Sting other people.

Just don’t come around here no more.

Or say hello to my little friend…Raid Wasp & Hornet Killer 33.


Mark, there was only one ray of light in my life this morning: The news that wasp stings rendered your arm a sperm whale.

Not that I wish you harm, it was just reassurance that I wasn’t going to die, and a metaphorical pat on the back that I have it bad…but someone has it even worse than me. Cheers!

Here’s hoping the super dose of venom gives up super powers!

(Like the power to congregate in large groups in fields of weeds… Hmmm….)

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Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

So here  I was thinking I was master of my domain and Empress of All Things Waspy.

Me and the wasps were hanging out all cool and peaceful. I’d even allow them to wander about all over my person without so much as blinking an eye.


Today, while hand-writing a heartfelt message on a card, I failed to notice that Waspy (my generic name for any and all wasps that tramp all over me all the live-long day) had crawled onto my underarm.

And I have very interesting and creative handwriting.

But I would fail any and all handwriting form and musculature tests, as I cramp onto the pen and drag my forearm on the surface.

And that’s where things went wrong.

The wasp had attached itself underneath my arm (unbeknownst to bug-loving me).

I lowered my arm onto the table in order to write.


It pretty much registered an assassination attempt and retaliated with full and ferocious fury.

In other words, that baby planted itself into my flesh and unloaded a heaping helping of venom.

And it’s been about 12 hours now. And it still hurts like hell. And my right forearm is no less than twice the size of the left and the way my MacBook hits me is not super cool and…OWIE.

Bad wasp. Bad!!!

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p.s. Your cat is dead

Monday, August 24th, 2009

I’m having “one of those days” (or one of those weekends + a Monday),  and I hate blogging when I’m in a crappy mood because I know that no one wants to listen to me whine. Including me.

So, bearing my slump in mind, I tossed around a lot of ideas for the title of today’s blog.

6pkcMilwaukeesBest16ozI was almost going to go with “At least I can still legally drink” in reference to that Malaysian lady who is going to be flogged (is that the right word? Somehow it looks wrong written down here. She’s going to be whatever it’s called when you’re beaten with a piece of cane [does that mean sugar cane? Somehow I suspect not] because you were busted having a beer at a pool club.) She’s going to be caned for drinking a beer, which sounds pretty harsh to me.

Maybe just make her drink a hot, cheap beer?

Like make her drink an entire six pack of hot, flat, Milwaukee’s Best?

Through a funnel?

That would be a punishment far worse than caning AND it would probably discourage further beer drinking.


So anyway, not that you need me to break it down for you, but my point with that original title was to infer something like I’m having one of those days where you kind of want to start drinking – and not just beer, but the hard stuff like tequila or bourbon – at 9am, and at least I could legally do so if I really wanted to and without concerns about jail time and extreme physical punishment later.

However, that title got trumped when I went to look for a functioning tape player in the garage and came face-to-face with an in-your-face reminder that my cat, Sid, is dead. He went missing May 5 and there are often hawks circling overhead outside (and he was a small cat – 7 pounds/3 kilo) and the neighbors have told me they’ve seen coyotes in my front yard and all over the streets here and a few houses away these people are feeding wild turkeys and there’s a flock or gaggle or murder of about 30 of them, and I don’t know if those bastards kill cats, but they totally could. They’re like scary vulture looking things. They’re HUGE.

That stated, let’s face facts: That cat never missed so much as a meal in his life and here I’m going on four months AWOL, and ergo, Sid ain’t coming back because he’s dead. And somehow that exact line (the title) - from a monologue I did in high school, but I really don’t recall what it was – sprung into my mind.

Onward and upward,  in other news and in hopes of things picking up, while I was in the garage and confronted by the huge bag of special vet-prescribed cat food, I was actually trying to find a tape player (which is harder than it sounds in 2009) in order to listen to this tape a psychic made for me in November. Why would I do that?

Well, because it turns out that when I am in a slump, I also like to get kind of New Age-y and pathetic and cling to ‘your life has meaning’ and ‘you are on your path’ encouragement from a stranger who I’d never met before and only talked to that one hour out of my life.

As true testimony to my desperation, it did make me feel better. She told me while in trance and channelling my spirit guides [Take it or leave it and do with it what you will, kids. I'm not saying it's true. In fact, I have no way of knowing if it's total truth or a complete load of steaming crap, but it was encouraging and kind of fun and weirdly accurate.] that I am here with a purpose, and then she proceeded to explain what it was. So anyway, I found my old stereo and set it up and listened to this thing I haven’t heard in nine months – to the day – and at a bare minimum I found it kind of fun.

She told me that I was on the ‘Great Red Road’ and I’m not really sure what that means, but it kind of brings to mind the Wizard of Oz. Maybe because she also mentioned that some of the bricks on the road were loose, and I was inclined to tripping on them sometimes, which now makes me think of myself flattened out on the Great Red Road, with maybe a nasty gash or a slight concussion, which in turn inspires a new potential title for this post like: ‘DO NOT wear stilettos on the Great Red Road’ or ‘The Great Red Road is a bitch, but it beats the Lollypop Kids any day of the week.’

Wow. How amazing is this photo of the Red Road? I could not have come up with better imagery if I'd done this myself.

Wow. How amazing is this photo of the Red Road? I could not have come up with better imagery if I'd done this myself.

So to all my fellow travelers on the Great Red Road: Watch your footing.

And if any of you have a map and know where we’re headed, feel free to share.


Anywho, I”m sure I’ll be back to my normal self soon enough…and talk to you then!

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I know this is wrong

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

But I was trying to figure out when Chris Farley died, and it turns out when you type “Chris Farley” into Google, what you get is this poor woman’s proofs of her and her Chris Farley doppleganger toddler.

chris_farley kidAnd – as you can clearly see – that is some funny sh*t.

And for this, if I ever have a kid, it will probably look exactly like Milton Berle.


Meanwhile, I am the last person who would present myself to you as an ‘authority’ on reincarnation, and as a result, I have no idea if you come back looking exactly like the person you’re the reincarnated version of (although that movie, Dead Again, would imply you come back looking exactly like the person you had a major beef in the last life with. Which is precisely why I’m trying to start up a major beef with Alessandra Ambrosio in this lifetime. I figure it can’t hurt…)



Anyway, Houdini never pulled it off, but I think we could very well have our very first Chris Farley proof of life.

Proof of life after death, that is.


Any money, this little darling’s first words were, “The point is, how do you know the fairy isn’t a crazy glue sniffer? “Building model airplanes” says the little fairy; well, we’re not buying it. He sneaks into your house once, that’s all it takes. The next thing you know, there’s money missing off the dresser, and your daughter’s knocked up. I seen it a hundred times.”

It really is crazy how much this kid looks like him.

I’ve seen twins that haven’t looked this much alike…

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