Thursday, March 31, 2016

Mysteries of Things that Go on the Pile

I hate how stuff collects under the couch. I found Nerf bullets, cherry pits, Sharpies, Bics, clear plastic wrappers, crackers, Nerf cartridges, cat toy puffs, dried olives, a button that said "My Melody" with an ugly bunny on it, iPhone charger cubes, couch screws that explain why the whole couch twists when Nick pops the foot rest, Post-It Notes, mechanical pencils, a warren of dust bunnies, and dried cat puke.

There was no remote.

Mike and Nick were both still sick with that nasty flu last night. Nick went to bed after coughing up a lung until about midnight. Then, Mike came out and watched some television and coughed up a lung until dawn. I'm surprised I didn't find chunks of lung under the couch.

This morning, when I made a little morning noise, woke Mike up, watched him shamble into the bedroom for more sleep with the TV still stuck on the Amazon Prime station, I noticed there was no remote. I stuck my hands down into the cushions. This action is remotely dangerous since some staples came out of the wood after ten years of activity. Yet it's also fuzzy with dog hair and crunchy with crumbs, a tactile buffet. Funny, how a variety of blind sensations is so unpleasant when combined. I don't get grossed out fishing those last crunchy bits out of the bottom of the bag of tortilla chips. I definitely don't mind running my fingers through Mike's hair or Teddy or Seth's fur. I don't even mind picking up an olive when I drop it on the carpet. And yet ...

The Universe said it was time to clean under the couch. It was. I get it, Universe. I'm not sick any more. Family arrives tomorrow. Your message speaks loud and clear. And I get that you're not going to give back the remote until the house is picked up, extraneous stuff is donated, windows are clean, the piano is dusted, the floor under the bed is vacuumed, dog-fur-dust bunnies are evicted, and the new remote arrives from Amazon on Saturday morning.

I get it, Universe. Gratitude. Gratitude for the lesson. This is where I might put the sarcastic emoticon if there were one. But maybe I shouldn't. The Universe is not forgiving. It's not. Have you ever seen the Sahara or the asteroid belt or the pit of a volcano cauldron?

Thank you for listening, jules

P.S. Just now, my husband went after the couch in search of the remote. I would have said I searched it thoroughly. He didn't find the remote. He didn't. It is well and truly lost. But he did find the wallet he lost with over $500 in it. Thank you, Universe! Thank you!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Perfect Response

I never have as much to say in the morning before I've done anything and at night, when I'm full of stories like when the man near the top of the mountain on the blustery day told me I was having a bad hair day, I'm too tired to write about it.

Well then, I just did write about it, didn't I? The bastard. I looked at his balding head. I couldn't think of anything to say about his hair, or lack of it.

Sometimes you want to go back up the trail to that same situation, to that same grouping of people who snickered when he said what he said and you want to redo the conversation. You think you might come up with that perfect reply.

Say, I was coming down from the top of Rattlesnake Ledge. Let's say I was elated because I was past four miles and would hit 6.4 on Runkeeper by the time I got back to my car. Let us also say that I had an adrenaline rush from having a slight case of dizziness combined with the gusting wind at the top. And suppose that a group of us were on our knees or sitting up there because of the howling wind that pushed through that crevice in the ledge that always seems to threaten to succumb to gravity and fall onto the trail below. We looked to the West to see another ugly front on it's way toward us. So, I had spent less time than I would have liked at the panoramic view of mountains and valley and nasty weather headed in our direction and I had traipsed happily back down the trail.

"Hello," he would say the way he did yesterday and he would have stopped to chat the way he had then too.

"Nice weather up at the ledge," I said. "You're almost there. When you get there, you can see the next front coming in from the West." I would have replied just the way I did. I had pointed though trees and steep hillside that blocked our view and shielded us from the wind. More weather was coming.

"I can see that. It's bad enough to cause you a three-alarm bad hair day, huh?" he said. That was when the boys behind him snickered.

"I hadn't thought about the way I looked," I actually said before I added, "Have a nice hike." Then, I walked on down the hill, stewing the way a person does when they miss an opportunity to parry after having been wounded by someone's words.

In a perfect world, I would have found other lines, trying out one after another in a forgiving space-time continuum until I got it right. Have you ever seen the outtakes of a Jonah Hill movie where they let him riff until he nails it? So, in my imagination on the way down the ridge, I tried out other responses to my fellow hiker.

"Why would I give a crap about your opinion of my looks? I don't recall asking for any opinions that came from that radiant head of yours." Lame.


"I'd rather be an ugly woman than a short, chubby dick-wad with snot-squad spawn like yours." I don't like insulting anyone's children.


"Are you training these two sperm-stripes how to treat your momma?" I couldn't insult his momma.


"Did you know that you're standing here out of the wind and it already took off the whole top of your head. You'd better put on a hat before you get to the ledge or you'll be completely bald coming back down."

I'm not ready for a blockbuster movie. I could never say any of those things to an actual human being no matter what they said to me. That's why those movies are so great. Sometimes I wish I could.

Thank you for listening, jules

Friday, March 4, 2016

A Certain Kind of Movement

I used to be terrified of spiders. One time, on the way to go sailing with a boy, I even crashed my car into the back of a semi truck at a stop light because there was a spider rappelling off the visor into my lap. Now, though I'm the only woman in the house, I'm the one who's called when there's a spider on the wall. Most of the time, I use a glass and a piece of paper to get them safely moved outside, even the big ones. I don't mind the big ones. Usually, I wish them good luck when I put the glass down outside where they will start their new lives. I don't like all of them though.

Yesterday, there was a spider in my car again. Funny how a certain kind of movement will put a creature into a totally different frame. This one died. I just knocked that sucker to the floor and ground him into the carpet with my heel. It was the way he had moved, completely still at first then quick and aggressive when I brought my hand holding a piece of paper near him. He leaped toward my hand instead of running away. So, I smashed him, turned him into a streak across the bottom of my boot.

Like a water snake.

I don't mind most snakes too much, but I don't like water snakes. One time, I had slipped into the water from my grandpa's boat and a couple of water snakes swam toward me instead of away. Freaked me out completely. I practically leaped back into that boat.

So there you have it. Most animals I would likely respect in the wild by walking a wide berth around them. But certain ones will put me right into flight or fight mode. Either I am out of there or it is going to die.

Certain people freak me out too. To be honest, I'm more afraid of a particular type of human than any other creature on Earth. I was walking Teddy in the woods with a friend the other day when we came upon a guy who seemed to want to talk. My friend's dog growled low so the conversation was short. I love her dog. He brooks no idle chatter with certain strangers. He has RADAR.

So when my friend and I got back to our cars, she and her radar dog zipped off down the road and I sat for a few minutes in my car looking at the rocks I'd picked up by the river. Then silently, the same guy came back up the trail. Hair stirred at the back of my neck. Oh, he didn't try to get into my car exactly, just got a conversation going. I started my car just in case, but that man wanted something that wasn't only talk. He used talk to try to get it. Usually, I like a sort of chatty person.

Not this one. The whole time he talked, the hair on the back of my neck stood at attention. He was gifted at holding a person in place using her sense of courtesy. You know the kind of person I mean. Think salesmen or someone looking for a handout. You know how they try to keep you talking, keep the eye contact going? Only we were at a nearly vacant trailhead. And it was worse because at least with a homeless person, you know what they want. On about the third try, I got my 'I gotta go' to stick. I put my car into gear, and pulled out before he wandered off to his truck. I watched my rearview as I drove down the road.

I'm not sure what would have happened if I'd lingered, but I'm telling you that if that guy had been a spider, I would have ground him into the dirt with my boot. Kind of gives me the willies just thinking about it.

Thank you for listening, jules