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Behind the Lens and Behind the Visor

My plans for the weekend were all backwards. I thought I’d be seeing the Melvins on Friday, but discovered on Thursday, an hour after they’d started playing that I had gotten the date wrong. So Friday was a blank slate when I got a message from Pablo that he and another guy were meeting some girls from Costa Rica at the Plaza de Mayo to do some sight-seeing, and asking if I would like to come along.

I arrived a little late, but the guys were later. The other guy turned out to be Guille, who bewildered me with his fast talking but is funny in any language - even the one you don’t know. We spend the better part of half an hour walking the Plaza looking for the girls who were nowhere to be found. Finally the decision was made to set off.

Shortly after this picture was taken, I realized we were in route to Puerto Madero. I told the fellas I’d walked there the previous weekend, and the decision was made to turn around and go another way. And it was Rivadavia all the way to Cabellito on foot. We began at the pink X and walked to the green X. The following are what we saw in between. If you don't like pictures, you ought to skip this.Collapse )

The Anger

The anger, my good, good friend - the one I can depend on - the one who’s always there. She has been missing since I got here until yesterday. Yesterday I woke up angry and it felt good. I felt like myself.

It’s odd for me to be tentative. To touch objects gingerly, to be afraid of making a mark or an impression. It’s odd for me to be self conscious. In the US, I know I look a little odd and though I’m aware that I draw stares because I dress funny, at home I don’t care. Here I feel vulnerable. Though I carry the skill set to appear as if I am ignoring the attention that my funny shoes garnish, here, instead of feeling the ordinary flippancy and possibly annoyance, I would like to bury my head inside my lapel.

Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration if illustrative.

Still, I move differently. The way I feel is something like the way I feel in the house of a friend’s parents. On my best behavior - my precious cuss words inaccessible to me in Spanish, the arsenal of my personality locked away with no possibility of being expressed. I’ve grounded myself and am on probation indefinitely.

I clean my room every day. I’m usually an incredibly messy person. And while at home, I think that the messiness is an aspect of controlling my surroundings in a different way, here I think that the inverse is a necessary measure of control over my environment. I know exactly where things are when I’m in my room, be it messy or clean, but the orientation of it doesn’t matter at home the way it does here.

And though I’m a cheap bastard, my stinginess here is more a result of being a little embarrassed to go into a shop and not understand or misunderstand. I am not used to feeling stupid, and I do, and it’s uncomfortable.

So when I woke up angry yesterday, I sunk into the groove and relished it. Frustration resounding in my brain, I recognized myself. And though it was soon replaced by insecurity, bewilderment and mild self loathing, it was good to know that it’s still there.

Plaza De Mayo to La Peña en Caballito

I arrived at the Cathedral at just about 3:00 as Juan Pablo and I had agreed, though I wasn't at all sure I was in the right place. I wasn't the only one a little lost that day, though as it turned out that Juan Pablo had just been robbed. The plan was to take photos of the city together and walk around, and despite the fact that he'd been ripped off of pretty much everything besides his camera (phone, wallet, credit cards, money and jacket), JP didn't seem prepared to cancel our tour. What gracious guy.

This is a map of the places we went on Saturday. To the left of San Telmo is where we began in the Plaza de Mayo.

Taken at Plaza de Mayo. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plaza_de_Mayo

Much More BeneathCollapse )

Buenos Aires - Villa Crespo and Beyond

I decided to take the day yesterday and go for a walk with my camera. I became helplessly lost - once I realized this I was paying more attention to my map than I was my camera, but here are some of my favorites.

This is the wood shop across the street from the apartment. Gorgeous.

9 More BeneathCollapse )
I awoke with a jolt sitting straight up in the bed with a drowning gasp. Instantly I remembered where I was, where I was going, and the morning dread came on. This is common for me, but it was amplified this day - it’s excruciating, but luckily it only seems to last for about 5 minutes.

Had to get a move on - checked the clock - 7 AM. Plenty of time - maybe too much time - 4 hours ‘til checkout - everything packed - the Holiday Inn across the way was not gracing me with an internet connection that morning. I opened up some american radio program on the computer’s music program and took a bath - hot to soothe the flaring pain in the ol’ shoulder and knee, get the sweat and piss residue off of myself.

Time dragged.

The plane for Argentina was not slated to leave until 6. The suggested time to check in was 3, but I would be at the airport about 3 1/2 hours before since I had no better place to be. Best to squeeze every moment I had coming to me from the hotel, catch the airport shuttle and bide my time in Miami International Airport.

And so I relaxed as much as I could. Nothing to be done but to wait and wait and wait, turn away the maid, smoke cigarettes, check the clock, write in my little notebook, turn on the radio, turn it off, look under the bed - make sure I didn’t forget anything, tweeze my manly eyebrows down, look out the curtains, try to shit. Tidy the room, empty the ashtray, check the clock, wash my hands, look under the bed to make sure not to forget anything, flip through a book about Buenos Aires, check the clock, smoke a cigarette, look out the curtains, drink a stale soda from last night, open the window, empty the ashtray...

Waiting is a form of torture - the inactivity of it, the paralysis. When there’s no way to speed things along, time stretching out - something specific looming.

But finally it was time to check out. Into the shuttle and out at the airport. Same two unwieldy bags. I was walking through, looking at all the glowing signs behind the counters, and I was walking - past Air Canada, past Lufthansa, past EL AL, and on. Finally I started wondering what was going on, and I must have looked confused, too, because a security guard asked me where I was going. I told him and he said that first, I should get a luggage cart. “Go on. There are some free over there. I’ll watch your bags. Go ahead.” Then he told me that Aerolineas Argentinas wasn’t open yet and that’s why I couldn’t find them. He wasn’t sure where they were, because they opened after he got off work.

It turned out they took over the slot Air Canada was operating in - then the LCD screens changed over to Aerolineas. And so there was nothing to do but to wait some more, with no specific idea of when they would open, light raking in through the glass front of the building, periodically wheeling out the cart like a very organized bag lady to smoke here and there, trying like hell to pay attention to the talk I played on the pod and not absorbing any of it. And what’s the point in describing the day? I woke up at 7 and waited at the hotel until 11. I got to the airport and waited for the Airline to open until 2:00. I checked in, went through a security check, and waited in the boarding area until 5:00. A good 10 hours with little to nothing to report.

Along the way, I started to talk to some people here and there. A very sweet woman from Chile was talking to me in Spanish, of which I may have understood about 30%. She’d been in Queens, someone in her family had had a brain annurism and she’d been caring for him. She was from a part of Chile where it rains once every 4 years and then flowers bloom all over the place. Her grandchildren were bilingual and helped her go shopping in New York. I showed her Kentucky on a map. Kentucky. What a place to be from.

I took 10 pictures with as many cameras of an international crew of high spirited twenty-somethings on their way to Peru to provide earthquake relief. Later when they asked me what I did and I told them I was a photographer (among other things) we all had a laugh since I couldn’t find my way around their cameras with a flashlight and a map.

My paranoia over my personal information extended to signing up to use the internet. Credit card between my teeth, I hunkered down with my tights around my knees in a toilet stall, typing in my precious credit card number while the busy bathroom bustled with the sounds of toilets flushing and a confused and crying child being told to sit on the toilet in Spanish.

A man from Buenos Aires spoke to me several times - with the accent I understood about 5% of what he said. Oh, yes, it was becoming obvious that my crippled comprehension would be compounded by the accent. A beautiful accent, one of the reasons I wanted to go to Buenos Aires, but imagine that you were just learning English - and what you had learned was standard American dialect - the way people talk in the movies - more or less - and then you went to New Zealand. That’s the only way I can describe the difference.

View from the Window of the Plane - Miami

So then I was on the plane - a gargantuan thing with three rows, the middle one was wide enough to use as a bed, and was by several people later in the flight. I had two seats by the window all to myself and it started to drizzle. I spoke to no one, no one spoke to me. All the announcements were in Spanish first and then English. I was glad to understand them for the most part, then to have the translation confirm what I had understood. It all seemed so easy, too easy. After all the planning and anxiety, the feeling that I was undertaking some sisyphean task, I was sitting in an airplane seat getting ready to take off, calm - bored even after such a long wait.


Outside the windows there were clouds beyond compare. Chills ran through me, staring at them. I recognized animals and people in the clouds until it got dark, and as the sun set, I had to pull my camera out of the overhead and try to get a shot of the bizarre tableau - an endless landscape of pinks and oranges with fluffy beings seeming to inhabit the sky in a semicircle at regular intervals.

Another View

Our eyes are trained to recognize patterns, and what loveliness that is.

Creatures of the Sunset (That should be Donald)

In the dark, more stars were visible than I could ever remember seeing before. Odd square patterns of lights could be seen on the ground when we cleared the clouds below. The Bucket List played on the monitors, and audio was available in English and Spanish.

Intermittent cat naps were interrupted by turbulence, announcements, and a screaming 3 year old boy. He was in the care of a nanny, ignored by his mother and doted on by his conspicuously wealthy grandmother. His fits of disoriented bawling went unnoticed by the mother while the nanny tried again and again to calm him down. After about an hour of this the mother resigned herself to taking him in her arms. He immediately fell asleep. I think she was the only one in our area of the plane who managed to sleep through his epic, shrieking tantrum. Crescendoes were acknowledged wordlessly between passengers with disgruntled eye contact.

My first airplane meal awoke the familiar diarrheal cramping. Years of this sort of thing has trained me to contain the impending outburst for a more appropriate time, generally ultimately resulting in constipation. There was no way I was going to humiliate myself with an echoing trumpet of shit to foul the air of the surrounding 20 rows. No, somehow I have trained this testy container of mine that there are times when it’s urgent messages to me will go ignored, and this was definitely one of those times. It leaves me with the sensation of having a water balloon carefully contained above my pelvis, another item on my to-do list.

In Pistarini (the airport) we disembarked outside and took a shuttle in. Climbing into the shuttle I caught a glimpse of the woman from Chile and her male companion. They looked like they wanted to get on the packed shuttle and I felt I was deserting them when the first bus pulled away, but I smiled and waved. We were right on time just at 4:00 AM - a curse for me since my hosts would not be up and about until 7:30 - it would be a long wait at the airport - at least 2 1/2 hours until I could catch a cab into the city. Wholly unfamiliar was the process of the checking and stamping of the passports, but it went off without a hitch.

Customs was simply an x-ray machine fed by a conveyor belt. I am so used to being an american, ordered in airports and bank lines to wait until I’m called. I was standing with my cart of luggage, waiting for the customs person to call me forward when I felt a cart gently bump the backs of my calves. I rocked my knees back to let whoever had done it know I was there. And again, the pressure prodding me. There was a clear line on the floor - one that in America would mean to wait behind this line until you’re told to proceed. I turned to see whether this was done out of cluelessness or aggression and a woman who resembled a short haired version of Cathy from the Sunday comics asked me which line I was waiting for. I had seen a family split between two lines moments earlier, so I said in halting and broken Spanish that I was waiting to be called to the next open spot. The exasperated woman pushed past me and began unloading her suitcases onto the conveyor belt in front of me.

Annoyed, I moved to the machine on the right. The man tending to that machine said something I had to ask him to repeat 3 times. It was that I needed to use the machine on the left. I moved back over to the other belt, disgusted by that bitch of a woman who was now unloading her things from the other side of the belt. Why she couldn’t have simply indicated that I should go ahead rather than prodding me and then contemptfully cutting me in line, I’m not sure, but it gave me a little shot of anger and with this surge of energy, I wielded my bags onto the belt with enough verve to prompt the woman behind me to gently suggest that I be more careful. I realized then that behaving aggressively might land me in a fix in the customs line, though the woman watching the luggage go through was as passive as if she were watching a day-time soap. I never would have anticipated customs being so simple.

And with that, I was in the airport proper, exhausted and a little chilly, though 4 degrees Celsius is not nearly as bad as it sounds to the American ear, with my cart of luggage, taking the same routine as outside of Miami - out to smoke, in to wait. Out to smoke, in to write in my little notebook and wait.

And that was Thursday (and then some).

Edit: Wrong Duck

The View from my Peephole in the Miami Hotel

First Leg -

After months of preparation that had me having two yard sales, a massive purge of my clothes and belongings, moving into Mom’s house and then moving out, finding someone to adopt my cat temporarily and a cleaning binge to end all cleaning binges, I was on my way to Miami. Dad came by to pick me up - the flight was at 3:45 and I wanted to get to the airport in plenty of time to avoid trouble. He was supposed to show up at noon but arrived at 11:15.

I checked in - nervous as hell - a stewardess helped me negotiate the automatic check in. My bags were snatched up, weighed and tagged by a woman who noticed my incompetence and suddenly I was humping my much too heavy carry-on to the other side of the airport. When I got up to the check in counter, I noticed that the plane was delayed until 1:50. It was supposed to leave at 1:10. Further inspection of my ticket yielded the discovery that the plane was supposed to arrive in Miami at 3:45, not leave Louisville at 3:45.

What luck that Dad showed up early, and that I had planned to leave as early as noon. What luck that the plane was delayed! All the way around, I was first worried this meant I had transposed other things like dates and times - and I did in one case, but more about that later.

Waiting to board, a man with an enormous pile of luggage (I have to wonder now how they got it all on the plane) and the most adorable little boy, was muttering profanely under his breath and saying things like, “Where the hell did she go? Stupid!” and looking toward the bathrooms. At one point he let go of a rolling suitcase to get a better gander at the concourse after spotting his wife, and when he did, it promptly fell, hitting his little boy on the elbow and knocking him to the ground. The kid popped right up off the ground, gripping his elbow as his mother approached. You could feel each of them thinking the other was a total idiot. But the kid was still in great spirits. He had silver police badge stickers on his t shirt and kept asking me who I was. “Someone who’s on the same plane as you,” I would answer.

On the flight, at first I kept to myself. Though the tiny thing was half empty, for some reason the row I was in was completely occupied. There were 2 people - I thought they were business people - very involved with one another, talking. I had it sussed out in my mind that they were lawyers or something since they were filling out some worksheets with questions titled, “Interrogatory 1” and so on. There was something of the Moonie or the overtly corporate and brainwashed about them and I thought it best that I kept to myself. It seemed to me that the man (who was sitting next to me) had the hots for the woman (across the aisle) and he was turned in such a way to get the best conversational angle that his butt was jamming my thigh. My seat was already somewhat restricted as there was a giant lump protruding from the lower portion of the wall and of course I’d had to wear some frankensteinish platforms further limiting where I could put my foot. My right leg (the gimpy one) was at an angle from the knee down the entire time with this fellows ass jammed into my leg on the other side, and both of them talking pretty loudly. I turned the music up on my pod and mused over the random song selection that seemed to have more than a normal percentage of songs about leaving and flying popping up. I broke into a giant grin when I heard Chuck Berry singing, “Goobye New Jersey, I’ve become airborne.”

At some point there must have been an announcement as I took off my headphones. It was at this point that the woman began talking about me in a way that was audible to me. “ I bet she’s young” and then finally asked me, “How young are you?” What kind of a fucking question is that, I ask you? A calculated phoniness - don’t get me wrong - she seemed very nice, but was overly solicitous and she was winding up for the pitch. She explained to me that before she and her pal had left, her best friend had given her a barbie doll - and well, it was hard to explain, but that barbie doll had goth makeup and clothes and a big spider tattoo on her chest. After all, she hadn’t always looked this normal - and this was some sort of emblem of her mis-spent youth, I was led to understand. Because of this, seeing me was a good omen and she would just love to have a picture with me and the doll after we’d gotten off the plane.

The story with her and the guy was that they were on their way to Venezuela to give shots and baby wellness exams along a river on a canoe trip in less developed areas. They were going with missionaries, but they were paramedics - and wasn’t it just crazy - when he called and said “Hey, you want to go to Venezuela?” she said yes and then called him back later asking him what she’d just agreed to. Wasn’t that crazy?

And to every explanation I gave of my plans, I was treated to, “Well, that’s wonderful. I think that’s just great. Isn’t that great, Paul?” “Yes, it’s a wonderful thing. A great thing.” Though it’s not exactly a humanitarian effort - and with every compliment I felt a little more confused as I wasn’t going to do well baby checkups or inoculate people against fatal diseases as they were. If I were going to respond in a way commensurate with the wonderfulness of what they were doing, I would have had to jump out of my seat and whoop with joy at the sheer delightfulness of it all. But as it was, I was so low energy I was having trouble just maintaining conversation with strangers.

These are the sort of people that are so nice that they make it hard for you to respond in kind. These are Americans. And I don’t know that what they told me was bogus - but there was something so phony and overly friendly in a non-genuine way about them - especially the woman - that I feel like they were actually on their way somewhere else - to do something else. The phoniness made everything seem to be a lie. It was nothing about the way there were dressed, but something about the woman’s attitude that seemed to be a throwback to the 1950’s - Leave it to Beaver, Father Knows Best...

Even though I had promised her that I would take a picture with her barbie doll, when we touched down, I got freaked out about my bags going missing and had to get to the baggage claim as quickly as possible. It was a palpable need like needing to find a toilet - because if anything happened to them - I wouldn’t have any clothes - or anything. The barbie was dressed like whore anyway. What was it about my neutral colored clothes that had her seeing me as some parallel to her sluttily dressed trollop of a barbie doll with maroon hair and too much makeup? I wasn’t wearing any makeup at all. But my tattoos were exposed, and I had on the bozo platform mary janes. Still, it’s a bit insulting to be likened to a drawn on, club whore barbie in skin tight vinyl when all you’re trying to do is get from point a to point b and minding your own business in casual wear.

I got off that shuttle and I booked it through the airport. I felt I was hovering to the side because of my heavy bags. I was cruising around people and I was starting to sweat and practically running. I don’t know how far the baggage claim was from where we disembarked, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were a mile.

When I got there, my bags were just coming out and there was a man unloading the suitcases from a conveyor belt. I said, “Those are mine - the red and the green.” He handed them to me without comment. I was dripping with sweat and I buckled my bags together and pulled them out the sliding doors lighting a cigarette, not caring that there were no smoking signs everywhere. As soon as I stepped out of those doors and into the Miami humidity, it was as if I’d been hosed down. Every pore opened up full throttle, overheated as I was from my near run from the plane. I stood there smoking, sweat stinging my eyes and peering around trying to get my bearings. Where could that free shuttle to the hotel possibly be? After a few drags, I was sated enough to cup the smoke in my hand and approach some security guys that were chatting about 20 feet away.

Before I even got my question phrased, one of them started pointing straight up to the ceiling, and when I asked where they shuttles were, the other one told me, “Upstairs. Second Floor.” It was kind of them to ignore my smoking. I guess they had better things to worry about. But my nerves wouldn’t allow me to dilly dally just to smoke. Not after I’d chewed a dozen pieces of nicotine gum on the plane. I knocked the cherry off the tip, put the smoke back in the pack and went looking for the elevator. At this point, it became apparent that my fat bags weren’t going to stay together. The rearmost one kept falling sideways and dragging the ground. People were standing in the walkway, and every time I changed tack to go around them my bags would come apart requiring me to stop and right the one in back. Just when I would think I’d gotten the hang of avoiding this, there would be a change from smooth floor to tile and I’d be pulling a collapsed pile again.

When I made it outside, I just had to keep moving. I figured there would be some sort of sign that made it obvious where to wait for the shuttle. Over the bumpy, brown tile, around people staring vacantly into space, past desks with men in airline uniforms and hats - on the pavement cabs and busses and cars drove past in three lanes. I asked a man at a baggage desk where the shuttles came and he pointed vaguely into the street. I kept walking until it started to seem like I would run out of sidewalk and asked another uniformed man. He said, “You just wave them down.” I saw 2 women standing out in the middle of the road on a concrete island with a sign. Shortly after, they were picked up and I was still peering at every bus and van that passed looking for one with the name of my hotel.

Once I saw it, I couldn’t be certain I had been seen. The driver honked when I waved, but amidst all the cars, busses and vans passing, I couldn’t be sure he was the honker. I waved again and then he gestured for me to cross the street. After I was soundly inside under the merciful air conditioning that made me feel like I had a creamy center and a hard candy shell, it became painfully obvious that I was doing much too much. All I would have had to do was stand on the sidewalk and keep my eyes peeled and wave the van down. This was made obvious by each subsequent passenger who was picked up, likely right outside the door they walked out of. Instead I dragged a collapsing pile of luggage what seemed like the equivalent of 3 city blocks to sweat under the sun on a concrete island in the middle of the pavement. Well, live and learn. I was in one piece with all of my precious crap and on my way to the hotel.

One thought had been bothering me throughout the flight and I began to dwell on it inside the van on the way to the hotel. A week or so earlier, I had checked my e-mail and found a note from the Aerolineas Argentinas that changed the time of my flight. Having just woken up and not yet having had any coffee, I failed to see the month listed in the e-mail. Thinking it was my departing flight from the US, I called the hotel and extended my stay for an extra night. A day or so later, I noticed that the e-mail said November and called the hotel again to change it back. When I did this, I had the day of my arrival in Argentina (the 22nd) on the brain, so when the guy verified the date, I had a flash of horror thinking the wrong night had been booked. “No, not the 20th, the 21st!” I said. Wrong again. It was indeed the 20th, and I had changed my reservation to the wrong night. What if? What if? What if? What if there were no room for me? What if I was going to be turned away in this heat with all of this heavy stuff?

In the line, while the painfully long process of the two guys in front of me being checked in dragged on, my anxiety reached a fever pitch. When I handed over my ID and credit card as I’d seen the man in front of me do, the guy behind the counter said they had no reservation under that name. In the way of a sports fan watching their favorite team in the play-offs, each moment seemed to crest and swell with the possibility of disaster. “I think I might have changed the reservation to the wrong day. I was really nervous and think I might have messed up. My reservation number is 9000. I sent a package to myself here.”

“Oh, OK,” said the guy behind the counter, turning to grab the box laden with books for my new room mate in Argentina. “The reservation is for the 21st.”

“Yeah, I know. I messed up. I just need a room for tonight.” Long moments passed before he slid a paper over the counter for me to sign.
“You’re in 204. Go down the hall, take a left and a right and another left and it’s upstairs.” Grateful, I took the key card and chucked my stuff onto a cart. When I got to a flight of stairs, I hefted my suitcases up, and dragged it all to the room. Once there I took off my pants in the cooled room. They felt like they’d just been taken out of the wash, but that’s not the way they smelled. After a few minutes I made a series of what would be the last calls I would make with my scoundrel of a cell phone company, leaking perspiration onto the phone as I let my folks and a couple of friends know I was okay.

And the rest of the night passed without incident. I would have expected to have some sort of emotional reaction to leaving, but felt nothing in particular but a sort of emptiness. The weeks and months leading up to this point had been full of worries, but now there as nothing to be done. All the loose ends had been wrapped up and the circuit board had been disconnected - and though I would have expected to feel excitement or anticipation, possibly dread or fear, what I felt was smoothness, placidity, and exhaustion. The rest of the night was spent repacking, jamming the books in with everything else, but mostly lounging in the dimly lit room, smoking too many cigarettes and taking advantage of the intermittent wireless connection from the nearby Holiday Inn.

That was Wednesday.

Abetting Idiocy Fuels Angers Fire

On my way home from work, leaving the bank there was an acre long line at the stop light on the side street leading to the main road that would eventually take me home. I pulled up to the exit where I needed to turn left and join the line which extended far beyond the point at which I hoped to join it.

I stopped. Anticipating a left turn into the endless line of cars idling, I made eye contact with a man in a beat up blue minivan. There was room for me to squeeze in. When he saw me, he pulled up about 4 feet. Now there was no way I was getting in that line until some observant driver noticed me waiting and flagged me in. Except...the guy behind him might let me in, I thought. Just as this thought crossed my mind, the giant pickup truck behind the minivan closed the gap, crossing into the left turn sweet spot. Neither of these guys were going to let me in.

For a moment I felt trapped. I know that the first guy had noticed me and had pulled up. "Nuh-uh, freak girl. I was here first," I could practically hear him thinking. I started to get angry. I sat there minute, stewing. And then I turned right. I turned into the parking lot of the chain store across the street. Sailed through their parking lot and turned onto the main road and was on my way while those dipshits were still waiting on the light - probably through two rotations - and I was cruising home.

Why do I bring this up? Simply to say this.

Small minded people will get in your way. This sort likes to wield the little power they have when they get the chance.

You do not need to participate in their moronic games by getting mad.

Go around them and leave them baking smugly at the stop light. They'll never even know you beat them.

Yard Sale Hell

Oh, Yard Sale Hell!

I dragged nearly everything I own upstairs from the basement I've been living in over the course of a week. Believe me when I tell you this was no fun. Editing your personal belongings to a precious few is a depressing thing to do. Boxing them up to allow strangers to paw at them and rudely insist on lower prices makes matters much, much worse.

I advertised the hell out of the sale. Craigslist, the local paper, and the alternative paper here along with 20 or so handmade signs up all over the neighborhood.

Thursday, an old professor of mine knocked on the door while I was watching a movie. I was shocked to see him, spine bent, obsequious expression, standing on the porch days before the sale to ask about my books. I told him to come back on Saturday. He recognized me and tried another angle by asking about the little personal information I'd placed in my ad. Again I told him to come back Saturday.

I knew it was going to be no fun. I woke up a bleary eyed mess after a few hours of sleep to a chilly, cloudy morning. Things I had laid out the night before were covered with condensation and it looked like it might rain. I had boxes and boxes of stuff to drag out of the garage in the cold, damp morning with less than one cup of coffee in my belly.

Before I'd even gotten the garage door open (over an hour before the posted time of the sale) there were slow moving yard sale junkies - their staggering gait like that of zombies - plodding toward me. I had to open the gate and let them in. And I was in no mood to deal with people due to my natural hatred for the human race.

People are bad enough. Cheap, whiney old people who feel entitled to pester me while I go about my business after politely saying that I was not ready for them make my jaw clench hard enough to snap a tooth.

Some highlights:


A man came by while an acquaintance and her very young daughter were in the yard. The man had a sort of greasy, hippie John Denver Wanna-be look, wearing a light tan parka and baggy jeans. Something interested him in a crate on the ground enough that he bent over several times to get a look. Each time he bent over, his entire ass was exposed. This was no plumbers crack. This was a full moon that gave anyone in the area a clear view of both lobes of his middle aged bottom, right down to the top of his thigh.

Let me be clear. It was a blustery day. It is simply not possible this guys ass was so numb that he failed to notice the chilly wind over his exposed pasty white emaciated buttocks. There is just no way he was not doing this on purpose. The first time I noticed, I nudged my buddy Chris and made a quiet, jocular comment about the full moon. The second time, my brow furrowed on consternation. Then, the third time I saw it - thinking of the little girl that was in the yard, I said to the man, "That's indecent exposure. I have belts for sale if you'd like to buy one."

The man reacted as if I'd been intentionally trying to humiliate him for something that was no big deal - like I'd out and out mocked him for having a piece of spinach on his tooth. Kind of rolling his eyes in a way that insinuated I was uptight, he presented me with a couple of tools and sighed, "How much?"

"A dollar," I said.

He bought them and was on his way.


A man drove up in a late model convertible midlife crisis mobile. Two small children tumbled out of the back after him. Bald and wearing sunglasses, his posture and skin belied a cushy life behind a desk supplemented by racket ball of the weekends. The mildly hostile disinterest in the attitude he had toward his daughter foretells a future of money from his bank account lining the pockets of some therapist who will be bored to tears by the tales of his snide superiority that never quite amounts to abuse.

Strutting in that way that skinny desk sitters have, slightly pigeon toed - king of all he surveys - he looked down his nose at my offerings. His enthusiastic daughter expressed interest in a green wig. He asked how much for the wig. I said fifty cents.

"Would you take a quarter?" he asked.

"No," I said, not unpleasantly, but in a tone that implied that might be a little silly. Chris was next to me, and there were 2 guys shopping the clothes - picking out a massive amount of stuff.

Next, the little boy had a brand new box of colored pencils and a never used package of markers. The man asked, "How much for these?" I said, "A dollar with the wig."

"We don't want the wig."

"OK," I said, nonplussed.

"How much?"

"A dollar," I answered. I was offering the wig so the little girl could have something too - not because I wanted to be nice to the man.

"We don't want the wig," he said again - as if I were too dumb to understand.

"Don't take the wig, then," I said. All the guys in the yard cracked up and the cheap lawyer was offended enough at having been laughed at that he told his kids it was time to leave and took off.

Oh, hell, I could go on, but these are my 2 favorite incidents of the day and the only ones with any real entertainment value.

There's so much stuff left over that I'm doing it again in about a month at another address. This time I will start the prices higher so I don't feel raped when people try to barter. I just can't take the cheapness any more! I make less than $400 a week and I'm not nearly that cheap.

These people sincerely disgust me in a way that I can't adequately describe. Stop whining at me you east end house marms! Your husband makes more in a month than I do in 2 years and your kind of bourgeois pseudo-christian idiocy can be credited for half my mental problems. It's the likes of you that made fun of me in school and your stupid income bracket and low intellect that all the modern media is geared toward - thereby forcing me to endure endless hours of horrible music and boring television programming. I am so tired of being condescended to by the likes of you that I might spit on you if you ask me for any further consideration. So do me a favor and get the fuck out of my yard before I throw this figurine at your nose job.

OK. Now I'm really done.

I mean it.

Sneak Attack Pelvic Exam

Oh, yes. The dreaded pelvic exam.

Like Christmas, it comes but once a year. Unlike Christmas, there is nothing to look forward to about it, really. Some preparation might be in order, however.

I had a sneak attack pelvic today. I guess I should have expected, going in to get birth control, that there would be some examining in order. I was screened for STD's recently - something I'd put off for too long. Knowing I was going in clean without any particular concerns, I thought they'd just dole those little pills out to me without getting under the chassis and giving the ol' gal a lube job. Wrong!

After a long conversation with the nurse about what kind of birth control I ought to use, I was told that I was going to have an exam and a pap smear. "Damn it! If I'd known that I'd have taken a shower," I thought to myself. Well, I'll just have to do my best in the bathroom.

I'm not saying that it's necessary to shave and exfoliate before a pelvic, but if you haven't showered in a couple days and haven't been paying particular attention to the maintenance below the Mason Dixon line - well things can fall into disarray rather quickly. That's the dilemma I found myself facing in a tiled, utilitarian, government bathroom this afternoon.

I found myself wishing I'd hosed myself down, that I'd avoided the onion laden meal of the previous evening (it smelled like goulash!), and that there was anything a little softer than the state issued, brown bag style paper towels with which to spruce up my lady parts. The wet towel quickly started to disintegrate against stubble and tissue-soft skin. "Gonna have to be good enough," I thought, deciding that presenting my vagina in a state resembling an over-washed sweater covered with nubby little linty things would be worse than whatever shape it was currently in.

So later, there I was - legs splayed - impromptu pup tent of an examining sheet erected between them, screening me from the nurse. A light was placed so near to my skin that I could feel its warmth - my vagina was about to be interrogated thoroughly, and the heat was on. The nurse was nice enough. I heard her rustling through the drawer, unwrapping the speculum. Then I felt a sharp pain as a rigid, sharp edged instrument was forced into the opening of my vagina.

I suppose the initial pressure and resistance weren't enough of a clue that perhaps a smaller speculum was in order, since the nurse continued to attempt to force what felt like a hydraulic jack in there until I nearly shrieked.

Adding insult to injury, however, this was the second time in the past month that I've had an oversized speculum shoehorned into the most tender part of my anatomy. What gives? I don't appreciate having the size of my vagina overestimated this way!

And it makes me wonder - do I look big from the outside?

I have never even seen the dratted instrument!

Oh, no. My tender eyes are shrouded from the salad tongs or curling iron or whatever is being brandished - and possibly taking exception to its size - by the paper sheet masking me from - from what exactly?

Is this sheet to protect the examinee from the practitioner or vice versa? Is she possibly down there making faces at my nether regions? Is this some holdout from more prudish times? Out of sight out of mind, even though there's a stranger opening your vagina with a hinged piece of hardware, poking fingers into your pussy and extracting cells with a hard bristled brush?

Ah! Maybe I'll have enough foresight to request to see the damn thing next time.

Or maybe by then I'll grow so that I can live up to the nurse practitioners' expectations.

Doppler Radar Bastards!

Last night we had a storm here - a pretty severe one. Not an unusual occurrence this time of year.

Well, LAST Tuesday we had a storm that was really quite severe and I was caught in the middle of it. Driving to the gym, all the lights were out along my chosen route. Branches were down in the road, winds buffeted against my car. An asshole was driving full speed on the wrong side of the road, heading right towards my car on the unlit street to avoid a fallen tree limb. All signs pointed to chaos.

Caught in the middle of this, I turned the radio on. Flipping through the channels as my dilapidated car leaked rainwater on me through the missing door seals I could not find ONE radio station in town broadcasting severe weather alerts. Finally I approached the gym. The traffic to my left was at a standstill, and I needed to get over, but there was a downed line hanging in the middle of the road. People were allowing it to scale along the sides of their SUVs, inanely plodding toward whatever shelter they were on their way to.

The rain had stopped. I finally made my way over. I went into the gym. I grabbed a bottle of water and stood there at the counter while the aerobic crazed counter girls completely ignored me for what must have been two minutes. This is nothing new as I am consistently ignored and treated rudely by these children that work the counter. Get one alone and it's okay, but if there are more than one they will usually have to finish conducting their conversation about Britney Spears or a disappointing pedicure before I will be acknowledged.

At last, one of them deigned to acknowledge me by flippantly stating, "I can't sell you that. The register is closed."

"Uh, okay," I answered flatly, "Is the gym closed?"

"Yeah," said the frosted blonde child patronizingly, "There was a tornado."

"Really,' I said - more a statement than a question.

"Yeah," she replied as if I were the real moron. Thanks, bim. Great customer service!

I left. Traffic had been diverted off the main road right through the very parking lot my car was in and were moving about a foot every minute. Debris peppered the lot. Signs were down. A shed had blown in from someone's yard. I found another exit to the parking lot and avoided the worst of it - all the while scanning the radio to see if I could find any verification for the tornado I was apparently too STUPID to have been aware of if the counter child's attitude was any indication.

Behind the mall, and further and further from my desired destination, I continued to flip through the radio stations and the closest thing I found in 20 minutes of driving was a warning for a remote, sparsely populated county, cautioning against strong winds. Yes thank you. Spencer County may experience strong winds. What about Jefferson County, with a population of nearly a million? No news.

No news. No sirens. No warnings.

No power. No lights. No problem?

If the shoddy coverage by the radio stations around here was any indication, I guess so! 30,000 people lost power and not a peep on the AM or FM dial. Thanks a lot you doppler radar bastards!

Well, last night there was a storm. It was severe, but certainly not the mother of all storms. You wouldn't know that by the endless sirens, though. TORNADO WARNING! Yes, it was everywhere.

It's the Tuesday following the last tornado (which in the end couldn't be verified as having occurred) and I'm supposed to believe that there's another one? At the same time? On the same night of the week?

You sons of bitches are simply trying to gain back our confidence by blasting us all out of bed with you're obnoxious sirens. Yes severe weather, but aren't you overcompensating a little bit with 2 hours worth of bone numbing tornado sirens? We get the picture.

You can not predict the weather. You can not warn us. You can only conjecture and most of the time you are wrong. I hope the doppler radars are swept up in a tornado next time. That way, at least they'll have an excuse.

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