Friday, February 22, 2008

The Rolling Fish Wagon

I can describe the mornings of late thusly: steamy, thick, heavy. Winter is becoming a distant memory and the rainy season lies dead ahead.

It seems though my fellow vannies have not gotten the message.

Running late, I was the last person on the van this morning after blowing past three stop signs and barreling through an empty shopping center at 50 mph.

I pulled the van doors shut behind me and was instantly assaulted by the stomach churning stench of fish. The folks up front had the heat on, so make that the stomach churning warm stench of fish.

It is 6:40 a.m.

I want to laugh.

I want to cry.

I want to hurl.

The smell is so profoundly awful that I can't believe no one has said anything. I know when you're an adult you're supposed to be polite and ignore unpleasant smells or noises, but I am not that kind of person. I can't help myself when I'm in a public restroom and the person in the next stall farts - I always laugh.

The windows are sealed tight and the heater is on. I am so nauseous and hot I think I might black out. I glare at the temperature gauge on the instrument panel and focus on the little arrow pointed at the red line and I dearly wish it were pointed at the blue line instead. I stare at the blue line so hard that I start to believe I can move the knob telekinetically.

My watery eyes dart around the van. I look at the backs of heads and wonder who is responsible for the fishiness. My fish stench addled brain swears vengeance on whomever has subjected me to this horrible, horrible smell.

I spent the day with phantom fish smells on my clothes, hair, and hands. Even in the peanut butter sandwich I had for lunch.

It's almost time to go home but if the van still stinks, I'm walking.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Barack for Vannies

On Tuesday evening, the first day of early voting in the great state of Texas, I went to see Barack Obama. I secured tickets and stood in line for about two hours with a jovial group of people. I overheard the family behind me chatting up a HPD officer and a woman asked the cop, "I bet you have lots of girlfriends, huh?"

The woman in front of me offered me her suit jacket as I was ill prepared for the downtown crosswinds and she thought I looked cold. Aww. The group in front of her gave me an Obama '08 sticker which I gratefully accepted because I cannot resist a freebie. The crowd was decent and excited and compensated for standing outside shivering for the better part of 2 hours.

We were finally let in I found seats directly facing the podium and only about 60 feet away. While my brother stood outside with the throngs of other non-ticket holders (my faithful blog PR manager and her cronies included) my husband and I valiantly tried to save a seat for my brother in the rapidly filling stadium. We successfully turned away a handful of people looking to take the seat. That is, until this woman:

This wretched chore of a woman approached my husband and the following conversation unfolded:

Wretched Chore of a Woman: I want to sit there.

vAnnie's Husband: Heartily sorry, madam, but this seat is taken.

WCW: By who!?!

vH: He's in the bathroom.

WCW: Well he's not here now.

At this point, the Wretched Chore of a Woman proceeds to hoist herself onto the seat my husband's thigh was occupying. Yes, she attempted to sit on the lap of a perfect stranger. He raised his hands in disbelief and says,

vH: [Actually, we are both too pissed off at this moment to remember what was actually said]

We sat next to Wretched Chore of a Woman and overheard her talking to her friend as several hostility fueled minutes ticked by when my husband turns to me and says,

vH: I'm sorry, I just don't think I can let this go.

He proceeds to pick up his phone and pretends to call my brother who is still in line outside,

vH: [facing WCW in full-on enunciation, voice-projection mode]

Hey man, some lady took your seat..........No, she's right here..........Yeah, I can see you [cranes neck toward section entrance]..........I told her it was taken..........I know, I know..........yeah, I guess you can talk to her when you get here..........Okay, I'll see you in a second.

At this WCW's friend shamefacedly takes WCW by the arm and pulled her to another section.

Immediately upon seeing the WCW being led away, the couple seated directly behind us says,

Now that is a blessing.

Oh, the speech. The speech finally got underway around 8:30, we had been there since around 4 o'clock that afternoon. It was the same well-oiled stump speech we've been hearing in bits and pieces for months on NPR but there was still a thrill in hearing it live from the man himself and energizing to rub elbows with my fellow Dems.

It was also pleasure to hear a politician with some oratorical skill. I'm usually left with my mouth hanging open whenever I have to listen to Dubya talk for any length of time.

I don't know if the skinny senator from Illinois has what it takes to lead us boldly into the future, but I'm willing to give him a shot.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Kiss Them for Me

The only people that make plans on Valentine's Day are trying to prove something. The couples crowding every decent restaurant in the city are amateurs. The real lovebirds are at home doing the same thing they do the other 364 days out of the year: keeping a relationship going.

Courtship has its moments to be sure, but I think the real honest-to-goodness, knock-your-socks-off, head-over-heels moments happen much later.

For those currently without partner: you know relationships are a real pain in the ass. Acting like the best version of yourself for someone else is downright exhausting. To quote Sarah Vowell,

Some afternoons a person just wants to rent Die Hard, close the curtains, and have Cheerios for lunch.
When you're flying solo, if you want to crawl home from the bar at all hours, miss a few showers, and spend your free time rubbing your naughty bits raw, well then that's your business, isn't it?

Herewith, a few suggestions for your Valentine's Day:

I recently saw Sleeping Dogs Lie and thought it was just lovely. And any movie that can deliver the line, "Does anyone here other than me know what canine semen tastes like?" and still have me describe it as "lovely" is surely worth a viewing.

Have a listen to (and ignore the video of) Philip Glass' Einstein on the Beach and experience Sigur Rós' Glósóli. True love from the very first listen.

One cannot let the sun set on Valentine's Day (or any other day, really) without drinking deeply from Uncle Walt's well. I Sing the Body Electric if you can manage, Sometimes With the One I Love if you prefer, but Whoever You are Holding Me Now In Hand is a must.

Now, enjoy this virtual cupcake (the rest of which were given to coworkers today) and go home to nurse a bottle of cheap vodka and cry over the one who got away. But whatever you do, stay away from the Cure's Pictures of You.

In fact, stay away from the Cure altogether, unless you want to spend your evening fetal wondering how it all went so wrong.

But before you get too caught up in this non-holiday, remember that all the tacky pink and red sentimentality will be clogging bargain bins come Friday but vAnnie will still love you.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


I admit to feeling rather rudderless since the New Year. Last year turned out to be all about self-improvement and physical health. But the sense of purpose and satisfaction that it once gave me is long gone.

I had chalked it up to general malaise, but I am increasingly aware that I am drifting through my days on autopilot. I am coming to hate the routineness of my days, which means I have to find the 2008 project that will keep me merrily plugging along for the next 11 months.

In January I went through a brief cupcake phase wherein I was turning out two dozen of the sugar-laden beauties every weekend. But a cupcake hobby is, sadly, a one way trip back to fat-assery so I'm going to have to give them a rest for a while.

I then took up with a non-caloric form of junk: reading trash. All the lowbrow crap at the library that you wouldn't give a second glance, I've been carting away by the canvas bagful. Things like Why Men Marry Bitches and That Extra Half an Inch: Hair, Heels and Everything in Between by none other than Victoria "Posh" Beckam herself. I think I'm one small step away from barricading myself in my bathroom to read shampoo bottles.

Since I found eating or reading crap made has made me feel no more alive or engaged, I'm going back to the basics. I'm dusting off the music and books of my formative years. I plan to spend my lunch breaks and lazy afternoons rereading Camus and Rand and Emerson to see if their ideas retain any of their former power and weight.

I also grabbed a random sampling of CD's from the dusty recesses of my bookshelves and added them to my player. I spent this morning on the van with the Dead Kennedys , Big Black , and Fugazi in my ears reminding me of what I was like before I cared about the future.

I'm coming to realize that life isn't short, it's damn long. So, I guess I better dig a deeper foxhole.

Friday, February 1, 2008

A Special Place in Hell

When It settled on to the van yesterday, someone commented that her arm cast from a recent surgery had been removed. Can't say I noticed the cast, or overheard about the surgery, or even noticed her absence for that matter.

What I can say is that it's true I never really cared for It (I think the name really says it all). We've had our differences, she's into dog breeding and perms and I can't really relate.

Athough, never underestimate the unifying power of hate.

As It told us yesterday, her 70-odd year old mother, who was at a local hospital receiving chemotherapy, was robbed in an elevator.

One of the Wizened Crones breathed, "That's shitty."

Apparently there were two scumbags running this scheme wherein one scumbag pretends to fall and while the victim attempts to render aid, scumbag #2 steals their wallet. Nice, huh?

The duo then proceeded to rack up more than $6,000 in charges on this woman's credit cards in less than 2 hours.

To the two worthless motherfuckers preying on an elderly infirmed woman: Fuck. You. I can't imagine anything worse that having to look at your own face in the mirror and see yourself for the vile shitstain that you are.