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Atta boy, Luther!

Christ alive — I’m not sure I recall how to write for my very own private audience any more. And it took about nine tries to remember my own password. A similar thing happens when I’ve missed a few pizza and taco nights worth of visits to the gym and the only way I can remember my locker combination is to imagine a woman shaped like the three digit code 34-8-38 (i.e. an apple core). I feel comfortable sharing that because you’ll never guess which one in the dressing room belongs to me. I’ll give you a clue though, I always try for the one that someone graffitied in perfect 7th grade detention handwriting “I H8 U!”

I’ve taken up a weekly residence over at Badass Digest where I mostly write about the resurgence of rad music videos – a true amalgamation of my favorite things. For full disclosure’s sake I’ll tell you that I gave said column the title “Holy Hunter of Music Videos” because I really thought it was funny how at first glance it appears to read: “Holly Hunter of Music Videos”. It may come as a shock that I wasn’t on all of the pot when this was decided. Then the comments came, “I always mistake the title for ‘Holly Hunter of Music Videos!'” I want to reply and explain but then realize I’d be essentially explaining that yes, I have a full-blown case of idiot. Instead I freeze up and google image search a pair of unlikely animal friends to clear my head. Wait, I uh…

Anyway, a perk of the gig is to occasionally have the opportunity to sit down with a well-known type, engage ourselves in conversation and share with the masses. This generally inspires zero performance anxiety on my end until someone mentions the words ‘video’ or ‘camera’. And I feel like I just exchanged my irrational fear of my grandparents’ swimming pool cleaning robot for a ONE EYED RECORDING DEVICE!

I’m determined to get over these silly jitters by discussing them, thus the wench boob grabbing header and word dump below it shall be seen again. This is as close as I’ll ever come to stripping on the internet.

The root of my fear begins with an introduction to this clip for some (a pleasant revisit for others) – Luther Hegg’s speech from The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. While other folks stuck to a predictably safe round of applause my paternal grandfather, Cleo used to shout “AAAAAATTA BOOOOOOOOOY, LUTHER!” to me from the audience after (sometimes during) every school play , choir performance, etc. It was one of those moments I secretly lived for and claimed to loathe in certain circles mostly made up of girls my age wearing the real Keds. Cleo also implemented the Swartz Family visit to Fuddruckers post Mormon Baptism that quickly became tradition. In any case, I don’t think I need more examples of  just how cool I thought he was at the time. And forgive me because I was far too young to know that wasn’t home of the world’s greatest hamburger. I’m getting off topic.

There was one performance in particular when I guess the confident-on-stage me fell right the hell apart. My parents had recently divorced and we’d stopped attending The Church of Cheese and Crackers of Rattle Day Snakes. The devout Mormons in our family didn’t approve and no longer came to my performances. I think only one of my parents had made it to the Fifth Grade Graduation Showcase. I had a small solo in a shitty number our lazy music teacher had written about exercising. Seriously, my shining moment was belting forth the line “EXERCISING, EXERCISING, HOW I LOVE MY EXERCISING!” at the top of my ten-year old lungs to a gymnasium full of video camera wielding parents with horrified looks upon their faces. And no Grampa Cleo in sight which meant no “Atta boy, Luther” and the resulting “Graaaaampa, I’m a GIIIIIIIIIRL!”

A few years later my new mom signed me up for a class at the Plano Children’s Theater called Sizzling Shakespeare. This is also where you have to ask yourself if a thirteen year old girl should sizzle. My parents narrowly escaped that tragedy because I sure as hell didn’t. My charisma reserves were tapped. On our first day of class during an introductory activity when asked to take the shape of a household appliance I had the nerve to become a human blender. They all watched as I spun around in circles until I became too dizzy and toppled over knocking a nearby chair on its side. Yes, I was unintentionally signing myself up to play the role of Nick Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I didn’t execute the part perfectly before an audience because of the whole newfangled stage fright plus missing Grampa thing.

What I’m getting at is – how in the world have I held onto these feelings for so long and how can I get rid of them?

I’ve had piping hot radioactive fluid injected into my face since then, so shouldn’t I be unfazed by a task so seemingly puny?

Crap, I think I’m having a bona fide “I’M NOT JOSIE GROSSIE ANYMORE!” moment.

That was the only phrase the “man” in the red shirt could utter in English that crucial, balmy Venice evening (er, morning) back in the summer of ’02. I still don’t know if those words rang true or if he was just a behind the times Fine Young Cannibals fan. For whatever reason I decided to leave my virginity with that… Angel.

I wanted the journal entry I wrote the next morning while riding the train to Venice to accompany this photo — but I just read through it once more and it’s still that brand of dry heave inducing, coming-of-age mortification. I’m talking the feeling took me back to that moment in 3rd grade when I spilled chili directly into my crotch on my birthday and couldn’t get ahold of my parents for a change of clothes embarrassment.

His name is Luca and that’s all I know.  Admittedly, as tragic as that t-shirt is… I’d totally scoop it up for a crisp Lincoln if the Salvation Army ever gave me the chance. An insignificant extension of me would wear it while taking someone else’s virginity, but I think that’s the wrong kind of paying it forward.

I’m glad he carried condoms in his tiny, baby blue backpack and that he wore reflective sneakers.  Dual levels of safety first.

I think this quote from a friend sums it all up quite nicely:  “blake:  you lost your virginity to a gay dude?”

Because I’m pretty sure I did.

Intermission.

I thought I should share this photograph since I spoke a great deal about this woman during the cancer scare last year.  This is Dr. Barbera Honnebier (pronounced HONEY-BEAR), the plastic surgeon that specialized in children’s maxillofacial reconstructive surgery at the time, but took my case on like *excuse my language* a fucking superhero. My only explanation for her existence is a gift from the universe.  I don’t even think she’s human.  I’m in love with her.  She let me keep my very own face on my head that another doctor wanted to Frankenstein back together using pieces of skin from my shoulder.  She’s magic.  Just look at her.  “Thank you” doesn’t even cut it.

I have no other explanation for this period of months since Meat Halo (where I left off) where I’ve run around like a mad woman in a demented dash to scare up a “mate”.  I haven’t written in so long that I kind of forgot who I talked to here in my word cave.  Lately, I feel like I’m coming off a bender until I realize strangers around me are also behaving more rabid.  On two separate occasions I’ve even witnessed random acts of public vomiting.

The first was outside our apartment a couple weeks ago while my roommate and I waited meekly for our ride to Nerd Nite[sic].  One of our dear neighbors, a lady if you can refer to her as such, spewed a perfect cherub fountain stream of puke while opening her car door.  Surprisingly, her passenger wasn’t alarmed in the slightest.  Together they climbed inside the vehicle shutting opposite doors in unison and drove away.

The second was on my birthday run around Lady Bird Lake last Saturday.

Sometimes I like to jog just behind someone who looks like they know what they’re doing.  I judge this based solely on their matching exercise attire and chiseled physique.  While I know this makes me sound like a shallow alien, for all you know that could be accurate.  This specimen in particular looked like a milk chocolate covered Bodyworlds Exhibit.  I could see literally every muscle on her frame and I was intrigued (read: hungry)!  We must have just hit the two-mile mark over the wooden bridge when she made quite a hasty departure to the right and blew chunks through her hand, in between her outstretched fingers, and directly into the forest.  I know it’s hard not to read this next part in a Forrest Gump voice, but I just kept on running.  Before you say I should have stopped, I’ll let you know she later lapped me and then some.  She’s fine, okay.  She does it all the time!

As I was saying about that series of relationships, they didn’t end with Meat Halo.  There have been a couple more worth sharing, but each sort of deserve their own time in the sun… like a dying grape becoming a newborn raisin.

Here are some things Meat Halo may or may not be privy to:

The evening before he departed on the train, his brother, mother, and I stood together shooting the poop in the parking lot outside my home.  The conversation ended with a round of hugs and when his mother got to me she whispered into my ear, “You should have dated my other son!” Only it was more of a gravelly voice at regular volume than something spoken softly with very little vocal cord vibration to prevent being overheard.  I don’t know why, but I expected something more discrete from someone who had just farted on me in public a few days before.  Neither brother gave me a visually disturbed clue that they noticed what was told , so I never said anything except to a few friends and now the entire Internet…nternet…ternet…net.

Yeah, it’s hard to type in echoes.

I’ve had some wine, so I just in poor taste typed and deleted the next sentence, “I’m a bit of a pussy lover…” remembering quickly that my dad reads this and for that reason I have a difficult time writing what I could never say out loud with him in the same room.  What I meant to say is that, “I love cats…” I have a cat named Mr. Bill.  Proof!

Meat Halo wasn’t able to bring his cat, a fluffy white snow demon named Gibby, with him to NYC initially, so I agreed to foster her until his brother (the one their mother thought I should have dated) was able to deliver her a couple months later.  This was all fine and dandy until we split up a couple weeks later.  Then the cat’s sixth Hellraiser sense kicked in, and she began puking (more puking!) and crapping (!) from one end of the apartment to the other.  I could not deal and neither could Mr. Bill, so I arranged to have Brother retrieve her.

Sounds easy enough, right?  Step one:  Pick up cat.  Step two:  Remove cat from premises.

So Brother arrived to do just that.  That evening, I opened my front door wide enough to see that their sister was in tow, too.  Awesome.  And before I thought there couldn’t possibly be a more awkward number of his family members crammed into my home I nearly close the door on their mother.  Gibby was agitated at the mere sight of them and KNOWINGLY bolted to the tippy-top of our Ikea bookcase.  The Swedish designed the thing to house flimsy, boiled down paperbacks, not to also serve as a protective beast fortress.  It teetered to-and-fro and gave life to the potted, fake plant on top.  Plant scooted closer and closer to the edge as their mother stood below telling the cat how simply rude she was being.  Good point.  Talk her down.  I also thought she was being rude, but I guess I’m just not that confrontational.

Naturally, this never worked.

Eventually, his brother and sister swatted her down and she ran directly into my bedroom and onto my  bed.  They tried covering her with my blankets while I stared on in horror, frozen in the doorway.  She then whizzed a steady stream of kitty tinkle all over the damn place and howled into the night like a hairy, possessed lawn sprinkler.

It was then that I heard his mother say, “Brother, take off your belt!”  “Mom, WHAT?!”  “TAKE OFF YOUR BELT!”  And then he actually began to take off his belt to I don’t know, wrangle it?!  I finally came to my senses and told everyone to get the FUDGE out of my apartment and that we could try a new tactic another time.  “EVERYONE KEEP YOUR BELTS AND YOUR PANTS ON, PLEASE!  I NEED TO GO TO SLEEP!”

I hope that was the first and last time I have to tell someone to literally keep their pants on.

I kept Gibby safe and sound for the next few days until just Brother came back.  I’m not kidding, he walked through my door this time with a GIANT NET and a GIANT CAGE I can only assume was meant for Sasquatch quarantine.  Harpoon nowhere to be found, hrmph.  Thankfully, by that time my roommate and I had already cornered her politely behind the toilet and tackled her (gently) into the cat carrier with the help of our magical, humane woman powers.

Up Next:  How I almost moved to Baltimore to live with a guy who wanted to marry me in the Peabody Library while I dressed as a banana and he wore a gorilla suit.

When in Rome…

I’m way overdue for a brain dump.

Meat Halo left Austin for school in the Big Apple a couple of weeks ago.  I didn’t want to mess my big girl pants in the midst of our big league, Hollywood goodbye that morning, so I opted for an organic vanilla milk for my breakfast beverage instead of a coffee.  My dad and I share many traits, some of which I wish I could politely return like my penchant for the band,  Rush, laughing really hard at my own jokes, and stress related bowel issues.

There’s a laughable trend lately where my goodbyes take place at none other than the “TGI Fridays of Southern Italian Food”, Buca Di Beppo.  I had my leaving Charlotte dinner there, too.  It’s large party friendly is mainly why, but also because it’s the only Italian restaurant in town(s) where you can order an oversize mixing bowl full of tiramisu.

I sat next to Meat Halo’s mother at one end of the table, opposite of his siblings on the other, and scooped favorites onto my plate from what seemed like an endless parade of bowls.  That many bowls made me slightly tense.  Let the record show that I’m diagnosing myself right here and now with a mild case of Irritable Bowl Syndrome.

At some point I was awakened from my food coma by a heated argument regarding one of those pesky amendments.  Luckily, Meat Halo’s mom had a pocket constitution, SURPRISE, not in her pocket.  That’s not important, and neither are the amendments (in the context of this tale)!  As she slowly leaned to the side to retrieve said item from her bag we were not only met with evidence to support and possibly settle the argument, but also with a copy of the not so widely regarded… pocket constitootin’.

*insert “FWERP” followed by silence*

It was the kind of flatus that one of my favorite non-fiction works, Farts: A Spotter’s Guide, refers to as “The Long Goodbye”.  The button for this one in particular on the battery-powered fart machine attached to my copy is no longer operational because I’ve pushed it one too many times.  I mean because of the batteries blah and how they don’t blah blah hold a charge like they used to blah.

My Vulcan mind melding techniques must be super rusty lately because Meat Halo didn’t receive the one I sent him in which I compressed a very long explanation of why it would be less awkward to ignore the fart than it would be to address the fart and run away from it.  Before I knew it he’d grabbed the purse from the back of my chair, threw it over his own shoulder, and shot out his hand into mine.  It was just on the cusp of Terminator’s “Come with me if you want to live!”

Wait, what?!  Are we dining on a land mine?  Is this an authentic, Sicilian, flammable gingham tablecloth?

I’m pretty much the world’s worst actress, and my improvisational solo piece titled:  I Didn’t Hear a Goddamn Thing and All I Smell Is Penne Arrabbiata turned out to be a bona fide flop.

I followed him into the hallway where he continued to wear my purse and I muffled laughter and attempted to focus on the situation at hand instead of my fellow restaurant patrons just behind him gathered round a table where Pope Benedict XVI’s head spun around in the center of a lazy susan packed with spaghetti and meatballs.

We hugged it out, returned to the table quietly and calmly, never to speak of it again (until I asked permission to tell a small chunk of the internet).

You should know that everything and nothing has happened since I spilled my jumping beans about retarded werewolves five months ago.

I fell in and out of like with a few people on my accidental quest for a new teammate in life.  The good news is that I’m pretty sure that only One Third of that bunch is still harboring adverse feelings toward me.  I regret leaving a grubby little snail trail of feelings behind me.  Don’t think I haven’t slid around on them myself.

You could trace them all the way back to Six Flags Over Texas circa 1995.  That was the time my internet boyfriend from AOL Teen Chat: The Half Pipe was going to meet me, Daisy1356, in the flesh for the first time.  I can’t believe there was actually a time in which we had to rely solely on strangers’ descriptions of themselves, and man were they idealistic.  I’m pretty sure mine was wholly inaccurate, too.  And by “pretty sure” I mean I was at least four years older with a tan just a smidge lighter than Idi Amin’s.  Anyway, Adrian was unsurprisingly nothing close to what he’d described.  Instead of respectfully explaining myself face to face, I tucked tail, ran the opposite direction toward all things Mommy and Daddy, and changed my screen name upon returning home.

That was a very long path to something I wanted to address:  the fact that explaining undesirable feelings in person doesn’t seem to have a more positive effect.  But I’m an adult and I can’t go on letting just everyone assume I’ve been disemboweled in a freakish amusement park accident (or can I) never to be seen or heard from again.

However painful and embarrassing, I want to remember the moment in which the aforementioned One Third said, “Normally I’d say that’s a beautiful sky, but right now it just looks like a shitty watercolor” while gazing upward. That was obviously immediately after I spewed some unpleasant feelings aloud.  There is no smooth way to tell someone that you’re not the right fit for them, but that was definitely the smoothest way anyone has ever called me an asshole.

A couple days later I met with the manager of a local Italian market where I was hoping to score some weekend catering work (this was all part of my grand scheme to gather extra funds for traveling and so far it’s granted me one ticket to Chicago come September where I’ll visit with an extraordinary friend and wangle my very first tattoo).

I was instantly distracted by a handsome vision behind the deli counter.  He was back lit bright, nestled between cheeses, and stood tall beneath a dangling halo of authentic Italian meats that swung slightly in the recycled air.

I was hired on the spot and it took a dreadfully (probably karmically deserved) long time for Meat Halo to even notice me, let alone ask me out.

After one of our first dates to a Thai restaurant he left his pineapple fried rice with extra cashews in my fridge.  Realizing this the following day, he sweetly offered the remnants to me.  I accepted the offer and sent them directly to what I’d originally thought to be a quaint home, the inside of my growling tummy.

Oops.

I hadn’t eaten a cashew in a couple decades.  In fact, the last time I’d eaten cashews was quite memorable for everyone involved.  My parents had taken me to some boring wedding where I’d taken the liberty of emptying an entire bowl of these complimentary, oily, tropical treats into my seven year old gob.  I brought that reception back to life by tossing them right back up on the pool deck about a half hour later.  At least I was able to shout, “I THINK I’M GONNA…” beforehand.

A similar feeling washed over me this time, Hulk-like in its particular shade of green coupled with abnormally high body temperatures.  Just imagine that instead of raging super human strength, Bruce produced raging super human puke and there you have me.  I snuggled my water conserving toilet all night long.  Go green!  Awesome, I did.

I visited a local allergist after this episode, apparently through a super secret worm hole to the year 1987.  Could it be that I’d died and gone to mauve heaven?  The examination table was newborn baby bulb syringe blue and while the nurse dutifully demonstrated how to use an epipen I noticed the top supply drawer had a label on it that read:  FACIAL TISSUE.  Frightening!  Phew.  The drama I’d longed for in her performance was found there instead.

On my way out, clutching epinephrine prescription and pamphlet advertising medic alert bracelets with MOOD CHANGING BEADS, I noticed a lunatic, framed photo above the hand washing station.  It captured a mystery person from the waist down, top portion of their body covered by the full branches of a tree they stood behind.  As I stepped closer to inspect what I’d originally thought to be a foggy spot on the glass caused by moisture damage, I realized that the tree in this photograph was on FIRE and the foggy spot was actually a cloud of smoke billowing forth.

At the time it didn’t make a lick of sense, but I realize that the joke was on me and this mystery man is what one might warmly refer to as a Tree Nut.

 

I’ve put off writing here because I’m finding it entirely preposterous to put into words the experiences I’ve had here in Austin so far.  It would sound something like, “I feel like my head is a stationary buoy with a thin wire cable running through all of my insides down to my toes and if I don’t keep my feet on the ground my legs will be sucked inside of me and sprout directly from both ears.”

This post-it on my desk has several notes referencing gut-busting moments I’ve had at the YMCA, but it’s been so long since I’ve written them that I have no idea what I meant by “stuck to rear”.

A lot of people are worried about the last unflattering photo they’ve had ending up in the obits.  I’m worried about someone finding these awkward notes to self.

Although I do think it’s important for all members of my family to know that I fell in love for exactly one hour and a half with a black man named Devorak at the gym.  It was a cross between the fact that his name sounds like it might belong to a one-eyed, scary, orange monster with overactive salivary glands and warts with teeth, or because I wanted to take a nap on his graying, rain cloud-like afro rather than exercise.  If he googles himself he’ll know that our future together flashed right before my eyes and ended with him being reasonably upset with me for owning a Harriet Tubman action figure.  Needless to say, I didn’t retain a shred of information about their fitness equipment.

In fact, I didn’t even use the equipment for about a month after my “orientation”.  The thought of it weirdly overwhelmed me.  One afternoon I felt motivated and attempted to tackle one with a slightly welcoming, candy apple red seat.  I wrapped my legs around it and stared at the instructional diagram for entirely too long.  Ikea furniture instructions long.  And I’m almost certain that a descendent of Robert Wadlow had used it seconds before me because I couldn’t reach a damn thing.  Instead of asking for a bit of guidance from the obvious gym veteran across from me, I blushed and practically ran to the locker room (CARDIO).

Who was I kidding because if you’ve ever been to the YMCA you too know that the locker room is definitely not a safe place to take refuge.  It is a place where I’ve witnessed several instances of what I can only refer to as unnecessary bare-assedness.  I’m talking completely nude women bent over drying their hair.  Volume, people, it’s important.  I’ll tell you what else is important, me not knowing what my vagina is going to look like in thirty years.

On another note, I’ve also fallen in love with Austin’s moonlight towers which leaves me feeling a bit like the lady who married the Golden Gate Bridge.

Everything I’ve read about them sounds suspiciously romantic, so maybe I’m not the only one.  The department that handles their ongoing maintenance is called the Illumination Division for chrissakes.  Please let me have a job there.

“The towers were also guaranteed by the designers to be bright enough that a person could read his or her pocket watch within 3,000 feet of a tower on the “darkest of nights.”  Sigh.

I see 2 of the 17 remaining in the city regularly, but one clearly doesn’t know about the other.

In the 30’s farmers thought the artificial moonlight would cause severe overgrowth of gardens and lawns and that home owners would have to battle their yards with an axe.  At first I had a good chuckle and thought to myself, “how bonkers is that?!”

I then retracted that thought immediately when the slight fear of accidental lunar fertility, or worse retarded werewolves crossed my mind.

Now I can’t decide which is a new all time low – the fact that I just linked to http://www.menstruation.com, or that I just typed and italicized retarded werewolves (twice).

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