Friday, May 27, 2016

Small Town, Big Deal

This week I set out upon an airplane journey with pretty high hopes and a good attitude. I did that thing that these hipster kids do these days where they check in online and they say:

"No thanks on that printed boarding pass, just email me one. I'm trying to reduce my carbon footprint."

Mostly it was because our printer is usually always out of ink. After my phone's inbox dinged marking the arrival of my pass, I marched directly to my nightstand and grabbed an old boarding pass from my September flight home from Detroit out of my copy of Andy Cohen's diary (published, not personal) because I needed a bookmark.

This is, after all, why I usually print my boarding passes. To keep my spot in my current read while I travel. We've established that I'm a staunch anti e-reader, correct? I'm mainly scared shitless that I'll accidentally knock it out of airplane mode and the pilot will come over the speakers thusly:

"Attention passengers. We seem to have careened 3,600 miles off course and are now currently over the ocean and out of fuel. Apparently someone has their wi-fi activated. I thought Mitzi was clear when she told everybody to turn off their shit."

And everyone would stare at me.

I set out at the appropriate time of sixty-seven hours prior to my flight departing at 6am or so. I queued up fifth in line for my mandatory frisking and impressively had all my shit together. Laptop and liquids out, shoes and jacket off, ID* and phone in hand with that QR code at the ready. I slid my bins forward, smiled at the humorless agent whose sole mission was to still berate everyone instead of rewarding us for knowing the drill as she asked for my ID. As I stretched my hand out - I shit you not, the email DISAPPEARED.


Wait, what? Yes. Not in my "deleted" folder. Not in any other goddamn folder. It disappeared into another dimension. Completely.

She was having none of it. I had to collect all my shit and my shoes and get all dressed again since they make you strip down to your underwear and schlep to the front counter to get:

TSA has no idea I'm a big deal. And they don't care.
*I'm only a big deal in my own small mind. And to like,
MAYBE four of my friends. Max.

 Fortunately for me, this happened in Lewiston so the counter was about seven feet away. When I explained my misfortune to the saps there, they laughed.

"You must have Verizon. There seems to be a spot by security that eats emails on Verizon phones sometimes."

And then they disappeared in the back to double check all the underpants of all the checked luggage for explosive explosives and explosive diarrhea, stock the aircraft with snacks, tighten all the seatbelts to "toddler size" just so we'd all feel bad about ourselves when we got on, give the pilot a shoulder rub and a pep talk, and loop around in time to scan the still-wet ink of the boarding pass they just handed me.

If you live here or have traveled through our airport you know that I am not even a little bit making this shit up.

I checked my email again. It was back, but I didn't trust it. As I disrobed for the second time in the Bermuda Triangle, I verified my suspicions. It evaporated before my eyes again.

Soon I was happily settled into my seat in 19B. I'm not usually an aisle seat kind of person, but 19A was taken when I tried to switch. Now I could see that 19A was some hipster a-hole and he was full of himself. I could tell this because he wore a kind of purposefully rumply suit jacket with purposefully rippy jeans and purposefully shaggy little man-beard but not too much shag and perfectly manicured eyebrows. And some kind of Jack Sparrow but not exactly Jack Sparrow but nonetheless a little bullshitty hand tattoo.

Thankfully the flight attendants threw coffee at us first thing, but he wanted to chat. I hate when people want to talk to me. Not that I'm an uppity bitch, but I have always bristled when people start in on what is VERY MUCH LIKELY JUST NORMAL CONVERSATION.

When I was younger, I would get sweaty as the questions swirled closer and closer around, "so do you have any brothers or sisters?" or "how come your parents are so old?" and so I ended up over-sharing and talking WAY too much so that I had some control over the conversation as a distraction to people asking questions I did not want to answer.

I still do this. A lot.

But people next to you on airplanes want to know where you work and if you're married and if you have kids and sometimes you just don't want to say. Sometimes, some of us have jobs that we'd rather not talk about or work for companies or industries that lack public favor at times. Sometimes hubs tells people he's a garbage man or a street sweeper because he can handle their reactions to that better than when he's honest and has to deal with the ensuing requests for legal advice regarding some "bullshit speeding ticket I just got" or an ask to "swing by and tote my asshole neighbor off to jail because he hasn't returned my socket wrench since last spring".

Also, having sympathy that sometimes these questions can be overly probing prevents me from asking, too. This likely makes me look self centered and a bit of a snit. In case you're of the camp that believes me a snit. For this reason alone, anyway.

But this guy. THIS guy wanted to know if I was FROM Lewiston. Because you know, nobody vacations here so this is obvious. I knew off the bat that he was no investigator. He then began to regale me of his top twelve reasons for loathing Lewiston, impressively compiled in the short six months that he has lived here. They included the smell, the lack of entertainment, and most importantly, the lack of opportunities for adventurous activities.

He asked what I personally do know...stay busy.

He asked me. A mother with three children and a full time job what I do to STAY BUSY.

I'm a MOM, motherfucker. That's HOBBY. When I think about it, I try to flex my vagina muscles to get them back to the places they used to be before my children put them all in different time zones. But sometimes I get busy and I forget. Until I sneeze and pee a little. Or I read a funny book and I pee a little. Then I remember I should do that.

My husband and my kids are the daredevils of our family. We collectively burn a lot of fuel on the boat, but other than that one time that Stephanie guilted me into surfing? I'm happy to float and make sure nobody is drowning. I'm happy to sit from the stands and cheer as they ALL work up some disgusting ballsack sweat on the ice. I'm even happy to wash all that gross laundry when we get home. I don't need to lace up skates myself. I don't feel like I'm missing out. At all. My heart is full to visit with other moms and to watch them work hard and to listen to ToddlerBandit squeal with delight when he sees the zamboni.

I have an unhealthy number of friends who run marathons and who have participated in ironman competitions and mud runs and whatnot. And that is awesome and I will support them. But it is not and will not ever be my thing.

He indicated to me that his 26 year old stay at home wife who had birthed one kid would-just-simply-die if he did not take her at least a dozen times a year to some quadruple black diamond snowboard death run in the Alps every year. Like. Die. She would die.

Fortunately for he and his wife, he was headed to Portland where he would learn for sure whether he was being promoted and could move again, this time to Oregon.

Where does he work, you ask? Can you guess?

Yes. He is the regional head asshole in charge at a place that rhymes with "YOUR EYE'S GONE".

Why is it gone? Because I fucking scooped out my own fucking eye with a rusty spoon when this fuck told me he's the boss hoss at VERIZON. VER-FUCKING-IZON. The one that ate my email. That one. And instead of doing something about the Twilight Zone coverage here, he's just gonna move because his daredevil wife with the still-good vagina muscles thinks it sucks.

He is lucky that Hubs is in charge of all our electronic whatnots and that I don't even know where the goddamn Verizon store is or I would terminate our contract tomorrow for the reason that "your boss is a giant prick".

I just can fucking not with some people.

So this was the point where I opened my book. This is the universal sign for "shut the fuck up now or I will stab you". This is mine, anyway. Occasionally my husband continues to talk to me when I am reading. He typically does this when he has had too many vodka-Monsters and can't settle down. He knows to only do this while I am in bed because I do not store the knives there and the kitchen is very far away.

It also helped that people have an inclination to judge a book by its cover, and mine could literally not have fallen from the literary heavens at a better time:

This is a super funny book by a guy who moved to Sandpoint. He's like a straight, not-international David Sedaris. He also has three boys so I feel very bad for his wife. Which is the main reason I bought this. (Only kidding a little. I thought maybe it was a survival guide. It's not.)

I put in my requisite number of days away from home and was happy to make the return journey. I always overestimate the sleep I will get and this time was no exception. I was exhausted to that point where I felt like I was forgetting something but I wasn't sure what.

Today I realized it was one eyebrow pencil and a pair of pants. I'm sure that housekeeping is wondering how it can be so complicated to remember all your shit and in my defense I was mainly worried about properly separating my liquids from my solids in my cosmetics, yet packing them in an easy to access location. One can see that when presented with a task of such importance as the safety of our nation, that my favorite and most comfortable yoga pants and the eyebrow pencil that I never should have spent TWENTY EIGHT damn dollars for to begin with might get lost in the shuffle.

Lesson learned. (My eyebrows are hard to match, before anyone starts judging.)

 I had finished the book and waited patiently on the tarmac with my seatbelt off in Boise for the last of the passengers to board. I had landed again in 19B and knew that I would have to get up for 19A to squeeze by. I sent Hubs a text.

Almost everyone was on board and I thought I was home free. I felt a tap on my shoulder.

You have GOT to be kidding me. This asshole. AGAIN.

He was excited to see a familiar face to share his news with: HE GOT THE PROMOTION! Despite having already finished my book, I thumbed through to a spot about half way and spent the next hour pretending to read just so I wouldn't have to engage. He spent the next hour watching a movie on his unlimited data, latest version phone with its pristine and crack-free screen. I secretly wondered just how deeply within his employees the hatred for him ran. My guess was all the way through the bottoms of their feet into the center of the Earth, just based on the two hours of my life with him I'll never get back.

He managed to continue to be a self-important pain in my ass by pulling out just a little too far in his Land Rover so that I couldn't see traffic after we left the lot.

I hope when he moves on from this small town to wherever he lands in Oregon with the other eleventy million people that live there in that giant town, with lots of activities, where it doesn't stink and he can adventure himself into oblivion, that he gets stuck in traffic. Every day.

And then I hope he gets rained on to death.

*Footnote regarding my identification: I recently renewed my driver's license and received the tragic news that my favorite DMV lady of My Current Licensing and Immigration fame is retiring. Like, retiring and moving out of state. This came as a blow to me, as I am unsure whether she has passed along all the traditions of making me look my best to the other TWO people who work in our local office. I did promise to keep her on the Lee Family Christmas card list if she will leave a forwarding address. Our community will suffer a great loss when she leaves, but has benefited tremendously by her presence all these years. I am so glad that she has been part of my husband's work family. I will miss her. People like Bev are what make living in a small town worth it. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Sass Mouth

photoGunnar Marquardt
Did you know I haven't always been a sass mouth?

Don't worry, It's a chronic condition for which there is no cure. I may not have always had it, but now that I've contracted it, it seems my diagnosis may follow me to my grave.

The onset was slow. I think. Others might disagree. Whatever. I'm pretty sure that I wasn't that big of a pain in the ass as a kid. I kept to myself a lot and hung out with a LOT of elderly people and did a lot of educational things. I was probably for sure really weird.

(This is also why I happen to treasure very-much-so that handful of friends I still have from the wayback because they knew me when I was weird and they loved me anyway. Also, they know me now when I'm weird in all the weird adult ways and they love me anyway. You know who you are.)

My sass mouth though, in the bigger world...has gotten me in trouble. Ruffled feathers. Made me enemies. Cost me promotions. I've watched as other, more satisfactorily compliant people keep their mouths shut and succeed. Have a million "best friends". I literally have no idea how to do this. I know I USED to be able to do this. Perhaps that part of my brain has been damaged. Like Gary Busey.

Without sounding sexist, it's usually only women with sass mouths that people have a problem with. These women are often referred to as "head-strong" or "bitches". I've been called worse.

Men with sass mouths are sometimes referred to as "leaders". I know this because a million years ago I was married to a giant sociopath whose charismatic personality and sass mouth got him immediately elected as "leader" of whatever group or party he happened to show up for that day. Qualified? No. Loudest? Yes.


Anyway. Back to my sass mouth.

TWO million years ago, I worked at JC Penney. For context, here is a sampling of all of the wonderful shit I could have ordered for you via the catalog because there was no internet.

Don't lie. You have some of this buried deeeeeeep in your closet RIGHT now.

We had name tags that had our first and last names on them. We also had a straight up creeper stalker kidnapper stabby murderer type individual who came in pretty late only on Thursdays, made a loop around the store, and made a point of asking 1) what time the store closed and 2) whether you had to work up until closing.

He did this while staring at your name tag and including your name in his creepy query thusly:

"Excuse me...HEATHER WATKINS...what time does the store close and will you be working until it closes?"


And then we'd close up shop like the bunch of highschoolers that we were because all the actual grownups wanted to be at HOME with their families at 9:00 at night, and we'd head out to the parking lot behind the mall where it's all secluded and poorly lit and rapey and whatnot and whaddayaknow...there he'd be. In his car.

Another side note: This was back when there was this thing where we had HOME phones and our names and phone numbers and addresses and favorite colors and underwear sizes were all published for the world to see in this thing called a PHONE BOOK. Today, this is used for ordering pizza by people who don't just order it online. You know...Cavemen.

And I thought...WHAT THE HELL??? We couldn't catch a break. This was the second creeper with a predictable pattern and I almost wished they'd show up on the same day. There was no such thing as "security". We weren't allowed to take a picture because you know - it might make a customer mad even though these guys didn't really buy enough to make torturing the employees a good ROI (besides, they were only terrorizing the female employees, so no biggie). And even if we COULD take a picture, the technology available to us in ALL THE STORE was, no shit, a Polaroid camera.

Probably a good thing I could never snap a pic. Totally my caption for these assholes.

The other dude came in on Sundays. He took advantage of the skirts or dresses policy on those days and came in with mirrors and found a way to ask you to get something off a high display. Or some other distraction. Yes. Skirts. Or. Dresses. And no, this JC Penney was not located on the Warren Jeffs FLDS compound. And before you knew it, he got a peek of your undercarriage all smashed into the JC Penney brand control top reinforced toe pantyhose because you got the best discount on those.

Policy. Just like you know...the name tag thing.

So one day this chick named Kim quit and her name tag was just always hanging around in a register drawer where we stuck coupons and the good pens we didn't want anyone to steal. It had a tiny triangle on it - an indication that she was some kind of wandering customer service overrider overlord, able to simmer people down or give them a special discount for being too stupid to read a sale sign that very clearly was three racks over from where the item they were purchasing lived. The magic triangle was apparently indicative of her Illuminati membership. It had something else, though. It had no last name.

So. On Thursday evenings, I was "Kim". Kim with no last name. And people lost their shit. I got verbally reprimanded. There were threats of being "written up". All of this AFTER I'd already taken concerns about Rapey McStabberton and Peeper McPervypants to the Cheese. Nobody gave a shit.


Dumb luck brought the regional manager to town on a Thursday. As she made her rounds with a gaggle of nervous supervisors in tow, she stopped to talk to me. They shot me daggers. She was very pleasant but asked, "Kim, why do you have a name badge that doesn't have your last name?"

I was honest.

"My name isn't even Kim. Kim quit and left this here. My name is Heather and we have a creeper who comes in on Thursdays and makes a point to look at our name tags. He hangs around outside after closing. I don't want him following me home or looking me up. It's a safety concern. I know you would feel terrible if something happened to me and it was because he learned my full name from my name tag. I wear my own name tag on Fridays. I hope that's okay."

She had a poker face. Maybe she was full of botox. Was that a thing back then?

Anyhoo. Not long after that came the regional initiative - and then the national one - that name badges were changing. They were dropping last names altogether. Initials were okay. Just like that.

Did I get any credit? Any recognition? No. Well, nothing positive. I continued getting grief over making waves instead of just falling in line. Why did I have to question things? Why couldn't I just be compliant with the long-standing policies that nobody else seemed to have an issue with?

History is full of women who had big-ol' sass mouths. Today we look back on them and applaud their unwillingness to sit still and shut up. Specifically today - election day - I am INCREDIBLY thankful for those women who I'm sure were such a pain in the ass in their communities who dared to demand the right to vote. The ones who were deemed hysterical (not the good kind like haha she's so funny) and shunned and who lost friends and who were skipped over for opportunities.

I asked four middle aged white men today whether they had voted and all were either disinterested or had forgotten. How easy it is to take that right for granted when they have literally always had it. I may have used my outside voice when I feigned remembering their felonies prevented their participation, leaving them each to explain themselves to their conversation companions I'd blathered my way into the middle of.

I'll never land in a history book, but I'm never shutting up anyway.

Friday, May 13, 2016

I Know Why Pirates Say ARGH

I've been fighting a niggling migraine for like...well I've lost count now. It's traveled around and around and taken all sorts of forms in my skull, a swirling storm whose vortex landed at will in any singular location, and last night I hit my wall.

When these fall to (luckily) one eye or the other, I usually say I could carry on easier if I just had an eye patch. If I could just find a way to block the light that feels like stabbing daggers from penetrating my pupils, I'd be just fine.

Then there's the weird residual effects. This is highly technical so pay attention: While not a "headache", what was previously described to me as nerve damage from past headaches will manifest itself as electrical shocky-type sensations in my ear, like someone is jamming a pencil down my earhole while raking a fire-hot metal backscratcher up and down the side of my face.


And this cycles on and off and on and off and on and off every minute or so for three or four days.

And just about the time I think I cannot possibly microwave my rice pack one more round to quiet it and I think I'm going to go batshit crazy, it stops.

But last night I was done. I was so done with feeling like my eyes were in two different places on my body and I was trapped on the tilt-o-whirl with a hangover without the fun of a party that I rooted around in my drawers for a shot that expired in 2013 (desperation!), and then asked Hubs to give it to me.


He's a little lot needle-phobic. Which I know. So I had to gently explain that this was a shot without a needle. That it would just shoot air through my skin, but that it would make a noise, so he shouldn't freak out. He reluctantly agreed.

I laid on the bed and hiked up my nightgown to show him where he'd have to jab me. He made some wiseacre remark about my almost-nudity. It was the first night we were both under the same roof all week and it's no wonder with our horrid schedules that he might forget what a naked lady looks like. I quickly found and pinched a fat roll (sexy!) and instructed him on the importance of keeping the pen straight up and down and pushing firmly (no innuendo here at all).

He hid his nervousness and did what he was told. He pressed it down and my fat roll slipped right out of my hand before the pen fired. Because of course it did. Shit. We both had to regroup.

He got me on the second try and I'd forgotten that blast of air hurts like a sonofabitch. He quickly bailed to tend to the shorties while I said I was just going to lay there "for a minute".

>This is the part where I should have told him he needed to sit right next to me.<

I had also forgotten how within 30 seconds this stupid shot floods my face with the feeling that it's rearranging my face bones. That the medicine molecules are marching around in my sinuses with tiny sledge hammers, turning my 8 room bungalow into a modern open floor plan loft. They're tearing all the walls out down to the original bricks.

Then it starts spreading everywhere else and I become convinced that I am going to die. This is why I would be a terrible drug addict. Or a drug-tryer-for-the-first-timer. When the effects take hold I'm like, "Oh shit. Someone should call an ambulance immediately."

Except I can't move.

I thought about pounding on the headboard to get his attention. But I just watched the Mommy Dearest marathon on IFC on Sunday and I just thought it a little too...self-centered.

I know that today this sounds utterly ridiculous. However, this was my mindset last night. I was convinced I would die and he would stay up late watching TV and he would come to bed and he wouldn't even notice I wasn't breathing and then in the morning the kids would be late for the bus because I would be dead.

And then I remembered that ToddlerBandit has been a REAL help with not letting me oversleep all the way until my alarm goes off since the sun comes up at ZERO DARK THIRTY now. So at least he would be all like, "MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY" until Hubs finally woke up.

Maybe. But I would still be dead.

So I laid there trapped in my own body like that one dude in the only Metallica video I've ever seen, that Twilight-Zoney one? Yeah. Freaking out and fighting the anxiety and trying not to die instead of just trusting that the drugs would do what they were supposed to do if I just went the eff to sleep.

Hubs will literally serve me divorce papers over this.
His Metallica Fan Club membership number is 00001.

Later I heard TB crying after Hubs put him to bed. In my fog, I got up and remedied his situation. He didn't have his usual music, milk, and monster trucks that he needed to peacefully slumber. I stumbled back to bed, somewhat thankful for the push to make my limbs move (the kind of push only moms know) that convinced me if the drugs hadn't killed me in the time I'd been laying there, I was probably safe.

Then I went to sleep and woke up this morning. Not dead. But I still have a headache, and I want to dig my right eye out of my own skull with a rusty spoon. That's what the pirates did. They just had migraines. I'm sure of it.