Friday, November 17, 2017

Damned Woman in the Grocery Store!

So there I was, at 5:00 on a Friday evening, standing in line at the Snobville grocery store. It's less than a week until Thanksgiving, and the strain of actually having to cook is already showing on the faces of the kept women of Snobville.

Did these females spend the week trying to keep fractious 14-year-olds from tripping, elbowing, smacking, or pushing each other? Do they have 50 writers' notebooks to read between now and next Wednesday? Are they dealing with angry parents who have stopped blaming themselves for their kids' behavior and are now blaming me? Are they sitting in conference rooms until 9:30 at night trying fruitlessly to negotiate a new contract for their co-workers? No, no, no, and no. You know how they spent their week? Looking for online coupons!

On my feet pretty continuously from 7:00 in the morning, I found myself in a checkout line behind a person who had a $1.50 pie crust that she felt she should get for free, since she had an online store coupon for $1.50 off a pie crust. The cashier was completely flummoxed by the transaction. Why, I don't know. The person had the wrong brand of pie crust, it was clear as the fading daylight. But she insisted that this was the one that was on sale with the coupon!

Feeling herself being stabbed by the white-hot daggers emanating from my bloodshot eyeballs, the disgruntled customer finally said, "Never mind. Just take it off my bill." But then she persisted when the store manager came to clear things up.

Ten minutes later, two store employees and a third checker sent in to mop up the drama determined that the patron had the wrong brand of pie crust, that's why her little phone coupon would not scan.

Did I tell you that my school administration imposed a dress code on teachers this fall? We are not allowed to wear sneakers or running shoes. In other words, my feet were going numb from painful footwear, and I had six items that I had unwisely stacked on the conveyor belt.

What is it with people and online coupons? God damn it! What is more precious than time, lady? Tell me, please! Will your family go without Thanksgiving dessert if you don't get that graham cracker crust for free? We are all mortal, and you just spent almost 15 minutes arguing about a $1.50 pie crust. You may remember this on your death bed and long to go back and snatch that 15 minutes from the bin of squandered time! The worst part is, you stole 15 minutes from me -- and not 15 minutes staring at phone coupons, but 15 minutes in my easy chair, with my cramped toes finally expanding in comfy slippers! That's 15 fewer minutes of being awake, petting my cats, bagging up this week's newspapers, oh! The list goes on and on! You owe me, pie crust lady!

People get on my last nerve. They really do. I'm sick and tired of dealing with anyone who wants to argue about anything. Especially about a pie crust. Pie crust. Not even something decent and wholesome like a bagel, or a bag of Peppermint Patties. No! One of those graham cracker pie crusts encased in foil and plastic, the kind really bad cooks use for slipshod cheesecakes! She just did some group of diners a huge favor by refusing to purchase the item. That's one corner-cutting dessert they won't have to choke down and pretend to like.

Tired of teaching, tired of Snobville, tired of being tired. Tired of the Keystone pipeline rupturing. Yeah. That too.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Interview with a Bored Goddess: Cloacina

All Hail, and welcome to The Gods Are Bored! We're now in our 12th year, and up to 202 followers! In a nation of 325 million people, we're standing tall at the rock bottom of the heap.

But la di dah, we believe in the Divine and all goodness! And just between us ... have you seen the headlines on the busy God's followers these days? How low can they go? Disgraceful. No better time than the present to bliss out with a loving Goddess who wants you to have a healthy lifestyle and plenty of clean, clear water! Please give a warm, wonderful, Gods Are Bored welcome to Cloacina, Goddess of Sanitation Management!

Anne: Look, Cloacina, I painted the powder room! I know it's your favorite room in the whole house. What do you think of it now?

Cloacina: It's beautiful! I do wish you would put a mosaic tile on the floor, though.

Anne: Can't live like a Caesar on the salary of a peasant, dear Goddess.

Cloacina: What was that object you pulled out of the water throne while the top was off?

Anne: (aside) Isn't it cute? She calls the toilet a "water throne!" (to Cloacina) Funny you should ask. It was a paperweight from the Ronald Reagan Library, sent to Mr. J more than a decade ago by a clueless friend in California. I put it in the water throne, feeling it deserved to be there.

Cloacina: Who was this "Ronald Reagan?"

Anne: A Caesar. I thought he was the worst. Little did I know.

Cloacina: If this was a bad Caesar, why take out the paperweight?

Anne: Well, it had gotten a bit calcified after all that time. Besides, I need to make room in the water throne for something that deserves to be in there even more.

Cloacina: What could that possibly be?


I found it in a strip club parking lot last week!

Cloacina: Anne, you might want to think twice about this. An item like this might clog the water throne, and then the dear thing won't work.

Anne: No worries, Goddess. This hat is cheaply manufactured by over-extended, poverty-stricken workers. It will fade on the first flush and dissolve within a week. Which hopefully will become a metaphor for the Caesar who is selling it.

Cloacina: Oh well, you needn't worry! I have learned all about your water thrones and the piping in your house, and I will keep everything flowing brilliantly!

Anne: Thus saving me plumbing bills ... O Great and Mighty Goddess!!!

Cloacina: I hope you don't mind if I'm late for dinner. All that wind yesterday brought down a lot of leaves. There are storm drains to be seen to.

Anne: And you are just the Goddess for the task! Work Your magic, Cloacina! It is an honor beyond measure, having You in my household. Blessed be.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

My Awesome Adventure at the New Jersey Teachers' Convention

You know how it is. You have all the best intentions, and you even have made your plans, hour by hour, and you're itching to get under way. So it was with yours truly when she set out at 8:30 a.m. for the New Jersey Education Association's annual teacher-fest in Atlantic City.

It's a mere 60 minutes from my door to AC, if I take the expressway. Except I hate that damn expressway. It's always busy, and it's dead boring. I take the old Route 30, locally known as the White Horse Pike. It passes through a few ugly Jersey towns charming little hamlets and then goes straight into downtown Atlantic City.

On the way to AC, my best intentions were all buzzing on maximum impact. I was going to beach comb a little bit at my favorite spot, then drive up and fling the Subaru into a parking space, and then go to the windowless Convention Center, where I had mapped out several improving teacher workshops that would no doubt leave me brimming to the plimsol line with fabulous new skills.

I had no problem finding free parking where I beach comb: the extreme northern end of AC. I pretty much had my choice. So I parked, got out of the car ... and a fresh waft of sea breeze tickled my nostrils and ruffled my hair. The sun was shining in a deep blue sky, and the waves hissed and swished onto the sand.

I thought about spending the rest of the day in a windowless convention center. And in a rare moment of completely decisive behavior, I aborted the whole teacher-fest mission for a day on the beach and the boardwalk.

I mean to say, how much could I possibly have learned at the teacher convention that would make up for a day off in the autumn sunshine?

I took a long walk. A really, really long walk. I just looked it up: well over four miles. And that doesn't include the beach combing.

Pretty, huh?

They say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Well, la di dah, it has to be paved with something!

I had lunch with this guy. Only he didn't get anything, because the sign said not to feed him.

This concludes my awesome adventure at the New Jersey Teachers' Convention, 2017. Maybe next year it will be raining.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

My (Not So) Helpless Scream at the Sky

Did you hear that we Resisters had a planned event tonight, on the anniversary of the election? We were supposed to go outside and scream helplessly at the sky.

I was all ready to do this. In fact, I had -- very reluctantly -- issued an invitation to the Bean Sidhe, so as to make a really impressive scream fest.

In the end, though, I canceled the howling, or rather I relegated it to this single miffed boat-tailed grackle:

Screaming all done now. There's too much to celebrate!

I don't care if our New Jersey governor-elect is some pond scum bloodsucker who slunk out of Goldman Sachs to plunder the Garden State. I don't care if the guy keeps three mistresses on his payroll (heck, that's a New Jersey staple!) I don't care if he has bad breath or foot odor. For all I care, he can fart with great regularity in closed elevators.

He is not Chris Christie. We are done with Chris Christie! We are bidding farewell to the Teacher-Hater!



New Jersey, the state I used to hate, is now firmly in Democratic hands. Oh sure, we have a fistful of Republicans -- and the gods know we have high taxes -- but we don't suffer fools. Or rather, after eight long years of suffering a fool, we're ready to TURN. THE. PAGE.

And so the anniversary of the presidential election finds me cautiously optimistic. I'm not giving up the Magical Battle for America, but let's say that we've won our first skirmish. In New Jersey. Heck, it sorta feels like Washington just crossed the Delaware!

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Fairy Kon Least

Every year during the first week of November, there is a convention regarding fairies in Baltimore. I have a limited budget, so this event generally gets the short shrift. This does not mean I don't regret staying home.

But la di dah! How hard is it to stage a convention? I took a very brief break from vigorous housework and errands and attended Fairy Kon Least! Here are some of the great photos I took so I wouldn't suffer from Fear of Missing Out.

EXHIBIT A: Anne rocks her tie-dye, wings, and witch balls.

EXHIBIT B: Can't afford the fairy convention because I bought this last spring. No regrets.

EXHIBIT C: What, me clean the kitchen? Let the elves do it!

EXHIBIT D: Everything is so chill at Fairy Kon Least.

EXHIBIT E: Here I am all geared up for the Bad Fairy Ball. I even have the ball!

EXHIBIT F: Friends and foils at Fairy Kon Least!

EXHIBIT G: Gamma looks so fly in his Reyen silk!

EXHIBIT H: Okay, I clearly need a fairy godmother. Maybe I should monetize this blog... nah, the bored gods advise me to keep it amateur.

Saturday night, laughs are good for the soul. Sending the bad faeries not to Baltimore, but to Washington, DC.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Samhain 2017

Just think. Last year this time we were in the final weeks of an election we all thought was a lock.

What a difference 51 weeks make.

But that's not why I'm writing today. I'm writing because it's Samhain, aka All Hallows Eve!

Agnostic though I am, I have had so many things happen in my life that just don't seem to be coincidental. They were more like messages from another dimension, like someone trying to reach out to me and using a code only that person and I share. Have you had that experience?

Case in point: Just before my family farm in Appalachia sold, Olivia and I were out for a walk on the property. We went down into the hollow where a farm house used to stand. It burned down in 1938, so there's nothing left of it now.

Just as I said to Olivia, "I wonder where the midden pile was for this house?" she stooped over and picked up a fully intact 8-sided jar with not a nick on it anywhere. It was just lying there, somewhat obscured by grass and weeds for 74 years.

Now I use it as a beloved vase.

Yes, yes, coincidence that this jar was just lying there on the ground, muddy and forgotten, until I just happened to think how nice it would be to find the trash heap that these old houses invariably had, so I might, oh, you know, find a pretty glass jar or two. And this jar wasn't on a heap. It was right directly where the house would have been.

If the Veil thins, if our ancestors peer through it to see us, then this practice of veil-hopping goes all the way back deep into the mists of time. What mother wouldn't want to peek through the Veil to see her daughter? Where would that circle be broken?

I never met my great-grandmother, but why wouldn't she come with my grandmother to see me? Why wouldn't she hand me a glass jar?

I don't have answers, but I do have suggestions for Samhain ancestral visitations.

1. Don't pretend like everything is going great if it's not. Be honest with the Kindred.

2. Be respectful, even if some of your ancestors (like mine) were hounds from Hell.

3. Be the kind of person you are. Don't put on affectations, because they will see right through it. They were you before you came along -- so whoever you are, that's who you bring to the fire.

4. If you ask them for a sign that they care, tie a natural object to it, or a song, or some mundane but not terribly common thing (a monarch butterfly, a white feather, a tune or fictitious character they liked). This is where the coincidences start to arise. Like, who expects to see a monarch butterfly flying through the stadium in downtown Baltimore during an Orioles game? It happened to my husband in September.

5. Remember that you are part of an unbroken line. Your ancestors were alive the last time the Yellowstone Caldera erupted. They walked across continents that had no names. They survived to bear children, and their children survived as well. Your ancestors were sturdy.

They are coming to call. Build them a fire, because some day hopefully someone will build one for you.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Interview with a Bored God: Anansi

Well, look who it is, back again and dapper as ever! It's my good friend the bored god Anansi!

If I didn't know better, I would think it's a piece of my sea glass he has there on his head.

Anne: Great God Anansi, welcome to my home and hearth, again! I'll prop the door open so some flies come in.

Anansi: Thanks, Anne. It's what I love about you.

Anne: While we're waiting for a fat one, do you have any new stories?

Anansi: I always have stories! But you must remember the important lessons you learned in your fiction-writing classes back at ol' Johns Hopkins: There are no new stories. Only old ones told over and over again in slightly different ways.

Anne: Old ones are fine with me. I've read Pride and Prejudice five times!

by Anansi

Jackal was firmly in charge on the savanna, but he was still vain and arrogant. He had a burning need to be the center of attention, so he convinced African Grey the Parrot to follow him around and tell all the animals what he was doing.

African Grey was a terrific observer and quite articulate. It didn't matter what Jackal happened to be doing, African Grey saw it and reported it faithfully to the other animals.

"SQUAWK! Jackal just stepped on an anteater's snout and didn't say he was sorry!"

"SQUAWK! Jackal took a whole haunch of wildebeest and gave it to his daughter. That much meat would feed ten jackals to where they couldn't walk!

"SQUAWK! There's Jackal, sleeping in again when there's work to be done!"

"SQUAWK! When the meerkats asked him for food, Jackal pelted them with cotton balls and said such silly-looking animals didn't deserve to eat!"

All the animals on the savanna listened to African Grey every day. They grew disgruntled with all they heard about Jackal's behavior.

Jackal went to Anansi to ask for advice. (Never a good idea, and further proof that Jackal isn't too bright.) Anansi told Jackal that most of the animals didn't know African Grey very well, so it would be easy to convince them that she was a liar. At the time, Anansi was living in a plush corner of Jackal's luxurious den, but after giving the advice, the spider packed his bag and went for a long stroll.

"SQUAWK! Jackal's fleas say eating his blood is making them stupid!"

"That's not true!" barked Jackal. "This is fake! My fleas love me, and so do my ear mites! My ear mites tell me I have the best ears ever!"

The animals didn't know who to believe. The parrot seemed reliable, but can you really trust a parrot?

"SQUAWK! The watering hole is closed so Jackal can admire his reflection in the pool!"

"That's not true!" Jackal cried, leaping away from the watering hole so that some thirsty elephants could get a drink. "See? Anyone can have a drink at this watering hole! Don't believe that petty, silly, ugly grey bird!"

After weeks and weeks of this, the animals began to mistrust African Grey. Even the smartest ones, like the vultures, noted that African Grey never said anything positive about Jackal. Surely something must be good about Jackal, right? Otherwise, how did he get to be ruler of the savanna?  And squarely in Jackal's corner were the other jackals, who, although they never particularly contradicted African Grey, never backed up her stories, either.

Over time the animals stopped believing African Grey or even listening to her. Only the meerkats continued to heed her broadcasts, because they were pissed off at Jackal and were willing to believe anything about him. Unperturbed, African Grey continued to shadow Jackal and squawk his every move out into the savanna sunshine.

"SQUAWK! Jackal left candles burning in his den, and now it's on fire!"

"WHAT?" Jackal exclaimed.

"SQUAWK! Jackal left candles burning in his den, and now it's on fire!"

Jackal ran to his den and saw billows of smoke rolling out of it.

"Help! Help!" he cried. "African Grey, tell all the animals that my house is burning down!"

Well, African Grey did as she was told, but none of the animals -- even the stately and intellectual vultures -- believed her. They just went about their business, ignoring both African Grey and Jackal.

In desperation, Jackal ran to the only animals that he knew still believed the parrot -- the meerkats.

"Hey, guys, you've gotta help me!" he said. "My den is on fire!"

"Oh yes, we'll help you!" the meerkats exclaimed. Then they pelted him with cotton balls and blew him some Bronx cheers and patted their furry little tooshies while his opulent den went up in flames.

Jackal went to look for Anansi in order to get more advice, but Anansi, having noted Jackal's complete recklessness with candles, had set up shop along the watering hole. It was a lot of fun watching the elephants frolicking in the water, squirting each other with their trunks, since they had nothing else to do.