Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Kingdom Of The Spiders

I’m nearing the end of my kitchen/laundry room makeover project, with tiling the laundry room section the major hurdle remaining. Unfortunately, I ran into a bit of a snag when I pulled the cabinets out to prep the floor … there was a good bit of wood rot in the back corner near the washing machine. I found myself gazing into a dark abyss and shuddering at what horrors lay below in the frightening netherworld of the crawlspace.

I’m not 100% sure that the problem was caused by water damage, but it was right next to the washing machine, and rather than have someone come inspect for termites, I decided to just convince myself that there isn’t an ongoing issue, and to just shore up the framing in that area and build a slightly raised shelf area above it that the washer/dryer could rest upon, because I’ve learned so many times in life that the best way to address issues is to ignore them, and the best way to ignore them is to cover them up and pretend they don’t exist, and all will be okely-dokely in the end. This approach never ever fails, whether it be in the arena of home repairs, finance, health, or personal relationships.

Luckily, there was access to the foundation, and I figured that all I had to do was build up a little section of framing and secure it to the joist, and I’d have a rock solid base for my little platform thingy. On the other hand, I’m fully aware that the crawlspace is the Realm Of The Spider, and have had a long standing agreement with them that if they don’t come upstairs, I won’t set off a spider bomb down there. Now, though, it was as if there was a gaping tear in between parallel universes, and, by god, worlds were about to collide.

Sure enough, after gearing up in my insectafari suit for my excursion into the forsaken border region separating our heretofore exclusionary existences, my fears were soon realized. I was reaching down to get some debris off of the foundation, and faster’n I can get slapped downtown on a Friday night, a huge-ass hairy spider leg shot up and wrapped itself around my wrist. It must have been three feet long, and I swear I could see the beast’s hideous eyes glowing red in the depths. I struggled to get a hold of the Skil-saw, and after what seemed like an eternity, was able to drag it over by the extension cord, and I prepared to literally disarm my foe. “I hope seven is your lucky number, punk, because that’s all the legs you’re gonna have!” I mumbled, wishing, as I often do in such situations, that I was more adept at extemporaneous witty utterances. James Bond I’m not.

I’m not sure what happened next, or why, but for whatever reason, I stopped. Maybe I sensed that the spider was acting not out of aggression, but fear and confusion. I certainly was, after all. He didn’t seem to be trying to pull me down into his lair; rather, it seemed his grip had actually loosened by just the slightest amount. Was this an overture toward a peaceful resolution?

I set the saw down, and slowly reached into the box of frosty adult beverages that I keep near during such projects. I didn’t want to just throw one into the hole, as he might take that the wrong way, but instead held it against his leg, so that he could feel the cold damp can and perhaps understand that I was responding to his offer of de-escalation. After a few tense seconds, he released my wrist, slowly took the can from my hand, and retreated into the darkness. I cautiously began to work again on my framing job, and to my amazement, was actually provided some much needed assistance in holding the support as I pounded the nails.

We shared a few more cold ones, and with a final nod, I began to assemble the platform, knowing that once again, our worlds would be distinct. “Au revoir, my new arachnoid friend …” I spoke softly. “Au revoir.” I don't think he spoke French, because I swear I heard something that sounded like "Jesus, you drama queen, it's just a couple of beers. Douchebag."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

To Bee, Or Not To Bee

I remember back in the late fall, when, as we were sitting out on the front patio, someone pointed out the “cool looking wasp’s nest” in the tree in my yard. I really can’t believe I hadn’t noticed it before, as it was approximately the size of a Buick, and heavy enough to bend the trunk of the tree to where it was nearly touching the ground.

Well, as my multitudes of readers know, I’m not all that sharp, but by god, I’m smart enough to know not to mess with THAT. I hit the ground running, and I’ve spent the last few months living in a motel, driving a rented car, and wearing newly purchased clothes, as I at least have the intelligence to not go within 500 feet of it, lest I meet the fate of Macaulay Culkin in "My Girl" (only that was funny, because, you know, it was Macaulay Culkin).

Last weekend, though, I decided it was time to take back my life. The Weather Bunny had informed me that a frigid arctic blast was coming through, and I knew I had my window of opportunity. Temperatures in the single digits, on the Kelvin scale, were predicted for about a week, and I knew that those little bastards would be sluggish at best. I did consider the possibility that they had installed the new Trane Heat-A-Hive 4000®, but my binocular-based reconnaissance revealed no newly installed gas lines in the vicinity.

In I went.

I donned my insectafari outfit, worn also in my excursions into the crawl space (spiders are only marginally more tolerable than wasps), which consists of ski bibs and parka, full hat, ski goggles, bandana over my face, and of course, duct tape sealing all gaps and transitions between garments*. The operation itself was uneventful (discounting the mockery of neighbors), involving simply positioning a garbage can beneath the nest (with a trip wire positioned to let the lid fall when it landed), and a 40-foot pole with branch snippers at one end. All went well …

… until the damn global warming kicked in. This was all done on a Saturday, and my garbage isn’t picked up until Friday. During those six days, temperatures skyrocketed, which, while having the positive effect of causing the girls next door to spontaneously engage in a bikini-clad super-soaker fight on their front lawn, also seemingly summoned the stinging satans from their seasonal slumber.

So for the last 2 days, the garbage can has been vibrating violently and emitting a constant earsplitting and angry sounding buzz. I think those things are actually some sort of demon hybrid of wasp, yellowjacket, fire ant, and the mascot for the Salt Lake Buzz**, with whom I once got into a fight over a spilled beer. Man, he was pissed. Needless to say, I’ve got a new set of jammies:

Above: The pink bunny slippers are essential for cold bathroom tile.

Somehow, I’ve got to figure out how to get the can out to the curb tonight. May god have mercy on the soul of the garbage man. Unless, of course, it’s Macaulay Culkin.

* Also good for in-house chicken wrangling, I hear.

** Known as the Stingers from 2001-2005; currently the Salt Lake Bees. I'm very uncomfortable with the theme in general.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I Wonder How Long It's Gonna Rain ...

I need a vacation. A permanent one. Which is, I suppose, a different way of saying I need some goddamned change in my life. Of course, that’s an easier thing to accomplish when you have some idea of where you are now and some idea of where you want to be, but I don’t really have a grasp of either. It makes using a gap analysis approach pretty much unworkable. Still, it sure seems like there’s got to be more than this. Comments are open for your suggestions (keep the “pull your head out of your ass” remarks to a minimum, please).

Guaranteed to NOT be among any changes are regularly appearing angsty blog posts. This is merely a depression-driven outlier, and pathetic attempts at humor will return soon. In the meantime, here’s a song to bring the rest of you down as well …

Another New Link! Woo!

There's this website called "Facebook," on which you can contact people who you would have sworn tragically perished in that weird cheese factory fire back in the mid-90s. It also suggests that really hot women have been searching for you, but I'm starting to suspect that there's something fishy going on there. Why would they need my SSN to call me?

In any case, I ran into a friend from those wacky Idaho State days, who, as it turns out, also has a blog! He's insanely talented on the guitar - he and I were in a band together for a little bit (made up of, at various times, 4-5 actual musicians and me). Unfortunately, I can't figure out how to upload audio files, what with me being stupid and all, but if I do, I'll post a song or two of some of his stuff. In the meantime, he goes on the blogroll, so say hi to The Guitar Man at The Guitar Man's Guide To Inner Peace! Woo!

[UPDATE:] Did I really figure this out? I guess you have to make a movie file out of the audio file ... check out the high-tech video I added.

Déjà Vu - 1999, Zipper (Relativity)

Monday, January 11, 2010

You Meet The Nicest People On Chairlifts

I finally got my lazy butt up to the ski hill and made some turns on Saturday. I shared a chair ride with a very nice couple who appeared to be in their late 50s – they informed me that they had just recently returned to skiing after a number of years off. An actual part of the conversation:

Woman: How do you like your skis? They seem to be sort of in between the old style straight skis and the new parabolics. I’m really enjoying these new shaped skis.

Dead Acorn: I like them … I’ve had them for about 4 years now. I’ve thought about trying some new ones, but you really need to spend a whole season demo-ing different types, and even then, that whole process leads you to believe that no matter what you choose, maybe there’s a better ski out there, when in reality, your old skis were perfect for you, and maybe if you hadn’t skied across the parking lot to get to the car all those times they’d still be good, and then you spend the rest of your life second-guessing your decisions and asking “what if?” in between every mogul.


Woman: She must have devastated you.

(longer pause)

Man: Please don’t kill us.

The hill was packed with a bunch of damn teenagers with their racing, so I made it a "two and through" day. It's always nice to get out, though, and share a chair with strangers.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

.101 Pictures Are Worth 101 Words

Well, the results are out for The Boise Weekly’s Fiction 101 writing contest. For those unfamiliar with Fiction 101, readers are invited to submit stories comprising exactly 101 words, which are then judged by a panel of locals deemed worthy of assessing the merits of instances of such a rigidly defined genre. Cash prizes are awarded!

If my description of the judges seemed a bit cynical, it’s because my submission was not one of the ones selected:

The screen door slams; Mary’s dress waves. Like a vision, she dances across the porch as the radio plays. Roy Orbison singing for the lonely – hey, that’s me, and I want you only.

Don’t turn me home again – I just can’t face myself alone again.

Don’t run back inside, darlin' – you know just what I’m here for. So you’re scared, and you’re thinking that maybe we ain’t that young anymore. Show a little faith – there’s magic in the night. You ain’t a beauty, but hey – you’re alright.

And that’s alright with me.

You can hide ‘neath your covers and study your …
Maybe they thought that it ended a bit too abruptly, but that's intentional. I spent months in the editing process, finding the perfect 101 words that conveyed exactly what I wanted to say, and I wanted to let the reader's imagination have room to wander. It has an almost lyrical quality to it, don’t you think?

I was a bit surprised when the hell-hound with whom I reside requested that she be able to submit a story as well:

I could do it quite easily; someday I will. That he feeds me morning and night is nice, of course, and has, so far, outweighed the countless negative aspects of our coexistence.

But my patience wears thin.

He’s a troubled sleeper, and is never out for more than 10 minutes, but that will suffice. He’s unaware that my constant chewing of household objects has sharpened my teeth into razors - the ease with which they'll tear through the soft flab of his neck will horrify him during the brief time he’ll be cognizant of what is happening.

Sleep well, my friend.

I know, I know ... it’s a bit sophomoric, at best. I can’t seem to make any sense of it, either. But hey, she's a dog, and well, they're just not all that bright.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Maybe It's Not The Destination, But The Journey, Or Some Kind Of Hallmark Crap Like That.

This morning’s ride was fairly interesting. There was a light covering of fresh snow – just enough to hide the ice patches – and a nice cold mist was still lingering. I’m not sure exactly what it was, but something about the conditions today made the trip a little more memorable than most.

I wear a pair of clear wraparound glasses* to keep the wind out of my eyes, and they do a decent job, but a little air gets through from time to time and causes me to tear up a bit. It’s generally not a problem at that time of day, as I’m pretty much all cried out from sobbing into my pillow all night, alone in my too-big bed, wishing that I slept in a twin, so that the vast emptiness of all that unoccupied mattress wasn’t there, mocking me, emphasizing with relentless brutality just how alone, how goddamned alone I really am.

Anyway, I was coming around a corner this morning, and sure enough, my eyes watered up just a bit, but today, for atmospheric reasons unknown, the moisture caused my glasses to instantly and completely steam up, rendering me quite blind. “Oh sweet jeebus,” I thought. “I’m-a gonna DIE!” The panic was short lived, however, and something rather strange happened. I didn’t die. I didn’t even crash. What I DID do was say to myself “You know what, Dead Acorn? You make this ride every day occasionally, and you can do this. You can do this, and then you can write one of those really horrible metaphor-for-life blog posts about how when things go wrong, and you realize that you have to make some changes and do things differently, it doesn’t mean that things still can’t turn out swimmingly in the end. Yeah. Oh hellz yeah.”

So there I was, riding along the greenbelt, blind as a cyclist with fogged up glasses, when I realized that the only reason I was able to do it without crashing was through simple rote memory, that this was no miracle, this was me just doing the same damn thing I always do, that the rut I was in was so deep that it would be all but impossible to not make this ride blind. And my destination? Work! The same work where I wind up every day! “Fuck!” I said, out loud this time. “This is the stupidest fucking metaphor for life EVER!”

I hesitated but for a moment, then turned sharply to my right. The icy waters of the Boise river shocked me at first, but I kept pedaling, and made it nearly halfway across before I fell, then got up and carried my bike to the far bank. From there, I rode north again, up 36th and past Quail Hollow. “No … rut … is … gonna … hold … me …” I was gasping, in between maniacal giggles. I was alternating between elation at being freed from the shackles of monotonous routine and apprehension at what the future might hold, knowing that nothing would ever really be the same. At the top, I turned left, and followed some dirt single-track over to the next road, the adrenalin coursing through my body making me feel more alive than I ever had before. I headed south, riding faster, ever faster, and finally made my way to …



* They're actually shop safety glasses purchased from Tates Rents. I’m all set for the Table Saw to Table Rock Biathalon.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

I'm Not Sure How This One's Gonna Go ...

For us top-secret government agents workers, this was a bit of an extended weekend. Even more so, if, for example, one were to go to lunch on Thursday and forget to go back to finish up the work day. Hey, it happens … it is, in large part, my lack of attention to details like that that keeps me from gaining more lucrative employment in the private sec OOH A SHINY THING!

As far as weekends in 2010 go, this was by far the best I’ve experienced to date.

Things that happened:

  • I went bowling twice, and only fell down once. There was some speculation that the cause of the fall had to do with the fact that it was New Year’s Day, and that champagne for breakfast has been to known to lead to confusion of the horizontal and vertical axes. This may be true; however, I have been told that I have a rather unique bowling delivery, one that has spurred discussion as to why I don’t find myself in that position a bit more often, but damnit, I refuse to sacrifice decades of training learning the approach of the ancient Mayan bowlers simply to fit in with the traditional European style. Plus, there was a girl in the next lane who had the most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen, and how am I supposed to think about staying upright with THAT going on?

  • I made lasagna twice. This doubles my lifetime lasagna output, and even though there’s no evidence in my familial archives (which go as far back as 1964) supporting the veracity of this claim, I’m pretty sure I’m full blooded Italian.

  • The concept of “sharting” was explained to me, and others, by a 5-year-old. She also tried to kick several friends out of MY HOUSE. I hope she doesn't read this blog, because she uses words like a scalpel, and frankly, I'm a little sensitive right now.

  • I think I tried a particular something for maybe the third time in my life; I’m now 0-3. I think we can safely put that to rest.

  • I went and got my season ski pass picture with The Live Acorn, and didn’t even suggest wearing silly wigs, for the first time since we’ve been purchasing passes. It was a little sad, but knowing that the life of a 14-year-old girl is a fairly complex one, I can deal with it, especially when we got to go bowling later in the day, at her suggestion.

Fifty-one more weekends to go. I have a bad feeling about this year.