A few unrelated thoughts:

1). If some asshole from Trading Spaces ever paints my walls zebra skin, puts fake plants around my bed, or dangles stuffed monkeys from my ceiling, I’ll sue their ass.

2). If you leave a bag of potting soil outside for over a month in the rain with the top open you will prove the existence of alien life.

3). They DO use actual dead people as crash test dummies.

4). Avis is a rip-off.

5). Someone explain to me how Delaware is a State and D.C. is not.

6). No colon should be able to hold 40 pounds of shit. And if one should, no one should know about it.

7). The telephone will not hurt you.

8). Someone, namely Missy, should figure out a way to (sometimes) shut me up.

9). It’s not the Virgin Mary.

10). Why did Joe and Jake break up? I can’t remember.

A Meeting With Mr. Poop

Apparently, it’s not always good to have long “Away Messages” on AIM. My boy sent me

this picture.

I’d like to take the time to say I’m sorry, for those of you with my AIM name (which is not michele, btw), who thought all those times I was in a “meeting with mr. poopiepants” (i.e. my boss) you thought I was doing something entirely different.

Three Drunk Coroners

I met three, well-dressed men at a bar one night. They were older, probably mid-fifties. I was still smoking at the time. It was a place where they seat people at long, cafeteria-like tables which means, often times, you’ll end up next to strangers who are part of another party.

“Light another one, little lady, we need the business!”

The man was greeted with a boom of laughter from his friends.

Realizing they were talking to me and slightly intrigued by what they said, I looked over at them.

“Do you work for the tobacco company?”

I asked politely, blowing my smoke upward into the air above their heads. They laughed and then their faces, in contrast, turned serious. The thin man across from me answered

“No. We’re coroners.”

More intrigued, I put out my cigarette. I couldn’t think of anything more exciting than being seated next to three, drunk coroners. I still can’t come up with anything more exciting. The questions began to charge the inside of my skull.

What courses were you told to take in college? Is it ever just too hard? Describe a bad day, because Tom over here is always bitching about ‘bad days’, and I’m sure a bad day for an art director doesn’t even compare, so what’s a bad day for you fellas? What is the grossest thing you’ve ever seen? Is there downtime? Do you have kids? Are you religious? Where does your job stand on the totem pole of a funeral process? Have you ever cleaned up someone you know? Why, in your opinion, are there more men in your profession than there are woman?

I asked them everything.

“Michele, leave them alone, you’re being rude!”

A member of my party put their hand on my shoulder in order to hush me. Rude? How am I being rude? I’m merely asking a group of coroners about the most taboo subject there is. How is that rude? If there’s anyone who’s willing to answer me about this sort of stuff, if there are any living folks willing to give me honest answers, it’s a group of drunk coroners. And I couldn’t stop now. I needed to know.

The man looked at my friend,

“It’s perfectly ok. She’s not being rude. We’re wondering if she needs to seek mental health or wants a job, but she’s not being rude.”

There was some more laughter. The same hands which earlier that week were entangled in human remains, raised a beer for a toast.

“To dead people and cigarettes.”

He smiled.

I realized something that evening about myself and those I enjoy being seated with. If you were to ask me what I thought the hardest feat for a surgeon, or the perils which lay behind a door at a meat packing plant, or even the sites, sounds, and fears one might experience as a logger or a miner, I could probably wager an accurate guess or, at the very least, make someone laugh with my ignorance. And, if I were to ask any of these same questions to my closest friends, they too would most likely come close or entertain with idea. Wonderment is a powerful thing and keeps the mind from becomming stagnant. And I like that most about people, their ability to empathize. But the day in the life of a coroner, I can’t even imagine about really, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a hundred questions to ask.

Last night, I thought about these men again. I was sitting on my couch thinking about death and funerals, how the body is laid, the plants are put, the tissues placed, the snap shots poked, and as my mind was scanning the memories of every funeral I’d ever been to, I realized that every body is placed with the head facing the left side of a mourner’s body. I haven’t ever been to a funeral, nor have I seen a movie, where the head faces the right arm. After my night with three drunk coroners and their gracious answers, I know that thought lies beneath this. I’m sure of it. And I want to know why.

Kurt and Heidi

Toby just called, it seems our neighbors have left, headed west. And Kurt was blue. Toby bought a bike from them and I was given another plant to kill. I’m sure, once I return home with my hormones, I’ll see their empty back porch and get weepy.

::raises glass::

To Heidi and Kurt, may they wear a lot of sunscreen.

Navy Memorial

This morning I saw a man on the map of the Navy Memorial. Even before I saw the items pinned to his cap, I assumed he was a veteran.

I work a stones throw away from the Navy Memorial. I see people stand on the world map, find D.C., draw and imaginary “X” on the ground, look at those they’re with and say

You are here.

Sometimes, they find where they left from and fly a line from there to where they stand. (It’s nice to know there are people from Idaho). Sometimes, the more spirited people break into song

…. top of the world….. looking…… down on creation….. and the only explanation I can FIND….

People do that thing they do. People run up the stairs while humming the tune of “Rocky” at the Philadelphia Art Museum, people repeat

Look kids, Big Ben, Parliament

while driving around the circle in London—or any circle for that matter. People do these things. People find the place in which they stand at the Navy War Memorial while a dark statue of a sailor stands there, bag at feet, and salutes us all. Constantly.

But not this man. He was alone and slightly unpredictable. He stood three feet from the statue and took a picture of the sailor with a throw away. He looked up for second and then down at the world. He looked toward the flags at Pennsylvania and then toward the fountain to watch one, wading duck. And I couldn’t help but compare the two.

(Low-ball glasses and two ice cubes. T.V. set with static and a bent antenna. No cable. The smell of dust, moisture and age. Dark wood. Old, non-ticking clocks, yellow stains settling onto off-white walls and bathroom fixtures. [Why is he here alone at 8 a.m.?] I check for a ring. There isn’t one. Perhaps the pins clinging to his baseball hat write his history).

What is it about some people and how they sweep me out of my own life for a few minutes? They don’t speak to me, they don’t even know I’m there most of the time. But somehow, whether it’s by way of an unconscious smell or just some quick visual flicker, there are people out there who I want to collect and serve mashed potatoes to (or maybe pancakes). I want to listen to whatever story is pinned to their head and I want them to use as much gravy (or syrup) as they wish. This man looked sadly content, just exiting or coming to or grasping something I will probably only understand much later on in life (if ever). And I’m sure he’s much wiser than I am, and I’m sure he knows better about how things really appear at night.

Perhaps it’s from a hormonal down. Perhaps the air decided I was feeling too elated today, that I began to forget about sadness and it needed to remind me. But something about this man made me feel sad today. And I hope he’s not alone on weekends and holidays.

Here are some pictures.

The Contents of mihow (Day six)–An Autobiography of Songs

I have two weeks left of 27. It’s January. It’s a Saturday. It’s cold. There’s a car rented in my name. We had discussed doing something different—getting out of town for the weekend. And now the puffy-cheeked, weather people have barked words at us like “blizzard” and “8 or more inches.” But determination often beats out dark clouds.

We’re headed east. The snow-globe we’re now driving within forces me to think about the 100 miles we have left ahead of us and how they seem much more daunting than the 30 we left behind. But much like the time I have spent with him, I don’t care about the mile markers, it’s the in-between which has come to matter. And so we drive on, talking about stuff about things-about people and past and work and cars and how one day we’ll own a house and it won’t be in New York City (or any neighboring borough for that matter) and how gardens are nice and so are dogs-that these things should belong to people.

(I haven’t ever done this before. The traffic is slow enough, I guess. But we could get arrested).

“What if the taller cars, sport utility vehicles and trucks see?”

“Who cares, they’ll just be jealous.”

(I think I love this boy). And somtimes words should be coupled with touch.

I think that I’m sure there’s no slow globe protecting this scenario. And if one should exist, it’s probably sitting on a shelf nailed between two perpendicular walls which make up the secretive skeleton of a long, arid ranch in Nevada. And we’re no where near Nevada. And it’s not dry. We’re headed Northeast, towards Connecticut, towards Mystic, towards the water. The snow is falling and Monday seems dead to me. How was I to know (then) at that moment, I was experiencing the most romantic two days of my life? That the five hours it took to reach Mystic would hold such a story? I hadn’t ever seen snow, sand, and sea water converge all at once, it’s just not something you picture when dreaming about the ocean. Not until it happens…
Here is snapshot of that trip. (4.6 mgs) Ted Leo.

The Contents of mihow: An Autobiography of Songs (Day Five)

I’m 6. I’m in our brown, custom-designed van, wall-to-wall carpeting, lights everywhere. I can stand up, proper, without touching the ceiling. I am pleased by this ability until I realize it means I’m smaller than my brother, whose head hits it. It doesn’t matter anymore anyway because ever since battery acid leaked in the van (and I watched a scary episode of The Greatest American Hero) I have been afraid of it. The acid ate the carpet in the very back, the back where we played while travelling, and it turned a fleshy pink color. It had looked like skin and, in my expert opinion, the van really just needed to be put down forever. We needed a new car. But the piece of beige flesh was removed and then covered again with something else. And, once again, we were on a trip, headed east.
Our many hours spent traveling would have been much more tolerable if I could just listen to George Burns or Olivia (and sometimes Michael Jackson). And even Abba would have been better than this weird, Parent stuff. (A Wingle who? Whep? Why?) I never got all of it. But they’re parents they must know what they’re saying. Right?

(What the hell? Why not just name it? It’s the least you can do in that heat)..

(Get an umbrella or stay inside, you big jerk, no need to go to the desert).

(This guy is clearly crazy. If he had to do something so desperate in order to get away from the rain, he should have written his name down after naming the poor horse).

It turned into a sea? And you set the horse free? I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR A FREE HORSE TO FIND ME FOR YEARS YOU UNGRATEFUL BASTARD!

Clearly, this person should not own a horse.

(I wonder if he’s sings about the rain and the cake too).

Here is a snapshot. (3.8 mgs)

Hair Gone

My hair is gone. And I’m sore. Saturday morning I thought I’d try out a more advanced yoga class. Muscles? Somehow, it hurts to cough and sneeze. I threw three bowls on Friday at pottery class and had indian food with my sweet boy. Saturday, we went out with a bunch of nice, pretty people and probably drank too much. Who knows. There were two heads shaved, many pictures taken (and erased), there were plants potted, potted plants, and then some of the worst heartburn I have ever had. Chewable Pepcid, you are my friend. That’s all for now…

The Contents of mihow: An Autobiography of Songs (Day Three)

I am 23. It’s senior year, design class. I haven’t slept in days and we have to shoot. I’m sick. I have a cold and the shivers. It’s raining in November. Doug, (still) a great friend, is my partner for this project. Our assignment:

Use up to four and no less than two slide projectors. Use the gutters of where the projections come together to your advantage. Use a soundtrack. This is crucial. If you don’t you will FAIL!!

He screamed at us. He always did. We have two days.

DOUG! Make this QUICK! I’m SICK! And it’s fucking raining. I don’t want to sit on a FUCKING playground in the RAIN while I’m SICK!. This is BULLSHIT!

I feel so angry. All I want to do is go to sleep. This professor, this man, has taken years off my life. I am sure. And Doug is just trying to avoid a fight, with me and with Lanny.

Just get on the monkey bars and shut up. I’ll try and be quick.

I get on the monkey bars. I’m wearing wool. I can smell wet sheep. My ankles are muddy. I’m wearing a skirt. It doesn’t match. It’s all part of the “show”.

Can’t we get Jamelle for this? She likes to be on film. Hell, she’ll probably do it naked. I hate this. I’M SICK!

The wet, smeary, fall leaves look better than I do.

You have to smile. You’re supposed to be happy. You’re playing with your twin on a playground. Please smile.

I smile. I move to the slide. I’m upside down now. I wipe my snot on the wool sweater.

How can SHEEP stand this FUCKING smell?! I hate this smell. Fucking wool. No wonder they don’t mind if we shave them.”

I’m so mad. He ignores me.

Get on the merry-go-round.

I get on the merry-go-round. This could go on forever. How many pieces of equipment are on this playground? Christ.

You’re trying to make me puke, aren’t you?! I’M SICK AND YOU’RE GOING TO SPIN ME ON A FUCKING MERRY-GO-ROUND?

I start to argue. Doug knows how to deal with me. He ignores me. So I do as I’m told.

Since this is about having a twin on the side of the world, can’t we just have two slides of each processed and flip them over? This is fucking stupid. Why is she dreaming about a twin in China anyway? And how on earth do they end up playing together? And why is one wearing WOOL? I hate this.

I look at him, expecting an answer. (One)?

She’s not in China, it’s about having someone who looks like you, elsewhere. It’s about knowing that and being content with being alone. ‘Dream a little dream of me?’ Get it? We talked about this, it was your idea to use this song.”

I think about this for second, trying to remember what it is we’re doing there.

This is A DUMB idea! DUMB! I want to go ho

He cuts me off, temperatures begin rising. The vein in his head grows larger. He spits as he begins screaming. I have finally broke him. (Oh shit).

SHUT UP AND FUCKING SMILE! JUST FUCKING SMILE! YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE FUCKING HAPPY, MICHELE! FUCKING SMILE ALREADY!

(Our slideshow ended up being a hit. It even made it into Follies. I look so happy on that playground, me and my twin, we move from one space to another, at times, grabbing each other’s hands tickling one another. We do appear content—not at all like sick, wet, smelly sheep. No one knew the truth. And somehow, Doug and I are still friends).
Here is that snapshot. (3.96 mgs) Dream a little Dream.