Cats Ruin Everything.

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I have a dream. A backyard patio with grass, flowers, spring in the air, birds chirping, the animals lounging around, coffee….you know….that stereotypical relaxing backyard scene. Our neighbors on one side have a lovely, if plain. On the other side, there is a much more exotic, busy yard with flowers, statues, windmills, chimes, and planters for more of the same crammed into a small space. It’s eclectic and not something I would want to deal with, but it’s amazing in full bloom.

We had a dirt and rock pit type landscape going with a lot of weeds. Mancandy doesn’t care about it. At all. As long as the grass (what little there is) doesn’t get too high (only because the HOA will send nasty letters that piss him off) he couldn’t care less.

Last year I was excited that our neighbors had an old patio set they gave us. Wanda, the coolest neighbor ever, came over in the blazing summer heat to help me sand it down and spray paint. We were so sweaty we couldn’t stand ourselves and I thought really hard about having a heat stroke, but the result was a somewhat decent looking set (if you don’t get too close to it). I harassed Robert into getting more strapping since a lot of the original had rotted and snapped. That strapping is still in a roll someplace in this house. Until the strapping is on cushions are pointless and sitting in the chairs is a test of faith in gravity’s lack of hold on thine rumpage. It is also insulting when you stand up and see how far the few straps that remain stretched out to cradle said rumpage. I have plans, but it’s a very slow and frustrating process when the Mancandy drags his feet getting on board.

Not to be deterred, I was determined to enjoy time outside after work yesterday. It’s still light when I get home now that the time has changed and it was gorgeous weather. We’ve been in the seventies, sunny, no humidity, etc., the past couple days. I’m aware the hellish heat is coming so I stay outside or by open windows as much as possible. We took the pup for a walk and the two “normal” cats came with us. We had our tiny puma patrol. They were quite pleased with themselves.

As we came back to the house I suggested evening coffee and outside time. Bell can’t do much in the way of running now that her back legs are in such back shape, but she loves laying outside and telling off anyone she notices. Or thinks she notices. The cats enjoy vacating their bladder and bowels in the one area of dirt we optimistically spread grass seed on every so often. You know, relaxing stereotypical stuff. We spent our time arguing about global warming, arguing over which cat is the best hunter (we both though Neo but he assumed Tsuki didn’t hunt because she didn’t bring back kills while Neo assumes we’re too stupid to hunt for ourselves and brings back little dead bodies all the time), and agreeing that we hate most people.

We really were relaxing and beginning to think about dinner. The weather was gorgeous, the dog was happy, one of the cats was entertaining us; pouncing and playing as if he was finding moles, arching his back and crab walking,  it was pretty awesome. I was sure I was making headway with ideas to improve our “outdoor living space”. He was pretending to listen to me, happily jabbering about planters and a raised bed for veggies when Tsuki started belly crawling through the yard away from us, quickly picking up speed. I had time to say “oh crap” while Robert sucked in his breath to curse. A couple of mockingbirds had been scolding the cats the entire time we’d been outside. After a couple unsuccessful attempts to smack them the cats settled back to ignore them. I was scared she was going after them again, but instead, Tsuki launched herself into one of the huge bushes (it’s a bush but it’s probably….9 feet tall and 6 feet across….superman vegetation). Neo, the other cat, started hauling butt that way. Tsuki let out a hunters scream at the same time birds explode everywhere, also screaming. It sounded like we’re skinning animals alive, the sheer volume of sound was incredible.

We could hear something screaming at a higher pitch as if in excruciating pain and the dog starts trying to run that way as Robert and I also take off across the yard. The two adult birds are shrieking in defiance and raining down bird rage as they swoop and smash themselves into a blur I took to be Tsuki. Fuzzy running things that I eventually realized were fledglings, unable to fly yet, haul ass across the yard, Neo in pursuit. I yell at the dog to stay out of it, scream at Neo to knock it off as Robert gets to the bush Tsuki has disappeared into and starts kicking and yelling. More birds explode out and there’s so much noise and motion I can’t tell what’s what. Neo is startled by my manic scream and pursuit that he pauses to stare at me and the fledglings have a chance to get into taller grass past the walking trail. Mom and Dad bird are about to have heart attacks between the cat assaulting their feathered children and the humans yelling and scrambling and the other cat running after more children. Tsuki has crawled all the way to the center of the bush and we can’t get to her nor can we tell if she’s got a baby bird. I couldn’t hear any noise from her direction so I figured if she had one, it was either dead or close to it. I turned my attention to saving the rest of them. Neo was having a full excitement induced weirdo attack. He was puffed up, darting at anything that moved, running back over to stare and hiss in Tsuki’s general direction, and basically look insane.  I’d gotten Bell inside and we tried to corner Neo. He was not having it.

At this point, the neighbors have heard blood-curdling screams of pain and fear, our screams of anger, excited barking from a big dog, cats yowling, and now us yelling KITTY KITTY KITTY as if that will coax anything to come to us. The only chance those babies had was for us to get the stupid cats inside. Eventually, Robert resorted to a controlled pounce and snagged Neo. I had door duty and made sure the dog stayed in while the cat was tossed in. The treat jar was grabbed and more “KITTY KITTY COME HERE YOU ASSHOLE CAT WE WERE RELAXING!” ensued. Tsuki, amazingly, became interested enough in the idea of treats to stick her head out and was also pounced upon.

We found ourselves with wide eyes, clutching our coffee, standing in the kitchen panting, while the cats stalked each other, hissing and poofing with excess adrenaline.

Stereotypical relaxing outdoor space activity.

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Bus People of Nashville Adventures

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Writing is cathartic. And I am to the age I prefer to read, and write, amusing stories. Many of them are not flattering, but they’re genuine, which tends to be what people respond to. We’re so programmed to only show the perfect, pretend we’re all the same, that someone telling their worst moments is extremely appealing. I don’t much like crying in my coffee so I prefer to mock the bad and make it tolerable. The problem with that is when I’m not in a good mood, or things just aren’t going smoothly, I don’t write because, well, it’s not fun to be not at all funny or upbeat. We all know life is hard, why say that over and over? If you read any news articles at all you have to be a bit on the “ugh” side because, really, it’s just dismal. But, the news doesn’t tell the complete story. Especially on racism. Especially on racism in the south. So here’s another episode of bus people. I can’t say the bus is fun, if I was offered a fancy ride in a helicopter I’d jump on it. Sitting in traffic for hours each day sucks. Yesterday we had the delightful, overwhelming reek of body odor and weed to marinate in for hours, with the heat on full blast because I am, apparently, the only individual with sweat glands that rides the bus. But, there are moments it is an interesting, enlightening experience. This was one of those moments.
The majority of people who ride the bus with me are of a darker skin tone (I’m so pale that could be almost anyone on the planet if we’re being really honest, but I do mean other races in this instance). The majority of that majority is black but there are plenty of Hispanic women and a few Hispanic men. Of the regular bus riders on my express route, there are a few blue collar men who sleepily sit and nod off in the morning as they hop on the earliest from their apartment complexes on the outskirts of the suburbs. Most of the bus drivers know who gets off where and stop whether the stop is requested while we rouse whoever is too deeply asleep to notice they’re at their stop. A couple younger black men work white collar jobs, suits and business casual with brief cases and spiffy, shiny shoes (I like to look at men’s shoes…I have no clue why…it’s just a thing I do). I have noticed, to my dismay that I tend to treat the two types of workers differently. I didn’t realize I do it, I absolutely did not intend to do it, but I do. The men with battered, stained sneakers and the clothes of service type job that you classically see on those who wash dishes and maintenance type positions are less confident when they walk, they don’t make eye contact or speak unless spoken to. They are withdrawn and have a tired air. But I noticed after a few months that I have a tendency to speak first in greeting to the confident, direct look of a black man in a suit, but I continue the silence between the tired black man I often sit next to. I treat them differently, and I am not, to be completely honest, sure why that is. I don’t hold any animosity toward anyone until you earn it, I don’t care what you look like. I will wake up my sleepy seat buddy and let him know he’s missing his stop. But there’s a slight difference in the way I treat different categories of people and it bugs me that I would not treat everyone the same, the way I always assumed I do. I have the same tendency with other races, I guess it’s a class distinction or bias rather than a racial thing, but since I’m pretty working class myself it makes zero sense to me. I like that interacting with so many people different than myself challenges me, but occasionally I’m confronted with my own petty instincts and assumptions about people I don’t even know. I’m trying to look at it as learning experiences and chance to change my behavior.
We do not have many teenagers that ride our bus. Most school age teens catch the bus before ours and there aren’t many older teens that appear that early. I’m fine with that. I didn’t like kids when I was one, I definitely don’t like them now (yeah, I just talked about changing my preconceived notions but on teenagers, I’m pretty set in the avoid at all costs category. Not proud of it, just what it is). One day when I pulled up to the bus, the line was starting early and it was massive. The bus before ours hadn’t shown up, and now we had way too many people for our bus to accommodate. Knowing I’d be late if I drove, I waited until the kids got on and then tried to find a space to occupy for the ride. I noticed a couple of the elderly women didn’t have seats, and while I hated they had to stand with bad knees and bad backs, I was also standing and couldn’t help them. I was crammed into the “Do Not Stand Here Or You Might Fall Off Of The Bus” area trying to give them the best access to hand holds and rails to brace against. I was in full body contact with several men. We all tried to pretend none of this was happening, but I have never had as much of myself squished up against as much of a stranger, not to mention multiple strangers, as happened that day. We were so tightly pressed against one another that I felt the intake of air before the man behind me yelled over the teenage chatter to be heard. He announced that there were several young men sitting down while women were standing. He wasn’t raised that way and he knew they weren’t either. He basically announced that the young guys needed to get up, offer their seats, and act like men. It could have gone very badly. These weren’t 5 year olds, they were 15ish and very proud of themselves. The little boys had already been told to get up and let others have the seats. The older of the kids weren’t into it at first, but eventually, they begrudgingly got up and let the older women sit. I was so impressed that someone would actually do something and be willing to challenge an entire gaggle of teenage guys blaring extremely graphic rap music and talking loudly to be heard over the loud music in offensive terms about offensive topics. I wouldn’t have been that brave. Which saddens me, but there we are. I wouldn’t have tried to shame a group of teenagers of any color that I didn’t have authority over. I taught for a hot minute, I know how teenagers are. They’re vicious and gross in a pack. Nope. Not me.
The ride into the city was miserable. My little sardine-esque group had no hand holds, nothing to brace against, and we couldn’t help but get to know each other much too well. The guy who’d taken on the group of teens eventually told me to stop apologizing that every sway of the bus meant I assaulted him with my hips and rear. If I was some svelte young thing I wouldn’t have felt so bad, and also we wouldn’t have been quite so squished, so I felt bad on two fronts. That’s bizarre. I’m not going to erase it, it’s honestly how I felt, but it’s weird that you’d feel bad because you were unintentionally touching people with a less desirable body. Whatever, not examining that too closely, it’s a mind hole trap I don’t want to get stuck in.
We got toward the first stop I could reasonably walk to work and I was poised to dive through the door and get the first deep breathe since the crazy ride began when I felt my ass attack victim take another deep breath. He whistled to get everyone’s attention and when all eyes were on him (not on me mind you, but I was smashed up against him so it FELT like they were staring at me and I turned bright red and my ears caught fire and it was not fun) he bellowed that the young men who’d stood up and helped out someone else deserved a round of applause for acting with dignity and respect and we should all show our gratitude. Nothing like that had occurred to me, and from the surprised looks it hadn’t occurred to anyone else either. We got into it quickly though, and everyone was clapping and whistling and cat calling. It sounded like a party bus when we pulled up to the stop.
The gruff, annoyed faces of the teenage boys trying so hard to look tough completely broke down and the little boys that I should NOT forget are still in there shone through. They couldn’t help but start grinning and looking at their feet and flushing in embarrassment. The older women who’d gotten their seats made a huge fuss over them and if those kids don’t remember to offer their seats in the future I’ll eat my hat. My poor ass attack victim didn’t know those kids. He didn’t know the women standing. He saw an opportunity to teach a group of kids how to act like adults and took it. It occurred to me that society might be a lot different if everyone behaved that way, if we all took responsibility for how we want others to act. Not by screaming at them and expecting them to obey us, but by using social pressure and positive reinforcement.
I’m making a concerted effort to speak to everyone or speak to no one. I shouldn’t cherry pick. Especially when I don’t even understand the criteria for my picking of cherries. My ass attack scared my brave friend away from bus riding from that day forward, but I bet those kids won’t forget him. I’ve tried to make sure I act when I see something I can help with, rather than just feel bad. I have been forcing myself out of my comfort zone and have fun new friendships starting that help remind me to stop categorizing people I don’t know. I have never thought of myself as racist. I try to be politically correct with phrasing and terminology, now more so than in the past, but I sometimes fail to use the correct term or phrase. I’m learning so much from my bus people and meeting so many different types of people. I’d still take a chopper ride, but until then, that’s the latest and greatest of bus people of Nashville!

Tsuki and Toddlers…

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Tsuki is a social cat. She’s so social she gets on my nerves regularly. She’s solid black and small and adorable but I don’t want a tiny little black smudge in my face all the time. She also head bonks. But not a light hey-how-ya-doing bonk. She makes me see stars. She must have the skull of a ram. And she likes to surprise bonk you. It makes me livid.

Tsuki and Neo (aka nugget aka buttface) are indoor/outdoor cats. They go crazy and destroy things unless they’re allowed to go outside and murder small creatures. I feel bad about it, but after throwing out 3 separate sofas and planning to toss a 4th, not to mention needing to repair the carpet in the entire upstairs portion of our home AND the flooring in the back room (not just because of them but they didn’t help)…they can go murder all the small things. I’m over it.

Neo doesn’t really like us all that much much less strangers, so he stays to the shadows and does not socialize. Tsuki tries to invite herself into other people’s houses. And succeeds at times. We can’t let her out if folks are having parties in our neighborhood because she will harass them into constant adoration (a nice outside event with grill and drinks turns into a Tsuki centered event) and if they don’t let her into their house (thinking you’re getting away from the annoying little shadow? No sir. Not this time.)  she makes rounds to doors and windows (front and back of the house) to stare into their soul and make horribly pitiful noises. She sneaks in and steals other animal’s food as she has no fear of other animals. She has persistence we could all learn from.

I routinely find myself apologizing for her horrible behavior. Some find it charming but there are plenty of people who don’t like animals and will hurt them given the excuse. I’m always nervous she will find her way to that sort of situation, but she refuses to stay inside. She needs more than just our attention.

Today I have the windows open (it’s in the 70s and sunny and we’re soaking up the gloriousness). I heard the neighbors toddler talking gibberish and sporadically screaming in that terrifyingly loud, sudden way that little kids have. Tsuki was out laying on the front porch soaking up the sun and I didn’t really think about the fact a small human would attract her quickly. She’s had multiple flirt fests with older children so I should have known better. I hear the little kids gibbering take on a more excited tone and I look up from my couch to see Tsuki laying in the middle of the street rolling to show her stomach. The little girl is talking to her and cooing and talking to her dad who is standing beside her laughing. Kiddo would walk closer, Tsuki would flop around faster, Dad would laugh harder. Soon there are two kids, two adult dudes (don’t know if they were both dads or what), and one little black cat flopping like a fish on land. I can hear her making little trilling squawks. Every time the kids got a little too close she’d heave herself up in a mobile flop and get a bit of distance, but she made sure they thought they just needed to move a little faster to touch her. The men were getting video of the bizarre little cat show and the kids were working themselves up into a frenzy while dads wrestled with them and the phones they were using to film.

Things came to a crescendo when both little girls let out horribly shrill, extremely loud kid screams at the same time (you know the one, when toddlers stand rigid, ball up their fists, and release the Kraken of sound that makes everyone’s heads immediately ache and shakes them on their chubby little sausage legs) and Tsuki went from cutely flopping to launching 5 feet straight up with hair on end and took off towards home. I met her at the door laughing and let her run past me in a panic while the kids stood in shock and about 3 seconds away from crying. I waved at the guys and came back inside while they cajoled little ones and walked toward home.

I knew it was going to be amusing and tried desperately to get my phone to video the interaction but it was in the middle of a temperamental freeze and wouldn’t respond. I got the battery out and had it booting back up when the shrieks sent Tsuki back over home so I missed it all. But it was epic and makes dealing with the tiny tyrant easier.

Thankfully she’s now traumatized and wants nothing to do with harassing me. She’s instead roosted on top of a clean blanket I folded. She’s making weird little snortle snoozy sounds as she dozes and occasionally stretches in an adorable manner. I’ll want to kill her again soon, but for right now I’m highly entertained. Also, Weebs keeps getting up on the couch and laying with half of his body draped off of the edge. I’m just waiting for the moment he falls off.

Cats are the worst and the best at the same time.

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The more time that goes by…more of him slides over the edge.

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We all sleep with one leg straight out and toes splayed…right?

Latest Weebs Adventures, Turdlette Slings, and Stuff…

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Weebs loves to watch. He’s a super creepy little man and he will stalk me all over the house while I’m doing chores. It usually makes things like laundry or loading the dishwasher more fun because he stares in wonder at everything. So as I was switching laundry he comes creeping up behind me and flattens himself to blend in with the carpet that he does not match at all. I try to get pictures because it’s ridiculously cute but if he sees my phone change to camera he immediately does something less cute.  He will lay as flat as possible, even his ears go sideways and flatten out, but he’s got a gut on him and it flows out on either side and ruins the predator vibe he’s going for. I love it.

I like to get my chores going as soon as I wake up on Saturday morning for two reasons. 1. If I don’t I will wait until bedtime Sunday night and be extremely angry and tired on Monday. 2. If I look super busy right away I can choose the easier chores and Mancandy will usually feel bad and is left with the chores I avoid like the plague and wanted him to do anyway. And I don’t have to say a word. This doesn’t always work, but when it does I feel extremely sneaky and clever.

I started out with towels because if I got busy with something else and forgot them it wouldn’t be a big wrinkled mess. I don’t understand ironing, it doesn’t work for me…I’m pretty sure it’s voodoo. So if it shouldn’t be wrinkled I have to catch it right away when the dryer finishes. Which takes more attention to detail than I possess without a lot of coffee. So I was pulling towels out of the dryer and throwing underwear in (same reasoning). My little fat predator was watching every move. If socks dropped he swatted at them (from a good 2 feet away), what he lacks in depth perception he makes up for with determination.  He made little happy chortle sounds (to himself, as all great predators do) and waited with huge eyes to see what would happen. His world was made even more exciting when I stepped beside him (he immediately grabbed my sock, got a nail stuck on it, scratched me for holding onto his foot, and fought like a small tiger while I unsnagged his nail) to begin the lovely process of cleaning the litter boxes.  He LOVES playing defense while I try to remove what he deposits.

As I go I can usually avoid his swats at the scoop quite easily. He’s not exactly athletic. However, every now and then he uses a surprising amount of dexterity and his aim is true and he wins the round. Today he wasn’t even swatting at the scoop that often, he’d become sidetracked by the bag eating the scoops contents and was talking to it. All cats should talk to inanimate objects like this cat does. It’s the best.

I let my guard down. As I was moving several large, fresh movements o’cat bowels he struck. A little brown foot whipped out from underneath the scoop and smacked up and over. He has never been that quick nor that coordinated. I was neither of those things when cat crap attacked my face. MY FACE. I had to go wash (and there is NO amount of washing that suffices) little skid marks off of my face. And then go back and corral the freed turds from the great outdoors and get them back in the bag. And not squish the cat who was back in predator mode trying to make contact to smack his freed friends around the laundry room.

He will not be helping me with chores anymore.

My life is a dumpster fire. Swamp monster level 100 today folks. Happy Saturday!

Relationship Tests….AKA….that time I was super swamp monsterish and Ish. Got. Real.

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I have been trying, genuinely, to stick to my low carb, really strict diet. It’s not horrible; it just takes effort that I generally don’t put into, like, anything…but I was doing okay. There have been some rough patches where I decided to fat girl swan dive into sugar saturated anything. I have this self-destructive streak that ensures as soon as I see any results (like the fat waddle under my chin shrinking and a jawline kinda peeking out) I immediately have cravings so intense it’s physically painful.

Thanksgiving was rough. I went wild. Like, hog wild growled if anyone touched my food, or got near my food, or walked into the room while I was sticking my head in the feeding bucket. I told myself when we got back to TN I’d get back into my groove.

Ha.

We got back late on Sunday and when Mancandy offered to order delivery I was completely on board. One last Harrah before reining in my out of control inner child. Chinese sounded good after gorging on Turkey and stuffing.

I was hungry so even though it did not taste amazeballs, it was what I had, so I stuffed it down my gizzard. It was a disappointing Harrah. Mildly sad, I unpacked, sorted out animal medication and supplies, and glared at Mancandy who was thoroughly enjoying his dish. I do not care to suffer alone.

Keep in mind it tasted like cardboard and I ate every last bit. Tell me that doesn’t indicate a mental issue.

But alas, we had to go back to work so our routine needed to go back to normal. Comfy pj’s, brushed teeth, sleepy time meds down the hatch, and into peaceful slumber we crept. Except right before I was really asleep my stomach moved. Not just a gurgle or blurp either. That sucker moved from its normal location to my throat in a move that made me break into a sweat immediately.

I wasn’t sure what was going on, but I knew it wasn’t good.

I flew into the bathroom and through the door to the “water closet” at lightning speed. I didn’t stop to grab a trash can. That was a tragic mistake on my part. Of course, our trash can has little cut-outs so it wouldn’t have been great, but I digress.

I honestly didn’t know what to do. Kneel? Sit? WHAT IS GOING ON AND WHERE IS IT GOING TO COME OUT! I was drenched in sweat, everything hurt, and I was insanely nauseous but did not trust that I was safe to assume puking would be the only fun I’d have. I decided I’d rather clean up puke, so I sat.

I pictured the scene from aliens where the wee little alien protrudes through the ribs. In my mind, it would be bursting from my gut. I was about to open the door and grab a towel from the stupidly tiny towel closet when I heard a throat clear.

Mancandy was in the bathroom! Code red! This is NOT a drill!

I’m dripping sweat and cramping like my guts were in a vice grip. This was about to be real ugly real fast. He needed to leave.

“Um, are you okay?”

I went into a coughing fit that ended in a gag, and a weird “glurp” sound I’ve never made before.

I can hear him shuffling his feet and breathing his not sweaty normal breath.

“Can you just throw a towel down outside the door? I think I’m going to be sick.” Understatement. Such a massive huge gigantic ridonculous understatement.

“Can I do anything to help?” He was being so nice. I doubled over on a particularly vile cramp and my body flashed hot and cold at the same time.  My mouth was doing that gross drooling yet dry thing that happens right before you puke.

“No. Thanks. Oh god, I can’t talk, it’s go time.”

And it was.

I will spare you the details, mostly so I can keep a tiny amount of my pride intact.

But it was bad. So very, very bad.

I basically exploded.

There wasn’t room for embarrassment in the middle of it. I was just trying to survive.

There are little adorable frogs that puke up their guts, shovel out whatever offends them, and swallow their stomach back into the correct location.

I envied them. Desperately.

The violence of the episode ensured it was fairly short-lived. However, the after party meant I had to brush my teeth over and over, a quick sink bath to be less sweaty and gross, and then pass through the bedroom to get to the cleaning supplies and mop (it was a war zone).

He was sitting on the bed. I felt it was my duty to warn him, “Don’t go in there.” We blinked at each other.

He finally said, “That was really loud.”

I immediately blushed so hard my ears turned to fire and the shame made me wish to melt through the floor into a swampy mess of monster downstairs.

Side note: I inherited my Dad’s natural defense mechanism, involuntary scream puking! It’s a great party trick. Think puking, but while you’re heaving up your guts you scream out your rage. Involuntarily. Just BLAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGGG at the top of your lungs.

He’d never been exposed to that little quirk. He was startled. I didn’t know what to do. I nodded and went to get cleaning supplies. I was walking as quickly as I could through the room on the return trip, dreading the job ahead, and he cleared his throat again.

“I don’t even really know what just happened. I thought you were trying to die politely without bothering me but I couldn’t stay and listen to….that. I didn’t know humans could make those….noises”.

How does one respond to that? I just went into the bathroom, slammed the door, and tried to get through as fast as possible. I may never eat Chinese food again.

By the time I got everything cleaned up I was cold and everything hurt. I did not want to go back out to the bedroom. I didn’t want to talk to him. I was pretty sure we probably shouldn’t talk ever again. You don’t come back from that. I’m a swamp monster at best, but listening to a swamp monster blarg is probably on a totally new level of not good.

I contemplated crying, it seemed like the correct response (very girly), but it was too much effort and I couldn’t spare what little water was left in my body. I kept my face down and shambled to the bed, crawling in on my side and staying as far away from him as possible. Humiliation doesn’t cover what just happened. I may have PTSD. He probably does too.

I could just feel him wanting to talk to me. I curled up, tried to shrink my giant self into a smaller form, and prayed he’d just fall asleep.

“Did you know there’s some kind of frog that pukes up its own stomach?” he murmured from the other side of the bed.

I couldn’t help but smile. I muttered that I had been jealous of them a little bit ago.

“Dear God that was so loud,” he said.

“Shut up” I replied.

“K.”

 

 

Bus People

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I learned to drive/drove in tiny towns in the deep south or mountains in the west until the past year. There was no public transportation. The one time I tried riding buses while visiting my aunt in NY I got on to a bus that took me to New Jersey. Eventually, we figured out the bus on one side of the road takes you to the other side of town. That’s what I should have done. Instead, I picked the wrong side of the road. There were no signs. It was just something bus people knew.

Nashville traffic is the worst, so I took a closer look at riding the bus. Less gas, no stressful driving, less wear and tear on my already old and pitiful SUV, and the bus terminal is across the street from where I work. However, I’m socially awkward at my best, so trying to figure out where to be and when to be there and where to get off and etiquette vied with nervousness about bumping elbows with potentially unsavory characters.

My first day of the riding the bus I made my first bus friend. I’d somehow taken the wrong bus into work and was packed like a sardine on a bus stopping every other block the entire way into town. It smelled bad and I was pretty sure I was not cut out for bus riding. I started out with the entire bus to myself but after a few stops, it was obvious I’d be lucky not to have someone on my lap by the end. I assumed that before 7 in the morning most people hadn’t started to churn out body odor. I was wrong. I also assumed people, even people who drank heavily, did not start before 7 am. I was also wrong in that assumption. I had also, conveniently, not thought about the fact people that are below the age of 18 might ride buses. Turns out, they do! In large numbers. Many without parental supervision.

I had decided bus riding was not for me when, arriving into the terminal dreading the ride home, a slender, colorfully dressed lady began talking to me as if we knew each other. I was too surprised to do anything other than respond in kind. She made me think of an exotic flower, lovely dark skin complimented by tropical colors in long skirt, wraps, bangles, rings, and a hair wrap. Her southern accent was charming rather than the “you sure do have a purty mouth” variety. Within 15 minutes I was given all the ins and outs of bus travel, knew how long she’d been commuting via bus, how many cats she had, and that she had an adult son. Once we got on the correct bus she immediately told the bus driver my story, explained that my vehicle was on the other side of the expansive lot and I needed a drop off closer to it (which is not how things usually work and likely against policy). She also told me where to sit in the bus itself to create the least motion sickness (I live on Dramamine), which side the sun would beat down on during the long ride home, and who else were regulars.

A stunning young lady was exceedingly pregnant and I learned her due date, her husband’s name, and that she was going to have a little boy once he finished baking. I still find her to be one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen in person. Her little boy is beautiful and we all got to see pictures of him right after he was born because bus people text their bus friends life-altering moments.

Bus people are predominantly African American and female on my route. I adore them. There are a few men, mostly African American as well. Of the regulars, I’m usually the palest (and the least fashionable). My first bus friend is still my favorite. I love her enthusiasm for life, her ring-bedecked fingers, her genuine concern for everyone around her, and her sass. A gentleman from Puerto Rico started riding a few days ago. She had him laughing and at ease within the first 5 minutes. They now race each other to beat each other to the front of the line.

We all have our favorite bus drivers and our favorite traveling groups. We look out for each other. One of the riders is a tiny, elderly lady. She was proud that she’d gained weight as was now a massive 95 pounds (up from 92). She is insanely adorable and every time I see her I want to keep her in my pocket always. She’s had back surgery and walks with a distinct stoop. She uses a walker with little baskets that often hold her giant purse and occasionally other goodies. She usually has her curly white hair pulled up with bright barrettes I used to think of as children’s barrettes that will now forever make me think of my new friend. She rides the bus system alone and has trouble getting her walker into certain places. Onto and off of the bus for example. That’s never a concern on our route. We all know our assigned roles. She is never without plenty of help, even the bus drivers hug on her and fuss over her.

It is impossible to be a bus person and not feel a bit like a member of a small UN. All ages, all walks of life, customs and rules all its own, and no matter how easy it is to be discouraged with the constant ugliness that feels like it’s getting worse, I don’t think that society is falling apart. I think we’re exactly as we always have been. The loudest ones are the assholes. And the regular folks just trying to live are like my bus people. A young Hispanic man racing an energetic, gregarious black woman to the bus line. A middle-aged, quiet, unassuming black man carefully helping a tiny, frail elderly white woman off of a bus and across the bus terminal. A gathering of young and old, dark and pale, grinning and cooing at the picture of a newborn baby. We see pictures of the vacations experienced, warn about upcoming construction, and give and get tips about good sales or new businesses opening. I really thought this would be an adventure I would just endure. Maybe have a few stories about inappropriate behavior. It never crossed my mind that I would enjoy riding a bus every day. For hours. In horrible traffic. But it’s been refreshing and fun and touching. The 33X crew is a good group. I am excited to have such a fun, diverse group of folks to be inspired by. Now I just have to find time to write about this stuff, because while I absolutely understand the tragedy and horror of addiction, high people on buses are hysterical.

Upright Mayhem

Standard

I am failing at girling. I started a new job in an office where people dress like adults (hence why I’ve been MIA for a bit – job plus company in town equals exhausted, hassled me). I can’t wear jeans, an oversized t-shirt, and my hair in a floof. The only part of that I was able to salvage was an “artfully tousled bun”, aka a floof with a bit of extra work. I did a small bit of panicked adult girl shopping (a few bras that weren’t 10+ years old, dress pants (there’s not enough booze in the world to get me in a skirt), and a few tops that were in the “blouse” section of the website (which I haven’t visited in 6+ years).

Trying to shop for clothes is a good way to make me drink anyway, everything is either too small, too revealing, too grandma, too trendy, too horrible to allow me to exit the experience with the tatters of my self-esteem still in my possession. I hate shopping and I especially hate shopping for uncomfortable adult shit. But, it had to be done. I won’t get paid until the end of the first month so my poor credit card is moaning from the extra weight because not only is “business casual” clothing uncomfortable and generally unflattering, it’s also expensive as hell.

Then I realized after walking in the one pair of girl shoes I possess, female specific shoes are not actually meant to walk in! No….no silly girl! You can stand in them fairly easily, but if you walk more than…say….3 feet you will BLEED. I dripped blood into my stupid girl shoes all day and by the end of it I was angry. Very very angry. So I ordered some girl crap specifically recommended for comfort. The ONLY pair I could find on clearance had heels, but it was a pair of boots and the heels were clunky, so I felt fairly confident I could handle it. I’m an idiot.

Why you may ask?

Here’s what happened before I even got the stupid heels.

I felt pretty okay with life. I had on some relatively girly crap and was wearing dress-ish cowboy boot looking things. Minimal heel, broken in, no issues. I figured this would work until my girl shoes arrived in the mail. Nashville traffic is a beast so I get to my parking garage to catch the shuttle early. So do a lot of other people. There’s a small set of stairs leading to the shuttle area. Lots of folks stand there waiting in a line to get on the shuttle. I started down the TINY number of stairs (seriously, like three) and for NO reason at all my foot goes out from under me.

Sidenote: I’d rather eat a turd than fall down. It’s a phobia of sorts. It’s not rational, but I will fight like a champion of awkward to stay upright.

I did that awkward windmill arm rubber legged dance thing you do when you try to catch up to yourself to avoid falling. I also made a loud monkey bellow “ooooooohhhhhheeeeeeeeaaaaaaaahhhhhh” kind of deal to go along with my impromptu performance. I caught up to myself and burst out laughing because you just KNOW when you look like an idiot AND I was amazed I was upright. Primo idiot material had just happened. I burst out laughing, turned bright red (even my ears were burning), and couldn’t quit giggling as all of the other commuters stood there not even smiling and staring at me. We boarded the shuttle. I’m snorting and gagging trying to get myself under control. I think it was the adrenaline from a near death experience that had me in its grips.

I then tripped over nothing and smashed my face into the storage bump thing over the seat I was trying to get into. It made a very loud clunk. Everyone is now staring at me in horror.

I have one hand smashed against my forehead that was quickly beginning to throb and pulse and one over my mouth to try and stem the tide of awkward laughter. I plop down to try and get my shit together, but I can’t stop laughing. I’m shaking and making weird snorty noises and then because God hates me I laugh/snort/belch this loud dying moose sound.  Which made me cackle like a witch. No one else was laughing. Just me.

So that was my first commuter shuttle ride.

Since then I’ve worn heels. I’ve had a “not quite a fight but a something” with Mancandy. I’ve had a Candy Invasion where most of the Mancandy crew was here. There’s a lot going on, plenty of stories to tell. I’m going to have to work at getting them all down, but for now, this one should suffice. If you ever feel awkward, just read this and realize you’re coordinated awesomeness in comparison.

You’re welcome.

My head doesn’t hurt anymore but my feet are still torn to bits 3 weeks later. Being a girl is complete horse patoot.