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Sometimes individual things add up to form a light-shedding, bigger picture.  Sometimes it is not a pretty one, and sometimes it is deceptively pretty, which is not to say that either may be accurate.  No, wait, come back!  I promise, I am going somewhere with this, Your Honor.

I have a Blackberry, which I regularly use as a mental scribbling pad or an electronic ribbon-around-the-finger to remind me to do stuff.  It is better than a ribbon, because it vibrates and blinks and when I pull it out of its little leather case, it says things to me, like:  (19:00) MILK, or (21:00) Client meeting tmmw – IRON/GO TO BED, or (10:30) SandPOW.  These are all recent reminders that Past Tailfeather sent myself at various points.  The first, clearly, was to remind myself to pick up some milk on the way home from work.  The second was to remind myself not to stay up until midnight drinking wine and watching Community on the internet but to, instead, pluck the least crumpled blouse out of my wardrobe and pass out at 11:00 pm after forgetting to call my mother.  The third, sadly, I have stared at for the last three weeks as a saved reminder in my Outlook calendar and still have no idea to what it pertains.  I have a friend nicknamed Sandy, but what is POW?  I refuse to delete it until I figure it out.  It is like a riddle of my own creation.

This Blackberry is a company-owned one, which is another reason I tend to keep my non-work-related reminders cryptic.  This is why one might enter “RX,” for example, instead of “pick up yeast infect meds.”  Also, it is catchier.  So with both work and personal reminders, I sometimes find myself making lists that grow throughout the day.  A work example would be if I have several clients or contacts to call in Southeast Asia.  As I sort through them the day before, my 9:00 am reminder grows from:  (9:00) Call Client X, to (9:00) Call Client X, Provider Y, Client D, Contact A, Contact C.  And then I know to start calling those people early in the day so I can spend my morning sweet-talking them.  Likewise, a personal errand list might grow from: (18:30) Nails, to (18:30) Nails, shower gel, toothpicks, sea bass, SORT RECYCLING.

Those items on my last example list are not related.  Like, that is at least two stops, if not three, plus home from there, as I do not professionally sort recycling or get my nails done at a place where I can also buy seafood.  And yet if you were a television detective trying to solve my murder by reviewing my planner, you might be confuddled.   “Let’s just go to Soho,” you would say wearily.  “It must be some underground perv thing.  Or drugs.  Shower Gel is a big thing now, right?  Oh, sorry, yeah.  That’s Bath Salts.” (more…)

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I have been using Simple Cleansing Facial Wipes recently, as I scored a fancy new job and am wearing mascara for the first time in my life.  Because that is fancy for me.  For the vast majority of you, mascara is not an extravagant addition to your repertoire, but something you’ve been expertly applying for 20 years, so keep in mind that I am a Domestic Dilettante and a Noob of the Feminine Arts.

Anyway, I finally discovered makeup remover after 15 years of just washing my face with good cleanser and attacking any raccoon-eyes with a Q-tip and moisturizer.  The “problem” I have (I have put “problem” in bunny-ears because, like, people in Haiti have problems – I am struggling with mascara and an ill-judged haircut.  Oh, the humanity!) is that the wipes are way too big, and I hate to waste them.  I use less than half a wipe, and have tried to make it last until the next day, which works reasonably well, but it gets a bit dried out.

Full disclosure:  Despite being an avid consumer of mass-produced shit, I am loathe to waste things.  It is the weird result of growing up in the age of cheap consumerism and environmental awareness, and the essentially foolish tightrope one always walks between the two.  I recycle everything I can and hate to waste food, but purchase ready-meals and coasters picturing Flamenco dancers because they are on sale and cute.  I also use half a tissue, save it, and then finish it off on a second nose-blow.  I thought this was all thrifty and fine until a colleague was in my office and yanked the top tissue out of my Kleenex box, to find it had been half-crumpled and stuffed back in.

HER:  “What is this?  Is this a… half-used tissue?”

ME:  “Eerrrmmm…  There was a…  You know what, give that to me, and I’ll give you a new one.”

See, if I were really all that environmental, surely I would use a handkerchief.  My dad does, which I think is adorable and retro until I start to think about germs, and then I have to bring in my sanitizing hand lotion to gently massage away the icky.

So these makeup wipes.  Only half-useful, and then dried out and not-so-useful on a second go-around.  But you know that they are good for?  Cleaning your bathroom counter!  My super-’70s pad has a stainless steel sink that collects toothpaste like so much bird shit.  I have found that a discarded make-up wipe works a treat for a quick spin over the basin, counter, and mirror to cut through any built-up scum.

Go forth, my bare-eyed and shiny-sinked friends.  Namaste.

David J. Phillip / AP

In September of 2008, Hurricane Ike made landfall in Galveston, Texas with a Category 5 equivalent storm surge and winds up to 120 mph at its center.  Originating off the coast of Africa, Ike was responsible for at least 195 deaths:

Of these, 74 were in Haiti, which was already trying to recover from the impact of three storms earlier that year…  In the United States, 112 people were killed, and 23 are still missing. Due to its immense size, Ike caused devastation from the Louisiana coastline all the way to the Kenedy County, Texas region near Corpus Christi, Texas. In addition, Ike caused flooding and significant damage along the Mississippi coastline and the Florida Panhandle. Damages from Ike in U.S. coastal and inland areas are estimated at $29.6 billion (2008 USD), with additional damage of $7.3 billion in Cuba (the costliest storm ever in that country), $200 million in the Bahamas, and $500 million in the Turks and Caicos, amounting to a total of at least $37.6 billion in damage…  The hurricane also resulted in the largest evacuation of Texans in that state’s history. It also became the largest search-and-rescue operation in U.S. history.

Besides the devastation to homes and infrastructure, loss of life, billions of dollars needed for repairs and damage to Galveston’s tourism, it was also an ecological disaster.  As Swamplot noted in November 2008 (bold casing from original article): (more…)

Although I am not normally in the habit of paraphrasing Rita Rudner, I recently did so in an office card for a colleague’s wedding, noting that I was delighted he’d found that special person he wants to annoy for the rest of his life.  The present Boy Person and I are not nearly that far gone, but have taken great pleasure in irritating each other for the last couple of years; it’s all part of the loving foundation on which long-term relationships are based.  Whether we’re goosing each other in the stairwell, making hideous faces behind each others’ backs, or imploring one another to, please, really, just shut up, we’re never short of love or totally obnoxious behavior.

I don’t know why we find such mutual amusement in annoying each other – I don’t mean to the point of actual anger, but certainly irritation of the junior high variety.  My latest and greatest achievement is the bottle of nail biting solution I’ve brought home in an effort to curb his nasty habit.  He’s agreed to this treatment after two years of my pleas for hygiene and observations that the stubs on his fingertips look like ten little bald men, and so every other night, I get to coat his nails in highly flammable polish that tastes like a pure Everclear hangover.

And, oh, it is delightful to witness him absentmindedly snag a cuticle between his teeth, and hack like he’s coughing up a hairball.  The faces, the sputtering, the whingeing…  My enjoyment of the spectacle even surpasses the nearly-maternal pride I feel when he displays his half millimeter of nail growth (“Look!  White bits!  There are white bits on the ends!”).  Good job, baby.

You see, I also consider this just revenge, of a sort, due to an incident from early on in our relationship.  Allow me to set the scene of the crime.  (more…)

My mom has never made a big deal out of Mother’s Day, which is certainly pleasant for me and Dad.  A card is nice, flowers are always appreciated but not necessary, and you can pretty much stop right there.  No breakfast in bed (she would hate it).  No fuss.  No brunch or shopping or spa treatment (not our style, anyway).  For her, it is a made-up holiday to be tolerated.  Her refreshing approach cuts down on guilt and expenditures – I think it means more to me now that I’m older than it does to her, so I usually send an e-card and some flowers and, when long-distance, give her a call.  She’s always pleased and reminds me, sincerely:  “You didn’t have to do anything!”

Baby Me climbing Mother Mountain, roaring with delight

This year she got, in lieu of flowers, a $30 Amazon gift card, which she will hopefully spend on herself.  So given her low-key approach, I don’t have a soppy Mother’s Day message, but I do have some beautiful pictures my father sent us of Mom playing with me on the bed as a baby, and I wanted to post a few.  (more…)

On point as usual, The Onion had an article in January called “Cat Refuses to Die” that was both amusing and wince-worthy in its familiarity.  I emailed it to my mom and suggested a blog post recounting our own history of the more ridiculous medical shit we’ve been through with our animals, saying that I thought it would elicit comments.

She wrote back, “Yeah, the comments this will get are that we are crazy people.”

Certainly some people would find the amount of time, money, and energy invested in our pets’ care to be shocking.  Tallying it up is sobering, especially as we’ve only had standard house pets – think about people with horses or exotic animals, who probably spend a fortune in care and maintenance.  With that perspective, our kitty hospice and doggie rehab shouldn’t seem so absurd…

In a house of Responsible Pet-Ownership, we, like many other people, often found our good intentions stretched to extraordinary measures, and often with extreme grossness and expense.

There was our much-beloved Yonkers and the Blood Parasite in the late ‘80s that cost over $2500 to treat (about $4600, according to an inflation calculator).  He spent two weeks in the feline ICU, and we made more than one “final visit.”  Miraculously, Yonkers was eventually discharged with a feeding tube punched through the back of his neck to his esophagus; for feeding, my mother would blenderize cat food, uncork him, and inject it into his neck with a syringe.  He made a full recovery and went on to eviscerate many more lizards, in his day. (more…)

When I moved to Scotland over two years ago, one of the things I purchased on my very first trip to the grocery store was a bottle of Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch Whisky, aged 12 years.  The handsome green bottle was encased in a tall, serious, emblazoned tin, with the prestigious history of the whisky detailed in gold lettering on the back (for quickie course of the proud tradition of whisky/whiskey, the Wikipedia entry is as good as any a place to start).

I stocked up on a number of basic necessities that initial trip – it was a new home, never mind a new country! – but the bottle of whisky still made the list of must-haves.  I was already entertaining fantasies of newfound friends, colleagues, and yes, gentleman callers, popping round for a chat, a smoke, and a civilized drink.  I was ready to embrace Scotland, and if Scotland would embrace me, I would greet it with a glass of decent Scotch and amusing banter!  I was ready for this new life, and eager to partake in the cultural mores of my new home.

Ignoring the fact that I was never actually swept up in my envisioned social whirlwind (due to my inherent loner tendencies and the reality that it was so freezing cold six months out of the year that I left my apartment only to go to work and Blockbuster), the whisky did not go down as smashing a treat as I had imagined.  Oh, I did have people over, but I quickly discovered that the offer of whisky was far less compelling than the offer of beer, wine, or a vodka mixer (all of which I fortunately kept on hand).  It turned out to be a good thing I never sprung for a proper whisky tumbler, after all, as I couldn’t convince anyone to drink the stuff. (more…)

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