Saturday, May 19, 2018

Going Down With the First Wave

“It doesn’t hurt to have seeds,” my friend said tonight. 

Unlike me, he and his wife have a lot of skills. Skills that will serve them well in the zombie apocalypse or a nuclear blast or whichever comes first. Skills that lots of people here in Alaska have, which I do not. Skills like shooting your own hot dogs and growing your own peas and pickling your own carrots and driving a boat and fixing a gaping wound with duct tape. Skills like that. Skills I’m too lazy and old to acquire, and have zero plans to acquire.

“It doesn’t hurt to have seeds,” I said, but I don’t need to have seeds.” I assured my friends I had no plans to piggy back on their panic room or dry goods storage like some World War Z-era ant-and-grasshopper fable, because I am going down in the first wave.

Here’s what I mean by that: if we’re at a point where I find myself needing seeds to live, I just don’t want to be alive anymore. Like if I can’t drive to Costco to buy seventeen toothbrushes and a gallon of Adams Crunchy Peanut Butter, then I fold. I’m out. I am walking away from the table.

Yeah yeah, I know. This is how it used to be, but the fact is, I was lucky enough to be born in the era of indoor plumbing and 26 different types of mustard, and I’m not going back to caveman times or even Little House on the Prairie times when you spent six hours a day squeezing a cow’s titties for one glass of milk.

No thank you.

I have no interest in zombie and disaster prepping when I’m just going to surrender to the zombies or the radiation anyway, instead of scrapping with my fellow survivors for the last can of Spam and exist in survival mode until we die anyway. Everyone can count on me to just be done at that point, and one less mouth to compete with.

BUT WHAT ABOUT YOUR CHILDREN, YOU SELFISH BITCH?! I’m glad you asked! THEY were born here and have pliant minds and ingenuity. They’ll be just fine.

As for me, it’s a hard pass on the second wave of the apocalypse.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Lord of the Seawalk, Hear My Prayer for Unity!

O Mighty Whale, Lord of the Seawalk, Hear my prayer! I knoweth not your name—is it Willy? Ishmael? Ahab? Wally? Whalie? Whatever it is—it’s actually Tahku, I just learned—you are a bronzed God among cetaceans! 

To suggest otherwise is heresy. 

May your regal tailfin rest in its infinity pool for eternity/infinity, until the very sky crumbles around you. May your nimble breach be forever frozen in place, receding only when the sun itself explodes and the Big Bang reverses itself into the Bang Big and everything that ever existed on earth is returned to the cosmos as infinitesimal particles of atomic dust.

May no living soul ever question the prudence of your existence; for to suggest that Tier One Millionaire Dollars™, among other dollars from the High Net Worth Community™, which funded you could perhaps have been put to a different, human-being oriented-use, or that your existence is perhaps .000000000001% imprudent, is to cast undue aspersions upon your beatific majesty.

May your very soul be vindicated through successful litigation with the cruise ship industry, which everyone knows is a greedy and litigious asshole, but which we all need to survive here because Juneau is the Northern Bahamas as clearly you know from your own migrations, or more accurately, that of your sentient kin. There is also something in there about the tonnage clause, I think, which I do not understand because I am not a maritime lawyer, and neither are you, because you are a whale and did not go to law school and also you are made of bronze.

May you be shielded from the slings and arrows of outrageous Facebooking, comment boards, Twitter, and any social media campaign intended to discredit you or suggest that the public will and resources reflected in your shining bronzed barnacles should have gone to schools or opioid treatment or homelessness or whatever because as everyone knows that is a different source of funding!

May your architects smile down upon you from their perch in Heaven and nod with approval, knowing that you are encircled with love by countless cruise ship passengers wearing down jackets in 70 degree weather with a Princess Cruise Line blue plastic poncho draped over them, because there is a single rain cloud over your head.

And to that end, may the only clouds over your metal blowhole be those borne of Divine Providence, and the shadow of the Mighty Eagle, which in its patriotic glory from 50 feet above releases from its cloaca a massive dump of eagle shit right into your baleen, which I must say is not very MAGA, and is deeply disrespectful, frankly, but makes for a good photo op to the delight of the aforementioned cruise ship passengers.

May no one again in your presence mention the word “school,” unless by “school” they mean “pod,” or perhaps a school of bronzed salmon, for which I will be commissioning and soliciting donations at the earliest opportunity right after I put your pic on my Insta. 

Flex for the 'Gram, Tahku, STUNT IT LIKE YOU OWN IT!

Not since the Great Fluoride Debate of ’06 has our Southeast Alaskan hamlet been so torn asunder by a public works project. We must take our lessons from the pages of history: the Nimbus, Project Playground, that historic clock on Front Street that was actually built in the ‘80s, and all swallow a giant fucking chill pill, because really none of this matters at the end of the day.

O! Would that the greatest thing ever to divide us be a statue, and may your indomitable marine mammalian strength and fortitude, gleaming in the sun or more often the rain, serve to forever unite the masses as One.

Forever and ever, Amen.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Walking with Isaac

Only within the past year or so has it begun to sink in that Isaac is pulling away from me; that I will never have him back again in the same way.

When he was nine months old, Geoff took both kids to California to visit their grandparents, as he does every spring break. As usual, I stayed behind because I had to work. When they returned, Isaac, wearing little footie-pajamas, greeted me with rage and upset and tears of betrayal. I felt a crushing pang of “working mother” guilt: Should I have figured out a way to go on the trip? Was Isaac too young to be away from me for a week, even with his dad and primary caregiver? Did I traumatize him for life? 

Something feels different about the mother-son relationship. It could be my kids' personalities and not their genders, but I think there is some sort of socialized gender-conformity or Freudian aspect to this too. I can feel the push-pull of Isaac’s resistance to intimacy in a way I don’t with Paige. Paige is freely affectionate and never embarrassed by me. Isaac wants to be left alone. He only wants hugs—NOT KISSES. Although he’s only 7 and a half, he doesn’t want me to wave goodbye or hug him when I drop him off at school or sports. Basically, he wants very little to do with me at this point. Or, more accurately, when he does want to be around me, he doesn’t say it directly and I have to intuit it.

That’s what happened last night when I came home from work and put on my running clothes. It was a rare warm and sunny day in Juneau; there was no way I was missing an opportunity to make my punishing after-work exercise less punishing by doing it outside instead of on the treadmill. Geoff was cooking dinner and Paige was walking around the neighborhood selling tickets to her dance show.

“Can I go running with you?” Isaac asked hopefully. I sighed inwardly, knowing that this would scuttle any real exercise I was hoping to get, but I responded with an enthusiastic “sure,” instantly recognizing an increasingly rare overture to hang out with me.

We started off down the hill from our house, with seven dollars scotch-taped into Isaac’s pocket and my iPhone playing music. The first person we saw was our neighbor, Bob, cleaning out his boat. 

“Heading out today?” Isaac asked as if he were a twenty-something deckhand on a commercial fishing vessel making small talk with a fellow fisherman. “Nope, I’m a long ways away from that still, Isaac” said Bob, engaging Isaac in conversation about his electric boat. “Most boats use gas?” Isaac asked incredulously. “Yes, a lot,” I offered. Then we saw Paul working on his garden. “I like your garden!” Isaac called out jovially.

The rest of the walk sort of went like that. Sun drunk and happy, we half-walked/half-ran down the hill. Isaac stopped along the way numerous times to make observations about the nature hiding in plain sight in our neighborhood. 

“Look! A cotton-foot!,” he said pointing to a little bird hopping around in the brush. “This is an invasive species,” he said a few minutes later, picking up something that looked like rhubarb but wasn’t. I barely know a sparrow from an eagle or rhubarb from a cactus, so it’s also increasingly obvious that Isaac is quickly outstripping my knowledge of Alaskan flora and fauna. 

"Wow, that's a big eagle," he said looking up at what indeed was a very big eagle riding thermals among the spruce trees. "I want to stop and watch him for a minute."

We arrived at the store and got a quick, sulk-inducing lesson in arithmetic when the items Isaac had selected added up to 31 cents more than the seven dollars in his pocket. He chose gum and candy instead of a spicy hot pickle, which he pronounced “too intense.” He held my hand crossing the street; I could tell he was feeling sad and frustrated about under-budgeting his purchases.

We began our walk back up the steep hill, and Isaac retrieved a long stick from the ground. “This is going to be very useful,” he announced, “for marshmallows and hot dogs, but also I want to put this bag on here like a bozo.” (He meant “hobo”). 

I filmed him for a minute and twenty seconds explaining how to clean and prepare fiddle head ferns for eating, and asked him if I could share it on my blog. He said yes, but then when we re-watched the video together, he asked me to take it down because he claimed he had “made a mistake” and didn’t want to sound ignorant. I tried to explain that no one would care, that people would be interested in hearing his botany lesson, but he was insistent so I honored his wishes. He asked me to explain a #Resistance yard sign in front of a house, mistaking it for a for-sale sign, so I told him to read it out loud and then explained what it meant.

I thought back to that moment 15 minutes earlier when Isaac held my hand crossing the street. I was conscious of the fact that he will not want to hold my hand very much longer, or very frequently. I’m 40 and Isaac is almost 8, and I know I’ve made a choice. The more time that goes by, the more I can blame the passage of time for my choices, but the fact is I am not having any more babies (if I can help it), and I’ll have lots of other chances to go for a run.

I’m glad I chose walking with Isaac.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The President of the United States Called Undocumented People Animals Today

Let that sink in. I’ll wait. Of all the scary crazy that Trump has unleashed on us in his 1.5 years in office, calling undocumented immigrants “animals” is a new low, and one that should not go unremarked upon.

Let’s unpack this MoFo.

Trump made this terrifyingly genocide-friendly remark at an “immigration roundtable” at the White House with administration aides, California law enforcement, and political leaders. Even under the best of circumstances, roundtables, stakeholder groups, panels, and listening sessions are often futile and punishing. 

But an immigration roundtable led by Donald Trump? That sounds like a special kind of circus, which it was, because Trump once again revealed the lengths to which his racist ass will go to slander and dehumanize non-whites.

Let’s be clear about something: the dehumanization of humans is a fundamental ingredient—a prerequisite really—to genocide. It’s like flour in a cake. You can’t bake one without it.

In order to effectuate ethnic cleansing, internment, eugenics, and other evil and unspeakable violations of human rights, you need to convince those who carry out your policies that their targets are less than human. 

Most people aren’t sociopaths, so the architects of the transatlantic slave trade and of genocide in countries like Nazi Germany, Bosnia, and Rwanda had to convince participants in these atrocities that the targeted group were apes, rats, cockroaches—animals. Only then is it possible for most people to treat them as such. And more than that, genocidal lunatics also have to convince the populace that their actions are just and necessary for the good of the nation.

It might be 2018, but Donald Trump’s dangerous rhetoric has dark historical precedent. Dark, especially, because usually those who are not victims are bystanders, and those who are not bystanders are participants. Anyone in a government-issued uniform can convince themselves of anything. History has shown us as much.

We must not be bystanders in 2018 America.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

I Have Tried and Failed to Muster a Fuck About the Royal Wedding

I have, I really have. And I just can’t do it you guys. 

Even for someone who gives PLENTY of fucks about stupid shit—like what flavor of Doritos is the best (it’s Cool Ranch) and whether you can buy the dust as a seasoning/drug to snort (you can’t)—I simply do not have a single, solitary fuck to spare for the imminent union of Prince Hot Ginge and Meghan Markle.

Not a one.

I gave zero fucks about my own wedding to a ginge (aka I didn’t really have one per se) and I have a hard enough time distributing what limited nuptial fucks I do have to the weddings of my friends and family, where such fucks are needed or at a least expected.

So I don’t have any fucks left for these two, and I’ll tell you why.

The main reason is that it’s RIDIC AF that there is even such a thing as kings, queens, princesses, and princes in 2018. IN REAL LIFE?! I mean, it is downright laughable when you think about it.

Like seriously. This is someone's job. Being a PRINCE. Or PRINCESS. in 2018. Like wut. "Hi, here I am. Let me rest my bejeweled scepter against this golden lion as you kiss my ring hello. I'm a character from the Little Mermaid, and literally there is Disney on Ice and pink plastic castles in every little girl's room that look like my house, except also everyone in my family is inbred but in a very FANCY way not a gross TRASHY way and it's completely fucking crazy." 

Monarchy is a ridiculous form of government and everyone knows it, so the only thing worse than being a prince in 2018 would be to be a prince in a democracy where you are actually a JOKE version of a prince. 

And that is basically what Prince Hot Ginge and Megan are to the rest of the world.

I'm not trying to drink the haterade on these two or throw shade just for shade's sake. I'm sure Prince Hot Ginge and Megan are lovely people with complex thoughts and lives and careers who have done many wonderful things. 

I'm just saying: the idea that you could actually with a straight face introduce yourself as a KING or a QUEEN or a PRINCE or PRINCESS or even a DUCHESS and not snort-laugh out loud at yourself every time you said it is unfuckingfathomable to me.

The fact that a prince and princess are getting married and the whole wide world is going to watch it on TV is a really amazing thing when you think about it. And not amazing in a good way. Not in a bad way, exactly. But definitely not in a good way.

As for me, I'll probably still watch footage of this the day after and read about Megan's dress while I'm eating a six-inch Subway turkey sandwich at my desk like everyone else. But I'm going on record in advance to register my view that the concept of a "royal wedding" in a 2018 democracy is more ridic than Santa Claus marrying the Tooth Fairy.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Transcript of the Trump-Hannity Nightly Phone Call

According to a recent report in The Hill, Sean Hannity is:
One of a few dozen people who have access to Trump’s official phone line, and the two speak on the phone nearly every night after Hannity’s show. Current and former White House officials familiar with the relationship told the magazine that the conversations help Trump ‘decompress’ at the end of the day.
Welp, O.H.M. is the only place on the internet with an exclusive transcript of last night’s conversation!

Donald: Sean, OMG, Hi.

Sean: OMG! Donald! Hieeeeyyyyy!

Donald: Your show was like, SO AMAZING tonight. Also, I like, SO totally can’t believe what Robert Mueller is doing right now.

Sean: I know, right? It’s a TOTAL witch hunt.

Donald: TOTAL. It’s really, really SAD.

Sean: What are you wearing to work tomorrow?

Donald: I was thinking those 45 cuff links and an extra-long tie with Scotch tape

Sean: OMG I was thinking the same thing! Can we be twinsies?

Donald: Toooootally.

Sean: Wait . . . did you hear Crooked Hillary got lost in the woods in Chappaqua AGAIN?

Donald: OMG seriously? That is soooooooo funny. She’s SUCH a loser. She's like, an even bigger loser than Cryin' Chuck Schumer and Liddle Bob Corker and Pocahontas and Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd all put together.

Sean: I know, right? Her pants suits are hideous too. And that voice? UUUGH. Meanwhile, what are we gonna do about all these leakers?

Donald: Ugh, the leaking is so lame. Total traitors and cowards, by the way.

Sean: Oh, BIGLY. It’s like the fake news media doesn’t even CARE about Uranium One and Hillary’s emails. Such bullshit.

Donald: I know right?! SUCH bullshit! 

Sean: Same with all these illegals. You like, HAVE to build the wall, Donald.

Donald: Oh I’m TOTALLY building the wall and Mexico is SO paying for it. BIGLY!

Sean: You’re the BEST, Donald. I love you.

Donald: No YOU'RE the best. You’re like, the only person on TV who ever tells the truth.

Sean: No you.

Donald: No you.

Sean: No you.

Donald: No you.

Sean: What are you wearing?

Donald: You mean, right now?

Sean: Yeah . . . *sound of heavy breathing and zipper*

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mom Macabre

"Oh my GOD," she whispers under her breath. "Look at this one. This one was just a baby." Her green eyes, a mirror image of mine, grow wide as she leans in and squints at the tiny headstone. "You know, Elizabeth," her voice descends to that somber register and tone she takes when she's about to drop literal science. "Babies used to die all the time before there were vaccines and antibiotics." 

I'm paying rapt attention. I conjure a vivid image in my nine year-old mind: a woman who looks like Mary from later-season Little House on the Prairie. A doctor making house calls at a cabin in the woods. A fire in the wood stove. A blizzard raging outside. The mother wailing as she rocks back and forth in a wooden chair, begging the doctor to save her febrile infant.

"See, right there," she points. "It says right there: May 6, 1894- April 11,1895. She wasn't even one year old." 
She clucks her tongue and shakes her head as we wander among the headstones of another old east coast cemetery, dry brown November leaves and acorns crunching underfoot, hunting for the most tragic cases we can find.

My mom's fascination with death was as much a fixture of my childhood as a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies might be in a more conventional household. It was just something my mom did: thought about death, talked about death, worked around death. It was part of who she was. 

Death was to be feared and avoided, but it was never to be buried or ignored. It was to be discussed. Acknowledged. Thought about. Revered, almost.

She'd watched both her parents die of cancer; lived with her senile Yiddish-only speaking grandmother for a year; was abandoned by her biological family; and placed in foster care with complete strangers all before she turned 13. 

She wanted to be a nurse, but her high school guidance counselor encouraged her to go to medical school. So she had, abandoning a PhD in chemistry to become an internist and then a psychiatrist. She was depressed and anxious when I was young, and constantly working to overcome her childhood traumas.

"Are you scared of dying?" I asked her recently. It was probably the millionth question I'd asked her about death in the course of my lifetime.

“Not at all," she answered, definitive. "I always assumed I would die young, like my mother. I never thought I would live to this age. So I sort of look at every year of living as improbable and remarkable." 

My mom isn't on social media and doesn't care about Mother's Day. But I still want to thank her for working so hard on her mental health. She had such a shit childhood, and worked so hard to recover from it with no modeling and no roadmap. I know how much I'm winging this mom thing, and my mom was winging it even more, with her hands kind of tied behind her back, psychologically speaking. 

This was someone who thought she invented grilled cheese and that she was the only person who farted and just generally had no one to answer her questions about anything. She made up explanations for stuff as she went along, and had to figure out lots of very basic things on her own. She’s still completely addicted to chocolate, she claims because people kept bringing it after her mother's funeral and eating it comforted her.

There's an old joke that the only two certainties in life are death and taxes, but not for my mom. For my mom, there are three certainties in life: death, chocolate, and cemetery tourism.