Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Henry's Lube Job

I read that high power careers require at least two people, one to have the career and the other to get the groceries (or hire and manage the person who does) and clean the pool (or at least be home for the pool cleaner) and hook up the phone lines (or standby between 9 and 4 waiting for the schmuck who does) and to get the oil changed.  Despite lacking "high power", Huck doesn't have time to do this crap. And what else am I doing but standing around looking like a dirty hamper for time-sucking banality.

Blue celebrates Mardi Gras
Since the Honda dealership can never seem to find my name in their computer (I was once eventually found in "corporate accounts" BECAUSE that was the Only way they could put my name in correctly BECAUSE the computer program deosn't recognize spaces in last names BECAUSE computer programmers are a bunch of crap-heads names Johnson and Johnson who haven't left their mother's basement in 12 years and have no idea there are O'Murphys and Van Cracks BECAUSE we have yet to revolt and slaughter them all BECAUSE we are weak and we continue to let them make us feel small.)  and because I have to make an Appointment and because when I arrive no one knows I'm supposed to be there because, again, no one can find my name in the computer.

So this time, I decided to try the new place near our grocery store (I'd tell you the name, but experience tells me that would just result in a lot of comments from their marketers on my blog).  As I drove up, I almost noticed the flashing yellow lights in the warning center of my brain: Something Is Not Right Here.  And these signals came in the form of Natty Gan hats, tweed cutie pies which I myself own.  "Oh Geez," I said to Blue, "They make them wear demeaning costumes."  But when the grease monkey jogged to my car and handed me a menu, I realized that the hats were actually really HOT!  And I almost asked him if he could perform my lube job by turning around and dipping a la Hefner's bunnies (Listen, I just finished his bio and all this trivia is still floating around my cranium).  No bunny tails, however.

Bummer #1)  that wasn't the guy who serviced my car, he was just the hostesser
Bummer #2) I was informed that at this special establishment, I would be sitting in my car while they worked on it.  Meaning: no sharing a small enclosure with strangers as we take turns attempting to cajole the broken soda fountain to give up the goods.  Meaning: no jogging through wind and cold to a holding tank that stinks of car farts and contains leering strangers.  The bummer is sitting in my car.

He handed me a newspaper and I was good to go.  Until 20 minutes later.  I  was still sitting in my car and I was still waiting my turn.  But Oh!  Turns out that was the good time.

I drive over the pit.  And here is this screen right next to me with four live-action boys-in-hats views.  I can see one bending over the hood and two below, all butt-shots that aren't entirely ready for their close-up, and I realize that this is the oil change of choice for paranoids and undiscriminating gay men.  Here I have the opportunity to monitor their every move and pretend I'm making sure they do it right or just stare at their jumper-clad hinies.  But I don't know what it is they do anyway and I can't see any meaningful details in the grainy butt-cams.  What I do get, however is an earful of eavesdropped "office" politics.  Let's just say the acrostic for TEAM here was, roughly, "Bite Me."

The other problem is that I can feel them working on the car. Beneath me.  Beneath my butt.  And this probably never occured to the man who dreamed up this plan, but the whole operation had a very gynecological exam feel to it and I actually squirmed and tightened.

Well, you say, at least you brought a good book to read.  Fabulous, actually.  Peter Sagal's hilarious and smart "The Book of Vice."  Unfortunately (and here is where this business idea finally makes sense) I was interrupted every 30 seconds with "courtesy offers" and up-sales. I'd stupidly rolled right in to this trap.  I was literally a captive audience and this grease-monkey-cum-wiper-shark kept interrupting the chapter on consumption to encourage new this and new that and flushing 8 different fluids and changing 12 types of filters.

As all trapped animals, I became snarly and started baring my teeth.  And when I said no to another intervention, he says, "Oh, you had that done at your periodical, mandatory 120k money flush?" (I'm paraphrasing).

I don't do those. Because this is how it goes: I bring the car in, even though it works fine.  I am inconvenienced all over town and several hours later, they give it back and it's still just fine but my bank account has a $600 gushing gash in it.  And then three months later, I'm at an oil hange and they suggest I need all my fluids rearranged again.  And I say, "That's impossible! I just had the 80k!"  And they say, "Oh, but we don't do that at the 80k."  "Then what the Hell do you do at the 80k for $600?"  I hiss.  So now, if it's dirty it gets changed and if it's not, we drive on by.

After a while, every time this capped kid opens his mouth, I just yell "NO."  Nancy Reagan would be so proud.  And once I got the rhythm down, I just yelled "NO" through my window every 30 seconds.

By the time we left, my butt was numb.  I'd been sitting in my car for over an hour.  Worse than Seattle rush hour.  I'm kidding, at least I moved 10 feet.  But for all that time, we could have been in Ritzville by now.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Deflections on the Good Life

We hustled some hot muffins over to the octogenarian-ette neighbor because she's been laid up with an infected knee.  She's about the sweetest and fanciest thing ever.  She claims to be a city girl, although she moved out here to her husband's mega-acre farm when she was 17.  She drove in to town every day to be a "big city" nurse and still claims to be clueless about farming.  One admires the chutzpah to claim a life totally separate from your husband's.  We adore her.

Seated in her living room, she relishes the company and launches in to a thrilling recap of her Bible Study Fellowship class.  She fishes out her Bible and reads the week's verse, pontificating and expounding upon Isaiah's wisdom and ... how to put that...psychic?... abilities.  I listen.  I let her enthusiasm billow over me.  I try to find points of agreement and stick with those.  I tell her I'm so happy she's getting so much out of that.  "Would you like to come some time?"  She invites.  There's a rabid faith in her eyes, a foaming pit bull who won't take "no" for an answer.  A blood hound.  Can she hear my panicked rabbit heart spasming? Can she smell the fear I am most certainly excreting from my freaked-out glands? How did we get here?  How did I get to this spot where I have to tell this old sweetie pie to shove it?  But rest assured dear readers, I have tools!  I have giant deflectors.

I have become a master of deflection, a journeyman of dodginess.  Here are the tools of my trade:

1a) I say, "I am very involved in my church and don't think I can fit another thing in!"  I love saying I go to church.  In this part of Washington state, it accords you privileges and dignity.  People trust you.  Like you.  People think the best of you and you are free to go.

b) the second part of this tool comes when she asks, "What church do you go to?"
"We are Unitarian Universalists."  I rely on her not knowing what that is, but assuming it's like Lutheran or Episcopal... close enough.  It's camoflage: is that a shrub over there?  or some chick army crawling under Jesus-barbed wire?  Although I tell her the name several times, she clearly can't place exactly what it is.  I like that.

2)  As she rhapsodizes about her church, which in next to ours, and looks like a giant ark with mood lighting and remote controlled curtains, I take my opportunity to further deflect.  I say, "My father is a Pastor."
"OH MY!  What denomination?"
"Non-denominational Protestant generally, but now he's a Mennonite Pastor."
I try to feel no shame using my father's job as cover.  I've done it before.  It once landed me an apartment when I sorely needed one.  When I use this tool, I feel like a feminist stripper:  being a woman is such a crappy, bottom position in this society that I might as well fill my panties with money and make the most of it.
My father's job, unlike most father's jobs, has been my cross to bear... and not because of him.  I recently chatted with someone who was talking about a pastor and his family as if they were all part of a package deal, a hero and his unpaid side-kicks.  My visceral response vacillated between needing an air-sickness-baggie and dieing to bash heads together.  People deny it when pressed, but it's true, the pastor's family is a special brood of gawk-worthy freaks who are just part of his circus act.  I know he tried to shield us from this fate and I could probably fill a very tedious, self-involved book-length blog post about all this but I'll stop right here.  The point is that although I no longer consider myself the Pastor's Daughter, it did impact my formative years as much as if my parents had tattooed my entire body to look like a tiger and made me jump through flaming hoops.  So, if I can occasionally pull something out of that that works to my benefit, I have no... or rather, few.... qualms about doing so.

3)  Deflection device three I didn't use here, but have accessed plenty.  Another one of those: I-paid-the-price,-I'm-leaving-with-my-merchandise situations.  This one goes, "I went to Bible College."  Never mind that I engaged in so much youthful carousing and follies and pool my second semester at the U.S.'s smallest accredited college in the smallest town in central Alaska that when I told them I wasn't returning for a second year, they assured me that I hadn't been invited to anyway.

I feel a little unctuous and smarmy using these tools, like an over-priced, un-showered plumber.

As we left, she says at the door, "I am just so glad to know that I have such good, nice, Christian neighbors!" And Blue looks at me, "Uh...MOM!?"  I smile huge, say SHSHSH, and kick Blue's foot, the universal mother-sign for: shutupshutupshutup.  I turn to M and gush, "It was so good to see you.  We'll come to visit again soon!"

As we walk down her driveway, Blue says, "But MOM!  We're not Christians!"
Maybe I am a Christian after all!
"I know."
"But why didn't you correct her?"
"Because that is a very long conversation and I have to get dinner going.  I didn't mean to be dishonest.  I just didn't want to talk about it."  And what am I supposed to say when she packages it all up that way?  Oh, Sorry neighbor lady, but we're not Christian, we're not nice, and we're not good.  But we are your neighbors, so good luck with that!
"You weren't dishonest," Blue assures, "You told her, like, three times that we're Unitarians."
"Yeah, but I was relying on the fact that she wouldn't know what that was."

There is hilarity and irony in this set of deflectors I have and I am sure there are many South Carolina mall-walkers who would be thrilled to gloat right now.  I spent my teen years approaching strangers every Wednesday night, "witnessing"...  sometimes to serious screamers whose feelings I now get.  I "witnessed" on buses, airplanes, street corners, Lane Bryant.  So I now understand the proselytizer's "thinking" and I sometimes feel it's my penance to put up with it all.  I can't imagine how irritating and annoying I must have been, perky teen pushing "answers".

My Unitarian friends seemed split on how to deal with those of religious persuasions that won't just let us go to hell.  For myself, I can feel the love of the Jesus-Converter; convinced I'm going to hell for eternity, what else can they do if they care at all?  I don't mind if Mormon's induct me into their books or whatever.  And I love to hear that people are praying for me... depends on what they're praying.

But other Unitarians are angered by the affront to their integrity and autonomy and tell all comers to shove-it.  Some felt the noblest path was stating you are not a Christian and then allowing people to see you are good anyway.  Be true to yourself!  And yet, I felt that in this scenario, being true to myself was going home and making dinner.

Some Unitarians, including me, felt that avoiding the topic was a fine way to go, especially in the eastern side of the state and especially when dealing with 80-some year old widows who aren't known for changing their world views.  We do this because we have other things to do with our time and energy, like making dinner.  We don't want to get involved in these discussions willy-nilly as they are exhausting and frequently fruitless.  And because many seem to then filter everything you do through the "Not-good, not-nice, not-Christian" filter. So we quietly deflect and move on with our lives, being good, nice, and dodgy Unitarian neighbors.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dirty Farm Girl

Yesterday was a torrent of unnecessary stress as a friend informed me he couldn't access this here blog because it was flagged as porn.  Yes, folks, life on the farm is porny.  This was after I posted on Facebook "Loves Racking Off!" a term which means to siphon hard cider from one carboy to another, a term that sounds funny if you know what it really means, but frightening if you don't know...which apparently people don't.  This all sent me into a frivolous tizzy, partly because my past is clogged with religious zealots eager to find offense.  Although I find nothing flag worthy in here myself, some of them just might... I honestly don't know... it's hard to read the minds of the religiously insane.

Then I wondered if it wasn't a mix-up of all the other Sarajoy Fresh!  items on Google's tap. That is one scary Google indeed!  Sara Jay loves it all over her face!  And then there's the misstep of simply Googling my entire name because there is a Dutch bestiality star by the same handle.  She also specializes in hand spanking.  I don't know... it's probably just an add for tires if you click on it.  Someone else can do that and report back.

But as it turns out, it was a server problem (that NEVER happens at the Playboy Club! I recently taught Huck the bunny dip after reading Hep Hef's bio and now he serves me all my drinks by turning around and dipping down to set it on the table.  Now for the tail!) and it was suggested that a workplace filter might filter out any blogspot addresses, just on the off chance.  

But you know, I never did like being falsely accused!  I was accused and punished in High School for going on a walk with a friend, because the Head Master (who resigned quickly and under a cloud a few years later) saw us head off down a trail in the woods and thought: "SEX!!!"  The boy was suspended and we were banished from speaking for the rest of the year.  Until we became the forbidden fruit, we never even held hands.  And then I ill-fatedly married him post haste so that I could taste that there fruit without it being so forbidden.  That person was pre-Huck.  

A few years ago, I was pulled aside and given a private lecture by a woman who later turned out to have been "visiting family" but was instead routinely cheating on her husband via interstate orgies.  And SHE had a problem with my few dorky jokes about carrots and shoyulong cucumbers.  THAT was dirty, especially now that we had kids.  Go figure!

All this to say that I HATE being falsely accused by hypocrites.  If I'm going to do the time (even just by some random office filter) I AM going to do the crime.  Hell, who am I to deny some search engine it's fantasy?  Really.  What am I waiting for?  I have no job, no boss, no snow white reputation.  I'm not looking for a spouse or a job (although this will be the first deleted post if I ever start!). I suppose there are corporate head hunters all around, but I doubt I'm in ANYONE's crosshairs.  So what am I so afraid of?  All those witch-hunters from my past who I accidentally friended on Facebook after an extended meditation after which I erroneously thought I could/should love everyone?  (if you are reading this, I'm probably not talking about you!)  Am I afraid of them?  Hell no!  I welcome the constant criticism!  I throw myself willingly into their spikey, poisoned embraces!  Criticize THIS!

I had a photographer come out this morning and take shot some shots of me working hard on the farm
Sarajoy finds this spigot is frozen shut!
oh!  There is goes!
Every hard working farm girl deserves a break now and then!
This ground is so cold!
I left my pocket knife in my other pocket!  Now I have to use baling twine to burn through baling twine!
Sarajoy loves the feel of fresh huge snowflakes on her cheek!
Sarajoy also loves the feel of rough, tough work gloves!
Sarajoy loves to lift humongous loads of Timothy Hay!!! 
Time to get dirty!
Fresh cow shit!
I love cow shit!
Fresh, hot, steaming cow shit all over my face! Oh my god!!
Now, it's time for both of us to start breathing again.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

You either have cows or money

The cow went dry three months early.  This is an operator error.  I didn't know what I was looking for, how to time it, when to insist that The Inseminator come, etc.  It sucks to be cleaning out stalls and tossing 1/2 ton bales of hay around without getting anything for my labors.  The grain bill is down, but the grocery bill is way up.  What can I say... I'm a novice and this is just the sort of mistake we are bound to make.  I've learned to give lots of slack to beginners, to myself as a beginner.  Unlike some people who have no patience for learning... a bossy megalomaniac (not Huck, no way) is getting on my nerves.  Freshman efforts should be treated with gentle guidance.  And I'm learning to give this to myself.  I wish others could be so wise.

On another topic, I love all our contradictory and confusing sayings.  When I was little I used to marvel at how the early bird gets the worm but good things come to those who wait.  Both are true, some times, like a broken clock.  But lately I've been looking at the aphorisms which we tell ourselves that aren't true at all.  Our pastor recently said in a sermon, "No one ever said on their death bed that they wished they had more money."  Ummm... no one you know, maybe.  That could be because people with quaint death-bed experiences during which they relay their final advice usually had plenty of green, that's why they're in a bed, in a hospital.

I can think of several people, just off the top of my head, whose deaths were directly related to not having enough money.  Take Coyote's midwife who died a year ago from a perfectly treatable breast cancer.  But she didn't have health insurance or money, so she never got her symptoms checked out until the cancer was literally choking her and she died two weeks later.  I think of the 35,000 people who die of starvation every single day or the 1 million yearly deaths associated with contaminated drinking water.  Or those who die in the violence of poverty stricken ghettos.  I think, on their death "beds," they may have wished for more money.  But, since most of them are children, perhaps they didn't know the role money might have played in their plight.  No... I think this idea that money isn't "what you wish you had more of" when you lay in your clean, remote-controlled bed with your family all around you (they flew in from all corners of the world to say their final farewell) is a fantasy we all have.  And certainly, everyone should be so fortunate to die in such a peaceful, friendly way at the end of a long life.  But the truth is that many people die every day who wouldn't if they'd had money.

There's also, "The best things in life are free."  Again, see above mentioned food and clean water.  Also health care.  Baby-sitters.  Perhaps, the next best things in life are free, once that life is secure.

And I love to hear this one: "You either have time or money."  HA!  This is always spoken by those who imagine that poor people are poor because they're lazy.  People would tell me this while Huck was in school and I was working.  And we had two kids.  And were on food stamps.  And drove my grandma's '94 Oldsmobile.  We had neither.  And yet people always said this, like since we were poor we must have tons of time we're not using wisely.  Because it's March and it still feels like February, I just want to say right now a sweet little: FORGET YOU! to those wonderful people, bless their confused little hearts.

A girl in the religious high school I went to said that God had chosen to bless her family with money and if He wanted others to have some, He would just give it to them.  So I asked, "What did my family do to deserve poverty?"  She said: "That is between your family and God.  I don't know what you did.  But God does."  At this point, thankfully, the panicked teacher told her to shut up, and not in a nice way.  A probably still thinks that, but maybe she's learned to keep it to herself now.  It's an ubiquitous idea, poverty as just punishment.  Imagine, God's love equals money!  That's what Jesus said, right?

To be fair, the poor have their sayings about the rich.  The scum rising and all that, as was obvious in A's case.  But that's another aphorism to make the bottoms feel better about their position.

Basically, if it's a cliche about money that people want to keep as theirs, it is going to stick around.  If it makes the poor feel like they have nothing to envy, like poverty is a gift (Can't buy happiness!), like it's spiritual and/or simpler to be poor, or dirty to have money, we'll hear it again and again.

To be fair, I do know people whose wealth is kept in perspective and they know it says nothing of their value as a person.  I aspire to be such a lucky wise one!  And I promise that I'll always remember that although we work hard for our wealth, it doesn't mean that people without wealth don't work hard.  I'm just saying here, watch those aphorisms, some of them are well designed to keep you down and loving it.


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