Ex Hoss Ted

Yesterday was my first day of school.  It was more likely my 20th first day of school, but, you know: my first day of school on this attempt.

I spent most of last week making sure Drew, Jess, and I were properly outfitted: supplies, clothes, books, schedules, hair-dids, whatnots.  As Monday approached I prayed for a surge of energy to get me through.  A little ripple of nervous energy managed to help, but not enough.  I started a very early morning with my needle closer to E than F.

Too soon, I found that I have a long hike from car to class, comprising about three city blocks and two sets of steep stairs one-way.  It’s a hike I will make 4 times a day, twice a week, unless I can find a better place to park.  I will also make about 10 different trips, on school days, in order to accommodate the cast of characters who still require my taxi services.  After just one day of all this schleping back-and-forth I’m pooped!  I tried to blog yesterday, but even my writing was tired.  Mellow Yellow Monday?  Forget about it!

As I trudged back to my car during hike #4…quads shaking, calves cramped, sweat dripping down my spine…I spied an alumni banner that gave me pause.  They’re all over campus, these banners:  notable alumni with a picture, a name, and a list of accomplishments.  This particular one was Myron Tarkanian.  The face wasn’t immediately familiar, but the name hit me like a ton of bricks.  Tark.  I had him for PE the last time I was here, about 18 years ago.  He was the kind of coach that yelled and teased, ran you nearly into the ground, and instantly became your favorite.  One day, as I chased the rest of the class up and down a stairwell, I heard from two floors above me, “Hey, McCarthy!”

“Wwwwhat?”

“I saw your husband yesterday.”  (He wouldn’t know my husband from Bill Clinton)

“Oh yeah?”

“He said I’m not working you hard enough!”

“He’s a damn liar, Tark!”

And here I am, 18 years later, ready to drop dead only halfway through my cross-campus trek and just up from that hellacious set of stairs, face-to-face with Tark.  Ain’t that a bitch.

Other than being utterly and completely exhausted, I had a good day.  I got into Creative Non-Fiction, for which I was on the waitlist.  The teacher seems fun, so I’m very optimistic.  My second class, Intermediate Composition, I’m not so optimistic about.  I make 3 trudges and 8 car trips by the time I get to that class in late afternoon, and the teacher is dry as Death Valley.  I had a hard time staying awake as he droned through the syllabus.  He perked me up, however, when he asked us all for a writing sample.

I will go back tonight to try to get into another class, U.S. History to 1876.  I’m taking it to help Shelly.  She needs it, but I’m afraid it’ll be too intense, so I’m taking it with her.  It’s not the best reason to take the class, but I’ll get degree credit for it and it does sound interesting, so what the hell.

I’m off to finish my homework.  Stay cool today!  And Happy Birthday to Esther!!!

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Mellow Yellow Monday

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Yellow Parasols

Yellow parasols, courtesty of National Geographic.

I hate summer.  I don’t do heat well at all, especially when it’s humid. I feel like old wilted lettuce.  It’s hard to think or write or do anything, really.  These past couple weeks I’ve been living in my car, it seems, with the A/C runing full-blast.  I have to jump in the shower fully clothed before I go to bed, then sleep in front of a fan.  It’s usually this way until the very tippy end of October, and then I’m dissapointed because the rest of the seasons aren’t as rainy as I want them to be.

I can see myself in the above scene in a sarong, sipping mai-tais and other rocket-fuel concotions cleverly disguised with fruit and tiny paper umbrellas.  Every so often I’d venture out from under my pretty yellow parasol to stroll along the white sand and splash the azure water with a French-manicured toe.  Only it should be raining.  Thunder would be nice.  A light wind wouldn’t be amiss, either.  The resort staff can worry about the puddles and wet sand I track in.

Mellow Yellow Monday

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Potato chip bag

Empty potato chip bag.

It is disgustingly hot today. 98°F (37°C) in the shade on the north porch that never sees sun.  I’m at my parents’ house because I thought it would be a good central location for the people who needed my help today.  Alas, everyone’s plans changed.  I remain, however, in this climate-uncontrolled remnant of the past my parents call home.  You see, If go back to my own home I will bask in the air conditioning while I play mindless PC games, check my Facebook and email every 20 minutes for counterfeit signs of human connection, and get absolutely nothing done.  So here I sit in front of my laptop, next to a box fan, under a ceiling fan, blowing around a bunch of hot sticky air and trying to convince myself that it’s not so bad today.

Friends, 98° in the shade is a bad day.  I can’t fake otherwise.

So moving on to this happy yellow potato chip bag.  Rob hands it to me after emptying it and says, “Hey, check out this contest!  You know, people actually win these things, sometimes two or three times!”  You’ll notice near the bottom right corner, the bag says I could win a million dollars.

It makes me nauseous.  Deep-fried starch on a hot day doesn’t sound appetizing in the least.  Some fresh salsa sounds good, though.  Pico de gallo, specifically: tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and salt.  No jalapeños, no black pepper, not even garlic. Yum. I could eat that with a spoon right now.  It’s just gazpacho without the cucumber, after all.  “You should enter,” Rob says.  “You’re creative.”

Gaaawwwgh! Okay.

So I enter this goofy contest. Turns out it’s an app on Facebook, which doesn’t thrill me but since I have nothing better to blog about, I click it. I invent a flavor name (“Summer Salsa”), pick 3 ingredients (tomato, onion, and cilantro), and give it a description based on my inspiration (something about being hot hot hot today, an August heat wave, and pico de gallo).  It kicks back my description for adult content. wHaT?!  After three tries I take out the “hot hot hot” part, and that does the trick.  I even don’t want to know what kind of person would blush at that.

I can’t say my new flavor is creative, but there it is.  Maybe I should come up with “Potato Salad,” but what kind of flavor ingredients would that include? Pickles? Hard-boiled eggs?  Mayonnaise?  HA!  Wouldn’t that be the most white-bred potato chip flavor ever?

I think I’ll go work on that.

A Coinstar Kind of Writer

“When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.” — Kurt Vonnegut

When I write, I feel  like a Coin Star machine. Ideas pour into my chute like a collection  of coins, with pocket lint and maybe a button or two. The ideas spill in as the universe tilts its jar of stuff, and I sort it out, organize, arrange it all into a collated amount that’s easier to understand. $27.13 is equivalent to Prosey 8-4-12, a practice piece for my Monday night class. $7.89 is my silly Noncation journal.  $6.66 is the blurb about the “fallen angel” crap. $69 is a piece I have saved with a password, and will probably never make public because I’m too embarrassed to publish such naughty things.  Writing, you see, is my way of taking cold, hard pieces of life and  trading them for soft, convenient slips, with color and worth.

Mellow Yellow Monday

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Yellow Cherries

Bing and Rainier cherries

Have you ever seen yellow cherries?  These are a variety called Rainier. We picked these, and the darker red Bing cherries, from a cherry farm at the western tip of the Mojave Desert.  The desert in general isn’t exactly ideal for a cherry farm, but this one is in a small elevated valley with it’s own perfect cherry-growing climate.

Raniers are great for snacking, but these cherries ended up in pies.  My former mother-in-law has the best pie crust recipe in the world. In the WORLD, I tell ya! So we braved a scorching hot June afternoon and picked these beauties solely for a legitimate excuse to indulge in homemade, hot-from-the-oven, melt-in-you-mouth pie crust.

Finished Pie

Angelic pie crust with fresh cherry pie filling. *cue choir of angels*

Noncation, Day 6

This is way late, because frankly I got sick of it.  Recording every day was like being on a vegetable soup diet.  Day one is, “Yay!  Vegetable soup!  Skinny me!”  Day six is, “%^&* this %^&*ing soup and the $%^&ing idiot that came up with it and %^&* it I like being fat anyway.”  Okay not that extreme but you get the idea.  This blogging stuff is hard work.

Day 6

7:30 am:  Wake up for no good reason.  I decide I should clean up a little:  do the dishes, take out the trash.  I turn on the water in the kitchen to let the hot water warm up.  I decide it’s too early for such nonsense.  I turn it off.

8:30 am:  Put the last two farmer’s market eggs on the stove to boil.  Jess calls.  She and John are back on dry land.  Dry land is moving.  She caught five fish:  two dorado, two yellowtail, and one bluefin.  John caught a bluefin.

Fishie fishies

Jess’s catch

There are people at the dock who will process the fish and ship them to you.  Jess and John are having the bluefins made into jerky and the rest fileted.  Jess says that each fish took about 15-20 minutes to pull in.  She caught two more, but lost them when their lines snapped.  Her hands are bruised.  She’s exhausted.  Everything smells like fish.  She hopes  they can take the 5-day trip someday.

9:30 am:  Hear a squeaky pop from the kitchen.  I was so excited about the fishing trip that I forgot about my eggs!  Nothing burnt or ruined, but the eggs might be a little over-cooked.  I fill the pan with cold water and set it aside.  I toast a couple slices of the garlic sourdough.  One of them contains a whole clove of sweet roasted garlic.  Divine.  The eggs aren’t too bad either.

9:45 am:  Hit the Internet for information about these fish Jess caught.  I learn that Bluefin are tuna; yellowtails are jack fish, which are similar to tuna; and dorado is another name for mahi-mahi.  I foresee Jessica’s mother eating very well in the near future.  Perhaps I should look up some recipes.

11:45 am:  Drew sends a text, asks if I’ll pick him up and bring him back here.

1:00 pm:  Drive home.  Seeing the inside of my own home for the first time in days seems surreal.   It’s such a luxury to take a shower with my own soap, dry off with my own towel, and have all the beauty products I want at my disposal.  Being home means not having to go without or make due.  What an epiphany:  to truly appreciate what I have.

Drew tells me all about how he spent last evening.  He donned a fez and technicolor suit, which were recent birthday presents, and met some friends at the weekly street fair down the street.  He bought himself a Dr. Who mug.  He wants to be the next Dr. Who and will wear a colorful suit.  His friends have nicknamed him The Doctor.  He’s thrilled.

Someone recently accused him of being influenced by a “fallen angel” and even asked Jess, “He’s getting darker, isn’t he?”  Here’s my answer to that:

Suit and Fez

The future, multi-hued Dr. Who.

Enough said.

3:00 pm:  Drew is craving McDonald’s fries.  I treat us to the drive-thru.  Tasty, but that’s it:  I’m officially declaring my intention to cook real food again, good readers.

3:30 pm:  Shelly and the folks tumble through the front door.  Mom and Rob collapse into chairs.  Shelly empties the car with a look on her face that says she’s the only one who does anything around here.  Mom says unpacking can wait.  Shelly won’t hear of it and pretends to be annoyed.  I think it’s just excited energy.

Last night they discovered a place about a block away from their hotel called the Forestiere Underground Gardens.  In the early 1900s an Italian immigrant bought a chunk of land in Fresno, CA, intending to grow grapes.  Alas, the climate was too hot and the ground too clay.  He dug through the clay and built himself a cellar to escape the heat and plan his next move.  He discovered that the soil under the clay was rich and fertile.  He planted trees and vines in open subterranean rooms and created a whole complex of underground caverns.  It was one of the highlights of their trip.  If they had come home last night they would have missed it.  I don’t want to say I told you so, but I told you so.

The kids and I, even Joe, score all manner of souvenirs:  mugs, teas, trinkets, t-shirts, jewelry, and a fat wad of cash for my trouble, which was no trouble at all.

(Don’t get excited: it’s already gone.)

And with that, Noncation 2012 comes to an end, while my humble little life goes back to normal.