10 Jun 2012

A Relationship as Explained via Simon and Garfunkel Songs.

Written by sally @ 7:32 am — Section: sally

1. For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her
2. April Come She Will
3. Song for the Asking
4. America
5. The Dangling Conversation
6. Fakin’ It
7. Overs
8. So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright

4 Jun 2012

Oh, Yay, a List.

Written by sally @ 3:06 pm — Section: sally

1. I haven’t been able to read much lately — not because I’m super busy having loads of fun; the opposite, actually: I’m super busy having loads of unfun — but this weekend I read John Jeremiah Sullivan’s Pulphead, a collection of fantastic essays. There’s a great one about The Real World, where he hangs out with Mike (The Miz!), Coral, and Melissa (New Orleans Melissa), but the best is one about Michael Jackson. It’s possible to read it and remember how awesome Michael Jackson was without immediately cancelling out the awesome thought with the child molesty thoughts. (It’s called “Michael.”)

2. I also haven’t really been watching tv, although I have discovered a show that blends the best elements of HGTV, House Hunters + any remodel/redecoration show. It’s called Love It or List It, in which asshole homeowners who have been living in a state of half-completed renovation projects get the opportunity to tell a British lady “here is all the stuff you gotta do for us” and she has to do it all. Meanwhile, a shifty real estate agent is trying to find them a different house to buy where everything is already done and all they have to do is move in. WHO WILL WIN? It’s actually about half and half, and everyone acts horrible and whiny. The homeowners are all miffed that the British lady can’t get six months’ worth of work done in a weekend and the British lady is miffed with the real estate guy for showing them awesome houses. The homeowners are by and far the best/worst part. Bonus: a lot of times the husbands are also contractors so they are also bossy/think they know everything about home repair.

3. A friend recently texted me that she had eaten three-quarters of a pizza and was that bad. I responded, digging deep into my food history, that I once ate two Big Macs out of spite. (Look, I didn’t want my stepfather to eat the other one! They were $.99 and we’d bought a bunch.)

4. Planning an event a year ago, I just wanted to offer fruit, cheese, and crackers, but a lady who knows better wanted these little roll-up sandwich thingies. She won because she said this: “This way, we’ll give ’em a little taste of meat.” I could not argue. I also could not get the phrase “taste of meat” out of my head, especially the way she said it, her tongue crisply clicking against the back of her teeth on the final t.

5. I can’t top “give ’em a little taste of meat.”


31 May 2012

Are You a Weirdo? Take This Quiz and Find Out!

Written by sally @ 8:41 am — Section: sally

1. You and a gentleman you don’t know both have to pee. You each go into the restrooms of your respective genders. You are done first. When you hear him behind you, you turn around and say:

a) Nothing
b) “I beat you!”

2. You are in an incredibly boring meeting. It is all women and one man. What do you do?

a) Pay attention to the meeting; work is important.
b) Doodle your name on your paper.
c) Try to figure out the man’s sexual orientation.

3. In the meeting, the light directly over your head turns off. What do you say?

a) Nothing; I’m paying attention to the meeting because work is important, remember?
b) Nothing, but I make a face and laugh a little.
c) “Oh, damn. I just lost an idea.”

4. During the meeting, when you say something you didn’t think was weird at all, what does your supervisor do?

a) Nothing; she agrees that it wasn’t weird.
b) Nothing, but she cringes a little.
c) Shakes her head and mouths, “Don’t say that” at you.

5. Did you discover that your high school yearbooks are included in a genealogical database and have you printed out a picture of that guy you had a crush on for 20 years when he was dressed in his cheerleader uniform and taped it to the wall of your office?

a) No.
b) Yes.

30 May 2012

Layers of Terror.

Written by sally @ 3:40 pm — Section: sally

10. Rosemary’s Baby-esque betrayal
9. drowning
8. drowning in a vat of mayo
7. frogs
6. bats
5. roaches
4. seeing unkempt feet
3. pickles
2. barfing
1. murder

20 May 2012


Written by sally @ 7:16 pm — Section: sally

Lady 1: So wait, HOW many last names have you had?
Lady 2: Lemmee count…six, I guess. Yeah, back in the day, it only cost two-fifty to get a divorce. Nowadays it’s up to five, six hundred.


(Story reported by a field agent in New Orleans for a wedding)

19 May 2012

The Chic Fox.

Written by sally @ 6:46 am — Section: sally

I have survived a week of exciting workplace training! Technically, it wasn’t really workplace training, more “generalized hey you supervise people” training, and thus, there were many non-research emporiumists there. This is usually the kind of situation that brings on the hives, but I was sort of distracted by getting myself packed for the week and Spike packed for the week that I didn’t have time to get all torqued up about it. See, I supervised the situation by ignoring it! That is what I plan to do with my staff when their behavior threatens to give me hives.

As always, put me in the room with 50 other people for a week, and I will write down all the weird stuff they say. This group did not disappoint. (To be honest, they didn’t disappoint in any way. I had a good time, made some pals, thought some people were weirdos, and all was well.)

–In an exercise, we had to choose which animal we identify with — St. Bernard, fox, or lion — then list the qualities of those animals. I was in the fox group, and after the group listed craftiness, cunning, they love chicken (that was my answer), etc, this girl said, “They’re chic.”

–A lady in her 60s appeared to have a nosering. It kind of suited her, as she was talkative and quirky and reminded me of a stock character in one of those chick lit books where the main plot is that everyone likes Jane Austen. I noticed it, but didn’t say anything. Later in the week, I heard someone ask her about the nosering. She then explained, “It’s not a nosering! It’s a…what do you call it? Oh, it’s a mole. Or maybe, I don’t know, it’s a wart.” Girl, you got something on your nose! You should be able to identify what it is. Jane Austen would.

–A lady who I THOUGHT was in her 50s but is, in fact, MY AGE wore a shirt with a fake vest attached to the front and a Pat Benetar purse. She was super nice and had a great laugh. She also had the most ineffective bra I have ever seen. I made a point to look at her shoulders for tell-tale bra strap bumps, and lo, I saw them. I have spent too much time wondering about her bra. Is it just an old bra, or does she prefer to keep things swinging low? Does she buy her bras at a store where there’s not a salesperson there to help, like Target, or does she go to a department store and listen to the terrible advice of one rogue undergarment consultant? Maybe everyone in her town wears their boobs like her! Seriously, I need answers.

–The keynote speaker for one of the events quoted George Eliot. Except she thought George Eliot was a man.

–A girl misread a statement containing the word “morality” as “mortality,” then delivered a treatise about how that statement, I don’t know, just seemed kind of negative to her. It went on for a while before someone corrected her. This person also claims she sleeps on two box springs and a mattress. I’ve never heard of such a thing, and I can’t understand why this would be something you would a) do or b) talk about. Is there some advantage, comfort-wise? I understand that it makes her bed taller, certainly, but besides that, I’m perplexed. P.S. She was the one who said foxes were chic. I need to follow her around and write down everything she says! She is fascinating.

–One of my favorite moments of the week was this one, in which this outwardly nice person’s dark innards were revealed. There were some handouts being passed around the room. The guy next to me tried to take one, but the staples of two were stuck together. He fought with them for awhile, then just took two and passed the rest. He got them undone after a few seconds. The speaker said, “Did everyone get one?” The lady with the nosering mole said, “I didn’t.” The speaker started to panic and had to shuffle around looking for one. I looked at my seatmate’s two copies sitting in front of him. He didn’t say anything, but was fingering the staple of the second copy, watching the speaker scrounge up another copy.

–At lunch, a group of us were talking about fried stuff on a stick at the fair. Apparently, people have negative views of eating fried stuff on sticks at the fair! I had lots of opinions on the Snickers, the Twinkie, and the Oreo, and expressed them (the Oreos are really the best, as the outside is crunchy with fried, and then the chocolate cookie, which is USUALLY crunchy, gets melty; delicious). Then I said, “Yeah, I could go on and on about this subject!” The lady sitting across from me at the round table just looked at me and emphatically shook her head no.

–For the most part, the week was free of politics, but there was a bit of a discussion about gay marriage. One guy was very much against it, and gave a long speech about how his rights would be taken away if gays could marry (?), how one man/one woman is the only way, et cetera. I think the main reason no one challenged him or even asked a question is that he had a very thick lisp.

–A lady I ate dinner with told the table very matter of factly that she does not have a sense of humor.

10 May 2012


Written by sally @ 9:51 am — Section: sally

1. Do you know what is delicious? Manwich.

2. I’ve lost the ability to read adult books. Not ADULT-adult, just regular books that grown up humans might read. I still have a stack of books I got for Christmas (I’m looking at you, The Family Fang) that are untouched. I’m just not in the mood. However, there is a part of me that always needs to be reading, so I have started re-reading my old pre-teen books. I got my copy of The Rise and Fall of a Teen-age Wacko yesterday in the mail, and it is every bit as good/terrible as I remember! Laura loves to shop at Bloomingdale’s but must spend her summer in a dumb cabin with her parents. Then she gets a job babysitting back in the city, buys a dress she thinks is magical, and then trips and falls into the set of a Woody Allen movie. BRING IT.

3. If you are experiencing Sad Times™, I recommend texting your now-gay (obvs then-gay too) high school boyfriend-type-person and accusing him of not wanting to kiss you 22 years ago. Then he will point out that he was gay. Then you will point out that he kissed other girls, especially that skank Julie. Then he will point out that that happened in middle school and doesn’t count. Then voila! Your Sad Times™ will be gone!

4. I got into an argument yesterday with a friend who insisted that had she been on the Titanic, she is SUCH a good swimmer that she could’ve swum to safety. No amount of “uhh, hypothermia, sister” or “what about the 40 pounds of 1912 underwear you would’ve been wearing” would wear her down. I am just now thinking that perhaps in 1912 she wouldn’t have grown up with an in-ground pool and thus she would’ve drowned like everybody else. BAM! I think part of the issue was that we had an audience, and to my delight, a middle-aged lady got into the mix as well, waving her arms around and talking about how she saw a special a few weeks ago and basically you have six minutes to live once you hit the water and what are you talking about et cetera. I didn’t win because she never backed down, but basically, I think we all know that I won.

5. Do you know what is also delicious? Putting cheese and avocado on your Manwich. What? If you are currently thinking “I would never eat a Manwich” then you are missing out. For years — at least five — I made my own sloppy joe filling. It’s not hard. Then one day I really didn’t have time to chop or simmer and tried ye olde Manwiche. It was delicious. Beyond delicious. I think it’s because the second ingredient is high fructose corn syrup.

8 May 2012

Two Recent Conversations.

Written by sally @ 8:35 pm — Section: sally

Person 1: I’m going to die alonnnnnnnnne.
Person 2: Ooh, and maybe your cats will start to eat you before anyone finds your decaying body!

[Note: this is the only acceptable response to “I’m going to die alone.”]

Person 1: That’s a really cute top.
Person 2: Thanks…although I have to confess something.
Person 1: Are you…are you a lesbian?
Person 2: No, this shirt is by Miley Cyrus.
Person 1: Don’t feel bad! My shoes are Reba McIntire. See? (rips off shoe, waves around in air)
Person 2: I never would’ve known!
Person 1: So where does one go to buy Miley Cyrus-wear?
Person 2: Wal-Mart.
Person 1: Of course!
Person 2: I have it in blue, too.


27 Apr 2012

Oh, Good, a List.

Written by sally @ 12:42 pm — Section: sally

Spike and I went to my grandmother’s house a few weekends ago for a visit, and I’ve been meaning to tell you several things:

1. I drove on the Jerry Clower Highway.

2. A place on Jerry Clower Highway was selling baby pot-bellied pigs for $50.99. I almost called just to discuss this price point. That extra $.99 intrigues me.

3. Two things happened while talking to my grandmother and cousin that reinforced the awkwardness I usually feel around my family. I try hard to assimilate and talk about pot-bellied pigs, and then these things happen:

a. My cousin has a new(ish) baby. My grandmother said, “Look at his eyelashes! Wonder why boys always have the eyelashes?” and I said, “It’s the same reason male birds are the pretty ones, the ones with ornamentation; to attract females.” Crickets chirped. I continued: “You know, because women are the ones who are impressed with such things!” I stopped myself before I started quoting this song from “Hair”:
There is a peculiar notion that elegant plumage and fine feathers are not proper for the male
When actually
That is the way things are in most species.

b. My grandmother, whose father was a twin, said something about how my cousin Rusty would probably be the one to have twins. I dumbly started talking about eggs and sperm and how boys don’t ovulate. To my grandmother.

4. I also opened the medicine cabinet in the front bathroom, which was full of old man toiletries and medications. They were my grandfather’s, and apparently had not been touched since he died…eleven years ago.

5. Spike stepped on a bee! The bee stung him! It occurred to me as he howled that there is no easy way to discover if your child has a life-threatening bee sting allergy except to see if he stops breathing (thanks, A Taste of Blackberries, for making me PETRIFIED of bee stings as a kid!), but he kept screaming and thus did not die. (I gave him a Benadryl before bed anyway.)

6. I hung clothes on the clothesline for the first time ever. I did not hang this item out of principle:

7. Speaking of principle, I would like to thank Beverly Cleary for addressing the difference between principle and principal in one of the Ramona books. The principal is your PAL so that is how you spell that one. I think of it every time I spell those! (Including the one above.) (Obviously.)

8. Not grandmother’s house related: a few weeks ago I had a dream that Richard Lewis plotted to kill me, which reminded me “hey Richard Lewis exists” and also “I used to love that show Anything but Love” and so I got the first season on Netflix. While it is very 1989, Richard Lewis is a super fox. The hair. People, the hair. It is luscious. It is its own character. He tosses it, he strokes it, he preens it. I would let the hair kill me in a future dream. Best dream-about-getting-murdered-leading-me-to-remember-a-tv-show ever!

23 Apr 2012


Written by sally @ 12:29 pm — Section: sally

I just saw on Twitter that Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was released ten years ago today. Ten years! I sat there and stared at that tweet for awhile, trying to figure out how it could be so/how I could prove them wrong.

Wilco toured when it first came out, and on the way to the show, my then-husband was mad at me. He was never mad at me, and I found it exhilarating. I was so exhilarated that I made up new nonsense lyrics to “Kamera,” something like “I’ve got some caca/in my eye,” and was happily singing along. It was one of the best days of our marriage. And apparently it was ten years ago!

And speaking of April 23, four years ago today this baby I know was extracted from my body, this really cute baby with a lot of hair and a pug nose. I’m having a hard time with time passage lately, but wow: four years old, Spike? HOW COULD YOU? We had a very nice pirate-themed party this weekend (although a week ago Spike said he wanted pirates NEXT year and a soccer party THIS year and I had to say, you know what? NO) and today he went to school wearing a t-shirt that says “I AM 4” and with some four-shaped cookies for his class.

Happy birthday to my favorite child!

P.S. I’m listening to Deee-Lite as I write this. I borrowed this album from someone twenty-two years ago.

20 Apr 2012

I’ll Ruin This By Saying, “Rilke is My Jam.”

Written by sally @ 7:30 am — Section: sally

At night he stands up, the distant call of birds
already deep inside him; and feels bold
because he has taken all the galaxies
into his face, not lightly–, oh not like someone
who prepares a night like this for his beloved
and treats her to the skies that he has known.

–from Rilke’s “The Spanish Trilogy” (2)

16 Apr 2012

The Night was Pitiless.

Written by sally @ 2:05 pm — Section: sally

Washing the Corpse

They had, for a while, grown used to him. But after
they lit the kitchen lamp and in the dark
it began to burn, restlessly, the stranger
was altogether strange. They washed his neck,

and since they knew nothing about his life
they lied till they produced another one,
as they kept washing. One of them had to cough,
and while she coughed she left the vinegar sponge,

dropping, upon his face. The other stood
and rested for a minute. A few drops fell
from the stiff scrub-brush, as his horrible
contorted hand was trying to make the whole
room aware that he no longer thirsted.

And he did let them know. With a short cough,
as if embarrassed, they both began to work
more hurriedly now, so that across
the mute, patterned wallpaper their thick

shadows reeled and staggered as if bound
in a net; till they had finished washing him.
The night, in the uncurtained window-frame,
was pitiless. And one without a name
lay clean and naked there, and gave commands.

–Rainer Maria Rilke (translated by Stephen Mitchell)

14 Apr 2012


Written by sally @ 8:42 am — Section: sally

The Junior High School Band Concert

When our semi-conductor
Raised his baton, we sat there
Gaping at Marche Militaire,
Our mouth-opening number.
It seemed faintly familiar
(We’d rehearsed it all that winter),
But we attacked in such a blur,
No army anywhere
On its stomach or all fours
Could have squeezed through our crossfire.

I played cornet, seventh chair,
Out of seven, my embouchure
A glorified Bronx cheer
Through that three-keyed keyhole stopper
And neighborhood window-slammer
Where mildew fought for air
At every exhausted corner,
My fingering still unsure
After scaling it for a year
Except on the spit-valve lever.

Each straight-faced mother and father
Retested his moral fiber
Against our traps and slurs
And the inadvertent whickers
Paradiddled by our snares,
And when the brass bulled forth
A blare fit to horn over
Jericho two bars sooner
Than Joshua’s harsh measures,
They still had the nerve to stare.

By the last lost chord, our director
Looked older and soberer.
No doubt, in his mind’s ear
Some band somewhere
In some music of some Sphere
Was striking a note as pure
As the wishes of Franz Schubert,
But meanwhile here we were:
A lesson in everything minor,
Decomposing our first composer.

–David Wagoner

13 Apr 2012

Sweet Breeze.

Written by sally @ 3:36 pm — Section: sally

I Have News for You

There are people who do not see a broken playground swing
as a symbol of ruined childhood

and there are people who don’t interpret the behavior
of a fly in a motel room as a mocking representation of their thought process.

There are people who don’t walk past an empty swimming pool
and think about past pleasures unrecoverable

and then stand there blocking the sidewalk for other pedestrians.
I have read about a town somewhere in California where human beings

do not send their sinuous feeder roots
deep into the potting soil of others’ emotional lives

as if they were greedy six-year-olds
sucking the last half-inch of milkshake up through a noisy straw;

and other persons in the Midwest who can kiss without
debating the imperialist baggage of heterosexuality.

Do you see that creamy, lemon-yellow moon?
There are some people, unlike me and you,

who do not yearn after fame or love or quantities of money as
unattainable as that moon;
thus, they do not later
have to waste more time
defaming the object of their former ardor.

Or consequently run and crucify themselves
in some solitary midnight Starbucks Golgotha.

I have news for you—
there are people who get up in the morning and cross a room

and open a window to let the sweet breeze in
and let it touch them all over their faces and bodies.

–Tony Hoagland

10 Apr 2012

Let’s Talk About Your Heart.

Written by sally @ 8:53 am — Section: sally

The Teacher

I was twenty-six the first time I held
a human heart in my hand.

It was sixty-four and heavier than I expected,
its chambers slack;
and I was stupidly surprised
at how cold it was.

It was the middle of the third week
before I could look at her face,
before I could spend more than an hour
learning the secrets of cirrhosis,
the dark truth of diabetes, the black lungs
of the Marlboro woman, the exquisite
painful shape of kidney stones,
without eating an entire box of Altoids
to smother the smell of formaldehyde.

After seeing her face, I could not help
but wonder if she had a favorite color;
if she hated beets,
or loved country music before her hearing
faded, or learned to read
before cataracts placed her in perpetual twilight.
I wondered if her mother had once been happy
when she’d come home from school
or if she’d ever had a valentine from a secret admirer.

In the weeks that followed, I would
drive the highways, scanning billboards.
I would see her face, her eyes
squinting away the cigarette smoke,
or she would turn up at the bus stop
pushing a grocery cart of empty
beer cans and soda bottles. I wondered
if that was how she’d paid for all those smokes
or if the scars of repeated infections in her womb
spoke to a more universal currency.

Did she die, I wondered, in a cardboard box
under the Burnside Bridge, nursing a bottle
of strawberry wine, telling herself
she felt a little warmer now,
or in the Good Faith Shelter,
her few belongings safe under the sheet
held to her faltering heart?
Or in the emergency room, lying
on a wheeled gurney, the pitiless
lights above, the gauzy curtains around?

Did she ever wonder what it all was for?

I wish I could have told her in those days
what I’ve now come to know: that
it was for this–the baring
of her body on the stainless steel table–
that I might come to know its secrets
and, knowing them, might listen
to the machine-shop hum of aortic stenosis
in an old woman’s chest, smile a little to myself
and, in gratitude to her who taught me,

put away my stethoscope, turn to my patient
and say Let’s talk about your heart.

–Hilarie Jones

« Previous Page Next Page »