Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Assclownery at the dog park

Note: For sensitive dog lovers, this is just a rant, not another story of a poor pup being attacked.

So, we have this concept of the “dog park.” For the uninitiated, that means it’s a big enclosed space where dogs can romp around to their hearts’ content. Note that this is open space, so your dog WILL come into contact with other dogs that are there.

Everyone still with me so far?

Now, I repeat that this is a DOG park. And dogs are very, well, dog-like. That means that they don’t have a great understanding of “my toy” and “his toy” – they’re all just “toys.” And you have to figure that those toys are pretty much fair game for any of the dogs there. Because they’re dogs. This is why when I go and bring a couple of toys – a squeaky ball, a pull toy – I always shrug it off when people apologize that their dogs have absconded with “Kona’s toys.” Because as I tell them, once we’re in the park, they’re communal property for whoever wants to play with them. Sometimes that’s Kona, sometimes it’s Buster the mastiff who this morning enjoyed drooling all over squeaky ball. Kona doesn’t care.

(Just like I assume that when one goes to the dog park, one is likely to get jumped on, knocked into, dirty, etc. Like from Buster who was jumping up on me this morning so he could give me a kiss. All 165 pounds of him.)

I know my faithful reader(s) get all this, but I write this down in case some person looks up “dog park etiquette” and winds up here.

So imagine my surprise this morning at the dog park when a new guy comes in with his 2 black dogs and a pull toy, one of those with a ball with cloth attached so that it’s perfect for dogs to play tug-of-war, etc. And Kona is all about going after toys that other dogs also want, because he loves playing keep away. So he winds up with this toy and is trotting around with it, and those of us normal people standing around chuckle at Kona and another pup playing tug, while new guy is moaning about the fact that his 2 dogs won’t try to get the toy back if some other dog has it. But his dogs are still running around, so who cares if they’re playing with the damn toy? Apparently this guy did, because the next thing you know, he stops Kona, gets the toy away from him, knees him a couple of times since Kona is still trying to get at the toy to play with, and then he STEPS ON KONA’S PAW. And then as I’m trying to get Kona away and getting his leash, the guy goes down to the end of the dog park and continues shoving Kona aside and in general being totally obnoxious. All because he somehow wants to exist in a magic bubble where only his 2 dogs play with their toy.

So, two things that we can glean from this as our “key takeaways”:

1) If you want your dogs to play with just each other and their toy, don’t come to a dog park. Duh.
2) If you EVER step on my dog’s paw again because you’re being an assclown (i.e. not by accident, which happens), I will Beat You Down. Seriously. As I like to say, there’ll be a death......and it won’t be mine. No one harms my pumpkin, not out of general douchebaggery. I will kill you – and I’m the kind of bitter, angry person you don’t want to mess with.

Consider yourself warned.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Question, we get questions....

Tasha, oh great one, what’s the MLSFBFKat thing stand for? Is that like George Carlin’s 7 words you can’t say on tv?

Hmm, I thought that was kind of intuitive. Apparently not, so let me explain. You see, MLSFBFKat’s been a faithful reader of this blog since Day One – back when I just had ones of readers instead of the sea of tens that I have now. As such, I determined early on that she too deserved an acronym, as a sign of her stature. Kind of like with MSU (Make Shit Up) and GSD (Get Shit Done) - these acronyms are an integral part of my blog, and Kat is definitely worthy.

As to how the name evolved, it stemmed from a conversation I was having one day with MLSFBFKat (though she was just the rather pedestrian “Kat” then), where she was a) bemoaning the fact that she had only done 50 minutes on her torturous elliptical device. That day. And then b) feeling bad about not making it over to Lynn with the broken hip to bring her snacks and trashy magazines – MORE snacks and trashy magazines I should say – because hmm, it had snowed another foot and dammit, Kat’s wheelchair just couldn’t make it through the HUGE PILES OF SNOW AND ICE. So you can see how Kat quickly and easily got saddled with the “lazy and selfish” moniker. Hence we had MLSFKat (My Lazy Selfish Friend Kat), which was expanded to add Boring Feeble for some other transgressions that I don’t recall, but particularly egregious ones I’m sure. Probably for something like only making TWO varieties of delicious delectable Christmas cookies to hand out to one and all instead of five. I know - I too shake my head in disbelief.

The description of the dog attack was horrible and brought me to tears. Please tell me it wasn’t really that bad? Not saying that you ever exaggerate, oh no, never, but maybe just once, just in this case?

Well, I was hoping to be able to tell you that it sounded on paper worse than it was – and actually, little yellow dog’s leg didn’t look that bad. A few spots of blood and the limp, which could have been a temporary thing. Alas, this week there was a sign at the dog park that little yellow dog’s owners put up – Janie is little dog’s name – warning people about the vicious dog that broke Janie’s leg. Yes, poor little Janie is now wearing the Cone of Shame for 6 weeks. On a good note though, Ron-the-dog-walker did get hold of them and found out that Janie isn’t at all traumatized, still wants to go to the dog park as usual, so that’s a good thing.

Is Kona really now a mascot for Oh, and on your blog, could you please make a suggestion that any ad agencies out there contact you so that we can talk to them? Signed, A Random Yet Avid Fan

Hi Brian (my fellow co-worker). Yes, Kona is our mascot – it’s in my contract – and here he is pondering the weighty decisions of the day for Schizle: do we want to add Petsmart or Petco? Will the humans finagle enough of a discount on pig ears? Which Starbucks will I get today’s scone from? Maybe they should develop a scone just for me - the KoneScone. With a little meat or bacon in it. Yeah, that's the ticket. And cheese. I like cheese.

This means he will now get the adulation he is due, since (just like his owner) he’s Practically Perfect in Every Way. Or close to it. When he’s not pouncing on and chewing everything in sight. Minor details. Or trying to dig into the couch. Or stealing my newspaper as I’m reading it. Or chewing up my “Breast Cancer Bible” in a fit of pique at all my doctors’ appointments. Okay, that at least was pretty funny.

Oh, and ad agencies who want your brands to be part of the Hottest New App for the iPhone, feel free to contact me. You might get in on the ground floor, with sufficient bribes.

Will your new job keep you from your blog?

Hey now, let’s keep our priorities straight here. Blog first, work for The Man later. Besides, this is the first job I’ve had where my role includes writing fun stuff (see the website to see what I mean). AND I now have a Blackberry, courtesy of TwentyFour6, in addition to the forthcoming computer bag and other little goodies. Talk about bleeping golden – I’m just rolling in schwag here. Who needs actual salaries when you’re treated like royalty? Or, in my case, as I should be. I’m glad someone finally gets that.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Baby leaves the nest

I knew the day would come eventually, but I didn’t think it would be quite so soon, and I’m not sure I was ready. You nurture them from the time they’re little, watch as they take their first ginger steps out into the real world, becoming more and more independent......and then comes the day when you’re entrusting them to the care of others. Strangers, really. Total strangers taking care of my baby. Sniffle.

I’m of course talking about Kona’s first day at daycare. I had done my research and had a place in my mind, so I checked it out on Monday to make sure that everything was up to snuff – then came Tuesday, the Big Day. We went to the dog park first, as usual, then to Starbucks for coffee (me) and a scone (Kona) – just to maintain a semblance of normalcy. And then it was off to the Chi-Town Dog House. I could tell that Kona was a bit confused – what, not going home as usual? Where is mom taking me? Is she abandoning me? He seemed to like the other dogs that were going in at the same time, but as I handed over his leash, he looked at me with his soulful brown eyes, confused, and he pulled back on his leash, refusing to move, his paws scrabbling on the floor as they attempted to bring him back to the play area, as my heart broke in two.....

Okay, that’s a complete and total lie. What actually happened was that we walked in, Kona got excited at seeing his future playmates all around, started doing his usual playbowing, put his paws up on the counter to say hi to everyone, gave out some kisses, and when they went to take him in back, he was moving so fast that all I got was a glimpse of his little butt going through the door as I was saying “Bye my little butterc....oh, he’s gone already. That was fast.”

Of course I fretted all day – would he like the other dogs? Would they like him? Would they let him join in the fun or would he be ostracized, in which case I’d have to put some serious smackdown on those other dog bullies? But as I found out when I picked him up that afternoon, he had a great time. Oh sure, he was happy to see me, but he wasn’t exactly pulling my arm off to get out of there either – which was a good sign. And he bounced around a bit when we got home.....but then it was as if someone turned off a switch, as he collapsed on the couch and slept the sleep of the utterly exhausted the rest of the evening. I could actually Get Shit Done – I know, the mind reels.

I was describing Kona’s days to a friend this evening, replete as they are with a visit to the dog park, a scone from Starbucks, playing with his friends at daycare all day, treats at home, then finally settling down for the night tucked under bedcovers, and it occurred to me.......can I just switch places with him? And did he know what he was doing when he conned me into keeping him, or what??

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Universe: still sucking up

Okay, know how I was railing against fate and karma and the universe and giving all of the above the proverbial “screw you” since it had collectively dished out nothing but bad luck to me for years? And how I noted rather sadly that I’m not the type of person who, for example, has jobs drop into my lap? Well, umm......a job basically just dropped into my lap.

You see, a friend of mine from Wharton, Scott Kosch, was thinking he might be in Chicago over the holidays on business, so he looked up people who live here and found me. And proceeded to read my blog, and discovered that damn, I’m still brilliantly funny. In fact, discovered that my little blog here has some of the best humor he’s seen since our days at Wharton, when the entire class was riveted to my weekly “Dear Mimi” column. (I’m paraphrasing here, slightly.) (Yes, I have an alter ego as Mimi, but we won’t get into that now.) (Hey, in the annals of Wharton history, it wasn’t even considered a BIG scandal.) (And the fact that a group of people formed a lynch mob/posse to discover who Mimi was, since I was anonymous, is really not relevant, since I think they were just in a bad mood in general.) (All the time.) (The Mimi column was totally separate from my other column, Recruiting Diaries, also written under a pseudonym – “Lurch B. Hind” – which prompted my friend Stacey to once inquire at dinner “Who the heck is this Lurch fellow? He must be some dour Eastern European, always complaining about something, some bit of bad luck.” Hmm, my Schleprockian patterns go back even further than I realized.)

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, Scott. So we wind up chatting, and the next thing you know, poof, here I am, the VP of Product Marketing and Strategy at TwentyFour6, a lovely little start-up. As is typical with a start-up, one has to negotiate one’s compensation very carefully, and I am proud to note that I’ve not only secured Kona’s place as Number One Mascot, but I’ve also scored a new laptop bag. Sweet! See, that’s the kind of stuff they taught us at Wharton, in those Negotiations classes. Eye of the tiger, baby.

Now, I know what you’re all thinking – the questions practically write themselves: “But Miss Tasha, does this mean you’ve sold out to The Man? And what about your triathlon career? And being a role model for the little people?” To which I say, piffle. My triathlon goddess status will continue unabated - I’ve told the TF6 people that we alienate my fans only at great risk. And with them having already seen my powers for bringing the Universe to heel, I think they well understand who they’re dealing with here.

And I will note, again, that there’s apparently something to be said for dissing the Universe.

In other news, a note to dog owners, and I would think I would be stating the obvious here, but apparently not. Let’s say, you bring your dog to the dog park, where there are a bunch of pups frolicking around happily but for some reason when you get there, before you’re even in, they’re all going nuts barking at your dog, and vice versa. This isn’t typical, as the in-the-park dogs usually all cluster around the fence, eager to meet the “fresh meat” as I like to call it. So this might be clue #1 that things will not go well.

Then, when you bring your dog in and within a span of 5 minutes, said dog gets all snarly with a fuzzy little yellow dog playing with Kona’s squeaky ball, and then said dog goes from snarly to vicious and actually sinks its teeth into yellow dog’s leg, YOU, the dog’s owner, might want to step in. Instead of what actually happened, which is that little yellow dog was screaming in pain, the 2 20-something dog owners were standing there yelling “no! stop!”, Ron-the-older-dogwalker was doing something to try to get yellow dog away, and there I was, trying to pry your mean dog’s jaws away from yellow dog’s leg. What I really loved was that the first time I got your dog’s jaws opened after much struggle and yelled at you to grab your did nothing. So your dog clamped on yellow dog’s leg AGAIN. And again after I got those jaws opened, you stood there helplessly, so I had to pin your dog to the ground and pull it away, at which point you did manage to put the leash on.....but then held onto it so loosely that your dog was still lunging at yellow dog. And THEN, Ms. Turnip-for-Brains, you just stood there not saying a word while we were dealing with the chaos that ensued: Ron on the ground needing a nitroglycerin pill shoved in his mouth and later needing stitches for his torn up fingers, and little yellow dog with a bloody leg, limping. And then when we were figuring out that I would drive Ron home and the other girl would drive yellow dog & owner home, you walked away.

I’m still so flabbergasted by this whole episode that I don’t even know what my pearl of wisdom is. Don’t make total strangers have to step in to deal with your dog’s horrible behavior? Don’t be an asshat? Don’t show up at the dogpark again unless you want to find your dog’s leash “accidentally” wrapped around your neck? Pick one.

Oh, and mom, those thick mittens you got me for Christmas that serve the dual purpose of keeping my fingers toasty AND protected when a vicious dog chomps on them? Good call on that. Thanks....

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Kona torture

Or at least that’s what it looked like this morning. You see, Kona, ensconced as he is in his toasty little World of Wonderfulness, where he gets tucked under covers and more than enough food and toys and treats, has no idea that today it’s 40 FRICKING BELOW outside. It’s not as if he watches the news (much), or checks the weather online. Though I do admit, he likes to get up on my desk chair and gaze at the computer, stabbing a paw at the keyboard (seriously), so I fully expect that one day a truckload of 10,000 pig ears will show up at my doorstep.

Anyway, so this morning Kona decided we needed to go to the dog park, as we do every single other day. When other people at the dog park ask me if we’re coming when the weather is predicted to be god-awful, I tell them yes, I have no choice. Kona tears things up, brings me my boots, and in general is so pathetic and incorrigible that we go no matter what – and then don’t stay very long if it’s horrid, but he has to see that for himself.

So today. -12 degrees, 40 below with the wind chill. It actually didn’t seem that bad when we first stepped out, but then within about 5 seconds my lungs froze and it was hard to breathe. Even a plane flying overhead sounded so odd that I looked up to see what was going on. And there’s Kona, channeling his inner flamingo – i.e. standing on 3 legs, holding up a back paw because it’s cold. Then he sits and holds up a front paw. Then shivers. Sigh. Who looks like the bad parent now?? Then I had to help him into the car, because his paws were too cold for him to jump in as usual. Oh, he’s fine, we were out there for about 5 minutes, and he got his petite scone from Starbucks as usual afterwards so all was right in KonaWorld, but still. And of course this means he got no exercise today. It’s going to be a long day.......

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Fun with BCBS

Aka BCBS Roulette, aka What Can We Deny Today? You see, this is how it works – the mail comes in, and generally there’s something from some medical establishment or entity. I have to decide at what point I want to open it, and gauge how pissed off it’ll make me. Sometimes I hold the envelope up to my forehead like Karnac the Magnificent, and guess what it is. Hmm, could it be.....another loony adjustment? That’s usually a safe call. So far in addition to the $5000 “adjustment” for the purported “nurse in the room,” there’s also been one for $5K (that one was so alarming I promptly pushed it out of my mind), and then the one that I really love from today, where they said they wouldn’t pay the $3850 for my Oncotype DX test.

What the hell is that? Well, it’s a test done by one single lab in the U.S. only (they’re the ones who developed it), and what it does is give you a score to help you and your doctors determine if you need chemo. Your score correlates with how much you’ll actually benefit from chemo. Low score = less point to doing chemo, which as we all know is a total bitchwhore to deal with, excuse the French.

In my case, my doctors were thinking of putting me on chemo before surgery to see if they could shrink the tumor – and then my score came back low enough that they decided chemo wasn’t necessary. Now, had such a test not existed, we surely would have done chemo before and after surgery, since that’s always been the protocol for cancer in young women, especially with large tumors. Scorched earth, take no prisoners, so to speak. In this case, by NOT doing chemo, we saved BCBS tens of thousands of dollars in chemo treatment costs. And since chemo has a host of potential complications further down the road, that’s more tens of thousands of dollars saved. So potentially over $100K easy.....yet they don’t want to pay for the test.

Needless to say, I will promptly pen a missive to the folks at BCBS to tell them that they can take their $3850 bill and SHOVE IT up their collective asses. And let’s not forget that this is all with someone who has insurance, who’s paid up the wazoo for many years to have good insurance coverage. Not sure why I bothered.

(I would like to note that the company that does the test, Genomics, is wonderful. I spoke to a woman there when the test was first ordered by my oncologist, and she explained the whole thing to me, and said that they would chase after insurance if they denied the claim, and even then if it were still denied, they work with you to figure out payment on a sliding scale. And that’s not rumor – that’s actually how they work. So there are some bright shining lights out there in MedicalLand.)

On a lighter note, today was Kona’s birthday! Or at least I decided it was – since he was a stray, he didn’t exactly have a birthdate, so I figured January 14th would suffice. It’s Old New Year’s, a big party day in the old country, so that’s good enough for me. I tried to put a little party hat on him in celebration – the first 2 times he went to another room and knocked it off – the 3rd time he saw it in my hands and bolted as if I were coming towards him with a hot branding iron. Yeah, that’s the big tough Doberman for you. Anyway, he enjoyed his meatcake (okay, actually a steak), and his pink stuffed bunny, so all was good. Tomorrow we go back to running the usual tight ship around here. Right.

And on a final miraculous note, I, yes I, have actually started training again. Yes, it’s true. I’m moving beyond just striding briskly around the house breathing deeply, and beyond just visualization. I traipsed into VQ last Sunday for my first cycling class, immediately warning Dave Noda that we were likely to see such low power scores as to never have been seen before in the hallowed halls of VQ. 2 hours later, after having generated such a low score as to appear comatose, I can say that I have successfully put Part I of my Art of War plan into place: “appear incompetent and enfeebled so as to fool the enemy.” Onward.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

This is bleeping golden

I have learned a valuable lesson today - never dismiss comments to this blog made by my earnest readers without really looking at them or the links they include. You see, occasionally I’ll get a comment that makes me think that either some weirdos have stumbled upon this site, i.e. those who don’t understand my wit, or that perhaps Swimfan is just really really bored and deciding to try to rouse my ire. Little does he know that I never get my feathers ruffled about ANYTHING – why, I am the very soul of equanimity.

Anyway, there was a comment to my last post telling me how useful The Secret can actually be, and at first I rolled my eyes, but then later when I was procrastinating from doing the work I should actually have been doing, I decided to check out the accompanying link. Whereupon I discovered to my shame that the comment was a missive from my faithful clan, adding the type of information that this little blog is known for.

What the hell am I talking about, you ask? I was going to paraphrase the info from the link, which is a reader review of The Secret from Amazon, but instead I think I’ll just post the bulk of it here (edited slightly for space) directly, so that it’ll be saved for all posterity and enjoyed by many:

- - - - - - - -
“Please allow me to share with you how "The Secret" changed my life and in a very real and substantive way allowed me to overcome a severe crisis in my personal life.......At age 36, I found myself in a medium security prison serving 3-5 years for destruction of government property and public intoxication. This was stiff punishment for drunkenly defecating in a mailbox but as the judge pointed out, this was my third conviction for the exact same crime. I obviously had an alcohol problem and a deep and intense disrespect for the postal system, but even more importantly I was ignoring the very fabric of our metaphysical reality and inviting destructive influences into my life.

My fourth day in prison was the first day that I was allowed in general population and while in the recreation yard I was approached by a prisoner named Marcus who calmly informed me that as a new prisoner I had been purchased by him for three packs of Winston cigarettes and 8 ounces of Pruno (prison wine). Marcus elaborated further that I could expect to be raped by him on a daily basis and that I had pretty eyes.

Needless to say, I was deeply shocked that my life had sunk to this level. Although I've never been homophobic I was discovering that I was very rape phobic and dismayed by my overall personal street value of roughly $15. I returned to my cell and sat very quietly, searching myself for answers on how I could improve my life and distance myself from harmful outside influences. At that point, in what I consider to be a miraculous moment, my cell mate Jim Norton informed me that he knew about the Marcus situation and that he had something that could solve my problems. He handed me a copy of "The Secret". Normally I wouldn't have turned to a self help book to resolve such a severe and immediate threat but I literally didn't have any other available alternatives. I immediately opened the book and began to read.

The first few chapters deal with the essence of something called the "Law of Attraction" in which a primal universal force is available to us and can be harnessed for the betterment of our lives. The theoretical nature of the first few chapters wasn't exactly putting me at peace. In fact, I had never meditated and had great difficulty with closing out the chaotic noises of the prison and visualizing the positive changes that I so dearly needed. It was when I reached Chapter 6 "The Secret to Relationships" that I realized how this book could help me distance myself from Marcus and his negative intentions. Starting with chapter six there was a cavity carved into the book and in that cavity was a prison shiv. This particular shiv was a toothbrush with a handle that had been repeatedly melted and ground into a razor sharp point.

The next day in the exercise yard I carried "The Secret" with me and when Marcus approached me I opened the book and stabbed him in the neck. The next eight weeks in solitary confinement provided ample time to practice positive visualization and the 16 hours per day of absolute darkness made visualization about the only thing that I actually could do. I'm not sure that everybody's life will be changed in such a dramatic way by this book but I'm very thankful to have found it and will continue to recommend it heartily.”

- - - - - - - -
I think that says it all, about what The Secret can do for you and how it can actually help you. Thank you for sharing, dear reader.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Ripped from the headlines, or from Tasha’s life

So, I’m used to people wanting to emulate my every move, learn everything about my stringent training regimen, find out what my secrets to obvious success are. Par for the course. But imagine my shock to discover that not only is someone doing all this, but they’re also taking that information and SELLING my tale to HOLLYWOOD! Before I have a chance to, that is. What else could be the explanation as to why every week on Grey’s Anatomy, oh look, it’s something else snatched directly from my life? To wit:

3 episodes ago – The woman in her 30s who had breast cancer, who was in the hospital for some supposedly unrelated gallbladder operation or something, and was full of wit, humor, etc.........and then they open her up and discover that the cancer has spread to her liver or something and is inoperable. Okay, so that last part isn’t true for me (note that I am NOT knocking on wood – take that, Universe!), but the rest of it? Hmph. We were like twins, separated at birth.

2 episodes ago – The woman who’s in a car crash with friends (been there – thanks Assclown of last summer), and winds up with a brain injury where her memory resets every 30 seconds, so she doesn’t remember anything. Hmm, sound familiar?? I wouldn’t know, I don’t remember.

Last episode – This was my favorite – it was like I was watching me on the screen. The woman who inexplicably keeps getting broken bones, and when they tell her that this time she broke something else yet again, she looks upward and rails against fate and the heavens with a loud “Come ON!” The Grey’s people have no idea why she’s doing this, but I knew immediately, oh yes. In fact, it instantly recalled to mind my last race last summer before I went tumbling and crushed my collarbone (and got that brain injury), and was toodling along on my bike in my Catwoman costume, when lo and behold, what should go loping right in front of me, all the way across the street, as if it had been lying in wait in the bushes on the far side? Yes folks, a BLACK CAT. Now seriously, talk about a bad cliché! And improbable as well – since when do cats ever run anywhere? So of course at that point I did in fact raise a questioning hand to the sky and proclaim “Oh, COME ON! You’ve GOT to be kidding me!”

I don’t know what else Grey’s has about my life to go with for now, so I suppose I’ll get a reprieve. But if I find myself being shoved under falling icicles or drinking tainted glogg so that someone has new material to work with.....I’ll know who to blame.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The times, they are a changin'

Well, it turns out that instead of kowtowing and sucking up to the Universe, hoping against hope that if you bow and scrape enough like a little street urchin, the vagaries of fate won’t screw up your life at every opportunity.....the actual answer to it all is to say a hearty FUCK YOU to the Universe instead. Then, like a spurned lover (the Universe is obviously male, what with making us do the whole hard-to-get thing), Fate will come bounding along saying “wait! Come back! I didn’t mean it! Love meeeee!” And will do anything to entice you to fall victim to its wiles, yet again.

Let me reiterate this: "the secret” is apparently not to think la-la happy chipper positive thoughts about how completely ducky everything is, and not to sitting around waiting for things you’ve wished for, as if the Universe is just a big version of Santa Claus – but rather to think bitter thoughts and to view the Universe as a dark, hateful thing ready to pounce on you at the slightest inclination – because then the Universe will become alarmed that you’ve slipped from its grasp and will try to win you over. Apparently the Universe is like Rod Blagojevich – it doesn’t like to lose.

So I’ve bemoaned my bad luck, the crush of fate, etc., and since then I’ve gone merrily on my way seeking out black cats, loudly proclaiming what a perfect day it is at any given moment, and yes, even crossing the double line. You’d think at this point I’d have a plague of locusts hovering over a sinkhole in my backyard, illuminated by the glow of my garage on fire or something. Instead, I present to you this:

Several days ago Deanna and I are going to my friends’ house in Riverside, and we decide we should the proper thing and pick up a bottle of booze on the way. I pick up Deanna in Oak Park, and we’re driving down Harlem looking for a liquor store, and have just crossed over into the Badlands when we see a seedy-looking but busy liquor store on the corner, so we decide to stop. There’s a miniscule parking lot behind it, and to get there we have to turn right into a very narrow alley, then turn right into the lot. Later, after getting the alcohol, to get out of the lot I can only back up very very slowly and carefully, back the way I came in, as there’s no other way to go and no way to turn around. It’s worse than parking at Alpine Valley with a bunch of stoned Jack Johnson fans swarming around you. So I do all this and am facing the right way in the alley – another tough chore since there are 2 cars of people smoking crack that are blocking the alley going the other way – when suddenly some asshat turns off of Harlem into the alley. Now, proper alley etiquette dictates that since I’m driving down the ally and he’s just turned in, he should do a quick backup to let me out. Especially since it’s a one-car-width alley.

But noooo, Asshat refuses to do that, and starts yelling at me to do....something. Not sure where he thinks I can go, but that’s what I’m apparently supposed to do. And suddenly Deanna and I are facing down two thug gangbangers who don’t have the common sense god gave a green bean.

To back up a bit, I started out the evening in a rather dark mood, which Deanna knows so she knows I’m just Not In The Mood for this kind of bullshit. I had explained to her the reason for my bad mood – the compendium of constant bad luck, the fact of cancer in young women which they don’t know jack shit about and which is, because it grew to the point of being detected at a young age, BY DEFINITION fast-growing and thus has a poor prognosis - and to her exalted credit, she doesn’t try to say the stupid shit about how “oh, I’m sure it’ll be fine” and “oh, piffle, you don’t know that and we could all be hit by a bus tomorrow” and so on. Someday I’d like to meet this rogue killer bus that apparently barrels around the city mowing down people with callous indifference.

Anyway, there we are, and I refuse to move and so start yelling at the thugs – “Move your fucking car, you need to back up so that we can get out, you idiots!” And they’re yelling, and then their thug gangbanger pals on Harlem start yelling because they too want to get into the parking lot, and god forbid a MAN should deign to put his car into reverse, as that would obviously be a reflection on his manlyhood. In between the yelling, we just sit in our respective cars, because, as I tell Deanna, we’re in no hurry and we can wait there as long as it takes. Deanna remains silent, though I can see the little thought cloud clearly over her head: “Oh god, she’s going to get us shot, woe, and I have a long run in the morning and I haven’t yet run my first 50-miler, my life has so much unfinished business like that, oh god.” Then Thug Gangbanger rolls down his window (it’s cold, so there’s been a lot of yelling with windows closed) and yells to us in clear, dulcet tones: “You two bitches better move that car right now or I’ll come over there and slit your throats!”

So undoubtedly now you’re thinking, “Okay, Miss Tasha, where does the luck part come in? Because from where I’m sitting, you’re in a car with no escape route, facing down two gangbanging thugs who’re pissed off because you’re yelling at them using what you like to refer to as “salty” language. Not exactly a win-win.”

But you see there’s one little point I haven’t yet mentioned: the fact that literally across the street from our little parking lot/alley scenario are about 10 police cars and the accompanying swarm of officers, who were there when we pulled into Tyrone’s Liquor Store lot and are still there surrounding a car – probably your garden-variety traffic stop – when we leave. Yes, 10. In fact, when we were deciding if we should stop at Tyrone’s, Deanna looked at the police cars and commented on the Oak Park/River Forest “overkill” when it comes to stuff like this – and as she was saying this, we had to laugh because two more unmarked cars with sirens flashing pulled up.

So as Mr. Thugly rather loudly makes his earnest proclamation, the sea of cops takes notice that there’s a potential “situation” nearby, and then send one of their brethren over to investigate. Now, I fully expect that he’ll yell at all of us, because that’s what cops have to do when they don’t have all the facts. And in fact, Mr. Officer goes to Mr. Thugly’s car and yells “What the HELL are you doing, SHUT UP BOTH OF YOU before I haul you guys in!”

Then he walks up to our car, and I brace myself for the onslaught.

Mr. Officer: “Okay girls, sorry you have to deal with this, just sit tight and we’ll get this mess straightened out, hopefully before I Tazer that guy.”

Then he goes to the yahoos in the cars that are behind us blocking the alley: “What the HELL do you think you’re doing, blocking the alley? MOVE THESE CARS or I’ll arrest you now and HAUL YOU ALL IN!”

Back to me: “Okay miss, this should be clearing up soon, and then we can get you folks out of here, as soon as all of these idiots move their cars.” Then he adds "and be careful here in the alley, there's a post here and you don't want to scrape your car."

And lo and behold, everything moved around like clockwork, and in a final bit of graciousness, Mr. Oak Park Officer stopped traffic on Harlem Road so that we could pull out from the alley without a problem. We waved cheerily, and drove off – and then I start giggling, probably somewhat hysterically, but laughter nonetheless.

Me: “Oh my god, I can’t believe that – thank god all those cops were right there across the street! I have to say, that was pretty damn lucky.”
Deanna: “Glkjsdfljsp.” (I think she was choking on her tongue as she tried valiantly to stop herself from reaching over and strangling me.)

Of course, days later Deanna is still telling people about how I almost “got her killed.” To which I say, hey, what is life if not a fine and grand adventure?

Monday, January 5, 2009

A beacon of hope

Well, after my last gloomy, pissed-off-at-the-world post, one would think that it would be impossible for me to find the tiniest ray of sunshine anywhere, in anything, that I would just fester in a cocoon of gloom for the duration. Normally this might be the case. However.

Today I came across something that at least in part restores my shiny faith in humanity, in the goodness of people, in our ability as citizens of the world to create something bigger and better than all of us. Namely, this:

Yes folks, behold the Who Cakes. What the hell is a Who Cake, you ask? Apparently last spring when the latest Dr. Seuss movie came out, the Seuss people entered into an agreement with the IHOP people for some menu collaboration, and lo, magic was born at IHOP. For those not sure of what exactly you're looking at, that would be "a colorful stack of pancakes" covered with boysenberry and blueberry glaze, rainbow chocolate chips (yay, chocolate!), and to top it all off.........a lollipop. They suggest washing it down with "Beezlenut Splash," aka a thirst-quenching treat of lemon-lime soda (because your teeth haven't rotted enough from the pancakes) - though for some reason I keep reading that as Beelzebub Splash. I wonder why.

The sad thing is that this was out for a limited time only - but maybe they'll put it on the menu permanently if we start a movement or something. Who's with me??

Hey, Universe! Yeah you! BITE ME.

Yes, I know that’s kind of a strange way to start off the New Year, by essentially spitting in the face of the universe, but it’s the new year that prompted this, really. Because I kept having all these people tell me something along the lines of “wow, 2008 really sucked for you, huh? Bet you’re glad this year is over!” And I’d wonder why I didn’t really think that 2008 was all THAT much crappier than usual. Why I wasn’t bowed down and crushed by the fact that 2008 was so much worse than my usual halcyon, bucolic existence of sunshine and roses. Oh sure, the Big C kind of puts a huge honkin’ damper on things, and that did take things to a new level of suckiness, but when you look at 2008 in the pantheon of all the other crappy years I’ve had in the recent past? Ech, some of then aren’t too far off. Let’s review years past, shall we?

– There's the obvious - this year, with the cancer, the bike crash, the brain injury, and yes, the POISON IVY. Thought that's still kind of funny. But overall, the 0.6% chance of someone my age getting cancer? That sucks ass.
- Assclown slams into my car on I-55 while I’m driving back after a triathlon, causing a multi-car pile-up and shutting all lanes of traffic. Car destroyed.
– My sweet little Huddy died in 2007. This crushed me.
– Deadbeat renter Katherine Hart skips out on rent, trashes the place so I have a hard time renting it out. That’s what I get for being a sucker. See you in small claims court, bitch.
– Dad dies in 2002, unexpectedly. Mom sells the house I grew up in, Idiot Brother moves into the family summer home in Wisconsin, ensuring that it’s a PITA when anyone else wants to go up there.
– The trifecta week, where a friend actually looked at me wide-eyed and said maybe I really WAS cursed: big job woes, computer dies, bathroom ceiling collapses because of an unknown water leak when my building’s 95-year-old pipes turn to crap on MY watch.
– Other computer dies, just when I need it.
– Another flood, in the basement this time. Of course, it happens when I’m out of town. Joy.
– I graduate from Wharton, top of the world and all that crap, and on my drive home back to IL, am in a car accident that involves road work and semis and their asinine driving that only partially crushes my car. Lucky me.

This is of course only the bigger stuff. My life is replete with garden-variety bad luck, like last week when I stopped by Starbucks on the way home from the dogpark, as usual, to get myself a coffee and Kona a petite scone, and am in there less than 3 minutes and come out to find a ticket on my car for parking too close to a hydrant. Bastards. But that’s what my life is like. One grain of salt in the wound after another. My iPod freezes up randomly, and my iMac doesn’t work properly. I mean seriously, who the hell has problems with Apple stuff?? Me, that’s who. I have expensive storm doors installed that don’t work properly, windows that leak, a crack in my car’s windshield that I got on my way home from picking up a rescue dog, when a cement truck sent a rock hurtling at my car. Yep, Schleprock Inc. That’s why I have stuff to write about in this blog, actually – because of all the crap that happens to me on a regular basis.

So this got me thinking about luck, or lack thereof, and the fact that if you define bad luck as “random bad shit that happens” – which I have plenty of – and good luck as “random serendipitous good stuff falling in your lap,” that I have a serious dearth of the latter. Sure, some of the stuff in my life can’t be attributed to bad luck. Some of it just sucks (deaths), and some of it is my own foolishness (letting myself be suckered in by con artist Katherine Hart, and renting the upstairs apartment to her – but then, this is what she does, so she’s good at it). And of course there’s my penchant for winding up unknowingly dating lying cheating assholes, and being perpetually single STILL. And of course I do have good things in my life, like my great friends who put up with all my bullshit, especially most recently when I’ve taken the whole Bitch on Wheels concept to new levels.

But the rest of it is a bit much. And in trying to think about any GOOD luck I’ve had in recent times, the only thing I could come up with was the fact that we had nice weather for IMMOO in 2007, when I did my first Ironman. That’s it. No lottery winning, no great jobs or project work magically appearing, no finding the man of my dreams in a “meet-cute” whereby we’re thrown together via some improbable events involving our two cute dogs and a squirrel that we’ll laugh at years hence– nope, none of that. To which I say, WTF?? And I conclude the following:

– The universe hates me and is trying to kill me.
– I will never get the happy normal life that seems to come so easily for most people.
– I should just stay home, permanently. Never go anywhere, order Peapod, etc. It seems safest.

I must say, it gets a little tiresome when my only form of “good” luck consists of the “but hey” variety, i.e. “Well, my car was totaled, but hey, at least I wasn’t killed!” Or “sure, so I wound up with cancer, with the lump so unfortunately placed that of course I need reconstruction, but hey, at least it was only Stage II and not Stage IV!” You get the idea. So I’m giving up entirely on the idea of knocking on wood, or pretend-spitting three times, or not saying certain things because I might jinx myself. Because seriously, how would I even be able to tell?