Friday, December 21, 2007


Aside from my yearly visit to the gyno, I stay away from doctor’s offices. Not that they aren’t a barrel of monkeys, but I do all that yoga and eat all those darn vegetables so that I have the privilege of only darkening the doctorial doorstep when I need to re-up on the birth control pills and Xanax.

But once every 4-5 years I have some odd medical issue that forces me to look hard at the (wo)man in the mirror and ask her to change her ways for a day. The last time was a bizarre Christmas Eve mishap.

For years I’d had this swollen gland-like spot on my neck, which Mr. Crud and I called appropriately enough “my neck thing.” When I had salty, spicy foods or even for no apparent reason it would swell and grow sore, turning a leisurely slurping of Hot and Sour soup into a trial.

“Goddamnit, my thing’s doing it again.” I said and immediately started pressing on it. Because what’s better for a sore, aggravated gland then smashing it into my neck with my fingers as if to push it back to the body netherworld from whence it came.

Pressing on my neck thing became a bit of a pastime. Sometimes I could make it shoot out a salty, pus-like fluid into my mouth. (Here we go down that literary ick girl path again.) Of course, the pressing enraged the thing and made it grow red and more swollen, the opposite of my eradication goals.

“You made it angry again,” Mr. Crud said in his best tsk-tsk-tsk voice.

On Christmas Eve of 2002, the neck thing came to a head. Mr. Crud, my brother Max, and I played a spirited game of Trivial Pursuit at my parents’ house. After eating my share of pecan bars and spiced nuts, the neck thing was up to its old tricks. I went to the bathroom and pressed, quickly discovering a thicker more substantial goo was a-oozing. I’ve cracked the code! I’ll pass whatever little clogged stone is in there through my salivary glands! A Christmas miracle!!

I pressed and pressed and eventually started to feel lightheaded so I returned to the table where I shared my exciting discovery with my disgusted compatriots and pressed once again.

The next thing I knew I was flat on my back, still sitting in the chair but toppled over. Max and the Mister crowded over me, calling my name. I’d peed myself in what Mr. Crud claims to be the most impressive self-pissing he’s ever witnessed.

“It all came out at once. It was like a power washer.” I impress on so many levels.

As I slowly came around, my sweet brother mopped up my impressive pee with towels. We debated telling my parents and rushing to the emergency room, but after I started to feel better thanks to Xanax, we decided against it. My dad had been battling cancer for a few years and the last thing my exhausted folks needed was a midnight trip to another hospital. (At this point we had the idea to print “I ruined Christmas” t-shirts. I still think it’s a swell idea, but who has time for million dollar ideas with all this crud to write.)

The next morning—Christmas! Hooray! Santa brought me a Thich Nhat Hanh day planner!!—we told my folks of the incident in the mildest terms possible. After a brief family conference, it was decided that non-insurance having me would wait to return home so I could visit the university’s clinic.

After telling my tale to a string of confused doctors, the Ear, Nose and Throat specialist had my answer: I had pressed too hard on my carotid artery. The passing out and peeing of self was my body’s way of staying “Step the fuck off!” My neck thing was an abnormal salivary gland caused by another one of my weird health discoveries of 3 years previous-TMJ or rather a misaligned jaw. Dr. Ear-Nose-Throat advised me to lay off with the neck thing pressing, which was not a problem since even grazing that area sent my limbs a-tingling with the feeling that I was about to pass out again. After a few weeks of not pressing, my neck thing stopped swelling and hasn’t been an issue since. Who knew the wisdom in that motherly advice “Don’t play with it!”

A few days ago my 5-year good health grace period was up again. This time the culprit was a burning in my gut that didn’t cease for 2 days. All other digestive systems were go, but the burning intensified. After a frustrating morning of calling the health advice nurse who was convinced I was having a heart attack and trying to get appointments at two clinics, (who do you have to blow to talk to a doctor these days?) Mr. Crud and I headed off for the dingy urgent care center in Clackamas.

“It’s a 2 hour wait,” the receptionist informed me.

My instinct was to run away and pretend this whole crying-from-pain and fear-of-dying-from-burning-guts thing wasn’t happening. I knew Mr. Crud wouldn’t let me off so easy so I filled out my paperwork and took a seat near a surly teenager and burly bearded guy in the waiting area. A TV babbled from the corner of the room, making reading the fun memoir of Phoebe Damrosch’s adventures in high-end food service (Service Included) impossible. I gave in. I watched America’s Funniest Home Videos and found myself longing for the smooth MC skills of Bob Saget as the new guy hardy-har-harred his way through the usual panoply of videos: kids falling down, getting their heads stuck in hilarious places, but sadly no ball smashing. I thought “Ouch, My Balls” moments were the bread and butter of AFHV. Next came The Cosby Show. Mr. Crud and I flexed our sociological muscles for awhile (Ever notice how Cos’ kids and grandkids got more and more light-skinned as the show went on? Coincidence?) while I tried to remember why I adored this show as a child.

Finally my name was called and I was ushered to a bare-walled examining room with only an old issue of Family Circle to keep me company. At least this time I didn’t have to regale the nurse and doctor with the history of my neck thing, instead I elaborated on my hunk of burning stomach and how, yes, it hurt constantly and no, I hadn’t puked or experienced any notable--to be couth for once--bowel movements.

“I WISH I was vomiting and having diarrhea!” I exclaimed. “I wouldn’t be here if that was happening.”

The nurse slowly backed out of the room. I picked up the Family Circle. The recipe of the month was Fish Fillet Pizza Roll Out. I put down the Family Circle. At least there were no Cos adventures to keep me from reading about Ms. Damrosch’s adventures at Per Se. Under normal circumstances my mouth would have been watering at the food she wrote about: salmon cornets, oysters, truffles-a-go-go, but instead my gut lurched at the though of putting any delicacy in my mouth. I had been subsisting on soup for the past few days. Sadly, I had been pondering the weight loss possibilities of this little bout with gut burn. The Beauty Myth never rests.

Dr. Reynold Orchard (I had to print his real name because it rocks) listened to me breathe, poked at my gut, and ran down the usual suspects. Nothing.

“We’ll give you a GI cocktail. That ought to do it.” He left the room and was replaced by a happy-go-lucky nurse who advised me to toss it back quickly lest I taste the foul liquid. My mouth and throat quickly numbed but the gut burn remained.

The corners of Dr. Orchard’s mouth turned down at this news. “You still feel it? Hmmm…”

What was left but to take some blood from my—in the words of the bouncy nurse—“great veins.” If I didn’t hear from them, then everything was fine. I could call for my results the following night. Dr. Orchard gave me a prescription for Vicodin and we were, after 4 hours, on our way.

“I had to watch another Cosby Show and Sister, Sister with Jacquee,” Mr. Crud said. One of us had certainly been traumatized.

At Fred Meyer, I doubled over in pain with only celebrity tabloids to distract me. I had only had half a bagel since entering the clinic and the burn was angry.

“You’re going to take it, right?” Mr. Crud asked after the Vicodin.

I nodded as I was unable to form words at the moment. It was another “we’re so old” moment. I remember when my friends and I used to endure the pain just so we could get wicked messed up with our painkillers later. Good times. So glad most of us survived.

Two days later and the burn has finally taken leave, at least most of the time. I’ve moved onto some monumentally bad menstrual cramps, but at least it’s the devil that I know. I still don’t have much of an appetite except for Japanese food. (No, I swear this is not some overblown scheme to eat sushi at every meal.) And because it’s that jingle belly time of year, I feel compelled to leave you with a few words of holiday wisdom:

The health care system really is fucked (I have good insurance and still seeing a doctor was a hassle, which is really what you need when you feel like shit.)

Appreciate your good or medium-good health

Don’t eat a Fish Filet Pizza Roll-Out


Monday, December 10, 2007

I Wish You a Cruddy Chanukah

Greetings, coolios. Please forgive my inconsistent blogging ways as I have been trying to get my fiction groove on for the last few weeks. It’s going comme ci comme ca—pardon my French. Thanks for asking.

In lieu of the usual tales of transportation woes and bitchy musings, I take a moment to wish you and yours a very Chappy Chanukkah (Chappy Chan for short) and to list my gifts so far with—because the Jewish folks love it—commentary.

Night #1

Upright Citizens Brigade Season 2. Thank Amy Poehler, they finally released another season of one of my all-time favorite TV shows.

Night #2
An Official Dundee Award. Hooray! Now I can share my Office obsession with my coworkers by proudly displaying my Dundee on my desk. This very special award comes with changeable name-plates. I plan on alternating between “Hottest in the Office” and the “Don’t Go In There After Me” award.

Night #3
Hooray for hip hop Hanukkah! Ghostface Killah’s The Big Doe Rehab will show me the true meaning of the holiday season.

Night #4

Season 1 and 2 of The Office on DVD. Mr. Crud tricked me into thinking he got me the second half of the last Sopranos season. But we would have bought that anyway, I mentally whined. Not the true spirit of Chanukkah at all. The real gift was the guilt.

Night #5

A new set of brighter bike lights. Dare not to see me now, motherscratchers!

Night #6

Jellybath!!!!! I am a bath-and-body product-a-holic. Now I have my holy grail: a powder that when added to a hot bath turns into the consistency of jell-o. After the novelty wears off, I plan to reenact the scene from Poltergeist when the mom and daughter have just returned from the great beyond and are lying in a tub, covered with what appears to be cherry jell-o. “Thank God you’re alive, Carol Ann!”

Stay tuned for the final 2 nights o’ gifts. My money is on yoga props since I asked for—and helped Mr. Crud pick out—yoga props. Maybe then I will learn the true meaning of Hanukkah, opening my heart to embrace humanity or something like that. I’m sure Ghostface will guide my way.

Friday, November 30, 2007

2 Items from the Kt Crud Museum of Aweseomeness (R.E.M. Section)

(Please accept my apologies for denying the blogosphere my brilliance for the past couple of weeks. First came Thanksgiving, then came cold from hell, which knocked me flat on my ass but did allow for time to read the excellent and highly recommended The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. I hope you enjoy this latest baring of my pock-marked soul. Actually my soul more likely wears too much blue eyeshadow and candy corn flavored lip gloss, but pock-marked sounded kinda dark and deep...for about 2 seconds.)

1. Orange and blue band jacket from Cedar Shoals High School in Athens, GA

During my junior year of college, my pals and I crammed into two cars and drove to my personal Mecca: Athens, GA. (See Crudbucket 2: The Music Issue for an expanded commentary on my love for Athens.) When not getting drunk in the Georgia Bar, hunting for bootleg R.E.M. tapes, and generally trying to make the city of Athens believe that we were the shit, we thrifted. Enter band jacket. It was bright orange with criss-crossing white and blue stripes on the back, Cedar Shoals printed on the shoulder, and blue epaulets. “Wow cool!” my pals exclaimed as I strutted around the musty thrift store and admired myself in the smudged mirrors. $5. A steal. The orange jacket became the coat of record during our stay and my main Michael Stipe stalking gear.

One night we tracked him to a fancy-ish beer bar, The Globe, where he sat in a corner in intense conversation with Bob Mould. The presence of two of our personal heroes transformed us into giggling teenage girls with the added bonus of being trashed on strong European beer. As I tried to roll an impressive Drum cigarette—all my attempts at hand-rolling cigarettes, joints, twigs end up looking like the snake that ate the planet in Le Petit Prince—my friend Nicole stumbled over to their table and thanked them for their music and general awesomeness. They were very gracious. Nicole is one cute lady so I wasn’t surprised that they thanked her and then she thanked them and then they thanked her again. God, I was jealous.

In the hotel room a few blocks from the bar, we assured ourselves that we weren’t dorks, that Michael and Bob (as we now called them after observing them in a bar) could see through our nervous exuberance to the cool souls that we were. Nicole and my other friend Marian went to get some fresh air. Barely able to stand, I stayed in and again tried my hand at cigarette-rolling. A half hour later they burst through the door.

“We were out skipping and we saw Michael and Bob taking a walk. They waved at us and told us to have fun!”

Nicole plopped next to me on the bed. “Michael was so drunk. It was adorable.”

At that moment rolled cigarettes were dead to me. How I yearned for Michael Stipe to tell ME to have fun. Hoisted by my own retarded vices again.

Our stalking continued for the remainder of our stay. The last night of our visit, we hung out with a member of Mr. Stipe’s inner circle who was obviously hoping to steal a smooch from Nicole. She dared ask if our presence had registered on the object of our obsession. “Oh yeah, Michael knows you all. How could he miss you?” He gestured to my coat with his beer. Did I mention that my hair was a flaming orange-red-bleach blonde at the roots combo? I felt slightly victorious.

“Michael Stipe knows me in this jacket,” I bragged after we returned home (I only did this while extremely drunk. When sober, I am a bit more cagey about my name-dropping. Like now. A whole post created just so you’ll know that for 3 days Michael Stipe was aware of my presence on this earth and my love for the color orange.)

The jacket is living its third life as part of Mr. Crud’s oft-complimented pirate ensemble. He is in the inimitably marvelous pirate band, Sunken Chest. “Michael Stipe knows me in this jacket,” I say whenever Mr. Crud reports a jacket comment from his pirate travels. He pats my hand with such loving condescension, “Yes, I know.”

2. T-Shirt from R.E.M.’s Green tour

Seeing R.E.M. play during the Green tour was my Beatles hysteria moment. They were my favorite band. I loved everything about the show except for the fact that I didn’t become instant best buddies/lovers with a member of the band, but whatever, I’ll settle for attempting to decode every shimmy and gesture coming from Michael Stipe.

I bought a t-shirt with the faces of my beloved band on front and the tour dates on back as is standard in the concert t-shirt genre. I wore the t-shirt at least once a week, stroking the sleeves as if they would give way to a college rock genie who could transport me back to the magical moment in the Capital Centre. It was my go-to t-shirt and became soft and transparent with wearing until it was relegated to the pajama shirt ghetto, where it had its next appearance of note.

Beach week. Two of my close friends and my boyfriend rented a hotel room for a week in Virginia Beach. The alcohol flowed freely thanks to slack cashiers at the nearby Safeway. While my pals went on the prowl one night (later bringing back two sketchy marines—ugh) I finally was able to dispense with my virginity, my albatross for the last few months. My senior year of high school, I was ready to be done with it already but every night that I was wasted enough to hook up with some unworthy boy with a lopsided haircut and a Cult t-shirt, I magically got my period. “God doesn’t want me to have sex!” I lamented. (A belated thanks, G-d. I’m eternally grateful that I did not lose my virginity to any of those douchebags.)

When I finally got a legitimate boyfriend, I knew that my pal God had sent him to do some serious deflowering. The only problem was that he—my boyfriend, not God—was, well, a big guy and I was a virgin. For all my bravado, I was skittish about the pain. Wasn’t this supposed to feel good? By the time beach week rolled around we had several aborted sex attempts under our belt. On prom night, I too quickly crossed the line of drunk enough to fuck into drunk enough to puke, responding to his amorous advances with a randomly waving arm and the slurred “Get away from me. No touch.”

My boyfriend, an 18-year-old body builder who oozed testosterone, even had his own crisis of impotence during the run of our virginity-losing mission. The doctor theorized that he was either afraid of hurting me with his monstrous wang or suffering from performance anxiety. So we tried a strategy of no pressure. And also getting very drunk. As a result, I don’t remember the exact details of this vital Beach Week seduction, just that it hurt like a bitch, I bled like a stuck pig, and my precious t-shirt was soaked with the sauces of our effort (um, yuck—mostly it was blood). When I stood from the toilet, finally believing that I wasn’t going to die of internal hemorrhaging, I felt victorious. I looked into the faces of my R.E.M. pals in the mirror’s reflection. “We did it,” I whispered.

Nope, the t-shirt is not part of Mr. Crud’s pirate ensemble but it does remain in my t-shirt crate. In its old age, it has been retired from the t-shirt rotation—also it is full of holes, but no lingering blood stain—but it will remain until someone sorts through my stuff and holds it to the light, “Why did she keep this rag?”

Now you know.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Crudbucket 7: The All Grown Up With Nowhere To Go Issue

My goal was to complete Crudbucket 7: The All Grown Up with Nowhere To Go Issue before my pal, Mirjana, left on a trip for India. That was over a month ago. She returned today. Better late than later, I say. A saying soon to be famous on the always competitive catchphrase circuit.

This dose of crud includes a catalog of my fears of reproducing and how they relate to Steve Guttenberg; a tale of dancing-related humiliation at the hands of now defunct (I hope) rock-rap group, The Hard Corps; the horrors of grain moth infestation; a bad bad trip to the Goodwill; yet another foray into the weird-awful-wonderful world of teenage angst; and more. CB7 is available from Powell's City of Books (online at and Reading Frenzy in lovely downtown Portland, Oregon. You can also go directly to the source and email me (, flag me down, ply me with drinks, leave a comment, or whatever suits your fancy to get your very own crud for the low, low cost of $3. If you'd like me to mail your crud, please include an extra buck for shipping. (I've got doodads coming out the wazoo so your shipping buck will buy you some sort of cruddy treat.)

A new post coming soon!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Secrets and Lies Part I: Another Night In Paradise

Nicole drove. She always drove. Her willingness to cart my drunk ass around Manassas and beyond was a pillar in the somewhat crumbly foundation of our friendship. In fact I barely remember how we became friends aside from the fact that it involved a mutual desire to get loaded and to smoke as many cigarettes as possible while screaming along to The Cult’s “Fire Woman” as she navigated our piece of suburban wasteland in her spanking new white Mustang during our senior year in high school.

Wait, now it’s coming back. Oh yeah. I ditched my best friend of several years for the punkier, booze loving, and older-boyfriend having Rosemary who then ditched me for the aforementioned boyfriend (after the older boyfriend’s even older roommate—25 years old old—decided he probably wouldn’t get much play from me, a 17-year-old virgin), which somehow brought Nicole and I together.

Wow. I really shouldn’t write these things out or I may realize that I have more in common with the oft-lamented popular people of my youth than I’d like to admit.

On this particular spring night, Manassas held zero promise. Our booze buddy Jimi was occupied with his new girlfriend. There were no parties to be had. My hook-up of 2 weeks ago, the only Republican I have ever dated, had fizzled after the aforementioned date proved to the both of us that we would make a great couple if the only activity of our relationship was making out on a bed while four other people also sitting on the bed watched Saturday Night Live. Yes, ew.

So, fake ID in shaky hand, I bought a 6-pack of Miller Genuine Draft (my beer of choice when I was feeling classy) and cigars (must have been feeling extra classy). We drove by the Republican’s house a few times while I ranted about what a dick he was for not calling me back.

The third time we looped around—I was on beer #4 and feeling sassy—the car made a chugging noise and came to an unceremonious stop a block away from the Republican’s house.

“Shit!” Nicole yelled in a voice that a friend described as a young Joan Rivers. “We’re out of gas.”

“Fuck a duck,” I said. Why that expression seemed cool to me is now a total mystery.

She nodded in the direction of chez Republican. “You should go to—“

“No way. I can’t. What if he’s there with another girl? Plus I’m practically wasted,” I said, throwing back the last warm sip of my beer before jumping out the door to stash the can in the bag in Nicole’s trunk. These were the days before curbside recycling. Nicole carried around a garbage bag of cans, soda and beer, that was supposedly destined for the recycling center. We were environmentally conscious degenerates.

Part of me wanted to go to the Republican’s house (actually his parents’ house), to finally have an excuse to see him and those plush lips of his. I could act drunker than I was and move in for one more kiss or go the righteous anger route. “Why didn’t you call me back,” I would slur as tears moistened my cheeks.

I lit a Swisher Sweet and contemplated. Cigar smoke filled the car. Nicole lit a Camel. “So what are we gonna do?”

Neither one of us had noticed the truck that had pulled up behind us.

A guy in a baseball cap and the redneck uniform of our area—flannel with old jeans and a yellowing white t-shirt—stepped from the cab and came over to Nicole’s side. “Y’all need some help?”

“In fact we do,” I said, attempting a smooth sexy confidence while I puffed on my cigar.

Truck guy and I pushed the car to the side of the road. He went back to his truck and pulled a gas can from the bed. Nicole and I cheered as he poured in enough of the sweet nectar to get us to the gas station down the road.

This was my first and last encounter with the magical redneck. After that night, the redneck population continued their campaign of woohooing as I walked down the street, riding around with the ever-menacing gun racks in their pick-ups, and generally making me wish I lived in a redneck-free utopia.

Relieved and jittery from adrenaline, Nicole pulled into the Shell station next to the Denny’s, our next destination. She misjudged the distance to the pumps and over Ian Asbury’s whine, I heard a loud scraping noise against my door.

“Oh fuck! What was that?” She Joan Rivers-ed.

I nervously giggled. “Oh my g-d, you ran into those poles.”

You know, those white poles between the curb and the pump that have scrapes of all colors on them from the many drivers that misjudge the width of their car?

“Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck. My parents are gonna kill me.” Nicole said.

Not kill but certainly berate her and possibly take away the white mustang that had been my taxi for the last few months. This was serious.

“Damn girl, you did a number on your door,” the unmagical redneck who manned the Shell station said after surveying the damage.

Nicole and I got out from the car slowly, taking in the black scrapes against the door without breathing.

“That’s it. I’m dead,” she said.

“No, wait a second, I have a plan.”

My storytelling mind jumped into high gear. After filling the tank we went to Denny’s where I told Nicole what really happened:

We were in Denny’s, yeah? Before we went in I had noticed a black car next to you that had seemed to be a bit close, which I noticed because I had to squeeze out of the door. So anyway, when we got back to the car there were these huge black marks on the door. “That fucker scraped your car, Nicole!,” I said, but we’ll change “fucker” to “jerk” for the sake of your parents.

We practiced the story a few times, worked out our positions, and after leaving the restaurant, heaved the bag of cans into the dumpster. We drove around town for a few more courage raising cigarettes. It had to work. No big deal. We worked up some outrage and headed to Nicole’s house.

We told the story to her open-mouthed parents. Her dad inspected the damage. “Sheet,” he said in his French accent. “Pardon me,” he added, looking at me.

“No problem,” I said. “What a jerk. They didn’t even leave a note.”

“I’m just so glad you aren’t hurt,” her mom said, hugging Nicole to her. “Oh honey, you smell terrible.”

“It was really smoky in Denny’s,” I said.

Then they called the cops. The cops? My beer courage was wearing off. The shot of adrenaline dissipated. Could I make it through the questioning without bursting into tears? Nicole and I looked at each other wide-eyed. I called my parents and relayed the sad story, explaining why I would be late. Nicole’s mom got on the phone with my mom “I’m just so glad no one was hurt.”

The police arrived quickly. As they took our statements they looked bored mostly, a little skeptical but mostly bored. Our story was so detailed as to be suspicious, but Nicole’s dad was a prominent doctor, and we were “yes sir-ing” like crazy. To our relief, they didn’t separate us or try to poke holes in our story but simply wrote our lies in their notepad and handed Nicole’s dad a copy of the report for insurance purposes.

Nicole drove me home. We took an oath to keep this little adventure to ourselves, since the police had been involved. A week later, the door was repaired and the black marks faded into our senior year together.

Instead of getting bummed about all the lies littering my aura (I kid, sorta), I’ll chalk this one up to a stepping stone on my career to fiction greatness. I guess this means I’ll have to go out and actually achieve some greatness to justify all the lying. Great. Like I need more pressure.

(Stay tuned for more secrets and lies! Has the statute of limitations on insurance fraud passed yet?)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


If you live outside the Portland area, you may have never heard of the fixie a.k.a. my current transportation arch nemesis. A fixie is the cutesy poo name for a fixed-gear track bike (is that redundant?): a bike with one gear, a frame that looks like a strong wind could break it in half, and most notably no brakes. (Don’t hyperventilate yet. Some fixies do come with brakes but most that I encounter on the hardscrabble streets of Portland are blissfully break-free.) These hip young things are intended to be ridden on a track such as the Velodrome, a controlled cycling environment, but the current crop of young coolios have taken the track bike to the streets, my streets and streetlights and sidewalks and grassy knolls, transforming me—innocent me who is such a big-hearted lover of everyone and everything—into an unabashed hater.

Exhibit 1: The no braking thing

The fixie riders claim that they CAN brake, they just don’t do it with the traditional handbrakes, but rather with their leg strength by pedaling backwards. Sounds reasonable in theory. In theory. Most fixies that I encounter ride a meandering path, moseying onto sidewalks, lawns, the thighs of chubby teenagers, whatever to avoid braking. Frequently they ride in front of traffic, trusting that the driver will stop. Not wanting a dead hipster cyclist on their consciences, most of the time they do. The fixie rides away, oblivious, missing the chorus of honks and “asshole” calls left in his-her wake, and generally contributing to the delinquency of the cyclist reputation. If all the meandering fails, they attempt the backpedal-brake maneuver with mixed results. I’ve seen dangerous fishtails as they struggle to come to a stop and a couple of wipe-outs.

One guy gave me a “what’re ya gonna do” shrug when he barely stopped his fixie before a river of rush hour traffic. “Get some fucking brakes, asshole,” thus spake I with my intense stare. He probably thought I was constipated.

Exhibit 2: The no gear thing
Gears are not some sort of cycle luxury; they are a practical response to the different geographies of this great land of ours. (Doesn’t that sound like I’m writing a paper entitled “Brakes: A Manmade Miracle!”) If I could, I would make love to those low gears that have saved my burning thighs on many an uphill trek. Likewise I would give a hearty slap on the bottom to the high gears that increase my speed on the downhill grades. (Digression #539,999: Is there such a thing as bike porn? Does anyone actually want to fuck a bike?)

Being without gears, the fixie rider can go one speed. Since most fixie pilots view their riding as some sort of zen rebel pose, don’t expect the fixie in front of you to accommodate higher speeds on downhill coasts. Nay, they just zigzag along, pedals forever in motion, oblivious to everything since 99% of them (in an unscientific crud observational study) are plugged into an iPod, which brings me to…

Exhibit 3: The uniform
No helmet unless for decorative purposes. Instead a jaunty hat or stocking cap pulled over ear buds whose cords snake into the low-slung pants pocket. Unlike the speed racers decked out like Lance Armstrong, most of the fixie riders don the twentysomething nerd-chic hipster outfit: too tight floods with sneakers or ballet flats and a boxy jacket on top. Even in the pouringest of downpours, or on the darkest of nights, the fixie rider does not deign to wear the practical yellow rain jacket. I can sympathize on this count. I purchased my first rain jacket four years ago, a full six years after moving to the Pacific Northwest. I thought my super cool insulated sweatshirt with the Boy Scout patches that struck me as hip for some reason would be adequate shield against the rain. Not so much. Once the mildew stench started to cling to the clothes I wore underneath, I joined the neon yellow army.

Exhibit 4: Safety? Fuck Safety
I am not the perfect picture of safe cycling. I don’t wear one of those neon orange safety vests. I’ve been known to run a red light or two (or three or four at 5:30 a.m. when I’m riding to yoga). I make mistakes, most frequently in the name of racing home so we can get a table at Yoko’s before the rush hits. (Everyone, stop going to Yoko’s, please. For my safety. For the, uh, safety of the children.) In my defense (get off my back, people!) I always wear a helmet, use lights when it’s dark or pea soup-y, and obey most traffic laws if only so I can affect an air of haughty superiority at moments like these. The fixie rider? No helmet, no lights, no obeying of traffic laws. I keep waiting for the flood of fixie-related deaths to ignite yet another cyclists v. drivers battle royale on the Oregonian editorial page. I don’t wish anyone dead or injured or even mosquito bit, but tragedy seems inevitable as fixie popularity grows among the young, a group not known for their attention to safety. (There but for the grace of somebody go I.)

Convinced yet?

I’m not wholly unsympathetic to the kids of today. I too purchased a bike that had more to do with fashion than practicality when I first moved to Portland. In my day, the kids rode mountain bikes. Theoretically I could have gone on rock hopping adventures, but realistically, I got the bike because it looked sturdy, fat (or rather phat—oh man, when did people stop saying phat? I’m so freaking old.), and it was the style at the time. Also, the tires looked like they wouldn’t easily puncture, which for a repair-a-phobe like me, was a huge bonus.

A few years later after tiring of the extra effort it took to pedal uphill with the smaller circumferenced mountain bike tires, and realizing that a rugged terrain cycling habit would never develop, I purchased a hybrid, which serves me well until this day. Even though it’s more delicate than the old Specialized, it could still rip the head off and shit down the neck of any fixie in town. And that’s what counts, right?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Happy Friday--Me and the Mystical Horses

In an effort to keep myself fresh for a Friday o' party down fun, I just spent 15 minutes doing a photo shoot with ye olde computerre monitorre camerrrra. How does this keep me fresh? The photo shoot keeps me away from that energy drainer of the first degree, work. Kind of like getting healthy by replacing your hamburger with a cheese sandwich. Or something like that.

I'm not usually a mystical horses type o' gal, but this journal makes me laugh every time I crack it open to fill its pages with my trademark wit and brilliance.

Have a lovely weekend. Ride that sexy mystical horse.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Please Make This Reality (TV) Go Away

When Mr. Crud is away my television viewing choices go downhill. Not just a rolling Shenandoah Valley hill but an alpine slope. His presence and the threat of a reality check—“What ARE you watching?”—keep me grounded. A typical Crud family night’s viewing habits: a little Daily Show, some Food Channel diversions, and a sprinkling of OPB to keep the brain from totally oozing out of my ear.

Last Tuesday evening I was alone with the remote, a bit loopy from some wine, and ready to engage in the dreaded channel crawl in search of entertainment. Unlike Mr. Crud, I have not memorized the worthy channels thus must wade through all the home shopping-ortunities and the jiggly camera cable access shows. I haven’t yet forgiven him for leaving me like this. It wasn’t pretty.

After ruling out the high falutin’ channels—Comedy Central (They cancel Strangers With Candy but allow that Mencia douchebag to live on. Explain, please.), Food Channel, the HBOs, IFC-- my flicking finger pauses on Lisa Williams’ My Life Among the Dead. A show about a woman—a medium, not a psychic she stresses—who communicates with the dead is probably not the wisest viewing choice a mere 3 days after burying my grandfather, but I’m having a rubbernecking moment.

Two women talk to the camera about their excitement at meeting Lisa. They don’t mention who the person they hope to communicate with is, but immediately I know it’s their mother. I wonder if people can take one look at me and know that my father died. Lisa takes a necklace from the blonder of the women and within a few moments she is “talking” to their mother. The daughters dissolve into tears broken by laughter and the oft-repeatd phrase, “that’s so Mom!” Initially I found the girls to be of the giggly, overly made up, too tight dress sort, but I feel a flash of kinship with them. I would love to hear from my dad once more. At the end of his life, he was so far gone to cancer and pain medication that his only communication was a frightened “huh” when we shouted his name in his ear. He didn’t even respond to “dad.” Even though Lisa is telling these women what their mother is saying—the usual I love you, I’m proud of you stuff—and I’m shaking my head at the cliché-ness of it all, I also feel a tug of wishing to hear her chirpy British accent describe my dad. I would tell him that I loved him, which is a bit of a duh statement but feels necessary, and, if possible, that he should watch The Colbert Report. I am so pissed that my dad died before seeing it. I start thinking of all the other things I’d say: Check out The Office too, especially Dwight Schrute; Mom really should get a dog, can I tell her that you said she should get a dog?; I miss you, I miss you, I miss you.

“You need to not watch this,” I say aloud and start inching up the channels.

Thank Tori Spelling! She helps me to shake off the sadness with some good old-fashioned hating. (I remember all too well how she started off on this road to reality TV-land:"Donna Martin graduates! Donna Martin graduates!")

In the first shot the plastic Ms. Spelling hawks jewelry on QVC. Then we cut to a scene of her husband pacing around their living room watching the QVC extravaganza, their bouncing baby boy cuddled on the lap of a nanny. Tori and Dean Inn Love. Let the rubbernecking continue. Tori is like so excited that her jewelry is selling but she like totally misses her husband and baby. Aww, how cute. She thinks she’s people. She ruminates about whether she should let her baby be used in a photo shoot. Would this be exploitive? Dangerous? How is this different from parading your baby around on a fucking TV show?

A few months ago I read an essay by the woman Dean divorced to be with Tori. I wonder if she ever tunes in to this boring humiliation of a TV show. The temptation must be so great, yet the aftermath of giving in would be a trip into Kurtz’s jungle. After a minute or two I get bored. I imagine that my ex-boyfriends have their own reality shows where I can watch them coo over hot ladies and fuck before my very eyes. I would totally watch that shit. But still, ex-wife of Dean guy. Don’t. Just don’t.

I hit the up arrow. Oh shit, the Tila Tequila bi-sexual dating show. Tonight it’s the ladies’ turn to woo the fake-tanned and boobed idiotic imp. The ten minutes that I watch sets feminism back at least 25 years.

Tila opines to the camera, “Girls are like so emotional. Sometimes you just wanna say ‘shut up’ and get busy.” (I’m paraphrasing as I was too busy gaping in horror to take notes.)

Ms. Tequila does just that on several occasions. She sticks her tongue down one woman’s throat while another looks on, pouting. It feels like high school except not as classy. I wonder if these women are actually lesbians or if they view playing a lesbian on a d-list reality show as a wise career move. One of them, Kendall, is the spitting image of my high school nemesis. Red Bull-Vodka loosely in hand, she bounces around the awkward reality party, shouting “Hey whassup whassup whassup?” and clearly views herself as the party girl of the group. She invades on another woman’s face time with Tila with nary an apology or sign that she has done something wrong. (How could you, Kendall? I really think those two were soulmates. Tila’s hand was totally down her pants.) When you’re fighting for the lust of a Mrs. Myspace Popularity, things can get a bit dog-eat-dog (or friend-eat-friend).

A woman can only take so much and then she can’t takes no more.

I crawl into bed and reach for the book that I should have been reading instead of being sucked into the horror-the horror of bad reality TV. Gary Shteyngart, take me away!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A Message From Our Sponsor

Greetings my cruddy friends. I will be away from the crud for the next week or so, unfortunately not for any super happy fun reasons (or birthday-related reasons, which I must mention is coming up tomorrow), but rather because my grandfather passed away last weekend, and I will be going eastward to spend time with my family.

The next post is from the forthcoming Crudbucket #7 The All Grown Up With Nowhere To Go Issue*. I cut and scotch taped my fingers to the bone last weekend, but still have a few blank pages that await divine inspiration.

I’ll be back soon with more crud for your reading pleasure.

* Let’s get this out of the way—I am way too into The Office. Some may say obsessed. Not Sopranos obsessed, but close. Even though recounting the details of a sitcom is about as interesting as explaining a comic strip with no visual aids, I insist on a Friday night recap for Mr. Crud who has the poor taste to schedule band practice during this most amazing show. “And then Michael Scott said ‘That’s what she said’ and it was awesome,” I giggle as Mr. Crud humors me yet again. On last week’s episode Michael Scott tousled the triumphantly returning Ryan’s hair and said “Look, you’re all grown up with nowhere to go.” I almost jumped off the couch with excitement because I am a huge dork.

Thank You. No, Thank YOU.

Whenever I send out a query letter to an agent—which I did today thanks to a swift kick in the arse by Ariel Gore’s book, How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead--I don’t have a please-please-please love my book ritual or a lucky candle or even a pair of lucky underwear. (The black French-cut Jockeys have officially been retired after assisting me on several smooch-seeking missions during high school and college.) No, the first thing I do is to start mentally writing my acknowledgements page. Typically, I drop off my query letters of hope during my lunch hour, so my entire break is spent walking around downtown Portland, thinking about all of those who have been the wind beneath my wings.

The obvious: Mom, Dad, my brother, Mr. Crud, and the entire Crud clan who support me more in theory than in appreciation of my specific projects. After I was a finalist in a story contest and was published online, Grandpa informed me that I use too many curse words. This has been the sum total of my family’s remarks on my writing. After finishing CB (the insider’s, aka my, shorthand for Crudbucket) number 4, I decided I could finally tell my family that I had a zine. After several scans for mentions of drug use, smoking, and sex, I deemed CB4 safe for parental and grandparental consumption. At the annual Crud Christmas gathering, I dropped what I felt like was a bombshell.

“I’ve been self-publishing this magazine-like thingy for a few years, and um, people like it, and uh, if you want to see it I have some copies right here.”

My uncle slapped his leg. “Well, that’s great.”

Grandpa added an “oh,” but I had no takers. The conversation shifted to the Redskins. I crumpled a little and filled my wine glass to the brim to drown my sorrows.

Some of my writer friends envy my family’s eyes-off policy.

“My mom wants to read everything I write. It’s kinda stifling,” one friend tells me.

“Not me,” I say, “they are terrified.”

She thinks I’m lucky. Most of the time I agree. Knowing that my blog is safe from parental eyes definitely frees me up to curse and be honest about who I am and my many super fun vices. But sometimes I get unnerved on a base level. Am I really so scary? So combustible? Would it topple everyone’s lives to read the truth about me and my life? Mr. Crud believes I subconsciously scare my family off. He does have a point. In a heated argument about my cigarette habit a few days before my dad died, in a flashback to pure high school anger I screamed at my mother, “You don’t know me. I have secrets!” Yes, I, a 33-year-old woman, yelled this at my mother who had been caring for my cancer-stricken father for years. Nice moment, believe me.

My mom knows that I have secrets. She prefers not to scratch off too much of the veneer. The don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy has served us well since I turned thirteen. But still when I tell her of my successes no matter how minor, she is unflagging in her pride. When I get bummed that I remain in the office work ghetto, she reminds me “You are a writer. You are an artist. You do important work.” Even if she never reads a word I write, the kid stays on the list.

After the family, come the writing teachers (especially those who will cause people to raise their eyebrows and get very impressed), and the tireless Crudbucket supporters (I’m looking at you, Kevin, your space is officially reserved). Even though I do feel genuine gratitude to my teachers, I occasionally wonder if this isn’t just another form of name dropping. I would not be the writer I am today—that being an unpublished writer who still supports herself from administrative assistanting—if I hadn’t taken Diana Abu-Jaber’s Intro to Fiction class 11 (holy fuck!) years ago. In fact I would still be scribbling away in my journal, believing that a career as a writer was something that would just happen to me. But when I mention her name, I feel a certain undercover eye roll coming from some corners of the room. Maybe it’s jealousy or maybe my mention is inappropriate. I have been known to drop a name now and again, knowing as the name flops from my mouth that I sound like a total poseur.

I desperately do not want to be the traveling fictioneer who talks up all the workshops they’ve taken and centers every story around some famous so-and-so who said that their work has potential. I’m hesitant to the point of idiocy on this count, going so far as to be totally shy with writers I admire or else writing them a stilted email in which I

A) sound like a stalker as I have a propensity to claim that I AM NOT A STALKER in the few fan letters that I’ve written or
B) be so bland that nobody in their right mind would want to read my writing or know I exist.

My recent victory was getting a kind email from a writer I admire. I was on cloud 9 for days about this until I wrote an email back that included my famous anti-stalking promise. Fuck me! Thank g-d, he still returns me emails (which will never ever reference stalking again so help me g-d). Eric, a spot on the acknowledgements page is looking good for you right now…if you play your cards right.

After the writing teachers and roll call of writing group members over the years, I get stuck. I am tempted to thank all the high school heroes and dickheads who inspired me (or who’s shunning and assholery forced me out of the preppy-jock trajectory that I so wanted as a freshman). Then I wonder if the characters, who are loosely (verrrry loosely) based on so-called real people, will sue me if I thank them, if my acknowledgements page can be held against me in a court of law. At this point in the lunchtime acknowledgement extravaganza, I laugh at myself. Usually out loud. To have such things to worry about! I worry that I’ve psychically weighed my once innocent query letter down with this acknowledgement baggage.

Guidelines for inclusion on KT Crud’s Acknowledgements Page:
• Inspire me
• Pay me for writing
• Be my agent, editor, publisher, or—if you got some moolah to invest—patron
• Flattery will get you everywhere (unless it’s too much then I wonder why you think I’m so great and distrust everything you say)
• Comment on my blog (hollah, people! Or should that be hollah back? I’m so bad at hip hop lingo)

It’s just that easy!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A Tale of Two Randies

Skating Randy
In eighth grade my best friend Krista and I pinned our social hopes on a roller rink. Skate City U.S.A. on Mathis Avenue was not the triumphant good time gal that the name implies. She was dingy and trashy and smelled of sweat, popcorn, burnt pizza and the vague waft of urine whenever you got anywhere near the bathroom. Every Friday Krista and I squeezed into our tightest jeans, wiped wide swaths of blue eyeshadow across our lids and twirled around in her basement for each other, confirming that tonight might finally at last be THE night when our lives would begin, aka the night some boy asked us to skate during the slow songs and please-G-d-yes kissed our waiting and heavily glossed lips.

Krista generally got more takers than I. I suffered from the adolescent trifecta of misery: braces, glasses, and chubbiness. (Whenever I hear about the obesity epidemic among the youth of today, I lament that the epidemic didn’t hit when I was a teen. I would have been considered fit among my fat peers. The kids have it so easy today.) Occasionally a skeezy older guy would skate up to me and take me by the hand to join the other couples looping circle after circle while “Secret Lovers” or “You’re the Inspiration” crackled from the speakers.

After the last skate was untied, Krista and I decamped to her bedroom to pick over the details and offer verdicts on the acceptability of our evening’s partners. More often it turned into a biggest loser competition. My “partners” were always victorious in that department. Score 1 for the fat girl!

I’d harbored a crush on Larry Stuart since the 5th grade when he whispered sarcastic comments under his breath from the desk beside me. I now realize he’d been placed there because he was struggling academically and I, goody two shoes that I was, had been charged unbeknownst to me to bring up his grades. It probably worked since I let this object of my affections cheat off my papers. Even though he was the first boy to break my heart by turning down my offer to “go with him,” I still liked Larry in 7th grade. He was morphing into a bad boy smoker (and would one day be one of the dudes to brag about the large size of his truck) but he was still a smooth skater. We skated a few times. Pity skates on his part while I panted excitedly, thinking that he had finally come around and seen through to my inner beauty while I was kind enough to overlook the stupid caterpillar mustache spreading across his top lip like a prickly rash.

Larry introduced me to Randy. Randy of the middle-parted and feathered hair. Randy of the skinny neck and huge adam’s apple. Randy the tall. Randy the best skater in all of Skate City, U.S.A. Somehow Randy and I ended up together during the final couple’s skate, his arms around my hips and mine around his neck. Yes, he could skate backwards, yes, he could sense when a turn was coming and cross his skates without tripping. Yes, yes, Randy, yes.

That night I had the upper hand in the Krista-Kt cute boy talk. We decided that Randy was the only deep boy in the entire skate rink, that he liked me, that I should definitely ask him out skating for the next Friday. He would be there anyway so why not call it a date?

Larry was barely able to keep a straight face when I asked him for Randy’s number, but he scrawled it down for me on a sheet of paper during health class. “He might have a girlfriend,” Larry said. In fact, I later learned that Larry and Randy were engaged in a battle for the affections of the concessions girl, Lynn. She was a 10th grader! With boobs!! I had been a pawn in their love triangle, but I was too googly over backwards-skating Randy to see any of the underlying games.

Before dialing his number, I wrote a list of potential topics of conversation: Larry, skating, what music he likes, how he learned to skate so well, where he went to school. I also wrote down my opener: “Hi, this is Kt, you know the girl you skated with to “Secret Lovers” at Skate City.” Just Skate City, because I was hip. My pulse raced. My mouth tasted of assy cotton ball.

I dialed.

He picked up.

“Hi, this is Kt, you know, the girl you skated with to—“

“Oh yeah. Hey.”

I heard the dread in his voice. He knew what was coming. We both did, yet were powerless to stop it. Well, I wasn’t powerless. The second I heard his voice I knew that he did not wish to be my secret lover, but still I forged on.

“So, uh, you going skating on Friday night?”

“I don’t know. Maybe. Yeah. Probably, I guess,” he said.

“Maybe we could meet up early, you know for some pizza or just in front of Skate City.”

“Ummm, I can’t. I don’t know if I’m going, you know?”

Because I didn’t know Randy so well, I dispensed with any begging or cajoling. Any of the boys I asked out during the years from 1984 – 1987 will tell you that I don’t give up without a fight or spreading a thick layer of guilt over the naysayer. (Um, this continued into the sexless college years I spoke of, but I’m pretty sure I learned my lesson shortly before Mr. Crud and I met. Since he said yes to my advances, we’ll never know.)

I doodled on the page where I had listed potential topics of conversation. The doodle still reads HE DOESN’T LIKE ME in jagged letters. I think the smudge beside it is from a tear. Aw.

Randy Randy
Never fear—this is not another story of Kt rejection. I never liked this Randy as anything but a friend. Hard to believe, I know. I have been known to look for love in all the wrong places at all the wrong times with all the wrong people following all the wrong crowds but that’s a story or twenty for another time (like the next Crudbucket post probably).

Randy was a sparkly-eyed charmer. Despite some acne scars and a mullet, he had the confidence and the biceps to pull off his hot guy attitude. He was our high school’s Patrick Swayze minus the fighting ability. Despite his muscles, Randy had a rep for being a bit of a wuss. He was well-loved by the ladies, most of whom would coo “Hey Randy” and line up to hug him when he entered a room. He didn’t discriminate. If you were nice and female, Randy would hug you and make you feel like the prettiest lady in the room. Maybe he was smarter than I gave him credit for and knew that his magnanimous ways would pay off when he did find that special cute lady, or maybe he was genuinely a nice guy.

He dated a friend of mine on the volleyball team. Knowing that I was dateless and a bit depressed on my fourteenth birthday, the two of them took me out to see “Dirty Dancing.” Perhaps that is where the Swazye association was born. Whatever it was, Randy wasn’t for me as I have a powerful aversion to Patrick Swayze and anyone who reminds me of the Swayze.

Also, Randy was horny. Very horny. Randy wore tight jeans and was not afraid to show the ladies just what was on his mind, especially after all those hugs. Or as another Swayze-type fellow put it “all those boobs against my chest.” I know that teenage guys are horny as a rule, but Randy seemed to exceed the daily recommended servings of lust. He lived up to his name and was a double entendre machine.

Randy and I were casual friends until heartbreak brought us together. For as long as I’d known him Randy had his pick of girlfriends. He never went more than a few weeks without a lady on his arm. I was the opposite. My first real boyfriend lasted 9 months and after he broke up with me, I mourned that relationship as if it had been a favorite pet. For months, then years. Then I wrote a novel about it. (Will publication of that novel finally exorcise it from me? Let’s give it a shot!)

Around the time that I was in the most dramatic phase of mourning—shortly after my ex had gotten himself a new and improved girlfriend—Randy was turned down for the first time since I’d known him. Her name--somewhat coincidentally for this post--was Krista. She was a youth group leader, a certified nice person and beautiful to boot. Every boy in the youth group had a crush on her at some point and now that it was Randy’s turn, he thought he could turn it into true love always.

Her rejection came at a party. I found Randy by a tree, crying. He didn’t shoo me away as he had other partygoers.

“You know what it feels like,” he said as we hugged.

“Yeah, it totally sucks,” I said, feeling tears come to my eyes.

We spent the rest of the party talking by the bushes about love, whether it was better to have loved and lost and all that drama queen high school love crap. At one point, I wondered if maybe we might fall in love now that we had shared our total disappointment in love. Maybe I could overlook the haircut and the terrible taste in music—he was Journey, I was a Smiths type of gal. Or at least we could kiss. I really missed kissing.

In the darkening fall sky, Randy lost the Swayze and I affirmed to myself that I wouldn’t be upset if he kissed me. If anyone caught us we could say we’d been lost in the moment and lost track of the true loves whose stories were etched on our souls. (I’m really channeling my inner high schooler, yes?) Alas, we merely picked the patch of grass where we sat bald and lamented the sad state of our hearts.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Et tu, Tom Hanks?

I hate when people critique a book they haven’t read. So now let me engage in a bit of self-loathing in action. How Starbucks Saved My Life is the inspiration.

I also hate Starbucks, but on the days when the coffee line in the student union is too long I go there. I get a latte. I engage in fake friendly conversation with the twenty-somethings that work there and hate myself a little bit more.

2 counts of self-loathing. Dang. I need to do something self-loving pronto. No, not that. I’m at work. Get your mind out of the gutter.

So back to this book that was reviewed in last week’s Oregonian. I see the title, the wet dream of some green-clad CEO.

“Shit. Fuck me. Hon? You’re never going to believe this.”

Mr. Crud steps into the living room, looks at the graphic of the book next to my accusing finger. “Jesus Christ.”

I skim the review. High-powered white man has job in corporate world. High-powered man loses job, has affair, gets brain tumor and needs health insurance so he applies for a job at Starbucks. Here he learns about the real world, you know the “get real” world, because most of his coworkers are young African Americans. No way. Fuck me. Again the black people have to help yet another white person see the error of his ways, and the ripple effects that his privilege has on the rest of the world. Instead of writing a lame memoir, why not use your New Yorker connections to get those people some book deals, oh great white Starbucks lover? Oh right, they are God’s teaching tools for clueless whitey.

Okay, so I’m putting words in his book, but you know I’m at least part right. Oprah is going to love this guy.

Yesterday I read the “People” section of The Oregonian. Tom Hanks is producing and starring in the movie based on How Starbucks Saved My Life.

“Hon? You’re not going to believe this?” I deliver the news

“I hope there are some magical minorities to show him the error of his ways.” Mr. Crud says.

“No doubt.”

My imagined cast:

Wanda Sykes is the sassy manager who harbors resentment against rich dude for all the opportunities he has squandered. She’s mean to him at first, and does her best to get him to quit, but after he proves himself and learns a life lesson about the plight of black people in America, she gives him a teary-eyed thumbs up.

Nick Cannon is the thug with a heart of gold. Despite his new start at Starbucks, he is drawn into a desperate circumstance—drugs or gangs, anyone?—from which rich dude must save him using the power of his privilege and skin color. The thug will save rich dude too one day, probably using his street smarts.

Perhaps there is a somber person from a war torn nation who shows rich dude just how lucky he is to live in America.

And a wacky stoner Indian guy who could be played by Kal Penn. He proves himself to be smarter than his duuuhhh exterior reveals at first. The rich dude uses his connections to get the Indian guy a better job. Change HIS life too. I could speculate all day.

One thing I’m not going to do is read that book. No way. What if I liked it? A self-loathing trifecta is more than I can handle right now.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Fashion Faux Pas I Have Known: An Incomplete List of My Signatures Styles

Mascara Eyebrows (aka What the hell are those caterpillars doing on your forehead?)
In college my friend Kimber darkened her eyebrows with mascara. It was very Madonna during her Desperately Seeking Susan years. Having dark hair (or at times green hair) the heavy, dark eyebrows suited her; they made her eyes pop, as the fashion folk say. Never one to back down from fabulous fashion, I too took to swiping a heavy coat of black mascara on my eyebrows. I thought I looked pretty marvelous with my eyes popping in all the right ways despite the stark contrast between eyebrows and hair bleached Marilyn Monroe (or more accurately for my aspiration at the time—Courtney Love) blonde. Not to mention my pale pink skin and penchant for wearing bright red lipstick. Yes, it looked like a box of crayons had rioted all over my face, especially when I colored the bleach blonde to purple as a young punk rocker is wont to do.

I kept the mascara eyebrow look for several years, well into my twenties when I really should have known better. When I see pictures from that era, I laugh. Mr. Crud, who fell in love with me during the caterpillar eyebrow days, laughs too. “What exactly were you going for there?” he asks. “I don’t know, but you married it.” Well, he did wait for me to retire the caterpillar eyebrows before getting engaged. He’s one smart cookie.

The Garter Belt Affair
Have I told you the one where everyone in college was fucking happily while I sat back, sucking on a Camel Light and wishing desperately to join the orgy? Poor me. In a bid for ultimate sexiness combined with my Riot Grrrl sass, I got into garter belts. Garter belts worn with ripped tights and boxer shorts or cut-off jeans. It wasn’t comfortable, the tights made my legs resemble sausages desperate to escape their casings. I always felt chilled where the ring of thigh flesh spilled over the top edge of the tights.

I officially retired this look one Christmas after my friends and I had to abandon my car on a highway off-ramp due to an ice storm that paralyzed the metropolitan D.C. area. Ignorant to weather reports, we made the trek to D.C. to see Circus Lupus and after the show, when we stepped outside, everything was coated in ice. We made it far enough that we could walk through the snow to a friend’s parents’ house, but damn that was a cold walk. “What are you wearing?” my brother asked incredulously. Desperation, dear brother.

Farmer Chic

Does every aspiring feminist have a baggy overall phase? My first pair were purchased at the Southern States store in Harrisonburg, VA as that was the only store that carried the fat-ass farmer sizes. During college, my weight shot up to a striking 250. Sure, I’m 6 feet tall but at that weight I could have considered trying out for the football team. (Perchance this had something to do with the whole not getting laid in college thing.) Anyhoo, I remember well the thrill of finding overalls in size 46. They hung on me like a dress, and I wore them almost everyday. No matter that they added a good 40 pounds to my already formidable frame. My friend Bob tried them on and could fit both of his legs in one leg of the pants. At the time, I considered this a type of flirting. I held on to the overalls until the weight came off and I could fit into a pair of cute Osh Koshes that actually fit. Now I only reserve these for romantic moments. Mr. Crud has a thing for overalls. If only he’d known me in college.

Mrs. Roper Days

My sophomore year of college I became a hard-core thrifter. One day I discovered a wealth of muu muus that would have sent Mrs. Roper into a jealousy spiral. For $3 each, I scooped them up and proceeded to strut around my conservative-ish college campus in them. For shoes I wore combat boots. I felt so unique and confident rocking the muu muu style. I had some motto about people in silly clothes having more fun. Uh, no, I believe that was blondes. Anyway, somehow the muu muus gave me a mystique that attracted the freaky kids from campus. Even though my plot to befriend the coolio weirdos ultimately worked, it’s still kind of odd that I achieved it by wearing colorful tent-like dresses.

Back in the Day
My transition from preppy jockish girl to punk rocker wannabe was not pretty. The revelation came late in my freshman year after becoming obsessed with U2, R.E.M. and the Violent Femmes, those gateway bands of the mid-80’s. I had polo shirts, suburban mom fit Lee jeans, some pieces from the Limited Express, Liz Claiborne, various business lady type clothes thanks to the sports team requirement that we dress “like ladies” for away games, and a single black t-shirt. Boy did that t-shirt get a workout.

When the initial stirrings of punk rock desire hit, all I could do was put on all my jewelry at once and hope that it freaked me up a little bit. My mom and I had epic battles over the color black. She obsessively monitored the amount of black clothes in my wardrobe. If the black percentage rose over her limit, battles ensued. She believed that if I wore too much black, it meant that I was depressed and a freak (um, which I was). A rationale that made as much sense as my high school boyfriend’s mother’s belief that the reason he ran away and got into drugs was linked with all those posters of scowling punk rockers on his walls.

In my day, you couldn’t buy punk rock at Hot Topic or Target. The accoutrements were hard to come by so you made do with some Spencer’s Gifts anarchy signs and a handful of band buttons from Penguin Feather. During the summer before my sophomore year I decided that wearing a bandana around my wrist was totally punk rock, thus I wore it everyday, hoping that the few cute skater boys who skulked around the food court would see through the bandana to my punk rock soul.

Then I discovered the miracle of safety pins, using them to craft bracelets, earrings, and, during one fevered fashionista session, I pinned them in the pattern of a peace sign on a men’s undershirt. The safety pins were a more successful signifier than the bandana and got me a little noticed, most of the “So, are you punk now?” variety, sneered by various teammates and popular girls. What a trick question! To answer yes is to sound like a pretentious douche, but yes, yes, that is what I want you to think. When I wasn’t getting asked if I was punk, I was asked if I was “progressive.” I felt more comfortable with progressive even as I didn’t quite know what it meant.

I bought any band t-shirt as long as I had and liked at least one of their albums. I caught a conversation between two of my skater-punk pals dissing one of the punk wannabe girls at my school because she wore a 7 Seconds t-shirt and didn’t even have one of their albums. “Fuckin’ poseur,” they snorted. I wanted to be called a poseur only slightly less than I wanted to be called fat. Either description would have devastated me. I made sure to be able to name a favorite song off each album and to scrawl lyrics in huge letters on my notebooks. I wasn’t going down without a fight.

When the eurotrash store, Le Chateau, opened up in Fair Oaks mall I found my next fashion stage. My most notable purchase was a pair of white creeper-type shoes that looked like they belonged on a golf course. I fancied myself more Minor Threat than Depeche Mode, but Le Chateau served me well and was a definite improvement over The Limited and Bennetton.

I pity the kids today. They have to try so hard to be outcasts. In my day, all it took was a bandana and a safety pin bracelet to get the teachers mumbling under their breath.

I asked Mr. Crud to help me brainstorm more fashion errors of eras gone by. “What about that outfit?” he nods at my ensemble of tenty dress, black leggings, and turquoise boots.


Monday, September 10, 2007

Excuses, Excuses

I aim to toss some crud out to the world at least once a week, but it's been a hell of a week. Don't worry. I have an excuse:

To Whom It May Concern:

Kt will be unable to post on her blog this week because she is too busy creating art, damnit. She is working her fingers to the bone throwing together Crudbucket #7 The Yet-to-be-Named Issue, not to mention her foray into children's literature with Fiona: Queen of the Witches. Then there's this reading she's doing at the library on October 2. Readings don't publicize themselves, you know. So go easy on her. She's not such a bad kid. A little stinky at times, but integrity doesn't smell like flowers. It smells of armpits and Big Red mixed with a bit of stale beer and cigarettes, the kind that she decided to quit one week ago. It's going okay so far, except for Saturday night. What's a Saturday night without a cigarette or two?

Come back in a week. The brilliance will flow.
Mrs. Crud

Friday, August 31, 2007

I Am the Warrior

(This is me blowing the smoke off my gun-finger. I don't think this picture speaks a million words. If anything, it mumbles four words and then takes another swig of whiskey.)

During a slow week at work this summer, I spent an inordinate amount of time reading The Onion AV Club, both the blogs and other features which invite comment from the fine readers of The Onion. Usually I skip the comments. They are anonymous thus riddled with all manner of douchebaggery and silly arguments about shit that, as one of my first movie crushes, Tripper, so succinctly put it, JUST DOESN’T MATTER.

But I wasn’t feeling the divine inspiration to make another go at attempted novel #3 or to get some crud written so I perused the comments, took sides in the petty pop culture turf wars, and generally upped my feelings of malaise by a good 75%. A disturbing trend emerged. Whenever a female—be it Britney, Lindsay, Parker Posey, or Chan Marshall—was discussed someone always felt compelled to comment on her looks, sexy quotient, or do-ability, even if the blog post, newswire item, or review had absolutely nothing to do with her looks, sexy quotient, or do-ability. Duh, big surprise, right?

I expected more from readers of The Onion. I am reminded of my college delusions that the faculty members of my vaunted Sociology department spent their free time in roundtable discussions, arguing the various sociological foundations, the merits and drawbacks of different types of research, how to solve the pressing problems of our time: racism, sexism, economic inequality, or how to take down the ruling regime of our small liberal arts college so that the social sciences building was as shiny and new as the business college. After working in the magical mystical land of academia for the past 10 years, I know differently. They were likely engaged in petty battles of one up-manship and tenure-related publishing frenzies. So it goes with The Onion.

I got mad. I drafted a post, decrying the blatant sexism of the comments, but only imagined the responses, labeling me a humorless man-hater because we as a society are so beyond sexism now, right? I hit delete.

I decided to get even.

I called it Project Good for Gander, my nom de comment being Good4Gander. No matter how little it had to do with the topic being discussed as long as the topic was male, I let the good readers of The Onion AV Club know how I felt about the fellow’s potential to get in my pants. Sylvester Stallone, Matt Damon, George Clooney, Hulk Hogan: all became fodder for my campaign against the comment board sexism. I cast a wide net and had a loose definition of desirability. Most of the fellows fell into the fuckable camp, if only because I enjoyed imagining some reader marveling at my desire to rip every rag from septuagenarian Stallone’s chemically enhanced muscles. After each post, I giggled maniacally at this latest blend of genius and idiocy.

A few days into my campaign, Mr. Crud pointed out that people might think I’m a gay man for all the stereotypical reasons about the hypersexuality of gay men, and women not really talking in a public forum about men’s sexual desirability (Sex and the City aside, a show which was mostly written by a gay man from what I understand being a fervent hater of SATC myself).

Oh, crap omelet. He’s probably right.

Even still, I kept my campaign going until pressing needs such as work and starting up this here blog pulled me in more worthy directions. I imagined the commenters wondering about the whereabouts of that needed bolt of energy to the comment boards that Good4Gander provided with her (or his) insatiable sexual appetites for male celebrities from list A to D. They would scan the boards in hopes of finding my name and insightful musings on each star’s fuckability. Cue the mass lamenting. Maybe even some young women found inspiration in Good4Gander’s comments or at the very least a recognition that commenting on women’s bodies as if that sums up their worth, even if they are artists in the public eye, is fucked.

So now, in the interest of not feeling alone on this big lonely blog, I pose a question to you, awesome readers. Was this the dumbest idea ever? When you encounter an unsavory –ism (racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, etc.) do you address the issue head-on or is a sideways (hopefully humorous) approach more effective? Even in this case, an approach that may lead to head-scratching instead of immediate aha realization of the wrong I am trying to right.

Also, have a kick ass Labor Day.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

My Cruddy Summer Vacation

Vacation stats:
3 days spent in Milwaukee, WI for Mr. Crud’s cousin’s wedding
3 days in DeKalb, IL with Mr. Crud’s parents and his brother’s family
3 days at KahNeeTah, a resort and casino on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation in lovely Oregon

Magazines Read:

My preferred magazine during take-off. All those expensive shoes and wrinkle creams comfort me.

US Weekly
I swore I wouldn’t read about the frat boy douchebag’s “twisted night with Britney,” but something ugly came over me in that Hudson’s News in O’Hare. Something ugly that smelled of Red Bull vodkas and left a trail of hair weave in its wake. Then to add insult to injury there was a picture of my crush du last couple of years, James Gandolfini, kissing another woman. (James Gandolfini??? Yes, goddamnit, James Gandolfini.)

More Britney. Uh oh, I think I need an intervention. I also need a ton more makeup as Allure convinces me that as a 34-year-old woman my skin has gone wrinkly and my body is being colonized by cellulite at an alarming rate.

Oprah: The Magazine (2 issues)
My Oprah: The Magazine purchases are as compulsive as US Weekly except there’s not a “Just Like Us” feature (or as my sociologist husband and I call it “False Consciousness Gone Wild”) to laugh over. I relish getting angry at Dr. Phil for his horrible advice. I make plans to launch my own self-help line based on blaming the victim each time I pore over his “Speech of the month.” My brother sums up Dr. Phil’s advice well: Just look at yourself, you’re a mess, you’re the problem, you must change. Oprah: The Magazine is the ultimate abusive boyfriend—she tells you not to worry in one article (“21 Things You Can Stop Worrying About Now”) and immediately creates a new worry (“Can You Go Crazy Over Love?”) The less said about her essay about how her dog died so that she would see the need to stop and smell the roses, the better. G-d, please don’t sacrifice any more dogs for Oprah.

An airplane classic.

Entertainment Weekly
I really want to see “Superbad,” super bad now. Well done, hype machine.

The final issue. So bittersweet. I’ve loathed Jane ever since I received the first complimentary issue. I will miss hating on it dearly.

I skimmed this one because I knew I’d be hauling it home with me for careful reading. Somewhere between Milwaukee and DeKalb it disappeared. Probably telling snarky anecdotes to the face soap and body wash I left behind. Crap.

*I used to buy a copy of the Utne Reader or some other such mid to high brow magazine to read on the airplane, but I have dropped even that slightest of pretensions. When I defy death, I require trashy magazines and lots of them.

Movies Watched:

Casino Royale
Daniel Craig is giving James Gandolfini a serious run for my heart and loins. Also, did they really have to show female love interest drowning so brutally?

Pan’s Labyrinth
What a wonderful and devastating movie.

Books (ahem Book) Read:

The Stolen Child
Finally I’ve broken the chain of humorous memoirs with a darn good read about changelings. Between this book and Pan’s Labyrinth, I was a weepy mess on my final day of vacation.

The Awesomeness:

Girl Town
Fiona (not the real name of my 4-year-old niece, but rather her “witch name”). She no longer orders me around, instead she lets me be a partner in play. Thus she now has a little plastic skater dude toy named Shalimar thanks to me (I planned to name subsequent toys after members of the Debarge family; my brother-in-law drew the line at naming them after the Jacksons. Just Reebie, please let me have Reebie) and hopefully has added words like whackadoo (as in “The Milwaukee Art Museum is whackadoo.”) and the phrase “That’s how I roll” to her vocabulary. Fiona and I inhabited a Fisher Price Little People utopia called Girl Town where the worst crime was a serial hair cutter called Mean Boy—who sold his cuttings on the black market to the bald men and who was eventually caught by a police woman who managed to keep her plastic yellow locks intact. We got so caught up in Girl Town that we totally forgot to play witches or her new twist: Twin Sister Teacher Princess Witches. Watch out—when those powers activate Fiona and I will be a force to be reckoned with.

Lady Town
Hanging with Anna (aka my sister-in-law and mother of Fiona) at the rehearsal dinner for the wedding we attended in Milwaukee. Due to a wealth of free martinis (Grey Goose, woohoo!) and a lack of food, Anna and I turned into a MST 3000 for the speeches given by friends and family. I don’t think anyone heard us. Fingers crossed. From the speeches, we learned that Mr. Crud’s cousin, the bride, would be marrying a selfish asshole and rumored Republican who doesn’t believe in cooking or doing dishes and that his cousin is so nice that one of her friends initially thought she was either a huge dork or a lesbian. A match made in…Wisconsin, I guess. Anna and I raised our eyebrows so high that I’m shocked they didn’t become part of our hairlines. I am a serial wedding kvetcher. After my best friend from high school got married in a Catholic wedding, I spent the eternity waiting to have my photograph taken puzzling over why half the crucifixes in the church were askew. I wore an itchy, tight dress as was my bridesmaid duty and was starving. My lapsed Catholic buddy explained the whole stations of the cross thing, but I continued to rif on the idea that the folks of All Saints were simply too busy running around keeping gay people from getting married and poking holes in condoms to attend to the most basic of housekeeping. Sure, my buddy laughed, but I don’t think that the priest, who watched the bridal party photo session from the front pew, thought I was so hilarious. The lesson of both of these stories: mind my blood sugar. My emergency granola bars can only do so much. Cram some brie and crackers in my maw and I’ll play nice, or at least keep my voice down.

Reunited and It Feels So Good
Reuniting with my college pal Nicole and meeting her new baby. My friends are having babies like they used to have hangovers. I think I may be next. Eek.

Dance Floor Scandal
After the wedding ceremony and some fortifying hors d’oeuvres came the dancing, dancing separated by gender at first. I learned later that the women weren’t supposed to come out onto the floor during the initial dance, but due to some miscommunication we flooded the floor and created our own circle. The endless grapevine circles weren’t so terrific, but at one point Mr. Crud and I met in the center of the room, our gender separated circles paused for a moment and we did our own version of the forbidden dance. We bumped butts until our circles got moving again, winking at each other as we parted. Scandalous!

Post Wedding Cool Down
KahNeeTah was an all around great time and the perfect antidote to the intense family time of the wedding days. We soaked in a mineral bath; played in the Olympic-sized pool; were massaged, salt scrubbed and herbal wrapped; ate all we could eat seafood; hiked a trail where I had numerous opportunities to pretend that I had pooped out the tremendous piles of horse turds left we encountered; got my first taste of gambling (I’ll never forget you, Lost City of Atlantica, aka the penny slot machine where I won $4.54) and bumped into one of Mr. Crud’s coolio colleagues and his wife who we met for drinks in the lounge while The Substitutes jammed out cover-band style.

The Weirdness:

The Wedding Scene
High-powered 20-somethings buzzed around each other while Mr. Crud and I marveled at how we had become invisible to anyone under 30 who wasn’t related. Thank G-d for free liquor. I had never been so thankful that my brother is a lawyer than when I was hanging in the hospitality room with one of the 20-something lawyers when we quickly realized we had nothing in common, not politics nor musical tastes nor cultural tastes. Nada.

Everybody likes a weirdo artsy type of person, right? Most of the “normal” folks I’ve befriended for brief yet intense events like weddings happily put me into this slot. They ask me about my days in a band or my novel (so fabulous am I) and I marvel at how much money they make in advertising/lawyering/businessing. (Damn, that sounds condescending and bitchy. Because it is.) After coming face to face with this wedding crowd of preppy Jewish yuppies (one of them wore a pink Izod, loafers sans socks, and clearly mistook the Preppy Handbook for a Torah), I sadly realized that not everyone needs a weirdo. I even found myself feeling a blush of shame at my shaggy armpits after holding up the groom’s mother during the chair dance, something I did because it was fun and to say “see, I can be part of your wedding; I’m not so bad for a middle-class shiksa” and also “screw you, this middle class shiksa is part of your wedding, like it or not.” I was feeling a tad outcastish, which doesn’t always bring out the best in me.

The Wedding Itself
The bride is marrying into a modern orthodox Jewish family. Modern orthodox means that they are modern outside of the house but traditional inside the house, e.g. separate dishes are kept for meat and milk foods so that meals are kosher. The ceremony was traditional complete with a black-hatted rabbi presiding over the wedding and the ketubah (wedding contract) being signed by the groom and the bride’s father. The bride’s father paid a dowry. Unfortunately it was not the hoped for cow and two goats, but rather enough money for them to furnish a house. (Yeah, like the real estate lawyer who makes 8 times my salary needs more money.) The few Jewish ceremonies I’ve attended and participated in had the bride and groom signing the contract. The bride was not allowed to talk during the ceremony. During the ketubah signing, she sat on a small stage surrounded by her attendants and the super excited flower girl, Fiona. Yeah, my feminist hackles rose way high.

The wedding was beautiful, held in the awe-inspiring Milwaukee Art Museum at dusk. A martini bar complete with ice sculpture (Grey Goose woohoo part 2!!) looked out upon the lake. It was definitely the fanciest and most beautiful wedding I’ve attended on the surface, but for me, the substance was lacking. Every piece of the ceremony felt like it was for the sake of creating an appearance, to impress someone. The groom’s parents were trying to impress the Chasids and the other richie riches, and the black hats were trying to impress G-d. There were no cheesy readings of poetry or friends stuttering wishes for the married couple, just some generic mazel-tov-mazel-tov greetings from some head rabbi in Wisconsin.

DeKalb, IL
You’re right, Anna. DeKalb is depressing. I had the seemingly necessary (for me at least) vacation meltdown on the night of our arrival after realizing that I had left behind my travel-sized face soap and body wash at the shi-shi hotel in Milwaukee. Things I said while fighting back tears and tearing apart my suitcase: “I just bought that fucking travel set for this trip! Goddamnit!! That body wash is fucking expensive. Jesus Christ!! I just wanna go home.” When I spied the bar of cheap hotel soap that I’d have to wash my precious facial skin with twice, the tears flowed. Thanks for not laughing your ass off at me, Mr. Crud. I deserved it along with a speech about how ridiculously privileged I am. I’m happy to report that aside from some sunscreen related pimpling, my complexion survived the short term switch to hand soap.

Mr. Important
Despite the presence of an obvious line for the 40-minutes late bus to Milwaukee, Mr. Important steps in front of everyone, tossing his luggage at the driver while we loudly murmur about his act of unnecessary fuckery. When he steps off the bus at Racine (home of the Kringle), shooting his cuffs like a tough guy, I search the parking lot for his ride. Nobody is waiting for him. He struts into the gas station like he just stepped out of a limo. Dick.

Strangers Dreamed About:

Neal Pollack (in my dreams he keeps assuring me that I’ll be a good parent—thanks, dream Neal)
James Gandolfini
Fucking Lindsay Lohan
Ice T (I dreamed he was at the wedding but his wife Coco was missing. Where art thou, Coco? If you don’t know of Coco, google her, you will not be disappointed.)

Random but Totally Necessary Celebrity Sighting:

Ernie Hudson, aka the black Ghostbuster, at O’Hare just after we stepped off the plane.


LOTS of people are reading “The Secret,” which terrifies me. Why doesn’t Oprah use her power for good instead of evil? Would it be so hard to recommend bell hooks? How can someone who has overcome so much adversity advocate for blaming the victim at every opportunity?

Milwaukee, you really need to aim higher than a TJ Max and Bed, Bath, and Beyond anchored mall.

Donna, the oddly obese woman (by odd, I mean that her chunk was a thick Saturn ring around her stomach and hips) in the KahNeeTah lounge kicks much ass. She danced with every fellow in that room and, after stating her intentions to pull Mr. Crud to the dance floor, was nice enough to assure me that she was harmless. She had MOVES.

The return to work blows. I feel stressed about all the piled up mail and emails (250!!) but more stressed about catching up on the blogs I’ve missed while away. Silly, I know. So much Onion AV Club to go over, not to mention Dlisted, Vonnegut’s Asshole, Broadsheet, and Alternadad. Would you like to come to my pity party? It won’t be quite as nice as the wedding—no martini glass shaped ice sculpture—but it will be ten times more soulful.

(Tears x Foolishness) Vodka + cigarettes = Cruddy Pity Party

**I don’t know if ending a blog post with a made up equation works, but that’s all I got in me today. A better ending is probably buried between Ernie Hudson and the marvelous dancing Donna, but I need some writing group to scold me or else I go on and on and on…

Thursday, August 9, 2007

En Vacance

Bonjour, mes amis. I will be out of town, away from the office (thank G-d!), away from a computer (thank G-d again!!), and plain away for the next week and a half. Thus I shall let my fields of crud lie fallow.

Do trust that I am gathering more material: I will attend my very first Jewish Modern Orthodox (should all of those be capitalized?), and a ritzy one at that. After much contemplation I have decided not to shave my armpits. You can dress me up fancy but you can’t take away my freedom (not to shave my armpits.) I’ll let you know how this latest sore thumb experience goes. Then Mr. Crud and I are spending a few days at a casino and resort on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. Not our typical vacation, I assure you, but we wanted relaxing and we wanted different so here it goes.

Will I add gambling addiction to my impressive addictive habit tally? Will I blow all my winnings on weird spa treatments that use the urine of young goats? Will the bride’s dowry be paid with the actual two goats and one cow as required or the (boring) cash equivalent? Will I drink too many martinis? I think we already know the answer to the last one.

Keep it cruddy! I shall return.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Grossioso--Please Call Me the Literary Ick Girl

(WARNING—This post WILL make you say “yuck” and likely cause you to rethink that invitation you planned on extending to me for your next dinner party. You were going to invite me, right? Right?)

As a kid, I never quite accepted that a person could ever die from hunger or thirst unless they were oblivious and stupid. My mom explained that the kids on the TV with the flies buzzing around their faces were malnourished; they would die without food. I scoffed. A young aficionado, or perhaps gourmand is more appropriate, of the culinary pleasures of the body, I reasoned, “Couldn’t they just eat boogers?” Or scabs, or the random flap of skin from a blister, or a fingernail, or ear wax, or flakes of skin from their own lips (it’s right there—go for it, kids!). The list goes on, but I’m sure you’d prefer it if I stopped there. Imagining the rosy-cheeked blonde angel that I was at 6 chowing down on everything not permanently attached to my body is probably not how you’d like to begin, end, or middle your day.

For the record, I never ate poop or drank pee. Even a grossioso like me has some standards.

As for thirst, there was saliva. I was constantly stimulating my salivary glands and slurping back a mouthful of good old saliva throughout the day. “Need a drink, sweetie?” Mom asked. I shook my head, an attempt at disdain on my face. “No thank you, I just drank some saliva.” My mom explained that humans needed more than saliva to stay hydrated. “Can I have a Coke then?” “You can have water,” she said. No thank you, I’ll just stick with saliva. A know-it-all of the most annoying degree, I shared my theory with skeptical neighborhood friends. A few were believers; the rest ran off to play another round of kickball. Even when I did get thirsty, I didn’t dare admit it to my saliva squad. I’d run home on a supposed mission for snacks. These weren’t apocalyptic conditions. There was no need to resort to public booger eating yet.

For a few months at age 7-ish, I convinced myself that my boogers were an anti-wrinkle miracle aging cure. I imagined myself pulling strings of miraculous goo from my nose to place in vials that I would sell for hundreds of dollars. I bet no one’s ever thought to do this, I thought as I wiped a string on the back of my hand where one day liver spots would never appear thanks to my snot. Squeamish fools! I would have to be the guinea pig lest I be labeled a mad woman by my peers and/or my parents. My mom marveled at the amount of snotty bits that crusted off my hands and my arms. She handed me tissues even when I wasn’t sniffling. “Blow your nose!” I made a show of it, but I saved the goods for later in my room-laboratory where under the watchful gaze of my doll collection I could slather myself in as much snot as I could gather from the cavern of my nose. After it dried, I picked off the crusty boogers and ran my fingers over my soft skin. “So luxurious,” I cooed like a woman in a Calgon commercial. I couldn’t wait to reveal my beauty secret to the world, to see the heads of various cosmetic companies smack their foreheads in why-didn’t-I-think-of-that dismay. No problem, fellows. There’s enough of me to go around.

My beauty experiment died when I entered the horror of middle school. I was under a microscope and boogery arms could be the basis of a tragic, lifelong nickname. All bodily fluids and functions were under strict orders to keep in hiding until college when we could all finally let loose with a six year’s buildup of poop-fart-booger tales. (I seem to remember this as an early bonding moment with my freshman year roommate. Hey Lori, wanna talk poop? Call me.)

Tragically I’ll never know if the wrinkles that have started to settle in to my hands could have been avoided with a snot regimen. If my snot really is a miracle aging cure. Is someone out there ready to take up the torch? Watch out; it’s kind of sticky.