Out-of-Focus Musings of a Disturbed Mind

Head Rush

I was complimented recently on my writing, it came via someone with a tenuous Facebook connection. It’s the first time anyone who wasn’t a friend or blood relative (and therefore obligated to like my writing or at least lie to me and say they do) told me they found my writing funny. (But funny in a good way.)

It made me feel, just for a nano-second, what it must be like when famous people get recognized. It was awesome and I thanked him…and then felt like a total fraud because I haven’t given two thoughts to my blog in months!

You can thank/blame him for this post.

Continue reading Out-of-Focus Musings of a Disturbed Mind

In Times of Unrest

I sometimes wonder why I do the things I do. I definitely look at the world that way. This week has been a mixture of both wonder and awe, terror and despair. The bigotry and hatred revealed with each new episode of violence has scarred our nation and clouded my spirits. As a humor blogger, I struggle to find the balance between tasteful observation and knee slapstickery. I hope this manages to reach that slippery peak.

I am reminded of a morality fable I heard once (which apparently it turns out is a fabrication, but you can find out about that at the link for Two Wolves.)

It goes something like this:

The Two Wolves

A grandfather was talking to his grandson:

Grandfather: “There are two wolves inside you. One is evil–always fighting, angry, and hurting others. The other wolf is good–caring, honest, and kind. They are fighting a battle inside you every day.”

Grandson: “Who will win, Grandfather?”

Grandfather: “The one you feed.”

I’ve heard this before, but not as the link above tells it. And never knowing that the wolves were described in terms of Black and White.

(Official Sidebar: You can just guess which is the ‘bad’ wolf. The internet is helpful in peeling layers of meaning behind the over-simplified and trite.)

When I watch the world burn and can do nothing about it, I am anxious. I feel the compulsion to do something and, conversely, nothing at all. I am torn between two wolves: outrage and apathy. Why does this keep happening? Why can’t things change for the better instead of the worse. Maybe it just depends on where you want to focus. Which wolf you choose to feed.

Before the world went to hell in a hand basket, I signed up for another round of GISH. So, as the horrible week’s events unfolded, I wondered whether participating in a fun-fun charitable activity was, perhaps, a selfish and clueless overindulgence and a slap in the face to everyone who struggles and suffers in the world. In particular, was it kind of like dancing at a funeral–morally repugnant and questionable behavior that should get me unfriended/shunned? (That said, I invite dancing at my funeral. Joke telling. Maybe a clown? I think you will need to find excuses for joy when a light such as myself leaves the world.)

So, given a choice between morbidly watching the world burn or dancing…I think you can guess what I chose.

BUT FIRST…I did something moral and uplifting.

I watched a terribly earnest live stream discussion about race relations; a topic that has not impacted my very-white life much before but maybe it should:

As a result of listening to a panel of experienced activist, I tried my best to…

DO THE HUNT

(while being conscious of injustice in the world burning around me)

The first item was my most successful–probably because I had energy and my son to help add flair–and height–to the performance.

Item 20. The Summer Olympics got canceled, but that doesn’t keep a focused athlete like you down. Show us your entry in the Socially-Distanced Games.

I was trying to synchronize our toilet paper rolls mid-air. (The last image was the winning shot, but I loved all the pictures taken with the help of my son’s ABA aide. He is unnamed for his privacy, but shout out to a very patience guy.)

And then…this

Item #___ (Oops, didn’t copy this one) Take a time lapse recording of yourself sculpting a monument out of a playdough and smashing it, or something edible and eating it.

As usual, I missed the part where you had to sculpt AND eat at the same time. And I froze my sculpted spuds so I could recreate a Winged Victory feast.

I call this potato-y beauty: Winged Victory–on Ice

In a fourteen second recap, you can watch me munch on my icy statue:

I was darned proud of the art I created. But freezing them makes mashed potatoes sad eats.

You’ll note my rather spacy behavior increases the later the event runs. (As does my very blue eye shadow.) I only managed 4 hours of sleep and I would pay for it later! Oh, would I pay!

But before that bill comes due…there are more GISH-y items to fulfill.

Item 37. Create a Fundraising page for your team, and get family, friends, and others to donate. (Highly abbreviated description)

This was one of the serious but important items, as GISH is intended as a fund-raiser as well as a fun-raising time. We joined the GISH sponsored Racial Justice and Equality Fundraiser to support the NAACP. Which I have never done before this weekend. We didn’t make the 10 donor minimum required, but we did raise $230. And that isn’t bad for a 24-hour time period! I would thank everyone personally, but most people gave anonymously. So, to all you all, you know who you are, thank-you! You give me hope.

Which leads to my biggest and most embarrassing endeavor.

Item 32. In the style of Eurovision: write and perform an original, uplifting song of hope using instruments of your own creation.

I had no idea what Eurovision was before I picked this challenge. I watched about an hour of eye-popping performances and did my best to replicate their…um…energy. I opted not to dress as a minion of hell only due to time constraints and a lack of lycra.

(Warning, this ‘song’ is both painfully earnest and shatteringly bad. I recorded it at four in the morning because I couldn’t sleep thinking about it. Might I recommend a tall glass of alcohol–or maybe shot glasses. You can take a swig whenever I say “Hope,” Peace,” or “Justice.” I had NO alcohol beforehand, more’s the pity.)

Like red wine, you may never get the stain of those lyrics out!

In case you couldn’t understand my exhausted 4:00 a.m. warbling, here are the lyrics–which I slaved over, so stop laughing, damn you!

JUST US

We need Hope, Peace, and Justice
And it starts with me and you.
We need Hope, Peace, and Justice
And here’s what you can do.

Listen for an answer
In their cries of pain
If you can’t feel, then you can’t heal
I’ll tell you once again.

We need Hope, Peace, and Justice
And it starts with me and you.
We need Hope, Peace and Justice
Here’s what you can do.

Pain pushes back
Against unreal attacks
You can’t see the future
If you’re always looking back.

We need Hope, Peace, and Justice
And it starts with me and you.
We need Hope, Peace, and Justice
Here’s what you can do.

Consider possibilities
In what the other person sees.
Don’t debate or interrogate
Dialogue is a two-way gate

We need Hope, Peace, and Justice
And it starts with me and you.
We need Hope, Peace, and Justice
Here’s what you can do.

Change happens in uncomfortable spaces
Who’s gonna win these human races?
The only hope we have for peace
Is just…us.

We need Hope, Peace and Justice
And it starts with me and you.
We need Hope, Peace and Justice
You know what you can do.

Wow. I’m sure that’s going to win lots of awards, but before you are quick to condemn my words, know this, I borrowed them from the speakers of the aforementioned “Racial Inequality and Injustice” live stream. A lot more qualified people than me recommend that, instead of hiding behind our white privilege, we use it to make things a little more fair out there.

I am not good with conflict; I actively avoid it whenever possible. But, (*heaves a huge, uncomfortable sigh*), apparently that is part of the problem. A lot of good, earnest people have stood back and let the angry, hyperbolic, asshats speak for us all. Perhaps the bigots and racists just need to be told that they are bigots and racists. Is it possible they don’t know?

Oh, I’m sorry. *Gets down off soap box*

Now, back to GISH!

I loved the idea of this next item, but my execution was more along the lines of after Marie Antoinette meets the guillotine–a bit choppy.

31. GISH keeps you so busy, you need to clone yourself to get the List done! Create a single image compositing at least 3 iterations of yourself working to completing a GISH mini hunt Item

Making the art was a labor of love…and bad photo editing. My printer was running low on ink.

After finishing almost all of my assigned tasks…and abandoning one…I decided to use all my many years watching forensic programming to try my hand at carving up a human being…

Now that I have your attention. I give you…a tasty lesson in anatomy:

Item #: ???? Sorry, I threw this thing together as a last-minute project and did not copy the verbiage. But, I think you can guess what they asked for.

Here’s a few staged photos with the body.

Brains! They’re what’s for dinner.
It’s Take Your Kid to Work Day at the Morgue!

This body was a kidney donor–as I ran out of room to put any in.

The hardest part was figuring out how to dispose of the body! (If I ever become a spree killer, we will know the moment I started down that path.)

I always enter GISH with high enthusiasm and end up crawling across the finish line, one arm outstretched, to get the last thing in before collapsing.

The One Last Thing:

Item 13: Celebrate the gift of virtual travel by creating a internationally recognized building or monument out of Amazon boxes.

The Washington Monument is to scale. The artist is not!

My biggest challenge was I HAD NO AMAZON BOXES. None. I put them in out for recycling last week. LIKE AN IDIOT!

So that was GISH, slam bam, thank you ma’am until 3:00 O’clock p.m. (our time)….and then they added an extra hour! Unheard of! But my kid knew he was getting a trip to KFC after GISH was done and he was having none of this, “But, son, can mommy play one more hour?” nonsense!

Honestly, my kid was so fantastic, it was unbelievable. I had help with him for only two hours and then rest of the time, he was good…until…

IT’S PAYBACK TIME

I was absolutely fried waiting for bedtime to roll around. That’s my excuse for not noticing how odd the kid was being about staying in the basement.

I try to drag him up at 9:00 pm but give in and let him get a little more time downstairs…

10:00pm rolls around and he’s apparently drawn a line in the sand over what he wants–and he wants to sleep in the basement. Which is a no-no because it has no egress.

He refuses to come upstairs. I refuse to let him stay there.

Cue Krakatoa explosion.

My kid melts down like he’s a glacier under global warming. He vents. He fumes. He hits and bites himself. He tosses a giant bin of books like he’s a member of an ultra conservative cult that loathes reading. He breaks my heart. Every time.

I spend the next TWO HOURS calming him down and figuring out he’s got gas! We finally crawl into bed after midnight. I sleep like the proverbial dead. The next day, the kid wakes up happy like yesterday never happened and asking for bacon! Kids.

So, if any of you were feeling a bit judgy about my decision to employ humor, art and theatrical creativity to survive this week, now you know, I experienced the riots in my own special way. And for me, they never end. They can come at any time. And I just have to stand by and wait for the fires to burn down before putting my kid back together again. It’s a co-dependent, Humpty Dumpty kind of relationship, but it works. Mostly.

Stay strong my beloveds. It’s a cruel world and you don’t want the wrong wolf to win!

_______________ You Made It Through Bonus_________________

I forgot one:

If you have excellent eyesight, you might see my RICEWORD entry!

….And then this happened

Last night I tried to write a blog post. I was struggling to put into words how I feel about the situation in Minneapolis. The anger that permeates all the news regarding race in our country. The helplessness to change anything.

And then I went upstairs to check on my son and was reminded of WHY you never leave him alone for any reason…

This happened because I told him I was going to cut his hair the next day.

I often wonder whether my son is actually listening to me.

Now I know.

He is listening with a vengeance.

And a plan.

Below is a link on Facebook to my reaction to his styling techniques.

If you are struggling to get through depression or the continuing of Covid-19 isolation, or you could just use a laugh, it is my gift to you.

Also, you won’t be feeling so bad about your own hairstyles now, will you?

I just can’t stop laughing every time I watch this.
How can you NOT love this face!

I GISH, Therefore I am.

I participated in a 24-hour fundraiser this weekend. You might not have noticed me other than by my absence.

I was busy…

Making this:

That is one cake topper, one pizza, and one edible tire constructed from rice crispy treats and homemade fondant. I may not rock, but I certainly roll!
The choice of Star Wars figurines was based in part on what I had on hand, and as an homage to my husband who loved both obscure musical tributes and tiny action figures.

I spent at least five hours constructing my homage to a famous album cover. I thought it was only a cake on the cover. I was certain. And then I looked at the actual album and said…”Oh, shoot.” (Or words to that effect.) But rather than finding something easier, I doubled down on the crazy.

I also took part in a Zombie Teleconference. You can check out the video link or here’s a picture of me on the couch with my son for evidence….of questionable parenting.

Zombie Mommy – Kinda says it all doesn’t it?

I also did this to demonstrate “camouflage in an urban setting with the goal of kid avoidance” skills:

Sadly, yes, that’s my actual laundry pile.

Despite my valiant efforts, the kid found me.

Totally caught! Drat!

The beauty of GISH is in how it pushes you somewhat outside your comfort zone. I didn’t set up a Zoom meet-up, but I participated in three. In addition to Zombie Conference calls, we had a sing-along to The Police classic: “Don’t Stand So Close to Me!” I am now much more impressed with those acapella groups that coordinate a sing remotely. Not one of us could keep time, nor pitch. Sorry Sting.

I juggled, quite badly, with some equally toss-and-catch-challenged individuals. But being good at things isn’t the point of GISH. It is entirely possible to go through a whole weekend and miss the point in the effort to finish just one more task. But I tried hard to pay attention.

For example, when I made this simple poster with my son, you might not be impressed unless you know how hard it is to get my kid with the program–any program. It felt like a Mom-Win. The kind you can feel good about.

This was quite an effort for both of us!

While I am proudest of my Let It Bleed album cover, I am also glad that I tried to do things I am not stellar at.

Drawing, for example. With about an hour left to GISH IT UP, I sat down with my son and he painted his ‘calendars’ while I drew a picture of what my soul would look like as a bird house–with a flame alight inside:

This was my third effort. This was the ‘good’ one.

I know I cannot draw well, but I’ve learned from taking part in GISH that it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to have talent to enjoy doing something. If it brings me a moment with my son, who lives in a hard-to-reach world even if he’s only a room away. It also let me connect with people in other countries and time zones. (This led to a momentary zombie conflict, but it resolved without any brains being eaten.) This is what victory can look like despite being quarantined.

If my shaky squiggles and flowers give me joy, that is reason enough. Art serves the soul. Creativity expands your horizons–even if you can’t leave your house. When we were little kids, we knew the power of a box of crayons and a blank sheet of paper. There are worlds to build and dreams to pursue.

But now, after getting four hours of sleep in 48-hours, I’m ready to “Take a nap. A good one.”

The picture I submitted to GISH.

And this is how I really look when sleeping:

You can understand my reluctance to share it…but it’s too funny not to!

Ordinarily I’d make an effort to wrap this all up with nice tie-ins, but I am literally falling asleep at the keyboard. Instead, I’ll let you know that I would do it all again…but probably not all in one day!

Tire–not as tasty as it looks.

Fondant: a French word meaning your floors will be sticky and covered in sugar, and your cakes will be beautiful but too sweet to eat.

Sundown – A Poem

SUNDOWN

by Kiri L. K. Salazar


Memory is the golden shore where summer waters lap.
Where sanded children shriek like gulls,
And mothers shade their eyes and search
The ever distant beach for tears or missing faces in the surf.

There the castles build and fall, where triumph tragedy becomes.
And sticky mouths suck greedy gulps of sugar-saturated pops—
Rainbow colors melting down.

See criss-crossed marks burned into skin which will no permanent memory make
To keep from repeating the mistake of measuring the sun by an SPF span.
Boiled-lobster faces whine and belated zinc is applied in futile effort to rewind time.

Gritted bodies, tired, worn but happy with a day’s respite,
Ride the chariot once more toward the sinking orb
Which threatens little from its perch on the lip of the world,
Leaving a flip flop token of remembrance behind.

You’ll find no ribboned concourse marking childhood’s end.
It is fleeting, passing, and no trumpet heralds its demise.
So, measure well those steps you take on burning sands
They will the hourglass wind down and scorch tender flesh
In haste to reach Lethe’s waters.

A picture of the author’s son, back when he was little…a hundred years ago.
Continue reading Sundown – A Poem

Notes From The Squirrel Bunker

Covid-Diaries Day 32

“This siege is going on longer than I would have imagined. Supplies are running low. I may have to eat the squirrels in the yard. Hope I can get better with the slingshot, just in case survivalists storm the brigade.”

Continue reading Notes From The Squirrel Bunker

The Second Banana

It is entirely possible there is such a thing as too much isolation.

It leads one to very odd flights of fancy.

…especially when shopping after hoarders have ransacked the produce aisle.

You end up bringing home a quirky specimen.

BEHOLD….THE DRAGON FRUIT!

I put a lime beside it for comparison, but now it looks like its there to witness the death of its fellow fruit.

I’ll admit, I’ve been curious as to what these things might taste like.

A session of mad shopping–the kind where you duck and cover whenever another shopper comes anywhere near you–results in a new and unusual purchase.

I’ve successfully nabbed some much-needed cleaning supplies when the victory over the nearly-empty shelves turns sour. All it takes is a near-hostile exchange with people unaware that a pandemic is taking place.

I’m stopped by dawdlers at the wall of cheeses. I glare at the young couple with their two kids standing in front of the refrigeration display debating the merits of one plastic wrapped cheddar over another for approximately an hour until I want to scream “IT’S ALL THE SAME DAMNED CHEESE, JUST PICK ONE!” and make their kids cry.

[NOTE: I don’t actually scream. But I do seethe for about five minutes waiting with toe-tapping impatience until I loudly interrupted them, “I would just like to get some cheese, if that’s okay?” in a most passive aggressive appeal.]

It is on my way to check-out that post-anxiety, impulse shopping occurs.

Back home, the dragon fruit sat on the counter, as it aged enough to get the required ‘wilted leaves’ by which point it was a lot less photogenic.

Once cut into, the white interior with its plethora of tiny black seeds is revealed.

It is really attractive, unless you start to think they look like ants all stuck in the act of eating a giant marshmallow. Then it gets a little hard to swallow.

If I had to describe the taste, I would tell you to go buy one yourself. It tastes nothing like I imagined it would. Pear comes close. If you took that pear down a back alley and blasted it full of buckshot until all the flavor and sweetness had been drained like life blood into the garbage strewn darkness.

Or, as a friend said when I asked her whether she’d like to try some.

“No thanks. I’m good. I’ve had it before. Once.” She paused and added, “It’s not bad or anything.

I joked, “Yeah, but it’s not good either.”

She laughed and said, “Yeah.”

At least the seeds aren’t noticeable, unlike kiwi, which are crunchy when you eat them, or as bad as pomegranates!” I spoon up another pallid mouthful.

I chew a few more bites. The tastelessness does not grow on me, despite my desire to like the fruit. The stuff is probably a delicacy in the arid regions where it grows. A king among fruits in a desert. This makes me think of something else.

It’s like an old boyfriend, where you pretend that they aren’t the problem before breaking up with them. Except that in this case, you’d tell the fruit ‘It’s not me, it is totally you!‘”

“Yeah, it’s the fruit no one would pick if they had a choice.” The friend obligingly humors me on my line of thought.

I wrap up the second half of the much despaired cactus flower progeny and toss it back in the fridge. It was at least filling.

So much for the exotic potential.” I say. “Dragon Fruit-the ex-boyfriend of fruits.

____________________________________

Stay Tuned as the mind numbing boredom of the stay-at-home-or-else order continues. I may break down and try that Durian that’s been giving me the stink-eye whenever I see it.

Durian smells bad on a good day. Can you imagine what’s like when it rots? How could you tell?

Turning Japanese

HAIKU AHEAD – PROCEED WITH CAUTION:

Surviving winter

Hot tea is needful, I think

Also many books

Four summers ago, I wrote about Taking Tea with Tornadoes describing my experience with the art of Japanese tea ceremonies during severe low pressure fronts; it has been quite a while since I’ve explored the Land of the Rising Sun. Please allow me to apologize in advance for my take on this venerable, ancient culture. “Sumimasen” すみません

I have the heart of a wanderer…and the expense account for ramen noodles on a good day. So, I have to adventure vicariously–taking a trip on the Orient Express for me means getting on board with digital media.

Allow me to recommend a few curiosities I’ve discovered along the way.

Continue reading Turning Japanese

I.E.D.s in the Family Tree

I used to scream bloody murder when I was a child. I would shriek so loud, so long, that eventually I would go hoarse. I even developed nodes–tightened knots on my vocal chords. When I finally figured out screaming wasn’t helping me I stopped. This allowed my vocal chords to relax and I discovered I had a deeper register. (As a result, I sing somewhere between contralto and tenor with a hiccup in my falsetto.)

What I couldn’t have told you, even if you had asked, was why. Why did I devolve into a nightmare child shuddering in hysterics? I couldn’t tell you then, but I might be able to tell you now.

But first, a little back story…

Continue reading I.E.D.s in the Family Tree