Sorcery

So as some of you may know, I had a birthday recently.

Last year was a bit bleak because of reasons.  This year was way better. In part it was way better because while last year I bought myself one present (an admittedly wicked cool Handbag of Holding computer bag from ThinkGeek.com – the deluxe black “vegan leather” version!), this year I…uhm…I went a little nuts.

This year I bought myself a ton of socks from Sock Dreams.  I am not a shoe girl, but I DO love me some socks.

I also DID buy a pair of shoes – boots, actually.  But understand that I have never in my life owned a pair of tall boots.  Never. Not once.  And now I do.  I cried when I bought them. I tried them on and I got all teary-eyed and the barely-more-than-a-teen helping me looked like I had just started hemorrhaging from all of my orifices and fluttered her hands around not sure what to do. I waved her off and said I was fine, and then asked if I should get those or another pair I’d tried on (partly because I kinda wasn’t sure and partly out of spite because I knew she’d try to help me but be befuddled – shadenfreude – it’s a thing), and sure enough she froze like a possum staring down a Volvo and then mumbled “…you seem to like those…….”

I also got myself a wireless gaming headset and new speakers – since I disconnected my computer from the TV and the surround sound system. AND I got myself not one, not two, but THREE 27″ monitors. It’s egregious. And I love it. My consoles – like Steam and Battle.net and Origin are on the left.  The internet is on the right. And my games and whatnot – right in the middle.  It is AMAZING.  I am really not sure how I survived before now.  I was basically a raccoon, rummaging through the garbage for tech before now.

I feel really powerful.

Also I got myself Civ VI.  And it is GORGEOUS.  Only………..WTF, Sid Meier?  Where is Alexander?  Really?

So anyway – know that as I type this, it is on the RIGHTMOST monitor. Unless I decide I need to move it to the middle for some reason.  Or the left. Because I feel like it. Because I can choose.

And if you only have one or two monitors, know that I feel like I am JUST a little better than you.

Advertisements

Deck the Halls with Droids and Jawas

I saw Star Wars in the theater when I was five years old. Say what you will about very little kids understanding movies, it blew my mind. I loved it. I wanted to BE some amazing combo of Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. Also I wanted to marry Han Solo. It was confusing and complicated. But it was beautiful.

I had loooooong hair perfect for cinnamon buns and a mom inclined to spend the time patiently winding and pinning my auburn tresses into the iconic Leia hairdo, so I got to be the perfect little space princess All. The. Time.

Depending on whether you know me, or on what impressions you’ve formed of me from reading my scribblings, it may surprise you to learn that I was pretty much a perfect kid (behavior-wise) in school. Yes, okay, I was also a model student. By which I mean total nerd. I can own that. I just never got in trouble.

Except this once.

I have ONE black mark on my permanent scholastic record.

I was in a playground fight in fourth grade.

And it was over Star Wars. Well, Empire, technically.

How freaking nerdtastic is THAT?!

I mostly look back at my young self and feel a tish sorry for that quiet little mousy girl who thought she might die if she said a curse word or made a teacher frown. But that one glorious moment in fourth grade? I LOVE HER FOR THAT.

We were living overseas at the time – in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Movies didn’t reach overseas markets as quickly then as they do now, and there was always a lag between a big release and when we got to see them – UNLESS you were lucky enough to be traveling to the US when one came out. I was not so lucky. Jennifer Zwick, however, was. She’d just come back from a visit stateside and had seen *angelic chorus* The Empire Strikes Back. The phrase “spoiler alert” had not yet been invented, and also we were nine – so it never occurred to us to worry about such things. She was telling me about the movie and she said – she actually SAID – that Darth Vader was the wonderful and pure Luke Skywalker’s father.
The world stopped spinning on its axis.

Now, as I said – I was (and am) a Han girl. Because broken rogues are irresistible.
BUT STILL. One does not say such things about the hero. One does not. Scandalous. SLANDEROUS.

So I called her a dirty liar.

And she pulled my hair.

And it was ON like Donkey Kong (or it would be in another year – Donkey Kong was not a thing yet either).

The reason I tell you this is ONE because – it’s kind of awesome, right?

But two, because Star Wars is important to me. It really is.

So when the new movie was coming out in December, I naturally wanted to go, and ideally I wanted to go with friends. Some good friends of had rented out a small theater at The Alamo downtown and had offered tickets. Because of reasons, I had not gotten one. It’s not worth going into why, but I had not. And I was angry about it. Super angry. White hot fury of a thousand suns angry. But also bitter and sad.

This angry bitter combo led me to do the only thing I reasonably could do: I reacted like a child and decided I would just wait for it to come out on Blu-Ray because screw everyone and everything – no one could make me go see it alone.

Of course that turned out to be completely not true.

Someone could.

My friend Micah.

Micah and I had known each other for almost nine years when we worked together at the seminar company. We had only worked semi-closely together for last five or so years, but we communicated a lot, and due to various circumstances, we’d become friends.

Micah texted to ask me if I’d seen the movie yet. Mostly it was self-serving. He wanted to talk about the film. I said no, and told him my grand plan endorsed by five year olds everywhere (sorry, five year olds). I don’t t have the text transcript any more, but this is pretty close to what happened.

Me: “No. I’m not going. It’ll be out in, what, six months?”

Him: “What? No. Go see it.”

Me: “Nah. I’ll just wait. I don’t like seeing movies alone. Besides. I want to wallow in my bitterness.”

Him. “What the….Fuck bitterness. Go see it.”

Me: “Sigh. Look. I’ve actually been looking at theaters and they appear to be all sold out anyway. At least online.”

Him: “Don’t you work downtown? Right across from The Alamo?”

Me: “So what. It says they’re sold out.”

Him: (you can almost hear the deep breath and pursed lips) “Walk across the street and buy a ticket. I’ll wait.”

This went on for just a bit – because I am difficult. Or can be. But he persisted. Because he is awesome. And has the patience of a saint.

Ultimately I walked across the street and bought a ticket. Turns out the online services for most of the theaters were completely overwhelmed, but you could just walk in and get a seat without much trouble. To be fair I marched in and demanded that the ticket seller guy tell me they were sold out so that I could tell me jerk friend *waved phone at him* they were sold out and get him off my fucking back. The dude said “Well, I can TELL you that, but…..” And I had to apologize and buy a ticket.  It was even a decent seat.

I can admit that I got teary-eyed when the fanfare started behind the giant STAR WARS logo. I wanted to text him “thank you” right then and there – but if you know anything about The Alamo, you know they frown on that sort of thing.

 

 

Bad Medicine

The local vet is a only a few minutes from the house. I got the dog into the lobby, where he bled profusely. So much that the girls behind the counter whispered about how much blood it was. I looked down and suddenly realized that, yeah, it was.  Especially given how much was already on the floor and furniture at home.

I went catatonic.  Which apparently upset other customers. So they put me in an exam room.

My ex husband texted me to ask how Starbuck was. I thought about ignoring him, but was a grownup and told him. I hate being a grownup.

Eventually the vet came in. I’ve seen two vets there.  One is Dr. Hippy – he’s young and has hair down to his waist, but he’s a really good vet. The other one – the one I saw that day – is Doc Oct. For Octegenarian.  He’s clearly going for the record of Oldest Practicing Vet in the World.  He has GOT to be the frontrunner. I have no idea if he’s a good vet.  I don’t understand a word he says. I am pretty sure he uses poultices and treats ague. He’d decided to use pressure bandages to stop the bleeding – because the dog had somehow torn out TWO toenails.  No, I don’t mean broken them off, as dogs are wont to do – I mean TORN THEM OUT COMPLETELY.  How?  No clue. Also, why did he not use silver nitrate? The vet, not the dog, obviously.  No idea.  I texted my cousin, who happens to be a veterinarian (but he’s a long drive from my house for emergencies, which is why I didn’t go see him for this) to ask about it, and while it was OKAY, pressure bandages are not perfect when there’s a risk of infection, which there is here, on, you know, feet.

So I went out to the lobby, dog in tow – who had, by the way, completely forgotten he was injured and was prancing around just fine.  They’d given him pain meds and he was in that sweet spot where the foot had stopped hurting but the grogginess hadn’t set in yet.

I pulled the card out  of my shirt pocket and handed it to the cashier.  I wrapped up the transaction and put the card back in my pocket and got back to the middle of the lobby and, for the first time in his entire life, my dog grabbed my skirt – a simple, long knit skirt – in his teeth and pulled it down around my ankles.

I just stood there and said, “Yep.  That’s about right.”

I pulled up my skirt and trudged out  to my car wondering where my life and dignity had gone.

And realized they were not going to be found today.

Do you know what the only thing worse than having your skirt pulled down in a veterinary lobby and then making it safely out to your car is?

Having to go back INTO that veterinary office to get your purse, which you left in the exam room.

I asked my cousin, and those girls behind the counter are NOT trained to deal with that situation.  They are not.

 

Walk with the Animals, Talk with the Animals

When Jeff, aka Raccoon Ranger, arrived, he was everything you would expect from someone who specializes in vermin removal and who has a farm for citified animal rehab out in the country. He was also delightful.

He explored the attic and seemed truly disappointed not to find anything.

Next, he went outside and scoured the outside of the house.  I stayed inside with the dog, who was a bit agitated at having someone wandering around the yard.

After about ten minutes, Raccoon Ranger knocked excitedly at the door and beckoned me out back to check out “positive Raccoon Sign.”

He took me to the back landing and walked me through the clues like Poirot at a murder scene. But with a Southern twang.

“Well, you gotcher claw scratches on the lattice where he crawled up here, then he ambled on over and you gotcher paw prints on the siding, and the downspout is all bowed out where he shimmied on up, and raccoon belly tuft fur where he scooched out to the eaves, and then pop goes the – well, the raccoon – he was up and over onto your roof, and up into your attic.”

“That’s a very strange skill set you have there, Jeff.”

“Yes, ma’am. I’ll set up them traps.”

I’d been outside for all of four minutes. I went back inside – and found an abattoir. There was blood everywhere.  There were literal pools of it standing on the ottoman. And there was no sign of either the dog or the cat.

I panicked.

The dog came limping in from the garage, whining, his right front paw a pulpy ruin.

I had no idea what had happened, but I did a quick search and found the cat asleep.

I tried to clean up the paw, but he wouldn’t let me. He snapped at me. I couldn’t even rinse it to see how bad the actual injury was, much less find the source of the bleeding.

I made a mistake here.  I called my ex husband to ask for help.  He got angry and yelled because he had patients and could not just leave them to come  deal with my problems. I just hadn’t thought about what time it was.  Sigh.

RR came to the front door and saw the mess and asked if I needed anything.  Whatever look was on my face told him I did not require him as I reached for my wallet and tossed him my credit card.

While he processed payment for the initial traps, I wrapped Starbuck’s leg in a towel as best I could and ran out and tossed all 65 pounds of him in the car. I grabbed my stuff, checked the back, locked the door, pulled out of the driveway, rolled down the passenger window, caught the clipboard, signed the sheet, tossed back the clipboard, stowed the card in my shirt pocket, rolled up the window, and called my friend Carol – like a goddamned domestic ninja – to ask her to tell me I was a rock star. She didn’t skip a beat, then asked why. I told her.  She told me I was an EGOT winner. She cautioned me not to wreck the car. Good advice.

 

Strangers in the Night

Starbuck (my dog) had never in his life been one for sleeping in the bed, but suddenly the other night he was determined to do so. He snuggled up next to me, his nose pressed onto my knee. That was fine. Nice, even. Until it wasn’t – which was at about 2:00 AM when he began emitting a low, rumbling growl.

As I clawed my way up from the depths of sleep, I realized that he was attempting to alert me to the fact that a band of homicidal hobos had broken into the garage, used the ladder there to climb into the attic, crossed through the roof to the bedroom, and now were going to drill through the ceiling to drop down and murderface me with bloody abandon. Like they do.

Starbuck’s growls rose to an urgent whine as the tumbling and thumping above me increased in volume and intensity.

What. The. Hell.

When I possessed enough of my faculties to all but dismiss the murderous ceiling vagrant theory, I realized that there was likely vermin of some kind in the attic, which wasn’t much better. Also, whatever they were, they were RUDE – and Starbuck strongly, and loudly, objected to their presence for the next four hours. I didn’t sleep any more that night.

At about 4:00AM I resigned myself to the fact that I was not going to get any more sleep, so I started researching what might be in the attic.  I mean, I already had it narrowed down to a certain extent – it was not going to be wombats or meerkats or something. But it turns out that critters in one’s attic is a fairly common problem in the Midwest, so there are a number of websites dedicated to fairly elaborate and nuanced descriptions of the noises made by the most frequent offenders.

From what I could tell, a traveling raccoon theater troupe had moved into the attic and was rehearsing an all-vermin production of A Chorus Line.  Raccoon Cassie had SPUNK.

Now that I thought I knew what was scrabbling around, I had to find someone to deal with them, so I looked for reviews and found a company that seemed to be a good fit and called them. Do I need to point out that I waited until civilized business hours?  I did.

I talked to a guy named “Jeff” (that’s his real name – but hang on, I’ll be giving him a nickname in a minute anyway) and got info and pricing.

I started to share my raccoon thespian theory with Jeff, but he was a pro and didn’t want me to taint his investigation with my premature conclusions, so he asked me to just describe the situation.  By which he meant noises. In detail. And onomatopoeia.  He confirmed my suspicions. From that point forward, he was Raccoon Ranger.

I arranged for him to come out on Thursday to…do whatever it is he does.

Oh – and on the off chance you should ever need raccoon removal services, here’s how the pricing works.  So, there is a flat fee to put out traps.  Any  number of traps. Raccoon bait can be a lot of stuff because, well, they eat pretty much anything. Here in the fancypants suburb where I live (I don’t live in the fancypants part of town, but I do live close enough to be a thorn in the side of those who take their lawns and homeowners’ associations seriously) they probably dine on quinoa and kale and free range salmon most nights. But if he put fish in the traps, we’d catch every neighborhood cat, so, no. Instead, he used candy apples and marshmallows.

Anyway, so he put out three traps, one flat fee.

Now if you CATCH a raccoon, that’s an additional per-varmint cost for removal and disposal. I DID ask what disposal meant.  Because I kinda thought I should.  Apparently there is a lovely farm out in the woods about 75 miles from my house where all the city raccoons are rehabbed to country life. No, seriously – that’s a thing. He takes them out to the country by where he lives and turns them loose, but far enough from civilization that they won’t wander back to the suburbs. I’d like to think they all sit in little lawn chairs and hammocks talking about their days rummaging in garbage cans and dodging Labradoodles.

And yes, there is a group discount.  I asked.  Because remember  – I thought I had a whole freaking raccoon family band.

I was not prepared, though, for what happened when he came to visit.