Sunday, July 27, 2008
Upon Finishing A Shrug
The weaving in of ends is tedious, and by the second sleeve, I'm exhausted. The whole shoulder might unravel. The sleeves hug my biceps too closely, and distort the lines of the fabric. One side of the cabling is larger than the other, because I lost count of the pattern, and went my own way. It's a crooked shrug.

See there? It's all a-tilt and hangs almost straight.

I try it on in the afternoon, when the sun is highest, and the breeze through the windows does not penetrate the knit. I know it will be warm about my arms and back come fall, but the shrug seems oppressive, now. I'm lumpy in the mirror, this lopsided face of mine staring back and taking in the tomato color of yarn. I'm colorless in this bright poppy. Sanguinity has never been a feature of which I can boast.

I pull on the edges a bit, trying to straighten them out. Knitting holds memory well, though, and the stitches refuse to budge, though I've dampened the hem and yanked and pulled. Ah, me. The past cannot be erased. What's done is done, what's made cannot go unmade unless I destroy the garment in its entirety.

Even then, the yarn remembers the bumps and purls. It would take many washings for the cotton to relax. By then, the cotton would be little more than a shredded bit of fiber, lying like a pool of blood at my feet. So, unraveling is right out.

Instead, I take the shrug off and fold it. It will live in my closet until the time is right to bring it out and wear it (one time) in the fall, at an anonymous place where no one knows I knit, and I can say: "A friend made it for me; it's an amateur attempt--see how badly the sleeves are set in?"

But then, it occurs to me. Because of my scoliosis, my shoulders are uneven. I don the sweater again. Wait...yes, it's true. On my crooked frame, the sweater sits evenly. The bottom edges are aligned, as are the sleeves. Upon closer inspection, I see I have no problem with the shrug itself. It's the wearer of the garment of whom I am critical.

So I shrug. So be it. I'm a crooked person, off kilter and tempo. My shrug is just right for me; I was knitting it correctly the whole time. I was making it for myself. And as I balance upon my slanted hips and quirky knees, I think for just a moment, if the world was righted on its axis, I would be standing straight, and everything else would just fall over in a heap.

I do believe I'll wear this sad little thing, and be proud of it. My bent hands crafted it, and though it be awry, it be a-right for me.
Written by FRITZ
| Link | 3 wise cracks! |

Monday, July 21, 2008
The first time I shot a gun, I cried.

See, the instructor was telling me to "squeeze the trigger--be gentle with it--like a baby--just squeeze it--" and I'm squinting at my sights and I'm trying to see my target and I'm just hovering on that trigger, nudging it back little by little and then BANG, the gun goes off.

The barrel jerks upward.

A hot shell flies down my shirt, burning my breast. Adrenaline rushes at the sound and the smell of the gun smoke and I am scared, I mean, fucking TERRIFIED of that sound still ringing in my ears, even with the orange headphones hugging my ears.

Shooting a gun, even at a paper target, is a violent act.

Owning a gun, whether it's a right, or a defense, or hunting paraphernalia, or a tactical sport, is engaging in violence. Teaching children how to safely handle firearms is teaching them about violence. If a gun lesson to a child does not begin with words like, "This is a machine designed to kill," then the lesson is incomplete.

Before I shot a gun, I had never heard live fire before. The only bits of gunfire I had heard was on television. But on a firing range, the guns are very loud. The firing line is covered in spent shells. And there is a row of people with their fingers on the triggers. BLAM BLAM BLAM
BLAM! The air is acrid and smoky. Some people have multiple weapons; they are shooting Desert Eagles and Glocks and AR15's.

A month earlier, a young man shot off his calf muscle at the same range as I. He didn't pull his finger out of the trigger guard. Sure, one would think that's obvious...get your finger off the trigger, get your finger off the trigger, don't do a GODDAMN THING with your finger in that trigger...but it's not always easy to remember. Sometimes, one forgets.

Sometimes, a person isn't always sure of where the muzzle of his weapon is. Two lanes down, I see a guy shoot at a target and then wave at his teacher with his gun. "C'mere! Lookit what I did!" You almost shot someone dead, is what you did.

After my first shot, I quit crying. I just started shaking.

After one clip, my shooting was so terrible, the instructor asked me to stop for the day and go home.

Two months later, I finally qualified with a Glock 17. I could go out in the field as a probation officer and not need any other officer to accompany me.

I was a state certified officer with a weapon. I had a badge and a gun and handcuffs. I had a bullet-proof vest and a can of mace. I did my job for four years, supervising an average of 150 active adult felons. I went to their homes, at night, with no radio. I found that a smile, and a warm voice, could put these people at ease even though I was in
their home, going through their belongings, sitting next to their children.

I pulled my weapon twice, and I regret each time I did, because that meant in my mind, I was ready to kill another individual. Kill a person. Take a person's life. Keep him from living. Keep his heart from beating. Keep his brain from functioning.

I don't argue with people who own guns. It's still a Constitutional right. It will probably remain a right for a long time. Gun laws and gun control and rules and legislation don't stop people from shooting guns. None of that stuff will make a difference in America's love affair with weapons. Sadly, criminals will always be able to buy guns legally from private dealers or illegally from street dealers.

I just remember the fear my gun invoked inside of me. I just remember being aware of it all the time
("There's a gun in my closet. There's a gun in my cabinet drawer. There's a gun on top of my refrigerator.")
And I remember the relief of handing my gun back when I was fired. I remember crying then, too.
It's over, I thought.

I'll never have to fire this thing again.

And my face broke out into a smile.
Written by FRITZ
| Link | 4 wise cracks! |

Friday, July 18, 2008
Friday Rats

I was so geared up to see The Dark Knight at our local IMAX theater. It would appear that even in the tumultuous economy of the metro-Detroit area, folks just love their Batman. Apparently, folks are out in droves going to see this movie. The last place I want to be is knuckle-deep in popcorn grease while three hundred adolescents fart their way through two and a half hours of film. Christian Bale deserves better. So do I.

Therefore, we will dine at the illustrious Applebee's so that I can benefit from their Weight Watcher's menu. Then, we shall return home for knitting and The Savages. Tomorrow, I will see The Batman.

Meanwhile: (Not VERY safe for work, completely offensive, all my gay friends hate me, etc.) Please see the following video.
Written by FRITZ
| Link | 6 wise cracks! |

Wednesday, July 16, 2008
I am desperately trying to get the writing bug. I am not catching it. Therefore, I sit and whine and mope about not writing and then when I go to write, I can't access it. I have very little to report. I could tell you about my job, but that's gotten me fired before. I could make up stories about vacations and fabulous relaxing retreats in Europe, but none of that will ever happen to a girl like me. I could describe my garden in detail, but I think it's wilting a little bit. I could chat about me me me, but really, that's very ego-centric.

Everything that gets me upset gets everyone else upset, too, and half the time, lots of other people have written about being upset in the same way I would describe my upsetness, so that's out. Yes, Bush is bad. Yes, I am voting for Obama. Yes, I am disturbed how racist many voters are. Yes, teenage vampire whores are causing our children to suffer from ADD and PTSD and OCD and Asperger's. Meh. Whatever.

Here's the raw deal, I think. I've lost all my creativity to humdrum living. It's no one's fault but my own. I work myself into exhaustion, save just enough energy to knit, and the rest of my waking hours are spent wishing for the weekend to come and get me the hell up out of this rut. I need a break, man. Or a great big fat doobie.

Also, this article depresses me, despite my 9 pound weight loss. I think I'm just going to be fat forever, dammit.
Written by FRITZ
| Link | 4 wise cracks! |

Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Well, that's Poopy
Borrowing from Nick, I thought I would review one book. I would tell you that more reviews are to come, but that wouldn't be fair, because I re-read Jane Austen over and over since I'm too lazy to go to the library and pick out something new. And really, who needs another dissertation on Pride and Prejudice's repressive sexuality? No one, that's who.

The other night, I watched the movie Children of Men. After watching the movie, I went home and put my head in the microwave. Never had I watched something so cliche and so gruesome. It disturbed me greatly. I didn't want to, but I borrowed the book from a friend and read it in a day.

While P.D. James is eloquent and well-written (in a very British way), she becomes so Victorian in her writing that one loses momentum. But the pages do get to turning as the reader waits (hopes! prays!) something interesting is going to happen. And interesting things do happen, eventually. Some people die, some other people have things happen to them, and in the end, some people get their just desserts. So, okay, for a read on the weekend, have a go at this book.

But here's where I get disappointed. The pretense of the book is phenomenal. I love it. There are many places James could have gone with this book--it could have wound up as the next Lord of the Flies or Fahrenheit 451 or something else prolific and astounding and thought-provoking. But it doesn't. The punch doesn't follow through to the cheekbone. I'm waiting for the "WHAM" and all I get is the "whiz".

I had this same problem with the movie "Jumpers". I know, tragically awful movie. But just think of what it COULD have been. This is the problem I have with this book. I recommend the book for a car ride or a really boring Sunday. But I would not try to replace Miss Austen with it.

I have also decided that reviewing books is not my forte. I'll stick to mindless blather.
Written by FRITZ
| Link | 0 wise cracks! |

Sunday, July 13, 2008
To hell with you, Weight Watchers!

I am eating my Dannon yogurt sprinkled with a one-point cardboard cake from WW, and I am NOT TRACKING IT.

Nope. It does not even exist, and it shan't appear on my hips. It is a MEASLY five points, and while I have exhausted all of my extra points for the week (and I'm several days away from weigh-in), I will not begrudge myself coffee yogurt. After all, I did not have a second glass of wine or my obligatory Sunday Bloody Mary.

I just finished eating my sub par dessert, and now I feel absolutely wretched. Here's to another week of not being able to curb my appetite.

Additionally, some advice: If you are suffering from sciatica, it is sagely suggested you stay far away from bicycles and their seats. Ow.
Written by FRITZ
| Link | 3 wise cracks! |

Saturday, July 12, 2008
Name Calling

I work four ten hour days. That means I do not work on Fridays. I know, it rules.

Here is the part that does NOT rule: leaving the house at 6:30 am.

At that time of the day, I do not have the wherewithal, the chutzpah, the *verve* to make coffee. So, I go to Starfucker's.

At 6:30 in the morning, there is rarely a line at Starfucker's drive through, because everyone else is sane and still in bed. There is just me, groggily staring over my steering wheel, hoping to coordinate my feet and my hands at the same time.

And every morning, I show up at the drive-through, and the same lady asks me for my order. Every morning, I look UP AT THE CAMERA and tell her exactly what I want, and that order never changes. And EVERY SINGLE MORNING, she asks me for my name.


First of all, there's no one else with whom to confuse me. I'm the only one in line. Second of all, you have a monitor in which you can see my face. Thirdly, if this is some corporate attempt at getting to know me, she SUCKS, because I am there EVERY MORNING, and if she doesn't know my name by now, then clearly she cannot be trusted to make one (1!) grande bold coffee with two shots of espresso, two creams, and one Splenda.

So: here has been the recent dialog:

Me: I'll have a grande bold coffee with two shots espresso, two creams, and one Splenda.
SF's Employee: Will that be all?
Me (Eye-rolling): YES.
SF's Employee: And can I have your name?
Me: Castro.

Of late, I've been on a communist kick. Monday, I was Frida. Tuesday, I was Castro. Wednesday found me as Che G., and Thursday, I was Lenin.

She never laughs. She never acknowledges my strange names. In fact the one time she guffawed at my name is when I said "Fritz."

Why don't I just start giving my name out as "Grande Bold Coffee"?
Written by FRITZ
| Link | 3 wise cracks! |


Can we agree on some basic concepts, please?

For example, can we agree that Americans eat too much? Is that really up for debate? Don't we live in a culture of face-stuffers? Face-stuffers who love fast food and bacon? Isn't that, like, totally apparent to every single person with five brain cells?

And don't we, as a nation, use up resources five times as fast as everyone else? Don't we suck up natural resources and fossil fuels and hardwoods like a mega-consuming caterpillar working on its metamorphisis into the Titanic?

Look. The calories I consume each day could probably sustain a pachyderm for a week. I'll admit it. I have an eating problem. I enjoy eating, and it's really easy for me to eat. If I'm too lazy to haul my big ass over to the grocery store, there's myriad opportunities to feast in other places. Like 7-11 or all these damn Coney Island joints; in a mile radius around my home, there are six--SIX--diners in which I can order one four-egg sausage and cheese omelette with a side of hashbrowns and toast. And every weekend, I eat at one of those establishments.

And here we are, a nation of overwieght people with poor self-esteem, eating ourselves right into a food crisis. We eat and then feel guilty about it, and then we go buy clothing to fit our big butts. And then, we feel worse, so we drive our big cars over to our big supercenters where we buy diet food in bulk and when we're all done eating warmed-up cardboard, we poop in mega-toilets.

I didn't think this was, like, news. Apparently, not everyone agrees with me.

Over at Slate, this uber-hip news/commentary blog thingy (I don't know, I just found out about it yesterday), some scrotal sac has condemned the movie Wall-E because it equivocates laziness with fat people and the end of the world. He claims that people who are fat are innocent bystanders in their self-destruction. It's all controlled by genetics! Just because we're fat doesn't mean we're guilty of massive consumption! Fat people aren't to blame! Wall-E mocks fat people! "The new Pixar movie goes out of its way to equate obesity with environmental collapse!"

Um, actually, it talks about people being so lazy, they don't notice all the garbage they are creating until one day, when it's obvious that the trash ain't going away. But because they're so lazy, they decide to go into space and litter up there. And then people get used to sitting around and letting other little robot things do stuff for them, so folks don't really have a need to walk or move heavy objects and then....dum dum dum...humans get fat.

I'm sorry, I thought this was an animated film. Seems pretty true to life to me, yeah?

Do we really have the time to convince ourselves that we are not to blame for the state we're in? Can we ignore our failing bodies and lack of health precautions, blaming big bones and bad genes? Or shouldn't we take some action now, and stop consuming so much, and start taking longer walks, and eat really good, really yummy, really healthy food?

We cannot afford to make excuses for the way we live, and the destruction we're wreaking on our land? And if one stupid, silly animated movie makes us think about the future, then how can it be a bad thing?

One of those Fatties
Written by FRITZ
| Link | 0 wise cracks! |

Friday, July 11, 2008
My Most Delicious Lunch

I would have taken a picture of my lunch, but my camera's battery was apparently being borrowed by someone else. Ahem, honey.

In mid-April, my dear friend Ilex of Homesteading in a Condo came over and put in my first kitchen garden. A box made from untreated cedar harnesses the garden; she worked tirelessly and grew the plants herself from her own seedlings. All of this work and effort intimidated me--she is venturing into a new business selling gardens to people who rent or live in condos and apartments. She is also trying to educate individuals that gardening is not difficult. I don't believe her, as I am not a gardener. I have managed to slay hostas in a single week, and tulips wilt if I should come near. So, this kitchen garden was as much an attempt at keeping something alive as it was an opportunity to cut down on grocery and fuel costs and avoid salmonella. Lo and behold, my garden is flourishing.

As are my squash plants.

My basil, while hidden underneath the squash plants (along with my beans and cucumbers and peppermint and eggplant) are doing quite well, too. So! With a perfect pesto recipe in hand, I went shopping for the rest of my meal, as my tomatoes still have a good month until they are ripe.

Here's what I made:

Perfect Pesto:
(adaptation of Ilex's fresh pesto)

1/4 cup chopped pine nuts
1/4 cup fresh grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1/3 cup extra extra extra virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic
1 cup of fresh basil

Chop up the basil leaves and pine nuts. Dump everything in a bowl and mix it up. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and a couple dashes of salt. Set aside.

Italian Ratatouille (Yes, I made that up)
Serves 2
1 organic Vidalia onion
1 fresh yellow squash, picked from your garden, preferably. (Pick them when they have grown 6-8 inches, or be like me, and wait for them to become huge phallic beasts and whack off one half of the end and toss...mmph)
3 Roma tomatoes.
Another clove of garlic, pressed.

Parboil the tomatoes for about one minute. Take them out of the saucer and rub ice all over them. This allows the skins to separate from the fruit. Peel the tomatoes and slice in nice big chunks.

Meanwhile, saute the onions and squash with more olive oil. Takes about five minutes on medium high. When done, dump everything in a bowl (or, for nice looks, place the tomatoes directly on top on the squash and onions). Splash it all with a teaspoon (or a cup, whatev) of olive oil. Sprinkle some of that fancy cheese on it. Let your eyes feast on the beautiful colors, but not for long, lest everything get cold.

Sit down with a glass of wine. Red, preferably. Do this at noon on your day off, and you're already content.

Cover your Italian Ratatouille with your homemade pesto. Have some bread on the side, to make it more pastoral.

Enjoy the scintillating textures of nuts and soft squash, crunchy onions, and chewy basil. I don't think there is a better flavor than this--a meaty vegetarian dish including the product of your own labor.

Ah, contentment.
Written by FRITZ
| Link | 3 wise cracks! |

Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Those Damn Punk Kids

Last week, my car was burgled.

All right, let me stop there. I really wanted to use the word 'burgled' in a sentence, but the truth is, we may as well have hung a sign over it reading, "Free Cycle!". We (and by saying 'we', I mean someone in my marriage who is not me) accidentally left the car unlocked and we parked it in the street.

It is a good thing I do not allow my possessions to define me. If I did THAT, I would be extremely sore about the items stolen. I think I'll list those items, now:

-My new navigation system. I was lost without it, quite literally. Now, I am all lost again.
-My older Nano.
-My silly RoadTrip device that allowed me to listen to my older Nano via the cigarette lighter.
-My D&G sunglasses that cost half of a paycheck. I mention these only for the sentimental value; Michael bought them for me the day before my wedding. What an ultra-ridiculous, glamorous gift!
-My body spray.

Here's the real problem: I have a strong suspicion of 'hoo-done-it'. It's those punk kids down the street.

Mmm hmm, I am aware that I referred to a group of teenagers as punk kids. These are the kind of67 kids whom I feared in high school. There is a leader, and he is skinny. He has a Bad Attitude. He smokes in front of his parents' home and swears at small animals. He Litters. His flock includes one severely overweight boy with thin lips, a cousin of small proportion, and a smattering of female teenagers, all drawn to this young man's 'charisma'.

Last summer, the gang walked down the streets with baseball bats, swinging them threateningly at old ladies. They do not go to school, as far as I can tell, because they are out in the streets through every season. They have a gang vehicle--it is an aged Buick with wide headlights and cruft dents. It must not often have gas in it, because I am more likely to see them sitting in the car with the radio playing rather than tearing up and down the roads. These punk kids drive me bat-shit crazy.

I give them the evil eye at every opportunity. I squint them with my laser eyeballs. I have stared them all down at least once, and I make sure they know I am watching them when I hang out in front of my house. I am convinced they despise me. This evening, as I pulled into my driveway, I revved the engine when I saw them and glared at them. And then, as I turned off my car, I realized:

These kids were probably never going to get very far in life. They didn't have much of a chance, period. Their parents are never around, and have never instilled discipline. The opportunities for these punks to get jobs and make money and give back to the community are slim-to-none. In ten years, I could most likely drive down this same street and find them sitting in their car, listening to the radio. I know they have already experimented with drinking, as bottles are often strewn about their yard and one of them seems perpetually drunk. I don't think they are going to have many chances to succeed. They certainly don't seem very happy.

In the end, I don't have any proof these punk kids are responsible for the theft of my items. I'd like to think they did it, because then I could carry around some anger and resentment towards them, and anger and resentment are key to living a fulfilling life. But then, I guess, there is a softer side. Perhaps, it's my role to smile at them. Perhaps, they are not safe and loved. Maybe I'm supposed to turn the other cheek and gently wish them well. It is one thing to steal from unlocked cars, but quite another to be robbed of a good life. Possibly, it might not be wise to get angry over this kind of thing. Rather, I should love my neighbors and their punk kids. I mean, what harm can a little love do?

Also: I'll be much more vigilant about locking the car doors.
Written by FRITZ
| Link | 3 wise cracks! |

Monday, July 07, 2008
I have plenty of time.
I keep telling myself that I am too old for grad school. I can't afford it! I'm not very bright! I don't know what I want to do when I grow up! I have a new kitten! I don't have the time!

Well. I just took a 'life expectancy' quiz, and despite my weight, smoking, and cholesterol problems, I am going to live to the age of 102.


I will never make enough money to sustain that kind of retirement. I better ante up on the smoking or consider a more lucrative career.

Maybe I should just go to fu*king grad school.
Written by FRITZ
| Link | 3 wise cracks! |

Thursday, July 03, 2008
Behold! The Power of Kittens!

Ever looked around at your sad lot in life and thought: "Geez, a kitten would really make this place a lot nicer"?
Well, we had that thought. So I would like to introduce the world to Persephone Hallifax.
That's Miss Percy, to you.

Oddly enough, Delilah does not seem to think kittens improve life that much.
She remains...bitter.

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Written by FRITZ
| Link | 6 wise cracks! |

Name: Fritz

Location: Detroit Rock City!
Where the weak are killed and eaten

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What My Brain is Eating
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    What I Live By:
    We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time. Through the unknown, unremembered gate When the last of earth left to discover Is that which was the beginning; At the source of the longest river The voice of the hidden waterfall And the children in the apple-tree Not known, because not looked for But heard, half-heard, in the stillness Between two waves of the sea. Quick now, here, now, always— A condition of complete simplicity (Costing not less than everything) And all shall be well and All manner of thing shall be well When the tongues of flame are in-folded Into the crowned knot of fire And the fire and the rose are one. -T.S. Eliot "Little Gidding"

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