Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Welcome to my Organ Recital

This is yet another post about woman stuff, so if you're male and reading this, you might want to stop right now and find something else to read. Why not take a look at Keith Olbermann's Countdown site ? Trust me, you'll be glad you did.

Okay, here's the thing. I went to Dr. Al Gore for my annual checkup. His real name isn't Al Gore, but he looks so much like our former Vice President that I've wondered if they're kin. To his credit, he has never rolled his eyes and sighed at me. This is no mean feat since he's been my doctor since 1986. He also managed not to make a locked box joke during my first pelvic exam, for which he deserves credit. But I'm digressing...

During this visit, I asked him about the absolute lowest age someone could reasonably expect to start menopause. (You see why I sent the guys over to Olbermann's site? They should be thanking me.) There's a good reason for this. I was sure I was going through menopause in 2000. I had a job where I had to do mulitple things like run a bitchy meme and come up with five to six fresh political jokes five days a week and was also told that the gig would run through the end of the election. Well, we all know how that worked out. Sometime around September, I stopped menstruating. I also stopped eating regularly and sleep became a hobby to be revisited whenever I could remember it. I thought it was due to me running out of eggs. Dr. Gore thought it was the stress of slipping into a persona that just wasn't me to entertain the masses and trying to find something funny about an election season that could have been scripted by Mencken on crank. When I when I went back to working with shelter kids at the first of the year and started merrily cycling, eating and sleeping again, we concluded that he was right. Score points for him for not being insufferable about it. Digressing again...

So I asked him about the Big M for real this time and he told me it was still a way off but that I needed to consider kegeling because the continual seasonal coughing thing I do this time of the year could cause the muscles that hold my stuff in to weaken. What? WHAT? I mean, I've joked about coughing up a lung or leaning over and feeling one of my eyes pop out, but now there's the very real possibility that I could cough and push out my uterus? What the...? Oh, that's just gross.

He then wrote down a URL for me to get instructions on how to kegel and blithely moved on to other topics while my mind was racing about what would happen if I dropped my freaking uterus. I was imagining waking up to find a collection of internal organs I had kicked to the foot of the bed in the night or worse, being in line at the bank or post office, coughing hard and getting a pantsfull of what should have remained inside of my body.

I let this anxiety get to me for about a week and finally called him to ask if there was anything else I could do to keep those muscles toned.

"It's not a big deal. You're getting a little older and it's time you paid more attention to details like that. Did you think your bladder was going to shoot out the next time you coughed?" he chuckled. He. CHUCKLED!

I wanted to say, "Yes, Dr. Gore, it has worried me for some time and when I got up to let the dog out to pee, my uterus just fell right the heck out. I've got it sitting here on a salad plate. Should I put it in a baggie of milk and bring it to you?"

What I said was, "Oh, no. That's just silly. Ha ha! Just doing a follow up."

"Well, good. Say hi to your mom for me!"

So that was that.

I'm not going to squeeze everything out like a cannoli in a kid's fist and life is good. Now I'm going to go see what Keith Olbermann has to say.



copyright 2006 Jas Faulkner

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Yeah, I'm the Freakin' Lorax...Siddown!

Most of the time I've really loved living in Nashville, mainly because it's a green, pretty city. To be accurate, I actually live in what used to be a small burb just outside of Davidson County whose main drag consisted of an Eisenhower-era Rexall, Nadine's Taxidermy and a family-owned hardware store that looked like a set piece from a community production of "The Music Man". Then the population started booming and quite frankly, a newcomer would be hard pressed to tell my once-little town from Franklin or Gallatin or Murfreesboro. Don't get me wrong, I think change and growth can be good things, but I am concerned about the effect this is having on indigenous flora and fauna.

Critters used to be abundant and there was a sort of respect and forebearance between the animals who called this part of Tennessee home and the bipeds who demanded to drive on it. It wasn't uncommon to see foxes, raccoons, muskrats and possums wandering around Gallatin Road when I came home after a long, late working night at the Opry. Herds of deer roamed the farms and could be seen running through the trees at the Army C of E Dam and Marina. Now those are rare sights. Even rarer are some of the plants that used to grow by the bushel in the forests and fields around here.

I'm starting to think that the credo for Tennessee has gone from "The Volunteer State" to "Ooh lookie! A tree! Let's kill it!"

This is going to sound really dumb, but one of the things that has bothered me the most about the building boom is how it is affecting the turtles and tortoises around here. There used to be more wetlands and there were plenty of snappers and loggerheads paddling their way through the cattails. They're interesting to watch and good for keeping the insect population in check. I'm sure there are still some around, but fewer wetlands mean fewer turtles and that's a shame.

Tortoises are a different story. There seem to be plenty of them, at least for now, but they have no place to go. When the weather changes you can see many of them squashed on the road as they wander around looking for food. The thing about tortoises is that they tend to stay on the same square acre or so their whole lives. When they get a mind to go in a direction, they keep going every time you set one down no matter how many times you interrupt his progress. So if a tortie thinks there's food across the street, he's gonna go and there's really nothing you can do unless you want to pick him up, carry him on across the street and hope he doesn't get confused and walk back into traffic. You can't relocate a tortoise to a new, quieter place and expect him to be happy. If he can, he'll meander back home. I know this from way too much firsthand experience. I've also lost a few perfectly good shoes that landed in the beds of pickup trucks driven by rednecks who swerved to hit the tortoise I'd just tried to keep out of traffic. I'm not proud of that.

I'm also not proud of the fact that I once attempted to use tears to keep a Metro Nashville police officer from writing me a ticket when I was stopped in the median just past a busier part of Gallatin Road to assist a tortoise. Mama didn't raise me to act that way, but at the time, I didn't have a choice.

I saw the tortie, pulled into the median and picked it up. Okay, I took a minute to pet it and talk to it. It was enough time for me to get careless about how long I was there and the next thing I knew, flashing blue lights. It was Metro. Crap. The cop strode around my car and started to tell me I needed to put my hood up. Then he saw the tortoise.

"Lady?" he said

Oh crap oh crap oh crap. I could not afford a ticket. I worked up a quiver in my voice and said, "I'm really really sorry. I'll move my car. I was driving by and he was starting to go across the street and turtles are really nice and they don't hurt anybody. See?"

I held up the tortoise for him to see and it responded to my call to bond with nature by hissing, pulling into its shell and peeing down my arm. (There has been some argument as to whether tortoises pee. This one did. Or if it wasn't pee, I don't want to know what it was...)

The policeman sighed, told me to take my turtle and please move my car or I would be towed. I thanked him profusely, offered to let him pet the tortoise (he declined) and drove to the shoulder so I could release him into the field next to the road and watch to see that he didn't wander back into traffic and get smashed.

So, where ever you are Mister Tortoise, I hope you had a good life and thank you Mister Metro Police Officer for either being nice enough to let me move the tortoise or afraid enough of the crazy hippie lady to let me do my thing.


A Shame-Faced Jas

copyright 2006 Jas Faulkner

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Studies Show That Southern Women Really Are As Mean As Snakes

There's this misapprehension everyone seems to have that Southern Women are docile creatures with big hair and Daddy issues who need nothing more than an endless diet of frou frou and a fainting couch. Did I mention that we all grew up wanting to marry our horses or Atticus Finch? Well.

I will cop to having big hair and quite frankly, I've always looked for the same qualities in a man that I could find in my late, much beloved horse. But a fainting couch? Frou frou? Most of us are more like Ellie Mae Clampett in spirit than Scarlett O'Hara. Think about it. Ellie Mae got to climb trees and hang out with all those cool critters by the cee-ment pond. What did Scarlett O'Hara ever do other than throw hissy fits, tease those pitifully inbed Tarleton twins and pine after that meally-mouthed Ashley Wilkes? I would go so far as to say - Gentlemen, would y'all please go into the other room and see what's on ESPN? Thank you. - I would go so far as to say that Ms. Scarlett was stuck in pre-sexual adolescence and was probably deathly afraid of orgasms, bless her heart.

Beautiful Alice would probably disagree on the grounds that she loves Scarlett. In fact when we were in college, there was a job announcement that got passed around asking for candidates to assist the docents at the Margaret Mitchell house for the summer. The flyer mentioned that the docents were actors who dressed as characters from "Gone With the Wind."

"So that means that someone down there is pretending to be Scarlett?" Alice stared incredulously at the flyer.

"I guess so," I said.

"But I'm Scarlett." she said in a deadly quiet tone that made one of our more Indiana Jonesish classmates scoot away from her.

"Honey," I said, "You're Alice and you're here in Kentucky. That girl was probably born and raised in Georgia."

"Hunh." She said. "Well, I'm just going to have to go to Atlanta and jerk somebody baldheaded."

I have to admit that I don't get that way unless someone wants to mess with my dog, my family, my friends or anybody whose work I like.

One of my ex-boyfriends will attest to the last item on that list. We were at The Beale Street Blues Festival when some intoxicated yuppies started screaming "You're fat!" at Etta James. ExBoyfriend Who Looked Like Liev Schriber pinned my arms and shushed me until a retinue of bikers a couple of rows ahead of us made their way back to the yuppies in an outreach effort towards peace, understanding and enhanced music appreciation.

The bottom line is that we're aware of our humanistic connections with each other and we're not afraid to use them. Say Tom Stoppard is a linguistic arriviste and I'll get my big, strappin' boy cousins after you. Make fun of my dog or Kevin or Alice and we're going to strip to the waist and duke it out in the parking lot. Did you say "Your Mama"? Do you see this Mephistophelean death stare? And we don't end our sentences with prepositions, Bitch.

copyright 2006 Jas Faulkner

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Bunkered in on De Debbil's Night

It drizzled rain all night, so trick or treaters were sparse. I called upon my rights as a Phlegmsponge-American to pass on the fun this year. We kept the lights off in the front of the house and basked it the blue glow of scary movies.

I figured it would be a quiet evening and nobody was really missing out, so the guilt I'd experienced that morning for not setting up The Punkin Patch* pretty much went away. Around 6:45, O'Neill went a little bonkers. I knew the preteen across the street was going all out and figured he could hear them. When he kept barking I peeked out the front window to see two sets of parents and about five kids standing in my driveway. The parents were carrying those heavy-duty lanterns most people use for camping or power outages. I shrugged and went back into the living room, assuming they would eventually figure out that we weren't participating this year and move on to houses that were lit, decorated and had people standing on the porch with bowls of goodies.

You know what happens when people assume. A minute after I sat back down, everyone in the room jumped out of their skin as bright lights flashed into the living room windows and multiple fists banged on the locked storm door as all five of those kids screamed "Trick or Treat!" over and over. A quick straw poll by the BFF, his boyfriend and co-BFF, my mother and the dog concluded that since I was the sickest, sounded like Regan from "The Exorcist" and looked like Binkley from Bloom County, I was the best choice to go to the door.

I opened the wooden door, not wanting to open the glass door and thus spread my flu-cooties and the munchkins began pawing and clamoring. One of the dads pointed to the handle of the storm door and urged me to open it. I shook my head.

"I have the flu." I croaked. The fact is, I could have told him I was a pomegranate or that I was Inigo Montoya. It wouldn't have mattered. When you can't talk, people just parse whatever you struggle to utter into whatever it is they want to hear and move on.

"Aren't you going to decorate?" he bellowed at the door. We always take pictures of our kids here." He stared expectantly as the fruit of his loins and their little friends continued to mill around his legs and squeak their palms against the glass in vain hope that I would feed them.

I meant to tell him that I was really sorry, but I had the flu and given the wet, nasty state of things, it just wasn't happening this year. What he probably heard was: "Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya! You killed my father. Prepare to die!"

"Whut?" he bellowed.

"I'm sorry, I really need to go," I croaked.

"WHUT?" he bellowed again.

One of the smaller kids started licking the storm door where my dog's nose was pressed against it on the opposite side.

"Dude. When was the last time you fed your kids?"


I finally mimed and croaked, "I'm sorry. Cough cough sick here. Bye bye." and shut the door as a couple of kids hollered "Bye bye sick lady!"

They trooped away as Big Gay Kevin and my Mom helpfully sang "You're a Mean One, Mister Grinch".

I sank gratefully onto the couch and watched what was left of the movie. Thirty minutes later there was another knock at the door. It was a pair of Jehovah's Witnesses. I thanked them through the storm door and told them I was pretty happy with my own set of beliefs, but thanks for dropping by. One of the ladies leaned forward.

"Did you say you were Inigo Montoya?"

I sighed, waved bye and headed back to the couch. Before I could even sit down there was another knock at the door. It was someone from the local Seventh Day Adventist outreach group. They were canvassing the neighborhood to let everyone know about their open house/vegan workshop and taste-in. I thanked them and closed the door.

"There had better not be anyone else on this porch tonight", I said as I closed the door, forgetting to turn off the porch light. Unbeknownst to me, the porch stayed lit and not another soul knocked.

*The Punkin Patch is a tradition I've kept for quite a few years. I have approximately 55 of those fiberglass fake jack-o-lanterns that I've rescued from trash heaps, garage sales, thrift stores and the like and a number of other cute, tot-friendly decorations. My entire front yard is then covered in strings of green lights, jack-o-lanterns and other cute stuff. It was intended as a non-scary place for little kids to get bottles of bubble stuff and enjoy halloween. That way, parents could bypass the more nightmare-inducing yards featuring Jason, Freddy Krueger, etc and the older kids could have their fun with each other and everybody would be happy. Or something like that.

copyright 2006 Jas Faulkner