Monday, April 6, 2020

Ten Ways I Won't Celebrate My Birthday This Year

My birthday is Thursday, Drunkards. I'll be 52 years old - one for every week in the calendar, one for every card in the deck. The same age as Adam Schlesinger, who wrote "Stacy's Mom" and "That Thing You Do!" - and who died of COVID-19 last week.

Ssssssigh.

Fucking COVID-19. Just come out of nowhere and turned everything to shit, hasn't it?

My natural, morbid response to our current pandemic has been to re-read Stephen King's "The Stand." I love this book, always have. It's got its flaws and its anachronisms - even King couldn't quite imagine how much pop culture would have changed between 1978, when he wrote it, and 1985, when it's set. No one had really conceptualized or categorized GenX at that point, and as a result almost every character in the book, no matter what their age, is written with the attitudes and experiences of a Baby Boomer. I've always found it hilarious that Larry Underwood, the up-and-coming rock star character, was supposed to be stoked to have done a recording session with Neil Diamond. Come on, Mr. King. Even in 1978, Neil Diamond had become a middle-of-the-road pop crooner. Maybe in 1968, when you were about Larry's age, he had some hipster cred.

Don't get me wrong - 1968 Neil Diamond
was hot.
But I digress.

One of the main differences between the events of "The Stand" and the 'Rona is the timeframe. In the book, the superflu sweeps through America (and presumably the world, although that's only hinted at) literally in a matter of days. By the time anyone realizes what's happening, 99% of the population is dead. There are no quarantines, no shelter-in-place orders - one infected man escapes a top-secret government facility in mid-June, and by the end of the month all but the immune have succumbed.

Here in the real world in 2020, we're not so lucky. Our plague is unfolding in slow motion, relatively speaking. Especially here in America, our fortifications against the Coronavirus have gone up with too little speed, too little urgency, and almost no consistency from place to place. And where the America of "The Stand" has Randall Flagg, the dark incarnation of evil, presiding gleefully over the anticipated annihilation of humanity, we have a fat orange asshole who thinks he has all the time in the world to screw around and be some kind of hero. And the death count keeps rising as the days go by with almost agonizing slowness.

What was I talking about? Oh, right - time.

See what's become of me.

So whereas in fiction, characters are drop-kicked from normality to devastation, here in the real world we're in suspended animation. We can't do most things or go most places (but not all, because some people are too stupid to understand the concept of ripping off a Band-Aid). And so we're stuck, not knowing if we're going to get sick and with little to do while we wait.

And it's my goddamn birthday this week, and it going to suck. I mean, I'm not someone who makes a big deal out her birthday, but even by my standards it's going to be as dull as the part of the daily Pandemic Response Team briefing where the experts all stand around waiting for Trump to finish taking a shit or applying his orange coating or whatever the hell he does before he lumbers out to the podium to spew lies, hate, and nonsense.

Anyway, here are ten things I won't be doing on my birthday this year, thanks to the Coronavirus:

1. Going out to dinner
2. Having lunch with my co-workers
3. Treating myself to a little something from the bookstore or Target
4. Seeing my family
5. Seeing Drummer Boy (OK, so I almost never get to see Drummer Boy on my birthday, but on other birthdays I could at least be disappointed when he didn't come over)
6. Going to the movies
7. Meeting up with a friend and saying "You shouldn't have" when they give me a present
8. Buying a cake just big enough for Precocious Daughter to eat on my behalf because I don't eat cake
9. Getting a hug from anyone
10. Getting a birthday spanking (I haven't actually gotten a birthday spanking in ages, but I couldn't think of one more - and anyway, if I did get birthday spankings, they would definitely be a huge no-no this year)

I don't mean to sound ungrateful. I'm healthy, and the people I love are healthy. I actually get to leave the house every day to go to work, so even though it's the only thing I'm doing, I'm not housebound. Things could be much, much worse.

But this is a rotten time to have a birthday.

On Thursday I'll drink a toast to myself and probably donate some money to a worthy cause. If you want to celebrate my day with me, you could do the same things, wherever you are.

Maybe I'll listen to some Neil Diamond.


Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Peppers in the Ground

Shit's getting real in Pepperland, guys. We are where the seeds hit the dirt.

After about 10 days gestating in their damp baggie of wet towels (which I think is also a Slipknot album), my salsa seeds looked like this.

Rooty-tooty-pepper-shooties.
Lil squirmy roots, like delightful tiny snakes in a bag. You know what that means, other than I might need professional help? That means it's plantin' time.

I c...a...r...e...f...u...l...l...y extracted all of my seeds from the paper towels. They had grown through the paper in many places, and I couldn't risk damaging the tender roots.  Here's what they looked like when I had successfully freed them all.

Out with the sprouts.
Here's what I found most interesting. The roots are the first part to poke out of the seed, with the leafy bits coming out last. Seems bass-ackwards to me, but I'm not an ancho chile, so what do I know?

Anyway, while my seeds were a-sprouting, my planters had arrived. They're adorable, and they fit perfectly on my teeny-weeny balconeeny.


They look like wooden casks, but they're actually
lightweight resin, because no way was I hauling
wood from my car to the balcony.

Yea verily, I did filleth them with loamy fertilizer-enriched soil. As one does.

Which I did haul from my car to the balcony.
Lightweight resin dirt is not a thing.
In each planter I made about a dozen dirt-holes, using a sophisticated gardening tool I call the pokerizer. This is a name I freely stole from a character in Stephen King's The Stand, which I'm currently reading for the umpteenth time. What the hell else would I be reading in the middle of a global pandemic except an 800-page novel about a global pandemic? Real life hasn't gotten to the epic battle between the Walkin Dude and the Army of the Corn Lady yet, but I'm sure we'll catch up soon.

The pokerizer is otherwise know as my salad fork,
but don't tell the garden club. Or the people
who come over and eat my salads.
Into two dozen dirt-holes went two dozen pepper-babies. And then I watered them gently.

And then we proceeded to get four straight days of Texas Spring rain. Those bitches are watered.

And now I wait. Wait for those wonderful green leafy bastards to pop out of the soil as if to say, "Hi, Mama! I'm a Pepper, he's a Pepper, she's a Pepper, we're a Pepper!"

Maybe I do need professional help.

Stay tuned. At the rate we're going, these damn pepper plants may live longer than any of us.