Monday, July 25, 2005

Because I don't have nearly enough debt in my life...

I'm beginning to consider attempting to buy a house. I say attempt because I really don't see any way I'll succeed; my credit is so horrendous the Book of the Month Club put a restraining order on me to stop me from contacting them. I'm currently making payments on an imaginary house, aka a student loan, but I thought it would be fun to make payments on a house I could actually live in. It won't be anywhere near as nice as my imaginary one, which is big and purple and self-cleaning and smells like cotton candy, but we gotta take what we can get, right?

Currently we rent from a psychotic redneck who lets vagrants sleep in the space downstairs and comes up on our deck to jump up and down and scream and threaten to evict us when a couple of rocks get moved in the yard. I swear I'm not making that up. So a new domicile is very much desired.

I've never tried to buy a house before. Heck, I've never even had a car loan; every piece of crap car I've ever owned was a cash purchase. So I'm not sure what's involved. I think we go talk to someone named Connie at a place called The Mortgage Company Most Holy, and we make the proper sacrifices and display the proper humility, and then Connie (who is but a Neophyte) will go and bow unto the High Priestess Joan on our behalf, and if Joan deems we are Worthy she will grant us a set amount of Lucre (0% down, hopefully, with a fixed interest rate and cash back at closing) with which to purchase a Place of Residence. If we are deemed Not Worthy I'm not sure what happens. We don't get a house, obviously, and I think there's a flaying in there somewhere, too.

I would like a nice little farmhouse out in the country. I don't want an actual farm, because farms usually have livestock and I've seen livestock before, they stink. The only animals I want on the place are a dog, a cat, and some chickens. For eggs, you know. Protein and whatnot. My husband wants geese and guinea fowl, because they make much better watchdogs than, well, than dogs. Plus there's all the potential hilarity when we see a burglar in panicked flight across the yard with a honking gander in hot pursuit. That's comedy gold, that is. I want a little vegetable garden, and I may try to grow some flowers, but my usual technique with flowers results in "death" rather than "beauty" so I may grow a rock garden instead.

Right now I'd say I have about a 90/10 chance against getting any kind of home loan. Still, I know people who've declared bankruptcy multiple times and they manage to get financing for cars, houses, you name it. I pay my rent on time every month; I'd much rather apply that money to MY house, instead of psycho redneck landlord's house. Worth a try, I suppose. Wish me luck.

Friday, July 15, 2005

When NOT to call 911.

This is something most people are taught in kindergarten, yet no one seems to be able to remember it. So, as a public service, I offer an elementary guide on when and when not to dial 911.

If someone is bleeding copiously, on fire, unconscious, or dead - CALL.
If someone just crashed into your house - CALL.
If someone has just driven past your house and shouted a rude word at you - DON'T CALL.
If your electricity has gone out - DON'T CALL. It's amazing how hard this is for some people to understand. What exactly do they think the police, EMTs, or firefighters are going to be able to do about their power being out? "Oh my god, we can't watch American Idol!!! Call 911, STAT!"

Moving on.

If you hear someone screaming, go ahead and CALL. But please try to tell us where the screaming is coming from!
If it's late at night and you're getting slaphappy from lack of sleep and you start to wonder if 911 really works - DON'T CALL. Trust me. It works. What, do you think Rescue911 was a sitcom?
If you're trying to program 911 into your speed dial, and then CALL to see if it's working - you're an idiot.
If it's 4 in the morning and you're drunk and you just watched Old Yeller and you're crying because the movie reminded you of a puppy you used to have until it was mauled to death in front of your very eyes by a rabid badger on a hunting trip when you were 7, and your wife just left you because you got fired from your job changing tires down at the truck stop and you can't afford to buy her acrylic nails and NASCAR commemoritive plates anymore and you just can't see any point in anything - CALL. We like to hear from people who have suckier lives than we do.

Yeah, I'm going to hell for that last remark.

If you just saw a guy sneaking into your neighbor's back yard and prying open a window - CALL NOW. There's no need to have a discussion with your wife, kids, in-laws, the mail carrier, and random passers-by as to whether they think that looks suspicious, and maybe somebody might need to check on that, and what do you think, Earline, d'ya think he might be up to somethin'? If you've waited an hour after seeing the guy leave with the neighbor's big screen TV, stereo, computer, and oldest daughter - CALL the NON-EMERGENCY NUMBER. Sheesh.

This next section is just for the kiddies.
If Mommy yelled at you for sneaking a cookie right before supper - DON'T CALL.
If Mommy smacked you over the head for sneaking a cookie - CALL.
If Daddy is lying on the floor and he won't wake up and he's making funny noises - CALL.
If Daddy is lying on Mommy and they're both awake and they're both making funny noises - DON'T CALL. Shut the door and go watch Spongebob.
If Brother is calling you names - DON'T CALL. Just kick him.
If Sister kicks you - DON'T CALL.

Of course, if you find yourself in a situation totally unlike anything I've outlined above, go ahead and CALL. We don't mind.

We'll just make fun of you after you hang up.

This message has not been brought to you by the NAEMD.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

People who don't like Harry Potter are godless barbarians who kick puppies.

Only three more days, hooray! I'm very excited. Whenever I mention how very excited I am, invariably there's some killjoy within earshot who snorts, "You read that stuff?"

Yes, Zippy, I do. I'm a sucker for a good book, and the Harry Potter books, overall, have been marvelous. Suck it up, buttercup; I don't rag on you for watching American Idol. Okay, I do, but not where you can hear me.

I want to know What Happens Next. I want to be there when Harry finally kicks Draco's smarmy little bony ass. I haven't jittered under this much anticipation since...well, since just before the last book came out. It's a different kind of excitement than Lord of the Rings excitement; I eagerly looked forward to each movie, of course, but I already knew how it was going to end, since I'd read the book like all good civilized people should. Who knows how Rowling is going to end the Harry Potter books?

I will be trotting down to the store promptly at midnight Friday, and I am fully prepared to gnaw a clerk's arm off if they don't get those books out on the floor on time. I will have it read by Saturday afternoon. (I read somewhere that the average American only reads 1 book a year. I'm fulfilling my quota along with about a hundred other people's.) Once I've finished it, I will more than likely go back and read it again, slower. A good book is like good sex. Rush through it once to get to the big finish, then go back and savour it slowly. Only there's no wet spot.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Where have all the good movies gone?

I watched I, Robot for the first time last night. Yes, I know I'm behind the times. I had to wait for it to come on cable, because I will not spend money to watch a movie unless it involves Hobbits, Student Wizards, Narnians, or Johnny Depp in some smokin' hot black eyeliner. I've been burned too many times at the theater to ever believe that Hollywood is capable of doing much of anything besides vomiting forth a never-ending parade of computer-effects laden dreck. Reign of Fire? Dragged to it by my husband. It blew chunks. Spiderman? Rented it. Hated it. Titanic? Never seen it, never will. I already know how it ends. Now if James Cameron had inserted a CGI giant squid that emerged from the inky depths and dragged a screeching Celine Deon down to a watery oblivion (along with Pretty-Boy Dicaprio and Kate Winslet and Cameron himself and the scriptwriter and the executive who greenlighted that whole crapfest and any other perpetrators it could grab with its six remaining arms) I might be able to watch it.

I was talking about I, Robot, wasn't I? The book was wonderful. The movie sucked muchly. I wonder why in the name of guacamole anyone would ever think that book would translate into a movie. The book covers the history of robotic development over several years, and in so doing explores the nature of thought and humanity. The movie covers Will Smith whuppin' ass over a couple of days. And stuff blows up. And there's a plot twist. The end.

How come it seems like every movie that comes out is nothing more than a bundle of cliches wrapped up in over-used CGI? (Yes, I know this contradicts what I said earlier about a CGI squid improving Titanic. Shut up.) Even when Hollywood manages to get its hands on a good imaginative idea, they corrupt the living hell out of it until it sucks. A Prayer For Owen Meany was an incredible book and had the potential to be an incredible movie. By the time they got done making Simon Birch out of it, they had horrificated it so much that John Irving, the book's author, refused to let them use any of the character's names from his book. I just made "horrificated" up. It's a good word.

I can't even trust myself to speak about the glut of end of the world movies that have been released on an unsuspecting world. Deep Impact? I was rooting for the comet.

Bring back the old movies! Bring back Bogie telling Bergman that they'll always have Paris. Bring back Gloria Swanson reminding herself that no one leaves a star - that's what makes one a star. Bring back Godzilla stomping Tokyo. Bring back talented actors and imaginative scripts and glorious sets that exist in reality and not just on a computer screen. I want to see a movie that makes me take a deep breath and smile at the end of it, instead of rolling my eyes and thanking Og I didn't pay money to see it. I want a movie that makes me imagine how the characters might continue on with their lives after the credits roll, not one that makes me imagine the actors lined up in front of a firing squad.

Come back, Cecil B. DeMille. Your country needs you.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Wanna see my brain?

Not literally. I'm not going to saw off the top of my skull and lift it out and take pictures and post them. That would be gross. And impossible, because if I lift my brain out of my head all fine motor skills would cease and I would no longer be able to use a camera or type.

No, what I was talking about was, wanna see an example of how my brain works? I'm used to it, but I seem to sometimes disturb the people that know me. I'll be sitting at work or in a room with my friends and I'll be interacting quite normally whilst and at the same time amusing myself mentally by spinning off improbable scenarios from something someone said. Then I'll start giggling. This disturbs people.

Want an example? You asked for it. I was at work, and one of my co-workers said something to the effect that we had absolutely no way of knowing who might get off the elevator any time the doors opened. So I started thinking, "What if?"
What if the doors opened and a naked man came out?
What if he had a goat with him?
What if he was wearing a cowboy hat?
What if he got off the elevator and started having hot monkey sex with the goat while waving his cowboy hat in the air and shouting, "YEEHAW!"?
How on earth would we dispatch that to our officers?

I laughed for a good 20 minutes, with tears rolling down my face, while my co-workers stared at me and whispered to each other behind their hands.

Lest you think I'm a whackadoo through and through, I don't do this often. And come on; haven't we all done something like this sometime?



I'll blame it on chronic lack of sleep, then. Of which I'm going to get another dose tonight, having been called in 4 hours early. Excuse me; I need to go find my happy place.


Oh, to hell with the happy place. Its effects are canceled out by the soul-sucking anti-happy place that employs me. I saw my boss's boss the other day. I was very proud of myself; I didn't kick the son of a bitch in the shins on my way by.

See how my brain works? I went from self-inflicted partial decapitation to hot cowboy-on-goat action to sleep deprivation to transcendental meditation to fantasies about kicking the boss in the space of about 20 minutes.

No wonder I'm so tired all the time.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Come to me, my children of the night

I am one of the world's night shift workers. While most of middle America is tucked snugly away in bed, dreaming of sugarplums and faerie cakes and Vegas whores, I'm slaving away answering phones at the local emergency dispatch center. Which is a pretty cool job, and working nights has its benefits (no suits looking over my shoulder, for starters), but the kind of people who are up at 4:00 AM (besides me) are just plain weird.

Let's start with the people who need to know the status of their gun permit application RIGHT NOW. First of all, that's not my department, so I don't know the status of your gun permit. Second of all, what kind of dark and sinister activity are you planning that requires you to be in possession of a legally registered handgun at 4 in the morning? I know where you live, pal.

We also have the Acute Hearers. These are the ones that call in the middle of the night to report that they heard a noise.
"What did it sound like?" I'll ask.
"I dunno, it was just a noise," they'll reply.
"Could you tell where it was coming from?"
"I dunno, outside somewhere."
"Was it someone knocking, or a car, or a voice, or what?"
"I dunno, it was a noise; it woke me up."
"Alright, Zippy, can you identify this noise??" bangbangbang
" it your head hitting the desk over and over?"

Okay, that last bit never happens.

We have three subsets of drunks.
1) Gregarious drunks. "Hey, darlin', sweetie, d'ya know if that one ocifer, whassisface, ya know the one 'm talkin' about, sugar, can he come see me?"
2) Angry drunks. "I'm out here at th' bar and this sumbitch looked at me and if'n you don't get someone down here right &^%*$%^ now I'm gonna &*%^$#@ kill him!"
3) Stupid drunks. These may or may not also be Gregarious or Angry. "Um, yeah, I'm inna parkin' lot and my engine's runnin' and everything but I can't get the car to move."

We do occasionally hear from Stoners, but not often, because usually by the time we've answered the phone they've forgotten why they called so they hang up.

Sometimes we hear from the People Who Need To Do Something About Their Insomnia And Get Some Sleep Instead Of Sitting Up All Night Thinking Of Weirdness. Granted, I sit up all night Thinking of Weirdness, but I get paid to do it. These people will call at the oddest times to ask hypothetical questions, i.e. if a Peeping Tom falls off his ladder and breaks his leg, can he sue me for having unstable ground under my window? What if I have a clearly visible No Trespassing sign posted? If the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars, can I shoot the dirty hippie that's climbing my maple tree out back? (The answers, by the way, are yes, yes, and no.)

My fellow vampires - the C-store workers, the paper deliverers, the fast-food folks - have periodic bouts of extreme paranoia, during which everything and everyone they see qualifies as Suspicious and rates a call to 911.
"911, what's your emergency?"
"There's this really bright light in the sky, next to the moon, you might want to see if someone can check it out."
Sure thing, Sparky, I'll have my officers fire the Space Shuttle right up. "That's Jupiter, sir."

And then you have the Crazy People. Folklore tells us that Crazy People are affected by the moon; a full moon means people get Crazier. This implies that Crazy People come out at night. I don't know if I entirely believe this; I tend to think they're out in the daytime, too, but they get lost in the crowds, and it's only after everyone else goes to sleep and they get some breathing room that they relax and let it all hang out. Thus, I end up getting a phone call at 2 AM from Jehovah Jiwhad, Bright Morning Star, Keeper and Redeemer of the Wine Press, who wanted to let us know he was back from Hell. Then he hung up before I could ask him to send me some wine. I really wanted to try some, too. I bet it was some gooooood stuff.

I'm not claiming to be normal. I've worked a graveyard shift for four years now. Recently I've noticed that if I spend any time in the sun, I break out in an itchy rash. No way is that normal. One sunny snowy morning I walked out of the building and upon being accosted by bright white sunbeams bouncing off of bright white snow and burrowing sharp shards of sunshiney pain into my eyeballs, I threw my arms up and cowered back like Nosferatu being confronted by a crucifix-wielding Pope. That yellow face burnsss, yes it does, precious. BUT. I'm not armed (yet), I'm not drunk (right now), I don't scramble to dial 911 whenever a mouse farts in the attic (and if I did, I'd at least be able to tell the dispatcher that the noise came from the attic), I know the difference between planets and hostile aliens bent on world destruction (planets don't stick probes up my ass), and I'm not crazy. Much.

The Children of the Night are a unique bunch, out roaming around while the rest of you are asleep (unconscious, unalert) in your beds.

Pleasant dreams.

My very first post in my very first blog...

I'm so excited I'm almost wetting myself.

Not really. I haven't wet myself in ages. Years. It's true.

Shall I talk about myself a little bit? Is that how these things work? Well, let's see. I once shot a man in Reno just to watch him die. Not really. Excuse me while I go have a stern word with myself.

Ahem. I'm female, caucasian, early 30s, brown hair, blue eyes, 5'4", 165lbs, and in case you didn't already figure it out I work in law enforcement. Dispatch, to be precise. 911, people screaming, all that good stuff. I dispatch ambulances and fire trucks, too, but they're not usually interested in suspect descriptions. I'm also the proud owner of 2 zebra finches, a husband, 2 children, 2 betta fishies, and a Pontiac. In no particular order.

Hobbies? Oh, yes. Bellydance, cross-stitch, books (currently I'm studying Germanic and Norse lore, but I'm also a HUGE Terry Pratchett fan, and I will certainly be one of those schmucks camped out at the bookstore [Wal-Mart, actually, but they sell books so they still count] when 12:01 AM July 16 rolls around), cooking, knitting. I like learning new things. I don't always stick with them once I've got'em learned, but that's my problem, so there.

Well, I suppose that's enough for my first day. Don't want to over do it, you know; that could cause cramp. Bear with me and I shall wax clever and witty and pithy and wise from the sun's rising to the sun's setting. Or at least I'll learn to put pretty colors and stuff on this thing.