Monday, January 27, 2014

Baby, You Can Park My Car

I love my job.  No. . .seriously. . .this is not some "Holy tap dancing Jesus, I pray to Allah that my boss never reads this but just in case I'd better keep my ass more covered than a Muslim woman during 'courtin' season" kind of claim; I legitimately L-O-V-E my job.*

*And not just because it allows me a much-needed respite from the short people, although that is an added perk.

While the work I do is interesting, and fun, and rewarding, it is not without a singular drawback: parking in downtown Portland sucks worse than an Amish whore.  I know, I know, I live in the most eco-friendly city on the planet so why don't I ride my bike, take the bus, ride the light rail, blah, blah, blah.  First of all, the light rail doesn't extend into my 'hood so that's not an option.  Secondly, it rains nine months out of the year here so peddling 10 miles to work and showing up with mud on my pumps and hair that looks like a cat's ass?  Ain't gonna happen, Sister.  And (c). . .

*Wait.  Were we doing A-B-C or 1-2-3 or ?  I forget.  But know you probably all have that Jackson Five song stuck in your heads.  You're welcome.  :)

. . .there is the bus.  And if you think I'm the type of person who enjoys spending quality time nose-to-nuts with the unwashed masses then you obviously haven't been paying attention.  So, every day, I jump in my hoopty-hoopty-hoop and meander my way to the Star Park lot outside of my office where I tithe my daily offering to the parking gods.  Most days this conspires without event, but last month there was a glitch in the Matrix and I was forced to unleash the Krakken on the powers that be.  Allow me to elucidate. . .

I exited my vehicle to buy my daily pass to find that the machine was (as it is oft to be) broken.  So, I left a note on the dash, went on my merry way, and emerged at 5:00pm to find a ticket charging me with daily parking fees and DA FUQ!?!? A thirty-nine dollar charge for not having a pass.  Below, you will find the correspondence that ensued after Ticket Gate 2013.

To whom it may concern,

On ______ I parked my car in the _______ Star Park lot and noted that the machine was (once again) broken.  As this is not an uncommon occurrence, I did what I always do: left a note saying "Machine Offline" on my dash with the time, date, and my office number.  In the past, my forthright behavior has been rewarded buy either being billed for daily parking or getting a freebie (my preferred response).  However, on that day I was aghast; yes, I said AGHAST, to see that you had not only charged me the $10 daily parking fee but an additional $39 fee for not having a ticket. . .a ticket I could only get from the machine. . .which was not working.  See where I'm going here?  Enclosed you will find a check for my $10 parking fee but I refuse to pay $39 for faulty equipment that was out of my control.  Thank you, and have a pleasant day.



Dear Ms. XXXXXX,

Thank you for your timely payment of $10; however we require that you pay the $39 fee as well as your car did not have a pass clearly displayed on the dash.  Please pay the $39 at your earliest convenience.  Thank you.

Jason XXXX, STAR Park

Dear Jason,

I appreciate you're just doing your job, but I ask you: how am I to display a pass that doesn't exist as it was incapable of emerging from your machine?  Is this one of those Zen 'sound of one hand clapping' things? Because if so, I'll gladly seek counsel from the Philosophy department.



You cannot simply decide to not pay a fine levied against you.  We require that you send the $39 as soon as possible.



Ah, but there you are mistaken.  Of course I can decide to not pay the fine as I am a human being with free will; especially when the fine in question is clearly a steaming pile of horseshit.



I do not appreciate the profanity and will be expecting the $39 by Friday or a late fee will be incurred.



I'd love to send you the $39 but sadly the ATM is broken and I can't get the money out.  SEE WHAT I DID THERE!?!?



If the fine is not paid we have the ability to levy further fines.  We also have the ability to take you to court.  We have attorneys.  We have a tow truck.



I have a Hulk.



Your attempts to be glib and witty are falling on deaf ears.  You will pay the fine and I will be forwarding these messages to my supervisor.



You sweet, sweet man.  Do you truly believe that by DEMANDING I pay the fine I shall teeter over there fluttering my eyelashes and opening my wallet? Obviously you don't realize that the quickest way to stop me from doing something is to DEMAND that I do it.  There is nothing passive about my aggression.



Are you done yet?



Not even close, BUD!


Dear Miss XXXXXX,

My name is Robert XXXXX and I am the manager of the _____ Star Park lot.  My employee Jason has forwarded your correspondences to me in the hopes that I could rectify the situation.  After reading through and seeing your frustration with our machine I came to the following conclusions:

1)  You are an incredibly stubborn and passionate woman.

2)  Quoting The Avengers and The Breakfast Club was pretty badass.

3)  Jason is a tool.

Enclosed you will find a refund of your daily $10 parking fee.  I think you've earned it.  


Robert XXXXX, STAR Park.

Check and mate, bitches.  Check.  And.  Mate.



Monday, January 20, 2014

Stupidest Crap Ever Spoken By Me And My Friends: The Hits Just Keep On Coming...

WOMAN #1:  Before I get into a relationship I like to see how he treats his mom.
WOMAN #2:  Or his wife.
WOMAN #1:  Oh, yeah.  That's TOTALLY important!

KELLY:  If children really are a gift from God then I'm totally fine with the whole regifting thing.

BRANDON:  I know I'm getting old when I watch porn and all I can think is 'Damn, that mattress has no back support'.

ALEX:  Do you ever read certain words that technically sound the same but you read them differently?  Like when I read "threw" and "through" they sound totally different in my head.
ME:  No, but any time I read something I hear James Earl Jones narrating it.
ALEX:  That's rad.
ME:  Unless it's a female author.
ALEX:  Then who do you hear?
ME:  Allison Janney.
ALEX:  Oh, well. . .naturally.

GINA:  Why are girls in tampon commercials always laughing and dancing when they have their period?  Shouldn't they be eating Ben & Jerry's and berating their husbands?

LITTLE BOY AT MALL:  Daddy?  You know what would be really good to eat?
DAD:  What?
LITTLE BOY:  Babies.
DAD:  . . .
LITTLE BOY:  Because they'd be juicy and soft.
ME:  It puts the lotion in the basket or it gets the hose again.
DAD:  I'm totally fucked, aren't I?

KELLY:  Having Jennifer Lopez judge singers on "American Idol" is like having Taylor Swift give relationship advice on "Dr. Phil".

BRANDON:  How much coffee have you had today?

ME:  Let's put it this way:  I can hear colors.
BRANDON:  What does my shirt sound like?
ME:  Smooth jazz and misogyny.

GEORGE:  What do you think deaf girls say when they're fighting?  "Oh, no, you did NOT just sign that about my momma!"
ME:  "Bitch, you had BEST keep my name out yo' hands!"

MY SON J:  Hey, Mommy!  Guess what I just learned!  Do you know what you get when two black holes collide in space and create a vacuum?
ME:  The perfect place for a Coldplay concert?

KELLY:  You know, a vegetarian diet is SO much better for you.
LUKE:  I dunno.  Judging by my burger, I'd say a vegetarian diet didn't help this cow any.
KELLY:  My food is natural and fully sustainable.
LUKE:  Yeah, well my food eats your food and then shits on it.  
KELLY:  Touche.

ME:  I want to create an entire series of Disney Princesses gone 'hood.  I imagine the 'Frozen' sisters selling "ice".
NOA:  And Rapunzel gets a weave.
ME:  Sleeping Beauty takes a dirty needle in the crackhouse.
NOA:  Mulan starts a gang war.
ME:  Snow White and her seven baby daddies.
NOA:  Cinderella gettin' her ass beat 'cuz she didn't listen to her mama.
ME:  Ariel trading her tail for cash on 82nd and Burnside.
NOA:  Belle as Edward James Olmos in "Stand And Deliver"; just because I want to see a candelabra doing calculus.
ME:  Lumiere would kick much ass at calc.  Chip is strictly in remedial math due to his traumatic brain injury.
NOA:  Would they be breaking to "Tale As Old As Time"?
ME:  They'd be poppin' and lockin' their provincial lives away, fo sho.

KELLY:  Why does Pitbull always have to yell his name at the beginning of every song?
GINA:  So that you have ample warning to change the station.

ALEX:  What would your last meal be if you were on Death Row?
GINA:  Probably my mom's okonomiyaki.  How about you, B?
BRANDON:  The McRib.
ALEX:  Seriously?
BRANDON:  Yeah, but only in March.
GINA:  Why?
BRANDON:  Because they discontinue it in February, so if I ask for one in March, Bam!  I just bought myself six more months.
ALEX:  That's either genius or the dumbest thing you've ever said.
BRANDON:  Those lines are easily blurred.

ME:  Did you hear that actress from 'Legally Blonde', Reese. . .what's her name?. . .got stabbed to death?
GINA:  Witherspoon?!?!
ME:  No, with a knife.
GINA:  . . .
ME:  Oh, c'mon, that was awesome!
GINA:  You're dead to me.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

My Father's Hands

I received an email from my father the other day.  Normally, this is not such a rare event that it bears mentioning; in fact email is my father's preferred method of communication as he'd rather lick the keypad at a WalMart ATM than have a lengthy conversation with. . .well, anyone.  But this one was different.  It was less of an email and more of an admission and an acceptance.

"Dear Jennifer,"  it began.  "Please excuse the emailed thank you note for your Christmas gift as I know those are considered impolite.  I tried to write you a thank you note but it was illegible. . ."

This email was difficult for my father to write, of that I am sure.  First of all, he is a man of the greatest propriety and to not follow the proper etiquette vis-a-vis thank you cards is troubling to him.  And secondly, he had to openly admit to his child that he was incapable of performing a basic task because of the Parkinson's Disease that is slowly ravaging his body.

Dad started having mild hand shakes around the time I was in high school.  "Familial Tremors" the doctor called them.  Basically, a warehouse term for "You're one shaky dude but we don't really know why".  My grandmother had had tremulous hands as well, so we really didn't think much of it.  As time passed, dad's shaking hands grew worse, but much to his glee, he found that a martini in the evening tended to settle them down.  Of course, being a member of my family, Dad joked about his tremors, holding out his shaking hands and saying "I should have been a gynecologist.  I'd be the most popular one in town!"*

*The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, y'all.

A few years ago, my father's shaking hands became uncontrollable.  He began dropping things, his handwriting was erratic, and worst of all (to him) his golf game began to suffer.*

*My dad loves him some golf.  My mom tried to learn twice in the past and both times she took lessons she got pregnant.  Dad thinks it had something to do with her grip.

He was finally diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease; a condition also suffered by a family friend, Jay, the father of my sister's closest friend.  Jay had recently had a revolutionary surgery where small electrodes were attached to his brain and activated by a small "power pack" and when my father saw how well Jay reacted to the surgery, he immediately signed on to be the next subject of this experimental trial.

Have you ever tried to explain medical procedures to a child without freaking them out?  Yeah.  My son M. lost his  damned mind when I had mono, so explaining that his beloved "Poppo" would not be able to go to Cub Scouts that week because he was having electrodes implanted in his brain went about as well as could be expected.  After I convinced one hysterical short person that they were not, in fact, "electrocuting Poppo's brain", and sternly told the other, more morbid, short person that no, he could not "watch them cut Poppo's brain open" I felt they were adequately prepared for my dad's transformation.

Dad's surgery was a success. For several weeks he had long bald patches in the front of his scalp (think Jack Nicholson in 'Witches of Eastwick') and there were two, small, visible extrusions where the electrodes had been embedded.  From then on, it was like he was a different man.  The shakes, the tremors, the erratic motions -- gone.  Once again my father was back on the golf course with a spring in his step and an unspilled drink in his hand.  The surgery worked!

Until. . .it didn't.

A few months ago, the shakes came back.  They tried adjusting his power pack, they discussed medications, but ultimately, the Parkinson's Disease was stronger than the technology.  Ultimately, there was no way to fight it.

My dad is still able to golf.  He can still carry most things using two hands.  But lately. . .lately, I've noticed little things.  His thumb twitches in a way I've never seen.  There is just the slightest sway in his gait.  And every so often there is a gentle slur in his speech; not discernible to anyone else I'm sure, but to a daughter who knows him like I know my own heart, I can see it.  It is there.

Recently, a college friend lost her father when, affected by his Parkinson's, he fell down the stairs and suffered a fatal head injury.*

*You were a great man, Gary.  This planet is better for you having been in it.

And just yesterday, a friend of mine attended a memorial service for a 56-year-old father of three who died of ALS.  All around me I see men and women being slowly torn apart my degenerative diseases and it terrifies me.  These were both good men.  Strong men.  Men who loved their wives and children and worked hard and made a difference in the world.  But Parkinson's doesn't care about that.  ALS doesn't care about that.  Neither one of these conditions give a rat's ass that there are people on this planet that need their husbands. . .and fathers. . .and friends.  And I do.  I need my dad.  I don't care if I'm 43 and a parent and have a good job and am all grown up and shit. . .I want my daddy.

My father is pretty philosophical about his Parkinson's. . .*

*Actually, my father is pretty philosophical about everything.  That's just how he rolls.

He basically has a "well, everything will keep working until it stops working and then there you have it" mentality which, in honesty, is not a bad philosophy for life in general.  But I know it bothers him.  I saw how frustrated he was when he was unable to carry the popcorn when we went to the movies.  I see that look of disappointment on his stoic face when the water he is pouring splashes onto the table top.  I feel the resignation in his email, and the regret that he can no longer present his daughter with a handwritten note.  But that's OK.  What he doesn't know. . .what I hope he now knows. . .is that I've saved every card, letter, and note from both of my parents throughout my life.  I look at those missives, written in my father's strong, steady hand, and I realize that although it will be nice to have those notes to show my children later on, I don't really need them.  Because I don't need a clearly scribed letter to see my father's strength and stability.  I see it in his eyes each and every time my family is together.  Parkinson's may eventually chip away at his body, but it will never touch his heart, or his gentle spirit.

I love you, Daddy.  You will always be the strongest man I know.