Jeremiah's School of Levitation


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Fiddle-aholics Unite

Hello. My name is Jeremiah. I am a fiddle-aholic. No, I don't have a tabloid-ious relationship with the countrified violin-ic instrument. No. I'm a fiddle-aholic because I love to fiddle with things. You see, I cannot imagine, ponder, intellectualize, or cipher properly unless my hands are occupied with fiddling up something.

This is a "problem" I've had since I was 8. I used to love rubber bands. Not to shoot at The Mighty Poop Butt, aka, my little brother, but rather just to shake as I walked around. I would shake rubber bands like they had a thousand volts going through them. I'd walk around, sometimes talking to myself and all the time living in my head, and I'd be shaking that rubber band, whacking it up against walls and furniture, like it was a snake's forked tongue, flickering, taste-smelling its surroundings. My dad thought I was probably going to need medicine.

And, it couldn't just be any old rubber band. It had to have that "swing". To determine if a band had that swing, I'd give it a few test shakes to test its whippiness. Then, I'd weigh it in my palm to test the gravity of its imaginative powers. Then, I'd rub its width betwixt muh thumb and forefinger, to test its potential strength and durability.

If it failed ANY of these rigorous tests, then back in the drawer, back on the ground, back around whatever it was intended to bind, it would go. I would only fiddle with the best rubber bands. In case you're wondering, the best ones were green, just large enough to hang slightly loosely around my wrist, were firm like a tendon, and were of medium thickness. Yeah.

Nowadays, I have various fiddle-oids (as I call them). I've got those Chinese ding-a-ling balls, pens, marbles, hematite stones, mechanical pencils, my nose, my headphone chord, my hair, my glass yin-yang necklace, a closed book--heck, I find new stuff all the time.

My favorite, though, is my mini-slinky (see photos below). I constantly whip, whirl, bounce, and fondle that thing. I roll its thin, cool springs across my lips. I stick my fingers in its coils and then I spin it. I extend it and retract it dozens of times in a row. I hang it out of the car window. I swing it as I walk. I basically work that thing until, one day, I extend it exuberantly, and, with a sickening twang, it doubles back on its own spiral and, in that instant, it goes from an elegant, tight, and perfect spring, to a jangled jungle of twisted metal that now resembles a bowl of silver-plated vermicelli. The sight never fails to twiggle my belly-bone in horror.

So, then, on the way home from work, I have to stop at the math store to get a new mini-slinky. The math store is this place that sells math-oriented toys and games, which, is apparently the genre of slinkies. The lady who works there knows me now. She grins knowingly when she sees me walk in.

"You sprung another one?" she said the last time.

I shrugged and smiled back.

"Well, it's cheaper than therapy," she said.

Which, I suppose gets right to the heart of the matter.

I'm Jeremiah. I'm a fiddle-aholic. And, consequently, I can keep my head together. Daily.

My mini-slinky.

My mini-slinky slinkin'
Jeremiah, 12:40 AM | link | 8 Hit the roof |

Monday, June 25, 2007

Crushed Spirit

So, Mona put forth the Friday word as "crush" and I'm just getting around to writing about it. Okay, fine, I'm not writing about it, but actually pulling some pre-written writings from my journal (like dry gum from underneath my third grade desk). I did this because when I saw the word, I was reminded of my "oh, pity me" writings that I stick in the corners of my notebooks. Those writings always start out lamenting my crushed spirit, and they end up cracking me up because they are so maudlin because, as of this moment, knock upon my wooden head, I am far short of tragedy and these writings more represent a person looking for the origin of pity than they represent someone "in trouble." In perspective, my despair runs much deeper than words--some fundamental things are going to have to change to make me bust out the ballet slippers, but, as it stands, I've got a fairly happy life and, my pants from seven years ago STILL FIT! So, hey, after roughly 3,000 pieces of bacon (I ain't kidding), I'm still not adding new cracks to the sidewalk. Good! Bring on more bacon!

So, in honor of being crushed, I offer two bits of lamentation that went awry:

Coat of Bricks

I wore this coat of bricks, for days and years, sunset to sunset. Bricks is itchy, bricks scratch your skin, and bricks bite like tiny alligators with brick teeth. When I walked in my coat of bricks, I made an awful noise, like crunching and chunking and I had to cover my own ears so that I couldn't hear myself bricking around. I smelled the rocky dust of bricks all the time. When I smiled, which was rare, my teeth were red with brick dust and my tongue was sprinkled with the stuff. I chewed and swallowed the deserved grit.

I rested often, but you see, you don't really rest when you are covered with bricks. You don't really rest. It gets heavy to rest, and it hurts. So, after a while, I'd get up and start bricking my way around again. The only time I slept was when I passed out from fatigue and pain. When I passed out, I dreamed of floating. Actually, even when awake, I dreamed of floating. Floating free of bricks.

Some Nature

Crush the flowers and smell between your fingers. Smear yourself with nature's perfume, but be careful, because as the fragrance rises, so may the hives on your skin! Ha! Don't get too poetic in the woods. Don't sit and ponder until you check around your pondering space to make sure that there aren't marauding mandibles ready to rip into your skin! And, ah, the crinkling sound of the rushing stream. Go there and admire it, but know that swarms of mosquitoes are primed to painfully rob you of your blood, one drop at a time! Or, if the waters are inviting, you way want to wade in, but be all aware of sneaky currents and hypothermia, because, if this is a mountain stream, then that's possibly freshly melted snow, colder than hate! Ahhhh! Or, is it AAAAAAAH!
Jeremiah, 11:27 PM | link | 5 Hit the roof |

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Subway Revelation

So, my youngest and I went to Subway the other day, only because he asked VERY nicely. I don't like Subway and will only eat there if it's the closest place between me and passing out from hunger. To retool a Simpson's quote from a starving kid: "I'm so hungry, I could eat at SUBWAY!" I think of their menu like I think of their wearisome spokesperson Jared--they have all the appeal of wet socks (I'm glad you lost all the weight, Jared, but it looks like you need to fatten up on charisma there).

Anyway, we go in, and as I'm looking at the wretched menu, my son goes up to the prep lady and says "On a six-inch wheat bun, I'll take four slices of pepperoni, four slices of salami, sprinkled cheese, mayo, two slices of bacon, lettuce, and vinegar. Please."

I looked at him aghast, then I looked back at the menu.

"What's THAT? That's not on the menu!" I said.

He shrugged and gave me the "oh you silly old ancient dude" look.

"It's my own creation," he said. "You like it?"

I frowned and looked at him. "You can DO that? You can just order what you want here?"

He shrugged again and gave me the "ok, now you're scaring me" look.

"Of course!" he said.

I looked at the prep lady. "Of course," her look said.

I suppose that's a DUH! on my part because all the ingredients of a potentially good sandwich are all spread out before you. But, see, I've lived my life as a well-trained patron of fast food establishments. I grew up, sheltered lad that I was, being whooped into thinking that the menu is LAW at fast food joints.

You don't just sashay into McDonalds', all independent thinking and all, and say something like "Okay, I'll take a Big Mac, but I want four patties, and could you leave off the special sauce and instead put tartar sauce in there? And, a strip of bacon too, please." You'd get anything ranging from a catatonic stare to a "Boy, you ain't at home! You bettah snap out of it!" look.

Sure, Burger King did the "Have it Your Way" campaign which wasn't exactly an invitation to really customize your burger beyond requesting what NOT to put on it from the list of regular ingredients. So, it was more like a "Have it Your Way As Long As Your Way Doesn't Take Us Out of OUR Way" campaign.

Otherwise, I've been dutifully ordering from the menu at the fast food places, feeling all safe and yet subliminally oppressed and untrusted with my own desires. My soul was being dragged over hot glass shards, and I didn't even know it.

Then, along comes The Subway Revelation--You don't need to be shackled to Subway's challenged menu! Go ahead, order that bacon and pepperoncini and jalapeno sandwich, on half wheat, half garlic, slathered with mayo mixed with seafood, but just the pink krab bits! Yeah!

As my son happily munched his sandwich (which, by the way, was great), I embraced a new, fresh opinion of Subway and I walked from its gleaming doors, my face a-smile with that "I learnt something up today" look.

However, I still have a problem with Jared. Maybe I can request that he do a commercial where, in the middle of some bland blah blah, he has a sudden relapse and he starts building this Dagwood Bumstead sandwich and then holds it up to the camera, meat falling off of it like autumn leaves, and laughs maniacally and shoves it in his mouth as he runs from the director. "Revelation!" he screams, over olives jetting from his mouth. "REEVVVVVVVA-LATION!"


Jeremiah, 9:18 AM | link | 13 Hit the roof |

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Jeremiahisms, Part 1

Though I've posted audio entries before, I don't think that any of you have ever actually spoken to me (though, the Turtle Guy has messaged me, which, in this modren world, is actually pretty close to the same thing as real conversation, including the lack of punctuation marks). I say "I don't think" because, it's possible that I've run into Meno or Maggie or even Emma during my retail employee days on a popular street in a popular store in the Emerald City. I know for a fact that one of Maggie's favorite bookstores was right around the corner from where I worked, and that store's owner visited my work often, and I visited her store even oftener. So, I bet I passed you Maggie, underneath those bubbles.

Anyway, since I've probably not spoken to you, you likely don't know that I have several dozen "Jeremiahisms" that I spout, that are not necessarily original, but they do pepper my conversation and distinguish me a bit. I thought I'd share a few with you, since you don't get to hear them live. Who knows? One day you'll be on a bus talking to this weirdo and he'll say one of these things and you'll suddenly exclaim: "Jeremiah! Why, YOU'RE Jeremiah! Wow. I always imagined you to be taller. And with more teeth..."

What I say: "Cah, ya know…"
What it means: A slurred version of "Because, you know…"
Where I got it from: Bob Marley said it in an interview.
Why it stuck: It's beautifully redolent of the loose lifestyle and leisurely sounds of the Caribbean.
Used in conversation: "I won't be moving soon, cah, ya know, I'm pretty comfortable right here with my wine."

What I say: "Yes, I!"
What it means: "You better believe it!" or "I whole-heartedly agree!"
Where I got it from: Jamaican slang--usually Rastafarian
Why it stuck: Great, exuberant way to relay my satisfaction that something really hits me personally.
Used in conversation: You say: "Hey, Jeremiah. You look pretty relaxed there." I say: "Yes, I!"

What I say: "You can smell it all over Manhattan."
What it means: "This situation/odor/attitude/idea stinks."
Where I got it from: The Rolling Stones tune "Shattered."
Why it stuck: Very well describes how bad something stinks, either odorously, or onerously.
Used in conversation: "That was a bad meeting. I could smell it all over Manhattan."

What I say: "Well, as they say in [fill in the blank with a random locale], [fill in the blank with a mundane saying]. For example, "Well, as they say in Las Vegas, 'See you later!'" or "As they say in Philadelphia, 'Let's go.'"
What it means: It's a play on people who like to quote local wisdom to seem, I don't know, homespun or worldly, or whatever.
Where I got it from: I think I made it up...the parody part of it, I mean.
Why it stuck: It makes me laugh to mistakenly assign a popular saying to a particular locale where it likely didn't come from and is likely not particular to. And, it puzzles people. They either look at me like I have my facts seriously mixed up, or they look at me like they're actually wondering if the phrase "See you later" really once was particular to Las Vegas.
Used in conversation: Well, I think you get the point. So, like they say in South Dakota, "I'll drop the subject."

What I say: "Pretty decent, I must say!"
What it means: It's my stock response to "How are you doing today?" whenever a cashier or clerk asks me.
Where I got it from: Martin Short's Ed Grimley character, who used to say this when he was asked how he was doing.
Why it stuck: When said in a jolly tone, with a goofy waggle of the head (just like Ed Grimley used to do), it's funny, and it is the last thing people expect to come out of me. Also, it breaks the monotony of saying "I'm okay, and you?"
Used in conversation: As described above. Sometimes, I add an extra "I must say!" for effect, I must say.
Jeremiah, 5:58 AM | link | 9 Hit the roof |

Monday, June 11, 2007

Daddy Funny

It's always fun when I unintentionally crack my 9 year-old son up, at least when whatever I did to crack him up didn't involve me needing medical attention afterwards ("Daddy! Step on that rake again! That was sooo funny!")

No, this time, we were in the mall Macy's, looking for a restroom. Now, I'm not usually ever in Macy's unless either going through it is the shortest route to the parking lot, or I have a bathroom emergency and every other mall restroom is way over in outer sectors and the next shuttle isn't coming for six minutes.

I have a hard time with Macy's or any other giant, pricey department store. I always go into a sneezing fit when I go into those places because, somehow, I always manage to enter the perfume section first. The subsequent Clash de Parfum is like a cross fire of tiny flaming arrows and they all manage to lodge themselves in my tender nostril walls, thereby, they almost immediately throw me into paroxyms of sneezing that make me lurch through the store like a spooked chicken, thrust forward by the momentum of my ah-choos.

It happened again on this day with my son, but we both had to go bad, so we pushed on. I saw a sign that said Restroom and we followed its lead. We went down a hall, turned left, went down another hall, turned right, went down ANOTHER this time, I was thinking I may have to start thinking of running...and we went down YET ANOTHER hall where, just as I was about to break into a sprint, there was the Men's room door, finally.

When I got there, my son right behind me, I shoved open the door and exclaimed "Man, finding this bathroom was like going on the journey for the Holy Grail!"

Okay, mildly amusing line, at best, I thought, and definitely not something I'd expect a 9 year-old to get--I was generally just entertaining myself out loud. However, my son erupted in laughter on the spot.

"HOLY GRAIL! That's funny, Daddy! Holy Grail!" and he literally bent over laughing. "Oh my God! What made you say THAT!"

Frankly, I was puzzled how he got that, but I laughed along with him, mostly because he was so genuinely gleed out.

We left the bathroom, and he was still laughing. We walked to the car and he kept sporatically cracking up and saying "Holy Grail!"

Finally, we got in the car and he wiped his tears and, still giggling, he said "Daddy, what's a 'grail'?"

Now it was my turn to laugh. Turns out he had no idea what I was referring to. He just liked the sound of the words "holy grail". And, when I thought about it, "grail" actually is a funny word.

But, I wasn't done being clever yet, apparently. I told him, "Well, a grail is like a chalice, a, um bowl..."

"A bowl?" he said, grinning again. "Like a toilet bowl? I get it!" And that set him off again. So, in essence I made a reference to something I didn't even know I was making a reference to, and yet managed to somehow be both accurate and funny. In other words, I pulled humor (or "kid humor") out of thin air.

So, we both laughed and then, at some point changed the subject.

Later that night, as I was putting him to bed, he giggled a little and said "Holy grail. Geesh!"

Hmm. A comedian for kids. Maybe that's my next career....


Jeremiah, 9:09 AM | link | 4 Hit the roof |

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Goodbye, Catnip

Someone killed Catnip, our one year-old cat, last week. Someone ran over her and kept running, even though I'm sure they knew they hit a cat and, not only that, hit a cat with a bright pink collar, a magenta bell around her neck, and a metallic red heart-shaped ID tag with her name and my name on it. But, we got no call. I shouldn't expect anyone to stand up and be held accountable. Hell, people hit humans on the street and keep going. There's a world full of humans who are out of touch with humanity.

It happened within a period of five minutes of her being alive and cavorting on our bird feeder in the back yard, to me spotting her in the street as I returned from a brief visit to a friend's house up the block. I'll bet it happened, literally, when I turned my back.

She wasn't crushed, but her face was no longer gentle. t wore a mask of a violent, sudden encounter. My kids and wife were still at my friend's house, so the first thing I did was call her and tell her the news. I think her reaction spread to the kids pretty quickly and they began wailing almost immediately.

I then rushed outside and put Catnip in a bag. I covered the top of it just as my youngest came running down the street. He was hysterical, and he begged to see his cat, but I told him that we were going to remember her the way she was and not look at her again. I knew full well that I had successfully protected them from the sight, but because I was the one who came upon her still bleeding body, I knew I was never going to remember her the way she was again. I hate that image of her in the street and I wish I could erase it.

Catnip was an unusual cat. See, I don't usually like cats. They slink around too much for me. They dart and they scratch. They carry an air of arrogance that hits me like a bad smell. However, Catnip wasn't like that. She followed us everywhere. She slept with the boys. She never darted or cowered under couches or away from company. She was as personable as a dog, frankly, and I grew attached to her. Two days before someone killed her, I told her, "Hey Kitty. You a cool kitty." (I talk to animals in a combination of baby-talk and ebonics. Ba-bonics.)

The next few days we spent consoling the boys. They cried frequently and we recounted many of Catnip's friskier moments. Then, we buried Catnip in the back, complete with makeshift tombstone, candlelit funeral, and a poem that a very soulful friend of mine turned me on to. When I read it in the sterility of my email box, I thought it to be a bit maudlin. But, as I stood over Catnip and read it, well, I "got something in my eye." Here it is:


Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there.
I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow;
I am the diamond glints on snow;
I am the sunlight on ripened grain;
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush of quietbirds in circled flight;
I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand by my grave and cry;
I am not there,
I did not die.

- Anonymous

Goodbye, Catnip. See you everywhere.


Jeremiah, 9:59 AM | link | 6 Hit the roof |