All Hallow’s Eve

tree daylightkatespooky tree

I WENT TO A HALLOWEEN PARTY FOR THE FIRST TIME IN FOREVER.

Adriana was nice enough to invite me to a Halloween party some of her D&D friends were having, and I don’t know if it’s the compulsory Dungeons and Dragons attention to detail, or to my disappointment that people my age can have their shit together, but the hosts were so lovely and their house was so nice and they rolled out every festive decoration imaginable. Fake cobwebs, caramel apple cider punch and infused water in those glass dispenser things I had tried to convince myself no one was classy enough to actually use, plastic spider rings, an entire table full of food including homemade skull pizza pockets and homemade skull cakes with the frosting somehow inside, meatballs maintaining perfect temperature in a little crock pot, black cat shaped paper plates…

It was rejuvenating. I don’t know if that is keeping with the symbolism of Halloween or the actual reverse of the symbolism of Halloween. I know there’s some paying respects to the dead/communicating with the dead/the thin membrane between death and life being breached, but is there an element of revival there? Am I conflating Halloween and Dia de los Muertos? Either way it was like absconding from reality and living in a Pinterest board for a brief few hours and I very much needed that and am grateful someone let me in their home to eat their food and drink their Martha Stewart better-than-you-glass-canister punch.

I was a bat. That didn’t go well. I mean it did for me, but if doing well is measured by anyone knowing what you are, it did not go well. Specifically I was an Irish bat, the bat from the Bat Dad/Catch him Derry video. I was under the impression everyone had seen this video, because I saw it in the morning and by the afternoon I think they were on Jimmy Kimmel. The takeaway was that I need to get off the internet, and that the internet truly blurs your idea of what constitutes popular culture. Not only was I not an identifiably Irish bat, I don’t think I was even an identifiable bat. My costume, which I loved, which I think people loved once they figured out what it was supposed to be, had a hood with “bat” ears, but I didn’t want to leave the hood up, because it seemed weird and uncomfortable indoors, so I got cat ears that I thought looked like bat ears because of the big inner to small outer ear ratio. Another misfire.

Adriana went as Luke Harper, a wrestler WWE has barely put on television in years, at a party where no one watched wrestling. She did have a custom hair bow with Luke Harper’s face in a little cameo gem in the center, so at least people could say “you are the guy on your head but I don’t know who that is.” But neither of us were bothered. On the drive up, we were in agreement Halloween is totally about entertaining yourself, and if other people get it, that’s just icing on the cake.

Semi-tangent, I fucking hate that meme that’s been going around that says “THERE ARE TWO TYPES OF GIRLS” and then shows one girl in a “sexy” costume, and another girl covered up and looking goofy/scary/whatever. Lindsay Lohan’s witch to the Plastics’ sexy cats in Mean Girls. It’s another one of those messages that is ostensibly about female empowerment but is really about drawing a line that has no reason to exist and then strictly defining what the “right” side and the “wrong” side are and using shame to coerce women to act the way someone thinks they should. Usually under the guise of feminism (naturally.) That seems like a lot to levy against a meme about Halloween costumes, but no one is supposed to see that meme and think it’s okay to be a sexy mouse, or whatever. You’re supposed to feel superior if you’ve managed to withstand societal pressures to dress sexy. Because God knows it’s impossible to do that for yourself. Every costume I had in college had a skirt about 3″ long, and I was well aware of the stupidity of the “sexy + XYZ” formula, that is the whole reason I found it fun. I’d book my flights home around getting my costume so I could get ones not everyone else had. Too bad everyone that wears lingerie and animal ears is a victim of the patriarchy. I was a hoodie bat with a towel wrapped around myself this year. This is such a stupid distinction.

But speaking of misspent youth, on the drive to the party Adriana introduced me to That Awful Sound, which is a podcast where a panel discusses the shitty music we listened to in middle school and high school. We listened to the Avenged Sevenfold episode, which was a fucking winner. I was never into Avenged Sevenfold, in fact while I was initially indifferent, after my friends abandoned me and my minute-less Virgin mobile flip phone in the scorching hot dusty parking lot of white dreadlocks and wayfarers that is Warped Tour I acquired quite a distaste. It felt good remembering the general adoration for M. Shadows and feeling smug that that was one trap I didn’t fall for. Also a lot of the criticism was directed towards their flat drums, which I never heard before, and am now doomed to never un-hear. One description was the sound of “empty milk jugs.” It was apt.

In terms of personal milestones, this party was my first party with a baby present. There were actually TWO babies (2x points?) I guess the next level after detailed couples’ costumes is baby integration. One baby was a bomb-omb and the other was a Mario character but they built the full pixelated pipe around the baby holder, I guess it was like a bassinet, I’m not really sure. Bomb-omb baby was 2 weeks old. I know I’m going to royally fuck up trying to explain this, but my brain couldn’t grasp that the baby’s Mom was walking among us. Not in a recovery period sense, but in a dude, 2 weeks ago, an inarguably short amount of time, you gave birth to a baby. Now you’re at a Halloween party. What bigger life transformation can you have than having a baby? In my mind it’s like they send pregnant women to the mystical crystal baby cavern and they emerge a time later as Mothers. Like when the tiny tin of cake batter goes in one side of the Easy Bake Oven, and then after its warmed by a lightbulb for a satisfactory period of time you push it out the Other side… into motherhood.

Growing up, man. The uncomfortable grappling with the realization becoming a parent is a regular occurrence. I am most definitely not there yet.

Thankfully I found lots of like-minded people, we weeded ourselves out when we found ourselves in the presence of a cat. I don’t know the cat’s name but she was a Calico, very regal, and very withholding. We stared at it until it’s owner pointed out it was weird, and then we stared at it some more until his wife raised the counterargument that if the guests were entertained by the cat, let them be entertained by the cat. Then she doled out kibble like you would do with kinder-garteners at a petting zoo as if this was totally normal behavior. What a little microcosm of life I feel like I witnessed. Don’t obsess over the cat/obsess over the cat. Have a baby/become someone with a pet Instagram. I think Halloween is supposed to be the death that comes with the transition into winter, but it really was a night filled with circle-of-life type observations for me.

I went home watched this SNL special which had a few gems I hadn’t seen while trying to photograph my own bat catching towel. David S. Pumpkins is still a joy. There was a Will Forte sketch about a pedophile which I found really funny, but was completely shocked made it on to TV once, let alone in a prime time, best of Halloween special. I took a heavy dip into the candy we had for the trick-or-treaters and watched Stranger Things. That Chicago episode was rough. Wow. But if anything could bring out my maternal instincts it was curly-haired Eleven in a pair of denim overalls. Is there anything cuter that doesn’t involve a dog? I want to pray for a protective orb to surround around that actress and guide her through child stardom, she is so great.

The trick-or-treaters cleaned us out on actual Halloween. It was actually kind of scary. They were really aggressive, and we got close to double the amount of kids we usually get. Or we potentially got double, we definitely had a few repeat customers which has never happened. This one boy stopped at our house at least 3 times. He was pretty young and with multiple parents so it’s not like he went rogue. I tried to think of a more positive explanation, maybe his parents don’t usually allow him candy, or there were fewer houses with treats this year, but it was kind of frustrating. I usually love handing out candy and I just felt used. Some of them were vicious too, grabbing at the candy bowl. Small kids! I’m weirdly relieved because I feel like now I won’t feel so bad stepping down my Halloween game next year, I was getting a little out of control. My decorations managed to genuinely scare the fuck out of several children and at least one tween, whose Mom told me when I opened the door that she wouldn’t go up to the door without her. Not my intention.

Advertisements

The meaning of life

duck.png

The meaning of life is going to the park to feed the ducks, with the intention of only throwing fish food at the animals you like. A rare opportunity in an indifferent world to exercise swift and simple justice. A shitty ugly goose expelling undignified turds in the pond without remorse then trampling the ducks and the turtles to snatch away the food you meant for them? You’re on your own. The albino duck who is always floating around alone and seems really chill and has never been violent towards the other ducks and you’re plagued by the thought that maybe the other birds don’t want to be friends with him/her because he/she looks different and you know animals have some concept of difference because of evolution but you don’t know if it extends to a seemingly superficial difference like duck albinism and you keep forgetting to Google it? That duck gets all the food. I cannot throw an empty can into the recycling bin but when it comes to throwing fish pellets at deserving sea birds I become Nolan Ryan.

So justice is being dispensed. I can pause life and death as I pump quarters into the fish food machine and tell God himself to fuck off as I attempt to tell these ducks in the language we all speak that I see their actions and their worth and however life may have tipped the scales out of their favor I will correct it. I can correct it.

And then a huge vulture-like black bird swoops down from above. Heft in combination with precision always awakens some sort of core fear, like seeing an footage of an F-22. There is also something uniquely terrifying about a creature that clearly possesses grace but elects not to use it, ending a swift and silent flight with what can only be described as a plonk five feet in front of you. Honey badger don’t give a fuck.

So in awe and terror you begin frantically hurling all your fish food at this bird, just flinging handfuls at its head in homage. The bird just stares straight ahead, fish nuggets bouncing off its body. Stupidly you think, “oh my God, it doesn’t know it’s food! Eat the fish bird! Come on birdy!” And then you realize: This bird has feasted on the flesh of the living. It has no time for pellets, it hasn’t had the instinct bred out of it. I’m tossing a couple quarters worth of methadone at this feathery sea raptor and it’s been shooting heroin in its eyeballs. So I watch as it stands silently, stoically, like it was guarding the tomb of the unarmed soldier, until it dove under the water and started swimming. It was like watching someone drive a Ferrari into a lake and instead of sinking it Go Go Gadgets into an amphibious vehicle. The bird popped back out with a whole wriggling fish in it’s jaws and presented it to the horrified people of the boardwalk, then he leaned back and sucked that fucker down like it was oyster and crawled under the boardwalk but after five minutes of waiting for him/her to come out I got bored flew away eclipsing the setting sun.

UPS still sucks/What can’t brown do for you

I was working my way through r/whatisthisthing when I came across this post suggesting the poster had received a $400,000 weather drone in lieu of a weightlifting bench. I assumed it was a hoax, because $400,000 piece of government technology abandoned by UPS until I got to this part of the exchange:

EDIT 2: The UPS guy on the phone had said that this had been in storage, and was something that had been lost in transit, or in some other way went undelivered. He kept saying that it was mine, and something that was intended to be delivered to me, but didn’t make it originally.

With … I knew it was real, because UPS won’t stop doing the same shit to me. We have an elderly neighbor that frequently orders from Plow & Hearth type sites that sell zip up MuuMuus and leaf camo quilted toilet paper covers and they will not stop sending us her bad choices no matter how many times we call.

I swear, this is not for comedic purposes, this is literally what happens if you call UPS customer service

US: Hello, we’ve received a package that doesn’t belong to us
UPS: What is the tracking number
US: [tracking number]
UPS: It says that package was delivered
US: It was delivered, it was delivered to the wrong house
UPS: What is your address
US: [address]
UPS: It says right here the package was delivered to that at [time]
US: Right, but we didn’t order the package, we are [A ADDRESS] the package was for [B ADDRESS]
UPS: Well you’ll have to speak to the business if they sent you something in error
US: I don’t know that it was in error, but it was ordered by [B ADDRESS] not [A ADDRESS]
UPS: So you haven’t received the package
US: WE HAVE RECEIVED THE PACKAGE IT IS NOT OUR PACKAGE
UPS: If you were sent the wrong item, you have to speak with the company that your order
US: THE BOX SAYS [B ADDRESS] THIS IS [A ADDRESS] THEY ARE TWO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT ADDRESSES
UPS: According to the tracking number, the package was delivered to [A ADDRESS] at [time]

Every time you call them they give you the run around. It’s not stupidity, or miscommunication, they will calmly talk in circles until you give up. The few times we outlasted them and got them to semi-admit the package was at the wrong address, they told us to leave the package outside and they’d come by and pick it up the next business day, but they have not once picked up a package in the several times this has happened.

And not only was it happening to me, it was happening with Puma AE Unmanned Aircraft Systems. UPS lost a $350k drone, was happy to assure this college student he was the recepient of a $350k drone, and then NOAA refused to acknowledge they lost a $350k drone, even if it meant they could get said drone back and recoup $350k.

The only reason the drone was able to be returned was because VICE covered the story and the original poster contacted them to arrange a contact with NOAA.

Bureaucracy at work, man. Each cog in the machine sloughing off responsibility onto another cog until I am left with a pile of deer antlers and polyester-viscose blend on my stoop as people try to convince me the address pf my human form, my living MuuMuu hanger if you will, is not where I am. Maybe it’s a spiritual thing. Maybe UPS is really trying to awaken us to our place the ever unfurling universal fabric, a place that is at once nowhere and everywhere. A place where all packages are undeliverable.

Haemoglobin is the key

I forgot to mention I fell off a yoga wheel and broke my ass. I was so damn close to making it 48 hours of accident free yoga wheel ownership too. If you, like me, had never heard of a yoga wheel until you saw one on clearance on the bottom shelf at TJ Maxx and decided you had to have it because you’re holding out hope wellness can be achieved through technology, even though in your soul you know what you really need is a prison workout and to stop eating sweet and salty Chex mix with the caramel popcorn seasoning sprinkled on top at 3AM, well then the yoga wheel is a plastic circle about 10 inches in diameter that you do yoga things with. Beyond that, I’m not clear. The model was elegantly balancing it on her shin bones, but if I were to emulate this display it would result in a private Cirque de Soleil show for the sole benefit of my Build a Bear. So I went with the yoga wheel’s other stated use of deepening stretches to justify its purchase.

What I failed to realize was how much balance it required to stay on top of a light, 4″ wide plastic wheel a foot off the ground. What I did realize, but failed to heed, was that I had a bunch of shit on my floor and that probably wasn’t enough space to operate the yoga wheel. Thus, just like this summer, when I fell on my DVD player, I found myself hurtling (as much as one can hurtle 10 inches worth) towards my floor, with time freezing just long enough for me to process (but naturally not long enough to react to) the recognition ‘oh shit, I have no space to put my arms out and catch myself,’ before  tipping over, slamming the same fucking hip into my closet door.

However, unlike the DVD player incident of 2016, where I immediately knew I fucked up and crawled into bed to go to sleep and avoid what would be a totally unflattering reassessment of my life, this time, I was fine. I took a ten inch bump onto a shoddy, builder-grade hollow-core door and some carpet. I didn’t so much fall as I rolled, aggressively and unconsensually.

Yet somehow, I woke up to a fucking potato sized bruise on my hip, and my poor butt cheek was bruised and that didn’t even hit anything.

NEARLY made it to 48 hours of yoga wheel ownership without incident #yoga #yogawheel #idiot

A post shared by Kate (@margotsmokes) on

Thus, the only logical conclusion is I have hemophilia. I did a presentation in Russian History on hemophilia in the Romanov dynasty, and how the transmission could be used to prove Leopold was illegitimate so I’ve always felt kind of a kinship… with hemophilia. Totally normal. Also there was a b-horror movie I watched in 9th grade where the killer was driven to kill because of the isolation they felt as a hemophiliac child, and I thought it was a pretty good twist ending and was surprised no one had exploited hemophilia before for that purpose. I’m sure the hemophilia lobby (?) is relieved, because neither of those examples is a real great reflection on hemophilia, you don’t go to a public relations office and go, yes, we would like more of that, but we don’t always get to choose what associations people have.

tumblr_inline_nkv0tiwFJm1qhb2yl

I Googled why people bruise easily because I don’t know if you knew, but I am a fucking doctor, and my alma mater is the Mayo Clinic website. I turned up a whole lot of nothing, besides “are you old?” “did you take ibuprofen?” and “you have hemophilia.” Hemophilia confirmed.

I don’t have hemophilia. I cut my thumb open with a pocket knife my Dad got at a trade show in 4th grade, and I survived dual attacks by a framed autographed poster of Matthew Good and a DVD player. Despite my usual reservations that anyone can confirm they are in fact, alive, it seems I probably haven’t bled to death.

BUT there is hemophilia-lite, which is not a medically accurate description. I’m sure the institute for clotting disorders is like, “go fuck yourself you Russian-sympathizing, Saw knockoff watching bitch, do you know how much we are going to have to pay a PR firm to undo your ignorance” but I maintain it is in fact hemophilia-lite if you just think of hemophilia as bleeding a lot. Which I’m sure they don’t.

Apparently your blood can be slightly wonked, various parts of it refuse to clot to varying degrees, from full on Leopold-grade hemophilia, to your blood is malfunctioning but so mildly so you don’t require treatment. That still wouldn’t explain how I managed to get a billion teeth pulled and came out unscathed, unless I have hemophilia-lite-lite, like if hemophilia was a full suite of Adobe PhotoShop and I had MS Paint. But, when I had my deviated septum fixed, and this is legitimately, one of my biggest regrets, the first time I was allowed to rinse my nose, a fucking softball sized blot clot flopped out and wiggled its way down my sink like a turtle returning to the sea. I had debated filming this event, but talked myself out of it, thinking, you idiot, it’s day surgery, nothing is going to happen. Then I got goth Flubber the blood turtle and have never forgiven myself. Having been relatively healthy and having no other symptoms I didn’t think much of it, but maybe I should have asked the ENT about a giant clump of coagulated blood that turned into a friend, like the plot of a 90s kids movie.

So I’ve got to add this to my list of medical things to get checked out. I’m already getting tested for some pre-diabetes marker, because when my doctor was going over my routine blood test results, she said everything is great but your blood sugar is high, and I said, what do I do, and she said, well sometimes it just happens with medications, and I’m just sitting their like… okay… you’re the doctor… what do I do. Then she looked at my chart, and apparently my blood sugar has been high every time. Stretching back years. I was just never informed.

Despite what falling off a yoga wheel, befriending my own blood clots and eating fake caramel powder covered Chex Mix suggests, quality healthcare tends to be a sticking point with me. But I wasn’t given the opportunity to become enraged because I was too busy fielding questions about the Trump presidency. She threw me off by quizzing me point blank asking who I voted for a second time, the only silver lining being that she probably didn’t write it on my chart the last time. Why isn’t that a violation HIPAA? Can’t you just amend something about the sanctity of the secret ballot to the end? Twice now, I’ve got to run this mental gauntlet, of like, who do I think she voted for? I didn’t have my prescriptions yet. I’m weighing race and age and economic status. Does gender beat being a businessperson? Race beats likely middle to upper middle class? Like stereotype rock paper scissors? Ironically, I’m reduced to dividing my doctor up by competing… voter attributes because I’m afraid of losing health care?

We’re headed towards some sort of, more attention-deficit Orwell or more faux-Puritan Vonnegut future, man.