Dear Kansas,

Hey, home-for-now-state! What up, hawg?! It’s a beautiful day here and I really appreciate that, but gorgeous weather does not cancel out the idea that this state is crawling with morons and I think it’s your duty as one-fiftieth of the United States to do something soon, before Lenexa puts out Olathe’s eye or Topeka goes up in flames because Lawrence was playing GI Joe with a can of hairspray and a Bic lighter.

First of all, let’s address the whole “driving issue.”  I’m coming from a place of ignorance here, I admit that.  I learned to drive in a state where you had to prove, in order to begin the licensing process, your awareness that the turn signal exists.  This was quite helpful when the actual driving test happened, as one had to prove proficiency in using a turn signal in order to pass.  It’s a pretty good system, when you think about it, letting people know your intentions on the highway, especially when one of my fine, fellow residents is performing the maneuver that I like to call, “The Kansas Slide.”

The Kansas Slide is really awesome and harkens back to the courage of those hearty pioneers, I’m sure.  It’s almost like watching an automotive ballet, but performed by people who have been eating LSD by the handful.  Take a six lane highway, with two left turning lanes.  Your initiator of The Kansas Slide will begin in the most extreme right hand lane and drive, diagonally, toward the most extreme left turn lane.  The entire movement is performed, of course, sans turn signal.  If executed correctly, the sounds of tires squealing and brakes grinding is a symphony of terror.

Granted, I lived other places where people were reluctant to use their turn signals.  People from Connecticut, for example, aren’t very likely to wear their driving intentions on their sleeves.  But Kansans? Lord Almighty! You people seem to have active suicidal tendencies.  It’s extremely disconcerting and it makes me uncomfortable to watch.  I just can’t figure out how to schedule a county-wide intervention.  I do appreciate the opportunity to chat with long-dead relatives and Jesus on an almost daily basis, though.

Additionally, I think, Kansas, that we need to have a conversation about pizza, and baked goods.  Are you aware that they suck here?  This tragedy on a plate that you people insist on calling “New York Style Pizza,” is a colossal joke that somebody, somewhere played on you.  I lived in New York, Kansas.  New York Pizza is a friend of mine.  You, sir, are not serving New York Pizza.

Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up, shall we?  New York pizza does NOT taste like a friggin’ saltine cracker, nor is it an under-baked and soggy mess of raw dough.  Adding the injury of gallons of sauce to the injury of an already completely fucked-up crust is not helping your cause.  And the cheese? Please! What are you people thinking?! The cheese should form a layer that feels almost al dente and does not feel like a ball of phlegm in the mouth.  All in all, it’s been a very long time since I had a piece of pizza that didn’t make me want to punch my server in whatever incarnation of junk they were sporting.

But, as I mentioned, baked good in general are problematic in this state.  It had never been my intention to turn into Caroline Fucking Ingalls when I moved here, yet I bake bread from scratch any time I want to enjoy a meal (which is to say, just about every day.)  Have you any clue how labor intensive baking bread actually is? I mean, if it’s done correctly.  Sure, I could slap a yeasty ball of wet flour in the oven and sacrifice a cat (presumably the preferred method of bread baking around here,) but that would be a cheat, as I see it.

Yes, we’ve been over it a million times — I am an uppity, East Coast Bitch and I make ridiculous and ludicrous demands that people and things make sense.  I know your reluctance to see my side, but maybe you could try for me now.  I trust I’ve made myself clear on th — oh.  Wait.  I just remembered something important.  Let me translate my words so there’s no confusion:

You people no drive good.

Pizza bad here.

Fix, please.

Sincerely,

Joy M. Cranky-Pants, Reluctant Resident

Love and Dancing

April 20, 2008

Okay.

I seriously almost cried just now, watching the Bay City Rollers sing “Saturday Night.”  Don’t get me wrong – losing 185 pounds of stupid fat in the form of throwing Satan’s Retarded Little Brother out of my home is the best thing that’s happened to me in a long time.  I’m just mourning my youth, I think – or more like lamenting the loss of what I thought my life was going to be like.  There’s one of them “double edged swords” for you.

I was a youngster in the days when Disco was cool and great fistfuls of John Travolta’s chest hair were considered damned sexy.  I was young and naive enough to believe Disco, like CHIPS, was permanent.  If you traveled back in time and talked to my 9 year old self, you’d probably want to punch me in the face.  I would encourage you to do that, too; Somebody needs to knock some sense into me before I start sporting that FeMullet in 6 years.  But I digress.  I was all over the disco stuff, as much as a prepubescent could be.

In fourth grade, Vicki “The Bitch Who Would Ruin My Life ON PURPOSE in 7th Grade” Y. was quite the fan of the crazy sound that was rocking the airwaves, too.  She even went so far as to write a really crappy three act play that was set in a discotheque and it revolved around three pretty young things hoping for their Last Dance for Romance.  In a move that could be easily be misconstrued as oddly feminist, every character written required ovaries.  I will explain to you now that getting the boys in my 4th grade class involved in a play (that also includes dancing,) involved basically the same Sysiphean effort as getting those same 4th grade boys to play Barbie Dolls.  I unsuccessfully tried to accomplish both.  I still have a scar on my left arm from what I like to call the “Chris G. Skipper Incident.” 

So Vicki wrote her not-really-feminist manifesto and even got permission from our teacher, the oldest and most sadistic woman living at the time, to stage a production for the entire class.  Because it was my 15 minutes to be Vicki’s best friend that week, I was given the covetable role of “Darla,” the character not quite a pretty as “Anastasia,” the girl who will have every boy panting and excited and begging to dance with her.  Vicki would be playing Anastasia, and I sincerely doubted she’d be able to fill her other myriad duties of director, producer, prop mistress and all-around Hitler-like dictator with itty-bitty-breasts a-budding.  I didn’t want to see her “fail,” per se, but I did want an opportunity to get my hands on the script which included very little actual dialogue and no discernible plot whatsoever.  Seriously, Act III read something along the lines of, And then they all show up and have some pretty colored drinks and dance.  Anastasia has a fight with Robbie.  They make up.  The End.  From about halfway throught the first page, the whole thing became less of a “script,” and became something more of a “suggestion.”  The quiet writer inside of me at that time was deeply offended. 

It was my foolish insistence that people watching a play might want some plot or, at the very least, decent dialogue that doesn’t contradict itself and involves more than the phrase “Let’s Dance,” regurgitated like bad Lo Mein at five minute intervals that proved to be my downfall.  Even our peers, who would have gladly swapped their Star Wars trading cards for what was shaping up to be a three hour long production of Saturday Night Nothing  if it meant the Succubus of Room 114 couldn’t torture us with more fractions, would be pelting up with our oversized copies of Your World and You twenty minutes into it. Vicki did not take my suggestions as being “constructive.”  She felt I was challenging her authority and “acting big.”

So she fired me. 

I then spent my recesses watching her and Karen R. scheme and whisper and practice disco dancing.  And while I longed to be a part of her group again, I yearned for something more: to be grown up, to be desired, to be feminine and graceful, dancing all night with someone who found me irresistible.  This is the mind of a young girl at its very worst and its very best.  And tonight, when I heard the Bay City Rollers singing about dancing on a Saturday night, I didn’t immediately feel sad because I am sitting in my bed, wearing boxer shorts I stole from my son when he outgrew them and an “I’m With Stupid” tee shirt that serves no real or clever purpose, except to insult the dog on the bed next to me.  I didn’t feel sad because I am 39 now, and at home on Date Night and watching something on VH1 about female rappers wearing tiaras (a truly, Joy-Specific WTF Moment if ever one existed,) and sharing slightly stale Pringles with the cat. 

I just felt kind of badly for the 9 year old me who really expected so much more than what she got when it came to dreaming about love and dancing.  Oh, I don’t feel too badly for her; she’ll live in Paris and New York.  She’ll travel extensively.  She’ll meet people who will help her be successful, people who will love her and people she will love, but she’ll never be the Queen of the Disco, and I know, in my heart, that’s what she really wanted. 

Just so you know: Vicki’s play closed before it ever opened, due to the fact that you can’t scotch tape tin foil onto a soccer ball and expect it to look like anything other than some sort of sad joke.  We went back to playing jacks at recess, which suited me fine, because I could get to tensies and around the world in my sleep.  Disco, as we know, began to suck and it wouldn’t be too far in the future before I heard the sound they were calling “punk,” that spoke to me more and on a deeper level than the BeeGees ever did. 

But it might have been nice to have been Darla, the not “as pretty” one, with three or four spoken lines and a scripted grace. 

Here’s Something…

April 19, 2008

So, here I am … in my house, except it’s an aparment, and some people think you’re lying if you call an apartment a “house,” which I get — because they are two different things.  But I don’t want to own property (I did that once before, and you have do to things like mow your own grass and replace your own furnace — and furnaces are expensive.)

So, I sold my house about ten years ago and starting living in apartments, where guys with most of their ass showing come and reset my air conditioner when I need them to; and that works for me.  My friend, Al, keeps telling me that real estate is the next “Big thing,” and I tell Al, “Order another pitcher of beer and leave me alone.” Because — while he might be right, I don’t want to own anything with upkeep.  I don’t feel permanent enough for that.

The former financial advisor in me says I must tell you that real estate is the best investment.  The person that lives in this world says, get an apartment — there’s no damned reason to fix your own dishwasher.