1. image: Download

    ~ ♪♪♫ ♪♪♫ ♪♫♪♪♫ ~Oh, there’s a lot of opportunities if you know when to take them, you know?There’s a lot of opportunities: If there aren’t, you can make them—Make or break them…~ ♪♪♫ ♪♪♫ ♪♫♪♪♫ ~

(While I can muster brawn, it’s always been clear that I would more than likely endeavor to outsource looks.)

    ~ ♪♪♫ ♪♪♫ ♪♪♪♫ ~
    Oh, there’s a lot of opportunities if you know when to take them, you know?

    There’s a lot of opportunities: If there aren’t, you can make them—
    Make or break them…
    ~ ♪♪♫ ♪♪♫ ♪♪♪♫ ~

    (While I can muster brawn, it’s always been clear that I would more than likely endeavor to outsource looks.)

     
  2. Plays: 69

    In the 80’s, “podcasting” was more like “2 kids with a dual cassette deck pretending to run a radio station that mostly focused on bodily functions”.

    On a recent trip home, in an attempt to find a very specific mix-tape, a 20 some-year old “treasury of sound” was encountered.  One of these voices goes on to pursue a PhD in Communications.  The other one?  I think you know the other one. 

    Helpful hint for parsing only slightly different little-girl voices: the slightly pedantic (you’ll know it when you hear it,) adorable but rapidly desaturating nerd goes on to explain bleach as “mostly basic” compared to “things with acidic atoms” on the B-side*.  She’s maybe 9, still working on that lisp/stutter, and confuses “hygienic” and “genetic”** during an interview with “the fattest person in the world”.  Alas, this isn’t Disney’s “The Kid” and she’ll still get her 1st black eye within a year of that point, which remains the primary story the Communicator tells to explain her old childhood friend to her new grown-up friends. It’s terrible and glorious.

    * The B-side? Mostly commercials for diet coke, stain removers, and an interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger.  More on farting and bowel movements.  And swears: what would the FCC think?!?  Did not own my own radio until 6th grade.  Seldom smooth, mostly rough.

    ** That’s a kinda better error than passed vs. vetoed, right?  Also at some point between then and now, someone recorded in an extra “the retard” before the non-communicator’s introduction.  So it’s even.  Intellectually quick, emotionally slow.

    Do-doodo-doo do-doot doodoo.  Do-doodo-doo do-doot doodoo.

    Lucille Bluth Voice:
    I didn’t believe in the necessity for enunciation in the 80’s and I don’t believe in it now.

    I’ll happily admit it: I was a child shill for Imodium, I still can’t really rap well, and I *wish* it was still acceptable to cut someone off and re-begin their sentences to encourage quick predication, with a little mouth-trumpeting in between to herald colleagues to cut to the chase.  I would do that ALL THE TIME.  Especially on Mondays.

    (About once a month, I think about the young Dr. Mags saying “What if my diarrhea comes back?” and laugh cry to myself for a couple minutes before hunting for this file.)

    Do-doodo-doo do-doot doodoo.  Do-doodo-doo do-doot doodoo.  It’s my tape-cast cohost’s birthday!  The weird thing is, after being superfriends from age 2-12—c.f., This is a lesson being learned, knuckles and all"—we went through the sort of normal going off and dealing with separate lives for a couple decades, and (partially because we both ended up in the midwest, I suppose,) now we chat pretty regularly about television programs about the Amish and, oddly enough: health stuff, bowel and otherwise.

     
  3. The international visitors have left and despite clearly coveting it (vis à vis, capturing image information), I kept my hands to myself and did not steal a polite Japanese business type’s executive 4 color pen. Wood paneling! He totally would have noticed. I’m not saying I thought about it every day, but it would have surely caused an incident.

    So, to reward myself for keeping it professional for 2 weeks and not acting like a sociopath, I finally tore into the non-executive 4-color pen PLUS pencil that I purchased in Tokyo, 16 months ago. Look how beefy it is relative to a regular 4 color pen. It’s like a child-friendly crayon.

    Croc Madam (reptilian cathouse manager, not secret sandwich) is now stylin’.

     
  4. 841 bits of madness.  Submitting the 3rd set of proofs here makes the 3 lingering manuscripts there feel like when you flush and it comes back. 

    841 bits of madness.  Submitting the 3rd set of proofs here makes the 3 lingering manuscripts there feel like when you flush and it comes back. 

     
  5. image: Download

    
"Unique Iron Home Decor & Gifts"I’m not going to say that this is my favorite place in the South. It isn’t.  But, some terrible part of me loves it fiercely.

*Shanties in picture are not as slanty as they appear.*I took this picture from the passenger side of a moving vehicle the first time I saw it, but remembered the image when I drove by it yesterday in an exercise of GPS-free wayfinding.  It was a source of instant relief, not because I had any better of an idea of where I was—which is a different feeling, like the one I experience when I see the Wigsphere, which places me within 1 horizon of Knoxville—but it was something familiar.  Most days that’s all I need.  Also: drove on 40W without ending up in California: it remains ever a worry.

    "Unique Iron Home Decor & Gifts"
    I’m not going to say that this is my favorite place in the South. It isn’t. 
    But, some terrible part of me loves it fiercely.

    *Shanties in picture are not as slanty as they appear.*
    I took this picture from the passenger side of a moving vehicle the first time I saw it, but remembered the image when I drove by it yesterday in an exercise of GPS-free wayfinding.  It was a source of instant relief, not because I had any better of an idea of where I was—which is a different feeling, like the one I experience when I see the Wigsphere, which places me within 1 horizon of Knoxville—but it was something familiar.  Most days that’s all I need. 
    Also: drove on 40W without ending up in California: it remains ever a worry.

     
  6. image: Download

     
  7. I am …ever so slightly sunken by the fact that assertions of my chest’s exceptional nature have apparently been exaggerations.
I am, however, equally buoyed by the fact that assertions of my heart’s diminutive size and/or absence have also been exaggerations.
(Not that I believed, nor do I think they literally meant what they said, but maybe I occasionally entertained worries about only being Head and Hands and not the other 2H’s.  I seem figuratively reliant on mostly the former.) 
Cut to the quick but bandaged with haste: today it’s a draw, medical science.

    I am …ever so slightly sunken by the fact that assertions of my chest’s exceptional nature have apparently been exaggerations.

    I am, however, equally buoyed by the fact that assertions of my heart’s diminutive size and/or absence have also been exaggerations.

    (Not that I believed, nor do I think they literally meant what they said, but maybe I occasionally entertained worries about only being Head and Hands and not the other 2H’s.  I seem figuratively reliant on mostly the former.)

    Cut to the quick but bandaged with haste: today it’s a draw, medical science.

     
  8. Bibliotecadventures #7:  CU: Fine Arts Library 
Cloistered atop the College of Architecture, Art and Planning, there lived some of the prettiest books.  They were pretty on the inside.  Lessons were learned and they lived happily ever after under an enormous rotunda for looking up at.  Because you should always have something awesome to look up to.  And a good place to sit.  The End.  
I was in a Near Eastern Studies class that sent me up there…the same one that sent me down to the Kroch library.  (Which never will cease to be amusing to me.)  But, it was a comforting enough environment that I would go up there when I found myself with time and was by the quad anyhow.  I kind of miss that about an academic campus.   (There was also a typewriter down in the basement of a history building which I’d visit that I intended to but did not actually steal.  No one would have cared and I loved it, but it was heavy and weird.  It was the ME of typewriters.  I did write a number of TERRIBLE letters and “get this out of my head” essays on it, so that’s something.  It wasn’t there last summer when I visited as part of a wedding related side-adventure. If others have succeeded where I have failed, surely they must have wanted it more.)  But back to the rotunda.  I loved it in there.  But, it kind of brought out my judgmental side in as much as I remember looking around at the other kids in there and thinking  “If this was all I could do, I’d be S.O.L.”  I don’t know.  They’re probably mostly doing fine.  I’ll land on my feet.  Or in the water.  Whenever I had a bad day as a grad student, I used to calculate my net worth and figure out what my limitations were in island buying.  I still am short if I want to be able to really afford competent monkey butlers and a geosynchronous satellite.  These things would be important to my process.
Earlier in the month, I was sitting alone in here having some issues when I was working on an application I said aloud “If you finish this you can go home and paint.”  Hearing myself say that kind of thing is usually the beginning a wave of major league stress.  I am a professional, though, so I hit “-T, s, ↓, ↩”, and took the necessary moment.  Then, according to my playlist, I listened to the same song on repeat for an hour and a half which culminated in a trip to drop off the application in the post office.  Wave-ridden. 
Then, during work the other day, (which was probably the day before yesterday,) I was using a microscope in another lab and in turning the knobs to adjust the x-y-stage, I got hit by a wave of nostalgia.  One would think that would happen more often, but out here most of the things I used to control with knobs of about that size are controlled with robots. I need to go back over there, but there I am avoiding a colleague who makes me uncomfortable in a bad way and so I wait.  I may even push to tomorrow. 
My work’ (*) was never so much “Fine Art” as “Fine.  ‘Art’”.  A little punctuation can make a world of difference.  And word order.  And quality.
"The State of the Art and the Art of the State: Government Funded Technology and Design”Could I make a career of pitching terrible titles?  Because I could probably do that pretty well and have exquisite follow-through. I should apply for a grant.  
(*) The Faux-kusai will likely be the cover of my art-book—

Work’=The Derivative Works of Mathematically Inclined “Artists”

The 2 of you who remain nice when I’m too clever by half: thank you.  I miss you.Imaginary advance copies are already on your coffee tables.  I snuck my mark in there somewhere in the thing on fractals.  I highly suggest the chapter of analyses of images of cheeses from Subway sandwiches. Bold, artisanal choices. 

    Bibliotecadventures #7:  CU: Fine Arts Library 

    Cloistered atop the College of Architecture, Art and Planning, there lived some of the prettiest books.  They were pretty on the inside.  Lessons were learned and they lived happily ever after under an enormous rotunda for looking up at.  Because you should always have something awesome to look up to.  And a good place to sit.  The End. 

    I was in a Near Eastern Studies class that sent me up there…the same one that sent me down to the Kroch library.  (Which never will cease to be amusing to me.)  But, it was a comforting enough environment that I would go up there when I found myself with time and was by the quad anyhow.  I kind of miss that about an academic campus.   (There was also a typewriter down in the basement of a history building which I’d visit that I intended to but did not actually steal.  No one would have cared and I loved it, but it was heavy and weird.  It was the ME of typewriters.  I did write a number of TERRIBLE letters and “get this out of my head” essays on it, so that’s something.  It wasn’t there last summer when I visited as part of a wedding related side-adventure. If others have succeeded where I have failed, surely they must have wanted it more.) 

    But back to the rotunda.  I loved it in there.  But, it kind of brought out my judgmental side in as much as I remember looking around at the other kids in there and thinking  “If this was all I could do, I’d be S.O.L.”  I don’t know.  They’re probably mostly doing fine.  I’ll land on my feet.  Or in the water.  Whenever I had a bad day as a grad student, I used to calculate my net worth and figure out what my limitations were in island buying.  I still am short if I want to be able to really afford competent monkey butlers and a geosynchronous satellite.  These things would be important to my process.

    Earlier in the month, I was sitting alone in here having some issues when I was working on an application I said aloud “If you finish this you can go home and paint.”  Hearing myself say that kind of thing is usually the beginning a wave of major league stress.  I am a professional, though, so I hit “-T, s, ↓, ↩”, and took the necessary moment.  Then, according to my playlist, I listened to the same song on repeat for an hour and a half which culminated in a trip to drop off the application in the post office.  Wave-ridden. 

    Then, during work the other day, (which was probably the day before yesterday,) I was using a microscope in another lab and in turning the knobs to adjust the x-y-stage, I got hit by a wave of nostalgia.  One would think that would happen more often, but out here most of the things I used to control with knobs of about that size are controlled with robots. I need to go back over there, but there I am avoiding a colleague who makes me uncomfortable in a bad way and so I wait.  I may even push to tomorrow. 

    My work’ (*) was never so much “Fine Art” as “Fine.  ‘Art’”.  A little punctuation can make a world of difference.  And word order.  And quality.

    "The State of the Art and the Art of the State:
    Government Funded Technology and Design”

    Could I make a career of pitching terrible titles?  Because I could probably do that pretty well and have exquisite follow-through. I should apply for a grant. 

    (*) The Faux-kusai will likely be the cover of my art-book—

    Work’
    =The Derivative Works of Mathematically Inclined “Artists”

    The 2 of you who remain nice when I’m too clever by half: thank you.  I miss you.
    Imaginary advance copies are already on your coffee tables.  I snuck my mark in there somewhere in the thing on fractals.  I highly suggest the chapter of analyses of images of cheeses from Subway sandwiches. Bold, artisanal choices. 

     
  9. image: Download

    (Terrible Idea) + (Limitations) + (An afternoon) = (Terrible Lizard Thing)




(This seemed slightly more amusing than the other related ideas:
Oedipus T. Rex 
T.Rex Morgan M.D.
T. Rex Harrison.  (That was going to involve singing.)
but not so awesome as to warrant an animated video.)

    (Terrible Idea) + (Limitations) + (An afternoon) = (Terrible Lizard Thing)

    (This seemed slightly more amusing than the other related ideas:

    • Oedipus T. Rex
    • T.Rex Morgan M.D.
    • T. Rex Harrison.  (That was going to involve singing.)

    but not so awesome as to warrant an animated video.)

     
  10. image: Download

    March Project:  Bibliotecadventures!I was trying to put my favorite libraries in order last night, and so it was that I realized I had at least 30 stories about 30 different libraries.  In fact, at least 31, which is the number of days in this month, based on my boss’s rhyme about the numbers of days months have.  POW.  Instant-project, just add details. 
Table of Contents (in order of first exposure)
BCCC Library
Goodnoe ES Library
NJHS Library
CRHS Library
Library of Congress
CU: A.D. White Library (a library within a library!)
CU: Fine Arts Library
CU: The Mann Library 
CU: Vet School Library
CU: The Math Library
TRI Research Library
CU: Physical Science Library
CU: Engineering Library
CU: Kroch Library (ANOTHER library within a library!)
CU: Olin Library
CU: Uris Library
AXE House Library
CU: Browsing Library
CU: Law Library
FMC Research Library
UCB: Chemistry Library
UCB: Biosciences Library
UCB: Main Stacks
UCB: East Asian Library
The Library of Alexandria
UCB: Psych/Education Library
UCB: Engineering Library
UCB: Math Library
SF Public Library
UCB: GA Library
UCB: Music Library
UCB: Bancroft Library
Berkeley Public Library
Oak Ridge Public Library
ORNL Research Library
My living room/office annex
Smarch! It’s a long month. Plus, I’ll probably bundle a couple days when the descriptions/stories are less interesting. 
“Bibliotecadeventures” should be chirped like a tiny shout of a Mexican robot-child.

    March Project:  Bibliotecadventures!
    I was trying to put my favorite libraries in order last night, and so it was that I realized I had at least 30 stories about 30 different libraries.  In fact, at least 31, which is the number of days in this month, based on my boss’s rhyme about the numbers of days months have.  POW.  Instant-project, just add details. 

    Table of Contents (in order of first exposure)

    1. BCCC Library
    2. Goodnoe ES Library
    3. NJHS Library
    4. CRHS Library
    5. Library of Congress
    6. CU: A.D. White Library (a library within a library!)
    7. CU: Fine Arts Library
    8. CU: The Mann Library
    9. CU: Vet School Library
    10. CU: The Math Library
    11. TRI Research Library
    12. CU: Physical Science Library
    13. CU: Engineering Library
    14. CU: Kroch Library (ANOTHER library within a library!)
    15. CU: Olin Library
    16. CU: Uris Library
    17. AXE House Library
    18. CU: Browsing Library
    19. CU: Law Library
    20. FMC Research Library
    21. UCB: Chemistry Library
    22. UCB: Biosciences Library
    23. UCB: Main Stacks
    24. UCB: East Asian Library
    25. The Library of Alexandria
    26. UCB: Psych/Education Library
    27. UCB: Engineering Library
    28. UCB: Math Library
    29. SF Public Library
    30. UCB: GA Library
    31. UCB: Music Library
    32. UCB: Bancroft Library
    33. Berkeley Public Library
    34. Oak Ridge Public Library
    35. ORNL Research Library
    36. My living room/office annex

    Smarch! It’s a long month. Plus, I’ll probably bundle a couple days when the descriptions/stories are less interesting. 

    Bibliotecadeventures” should be chirped like a tiny shout of a Mexican robot-child.

     
  11. I can’t pinpoint what it was that made me love this song as a kid, but I did!  Everything I know about lazily recut music videos I think I may have learned from the DTV program.  Oh Disney.  We would only get it when the local cable company was doing the “free weekend access” and my family would basically buy six 8hr VHS tapes to record the opulence.  Glorious.

     
  12. No.  That’s probably as naked and vulnerable as I get on the internet.

     
  13. My best friends are usually excellent storytellers.  This is alternately useful and problematic because the picaresque tales of M.E. sound completely incredible (unbelievable, full of lies, surely improbable) when told by skilled raconteurs, and consequently there is plausible deniability.  Even so, every once in a while, acquaintances will meet each other and exchange stories and assume that the other is obviously a font of misinformation and they still have the market cornered on crazy M.E. adventures.  I assure you, however, this tale is both the primary story told about M.E. by M.G., 80’s proto-podcasters, one of whom will get tomorrow/is getting married today/ got married the day before yesterday.  Indeed, this story was told to M.G’s groom on Sunday night/Monday morning by a 3rd party.   I haven’t written it out in many years, as it occurred just a few years after the picture above was taken. It’s probably no “Black Swan”, though it might be, because I haven’t seen that movie.  Based on the commercials, I have the feeling I’m more Mila Kunis than Natalie Portman, though I suppose I could be Natalie Portmanteau, because maybe I have some baggage.  That’s terrible.  I’ve had that gmail address since 2006, though.  On with the show!
Every Tuesday for about 12 years, M.G. and M.E. would meet up to go to ballet class.  M.E.’s mom felt that it would potentially instill a certain physical grace in her obviously awkward-from-the-womb-on child.  M.E. just appreciated it as an opportunity to hang out with her friend.  And hang out they did. Basically, the product of every year’s worth of class would be a recital, in which all the classes would do performances.
One year, the performance was a choreographed version of “The Wizard of Oz”.  This was notable as M.E. was the Mayor of the Munchkin City, because she was the shortest. M.G. was the barrister, if memory serves. (Fun fact: many thought M.E. was going to not grow up to be a midget, as she still had not topped 5 feet by senior year of high school/age 16.)  It also meant that M.G. and M.E. had to go to extra rehearsals and essentially loiter for hours waiting to do their lines and moves.  (Both still have sweet moves, as were demonstrated at the wedding, though M.E.’s all look sort of like iterations of The Robot.  She works with many robots.)
M.E. and M.G. were competitive kids.  While M.G.’s competitiveness came out in sports, and M.E.’s came out in academics, the spirit of a kid persists in most everything they do.  As such, a score was always being kept.  One day while loitering, (this all occurs in tutus, mind you,) it was decided that the M’s were going to competitively make each other laugh.  This was a recipe for failure for M.E., for, though 95% of all girls saw themselves being described as Rivers Cuomo’s ideal lady circa The Blue Album, M.E., knew she’d never laugh for no one else.  That’d be craziness.  It takes so little to induce the giggles, at that point even the implication of potentially farting was almost enough.  Even now, there was some chuckling involved in typing that.  IMPLIED FART!  Anyhow, not laughing—that was an opportunity to test self-control.
This went on for a couple weeks, with an eventual score of probably a couple hundred to twenty in M.G.’s favor.  M.G. comes from European people who are better at not laughing.  Or maybe she just had more sensible tastes, humor-wise. So, the two were sitting  by a door one day, M.G. trying to make M.E. laugh, M.E., losing her shit, girls pretending to be a field of poppies doing their business about 6 feet away, when another little girl walks in.  It should be noted that little girls can be a little vindictive, even awesome ones.  Especially awesome ones, sometimes.  So, L.G. (we’re gonna call the Little Girl who walked in at that point L.G.,) does, what was in retrospect, a fantastically haughty eye-roll at the M’s shenanigans (M.E., might have been tearing up trying not to laugh at fart noises, as someone typing this now is trying not to do). "So mature."Just like that.  Then she went off to tell her equally haughty tightly bunned friends how silly and immature SOME kids there were.  ENEMY FOR LIFE!  So, poppy-field music in the background, the M’s decide that “the laughing game” was going to be turned into “the laughing AT game”.  (Again, 2 totally cool kids, or at least moderately neat, and generally not especially un-nice, driven to the brink by irony and ego-preservation.)  This, it should be stated, was about 2 weeks before The Big Recital,  which is relevant because imagine 2 kids fake-laughing every time they saw someone, who they would see a couple times every afternoon for about 10 consecutive days.  [I said this was a bit of a picaresque tale, right?  Because these are maybe not the kind of protagonists that you want to like at this point.  In this age, these actions might be construed as unacceptable bullying, even given a the tightly-wound L.G.’s tightly-knit support system.  In the 80’s, perhaps that was the case too, but this story takes a turn for the weird and bizarre, so I should move out of this aside of recognition of the kind of maybe jerk that was an older younger M.E.]
Let’s skip the increasing frustration of the very haughty L.G. getting laughed at daily for a week by going directly to the NIGHT OF THE BIG RECITAL.
Backstage, the NOTBR, was similar to backstage the nights of many recitals:  kids wearing FAR too much make-up, the rustle of tulle, tutus everywhere, very loud (in this case) Wizard of Oz music drowning out the titterings of a hundred or so little girls waiting to dance their piece and bask in the adulation of their parents.  M.E., sitting on the ground, trying not to forget the meter for “As mayor of the Munchkin City, in the county of the land of Oz, I welcome you most reeeegally…”and so on.   M.G. was much cooler and watching the stage.  (The M’s were queued up in the wings past stage right).  Tu-tus making sitting awkward. Wedgies.  Sequins making certain areas very itchy.  Pantyhose that just never sat quite right in the crotch.  Little ballerinas are adorable, but it is seldom comfortable.
At this point, a quaternary little girl approached MG and ME.  Let’s call her QT.  QT was probably about the same age as the M’s, but maybe not so bright.  Witlessness was …just shy of an inexcusable crime in the mind of young M.E., and to be punished with a lack of candor.  Surely the exchange that follows makes sense only in that light. 
QT: You know, L.G. is pretty unhappy with you.ME: Really? Why?  QT: You have been laughing at her!  She told her mom.  And (mumbles names.)  ME: Oh…OH, oh, no, gosh, I hope she doesn’t think that.  I…I have a medical condition, sometimes weird things cause me to chuckle.  Like keys! *Riotous laughter, wipe away a tear*  But we weren’t laughing at her.  She just has a blue-hoo-hoo-hoo leotard, and that’s one of the colors that sets it off.  QT: *face lighting up having learned something new* OH!  That clears it up.  I’ll tell her that!  *swishes away in her own little light blue tutu.*
M.E. and M.G. had a little chuckle about this.  First “Welcome to Oz” scene came and went.  Flying monkey girls went off to do their thing the first time around. They were older and in toe-shoes (the ones with wooden tips for extra pain inducement and extra fancy abilities, but oh god the toe knuckles cringe just thinking about them).  After that scene, a fifth girl adds to our character sheet.  Let us call her BEHEMOTH. 
BEHEMOTH was easily a foot taller than M.E.  She was probably about 4 years older, and while M.E. would go through a fairly chunky stage, at this point between the height and the relative largeness, neck-less BEHEMOTH probably had a 50 lb advantage.  You’ll note that M.G. was far too sensible to get herself involved.  She also had 2 brothers, but their interactions always seemed much more civil than those between ME and her 2.  Anyhow, BEHEMOTH approached the two from behind M.G., a vantage giving M.E. ample time to realize EXACTLY what was gonna go down. B: Get up. ME: Yo.  *gets up* B: *with a fairly agressive finger poke to the middle of the chest* Have you been laughing at my friend? ME: No? (Future ME notes, years of defusing tense situations later, that a simple denial was probably not the right choice of response.) B: Have YOU been LAUGHING at my friend?  ME: I don’t even know what you’re talking about! BEHEMOTH reached down (remember, she’s tall and broad, like the monolith from 2001, but in a leotard and tutu, which was also light blue) with her burly longshoreman hands and grabbed M.E. by the throat.  Thumbs on the trachea, she lifted the not slight but not especially hefty mayor up.  By the neck.  Thumbs on the wind pipe.  M.E. squirmed, as B repeated her interrogation, not seeming especially interested in an answer, which probably would have been a squeak of a lie anyhow.  Realizing that the choices were limited as all be-leotarded witnesses watched this scene in semi-silent terror, M.E. decided that she had better go out swinging fists because the breathing was not getting any easier. 
With all the grace of a slightly drunken canine, the flailing hands of M.E. tightened to fists and focused themselves on the BEHEMOTH, who dropped M.E. to quickly retaliate.  While every re-telling of this tale usually sounds a little bit like Happy Gilmore (“She got in a few lucky punches, but I feel I won the fight”), the fact of the matter is that when a 4 foot tall person is trying to duke it out with a 5 foot tall person, it is far easier for the shorty to be conked on the head, while punching uselessly like Little Mac at the non-blinking stomach of King Hippo. (Fun fact: me and my older brother used to primarily only be allowed to play the display Nintendo at the Sears for most of my youth.  He was the button man and it was my job to look for patterns and coach.)  The surprise nut-punch, while villainous but at times necessarily effective on boys, was useless here.
Usually, there is some pantomime involved in this story, but lacking a physical presence, be once again reminded: This is all going on in the dimly lit back/side stage area.  The BEHEMOTH: a blue leotarded monolith. Very voluminous tutu coming up to the top of her opponent’s abdomen.  M.E.:  So odd.  So scrappy.  So short.  Blocking as best as she knows how.  Also wearing a tu-tu.  Flying-monkey music derrangedly loud.  Horrified witnesses.  This is what vindictive childishness and lies lead to.  This is a lesson being learned, knuckles and all.  Make-up being smeared.  Hair being muzzed. The ruffles.  So many ruffles.  Finally, ages later, an adult noticed.  10 feet away.  Miss Donna Lee.  Not a cool adult.  But Thank God for the intercession. 
She flailed her arms in the air as she rushed over, like elbowless Olive Oyl, quickly sidling between the combatants.  In her panicked soprano voice: "Girls, girls! You’re ballerinas, not boxers!"  (Everything else is icing on the cake of that climactic line.)
BEHEMOTH was shunted off somewhere, probably told she should know better, probably.  M.E. hustled off with M.G. to attempt to re-cake the face with stage-goop.  M.G. said that M.E. had put up a heckofafight.  Too young for swears.  It’s an odd feeling, years later: in the retelling, there’s still a note of an oddly admired bravery, despite the fact that little M.E. A) didn’t really have a choice, and B) probably deserved no choice.  There aren’t clear lines here, or at least lines I am choosing to see.  I suppose It was almost heroic, what had gone on; a snarky but kind of adorable David being crushed by a Goliath who had been retained to assist a haughty little kid.  The smeared makeup was removed and a new layer shellacked back on.  It would hide the growing bruises that night, but the next day, little M.E. had her very first shiner.  She successfully avoided her parents, being “really tired” from the exertion of the previous night’s performance.  The thing that they do on TV with bags of frozen peas on the face was actually pretty effective.  Meat on the face seemed gross and for many years she’d hated eating peas, anyhow. 

    My best friends are usually excellent storytellers.  This is alternately useful and problematic because the picaresque tales of M.E. sound completely incredible (unbelievable, full of lies, surely improbable) when told by skilled raconteurs, and consequently there is plausible deniability.  Even so, every once in a while, acquaintances will meet each other and exchange stories and assume that the other is obviously a font of misinformation and they still have the market cornered on crazy M.E. adventures.  I assure you, however, this tale is both the primary story told about M.E. by M.G., 80’s proto-podcasters, one of whom will get tomorrow/is getting married today/ got married the day before yesterday.  Indeed, this story was told to M.G’s groom on Sunday night/Monday morning by a 3rd party.   I haven’t written it out in many years, as it occurred just a few years after the picture above was taken. It’s probably no “Black Swan”, though it might be, because I haven’t seen that movie.  Based on the commercials, I have the feeling I’m more Mila Kunis than Natalie Portman, though I suppose I could be Natalie Portmanteau, because maybe I have some baggage.  That’s terrible.  I’ve had that gmail address since 2006, though. 
    On with the show!

    Every Tuesday for about 12 years, M.G. and M.E. would meet up to go to ballet class.  M.E.’s mom felt that it would potentially instill a certain physical grace in her obviously awkward-from-the-womb-on child.  M.E. just appreciated it as an opportunity to hang out with her friend.  And hang out they did. Basically, the product of every year’s worth of class would be a recital, in which all the classes would do performances.

    One year, the performance was a choreographed version of “The Wizard of Oz”.  This was notable as M.E. was the Mayor of the Munchkin City, because she was the shortest. M.G. was the barrister, if memory serves. (Fun fact: many thought M.E. was going to not grow up to be a midget, as she still had not topped 5 feet by senior year of high school/age 16.)  It also meant that M.G. and M.E. had to go to extra rehearsals and essentially loiter for hours waiting to do their lines and moves.  (Both still have sweet moves, as were demonstrated at the wedding, though M.E.’s all look sort of like iterations of The Robot.  She works with many robots.)

    M.E. and M.G. were competitive kids.  While M.G.’s competitiveness came out in sports, and M.E.’s came out in academics, the spirit of a kid persists in most everything they do.  As such, a score was always being kept.  One day while loitering, (this all occurs in tutus, mind you,) it was decided that the M’s were going to competitively make each other laugh.  This was a recipe for failure for M.E., for, though 95% of all girls saw themselves being described as Rivers Cuomo’s ideal lady circa The Blue Album, M.E., knew she’d never laugh for no one else.  That’d be craziness.  It takes so little to induce the giggles, at that point even the implication of potentially farting was almost enough.  Even now, there was some chuckling involved in typing that.  IMPLIED FART!  Anyhow, not laughing—that was an opportunity to test self-control.

    This went on for a couple weeks, with an eventual score of probably a couple hundred to twenty in M.G.’s favor.  M.G. comes from European people who are better at not laughing.  Or maybe she just had more sensible tastes, humor-wise. So, the two were sitting  by a door one day, M.G. trying to make M.E. laugh, M.E., losing her shit, girls pretending to be a field of poppies doing their business about 6 feet away, when another little girl walks in.  It should be noted that little girls can be a little vindictive, even awesome ones.  Especially awesome ones, sometimes.  So, L.G. (we’re gonna call the Little Girl who walked in at that point L.G.,) does, what was in retrospect, a fantastically haughty eye-roll at the M’s shenanigans (M.E., might have been tearing up trying not to laugh at fart noises, as someone typing this now is trying not to do). 

    "So mature."

    Just like that.  Then she went off to tell her equally haughty tightly bunned friends how silly and immature SOME kids there were.  ENEMY FOR LIFE!  So, poppy-field music in the background, the M’s decide that “the laughing game” was going to be turned into “the laughing AT game”.  (Again, 2 totally cool kids, or at least moderately neat, and generally not especially un-nice, driven to the brink by irony and ego-preservation.)  This, it should be stated, was about 2 weeks before The Big Recital,  which is relevant because imagine 2 kids fake-laughing every time they saw someone, who they would see a couple times every afternoon for about 10 consecutive days.  [I said this was a bit of a picaresque tale, right?  Because these are maybe not the kind of protagonists that you want to like at this point.  In this age, these actions might be construed as unacceptable bullying, even given a the tightly-wound L.G.’s tightly-knit support system.  In the 80’s, perhaps that was the case too, but this story takes a turn for the weird and bizarre, so I should move out of this aside of recognition of the kind of maybe jerk that was an older younger M.E.]

    Let’s skip the increasing frustration of the very haughty L.G. getting laughed at daily for a week by going directly to the NIGHT OF THE BIG RECITAL.


    Backstage, the NOTBR, was similar to backstage the nights of many recitals:  kids wearing FAR too much make-up, the rustle of tulle, tutus everywhere, very loud (in this case) Wizard of Oz music drowning out the titterings of a hundred or so little girls waiting to dance their piece and bask in the adulation of their parents.  M.E., sitting on the ground, trying not to forget the meter for “As mayor of the Munchkin City, in the county of the land of Oz, I welcome you most reeeegally…”and so on.   M.G. was much cooler and watching the stage.  (The M’s were queued up in the wings past stage right).  Tu-tus making sitting awkward. Wedgies.  Sequins making certain areas very itchy.  Pantyhose that just never sat quite right in the crotch.  Little ballerinas are adorable, but it is seldom comfortable.

    At this point, a quaternary little girl approached MG and ME.  Let’s call her QT.  QT was probably about the same age as the M’s, but maybe not so bright.  Witlessness was …just shy of an inexcusable crime in the mind of young M.E., and to be punished with a lack of candor.  Surely the exchange that follows makes sense only in that light. 

    QT: You know, L.G. is pretty unhappy with you.
    ME: Really? Why? 
    QT: You have been laughing at her!  She told her mom.  And (mumbles names.) 
    ME: Oh…OH, oh, no, gosh, I hope she doesn’t think that.  I…I have a medical condition, sometimes weird things cause me to chuckle.  Like keys! *Riotous laughter, wipe away a tear*  But we weren’t laughing at her.  She just has a blue-hoo-hoo-hoo leotard, and that’s one of the colors that sets it off. 
    QT: *face lighting up having learned something new* OH!  That clears it up.  I’ll tell her that!  *swishes away in her own little light blue tutu.*

    M.E. and M.G. had a little chuckle about this.  First “Welcome to Oz” scene came and went.  Flying monkey girls went off to do their thing the first time around. They were older and in toe-shoes (the ones with wooden tips for extra pain inducement and extra fancy abilities, but oh god the toe knuckles cringe just thinking about them).  After that scene, a fifth girl adds to our character sheet.  Let us call her BEHEMOTH. 

    BEHEMOTH was easily a foot taller than M.E.  She was probably about 4 years older, and while M.E. would go through a fairly chunky stage, at this point between the height and the relative largeness, neck-less BEHEMOTH probably had a 50 lb advantage.  You’ll note that M.G. was far too sensible to get herself involved.  She also had 2 brothers, but their interactions always seemed much more civil than those between ME and her 2.  Anyhow, BEHEMOTH approached the two from behind M.G., a vantage giving M.E. ample time to realize EXACTLY what was gonna go down.

    B: Get up.
    ME: Yo.  *gets up*
    B: *with a fairly agressive finger poke to the middle of the chest* Have you been laughing at my friend?
    ME: No? (Future ME notes, years of defusing tense situations later, that a simple denial was probably not the right choice of response.)
    B: Have YOU been LAUGHING at my friend? 
    ME: I don’t even know what you’re talking about!

    BEHEMOTH reached down (remember, she’s tall and broad, like the monolith from 2001, but in a leotard and tutu, which was also light blue) with her burly longshoreman hands and grabbed M.E. by the throat.  Thumbs on the trachea, she lifted the not slight but not especially hefty mayor up.  By the neck.  Thumbs on the wind pipe.  M.E. squirmed, as B repeated her interrogation, not seeming especially interested in an answer, which probably would have been a squeak of a lie anyhow.  Realizing that the choices were limited as all be-leotarded witnesses watched this scene in semi-silent terror, M.E. decided that she had better go out swinging fists because the breathing was not getting any easier. 

    With all the grace of a slightly drunken canine, the flailing hands of M.E. tightened to fists and focused themselves on the BEHEMOTH, who dropped M.E. to quickly retaliate.  While every re-telling of this tale usually sounds a little bit like Happy Gilmore (“She got in a few lucky punches, but I feel I won the fight”), the fact of the matter is that when a 4 foot tall person is trying to duke it out with a 5 foot tall person, it is far easier for the shorty to be conked on the head, while punching uselessly like Little Mac at the non-blinking stomach of King Hippo. (Fun fact: me and my older brother used to primarily only be allowed to play the display Nintendo at the Sears for most of my youth.  He was the button man and it was my job to look for patterns and coach.)  The surprise nut-punch, while villainous but at times necessarily effective on boys, was useless here.


    Usually, there is some pantomime involved in this story, but lacking a physical presence, be once again reminded: This is all going on in the dimly lit back/side stage area.  The BEHEMOTH: a blue leotarded monolith. Very voluminous tutu coming up to the top of her opponent’s abdomen.  M.E.:  So odd.  So scrappy.  So short.  Blocking as best as she knows how.  Also wearing a tu-tu.  Flying-monkey music derrangedly loud.  Horrified witnesses.  This is what vindictive childishness and lies lead to.  This is a lesson being learned, knuckles and all.  Make-up being smeared.  Hair being muzzed. The ruffles.  So many ruffles.  Finally, ages later, an adult noticed.  10 feet away.  Miss Donna Lee.  Not a cool adult.  But Thank God for the intercession


    She flailed her arms in the air as she rushed over, like elbowless Olive Oyl, quickly sidling between the combatants.  In her panicked soprano voice:

    "Girls, girls! You’re ballerinas, not boxers!" 
    (Everything else is icing on the cake of that climactic line.)

    BEHEMOTH was shunted off somewhere, probably told she should know better, probably.  M.E. hustled off with M.G. to attempt to re-cake the face with stage-goop.  M.G. said that M.E. had put up a heckofafight.  Too young for swears.  It’s an odd feeling, years later: in the retelling, there’s still a note of an oddly admired bravery, despite the fact that little M.E. A) didn’t really have a choice, and B) probably deserved no choice.  There aren’t clear lines here, or at least lines I am choosing to see.  I suppose It was almost heroic, what had gone on; a snarky but kind of adorable David being crushed by a Goliath who had been retained to assist a haughty little kid. 

    The smeared makeup was removed and a new layer shellacked back on.  It would hide the growing bruises that night, but the next day, little M.E. had her very first shiner.  She successfully avoided her parents, being “really tired” from the exertion of the previous night’s performance.  The thing that they do on TV with bags of frozen peas on the face was actually pretty effective.  Meat on the face seemed gross and for many years she’d hated eating peas, anyhow.