I’ve become a midnight gardener, which, among the awesome evening professions, ranks just beneath midnight cowboy and way above rural newspaper delivery. Not to digress, but have you ever imagined that job interview?
Interviewer: Are you comfortable driving on the wrong side of the road, making gratuitous
u-turns, and chucking paper out your window? At 3:00 a.m.? While wearing a hoodie?
Guy: Not a problem, brah. I do it all the time.
Anyway, long story short, my neighbor tried to prune my bush. From the middle. Very avant-garde hairstylist. Now it is mostly dead with split ends, but it still has impressive body! I’ve been ignoring the situation since I moved in eight months ago because it was so overwhelming and part of me hoped it would fix itself, as nature sometimes does. When I encounter a scary spider in the bathroom, my go-to strategy is to make a swift exit, return in a few hours, and then it just magically disappears.
But not so with the bush. It’s just this impossibly huge supervillain that lurks a few feet outside my front door and somehow manages to increase in size while also getting more and more dead. (Aren’t dying things supposed to shrivel, as a courtesy? Like guests who pull their car out of your driveway and get smaller and smaller until they just quietly disappear into the night? No?)
So Home Depot hooked me up with elbow-length welding gloves and I went in for the kill. DIE TO LIVE, BOOGIE MONSTER BOUGAINVILLEA*!
Backstory: When I arrived at Home Depot, I was a bit frantic. I ran up to a lady employee in the aisles, looked her straight in the eyes, and said, "Listen. I have a huge bush. Size XXL. It's way out of control. Can you help me?" She gave me the biggest smile, held my hand, listened to me jabber, and that's how we found my welding gloves. She was my very personal shopper, and eagerly indicated that she could help me with anything else I may need. Home Depot customer service really is in a class by itself.
*Yes, I had to Google how to spell that. Louis Antoine de Bougainville (1729-1811), French navigator, is surely rolling in his grave as I pronounce this word like an overconfident toddler: boogie-veeya! I go snip snip on my boogie plant!
ACT 1, SCENE 2: MY YARD
I didn’t plan on doing the deed in the dark, but a few nights ago the spirit moved me: I just felt like hacking something to pieces after I got home late from work. I wandered out to the bush in my sleeveless dress and dangly jewelry, picked up the shears, and got in there. It felt better than I expected so I kept going.
I know what you’re thinking: my attire was not ideal. And that is true. You tug on one branch and it's connected to 50 other pieces-- you can only pull it so far before you boomerang back into a bed of 2 inch thorns. Sleeves are preferred in this moment.
And then there’s the possum. I won’t elaborate, but suffice it to say he’s not thrilled that I’m remodeling.
But other than that, Xtreme Midnight Gardening is so much fun! The air is crisp, no one tells me what to do, it’s dark so there’s this sense of mystery and adventure. I can sweat, grunt, groan, swear, make a mess, stab myself, flail my arms, get a fierce workout. It’s better than CrossFit. I chip away pretty much every night and I’m slated to finish by 2018. Cool!
There's just one final nagging problem. I have discovered soft spongy almost liquid white fungus in two places. Do I scrape it off? Leave it on? Market it as locally sourced vegan whipped cream? I need to know: Will it kill whatever is left after all my meticulous pruning?
I tried to figure out which specific kind of organism it is, but the Google image matches were just these hauntingly beautiful artistic photos of fungus, no scientific details. Apparently it’s a popular subject for mood art.
Ah, nature. If it isn't a beauty, it's a beast. Maybe I should just embrace the situation, take pictures, and sell them to 24 hour hipster coffee shops. This bush is definitely made for night owls.
I joined the circus!
A few years ago I saw an Aerial Silks video and I just couldn't get it out of my mind. I was mesmerized. I swore that I would find a way to cat-climb two glorious silk curtains and hang upside down like a vampire. But every time I mentioned my dream to someone they would say, "You need a lot of upper body strength," and then they would stare at my flaccid arms with grave concern.
For years, I drooled at Youtube videos of flying acrobats and made myself pathetic push-up regimens, broken almost as soon as they were started. I wasn't getting anywhere.
Well luckily no one was around to restrain me when I recently found a super cheap Groupon for TEN (10) classes. I made the impulse purchase, quickly confirmed that I still have health insurance, closed my eyes and signed the liability release.
A few day later I busted through the doors of Aerial Revolution with manic energy and a twinkle in my eye, just enough to psych out the receptionist. I wore a leotard with tiny crabs, tribal leggings, and cowgirl boots. Ponytail in full effect.
Yes, we flew.
Yes, we hung upside down.
Yes, I got my foot ridiculously stuck in a knot and the teacher had to Rubix Cube me out of it in front of the whole class while I hung there like a fly in a spider web.
It was pretty amazing. Here's what I've learned so far:
1. Circus HURTS. Peak pain experience settles in after 24 hrs.
2. When the beautiful lady acrobat stood in front of us and mentioned calmly that we may not be able to feel our fingers for a while after class, I should have believed her.
3. Have you heard of curtain burn? It's like rope burn but it covers more acreage on the flesh.
4. The good news is that I do have upper body muscles. The bad news is that I seem to have broken all of them. (Hiiii! Byeee!)
5. I may need tutoring from a Boy Scout. I tie one type of knot, that's it, and I need to learn to tie like 100 more knots, really fast, with my feet.
6. If you're wondering what music they play while you sweatily hoist yourself up and down curtains and give yourself monster wedgies, it's Bachelorette Party Radio.
Truth be told, I was the weakest link in class, and when I think about nine more hours of hard labor I want to scream. But I’ve waited too long for this opportunity to drop it now. As they say, no pain, no gainly swinging from the chandeliers.
Up, up, and away!
Beauty products are measured in units of coin or vegetable—a dime-size dollop of shampoo, a pea-size portion of toothpaste. Back in the day, before debit cards and the kale craze, when entire casseroles were unabashedly built around tiny shriveled green balls and every cartoon mother exclaimed, “Eat your peas or else!”, these units of measure were perfectly practical.
But the next generation does not understand such antiquated references. How much longer will the beauty industry continue to speak Latin in church? Let me help:
I got my first big girl haircut! As the Persian breed goes, I’m very hairy. At the same time, I’m unwilling to do any maintenance beyond occasional brushing. I do not own a hair dryer or any other modern contraption. I grow the hair wild and wooly down to my Dimples of Venus (yes, you should Google that) and then every year or two I march into the cheapest Supercuts and cry, “Off with my hair! Slice it up to the nipples.”
But this time I went to a friend who is an actual hair artist, I got a little overexcited, and I did what you are not supposed to do: I brought in a picture of my celebrity crush, Kate McKinnon from SNL, and asked her to make me look like EXACTLY LIKE HER. My friend is a kind person, so she gently pointed out that we do not share the same hair color or bone structure, and I had already stated that I wanted it longer than the picture, but she was happy to layer it and do something similar. Then the long pause. Long. Her eyes were fixed just below my chin.
“Is everything ok?” I asked.
“I’m just trying to figure out where your nipples are.”
Now, no hairdresser had ever cared enough to be that precise so I had never dealt with the question, but I suppose my friend really wanted to make a good first impression and give me what I was asking for and that’s how we ended up in this strange back and forth where I realized that even I did not know exactly where my nipples were unless I felt around a bit. It was a momentary existential crisis. Does anyone truly know where their nipples are? I mean, could you describe the coordinates to a stranger using only memory and spatial intelligence?
Anyway, as you can see from the pics below, we figured it out. Kate and I are basically twins now and I’m hooked on fancy haircuts.
As I was driving home yesterday, I thought I heard the ominous shooka shooka of a rattlesnake in the backseat. But it was worse: The cheap tinfoil on my party leftovers was jangling at a fever pitch, threatening to break loose and unleash neon cake frosting and double garlic pesto sauce onto the upholstery. In those moments, no matter the crisis in the back seat, the driver cannot abandon post. You don't want to spook the other cars so you bear down, keep your hands on the steering wheel, put on your game face and soldier forward in spite of the completely disastrous situation unfolding right behind you. The show must go on.
A few weeks ago I saw a belly dance performance. As the beaming sorceress shimmied and sashayed, clacked her finger bells and whipped her hair into a trance, the live snake which was wrapped around her chest flicked his tongue, winked, and made a beeline for her backside. Listen: His head disappeared completely behind her. It happened fast, and it was not subtle. I saw it.
But this gritty goddess, ever the professional, grinned even harder, took a deep dark breath, and continued to dance for us with a renewed fervor, her tattered, barely-there tribal skirt snaking and rattling in an unholy rhythm around her trembling hips. As the music ground to a halt, her arms swooped into the air as if to cast one last spell, and I could have sworn that she locked her glowing fire eyes with mine, as if to say, "Girlfriend, we got this."
It takes more than a snake in the backseat to bring us down.
I'm not good with names.
So when the lady at Starbucks wants to write my name on the cup and I make up a name so we don't have to go through a lesson on Persian transliteration I really try to remember my fake name.
But sometimes I just can't. Especially when I've been concentrating so hard on the menu and trying to order something in Starbucks language that isn't an impossible contradiction. Grande Frappuchino. Ok. Macchiato Frappuchino. Not ok. There's a grammar built into the whole Starbucks system-- some words are nouns (latte), some adjectives (tall), some appear to be in a foreign language (Italian?).
Anyway, as long as I can string some words together and make a legitimate request I'm happy. And the first sip is a delicious surprise.
But occasionally, more often around the full moon (cue high school science project), I forget both my alias and my order. So there I am, loitering around the place where the drinks pop out fully formed, steaming, smoking, shivering, doing a little soft shoe dance, whatever we have asked of them, and I'm lost. A motley crew of cups sprawl on the shelf like overpriced orphans, with names like Mindy, Linda, and Amber, all phonetic, all names I have used at some point in the heat of the moment.
"Can I help you Ma'am?"
"I am looking for my drink."
"What's your name?"
"Well usually I know, but today is kind of tricky."
"What did you order?"
"The nice cashier helped me ask for a drink. I think it has coffee in it, but I can't be sure."
Have you ever lost a rental car in a giant parking lot? You can't remember where the car is, and you wouldn't know it if you saw it anyway, so you wait until most of the other drivers leave and then aim your key at the remaining vehicles. Right? It can take hours.
That's a long time to wait for a beverage. Which is why I would like to patent a new product aimed at people with ethnic or otherwise unspellable names. It's the Starbucks tattoo. Great for people with bangs or throw away foreheads, sits right above the eyebrows, and says: My STARBUCKS name is [Pam].
When the IT guy at work gets all up in my gorgeously disorganized desktop and starts shunting my files into a secret folder and the folder into a hidden e-vault which is housed on a giant mystery drive and then rises from my moist seat and proceeds to stride out the door like something good just happened, I say WAIT A MINUTE and call him back. I want to tell him that next time he should just run in, muss up my hair and throw all my papers up on the roof for storage because that would have a very similar effect and then at least I could get in a few good hours staggering through the halls looking as battered as I feel.
But he looks back with those watery gremlin eyes that haven't seen sunlight since his days in the unicycle club at Harvey Mudd and my heart softens. "Here," I say, "You forgot your iphone."
It is a dubious honor to be the last customer into the post office before the glass doors lock. One by one, a zombie parade of dejected plebeians push their noses against the glass, gnash their teeth, and proffer their precious packages to the heavens hoping for divine intervention.
You can try to ignore them, but they will find your eyes through the security glass and javelin a haunting look that pleads, "Do it! Just open the door from the inside. You're one of us." Anyway, long story short, I may have sold my soul for a roll of stamps.
My name is Nasreen. I write micro essays, one-liners, and other small things. Most of them were funny at some point, at least to me.