Archive for April, 2008


freakishly reflective middle fingers

I was walking quickly through the mall.  I had been searching for an ATM, so I had tunnel vision on a little unit ahead that would eventually charge me $3 for a withdrawal. 

I was almost to the ATM when off to my left I heard, “Excuse me, but you have very nice finger nails.”

I stopped in my tracks.  Very nice finger nails?  Surely whoever it was that addressed me was demented because I cut my fingernails down to the tops of my fingers at least once a week. 

I keep them short because I play guitar, but also because my hands feel dirty if there is any “white” on the tips.  (I know that they’re not actually dirty, but it feels dirty to me!)  I’m particular about my finger nails, but only particular about them being short and clean.  No one ever notices my finger nails, much less compliments them. 

I turned to see who was talking to me.  It was a girl standing in front of a nail care kiosk in the center of the mall.

Oh boy.  This is one kiosk that was selling to someone out of their market.  FAR AWAY from their market.

She already saw me stop walking, so I couldn’t pretend as though I hadn’t heard her.   We made eye contact and she motioned for me to come closer.  Sigh.  I trudged closer like a kid being pulled into the nurse’s office for a lice check.

Her product was a sponge-like nail buffer that makes your nails shiny.  No chemicals, no nail polish.  She held my hand and went to town on my middle finger, making it glimmer under the neon mall lights.  She was asking a lot of rhetorical questions like, “Doesn’t that look nice?”  or “Have your nails ever looked like this?”  How could I weasel out?

My only defense was the truth.  “I don’t pay much attention to my nails.  I haven’t spent money on them since…  NEVER.” And that was the truth.

My mother treated my sisters and I to a manicure before her wedding to my stepfather back in 2001.  I remember standing in front of a wall-o-nail polish, at least 50 different colors in nameless bottles.  It was too much of something that I didn’t like, like having a plate of cottage cheese placed in front of you at an eating contest.  On your mark, get set….go!  Adrenaline takes over and you plunge your face into the cottage cheese because it’s an eating contest — not because you like it.  I received the manicure that day not because I wanted it, but because it was show of support for my mom. 

Back at the nail care kiosk the girl wanted to talk money.  Welcome, bartering, to the Colonie Center Mall.

“Usually this kit sells for $50.  But because I like you, I will sell it for my cost which is $25.”

This was getting weird.  Did she and I have a bond that I didn’t know about?  To my knowledge the only thing she’d ever given me was a freakishly reflective middle finger. 

I had to end it quick and dirty — with a promise that I would “come back later.”  As I was walking away I heard her softly say, “You’re not coming back.” 

That time I kept walking, though the tone in her voice did tug at my conscious through dinner with my friends.  She was right, I wasn’t going back.  And probably many of her reluctant customers didn’t return that day, though there we were, scattered around the greater Albany area with ultra glossy middle fingers.



glassy eyed dreams of lawn mowing

It’s twilight on a summer’s night and the shadows are long.  Within the hour fireflies will start ascending from the grass.  I jump on the lawnmower and turn the key.  The seat vibrates as the engine comes to life and I let the machine rev for a minute or two.  As I look out at the lawn, I create my plan of attack.

By sundown, the lawn is one length of varying shades of green, linear patterns.  I have little bits of grass stuck to my socks and shins, I have a smudge of dirt on my forehead.  The fireflies start flashing in the darker corners of the yard and the simple sweet smell of cut grass lingers over the house until morning.

Welcome to my lawn-mowing fantasy.  I’m a simple person.  Just let me cut your yard and I’m content.

When I first moved to upstate NY, I would mow my grandparent’s yard occasionally.  Most of it was done by a riding mower (awesome), but the final touches and tight corners were mowed by a push mower. 

I was a push mower expert. 

While growing up, my father would pay me $3 for our backyard and $2 for the front.  It would take me a few hours on a Saturday, but by the end of the day I had a hot $5 burning my palm.  I would mow all sorts of designs in our yard.  My favorite was to circle the dogwood in the center of the front yard, alternating between clockwise and counter-clockwise circles to create a “sound wave.”   

At least in my mind it looked like a sound wave radiating from the tree.  Then there was the 4th of July when I attempted a “fireworks” design in the backyard before a picnic.  That didn’t go over very well – it was just a muddled mess and no one noticed it.  Sigh.  The life of an under-appreciated push mower artist…


So when I could put my push mower prowess to work for my grandfather, I was enthusiastic. 

All was going well until one night I mowed over an underground hive of bees.

They started spurting out of the ground like bullets.  One after the other, they immediately eyed me and began dive bombing.  I left the mower behind and sprinted away as fast as I could.  Surging on adrenaline, the sting I felt on my ankle didn’t slow me down – I was on a mission to get inside FAST! 

Once inside, my grandmother tended to my sting and my grandfather wanted to know the facts about the hive’s location.  Tranquility returned and I was just about normal when an angry bee dislodged himself from my shirt and started dive bombing in the living room.  Chaos erupted.  I ran down the hall, Grandma hid in the kitchen and my grandfather was left to battle the little fiend. 

Somehow Grandpa ended up with a sting on his wrist and a dead bee on the floor.  It was the closest to an alien invasion that I’ve ever experienced.  We were injured and couldn’t stop chattering about the bees.

That experience doesn’t match up with my fire-fly twilight lawn mowing fantasy.  But that’s why it’s a fantasy and it’s okay with me if there’s a disconnect between reality and fantasy.  Once you live out a fantasy it becomes ‘experience,’ which isn’t much to dream about.


saturday morning water torture




The sound of hard rain on my wall unit air conditioner signals the beginning of warm weather.  From November through March it’s totally silent when it snows around here.  But with the warmer weather comes thunderstorms and rain that runs off the roof.  It wakes me up.

When I want to sleep, it’s like water torture.




This morning I gave up and moved to the living room to sleep on my couch.  As if that was going to be better? 

tick  tock

tick  tock

tick  tock

I could hear the second hand of my wall clock.  I heard my early-bird upstairs neighbors walking around.  The sun was rising and glinting in the raindrops stuck on the outside of my windows. 

I started thinking about coffee.  It would have been lovely to smell coffee brewing, but I wanted someone else to do it.  At last roll call, I was the only one in my apartment.  Sigh.  How much does hiring a coffee-making butler cost?  But that’s all I would want to pay him for…and just for today.  Any takers?

My eyes were heavy and closed, though my mind was all over creation.  My brain was connecting dots, chaotically connecting dots.  I’ve been making life altering decisions recently.  I couldn’t blame the rain or the clock for my sleeplessness.  I curled into the smallest ball that I could and wondered why I opted for the sagging cushions of the couch over my bed.  Oh yes…the tinking.  Another dot, connected.

My spirit was aggitated and the sun hadn’t been up for five minutes.  Saturday mornings are supposed to be restful, right?  “At least you’re not a farmer who has to get up and milk the cows,” my brain chimed in.  Yet another dot, connected.

Thanks, brain, for reminding me that my biggest immediate problem was that I wasn’t smelling coffee when I wanted to.  It was 6:30am — I hadn’t officially gotten up for the day — and my brain was coaching my heart to chill out. 

I did eventually uncurl and make myself some coffee and shower.  By 9am I had “humanized” and morphed back into normal-Kari…however ‘normal’ she is.




the perpetual battle imprinted on my kitchen cupboard

When I sit in my livingroom, I look directly at my kitchen cupboards. 

I have a lot of cupboards for a small apartment, which I’m very grateful for.  Most of them are 1/2 empty, and I can’t even reach into the cupboards over the stove and refridgerator.  If you ever were going to hide something from me, just put it above the fridge — I may figure out that it’s up there, but it’ll stay there until YOU get it back down.

There’s one particular cupboard door that’s different than the others. 

It looks back at me. 

See, the universal battle between Good & Evil plays out in a tangible way on my cupboard door.  Evil/Happy cupboard holds my bowls and plates.  Please view Evil/Happy cupboard below:

I noticed this cupboard shortly after moving in here.  Over the past four years Evil/Happy cupboard has watched me do a lot of weird things like ruin the finish on my coffee table by ironing my clothes on it, fixing an old typewriter, and whittling left over pieces of wax from my candles.   It’s seen me accdentially pour hot wax onto my carpet and then cover it up with a chair. 

I’m going to have to bribe the cupboard when I move away — it could expose me as the 5 year old that I really am. It’s watching me write this, right now.

I took a Myers Briggs personality test earlier this week.  1/4 of the questions related to my behavior in social situations — do I introduce others at parties, or am I the one being introduced?  Do I go into a corner and talk to one person at a party, or am I starting up a game for everyone? Do I find being around others “exciting” or “draining?”


As an introvert, I find that I’m more myself when I’m alone.  I wouldn’t whittle wax in front of you, unless I was trying to make you laugh at how deranged the little figurines come out.  The best Saturdays for me are time spent alone, cooking a nice meal with a baseball game on in the background. 

It was draining to answer all 144 questions, most of which asked the same things in slightly different ways.  By the end it was depressingly clear to me that I prefer to be ‘scheduled’ instead of spontaneous, and that though I appreciate theory, I practice what’s practical.  When did that happen?  I wasn’t necessarily like that until I moved out on my own.

It’s been my version of survival and a double edged sword.

Like Evil/Happy cupboard, my practical nature has positive and negative faces.  I save money, then I’m paralyzed to spend it on things I’d enjoy but perceive as wasteful. 

Life can be fuller than I’ve been living it.  I pray for the courage to change when I need to.