Dog Days

“Heeere, piggy piggy piggy! I smell bacon through the PHONE!” This is a somewhat typical expression to come home to when my cop-hating sister is on the phone with her other sister Danni (also known as coffin-bait.) Danni drives the cadaver-wagon for one of the local funeral homes, and as a consequence, has to deal with the police once in a while.

To clarify, a hearse is a fancy black car that drives the prepared remains of someone’s dearly beloved to their final resting place. The cadaver wagon is a white van that delivers the dead to the funeral home to be washed, dressed, and either preserved or incinerated, depending.

These days, you can even get a Trek urn, although it’s less canopic jar and more Locknar.

Typically, the burial process in America is a cross between Egyptian tradition (embalming intact remains, giant heavy box, offerings for the afterlife, etc.) and the Victorians, who totally jacked all of that stuff and made it prudy and English.

Cremation, on the other hand, is typically better for the environment (no formaldehyde or lead-lined box buried too deep for proper decomposition) and an investment in a Victorian- style mantelpiece (also known as the urn.)

  But I wasn’t going to write about dead people.

   I was writing about daycare.

The Munchkin, looking very Bellingham in bedroom slippers and my fedora.

So, since I’ve graduated and am now freelance (read—unemployed) I’ve started nannying the Munchkin, who just turned four and is a pretty princess who likes to dig in the dirt. This brings in a whopping 60 bucks a week at the moment, but in the likely event that Suzy Q goes to work full-time (rumor has it she’s getting promoted) then it’ll be a hundred.

Aside from that, Suzy’s also hired me to tutor her mom in English reading comprehension. Popo is a frightening descendant of emperors and conquerors and she works as a sushi chef because in the thirty years that she’s lived in America, nobody ever bothered to work with her on reading. (At one point, Popo was a Chinese opera singer and has received job offers to teach at Western because of her expertise. She had to decline because every Western teacher has to have a written syllabus and administer a written final exam.)

Teaching Popo will be 3 hours at most per week at 20 bucks an hour, which is on the cheap side for a private tutor, but they’re family and it was Suzy’s idea, so I’m not complaining. I am, however, terrified beyond all reason because I have to be in an educator’s position with Popo. Who continues to frighten me in spite of the fact that I’ve known her for four years and she likes me because I do the dishes and occasionally, I act like her daughter’s voice of reason. (Because she’s aware of my abject terror of her and my capacity to negotiate with Suzy, I am occasionally subjected to a forty minute tirade about how she has no idea what her daughter thinks she is doing with her life.)

My first day as nanny consisted of painting, soccer, Flintstones, and a picnic to try and get the Munchkin to eat in the heat. It also lacked a proper nap, because the Munchkin’s window faces the neighbors.

“Tante, I can’t sleep!”

“Why not?”

“Because the neighbors are buttheads!”

I’d tell her not to say it, but it’s true, and she learned it from Popo anyways.

Because I watch the Munchkin until 5:30, I ended up going straight to Uji’s for the night. Needless to say, I’ve not spent a great amount of time at home, and I swear the kids are taller than when I left. Going to Uji’s does save money on laundry (because I wear my shirts for two days now instead of one) but it makes my dirty clothes extra-rank. It also means that I’m inclined to go stir-crazy in Uji’s tiny grey apartment and I get annoyed by his semi-nocturnal habits, because dammit, the day is half over and I’ve got stuff to do.

Uji’s true form, which he assures me is some sort of rabbit, which he appears as if awakened before the crack of noon.

Like looking for grad school  and a full-time job.

Some days, though, I just let it sit and don’t care about it for a while, because I’m doing things like enjoying the summer that we’re actually getting this year.

Like yesterday.

Uji and I hit our 5-month mark without any grievous bodily harm, so we packed a picnic in the park to celebrate. He cut up some bread and cheese and a couple of carrots, I brought fresh home-made aioli from scratch (because I am the kitchen pimp) and we drank bubbly that he smuggled into the park in tonic water bottles. It wasn’t very smuggly since tonic water is clear and Chandon is yellow, but nobody really looked at us twice.

Uji in my fedora, looking rather out-of place in Bellingham due to his ironed shirt, fresh haircut, and a distinct lack of bedroom slippers.

We hung out and watched the sunset, took a bunch of pictures, and practiced his English. His word of the day: “Douchebag.”

I’m so proud.

We’re hanging out again tonight, and tomorrow I’m abandoning both households for Seattle for a girls’ weekend in honor of Suzy Q’s 24th birthday. I have no idea what the fuck to get her, but whatever it is will likely be gluten-free and loaded with cardamom.

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