Thursday, November 15, 2007

pt. 3: nh, nyc, ma, aka, manatee gets her gun

ok, this is really just about nh, because various random bullshit happened in boston and during my 10 blissful hours back in the city [and i'll explain usage of the word blissful later], but nh is where my life was changed. and when i think about it, nh is usually host to my major epiphanies. i mean, aside from epiphanies, thrifting, and crocheting while watching tv, what else is there to do once the weather gets cold?

actually, that's a lie, because i actually went kayaking while i was there. two years ago, when i lived in nh for six+ months, i decided i wanted to keep swimming through october and went to the local diving shoppee to get a wet suit. when most people think of diving shops (or at least people who've only experienced diving culture on shitty vacations to islands where you're either a guest at the giant resort or a local living in a concrete hut with 12 other family members who all rely on the patriarch who captains a glass bottom booze cruise), they think of stores filled with neon snorkels, rash guards, and various bits of island-abilia that look like stuff found at jimmy buffet's garage sale.

the lake, for obvious reasons, don't do diving that way. first of all, the only people that snorkel in the lake are looking for dangerous plants (millfoil alert!) or lost car keys. the lake bottom, where visable, is 90% boulders, 7% sand, and 3% deflated rafts that were once used to drag children behind boats, concrete n'keys. the lake is deep enough in most points that you can't see the bottom at all. and if you really scuba to see the bottom, then you're in for some really, really big boulders. and maybe a treacherous rock bass. and my dad's wallet that he had in his pocket while sailing a sunfish in 1984.

long story short, lake snorkeling, as is true for most activities in northern new england, is more practical than fun, the practical purpose being the anchoring or un-anchoring of long, floating boat docks when they're installed in the early spring or removed in the late fall . (because the lake freezes pretty solidly, and the thick ice shifts, wooden docks have to be removed lest they're shredded to toothpicks).

(this is also why wooden boat houses on the lake have winter bubblers that keep the water around the houses moving/unable to freeze, which is why i hate walking the dogs on the lake, but then again, like the old song goes, we can all feel like jesus and walk on water when it freezes.)

anyway, the store sells wetsuits for the dock installers/removers, ie, people who swim in the lake when it's either just thawed/about to freeze, so the wet suit i bought (and the only kind they sell) is so fucking thick that i can't only hardly swim in it, i can barely walk in it, and when i do, i could easily double for scuba steve (if you don't know your quality sandler, i can't help you). or i can swim in the pants (more like skin-tight inch-thick overalls), but if i wear the top (skin-tight inch-thick zip-up mock-turtleneck with attached bike shorts for xtry humiliation) i can't only thrash around like a gold retriever.

[image: me in my wetsuit being pawed by a giant child.]

so the suit's not so good for swimming, but if i wear the pants (among other layers of waterproof outdoorsy bullshit), they're perfect for kayaking. kayaking is already essentially jogging for paraplegics-- no legs required-- and if i do tip for some reason (even tho i can't imagine feeling tippy in a kayak-- they're like canoes if they were barcaloungers), i'm as buoyant as a an inflated raft used to drag children behind boats. so i went out in the kayak a few times, saw the last of the foliage, the empty houses, a handful of loons, and generally felt at one with nature. and like a sweaty ball of rubber.

i also played outdoor tennis with my father in 35 degree weather, but that's just because we're incredibly stupid. i've got no good excuse/nature trivia to back that up.

but, the main event came friday, when my friend rick told me that the local gun shoppe had my gun in stock. my gun being an auto-loading .22 ruger rifle with a black synthetic stock for easy care and maintenance. i could pick it up that night. and don't forget the ammo.

[image: the ammo.]

to back up: my house is under siege by red squirrels. red squirrels, like gray squirrels, bears, and many other woodland creatures, are not only territorial, but, for lack of a better word, consistent. if a red squirrel has found food somewhere, let alone lived there, they will return to that somewhere every time they're hungry until the end of time. (same with most types of bears-- once they develop a taste your garbage, they will keep coming back for more every spring whether the garbage is there or not [or until rick {bear hunting permit permitting, it's a lottery} shoots said bear with a bow and arrow]).

anyway, squirrels used to live in our basement, but we tore up the basement in the spring to turn it into my parents' retirement suite, as our basement is actually on ground level (the house is on a hill) and now my parents can grow old in a stair-free environment (at least when it's done, whenever that'll be, i'm afraid to ask rick, who's my parents' contractor, lest he shoot me with his bow and arrow). but now that we're essentially putting the basement back in, the squirrels have come home to roost, and in the process they're essentially eating the new construction.

[image: today, cardboard. tomorrow, the squirrels! but not the world. i'm not insane.]

nevermind that they get into the house through other nooks and crannies (the house is over a 100 years old, has no foundation, and is mainly populated by two older adults who don't understand why leaving an open bag of chips on the kitchen counter might be a bad idea). it's always fun to be sitting on the couch, reach in between the cushions to find the remote, and realize you've stuck your hand into a small stash of acorns, dog food, and the trader joe's version of pirate's booty.

(please note that not only do we have mice, and squirrels, but we also now have moles. you heard me. no concrete foundation plus slob inhabitants = mole problem. i saw one in a trap. it was like a mouse but with no ears, a really pointy face, and a broken neck.)

so rick has been telling me how much he'd like to come by on a sunday with one of his weapons and pick those fucking squirrels off, and i was like, why do you get to have all the fun? i'm a fucking nh resident, shouldn't i own a firearm by now, if not 8? cause i'm never gonna come through with the pick-up truck or the drinking problem. and rick told me that if i was serious, he'd bring a catalog and call his favorite gun shop, and tada.

[image: the branch was the bullseye. be afraid. be very afraid.]

now, i might be a pinko, but i do have a fondness for civil liberties than some could see as a libertarian slant (see: nh residency). while i think it should be harder to get a gun (buying a gun in nh is redunkulously easy-- the form literally has questions like, "are you a fugitive from the law?", questions the salesman pre-advised me to answer with NO), guns aren't going away. and besides, gun ownership, like, say, animal slaughter, is usually only seen in staunchly negative/in black and white terms by people who haven't spent much time around guns or animals. just die hard movies and cats (altho die hard movies are pretty cool) (fuck cats).

eg, a .22 is not a 30 ot 6 isn't an ak-47. owning a gun in new hampshire doesn't mean the same thing as owning a gun in new york or even new jersey (be it newark or south orange) (or the other nice parts but where tony soprano was supposed to live). and if you've fired a gun, you know it's a lot more than a murder machine. not that i think everyone should go out of their way to understand what firearms are really about, because it's just safer to assume they're murder machines and stay the fuck away since most people aren't responsible enough to own an iphone, let alone a gun, but still.

as for the animal side of things, i have many vegan friends, and i respect their efforts. but i don't buy that people are supposed to be intelligent enough to have the compassion that lesser predator animals do not. to me, that goes hand in hand with, say, wanting teenagers to be "smart enough" to abstain from sex. if the galapagos taught me anything, it's that even the gentlest creatures living in an earthbound eden are still vicious, territorial little fuckers who fight to the death for food, let their second born babies die of exposure for the sake of their own survival, and bust their asses to get laid.

your average human is slightly more sophisticated than your average marine iguana, but deep down, the wiring is the same. see: the hockey dad, the day after thanksgiving shoppers at walmart, the brazillian makes the violent shit animals do for their base needs look refined and quaint.

[image: this apple wanted a piece of me, so i shot out a piece of it (har har). or, since it was just rotting under our tree, you could say i put it out of its misery.]

long story short, i won't lose sleep over killing a squirrel, especially one that's trying to eat my house. i don't see the point in going out and killing a deer, because we've got no beef (or venison, i guess), but if necessity struck, i'd certainly kill a chicken, because if you're going to eat an animal you shouldn't delude yourself into thinking it became a mcnugget by dying of old age.

the most interesting thing i've noticed about pods of hardline activists of the vegan straightxedge ilk (it's always self-righteous in philadelphia!) is that they can be some of the most vicious, gossipy people you'll ever encounter, little dreadlocked heathers in terms of vindictive mindgamey bullshit. for all the rhetoric that goes with living in a vegan co-op in the ghetto (fort awesome/castle grayskull/chez asbestos) where everyone rides a track bike and helps with the house's unofficial pit bull rescue and wipes their ass with a reusable rag recycled from an old pair of dickies, the reality is often way less diy eutopia and more lord of the flies (which works well, since everyone is already dirty and wearing torn clothes). which is to say, animals are saved, but people are torn to shreds. this is not progress.

[please note: i also know at least one vegan activist type who also works with battered wives and teenaged girls and is rad overall, but for every one of her, there are 100 20 year olds who proudly don't vote and make mean girls look positively soft.]

naturally, i've lost my train of thought, but the point is, owning a gun isn't inherently wrong, hobbes was right, and i hate philadelphia.

[image: my idea of hell/my early 20s.]

boston was sort of boring, as always, but in NY i saw friends, took the subway, tried on 13 items at h&m, all the bullshit i took for granted after 10 years in the city that now makes me feel like i'm on crack. oh, to have friends i can just lunch with and shoot the shit! to be surrounded by hundreds of people who are both alert and indifferent and good at hiding the fact they're judging you! tasti d-lite! the worst thing about the strike is that it makes me feel like moving back is that much more of an impossibility, but i'll take my hits of home when i can. more than anything, i miss my friends, all these funny, smart people who do such interesting stuff and make me laugh. and totally don't think less of me now that i own a gun.
ps: don't you hate it when tv shows make their characters unlikable or their plotlines annoying for the sake of "character development"? it's like the spinach of story arcs, like when rory and and lorelai stopped speaking to each other or when keith compromised his otherwise rock-solid morals to save veronica and in turn (most likely) ceeded the position of sheriff to vinnie van lowe. long story short, while i see what they're trying/have to do, fuck matt saracen 2.0 (lord knows the nurse will).

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