Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Auld Lang Sausage

Howdy! I don't have much time to spend on a post today as I'm busy packing and running errands, getting ready for our annual trip to Columbus to spend New Year's Eve with the usual suspects.

This year we're doing it in high style and half of us are staying in a swanky-ish hotel downtown where all of us are meeting for cocktails and having a nice dinner together followed by yet more cocktails consumed into the wee hours of the morning. Or if previous New Year's Eve history dictates we will probably all eat too much, get incredibly drunk and then crash and burn before 10:30pm at which point:
  • Frenchie will already have passed out cold, but somehow still be sitting up.

  • Steph will have exhausted the hotels entire inventory of stemware because apparently she needs a fresh glass each time a new kind of wine is poured.

  • MDH will have snuck out for an after dinner Italian sausage and pepper sandwich snack from the street vendor outside the restaurant.

  • He will hide the sandwich in his pocket and save for later consumption.*
That's how we roll.

Have a safe and happy weekend. Oh and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

*The sausage thing happened on one of our first New Year's Eves together, long, long ago. MDH bought the sandwich when we were all leaving a night club and nobody saw him. With the exception of Nature Boy, our designated driver, we were all totally polluted, stumbling, drunk. Hours later, after we had been safely deposited back home, MDH and I were drunkenly making out, still fully clothed and when we came up for air I looked over and noticed that all of a sudden he was wailing on this sausage and pepper. Even if I hadn't been so drunk I couldn't have imagined where in the hell it had come from so I asked, incredulous, and not just a little jealous because sausage and pepper sandwiches from dudes with street carts are pretty damn good drunk food, "Where did you get that?" to which he replied, matter of factly, "Eh whass in mah pah-ket."

Friday, December 25, 2009

It's Day Old & Bold Baby

Merry Whateveritisyoucelebrate!

Today MDH and I are celebrating not having to drive 2 and a half hours to spend Christmas day at my uncle Dan's house. We are celebrating having the banana pudding I made yesterday to take to my uncle's all to ourselves. We are celebrating the biscuits and gravy I'm going to make us for brunch, and the icy roads that made it all possible.

There is nothing like the glory of wiggling out of visiting elderly relatives with an excuse that is not lame.

The Pudding
The Solid Sheet of Ice That Is Our Driveway and Street

Best Wishes and Happy Holidays to You and Avoiding Yours!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Happy Meme

The Vegetable Assassin tagged everyone for a meme and I normally might wiggle out and try ignore such directives, with the excuse that I didn't think they meant me, but lately I could use a meme listing 10 things that make me happy and being non-specifically tagged by my friend Veg is just the push I needed to get started.

I decided to do a photo meme of 10 things that make me happy. I took most of these pictures today.

1. My big green bamboo bowl filled with tangerines. This makes me happy every time I look at it for several reasons, not the least of which is that I happen to have a thing for big giant bowls and green ones in particular. I also love my big green bamboo bowl filled with tangerines because it was a very thoughtful gift from my mom. We were shopping in a store together and she must have noticed me eye-balling and dry humping this bowl. I didn't buy it, but I also didn't say anything to anyone about it either and thought I was being all low-key, so I was thrilled silly when she sent it to me for my birthday a few months later. I should dry hump things in stores more often.

Tangerines also make me happy. I love them and the ones in the bowl are also a present from my mom. She has them shipped to me each year from a citrus grove down the road from where she and my dad live in Florida. These tangerines are amazing, yummy and juicy, but they aren't very user friendly. They're very pithy and overloaded with seeds - so I slice them into quarters and eat them while leaning over the kitchen sink. The rinds make the garbage disposal smell good too.

2. A nice cuppa. I love tea. Hot or iced. It is difficult for me to remain in a bad mood if there is a cup of fragrant, lovely tea sitting before me. I always have tea in the house (loose leaf) and in the summer there is always a fresh pitcher of iced tea in the fridge. I make it every day. It's delicious and loaded with anti-oxidants and how often does that happen? That something you love is actually good for you?? Above in the photo is today's tea selection served in my $20 hardware store teapot. The tea is Scottish Breakfast and is dark black, malty in flavor and tastes great with a little cream (fat-free half and half) and sugar (Splenda). I find that the ritual of making the tea is very calming and you can't rush through making a decent cup of tea. If I'm in a hurry I grab a cup of coffee or have nothing at all. (I hope the chemicals in the Splenda don't cancel out the health benefits of the anti-oxidants)

3. Watching my $9 potted amaryllis from Target grow. It started off grotesque, appearing to be bald baby skull half buried in the soil of the shiny silver pot and has slowly begun to morph into a fully erect and proud phallic staff of weirdness. It's fascinating and it changes every day. I'm given to understand that eventually a big red flower will bloom. In the meantime I'm enjoying it from a distance, although I do sprinkle a little water on it from time to time and occasionally poke it with a stick.

4. Eating in restaurants and trying new foods. When I was growing up we didn't have a lot of money so we didn't eat out very often and when we did it was always the same places over and over again. My parents weren't and still aren't very adventurous eaters and there were tons of foods I never tried or had even heard of until later in my life. I never had Mexican or Chinese food until I was well into my 20's and the first time I had Indian food was about 6 years ago, well into my 30's. I don't care if a restaurant is fancy or expensive necessarily, but I love to experiment and try new things. For the most part I like everything and I'll eat just about anything except organs, eyeballs, ball-balls, etc.. A lady has to drawn the line somewhere. At least this lady does.

5. Wandering around grand old neighborhoods looking at grand old houses. My dream house is giant rambling Queen Anne on a teeny-weeny lot that has more bricks than grass. And big old trees. The house in the picture is one I took in a Louisville neighborhood that I wandered around in with MDH a few years ago.

6. Traveling anywhere on earth with MDH. Sometimes he gets nutty and plans things without me, and sometimes he let's me take care of everything, but mostly we plan all the big trips together. It's so much fun, the anticipation and build up, deciding where to stay and eat and what to do and then when it finally arrives and it's happening... well there's simply nothing else like it. Every time we fly together, we hold hands just as the plane starts taking off and when the plane leaves the ground we say to each other "Here we are!", as in we did all this planning and here we are, off on our adventure. It's what I had engraved on the inside of his wedding band. I waited all my life to meet someone like MDH who wanted to travel and experience the world and do it NOW rather than waiting. Traveling with MDH also entails some other things that make me happy like staying in nice hotels, eating in restaurants and wandering around grand old neighborhoods.

7. When things are surprisingly uncomplicated. It doesn't take much to set me off and make me furious, but it also doesn't take much to make me happy either. I had trouble finding a picture for this one - so here is picture I took when we were on Kauai last January.
  • Being the first person in line at a check out.
  • Getting an appointment for a haircut within the same week that I call.
  • Going into a store and finding exactly what I was looking for and getting out quickly.
  • In Michigan you don't have to physically go to the BMV to renew your driver's license - they send you a new one with the same old picture, get this, in the mail. It's awesome. Not having to go to the BMV makes me happy.
8. Sparkling Shiraz. It's my new favorite wine. I tried some a few months ago and now I'm totally hooked. It goes with everything.

9. My cat Turtle. I love his funny little furface. There are moments when I'd like to drop kick his hairy ass through our plate glass window, like when I bust him chewing electrical wires or drinking the water from the Christmas tree pan, but otherwise, he's pretty groovy. He doesn't jump up on the counters or pee anywhere other than where he's supposed to. Mostly he does all the things you'd want a pet cat to do - he plays with toys and looks all ferocious and cute at the same time and lays on my lap to be petted.

10. Clean sheets and towels. There is nothing quite like burying your face into a warm and fluffy freshly washed bath towel straight from the dryer or flopping onto a bed newly made up with warm soft sheets that still smell of fabric softener. It's also great to step out of the shower and onto a warm and freshly washed bath mat.

I expect I shouldn't really have to tag anyone for this meme since Veg was crystal clear that we were all to do it. In fact you've had plenty of time to complete this assignment and should be done with yours by now. Let's see it.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Angel Face

My kid sister loved the shit out of Christmas. You think you know people who love the holidays and get all nutty excited? Well you don't. They are probably half asleep and drooling compared to my sister and I miss her this time of year more than any other.

Because of having Down syndrome my sister never matured intellectually beyond the age of 3 or 4. So it was like living with a very little kid for 15 years. Most children grow up and stop believing in Santa Claus. They become sullen, sour and insolent teenagers and then move on to become bitter, jaded, cynical adults (or was that just me?) about everything but especially so around the holidays. But my sister didn't. She stayed a little kid on the inside and she believed in all of it.

*As a side note, in very tiny font that I'm putting at the top of this post rather than the bottom, before I dig into my sappy sister holiday post I would just like to say that although I have written posts about my little sister before I always skirted around terminology and today I really struggled up there trying to find the right words to use. My family and everyone we knew in the special needs community used to just say "mentally retarded", but I've been out of it for awhile and now am given to understand that it's not always considered politically correct, although I used to belong to an organization called ARC which stands for "Aid Retarded Citizens" - it's still called that - so I'm confused now. Anyhoo... I would just like to let anyone reading this know how much I despise the word "retard". It's never funny to me. I Hate it with a capital HATE. Even when you change the emphasis like in the movie The Hangover (which I enjoyed very much by the way ) and say "re-tard" it still sets my teeth on edge. I think that anyone that uses the term "retard" should be forced to spend the afternoon volunteering at a group home for mentally challenged adults (which you can do through an organization like ARC) with varying degrees of special needs. Get to know some of these fearless, joy-filled and loving people and use the word "retard" after that. I dare you. Frankly I think the world would be a better place altogether if everyone spent some time with people who are mentally challenged or have special needs - we all have a lot to learn from each other. Using the word "retard", no matter what the context, degrades people who are mentally retarded or whatever term you care to use. Thanks for listening. Carry on...

My sister believed in Peter Pan, Tinkerbell and pixie dust, the Easter Bunny, Batman, Superman, Isis and Wonderwoman. She believed in Mork from Ork, Scooby Doo and the Fonz. But she lived year round talking about and anticipating Christmas and Santa Claus. She believed that a bunch of reindeer flew all the way to our house and landed on our roof without ever pooping (when you grow up around animals you think about these things and you never hear about anyone getting pelted with dung falling from the sky and our dad never had to hose off the roof on Christmas morning) and that a jolly fat man in a red suit let himself in with a key left under the mat on the front porch (we didn't' have a fireplace until later). She believed it all. And not just in a quiet wishful way, but in a jumping up and down, shouting out loud to anyone who would listen kind of way.

It wasn't the kind of enthusiasm you see every day is what I'm saying.

Right before Thanksgiving one year there was a guy wearing a Santa suit and ringing a bell in front of a bucket outside of the K-Mart in our town, he wasn't even wearing a beard or anything, not even trying to look like Santa (other than the suit I guess) and my sister ran towards him, arms open and squealing with delight, looking almost like those teenage girls you see in old news footage grabbing their faces and screaming like lunatics over the Beatles. It was a little embarrassing but once we peeled her off of him he said it was the best thing that had happened to him all week and I don't think he meant it in a perverted way at all because the man had tears in his eyes and seemed pretty overwhelmed.

Nobody in my family ever made any effort to tamp down her excitement either. No, quite the contrary, we would build it all up. My mom let my sister mark off the calendar every day, counting down till Christmas starting on my birthday in July, so that by the time her birthday arrived on December 20th, she was nearly apoplectic and bursting into flames from all the hype. Not to say that it also wasn't an ongoing lesson to help her learn about counting and dates and seasons and such, but a mostly the lessons ended with, "and that means it's only this many days till Christmas!"

You might be able to tell by looking at the picture at the top of this post that my mom also let my sister be in charge of most of the tree trimming. That's our old mashed up fake tree that I mentioned in my previous post and I love how all of the ornaments are right in the middle. I would also like to point out the vomit-y blue and green shag carpeting that my mother actually had installed - on purpose - when we moved into that house.

We would get her so worked up that by the time Christmas Eve finally rolled around my sister was bloody freaking exhausted and getting her to go to sleep was never the problem you might have thought it would be.

After we went to bed my dad would eat all of the cookies she'd left out for Santa except for one that he would leave behind with just one bite taken out. My mom would make sure that some of her toys were left unwrapped and set up to look as if someone had been playing with them already, like a dollhouse all set up or one time a new record player was left turned on with a record spinning on it all night (needle off of course), so that it looked like Santa had just left before he got caught in the act of playing with her stuff.

Maybe lots of families do these kinds of things. I hope you'll feel free to tell me about some of the goofy stuff your family did or does in the comments. My parents used to do it for me too when I was little enough to still believe, but they got to continue to do it for a very long time afterwards and I think that must be pretty special. Eventually I got involved in it too. I was all quiet and cool at school (I believe I mentioned something earlier about sullen and sour), but at home I would do anything to get my sister started. Not that it took much more than asking her how many days till Santa comes? or singing carols at the top of my lungs to get her to start squealing.

Have I ever mentioned that we were not Christians? I'm not sure how relevant that is to my story here, but we weren't anything. Maybe you could say agnostic, but my mom never wanted to put a label on it. We ended up celebrating Christmas in a non-Christ kind of way. We never talked about Jesus, but we had a tree and presents appeared under it on Christmas morning. She put up mistletoe, served eggnog and baked cookies.

I think my mom really liked Christmas and after she left her church continued to celebrate it in ways that incorporated her own favorite things about the holiday without having to think about or explain the religious portion of it to me and maybe also to herself, since she stopped putting out the gorgeous hand painted porcelain nativity set that she had inherited from her grandmother when I got old enough to start trying to apply logic to the story and began asking the tough questions about Christmas. If Joseph isn't Jesus real daddy then was Mary married to someone else before Joseph and got a divorce like the Shapiros?

All of our holiday fervor was fueled by our love for my sister and for me it still is. I love Christmas. There I said it. Even though she's gone now and Christmas will never be the same without her, and surly as I've become, I've managed to hang onto a bit of that joy that was always in the air around her and hope that you and the people you love, whether you believe in Jesus, Santa or Mork from Ork, can feel it too.

Merry Christmas.

If you're interested, here are links to some of my other posts featuring my little sister (they aren't quite as sappy as this one):

Cat-like Gag Reflexes

I'm Sure Your Family Is Weird Too

Deep Thoughts

Scare Tactics for Teens

Sunday, December 13, 2009

6th Annual Maybe It Doesn't Suck That Bad Award 2009

Since winter has creeped in, it seems that MDH and I spend most of our down time lazing around like a couple of exhausted walruses, he watching football and me playing video games, both of us overeating (it's so nice to do things as a couple). OK, it's pretty much like that year round except for him the sports change up seasonally.

But this weekend was different and our house was abuzz with activity like cleaning and stuff.

A few weeks ago I decided that I wanted a Christmas tree this year which involves some amount of movement and effort on my part with the preparation, cleaning and tree trimming and whatnot. It also involves movement and effort from MDH because he is the one who insists on a having a real tree so I force him to go with me to get it. Well, it started out against his will several years ago, but now I think he kinda likes it, although he may never fess up to the experience being anything other than a sharp shooting pain in his ass.

I think it's because he grew up with a bummer of a family and a white plastic kind of tree. Their tree was the kind that was a comically exaggerated pointy pine tree shape and permanently decorated with neon colored balls and flashing lights. The kind of tree that doesn't even pretend to be real and with each flash it shrieks, "I'm fake! I'm fake!" His brothers would drag the box down from the attic, pull it out of the box and simply plug it in. Boo-yah! It's Christmas!

I also prefer a real tree. They smell nice and we mostly had fake trees when I was growing up too but my mom bought the kind that attempted to look real. After a couple of years of use, and being repeatedly and hastily jammed back into the box after the holidays, fake trees start to look like they have hat head and no amount of "fluffing" can fix it. Also after awhile a branch or two seemed to have gone missing so you'd have to bunch it all up so that it looked more filled in or just arrange it so that the empty spot was facing the wall.

And by the way where the fuck could that branch possibly have gone? It made no sense. Obviously it didn't go wherever the ornament hooks ran off to because those wicked little things always seemed to turn up eventually although it was usually in the bottom of my bare foot the following July (the joys of 70's shag carpeting). As a grown up woman (with scars all over the bottom of her feet) I made an executive decision to never use ornament hooks and I tie all my ornaments with ribbon. And I always wear shoes in the house just in case.

Do they even sell ornament hooks anymore? Or did people come to their senses and send them to go live with the lawn darts and the electric space heaters in dangerous gadget land?

Anyhoo... MDH dreamed his whole life of a more traditional and rustic Burl Ives kind of Christmas and the cartoony jazz club tree just didn't represent. (You might have expected that I would say Currier & Ives, but in our generation Burl was the snowman narrator guy in that Rudolf Christmas special and you can't get more Christmas-y than that.)

When MDH is passionate about something he never goes halfway. Like I said, he is the one who insists on a real tree and then he insists that if we are going to have a real tree that we should have only the freshest tree possible so that it takes longer to dry out and is less likely to catch our house on fire and kill us all in our sleep. So we drive out to a tree farm and ride a tractor out to the middle of a field and MDH cuts down our tree with his own bare hands and a hacksaw he keeps in the trunk of his car for the off chance that once a year I may or may not decide that it's a Christmas tree year.

At least I hope that's what the hacksaw is for.

Whatevs... it seems to make him feel manly and puffed up to cut down our tree and we found a gorgeous one and it was only $35 so I splurged and got a wreath too and the whole event was so pleasant and easy it made me think of another reason that living here in the fucking tundra may not totally suck and that's kind of a big deal because so far I've only been able to come up with about one reason living here doesn't totally suck per year and we've lived here 6 years.

Drumroll (people dressed like marshmallows in down coats, micro fleece, and cargo pants are cheering, the crowd goes wild) ... The 2009 thing about living in western Michigan that doesn't totally suck is:

This place is lousy with Christmas tree farms so we never have to drive very far like when we lived in a city.

Previous years winners include, in no particular order:

  • New shoes! Well, snow boots anyway.

  • The air smells really fresh and clean.

  • There is hardly any need for air conditioning in the summer.

  • The squirrels are way prettier than back home.

  • You can buy full strength booze anywhere.

By the way this is only our 2nd tree since we've had our cat Turtle and I forgot how much he loves to lounge around under there and drink the water from the tree stand. That's him up there with the devil eyes at the top of my post. It's so annoying because he makes this slurpy wet noise, he messes the tree skirt all up and his face and paws get all wet. Little weirdo. I suppose it could be worse as I seem to remember the cat we had when I was a little kid climbed and pissed all over our tree which is why my mom started buying the plastic ones. Christmas is so complicated.

I hope there aren't too many spelling and grammar errors because it's late and I'm justing going to hit publish and get my ass in bed.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It Makes An Ass of You and Me... Mainly Me

Why do they call it the wrong side of the bed? When I wake up in a foul mood it usually has more to do with lack of sleep and other people or creatures banging around (my husband), barking (the neighbors dog) or jumping on my head (our cat) and less to do with my exact location, so the phrase wrong side of the bed makes no sense at all. Now, that being said I bet you can tell how foul I woke up today because even the phrase wrong side of the bed makes my blood boil.

Cleaning up a full cup of coffee that the cat knocked all over the floor in the den didn't help to cheer me nor did going to the kitchen to make some lovely toast and finding that MDH had used the last of the margarine and put the empty container back in the fridge. Dry toast. Thanks buddy.

Not to say that they don't exist, but I personally have never known any women that do this. Put back empty food containers into the cupboard or refrigerator I mean. Now that I think about I have also never known any women who spit in public either. My father used to do it and now my husband does it - with the food containers I mean, keep up with me here. Why fellas? Why? There is a trash can right there.

Adding insult and injury to the person who primarily does most of the food shopping is the fact that I usually don't discover the empty container until moments after I have just gotten back from the supermarket where, had I only known we were out of Cheerios I would have gladly gotten a new box, but since the empty Cheerios box was sitting in the cupboard, silly me I mistook it for a Cheerios box that actually had some Cheerios in it and assumed that we didn't need any more.

I suppose instead of saying that I woke up on the wrong side of the bed you could say that someone pissed in my Cheerios, except that we don't have any. Nobody pissed in my strawberry jam, milk, orange juice, peanut butter or margarine either. They might as well have because we don't have any of those items either, but the empty containers are all somehow still in the fridge.

As a side note I'd like to add that if laziness is the key reason for this phenomena of not throwing out empty containers then why roll up the empty cereal bag inside the box as if to keep the invisible cereal fresh and furthermore, why bother to seal the box closed again? Freak.

I'd almost prefer that he simply make a loud grunting noise and then drop the empty containers onto the floor where right in the spot where he's standing so I could at least hear him make some kind of acknowledgement that the food is gone and then would see the container out in the open and make a note to buy some more of whatever it was.

My post has turned into a marriage/partner pet peeve rant and I thank you for listening. I'm sure somewhere out there my husband has his own secret blog where he writes mostly about politics but occasionally splits off with rants wondering why his wife leaves bras dangling from every doorknob in the house and somehow as if by magic she always has a backache when snow needs shoveling.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Late this summer my lovely husband MDH, who aside from leaving the occasional empty beer can seemingly to mock me unrinsed, reeking and sitting on the kitchen counter directly beside the recycle bin, normally shows the utmost respect and concern for my feelings and best interests, signed us up for a commitment to attend a corporate event.

Without. Asking. Me.

And not just any corporate event but a swanky, black tie optional charity event that took place in Detroit this past Saturday.

At the time that he informed me of the event and his deciding all on his own without asking me first if I (even fucking) wanted to attend it already seemed like a giant pain in the ass but since he never subjects me to such affairs and it was one of the few events in which spouses are invited I agreed to go without (much) fussing.

The event was months away but I began the process of finding the right dress and seeing to various other details such as reassessing my Spanx situation (had to go another size up), and finding the right shoes and jewelry. Once the dress was purchased and altered and undergarment machinery in order I put them all away in the closet and proceeded to forget all about it until the reality of the event seemed to spring up from out of nowhere and smack me in the face last week.

In my normal every day life I have a wardrobe comfort zone like everyone else. I have a standard uniform in which I feel fairly confident about my looks. For public viewing I always (always) fix my hair and wear make up along with supportive, figure flattering bras. I am conscienious of VPL and hyper aware of camel-toe and make sure to avoid them at all costs. I get quite a lot of my clothes tailored to ensure a good fit. Even jeans. I do all of these things just with my every day stuff and I feel pretty good most of the time, but put me in a fancy dress at a formal event and all that confidence goes directly down the shitter.

I hate being dressed up for formal events with the white fiery passion of a million suns. It makes me feel like I'm in drag. Something is always off, like either my hair is frizzy or my mascara smudged. Most likely it's some kind of stain or mark on my outfit, but I guarantee whatever it is, I won't notice it until after I have already arrived at the event and it's too late to do anything about it. The best example: On my wedding day I shut my dress in the door of my dad's truck and proceeded to drive for twenty minutes with the bottom part of my dress blowing all around on the freeway, arriving for the ceremony with a big rip and nasty grey highway dirt all over my gown.

These kinds of moments are survivable, of course. Certainly there are greater concerns in the world than whether or not I have too much upper arm flap, sat on a cream cheese and salmon crudite or the top of panty hose has started rolling down toward my crotch. But still, in the throes of those moments I want to run crying back to my sweat pants with a pan of brownies and the promise of never being seen in public again.

I'm sure you can imagine that after a few depressing , unemployment collecting, sweatpant-sy, barely combing my hair months had gone by the degree to which I sure as shit would have preferred to have MDH drive over both of my legs in the street out in front of our house and leave me there to rot, rather than attend this stupid fucking semi-formal white man's overbite dancing, rubber chicken dinner event had escalated to blubbering hysteric hyperventilating and juvenile crying jag proportions.

Suffice it to say - I did not want to go.

I pulled the already altered, too late to return dress out of the closet and shrieked, Sleeveless!!! What the hell was I thinking??! I then proceeded to mentally tear it all apart: too short, too bright, too low cut, too fat, too much gray, too pale, too wrinkly... you name it, I found cause to fly into a hissy fit over it. We're talking epic freak out.

Shockingly the calming moment I longed for came not when I glared witheringly at MDH while standing directly in front of the TV, modeling my completed outfit and he, having been forced to look away from football for split second, grunted that everything looked "fine".


The calming moments came a few days later when he informed me of the proportion of the event, well over 700 people in attendance and I realized that in a crowd that size there were bound to be several women more hideous than me and when he showed me photos online from the previous year's event I began to feel downright sexy. Looking at the crowd of old drunken fools I knew it was all going to be OK.

By the time Saturday night rolled around and MDH and I strolled arm in arm out the door of our hotel room, heading to the ball room downstairs I actually did feel sexy. Hot rollered, face impeccable (not a blemish in sight), lipstick exactly the right color, jewelry in perfect proportion to neckline. Everything fell magically into place and MDH who for the past few months has been the poor soul mainly subjected to my dreary existence of sweatpants depression and withering glares lit up like a horny Christmas tree when I emerged from the bathroom, purring and aglow, all dolled up. He made all the proper advances.

We registered and had just lined up at the bar for the VIP cocktail hour moments after having our photo taken with a local celebrity (a baseball player?) when I noticed the hole about the size of a baby grand piano and subsequent runner in my stocking. When the fuck did that happen?

Free martinis went far to help me pretend like the hole and runner didn't exist until eventually I made my way to the ladies room where I ripped the stockings from my body and stuffed them into my tiny clutch purse (rather than throw them into the trash like any reasonably intelligent person would do - all the better I suppose to have yet another embarassing moment later in the evening in which I open my elegant clutch at the table to get a mint and the wadded up stockings burst out and onto the floor).

The free martinis didn't hurt either with helping me to mingle, socialize with total strangers and dance in the presence of a video camera. Yes, I said dance and video camera in the same sentence. People, I was drunkity drunk drunk.

Being the giver that I am, I can't but think of the forlorn, bedraggled woman whose husband signs her up for this crappy event (although the drinks were good and free) next year against her will (I guarantee you it fucking won't be me) and feels a surge of confidence when she sees my picture on the charity website - look at that drunken old fool.

As always, I'm here to help.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Here's What

I've done something that I have only done one other time (pretty sure) and have taken down my previous post. It feels wrong to take it down, but probably not as wrong as it might have felt to leave it up.

The last thing I want is for anyone to come to my blog and ever, ever, ever feel bad or weird. Not even close. You're supposed to come here and help me make fun of myself and other people that are usually strangers and hopefully leave with a smirk on your face.

To help put the smirk back on your face here is a very old picture of me all bundled up for winter and looking forlorn, much as I did this afternoon when I stepped outside to drive to an appointment and realized it was snowing. I wasn't as prepared today because my mommy lives in Florida and isn't around to make sure I get all bundled up. Maybe my being so cute will help us all move forward:

(I think mom put my boots on the wrong feet...)

Oh, and that hair dryer box is for one of those old fashioned kind that has like a shower cap thingy that you put over the rollers on your head and then when you turned it on it poofed up really big and you'd look kind of like a genie or like you had a big, lacy, pink afro.

I'm going to hit the Publish button now...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Congratulations! Your identity is now available to be stolen and abused.

I had a phone interview this morning. Don't get too excited. I'm not. In fact I hesitate to write about these things on my blog anymore, which is why I haven't been blogging much lately because applying for work and having phone interviews is all that seems to be happening lately and you all are always so nice to me and wish me good luck and I feel the love, I really do ... and then nothing happens and I just hate to put myself and you guys through it over and over again. So I just simply haven't felt like letting you in on my current struggle.

But today... Today it went well. It really did. I was pleased, the phone screener seemed pleased and informed me that she will be moving my resume forward and will recommend an in-person interview. Great. Goody for me. I really was thrilled. Then she sent me a follow up email with a link and request to complete an online application within 48 hours.

It was all sunshine and kisses, unicorns and sex-dreams until I realized that I would actually need the entire 48 hours to fill out the application.

It should not take a reasonably intelligent, fully caffeinated, fully eager and fully alert grown up human lady over an hour to fill out an online job application. But that is exactly the ordeal I have just been through. People, I needed to get up and walk around to loosen up my joints and get some blood circulating afterwards. What the hell man?

It should not be this hard.

Especially considering the fact I had already filled out an online application for this job that I thought was pretty thorough, like I mentioned, and sent in a resume and a cover letter. How fucking much do these people need to know about me before I can even have an interview set up?

Apparently a lot. Jesus Christ on a pony.

And if I were not so goddamn desperate to find gainful employment I probably would have given up about 20 minutes into the spectacle when I filled out a form requiring my date of birth. My date of birth? Including the year. Why the hell do they need this information when I haven't even had a goddamn interview yet?

I am tempted (angry enough) to show some initiative and go that extra mile and take a big shit, snap a photo and email it to them. How ya like me now? Now here's some serious personal information about me.

The other weird thing besides filling out a 300 page application and taking pictures of my own poo is that it's just a regular job. The same kind of IT job I have been applying for all along and I assure you this not an organization providing security for the Pope, pelvic exams for Queen Elizabeth or even clerical work for the city, state or US government. It's a fucking insurance company.

I'm just trying to get a job, not adopt a Chinese baby boy.

Ordinarily I might have told these people to get bent as I wouldn't normally provide this kind of information until after I have accepted or even been offered a position. But I need a job and this one seems like a goody, so I kept going. I not only gave these people permission to crawl straight up my ass, I also provided them with a map and flashlight. I gave them every scrap of information about me and then I gave them permission to get even more information - driving record, criminal background check, credit check and promised that if they hire me I would submit to drug tests, aptitude tests and I'm pretty sure a pap smear.

When I was finally finished I convinced myself that it wasn't so bad. I went to the kitchen refilled my coffee and had a slice of pie for a reward. Then about half an hour ago I checked my email and discovered yet another email from this company. This time an auto response to my online application that said "Congratulations!" in the subject line. As if to acknowledge their asinine method is purposefully ridiculous. I wanted to laugh, but it came out more as a hysterical and high pitched Ngah! Mainly because I had a mouth full of pie.

Anyhoo... maybe they set it up like that to weed out the riff-raff, but they do not know who they are dealing with - I'm like a fucking cockroach - you can't get rid of me that easily. You will interview me, I will be fabulous and you will be crazy not to hire me motherfuckers. Ridiculously complicated and confusing online applications? Bring it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I'm still Somebody

The neighborhood where my family lived until I was in the 7th grade was brimming with children the same age as me. It was a great way to grow up because I always had other kids to play with.

We had moved there when I was three and from day one my mom pretty much tossed me out the front door every day by the seat of my pants and didn't let me back in the house until dinner time so I was forced to run loose like a little savage and ended up making friends with all of the other children who lived near us. They were all boys and by the time I started first grade it was well established that I was one of them.

I could build a fort and leg wrestle with the best of them. I was a smudge faced, scab covered, toughskins wearing, treehouse building little dare devil. I could spit farther, punch harder, and pop the biggest wheelies. I was a superstar.

But my badge of honor soon become tarnished once I started first grade and had the chance to be around other little girls. Prior to that I really didn't know any other girls but once I started going to school all day long, rather than the half day you have in kindergarten, it soon become clear that I was a freak and I had absolutely nothing in common with any of them.

Suddenly my long distance spitting skills and dirty fingernails were not winning me any friends. Only after being called "tomboy" and "bruiser" and getting in trouble at school for chasing Shannon O'brien* around the play yard with an earthworm until she cried did anyone (my mother and I) realize that this needed to change. Thus began my lifetime struggle to be more girly.

I begged my mom to buy me some dresses and white ankle socks with lace around the edges and black patent leather Mary-Janes. That year my winter coat was red velvet with white rabbit fur trim and I had a matching muff.

Yes, I said muff.

I loved that muff. I was going to search for a photo to post here but I was afraid to Google "fur muff".

Anyhoo... I thought these girly clothes would transform me instantly from Pigpen into Shirley Temple and Darla from the Little Rascals all rolled into one. The new clothes certainly accomplished the mission of my becoming more girly, but alas the year was 1973 not 1933, so I was in addition to being super girly a big giant goober.

In a further attempt to help me get in touch with my feminine side my mother enrolled me in ballet lessons. I was thrilled at the opportunity to squeeze myself into some pink tights and a tutu, swish around in soft pink satin shoes and bingo - no more tomboy. I couldn't think of anything more girly and feminine than ballet.

As it turns out these ballet lessons changed my life and I learned far more from them than simply the joy of the dance. I learned that I lack a certain self awareness. Whether or not the long term effect of this has been good or bad I still can't decide, humility is a double edged sword and something I think kids these days** could use a little more of, but I can tell you that the 6 year old me was devastated. I can also tell you that the 6 year old me got over it and decided that perhaps dance wasn't going to be her bag, but instead moved on to music and singing lessons which turned out quite nicely.

While the actual bad experience with ballet lessons that turned out to be a defining moment of my life was not directly caused by my usual favorite target of blame for all things psyche scarring, my mother, she did however sign me up for ballet lessons without taking into consideration 2 very key elements of the situation:

1. Although she signed me up for the right age group, the 5 and 6 year olds, what she didn't realize was that all the other 6 year old girls in my class had already been taking ballet lessons since they were old enough to stand. So everyone in the class had way more experience than me.

2. I have all the natural grace and agility of a water buffalo.

Combine elements one and two and suffice it to say that I was not successful at ballet. Now add to that my ballet teachers lack of compassion, her inability to be direct and my talent at being unaware of the actions of my own body.

To describe the situation I must assume that you have occasionally had one of those moments where things are going along smoothly but suddenly there is an irritating disruption and you're not sure where it's coming from? A cell phone ringing in the library, a car alarm blasting away in the middle of the night, or some horrible smell on the bus? It could be any number of things and you say to yourself who in the name of Christ could be causing this terrible noise, disruption or odor?

Well that's what happened in ballet class one evening. We had finished all of our little warm up exercises and had just started putting some of our moves together to form an actual dance. As we stood at the bar (or whatever you call that thing) the teacher was counting out slowly and naming the moves. She was not satisfied with our performance and kept shouting STOP! AGAIN!

Then she would start the counting and calling out the dance steps all over again. It's vague because I was only 6, but she must have done this like 4 or 5 times. Each time her shouting, counting and step calling getting louder and more shrill. Finally she had had enough of whatever was bothering her and yelled, "Somebody is completely out of step and ruining it for the rest of you!"

Oh, A-ha! I eyed my fellow tiny dancers suspiciously thinking, yes one of you is really screwing up and annoying our lovely teacher, who would do such a thing?

Our teacher was really, really pretty and had been a runner up in the Miss Ohio pageant (or some such equally impressive contest to my 6 year old mind, but as I mentioned my memory of such detail is a bit fuzzy) the year before. In hindsight I'm sure she was nothing more than an economy sized bitch who had no business working with or around small children, but at the time I wanted nothing more in life than to please the pretty, pretty lady.

By today's standards I'm sure she would have been prosecuted, tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail, but like I said, it was the 70's and back then verbal abuse and psychic scarring, and hell why not, physical beatings were not only considered good solid parenting practices but encouraged and bragged about by most adults and educational professionals.

The ballet teacher then gave some more specific instructions to the culprit, "Somebody needs to keep her neck straight. Somebody needs to stop looking at her feet! Somebody needs to pay attention!!"

Yes, I thought, Somebody really needs to do that!

If you haven't figured it out based on the title of my post I am Somebody. It was a defining moment in my life because I have spent the rest of my existence on this planet trying to avoid experiencing that moment again. That moment that makes all the blood drain from your face when you discover that you are the last person in the room to recognize that you are being a tool. It's my cell phone ringing. It's my car alarm going off in the middle of the night and the horrible smell on the bus is the dog shit on the bottom of my shoe.

Discovering your own oblivion is rather circular and the philosophizing required to ponder it further is beyond me, but I have noticed this:

The decibel at which you complain out loud, the number of people who hear you complaining and the amount of obscene language used directly corresponds to the degree of likelihood that you yourself are the cause of the disturbance or strange smell.

*Not really her name of course. Actually I can't remember the kid's name, but she was Irish.
** Using the phrase "kids these days" automatically qualifies me for old fart status, a senior discount and membership to AARP. I'm going out to get fitted for dentures and big giant wrap around sunglasses this instant.

Monday, November 9, 2009

GPS = Going Postal Shortly

Saturday morning I stumbled out of bed, waddled to the kitchen and pressed the button to start the coffee (I always make it the night before so that I don't have to count out scoops and pour water because I'm not the most graceful of creatures when I wake up - I think I mentioned some stumbling) and looked out my kitchen window to see a glorious display of sparkling sunshine. I did a double take and threw my glasses on to make sure the thermometer outside the window really said 60 degrees. It really did.

Suddenly I was wide awake. I knew that the sun shining on the thermometer was probably giving it a few extra degrees, but still, not quite 10am on a shiny Saturday morning and it's almost 60? C'mon, we gotta get out of here.

So I burst back into our bedroom and leaped on top of MDH, who was still snoozing, and started jumping up and down and jostling him all over. Wake up man (bounce). It might be our last day of sunshine and warmth before we're snowed in for the next 5 months (bounce-bounce). Get up, let's go, daylight is a wastin'!

Props to my sleepy head darling. He always seems to come through with no fussing on such occasions as an exuberant, overly perky wife bouncing on his head on a Saturday morning, demanding that he wake the hell up, throw on some clothes and a ball cap and get the hell out of the house.

Originally we were just going to go for a little walk around our neighborhood, several blocks down to the farmer's market and then on to our favorite little brunch spot (my personal favorite is the Hash Benedict found on menu page 4 (with potatoes, of course)), but I decided instead to go for something a bit more outdoorsy. I know. It's out of character for me. We ended up driving a few towns over to a big park with paved walking and bike paths that meander through beautiful woods and over trickling streams and such. We had never been there before, but it didn't look that big on the map I printed from the park website. Even considering my fucked up ankle it seemed do-able.

So we walked and walked, and walked, and walked. It was great. Up to a point. The point at which it stopped being great was when I realized that we had been walking for almost an hour and everything had started to look the same and we had not encountered another living soul for quite awhile. Not even a squirrel.

More significantly, at the same moment I also realized that I was starving and I had to pee - now. I stopped abruptly and declared victory on our outdoorsy walk in the woods assuming that we would of course be turning around and walking back out the way we came in.

Alas it was not going to shake out like that. No.

MDH has never been a man who likes to take the same route twice and consulted the GPS on his Blackberry for a route that would not require turning around. He announced that we were almost out of the woods anyway and that we had only to keep going a little further and would "soon" encounter a cemetery and after that a "neighborhood" which would provide a "flat", "paved" route for us to walk back to our car.

Yes the quotes are there to denote exactly the words that MDH used and also to emphasize the fact that our route back to the car was none of these things.

It was not soon.

Once we found the cemetery what we encountered next was certainly not a neighborhood and definitely not flat.

Although the road was indeed paved it was so busy with speeding traffic that I was forced much of the way to walk in the gravel berm (over several different lumps of roadkill of various species and states of decay).

All the while MDH, who recognized his blunder, kept flapping his lips and saying things like "almost there" and using words like "adventure" and "excitement". Again - it was none of those things.

Our exciting, almost there adventure caused me to become two things I truly hate to be - sweaty and dirty - at the same time. Plus after stepping in what I'm pretty sure used to be a baby rabbit I wanted to burn my shoes, hurl them into the woods and incinerate the whole goddamn place. I didn't do that of course, but if I had had my purse with me I would have used it to beat MDH senseless.

Eventually we made it back to the car and the outhouse style smelly hole in the ground toilet with no tissue that I had considered using before we started walking but had decided to wait because it looked like a smelly hole in the ground that probably didn't have any toilet tissue. So after all that time I had hold it in just that much longer so that I could trek back to the car to grab some of the surplus fast food napkins that thank baby jesus I always store in the glove box in case of such emergencies.

Anyhoo... I lived to tell the tale. I'm feeling as inspirational as that blind guy that climbed Mt. Everest. I might even write a book and there will be a Lifetime Original movie about how I managed to survive the elements, skipped breakfast and used Wendy's napkins for toilet paper.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Background Check - I was a nerdy little girl

Yesterday my blogger friend The Vegetable Assassin posted about how one of her blogger friends had hand written a post then the Veg hand wrote a post. It was intriguing to me because handwriting is very personal and you can tell a lot about an individual by her or his handwriting style.

Actually I can tell a lot about a person by looking at handwriting because the summer I turned 10 I was (a big doofus? still playing with Barbies? dreaming I'd grow up to look like Olivia Newton John only with bigger boobs?) obsessed with graphology - otherwise known as handwriting analysis.

At the time I fancied myself quite the little amateur hand writing expert. The Nancy Drew (with bigger boobs) of graphology if you will. I read everything I could possibly find about handwriting analysis at our local public library and even asked for and received a graphology book for my birthday.

Then I bugged all my friends and everyone in my family for handwriting samples and proceeded to analyze them and give them each individual and detailed personality assessments based on my vast expert knowledge. I'm sure it wasn't annoying at all.

My little sideline kept me out of trouble and I think my friends and family should just have thanked their lucky stars that I wasn't into phrenology or black tar heroin.

The graphology book I once treasured is long since gone, and I have come to realize that many real experts think that handwriting analysis is a bunch of hooey, but here are some generalizations of the craft that I vaguely remember and if anybody out there thinks the items in the bullet points below are incorrect, I was too lazy to verify most of this stuff, so you are probably right. It's all from memory and I smoked a lot of pot and ate a few toadstools in the late 80's:

  • Large writing = obnoxious bastard

  • Small writing = a shut in

  • Writing tends to slant downward = the person is generally a bummer

  • Writing tends to slant upward = Pollyanna

  • Legible writing = nun

  • Illegible writing = whackjob

  • Writing that is extremely neat and tidy = serial killer

  • Words spaced far apart = jackass - the person thinks what they have to say is very important
All I've got of recent handwriting samples of my own are shopping and to-do lists and those are in print not script. I'm not sure I even remember how to write in script. It looks weird when I try.
Here's what I think you can tell about me from my handwriting samples above (all but the post it note, which was wadded up into a little ball and hiding on the floor behind the waste can in our office, were found folded up in the pockets of my various jackets):

  • I have a cat
  • My lower case R's look like V's

  • I cook a lot

  • I eat fairly healthy

  • I like Mexican food

  • Sometimes I buy cake

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Wicked Witch

Ever since MDH and I moved to the suburbs I have looked forward to passing out candy to all the adorable little trick or treating tots at Halloween each year. I usually carve a jack o'lantern and choose just the right candies and run excitedly when the doorbell rings to fuss and squeal over all the adorable costumes of the little rosy cheeked munchkins who look up at me with such wonder and appreciation as I happily toss mini bags of Sour Skittles and Reece's Cups into their plastic pumpkin heads. I look forward to it, but it never seems to turn out like how I envision it.

Oh sure we get a couple of rosy cheeked yada yada, but mostly it seems like I'm giving away treats to half assed lame-o's who barely blurt out "Trick or treat" and never seem to say "Thank you." It kind of sucks.

Well it's over. We're done with trick or treaters due to the sparse number of participants, lame costume ensembles and over all weak character of the slack jawed miscreants that visited our home this year. I informed MDH that next year we are shutting it down. Lights off. We're going to the movies instead. Fuck it.

What tipped me over the edge? The two teenage boys who not only had the balls to show up on my welcome mat wearing no costumes but also bearing 13 gallon kitchen garbage bags drooping with the weight of god only knows how much candy. I assumed that in order to have collected such a large haul that they were either driving around from neighborhood to neighborhood or tazing the smaller children and stealing their candy. You should think that no costumes and giant sized goodie bags would be irritating enough, but no.

When I opened the door to these asshats one of them was actually chatting away on his cell phone, having what appeared to be a pretty in depth conversation. And not only that. He gave me the one finger up gesture. Yes he did. The one finger up gesture as in, hold your horses nice lady who is trying to give me free Skittles and peanut butter cups, I'm very busy on the telephone right now and will be with you shortly.

I was stunned.

As the boy continued to talk on the phone I put the bowl of candy back on the sideboard next to the front door and did that smile that I have where my mouth is closed and my lips disappear. Turning back to the door I crossed my arms over my chest in a sarcastic oh take as much time as you need kind of posture. After another moment had passed and the boy was still on the phone I gave him my most withering stare and burst a blood vessel in my left eyeball as I restrained myself from saying, "That's a very realistic douchebag costume you've got on there kiddo."

Not much better, what I actually said was, Are you kidding me? In my head the tirade continued You're that busy and important that you can't be bothered to wear a costume or get off the fucking phone while you trick or treat? Really?

Actually I blasted out most of my passive aggressive wrath on the cell phone boys poor little friend, probably because he was not on the phone and therefore available to stand there and take my abuse. I asked him if he too wouldn't like to take the opportunity to use my front porch to catch up on his correspondence and maybe do some texting or update his facebook page.

Then I actually gave those two idiots some candy just to get them the hell out of my sight, at which point my head exploded and little green and red flame shitting demons flew out of my eyes and I ran away screaming into the streets and MDH had to answer the door and finish passing out the candy for the rest of the evening.

I fully expect very soon I will find myself stamping out a flaming bag of dogshit on my front porch and/or scrubbing graffiti that says "Psycho Bitch" from my garage door.

Yep. Next year we're going to the movies. I think it's better for all parties involved. Although if someone kicks my seat I can't say I won't make trouble.

Friday, October 30, 2009

You're Killing Me

Dear Tree Trimmer Guy Who I Paid With a Personal Check Over 2 Weeks Ago,

Hey man, what gives? Please end my suffering and deposit the fucking check already. Maybe I should thank you for reminding my why I so seldom write checks anymore and that reason would be that it feels like a crap shoot every time. Especially when compared to the immediate gratification and sense of closure I get from paying for things online, with cash or using my debit card.

I cannot imagine why you have allowed so much time to go by and still not yet deposited my check.

Are you trying to prove something?

Are you in a contest with yourself to see how long you can go without needing my money?

Are you trying to drive me insane?

Dude, are you dead? What the hell happened?

Did you lose the check? Hey, that's cool. Not a problem. Nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. It happens to the best of us. Please call me and I will gladly cancel the check. In it's place I will pay you in lovely cash that I will happily withdraw from the ATM so that I can have the satisfaction of seeing the $200 drained from my checking account within a matter of seconds instead of obsessively, compulsively checking my fucking balance several times every day like a god damned lunatic to see if you have deposited my check yet.

Banks are located pretty much everywhere around town and every corner of planet earth. I will draw you a map if you need me to. Also I am led to understand that you don't even have to go to a bank. It's true! You can make deposits with ATM machines 24 hours a day and don't even have to get out of your car! It's crazy, but I promise, it's true!

Please don't make me call and ask you about it because by that time I will no longer be able to disguise my hysteria.

You have until Monday. Afternoon. Or maybe Tuesday morning. No later than Wednesday.

I'm serious.

Kindest Regards,

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Employment History Part 2 - Talents and Trade Secrets Revealed

In my last post I wrote about my first job out of high school working in the cash office at Gold Circle. I really liked that job and totally lucked out because it didn't require me to sell anything, deal with the public or talk to anyone at all really unless I felt like it. I could pretty much go in, get my shit done and go home. It was part time and I was done by noon most days and that totally rocked.

On the other hand though the job had 2 major drawbacks:

1. It cramped my party lifestyle. I had to be there 6 days a week at 7am and getting up, dressed and forcing myself to be alert enough to concentrate on doing my job that early in the morning at age 18 when most nights I was out partying, drinking and doing god only knows what until scant hours before my shift started was extremely difficult. There were many days when I suffered through that job (or perhaps the job suffered through me) hung over or still drunk.

2. I already mentioned other major drawback to this job in my previous post, my cash office mate Missy, who found a way to suck every atom of joy from the air of the very tiny room we were forced to live in together for 5 hours each day but Sunday. Then again upon further reflection and after re-reading the last sentence of #1 listed above a couple of times over it has occurred to me that perhaps being trapped in a small airless, windowless room with a hung over or possibly still drunk teenage baboon like me may not have been exactly pleasant for her.

3. I know I said there were only going to be 2 drawbacks but upon even further reflection I am now wondering about the validity of #1 in total. I mean if I was going work hung over or possibly still drunk from the previous nights partying or god knows what then that probably negates the job cramping my style doesn't it? Sounds more like neither one had any effect whatsoever on the other. The job didn't seem to stop me from partying and the partying never seemed to prevent me from showing up and doing my job.

4. Fuck it then. The only drawback to my job at Gold Circle was Missy and frankly she may have had a point being nasty to me and giving me a hard time because I was a hung over, smelly drunk so who could blame her really? I mean, that room was pretty small.

I suddenly realize that I have abused my numbered bullet point privileges and at this point I'm rambling so it's time for an anyhoo...

Anyhoo... what I really wanted to tell you about was the job that I had after the cash office which I referred to as "the greatest job in the world". Are you still reading this?

I quit the cash office gig because I was going to start attending college and I needed a job with more flexible hours. I applied at several different retail shops, but the job I had my heart set on and didn't think I had a chance in hell to get because it was ranked pretty high on the coolness scale and I lived in a college town so there was always lots of competition for crappy paying jobs in cool stores was at a smaller but national chain that rhymes with Beer Ton Pimports*. Do you know of it?

It's a much different kind of store now. Back then it was only just morphing into the brand image it has now and many people (like my cousin J and his stoner buddies) thought it was a fancy head shop and sometimes when I told people (like my cousin J and his stoner buddies) that I worked there (oh, yes - in case you hadn't figured it out on your own - I got the coveted job) they would make bong and rolling paper jokes.

Beer Ton Pimports didn't sell bongs or rolling papers or any other smoking accessory except for Italian marble ashtrays and sandalwood incense. No. They sold the most beautiful and wondrous things. They sold rattan furniture made in Thailand, Japanese paper lanterns and jasmine scented potpourri. They sold cut glass Romanian stemware, bamboo fans from China and carved boxes made of teak wood from Brazilian rain forests. They sold English tea pots, Scottish shortbread cookies and itchy cable knit wool "fisherman" sweaters from Ireland.

For a young woman who yearned for travel, and didn't really see much chance of it happening anytime soon, it was a wonderland.

I started off as a cashier, but within a year was promoted to Assistant Store Manager. I love, love, loved that job. I got to be around all that cool stuff and between the shipments of new merchandise that needed to be unloaded from the delivery trucks, displays that needed to be built and the various trials and tribulations associated with working with the public, every day was new and different.

It's the only job I've ever had where I actually left smelling better than when I came in.

It was at this job that I discovered my uncanny ability to solidly and successfully assemble cheap furniture armed with only Taiwanese instructions, an allen wrench and wood glue without ever once bursting into tears. I would often return from having taken a few days off to find heaps of furniture left for me to make sense of by my frustrated and distraught co-workers who had tried in vain to assemble them in my absence. I was (and still am by the way) a furniture assembly goddess.

It was also at this job where I learned that working with the public is not for me. I continued to do it for quite awhile but eventually lost the ability to control my facial expressions enough to hide the disgust I was feeling behind a big shiny grin when confronted with:

  • The woman screaming at me at full volume because I would not allow her to return a dress with filthy yellowed armpit stains and no receipt. She threw a ball point pen at my head.

  • The children allowed to run loose all over the store and smash bath oil beads onto the floor I had just finished mopping while their parents argued over the fabric quality of $12 toss pillows.

  • The wild-eyed man who banged on the door after closing time and tearfully demanded to be let inside. He shouted, "I can see you in there! I just need to buy a papasan!". Allrighty nut bag. Key indicator of nuttiness not so much the wild-eyes, door banging or tears but the word "need" used with "papasan" in the same sentence. Who in the hell has an urgent need for a papasan chair? He was out of his fucking mind and I called the cops.**

Mostly though it was a great job. I worked there for almost 3 years and made a lot of great friends. Here are some of my more fond memories:

  • The morning my co-worker Jay broke all the jars in a spice rack and we used the jar labels instead of our name tags. I immediately snagged Rosemary and Jay grabbed Basil. As the day wore on some of our other co-workers including the store manager got into the act and we had Sage, Paprika, Nutmeg and Thyme all working at the cash wrap stand. I'm not sure why this was so funny. But trust me, it was. Epecially when you'd get one of those eye contact customers that make a point of reading your name tag and using your name when they pay. Thank you Nutmeg!

  • After I moved out of my parents house I didn't need to buy groceries because I was able to live off of the free fortune cookies we gave away at the cash wrap.

  • The time that I had excruciating pains in my abdomen and thought I was having appendicitis. My co-worker had just picked up the phone and started to dial 911 at the point in which I realized it was just some push pins that I had forgotten in my apron pocket stabbing me in the gut every time I leaned into the counter.

  • Being in charge of the clearance book which gave me an inside edge into knowing all the items that were on 75% clearance. You see depending on the sales of an item we didn't always mark everything down as low as we could have. But using that book I was able to legally mark it down as low as possible for store employees. Handy.

  • Our secret employee stash of full price merchandise that we all kept hidden wrapped in a tarp in the rafters over the stockroom. If we fell in love with something but couldn't afford it (and it was small, lightweight and pliable enough to be wrapped in a tarp and stored over hour heads) we would hide it in the stash and hang onto it up there until it hit 75% clearance. Brilliant.

*Perhaps some of you (who have made it this far and are for some reason still reading this post) may be wondering why I felt the need to hide the name of Beer Ton Pimports, but not Gold Circle and that would be because Gold Circle no longer exists as a corporation, but if balance is important to you may refer to Gold Circle as Cold Gircle as you continue to read this post.

**It's possibly the most useless piece of furniture known to humankind (it's a actually a tie between the papasan chair and the wicker bookshelf but for the sake of my post today papasan wins). It doesn't store anything, is flimsy as all hell, it slides all around when you even think about sitting on it and if you do finally find a way to get comfortable sitting in one for any longer than 90 seconds will give you curvature of the spine or at the very least a stiff neck.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Employment History Part 1 - The Cash Office

My young blogger friend Player wrote a post the other day about how much he likes his part time job working the fitting rooms at a big name clothing store. It was an excellent post that started my mind ticking back to some of the jobs that I had as a young person, most of which were also in retail.

I never had a job officially until the summer I graduated from high school. Before then I was kept pretty busy at home taking care of my younger sister, who was only 3 years younger than me, but mentally and physically challenged with Downs Syndrome. When my parents were at work and even when they weren't it was my job to bathe her, feed her, make sure she took all of her medications and generally keep her entertained and out of trouble. They paid me a small allowance for doing this and some other household chores which included cooking dinner every weeknight (my mother cooked on weekends), cleaning both bathrooms and vacuuming all the carpets at least once a week.

I got $20 per week for my labors, half of which I was supposed to use to buy my lunch at school. Is it really necessary for me to tell you that I didn't eat lunch for 4 years? Of course not. I pocketed that cash so that I could use it for whatever a teenage girl could buy with 20 bucks in the early 80's. Turns out quite a lot: records, make-up, movie tickets. Back before I started drinking, smoking and doing drugs life was pretty cheap.

Sometimes I was jealous of my friends that had "normal" teenage types of jobs working in fast food restaurants or bagging groceries at the local supermarket. They made more money and seemed to have a lot more freedom, but I didn't push the job thing with my parents because I realized that my friends with legit jobs also had to put up with such indignities as coming home smelling like a fry-o-lator or schlepping groceries across slushy winter parking lots for 25 cent tips. I had it pretty good.

What felt like mere minutes after high school graduation everything changed however. Suddenly it was expected that I would go out into the world and get a job. My parents started taking my sister to a daycare, hired a housekeeper and stopped paying my allowance.*

It was kind of horrifying.

At 18 I had no idea where to even begin to find a job. I had no idea what exactly I was qualified to do other than cook, clean and take care of my sister. The only thing I knew for certain, after listening to the complaints of my friends was that I didn't want to work in a fast food restaurant or a supermarket. So I spent most of June of 1985 trying to find a job worthy of my superior presence, a glamorous and exciting job that was also conveniently located on the bus line or within walking distance of our house because I didn't have a car. (I ended up getting a car later that summer.)

I wanted a job that didn't require me to lift anything, be seen by anyone, sell anything, get dirty or sweaty, move or speak to other people.

At this point you might think that I'm going to tell you that I was fooling myself and that such a job was not to be found for an 18 year old girl with no previous experience, who wore all black, an eye covering punk hairstyle, pale goth make-up and buried herself in books. My parents were certainly convinced that between my style and picky, priggish attitude that I was sure to fail. Perhaps I was being picky and priggish, that doesn't mean such a job didn't exist (Ha-ha!). Turns out there was such a job available (Ho-ho!) in the cash office of a local chain of department stores called Gold Circle (imagine Kohl's and K-Mart got married).

My new part time job in the cash office paid a whopping $3.75 per hour, which was a whole 20 cents above minimum wage at the time. As a bonus I got a 20% store discount. Ha-ha!

Every morning, Monday thru Saturday, at 7am I was locked into a tiny room containing an enormous walk-in safe, two adding machines, all of the store's cash register tills and another cash office worker. We spent the next 5 hours adding up and balancing all the previous days cash and receipts, refilled the tills with cash for the current business day and then prepared the bank deposits that were picked up promptly at noon by one of those armored car companies.

Every day literally tens or hundreds (during holiday season) of thousands of dollars in cash passed through my hands. It was a lot of responsibility and I like to think that my experience being responsible for taking care of my sister was what sold my manager on hiring me. Also I have an honest face. I do! Besides if there were any doubts about my integrity and ability to be trusted with buttloads of cash I had to go through some extra screening procedures and tests.

Anyhoo... that was my first real job and the only thing I didn't like about it was my cash office partner that I was locked into the room with each day. She was a girl named "Missy" with whom I had absolutely nothing in common. We got along, barely.

Missy, although only a year older than me, had dropped out of high school and was already married and had a one year old son. To be clear, it wasn't so much those facts that made me dislike her, but the fact that she was all superior about it. She was from a very small town where according to her being married and having a baby was the end all, be all of life's existence. She could die happy at 19 because she was married and had a baby. I was all like, big deal you've got a uterus.

I think perhaps because I wasn't totally jealous of her superior status as teenage wife and mother and frankly made no bones about my lack of interest or aspirations in either of those things (at any age), Missy thought that I was the biggest smarty pants asshole weirdo she had ever met and never stopped finding new and creative ways of letting me know how she felt. She certainly didn't like hearing about my taste in music, adventures in night clubbing and opinions about religion, politics or women's rights.

I might have stayed longer in the cash office of Gold Circle were it not for Missy. I was able to put up with her for about a year before I moved on to what I thought at the time was the greatest job in the world... which I will tell you about in my next post.

*I'm quite sure they weren't paying either the housekeeper or the daycare center a paltry $20 a week.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Thtop It

Late last week I was having a nosh on some yummy crackers and extra sharp cheddar when I noticed that a couple of my bottom back teeth felt funny. My bite felt wrong. Thinking that I must have gotten some cracker bits all jammed up in there I went to bathroom, grabbed some floss and began to go to town. It only took a second to loosen whatever was stuck but when I popped out the floss something flew out of my mouth and landed with a tiny hard marble-ly sound into the sink.

Normally the crap stuck between my teeth doesn't do that.

Flossing is typically a pretty quiet activity for me.

My first thought was wow that was some tough cracker bit, then soon realized, as I'm sure you have gathered by now because you are probably way smarter than me and have noticed the graphic that the top of my post, that it was a big giant chunk of my tooth. Great. My tooth broke.

I finally was able to get it fixed today. Meanwhile it was no big deal. If anything it was a bit annoying because I was constantly poking and digging at the broken spot with my tongue which made for some pretty attractive facial expressions I'm sure, but that's just proof of my lack of self control. I wasn't in any pain.

Anyhoo... interesting thing I found out about myself today - my dentist has my chart marked that I'm a squirming cryface. It's true, I am. They even numb me when I get my teeth cleaned because I'm such a baby girl, but today because the work was a little more extensive than a cleaning, he had to replace a filling and build up the tooth and then file everything back down again, he numbed me way more than normal. Way more. Like my appointment was at 8am this morning, it's now almost 2:30pm and I am still numb.

Like unable to eat without fear of unknowingly biting my own lips off numb. So numb that I called the dentists office a couple of hours ago to make sure this was normal numb. The receptionist looked at my chart and was like Oh yeah, you might be numb for awhile still, like dinner time. Then she told me that I already had my chart marked to get extra numb and for this procedure he gave me a couple of extra squirts.

It's pretty irritating at this point and I've limited myself to very small bites of soft, soft food until I can be reassured that the food I'm swallowing doesn't include any parts of my own face. Fortunately for me the only truly soft, soft food we had in the house (ignoring oatmeal, of course, bleh) was a little tray of Tiramisu.

Oh yeth - I nearly forgot. A fun thide effect of the extreme numbneth and having no control of my own tongue ith that I'm currently unable to thay my Th'th, which I dithcovered during a brief phone converthation with my friend Thephanie thith morning. Here ith a picture:

Random Find

Disturbing on many levels. It's that kind of day...