Sunday, November 02, 2008

halloween treats

This year for Halloween, we again went to the Nutty Professor's to eat and drink and hand out candy. Rather, the menfolk sat out front and handed out candy, while the women, who have collectively had it about up to HERE with their respective husbands, sat hiding on the back patio bitching and drinking and chowing down on chili, meatballs, etc. Basically the opposite of what usually happens at coed parties.

Well, the Nutty Professor and I pretty much split a rather large bottle of wine. By that time it was curfew, and we moved all the food and booze over to the Norton's, kids in tow, and were joined by various other neighbors who weren't quite ready to call it quits on a Friday Halloween night.

I continued drinking fizzy drinks and downed a few of Ann's loaded jello shots. After a few of those, the talk among women turns to men and sex and penis size. Even a bunch of droopy 40-odd something year old women feel a little naughty talking about that, especially when their respective husbands are in the same room. Their ears perk up when they hear women boisterously yelling "penis!" across the room.

But sometimes the conversation needs a starter, which I'm pretty good at. So my first question to the assembled group of ladies was the Phillie they'd most like to boink. This, of course being the world champion FUCKING champions, according to Chase's most eloquent and loudly cheered speech.

Chase won the vote, of course, by cursing at his parade speech, which made him seem a little less stoic and a little more dirty. Cole Hamels came in second, largely due to the fact that he's cute and he won major points for marrying an older woman. Jayson Werth came in next because he's like a big huge mischevious puppy who might enjoy slamming you up against a wall. And rounding out the list was the old man, Jamie Moyer, who has the benefit of experience, and sometimes experience and knowledge outperform youth and stamina.

Well, we all had a nice time thinking of boinking our favorite Phillies. Then I posed another question: If you had to pick someone else's husband here to boink, who would it be? The crowd hushed. As if they'd never thought of it before.

Nutty Professor took a sad look around the large kitchen, where the men were assembled in various pockets of manly conversation and said, "I'd rather die. I'd rather die than have sex with anybody here." I didn't buy this at all.

"Surely, there must be SOMEONE else's husband you'd consider?" I pursued.

"No. No. I think I'd rather just die."

And so I followed up with the other ladies in the group, and nobody would admit to ever ever considering sleeping with someone else's husband. At least, not one of those in the kitchen.

Was this because that's not something you would admit in front of your neighbors? Or are the husbands such a motley, horrific group of men that one would rather die than sleep with them?

Yeah, pretty much.

Friday, October 10, 2008

smile and say hi

There's a certain code of etiquette that we use to move about in the maze and hallways of the cube farm.

First, before you leave the cube and attempt to enter the hall, you must look quickly right and left, much like you would if you were driving before turning onto a road. Because there are actually quite a few people who are shorter than the cube walls who you can't see if you just go barreling out into the hall. And then you'll mow them down when they've just returned from the coffee room with a cup of hot coffee.

I am not one of these shorter folks, rather unfortunately; you can always tell where I am in the maze because my blond heads bobs and weaves and sticks up over the walls. There's really nowhere for me to hide. Unless I slump down, which I sometimes do so I won't be seen coming in from lunch 2 hours late.

Then there's hallway etiquette. You have to decide: Will you say hi to people you pass in the hallway or not? Here's a test:

Ok, here's Joe walking down the hall toward you. You like Joe, you're friends. Do you
a)say hi, chat, complain about the man, do the Wild and Crazy guy walk toward each other, high five, terrorist fist jab
b)ignore him

The correct answer is a.

Here's Linda walking down the hall toward you. You don't really work much with Linda; you kind of know who she is but have no personal connection with her. Do you
a)smile and say hi
b)ignore her and look far off into the distant horizon, pretending to be in so much of a hurry to get to your destination that you can't take the time to smile and say hi
c)pretend you're examining your nails or you're rustling papers about and couldn't look up in time, thus avoiding her gaze without the guilt that might have come from simply ignoring her. But if you feel guilty immediately after passing her, you make an insincere attempt, after you've walked past her, to acknowledge her presence by turning halfway around and lamely saying "oh, hey, Linda. Hey. Sorry, I didn't see you there."

The correct answer is a.

Here's someone who works in the same building somewhere; you have absolutely no idea who it is. Do you
a) smile and say hi
b) grimace and say hi
c) head nod with or without saying "hey" (this is mostly reserved for men)
d) see how long the hallway is and panic, thinking that there's still time enough to act like you've forgotten something and turn around and go back to your cube and then return to the hallway after the person has passed, thus avoiding that uncomfortable situation where neither of you knows each other and forces out an insincere smile and mumbles "hey."
e) completely and totally look directly past the person at a point far off on the horizon, thereby eliminating that person's presence within your personal space and thus diminshing their self-esteem by just enough for them to go home and return to work with a loaded rifle
f) stare them down as they walk down the hall, forcing them to acknowledge you with an insincere smile and a mumbling "hey."
g) stare them down as they walk down the hall, and then, as they pass, realize that they are NOT meeting your stare and are ignoring your presence within their personal space, and then get pissed off because they're so rude.

The correct answer: all of the above.

It gets complicated, making this quick thinking-on-your-feet type of decision who to say hi to and who not. You don't want people to think you're some kind of friendly, perky freak who may actually be trying to create a positive presence in the workplace.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Ok, so if they don't want you to put Qtips in your ears, why did they make them so long? And with a cushy cotton tip on both ends?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

a man in a bowler hat part 2

Ok, this is a little spooky. I saw the same man, with the same bowler hat, walking down the same street today.

In other news, Remy happily gave me his latest armpit hair update this evening. He discovered one hair in the other armpit, and a growing army of them in the first. He's up to about 1/2 dozen.

He reported no new growth in the pubic region.

Jeebus, my kids are fucking weird.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

a man in a bowler hat

Today I saw a gentleman in a white bowler hat and what appeared to be spats. He was just walking down the street. Wedding? I don't know. It's just not every day you see a man in a bowler, much less a white one. It was like seeing an ostrich downtown.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

dress code

The department managers had to meet this afternoon to discuss clarification of the office dress code. You see, last week, the president gathered us all outside and announced big news! Men no longer had to wear ties! We're going "business casual!" Yay!

Well, apparently people started showing up to work this week in coffee-stained pajamas and flip flops, hence the meeting.

The meeting started with the obligatory passing around of a 3-page ultrasupersecret memo designed to provide more clarification of the "new" company dress policy. The memo included 2 pages of what to wear, what not to wear, and what season to wear or not wear it, delineated neatly by gender.

In effect, it's pretty much the same as the old dress policy that people apparently ignored, except: men don't have to wear ties. Still no jeans. Casual Friday means "pressed"--I mean, who the hell says that?--dockers and polo shirts for men. Women...well, women can get away with more things. But no halters! No crocs! No tight or revealing clothing! No sneakers! No sandals after summer!

This "new" dress code was designed with our comfort in mind, so we're told, to create a more positive and fun work environment. I mean, I can't even say that with a straight face.

So we all look over the memo and Pat, from marketing, and Kathy, one of the VPs, discuss some of the less interesting points about inappropriate wardrobe choices. Like, no outdoor scarves allowed as part of the work wardrobe. Indoor scarves used to be fine for men and women, but Pat explained he deleted "men" from the official scarf sub-policy. Indoor scarves were too much like ties, he explained.

I looked around. Eyes glazed over. Jaws slightly open. A collective thought balloon hung over the long conference table, containing the word, "WTF."

"We really want the managers to get on board with this policy and don't badmouth it," Kathy said, as if the first thing we would do is go running out to our staff and telling them how stupid this was. We can do that tomorrow.

"Please wait until the official announcement goes out at 10 am tomorrow before discussing this with your staff. You may want to call a meeting in case people have questions. And please don't share the contents of this memo with them."

"Wait," Mary said. "So you have a list of things to wear and not to wear, and you don't want to share that with the employees? Why can't they see this memo? How will they know if they're breaking the policy?"

Pat hemmed and hawed. He explained it took 10 meetings to come up with the policy contained within the 3-page memo. I don't think he was kidding.

"Well, use your best judgement. I mean, you don't have to bust them on the first infraction. But if it continues, well, you should talk to the employee."

We looked at the memo and after a series of long, painful silences following Pat's repeated question "does anyone have any questions?" someone piped up:

"What about sandals at this time of year? It's still warm."

"Well, it depends on the sandal," said Kathy. "Not flip flops."

"No. A sandal. Like, I'm wearing sandals now. Would this adhere to policy?" The gal took off her sandal and ceremoniously slapped it on the conference table. There was a moment of nearly deferential silence.

"Well, it's dressier than a regular sandal," someone said.

"It's a dress sandal!" I piped up.

Kathy shook her head a little. I don't think she was actually expecting any of us to make such inane comments. "I think that would be ok."

"And we want to discourage tattooing and body piercings," she added. "But, heh heh, I'm sure you probably wouldn't hire someone who came in here with a nose ring," she added.

"I probably would," Evan, my old pal in rebelliousness, said happily.

"What about short-sleeved, button down shirts for men during the transition seasons?" I asked.

"No. They can wear polos on Friday, but the rest of the week they have to wear long sleeve shirts."

"Even now, when it's still hot?"

Pat looked at me and shook his head.

"Ok," I continued. "What about tight, thigh-high skirts? I see women wearing them. What about skirt lengths in general?" This was not outlined in the memo, a rather glaring oversight, in my opinion. But, face it, men who run companies like women in their short skirts, so presto: no short skirt policy. Capris? Out, unless it's summer. Business shorts? Ugly, and also out. Tight, short skirts? Absolutely, and encouraged--every day!

Pat stuttered, clearly taken aback by a rather feminist challenge to the dress policy.

"Uh, nothing, no...not too tight, no revealing clothes."

As it happens, there's one gal in sales who's nice as can be, from what I hear, but her body is of Barbie doll proportions, and she adorns it with the tightest clothes imaginable, matched only by 5-inch spike heels that make her feet turn outward as she struggles to maintain her balance while attempting to make tiny baby steps in her thigh-high, too-tight skirt.

What will become of her and her wardrobe? My point being, if they're going to make stupid rules, they should apply to everyone. But if one person gets to break them, we all do.

After a few more dumb questions about pantyhose and Dockers and winter coats, the meeting was adjourned.

I followed up later with Evan, who has since partaken of the corporate koolaid, and has become an executive editor. I helped hire him, initially, more than 10 years ago, and at that time we seemed to share a certain delight in rebelling against the man, of vowing not to get sucked into the corporate vortex of despair.

"Well, THAT was fun," I wrote in an email.

After some snark, he wrote: "it comes down to the sad truth that this place is run like a burgeoning 1950's Michigan accounting firm, plopped out of time in 21st-century South Jersey. You either work here or don't. You know?"

And with that, Evan spit out a little of the koolaid on his too-baggy, unpressed pants and his untucked polo shirt. There's still hope for him. For all of us. Maybe one day I'll come in braless. That was NOT mentioned in the dress policy.

Thanks for keeping the spirit alive, dude.

Monday, September 08, 2008

spanish inquisition

Well, one new thing I'm participating in is a fantasy football league. Is that pathetic or what? I mean, I may as well attend a Star Wars convention.

My pal Conni suggested I join up and play along with my boss (Dave) and the A/V dude (Mcponytail) from my current job.

I had to think carefully about this. Is it good business sense to join your colleagues at sports bars for the purpose of drinking and relentlessly taunting each other? That's the kind of action I was promised if I joined up. I mean, never mind the actual games. So after thinking carefully for about a minute, I joined up.

First thing, of course, was the draft, which took place at an appropriately seedy bar, nestled within the reeds and cattails on a nearby Jersey swamp.

Dave and I wasted way too much time and paper at work the day before, printing rosters and draft info. He started it. So armed with our paperwork and folders and looking all important, we cut out on time (!) and headed to the bar.

The tables were set up to accommodate 10 managers, 5 women and 5 men. We drank some beer and drafted away.

My first pick was immediately greeted with catcalls and comments like "yeah, great pick for 3rd string," and "loser." Sassy talk like that. I think it was Alex Smith (who's got some shoulder problem; I dropped him yesterday.)

My next pick was a little more impressive: Plaxico Burress. Greeted with admiring grunts.

Aha, maybe I do know what I'm doing.

Or, maybe I couldn't deny myself the pleasure of drafting someone named "Plaxico." Yes, that's it.

Drafting continued, accompanied by more beer. Drafting ended, followed by more beer. In all, I probably drank more beer that night than I have...even since 4th of July. And I'm not a beer drinker. But the combination seemed to work, the beer and football, to prevent a hangover the next day. Because if there's something worse than having to face your kids when you're hungover, it's your desk at work.

On Thursday night, my team was in first place. By Monday night, my team--the Spanish Inquisition, with the Iggles defense--was next to last.

But it's not about the football. It's about the snarky repartee, the casually sarcastic aside, the playful sexual banter, the overtly hostile verbal abuse from friends and coworkers. I hope they're prepared. Because nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.


Monday, July 21, 2008

sea of cubbies

Not to riff on Mike's post about his new job, but I have a new job too. A new job at my old job.

I've worked at this company, off and on, in various capacities and departments, since 1995. I was a Quark guru. An editor. An artist. A copywriter. A faux marketing director. A freelance writer. Fulltime. Parttime. Always the one actually doing the work.

And I was fine with that. I liked being left alone to do the work. I needed no accolades, no pats on the back, just a copy of the latest whatever magazine/brochure/program my work appeared in. I don't ask for much.

Years ago I suggested they ought to have a nice little place where a lactating mother could pump breast milk. The wave of the future! I said. They thought I was nuts. It was just a little creepy hauling the electric milk sucker into the vice-president's office to pump when he was out of town. But I did it, and I was the only one. It beat the bathroom.

They scoffed at my idea of a 4-day workweek when my kids were little. So I quit. Taught for a couple years. Kids. They're funny.

Soon after I quit, they created a room for breast pumping. And they grudgingly started offering parttime and flextime. To appease the militants.

It's convenient. It's familiar. People like me there. I'm like the crazy aunt who never leaves the party.

It's a black hole, eager to suck your life away. The cleaning people think there are ghosts in the building.

It's a job. It comes with a cubby. I will oversee the company's flagship publication. My ed board gets generous honorariums. Meetings worldwide. I get a credit card. And a staff of young things half my age, who I will alternately nurture and desperately attempt to convince that they need to get out NOW while they still can.

Sure, I'm grateful, and honestly, a little surprised, that they've chosen me to do this job. A square peg in a round hole. In my current situation, it's a lot easier to rationalize selling my soul to pay the bills. I have no choice.

During my orientation today, the HR gal handed me my temporary nameplate.

"I still have my other permanent one."

"You do?"

"Yeah. I took it when I left."

"Oh. You weren't supposed to do that. You were supposed to give it to me. I put it in your file, so if you come back, we'd have it." They actually have a policy for ex-employee nameplates.

Rule broken. Mission accomplished.

Friday, July 04, 2008

dragon scrotum

The annual 4th of July celebration in Wenonah passed by much like it always does, with a few notable differences.

The boys and I arrived late; the parade had already double backed by the time we got there. That's never happened to me before.

I missed the battle of the bands, the battle royale between the Pitman Hobo Band and the Bonsal Blues Band. The parade stops when the bands pass each other, and they together play one or two rousing patriotic songs. It's the true highlight of the parade, and it makes that 9:15 am beer that much more refreshing.

Remy didn't run out in the street to fetch the thrown candy. Boo did, but only under duress. He probably felt a little ridiculous, this 6-foot 13-year-old, running down the street for Smarties and Sweetarts and Bit 'O Honeys and Bottle Caps, and, if he was lucky, the occasional and widely prized Tootsie Roll. Why did someone think it was a good idea to package the world's most detested candy in huge BJ-size bags? Does
anyone really like Smarties?

Then I went to O'Connor's (Oak's) for more morning beer. I finally got to talk to Jack Wiler, who's a hoot with tremendous recall of his life growing up in Wenonah. Also Jim Maddox, who blogs about nearby Woodbury Heights...great to read their blogs about local history and shared baby boomer experiences, regardless of locale. Thanks, Jack.

(Because I am so much younger than Jack, I can only place myself on the tail end of the baby boom, and I can't remember shit anyway, and that's why I like his blog.)

The usual crowd of over-the-hill hippie guys were at Oak's and, as I was unaccompanied by kids and dh, I was able to talk to some of them at length. These were some of the guys I spent my teenage years hanging out with, guys like Ron, Jim, Victor, Richie, Larry, Steve...mostly blue collar guys with Peter Pan syndrome who used to punctuate every other word with "fucking" and "man" back in the 70s, so a conversation with any of them might go something like this:

"Hey, Victor."

"Hey, Carey. Hey, have you seen Paul? He was fucking here a minute ago, man, and now he's fucking disappeared."

"Sorry, I haven't seen him."

"Fuck. He has my fucking CAR, man."

Victor and Jack shared a story about one evening when they had driven to the Pine Barrens. Jack's brother Mick was there, and somebody else, I don't remember. They had all dropped acid, and they remembered the exact dosage. Apparently Victor had received some extra-strength blotter, but wasn't aware of its exaggerated potency. So he took 2 tabs, which was something like the equivalent of 4 regular-strength tabs. Jack took one, Mick took 1/2. How the HELL these guys remember this, I don't know.

So they're out driving in the Pine Barrens and swear to GOD there's a car that's following them, right on the bumper, along the scary, dark, winding roads through the woods. Then, suddenly, as if it were an alien spacecraft, if disappears. Like
that! Then they recounted how the tree branches turned into arms reaching out at them, these blue alien arms. A trip to remember, evidently, but how one can remember anything on that much blotter astounds me.

Victor told me he studies Tibetan Buddhism, and then shared with me information about his various tattoos. Apparently there's a dragon around his scrotum. Thanks, Victor!

I see these guys once a year, and they never cease to amuse me.

The mug was really lame this year. They've apparently run out of historical buildings to highlight, so they threw some clip art on it. Even my friend Lisa gave up on the mug this year. She's been an avid collector, and to my knowledge has never missed a 4th. But she didn't come to Wenonah this year, she and her festive 4th of July socks, and I missed her.

I'd been dreading this day for awhile, given the tension between the inlaws and me and probably all their friends...long story, but I wasn't exactly feeling the love upon my arrival in my old hometown. But then after a couple of beers and compliments at Oaks before heading down to the firehouse for more, the day became a nostalgic trip back to the 70s, when drugs were cool, everybody was your best friend, and older guys who could have easily taken advantage of teenage jailbait--even guys with tattoos and fast cars and motorcycles who said "fuck" all the time--were gentlemen.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

my sprout

The other night I was putting Jeremy to bed and he says, "hey, you want to know something?"

"What?" I ask.

"I got hair down there."


"Down there. You know."


"Yeah! You want to see?"

I thought about this for a moment. First, is it appropriate for a 10-year-old boy to ask his mother if she'd like to see his pubes?

In some households, maybe not. But I have never beaten around the bush, so to speak, regarding the birds and the bees. I get right to the point. No cutesy names, like "peach" and "fuzz" and "sprout." Ok, I think I used sprout once.

13-year-old Boo can't stand me seeing him shirtless, let alone show me his pubes. Or even his armpits.

Remy has happily showed me the one hair in his armpit--the one, I guess, that's on an exploratory mission to determine if it's safe for the others to grow there.

But even I was a little taken aback by his question. I'd like to think that most parents harbor a natural curiosity about their children's sexual maturity, and, if they're parents of amply endowed they are.

Or maybe that's just me.

I remember when I was a nursery school volunteer, I had to change this one kid's diaper. The kid had a button penis. I mean, it literally looked like a button and virtually no shaft. It was very odd. I've always thought Remy seemed pretty healthy in that department, and he's not shy about flaunting it. 

So I guess he figured that I'd want to know. Just keeping me informed. As a pubic service. Hardy har.

So I thought about it and it seemed natural to say, "Why, sure." So he pulls his underwear down to display his equipment, and sure enough: a faint little field of dark hair had sprouted around his sprout. 

He waited for a comment.

"Why, so you do, Remy," I said. "How about that? You're growing up!"

"Yeah. Here, check out my armpit. That hair is still there!" He seemed genuinely pleased with himself, not only for growing up, but in doing what I think he felt was his duty to keep me informed of his progress.

He's going to 6th grade in September. My little sprout is leaving the garden.

Friday, May 16, 2008

bathroom follies

My cube at my current gig is conveniently located between 2 bathrooms. Niiiice. The one on my left is a ladies' room, with 2 stalls and the necessary wicker loveseat upon which to drape oneself when one has an attack of the vapors.

It's pretty average as bathrooms go, but the design of the toilet bowl is such that half the time you drop toilet paper in there, it doesn't go down with the water. It clings, screaming, to the side. This is kind of gross, especially when you go to use the thing and someone else's toilet paper is still stuck to the side. People don't want reminders that other people may have used the bathroom before them. The solution for those who don't wish to offend, perhaps, is to reach down into the toilet and give the stubborn toilet paper a shove, and then wash one's hands thoroughly afterward. Or try to sneak out before anyone knows you've been in there.

And stop spraying that Airwick! We know what you're doing in there, and yeah, it's as gross for us as it is for you. But the Airwick just adds insult to injury, if you ask me.

The bathrooms on the right are for whoever gets in there first.

About 10 most mornings, the smell of extinguished matches wafts around the corner and into my cube. I discussed it with one of the writers yesterday.

"Yo. What is UP with the matches? I mean, who does that at work? What's the point? Like that smell is any more pleasant than what he left behind? Why not just open up a can of tuna or crack open some hard-boiled eggs while you're in there? Or just bring some stinky cheese in with you?"

"I think it's some guy from accounting."

"Big guy? Glasses? Slovenly?"


Hmmmm. Is this the same guy who I've heard coughing up a lung in those bathrooms on several occasions, late in the afternoon, when perhaps he thinks everyone has left?

I mean, it's like he's being exorcised in there, coughing up hairballs or choking on big chunks of bad meat or something. Like he was going to fucking die. So much so that the first time I heard it, I very nearly called 911.

The cleaning woman was on the other side of my cube. She heard it too one day. She peeked around my cubbie.

"Did you HEAR that?" I asked.

"Yeah. Guy sounds like he's dying."

I mean, hacking and coughing and choking and ...well, I think of Kane, in Alien, when the thing pops out of his stomach. That's what I imagine is going on in the bathroom when this guy is in there.

This has happened a few times, so I finally popped my head up out of my cubbie like a whack-a-mole to see him. That's the dude, breathing heavily. The slovenly fat dude from accounting.

Every company has one.

Thankfully, he kept his matches to himself.

Monday, May 05, 2008

panic at the friendly's

Boo and I went on a date this weekend, which mostly consisted of me buying him stuff. We started at the Asian market, because he's going through this phase. Japanese and Chinese people are so much cooler than we are because they make anime. Something like that.

We continued to Barnes and Noble, then Target, the bike store and finally to Friendly's. He's finally at the age where he feels a little stupid going to Friendly's, but he forgets all about that when the ice cream comes.

So we're finishing up our lunch...he's enjoying his mint chocolate chip and Reese's cup sundae (yech) and I'm having a modest dish of chocolate ice cream (oooh, don't tempt me.) (That's a shout-out to all you MST3k fans out there.) (And that's the first and last time I'll say "shout-out.")

All of a sudden, we notice raised voices next to us, and this rather...well, ugly, yes, I'll call her ugly, woman said, "DON'T CALL ME A TRAMP!" And we turn and watch this altercation going on right next to us: apparently, this ugly woman had changed a kid's diaper in the booth. And I missed it!

But apparently that's what happened, because here's soccer mom and dad and the kids sitting in the booth across from us, which is one up from the diaper booth, and soccer mom is saying, "But you don't DO that! People are EATING!"

"I DO!" yelled the ugly woman, with some authority.

"You're a TRAMP!" said soccer dad.

"Don't call my sister a TRAMP!" the tramp's sister yelled.

Friendly's grew very quiet as the four of them went back and forth like that for a minute. It looked like soccer mom and dad and the Tramp and her sister would come to blows in the Friendly's, ironically.

But then the Tramp family gathered up their stuff and left, leaving soccer mom and the kids visibly shaken by the conflict. Soccer dad didn't even look up. Just sat there and said "Tramp" several times, leaving his wife to do the dirty work: trying to reason with them.

Me, I don't like conflict. If I saw this woman changing a diaper in the booth at Friendly's, I'd figure, you know...this is not the kind of person who would listen to reason anyway, so why bother bringing it to her attention that a BOOTH IN WHICH PEOPLE SIT TO EAT DELICIOUS FRIENDLY'S ICE CREAM is NO PLACE TO CHANGE A DIAPER.

That's why they have parking lots outside, in which to dump said diaper after you've changed it in the van. I'm pretty certain these people leave a trail of dirty diapers lying around wherever they go. Balled up wads of plastic and shit and industrial strength absorbent material that goops up into a gelatinous mess when wet.

Tramps. You've gone and put me off my Friendly's.

Monday, April 28, 2008

unexpected items

This whole brain tumor thing has really thrown me off my game. It's hard to go through a day and not be conscious that its presence--and now, its absence and accompanying mental and physical deficits--will always be there. You don't want to be defined by it, but it shapes everything.

And it didn't even belong to me.

Anyway, it's been difficult to recapture my sense of humor, which I depend on to get through the day. I certainly don't want to blog about how things suck right now and sound all woe-is-me and shit, so instead, this is what happened at the Ack-a-me the other day.

I go through the self-scanner lane because I like to create more work for myself. I only have a few things and normally I can speed through. This time, however, was different.

I scanned a couple of things. The holding area was full, so I moved some of the stuff into the cart.

"Unexpected item removed from bagging area. Please return item to bagging area," said the scanner lady with a voice that suggested that a SWAT team was about ready to swoop down on me any minute. I dutifully put the stuff back.

"Unexpected item in bagging area. Please remove item from bagging area."

Confused, I removed the bag and put it back in the cart.

"Unexpected item removed from bagging area. Please return item to bagging area."

I take the bag and wave it around the scanner, trying to convince it that it's paid for.

"See? It's in a BAG. Because it's PAID FOR," I patiently explain to the machine. "Now I'm going to put it back in the sacred 'bagging area', and then I'm going to REMOVE it to make room for more stuff." I put the bag in the cart.

"Unexpected item removed from bagging area. Please re..." the scanner stops speaking abruptly as I take the bag from the cart and slam it back down in the holding area.

"Unexpected item in bagging area. Please remove item from bagging area." The scanner is clearly teasing me now and I begin to wonder if I'm being punk'd, but quickly realize that this is NJ and we don't fool around with that stupid crap here.

"LOOK! SEE??? IT'S PAID FOR! IT'S IN A BAG. I'M TAKING MY PAID MERCHANDISE AND PUTTING IT IN THE CART!" I shout, loudly enough for the cashier to note that I'm not actually stealing a box of Cheerios, some half-and-half, plastic wrap and tampons. "LOOK! SEE? WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU ANYWAY?! SEE?"

I frantically moved the bag back and forth several times from the cart to the holding area, just to confuse it. "What! WHAT! Which way did it go? HUH? Where's the bag NOW??? Oh, WHAT, cat got your tongue?"

By this time a line has started to form, and I turn exasperatedly to the guy behind me. "Is it ME?" He smiles, shakes his head knowingly. He's been through this hell before.

The thing is yelling at me to return the bag, but I toss the bag in the cart in the hope it doesn't notice, and start quickly scanning more stuff, trying to confuse it. It seems to work.

"Two. Ninety-nine." she says pleasantly.

"Three. Forty-nine." she says, again pleasantly.

She remains calm and collected throughout the transaction, certainly more than I was. I hope the Ack-a-me security cameras got my good side. If I only had one.

Monday, March 03, 2008

cheap sunglasses

For the record, I'm now a managing editor of an unimportant in the grand scheme of things medical magazine, all the while continuing to freelance write (in my spare time!) dry, clinical articles about...advanced gastric cancer and why docetaxel is a beast ('s the cover story!)

I'll be there for a few months until, well, I don't know. Recent events have necessitated a giant rethink about life in general, and what the hell I'm going do with it now.

Deep thinking isn't one of my strong points.

So the other day I went to Target to get Target stuff. I needed sunglasses. I refuse to pay a lot for sunglasses because they invariably get lost or broken.

Sunglasses always look a little askew on my head, I think because my ears must be crooked. They never seem to sit straight across my face.

And what's the deal with those huge 60s-style sunglasses? Who felt the need to resurrect that look? It's frigging stupid. There are some ugly-ass sunglasses out there.

Generally, when you go to buy sunglasses, it's not because you have a bunch of new, previously purchased sunglasses waiting around in a pile at home. When you buy sunglasses, you need them NOW because you don't have any. You drive around squinting for a week until you finally decide, yeah, I need sunglasses. I think I'll get some now.

So you get back in the car and eagerly grab the sunglasses from the bag because you don't want to go another day without them. But because of advanced adhesive technology, getting the damn sticker off the sunglasses that you want to wear RIGHT NOW is impossible. The sticky tag folds onto itself, creating an impenetrable bond that clenched teeth cannot chew through. And even if you manage to get the sticky tag off, the super adhesive stays on the frame, encouraging whatever hair or lint or whatever is flying around the air to stick to it.

Or, with the other pair...the tag is attached with the dreaded loopy-plastic tag holder thing. Sure, maybe you could cut it with scissors or a knife, if you kept those things in the car. But you don't. The paper tag detaches easily enough from the plastic loopy thing, leaving the plastic thing firmly looped around the frame, conveniently located right around the nosepiece, where everyone can see it because you don't give a shit anymore, you just put them on anyway because all you needed was a pair of DAMN SUNGLASSES. NOW.

Fortunately, you remembered to peel off the UV protection label from the lens. Didn't you?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

note to the MSM...

For the love of CHRIST, STOP saying "change agent." That's the person who gives you a roll of quarters in the casino. It does not refer to EVERY CURRENT PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, not even if they call themselves that. Just stop it now. Stop.

my house... is a very very very clean house

My rich friends gave me a gift yesterday, arguably one of the greatest gifts ever given to a busy woman:

Two cleaning ladies from Poland.

The joy of having the whole house clean at once is immeasurable. It's almost impossible to get it all done in one day, so I clean a room here, a room there, but they're never all clean at the same time. I'm constantly in a state of mess.

Yesterday, Yolanda and her friend fixed all that for me. Armed with cleaning supplies and knee pads, they went to work upstairs while I went out and got stuff done.

When I came home...oh! The glorious smell of bleach and lysol and method cleaning products greeted me at the door! The carpet so vacuumed, I lay down and created a carpet angel on it. The sparkling floors! The made beds! And the bathrooms almost made me cry. Or maybe that was the bleach. I don't know, and it doesn't matter.

I'd never had my house professionally cleaned before. It's a beautiful thing.

And then stuff will start to pile up again, and the boys and their stinky friends will come and mess everything up. The cat will shed, the dog will slobber, the dirt will find its way back. It always does.

But for now, I'll try not to spill anything. And everybody takes off their shoes before entering the house.

Thanks, ladies. Thanks, friends.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

steaming piles of crap

Wow, I haven't posted in a month!

A lot has happened. Truth to tell, the end of the year mostly sucked, and so far, 2008 sucks too.

But I won't dwell on it, because it's pretty tiresome to write (and read) about despair and woe and..well, things that suck.

Unless it's something like this:

We got this puppy, see, and he's called Hooch. He's going to be 7 feet tall. He's about 3 1/2 months old, and his feet are as big as hockey pucks. He's great, but he's a puppy, albeit a huge puppy, and puppies are a big pain in the ass. I'd forgotten that. No, I didn't forget it; I never really knew that, because when I first had a puppy I was 11 years old, so I mostly forget about its care and feeding, except I suppose my mother mostly took over those duties.

I do remember that when you took the dog out, he crapped wherever he felt like, and that was that. There was no fussy scooping, no tricky turning the plastic bag inside out to pick up the crap. The steaming crap in winter. No, you just left it, and it hardened eventually, and disintegrated. Maybe someone would step in it and drag it into the house, but that didn't happen often.

You never heard of anyone getting a disease from stepping in a pile of dogcrap.

That's all changed now. It's a federal offense to let your dog crap freely around the neighborhood. People give you the hairy eyeball if you don't pick up the crap. Little children blithely pick up and throw dogcrap at each other, sometimes even sampling a morsel because they think it's chocolate. And they now DIE from that, evidently.

And yet, there are still piles of crap on the ground. Someone's not following instructions.

Me, I always pick up the crap because I don't want some neighborhood Mrs. Kravitz giving me shit about not picking up crap. It's a distasteful chore. And the idea of picking up dogcrap in a plastic grocery bag is totally ludicrous, essentially giving the crap a half-life of a thousand years in a landfill, rather than, what, a couple of weeks out on the lawn? It's stupid. I'd really prefer to just let it sit and become one with nature.

Now they have compostable and recyclable poop bags made from corn, which I suppose is a slightly better alternative. Someone's making money making compostable bags for the rest of us to pick up and dispose of our dogs' crap. The idea is just a little insane.

Hooch can be quite prolific. It's unbelievable what a dog's bowels can hold.

So that's my first post of the new year, a post about picking up steaming piles of dogcrap. Surely a harbinger of the year ahead.