Friday, December 30, 2005

Playing Tag

It's happened, y'all! I got tagged by mopeychick! Woo!


I'm still new at this and so am thrilled to be asked to join the team, as it were. Being as how I was never one of the first picked at ANYTHING as a youngster (just try my life sometime, it was awkward until I was 19), I'm glad to take a turn at this game of "tag," even through I hated tag as a kid because I wasn't fast or agile. See? Again with the tales of sad childhood.

Let's change lanes, shall we, and speed onward toward 5 things that are interesting about me that you don't know, in vivid color.

1) I have sung at the National Cathedral. I was in a quartet with some other kids from my church choir. The sound of our voices ringing around the enormous stone sanctuary gave me goosebumps, and still do if I think about it enough.

2) I was asked to join the tennis team in high school. I know, for someone who claims no physical skills whatsoever, it seems a bit odd. However, I liked playing tennis and filled many a summer vacation day with hitting the ol' ball over the net with my friend Dana Bosworth. The sheer amount of HOURS we played demanded we improve, and apparently it was enough so that in the tennis rotation in PE the coach spotted me and asked if I'd like to join. I said I was in marching band. Gah.

3) I was a lifeguard and pool operator during college. I ran a 1-guard operation at a swanky condo in Crystal City, and rode the Metro to get there. It was me in my sweats and sunscreen and all the government workers in their suits and ties on the train. I got such a horrific sunburn my first day out that I couldn't wear anything but my swimsuit for several days.

4) I know a couple of the guys in the Dave Matthews Band, from way back in college and after grad school. I hung out with Butch Taylor and Carter Beaufort when they were in "Secrets," a jazz fusion group that should, by it's own rights, be hugely popular. Dudes rocked serious axes. Also, got to know Tim Reynolds a little bit in my bar days; he and "TR3" played at the bar I worked in and did the Charlottesville circuit when I lived there, and I used to love going to see them. The bass player did a song called "Don't drink and drive" that was hip-hop before we knew what hip-hop was. No, I never met Dave himself, though I suspect I might have been in the same vicinity as him when I lived in C-ville.

5) I was a radio announcer in Florida. Or did I already mention this?

Well, there you go. 5 things about me that you might not have known. I'm not saying they're interesting, just that they are part of who I was, and consequently a piece of who I am today.

You know, now that I'm on a roll here I could throw a couple more things on the pile of "it's all about ME!" but will refrain. Except to say that I might be the only former drum and bugle corps member you know who also used to be a professional puppeteer.


Thursday, December 29, 2005


I live with 2 dogs.

One dog (dog #1) is a hyper Aussie who takes it upon herself to be on top of all the action in the house, no matter what time of day or night of variation in between. She is constantly in the middle of whatever action is taking place in the house, unless it's time for bed, at which point she jumps onto the bottom bunk in the kids' room and proceeds to take up most of the space not occupied by the body pillow and multitude of stuffed animals. She's a rescue doggie we picked up several years ago from a lovely woman who didn't want to let her go, but who had adopted another Aussie and he was getting all up in our dog's face and generally causing her no end of anxiety with his bully ways, so she gave up the nice dog knowing that the bully dog that she didn't really like wouldn't be adoptable because he was a "boss" dog. I thank her for this, because our dog is a good one, a keeper, even if she IS eight kinds of spazzy excitability. She doesn't bark all that much (only when someone comes to the door, for which I thank her), and is a great companion for the kids, letting them lay on her or use her as a footstool or whatever.

Dog #1's only real weirdness is chasing lights. Yes. Lights. Flashlights are an incredible source of entertainment for her - she chases the beam of light across the floor and up the walls and wherever she can find it. She also becomes mezmerized and confused by the reflections of the Christmas ornaments on the walls, and whines anxiously when they shimmer and move. It's hard to walk her at night, because the headlights of oncoming cars are an invitation to a chase. "Must get the lights!" she thinks. "They're dangerous and must be caught!" Sigh. We've tried to train her out of this bit of annoying behavior, but to no avail - the lights are her special enemy in this world, or her special toy, and there's no getting over that bit.

The other dog is a mystery breed/blend of dog that came out, in his case, as a nice medium-sized pooch of white and tan splotches and lovely floppy ears and a very VERY laid-back personality. We adopted him so dog #1 could have a pet. Seriously. Before dog #2 came on the scene dog #1 was driving us all nuts with her need for constant attention, so we got another dog to keep her occupied. I know, it's a little crazy but it's worked out pretty well.

I think he's taught her how to nap, because mostly that's all he seems to do. Day, night, afternoon, he's sleeping. He's more cat than dog in this aspect. He doesn't care about getting to his bed, either; the middle of the kitchen floor will do nicely, thankyouverymuch, because it's simply too much effort to walk the 10 feet to his $30 bed to take the much-needed eleventy-billionth nap of the day. He even lies down to eat, for Pete's sake, and has apparently taught dog #1 that particular little trick. He sleeps with me at night, waiting until I get the covers over me before hopping up to take his place against my back, hoping, I'm sure, to gain a little warmth by proximity.

Dog #2 has one teeny tiny little drawback. He has a very very BIG voice. Which he uses. A lot. He's in best voice first thing in the morning, when the first person in the house arises, even if it IS too damned early to be awake but said person is getting up to go into work early while the rest of the family sleeps in their nice warm beds on their VACATION week (mutter mutter mutter).

The typical scenario goes thusly:

Person stirs from nice warm bed and begins the shuffle toward the coffee pot. Dog #2 notices that the warm lump beside him in bed is no longer there, and slides down to the floor to track person down. Once he finds the person, he begins to express his glee.

"BAROOOOOO!" bellows dog #2, in his basso profundo hound voice. "BAROOOO! You're up! You're up! Happy day! Oh JOY!" Waggy-waggy the tail, then bellow again while running up and down the hall in canine ecstasy. Hooray! The day has started! Let's wake up sister dog and start to growl and play! Let's careen around the house and shake our collars and jangle our tags and bellow some more! Whoopeee!!! Baroooooo!!!!

All the while the person is shushing and cussing and telling him to please shut up before he wakes up the rest of the house, but to no end. The joy must be expressed, the energy must be expended, the day must be greeted in this exuberant fashion. The world is too fine a place to be quiet in!

And then, 5 minutes later, he takes a nap.

Damned dog.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

How did I get so old?

It's been over 20 years since I graduated from college.

How did I get so old?

It's been 25 years since I graduated high school.

How did I get so old?

It's been over ten years since my first child was born.

How did I get so old?

How did I get so old that I remember watching some of the first MTV broadcasts, that I remember the first time preppie was cool, that I was an adult when Challenger exploded, that I feared for the space men when they went to the moon, that I watched "The Banana Splits" when they were on the first time around and not replayed on Boomerang?

How did I get to the point in my life when I have so very MUCH to look back on?

When I was a kid it was the 60's and 70's and clothes were uncomfortable, there were only 3 channels on teevee, we played outside all day long and our parents didn't worry about us getting snatched, platform shoes were all the rage, and I blow-dried my hair into perfect "feathers" and carried a large green comb in my back pocket for endless touchups during the day. Hip huggers were the bane of my existence, I wasn't allowed to wear "dungarees" to school, shirts were glossy polyester or rayon affairs with big splashy graphics across the front and had long pointed collars, and my friends all had gobs of wildly patterned bodysuits with a zipper down the front.

(I hated bodysuits - they made me sweat and were itchy.)

I didn't understand why my parents liked to watch "Happy Days" and "All in the Family," but I liked "The Carol Burnett Show" just as much as they did. Sunday nights there was the "Wonderful World of Disney" and we ate salami sandwiches on thin dark rye bread while watching it (a once-a-week treat).

Telephones and remotes had cords.

We got actual GRADES in school.

My mom did my hair in pink foam rollers on Saturday night so my hair would be perfectly curly for Sunday church.

"Sit on it" was someting people understood, same for "hoser" and "grit" and "dork" and "spaz" and "SPED" and "musicians do it with rhythm" and "breaker breaker, 10-4, good buddy."

It all seems so very quaint now, and is from another era entirely.

How did I go from being young, with the whole world in front of me, to being middle-aged, with a lot of the world behind me?

And more importantly, what do I do with the second half of my life that will top the first half?

(Between you and me, I'm being optimistic about the new NC lottery. Winning a cool few million dollars would be a great jumpstart, you know?)

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Bag it

This being a "holiday"-ish week, I am in a festive mood, anticipating a laid-back week of Casual Friday dress and general jolliness. I begin the party with a #10 with decaf from the local McD's, because I was already running late when I woke up and didn't get "brefess" at home like I know I should. The Raisin Bran will have to wait until tomorrow; today was all about the sausage and egg burritos.

Now, even though the ordering experience was not an altogether bad one, because I could actually understand the person on the loudspeaker and didn't have to repeat myself a dozen times (once maybe even in Spanish just to be SURE they'd understand) and I actually GOT cream and sugar for my coffee like I'd asked (even though the coffee was, at best, half-strength and remains here, slowly cooling, on my desk as I type this because it tastes so BAD I don't even want to drink it), I was flummoxed in the actual method of delivery of my breakfast, because it came to me in a bag big enough to hold a day's worth of groceries and it looked like I was one of those closet eaters who masquerades as someone buying a meal for their whole FAMILY when in fact the contents are intended only one person, and once done with the copious amounts of food held therein the shameful BIG bag will be disposed of at a neutral location so no-one will ever discover the shameful secret.

Really, the bag, y'all, she was BIG. Think "2 double cheeseburgers, 3 Big Macs, and 5 orders of fries" big. Big enough so that the approximately one hundred napkins that were thrown in (how much mess did they expect me to make with their burritos and oval hashbrowns, anyway?) had room to spare. Big enough so that the normal "drive with one hand, dig through the bag with the other hand" maneuver simply wasn't possible because all the stuff that should have been snugged together and readily identifiable by shape alone could, once the napkins were extricated, run all over the bottom of the bag, avoiding my attempts to identify whether they were burrito or hashbrown. This was irritating, because I always eat the hashbrowns FIRST, when they're crispy and hot, for they do get soggy and "bad gross" when allowed to cool and become greasy-damp. Big ick factor there.

(Say, you might not understand "Good gross" vs "Bad gross." A word of explanation - "good gross" is Waffle House, particularly at 4 a.m. after a night's drunken revelry. "Bad gross" is rubbery food that tastes of nothing, but for which you paid $3.63 and feel compelled to eat anyway. Which was almost my entire breakfast, and shall not be repeated. Ever. I'm a sausage and egg biscuit girl from here on out.)

So, what's with the bag, people who work at McDonald's? When I was but a girl I worked at a McDonald's, and there were very specific rules for which bag you used to house what sorts of food. There were small bags for up to 3 items, medium sized bags for 4-5 items, and THEN the large bags for 6-8 items.

Let's clarify, for the sake of argument here - I had 3 ITEMS (2 burritos plus 1 hasbrown = 3 items, right? Or are we doing some funky new McDonald's math wherein the 1 creamer and the 2 sugars somehow count as actual-factual items? Are the folks behind the counter including the pound of napkins as yet another item?) and should have gotten the dainty bag, which speaks so much more forthrightly to my careful eating habits and delicate flower-like lifestyle; not the big honkin' bag that makes me look like I'm buying a nosh for an entire LANDSCAPING crew! Jeez!

So, to take this situation in control and to spare me any more angst over bag size and the number of trees sacrificed on a daily basis in order to make the BIG bags that are being used for no identifiable purpose whatsoever, the next time I order a sensible meal from a fast-food drive through, I will request on purpose for them to deliver it in a small bag, as it should be. For I am nothing if not concerned with appearance, except maybe if you look at what I wore to work today.

Please, don't ask. Let's just say I'm alone in my "casual Fridays all week long" thing.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The longest night

The longest night of the year is is tonight.

Thank goodness.

The turning point is reached, and the light will slowly return to us here in the northern hemisphere, bringing warmer weather and brighter days, and the beginning of another cycle.

The world rotates and revolves in her own wee path, accompanied by her solitary moon. A remarkably stable little planet in an uninterestingly small planetary system in an unremarkable galaxy, for right now she's all we've got, and the cycles of life here on her surface are observed with reverence and hope.

Well, at least here in the northern part of the northern hemisphere, and probably in the southern parts of the southern hemisphere.


But what about people who live near the equator, for whom all days are like the other, for whom no seasonal cycles are truly discernible? Do they celebrate a season of change and renewal as we in the 4-seasons areas do? Do they notice the passage of days in their lives, or is life a smooth flow of hour into hour and life into life?

From what I can tell it looks like those in more equatorial areas focus their celebrations on life stages rather than earth stages - birth, puberty, marriage, and death are central.

How odd, then, it must have been for peoples of these cultures to be exposed to the Christian ideals by early missionaries, who suggested that their close ties with nature were somehow less satisfying to the great god than the celebration of an artificial ("seasonal") earth cycle that had a central focus on a MAN who was supposed to save them because he had already DIED?

If I was a Samoan or Fijian who was meeting my first missionary, I'd have to wonder who exactly the barbarian was. If I was already in a strong family system that gave thanks to the earth and the fullness thereof, living closely to the wind and soil and sea, what benefit would there be in me altering that great praise to be channeled through a long-dead man? How would it be better to talk to some dead person than to talk directly with the god of the sea if I needed a good catch? How would it be better to ask some formerly flesh-and-blood creature to spare a sick child than it would be to use the earth to try to heal in the ways taught through the ages? There would be no continuity with the forefathers if I shunned their teachings and started to worship a corpse. There would be no sense in the thought that that dead can rise again and ascend into the clouds, or that just because one fellow disappeared from a tomb we should believe that all of us can. Why, people go missing from the burial grounds on this island all the time, and those in our family know it's the animals that do it.

Missionaries can be very silly people, I would say. "Let's eat him," I would think.

It's a wonder people in certain parts of the world EVER got converted. The pull of hope is strong indeed.


Hmmm, took a bit of a turn there from what I'd originally intended, but what the heck.

The main idea was to have been that for those of us north of the equator, today marks the day with the longest amount of night, which is a reason for reflection and celebration. Long-ancient traditions and religions observed this day as a time of hope and looking forward. The old colors of Yule were red and green and white, the roman solstice celebrations were on December 25th, the holly and ivy were druidic symbols of the solstice, the Yule log was meant to burn all night as a welcome to the returning light, candles were lit in ancient homes to bring the sunlight back, and on and on and on.

So, to all y'all, whatever the reason for your celebrations, whatever your god or panoply thereof, whatever your religious affiliation,

Happy holiday.

May you observe and celebrate this season in whatever way you see fit, in whatever custom you've been taught or discovered, with whomever you choose, and whenever is right for you.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Things in my closet (#2)

I'm 8.

I'm scared of my room.

I don't want to go there at night.

See, there's a thing, a man maybe, that is in my closet and it looks like a floating eyeball and it kills ladies who are blind or mute or crippled and it spies on them from a crack in their closet doors until they're asleep, and then it sneaks across their rooms and kills them by first cutting off the part of them that doesn't work.

It's in my closet too, I know it, because I have to go to speech therapy because I can't talk right and I'm a "tongue thruster" or something, so now I have to repeat a bunch of words every night until I can say them the way everybody else does without letting my tongue slip through the gap over here in the right side of my mouth where I used to suck my thumb until I got too big to suck it anymore. Mom had to paint gross-tasting stuff on my thumb to get me to stop, but even that wasn't too bad if I sucked it all off really fast. It just made my stomach hurt a little bit.

Anyhow, the thing in the clost has one black eye that peeps out, all watery and floaty and scary, and if my closet door is open even a little bit I can't sleep at all. I also can't sleep if I don't check under my bed, then in the closet, then under the bed, then behind the door, then in the closet again. Then I run across the floor and jump into my bed to keep out of the reach of whatever monsters got under it in the minute I was checking the closet, and pull up my nightgown and blankets until they're wrapped around me so that I look like an unappetizing mummy, and only then can I fall alseep.

My room is also scary because the street light shines in and my teddy bear on my rocking chair looks much bigger and his eyes get all wet-looking, and I can't look at him because if I do he'll hypnotize me and make me go to the closet and open the door a tiny bit so the thing in there can stare at me and decide what it needs to chop off first.

I begged my Mom every night NOT to shut the door to my room. She doesn't anymore, not since I started screaming in my sleep. I guess my imagination got to there too.

I sure hope I can talk right real soon, so the eyeball thing leaves my closet and goes someplace else.

Like maybe to the girl up the street; she has glasses and is mean to me. I wouldn't really CARE if she died.

Sorry about that God, but you know who I'm talking about and I'm sure you agree with me. OK, she shouldn't die, but maybe just she should get scared a lot a bit. It might make her nicer to me.

A word to Moms and Dads:

This story is part of my past, and it's a bit of a warning. Your children's dreams and fears are real, and if you don't believe them now they'll never let you in on anything else, ever.

Listen to them.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Two for the weekend (Rawk!)

I am a hick.

I know, y'all might THINK I'm erudite and educated and some other e-word I can't think of right now (the front runners being esophageal and ephemeral, which describes a certain man-fantasy but not really me so much, thanks for asking), but really, I'm a hick.

Know why?


Well tough darts, farmer, if you didn't want to know but instead wanted to hear about the whole esophageal thing (cut it out!), because I'm going to tell you why I am a hick.

I'll pause for you to ask me, right here. Why, Tiff, why are you a hick?

Because, y'all, today was the day that my Barnes & Nobles cherry was picked (Popped? Again, whatever. If you're going to make smutty inferences from every.single.thing.I.write, then god bless ya I'll be here til Thursday).

Read it again - Tooo-Daaay was my Fuuuuurst Vihhhhsihhhht to Barnes and Noble. It's painfully apparent that the entire last decade passed me by completely.

I had no IDEA that just by walking into a store I'd be overcome with the shiverin' jones that must assail most women when they first visit the Steinmart (haven't been there, couldn't tell you, but all the ladies on the teevee tell me that they LOVE the place with a vibrantly-colored meth-like eybrow-dancing love, love LOVE) or (because, well, if it's "all about the O" then you've got trouble, right there in your home city, with a capital O that rhymes with "O" which stands for something that you're obviously not getting at home which is why you need to shop online for shit that you could get at the Steinmart and not have to wear allwhite for, like a virginal over-age retail whore............right here in River City. Pooool!). And yes, y'all, read it again, it's a complete sentence. So there.

Where was I?

Ah yes, the Barnes and Noble. B&N, the great and mighty, with its coffee smell and lure of pastries and rows of books done up in tart-ish fashion with their "20% off" stickers garnishing their already-opulent bookish goodness. The pull of the siren song of "just right for the stocking stuffer" table that sports a veritable panoply of self-help titles that make one think that perhaps if one had a tiny shelf filled with demi-help books one could find true happiness in the crazy world by intellectually slipping into one of the palm-sized tomes for 60-seconds-a-day; the call of the wilds of the "nonfiction" section set amongst a seemingly insurmountable range of science fiction and romance novels, ascertainable only to the mighty few who choose to press on to the truth of fact hidden therein; or the bright smorgasboard of children's offerings set enticingly close the the train set, at which many an idle hour has been whiled away while a no-doubt impatient but indulgent parent nervously taps out the time of the progeny's enjoyment while eyeing the "cookbooks from around the world" section with growing hunger and salivary gland activity?

Ah, bliss, ah happiness, that but for a moment all things seem possible and all things seem to have been transcribed for our vicarious enjoyment. Who could want more than what the football stadium-sized store has on offer for our pleasure?

Shoot, too many words for a hick. Stop channeling Niles Crane and get to the point, Mary Jane!

Let me just say it like this then:

Ah'm in Luuuuuuuuuv with B&N. Totally.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

One for the weekend

Ho-ho-holiday thoughts for Saturday morning prior to making a trip to see family for a pre-Christmas celebration:

I can understand the allure of a prelit fake Christmas tree (so easy!), but I don't think I can give up the smell of a real one for anything. Even here in the ol' North State, where trees are apparently worth their weight in some semi-precious metal, I bit the fiscal bullet on this my first Christmas here and bought a 7-footer. As I type away here in the growing morning it sits a few feet away and smells so wonderful.

One year when I was a kid that we had 2 trees; one that took place of residence in the foyer and was the "kids' tree," and the "real" tree in the living room. That was a great year. Last year we had 2 trees in our house and it was just as great. Our house was so big we could have found room for several more with hardly any effort, and at $15-20 bucks a pop, even for the HUGE trees, it was affordable.

We usually make some kind of ornament every year as a family project (OK, me and the kids), but aren't this year. Too much Martha, not enough Tiff in that effort. This year there are multicolored lights and muticolored plastic ornaments and a big ol' gaudy wreath on the door, and it's all very very festive and just what the kids wanted and I don't care anymore about reaching for the inattainable goal of Southern Living perfection, though I do think I'm going to try to make a red velvet cake this year for dessert. I don't care if anybody likes it; it will fit into the whole "gaudy" theme so well that it's a culinary given. I may even decide to make a colorful dinner this year, with jello salad and that bright red stuff smeared all over a ham, and whatever else I can dig up. I'm thinking it would be best to locate a cookbook from the 50's or 60's, when food was dressed in little paper socks or covered in pimento strips and nestled lovingly in a bed of kale. Now THAT'S cookin'.

One nod to modern life DID creep in this year, in that I've done ALL my shopping online. To mixed effect. When I shopped, 2 WEEKS AGO, I was very very careful to only purchase those things that said they were available and would ship in 24 hours, because I didn't want to get all excited by the gift and then have to WAIT for it to arrive sometime after the BIG DAY, because really, what kid is going to understand that TARGET (ahem) couldn't find the thing that Mommy ordered in time to SEND it to them? Which, sadly, despite my so-smart ordering restrictions, happened. Which is also why, at 10 last night I was hunched in front of the computer, cancelling orders that suddenly weren't going to come in and making new orders of less-great stuff from another COMPANY because dammit not all the stuff was going to get here from the orders I placed 2 WEEKS ago and the space under the tree was going to look pretty freaking barren without "the replacements." (Hey, wouldn't it be cool to have THAT group around on Christmas? Wooo!) Oh, and for those of you who say - "just go to the store, you lazy person you, there are many toys of all kinds in those stores that you can buy and have right there in your greedy little mitts and you don't have to pay for shipping!" Yes, I know. I know of the mysterious thing called a "store," and also know that those "stores" are filled with the kind of people who sap the will to live right out of my soul, and (at least for me) my soul is worth the price of postage. Navigating around WalMart 3 weeks ago was like trying to get into a Japanese train, and I don't want to go there or anyplace like it again, especially with 2 kids in tow, because they're always around now and unless I take time off of work there's no time to shop without them around.

Which reminds me, I need to go get that bike Santa's bringing the elder. Shoot.

Wish me luck.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Interviewing (#5)

There was a time in my life when I was a bona fide scientist geek grrrrrl, doing the benchwork thang like a pro and forging new pathways into the understanding of......asthma.

I thought I had cheaped out when I took a job in an asthma lab, because I was going to CURE CANCER as a scientist, and started out fine and dandy but then moved and couldn't keep a good job doing the science because the grant ran out (shudder, all y'all that have been there), and then moved again, taking the first job offered to me, which was doing work in asthma for a big pharma company.

(asthma joke of a sort - one of the "old guard" lab techs would say "I'm going to have an asthma attack" "You are Jerry?" "Yep, see, asthma leg lifts I get the farts!" Bwahahaha! Good times, good times).

Anyhow, asthma turned out to be a fascinating and interesting and challenging field in which to work, and I learned a lot. So much. Some stuff, however, was stuff I didn't really want to learn, like how people can stab you right in the center of the back and smile while doing it.

To wit - and you knew there was a story here, dincha?

After about 7 years doing asthma research I had had about enough and was looking for another job. We were a close-knit group in our lab, and I didn't want to screw my chances of further good raises by telling my boss I wanted out, so I interviewed for a new job on the sly while she was on vacation.

I know, y'all, cloak and dagger! Soooo sneaky!

Problem was that to go on interviews one should dress like one actually WANTS a job, and not like one actually already HAS a job at the very SAME company and doesn't have to do much more to dress in the morning than put on the same pair of jeans one wore the day before and a new tee-shirt, so I was in a pickle in the wardrobe department. My self-directed pickle-addressing questions were - Do I wear nicer clothes to work and just risk being found out as an interviewee by the one girl in the lab who secretly hates my guts but is nice to me on the outside and then goes to run to tell my boss if I did some tiny thing that pissed her off, or do I take the nice clothes into work with me and change in some bathroom stall closer to the interview and then change BACK before going back to the lab, or what?

I was thinking it was only going to be a one-day conundrum, because, you know, that's how they work.

Except, no. Not so much. I had interviews over TWO days, which doubled the conundrum and officially subjected me to conundra (pluralization rules rule).

I finally decided to just wear the nice clothes to work, but was clever because I ramped up to the nice part of my closet over a week or so to gently adjust people's perceptions of me, then when the boss went out of town I went full-on with better clothes and even perfume. Imagine, all that AND I styled my hair. I looked like a different person almost, and thought I had cleverly pulled off the whole interview thing by telling my labmates that I had Doctor's appointments on those 2 days, which would explain my absence from the lab for a goodly chunk of time.

Oh, yes, I was proud of myself allright.

I had no idea what was waiting for me, therefore, on the Monday my boss got back.

She called me into her office, looking upset, and asked me to sit down because she needed to talk to me.


"Tiff, I've heard it through the grapevine that you came to work last week dressed better than usual and wearing perfume"

(WTF? grapevine? The grapevine's name is XX and she's your lickspittle lackey baby whiner tattletale beeyotch. To hell with the whole grapevine thing! Call it it's true name!)

"Yes, I did"

"Do you want to tell me why?"

"I can't see how it's any of your business, really."

"Well word on the street is that you're having an affair with YYY."

(well, butter my behind and call me a biscuit! Or, more accurately, draw me with a complete blank on how to respond. I was thinking she was going to ping me on the interview thing, BUT she's painted a lurid picture in her mind of me schtupping the incredibly gorgeous and funny PI next door? What? Not that I wouldn't have liked to, but by then I was already married and that door had closed)

My eventual response was as follows:

"I thought you knew me better than that. I can't believe you just had the gall to suggest that I would have an affair when you know I'm married. I'm shocked and disappointed that you think I would hold my marriage in such low regard.

And just so you know, for the record, I was INTERVIEWING!!!"

And I walked out, determined to leave that lab at the first chance I got, no matter how shitty the job or how nasty the new people would be, because nothing could be nastier than the mind of the jealous conniving little fart that had tried to bury a 6-inch shiv of sneak between my vertebrae.

One of my other labmates said that I was actually quivering with anger as I walked out of my boss' office, and was rooting for me to stomp the shit out of our little grapevine. Apparently, there was some anger there too.


So, there ya go. Think I learned anything from it? Hell no, because the next time I went looking for a job I did the same "don't tell the boss" thing. Only without the wardrobe complications or implication of affairs. Which is another story, and all worked out fine, so go me.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Being Melancholy (#4, midway through)

From time to time I am, in a word, melancholy.

Strikes at night for the most part, and arrives gently, as a tug of yearning for an indefinable something. I don't know what I'm melancholy FOR, really, perhaps it's just the feeling that SOMETHING ought to be happening somewhere that actually means something, and I'm missing it because of who or where I am.

When I was 21 I took summer school to cram organic chemistry into my brain so that I could finish my degree within a year. Eight weeks of chemistry for hours upon hours, and a lame job shelving books in the library for another 10 hours a week, which is all the work-study would allow. I learned or worked all day, and at night was faced with choosing between studying or not much else.

The apartment I lived in was right across the street from the hospital, and had a great view of the setting sun. I wandered slowly back there in the evening with the sun behind my back and climbed the stairs morosely, trying to delay my arrival to home and the nothing that waited for me there. I plopped my stuff down on the kitchen table, promising myself that I would indeed study "later," grabbed a beer, and waited by the window for the sun to go down. I watched the colors fade and blend and darken, breathing deeply of the night air and listening to the day end. People walked below my open window laughing and talking, cars rushed by, the bus came and went. The 18-wheeler trucks down-shifted toward the stop light and the grinding was so loud it was as though they were trying to make a point. A breeze brought smells of diesel exhaust and someone's pizza, the plaintive warble of a last songbird drifted in, and the cooler breath of evening muted the stifling heat.

And I sat. And did nothing, and was nothing, and thought nothing at all except how very very alone I was, and how I wanted so much to be not.

An hour or more went by, with nothing happening in me except a slow ticking over of many heartbeats, of many long breaths exhaled, of an empty and yearning mind casting itself out beyond the Blue Ridge as I imagined all that was out there.

I thought I needed to be happy all the time, you see, and a momentary lapse in the happy was a trouble to me. I didn't know that melancholy and introspection were useful fodder for personal growth. I wasn't that nearly aware yet of the possibilities afforded by long stretches of time in which to lose myself in vast nothing. Some religions call it meditation, but I called it awful. The alone was a heavy weight, the yearning was a physical presence and pain I didn't know I could bear. My "self" seemed to always want to be someplace else, as though restless and nervous to be always going on down the road.

After a long time of the nothing, the key turned in the door, and my boyfriend walked in. I jumped up and tried to pretend that I had just fallen asleep reading so that he wouldn't worry about me being all alone there in the dark with the lights off. I was glad he was home, because then I could forget myself in somebody else once more, and ignore the girl behind the yearning trying desperately to get out.

It's still there - the feeling of not really being who I was supposed to be, and wondering how I would ever know if I was.

I'm still not sure, but I think I'm getting closer.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Bicycle Christmas (Accent 2)

Dear Santa,

Please, please bring me a bike this year. Please, I want a 3-speed bike more than anything in the whole world. I'll even be nice to my little brother if you bring me one.

Santa, my old bike is getting banged up, and even the silver jet plane ornament on the front fender won't hang on anymore, even with the bandaids I put there to make it stay. I know it hurts to have that part swinging around like that, and I know my bike will be sad to see me ride another bike, but it's getting too small for me anyways, and my little brother can have it, because it's red and nobody will really notice that it's not a "boys" bike" with the nutcracker bar, and he's only 8! He won't notice, I promise!

I know, Santa, that this year I said a cuss word that made my mom get mad and then she made me bite a bar of soap, and I know that I was mean to the girl up the street, but that was only because she was mean first and said I smelled funny and didn't want to be with me if Lori was there too. She made me so mad, Santa, that I HAD to smash her Easy-Bake oven pan with my red bike's front wheel so that she couldn't bake Jeff James another stupid batch of brownies. He didn't like them anyways, and threw them out in the backyard where his stinky dog got to eat them. She DESERVED the cuss, Santa, really she did!

And if you know about that time that I almost drowned my brother when I was little, well, sorry about that one too, but he NEEDED to learn how to hold his breath underwater, and I thought I could teach him. But Santa, that was a long time ago, and I'm older now, and for sure you can't make me account for all that stuff just to get a bike, can you?

OK, there's one more thing, and I need to tell you this so that you'll know how much I want that 3-speed bike; and it's this: I pick my nose and I eat it sometimes. I know its gross, and I know I'm not supposed to because it's dirty, but it TASTES good. Santa, that's the worst thing I do. I promise.

You know Santa, I'm an OK kid most of the time. I keep my room clean and eat my dinner and do my homework and sing in the church choir and play nicely with the friends I like and don't tickle my brother till he pukes anymore.

Please Santa, I only want the bike. You can take everything else you got me and give it to some other little girl. I don't want anything else but the blue and silver 3-speed bike.





Thaks Santa, for giving the bike to my brother. I hate him, and think you're mean.

Thanks for giving me lip gloss as my last present. You stink. I hate you.



Monday, December 12, 2005

Eensy bit concerned


It's happened.

I think.

I'm stunned at the possibilities. The mind boggles. To wit -

- "Pinky and the Brain" in 3D!

- Jerry actually being able to USE his hands to heave a shovel at Tom!

- Legions of lower-level rodentia rising up against the overlords of mammalia by using logic and intellect (or maybe just a keen sense of fashion and an enormous entrant into the WWF follies. Or NASCAR.. In any case, we humans will succumb to their brash gall).

Be afraid.


Oh, but wait....all that stuff I just wrote?

It'll never happen.

In this lifetime.

But one day, Lovecraftian devotees everywhere, it might. And then, on that dread night, parents will have to tuck their enormous-eared, slightly fuzzy, preternaturally intelligent, sharp-visioned children into bed and tell them the truth.

"You were born a human. I'm so sorry. I did the best I could. The plastic surgery can take you no further. You're a gamma."


Thank God for soma.

And rain.

(Gosh - I sound like a luddite! I'm not. But I can see the day in the no-too-distant future in which any scientific advance, no matter how well-trenched in reason and aim, will be archly evaluated by politicoes and their cronies, possibly jeopardizing the forward progress of knowledge through knee-jerk evangelistic overreaction and withdrawal of gubbamint funding for fear of retaliation from a cadre of scary people who wield a big book and sound off from the pulpits of impossibly enormous religious organizations, like roach royalty riding the back of their minions.

It could happen.)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

To a Wanderer (long time gone)

Written a long time ago. Had the dust blown off recently and is having a bit of an airing here.


Here's hoping that in whatever shape this finds you, you're doing fine
Here's to you and whatever you are, and to wherever your path takes you next
Here's to wishing I hadn't been such an ass and hadn't believed that whatever came to pass you'd always be able to be a friend and not run from the shadow of real life that tried to sew itself to your shoes.
But because I know you I am therefore not surprised by this turn of events.

Here's wishing that you haven't escaped the reality of the people who really love you, to whom you really mean something.
I know I'm nothing but a shadow easily disposed of, a bit of smoke and sweat, a momentary lapse.
If nothing more, that's fine.

But still, I wonder, to where will you run next?

I wonder, and hope that this time your path is straight and true and leads to the door of the place you'll finally call home.


Pokemon mania



"My Delbert just learned present!"


2 seconds later



"I just evolved my Shiffree!"


2 seconds later than that



"My Meganium just grew a level and it's about to evolve!"


Another few-second lapse



"The door to my hitmotop's heart is about to open!"

"Very cool, buddy!"

And on and on it goes, night and day, sometimes in stereo, sometimes via dueling GameBoys and sometimes on GameCube. It's a sickness, an addiction, an obsession, and a gen-you-eine learning experience. To wit:
  • One can only open the door to a shadow pokemon's heart at the relic. Sometimes only with Celebei around or with the time flute.
  • You can help a shadow pokemon open its heart just by carrying it around.
  • Higher level pokemon are more powerful; level 100 pokemon are almost invincible. Trust me on this one, I know whereof I speak.
  • Each area in the game has a different song, each pokemon has its own noise
  • Some pokemon can evolve into different pokemon and some can evolve into multiple pokemon depending on what kind of stone or fossil or whatever you have, some pokemon don't evolve at all
  • Some Pokemon rare, some are not.
  • Some Pokemon are grass, some are electric, some are fire, or earth or whatever other definable property you can think of, some are combination Pokemon (name a random combination of your choice, I'm sure there is one).
  • There are hundreds upon hundreds of Pokemon, there are dozens of games, there are endless hours of play available, and my boys are bound and determined to "catch 'em all."
The weird part is that I encourage this behavior, to a degree. Any kid who can understand the intricacies of this pretend world has GOT to be building the ability to organize and create relationships between disparate objects, right? It's helping his memory-building skills, don't you think? It's building hand-eye coordination and sharpening his powers of recall ("fire blast doesn't work on water pokemon, mom!"), correct?

Please say yes. Please.

(In many ways I wish I was a kid so that I could play these games for hours on hours on hours. I don't actively discourage the playing of the games because I was the kid in college who went to the arcade in the student union and drank beer and played "Galaga" or "Tempest" until my eyeballs dried out. I understand the power of the video game. I am also the one who, during telecons, will play "Chuzzle" on action mode for something to do, and be disappointed when I only get to level 10. BTW - The mute-able phone is a great invention! In addition, in order for y'all to understand just how truly dense I am, I am also the one who has just purchased a NEW Pokemon GameCube game for one child for Christmas, and a "35-in-1" teevee game thingie for the other child for the same holiday. The dense part? We have only 1 teevee, which might be a huge problem come Christmas afternoon.)

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Rye Hill, 1987 (Accent 4)

"A poetry reading? Sounds great! When? Next weekend? Sure, what night? All WEEKEND? Well, I'll have to switch shifts at the bar, but that should be OK. All right, it sounds cool, thanks!"

Therein beginneth my first and only Rye Hill Poetry Reading weekend, which I will herewith attempt to summarize. Its effect on me was profound, and not at all what I expected.


Rye Hill is indeed on a hill. There is a cabin there, in which one slightly rumpled young woman lives. Her hair looks a little dusty, she has rough and grubby hands, and her smile is wide and welcoming. She doesn't have electricity or indoor plumbing, and that suits her just fine. There are 2 floors in her neat wee cabin - the upstairs is a bare-floored room she calls the "sleeping loft" and is accessed by a ladder through a hole in the smack-dab middle of the floor; downstairs is one big room with comfy chairs, a long table, a woodstove, and gas lamps that hang from the ceiling. She has an enormous pot of vegetarian chili bubbling on the woodstove, and a huge vat of hot cider ready to warm the chill from our bones.

While it's still light she also shows us how to "work" the latrine. It's important to throw a shovelful of ashes from the throne-side bucket down the hole after you've done your thing. The lye leaches from the ashes and helps to compost the "depositions," and also keeps the room smelling fresh. The inside of the outhouse is wallpapered with catalog pages. One could spend a lot of time there and never get bored. Impressive.

There is an enormous fire circle down the hill from her cabin, around which all we campers are staying. There are a lot of us; we've come from all over western and southern Virginia (and perhaps beyond) to participate in the readings or to listen to poetry being read by its creators. There's a good deal of facial hair on the men and long hair on both men and women. I recognize some people from the readings we would have on Friday nights at my boyfriend's restaurant and am comforted somewhat by their presence. Everyone but me seems to know everyone else; they get along in an accepting congeniality that is intriguingly attractive to me. A bonfire blazes once night falls, and guitars and alcohol and song and stories are passed around like it's Christmas, or as though we're on a ship in a vast ocean of trees and silence. The stars rain light down on us, the wind brings the scent of pine and woodsmoke, and the firelight flickers our long shadows onto the trees and tents. Music and laughter ring clearly through the chill night, a joyful noise. I'm well out of my comfort zone, yet feel completely at home.

In the afternoon of the next day we make our way up the hill past the wee cabin and through a deep woods. The city girl in me wonders where we're going; the burgeoning hippie me decides that it doesn't really matter, that the moment is what matters and the moment is pretty darned good. Long pine needles underfoot give way to grass and light. We've arrived at a ridge-top meadow that's stroked with clean breeze from the valley and brushed with dappled light from the play of sun and growing clouds.

Most of the gathered form a circle in the middle of the field, holding hands and bowing their heads as if to pray. We novices look at one another uncomfortably from outside the circle, wondering if we've gotten caught in some fundamentalist religious experience, and start to make some nervous jokes and wonder how we'll ever get off this mountain. But no, the circle is not about religion, it's about spirituality and thanking the day for bringing us all together in this place to share and grow and enjoy being here.

I feel something break open in my chest, tears form and spill from my eyes. Epiphanies hurt a little, it seems.

A woman in a long coat covered in tribal applique steps to the center of the circle, her waist-length brown hair flowing in the breeze, her soft moccasins barely trampling the grass. She begins to sing a song I've not heard before about black stallions and white mares and dappled ponies and the joys of brotherhood when love was lord of all in a voice soaked in a long time of knowing. The gathered band of merry-makers are silent, letting the ringing of her true voice set us into a place of wonderment and awe. She's getting us ready to listen to one another, preparing us to open our hearts and minds by giving us her gift.

Works for me.

The long afternoon passes quickly, with poets and singers and actors strutting and fretting their hour in the meadow there on the hilltop, heard by their fellows and the valley far below them. I'm relatively certain I hear the trees chuckle from time to time. We laugh and wonder and applaud and listen to the hearts of these people who need to share this thing inside of them until the lowering sky and our growling bellies tell us it's time to release the charm and tend to more basic needs.

Leaving the grass of the hilltop meadow I pause to look back. From the vantage and protection of the woods it doesn't really look like a place to firm up a life philosophy. Maybe the magic only worked while all who were gathered made it work. Once the time was over, we could only take our piece of it with us to wait until we had a chance to gather and make magic again.

I was careful to take my piece home with me, and from time to time I take it out to polish it up and peer into it to remind myself of what I found up there on the hill so very many years ago.

Friday, December 09, 2005

equal opportunity embarrassment

Because I am not afraid of embarrassing myself in more than one genre (prose being my usually chosen weapon), find below examples of my recent forays into poetry. See, I can dish this up here because most of y'all don't know what I look like, so cannot mock me to my face if ever we should meet. For those of you that DO know me, just be aware that I've probably got dirt on you that you wouldn't like me to talk about here, so be constructive if you can't be nice, 'kay?

'Kay. That's settled. Right, on with it, then.

First - one that still isn't quite right, even though I've meesed with it far too, it needs a title:

In the bedroom
Luscious form
Swell of hip
Naked arm
Tangled hair
Parted lips
Bathed in moonlight
In their rumpled bed
She is sleeping

In drowsy silence
Dream-lashed eyes open,
Slow and mossy-visioned
Pools of bayou heat
A soft smile
A sigh
A breath
A whisper
Takes him down to her and love

See? Something's just not "there" yet. Probably never will be. Oh well, suggestions are welcome. If I ever win a prize for this I'll split the check with you!

So, let's change topics to something more prosaic, in hopes that the commonplace will be more eloquently described:

Chasing Bunnies

Single shaft of early sun
Warms an old dog’s dreaming eye
Illuminating twitch and flutter
See him chase the bunnies

Soft whimpers of the hunt
Paws that flick and jiggle
Moist nose opens wide
As he chases bunnies

His body works in dreams so real
The way it did when he was young
Running through the fields of corn
Wildly chasing bunnies

Sigh and whimper
Pant and chase
Run and catch
The bunnies

Is cute, no? Well, I think so, and that's all that matters, really, because I'm done with this one, for better or worse.

Hmm, I had one more, but it's a smidge (read: REALLY) smutty and I'm not sure I'm ready to go there yet in a "public" forum. It was written as a challenge to work 10 random words into a story, and as a warm-up I dashed off a quick poem that turned out to be a little, er, spicier than I had intended it to be. Let's just say that if this whole career thing I've got going on right now fails at some point, I may have a promising career as a romance book author. Heaven help us all.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Rude Awakenings (Accent 4)

Way back in my past I had a pretty active dating life. I would say that from the time I started college to the time I was about 27 I was involved/embroiled in one boyfriend situation after another, most of which ended fairly badly. I have a little story about one particularly BAD ending that I'd like to share (yes! another one!!), because it taught me a thing or 2 about some men that I could have lived a long and happy life not knowing.

I was 25 when I met him, I was working in a bar. He was a coworker's brother who was hanging out at the bar waiting for his brother to finish his shift, and he was just my type - tall, dark hair, broad shoulders, glasses, nice smile, a little goofy. I was in my cocktail waitress/body builder/grad school student phase, was pretty confident (for me), and was in the process of breaking up with my current boyfriend because we were only "in like" and he couldn't get over the girl he had dated previously. So, even though THAT guy was rich and nice, he was headed out the door by mutual agreement.

"New guy" caught my eye, as I said, and after the bar closed for the night he hung out with the staff (including his brother) while we had our typical after-work party. I was intrigued by him, as he seemed to be by me, and not long thereafter we started up a relationship by long-distance commute on the weekends (he lived 2 hours away).

Dating him was a great life; I had my time during the week to do whatever I wanted to do, and on the weekends we got together and played. He had all the toys a guy could want - a hot car, a motorcycle, one the first CD players I'd ever seen, and a computer (this was the late '80's; 'kay? Lots of people didn't even KNOW from personal computing yet). We would take the motorcycle out and drive 100 miles an hour to a nearby state park and go rock climbing or play in the water or go out to dinner at a Thai place that served the best lemongrass soup EVER MADE or play "Star Fighter" on the computer, or just "stay in." And I think you all know what I mean by that.

New guy was funny and silly and nice looking and liked to spend money and liked me and liked to spend money on me, which was as sweet a deal as had ever been afforded me. I mean, what's not to like about a man who will buy you a dual tape deck with auto-dub for Christmas only 2 months after he'd met you (I was somewhat of an audiophile at the time, if you couldn't guess)?

We cooked along like this for about 4 months - breaking my usual 3-month relationship cycle - when he asked if I would like to go skiing with him for a week in Vermont. He would pay for everything if I paid for my lift tickets (guess he wanted to draw the line SOMEWHERE). Me, being level-headed and thinking seriously about the fact that, not but a week after the scheduled vacation I had to pass my oral comprehensive exams to get my "get out of grad school free" ticket punched, agreed immediately to go. Of course! Why not go skiing for a week AND study for oral comps at the same time? Why CAN'T I memorize the Krebs cycle and the cell cycle and every other biological cycle known to God and man after spending a day on the slopes? Sounds fine to me! Let's go!

(insert ominous music of your choice here, 'cause the meat of the story is comin' up)

We loaded up his car with our ski stuff (my new heated boots were first in!) and his computer stuff and all my textbooks and headed up the road. 12 hours up the road to the cold climes of Vermont and a mobile home on the side of the road that his Aunt and Uncle let him use. We gleefully dumped all our stuff and started in with the hard-core skiing and partying and gaming, and by Day 3 I was completely and utterly worn out. This whole "being with each other 24 hours a day" thing was tricky to work out - when was I supposed to study or sleep?

Turns out the sleeping came before the studying - I was plum tuckered out after all day on the slopes and most nights by 8 pm was zonked out on top of my botany book or whatever chunk of biology I was trying to cram that night. I was not, to say the least, the sexiest or most alluring ski bunny in Vermont. I found it hard to keep up the "cute and sexy me" persona, and some of the "real and unsexy me" started creeping in. A week was simply too much together time for me - though I don't think he felt entirely the same because even late in our time there he KEPT asking me to ski the same slopes as him and seemed disappointed when I said that I didn't mind if he skied the slopes he wanted to, I'd catch up with him at the bottom. He was at least trying, I guess, and I had just given up with the whole "I dig you" thing. I wanted some alone time, and was wiped out by a week of all kinds of nonstop action.

Even so, I thought the week went well enough, and as he dropped me back at my townhouse we made plans for him to come down the following weekend, which was Valentine's Day. I recall he looked at me for a long time that night, as if trying to memorize my face, and I felt some kind of wall break in him that allowed me to see further into him that I ever had before. I liked what I saw - I even allowed myself to think that it might be my future.

Imagine my surprise, therefore, when the next Thursday evening I got a call from him, during which he said that he didn't think he should come down to see me that weekend, and that he also didn't think we should see one another at all anymore. The proverbial "ton of bricks" hit square on, and I remember sinking to the floor in the kitchen of my townhouse while the floodgates opened and all I could say is "why?" His reasons seemed flimsy to me, contrived, artificial, and not serious enough to warrant a breakup, especially a breakup over the phone.

I was devastated. I begged him to break up with me in person. I was crushed. Once I hung up I was beyond consoling, even though my roommate did her very very best. It was the worst I had ever felt; there was no going on for me, I would dissolve into a puddle of warm tears and snot, never to be the same.....

Dark, dark times. My friends worried about me because the shiny happy me was replaced by a filmy and dusty image of what I had been, a husk covering a broken heart. I shuffled through my days and performed all the actions expected of me, but I wasn't really there. I was simply biding my time.

And, don't you know, time did what it always does; it healed the broken part of me. In a week or so I emerged from my dusty funk and got back on my feet, the nervous shaking in my gut diminished, and I learned to breathe once again. I took my comps and passed and was given the green light to leave grad school, and my life got back on track. I was astonished at the turn of events, and even more astonished to learn from his brother why he broke up with me. It was, and I quote "because he was falling in love with you."

Fancy that. The shit. Men can dump you because they love you. This is a lesson I did NOT need to learn. That was part of my heart I thought was safe. I thought being in love should be wonderful, and he thought it meant he should never see me again.

Which, by the way, he could NOT do, because he kept coming down to see his brother because, apparently, he had NO social life outside of that, and I kept working at the same place his brother did and where he spun tunes on Thursday nights when I waited tables in the bar. I saw new guy, all right, and made darned sure that he knew I was OK. Why, I was so OK that we wound up back together for a brief period of time until it petered out on its own. Much to my surprise I was OK with that too, though it didn't stop me from missing what might have been, if only we'd been less afraid of our hearts and had taken the leap into one another.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Doors please!

Dear people who work around me,

Please shut your office doors. They are there for a reason. I've written up a handy guide to some typical reasons to help you identify one or more reasons why this applies to you:

1) you have an unbelievably annoying voice. It's croaky and nasally and loud and because you end each sentence with a little uptick in tones it sounds like you're about 20 but I know you're not and you talk on the phone all friggin day and I can hear every single petty little gravelly whinging snatch of conversation that comes out of your surrealistially annoying mouth. Geez! It's like trying to work with a flock of mosquitos around my head!

2) you're on a telecon, for Pete's sake, with the speaker phone turned up to 11 and you think that shouting back will make your point more salient. Makes me want to walk by your (open) office door and pretend to be a Tourette's patient.

3) you use the phone to conduct endless personal business and you talk to multiple car dealers or people who have tires or service people before deciding on one of them to do whatever it is that you want them to do, and after every single call you talk to your husband to keep him updated with the news and the passive-aggressive tag line "well you wanted to know what I was finding out" smattered generously throughout your time with him. Get over yourself, decide on a course of action, and grow a spine already! You don't get PAID to do this!

4) You talk loudly and laugh even louder - loudly enough that I've come THIS CLOSE to having a heart attack when you bray suddenly and with an astonishingly earsplitting harsh timbre. I'm sure you're a lovely person, and live right out LOUD like we're all told to, but man, you need to ratchet back a notch or 6 before I code!

5) you curse and are abusive on the phone to either your a) coworkers or b) clients. You have a brash new york accent that, sadly, reminds me of my Dad, and every time I hear you cussing up a blue streak and telling people they're idiots I'm reminded of him, though he would never have talked that way. You're rude and unfunny on the phone, and bizarrely nice in person. Do the same on the phone, won't you? More flies caught with honey and all that.

6) your phone's ringtone is going to make me smash it into bits if you keep leaving it on your desk when you're not there. I cannot stand to hear "Let it Be" one.more.time.

7) your lunch stinks. What on EARTH are you eating? It smells like vomit.

People - If you have a door to your office, then you have a status symbol signifying your position of responsibility and are, I'm assuming, a professional. Use the door, the door is your friend, embrace the concept of the door as you go about your daily business! You know, folks - "Open door policy" does NOT mean you can't close it! It's just a phrase! Really!

You see those people in the cubicles over there? They would KILL to have your door, and a workstation that doesn't afford every single person walks past their cube on the way to the bathroom or the coffee pot a look at what they're doing- if they had a door they would CLOSE IT and revel in the privacy and SPACE and QUIET that your door and honking big office affords.

Remember the little people, won't you, and use the door. If you did, maybe I wouldn't have to 8 of the 9 hours I'm here every day.


Monday, December 05, 2005

e-blathering (right now!)

I admit it - I'm an e-mail freak. I love e-mail. I get e-mail at work and through 2 other private addresses (I know, for some of you this is a laughably small number of accounts. I'm old, and to me this seems rather enough for now). People at work e-mail me through my work address (technology, kids, it's all about the technology), people I know and love and to whom I am related e-mail me at one private address, and all spam goes to the third.

I love the spam e-mail address - it's great!! I buy something online, give a fake name and the correct e-mail info, and just sit and watch the e-mail come pouring in from websites I've never visited and companies I've never heard of. It's stupidly easy to track who sells their e-mail address to whom; for example, when I get an e-mail to "Amber" (or some other name I choose randomly, depending on the mood I'm in, sometimes I'm a boy, even) I know it's because the lovely people at Company X sold their list to a third-party marketer. Then come the unsolicited e-mails. Completely nonsensical "sender" names hitched to a completely nonsensical subject line, sometimes with attachments! I opened one the other day because it had a "payment failed" subject line (I know, stupid), and, guess what? it was for an herbal and COMPLETELY SAFE (nothing is ever completely safe, mind you) supplement to improve my penis size. Quel Surprise! Apparently I've been missing something about my anatomy! Apparently I've had a penis for years, only it's too SMALL to take much notice of! Imagine my surprise at this news, and my subsequent concern over the implications.....

(Not that I wouldn't like to have, from time to time, my own penis. They seem like fun. My kids seem to like theirs. A lot.)

Anyhow, the e-mail. I believe I've mentioned that I like it. I like checking my accounts and finding something, anything, therein. Heh, I partially signed up for "" (just go there, finish about half the questions, then quit) to see just how many ways they could bombard me with e-mail begging me to finish signing up with them so they could find me my "soul mate." Note to my "soul mate" - sorry, my love, that I didn't finish my questionnaire, thereby ensuring that we can never meet; but if you were indeed my soul mate, then you KNOW I have a hard time finishing anything, and therefore you accept me as I am. Still, I hope to bump into you some life or another so we can finish what we never started.

Also, if you haven't already, and want an unreal amount of garbahge in your inbox, go ahead and sign up for a couple of Yahoo groups - they do keep the e-mail comin', night and day. I was part of one group that must have sent out about 100 e-mails a day (very into the soapmaking, they were), and some of the the people in the group were all like "I'm getting too many e-mails from you and I'm unjoining this group because I can't track all that," which was really amusing because if you're even the tiniest bit savvy (like me! I can read instructions!) you'll have noticed when you signed UP for the group that there are all kinds of ways to be notified of their goings-on, one of which is the "daily notify" or something like that, another of which is to not get ANY e-mail from the group and just go there when you want to, because you're BUSY, dammit, and can only go check that group when your BUSY schedule allows! Because you are making the soap and cannot be bothered with their petty e-mails about bath bombs and shea butter, for Pete's sake! Dammit.

Crap, where was I? Ah yes, getting to the point. It's here somewhere.

Ah, yes. What I really love about e-mail is that it's POLITE. One of my brothers says, and I agree, that e-mail is better than a phone call, because phone calls are convenient only for the caller. The call-ee must decide whether or not to pick up the phone, must subject themselves to whatever conversational tidbits the caller has lined up, and must interrupt whatever they were doing to talk. (Side note - I love me some caller ID. I'm famous for just not picking up the phone if I don't want to. Sorry y'all, but there are very few phone numbers that always get me to pick up. I'm selfish like that). The polite e-mail patiently waits in your inbox until YOU decide you're ready for whatever goodness or evil might lurk therein. You can stare at the subject line all day all day if you want to, or peep at the contents if you've got a little "preview" pane, and not have to DO anything with it until YOU'RE good and ready. It's all about YOU! YOUR needs! About time, don't you think?

Yet another wonderful thing - E-mail is editable, and, while the content doesn't have to be particularly well-written, e-mail does give you time to collect yourself and re-read your thoughts and edit as appropriate. Again with the politeness. I see a trend here.

E-mail is also cathartic and good for your psyche - you can write truly nasty and evil e-mails to someone who has pissed you off and then just hit "delete" and there! Therapy is done! You can go back and write something nice and polite and maybe only a tiny bit scathing and no-one is the wiser of your earlier bile-filled missive. See? Harmless!!!

But above all other things - E-mail from friends is the best. You can be 500 miles away from the people you love best in the whole wide world (hey y'all!) and it's like being in the office next door to them again. Because, let's face facts, here, even when you WERE in the office next door you'd send stupid and snarky and snippy e-mail to one another because it was funny and because just maybe you were on a telecon with someone in Japan or NYC or California and they were pissing you off and you needed to MOCK them rudely. Through an e-mail. To a friend not 3 feet away from you. Works just as well at 500 miles as 3 feet, and keeps the wheels of friendship rolling smoothly along.

For all those many reasons - I love me some e-mail. Send me some, and see how long it takes to get a reply back from me. I'll offer that it will be, in all likelihood, an embarrassingly small amount of time. I'm like that. :>

Post-Post addendum - "500 miles" is random. If you're more or less than that, I feel the same way about you too. Hi KSM!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Pennies from heaven (accent 2)

Which could have been about "8 to the 5"

Or "6 yards of jersey"

Or "my left eye"

Or "me and da beans"

Or any number of other titles of things about which I could write. The list is, as you might guess from someone my advanced age (which, as yet, is not specified here - and all y'all that know me shut.up., nearly endless.

Descriptions of the above cypticalness, as Cliff's notes version for the curious, read as follows:

"8 to the 5" = marching band. My God, there's a whole blog worth of stories right there. For those of y'all who got to take marching band as a PE credit - my hat is off to you. It should be. For me, it was an extra-curricular lifestyle only.

"6 yards of jersey" = when I discovered I had a nice figure, but wouldn't let anybody else see. Just image a 14-year-old girl in her room with a loooong stretch of silky jersey fabric, pretending she's Cleopatra. I thought I was all that and a side of fries, lemme tellya.

"my left eye" = or how I found out at 15 that I didn't have that thing all the kids call "binocular vision." Depth perception - who needs it? Doesn't everybody see 2 distinct images that they have to try like crazy to intercalate? Huh? Don't they?

"Me and da beans" = well, go back to the whole "fixing me" thing to think about how THAT might have affected my life with legumes. Really. It will never be mentioned again. Or not.

However, in the spirit of this being a blog o'memories, I suppose I should offer a story. Maybe something sweet? Spiiiiiceee? Painful? Joyous? Quirky?

I go with the last. Let's call it "grab a golden dollar."

I'm 8. Tall, awkward, prematurely mature (bra in 3rd grade? Yup, that's me) and I hate myself just a little.

Every day after school I ride the bus home for what seems an interminable amount of time. It's long enough, in winter, for all the windows on the bus to get gloggy and steamy with the exhalations of dozens of prepubescent children, long enough that when the bus doors open the smell of wet hand-knit mittens and peanut-butter breath is replaced by a scimitar of brain-penetratingly cold air that freezes your nostril hairs and hurts the space behind your eyes if you inhale too deeply. It's a long ride indeed, so much so that almost every kid on my street has done their homework on the way home because they got tired of talking to each other, long enough for us to watch the sun go down on the ride home so that when the bus driver pulls the long handle at our stop the yellow doors swing open into the black night of 4 p.m.

I ride the bus on the left-hand side, with my head on the window so that I don't have to look at anyone else. I rub the soggy glass from time to time, watching the big imaginary horse beside us leap the 10-foot snowbanks and imagining myself on top of it, dressed in a toga or suit of armor or nothing at all. I am 8, and life is a bore and an embarrassment, and I can't look around me because I might make that 6th grader mad at me again and then she'll call me names that make me sick and angry.

So, the window gets my dreams, and the world leaves me. My immense horse looks over his shoulder and smiles at me while striding over ice and snow, leaping over the plows and banks like they were inconsequential and unimportant.

In those daydreams at the bus window I believe I am magic, that I can fly, that the things I dream can come true and that it's possible to, if you really really try, grab pennies from the sky. All you have to do is raise a damp and mittened hand toward the bus roof and close your fist. Over and over and over again, until You Get It Just Right. You don't need to look at your hand, you simply need to believe that it will happen, one of these times, that some time or another you will open your wooly palm and see held therein a token of the gods' love for you and their faith in you. So, I do, over and over and over, with, ultimately, nary a token to prove my devotion and my 8-year old's world, lost amongst my dreams and desires in a bus full of impatient and slightly smelly children.......


Wanna know a secret? - I still think it's possible. Because I'm the woman who, on occasion, you'll see on the beltline at 7:30 in the morning or in the encroaching night ride home, reaching up to tap the roof of her car, hoping to grab a penny from heaven, just this once.

They're up there someplace, aren't they?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The singing of the spheres

Deep in your heart, do you really know yourself? Way down deep, are you sure that the things you do or think are things you KNOW about yourself, and that you could predict how you'd act in any given situation?

I thought I did, but am not so sure anymore.

Here's why - I was forwarded an astronomical natal-day horoscope generator, which is pretty easy to use. Plug in your date of birth, time of birth, and place of birth, and up will pop a lovely diagram and pages upon pages of who the stars say you ought to be.

Be warned, y'all, it's pretty darn scary in its accuracy.

Try it for yourself, and let me know how you made out. Was it as accurate for you as it was for me (and, BTW, for the charts I made for my 2 spawn.......)?


If you're wondering about me, I'd be glad to share my results. Too much to post here, and some of it not very flattering!

Auditioning (Accent 3)

I've mentioned before that a big part of my youth (junior high through my mid-20's, at least) was spent in the band. Concert bands, orchestras, small ensembles, whatever, if I could play in it, I would. Over time, and with judicious application of private lessons on my chosen instrument, I got good enough to play "higher chairs" in lots of these ensembles, and was afforded opportunities to play in some pretty elite groups.

When based on my skill alone.

Skill was good for me, because, sadly, I had a big problem with auditions. HUGE problem. Put me in a plastic chair in a high school classroom with some sight reading and the task of playing 2 octaves of chromatic scale, and I crumbled like dry cheddar. Typically, my mouth would fail to produce enough saliva to wet the mouthpiece properly, my fingers would tremble on the keys, and the pathway between my brain and my lungs and lips and hands would cease to function on all cylinders. Stage fright set in, in a very sincere way.

To make things worse, all auditions for regional bands or orchestras (the first step on the "state" ladder, the first cut to the really elite groups) were supposed to be blinded - the adjudicators sat behind a screen and you, as the auditionee, were assigned a number. Only the best auditioners, regardless of reputation or ability to thrash out difficult music with practice, got to make the cut.

Or so I thought.

See, my senior year in high school I, once again, went to regional band auditions. After an agonizing hour-long wait in the warm-up room (stage fright, here it comes), during which I got to listen to all the other very very talented players skipping smoothly through their scales and psyching each other out by playing very recognizable and difficult horn solo passages from very recognizable and difficult orchestral excerpts, I was ready to pack it all in and just go home without even trying. There were TONS of other horn players in my region - all of them better than me! What was I DOING in that room with some dude who could play notes that only dogs could hear, or the girl who could lip trill with no visible effort?

Anyway, one by one they were all called in and did their thing, then returned to the warm up room looking either smug or sheepish or sad, and packed up their gear and left. I was one of the last (actually, thinking about it, I might have been the last) person to audition, and by that time just didn't really CARE about how I did, I just wanted to get it over with so I could go home and eat doritos in my room while staring out my window at the falling snow, agonizing over my abject failure as a musician.

My number was called. I walked, funereally, to the audition room, sat down, and awaited instruction from the man behind the curtain. I dutifully played my chromatic scale - 2 octaves up and down, slurring up and tonguing down (it's not as sexy as it sounds), then playing the 2 scales that were requested by "the voice". So far so good, nothing majorly wrong. But......

Then came the sight reading, which, up until this point, was hidden inside a Manila folder, unseeable and therefore uncheatable. I slid the sheet music out, dreading what I would find. Would it be covered in BLACK, with weird sharps and flats? Would it involve lots and lots of slurring, which was a weak point for me? Would it have lots and lots of high notes, also a weakness? I was freaking out.......until I saw that it looked. like. MOZART.

I LOVE Mozart! Mozart and me, baby, we're like THIS. Aw, yes! Mozart!!! Wooooo! Tonality! Fifths and fourths and not so much with the slurring and high notes! Rock!!

I did spend time, however, singing the sight reading to myself just to get the notes right. I made sure to start on the correct note and tried to hit the intervals correctly while fingering the same notes. Not as hard a it sounds, but apparently it was fairly impressive because, once I stopped singing to get ready to actually PLAY the selection, I heard a voice come from behind the curtain:

"See? I TOLD you she would do that."

I started laughing, because the stage whisper, which was delivered in my horn teacher's voice, was meant to be overheard - which meant that somehow they KNEW it was me, and that I had freaked out for NOTHING because they already knew how I played and if I sucked at my audition, well, much would be forgiven, because that's how it works, kids, even in high school band.

I pegged the sight reading too, and played third chair in regionals that year, behind the kid with the stratospheric high range and the kid who could play every.single.horn.solo.ever.written.

(State auditions that year? Another story entirely. And too embarrassing to talk about right now. Bottom line = regional mojo doesn't work at states. Not at all.)