Thursday, June 30, 2005
What a load of bologna.
5:05 pm cdt
I have come to the conclusion that there is just
no good time to go on a diet. Even though I really really need to lose about
twenty pounds, there is always some reason or another to put off starting. The
diet books all say to pick a date and stick with it, but there is no good date to choose.
January is the most popular, since losing weight is often a New Year’s resolution.
But January food is comfort food; winter food like stew and roasts and chicken pot pies, things that bubble in the
oven or slow cooker for hours and warm up the whole house. February means abstaining
from the romantic Valentine’s dinner – and those irresistable candy hearts! March
means no Irish stew, bangers and mash, or Guinness. April without a big Easter
ham and a basketful of jelly beans? May with no Memorial Day barbecue? No June picnics, Fourth of July cookout, or August trip to the Fair (and its gauntlet of doom – the concession
row) complete with corn dogs, funnel cakes, and mini donuts? September without
Taste of Madison on Labor Day weekend, October without football tailgating and eating all the leftover Halloween candy? November without Thanksgiving turkey and all the trimmings? (Can’t they kick you out of the country for that?) And, after
eleven months of excuses, December? Impossible.
The goose isn’t the only thing that’s gonna get fat that month.
So much for what the books say. It’s not like I’ve ever followed any “official” diet, anyway. Jenny
Craig - isn’t that the Avon lady? Atkins sounds like a lymphatic cancer… wait,
that’s Hodgkins. And South Beach sounds like a good place to vacation, not a
I tend to make up my own diets. I’ve created the yogurt cup diet, where you spend fifty cents for a yogurt in the school à la carte line
and save the rest of your lunch money for a diet 7-Up for the bus ride home. I’ve
created the Cheezy-puff diet, which requires you to eat a bowl of cheezy-puffs immediately upon getting home from work, and
nothing else all night. I’ve even created the 2-Dew breakfast diet, where you
down two cans of Mountain Dew before work and then live off the caffeine high until lunch.
But none of them have ever really worked, and I
think I know why. I haven’t truly been thin since my eighteenth birthday, back
when I was still living at home and eating my mother’s cooking.
Now, Mom is a good cook, but she has drastically
different ideas than I do of what tastes good. Mom will chop up raw broccoli,
add celery, onions, and nuts, and coat the whole she-bang with french dressing. She
thinks it tastes great. I think it tastes like mulch. (Sorry, Mom.)
There are a lot of other concoctions that, over
the years, I have developed a healthy loathing for; things my Mom overdosed me with as a child. Braunschweiger and ketchup sandwiches. Raw vegetables that
were never meant to be consumed in their uncooked states. Cabbage. Liver casserole. Overcooked pasta. Black olives. Anything with bologna.
I think I just discovered my new diet.
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
It's a medical necessity. Honest.
5:03 pm cdt
Today is one of those days when I wish I had a
recliner instead of an office chair. A nice comfy recliner with a massaging mechanism
so I could lie back and relax. I wish I had a chair like that because I am an
may be only 5 foot 4, and (censored) pounds, but I’m one of those stubborn people who likes to do things by myself. I have to be in the throes of some major PMS or be missing a limb before I’ll ask someone to help me move
something heavy. Now, if it weighs more than a third of my weight, like a case
of copy paper, I’ll use a dolly. But I’ll still take care of it myself, even
if it means later I’ll feel like someone ran over me with a stretch SUV.
penchant for doing things myself must come from my German-American heritage. When
people see me carrying something that looks heavy, I just tell them I come from a long line of fat German hausfraus. And I admit I like to be able to say “That’s okay, I got it” to people (funny how
it’s almost always male people) who offer to help me with heavy things. I’m
stronger than I look. And to be honest, most of the boxes I carry aren’t as heavy
as they look. It gives me a reputation for being strong and self-sufficient,
and I think people respect that. Better to be strong and stubborn than to be
one of those bimbos that can’t keep a thought between her ears and is always saying “whatever you say/think/want, honey”. Shudder.
this wouldn’t be that much of a problem. We really don’t get that many big, heavy
packages here at work. But recently the UPS fairy and the FedEx fairy have been
blessing me just a little too much. Blessing me to the point where I wish
I had a forklift. Or an Anti-grav device like they have on Star Trek. Because my muscles are starting to inform me that if I don’t give them flexible hours
and stock options and time-and-a-half on weekends, they’re gonna go on strike.
staged a mini-walk-out last night. At 2:15 am.
My knees were the ringleaders. I woke up with more achey-breaky parts
than Billy Ray Cyrus under a steamroller. They let me know, in no uncertain terms,
that they didn’t appreciate how I was treating them. I was able to placate them
with two ibuprofen and got back to sleep. But the message was delivered.
know if I keep pushing myself to the limit, I’m going to end up like my Mom, with bursitis in my hips, carpal tunnel in my
wrists, and arthritis everyplace else. And I won’t get any sympathy from her. When I showed her the bruises on my biceps from carrying a 40+ pound bookcase up two
flights of stairs, she laughed and said “Getting old sucks, doesn’t it?”
Yeah. And I’m going to keep acting like it doesn’t hurt until my body won’t let me. I can lift a 50-pound case of copy paper with one hand and carry it across the room. I know how much it weighs because, after I had done it, I put it on the scale. I was pretty proud of myself. Who knows
what I could lift if my adrenaline was really pumping? I bet I could lift a Volkswagen. But it would have to be a Jetta, because those Beetles have crap for handholds.
with the insurance money, I’ll pay to send Jay to massage therapist school.
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Booklets are the Bane of my Existence.
5:17 pm cdt
No, not a boss that hates me, nor not getting my
favorite parking space at work, nor dropping a stitch on an Eros shawl. Booklets. Double-sided-collated-folded-in-half-and-stapled-on-the-fold booklets. For five years I have been cranking these puppies out by hand. Sure,
the copier does the double-siding part, but the folding and stapling are done by my two little manos.
The five years doesn’t count the time I worked
for a certain national office supply store chain (that will not be named) and had to do booklets by hand, too. Add another five years. That makes a quarter of my lifetime
that I’ve been doomed to making booklets by hand. All that collating. All that folding. All that stapling. It’s a wonder my hands haven’t been worn down to nubs. It’s
a wonder I haven’t died the death of a thousand paper cuts.
So, imagine my relief when the company I work at
renewed their copier lease from the company I work for. And they upgraded
the main copier, the one I do most of the copying on. The new copier has an attachment
that will make booklets all by itself.
Wow! Awesome! Fantabulous! Woo Hoo! The bane of my existence had been overthrown, vanquished, eliminated!
I felt like it was the last day of school, when you walk out the door and the air feels cleaner and the colors are
brighter, and you have a never-ending summer ahead of you in which you have nothing to do but play. The load of work is lifted off your shoulders, and you take a deep breath and straighten your back and
turn your head to the clouds, a grin stretching from ear to ear.
This copier is also networked, so no more running
halfway across the building to pick up some last-minute copy job. The administrative
assistants can email me the files, or even send them directly to a mailbox in the copier!
Yay! I can almost envision the future where the machine will do everything
for me, and I can sit here in leisure. I’d even get them to hire Jay to give
me backrubs and bring me fruity umbrella-clad drinks and lift all the heavy stuff. They’d
only need me around to clear paper jams and refill the staples.
I got to play with the new machine today. One of the department heads sent down a booklet he needs made for a national conference
he is chairing in two days. The specialty paper arrived today. I loaded it in the machine, and settled down to my PC to tap in the instructions, eager to watch this dynamo
churn out some killer booklets.
I tried a sample on plain paper, just to make sure
I had the settings right, and in less than a minute had a beautiful booklet. Ahh,
now for the real thing, I thought as I reselected the paper trays that held the specialty stock.
I hit “enter” with a flourish. Hummmm… Hummmm… CRUNCH. Beep-beep-beep. Oh, crap. The three beeps of death. You’re not going to make this easy for me, are you? I
glared at the machine.
A dozen permutations of the instructions later,
and I realized the only way to get this job to copy successfully was to do it in parts.
Cover first, on card stock. Insides next, on 60# offset. Hand collate. Hand fold.
Monday, June 27, 2005
I'm in the mood for... the Zoo
5:15 pm cdt
Yesterday, Jay and I braved the heat and humidity to meet his daughters at the zoo. We had a fun time seeing the five new lion cubs that were born last October. In 2004, there were only 15 lion cubs born in captivity, and we here in Madison got
five of them. A full third! Talk
about a pride of lions!
On a hot day like that, the most popular place at the zoo is the gift shop. I’m guessing that’s because it’s the only building that’s air conditioned.
I think if I ever win the lottery, I’ll donate some of the money to build an arctic habitat for the polar bears and
penguins. There would be interactive displays involving snowballs and snow angels. I can guarantee it will be the most popular attraction there!
As Jay, his daughters, his ex-wife Sharon and I (yes, we can be in the same area code
and not be at each others’ throats) wandered around the gift shop looking at $15.00 toddler t-shirts (!) and a menagerie of
stuffed animals, I spied a display of jewelry. One piece in particular caught
my eye. It was a beaded necklace with a pendant and charm. The charm was a little silver giraffe. The pendant was a mood
disk, you know, a cousin to the mood ring.
The pendant was amber, and as I placed it in my palm it swiftly turned green and then
blue-green. The card attached to the necklace told me that my “inner emotions
were charged” and that I was “somewhat relaxed”. But then, the mood disk shot
right through blue and dark blue to purple. Sheesh, I thought, I just
got comfortable in the A/C, and my internal thermostat decides to jump up to “burst into flames”. Why couldn’t I have this hot flash outside where I wouldn’t notice it?
Yes, hot flashes. I’m already starting
that lovely stage of a woman’s life where her body decides to go haywire at any given moment.
With no warning.
But as I stood in the gift shop, contemplating the mood necklace, I had a thought.
What if you could use mood jewelry to predict your hot flashes? Or use it as kind of a gauge as to how bad they are? Instead
of the regular explanations of the different colors, you could have these:
Black: Cool, calm, and collected. Bet you’re having a good hair day, too.
Gray: I think
I just ovulated.
I just ovulated. Crap.
Green: Humph. I think I’m gonna be okay.
Blue-green: Uh-oh. Maybe not.
it comes! Hot Flash!
Dark Blue: Whew! Do I really need to be wearing clothes right now?
think I’ll just eat this chocolate ice cream inside the freezer!
I showed the necklace to Sharon and told her about my idea. She only had one question.
“What does it mean when it bursts into flames?”
Friday, June 24, 2005
It's not the heat, it's the humi-diddi-ty...
3:59 pm cdt
…and the smells. Ugh. It’s not enough that there are 130 sweaty twenty-somethings running around our building, and their grubby
kids, and that they served fish for lunch in the cafeteria. That, all together,
would be enough to produce some “interesting” odors.
The building where I work used to be a boarding school for Catholic boys. My “office” is at the north end, on the ground floor, by a loading dock.
Across the hall is one of the things that was left after the building was renovated into offices.
It’s the gym.
And there’s a football camp using it.
It’s not just any camp, but a lineman’s camp.
So the gym doesn’t just smell like jockstrap à la king, but 250-pound-high-school-boy jockstrap à la king with a dollop
of mud and garnished with grass clippings. This gourmet dish is simmering in
the 94º heat. At least the camp itself is held in the evenings. But the smell is 24/7. It’s a lovely aroma that could be used
to torture terrorists into giving up the location of Osama bin Laden. And it’s
right outside my door.
There are no doors to the gym. It opens right onto the hallway. And it’s stacked with football equipment that I don’t think has been washed since 1981.
It wouldn’t be so bad if I could keep my door shut all day. But my office is the mailroom, and with the mail delivery and the UPS guy and the FedEx guy and the dozen
other daily deliveries, and the dozen times I have to go in and out, and the maintenance guys who pop
in to get the supplies they store here, my door is open more often than it is shut.
The heat pours in every time someone opens the outside door, which is nearly constantly. It feeds the miasma in the gym until I think I can see football shoulder pads creeping slowly towards my
office. Maybe it’s just a mirage, but I’m not so sure. What isn’t imaginary is the insidious odor, which cannot be contained.
I’m working in a sweat sock. Help!
There aren’t enough air fresheners in the world to combat this smell. Even if there were, they would end up blending with the stink to form something even viler than the original. Ever notice that about air fresheners? When
I was growing up, my parents used a lily-of-the-valley air freshener in their bathroom.
To this day, when I smell that scent, it always has a trace of Dad-just-took-a-dump to it. Blech.
Next week is going to be even worse. There’s
a bigger camp scheduled. And it takes place during the workday. So I get the pleasure of seeing the ingredients that go into jockstrap stew.
I want dangerous duty
pay. Either that, or a full biohazard suit.
And a ban on fish in the cafeteria.
Thursday, June 23, 2005
I think Mother Nature has Alzheimer's.
2:30 pm cdt
don’t believe me? Take a look at the weather headlines so far this month. Floods in Miami. Four earthquakes in
one week in California. Hail and flooding in Alberta, Canada. 110º in Phoenix. Flood warnings in Nevada. (Nevada? Isn’t that mostly desert?) We’re only two days into summer! If she doesn’t have Alzheimer’s,
then she’s really got it in for humanity. Look out, Mother Nature is a real…
course, the media make this an opportunity to tell us all to get our emergency weather preparedness kits ready. Here in Wisconsin, that means a tornado kit. Something to
grab so that when the tornado hits it will be blown across the room where I can’t reach it when I’m buried under three floors
of rubble. I’d be better off duct taping granola bars to my chest.
just need to get my kit together. The blanket is on the chair, the radio is on
the end table, and the granola bars are still at the supermarket. Did I say I
was organized? At least we have batteries for everything, so Jay and I can talk
on our FRS radios. Like exactly one year ago today, when a small tornado passed
less than a mile from our place. I was in the basement. Jay was in the parking lot, watching the tornado. I was calling
him on the radio, wondering what was going on out there. He couldn’t hear me;
he was distracted by all the “cool debris”.
drove past the slightly damaged buildings the next day. The tornado, although
only an F1, tore six-foot-high aluminum letters off a building. And Jay was outside
watching this. He’s lucky he wasn’t killed by a flying K.
is one of those guys that is fascinated by severe weather. Lightning, thunder,
hail, tornados; he wants to be outside to see it. About ten years ago, we were
driving home from work in separate cars, and ahead of us was this ginormous storm cloud, and the underside was moving. In a circle. I pulled over
and ran back to Jay’s car. This conversation ensued.
Me: (pointing at cloud) “Is that what you would call a ‘wall cloud with rotation’?”
Me: “What do we do? Should we take cover?”
Jay: “Nah. Just keep on driving.”
Me: “But we’re driving towards that thing!”
Jay: “Don’t worry.”
Me: “Then you’re going first!”
Hah! Wall clouds with rotation tend to turn into tornados at the slightest
provocation – say, a butterfly sneezing. But we kept driving, right under that
cloud, and when the storm hit and it was raining and hailing so hard we couldn’t see anything and stopped on the side of the
road and I was worrying about rain-wrapped tornados, I got out of my car to hit the ditch.
I ran up to Jay’s car to tell him to take cover, and he told me to get in. Well,
I thought, at least when we die, we’ll be together. But we survived. The proto-tornado never produced a funnel cloud. It just soaked
me to the skin. I squelched all the way home.
heard on the radio this morning that the “survivors” of last year’s tornado are going to have a celebration tonight to commemorate
the event. This is an affluent neighborhood we’re talking about. No-one was killed, no-one was even hurt. There were some
trees knocked down, and a little property damage, but no-one was bankrupted by this storm. For most, it was a minor inconvenience, a source of naturally-chopped firewood for the winter. Hardly a reason for a “survivor” party. Yet, this is
Wisconsin. Any reason for a party…
expected to get to 94ºF today, with humidity in the oh-my-gawd-I’m-melting range. It
already feels like a steam bath outside. It’s one of those days I’m glad I don’t
work baking pizzas. It makes me wish I could telecommute from somewhere like
Chickaloon, Alaska. Not only does it have a oddball but cool name, but the average
June high temperature is 65.8º, and one of the two main streets is named 4WD Road. But
I’m stuck here in Wisconsin. At home, the air conditioner is on high. The electric meter is spinning so fast it’s starting to form its own gravity well. I’m starting to think about sleeping inside the refrigerator.
may die of asphyxiation, but at least I’ll be protected when the tornados hit.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
I still have a job. Whew.
5:20 pm cdt
Yes, it’s that time of the year again. The time of year I get to feel like a little kid who’s been called out of class to the principal’s
office. Job performance review time.
know I’m really good at my job. But every year I obsess about my performance
review. It’s probably because I don’t have a good history of getting along with
bosses. Heck, most of my former bosses have fired me. So, you can see why I get a bit anxious when review time rolls around.
a reason why I’ve been fired from so many jobs. You see, I can be very headstrong
on the job. If I don’t know how to do something, I find out how, and I get very,
very good at it. But I am beset by boss turnover.
The vast majority of my jobs have entailed at least one boss leaving. The
bosses that left, liked me – heck, they hired me so there must have been something they liked about me. The bosses that were hired to replace them… that’s where the headstrong me comes in. The new bosses and I, well, just didn’t get along.
And then I’d start doing stupid things, self-sabotage, I guess you’d call it.
I’d make a bad situation worse. And (of course) I’d end up fired, even
though it was so obvious that those bosses had it in for me. They did. Really, Mr. Unemployment Compensation Man. Sure,
fire the one who knows what’s going on! It’s all a conspiracy, I tell you!
even though now I have a great boss and work for a pretty darn awesome company, I still get my guts in a twist over
my yearly review. My boss takes me out to lunch to discuss it. Thank goodness we can’t order drinks. I can just imagine me,
after about three pints of Strongbow, lying half across the table, because I only got a “Good” on appearance; and I’m sobbing
“Please, can’t you change it to a ‘Very Good’? I try, I really-really-really
try but it’s so hard to afford Marshall Fields’ fashions on a WalMart budget!!” Whew. No-one wants to see that.
I come back from lunch, and my bangers and mash is doing the funky monkey in my stomach, there’s an emergency postcard mailing
to do, and the UPS fairy decides to bless me with a dozen huge boxes of office supplies.
And I look down at the fancy top I wore today and sigh.
I think it’s more important to work well than look good.
everyone has it backwards.
you do what you gotta do, because no-one wants to take that trip to the principal’s office.
Because Mr. Unemployment Compensation Man lives there now.
like I’ve said before… I don’t want to have to eat ramen noodles and live in a box.
Even if it used to contain office supplies.
Monday, June 20, 2005
5:15 pm cdt
my Mom and Dad celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. And, sneaky
me, I put announcements in both their little local newspaper and the big regional one.
They should both be printed next week. So, SHHHHHH! Don’t
tell them! You’ll ruin the surprise!
days, when it seems couples are divorcing over trivialities like leaving the cap off the toothpaste, my parents have stuck
it out. I know there have been tough times.
I remember them even from when I was a tot, like when Dad had pericarditis and spent an awfully long time in the hospital
- for a four-year-old, it seemed like months - and came home on Christmas Eve.
Thanks, Dr. Santa.
stuck it out for the 14 mind-numbing years that Mom was a stay-at-home-mom. They
stuck it out through economic recessions, alcoholism, rebellious teenage years, divorces, and unplanned pregnancies. They fought a lot. They said they were
staying together “for us kids”. What they didn’t realize is that “after the kids”
would become much more important.
youngest sister was halfway through high school when my Dad’s kidneys failed to the point that he needed dialysis. Years of high blood pressure had destroyed them. Mom was working
full time again, after years of the family squeaking by on Dad’s lone paycheck. He
said he was too proud to admit he couldn’t support the family all by himself. He’d
reached the point where everyone else was going to have to support him.
got a kidney transplant in 1995, after almost three years on the waiting list. He
never regained the level of energy needed to return to work, so he retired. Mom
ended up going back to school for her Master’s in Library Science, and graduated in 2000.
Now she works full time and Dad stays at home (with the dog). Total role
parents have all passed away. Of us four sisters, two have married, and two are
in long-term relationships. They have one granddaughter (trust me, you’ll hear
all about her soon).
are two very intelligent people, who are fun to be with. Like any two people
who have shared so much for forty years, they get on each others’ nerves sometimes, but they’re also fiercely protective of
each other. I hope they’re glad they stuck it out.
Saturday, June 18, 2005
The Definition of Romantic...
5:14 pm cdt
have an apology to make.
see, yesterday’s blog post was supposed to be aimed at all those guys out there whose idea of “dressing up” is to wear the
Packer sweatshirt with the fewest pizza stains on it. The ones who think a lace
teddy is “sexy”, when in fact it’s so prickly it makes a girl feel like she’s wearing a cactus. The ones who think a hot night out is going to a tractor pull. The
ones that refer to women as “babes”. It was not
aimed at guys like Jay.
like Jay are the sweetest guys out there. They can’t be lumped into a stereotype,
because they are all different – short, tall, fat, thin, bald… um, not bald; they are the ones that some women take for granted.
Well, Jay is one guy I should never take for granted. Let me tell ya’ll about some of the sweet things he does.
is the kind of guy that, on Thanksgiving, instead of dragging me off to a family gathering where I’ll probably end up next
to (if not at) the kiddie table, makes the whole meal himself. Thanksgiving dinner for two. He roasts the turkey, boils the
brussels sprouts, and whips up the most delicious homemade garlic and sour cream mashed potatoes on the planet. He lets me watch football all day while he slaves in the kitchen.
is the kind of guy that, when I’m not feeling well, will make me tea or chicken soup and toast, and bring it all to me on
a tray. He will hold my hair while I worship the porcelain god. He knows to back off when I have PMS.
is the kind of guy that will watch a movie like “Sweet Home Alabama” and
“My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, and like it even more than I do.
doesn’t have a Poker Night with the guys. He doesn’t mind if I spend a Saturday
with my Mom. He always knows the right answer when I ask “Does this make me look
fat?”. He even apologizes when he hogs the blankets, and always puts the seat
my knight in shining armor. I even have photographic proof. Unfortunately, the armor is a little small, so here he’s more like my knight next to shining armor.
that, folks, is why he’s the most romantic guy I know.
love you, sweetheart!
Friday, June 17, 2005
5:13 pm cdt
world has just become a little more difficult.
are cringing and hiding.
are sighing and dreaming wistfully.
it’s all Tom Cruise’s fault.
guess ol’ Tom decided to take the heat off Charlie and make everything his fault today.
And I bet he doesn’t even realize what he’s done. He probably thought
he was being romantic and spontaneous and… well, Tom Cruise. He didn’t
know he was making every other guy on the planet look bad.
you’re up on your celebrity gossip, you’ll know I’m talking about the marriage proposal from Tom to Katie Holmes at the top
of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. I’ve been there, and I can tell you it
is a pretty romantic place. I can imagine the fresh summer air, the beauty
of Paris like a gray-blue Persian rug below, the exhilaration of being in love. Pipe
in a little Michael Bolton music and it would almost be like a… movie. And
then Tom Cruise proposes to you.
you know what I’m talking about. Don’t tell me you didn’t get just a little bit
jealous when you heard about it. Don’t tell me you didn’t, just for a millisecond,
think to yourself I wish something like that would happen to me… because,
deep inside, there’s a little hopeless romantic in all of us. Sure, we may be
doctors or lawyers or CPAs or clerks or whatever, but (admit it) we’ve all read at least one page of one of those supermarket-checkout
romance novels where the hero has rippling muscles and the lady is writhing in his embrace.
And we’ve all, even just a little bit, wanted to be that lady. We’ve imagined
being swept off our feet by the man of our dreams, being whisked away to a royal castle or a luxurious mansion or a posh penthouse,
being stretched out on the softest down pillows and silken cloth, being kissed with tender, throbbing lips that trace trails
of heat from the hollow of our necks down to the swells of our …O-KAY, uh, being tingle-y all over our bodies.
our guys are thinking DAMN that Tom Cruise! because they can tell we’re thinking about romance and Paris and, uh… romance,
and they know they’ll never be able to think up something more fantastic that that, no matter if they watch every episode
we’ve taped of Days of our Lives. They’re thinking proposal on the
top of the Eiffel Tower? I can’t even afford a popsicle on the top of the local
they don’t know, is that proposal probably wasn’t as romantic as the press is making it out to be. Because, anyone who has read those romance novels knows that real life is never, ever, ever the
same as those books. In real life, there’s a lump in the bed and the mansion
is drafty and the hero just finished a bean burrito. Or the beach smells like
dead fish and you get sand up your butt. Or the Eiffel Tower is full of American
tourists, and a pigeon just crapped on your head. So, you guys are really off
the hook. We wise women know that most of what is called “romance” is mood, not
planning. And moods are fickle.
a little Michael Bolton music can make up for a lot.
puts you through the fire
When love puts you through the test
Nothing cures a broken heart
Like time, love and tenderness
Thursday, June 16, 2005
I'm Childless And I Like It.
5:15 pm cdt
People have often asked me why I don’t have kids. It’s the same reason I don’t have a cell phone – they’re loud, annoying, always going
off when you don’t want them to, and they make you stand around and look like you’re talking to thin air.
Oh, yeah, you can make them sing cute little songs,
take pictures with them, and dress them up in decorative little outfits. You
can even knit sweaters for them. But they’re always interrupting you and demanding
your attention. And don’t even start about how much it costs to have one. It seems like you’re constantly paying their bills.
If they break, repairs are really expensive. Plus there are so many little
additional gadgets you end up buying for them. And the roaming… when they start
roaming, you can put your wallet up to your ear and hear the ocean, it’s that empty.
In a way, I kinda have kids… since Jay has two
daughters from his previous marriage. They live with their mother, thank goodness. I love them, they love me, but I don’t have to be around them 24/7, and that’s the
way I like it. If they lived with us, there would be a lot of broken crockery,
and major league baseball scouts would be admiring my arm strength. Heck, the
Brewers need more than one decent pitcher.
And then there’s my niece, Leah, the cutest, sweetest,
smartest, most spoiled little girl on the planet. I’m her Godmother. It’s perfect. I get to hug her and give her presents and knit
for her and read to her, and when she has a poopy diaper I get to give her to her parents.
I often wonder why more people aren’t like me. Maybe they’re succumbing to that parental pressure – you know, the pressure of their
parents saying, every time they see each other, “When are you gonna make us Grandparents?”.
That’s a rough one to handle. Most people crumble like a California hillside
when they hear it. I think it’s because, deep down, they want to join the Mommy
Club and the Daddy Club – those clubs where every member spends half their time scheduling their children’s activities, and
the other half bragging about how many activities their children are in. They’re
the ones with a mantle full of soccer team pictures, basketball team pictures, band pictures, volleyball trophies, track medals,
and karate awards, and their kid isn’t even out of preschool yet.
But what’s worse than the “trophy child” is the
family-that-never-ends. The people that have kid after kid after kid, so that
when they all arrive anywhere the exit from the minivan looks like the clown car at the circus. I don’t think there’s a lot of pressure on these people to have kids… I think there just isn’t enough
pressure to stop. I’m talking about the kind of family, when you add all
the kids together and throw Mom and Dad into the mix, you might get an IQ in the three-digit range. These are the people that leave dirty disposable diapers lying in the middle of the parking log for birds
to pick at. The ones slapping their screaming kids in the checkout line at Wal-Mart.
It seems like any family I see is one of
the above, or worse, a combination. I look at them and I think Is this the
way I want to spend the rest of my life? Running after my children and wondering
how they suddenly metamorphosed into wild, uncontrollable brats? Standing around
and looking like I’m talking into thin air?
So if you ever hear me talk about liking to have
a child someday…
Get me to a cell phone store. QUICKLY.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
5:12 pm cdt
I was 9, “party” meant being invited for cake and ice cream on a friend’s birthday.
I was 19, it meant going out to Joe’s and drinking cheap Iowa beer and dancing all night to those great 80s hits.
I was 29, it meant getting together at a friend’s house for movies, a barbecue, or some volleyball and beers.
somehow, in the last ten years, I seem to have lost the meaning of “party”.
not under the bed. It’s not thrown on the floor in the back of the car. It’s not even in the found items box at the library.
Maybe it’s occupying the same realm as all the socks that disappear from the dryer.
used to know what it was to party. I remember when it didn’t matter what day
of the week it was, what responsibilities awaited me the next day, or if there was anyone to go with me to party. At some point, the backpack ended up in the corner and off I went, ID in my pocket, to find a party. They were everywhere, full of people I knew, and they were always fun.
now… parties just aren’t the same. They are “celebrations”, or “receptions”,
or “picnics”. I don’t get that giddy feeling of abandon and not knowing what
will happen next. I can’t lose myself in the moment; I’m worrying about things
like leaving before all the drunks get out on the road. I’m too aware of the
guy passed out in the corner, or the smell of vomit in the bathroom, or the drunk girls lifting their shirts for beads. It’s all too crude and reckless.
don’t know why parties aren’t the same anymore. I still like to go out and people-watch
and sip drinks and dance to those great 80s hits (and thanks to the retro movement, I still can) but there seems to be a pall
over the whole endeavor. And I know it’s not because I’m alone in the crowd,
and not because I’ll end up going home alone… because I have Jay, and he enjoys scoping out the crowd and ripping on what
people are wearing and making inside jokes and laughing at them until his sides ache as much as I do. And I know I won’t end up going home alone, either. Having
Jay ensures that any party won’t be crappy.
there is a “party gene” in every human, and it’s time-release. Imagine a little
capsule of party granules breaking open inside you at the moment of birth, and the little spheres of “fun” dissolving one
by one as you age. At some time in your life, you get the tape-recorded warning
that “This Fun will self-destruct in five seconds”. From that point on, you become
party-impaired. You just can’t get it up like you used to.
last night. Jay and I were invited to the Nitty Gritty (“Madison’s Birthday Bar”)
to celebrate one of his co-worker’s 21st birthday. There was cheap
beer, good food, and plenty of drunk chicks that looked like they raided Paris Hilton’s underwear drawer. Most of the guys were good looking and polite. So, why was
the highlight of the night the ten minutes I stood talking to Marsh Shapiro, the owner of the bar and a former long-time-co-worker
of my father’s, about all Dad’s former colleagues and remembering visiting WKOW when I was knee high to a grasshopper?
the party effect is cumulative. Perhaps it takes a steady amount of partying
over a period of time to build up your blood-party levels to a consistent state, and then every party becomes fun again.
the cure is, I hope I find it soon. Because if I don’t, I’m going to be as much
fun as that guy passed out in the corner.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
It's All Charlie's Fault.
4:08 pm cdt
Charlie is not my rogue brother, nor my boss, nor my noisy neighbor who plays video games at maximum volume at 3:00 am. Charlie is a radio station.
is WCHY, 105.1 FM. It’s owned by Entercom, and is a fully automated station. And it plays everything.
is actually nice, because there are no wacky DJs with lame jokes and goofy sound effects to annoy the heck out of me before
I’ve had my first morning cuppa. Their playlist, on the other hand, makes me
wonder if it was programmed by the proverbial infinite number of monkeys on an infinite number of computers. Because they do play everything.
Charlie, along with the new TV show Hit Me Baby One More Time, has dredged up more forgotten
songs than Casey Kasem on acid. And it’s getting kind of annoying to have to
run to the computer ever ten minutes, because I’ll be listening to some great 80s “classic”, and then they’ll play something
by Tone Lōc. Except I’ve forgotten who Tone Lōc was, and though I remember cruising downtown Chicago in 1989 (with my then-boyfriend, his best friend, and his BF’s
girlfriend) in his best friend’s black Chrysler Laser with the sunroof open and “Funky Cold Medina” cranking on the stereo,
I can’t remember who sang it. And it’s starting to make me wonder if you can
have a senior moment when you’re only 39, and if you can get brain damage from the cumulative effect of Diet Pepsi and ditto
fortunately I have Google bookmarked, and I refreshed my memory, and got back to work.
And then Charlie did it again.
John Parr’s “Naughty Naughty”. Or The Vapors’ “Turning Japanese”. Or Deee-Lite’s “Groove is in the Heart”. Pretty soon I’m wondering
when they’re going to start playing songs from Dee Dee (Ramone) King’s album Standing in the Spotlight. Next, I’m wondering when I memorized the lyrics to Huey Lewis and the News’ “I Want a New Drug”. Then the world starts to get fuzzy and swirl about when I realize I’m wearing clogs, an A-line skirt, and
a t-shirt with a Strawberry Shortcake screen print. And my boss wonders why I’m
not getting any work done?
I’m hooked. I make time to watch Hit Me Baby One More Time, even though
most of the artists have gained 40 pounds and lost most of their hair (and then there’s the guys!), even though they’ve
been stuffed into so much spandex I can hear it scream all the way from the west coast and I wonder how they can walk without
starting a fire, even though all of the camera shots are either from the chest on up or so far away the singers are only an
inch tall on my TV screen. Because I know that one of these formerly svelte,
sexy, famous people will be fatter and balder and dorkier than me. And dangit
if that doesn’t give my ego a nice, healthy boost.
to those infinite number of monkeys on an infinite number of computers,
Monday, June 13, 2005
4:57 pm cdt
Jay and I spent the day yesterday at the Southern
Wisconsin AirFest (www.swairfest.org) in Janesville. If you’ve ever seen an air show, you
know what I mean. If you haven’t, well, you don’t know what you’re missing!
was six hours of watching airplanes do the craziest, most amazing stunt flying this side of the loony bin. These pilots were certifiable! They would take off, and immediately
throw their planes into the wildest loops, rolls, climbs and dives - sometimes all at once - you’ve ever seen. The announcer said that one three-plane act was 90% unscripted. I
think that was short for We know we’re gonna take off, and we know we’re gonna land.
Everything in between is just chaos. There was the usual assortment
of biplanes, and the U.S. Navy Blue Angels were the grand finale, but there was even a stunt flier in an A-10, one in a Lear
jet, and the obligatory jet-powered, smoke-belching Semi-truck (trailer not included).
Tony Stewart, eat your heart out.
only bad part of the day was the sun. And the heat. Again. I think Mother Nature has Alzheimer’s. She’s forgotten what month it is. It
was in the high 80s again, with lots of juicy humidity and only the odd cool breeze to make sitting outside tolerable. The worst was the porta-potties. It was
hot enough to bake bread in those things. Not that anyone would want to eat bread
baked in a porta-potty (is that one of the most disgusting things you've ever read?), but if you were weird enough to want
to, you could have.
least this year we bought camp chairs to sit in. It was a lot better than the
flat concrete that we sat on last year. Plus, we had cupholders! Because, you know, life just isn’t worth living without lots and lots of cupholders.
today… today I have a sunburn. I was applying sunblock what seemed like every
ten minutes, but when you’ve got uber-white, German immigrant skin like mine, you burn just looking out a window. A closed window. With the curtains drawn. Even my lips are sunburned, and that is one weird feeling, I tell ya.
Fortunately I wore enough clothing to cover all my lumpy-bumpy bits, so I can actually wear a bra without believing
it to be some form of Chinese-underwear-torture. But my knees look like two watermelons
(without the rinds, lest you think my knees are green) and my shoulders could melt a small glacier. My chest is so fried that if I had one of those fruit drinks with lots of crushed
ice and the little umbrellas, I’d pour it down my shirt, umbrella and all. I
have enough aloe vera gel on that I think I could sprout little green spikes at any moment.
Jay? He has a tiny bit of sunburn on one wrist, and his nose is kind of
reddish if you look at it in the right light. But he suffered his own hell, because
he wore a t-shirt and jeans yesterday. I’m surprised I didn’t look over at his
chair and see a melted puddle of goo – without cigarette butt, since we couldn’t smoke on airport grounds. But it was okay, because we could breathe the second-hand smoke from the jet truck. Even though it wasn’t menthol.
to sum it up: Airshows Rock. Sunburns
don’t. Pink may be the new black, but I don’t think this is what they meant.
Saturday, June 11, 2005
5:00 pm cdt
Note to self: When starting a blog, do not tell your boyfriend about it until you have made an entry that's all about him,
because he'll read it and say, "Why do you always refer to me as your boyfriend? I have a name, you know."
"Don't worry," I answered with an evil chuckle, "There will be a blog entry all about you some day. Trust
me.” Because I know that someday he’ll do something so bone-headed that I’ll have to tell everyone about it. And here will
be my blog, lurking quietly in its corner of the Internet, whispering seductively… post to me… post to meeeeeeee…… and this
siren song I will be unable to resist.
But until that inevitable day, I’ll tell you a little about the guy. By the way, his name is Jay.
Jay and I have one of those relationships that defies sanity. We’ve been together since 1994, but aren’t married. I’ve even
taken him to four weddings (and a funeral, really!), but we just haven’t taken that last step. Fortunately, our respective
families have gotten used to the situation and treat us like we’ve been married the whole time. My folks have even given
his daughters Christmas presents.
There just isn’t an easy way to describe this man. He has some incredibly varied interests (though he won’t let me teach
him how to knit). He owns two bass guitars; one six-string and one eight-string. No wussy four-string basses for him. Sometimes
I think if they made a 21-string bass guitar he’d buy one, even if it meant we’d have to bring it in the apartment through
the patio door, and if he played it at a gig he’d have to wheel it out on stage on a forklift.
He’s also one of the smartest people I know that never officially went to college. He picked up some criminal psych classes
while he was in the Air Force, and is a certified EMT. We must be the only two people in this city that didn’t plug quarters
into the great diploma mill called UW-Madison until it spit out a degree. Which is all well and good, because we need those
quarters for laundry.
This boyfriend of mine (Yes, I hear you, your name is JAY) sells electronics at a national office supply retail chain store
with the initials OM. People come to him when they’ve had enough of the Best Boys and their gamedude attitude and want a
real salesman with a brain between his ears. This is how he wears out a pair of shoes every six months. Plus, we get every
gadget they sell (when it goes on clearance, of course). There is a net of cords hanging behind our computer you could catch
You know, no matter how much I tell you all about Jay, there will be something I forget. Like the fact that he’s finally
quitting the stupid juice. Or that he was born in Okinawa, Japan, in the middle of a typhoon. Or the story about how he
broke his ankle on the footboard of our bed. And he’ll say, “Why didn’t you write about ___x___ ?”
And I’ll say, “Trust me. There will be another blog entry all about you some day.”
Friday, June 10, 2005
Are you sure it isn't August?
4:59 pm cdt
it’s hot. 89ºF with humidity that makes it feel like 91º. It’s the kind of weather that makes you want to smoke only half a cigarette at a time so you don’t melt
into a puddle of goo with a little butt floating in it. I know there are places
in these United States where 89º would feel like a brisk spring day, but here in Wisconsin… it’s just plain hot.
work is swarming with 130 twenty-somethings that all look like they should be starring in those annoyingly perky Old Navy
ads, but you’re 5 foot 4 and 150 pounds, heat and humidity like this make you sweat in places that are usually only mentioned
in X-rated movies. Every fold of flesh on my body is sticking to another fold,
and it’s dang uncomfortable. It can get really depressing, so I’m fighting that
black dog with ammo reserved for only the darkest of days.
miniskirt and high heels.
I push a mail cart around all day, delivering boxes and envelopes and the odd case of copy paper, so a miniskirt and heels
isn’t exactly the most practical thing to wear to work. But some days, you just
gotta do something for yourself to ward off those puddle-of-goo blues. And darn
it, it’s working!
when I was getting dressed this morning I was planning on wearing something completely different, but while digging through
my clothes and looking for that fish-print tank (it’s Friday, I work with Catholics, so fish is in order) I came across my
tropical-print miniskirt. Okay, it’s just a skirt that ends about an inch above
my knees, but when you’ve got tree trunks like mine that qualifies as “mini”. At
least it’s longer than it is wide – something that I’ve always thought should be a fashion law. When you’re a big girl, no-one wants to see that much thigh.
I pulled out my turquoise top and threw on a thin sweater (no panty hose – whoever started the bare-legs-are-in fad gets a
ginormous “WooHoo!” from me, because the only thing more uncomfortable than wearing pantyhose on a hot day is wearing damp
dripping pantyhose. Anyone who’s been caught in the rain in hose and heels, can
I get a big Amen?) and slipped into the three-inch heels I bought last weekend… and dang if I didn’t feel just
a little bit sexy! When I asked my boyfriend how I looked, his eyebrows rose
and he said “I don’t think I should let you out of the house looking like that!” with a big grin on his face. Now, as much as I would have liked to stay at home in the air conditioning reading Donna Andrews mysteries
and eating dark chocolate M&Ms, there’s this thing called rent that (along with phone and electricity to keep the root
beer float ice cream bars cold) means I have to go to work every day and schlep cases of toilet paper around. Not exactly a glamorous job, but when you do it in a miniskirt and heels, you feel almost as perky as those
Old Navy models.
if I could get them to let us run extension cords into the courtyard by the fountain and give us chaise lounges and laptops
so we could work out there… and convince them that every Catholic Diocese should employ a cabana boy to serve fruit drinks
with lots of crushed ice and the little umbrellas in them…
now, just pass me a root beer float ice cream bar.
Thursday, June 9, 2005
Days like today make me wish I still drank...
5:18 pm cdt
I don’t. You mean she lives in Wisconsin, and she doesn’t drink? you’re thinking. Wisconsin, the land of beer and brats,
beer and the Packers, beer and rec.-league softball, beer and… everything? Yup. I don’t drink. But days like today make
me wish I still drank.
see, I used to drink. And don’t think I’m going to try to convince you to quit
drinking, because I’m not. You can live your life how you wish. As long as you don’t tell me how to live my life, I won’t tell you how to live yours.
I don’t drink because I can’t drink. Not and stay sane, that is. For me, alcohol is stupid juice. When I drank, I did stupid things like try to sleep with my sister’s boyfriend; like
end up in Paris, France with a Chilean guy named José; like almost lose my boyfriend, who is the best thing that ever happened
to me in my life. So, I quit. That
Ahhh-I’m-home-now-gimme-a-beer attitude just isn’t mine.
But… on days like today…
I’m seriously craving some Strongbow. My local liquor store carries this “hard” cider that I developed a liking for while visiting my boyfriend’s
dad and stepmum in England last October. (Yeah, well I was on vacation, and I
was very careful about how much I drank because I wanted to make a good impression on these two people, since they will be
my in-laws one of these centuries, and I really didn’t want them to see the stupid-drunk-girl person I become when I’ve had
too many. Which is why, after about four big glasses of the stuff turned to shots
of Barbados rum, I stepped outside for some fresh air. For two hours. Eventually the party joined me. Fortunately the world had
slowed its spinning by then.) But I have to believe that resistance is not
futile! The Strongbow siren song is calling… and that’s why I’ve been taking
a different route home from work this week. Even though the liquor store is also
where I usually buy my cigarettes. Hey, I may not drink, but you didn’t think
I was an angel, did you?
No, on days like today, when I’m subbing at the
reception desk and the two whale sisters decide to show up after driving hours and hours to search our archives for genealogical
data… without an appointment… and our archives doesn’t even have any genealogical data in it… and we’ve only had an
archivist for the last ten days… and she went home early today… and they still want to haul their 1000 pounds of whale blubber
up there and dig for something that doesn’t exist, and in the process probably knock things off the shelves with their giant
tricep-flabs and then step on it because their guts are so big that they haven’t seen their feet since the Nixon administration. And they expect me, the mailroom person (and part-time switchboard operator) to know
where every birth, death, baptism, and marriage record is for the entire 11-county diocese?
But of course, I am omniscient! I bet that after they left they went to
the grocer’s and stood around in the produce section and asked a stocker where the fruits and vegetables were. Then they probably stopped by the Dollar Store to ask how much everything cost.
From this pleasant pasttime, I returned to my mailroom,
where I fought the battle of the paper folding machine. It may have eaten 5%
of my brochures, but in the end I beat it into submission. Ow, the heels of my
Then, I wrote this amazing blog entry, and the
Internets ate it. They must be related to my folding machine. It’s a conspiracy, I tell you!
Next, I’m gonna figure out a way to add caller-ID
to the switchboard so I can find the numbers of all those idiots who hang up halfway through (or at the end of) the ridiculously
long spiel I have to say when answering the phone and call them back and hang up in the middle of their “Hello” instead of
politely apologizing for dialing the wrong number.
Then I’m gonna have another cigarette.
Wednesday, June 8, 2005
1:21 pm cdt
Well, I've gone and done it. When three out of four people
that read your writing say "You know, you really ought to have a blog", eventually you succumb to the pressure. So here,
for better or for worse, is my first blog entry.
My main inspiration (and, let's be honest, my blog heroine) is Laurie,
better known as Crazy Aunt Purl (http://www.crazyauntpurl.com). She's made me just want to "live out loud" too; put my thoughts out
there for others to read. So this will be my little corner of the Internets to rant, rave, and ruminate about everything
from popular culture, living in Madison (67 square miles surrounded by reality), and stuff that happens that I think might
be humorous or important or interesting to someone other than me. If you agree, let me know. If you don't... now
didn't your mother tell you "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all"?
Oh, yeah. I'll be showing off my knitting. So don't
say you weren't warned.