mousey blog

rants, raves, and ruminations from the mind of mouseywerks

Thursday, June 30, 2005

What a load of bologna.


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 diet.


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.


5:05 pm cdt

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

It's a medical necessity. Honest.


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 idiot.


I 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.


This 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.


Normally 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.


They 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.


I 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.


And with the insurance money, I’ll pay to send Jay to massage therapist school.


5:03 pm cdt

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Booklets are the Bane of my Existence.


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.  Hand staple.


Fine.  You win.


Damn booklets.


5:17 pm cdt

Monday, June 27, 2005

I'm in the mood for... the Zoo


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.


Amber:  Yup, I just ovulated.  Crap.


Green:  Humph.  I think I’m gonna be okay.


Blue-green:  Uh-oh.  Maybe not.


Blue:  Here it comes!  Hot Flash!


Dark Blue:  Whew!  Do I really need to be wearing clothes right now?


Purple:  I 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?”

5:15 pm cdt

Friday, June 24, 2005

It's not the heat, it's the humi-diddi-ty...


…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!  OSHA!


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.

3:59 pm cdt

Thursday, June 23, 2005

I think Mother Nature has Alzheimer's.


You 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… mother.


Of 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.


I 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”.


We 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.


Jay 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’?”

Jay:  “Yes.”

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!”


Don’t worry.  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.


I 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…


It’s 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.


I may die of asphyxiation, but at least I’ll be protected when the tornados hit.

2:30 pm cdt

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

I still have a job. Whew.


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.


I 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.


There’s 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!


So, 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.


So, 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.


Because I think it’s more important to work well than look good.


And everyone has it backwards.


But 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.


And 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.

5:20 pm cdt

Monday, June 20, 2005

Forty Years.


Yesterday, 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!


These 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.


They 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.


My 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.


Dad 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 reversal.


Their 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).


They 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. 


I sure am.

5:15 pm cdt

Saturday, June 18, 2005

The Definition of Romantic...


I have an apology to make.


You 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.


Guys 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.


Jay 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.


Jay 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.


Jay 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.


He 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 down.


He’s 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.




And that, folks, is why he’s the most romantic guy I know.


I love you, sweetheart!

5:14 pm cdt

Friday, June 17, 2005

Ahhhhh....... Romance.


The world has just become a little more difficult.


Men are cringing and hiding.


Women are sighing and dreaming wistfully.


And it’s all Tom Cruise’s fault.


I 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.


If 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.


Ladies, 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.


Meanwhile, 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 parking ramp!


What 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.


Although, a little Michael Bolton music can make up for a lot.


When love puts you through the fire
When love puts you through the test
Nothing cures a broken heart
Like time, love and tenderness

5:13 pm cdt

Thursday, June 16, 2005

I'm Childless And I Like It.


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.

5:15 pm cdt

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Woo-Hoo!!!!!!! Par-tay!!!!!


When I was 9, “party” meant being invited for cake and ice cream on a friend’s birthday.


When I was 19, it meant going out to Joe’s and drinking cheap Iowa beer and dancing all night to those great 80s hits.


When I was 29, it meant getting together at a friend’s house for movies, a barbecue, or some volleyball and beers.


But somehow, in the last ten years, I seem to have lost the meaning of “party”.


It’s 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.


I 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.


But 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.


I 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.


Perhaps 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.


Like 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?


Maybe 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.


Whatever 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.

5:12 pm cdt

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

It's All Charlie's Fault.

No, 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.


Charlie is WCHY, 105.1 FM.  It’s owned by Entercom, and is a fully automated station.  And it plays everything.


This 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 ink fumes.


But fortunately I have Google bookmarked, and I refreshed my memory, and got back to work.  And then Charlie did it again.


It’s 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?


But 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.


So, to those infinite number of monkeys on an infinite number of computers,


Thank you.

4:08 pm cdt

Monday, June 13, 2005

Airshows Rock!


Jay and I spent the day yesterday at the Southern Wisconsin AirFest ( 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!


It 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.


The 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.


At 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.


But 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.


And 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.


So, 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.


4:57 pm cdt

Saturday, June 11, 2005

blog envy

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 fish in.

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.”
5:00 pm cdt

Friday, June 10, 2005

Are you sure it isn't August?


Yup, 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.


When 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.


A miniskirt and high heels.


Yeah, 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!


Actually, 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.


So 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.


Now 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…


For now, just pass me a root beer float ice cream bar.

4:59 pm cdt

Thursday, June 9, 2005

Days like today make me wish I still drank...


Except 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.


You 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 hands hurt.


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.

5:18 pm cdt

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

blog rookie
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 (  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.
1:21 pm cdt



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rants, raves, and ruminations from the mind of mouseywerks