mousey blog

rants, raves, and ruminations from the mind of mouseywerks

Saturday, December 31, 2005

I Have Seen The Future, And It Smells Like Juicy Fruit.

I don’t normally make New Year’s resolutions. Not that I think that people who do make them are dumb or silly; it’s just not something I do. But people always seem to ask me what my New Year’s resolutions are. I don’t know if they ask just so that they can boast to everyone about what they’ve resolved to do. You know the type of conversation I’m talking about. It goes something like this:

Friend: “Hey, Linda! How was your Christmas?”

Me: “Pretty good. How was yours?” (Politeness seems to require that you ask the question back.)

Friend: “Awesome! You make any New Year’s resolutions?”

Me: “Yeah, um… I’m gonna try to, er… you know… somethi---”

Friend: “Oh, cool! I’ve resolved to go to the gym every day and exercise for two hours - and stop eating meat - actually I’m going Vegan, and all organic food - and raise goats and milk them and grow soybeans in my own backyard so I can learn to make my own cosmetics so I don’t have to buy them from some evil corporation that produces them in sweatshop conditions and tests them on poor helpless bunny rabbits.”

Me: “Oh. Wow.”

So I usually make up some kind of resolution so I have something to tell people I’m going to resolve to do. Something that sounds reasonable, but not too challenging, just in case they come back in a couple of months and ask between fistfuls of homemade granola how I’m doing with that resolution I made. I try to think of something that I should do anyway, like eating breakfast or getting the oil changed in our car; or something silly like baking chocolate chip cookies more often or knitting only fun stuff out of fun yarn and giving one thing away for every one thing I knit for myself. That way, when they brag about how great they are doing at keeping their resolutions, I can counter with confidence. And chocolate-chip cookie breath.

I’ve only made one serious New Year’s resolution in the last fifteen years, and technically it wasn’t a New Year’s resolution because I didn’t make it until about January fifteenth. I decided that my daily two- or three-Mountain-Dew breakfast had to stop. I wasn’t sleeping well, was waking up groggy and cranky, it took half of the morning until I felt like a human being, and my teeth were disintegrating at an alarming rate. I used a long weekend to detox because I knew that, like any chemical addiction, I’d have withdrawal symptoms like crabbiness and headaches and the shakes. But within a month I felt so much better!

And I’ve been able to keep that resolution, so this year I’m going out on a limb and making another one. A serious one. One that I should have done a long time ago, but now that I’m 40 seems more necessary, more imperative, than when I was a “kid” of only thirtysomething. I have to do it, for myself and for my future. I’m going to quit smoking.

But I’m not going to preach about it. I’ve quit before, both for two-year periods, but there was always something in my life that had me reaching for the nicotine sticks as a way to cope. In college, it was when I was studying in France; I started smoking to have something in common with my classmates, a reason to go outside between classes and make friends. I quit smoking during my senior year, but started up again two years later when I started working as the Front Desk Manager at a busy hotel and the stress was driving me out of my gourd. Another smokeless period was ended when I started dating a guy that smoked a pipe, and the job I later had at a local music store only fed the addiction since nearly everyone there smoked as well. Over twelve years later, with every coffin nail burning away 13½¢ of hard-earned money, thinking about how every 49 cigarettes equals a hank of Cascade 220 yarn, and how five hanks equals one lovely sweater, and how a two-and-a-half-pack-a-week habit burns up the equivalent of one lovely sweater every five weeks (that’s ten - ten! - sweaters a year), well, I’ve decided it’s time to augment my wardrobe.

I have seven cigarettes and about nine hours to go. If everything goes well, sometime in early February, I’ll have to post a picture of the yarn I bought with the money I’ve saved. I don’t know what colors I’ll pick, but I do know one thing.

It’ll sure look a lot better than an ashtray full of dirty cigarette butts.

3:12 pm cst

Thursday, December 29, 2005

And Another Year Comes To A Close...

If you turn on the news anytime in the next three days, it’s likely you’ll see a year-in-review story. While they are nice filler for those slow news days, they always make me think about my own experiences of the previous year. And while my year-in-review may not be as exciting or danger-fraught or memorable as what you see on TV, there were a couple of things worth recapping here.

2005 was the year I discovered Crazy Aunt Purl, and got up the courage to start writing again. CAP is a thirty-something southern-bred girl living and working in California. She is funny and witty and outrageous, and her blog, written partly to help herself cope with the fact that her (jerk) husband left her, is a must-read. Her damn-the-torpedoes-I’m-gonna-write-what’s-in-my-heart attitude reminded me that the only way to be a writer is to put pen to paper (or, in our case, fingers to keyboard) and just do it. Thus was born the mouseyblog. An outlet for my frustrations, a place to exercise my creativity, and hopefully a stepping stone to bigger and better things. To all (three? four?) of you who read it, thank you.

This is the point where I read the four hundred words I just wrote (the ones you can’t see because I just deleted them. Trust me. You’d thank me for sparing you.) and realized that they sounded about as interesting as one of those self-absorbed Christmas letters everyone hates getting. Whew. That was scary.

2005 was a pretty good year. I didn’t get divorced, or survive a tsunami (but we all learned to spell it, didn’t we?), or lose my home in the Stoughton tornado or any of the 26,000 hurricanes that swept the planet, or have some other utterly overwhelming tragedy cause mayhem and turmoil in my life. It was just a basic year, with a wedding and a funeral and a vacation and going to work day after day, getting the job done, watching Days of our Lives and being glad that I’ve never been kidnapped by a DiMera or suffered from amnesia or discovered I was still married to a man who disappeared over twenty years ago or had my husband killed off three times or learned the baby I thought was stillborn was actually alive and living in my hometown or had my future mother-in-law drug me and put me (naked) in bed with my (also drugged, also naked) ex-boyfriend the night before my wedding and arrange for my husband-to-be to find us so that he ends up being my husband-not-to-be. Watching soaps always makes me wonder… the characters are always lying and cheating and breaking every commandment in the bible, often all of them at once. But they’re also often in church, or in the hospital chapel, praying their little hearts out. Yet those houses of worship are never struck by a lightning bolt from heaven. I guess that’s why they call it “fiction”.

So, 2005 was good (except for the Packers. ‘Nuff said.), and hopefully 2006 will be even better. I hope to see more of my little niece and goddaughter, Leah, with whom I spent the afternoon yesterday. She’s 2½, and boy does she talk! Mom must have told her quite frequently to watch out the front window for me to arrive yesterday, because when I did all she could say was “Linda! Linda! Linda!” and Mom kept saying “Auntie Linda’s here!”. Knowing that she now knows my name really tugs at my heart. Hearing her say it in her little-girl voice was awesome, so sweet and nice… for about the first thirty times. After that, it got to be a little much. Thankfully she stopped after about fifteen minutes. But she’s so cute, it’s hard to be annoyed for long.

Because I do feel blessed. I have a good job, a sweetheart named Jay, a loving if somewhat nutty family, a roof over my head, food in the fridge, a good car, and Crazy Aunt Purl to make me laugh. Maybe 2006 won’t inspire a best-selling novel, but you never know.

It may not be a soap opera, but I know it will be interesting.

5:49 pm cst

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

I hate it that I can't edit my blog once I've posted it...

Lisa Guerrero or Melissa Stark! It was supposed to say: “I may not be Lisa Guerrero or Melissa Stark, but I can spot a holding call before most of the guys in the room.”

11:19 pm cst

Turn out the lights...

One of the frustrating things about living in the 2000s is that there seems to be nothing you can depend on. You buy yarn from a little shop, and two months later when you want more you pull into the parking lot and round the corner and find a lawyer‘. You sign up for telephone service or Internet service and every fourth payment you seem to be writing a different name on the “pay to the order of” line on your check. You find a great facial scrub that keeps you from getting pimples but doesn’t turn your forehead into the Sahara Desert, and when you need more it’s been reformulated or, worse, discontinued. They say life is fleeting… well, the lives of some things you want to rely on seem to rival that of a fruit fly. Here today, gone tomorrow.

Last night, another “good old standby” rode off into the sunset. It was the final broadcast of Monday Night Football on ABC.

And while for many of you, this only means pressing a different number on your remote control at 9:00 pm Eastern (8:00 Central) on Monday nights, for me it is the end. Because I don’t have cable TV.

We used to have cable, back when it was affordable. But here in the Mad City, the local monopoly (starts with “C” and rhymes with farter) has set rates that are just too rich for my budget. So we’ve decided that cable TV just isn’t a necessity. When you consider the amount of broadcast TV we watch (Lost, Commander in Chief, a sporting event or two, and maybe something on PBS), getting cable just to have Monday Night Football (along with 88 more channels of crap we don’t want to see) doesn’t make a lot of sense. There are only so many times one can watch re-runs of “Matlock” before one’s brains start to resemble Malt-O-Meal.

But I’m going to miss Monday Night Football. I was just shy of five years old when it debuted in 1970, so as long as I can remember there have always been games to watch on Monday nights. In college, MNF was about the only TV I watched. Back in my childhood, I remember getting home from school in the fall and early winter, doing my homework, eating supper, watching whatever was on TV at 7:00 (in the ’80s, it was always “MacGyver”), and then getting comfy on the couch in time for the opening notes of the MNF theme song. It got to the point where I’d start singing those first few notes during the commercials right before it started… and when the song did come on, I was perfectly in key. Yup, I had MNF Perfect Pitch. I watched no matter who was playing. The Packers rarely (if ever) made an appearance back then, but there was always some team to root for. It was easy if one of the teams was in the NFC Central. Like we always said, when it came to football, we cheered for the Packers or whoever was playing the Bears.

When I was in High School and people asked me what career I wanted after I graduated, I used to say that I wanted to replace Howard Cosell on Monday Night Football. And part of me was serious. To me, that was the coolest job anyone could have. Sitting in a booth, watching a football game, and talking about it would have been a profession of my dreams. Play-by-play, color commentary, I didn’t care. I wanted to be the first woman announcer on MNF. Unfortunately, all I ever did was dream about it. I had no idea how to achieve that goal. I didn’t realize that if I had the assertiveness to volunteer to announce the Freshman Football games, make the contacts I needed, and work my way up the football announcing ladder, that maybe I’d be in that booth today. Hey, if Dennis Miller could do it, why not li’l ol’ me? I may not be , but I can spot a holding call before most of the guys in the room.

But now, like Dandy Don Meredith used to sing, turn out the lights, the party’s over. Like that great facial scrub, all good things must end. At least this one lasted 35 years. It still seems too short.

And I have the sneaking suspicion that, come next fall when I turn on the TV on Mondays at 8:00 pm, I know what I’ll find.

A lawyer show.

10:35 pm cst

Monday, December 26, 2005

Dance, Sugarplums! Dance!

Ah, sugar. Humankind has heated you and mixed you and flavored you and formed you into many shapes, each one more delectable than the last. And at this time of year, the best of you are consumed in wild abandon.

I don’t know if the first human to make candy did it by accident, like vulcanized rubber after being dropped onto a hot stove, but whoever was the first person to do so has my undying thanks. I bet it was a woman. I bet she had a spoonful of honey that she was trying to get into her crying baby’s mouth, just to get a little peace and quiet before it was time to baste the gazelle, and she missed that moving target and accidentally slopped the honey onto some nuts she was shelling. So, being a thrifty sort, she decided to eat the nuts, and found they were good. And on the seventh day, she rested.

When you think about it, the natural ingredients of candy don’t really look like they’d produce something tasty. Sugar cane is a woody stick. Vanilla and cocoa beans, in their raw forms, don’t evoke the sweet raptures one gets from a candy bar. Molasses looks like rubber cement mixed with used motor oil, and corn syrup resembles something you’d use to slick your hair back. But blended together in the right proportions, melted, layered, cooled, and cut… ahhhh, what a lovely delight!

This time of year is when the very best varieties of candy are on the market. Valentine’s Day may have its heart-shaped boxes of bonbons and NECCO conversation hearts; Easter may have jelly beans of every flavor, chocolate bunnies, and those marshmallow peeps; Halloween may have candy corn, peanut butter kisses, and little candy pumpkins; but Christmas… ah, Christmas has the best candy of all.

And what a variety! There are peppermint candy canes, cherry candy canes, and every other flavor of cane you can imagine. If you like hard candies, there is ribbon candy that you practically break your teeth on, those little pillow-shaped hard candies made out of the same stuff as the ribbon candy, and the disk-shaped hard candy that looks like cross-sections that when cut have a flower in the middle. There are dark red cherry hard candies with the jelly centers, and the peanut-shaped hard candies with soft peanut butter-like filling. There are those gooey white taffy lumps with the red striped edges and the green tree in the middle. There are chocolates stuffed with every imaginable filling. (I remember raiding the Whitman’s Samplers Dad would give Mom for Christmas. I don’t know why he didn’t just get one for her and one for the rest of us. At least then Mom would have had a fighting chance.) Coconut centers, orange jelly centers, English toffee, fudge, caramel, honeycomb… and I always save my favorites for last. Even the big candy companies get in on the fun. Hershey’s kisses come in mint and peanut butter filled and (just discovered) cherry crème centers. M&Ms don red, green, and white coats over their chocolate, peanut, almond, and mint chocolate centers. There are even green Christmas tree-shaped marshmallow peeps for those of us who can’t wait for spring.

Yes, Christmas candy has improved greatly from the years of honey-dipped nuts. It’s evolved past sweetmeats (which somehow makes me think of chocolate-covered meatballs. Not too appetizing.). It’s progressed past sugarplums (which had to be eaten immediately, I would think, lest they become sugar prunes. Good for constipation, not too good for the palate.). The Christmas candies that are made now are pretty spectacular.

And I have enough to chow down for at least the rest of the week. So if you see a little chocolate smudge at the corner of my mouth, or I answer the phone with a bit of mumble to my words, or my garbage bag contains an excessive amount of foil wrappers… I’m just enjoying the candy. Don’t worry.

On the seventh day, I’ll rest.

8:14 pm cst

Friday, December 23, 2005

What A Difference A Day Makes.

So, yesterday I dropped Jay off at OMax and started the Big Day O’ Shopping. And I was right. At 8:00 am on Thursday December 22nd, everyone is either stuck at work or sleeping off the hangover from the previous night’s office holiday party. No one (well, almost no one) is out Christmas shopping. The hordes didn’t get really unbearable until lunchtime, and that was only in the mall parking lot (well, it was really the mall drive, but calling it that would imply that the traffic was actually moving). I was able to hit two stores, visit Jay, hit another store, bring Jay lunch, and hit three more stores all in eight hours. And I actually got just about everything I was looking for. Another Christmas Miracle.

Then we have today. Today is Friday. Today is the day the rest of the city decided to take off from work to finish their shopping. Today is the day that it took me an hour to drive 2½ miles from work to the UPS store. And no, there were no accidents or detours or transit strikes or volcanoes, just the general Armageddon that is the last Friday before Christmas.

Boy, am I glad that I did my shopping yesterday.

I’m glad because I was able to find just about everything I wanted, and I’m glad because if I’d spent one more day at work I probably would have bitten someone’s head off. Not that I was hungry. Let’s just say that a woman with PMS should not have to deal with stacks of mail that are taller than she is.

No, the last two days have more than made up for the crap-tacular first half of the week. I had a day off to go shopping while everyone else was stuck at work, and then I had to work while everyone else took off to go shopping. I don’t think I’ve been this relaxed two days before Christmas since, well, college.

And Now, A Little Christmas Music

One of the other great things about working today while everyone else had off was that there was no one to tell me to turn down the music. I was able to have my little boom box (hey, I bought it in 1984. It’s a boom box.) playing on one side of the room, and the little CD stereo playing on the other side. While it wasn’t exactly Dolby surround sound, it was nice. I’d tuned in one of those stations that’s playing nothing but Christmas music.

While nothing but Christmas music is supremely annoying when you are stuck in a mall with thousands of other desperate shoppers who are all toting heavy bags and sweating and smelling suspiciously of the wrong end of a reindeer, if you wait until two days before Christmas to tune it in, it can be quite lovely. Especially when the Trans-Siberian Orchestra songs come on and you can crank it. I even sang along while I was sorting the mail today, and wasn’t too worried if I was hitting the high notes or not (that one at the end of O Holy Night really got me), because who was going to hear me?

And while I was mangling the high notes (I blame not warming up enough) I was also getting creative with the lyrics. Some of the songs brought back tender, sweet memories of Christmas Eve candlelight services and big family Christmases at Grandma’s. Others brought back memories of third grade. You remember third grade, when kids finally outgrow that awkward “cute and adorable” stage and embark on their hellion years. Third grade is when the girls would go out for recess and make up complicated jump rope routines, complete with hopping on one foot, touching the ground, and double-dutch, accompanied by sing-song rhymes. Meanwhile, the boys would be tearing around the schoolyard yelling at the top of their lungs, and changing the words of all the songs they knew.

And they didn’t stop at Christmas. C’mon, how many of you sang the following:

Jingle Bells

Batman smells

Robin laid an egg

Batmobile lost a wheel

And the Joker got away

Or the following gruesome carol:

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells

Jingle all the way

Oh what fun it is to go

Shoot Santa off his sleigh

Or how about this gem:

We three Kings of Orient are

Trying to smoke a rubber cigar

It was loaded, it exploded

BOOM!

Silent night…

When we got older, we learned more traditional Christmas songs, and transmogrified those as well. French class gave us this little number. As with all successful re-writes, if the rhyme scheme is close, as with “flambeau” (torch) and “jambon” (ham) it’s even more fun. We sung it in French (of course):

Un jambon sandwich, Isabella

Un jambon sandwich est bon.

And at this point, all the little boys (okay, they were fifteen) would dissolve into gales of laughter. That’s too bad, because the song had a lot of potential. Maybe someday I’ll finish it. Someday when I have absolutely nothing else to do.

Like the next time I’m stuck in mall traffic.

6:40 pm cst

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Everybody keep calm. Don't panic.

Okay, I admit it.

I love to shop. I can wander around a store for hours, looking at all the neat stuff. I may even buy something, but I usually don’t. It’s like a treasure hunt. I just love to search for that one last perfect piece of clothing, that perfect book, or that perfect trinket.

Except at Christmastime.

There’s just something about the mobs of shoppers and the noise and the traffic and the pushing and shoving and the waiting in line and the saccharine-sweet holiday music blaring from the stores that makes me want to run screaming into the hills, down the other side, across the highway, into the airport, and on a plane to Tahiti.

I hate that pressure to pick the perfect gift. But I have to, because I’m not going to put myself through all this just to know that my sister will end up standing in line at some customer service desk to exchange my gift. And then she’d have to lie to me when I ask her how she’s enjoying the great thing (whatever it is) I gave her. And I’d know she was lying. Sisters just know. And it would make me feel awful, like I let her down, like I didn’t care enough to get a good present. I’d feel almost as bad as if I bought her a gift card.

I also hate that Christmas Eve hovers like some sort of guillotine-blade-deadline, ready at the blink of an eye to swoop down upon your neck when shopping time is up. I don’t like deadlines. Some recessive teenager gene deep inside of me automatically kicks in whenever a deadline appears in my life. I involuntarily balk, procrastinate, or outright ignore the deadline until I have no choice but to tackle the task. I’ve got it mostly under control, but in certain situations that gene goes haywire. One of those situation is - you guessed it - Christmas shopping. I’ve been at the mall at 3:30 pm on December 24th. It ain’t pretty.

Then there’s the budget. I was brought up to “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”. Years of being a wage slave underemployment have reinforced that tendency, so I don’t overspend on Christmas gifts. And even though now I bring home more than $240 a week (and that was supposedly the top of the wage scale!), I don’t go hog-wild buying presents. I have a budget. I stick to the budget. And every year, I make each of my family members a hand-knitted gift. I enjoy being creative, and it keeps me from pigging out on Christmas cookies.

That creative streak applies to shopping in stores as well. I can always think of what would make a great gift. I come up with the most fabulous ideas. And sometimes I actually find them. But usually I go from store to store, searching every shelf and corner until I realize that the corporate retail buyers are all on crack because they obviously have no idea what makes a great gift because the item I so brilliantly thought up is not in any store in the Midwest. And since airfare would pretty much blow my budget (because you can’t just order everything off the Internet; some things you just have to inspect and scrutinize and hold up to yourself to make sure they’ll fit), those ideas only end up wasting a lot of time. Plus they make me fat, because everyone knows that french fries from Mickey D’s are a temporary cure for depression.

I have to be creative when it comes to Christmas presents. There have been years I’ve scored big, when once the wrappings have hit (or missed) the trash can in the middle of the living room, the person who has just opened my gift has his or her eyes glaze over and they zone out as the focus on their new toy / book / etc. completely distracts them from anything else that’s occurring in that zip code. I love the feeling I get when I’ve given something that creates a reaction like that. And, having done it once, I know I can do it again. Because gift cards, as popular as they are, are not an option in my book. Gift cards are the Cliff’s Notes of shopping. It’s like cheating, or gifting for lazy people who really don’t know their recipients very well. I’d feel like a hypocrite if I gave my sister a gift card. I mean, we did share a bedroom for, like, fourteen years, so I think I know her pretty well.

So here I am, three shopping days to go. Except for a group gift (which my sister bought so it doesn’t really count), the hand-knitted gifts (which I didn’t finish in time last year so they don’t really count either), a half-share of one of Jay’s daughters’ gifts (again, which I didn’t buy), and a gift we ordered on Sunday, I have done absolutely no Christmas shopping. So I took the day off tomorrow, and I plan to hit the stores right after I’ve dropped Jay off at work. Hopefully a bright and early start will help me avoid the heathen hordes. If I’m lucky, I’ll find the inspiration I need and be done in time for lunch.

If not, you know where you can find me.

Yup. In the food court. Next to the giant pile of empty french fry boxes.

9:37 pm cst

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Everything Old Is New Again...

This obsession with everything “retro” has gone too far.

The obsession with the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, specifically, has got to stop. The bell bottom flared jeans, the crocheted ponchos, the clogs, those I can handle. I can choose not to wear them if I wish. The music of my teenage years being played on “oldies” stations, the hairstyles from The Mod Squad and Charlie‘s Angels, even the retro furniture styles are kinda cool, in their own bizarre way.

But there’s a lot to be said for the more recent past, as well. In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, you couldn’t put your phone in your pocket. You might be able to carry one around in a large tote bag, but you risked giving yourself a hernia from the weight of the battery pack. You couldn’t change the channel on your TV without getting up off the couch (well, most of us couldn’t). Heck, you couldn’t even put your computer on your lap without crushing yourself to death. So living in the year 2005 has the advantage of blending the best of the old with the best of the new.

Unfortunately, this obsession with the past is going out of control. If you watched Monday Night Football last night, you’ll likely know what I mean.

I am a Green Bay Packers fan. I lived through the nightmare that was the late ‘70s and early ‘80s seasons. I shook my head in disgust during the Coach Bart Starr years. I cringed in embarrassment during the Lynn Dickey years. I sighed in disappointment when, year after year, the Sears Wish Book Christmas catalog never sold Packers’ replica jerseys. I’d been too young to remember the “Glory Years” of the mid-’60s. The perennially losing Packers were all I knew. So when Ron Wolf, Mike Holmgren, Reggie White and Brett Favre took the Pack from the doghouse (or more like the pile of s*** behind the doghouse) to the penthouse - and kept them there - I thought the ugly years were gone for good.

But this year, the “retro” fad seems to have taken the Packers right back to the bad old days. Last night’s 48-3 loss to the Baltimore Colts Ravens is just the last installment in what’s looking to be a 3-13 season. When the biggest win of the season was over the New Orleans Saints (the equivalent of beating up a homeless man), there’s not much to be proud of. Not that I’m going to burn all of my Packer stuff. I was a fan in the lean years, and I’ll be a fan even when Brett throws more complete passes to the other team than he does to his own receivers. Plus I’m not so desperate to heat the apartment that I need to start a fire. And I don’t have enough Packer stuff to warm a closet, much less this place.

I still have hope that this season is just a strange fluke, a momentary knot in the string of great Packer seasons. I know that Ron is retired, Mike is coaching in Seattle, and Reggie has passed to that great gridiron in the sky. And although a local news poll tonight found that 66% of respondents said that Brett should come back next season, I wonder if he won’t be spending 2006 in the Mississippi bayou instead of the Frozen Tundra. The wheel of fortune keeps turning, and you can only climb from spoke to spoke to stay on top for so long. This year, the Pack has taken the express route to the bottom. They’ll be back on top someday. The wheel of fortune never stops. Just, please, someone step on the gas, okay?

I may not mind crocheted ponchos and losing Packer seasons. I just don’t want to have to put up with them for the next 20 years.

11:15 pm cst

Monday, December 19, 2005

Garbage In, Garbage Out.

 

It’s the most “wonderful” time of the year…

With the packages shipping

And Mailroom Girl flipping

‘Cuz Christmas is near

It’s the most “wonderful” time of the year…

 

It’s the crap-crappiest season of all

With those holiday greetings

And people repeating

“Please return my call”

It’s the crap-crappiest season of all

 

There’ll be cards to be mailing

And shipments unfailing

And boxes right up to my - hey!

There’ll be thousands of letters

And everything better

Be mailed by the end of the day

 

It’s the most “wonderful” time of the year

There’ll be envelope sealing

And my head is reeling

But it’s not from beer

It’s from all of the dumb mail…

Yes, from all of the dumb mail…

I wish all of the dumb mail’d… disappear!

 

Garbage
                                                      In

 

Garbage
                                                      Out

8:25 pm cst

Friday, December 16, 2005

In Which Postage Is Put On Empty Envelopes, A Co-Worker Gets Pregnant, I Eat Like A Medieval Knight, And We Get A Harp.

 

(Yeah, I stole the title from A.A. Milne’s Now We Are Six.  What’s he gonna do?  He’s dead.  I suppose his lawyer could send someone named Vito to my house to take my toy Tigger.  I’d like to see him try.)

 

Sometimes, when you’ve been doing the same job day after day after day for what seems like a lifetime, things get boring.  You don’t think you can stand another minute of sorting mail, making copies, and delivering boxes from UPS.  You think if you never see another Christmas card, it will be too soon.  The quotidian slog through the workday makes you start feeling like a zombie.  You wish something exciting would happen, like a(nother) snow day or a visit from Harrison Ford.  Anything to put and end to the tedium.

 

But if you look a little deeper, even the most boring workday isn’t really as monotonous as you’d think.  Take today, for example.  It was a day just like any other.  Mail to sort.  Copies to make.  Boxes to receive.  Yet, it had its moments.

 

Like the co-worker who asked me if I could put postage on a bunch of empty envelopes.  Now, I’m thinking that you would want to put letters in the envelopes before you send them off, so when someone asks, “Can you put postage on two boxes of empty envelopes?” it takes you a little off guard.  He explained that they would be putting something bulky in each envelope, so it would be easier to run them through the machine before stuffing them.  But it was still weird; weird enough to make the day a little less boring.

 

Then a co-worker got pregnant.  Now, I’m assuming this didn’t actually happen at work (although the fertilization of the egg could have taken place at some point during the work day), as I don’t believe that anyone has sex in this building.  Remember, I work with Catholics.  So I can presume that the introduction of the baby-making ingredients occurred elsewhere, like in her and her husband’s home.  At least I hope so!

 

After lunch, I was delivering some boxes to an office when I stopped by the coffee area for a drink of water.  When I turned around, there was half of a chocolate amaretto cheesecake sitting on the counter next to a stack of paper plates and forks and a sign that said “Help Yourself”.  And I was thinking as the drool started seeping near the corners of my mouth, yeah, like I’m gonna be able to walk away from that.  But when I got that slice of almond-y chocolate-y goodness back to my desk, I found I didn’t have a fork.  All I had was a knife.  And I was not going to postpone my enjoyment by walking two floors up and three-quarters of the way across the building just to get a fork.  So, like all good medieval knights everywhere, I ate it with a knife.  I felt like I had gone back in time, even though the knife was plastic.  I just wonder how those guys ate without slicing their lips open.

 

And then, to prove that today was one of those not-really-boring-when-you-really-think-about-it days, we got a harp.  It needed to be put in the chapel for a concert tonight.  You’ve never lived until you’ve wrestled a harp into and out of a wheelchair lift.  Talk about a Three Stooges moment.

 

So today really wasn’t as boring as it seemed.  Between the pregnancy announcement and the cheesecake and the harp and the guy who decided to do doughnuts on the football field in his big-ol’ four-wheel-drive pickup, there was a lot going on.

 

It may not have been as exciting as having Harrison Ford land his helicopter in our parking lot and whisk me off to lunch, but it wasn’t bad.

 

I wonder what will happen on Monday.

 

5:11 pm cst

Thursday, December 15, 2005

A Time to Watch the Snow, A Time to Work Like A Madwoman...

 

The Byrds got it right when they wrote “Turn, Turn, Turn”.  Of course, they borrowed the lyrics from the Bible (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, to be precise), but those words are ever so true.  And as a Libra, the sign of the scales, I know that everything balances out in the end.

 

But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

 

Yesterday, we all got to go home from work an hour early.  The snowstorm was so overwhelming that everyone seemed transfixed by it.  We spent most of the day looking at it, talking about it, and wondering if it would get worse and when it would end and how much snow we would get that no one got any work done.  But I should have known.  Just because no one did any work yesterday didn’t mean that there was no work to do.  It was there.  And today, after the storm, things got back to normal.  Except all the work that didn’t get done yesterday came avalanching down on me today.

 

I went from wishing I could make snow angels to wishing they were real angels who would come down and help me make copies, fold letters, apply postage, sort mail, and answer the phone all at the same time.  Because today was one of those days when I could barely turn around without someone wanting something “ASAP”.  And today, “possible” meant “next Tuesday”.  Or at least tomorrow afternoon.

 

You’d think, after three years, people would realize that I have the same schedule on Thursdays:  10:00 am – sort mail, 11:00 am – deliver mail, 12:00 pm – cover Receptionist’s lunch break, 1:00 pm – take my own lunch break, 2:00 pm – cover Receptionist’s staff meeting.  So, if they give me a project at 9:45 am, I’m not going to be able to even look at it until at least 2:45 pm.  Every Thursday for the last three years has been like this.  There’s only one of me, and I only have two hands.

 

Normally there aren’t that many days like today, and when there are, I can handle them.  Heck, I used to work retail.  I was used to trying to do seven copy jobs, place rubber stamp and business card orders, and read the “how to use this self-service copier” instructions to little old ladies all at once and all by my lonesome.  So I really didn’t have a problem with trying to get budget numbers from a sales girl that only answers some of my questions with vague sales jargon and ignores the others, and make copies for another co-worker, and run outgoing mail through the postage machine simultaneously.  But when the receptionist called to tell me a delivery guy “was wandering around the building, and couldn’t find the mailroom (a mailroom labeled with a sign with two-inch-tall letters!), well, I kind of lost it.  I don’t think the co-worker that was waiting for the budget numbers – a nice lady that I’ve known for over five years – has ever seen me get that mad.  I know she’s never seen me barge out of my office and holler at an idiot delivery guy “Do you know how to read English?”  Can you not read this sign that says ‘Mailroom’?” while pointing at the giant letters on my door.  I know the co-worker that was waiting for the copies hadn’t.  Fortunately, they didn’t run off screaming in terror.

 

Because when I get mad, when the straw that broke the camel’s back lands on my already overloaded shoulders, I go BOOM.  It doesn’t last long, but woe to the person in the target center of my fury.  If they’re lucky, I’ll just be cuttingly sarcastic.  If they’re not… well, they’ll probably make extravagant excuses to avoid ever encountering me again.

 

I may seem like a snow angel, and I may even act like an angel most of the time.  But when I grab my pitchfork, look out.

 

There is a time to love and a time to hate.  It all balances out in the end.

 

I know.  Roger McGuinn said so.

 

9:16 pm cst

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Oh, the Weather Outside is Frightful...

 

Back in the day, I used to ride the bus to school.  We lived about five miles from town, in the middle of an area that was mostly farmland.  The roads were narrow and hilly.  You could usually count the number of vehicles that went by on a daily basis without taking off your shoes.

 

So when there was a big snowstorm, we’d wake up at 6:15 am and switch on the radio.  Then my sisters and I would sit in anticipation for the local school closing announcements.  We’d hope and pray and wait while the music played, hardly daring to breathe in expectation.  When the radio announcer would come on the air to say if schools were being delayed or cancelled, we’d almost pop with excitement.  We’d wait, stock still and silent.  “Mineral Point… Monroe… Montello… Monticello…” –okay-okay-we’re-next-if-they-say-New-Glarus-that’s-gonna-be-so-unfair!–Mount Horeb…”.

 

And we’d erupt into whoops of joy.  Snow Day!  No School!  Yippee!!!

 

More often than not, school would only be delayed an hour or two to give the county plows a chance to clear the roads.  On those days, the atmosphere once we got to school was almost like a party.  The schedule would be all topsy-turvy, with some classes cancelled and others rescheduled.  And no one would have their mind on class work.  It would be almost as festive as the day before Christmas break.  We’d all come tumbling in off buses that had somehow made it through the drifts.  Many of us had waited for the bus at the end of driveways that were knee-deep in snow, or on plowed piles that towered high in the air.  Once we’d shed our parkas, snow pants, and clunky moon boots – shoving them all haphazardly into our too-small lockers – we’d gather at the windows to put our hats and mittens on the heat registers. The hot air would make them stand up all by themselves, which would send us all into fits of laughter.  If we were lucky, they would be dry in time for recess, when we would pour out into the crisp, cold whiteness to have snowball fights and make snow angels, only to repeat the whole locker-cramming, mitten-drying ritual all over again.

 

But when the forecast was for continuous heavy snow, or for blowing and drifting, then we’d be blessed with the announcement that school was closed all day.  Those were the days that we really longed for.  We’d get to watch Sesame Street and The Electric Company, or play with every toy we owned, or (if it wasn’t too cold outside) go sledding down the big hill behind our house, or sometimes all of the above! Mom, who was a stay-at-home-mom at the time, would make us hot soup for lunch, or on really special occasions we’d get Spaghetti-O’s and white bread with butter to mop up the extra sauce.  And she would always keep the tea kettle full of hot water for her homemade hot chocolate, with a big marshmallow all soft and melting in it, or for Russian tea.

 

Now that I’m all grown up, snow days are a rare event.  No more listening to the radio each morning.  Now the weather reports are scrolled across the TV screen during the morning news shows, or listed on the Internet, right next to the links to the NWS weather radar loop.  Sure, the kids still get off from school.  The district where I attended was closed today.  But adult me has to plow through the drifts to work, where I stare out the window at the blowing white stuff and pine away for those carefree days of snow angels and mittens lined up on the heat registers.  But every so often, so seldom that I can count them without taking off my shoes, there comes a blizzard severe enough to close down businesses and send everyone home.

 

Like today.  We only got to go home an hour early, but that was enough for me.

 

Snow Day!  No Work!  Yippee!!!

 

6:37 pm cst

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Got Your Christmas Lists Done Yet?

 

It’s that time of year again, the time when we all wrack our brains for the perfect gifts for everyone on our Christmas lists.  (Yeah, I said Christmas.  If you don’t like it, turn your computer off, you hypersensitive politically-correct sheep.)

 

Along with the articles touting the hottest new tech gifts, the best books, the freshest fashions, and the most tempting treats, there is always at least one article, humor column, or Dear Abby letter about one of the touchiest subjects of the season.  No, it’s not whether to give your boss a gift (which you shouldn’t, you brown-noser you) or what is appropriate to give the Buddhist / Pagan / Atheist in the cubicle next to yours.  It’s even touchier than that.

 

It’s advice about re-gifting.

 

Now, everyone who claims to be anyone is going to tell you that re-gifting, the act of taking a gift you have received and giving it to someone else, is absolutely the tackiest, most thoughtless, cheapest, rottenest thing you could ever do short of secretly slipping a dead carp under someone’s car seat on a 100ºF July day.  But I beg to differ.  You see, I have been the recipient of some re-gifts.  They were thoughtful and sweet gestures.

 

A truly classy re-gifter puts as much work (if not as much money) into re-gifting as someone who gives a first-level gift.  So, if you want to be a successful re-gifter, you have to choose one of two paths.  You either have to be completely up-front and honest about it, or so secretive that your recipient has no clue whatever of the origin of his/her gift.

 

If you choose the secret route, you have got to be at your sneakiest, ultra devious, most uber-stealthy best.  Wild horses shouldn’t be able to drag a secret out of you.  You must be able to resist the temptation to brag about your mad re-gifting skillz.  You may have to avoid the eggnog at the holiday parties as well, lest the tongue-loosening qualities of booze… well, loosen your tongue.

 

If you decide to openly re-gift, the most important thing is to tactfully inform your recipient that they are receiving a re-gift.  Of course, there are some people that would never be able to handle the fact that you didn’t brave -15ºF temperatures and howling winds and hordes of greedy shoppers and their screaming brats to wade through aisles of tacky Rudolph sweaters with blinking noses to find them their Christmas gift.  So give those people a card.  Or make a donation “in their honor” to some bizarre charity, like the Society For The Protection Of Three-legged Flamingoes With Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome.  But for the others, the ones who don’t need gifts that equal the size of their over-inflated egos, you can openly re-gift with impunity.

 

When openly re-gifting, of course, it’s important to make sure that your reasons are legitimate.  If you have received so many poinsettias that you feel like you could open your own greenhouse; if you are diabetic and received a box of sugar cookies, then by all means re-gift.  But if you are merely passing along the proverbial fruitcake, gifts like a crocheted football cozy or The Greatest Hits Of Zamfir, don’t.  Just box up that crap and take it to Goodwill.

 

Whichever re-gifting style you adopt, you must know your recipient.  This will help you choose which of your gifts to pass along.  For example, if a secretary in your building has a secret stash of chocolate in her desk, it would be completely appropriate to re-gift her the gift box of fudge your Aunt Claire sent from Michigan.  Voilà, she’s happy, and you’ve avoided putting another ten holiday pounds on your ass.

 

It is also imperative – and I mean it! – to always keep at least three degrees (or more, depending on the population of the town you live in) between the person who originally sent you the gift and the person to whom you re-gift it.  That way you avoid embarrassment when your husband visits you at the office and notices your receptionist wearing the pink angora sweater he gave you for Valentine’s Day.

 

There are a few other common-sense tips to re-gifting.  One is to re-wrap the gift.  You would think that this would be automatic, but you’d be surprised… but not as surprised as the male co-worker who finds the “To Jennie, from Grandma” tag on the bottom of his gift.

 

Another tip is to only re-gift items that no one can prove have been previously opened.  Do not think you can tape over the slit you made in the shrink-wrap so you could taste the gingersnaps and pass it off as unopened.  If you have sampled it, it’s yours.  Or Goodwill’s.  Too bad, so sad.

 

You may even want to box up an unwanted (and non-perishable) gift and let it age for a year before re-gifting.  Just put a sticky note on it so you won’t give that revolving tie rack back to your cousin Maude.  She’ll remember, trust me.

 

So, as long as you’re not lazy and stupid about it, as long as you follow my simple tips, you will be able to re-gift with panache.

 

And you’ll never find yourself the subject of a Dear Abby letter.

 

… well, at least not one about re-gifting.

 

3:56 pm cst

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Silent Night...

 

Just when you think you’ve had enough of the shoppers and the traffic and the rudeness and the depressing darkness of December, you walk out to your car at the end of a crazy Friday and see this.

 

Winter Sunset 

 

And you think, who needs Christmas lights and animated displays and $100 inflatable Santas when nature can provide something as beautiful as this?  You take a deep breath, exhale, and all of the tension and stress blows away on the cold, crisp air.

 

You know that it will only be a few moments before these breathtaking last rays of sunlight fade to black.  So you grab your camera and capture the magic.  Then, when the anxiety of the holidays begins to overwhelm you, you can pause and look at it again and recapture the simple pleasure of a winter sunset.

 

Sights like this make it easier to deal with the rude customers, the white-knuckle snowstorm driving, the holiday decorating, and the family pressures that accompany this time of year.

 

Happy December, everyone.

 

3:54 pm cst

Friday, December 9, 2005

While we wait for my daily post...

 

A little entertainment.

 

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8290192083117426204&q=christmas+lights

 

Merry Christmas, ya’ll!

 

4:23 pm cst

Thursday, December 8, 2005

Another day, another milestone...

 

When people say “December 8th”, I always think yeah, that’s one of those ‘important’ days, like Pearl Harbor or D-Day or something, a day I should remember.  Actually, Pearl Harbor was December 7th (“A date that will live in infamy”, according to FDR, but apparently doesn't live in my memory), and D-Day was June 6th.  And although December 8th, 1941 was the day that the USA declared war on Japan (it took a whole day?  You mean Congress couldn’t bother to go in to the office on a Sunday, even to declare war on the country that just bombed the snot out of the Pacific Fleet?), there always seems to be another reason December 8th is memorable.  Although, today you’d have to be – well, dead – to not know that it’s the anniversary of John Lennon’s murder.  From the front page of the local newspaper to radio playlists nationwide, people are remembering this talented man and the sadness of a generation at his death.

 

But amidst the strains of “Strawberry Fields” and “Imagine”, there is one fact that, this year – twenty-five after his passing – strikes me as it never had before.

 

John Lennon was born on October 9th, 1940, and died on December 8th, 1980.  On the day he died, he was 40 years, one month, and twenty-nine days old.

 

Today, I am 40 years, two months, and seven days old.  I have now lived longer than John Lennon.

 

Now, John Lennon accomplished a hell of a lot during his 40 years on this planet.  He wrote loads of songs, played in front of thousands of screaming fans, and was bigger than Jesus.  I, however, have made loads of copies, delivered thousands of pieces of mail, and am bigger than… a breadbox.  So you can see why I might feel like I haven’t done much in my forty years plus.  Especially compared to John Lennon.

 

And when I compare my life to others who I have also lived longer than, it gets even more depressing.  I’ve outlived Manfred von Richthofen, the “Red Baron”, who died at age 25.  The Roman Emperor Nero made it to 31 before his call to the great fire of the beyond.  Alexander the Great conquered more land by age 32 than I’ll ever see, and Jayne Mansfield conquered more men’s hearts before her passing at age 34.  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was only 35 and only three-quarters of the way through his last work, when he passed, and Amelia Earhart was 39 and about the same part finished with her last flight when she disappeared off the radar, so to speak.

 

And here I am.  40.  And I’ve outlived all of them.  They have no more time left.  I do.

 

I guess the question now is, what am I going to do with it?

 

4:58 pm cst

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Jay and Linda's Room - Keep Out!

 

I had half a post written yesterday, and then I had to go home.

 

I did so want to share with you my latest rant, but it was 5:00 pm, the bell had rung, and there was an uninsulated boyfriend waiting for me to drive him home.  And let me tell you, if you want any peace at all, you do not let an uninsulated boyfriend stand around waiting when there are -10º F wind chills outside.  It makes it hard to bend him enough to get him to fit in the car.

 

So I saved what I had written and put the diskette in my bag.  I figured there would be lots of dark, cold, boring hours in the evening to finish and post it.

 

We got home, turned on the news, and changed into our sweats.  Jay took up his habitual position in front of the computer.  I, however, did not spend the entire night on the couch with a book.  That’s outrageous!  You may think, and you’d be right.

 

I didn’t spend the night in leisure because of a sheet of paper that was slipped in our door on Monday while we were at work.  It was a note from our apartment complex management company informing us that they would be inspecting our apartments today.  They would be looking at our carpet, vinyl flooring, kitchen counters, appliances, and light fixtures, in order to set their budget for 2006.

 

If you have seen our apartment (and I know you haven’t, because it is such a mess that we haven’t had guests since, oh, 2001, and they were relatives) you know what we had to do.  We had to rent a dumpster and a twelve-member professional cleaning crew and a power washer and an auctioneer.  What we did was clean for two and a half hours.  I took care of the kitchen and the bathroom.  Jay filled a trash bag with the pocket detritus of the last three years.  It’s amazing how much junk finds its way to our bedroom floor via his pockets.

 

It’s also amazing how much counter space one can excavate when one decides that those six-month-old taco chips really aren’t worth saving anymore.  But even after throwing all that crap away, the apartment still looked untidy.  But when you have the equation of 2 adults + 2 full time jobs + 40 years of stuff + 1 broken vacuum cleaner, you get 680 square feet of dusty clutter.

 

I just hope that whomever is inspecting the apartments isn’t too judgmental.  He or she has to check 71 apartments in 6½ hours.  That’s less than five and a half minutes per apartment, not counting how long it takes to lock up one apartment, walk down the hall, and unlock the next one.  So, if we’re lucky, the inspector won’t have any time to notice the piles of dirty clothes in the bedroom, the jumble of old electronics in the living room, and the mounds of yarn behind the couch.  Because we just didn’t have that much time to clean.  Plus, it’s a pain to run out to the dumpster when it’s -10º F outside.

 

But what I’m really worried about – and yes, you can tell me until your blue in the face that I’m being ridiculously paranoid, but I’m still gonna say it – is that we’ll get home and find a nastygram warning us that if we don’t clean up the place they’ll evict us.  Because I know myself, and I’m never going to live in a place that looks like a “House Beautiful” photo spread.  I have a life, and some of it ends up shoved into corners and piled on the end tables.  But our apartment isn’t so bad that one glance makes you think it belongs in “Hut & Hovel”, either.

 

I’m just hoping that the apartment they inspect right before ours is a total pigsty.  That way ours will look great in comparison.

 

Because no way am I giving up my couch and my book tonight.

 

5:01 pm cst

Monday, December 5, 2005

Let There Be (Christmas) Light!

 

This time of year can be so depressing.

 

Today, here in the People’s Republic of Madison, the sun didn’t rise until 7:15 am.  And if you think that’s depressing, sunrise gets later and later each morning, until January ninth, when it rises at 7:29 am.  It takes until January thirtieth (that’s fifty-seven days, folks) for it to rise at 7:15 am again.

 

Then you’ve got sunset.  It isn’t bad enough that the end of Daylight Savings Time throws darkness right up against the butt end of the workday.  Today the sun will set at 4:23 pm.  As I am writing this, that’s a half-hour from now.  It won’t set after 5:00 until January twenty-fifth.

 

Today there were nine hours and nine minutes between sunrise and sunset.  I work from 8:00 to 5:00; that means nine of those hours are swallowed up by work.  And like today, when it’s eleven measly degrees fahrenheit outside (or eleven below zero celsius for the metrically inclined), we can’t even enjoy the one hour of daylight that falls during our lunch hour.  The other fourteen hours and fifty-one minutes of the day aren’t really “day”, they’re night.  We wake up, get ready for work, commute, stop by the store on our way home, and try to relax in the evenings at night.

 

That’s a lot of time to sit around in the dark.

 

Saturday, I spent the morning with my Mom at an Advent Brunch and shopping, and the afternoon with Mom and Dad at home their house (even after twenty years, it’s still hard not to say “home”).  Since I was out there, and since it was light, and since they’re not as young as they used to be and Mom’s getting over a bad headache / stomach virus attack, I offered to put up their Christmas lights.  They have a system they’ve been using for over thirty years, and although it involves a lot of trips up and down a ladder (which is why I’d rather do it, when I’m out there, than have them feel like they have to put up lights if they aren’t feeling well) it goes fairly quickly.  Dad helped by passing up the bulbs.  Mom yelled at me through the living room bay window to put a hat on.  I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the window, and was surprised to see there was a lot of snow on the mountain – and I don’t mean gray hair.  Good thing my knit vest was a hoodie!

 

But in the end, it was worth it.  There’s just something about being at your Mom and Dad’s house for Christmas and sitting on the sofa in front of that big bay window and looking at the glow of the lights on the snow.  In a season that is so hectic, so stressful, so dark, and so cold, those fifty C9 bulbs all in a row across the edge of the roof have a wonderfully soothing effect.  Plus, when there is a two-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter involved, well, Grandmamma and Grandpa have to have their lights up.  It’s imperative!

 

So, yesterday I decided that I’d put up our lights while Jay was napping.  I pulled out the string of 100 red mini lights and the one of 100 green mini lights, and within twenty minutes had them strung along the railing and up the sides of our balcony.  I got the pine garland in place, and plugged them in.

 

They were all dark.

 

Yup, not a single bulb would light.  I’d bought them only two years ago, so I pulled the darn things down, dragged them inside, and went through every socket to make sure there were no bulbs missing.  I even got out the voltmeter and tested to make sure there was electricity going through the plug and down the wires.  Everything tested okay.  I began pulling each bulb out and straightening the wires before reinserting it, but after about a quarter of each string I gave up.  Those suckers just weren’t going to light up.  Somewhere in the wiring, something was pinched or broken.  When I told the story to one of our maintenance men at work today, he asked, “Do you know why they wouldn’t light up?”  I answered, “Because I bought them at Wally World.”

 

So I bunched the un-lights back up, shoved them in their boxes, and threw them away.  Jay was cranky, it was cold and dark, and I didn’t want to piss him off any more than he already was.  The Christmas season burns Jay out.  He’d rather we didn’t decorate at all.  He’d rather the whole holiday would just disappear.   And yesterday, he was in full Grinch mode.  So I gave up for now.

 

But there will be lights for Christmas this year.  Because there’s nothing like a soft December snow, glittering in the warm glow of those multicolored bulbs.  Because they’re romantic and gentle and home-y.  Because I need them.

 

Because I hate sitting around in the dark.

 

5:10 pm cst

Friday, December 2, 2005

Mr. Murphy... Paging Mr. Murphy...

 

I’m starting my own list of Murphy’s Laws.

 

I know others have done this, and some of them are even funny.  But there are a few of Murphy’s Laws that I run into every day yet have never seen in print.

 

Murphy’s Law of the Salad Bar:  All the good toppings are on the furthest side from you.

 

Murphy’s Law of Dirty Boxes:  The lighter colored your clothing is, the dirtier the boxes you will have to carry.

 

Murphy’s Law of Telephone Proximity:  The moment you get up from your chair and walk across the room is when your desk phone will ring.

 

Murphy’s Law of Signage:  The bigger the sign, the more likely people will ignore it and ask you where to find whatever the sign is pointing to.

 

Murphy’s Law of Friday Afternoons:  The more work you put off until Friday afternoon, the more urgent tasks you will be given to do at the last minute.

 

Murphy’s Law of Office Music:  The raunchiest song always comes on the radio right as your boss is walking in.

 

Murphy’s Law of Lunchroom Gravity:  The greater chance that a food will leave a permanent stain, the more likely it is to spill in your lap.

 

Murphy’s Law of Weekends:  If you leave your home phone number as an emergency contact, the more likely it is you will never know what one is.

 

Murphy’s Law of Pregnant Co-Workers:  The more competent they are, the more likely they will decide to become stay-at-home Moms.

 

Murphy’s Law of Potty Dynamics:  The worse you have to go, the more likely that every stall is taken.

 

Murphy’s Law of Fancy Dress at Work:  The more you dress up, the more manual labor you will have to do.

 

Murphy’s Law of Feminine Convergence:  The boss you hate will get PMS the same day that you do.

 

Murphy’s Law of Blogging At Work:  The more you do it, the less likely you are to get home on time.

 

 

And with that, I bid you Good Night.

 

(‘Cuz if I stay any longer, Jay is gonna be mad that I got home late again.)

 

5:07 pm cst

Thursday, December 1, 2005

Dangit, I Forgot Where We Parked.

 

I have come to the conclusion that our car is invisible.

 

I don’t know why.  Perhaps someone thought it would be funny to use Harry Potter’s father’s cloak as a car cover.  Except that can’t be, because I can see the car when I’m not in it.  So either I have the ability to see through Harry’s cloak, or that’s not why our car is invisible.

 

All I know is that no one else can see our car.  It’s not like it’s painted in camouflage or anything.  We don’t park outside, so it’s not covered in leaves or snow and blending in with its surroundings.  It’s just a basic, tan, two-door car.  It even has the headlights that come on whenever the car is in gear.  It may not be a neon pink Hummer, but it’s pretty obvious.

 

Nope, no one else can see our car.  It must be true, because no matter where I drive, how I drive, or when I drive, other cars pull out in front of me.  We can be tooling down the road, windows open, radio blaring, headlights on, engine roaring, and someone will decide to make a left turn right in front of us.  Or they will run a stop sign at a four-way intersection right as we are taking our turn going through it.  Or they will pull out of their driveway right in front of us.  This usually happens when there is a big gap in traffic right behind our car, so if they waited a mere three seconds they would have all the space they need to go where they want to go.  But NO.  Their lives are so important that they can’t deign to allow us to drive where we have the legal and safe right to drive.  They can’t all be that stupid and self centered (oh, yes they can and probably are, says the sarcastic little voice in my head), so they must not be able to see our car.  And the only way they wouldn’t be able to see it is if it were invisible.

 

It’s gotten so bad that even Jay has noticed it.  We’ve counted up to four times in one 2.7-mile trip to work that we’ve either been cut off, pulled out in front of, or otherwise ignored in traffic.  And our commute only involves one really busy intersection.  The other areas we drive through are all well-lit, wide streets with light traffic.

 

This seeming inability for anyone (except us) to see our car is starting to worry me.  Our car isn’t that big, and doesn’t fare well in crashes.  I actually saw a crash once that involved a car like ours – same make, same model, same number of doors, etc. – and the car like ours was on its side.  It looked like some giant toddler had picked it up and set it back down on its driver’s side door.  I don’t know how the other guy did it.  Maybe he went around the corner too fast and stood it on its side.  Or maybe he was hit by someone who just didn’t see him, although who could miss a black car on a sunny day in April?

 

I can only think of one other possible explanation as to why our car is invisible.  The paperwork said that it had been previously leased by someone in Pennsylvania.  I’m positive those previous owners were aliens.

 

Oh, you think I’m crazy?  I think the previous owners of our car were sent here to observe us Humans without being detected.  They took the car up into their Warbird and enhanced it with their alien technology.  They were Romulans. 

 

But apparently the lease ran out before they realized it, and they had to return the car.  They didn’t want to arouse suspicion, so they just dropped it off at the dealer’s, but they weren’t able to finish removing their added gadgets.

 

Unfortunately, one of the things they had to leave behind was the cloaking device.  It activates every time you put the car in gear.  And they didn’t leave instructions on how to turn it off.

 

If anyone ever hits our car, I’m sending them the repair bill.

 

Dang pointy-eared Romulans.

 

5:15 pm cst

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rants, raves, and ruminations from the mind of mouseywerks