Wednesday, May 29, 2002

I am taking some time off from blogging until such time as "work day" no longer means 12 hours of mindless, pointless, grueling, thankless writing for the publisher's catalog. Although my boss did come into my office this morning and present me with a plastic tiara that made me feel like Becky Queen of Carpet on a somewhat less grand scale.

But don't worry! The archives aren't going anywhere.

And I fixed my email link. For those of you who may have been traumatized by a 404 upon clicking it in the past. Fear no more, my little friends. Fear no more.

Monday, May 27, 2002

I think I'm on hiatus. To return when the workload stabilizes. Ugh.

Friday, May 24, 2002

An email landed in my in-box. Subject line: Dress Code

My jeans looked up at me in alarm. My tennis shoes started to whimper. I told everyone to calm down, this happens every year. It's the summer crack-down on our rampant abuse of the term "business casual."

Our company has a strange relationship with image. We run the spectrum from tailored suits, to sweat pants, to those like me who get dressed in the dark by feeling around in a drawer and praying to god that there are clean clothes in there that fit. Jeans and a t-shirt are "business casual" to me because, well, I'm casual and I work at a business.

I understand that they have to at least make an attempt. If they didn't send a reminder every now and then that maybe tube tops aren't appropriate office attire, someone would wear them. And it wouldn't be the cute, skinny girls with big booyas wearing them, either. It would be the 300-pound, cellulite-riddled woman whose arms you never wanted to see outside of a tapioca pudding cup.

But that doesn't mean I want to give up my half-assed corporate stylings. I don't have to! The good folks in the fashion industry have provided us with a ready arsenal of terms to be used in our defense.

"You," I reassured my grey tank top, "are what we call a sleeveless shell." The tank sighed with relief.

"Don't worry, shoes," I told them. "You're nothing as crass as tennis shoes. You are leather-enhanced athletic footwear."

"And you," I said to my well-worn, comfortable blue denim jeans, "certainly don't have holes. Those are wear-imprinted fashion accents. The frayed hems are what's known as distressed edging. And denim? Bah! You consist of blue multi-toned, micro-woven cotton fabric."

My clothing sat up a little straighter, trying on their new, expensive identities, and I clicked the offending email right into the trash.

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Hmm, seems that my bout with food poisoning must have actually been the work of a virus, the downside of this being that my husband is now in the clutches of the black death. And yet the kids have escaped unharmed, so far. I hope their immunities hold out. The older one will probably get it just so that her drama will have an outlet. It's tough keeping so much drama potential pent up for so long. It gets to the point where every sneeze deserves its own stage and spotlight.

"MOM!" Gasp! Cough! SNEEZE! "Ahhhhhhhhh! Mom! I need a kleeeeeeenex!!!! Mom, HELP!" Collapse on carpet, reaching out pathetically toward the box of kleenex on the table, a mere four feet from her outstretched fingertips.

The child has allergies, which means this scene is repeated throughout the afternoon a minimum of six times. Apparently at school she's able to simply get up and sneeze into a tissue all on her own, without the Academy's eyes upon her.

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

I'm going to keep my proverbial mouth shut today because A) I'm too busy, and B) you should be reading this post instead from Mr. O'Brien about our wee daughter. It's far better than anything that could come out of my proverbial mouth. Trust me!

Monday, May 20, 2002

Today's fun and random exciting news: I have food poisoning!

Consequently, I have sworn off meat forever. Also all solid food. And possibly liquids as well, unless they can think of a way to get back on my good side. I'm currently discussing this with an icy glass of Gatorade that my husband fetched for me (such a good man), questioning whether its claims to replace electrolytes are worth risking another three hours in the little girls' room.

My kidneys hurt. Blinking red lights and dials show our hydration level perilously low.

Regardless, if I were the Pollyanna type (which I'm not, but I might be similar to a Polyanna -- more than one anna...) I would see this not as an affliction but an opportunity. With nothing but antimatter in my system, my traditional Monday Diet starts fresh! And I can consider myself weaned from coffee, soda, chocolate, sushi, and... dear lord, not all at once! What are you thinking?

Ah hell, typing hurts my brittle, ill fingers.

Friday, May 17, 2002

It is approximately 3:30 on a Friday afternoon and time has stopped. I have stopped. It is all unbearably still. Fortunately, I still have the ability to type with my mind.

Thursday, May 16, 2002


I was blog-hopping, and I happened to land on someone's intensely personal and painful stuff. I won't even link to it, because as soon as I was done reading I felt wrong for having read it at all. Even though it was a public blog, with a public link inviting traffic in.

I admire the person for writing so openly. It makes my own blog seem extremely trivial and superficial. And even if I ever touched on anything deeper, it would only be so that I could shrug and laugh, in the casual, between-us sort of self-admonishing way that people confess bits and pieces of themselve to friends after a few too many drinks.

It's a mystery to me how some people are able to talk about troubling things as easily as if they were discussing politics or a sale on rutabega at the local market. Maybe I'm not wired that way. To me, everything uncomfortable is off limits. It's packaged up and tucked into neat, hermetically sealed boxes that can be easily stacked and organized in an out-of-the-way corner.

(That sound you just heard was the Pandora metaphor being nipped in the bud.)

It frustrates my husband, and of course I understand why. If I tell him that a box contains "shoes," he wants to know what kind of shoes -- Red ones? Heels? Army boots? Little white, size-one baby sneakers with velcro straps?

Shoes. Just shoes.

That's all I have to say about that.
I'll stand up right here in front of all the world and admit it. I'm a sushi junkie.

It's funny, but as I wrote that I was reminded of a really poorly drawn "Say No to Drugs" comic book attempt that was handed out to my 2nd-grade Catholic school class of sheltered 8-year-olds. We leafed through it at recess trying to figure out the big words like mariuana (some girl's name, probably the bleary red-eyed girl who kept talking about a "hit." Hitting was bad, we knew that. We guessed she was the bully.) and heroin (the hero, also a girl).

But my drug of choice these days is sushi. I started experimenting with it a few months ago and now I can't get the sushi monkey off my back. There's a supermarket down the street that deals, and they make it cheap, plentiful, fresh, and tasty.

I think about it all the time. Even after I've just scored and I'm dipping the last piece into a bit of wasabi, I'm already planning the next run.

For a while, I toyed with the idea of making my own sushi. It can't be that hard. Others have done it. But is that a bit too much like setting up a meth lab in my basement? Will the next step in the downward spiral involve renting a trailer to hold all the equipment and the austere, finely laquered Japanese-style serving dishes? Will the government start tracking my movements due to unusually large purchases of eel and salmon?

It's a sickness.

It's about to get worse, too. There are plans to open a new sushi bar just minutes from work.

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

I wonder just how common cross-dressing is in this part of the country. I don't want to out anyone, but there's a woman working here who I'm convinced has got to be a man.

She has man elbows. She has man ankles. She has man hands and a manish gait. And I heard her cough; she coughs like a man.

Just how common is it, really? If Jerry Springer were a cross-section of the population, none of us would be wearing gender-appropriate clothing. But in the day-to-day interactions with people in your community, how often do we say hello to our dear, sweet neighbor Mrs. Williams and her daughter Jacqueline, who was born Joseph Michael?

It makes me thankful that my own gender is rightly aligned with my sense of girl-ness. One less thing to worry about. And I think daughter #1 is pretty well-established as a boy-chasing, dress-wearing female. We'll have to wait and see with daughter #2. I think she may invent her own gender. At least 85% monkey.

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

House Husband: A Female's Fantasy

I have several problems with this article. One being the fact that CNN thought it was newsworthy to write a bit about a man who does housework. That's insulting. It's insulting to the men who do participate in family life and think nothing of washing a floor when it's dirty. And it's insulting to women of every generation past who have been washing floors thanklessly, whom CNN would never think to call "God's gift to men: a house wife."

I also think it's kind of sad that this man is scrubbing the kitchen floor on his hands and knees every night, as if he's looking so hard for a sense of achievement that he thinks he might find some gummed into the corners of the grotty kitchen tile. And that he's hanging with the lawyer's wives at cocktail parties because the successful men snub him.

On the other hand, playground moms do have that kind of "what are you doing here" attitude toward playground dads, which husband has been seeing a lot of these days. They are the ones who want to keep that pecking order in place, those don't-need-to-work wives of high-powered men.

I think these are the same women who might spend an evening on their knees scrubbing the floor and never get a word of thanks for it. Maybe she abandoned whatever it was she wanted to be when she grew up. As she's grinding away at a particularly stubborn spot, she mentally congratulates herself for being this dedicated and talented at what she does, building herself up with the idea that her husband, successful lawyer/doctor/whatever that he may be, certainly couldn't get a floor this clean. A man certainly would find some way to botch the job. A man could never clean so well, shop so well, dress the children so well, clip coupons so well.

Maybe the sight of a man at the store with a happy, well-dressed child at his side, competently rifling through a stack of coupons, threatens to poke holes in her carefully constructed delusion. If this man can do my job, maybe my husband could too. Maybe I am worthless.

Even more sad than the cold glares of playground moms is the little girl's attitude in the article: "I like having a Dad at home; it's almost like having another Mom."

Another mom? Is that the best a dad can aspire to be?

Monday, May 13, 2002

Work has turned me feral. If one more person asks for a "rush job" I'm going to bite them.
Not that I'm prone to procrastinating or anything, but... ah hell. I'll write about that later.

I think it's lunch time. I think I'm hungry, but I'm reluctant to commit one way or another.

On the one hand, it's noon and the Noontime Lunch Clique has already left for whatever exotic destination they've decided on this time. I wouldn't know, as I am not One of Them.

On the other hand, I left home without lunch today so I have to come up with some way to go and get food if I want it. So much trouble... I mean, just because everyone is eating lunch around me, does that mean I actually want lunch, or is it just peer pressure?

Mmmm. McDonalds....


The main problem with deciding whether or not to eat lunch is much more complex than the simple question of whether or not one is hungry. It's a gamble, a game of trying to judge -- based on all variables and known information -- whether this current disinterest in food will hold out until dinner, or whether a blood sugar crash at 3:30 will send one streaking in a panic toward the nearest McDonalds drive-thru. Or a vending machine.

At that point it's no longer "lunch" anymore. It's not quite dinner. It doesn't count. It doesn't count as a meal, as food, as calories, as nutrition, as anything. It's non-food. Twilight sustenance, crammed into one's mouth at a weird in-between time while no one else is looking (or at least one hopes not) that lacks all forethought and enjoyment.

All right, I just realized that I've spent 42 minutes thinking about food, and I'm bordering on unhealthy obsessiveness. And so McDonalds it is! Possibly to be followed by a 3:30 streak toward the vending machine. I wouldn't want him to feel left out.

All neuroses contained herein may be blamed upon blood sugar instability.

Saturday, May 11, 2002

I am not the only one.

I don't know whether to feel validated or deflated. I think that instead of either I will feel... orchestrated! Or perhaps, misappropriated!

I hope my squeaky doppelganger doesn't think I lifted his identity. I've been "weasel" since I was 8. Squeaky came later. Like a teenage rite of passage for nicknames.

Maybe this is my opportunity to reinvent. Let's see...

Slinky Weasel
Sneezy Weasel
Smurfy Weasel
Shifty Weasel
Sleepy Weasel
Spooky Weasel
Soupy Weasel
Sticky Weasel
Smiley Weasel
Smarmy Weasel
Sneaky Weasel
Slippery Weasel
Shiny Weasel

I think I'm kidding, but let me know if you think of one that's really amusing.

And no, I'm not going to be known as "Sleazy Weasel". I know you were thinking it.

Friday, May 10, 2002

The pink coffee cup on my desk is huddled between two stacks of file folders, sighing deeply. It's been 48 hours.

I look up from my work and she avoids eye contact. "You want some Folgers latte?" I offer. I keep it on hand for emergencies.

She shrugs and shifts her weight, making an attempt at casual. "'S okay..." She tries to be brave. But I know it's getting rough, and we're not even through the worst of it yet. I can see her eyeing my travel mug with a kind of wild jealousy rearing just below her studiously calm demeanor, and I make a mental note to keep all paper clips and blades off my desk for the time being.

Wednesday, May 08, 2002

Sweet Jesus... WE ARE OUT OF COFFEE.

I have just taken the last cup.

I had to. If I left it, someone else would have taken it. And I would have been forced to compensate through other addictive behavior patterns, such as pen-nibbling, or the Tourette's-like muttering of profanity paired with the Rain Man-like pacing and head smacking.

In the meantime, I'm going to Starbucks. Anyone want anything?
People get excited about strange things in the workplace. I was excited yesterday because I had managed to convince marketing to mail a non-traditional brochure. What this means to you: one more piece of pretty garbage in your mailbox. To me: three weeks of fun! There are all kinds of new problems to be solved. What will it say? What will it look like? What shape will it be? What color? What size?

And you're probably thinking, holy crap that sounds boring.

I know there are people who hate and despise what they do, and thank god I'm not one of them. At least I have a few strange things to get excited about, even if I'm the only one who's excited.

My husband has this look he gives me whenever I talk about things like new brochures. I'm sure he doesn't even know he's doing it, but it's a look that speaks for anyone who is ever forced -- out of politeness, courtesy, or lack of nearby exit -- to listen to someone else drone on about the very specific aspects of his or her job.

It's a slightly vacant, distracted, glassy look. It's a look that says, "I'm listening because I love you. If I didn't love you, I'd be doing something useful like downloading the theme song from 3-2-1 Contact."

Three! Two! One...

Monday, May 06, 2002

I wish I had time to blog, but sadly I don't. I'll leave you with two random scenes featuring people I'll never meet.

Shouting Man and Running Girl.
She had probably just learned how to run, and she ran ahead of her father with a laughing, staggering toddler run along the sidewalk of a busy street in her navy blue dress with white buttons. Her father, with a large, lazy dog on the end of a leash, suddenly seemed to realize that she had put more than a comfortable distance between him and her. He yelled out, "Stop!" but she laughed and staggered her way toward an intersection streaming with cars. "STOP!" he shouted, in a commanding father voice, but it was like trying to hold water in your fist and demand that it stay there. He broke into a frantic run with lumbering lazy dog on the leash behind him, and the little girl scampered straight out into the street without a moment's hesitation at the curb. He caught up with her on the other side of the street, scooped her up under his arm, ("He's going to spank her," I thought, in a detached sort of way.) and WHACK, he dispensed fear, frustration, annoyance, and helplessness in one swift motion.

Old Lady in My Lane.
She had no idea it wasn't a turn lane when she crossed the double yellow lines and turned her car into my car's path head-on. In the split second before I veered to avoid her, I saw that the car was driven by a tiny, white-haired woman who kept a crucifix suspended from her rear-view mirror above the dusty, cracked dashboard. Headed toward me, it would probably have been all right with her if the crash ended a long life of religion and dusty cars, sending her into a soul-first tumble upward toward heaven. With my tiny baby in the back seat and quite a bit more to lose, I leaned on the horn and swerved with a vengance. She looked at me coldly and indicated with her finger, I need to turn here, to go there. To her, my lane was the left-turn lane and I was the maniac driver.

Sunday, May 05, 2002

I wonder what it is with my 6-year-old and the current brand of toothpaste we're using - Colgate with Baking Soda & Peroxide Whitening(tm) Flouride Toothpaste, if you must know. There must be something innate in this particular tube that compells her to smear it on every available fixture, towel, and carpet swatch within a 20-foot radius of the bathroom. Either that, or she's blinded by its gleaming, tooth-whitening power.

Thursday, May 02, 2002

Since I've been comparing life to high school a lot lately...

Take the What High School
Stereotype Are You?
quiz, by Angel.

I am a sad, sad irony.

This was apparent to me last night as I was trying to work up the nerve to paint a color wheel, a homework assignment for watercolor class.

I love painting. I love the way the tip of a brush touches the paper, the way velvet color spreads over white. I love watching what I see in my mind's eye flow through the end of the brush and cover a blank space. It's almost as if it all happens on its own, and all the paint needs from me is that image of what it should form for the painting to form itself. And I only have to disengage my conscious mind long enough to let it happen.

It's when I have to think about what I'm doing that's the problem, and this is why the color wheel gives me such grief.

I'm red-green colorstupid.

I'm okay with reds and greens (they just tend to look a little brown). But blue and purple might as well be two shades of the same color. My 6-year-old thinks it's hilarious, but to me purple is nothing more than an annoying technicality. I call something blue and she corrects me, so I say, "Oh, all right, purple, then. What EVER!" I suspect that eventually someone's going to expose the "purple" myth – there really is no such thing, I've been right all along. You people are all just messing with my head.

And no matter what, my color wheel looks like a pile of poo.

Red, okay. Then we have a big, splotchy red-violet-purple-blue-violet-whatever section. Then blue. Okay. Blue is good! Then a mess of greenishness that was supposed to look like either blue-green or yellow-green, but who knows which one went where. But yellow! Now there's a color I can grasp. But then it gets all orange and mushy with some red mixed in for orange... or something. That's the point where I put down my brush and try to stare down the color wheel.

"Look, damn you," I said. "I don't like you, and you don't like me. So let's just finish with this sorry exercise in futility and move on. Agreed?"

And did you know that in this age of modern medicine, where they can suck fat cells out of your ass and re-implant them anywhere else you might like, this is the best they can do for me? Irony, I tell you.

Wednesday, May 01, 2002

Wow. I was so not invited to lunch just now. I actually feel like I've been snubbed!

And to think there are some people who leave that sort of behavior behind in high school where it belongs. Who knew that cliques could thrive in an office of seemingly mature people. I shouldn't be surprised. All it takes is one insecure person thrown into the mix who selectively draws in a few people as friends and makes that friendship feel exclusive.

When it first started, I didn't recognize it for what it was. People can have lunch with whomever they like, right? And I don't like to go out to lunch. I ain't social like that. Except with the few people whose company I really enjoy. So whatever. I figured this group going out to lunch every day was just naturally made up of people who all wanted to go out.

And then it started to get weird. The core group of 3 lunch-goers started occasionally inviting a fourth person along. A different fourth person every time. It was like a sorority pledge. I was even invited along at one point (I declined). And slowly, the core group grew to 4, then 5. They would meet in the hall outside my office and discuss where they would go and whether they should ask this person or that person.

Soon it didn't stop at lunch anymore. The clique would meet in the morning to walk down the hall to the vending machine together. Even when only one of them wanted anything. I went along on that 30-foot journey once, listening to them talk about pretentious, trendy things like wine, "casual dinner parties," and the "no-reason" gift someone's boyfriend had given her. Meanwhile, I was turning over in my head the possibilities of what I could make for dinner in less than 20 minutes, prepared while holding a marvelously plump and squirmy baby on my hip, that my 6-year-old would actually eat. I laughed when they laughed, made the right comments and asked the right questions, but it was like swimming with dolphins. Nice and pleasant on the surface, but neither really understands what the other is doing or why.

And still, it didn't really occur to me that a clique had formed, until today. Just outside my office, I heard the clique say, "Let's just see who wants to come along!" They rattled off the names of most of my co-workers and scattered to deliver invites. I stared at my computer screen, with my attention on the group in the hall, waiting for someone to suggest that maybe it might be rude to exclude just a few people when we all work so closely together... or at least to notice that I, in such close proximity, could obviously tell I was being overlooked.

But either they didn't notice or didn't care, and oddly enough, I'm far more amused than offended. Maybe high school wounds form tough scars, or maybe I know myself well enough to realize that I'd much rather play on the internet at my desk than feign interest in someone's relationship problems or planned trip to New York.

So there. You're blog bait now, bitches!