Wednesday, March 31, 2004

I have meetings today at 10:00 and 2:00.

This is also the proper positioning of one's hands on a steering wheel as one maniacally drives one's vehicle off a cliff to escape unnecessary meetings.

Luden's Wild Cherry Throat Drops are fabulously soothing when one's throat is irritated by silent screams.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

I am totally burned out on writing. It's hard. It requires effort, thought, energy, and no shortage of sugar.

Here's a list of all the things I currently hate:

  • Transitions
  • Special offers (that aren't all that special)
  • Bullets
  • Edits
  • Making shit up

    That last one deserves emphasis through repetition:

  • Making shit up

    I feel like that's all I ever do. Marketing hands me a work order for a direct mail letter. Okay, a four-page letter. You do realize that's four full pages of nothing but words. What am I supposed to say in this letter? Don't know! Make something up! But make it compelling enough that the reader will stop what they're doing, jump online, and pay $54.95 for a professional reference book! But why would said professional want said reference book? Don't know! Make it up!

    Here is list of features I hate:

  • Vibrant illustrations!
  • Up to date information!
  • Expert author!
  • Comprehensive coverage!

    These pretty much describe every book I'm ever asked to write about. Seriously. Enough with the comprehensivefullcoloruptodateauthoritative shit. Give me something real to say. But since no one (including the author) actually knows what purpose the book serves… make it up!

    All creative writing electives in college shall hereby be renamed Copywriting 101.
  • Sunday, March 28, 2004

    I expected to post today with some sort of horror story.

    Saturday night, I had a group of friends over to my house for a book club meeting.

    Two things: 1) I’ve never been involved in a book club of any sort. 2) I make friends reluctantly and sparingly, and participate in so few social activities as to consider myself gathering-challenged.

    I have no horrors to report. It went well.

    But here, I’m about to get all profound.

    I was cleaning my house, and as I swept dust bunnies the size of grown cats from under my couch, I thought back to my mother’s style of house cleaning: ignore what you can’t see. We fervently ignored unseen corners of closets, boxes of clutter, papers and dust shoved under our beds. We ignored it all, the corners growing more and more horrifying, until they reached critical mass and began to spill out into the clean, clear center spaces.

    Such a wonderful metaphor.

    My mother has recently come to the same conclusion I have, that maybe a proactive approach is the way to go. As we speak, she’s pecking away at a lifetime of unaddressed issues in the basement. I like to think I cleared out most of my own baggage when I moved out, but it’s likely she’s still keeping a few pieces, ready to drag them out for re-examination whenever I visit.

    I’m hoping to teach my own kids not to avoid the dark places. If they’re filled with dust, it’s your dust. And if you wind up covered with it, well, you can always shower later. Own the corners, or they’ll own you. Dust bunnies don't have teeth. Even if they did, Mr. Clean is one mean mutha-effah.

    Thursday, March 25, 2004

    Could I just take a moment to address a few points of bathroom etiquette?

    I am regularly offended by people's behavior in the restrooms here at work, and it occurs to me that perhaps (and I'll give them the benefit of the doubt) they are entirely ignorant of the psychological havoc they wreak. Allow me to elucidate.

    The courtesy flush
    I know that in civilized society, we like to avoid unnecessary contact with our own crap. But I assure you, you will have far fewer dealings with it if you flush thoroughly. And if one flush doesn't get the job done, it's not an admission of weakness to give it a second go-round. I know a few men who might consider it a source of pride.

    Eye contact
    It is okay to recognize and greet someone washing her hands at the sink as you enter the restroom. It is not okay to peer through the cracks of the stall door to see if someone you know is sitting with her pants around her knees. Honestly, I thought that was common knowledge.

    Identifying vocalizations
    Some people may think that all grunting, heavy breathing, sneezing, and humming sound the same as anyone else's. Not true. And that's a picture of you in my head that I don't want to carry around all day.

    Congratulatory affirmations
    I don't know about you, but I've been using the big-girl potty all by myself for a good twenty-six years. I've become quite skilled at having successful bowel movements. Applause is not necessary. (Again, honestly!)

    And finally, please consider the following topics off-limits for stall-to-stall conversation:
  • What you had for dinner
  • Undergarment brands and stylings
  • Menstruation (in general)
  • Tampons (in particular)
  • Yeast infections
  • Bikini waxing
  • Marital intimacy

    I understand that men have their own rules about restroom behavior, and gentlemen, I applaud you. But certainly not when you're least expecting it.
  • Friday, March 19, 2004

    Sometimes I just get the urge to dress nice. But try explaining that to my co-worker sistahs.

    As I was pulling my ratty Friday jeans off the rack in my closet this morning, I happened to notice the high-heeled, lace-up granny boots that I bought in November as a birthday present to myself. I love them so much that I've named them. Evelyn and Leighanne. But although they look fabulous, like so many other females they are deeply malicious and catty. They pretend to be nice to you and then when you're least expecting it, they pinch and squeeze for their own amusement.

    No matter. It had been months since I'd worn Ev & Leigh, and the memory of the pain they'd caused me last time had sufficiently dulled. I slipped them on and immediately felt fabulous enough to wear a suede skirt to work instead of jeans.

    I whipped in the door and passed a co-worker on my way to my office. She eyed me suspiciously. "You look nice today," she hedged.

    "Thanks!" I said. "I have a job interview later."

    She looked at me quizzically. I thought I heard a faint rustling sound as I walked away. It was the sound of rumors preening their wings and readying for flight.

    People kept passing my office and pausing as if to confirm that yes, I was wearing a skirt.

    "Taco Bell for lunch?" asked another co-worker via email.

    "No thanks," I typed back. "I'm having lunch with Oldest daughter."

    A few minutes later, a different co-worker stepped into my office, leaned in close and said, "I think you should talk to Boss."


    "She heard that you're interviewing somewhere over lunch and she's mad that you're being so obvious and cold about it."

    I noticed that Evelyn was beginning to dig into my little toe.

    Tuesday, March 16, 2004

    I didn't realize it, but before I got glasses I was actually missing out on something. Well, besides, you know, vision. I'm talking about the little smudgy fingerprints that children leave on lenses.

    If the smudge is directly in your field of vision, you probably clean it off right away, while snapping something like, "Can you just keep your hands off my glasses? Please!"

    But sometimes a small fingerprint can be left just on the edge of a lens, as you're kissing them goodbye and they reach up to pat your cheek or they reach around your neck for a hug so sincere that one wrapped-around hand bumps the edge of your frame. And that smudge stays there. Watching as cars pass you on the rain-drenched highway, throwing sheets of water into the path of your busy wipers. Watching as you fumble your way into the office with coffee mug, water bottle, briefcase, purse, and ID card tucked and wedged under the arms of your bulky coat. Waiting while your computer starts and as you sort through the papers that were left on your chair after you went home last night.

    And then, as the transition into the office day settles into your routine, you sit in front of the lit computer screen, and you take your first calm breath of the morning, that's when the left-behind smudge of your little girl calls attention to itself. A silent assertion that you are important. You are more than the recipient of those papers on your chair. You are her mother.

    Monday, March 15, 2004

    It's bill nite, but let's be honest. Paying bills is no less arduous when done on a nite than on a night. Aiight?

    That settled, we can move on.

    I have an odd fondness for bill nite. At what other time in an ordinary week can you say to yourself, "Of course I should have that fourth brownie... I deserve it. I've earned it. I need the comfort of a simple carbohydrate to coax me through such a drab exercise in unpleasantness."

    And I like to push back my chair as the last check is slipped into the last envelope, spread my arms graciously, and announce to those around me, "It's all right, Family. You can relax. I've paid the mortgage. The house is ours for another month!"

    Wednesday, March 10, 2004

    "Is bread fattening?" asked Oldest daughter in the bathtub, wincing as Youngest splashed and aimed a squirt from a rubber fish in her direction.

    Please don't overreact, my inner Teenager pleaded with my inner Mom who is prone to overreacting.

    I adopted a calculatedly level tone. "I guess anything is, if you eat too much of it."

    As if I didn't know the exact calorie, fat, carbohydrate, fiber, and protein count of three distinct brands of white bread.

    But I knew this wasn't coming from me. Fattening is not a word I use. Fattening is a word used by middle-aged soccer moms who believe that certain foods add inches to their thighs while low-fat s'mores can be eaten by the fistful. "Did someone tell you that?" I asked.

    "Courtney said it was," said Oldest, and she busied herself with arranging a bubble citadel for our resident mermaid.

    I quickly thought back to third grade. Yes, as scrawny eight-year-olds we'd called ourselves fat. We'd talked about how we needed to go on diets. But not really. We were imitating our mothers and older sisters, the same way we talked about lipstick and boyfriends. I didn't really think I was fat any more than I really wanted a boy to come within twelve feet of me.

    The only third-grader I knew who could really claim to be on a diet was my chubby friend Susie whose mom regularly packed her celery sticks for lunch and then fed her brownies and Twinkies as after-school snacks. I'm quite certain Susie is in therapy now.

    Of course, I felt a mom-ish responsibility to beat the issue to death with a heavy club. "You know, there's no such thing as good foods or bad foods! If you eat a balanced diet every day and exercise, you'll always stay fit! And being thin is not the same thing as being healthy! And people like you for what you do, not how you look!"

    Oldest pointed to the bottles above her head and said, "Can you reach me some more shampoo for my mermaid's hair?"

    "Anorexia kills brain cells!"


    "For more information, go to!"

    Somewhere in the distance, my inner Teenager could be heard slamming the door to her room.

    Saturday, March 06, 2004

    So let me tell you.

    If you think there couldn't possibly be anything better than spending the late hours of your Saturday night copywriting your way through the guts of an online brochure that's five days overdue to the designer...


    I can think of at least one thing.

    And those tweezers are calling my name.

    Tuesday, March 02, 2004

    I seem to have come down with something that appears to be flu-like in nature. I have barely gotten out of bed since yesterday. So when Youngest came home from Grandma's, Daddy told her to leave Mommy alone. Mommy was sleeping. Youngest promply crawled under the covers with me.

    "So what da matter, Mom?"

    I told her that I was sick. Her eyes lit up. "I'm gonn' take CARE of you!" she exclaimed, and ran to get her Doctor's Kit.

    "Oh god no," I mumbled.

    Minutes later, Youngest was lovingly shoving hard plastic things in my ears, prying open my eyes and pretending to shine lights in them, poking me with toy syringes, and instructing me to swallow imaginary medicine the she held out to me cupped in her little hand.

    I feel much better. I swear. I've had all the medical intervention I can handle.