Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Dude Falling

Here's a little something for your amusement.

You can ask yourself if it's just a silly Flash site, a metaphor about the downward spiral that is life or something in between.

Personally, I just like it for the house music.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Why the World Loves Americans

One day at lunchtime I went to the grocery store. While I was standing in the checkout line, I noticed three Hispanic men in front of me buying a pre-cooked deli chicken. I was only partially paying attention to them, until I noticed a lull in the usual checkout line action. The cashier had finished scanning their purchase and was leaning toward them, saying something for the second or third time. When the men didn't respond, she sighed heavily and leaned a little closer. In a loud, slow voice she repeated herself.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Is it pathetic that the biggest self-esteem boost I’ve gotten in weeks was from the very cute, very young, very gay boy who handed me my mocha at the Starbucks drive-thru today? (don’t answer that, Blobby) He spoke a few pleasantries like “Have a great day!” and I drove away happy, thinking “He likes me—he really likes me.” Then I realized his barista training probably included “How to Get Bigger Tips by Flirting with Aging Suburban Women.” Whore.

Anywho, my life is one personal crisis away from becoming a country song. I’m not getting into all of it. Let’s just say there are ex-wives, mothers-in-law, dogs, sleeplessness and emergency room visits involved. I’m just waiting for the pickup truck to stop running or to lose my job. Then I’m calling Nashville.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain.*

I’ve had various interests in my lifetime, most of which (making hooked rugs and potholders, roller skating, Chinese jump rope, improv, and a fascination with the Civil War) I no longer care about. The one pastime that’s still with me is reading. Books have been an eye-opener, an obsession, a comfort, an escape and a teacher for as long as I can remember (don’t ask my mother or she’ll tell you the whole story about how I learned to read when I was 3).

For years I said I wanted to get paid to read all day. From July 1994 until July 1995 I came close, with a full-time job at Borders Books & Music. I had dropped out of the real world that year, having quit my first post-college job because I knew I wasn’t on the right career path, but wasn’t sure what to do next.

Despite the pay ($5.50 an hour) and the customers, working at the bookstore was, in all other ways, the perfect job for me. I spent my days wearing jeans and flannel shirts (hey, it was the tail end of the grunge era), drinking “free” coffee (depending on who was working in the cafĂ©), surrounded by books and smart, witty people who loved books.

At that time there wasn’t a Barnes & Noble on every corner, there was no Amazon.com, and although Borders had been purchased by Kmart a few years prior, it still had an independent bookstore feel to it. The displays in the windows and throughout the store reflected the employees’ personalities, interests and knowledge – not a store diagram sent by Corporate once a week to make sure the stores in Los Angeles looked just like the ones in Des Moines.

My co-workers were like me – over-educated, complete book nerds/snobs willing to suffer the customers and low pay just so they didn’t have to work in a cube. We each had our own sections of the store to take care of and become experts on, based on our education and experience. A woman with a PhD in art history was in charge of the art section; a divinity school student had the religion section. My degrees are in psychology and education, so naturally I was assigned the section with books on psychology, education, sociology, anthropology, self-help and addictions – and also sex and erotica (which I neither have degrees in nor claim to know much about, but I did enjoy watching customers furtively grab those books and scurry to other parts of the store to lust in relative privacy).

I loved to be in the stock room when the boxes of new books arrived. I got to know a little something about nearly every book on The New York Times best sellers lists, the new releases, the hot new cookbooks and juicy biographies, the overly sentimental customer favorites (“Chicken Soup for the Soul” came out in 1993 and spawned a whole slew of similar dreck that people couldn’t get enough of) and whatever was featured on “Oprah” and the “Today” show.

Besides being responsible for stocking and organizing my section, I also had to take my turn at the three information stations and the cash registers. Spending time at the information station often resulted in exchanges like this one:

Customer: Do you have that book that was on the “Today” show last Wednesday?
Me: Do you know the title?
Customer: No.
Me: How about the author?
Customer: No.
Me: Um, can you tell me what it’s about?
Customer: No. But it’s got a blue cover.
Me: Oh, yeah, it’s right over here. [and I was actually able to take the customer to the right book]

When a customer did request a book by title, s/he usually got it wrong – sometimes more wrong than others. One time a woman asked for “A Thousand Years of Solid Food.” My coworker looked diligently on our various computer systems, but could find no such book. He then asked her where she heard about the book, what it was about, etc. What she was actually looking for was “One Hundred Years of Solitude.”

I worked Wednesdays through Sundays and my favorite shift was Fridays 2:00-11:00 p.m. That shift had the best mix of employees, the store always had live music, and the place was buzzing with customers who tended to be more serious book lovers than the weekday crowd. After work on Fridays my coworkers and I often went to The ‘Dube, a true dive bar in existence since 1940 that brought you your bottle of beer with an orange juice-sized glass to pour it in. Most of us had to be back at the store the next day for the 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. Saturday shift, hateful because the store was overrun all day with ill-behaved children and their snotty parents. So we stayed too long and drank too much, and made fun of the customers we’d dealt with that week.

I only stayed at Borders a year. Changes came down from corporate and it wasn’t the same place it was when I started. Besides, I had tens of thousands of dollars of college loans that were coming due, and I needed a real job to pay the bills.

Even though I’m now as likely to buy my books from Amazon as a brick-and-mortar bookstore (probably more likely), I still love bookstores, and books. So look for future posts about what I’m reading, and feel free recommend books you like. I promise not to make fun of them.

*from "Work: A Story of Experience" by Louisa May Alcott

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Video Killed the Radio Star

Okay, all you children of the 80s, here's a little something to take you back to your big-hair and/or mullet days. Enjoy the quiz. I'm not sure if it's a good thing or just sad if you get a lot of them right. I knew most of them, so let's say it's a good thing.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Things I Can’t Stand, Part I

I went to the SAL-on (thanks to Vidal Sassoon, it’s the only way I can pronounce the word “salon”) Saturday for a much-needed cut and highlight. I told Gina, my lovely stylist, about last week’s find (see blog name) and asked her to please look diligently for its friends. She couldn’t find any, thank goodness. (Or maybe she was just being kind and highlighted them away.)

I have no interest in getting plastic surgery—I’m fine with my wrinkles (and hope I continue to be as I get more, and they deepen, and things begin to sag, etc.). But I can assure you that I will be an 85-year-old brunette at my own funeral, so the longer I can postpone bi-monthly dye jobs, the better.

Anyhoo, back to the SAL-on. When I arrived to check in, a customer (just beyond middle age, pinched mouth, hairstyle she’s no doubt worn for the last 25 years, expensive bag and plenty o’jewelry—let’s call her Lovey) at the front desk was, I believe, making her hair appointments for the rest of the year. She spent 10 minutes consulting her calendar and scheduling dates with the receptionist, while the line of people grew behind her.

I am generally patient when it comes to things like this. I’ve had enough retail and waitressing jobs to be sympathetic to the plight of the poor clerk/receptionist/server who has to deal with the many customers who think the world revolves around them, so I try not to act annoyed or angry, because it only further stresses out the clerk/receptionist/server (and believe me, a pleasant, patient customer is a breath of fresh air to those in the service industry). So I was not angry with the receptionist, as she had already apologized to me and called for backup.

What I can’t stand are people like Lovey who think the world revolves around them. I’d like to think that if I had to take care of a lengthy transaction and there were six people in line behind me, and the poor receptionist was obviously stressed out about keeping everyone else waiting, I might say, “Why don’t you take care of these nice people while I take my time flipping through my appointment book to determine when I want my hair done for the various charity fundraisers/gallery openings/yacht christenings this year.”

Not Lovey. She knew there were people in line behind her, she just didn’t care. When she was finally finished, she received a printout with a couple dozen appointments listed on it. She then proceeded to finger the tubes of lip gloss in a bowl on the counter and ask the receptionist to tell her all about them. She listened to the receptionist, then turned a tube over in her hand and contemplated it a while before deciding that she wanted to buy it.

As I sat down for my appointment, Gina apologized for making me wait. I said it was no problem, thanks to Lovey. “Oh, I know who that woman is,” she said, and told me that during her appointment, Lovey sat under the dryer, letting her Ash Blonde #6 process for a few minutes before raising her wrist in the direction of her stylist and tapping her watch. When her stylist told her that she needed to stay under the dryer a while longer, Lovey said, “Well, my time is very important.”

Obviously not important enough to get on with her day and call to make her 2007 hair appointments from home. Or her Lexus.

Friday, March 9, 2007

E-Paper Dolls for (Mostly) Grownup Girls

Need a diversion from work and/or kids? Check out Design-her Gals. You can create a "cartoon" version of yourself (or a friend) by choosing hairstyle, hair color, eye color, and the best part—clothes and accessories! The combinations are endless. After you're done creating your Design-her Gal, you can order stationery, stickers, t-shirts and more with your Gal on them.
This is my Gal version of me (oh, that my waistline were actually that small!).

Thursday, March 8, 2007

I Am Woman, Hear Me Whimper

Last night my husband had to work late. Here’s how I spent my evening, and why I would never make it as a single mother:

  • Spend 50 minutes fighting my way home through 24 miles of traffic. (Where are all you people going? Where? And why now?)
  • Retrieve mail. Delighted to see pile of shiny new catalogs and only one bill.
  • Enter home. Greet baby and mother-in-law. Begin dinner (chicken parmigiana from scratch, thank you very much).
  • Strip off jewelry and sweater. Prepare baby’s bath. Bathe, dry, lotion and dress baby in clean jammies.
  • Finish making dinner while mother-in-law feeds and entertains baby.
  • Shovel forkfuls of food in mouth so can relieve mother-in-law of baby-care duties.
  • Walk/bounce/sway/rock baby to sleep.
  • Hold baby for hour and a half until she stops flailing her arms about and alternately spitting out/wanting me to replace her pacifier.
  • Creep up stairs, put baby in crib, turn on monitor and noise machine (tired of “Ocean” so change to “Rain”).
  • Change into pajamas, take monitor downstairs.
  • Call aging German shepherd up from basement. Feed said German shepherd.
  • Empty dishwasher, load dishwasher, start dishwasher, clean kitchen.
  • Go to basement to retrieve dry clothes from dryer and transfer wet clothes from washer to dryer.
  • Carry pile of clean, dry clothes up stairs in one hand and dog’s water bowl in the other.
  • Trip on stairs and spill dog’s water all over clean clothes.
  • Throw clothes on basement floor, retrieve empty water bowl, begin crying.
  • Take dog outside on leash, as we have no fence and neighbors allow insane cocker spaniel to roam free. Wait five minutes in pajamas in 30-degree weather for dog to relieve himself. Bring dog back inside.
  • Make enough baby bottles to get us through until morning, as rest of bottles are still in dishwasher.
  • Eat 1/3 of package of vanilla sandwich cream cookies while watching “The Sopranos.” Continue crying.
  • Gather shiny new catalogs (Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel all in one day!), discarded jewelry, baby monitor and dog and head upstairs. Mostly stop crying.
  • Brush teeth, floss, wash face and apply no less than 4 facial products promising various age-defying/wrinkle-fighting/acne-eliminating/skin-brightening effects.
  • Lay on bedroom floor in attempt at practicing relaxing yoga poses. Notice water stains on ceiling near skylight. Convinced house is aging faster than I am.
  • Crawl in bed with stack of shiny new catalogs. Begin flipping through Restoration Hardware offerings. Feel lust for pretty things will never own. Glance at own hand-me-down, mismatched bedroom furniture in disgust.
  • Hear baby making grunting noises through monitor. Put on sweatshirt and slippers. Wait two minutes to make sure baby is actually awake.
  • Gather baby, blanket and pacifier from crib. Head downstairs as husband is walking in front door. Because I really know how to give my man heartfelt “welcome home,” start crying again.
  • Turn “The Sopranos” back on. Heat bottle. Change baby’s diaper. Talk nonsense to baby while she flashes huge, gummy smile.
  • Feed baby. Notice dark floatie in bottle. Freak out and hand bottle to husband, who determines floatie is a piece of lettuce that got stuck inside bottle in dishwasher.
  • Heat second bottle. Feed baby.
  • Refuse husband’s kind offer to take over. (Can handle this. Can handle this, damn it!)
  • Walk/bounce/sway/rock baby to sleep. Continue crying, but quietly now, as baby sleeping.
  • Creep up stairs, lay baby in crib.
  • Collapse into own bed. Fall asleep before can start crying again.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

I'm funny how? Funny like I'm a clown? I amuse you?

I don’t know how you manage to stay with someone if you don’t think s/he’s funny. Repeating movie lines, corrupting song lyrics, mocking Republicans and telling stories about people at work is the best part of being married. I have, on more than one occasion, laughed so hard at something the Mr. says that I can barely breathe, then I start making this high-pitched wailing noise, followed by tears—which makes him laugh harder, which makes me laugh harder, ad infinitum.

We’ve never had a rockin’ social life, but I’ve been happy to spend our evenings going out for cheap food and coming home to watch “Jeopardy” (Alex Trebek is a favorite target of our ridicule). The Mr. and I don’t have as much time to hang out and chat anymore, now that we have a baby and are both back to work. We haven’t been to a restaurant together since she was born and we try to catch “Jeopardy,” but one of us is usually pacing the floor with a screaming/crying/whimpering/almost-asleep baby at that time of day. We also haven’t had a full night’s sleep since she was born (and have each been sick once already from being run down). Thank goodness for e-mail, so we can synch up our schedules and check in. I started it off one day last week and here’s how it went:

Me: How you doin’?
Him: I feel foggy this morning. You?
Me: I feel foggy, too.
Him: I almost feel like I’m getting sick.
Me: Uh oh. That’s no good. Go home and drink lots of OJ and eat some chicken soup.
Him: Yeah, I wish I would have brought soup in my lunch.
Me: What are your symptoms?
Him: General malaise, disrespect for authority, projectile vomiting, etc.

Is it any wonder I’ve kept him around for nearly 15 years?

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Yet another blog

I've been contemplating jumping on the blog bandwagon for a while now, and finally decided to make the leap. Given that I am drowning in "to-dos," I thought this would be the perfect time to add one more thing to the pile that is my life. (Well, why not? My friends are probably tired of me bitching about everything I do/have to do/should be doing/am not doing and feel guilty about, so why not share it with the world instead?)

I REALLY don't want this to be yet another mommy blog (although I read and enjoy several), but I suspect that a fair number of my posts will be about life with an adorable, highly intelligent 3-month-old who's not particularly fond of sleeping (as well as a full-time job that actually requires me to be coherent all day, a house desperately in need of updating, a near-perfect husband, a live-in mother-in-law and an aging German shepherd).

Oh, and the title? Yesterday, at the age of 38 years, 1 month and 24 days I found my first gray hair (while putting on my makeup in my office for the third time in as many days because I can't get my shit together in the mornings to do it at home). I'd always said I wanted to reach motherhood before finding a gray hair, and I just made it. Is Oprah-like wisdom soon to follow, or just more frequent trips to the salon? Stay tuned.