Tuesday, July 22, 2014

It's hard to write when you're up to your eyeballs in it.

After I finally left Corporate America for good, I kind of mourned all that blog fodder. What in the world would I write about if not Creepy Rajeev, the world's best sexual harasser? Or how Corporate Behemoth required me to use a tool that they wouldn't allow me to install on my computer?

It was a time of intense soul-searching.

However, never fear! I have found that crazy is all around us. Case in point: I'm currently working with a client that does everything by committee. A rather disheveled committee wherein everybody is multitasking and no one is really taking charge. Working with these folks is a lot like herding cats.

We have the guy whose email signature is "This is an email from: Bob Smith." Just in case you didn't realize you're reading an email, and that it was from Bob.

We also have the guy who makes final decisions, but then changes his mind after it's too late. You know, like after a billboard is printed and up. Little issues.

Then, there's the guy who promises to do a lot of stuff, doesn't, and then points out what everybody else is doing wrong. He's swell.

And finally, we have the guy who emailed me, took my business card, received 3 emails from me, and then left me a voicemail in which he stated, "I would have emailed you, but I don't have your email address."

So.

Speaking of shit, it turns out that Lil' Frankfurter has inflammatory bowel disease.

Yep. Well, either inflammatory bowel disease or cancer. Or some fungal disease that comes from the Amazon. But we're betting on inflammatory bowel disease. Because who doesn't love the word "bowel?"

Lil' Frank has been on meds for about 2 weeks and, miraculously, has actually gained some weight. This is good, because I felt really, really guilty for calling him "Skeletor," even though it was so fitting because you could count his ribs from across the room. Now, you just have to be next to him to count his ribs.

So, he's still skinny, but he's gaining weight, even though he's still pooping like it's his job. I, personally, would be fine if he didn't work so much, especially since it's disconcerting to see a 5-pound dog produce a 4-pound poo. But mostly, I'm just happy that he's no longer wasting away.

So. Two varieties of shit. That's why I haven't been writing much.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Let's talk about ladybits, shall we?

So, the Supreme Court decided that it's OK for a "closely held corporation" to decide not to cover birth control in their employer-provided insurance.

On 1 hand, the 3 employees at the perennially understaffed Hobby Lobby in my hood are all over 70. They are also always on break. I'm pretty sure not having birth control covered by their employer isn't a huge deal.

On the other hand, not all birth control is used for contraception.

Case in point? Me.

Turns out that there are no 2 humans less able to conceive a kid than my husband and I. If you had a word cloud of our skill sets, you'd see all kinds of creative, technical, and cake-based endeavors. However, the term "conception" wouldn't be anywhere. It would be in the next town over, hiding out in a smoky bar, trying to buy a lucky lady a drink.

But you know who's on the pill? Me. The Baroness of Barrenness.

I'm a bit reticent to talk about this, because it's nobody's damned business. But I guess now the Supreme Court is saying that it is. Thanks, 5 old guys, none of whom own nor operate a uterus. You're swell!

So, I have some sort of horrible ladyparts curse that makes my lower abdomen hurt. A lot. Maybe it's polycystic ovarian syndrome. Maybe it's endometriosis. Who's to say? Because ladyparts are so mysterious and research is underfunded, literally no one can say without cutting me open to check it out.

Instead, I opted to go on the pill. It keeps the symptoms in check and seems a hellova lot smarter - and cheaper - than exploratory surgery.

Now, I am blessed to have rockstar health insurance through my husband. But what if I didn't? What if I worked at Hobby Lobby? Would they pay for me to get cut open, but decline to cover medication to make the cutting open unnecessary - all because they don't believe in contraception?

Well.

Stand where you will on today's ruling. But remember: I'm the woman who needs birth control. I don't need it to whore around and piss off Jesus. I need it so I can get out of bed and be a productive member of society. And I don't see where that's part of your religious freedom.

Friday, June 27, 2014

May your birthday be excrement-filled.

I just called to wish my most awesome dad a most awesome birthday. Because we just can't seem to help ourselves, the conversation took a bit of a turn.
Me: Oh, I heard back from the vet. Lil' Frankfurter's tests all came back normal. There's nothing wrong with him.

Mom: Well, pssh.

Me: I know, right? There's nothing wrong with him, except he's wasting away.

Dad: He's so thin.

Mom: Did I send you that dog food recipe?

Me: Yeah. But it doesn't matter what I feed him - he just keeps losing weight.

Mom: He eats and he poops, but nothing happens in between.

Me: Right! I mean, he poops like a champion.

Dad: I've always thought so.

Mom: He's just so cute - and you think, "oh, look at how he's sitting in the middle of the patio ... "

Me: ... and then you realize he's taking a giant dump in that delicate little stance.

Dad: He's got good form.

Me: Happy birthday, Dad! Let's talk about poop!

Mom: Well, it could be worse. It's not like we're talking about a human family member.

Dad: No. We're way too classy for that.

Me: We could be all, "Oh, say what you will about Uncle Floyd, but he could really take a dump."

Mom: Well, we all have our special gifts.

Dad: Ha! "You know, with Uncle Floyd, you always knew when it was time to leave the house."

Mom: Yeah! And "You knew it was best to let things air out a bit after Floyd had used the facilities."

Me: Sorry, Dad. This really devolved.

Dad: I would expect nothing less.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Oh, I'm on my way, I know I am.

Ten years ago this summer, I spent a lot of time alone in a sticky home office. The window A/C unit that had been passed around the family since I was in college whirred away, and I made beaded jewelry.

I had this idea that in addition to being a freelance writer, I'd also be a jewelry artist, selling my wares at art shows. Between the fledgling writing and barely there jewelry careers, I was flat broke. This was before I realized that I like wearing jewelry a lot more than I like making it, and that 1 self-employed trade was plenty.

But I would sit in my uncomfortable, second-hand metal desk chair, night after night, beading bracelets and listening to Cat Stevens. I was still young; that was my fault.

I was alone because my live-in boyfriend was gone all the time. He traveled for work. And when he was in town, he managed to be out of the house. At the gym. With friends. With a particular female friend. Not with me. Not interested in me. I was just starting to admit that perhaps this wasn't going to work out.

I would listen to the Cat Stevens CD that my brother had burned for me illegally off a library album. He'd told me about his Cat Stevens epiphany, about how the music had shifted his outlook. I took the CD, skeptical. But I'd listen to the album, and I'd be overcome with what felt like a giant bubble in my chest. It was overwhelming, like I was about to explode. But I wasn't the exploding kind. I was the nice, make-it-work kind.

I would sit, and I'd bead, and sometimes I'd bead with tears running down my face. I didn't know why. I began to sense that I was on the cusp of something big. I didn't know what it was, or I didn't want to face it yet. But it was a huge change. I was lonely. And I was scared. And I had no idea how to even begin to put any of it into words.

So, I made some truly heinous bracelets, and a few that were OK. My friends bought my jewelry because they are good, kind people. Perhaps they knew that they were investing in my future, providing seed money for my escape. I didn't realize it.

I would sweat and string beads and cry. I thought I was at the end of the world.

Turns out I was only on the edge of the world I had known.

Things got worse before they got better. But they did get better.

This weekend, I gorged myself on free HBO. Seeing Cat Stevens inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame made me think of that sticky summer, and that now-battered CD. Yusuf, I'm sorry my brother pirated your music, but I like to think that you understand. I also like to think that you know how appreciative I am of your gift of music. Thank you.

What music defines a period in your life?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Like a butterfly.

I have big, fabulous, very happy news.

Remember the bagger at my local grocery? This was a young man who found bagging very challenging, and who wouldn't make eye contact. Like an abused animal, he seemed to be willing the floor to open up and swallow him whole.

Well, a few weeks ago, I saw someone in the parking lot, wrangling carts. He looked an awful lot like my sweet bagger, except ... he was smiling. He had the most stunning, pearly teeth.

I had to do a double-take. It was, indeed, my bagger. And he was clearly enjoying cart duty. It made my heart so happy.

But then? Then! Yesterday, I was at the grocery - because I end up going like 27 times a week because my husband expects to eat every day - and I saw my bagger again. On my way into the store, he was helping a woman load groceries into her car. She was talking a mile a minute. And my bagger? Probably couldn't get a word in edgewise. But he was smiling.

Well, that was enough to make me float through the store. Which takes a lot, because grocery shoppers are generally idiots who can't manage basic cart etiquette. But I digress.

But then? Then! When I headed back out to the parking lot with my cart o' sustenance, there was my bagger again. It was the end of his shift, and he had a bottle of pop. As he got into his dad's car, he let out a triumphant "Whoop!"

I like to think he was celebrating a job well-done.

I'm so proud.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Happy @#$&*#$%@# Father's Day.

Now that Father's Day is over, I'm gonna give you the real lowdown on good dads.

Good dads give you a corsage for the dance when you don't have a date.
Good dads carry your crap up stairs into un-air-conditioned dorm rooms in August. And put together your shelves. Like a boss.
 Good dads make you laugh.
And good dads teach you new words.

Now, my dad is a wordsmith, but not in a traditional sense.

The man can cuss.

My brother and I learned all kinds of vocabulary anytime there was a project of the home-improvement nature. Words were linked together to create magical new meanings, some of which I still don't understand. What, exactly, does "Jiminey Christmas" mean, anyway?

I still don't know. But I learned this: Words have power.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a family that valued a good story. You could get away with just about anything if you could spin it into a captivating - and preferably funny - tale.

Words have power.

For me, words gave me the power to do something with my life besides live in my parents' basement. So, even if my dad thought he was just having words with a window screen, or entertaining his kids with a very detailed story about how garbanzo beans come from The Valley of Garbonz? He was teaching us the power of words.

Well, and he was ensuring that I would eventually move out and become a writer.

I'm forever grateful. Besides, my other major life skill is making grilled-cheese sandwiches, and it's rough going making a living just serving up Kraft slices on wheat. Writing is much better.

Thanks, Dad.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Avoiding jail for fun and profit.

Thanks for the well-wishes and knife-safety tips. I hope the saga of how I stabbed myself with a steak knife can be a learning experience for us all.

The exciting news is that my finger has now turned purple. It's weird how the wound is on 1 side of my finger, but it's the other side that's now the color of eggplant. At first glance, I thought, "Wow - this is just like when we read Steinbeck's 'The Red Pony' in 9th grade, and our teacher had to explain to us that the boy's arm turning black meant that infection was spreading and he was going to die."

And then I thought, "If I die from stabbing myself with a friggin' steak knife, I am going to be so pissed. Like, I will find the Ginsu family and haunt them for all eternity. Also, if I'd known I was going to die, I wouldn't have spent the last few weeks on Weight Watchers."

But ... so far, so good.

And maybe it wasn't "The Red Pony," but it was some depressing book wherein everything was dusty. I read it 25 years ago.

Anyway.

So, I stabbed myself, managed to cheat death, and then I almost got arrested. Yes, all in the same day.

See, I have these wonderful friends who live in Michigan. And Michigan is home to many amazing wineries. That make wine. That is delicious.

Also, you can't carry on liquids when you fly. And I'm not going to pay $25 to check a bag because come on, and also, the wine bottles might break anyway.

So, when I visited Michigan and some of its wineries, my pals were all, "No problem! We'll mail you any wine you want to buy!"

We'd been to enough tastings by this point that mailing wine to my "Don't mail wine here or you'll be in big trouble" state seemed like a good idea. My friend Jen was confident. "Don't worry," she said. "The lady in my mail room at work helps me mail wine all the time!"

Jen works at a church. I love my friends.

So, Jen mailed me 2 bottles of wine.

Time passed. One day, I got a knock on my door. It was my mail carrier, who isn't the strongest master of the English language. What I got out of him was, "Package, problem, go to office, see manager, liquor."

Ahhh.

So, the day of my massive stab wound was the day I was headed to the post office to face the liquor-mailing music. I was nervous, and carefully planned my outfit to look responsible yet contrite. I practiced looking surprised to find that someone had attempted to mail me alcoholic beverages. "Why, I don't even imbibe," I'd say with a ladylike and somewhat Southern drawl.

Despite my planning, I still had visions of being immediately handcuffed and sent to Mail Jail. Hopefully, my fellow mailjailbirds would see my stab wound and know that I wasn't one to be trifled with. Hopefully, I wouldn't get my ass kicked for using terms like "trifled with." Hopefully, Mail Jail would have cable teevee.

The line at the post office was long, and, of course, there was just 1 lady behind the counter. She had a long, chatty conversation with another lady in Chinese while the line grew. People shuffled their weight. We all tried, unsuccessfully, not to be annoyed.

Finally, it was my turn. I explained what my mail carrier had said. The mail lady left to search for my package. She came back empty-handed. "I can't find your package," she said, as if this were my problem to fix.

I explained the situation again. She went to the back again, and I felt the stares of my former line comrades drilling into the back of my skull.

Finally, the mail lady returned - and she was none too happy with me.

She held up an opened box that contained broken glass.

"Dis box has wine in it," she said. I prepared myself to play dumb about the state laws prohibiting mailing alcohol, but never had the chance. She went on, "Dis box has wine, but was sent MEDIA MAIL! YOU TRY TO DEFRAUD FEDERAL GOVERNMENT! YOU STEAL MONEY FROM GOVERNMENT!"

This was not at all how I pictured this going. I did my best "I'm taking this very seriously" look and didn't have to pretend to be shocked. I said, "I see. I'm sorry."

The mail lady looked at me with disgust. "We let you go dis time. But next time? NEXT TIME YOU PAY!"

And with that, she shoved the box at me and called the next person to the counter.

One of the bottles of wine had shattered, but the second bottle was intact and ready to toast my successful avoidance of Mail Jail.

As I left the post office, I wasn't sure if the folks in line were looking upon me with pride or disgust. I like to think that they were silently applauding as they all clutched packages containing items that were fragile, liquid, and perishable.