Thursday, July 29, 2010

My gift to you.

You know, I've learned some stuff at Corporate Behemoth.

Today, I learned that my boss' boss will start to look through you if you answer his question honestly instead of telling him what he wants to hear.

A few months ago, I learned that it is indeed possible to become senior high muckety muck of all of Corporate Behemoth, even if you don't wash your hands after using the restroom.

And today?

Today, I'm going to share a bit of useful knowledge that you won't find in any business textbook or pick up in any MBA course. But it's real, and it's important.

You ready?

Here goes.

If you have a lunch meeting, and you bring in your lunch from Chipotle? For the love of all that is holy, don't order the burrito. Order the bowl. Because there is nothing businesslike about shoving a seven-inch-diameter burrito down your throat. And your coworkers - and subordinates - will never, ever look at you again without thinking of your flip-top head and how you looked hunched over a droopy tortilla, pinto bean juice running down your chin.

Now, don't get me wrong: I love me some Chipotle. My team goes there for lunch every Wednesday, and it's a bit of an event. I have even calculated the fat and caloric content of all of my favorite Chipotle combinations. But hear me now and listen to me later: the burrito is for private dining. It's not for a date. And it's certainly not for any business situation.

Just between us? You know my boss' boss, who looked through me when I was honest instead of a yes man? It's OK. Because while I might be invisible to him, whenever I look at him? I see the giant-ass burrito I saw him eat in a meeting and now cannot unsee, no matter how hard I try.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Play along at home!

I spent most of my day battling an access issue with Corporate Behemoth. As in, Corporate Behemoth is requiring me to use an online tool that requires that I update my browser, which Corporate Behemoth will not allow me to do.

It's basically making me feel like a giant loser, even though I'm really a smartypants who just happens to work for giant losers.

So, to make myself feel better, I'm going to focus on an area of my life in which I am not only a giant winner, but really, if we're being honest? I'm also the undisputed lifetime champion.

So, Foxie Doxie and Lil' Frankfurter tend to view the world as one giant dog bed. I know they aren't the only canines with this world view. My Guy's labradoodles hijacked his grill cover and it now fills the role of Canine Futon.

My Guy and I noticed, though, that Foxie and Lil' Frank view us as the most prized of all dog beds. My Guy is Lil' Frank's Favorite Human Ever, and so there's often a dachshund somewhere on his person. Foxie likes to recline on my head. It's cool.
Except when it's not cool. Like when certain dog parts end up touching certain human parts.

And that's how My Guy and I established The Dog Anus Game.

Yes. You get points anytime you realize there's a dog anus touching you. It's pretty straightforward. I suppose you could keep a written tally, but this really wasn't an issue for us. I was, far and away, the leader in all things dog anus.

We'd be watching some crappy vh1 dating show and I'd realize that Foxie's tail was resting on my arm ... which meant his booty was resting against my elbow ... and I'd just scored in The Dog Anus Game! Or I'd wake up to find Lil' Frank sleeping between my calves, his tail elegantly splayed across the bed ... and his pooper resting comfortably against my dermis. Score!

It was all fun and games until one night when we were all hanging out on the bed. The humans were chatting and the pups were tired and cuddling up. Foxie Doxie was curled up by my head, exhausted. My Guy and I talked. Foxie shifted. And it was in that moment that I won the Super Bowl, World Cup and World Series of The Dog Anus Game.

Foxie Doxie brushed his butt against my face.

My Guy and I immediately started laughing. And then, because I am a horrible sport? I didn't immediately wash my face. No, I first took a victory lap around the bedroom, singing "We are the Champions." And then I rubbed my face against My Guy's pillow. Then, and only then, did I wash my face. For, like, 17 minutes. With scalding water.

But, like I said: we all need to be good at something. And today? This is what I've got.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I'd like to buy the world a Coke.

I have finally joined the late 20th century. My home phone and Internet service are back. Jesus, Allah, Buddha - I love you all!

The whole deal wasn't as painful as I'd feared. I did my own technological sleuthing in the phone box on the outside of my house (after which I decided that maybe tree branches were to blame for my connectivity outage and so trimmed my trees, alone, on a ladder, in the dark, knowing the whole time that I was being a moron. But that's a story for another time.). And after my technological sleuthing, I entered a repair ticket online at work. Easy enough.

I was pretty pumped about zero time on the phone with AT&T. But the repair dude - Doug - called my cell to tell me he was headed to my house. That was nice. And then he called to tell me that he was done. That was nice, too - even if Doug reported that there was still static on the line and so another repairman was coming back the next day.

Doug was A Repairman. Rather gruff, but nice enough. But he was a bit taken aback when I asked how his day was going, and when I thanked him for calling. It must really suck to be the recipient of misdirected anger all the time.

So, the next repairman was Luis. I spoke with him three times. Each time, I asked him how he was doing, and I thanked him. I don't think this is all that weird, do you? I'm from the Midwest ... isn't this just what we do?

Well, sweet Luis giggled every time I asked him how he was doing. Like, giggled and wasn't able to talk. He was so taken aback that I was actually being nice to him. It wasn't creepy, it was just ... sweet. It made me want to bake him a pie, if I were capable of such crust-based activities.

When did we stop being nice to each other? Is it really that hard?

I will admit that I was using some very choice words to describe AT&T in the privacy of my own home. Yes, I used that word, and a combination of those words, and, oh yeah, a new one I made up just for the occasion. But I would never use those words with the actual people whose job it was to fix the problem. But since when did this make me Miss Congeniality?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Love thine enemy.

It’s a sad week at Casa de Cha Cha.

My parents’ dog, Shih Tzu Magic, passed away. He was 14.

He was also my parents’ favorite kid. Poochie and I know where we stand.

Shih Tzu Magic’s real name was Kirby. He was black, and we initially called him Darth. But then cooler heads prevailed and he was named after Poochie’s favorite baseball player.

Kirby hated my guts.

I’m not kidding. He thought I was pretty OK until the day I showed up with the Not-So-Geriatric-Then Poodle. And Kirby took one look at that skinny, trembling rescue dog, then looked at me with utter disgust. Didn’t I know that he hates dogs? Didn’t I?

Kirby wasn’t a dog. He fancied himself a cat. And whenever I showed up at my parents’ house, Kirby would look at me with disdain, then – and I am not making this up – immediately look behind me to see what canine losers I had en tow. If I had traveled alone, Kirby would, by maybe the second day of my visit, allow me to pet him. If I had traveled with my dogs, Kirby would bark at them and blatantly ignore me. The best day of Kirby’s life was every time I packed up my shit – my dogs included – and left his house.

Ours was a complex relationship.

But my heart hurts, and I’m so, so grateful for that bossy little black dog.

Reason Number One Why I Like a Dog Who Hated My Guts
When my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, Kirby was the best nurse ever. He watched her so carefully and totally changed how he interacted with her. Kirby would watch my mom get situated, then very gingerly approach her and cuddle up next to her, careful not to come near her surgical wounds. He was so gentle, but he knew his presence was needed. And it was.

Reason Number Two Why I Like a Dog Who Hated My Guts
Kirby hated suitcases. Hated. Them. And he’d get all insolent whenever a suitcase came out. Somehow, this little Ewok-looking creature perfected one single look that managed to say, “You’re leaving. You’re leaving without me. You’re going somewhere and you’re leaving me here. You didn’t even ask if I wanted to go. You suck. I hate you. And your suitcase is ugly and so are you,” all in one, brief glance.

He could be a bit judgmental.

So, Kirby lost his mind when Poochie pulled a gigantic suitcase out of the basement in preparation for a semester abroad. As much as Kirby hated me, he loooooved Poochie. This might have something to do with the fact that Poochie let Kirby lick up his nose. I’m not sure.

Anyway, Kirby was so distraught that Poochie made a huge show of putting the suitcase away. “Oh, I changed my mind!” he announced. “I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to put this stupid suitcase away!”

Kirby was satisfied. And he was outside when Poochie snuck the suitcase back upstairs – under the cover a blanket – and hid it under his bed.

Now, this story alone is worth loving that little black dog. But here’s the kicker.

As we were gathered around my grandma’s hospital bed a few days after the suitcase incident, Poochie told that story to my grandpa. Poochie’s a really good storyteller. And my grandpa laughed his big, full laugh the changed the air pressure in any room. And then all the machines started beeping and a few minutes later, my grandma was gone. But I know in my heart of hearts that the last thing she heard was her sweetheart’s big laugh. And she knew everything was going to be OK, and that it was OK to go.

And that’s why I love that stupid dog who would gladly pee on my head if given the opportunity*.

Rest in peace, our little Ewok.

*Also? He refused to take a dump in his own yard. I admire that kind of style.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The bomb was at the transmitter.

I haven’t been writing much lately. Oh, sure, I’ve been busy making my bed every single day and hanging out with My Guy and shopping with my mom for attire for Poochie’s wedding. But also? My home phone and DSL have been out since last Wednesday.

Now, what does it say about my track record with AT&T customer service that I’ve lived without Internet for almost a week? I desperately wanted the issue to just fix itself and I gave it five whole days to do it. Even though it meant depending on Ione the iPhone as my only connection to the outside world.

Yes. I hate the phone company that much.

I once wrote a four-page letter, detailing a customer service nightmare that entailed me spending a total of eight (8!) hours on the phone with AT&T’s billing department. And I sent that letter to all of the senior vice presidents I could find. And it still took some super senior CSR like four days to fix the issue. But the real issue? No one ever apologized for a mistake the company made.

I am seriously tempted to just cancel my home phone and my DSL and live without it until I move. Seriously. Assuming I will someday sell my house.

Except! Did you know that if you go to and try to enter a service ticket, they give you step-by-step instructions on how to open up your phone box and test your phone yourself?

Now, back in the olden days when I was a kid, we only had to dial five numbers to call local and all phones were property of the phone company. I lived in fear of somehow breaking our avocado green rotary-dial phone and incurring the wrath of The Phone Cops.

And now? Now, The Phone Cops are so out eating donuts all the time that they’re instructing me on how to use a screwdriver to open the phone box on the outside of my house and test the line myself? Seriously? Do I have this level of technical know-how?

There is, however, a lovely little disclaimer about all of this. Please excuse the craptastic screenshot - for some reason, I can't increase both the size and the resolution.
So, evidently AT&T doesn’t have that much faith in my brainpower. (If I can't improve that screenshot, can you blame them?) Maybe The Phone Cops show up if you try to open the box during an electrical storm. I don’t think I want to find out.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Life's mysteries.

I’ve toyed with keeping a “days on the market / number of showings” tally to truly gauge the success of having my home on the market.

Except that I’ve had zero showings. I’ve been making my bed every single day for no good reason!

So, screw keeping track. Let’s just say I’m enjoying not having random strangers traipse through my house. How about that?

I will say, though, that the house staging has caused me to learn the maybe not ugly, but surprising truth about myself.

See, the mirror in my bathroom was a lovely vintage number that could best be called shabby chic. The frame had peeling paint that revealed two more paint colors underneath, and the beveled glass was, well, well-worn. Some places offered no reflection, while others were a bit hazy. It was cool.

I love this mirror so much that I removed it from the bathroom so that there’s no question – this mirror does not come with the house. I bought a cheap-o white framed and soulless number at Lowe’s and My Guy hung it for me.

The new, soulless mirror is lovely. Except … it offers a really, really clear view of my face.

I had no freakin’ idea.

I have very visible pores! And wrinkles! And … and … a grey eyebrow.

Yes. One hair in my left eyebrow is not so much light brown or even blond, but … white.

I haven’t plucked it yet, although I was tempted to either shave my entire eyebrow or plop a paper bag over my head. I’ve been going outside, amongst the people, looking like a cosmetic disaster, and I didn’t even know it!

It seems like every day is an exercise in deciding how I’m going to age and what sort of woman I’m going to be. I’m not sure, really. But I can say that right now, I’m the sort of woman who makes her bed every day.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

We, uh, didn't hire her.

It's been a busy two days at Corporate Behemoth. The really cruddy thing about taking time off is then making up for everything you missed when you get back.

But speaking of things I missed ... I returned to Corporate Behemoth to find some formerly familiar faces. Seems that many of the folks who were laid off a few weeks ago have now been hired back.

Corporate Behemoth? Methinks you have your head up your ass - for the firing, not the rehiring. Figure out which way is up and quit fucking with people's lives.

But speaking of staffing issues ... I recently uncovered this unpublished post from about 18 months ago. Back from the days when Dorothy was still my partner in crime and we had the budget to, like, hire people. Good times.

From the archives:

Dorothy and I have been interviewing candidates for positions on our team. We’ve received roughly one gazillion resumes for two spots. The interviews have been grueling, not because we’re mean and scary and trying to intimidate, but because it’s so much work pretending to be normal.

It’s a lot like dating.

Today, our final interview of the day called the HR lady to say she was running late. She finally arrived at Corporate Behemoth half an hour late. My heart hurt for her as we took the elevator down to greet her. I was sure she was flustered and having a really bad day and just beside herself over being late.

I was right.

Well, sort of.

This candidate – let’s call her Flo – met with us for only 20 minutes. But Flo crammed about an hour and a half worth of conversation into that 20 minutes. But it wasn’t so much interview conversation as, say, happy hour conversation. Happy hour after most of the people have left and you’ve had a few and are huddled in a booth with your very best girlfriends.

Flo told us about her troubles finding Corporate Behemoth and how she’d been out of work since July, on account of having some elective surgery and then not being able to find work.

I noticed she was using a large white pencil eraser as an earring back on her left ear.

Without being prompted, Flo gave her opinions on the different tools and processes used in our line of work. She joked about being old. She gave in-depth descriptions of her former jobs … descriptions that weren’t really necessary since her resume was five single-spaced pages long. She assured us that no work was too boring.

Then, Flo started talking about her work experience at a large area corporation. This Other Corporate Behemoth is famous for its hideous layoffs – which Flo told us about in great detail. Then, she started ranting about Other Corporate Behemoth’s former CEO and his recent – and very profitable – golden parachute.

About this time, Dorothy and I could no longer look at each other.

If Flo had that kind of golden parachute, she’d use the money for charity or the cancer society or the church or the boy scouts. And she was sorry if that former CEO was one of our dads, but it just wasn’t right. And she couldn’t believe that he went on to take another job, because he certainly didn’t need the money. Now, if she had that set up, she wouldn’t sit around watching HGTV all day, but she certainly wouldn’t take another high-stress job. And if saying that cost her this job, so be it, but she just couldn’t help it. That CEO was not a mensch, and forgive her Yiddish, but her best friend in the whole world is a Jew and taught her all sorts of wonderful vernacular, and don’t they just have the best way with words?


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Home improvement delirium.

It's another uptown Saturday night. My Guy and I are both wondering why we have headaches and are so tired. Gee ... surely it has nothing to do with the fact we've been slaving away to stage our houses for the last, like, 17 weeks, right? Right?

My house has been on the market for 36 whole hours and there have been exactly zero showings. Don't people know that my house has never been this clean-ish ever? And that the clean-ish-ness alone is worth scheduling an appointment and probably even making an offer? An offer over the asking price?

I have been tweaking things around the house a bit ... I touched up a bit of paint in between running errands and taking a two-hour nap. And now? Now, I'm camped out on the couch with the doxies, feeling rather lame. Except that instead of watching WE: Television for Women, I'm watching a Foo Fighters concert. So, not totally lame.

Except that I just realized that one of Lil' Frankfurter's black ears is perfectly rimmed in white paint. He looks vaguely like Cruella de Vil. I am mother of the year. Or ear. Whatever.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Livin' it up.

So, it's been approximately 27 years since I've posted. In that time, My Guy and I:
  • Took a quick jaunt to see his family

  • Worked all freakin' night and day to get both of our houses on the market

  • Stunk up the joint with our BO due to working all freakin' night and day

  • Actually got both houses staged and listed

  • Died from exhaustion
The end.

When you actually list your house, it's rather anti-climatic. I mean, here you've been slaving away, doing all those little projects you always intended to do but didn't because, well, you have a life? And cleaning? And trying to act like Everything Is Fine Please Don't Feel the Need to Mark Your Territory so your dogs don't, you know, mark their territory?

And then your friend the realtor comes over, and you take pictures and hang out at the dining room table for an hour and poof! Your house is on the market. There's no trumpet sounding, no confetti to celebrate that yahoo! You did it! But that's OK, as confetti would just be one more damned thing I'd have to clean up.

I guess the most remarkable thing about the last week - other than the fact that I went five days without washing my hair and actually got to the point where I had smelled bad for so long that I ceased to smell myself? Other than that?

Well, Foxie Doxie and Lil' Frankfurter boarded at the vet over the weekend. And they appeared to have a great time. But a little something happened when we got home that made me think that Lil' Frank, my 7-pound stud, was a little not right during his time away from home. Something was a bit irregular.

He did this within five minutes of getting home.

I know it's gross, but dude. I had to capture this. I wear a size 6.5 shoe. That's a big-ass poo. I think he held it all weekend. I had no idea he was one of those guys who can only do the doo at home.

And that? Has been my week.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Dignity? What dignity?

The locks on my trusty Honda are acting up, like a sullen teenager testing the boundaries of a parent’s sanity.

The locks always unlock. As for locking? Hmm … your chances range around 40 percent, tops. Some times, I’ll go for days with fully functioning power locks, and it is glorious. And then, they won’t work. At all. And people will think I’m going calisthenics in my car, when really I’m just reaching all around, attempting to lock all for doors.

I took the car to the shop. As they were testing the locks with their handy, magical computer, my sullen teenager stood up straight, actually combed the hair out of his eyes and behaved like a real, live car. The locks worked. The car dudes couldn’t fix the locks because, well, they weren’t broken.

But they did tell me that the issue was caused by either a kinda expensive thingy or a really expensive other thingy. Basically, my locks are trapped in adolescence until I either win the lotto or buy a new car.

I had sort of made peace with this all. Yes, my car is starting to show some wear, but I don’t have a car payment! Lookit me – free as a bird!

Well, free as a bird until this morning.

I took Foxie Doxie and Lil’ Frankfurter to the vet to get boarded. Puppy Love Lisa is out of town, so the kids have to slum it and stay with the commoners at the vet while My Guy and I make a quick trip to visit his fam.

The pups were thrilled to run into the car, and they loaded into the kennel with no fuss. I drove to the vet and parked in the packed parking lot. As is my custom, I got out of the car, then got in the backseat, next to the kennel. I shut the car door, opened the kennel, and threw leashes around the now-rabid pack.

Then, I opened the car door. Or, rather, I tried to open the car door. The car door that was obviously unlocked. But wouldn’t open.

Somehow, the child safety feature on my car locks had become engaged.

So, I sat in the backseat of my car, two doxies screaming with excitement and shedding all over my black dress. I knew what I had to do.

I threw them back in their kennel. I took a quick look around to make sure there was only a small crowd in the parking lot instead of a growing throng of onlookers. And then, I climbed over the center console and into the passenger-side front seat.

Did I mention I was wearing a dress? And I climbed around my automotive jungle gym in a dress, probably giving a biology lesson to any children who happened past, all just to free myself from the confines of my Honda and its teen angst?

Happy Independence Day, indeed.