Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My hometown Kmart got condemned.

See, back in the day, the corporate Kmart folks made the mistake of buying land from shady Jimmy Collins. Now, everybody in town knows that Jimmy is a shyster. But the corporate types? Well, those city slickers didn't know. So, they bought the land for their store from Jimmy, who, of course, hadn't filled the land properly. It had previously been not a flat plot, but the Iowa version of a holler: steep and craggy.

So, Kmart built their store, and it was the location of many an important event. My 4-year-old self scored a play shopping cart there as a reward for not being a jerk for a week. It was also the first store I ever called, as 6-year-old me phoned Kmart to ask if they had Golden Dream Barbie in stock.

The Kmart had some accessibility issues. First of all, it was one of those stores that had all of its cassette tapes behind Plexiglas, so you had to ask the pimply kid with a key whenever you wanted to look at a tape. Secondly, pushing a cart in the store took skill, sort of the shopping equivalent of driving a stick in the mountains.

See, the floor of the store had peaks and valleys. You had to get a running start and pop a wheelie to get your cart over some of the steeper areas. It was a bit of a mess, but you just got used to it.

Well, the Kmart just was what it was - until a few weeks before Christmas, back in the day. The corporate Kmart folks came in with their engineering types. They took 1 look and promptly evacuated the building. Not just, "Hey, let's step outside," but more, "Holy blue light special, get out now!"

The store we'd all navigated with wheelies and patience was suddenly a little shop of horrors. No one was allowed back in the building without a hard hat and safety gear. That meant no Christmas shopping. And if you had Christmas layaway? You had to bail it out of a van in the parking lot.

So, eventually, they tore the condemned Kmart down. For the last 25 years, it's been an empty lot where semis park overnight. It's 1 of those things that just was ... it never occurred to me that a condemned Kmart was noteworthy.

What weird things did you grow up with that you're just now realizing weren't exactly, erm, normal?

Friday, January 25, 2013

So she painted on a smile and took up with some clown.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that some of the PTSD from my "Folk, Pop, Rock" class has worn off. Or, more accurately, BFF has remembered more of the songs we whisper-sang during that brief, shining moment in junior high.

See? This is why you have to stay friends with people who've known you forever. After a while, you collectively have one intact memory.

BFF remembered that our ragtag fake show choir sang "Side by Side," that "Oh, we ain't got a barrel of money" song from the 20s. And also, "Wouldn't it be Loverly" from "My Fair Lady."


But then? Just as she was drifting off to sleep, she remembered ... Baby cried the day the circus came to town.

Because ohmygod, we sang "Don't Cry Out Loud."

After I stopped having a seizure, I realized that my whole "Folk, Pop, Rock" flashback had come full circle, as Barry Manilow was Melissa Manchester's chum. So, that was nice.

But also? What the hell sort of advice is it to "Just keep it inside, and learn how to hide your feelings?" I asked my shrink, and she agreed that this song would definitely make it into a top 10 list of The Songs Your Shrink Hates Most.

Talking about your thoughts and feelings is good. Which is another reason why it's a good thing I resigned from Globotron.

Today, my group of tech writers was told that we desperately needed to hurry up and do some work that our manager has been putting off for weeks. Basically, it's your classic corporate fire drill - somebody didn't prioritize the work, we've been doing nothing, and now some higher-up wants the work, like, yesterday.

My manager insists that we don't have time to ask questions or get organized. I feared that my work wife was going to have a heart attack, she was so infuriated.

I spoke my peace, in which I was calm and smart. At no time did I actually say, "Oh, damn, I used to be a senior editorial manager and supervise this sort of project all the time and I am just handing you the knowledge of how to do it right," although that would have been accurate. And somewhat appropriate.

So, my polite version of that was met with a polite, corporate version of, "Sit down and shut up."

Don't cry out loud, indeed.

So, instead of daydreaming during my last 9 days at Globotron, I will do a somewhat mindless but very rushed task. And I will do it wrong, because that is my manager's explicit direction.

Marrying my husband was the single best choice I've ever made. Quitting this job is probably number 2.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Stop trying to crush my soul.

Oh, kids. Guess who reappeared in my life?

If you guessed Creepy Rajeev, you win a gallon of bad cologne!

Yes. Everybody’s favorite corporate close talker pinged me on LinkedIn.

It turns out that after the layoffs at Corporate Behemoth, Rajeev still hasn’t landed in a new spot. Honestly, I’m sure that’s rough, and I wouldn’t wish extended unemployment on anyone.

But if we’re being catty? I guess there aren’t a lot of openings for director of sexual harassment or chief undressing-with-eyes officer.

Yes, those are things.

The real kicker, though, is the title Creepy Rajeev listed on his profile: change leader in shared services improvement for performance excellence.

Yes. What the holy hell does that even mean?

That title perfectly encompasses everything that I find so repugnant about Corporate America. The scary thing is that I’ve been in Corporate America long enough that I can decipher the Corporateese. Basically, ol’ Creepy Rajeev is saying he pisses off people in IT and makes their departments run more efficiently ... more work with fewer people.

Yes, this is a thing.

But just because it’s a thing doesn’t mean I have to like it - or anything else about Corporate America.

I resigned from my gig at Globotron today.

I’ve been really down in the dumps. And bored. OhmyOprah, have I been bored. Like, can’t-even-pretend-to-have-something-to-do bored. The kind of bored that leaves you exhausted and incapable of doing anything after work except watch TV. We’re talking the bored that leaves you feeling atrophied as a human being. And depressed.

My poor husband. I’ve been kvetching about this for so long that he is damned well sick and tired of having the same conversation over and over again. He’s so sweet, he would never admit that, but I know it’s true.

So, we discussed. And discussed. And discussed some more. And I cried, and worried about being a burden, and the of-course-very-real fear that My Guy would find me to be a burden, fall for some hottie software developer at work, ditch boring ol’ unemployed me and then I would have to live in my Honda. With several dogs. One of which has supremely hideous gas right at this moment.

Now, besides the fact that my husband is a kind, generous soul, he also pointed out that he only works with dudes, and the term “hottie software developer” is an oxymoron.

We agreed that I would quit Globotron and finally acknowledge that Corporate America and I are so not meant to be together. I would go back to consulting - writing web and social media content for small businesses.

I decided that today - January 23, 2013 - would be the day that I stopped being afraid.

I tendered my resignation.

So far, the sky has not fallen. Although Big Doodle’s gastrointestinal distress might make you think otherwise, the world isn’t ending.

I promised my husband 3 things:
  • I will stop being so unhappy. 
  • I will not feel guilty for not having a traditional job. 
  • I will not bring any more dogs into our household. 
I’m feeling fairly confident about most of these things.

So, today is the start of a new chapter. I gave my 2 weeks. I’m fantasizing about reorganizing my basement, shopping for groceries mid-day, and writing what I want to write.

I am thankful, somewhat in shock, and trying on this new confidence for size.

Monday, January 21, 2013

A true-blue spectacle.

This morning, Barry Manilow's "It's a Miracle" came on as I was getting ready.

Now, I am Not A Dancer. But if ever there were a song that screamed for a couple of 3-point turns, this is it. You know 3-point turns ... you sorta step to the side, flip around, take another step in which you flip back around, and end by clapping with your arms stretched out to the side? Think of the worst show choir move ever. This is it.

Yes, I was doing this hot move back and forth in my bathroom this morning, shakin' it to Manilow and thinking of BFF all the while.

Not only does BFF share my love of Manilow, but she also shares a deep, shameful secret. See, in junior high? We both, umm, were in this class? And this class was called "Folk, Pop, Rock?"

I think it began as being kind of a starter show choir, but there was something about the class description that made all sorts of non-musical kids sign up, thinking that this class would turn them into the next Debbie Gibson, and they didn't even need that pesky natural talent.

BFF and I played twins in a community theatre production of "The King and I," so we had some stage experience and musical ability. However, compared to everyone else, we were the freakin' Beyonces of this class.

We were in junior high, so we were shy. I mean, if you're living in an environment where the older kids can make you switch lunch tables and you're expected not to make a fuss, it's really hard to belt songs from "Mame," you know?

So, we kind of mumbled. We learned step-ball change, 3-point turns, and the basic ballet foot positions. The girls who generally made fun of us in P.E. were now Folk, Pop Rock classmates who were sort of impressed with our knowledge of Rodgers & Hammerstein. There was a strange, awkward peace.

However, we had to put on a show.

Now, mercifully for our tender junior high psyches, the show wasn't in front of the student body. However, it was in front of our poor parents. Mom? Dad? I'm sorry.

As I recall, we whisper-sang such amazing show-stoppers as:
  • "Hey, Look Me Over" from, of course, "Mame"
  • The Police's "Every Breath You Take," because a creepy song about stalking is completely appropriate for junior high girls
  • "Kiss Today Goodbye" from "A Chorus Line"
  • And, because it was so awesome the first time, a stirring encore of "Hey, Look Me Over"
I can sing, and I can sing loud. But it was so difficult to rise above the collective embarrassment of my classmates - me included. And I hate "Hey, Look Me Over," especially in situations where all I can think of is, "Please don't watch me do this incredibly dumb thing."

Did I mention that the school district didn't have an auditorium, and so this tour de force was staged in a gym? With the acoustics you might expect?

I just got through it. I think I sang OK. The performance itself couldn't have lasted more than 12 minutes, although it is seared into my brain as if it lasted several years. No one spoke of it afterward. For a long time, BFF and I acted like it never happened.

But now, much like war buddies, BFF and I can turn to each other for solace, and to find the humor in our shared ordeal. Me? I don't talk about Folk, Pop, Rock much. I don't even know if my husband knows about it.

As for BFF, she says that whenever she mentions the class to outsiders, they always look at her as if she were insane. Then, they ask what the hell kind of school district offers a class called "Folk, Pop, Rock." Then, BFF changes the subject, lest her acquaintances begin to judge her for where she's been, and the experiences that made her the woman she is today.

Me? I do 3-point turns in my bathroom, when no one is home. Then, I cry a single, stoic tear.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Support your local English teacher.

My sweet husband had this text exchange with his sister:

SIL: You should come visit me in Florida! March is good for me.
My Guy: (no response, because he was at work and it’s super cool when people tell you where and when to vacation)
SIL: We should go on a trip. How about a cruise?
My Guy: Cha Cha isn’t so hot on cruises.
SIL: Great! Let’s go!

He’s chalking it up to a lack of reading comprehension. I’m going to go along with that, as the alternative is just too much to process.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Landscaping, pregnancy, and dogs.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

No, not Arbor Day. The day the of my annual ladyexam!

Yep. Best day ever.

The good news is that my gyn is fast. Like a dueling cowboy, but with a speculum instead of a gun.

The bad news is that said gyn clearly focuses on being calm and delivering an “everything is going to be fine” message along with delivering babies. This means that my “We worked with a reproductive endocrinologist and decided not to be science experiments and things were totally messed up down there so I went back on the pill to normalize some shit” message was met with … kind of a blank stare. 

And then? Then, she said that if I went off the pill, I’d probably get pregnant.

Riiight. Because I haven’t already been on enough of an emotional rollercoaster. Thanks for that.

Without going into too many details … the ol’ fertilization is never going to happen for us. And while I’ve gotten the “relax and it will happen when you least expect it” message from lots of folks, I really didn’t expect it from my own doctor at this point in the game. Because if she looked at the records from the repro endo, she’d know there’s no “probably get pregnant” going on in this here oven.

After my appointment, I sat in my car in the parking lot and weighed the release of crying versus the mascara damage. I opted for intact eye makeup and a laissez-faire attitude.

I know my gyn doesn’t specialize in infertility. I know she wasn’t being malicious. She was probably making small talk. Tee hee!

I just have to close the “maybe this will happen” chapter. It’s just too brutal. I need to stop being so sensitive about, oh, stuff like my ladydoctor telling me I could catch pregnancy, like a cold. I need to focus on other ways to allocate my energies and - dare I say it - love.

I know you can’t really tell your gyn that you don’t want to talk about your ladybusiness, but to everyone else? Those acquaintances who figure we’ve been married for almost 2 years, and the friends who can’t quite wrap their heads around us saying no to invasive fertility treatments? To these folks, I say, “GET OFFA MY LAWN!”

Wherein “lawn” means “ladywomb.”

It occurred to me today that we should name our next dog Vern, after the hippie minister who married us. Because Vern is an awesome name for a dog, and it would be a compliment to our officiant. After all, it would mean we’d named our child after him.

Maybe this random thought is a sign.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Beauties and baked goods.

As I'm sure you know, this weekend was Miss America.

Since we hosted family this weekend and the people demanded NFL games, the pageant got DVRed. But I didn't watch it alone later, in shame. Oh, no. No, my husband actually requested that we watch it together because, and I quote: "It's fun to watch that stuff with you."

I guess my bipolar pageant disorder is entertaining. On 1 hand, I minored in women's studies and think it's shady that women are required to wear swimsuits as part of a "scholarship competition."

On the other hand? I am a catty, catty bitch. And my mom used to run our local Miss America pageant, and I love all pageants and know that Miss Mississippi used to be required to live for a year with pageant consultants before competing for Miss America and I also know how to tape boobs and Miss America is the only true pageant because it has a talent component and Miss USA is a ju-co dropout poseur and blah blah blah.

So, yeah.

We sat on the couch and commented on evening gowns and groaned at some questionable "talents." Then, I fell in love with My Guy all over again when he said, "I kind of hate the swimsuit competition. None of these women are attractive - they're all way too thin. I don't ever want to see your abs, OK?"

Well, if you say so. OK.

Then, to cement the deal as well as stay with the no-abs theme, he asked, "Is Miss Iowa's talent going to be making bars and frying up some tenderloins?"

Sadly, no. Miss Iowa was a hellova tap dancer and got 4th runner up. However, I'm sure she can also make hella-awesome bars.

Are bars a thing where you live? You know, bars - like, brownies, but not chocolate? What you take to a potluck or the church luncheon after a funeral?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Mall parking lots and taxidermy.

My Guy and I went to the mall tonight.

Yes, this is news and definitely blog-worthy. My sweet husband hates to shop and especially hates to shop for clothes. So, when he mentioned that maybe at some point possibly in the future we could maybe go to Eddie Bauer because he wanted to look for a shirt, I practically threw him in the car.

We went to the mall. We went directly to Eddie Bauer. My Guy tried on a record 8 shirts and actually  purchased 3 and a vest. This is the equivalent of several years of wardrobe stocking. The trip was a wild success!

Walking out, I noticed a small black car with a ham radio license plate. These always catch my eye, as my dad is a ham with a ham radio plate. As hobbies go, it seems ham operators are kind, decent folk. As my brother once pointed out, though, there aren't a lot of sexy people in the hobby.

I don't know about you, but I always look for the sexiest hobbies. That's why I was drawn to blogging. Obviously.

Anyway ... the car with the ham radio plate was also one of those cars with lots of stuff in it. And stuff in the back window. Stuff like ... a stuffed squirrel.

Now, I kind of figure that standing over a strange car in a mall parking lot is the type of thing that can get you picked up by the mall cops and thrown in mall jail. But this was a risk I had to take tonight.

I leaned over the car and really examined the squirrel. The teeth and claws were clearly real.


I had stumbled upon the car of a ham radio operator who tools around town with a taxidermied squirrel in his back window. And that car was parked outside of Nordstrom.

Why oh why would anyone feel compelled to taxidermy a squirrel? And why put said taxidermied squirrel in the back window of your Nissan? Are you actively trying to never get laid ever again? Or is the squirrel your spirit animal? If he is indeed your spirit animal, I'd think you'd want him on the front dash, starring confidently into the future, instead of in the rear, focusing on the past.

Also, if you're a squirrel, would you be insulted or pumped that your corpse was stuffed and used as the mascot of a small, cluttered import?

Seriously. How do you feel about this squirrel-as-automotive-detailing business?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

In which I am tightly wound and on the verge of a meltdown.

The last 2 days at Globotron, I've been sitting in The Most Useless Training Ever.

Like, seriously. So boring. So dumb. And karma could very well hit me with dementia or Alzheimer's, because at more than 1 point today, I looked around the room and thought that 90% of the folks in the room were complete morons. Dumber than boxes of rocks.

An example of the dumb is the woman who presented a style guide to the group ... an editorial style guide that directed users to follow completely made-up rules of punctuation. These guidelines have never before been used in any version of the English language or any weird language that twins teach each other.

As a native English speaker, I was offended. As a professional writer and editor, I was livid. And I pretty much spontaneously combusted when someone questioned the made-up rules and was told, "We're past the point of debating these guidelines. Now is the time to implement them."


See, there are rules. Rules for language, rules for working and playing well with others, rules for being a decent human being. As a life-long Good Girl, I have followed the rules forever. And I'm offended when people think the rules don't apply to them.

I feel like I'm the only person following the rules.

I feel like the only person who recognizes that proper comma usage is the 1 thing that separates us from our simian brethren. I'm also the only person who seems to understand that kitchen counters need to be wiped down several times a day or the terrorists win.

These seemingly small things help me feel like I have some modicum of control. Which, if we're being honest, I don't.

I need to let go and let God, or at least take to my bed in a very Tennessee Williams sort of way. Except that we don't have teevee in our bedroom and I'm not sure I have the energy to read.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Dirty little secret.

This weekend, My Guy and I helped his sister and her husband prep their nursery. They've been married a few weeks and are still in the midst of combining households. Their daughter is due in March.

The weekend was emotionally exhausting - maybe that's why I haven't blogged for several days. I have post traumatic stress disorder.

My task at hand was cutting in the pale lilac paint in the nursery. Yeah, I freehanded it. Yeah, I'm totally an excellent painter after painting our entire house. Lookit me go!


In the midst of working my trim magic, I realized I was painting someone else's nursery. You know, safely breathing in those paint fumes, like the infertile, completely not-pregnant woman I am.

And then? Then, all I could think about was the Huey Lewis and The News song, "Doin' It All For My Baby." Damn you, Huey Lewis! I love you, but damn you and your baby-centric propaganda!

So, I painted pale lilac walls for my niece. I hummed Huey Lewis songs and said a little prayer - for her, for me, for us.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

And hygiene for all!

Good news, world! Our hot water heater is now functioning. This means that after 2 long, stinky days, I managed to take a shower today.

As you might imagine, I stood in the shower for about an hour and 27 minutes and scalded all the skin off my body. It was great.

Turns out, I'm not the only one with bathing on the brain.

On my dad's very first day of retirement, he got a call from someone wanting to sell him a walk-in bathtub.

My dad hits the treadmill every day and can probably out-push-up you. So, this tale made me snort in a most unladylike way. My Guy's response was way better.

"Yeah, he should get on that," he said. "Is he making arrangements to get his Lil' Rascal, too? They'll help him with the insurance, to make sure he gets his scooter."

I'm not sure we'll be invited back to my folks' house anytime soon. But we have hot water! Yay!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

I don't ask much. Really.

Today was supposed to be my first day back at Globotron after a week and a half off.

Supposed to.

See, I've been hunched over with the worst cramps. Like, I know it's totally TMI, but ohholyOprah, I am in so much pain.

So, after moaning my way through Tuesday, I decided I'd just work from home today. Except that the pain kept me awake for 3 hours in the middle of the night. By the time 6 a.m. rolled around, I sent a quick email explaining that I had a migraine and would try to log in later. Because you can't tell your male boss that your uterus is falling out of your body.

I'm so annoyed by this job and so dread going back that I didn't even feel bad about taking a sick day. I didn't even feel bad about using ladyproblems as an excuse for the first time since I tried to get out of P.E. in junior high.

So, I rolled over and slept until 11. At that point, I decided that the 1 thing that would make me feel good would be a steaming hot shower. Hot, hot, hot.

I slouched into the bathroom and turned on the water. And waited. And waited. And waited.

It never got hot.

I went down to the basement and discovered water dripping out of the bottom of our hot water heater, soaking various items in the basement.

You can see where this is going.

I never got my shower. And I never logged in to work. Instead, I coordinated getting our hot water heater replaced. This, despite the fact that I hadn't washed my hair in 5 days and my lady business was trying to kill me from the inside out.

The good news is that the HVAC guys who did a bunch of work for us this summer were able to come over quickly and get things moving. And when My Guy questioned the quote, my silence effectively told him that this was not a time to shop around, haggle, or otherwise mess with his poor, put-upon spouse.

The bad news is that it's almost 10 p.m. and we still don't have hot water. We're still waiting for the on-call night dude to come over, as the pilot light on our new water heater is very fickle, and won't stay lit long enough to actually heat any water.

You know who could really, really use a hot shower right about now? And who is trying really hard to be all flexible and in love with her body and all its cycles but really just wants to kill somebody?