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It’s My Birthday and I’ll Stalk If I Want to!

23 Aug

It’s my birthday today! Yipee! Wahoo! Commence applause, joyful cheering, and prayerful thanks for my existence! It’s the 23rd, I’m turning 23, and it’s a Tuesday, which is the same day of the week I was born on 23 years ago. Clearly, this will be a magical, epic year.

A lot of people have certain birthday traditions that help make their special day memorable–whether it’s a favorite meal, a standing date with friends, or birthday margaritas. My grandma used to take a picture of me sitting in her rocking chair every year on my birthday. When you flip through, you can watch me go from a baby that needed propping up to a 5’10 gal who blocks the chair. I’ve always been grateful for my grandma’s creative idea, and I know it’s something that I will do when I have kids of my own. 

My family has a special Happy Birthday song that we’ve always sung to each other on birthdays. The lyrics go like this:

Today, you’re one year older
and you’re growing up the way we want you to
So we planned a big surprise
walk with me, and close your eyes
Oh look, your friends are waiting here for you! 

[traditional Happy Birthday song: Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you etc.]

Make a wish and blow out the candles
wishes for good boys and girls come true
Now hurry and cut the cake, we can hardly wait
As you open your gifts we’ll sing once more to youuuuu

[repeat traditional Happy Birthday song]

Now, since several people in my family are slightly tone-deaf (okay, very tone-deaf–sorry Grandma), we always played the actual recorded version of this song, too. My grandma had the record for a long time and somewhere a long the line, somebody transferred the song to a cassette tape. My little branch of the family has since lost this precious tape.

Nobody remembered who sang the song, or what the album was called. Nobody knew the title of the song, but everyone guessed it was some variant of “the Happy Birthday Song.” I didn’t despair, however, because I knew most of the lyrics and I imagined I could just type them into Google and the song would pop out. I’m a child of the internet age and I trust the mysterious Web to answer all my questions.

I picked a portion of the lyrics and plugged them into the search engine. I got three–count ’em three–results. One led to someone who was also searching for this song, for the same sentimental reasons. (I feel ya brother!) The other two were completely unrelated. Over the course of several more days, I logged hours and hours of internet searching. I tried different variations of the lyrics. I searched each individual line of lyrics. I tried quotations marks around the words, the words by themselves. I thought maybe I’d strike gold with Youtube. There is a lot of birthday music on Youtube. I found the Beatles’ Birthday Song, a tribute by Elvis, and then this odd version. Then there was a great musical birthday moment from Boy Meets World, a diddy by The Three Stooges, and Burt and Ernie’s celebration for the letter U. And of course, who can forget Marilyn Monroe’s breathy performance?

This all made for some good entertainment and hours of distraction, but where-oh-where was MY birthday song? I found dozens of other people who were also searching for this song, but it appeared that no one had been successful. The very fact that this song didn’t seem to exist according to the internet–an impossibility, since everything can be found online–turned this whim of a hunt into an obsession.

Then, by some magical combination of search terms and with some lucky clicking, I found it. Sort of. I found a woman’s ancestral blog, a blog dedicated to her genealogical research and family tree. This woman devoted a blog post to a relative’s birthday and included a lovely slideshow of mostly black and white photographs that highlighted his early years. The slideshow’s background music was–you guessed it–the song I’d been searching for.

Although this woman’s blog was public, I assume that it is intended for her and her family. I felt a little, well, stalker-y as I watched her relative’s childhood flash on my computer screen. I was so excited to hear this music that I actually played it several times and even held the phone to my computer so my grandma could listen.

Now, of course, I could just play this slideshow full of strangers whenever I want to celebrate a birthday with this song. However, I haven’t given up hope of finding my own personal copy.

That’s why I clicked around until I found this woman’s contact information and emailed her with a plea for song information–artist, name of song, album title, anything. I tried to phrase my email as un-creepily as possible. I tried to downplay my musical desperation. Hopefully, since this woman’s blog is devoted to family, she’ll understand how much this music means to me. I don’t know if she’ll read my email or not, but I figured it was worth a try.

So that’s my little birthday stalking story. Okay, so it definitely doesn’t rival Kim “The G is Silent” Pugliano’s Passat Saga. (Check it out if you haven’t already–you gotta love an addicting neighborhood mystery told with wit and humor). But I think I’m at least in the stalker-with-good-intentions minor leagues.

I hope you all will have a bubbly drink or a slice/scoop of a snazzy dessert (my birthday cake is a homemade Baked Alaska, in case you were wondering) to celebrate my birthday. You deserve it.

Oh, and P.S
If  the universe decides to mess with me and one of you reads this and knows exactly what song I’m talking about, I swear I’ll have a freaking heart attack.


Lessons From My Creative Writing Class: Art Imitating Life, Girl Imitating Writer

15 Aug

Week 8 of my online creative writing class begins today and I had a d’oh moment last night when I realized that hey, I could have been blogging about the experience from the get-go. (Yes, I did sort of write about it here, but then…nothing.) I’ve been overcome with this hindsight feeling so many times since this blog began that it’s become sadly familiar. I like to think of it as the v8 Blog Effect–Gee, I could have had a blog topic!

Each week of the class has a different theme and prompt relating to writing, story development, craft. One week focused on story openings and first sentences; another, dialogue. When Week 5 hit, I was not feeling the prompt. I didn’t know what to write about, I didn’t have any ideas for characters or plot, and I made the mistake of reading a few classmates’ stories before I wrote mine. This totally intimidated me because:

a) They had gotten their work done so early that they had posted it before I had even started my story.
Perhaps their brains had more throbbing, intelligent veins than mine. Maybe they are genius schedulers who know how to prioritize and do not get sucked into watching youtube clips for hours. It’s possible that when they write, they don’t wail and pause the plot to type THIS IS SO STUPID or ACTUAL GOOD DESCRIPTION HERE into the Word document.


b) Their stories were Good.
Enough said.

Anyway, lost and bewildered but determined to turn something in, I ended up writing a pretty true-to-life scene of an encounter between me and a friend I lost touch with several years ago. This meeting has never actually happened, but I’ve thought about this friend a lot during space-outs and daydreams and had already imagined what it would be like if we ran into each other. Basically, the narrator of the story was me, and the friend she runs into was this friend from my past. Oh, I gave the narrator a few twists so that she wasn’t an exact duplicate of me–but the way she talked, the thoughts that floated through her head, her sense of humor–they were all mine.  

I was perusing Ryan Gosling’s imdb page recently (I had just seen Crazy, Stupid, Love and had heard angels singing when he took his shirt off –so of course I had to be a creeper and look him up. See? This is how I get off the writing track.) There’s a quote from him–and it’s on the internet, so it must be accurate–where he talks about the characters he plays and how they relate to him. 

All my characters are me. I’m not a good enough actor to become a character. I hear about actors who become the role and I think ‘I wonder what that feels like’. Because for me, they’re all me. I relate to these characters because aspects of their personality are like me. And I just turn up the parts of myself that are them and turn down the parts that aren’t. 

This is how I feel about the characters I make up–thus, I’m pretty sure it’s a sign that Ryan Gosling would find me fascinating and familiar and probably witty and beautiful. Every perspective I write from, every character I try and create, has to have a little bit of me in them or else it’s like I’m swimming against a really strong current. (And I’m not a very good swimmer.) 

That said, this Week 5 story character was so me–even with the little details I gave her that had nothing to do with my life–that I was basically writing a fantasy staring myself. And when I posted my words to the class board, I failed to consider what it would be like to read my classmates’ and teacher’s comments about a character that was me.

“You capture the subtle boredom and desperation and confusion in the narrator’s life nicely,” one person said. And I thought Huh, I guess I am subtly bored and desperate and confused…sometimes not so subtly.

The teacher was particularly  interested in the narrator’s voice and sensibility. “She has a super high degree of self–consciousness,” he observed, “which leads her frequently to comment on and critique her own behavior. Lively, self–deprecating, ironic, rueful—the voice is at times all of these things, and it’s hard not to feel some warm feeling toward her.” Well, I’m glad somebody feels some warmth towards me. But aw man–am I basically characterized by a high degree of self consciousness? I wonder if everybody finds me insecure. Do they? DO THEY?

Another person suggested that I further establish the “unreliability” of the narrator. “I’m not getting enough subtext between the narrator and [the other character],” she said. She advised that I go ahead and acknowledge that the narrator’s memories of the friendship are significantly flawed and full of regret and doubt. Woah, this is getting weird.

It was a little surreal to read other people’s reactions to and interpretations of my personality and insecurities. It was like anonymous therapy with well-read therapists who majored in English. I read through all the comments on this story that could have been my life and I sat at my desk thinking about protagonists and writers, and art imitating life and life imitating art. I mean, wouldn’t it be weird/neat/interesting, if someone wrote an unfiltered “me” character and submitted it to a class just to see what other people thought about the hot mess of strengths and weaknesses that that person lived with every day? And actually, wouldn’t that make a great story? (DIBS!!! I CALLED IT! YOU HEARD IT!) It would be a little like the film Adaptation and a little like the recent A Midnight in Paris–one of the best movies I’ve seen lately, even if it didn’t include a shot of Ryan Gosling’s abs. But it also would be completely different. Get it?

Do you hear that? That’s the sound of the wheels in my head spinning.

If I had to define the lesson I got from Week 5 of this creative writing class, I’d say it was something about characters as reflections of authors/real people. What? I didn’t say I would define it well. Okay, I guess there’s also a lesson in there about the evolution of plot ideas. There, are you happy? Two (vague) lessons. 

If any of you are working on writing projects of your own, I hope (but don’t expect) this was helpful. Really, good luck. If you’re like me, you’ll need it.

Eavesdropping as Entertainment and Kids These Days

3 Aug

"Abner! Abner!"

Since the weather has been so nice lately, I’ve been reading and working outside a lot. My neighbors have also taken advantage of the sunshine, and I’ve gotten quite a kick out of eavesdropping on the backyard goings-on around me. I feel a bit like James Stewart in Rear Window–only without the murder suspicions and broken leg. Okay, I guess if you take those factors away, there is no Rear Window. Maybe I feel like Gladys Kravitz (from Bewitched, for all you lame-os), but with less shrieking and magic. Whatever, it’s been fun to listen in on the neighbors.

There’s been lots of entertainment from what I assume are the teenage girls from across the way. They always start by cranking up their music–for a whole day it was Beyonce, another day it was all club-type stuff, jerky and synthesizer-heavy. Then, I imagine, they lay around in the sun. They gossip in loud voices about boys–apparently Jason has been texting Emily even though Emily is like, totally not into him–and every once in a while I hear a phone ring and some squeals. It’s amusing, and sort of sweet in an I’m-glad-that’s-not-me kind of way.

The little boy who lives in back of us is named Liam. I’ve never met the kid, but his mother must say his name every other minute. I feel for her– poor Mom sounds like she’s got an imp on her hands.

Ewww! Liam, put that down! Come and wash your hands this second!
Liam, if you leapfrog over your sister ONE more time…
Liam, the hose is not a rope!
Liam, I know you’re not rolling around in the dirt in your new pants!

I usually can’t hear Liam’s responses to his mom, but I imagine them to be charmingly contrite. I have heard his voice, though, because he tends to narrate when he’s playing pretend.

Liam runs through the jungle and uses his lightning vision to blast through the zombies. BAM BAM BAM! The zombies surround Liam and he makes them fall with a huge karate kick. HI-YA! Liam is the only surivor! Liam saves the whole world! Woooooo! Wooooooooooo! I am Liam the Great! Woooo!

(No, I have no idea what zombies were doing in the imaginary jungle, but don’t you love this kid?)

Believe it or not, the time slots for the teenage girls and Liam the Great haven’t competed with each other. That is, until today, I’ve listened to either the girls or Liam (and his mom). Maybe the two groups don’t have the same days off–who knows?

Anyway, I thought today was a Liam Day. I was listening to him and his sister (who’s only a supporting role on The Liam Show–she walks on every once in a while and says a funny line but then you don’t hear from her) bounce around on their trampoline. They were having such fun and it was nice to sit and listen to their squeals and laughter. Then, the unprecedented happened. The teenage girls started their music. It was like I was watching one show, and the universe turned another one on at the same time.

At first the girls listened to the kind of music you’d expect from them. Bruno Mars’ “Grenade.” Some Lady Gaga tunes. Katy Perry’s “California Gurls.” Certainly not my favorite songs (actually, whenever any of these come on the radio I immediately change the channel), but nothing you, or Liam, wouldn’t hear while out and about in the world. But then things changed.

A song, and I use that term loosely, came on that was 3 parts rap, 5 parts hate. For the sake of Oh My Words! google search results (and, of course, your innocent mind), let’s just say that unsavory names for females were used liberally in these lyrics and sexual acts with those females were bragged about pretty graphically. The chorus, which repeated often, suggested that a woman is only good for one thing….and boys and girls, it wasn’t her mind or her sense of humor. I sat there, shocked at my giggly teenage neighbors’ new musical tastes, when I noticed that the trampoline sounds weren’t as steady. 

Were Liam and his sister….listening?

Nooooo! I wanted to yell for them to cover their ears and run away singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” or “Let’s Go Fly a Kite.” I wanted to hunt down those girls and demand that they turn that off and list ten reasons why it was degrading to women and insulting to the whole of humanity. And no repeats!

Luckily, while I was picturing myself as a tyrannical, censoring, avenging angel of the neighborhood (with teacher tendencies), Liam’s mom was on it.

Liam! You guys! How about coming in the house?

[indistinguishable, uncooperative kid noises]

Yeah, come on, we’ll do something fun in here. It’s hot out!

[more noises–imagine the kid version of the wah-wah adult noises in Peanuts]

You wanna watch some tv?

[I can tell Mom’s getting desperate, but the kids aren’t taking the bait. Meanwhile, the icky song continues…]

Come on! Everyone inside!

Just then–heavenly music drifted through the air, pushing back the awful other stuff like Harry’s Potter’s red wand or Luke’s green lightsaber. A lifeline. A cure. A timeless miracle.

The ice cream truck.

There was a  mad dash of kid-feet, trampoline forgotten. Their excited cries were shut off once a door slammed, but I pictured them inside, asking Mom if they could please go and run to the truck. Maybe it’s something their mom doesn’t normally agree to (We have perfectly good ice cream here! Not before dinner! It’s too expensive!) but this time she hands out money like a trooper, keeping her relief to herself.

During all this (imagined) frenzy, the Bad Song from the girls’ yard ended, and Maroon 5 came on. I’d like to think that that one song was a mistake, that maybe it was a mix cd from an acquaintance with scary, schizophrenic musical tastes. Or maybe the girls were listening to a really weird radio station? Anyway, that sort of “music” didn’t drift my way again, and Liam and his sister got an ice cream out of it. (Well, in my mind they did.)

The moral of the story is that eavesdropping is fun and ice cream cures everything.

Interpreting Dog Thoughts….Or, Why I’m One Bark Away from Being a Crazy Dog Lady

1 Aug

I had to take my dog Mona Lisa to the vet the other day and because I am a mystical, empathetic, imaginative person, I could hear every little thought that ran through her head.

Leaving the house:

Oh boy! We’re going somewhere without the other dogs! I’m special! I always knew it! Hurry! Hurry! FASTER.

In the car:

Are you sure I can’t drive? I want to drive. Here, I’ll just…..hey! I don’t want to be in the backseat! Hey! Hey! I don’t want to be back here! Hey–oh! You put the window down! You know, there’s nothing better than sticking your head out and….ahhhhhhhhhh. 

Driving up my grandma’s street:

Oh boy, we’re going to Grandma’s house! I love Grandma’s house! How many cookies do you think she’ll give me? Oh, I can’t wait! First I’m going to lick her feet, and then I’m going to lick her face, and then I’m going to sit on her lap, and then…..hey! Wait! You didn’t turn! Grandma’s house is back there! Oh no. Where are we going? Oh no. Oh no oh no oh no. Oh Dog. Where are you taking me? WHERE??

Almost at the vet’s:

Oh Dog. I know where we’re going. Oh no. Oh please. Hey. Let me out! Let me out! I’m not going back to that place! Don’t ignore me! I’m back here! Turn around! 

In the waiting room:

Oh Dog oh Dog oh Dog oh Dog. Hey, listen, I know I don’t always come when you call me. I’ll do better. Just take me home. I’ll be good, I swear. Please! 

When someone else walked in the room:

Hey! Hey you! Do you want  a dog? I’m a really good dog! I’ll go home with you, no problem. Oh, her? No, I’ve never seen her before in my life. Just take me home, handsome. 

When the vet came out to take her to a back room:

Ahhhhh! Stay away from me! Devil! Monster! Cat! Get back! You–Girl! I will never forgive you for this! Never! Never!  Are you LEAVING? Are you just going to LEAVE me here? Come back here! Come back here this minute!

The Guardian Goddess and the Handypeople

15 Jul

I am the gatekeeper

Alternative titles for this post would be Kitchen Nightmares or Why I Am Becoming a Rapper

We’re having our kitchen partially remodeled. That means plumbers, tile-layers, and various handymen have been trooping through the house for weeks. (I’m waiting for the day when a professional handywoman arrives to help. Sidenote: Did you know that “handywoman” isn’t even a recognized word? Go ahead, go to and look it up ….. Did you do it?? Did you notice that poor thought perhaps you were confused? Did you mean handyman? it asks. Hmph.)

I’ve been playing the role of guardian-gatekeeper for all these skilled workers. I open doors, I point the way to the kitchen, I keep the “guard dogs” from attacking them. All I’ve been missing is a flowing toga dress and a sphinx. Maybe I should have had them all address me as Madame Goddess or something equally catchy, with an almighty ring to it.

I realize this will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever waited for a repairman of any kind, but I’ve been particularly annoyed by the schedules of everyone I’ve dealt with. “We’ll be there between 8 and 9” can mean an arrival time of 8:59, 9:45, or even 11. One day I woke up extra early so I could get my coffee fix, deal with the dogs, make sure their workplace was clean–then I waited. And waited. And waited.

As it happens, I’m doing some freelance work right now. I don’t have the strict 9-5 workday of most people, so I’m supremely qualified to be guardian-gatekeeper. But  just because I’m home, doesn’t mean I’m twiddling my thumbs. You, Mr. Electrician/Repairman/Etc. were not called to the house because I was bored. It’s annoying enough to be given a window of time, only a vague idea, to expect you. If you miss that window? The guardian-gatekeeper will not be pleased. She might even sic her terriers terrors on you, or take a cue from Mulan’s Mushu: “Dishonor! Dishonor on your whole family!” Or….she might talk in the third person and vent on her blog. That’s right–tremble.

You, dear reader, also probably won’t be shocked to learn that everything that could go wrong with this kitchen project, has. The tile people ran out of tile and had to order more, stretching the estimated completion date again and again. (I’m a bit confused why this happened, since the various layouts they did should have given them an idea about how much tile they needed…But then, I’m just a lowly gatekeeper.) This, of course, pushed the electrician back. The plumber ran into lots of plumbing problems. We lived without a stove, without a sink, and with only a few functioning electrical outlets. It was like camping, but with a roof. It was like living a few decades ago, but with a microwave. Okay, I can’t come up with an appropriate comparison–but it was annoying.

Yesterday, the tile-man put tile on the left side of our refrigerator. He thought it was a wall. Now we have, essentially, a bedazzled fridge.

The tile-man who decided that it made sense to put tile on a refrigerator did not seem particularly disturbed once his error was pointed out. I was expecting an apology, embarrassment, anything that would indicate an acknowledgement of the situation. Nope. Nada. As someone who takes mistakes to heart and lets them fester and turn into guilt compost, it boggles my mind that a person can shrug, scratch their head, and move on.

The fridge’s tile can’t come off without ruining the area. So, either we need to start a tile-on-the-refrigerator trend, or I need to become a rapper.

Because I’m pretty sure rappers have tile on their fridges.

Funny, Frog, Fig, Flower, Fire, Family, Fabulous, Foil, Freckle, Five, Friend

27 Jun

My grandma’s neighbor Helen had to take a memory test the other day. The test is supposed to determine if a patient has dementia or other type of memory problem. In Helen’s case, it was also meant to help her doctor determine whether she should still be allowed to have a driver’s license.   

This is a woman who spends hours every day meticulously matching her outfits–which all have a bedazzled or zebra-print component–and applying colorful makeup. She manages to return opened boxes of cereal and kleenex by playing the Old Lady Card and batting her (fake) eyelashes. She shamelessly cheats the system–applying for food stamps and divvying her money up among relatives (who give it back to her in regular installments) so that she can qualify to live in the low-income senior housing my grandma calls home. When we found out the doctor suspected Helen had dementia, I couldn’t decide what to think. Is she suffering from some form of mental problem? I think it’s just as likely that she’s eccentric and sly like a bejeweled fox–but who knows? The latest Helen Story certainly doesn’t lead to any clear conclusions.

One of the questions on Helen’s memory test was to name a word that starts with “F”.

“I just blanked,” Helen told my grandma when she recounted the experience. “The only words I could think of were ‘fart’ and ‘fuck’.”

“So what did she put?” I asked, fascinated in spite of myself.

“She told me she debated for awhile about which would make her seem nuttier, then finally wrote ‘fart’ very deliberately.” Grandma said. 

A few days later, Helen got her results back. Lit by an indignant passion, she cornered Grandma and started venting. “Can you believe it?” She demanded. “I didn’t pass! Now they think I’ve got memory problems!”

Grandma must have been feeling brave that day, because she carefully suggested that maybe the F-word question cost her. “Oh please,” Helen said. “Nobody can think of words that start with F on demand. Besides, why wouldn’t those words naturally come to mind? Everybody does them, after all.”

What Meryl Streep, Salsa Dancing, and the Circus Have in Common

16 Jun

damn damn damn damn

My internship ended this week and that means a lot of crazy mixed emotions started bubbling inside me. But instead of crowing about my temporary freedom or waxing whiny about finding a job, I thought I’d get one last work anecdote out.

I was asked to write a profile–a blurb, really–about a client who requested that my writing tone be “fun, exciting, sophisticated, and direct.” A few emails later, the client added “chic” to the list of stylistic demands.

You should also know that the company I interned for aims for a writing tone that is friendly/informal and engaging.

Hokay. So. my poor little words needed to suit up and be fun, friendly, exciting, sophisticated, direct, and chic? I don’t even know how to make my writing chic (unless I put it into French, for which I would need le google translate) let alone have it encompass all of those descriptive terms. There are a lot of exclamation points in the articles on my work’s website. It’s sort of an unwritten company policy to use them generously, and I suppose it goes with the vibe they’re trying to create. For this client, though, even one exclamation point seemed to spit in the face of “chic” and “sophisticated.” On the other hand, “fun” and “exciting” almost demand exclamation.

I sat for far too long, trying to come up with an opening sentence for this mountain of a molehill. Blink blink blink went the cursor. Curse curse curse went my mouth. Who were these people, to want my words to conform to these labels? Did they have split personality disorder? Were they testing me? Was this one of those unsolvable riddles?

To boost my spirits, I started thinking about who or what could be described as fun, friendly, exciting, sophisticated, direct, and chic. Initially, I thought that if I could identify something/someone, using all these words, then I would prove that it was possible and my task would be less daunting. Eventually, however, I just got a kick out of trying to create a list….

  • Meryl Streep
    She can sing ABBA songs as good as any dancing queen, she wears high fashion, she’s earned and won awards. She can act high and mighty and just plain high. She’s brilliant, she’s a chameleon, she’s all of those damn words that the client wanted. Wouldn’t it be funny if, for the client profile, I just wrote MERYL STREEP in a larger than life font?  And then pulled an Emperor’s New Clothes and acted like that was perfectly reasonable and anyone who thought otherwise was crazy? Not your usual Meryl Streel fantasy, but a good one…
  • Salsa Dancing 
     Well, really, the first descriptive I think of for this dance is sexy…but “exciting,” “sophisticated,” and “fun” work well too. As for “direct” and “friendly,” well, if you’ve ever watched two people salsa you’ll know that the graceful touching, twisting, stroking, is beyond friendly and pretty much cuts to the chemistry chase.
  •  The Circus
    Clowns. Fire. Animals. Acrobats on high-wires and other twisty people. Ladies wearing feathers and leotards and long eyelashes.
    I’ve been to the traditional circus once, when I was little. (And I was slightly scarred by the protesters outside yelling about animal cruelty and other grown-up concepts.) I saw a Cirque du Soleil show once, when I was a brand new teenager. (Impressive, but a little above my head.) It seems like either could be described using the aforementioned list of words. 

That’s all I got. It’s hard coming up with fun, friendly, sophisticated, exciting, direct, and chic examples! (Can you think of any more?) You want to know the ending of this story? How I possibly managed to adhere to the client’s wishes and produce the ideal requested material?

I ignored the adjectives that were inconvenient to me (chic? what the heck?) and just directed my words to be the best they could be. The customer is always right….except when they’re oh-so-wrong and weigh you down with unhelpful labels. No word back yet on whether they were satisfied with what I wrote, but I happen to think it’s pretty good. Although, since I’m not working there anymore, I probably won’t get notice of their approval. That’s probably just as well. If they had major problems with the blurb I turned in, my mind would probably churn with a few choice words for them–they wouldn’t be fun, friendly, sophisticated, or chic……but they’d sure be direct.

6 Reasons Why an Apocalypse Tomorrow Would Be Inconvenient

20 May
  1. I just started a new tube of toothpaste. I don’t know what the odds are of a holy bread-dropper getting beamed up tomorrow (I’m thinking not so good…) but either way, I’m pretty sure that toothpaste would never get finished. It’s a minty-fresh tragedy.
  2. I’m in the middle of a good book–The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. It’s not an edge-of-your-seat kind of read (more of a full-recline-on-your-bed) but I’m still hooked and I’d like to finish it. Also, it’s a library book, and even if the world were to end, I still wouldn’t like my library track record to include the apocalyptic destruction of a borrowed book.
  3. I just signed up for an online creative writing class that will begin in June. The end of the world would mean a) the world would miss out on my creative writing and b) I wouldn’t get my deposit back. Bummer.
  4.  I’ll NEVER know what happens next on Fringe! So many unanswered questions! So many plot twists! An apocalypse would leave my obsession with this show completely unfulfilled. Talk about your ultimate cliffhanger. Top that, J.J. Abrams.
  5. It’s my friend’s birthday tomorrow. I’m sorry, but doomsday = party pooper.
  6. I have a story to tell you all about job letdowns and a sweet, older gentleman named Pete. I was even going to share the recipes for some scrumptious goodies.  I have the post half written, but I think it would be a pretty pointless post, post-apocalypse. 
See ya on the other side! 🙂

End the world in style, with a tin foil hat. Timeless, classic, reflective--this is one fashion statement that will never go out of style!

What I Thought / What I Said

18 May

What am I thinking about? Well, since you asked...

At the church rummage sale last Saturday:

A man was looking at a really nice tea set we had for sale–not made of plastic, not chipped, beautifully painted–and finally asked how much it was. I told him $5 and he responded with “I’ll give you 75 cents.”
What I thought: What a stupid thing to say to me! Was that supposed to be haggling? Are you kidding me? You’re supposed to suggest $4, maybe $3, and instead you go below a dollar? Get out of my sight!”
What I said: “Mmmm, I don’t think so.”

The church’s priest came over to our booth. Since we aren’t regulars at this church (we go to another one in the county and had just heard about this sale from our church’s newsletter), I smiled at the priest but didn’t greet him by name as the other vendors around us did. He was interested in some barbecue tools my dad had given my mom to sell and I told him it was $3 for all five. “How much for priests?” he asked.
What I thought: Was that a joke? I can’t tell if you were trying to be funny, or if you’re a greedy priest. Either way, I’m uncomfortable. If you’re being greedy, though, I must point out to you that a lot of this money is going to your church. Are you being greedy and trying to cheat your own parish? Hold on while I move a few feet away from you, because I’m pretty sure your boss (with a capital B) is about to smite you big time.
What I said:  “Haha…ha? Um, have you met my grandma? Hey grandma, he’s interested in the barbecue tools.”

The woman with the booth next to us was really nice and clicked with my mom right away. The two of them ended up chatting for most of the six hours that we were in the church parking lot. She was selling a beautiful, very old-looking basket for a whopping $40, a price that prompted every potential buyer to immediately set it back down as carefully as if it were a chotchke bomb. The basket was close to our things, which gave a lot of people the mistaken impression that it was my item and I was in charge. I knew how much the vendor was selling it for because I had heard her tell at least a dozen people, but when I was asked I would just point and tell the person “It’s that lady’s, over there.” Not my basket, not my problem. Eventually though, I got tired of being the middle woman. A woman with skin one shade away from an oompa loompa’s called me over. “This is gorgeous,” she barked. “How much?” I told her it wasn’t mine, but that I knew the woman was selling it for $40. She raised her already arched eyebrows and said “You must be kidding. It’s not even in good condition. It’s, like, old.”
What I thought: Um, I’m pretty sure that’s the point–that it’s old. I happen to agree that $40 is a surprisingly high price for a rummage sale, but the seller must think it’s worth that much. You don’t know anything about it–it could be a hundred year old basket. It could have a rich history. It could have been hand-made and passed down for generations, only to land at a church rummage sale. You seemed to recognize that it’s gorgeous, but somehow you think it can’t be gorgeous and old? You are full of contradictions. You and your skin color are an enigma surrounded by mystery.
What I said: “Yes, I’m sure it is very old.”

The woman with the coveted basket also had a beautiful candelabra for sale. It was in a sort of tree shape, with indented pedestals for small, flat candles. I thought it would be a great jewelry holder, not to mention that it would be pretty all lit up with candles, and was surprised that no one bought it. I mentioned this to the seller as we were packing up our stuff. “You like it?” she smiled. “It’s yours! Take it, please.” Of course, then came the obligatory, polite back-and-forth, with me insisting that I’d pay for it and her insisting that I could have it. Finally, she got me with: “Come on, you don’t have a job–you can’t just be buying candelabras with your non-existent paycheck!”
What I thought: Ouch. Below the belt!
What I said: “Well, you have a point…”

My loot from the rummage sale. Wanna know what I think about it?

Plumbers and Geeks and True Love

11 May

Did someone call tech support?

When I was younger, my mom took me to see the movie Bread & Tulips at a local independent movie theater. I wasn’t really at the right age to appreciate a foreign film (it’s an Italian movie) or some of the struggles the main character Rosalba goes through during the course of the story. I think I was in a bit of a grumpy mood (subtitles will do that to a pre-teen), but I do remember certain parts of the movie very clearly. The views of Venice are amazing, the characters have some very funny lines and moments of physical comedy. What really sticks out, however, is a scene where Grazia (the best friend/supporting character) is gushing to Rosalba about the new guy she just met. She really thinks this is the one; he might not be the most handsome fella in the world, but he makes her heart go pitter patter. The real deal-maker, though? “He’s a plumber!” Grazia whispers to Rosalba excitedly–in the same sort of voice a woman might use to tell her best friend “He loves cuddling and doing laundry!” She’s giddy with love, but something else, too: she sees the answer to all her plumbing problems.

I’ve been having problems with my computer. Today, it froze twice. The first time, the screen blacked out, leaving me staring at my reflection and making mewing noises of distress. The second time, it froze with all stuff still on the screen. I watched the swirling cursor, mesmerized into a horrible paralysis. My computer know-how is very limited. I’ve been using Internet Explorer, for instance, which is apparently so lame that all the cool computer nerds know to hate it. And remember my tragic mishap with the delete button? Technology is my frienemy. My usual fix for a stuck computer is to force-quit and turn it off, but I hate doing that because it feels like I’m smothering it to death.

Oh, I can google problems as good as the next person. But it feels a little like cavorting with the enemy and oftentimes the answers I get assume too much about my prior knowledge. I have a friend who’s pretty tech savvy, but she lives in Canada so her power to help is limited. (Plus, there’s the very real chance that I depend too much on her and my emails now send tingles of dread down her spine. Basically, she may feel our relationship goes something like this.)

Anyway, I was sitting at my desk today, contemplating the emotionally abusive relationship I have with my computer, and Bread & Tulips popped into my head. I now completely identify with Grazia and her plumber-inspired joy. I can totally see myself grinning like a fool and squealing to a friend: “He’s a computer whiz!” Heart be still! Help me fix my computer without talking down to me, think my computer ineptitude is adorable, and I’m yours. Wear a fedora at the same time? Ho boy. 

One woman’s plumber is another’s computer guru.

That’s amore!

Unbelievably, Bread & Tulips is available to watch (legally) online. So if you’re itching for some context or to bask in the sweet sound of Italian, check it out here.