Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Shock

Yesterday's high temperature: 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.7 Celsius)

Today's high temperature: 38 degrees Fahrenheit (3.3 Celsius), with wind chill 24 degrees (-4.4 Celsius)

Just about every living thing in the area is really confused right now, including me. It's not very often that you need the air conditioning and the furnace within a 12 hour span.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I Don't Know

My officemate was out sick today, which wouldn’t normally be a problem for me. It’s nice actually. If she’s sick, I prefer that she stay at home and not infect me with whatever pestilence she may be carrying. I happily do the same for her. We cooperate like that. Plus I can eat all the Hershey’s miniatures I want without wondering if there’s someone behind me secretly keeping count.

The problem is that everyone else in the place seems to be under the impression that I am her personal assistant. Every doofus who appears in our office looking for her thinks that I care that he can’t find her. Invariably, he’ll walk in, see her empty chair, and then turn to stare at me expectantly, waiting for me to take off my headphones and provide an explanation for this baffling situation that he is experiencing. She isn’t at her desk. What will he do now?

Usually the stare is accompanied by the pointless query “Is she here?”

Is that a rhetorical question? Do you think she’s hiding under her desk? I don’t think she is, but why don’t you go ahead and look, just to make sure. Check out the file cabinet too. While you’re at it, look under my desk. Maybe she crawled into the AC vent in the ceiling? That’s definitely where I would hide. Did you find her? No? Then I guess the answer to your question, which you interrupted both my train of thought AND a great song to ask, is no. No, she is not. Definitely not here. There is an obvious lack of her presence here, in this place, at this time. She’s not here.

That’s what I wanted to say, but no, I was nice, to each and every one the doofuses (doofi?), even though they didn’t deserve it.

“No, she’s out sick today.”

“OK, thanks” and a quick exit is the appropriate and expected response here. There’s really nothing else to say, is there? “Out sick” is pretty much a complete description of her whereabouts. She may or may not be stoned on Nyquil and sleeping on the couch while an episode of Oprah plays in the background, but for our purposes here, “sick” is all the information we need. End of discussion.

I got that appropriate and expected response from all but one doofus. One was not satisfied with “out sick.” He wanted more.

“Do you know when she’ll be back?”

Do I know when she’ll be back? Do I, a person with no medical training whatsoever, know when a sick person will feel well enough to come back to work? Do I?? Sorry dude, I wish I did. If I had those kinds of unassisted soothsaying abilities, I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you. I’d have my own TV show. Unfortunately, I don’t have a functional crystal ball either, and I left my Tarot cards at home. Oh, wait! I saw a Magic 8 Ball on Mary’s desk yesterday. Let’s go see if she’ll let us borrow it. Maybe the 8 Ball will know!

OK, I didn’t say any of that either, but I wanted to. Instead I repeated the only information that I had.

“No, I don’t know. She’s out sick,” said this time in a flat tone and with a slightly sideways glance that silently said, “That was the dumbest question I’ve ever heard. Get out of my sight.”

And then I put my headphones back on. I think he left after that. I refuse to feel guilty about it, because anyone dumb enough to ask that question probably wouldn’t be able to pick up on subtle voice inflections and facial expressions anyway, and wouldn’t know that I had silently told him to leave my presence.

It’s either that, or he just thinks I’m a bitch. Either way.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Successful Thanking

I’ve completed yet another Thanksgiving holiday and made it successfully through all the seven stages of giving thanks. The stages are:

1. Woohoo! A week away from the office to do whatever I want! (This is the shortest stage. It lasts, at most, 3 hours.)

2. Frenzied Preparation: Realizing that I don’t get to do whatever I want for the whole week. Shoving a little old lady at the grocery store for that last can of jellied cranberry sauce. Watching Slag cook. Cleaning the house so friends and relatives will not see that we are slovenly. Printing out maps for any required traveling.

3. Watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

4. Gluttony

5. Self-loathing and more pie

6. Feeble attempts at exercise and resolving not to eat like a pig throughout the rest of the holiday season, followed by more pie

7. Lethargy

Last night, just when I thought I was going to miss the final stage, lethargy arrived. Slag and I both nodded off on the couch about 8:15pm, right in the middle of a TiVo’d episode of The Daily Show. I steadfastly remained on the couch, determined to make it until closer to 9pm before giving up and going to bed. It feels wrong to go to bed before 9pm if you’re older than 5 and younger than 80.

I just dozed on and off, but Slag went sound asleep. That was risky for him, because it meant I had a perfectly legitimate reason to wake him up. I usually wake him by sticking my fingers in his ears, tickling his nose, pulling the covers off him, or prying open one of his eyes with my thumb and forefinger. If I’m feeling really patient, I stick my face about half an inch from his face and stare until he wakes up. Don’t ask me how it works, but it does. Really.

I didn’t have the energy to be annoying last night, so I just jostled him awake and we dragged ourselves upstairs. We were both out cold by 9:15pm. I think we’ve had all the thanking we can handle until next year.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Nothing in Particular

I’m experiencing a serious lack of inspiration, and I’m blaming it on the holiday “grumpies.” Yes, the holidays are upon us, bringing all the accompanying guilt, stress, and subconscious longing for the Hallmark Christmas Special family that never was. Slag and I both become very thin-skinned this time of the year, resulting in conversations like the following:

Slag: “Honey, could you dice those potatoes a little smaller?”

Me: “Did you just call me a stupid bitch??”

So far, we have successfully defused a couple of squabbles before they could mature into full blown altercations of catastrophic proportions. Every year we get a little better at recognizing a stupid blow-up over nothing for what it is and nipping it in the bud before somebody says something stupid. By the time we’re in our 80’s, I predict we’ll be able to behave normally throughout November and December. God, I’m so happy I’m married to a real adult and not a child in an adult’s body.

Now I need to revisit the list of things that I hate. That will make me feel better. Besides, I think the last couple of items weren’t specifically labeled as list members, but they should be there nonetheless.

The current list of things I hate:

1. Hummers
2. August in Texas
3. yogurt
4. Ford Motor Company
5. Bill O’Reilly
6. “compact only” parking spaces
7. control top pantyhose
8. high-protein “nutrition” bars

Stay tuned for further updates….

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


At my last checkup, my doctor and I discussed my (alleged) chocolate addiction. She mentioned that I might want to cut down a little. I told her that I could stop any time I wanted to, but I didn’t want to right now. Then I whipped out a Reese’s peanut butter cup and ate it right there, just to prove my point.

So she tried another approach. She mentioned that I might try those high-protein “nutrition” bars. She thought they might be able to satisfy my need for chocolate without all the sugar and fat blah blah blah stuff about healthy eating here blah blah protein is digested slower blah blah blah blood sugar yadda yadda yadda I’m getting to that age blah blah blah.

Fine, I agreed to give them a try. I was skeptical, but what the heck. They’re covered in chocolate, so they can’t be terrible. I picked up a couple the next time I was at the grocery store. My expectations were raised a little higher when I discovered that a “nutrition” bar cost twice as much as a regular candy bar. I mean, if they’re charging a dollar for each of these things, the bars had better moderate my blood sugar AND taste good.

When I opened the first one, there was a distinct aroma of cat food, with subtle hints of hamster food pellets. This did not bode well. I know cat food and hamster pellets are probably nutritious and all. I suppose a person could eat cat food and get some sustenance. But why? Aside from a drunken dare, there is simply no reason to do that. There’s plenty of people food available. Plenty.

Whatever. I paid a dollar for the stupid thing and I was going to at least try it. Two chews later and it became clear that it wasn’t cat food or hamster pellets. No, I had paid a dollar for a freaking chocolate-covered Milkbone™ dog biscuit!

These things must be manufactured by Purina out of dog food that’s too old to sell for dogs. They probably just throw all the expired kibble into a big vat, mix it up with some sort of solvent, and extrude “nutrition” bars. A light coating chocolate-flavored paraffin and voila: pricey nutrition bars suitable for consumption by human beings.

I checked the ingredients. The first listed was “soy protein nuggets.” What the hell is a soy protein nugget?? I’ll tell you what it is, it’s dog food, that’s what! I just paid a dollar for a dog biscuit and then actually ate some of it! I’m totally appalled. Are there people who regularly buy these things and then actually eat them, like more than once? Gawd, what are we turning into? Is there anything we consumers won’t scarf down if exposed to enough slick ads promising us that said product will make us healthy and thin? Anything at all??

People eating dog food has got to be one of the signs that the Apocalypse is near. Gah, I’m still gagging just thinking about that chocolate-covered abomination. I think the list of “Things I Hate” just got a little longer.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

What Would Miss Manners Say?

It’s been a busy weekend. Slag’s grandmother passed away last week and her funeral was yesterday in a small town about two hours away. I didn’t know her well. I’d only met her a few times, and long after her hearing loss and frailty made it difficult to get to know her as a person. From the stories I’ve heard though, she was quite a pistol in her younger years. Slag says she told him the first dirty joke he ever heard. She sounds like a pretty cool Grandma to me.

Funerals are always sad to me, but this one wasn’t as sad as many. She lived a long, healthy life. She died at age 89, peacefully and without pain, with her daughter holding her hand. I couldn’t hope for anything better for anyone. Slag’s Mom arranged a lovely funeral and all the family were there. I got to meet some previously unmet relatives. The weather was sunny and clear. Everything went off without a hitch. All in all, it was a very nice day.

Except for one thing. The most vile, insidious contraption ever invented by modern man, a thing so horrible that I can’t imagine why we tolerate its existence. It is ….the control top pantyhose.

If you’ve ever worn them, I know you will agree with me. Control top pantyhose are the most god-awful garment ever invented. Oh, they’re almost bearable while standing up, but that’s just a ruse. In the upright position they substantially reduce the blood flow to the lower half of the body, but not enough to cause permanent injury.

It’s the sitting position where they reveal their true character. They just don’t know how to give a little. They won’t compromise. No, they retain their control no matter what. Therefore, in the sitting position, the waistband effectively turns the normal female body into two sausage-like segments, the lower sausage being completely contained within the legs and feet of the hose while the upper sausage spills out over the waistband with wild abandon. Logically, I should try to spend as much time standing as possible. Sitting hurts, so don’t sit.

That makes perfect sense except for one thing. Almost any outfit that requires control top pantyhose will also need shoes with heels to avoid looking frumpish. I haven’t yet reached the age where I don’t care if I look frumpish, so my poor feet get crammed into non-sensible shoes every time the pantyhose come out. For me, the heels are never extremely high, but they’re high enough to force all the blood out of my toes and cause my feet to go numb after about 15 minutes of standing. I end up teetering around the room, trying not to fall off my shoes, while at the same time trying to look elegant and fashionable. And that’s really hard if you can’t feel your feet.

So there you can see the dilemma. Yesterday, I tried to achieve a happy medium. I’d sit for a while and then stand for a while and then walk around for a while, trying to keep the blood circulating through the various parts of my lower body so as to avoid a case of gangrene that might require amputation of a toe or a foot.

Oh, I know what you’re thinking. “Stop whining and just wear the pantyhose without the control top,” you’d say. “It couldn’t possibly make that much difference.”

Yeah, well, maybe twenty years ago it didn’t make much difference on my 21-year-old, size-5 butt. But on my 41-year-old, slightly-larger-sized butt, it does make a difference. A substantial difference. The control top is not optional. And that’s all I’m going to say about that. Let us never speak of this again.

So I made it all the way through the funeral service without passing out from lack of blood flow or breaking an ankle. I was proud of myself, a little cocky even. Wearing something besides stone-washed denim didn’t have to be so traumatic, did it? Maybe I was turning over a new leaf or something. Maybe I could be fashionable and elegant more often. Maybe I could wear a skirt to work once in a while. Yeah, maybe I could.

But then we got into the Tahoe for the drive to the cemetery, and it was all over. I couldn’t take it anymore. My jeans were right there in the back seat within arms reach, and I broke down. The comfort of all that cotton was just too tempting. I had to have that soft denim against my flesh RIGHT NOW. I totally caved.

I grabbed the jeans and shucked the shoes, the skirt and the hose right there in the funeral procession, with Slag asking incredulously “What are you doing??” as if it weren’t completely obvious. Clearly, I was getting mostly naked in a funeral procession. Was that inappropriate? I wonder what Miss Manners would say. Dunno, but I bet Slag’s grandma wouldn’t have minded a bit.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Threat

Last week I passed a coworker in the hallway at work. We used to work in the same group but don’t anymore, so I hadn’t seen her for a while. I noticed she had lost a lot of weight, and, assuming she had been dieting successfully, mentioned that she looked skinny. She stopped to chat and fill me in on the details. I expected her to tell me that she’d started a new exercise program or was doing one of those low-carb diets. But no. The reason she had lost so much weight recently was that her husband of nearly thirty years had, unbeknownst to her, met someone else and now, beknownst to her, wanted a divorce.


Crap, I always manage to blunder into these things with my little witty quips. What is the appropriate response? I usually end up gaping like a fish, with nothing actually coming out of my mouth, or saying something complete stupid and insensitive.

I do that because hearing stuff like this always makes me feel sick in the pit of my stomach. I imagine myself in the other person’s place, and the picture never comes out very nice. If my husband of thirty years had recently dropped a divorce bomb on me, things would be very bad. I don’t mean to imply that I'd collapse into a pile of quivering flesh and never arise again. OK, I definitely would collapse into a pile of quivering flesh, but I'd eventually get over it and carry on with life. It would still suck big donkey balls, though, and seeing it happen to someone you know makes it a lot harder to pretend that bad things like that only happen to guests on “The Jerry Springer Show."

In my younger days I would have just swallowed my panic at the thought of being in her shoes and gone on with my day. Nowadays, I’m a lot more proactive. Within a few hours of hearing her story, I had snuck up on Slag, climbed onto his shoulders, subdued him in a headlock and informed him that if he ever thought about leaving me for another woman after multiple decades of marriage, I would geld him on the spot. I would then put his testicles in a jar of formaldehyde and display them in the lighted curio cabinet next to my favorite crystal martini glass. And then I made him say “Calf rope.”

He wisely submitted to my demands. Actually, I think his response was something like “Are you completely loony?”

Why, yes I am, as a matter of fact. It’s a good thing he likes me that way.

And my response to my friend? I told her that if she ever felt like kicking his ass, I’d be happy to help her. Thankfully, she laughed.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


I have sooo had enough of the pre-election media blitz, with all the accompanying jabs, sucker punches, taunts, sneers, insults, half-truths and no-truths from the candidates and their supporters. I feel like I've spent the last month listening to bickering children who believe I have the mental capacity of an earthworm.

I'm not taking any political positions here. I acknowledge that sane, rational people with good intentions frequently have differing opinions. But I have one request of the voters out there. No, I'm begging. Please please please, don't get any of your information about any given candidate from his opponent or someone who blatantly supports his opponent. The information you'll get from these people is likely inaccurate.

Also, to the candidates out there, we really don't need to hear about how you support any of the following. Everybody supports these things. You're just wasting air.

- Lower taxes
- Good schools
- Better pay for teachers
- Eliminating waste in government
- Clean air and water
- Keeping sexual predators away from our children
- Freedom


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Cubeification Phase 1: Farewell Window Office

The cubeification process has begun at my place of employment. Phase 1 is nearly complete. During Phase 1 all of us who previously occupied upstairs window offices move down into the windowless dungeon of the first floor. The offices upstairs are to be razed and replaced with cubes. Then it’s on to Phase 2, when everyone will move from the windowless dungeon back upstairs into a human Habitrail, especially constructed just for us. I’m hoping I get one of these:

Yesterday was my last day in a window office. My beloved window office. That I have occupied for 16.5 years. That’s 16 and one half YEARS, people. I am traumatized. For 16.5 years, I’ve had a lovely view of the air conditioning units and the building where they store the industrial lawnmower. Beyond that used to be a field of cows, but now it’s just another suburban housing development. At first I resented the houses. I missed the cows, but I slowly came to accept and then enjoy the comings and goings that the neighborhood brought into view.

But that’s all gone now. There will be no more watching the garbage truck pick up trash on Tuesdays, no more catching sight of the maintenance guy driving the lawnmower at top speed into the storage building and wondering if he’ll be able to stop before he hits the far wall. I’ll never again see that exciting plume of black smoke that erupts from the generator behind the AC units whenever there’s a power outage. There won’t be anymore birds attempting to assault their own reflections in the window glass and scaring the crap out of me. I may as well just kill myself now.

Today was my first full day in the new, windowless, closet-like cavity that some are calling an “office.” It’s more like a dank, airless cell. How can people possibly be productive under these conditions?? I’m certain that the lack of natural sunlight is going throw me into an acute episode of seasonal affective disorder or could possibly result in a serious vitamin D deficiency.

I tell you one thing, if I end up with a case of rickets, someone is going to hear from my attorney.