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A Day at Notwork.

Arrive at notwork, 9:05 a.m.

Choose pen to compliment Jimi Hendrix “Electric Ladyland”-style jacket, sharpen pencil which has been used for more than two years.

Open balcony window. Turn on calculator and computer. Dismiss all error messages on monitor. Start Outlook 2000. Unlock file cabinet.

Read personal email. Respond to personal email. Peruse Facebook and enter profound comments regarding local weather. Log into WordPress and see The Magic Bus Stop has not (yet) been Fresh Pressed.

Accept 8 pieces of mail from boss and greet same (boss, not mail). Discard 4 advertisements and 2 noble and dignified requests for money from politicians  which are addressed to “Dear Mr. Enterprises” and “Dear Whom;” place recent issue of “OK!” magazine, featuring painfully detailed cover photo of young female celebrity wearing a Band-aid sized bikini, in stack for overnighting to employer afflicted with cataracts; set aside 1 invoice for coding. Eat yogurt. Examine container.

Mourn close proximity of personal office to office bathroom.

Fill sippy cup with coffee. Perform several leg lifts in response to annoying Outlook reminder to move in order to stave off DVT.

Read blogs. Comment on blogs. Rake tiny Zen garden.

Code invoice, 10:30 a.m. Rearrange envelopes on desk.

Apply hand lotion. Evaluate performance of dollar store mascara (which, incidentally, cost $1) now in use after viewing self-portrait from vacation and experiencing significant mortification. Defer product judgement. Wash yogurt spoon.

Read personal email. Respond to personal email.

Catch up on recent issues of Wall Street Journal and New York Times. Exercise eyebrows. While reading about exotic antelope hunting in Texas, store “oryx” and “addax” in memory for use during Words With Friends.

Engage in brief and mostly futile personal grooming. Flip plastic dinosaur head to grinning position.

Play Words With Friends on Facebook, 11:30 a.m. Wistfully note lack of opportunity to use “oryx” or “addax.” Somehow break Words With Friends game. Shop online for military books for husband. Practice smiling but fail to produce Duchen marker. Online research into Duchenne marker and correct spelling of same.

Mourn close proximity of personal office to bathroom.

Code invoice. Sharpen pencil again.

Fill sippy cup with coffee. Dismiss annoying Outlook reminder to move, taking chance instead with DVT.

Read personal email.

Read blogs. Read responses to comments left earlier. Produce smile complete with Duchenne marker (see above).

Verify receipts attached to invoice for $18,000 in salon services. Code invoice.

Noon. Apply eyedrops to eyes irritated by continuous computer monitor viewing. Decline invitation from AOL to create account for free music.

Surf Facebook. Refresh WordPress home page, note continued absence of any post from The Magic Bus Stop at same.

Find crackers in drawer and determine they can be eaten since recently discovered canned soup (Progresso Light Zesty! Santa Fe Style Chicken) will prevent starvation in the event of an earthquake before 5:00p.m. (See post.) Fill sippy cup with now-cold coffee.

Mourn close proximity of personal office to bathroom.

Empty virtual recycle bin. Dismiss Outlook reminder to move.

Send personal email to Freecycler  who claimed my extra wine corks.

Answer notwork phone. Kindly inform caller that oral surgeon’s phone number is one digit different than notwork’s phone. Disconnect (phone). Eat salad. Assemble tower from empty plastic food containers.

Log into Twitter. At recommendation of @TheBugChicks make virtual leap to Chris Guillebeau to evaluate his “Art of Non-Conformity” blog, focusing on article, “How to be Awesome,” since I have self-proclaimed (virtual) awesomeness. Remind self to be awesome when opportunity arises. Enjoy incredibly pithy comments of @TexasHumor and @CarTalk.

Restock bathroom paper towels. Eat banana. Note marvelous slow passage of time.

Briefly samba around office.

Read personal email.

Gaze out notwork window.

Handwrite lengthy good-bye note to notwork’s New York property manager without actually saying good-bye. Reflect on our conversations about martinis, technology, and embroidered hand towels. Seal envelope for mailing.

Mourn close proximity of personal office to office bathroom.

Observe time to be 4:50pm. Sign out of personal email. Log out of Facebook. Log out of Twitter. Log out of WordPress. Shut down Outlook 2000. Close balcony window. Shut off calculator. Lock notwork file cabinet. Apply eyedrops to eyes irritated by continuous computer monitor viewing. Turn off computer. Place pen and pencil in holder.

Gather personal newspapers, purse, lunch container, sippy cup and cell phone. Inform boss of imminent departure by yelling same from personal office.

Complete 528th day of notwork, all of which have been remarkably similar to the above scenario, walk to The Magic Bus and leave notwork premises at 5:00p.m.

Notworking.

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Virtually awesome.

I have a persistent furball in my throat. My mornings are spent hacking and “aheming” until I can settle it into an acceptable place. This mucous meatball significantly crimps any singing I might want to do.

During a Very Low & Lonely Time last year, I discovered Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir performing “Sleep.” http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/eric_whitacre_a_virtual_choir_2_000_voices_strong.html. Here was this cool composer guy talking about souls on virtual desert islands, going to any length to find and connect with each other. The individual singers, connected in the video by nebulous bands, showed me that distance and isolation could be overcome. The music itself was painfully gentle, and healing. Through my ocean of tears, Scarlett O’Hara-like I vowed to take part if another virtual choir assembled. I wanted desperately to be part of something that mattered. 

“Water Night” came out over the 2011 holidays, and I did participate. And I am unashamedly freaking proud.

Even in my long-ago, pre-furball days, I never sang solo. I was an alto who could sing well within my section. The alto line of “Water Night” is too difficult for my current voice, so I chose the tenor line. Then I procrastinated ordering print music. We went out of town over the holidays. I waited weeks for practice videos that turned out to not meet my hand-holding neediness. My voice could support only a limited amount of practice before disintegrating. I had to relocate my aging laptop with its very noisy fan closer to the router so the conductor video wouldn’t hang. My laptop had no webcam. Mike’s newer laptop did but wouldn’t play the official recording video without downloading a new browser.  The submission deadline was galloping toward me.

Virtual Choir 3.0 (VC), as the “Water Night” project is named, had an active Facebook page with people posting their accomplishments, encouragement, and tips. I saw a suggestion there to use a camera and upload to YouTube rather than record at the VC website. I had never used a web cam, filmed a video on a camera, or uploaded to YouTube. I didn’t know if the camera microphone would capture my voice or the noisy computer fan, or record the entire song. But I figured if all those people all over the world were doing it, I could too.

The music studio.

On the day before the deadline, I set up shop in our recording studio (Mike’s office), beside the wireless for best reception. Lights meant to illuminate my face gave me a Blair Witch Project appearance. I ditched them and turned on the recessed ceiling lights with their broken dimmer switch, leaving me with an orb on my head in the video. I stacked jewelry boxes beside the laptop to raise the camera so the video would not be solely of the inside of my nose. After falling off a couple times, the camera found its own niche and stayed in place. I then discovered it had developed a lingering lens motor noise after being turned on. But I was now a train not to be stopped. I clasped a wedding-gift necklace from Mike around my throat, donned headphones,  and started singing.

I recorded four videos. They were all equally bad, or rather, I’m equally bad in all of them. One filmed me walking into the room in my underwear. I’m rolling my eyes at being out of tune on another. All of them have a beer bottle and antique insecticide containers in the background, as well as drywall patches and bursting book cases. Every one has off-tune notes, and I’ve discovered that, like Homer Simpson, my upper lip is far too long for my face. After the third attempt, my voice began rasping significantly. There was no way I was going to improve my performance, despite alternately sipping water and swallowing honey. In the final video, I am literally gasping at times and lip-syncing at others. But I’m smiling at the end.

The YouTube upload took a relatively unattended hour while I watched “Being Human.” The audio portion came out surprisingly clear at the website — and the visual was flipped on its side. No amount of button pushing could get me upright. I posed my dilemma to the Facebook support page, and had the instant answer that the VC techies could get me to sit up straight at their end.

I surrendered control.  I let go, and my video went into the Virtual Choir cue.

My pinpoint on the VC map.

And the hammer on my happiness meter came down so hard it nearly blew out the top.

I don’t care if they don’t use my video. If they sent it back with a form letter that says it doesn’t meet the lowest available standard, I would understand and accept that. I climbed over my self-consciousness hurdle and ignored the embarrassment trap. I had done the best I was capable of; I hadn’t given up because of or been intimidated by the thousands of much better singers. And I was now a part of something that had lifted my spirit in the past, something that mattered. My breath, my determination, my triumph are now a tiny bit of the universe.

I am awesome.

Dear Santa, about that list. . .

Dear Santa,

I know I probably should have gotten this list to you earlier, but isn’t a last minute rush just that sometimes – a rush? I suppose you’ve checked your list twice and might be struggling to find my name on it; I can spell it for you if necessary, or I may be listed under “Q” for Queen. Let’s not get into the naughty or nice theory since it’s really like evolution, relativity, or string – just a theory.

Since I am a little late about submitting this I thought a different format might make the process easier for you. I’m just going to tell you what I don’t want. That makes anything I do receive a bonus.

No exercise equipment – We both know I’m not going to use it. That exercise ball I bought for a pilates class lies in a state of unhappy deflation in the garage. I will never again use it for exercise purposes; it makes me look like a circus poodle. It might be useful as an Annoying Orange or jumbo Halloween pumpkin. My stepper has a pair of my shoes on it; I’m not in them. Ever. The mini-trampoline was not meant to stand permanently on edge. The hand weights shouldn’t be doorstops.

 No raise at work – Really. It’s just not about money anymore. When I find my grossly atrophied brain or my self respect, I’ll explain further.

No unpleasant surprises – Pants that fit yesterday but don’t fit today; mint in my chocolate brownie (eeuuw); horseradish that I mistake for cheese on my food(!!); there is no Santa Claus.

No more cellulite – I have quite enough already. I’m not exactly blaming you, but I have my suspicions.

 No more speed limits – We both know they don’t apply to The Magic Bus or the Queen.

No more laws – We’ve got enough. Every single instance of every single happening in every single corner of the U.S. simply cannot be controlled. Let’s lighten up, have a little fun, exercise some personal accountability, hold each other to a higher standard, read the fine print before signing.

No root canals – Who came up with such a barbaric procedure? Drill this, Mr. Dentist.

No more brown, anything –Brown is protective coloration in my neighborhood. I like more cheerful, life-affirming colors, like bright green, or purple.

 No sushi – Tuna out of a can is still tuna out of a can.

 No more cholesterol – My arteries will function fine without it. This would also support the no exercise equipment request.

No Target-brand Sun-Dried Tomato crackers – these are really dry dog food in disguise.

No more Facebook changes – I know, but it can’t hurt to ask.

So, thanks in advance for not bringing me this stuff. I hope there hasn’t been any trouble with PETA this year regarding the reindeer (or was that just a rumor last year?), the elves haven’t skipped out to Occupy something, and Mrs. Claus continues to enjoy her supporting role.

 Affectionately (if not obediently) yours,

Queen Linda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With a little help from my friends

I decided to write a collaborative story on Facebook with anyone who wanted to participate. No rules, just write. I provided the opening paragraph:

“The car hurtled through the dry desert air, like a Patriot missile with wheels. It spun slowly, elegantly, end to end, dipped headlights to sand and ended in shivasana on its roof. Silence, then a desert breeze, followed by a chicken’s cluck. From one shattered window, an appendage — leathery, purple, and snake-long — tapped out like a daddy-long-leg.”

Here’s what followed (verbatim):

The creature slithered the rest of its body out of the damaged window. The leathery skin not even getting a scratch as it passes over the broken glass.  Then..once again the chicken’s cluck..but this time it was only a whisper…as the “thing” looked around with eyes that shined like diamonds…the creature stopped in its tracks. . Then, out of nowhere, Elvis appeared and sang “Jailhouse Rock.” But only the chicken seemed to acknowledge his presence, or so it seemed. The creature’s purple skin bubbled, swelled and split. Dark hands stripped back the torn sheath, and a liquid figure clothed in a 3-pc. suit of ice cream cones stepped onto the sand. “Greetings, loved ones,” said Snoop Dogg. “Let’s take a journey. And you will determine the destination of this journey, and the manner in which it will be accomplished. It must meet all of my criteria or you will be banished to a further hell than any you have experienced thus far”. As the most feared of the Alien Alliance leaders, Snoop Dogg, instructed his companions that clues have been left along the journey that would indicate the secret destination. Out of nowhere there appeared in one hand a magic napkin dispenser which would show pictures of the clue sites along the way. Snoop Dogg, carrying his umbrella and spare poncho, was all too prepared fo’ tha drizzle that could get all up in his nizzle. With magical chicken, magical napkin dispenser, poncho, and umbrella in his very full hands, Snoop started his trek across the desert with elvis to find the clues that would lead them to their destination- The Circle K. They couldn’t wait to get to the Circle K for the much loved princess of ALL the Circles reigned here. She was very beautiful and wise and would be able to create music with Elvis (Costello) and Snoop Dogg along with Freddie Mercury. Music so fantastic that the world would all stop and say ………..Who is that masked Dogg? Is the Evil Cousin of Snoop Dogg…known to his enemies as Hoop Dogg…Yes it was Him…he was here at Circle K to kidnap the most lovely Princess and take her far…far away from the ones who worshiped her charming ways…BUT…the princess was no pushover. She seized the magic chicken & crammed it in Hoop Dogg’s throat. Hoop Dogg staggered. Snoop Dogg donned his poncho & impaled Hoop Dogg with his umbrella. Elvis mopped his brow with a magic napkin, wiping away his features to reveal Donny Osmond. “Get me a fountain drink, Donny,” the princess ordered. As the door to the Circle K opened, the sound of “We Are the Champions” filled the air. THE END

I did threaten mid way to bring Donny Osmond into it if necessary, and I am a woman of my word. But I want to thank all the contributors: Kristie (thanks for naming the blog, too), Andy, Debbie, Nancy, Eric and Lucia.

Washington should have turned over the debt ceiling issue to us. We could have handled it more efficiently.

Let’s try poetry next.