Tag Archives: humor

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Weekly Photo Challenge: The World Through My Eyes

This gallery contains 8 photos.

I rarely go anywhere without chalk — it’s in my purse, in the Magic Bus’ glove compartment, outside my front door, and in a plastic container where my driveway meets the road. I started chalking when something very dear to … Continue reading

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Team Candypult

This gallery contains 60 photos.

I had a birthday last weekend. Mike wanted to take me to an elegant restaurant, as we’ve done for each other every year we’ve been together.  But the All New and Improved(?) Me longed for something more. . .more. . … Continue reading

Fuck the Lilliputians.

I’ve had this quote from Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs taped to the Magic Bus’ dashboard for almost a year:

 “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

 I gave my boss notice of my intent to depart my notjob by the end of this year, which is more than two months’ warning. I claim squatters’ rights on the moral high ground for allowing the company this much prep time. However, it took me nearly a week to actually quit after making my decision to do so. I’ve always had an ingrained and misplaced sense of responsibility to my employers. Never once have I inconvenienced any of them by walking off a job; I can’t say the same for them.

I reasoned I couldn’t quit on a Monday, that would be too cruel to start a week that way.  This is also an awkward situation with only two of us in this office, and it could become considerably more strained and awkward with my declaration of independence.  Tuesday I had Zumba in the evening which allowed little opportunity to announce my news to Mike. My list of excuses grew like Pinocchio’s nose. My chest tightened and I became inert for several days. I was disappointed and frustrated with myself at each day’s end. I began solidifying into inaction.

I happened upon this TED video about “power positions”.  I chose my day and shot the rattlesnake in my brain. I rehearsed my short speech, eliminating all pauses, excuses, and extraneous words, and arranged my body into a position that backed up my message – standing, no hands in pockets, no crossed arms. I remembered my Zumba instructor’s words – “keep your chest up.” I walked into my boss’s office and told him I was leaving, in the same tone I would have told him I had a doctor’s appointment. I did not ask for approval, I did not leave the door open to a counter offer. I gave no reason, and when, after recovering from his initial shock, my boss told me that I had to be honest with him about the reason for my departure, I looked at him levelly, laughed, and said no, I didn’t have to be honest with him and that I didn’t have to do anything I didn’t want to. No bridges were burned and no words were wasted justifying my decision. 

 I am now as a prison inmate whose release date is in sight. I should be happy, very happy that I am claiming my decision.

 Guess what.

 My stint here in solitary has given me, if nothing else, unlimited thinking time. As someone whose mind enters screensaver mode when deprived of a wide variety of stimulation and information, I’ve still managed to do quite a bit of deep thinking. I’ve watched TED talks, read blogs and blogs and books , and I’ve talked to friends, family, coworkers in other locations, former coworkers, and acquaintances. I probably talked to myself.

 I’m nowhere near happy, and I’m quite far from very happy. Right now, I am borderline furious. During my time at this notjob I have thrashed embarrasingly through the muck of frustration, anger, depression, resistance, resignation. There are long periods of time about which I can remember almost nothing. The fax machines and Outlook 2000 of this place have put me years behind technologically. The people skills and compassion and humility and sense of helping others in some very tiny, but very meaningful and soul-affirming way earned while working at M.D. Anderson have been locked into an excruciatingly dear and painful memory that rests on the road kill skunk reality of embroidered Yves St. Laurent towels, private jets, and Cartier Christmas cards bearing a modestly clothed baby Jesus that this job has been.

 I am angry because I am smart, funny, imaginative, strong, independent, and resourceful. Despite being all of those things, I have allowed myself to be tied down by Lilliputians, and I have been as much Lilliputian as Gulliver. I helped knot the ropes that have held me in various mindless jobs. I have been wailing and gnashing my teeth ad nauseum about the inanity of going day after day, year after year, to jobs that Winnie the Pooh, that bear of very little brain, could have dispatched with his little eyes closed. I have bitched and moaned and complained to anyone and everyone from friends to family to acquaintances to coworkers.  And I’ve done nothing to help myself. Nothing.

I thought if I’d gone to college I could have learned to think critically; three years stuck to an office chair in virtual solitary confinement with nothing to do have given me plenty of time to think clearly and strip off my oh-woe-is-me-cloak. The only work challenge I’ve ever accepted was having my own quirky little wind chime business where I was responsible for everything from gathering raw materials (frequently by climbing into trash bins) to making the chimes to building my displays to selling my products. I loved the process but burned out on the selling and prostituted myself back into office jobs that paid far more than they should have. I’ve told more than one employer that they paid me too much money but that didn’t stop me from taking the cash. I heeded well-meaning advice from near and far, from intelligent people who have actual careers and letters after their names, to take the money and just be glad I had a job. I bought into the line of bullshit the local employment agency fed me on my arrival here about the dismal prospects for employment in a town dominated by a single educational behemoth. I took on Mike’s fear that we will run out of money before our golden years. I have squandered years of my life that I can never recover doing mainstream paper-pushing that has virtually destroyed my self-respect and pretty much eliminated any reason to get out of bed in the morning.

Fuck the Lilliputians. I’m done.

I’m at the middle of my life, I hope. My mother, my very best friend ever, dropped dead at age 68, so I might already be closing in on old age.  I have a stupidphone and a hand-me-down computer. My clothes are second hand. I’ve never had or wanted a manicure or a massage. I have no kids or pets. If I’ve climbed into trash bins, obviously pride is not an issue. In other words, I am a very cheap date. What I’m going to do is to shed my inherited, unfounded fears of the future and my current boundaries of suffocating conformity. I am going to act on a primal need to become independent, responsible to and for myself. It’s way past time to set the bar at the level I choose. I am going to be at the right intersection with my thumb out when the party bus goes by, not watching from behind the safety of a steady paycheck. What I need, and what I will find,  is “the courage to follow my heart and intuition.” I’ll let you know how that goes.

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Kitsch in snow.

This gallery contains 32 photos.

The weather forecast for today was correct — sort of. Maybe they forgot to insert the numeral “2” after the “1 inch predicted” — when the snow exhausted itself, there was a foot on the ground. And, yeah, all this stuff … Continue reading

Stop doin’ me wrong. . .

When we were preparing to depart Houston, a female neighbor told me that one of the things most difficult for her in a new city was finding a hairdresser. Being a low maintenance woman, but also being possessed of totally unmanageable hair, I remember looking at her straight, long hair and thinking, “You’re crazy.”  How hard could it be to cut that hair? And getting a job in our new location seemed like it would be a much more difficult hunt than the one to be conducted for a stylist.

 I’ve had some marvelously uncomfortable surprises since our relocation, one of which had nothing to do with finding a job.

 In all fairness, I can’t lay the blame for my ‘do (or rather, my ‘do-wrong) at the scissorhands of the local stylists only. Before I found a person in Houston who could snip her way competently through the Medusa landscape of my head, I came out of salons looking alternately like James Dean, Max Headroom or a sickly Chia pet. One little Vietnamese girl pressed me into the chair while saying, “You gonna look so cute when we done with you.” That should have been my cue to FLEE since I have not been cute since babyhood, but after waiting nearly an hour for a stylist, I squelched my apprehension and submitted to her ministrations. I came out with a very short cut complete with a tail that went unnoticed till I got home; she must have hidden it in my collar. I had Mike take a scissors to the goofy appendage with hardly worse results than those for which I’d just paid. Was I cute? I don’t know. Was I satisfied? No. I also had one woman who could cut my hair in five minutes or less. It looked like a five minute cut, too. When stylists routinely start cutting from the back side there’s no chance to say the cut’s too short by the time they round the clubhouse turn of my head and flatten out toward the finish line.

 Each prospective stylist receives a stock recitation of my very simple needs: clean it up, not too short, I don’t use a blow dryer or a brush. I want to get up in the morning and push my curls around for the shortest time possible so my head won’t look like a bed spring. I don’t want to control my hair, I just want to get along with it. I’m pretty much walking around under it hoping for the best.

 I’ve cycled through at least seven stylists in the two years we’ve lived here. They usually start out well enough but after two or three cuts they all resort to a near head-shave, leaving me hair just long enough to stand up in pokeys around my unfortunate head. One woman, a New York transplant, muscled my head around so roughly my scalp stung. She was a pleasant person, but the haircut was not exceptional and I felt like I’d been assaulted. She was employed by one of those places call Badcut, or Budgetcut, or some such apt descriptor, so I decided to part with more cash in my snip quest. My (male) boss recommended the stylist his family used, a gay Republican with a house salon.  The fact that my boss even felt it necessary to offer those qualifiers makes me reflect about what image I’m projecting outside The Big City beneath my obviously liberal curls. The gay Republican looked me over, then swiftly razored my hair dry against a

Bad haircuts and strange barbeque in the 'hood

comb, after which he told me my hair is a difficult type to cut. He gave me the lowdown on local neighborhoods and restaurants and sent me on my way. I left sporting a shrub of pokeys. My boss proclaimed enthusiastically that my hair looked great. He also likes Outback restaurant. I then found myself in another chain salon in the chair of an ex-military man. We started off well enough that I recommended my husband (who is even lower maintenance than me and was also then hair challenged) to him. This stylist would observe total, almost unnerving silence during the cut, then want to chat at length afterward about sports or bodybuilding.  But more than once X.G.I. Do was significantly late to our appointments with nary an explanation or comment to be made, or offering a brilliant, manipulative smile and semi-apology. After the third instance of toe-tapping waiting time and coming away with a wedge-shaped head, I asked the salon for a different stylist.

 My new stylist took note of my wedge head and pleading speech and did me right while producing an acceptable amount and content of spoken pleasantries. Our second date was equally encouraging.

 So, here I am, after my third cut with this stylist. This is January, but we’ve had wonderfully temperate weather. I’m glad, and I hope it continues that way, because now I have very little hair to warm my head.

 I knew the moment I walked in the salon Friday that I’d get a bad cut. There’s probably a Cesar Milan of hair whisperers who could detail how I knew that – maybe because the place was the busiest I’ve ever seen it, and my stylist looked tired when she retrieved me (her last appointment), or maybe it was the bad karma of being seated beside my former stylist, Mr. X.G.I. Do, for the first time since I’d extricated myself from his care. I mentioned to her again my usual

Snip.

desires – just a cleanup, not too much cut off. The first close of the scissor arms showed that my words had been blow-dried to the wind as too much hair spiraled to the floor.

Baaaad haircut!

 Maybe I was tired, too, or resigned, or just gave up the struggle. I said nothing, and watched as my unruly locks became short, and shorter still.  It was like watching somebody shear Lamb Chop; you know the cuddly little sheep puppet will get its woolly back, but in the meantime Sharri’s going to have to wear a heated mitt inside the little critter so it doesn’t shiver too much.

 Am I expecting too much? Do salons use a numbering system with which I am unfamiliar? Does asking for half an inch off really mean half an inch to clean up naughty ends, then another inch for the actual styling? I confess to a secret desire from more youthful days to have either a Mohawk-style cut, or to have my hair cut to about a quarter inch long all over, but never have I breathed a word of that to anyone holding scissors near my head. Does Rosetta Stone offer salon-speak as a language choice?  Is this like the male/female misunderstanding of “no” actually meaning “yes”? Are there magic words or sign language, unknown to me, that will prevent further overexposure?

 Mirrors are a strictly limited commodity in our house; if I can’t see something, it doesn’t exist in my world. So, I’ll have a bad haircut once or twice a day for the next month while it grows out. Why my head is constantly cold will be another pretend mystery entirely. Spring is a couple months away, time enough to figure out how to avoid another shearing. Time enough, I hope, for someone to hair and sympathize with what I’m saying.

 

Can anybody out there hair me?

 

I set the land speed record!

You knew there’d be an earthquake story, and I don’t want to disappoint my 2 subscribers. So, get your favorite adult beverage and have a seat at my virtual knee. Please turn off all pagers and cell phones as I relate the story of my first (and oh please God let it be the last ) earthquake experience.

Once upon a time. . .

Why do kids get pictures and adults don't?

I was in the middle of posting something to Facebook about how wrong it is that adult books don’t have pictures, and that kids have all the imagination they need so why do they get to have pictures when we as adults struggle to envision anything more unusual than a palm tree, when I heard loud machinery approaching. Of course I was at work, since that’s where I do most of my Facebook posting, internet surfing, and YouTube viewing. The machinery seemed to be getting louder, which got my attention away from the computer, since I was alone in my third floor office and the only sounds usually heard there come from my computer when I’m blasting Stevie Ray Vaughan “Double Trouble” or Koko Taylor singing “Wang Dang Doodle” or Buddy Guy doing “I Put a Spell On You.” Since I’m an adult and don’t have the benefit of picture books anymore (see first sentence of this paragraph) I was trying to imagine what kind of machinery could possibly be that loud, and why would it be coming in our parking lot, and why did it almost seem like it was making the building shake. I was pretty sure it was red machinery, though.

The Big Red Machine was coming.

But then the noise seemed to stop and the shaking increased. The entire building was shaking — I felt like I was in a cereal box that some giant was trying to get the prize out of. Then all the little connectors in my brain finally found each other and I had a distinct “oh shit” moment. This was an earthquake, or the end of the world. Now, it’s truly remarkable how many thoughts can get through your brain in the span of about 5 seconds. I did a brief review of what horrible things I might have done lately for which I hadn’t repented and which now might dog me throughout eternity if this was the end of the world. I cast that thought aside pretty quickly since things are what they are and bargaining for salvation at the very end of life just seemed so hypocritical. A vision of the Twin Towers appeared, accompanied by the sad understanding of what those people must have felt as their buildings swayed and collapsed.

Then the true catalyst thought formed — I was not dying in this building at this job. Not for all the monogrammed sheets or Palm Beach hairdressers or private nurses or houses in the Hamptons. There are other jobs or places where being crushed in an earthquake would have been more acceptable — in the Magic Bus being flung into a newly opened gaping chasm with my brightly colored back door magnets the last thing seen as we disappear, or at Catalina coffee shop on Washington in Houston with friends having a latte with a pretty design in foam on top, or at a Robert Earl Keen concert with everybody singing along to “Merry Christmas From the Family.” But not there, alone, in that building, at a job that’s so surreal it defies description. I tore out of that office. I didn’t

Ruuunnn!!!

know I could still run that fast or navigate the switchback staircase with such fleet feet. And clutching the black iron railing as a guide, I could feel the continuous shaking , simply the strangest sensation I can recall ever feeling. I, and everyone else, was completely unable to control what was happening. We were at the mercy of the earth.

I shot out the front door into the parking lot and came face to face with a dozen or so people who work at other offices in my building. And, true to form, my mouth opened up and a mightily inappropriate expletive flowed forth like lava, to be met by uniform glares and silence from the audience. What the hell, it’s a fault of mine, just a total disconnection between mind and mouth.

And the earth stopped shaking.

But I certainly didn’t. Those police shows on TV where they’re all so cool and collected while blasting automatic weapons are totally bogus. I trembled more than the earth had just done, and I’m damn sure Kyra Sedgwick does the same thing; she just looks a lot better doing it than me. And she gets paid for it. But I willed myself to stop shaking. Strangely, though our work phones and internet fail at the blink of an eye, everything was still functioning. Then I saw the true power of media — within 5 minutes the phone was ringing from around the country, with coworkers, family and friends calling to check on us. And the local beer place was offering earthquake relief in the form of $1 off all pints. God bless all of ’em.

Now, there’s a little bit of rain heading this direction for the weekend. I think it’s called Irene. . .

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.