Thursday, December 31, 2009

Be thankful and stop complaining

This evening my flight home was a bit delayed.

We were heading in for a landing and flying through a thick blanket of clouds.  Suddenly, the plane pulls up and climbs again.  That is an odd feeling when you have been descending for so long and you are expecting a landing any minute.  Ten minutes later the Captain tells us we are going to a nearby airport instead.  He says that they couldn't see the runway and so could not complete the landing.

People are such whiners.  Many of the passengers were bent out of shape about the situation.

Were any of you just listening?!  When the Captain can't see the runway, I think I'm going to side with him on the Not Landing decision.

One young man, not more than twenty and a new recruit in the military, was traveling with some of his buddies (they were not in uniform.) We'll call him PFC Grouchy Pants.  He was complaining that the Captain must be an idiot.  He couldn't believe we did not land.  He couldn't believe how stupid that guy must be.  He didn't have an aggressive edge to his complaining.  He just seemed like one of those people who likes to complain and wants others to join in.  He started to say how he had not had a cigarette since the morning.  I smiled at him and said, "Is that why you are so bitchy?"  I really did say this.  It didn't phase him.  He enthusiastically agreed.  "Yea!  That is why I am so bitchy!" 

I can understand having some negative feelings about the inconvenience of it all.  We were going to be two hours later than expected and many people had rides waiting for them.  PFC Grouchy Pants had to check back in from leave by midnight or he would be AWOL.  But c'mon people!  There is a really good reason for this to be happening and you should THANKING that pilot for not acting like some reckless, Top Gun maniac.

At the nearby airport, we are told that they will refuel and head back to our airport to give it another try.  There is a stink of discontentment in the air.  People are still grumbling even though we will eventually get to where we are going.  The stressed out flight crew is doing the best they can to manage the crowd.

We finish refueling.  We land safely.  I tell PFC Grouchy Pants to smile because we made it.  He says he'll smile as soon as he has a cigarette in his mouth.  Pissy passengers unload. 

So when I got off the plane, I wrote the crew a note.  My note said:
Dear Captain, First Officer and Crew,
Thank you for making our safety a priority over our convenience.  We all get to go home to our loved ones tonight and that is what really matters.  Don't listen to the complainers.  They don't appreciate what is really important in life.  Thank you and Happy New Year!
As I was writing it, one of the crew came to the counter at the gate to use the computer there.  He saw me writing my note.  When I finished writing, I asked him how I can get the note to the Captain.  He said that he was the co-pilot and could give it to him, but he didn't look very excited about the prospect.  He probably thought I was writing a nasty letter of complaint.  I handed it to him and told him that I just wanted to say thank you for keeping us safe.  He looked at the note and then smiled.

(Later I will write about the completely bizarre shuttle ride that I took from the airport.  But it is late and now I should sleep.)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cell phone update

Update on this post.
The Zombies did not eat my brains.  The T-Mobile store in my neighborhood is still standing.  The Boots of Thunder were not used.  (Too bad.)  The boring update is that I ended up staying with Verizon with a lower cost plan that is month to month.  And I DID keep my old phone!  That's a victory, right?

The fun part of this update is that I found the first cell phone that I ever used.  It isn't quite Gordon Gekko size, but it is pretty darn big.  The pictures show my current two year old cell phone on the left and the one from 2001 on the right.

I love how huge it is.  But the best part is below:

I bet you WISH your phone had its own pull-out antenna.  Admit it.  You are jealous.

And somehow this makes me think of Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog.  If you haven't seen it, you should watch it.  The first part is below:

It looks like it is no longer available to view through Hulu or on the Dr. Horrible website - the Zombies want you to buy the DVD now.  But you can find all parts of it on this YouTube channel.  Watch it.  Neil Patrick Harris is hilarious.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Schmawkward is mine

I bought him.

I couldn't resist.

Part of the description from the seller explained that it is old and some paint is flaking off.  

It said "...expect imperfections."  

I should put that on my name tag.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


The operation is still in effect.  However, the execution of the plan has been lacking.  I had a stretch in September when I managed not to volunteer at all.  I was having trouble getting motivated to do much of anything.  But I have since started up again.

I now know just a handful of the staff names and they recognize me when I come.  I know Miss J, Miss L, Miss J and tonight I met Miss P.  I would bet they don't know my name. (If only a certain someone would send me my fabulous name tag - hint, hint!) 

It's funny that I seem to have the ability to learn and remember the names of the children very quickly.  By the end of each night I usually know 5-10 new names.  I do try to pay attention whenever I hear one of the staff use a child's name.  It is extremely helpful in getting the attention of a 2 to 6-year-old when you know their name.  "Hey, kid!" doesn't work so well.  Tonight there was L, L, A, I, P, and A.   I didn't get the names of three others.  But I'm not Rainman.  It is all short term memory.  I might remember one or two names if they still happen to be there the following week.  But more often than not, I need to be reminded.

I admit I have to work a little harder to remember the staff names.   And clearly, I need to ask more often.  I had a nice conversation a week ago with one of the women about how much I regret not taking Spanish in high school. (Stupid, useless French classes.  Monsieur Lawrence, je regrette tout!)   One of the young boys didn't understand anything I said, but this woman was bilingual and could communicate with him.  She encouraged me to learn. Said it's not too late. She's right.  We had a good chat.  But I didn't ask her name! 

Besides the four staff names that I do know, there are two women and one man who have been there frequently.  I should know their names by now, but I don't.  We are at that odd point where we have seen each other many times and we recognize each other, so it now seems awkward to ask them what their names are.  But awkward schmawkward - I just need to do it.  That will be my next mission.  Learn the names of any staff member who is working while I am there and introduce myself to them.

I also need to work on my friendly chatting skills. I am just not very talkative normally and it is not my natural inclination to start conversations with people.  I can do it and I am genuinely a pleasant person.  But it doesn't come naturally to me. So each time I go I have to remind myself to be more gregarious than my comfort level usually allows. I sometimes try to pump myself up by smiling maniacally while driving there from work. You should try it sometime. Force your face into an exaggerated grin showing as many teeth as possible and hold it there for a while. I probably look crazy but it helps me to feel goofy and loosens me up a little.

Schmawkward.  I just liked that word after I wrote it, so I used it as the title of this post.  It sounds like it should be the name of a German chicken in a children's book.  Schmawkward von Cluckenstuffer.  He gets into all sorts of mischief because he has a touch of Asperger's and has trouble relating to the other barnyard animals.

Poor Schmawkward.

This is actually a "Vintage 70s RIDICULOUS EGG HEAD Plastic Necklace Pack of 3" on sale at Etsy. 

It could be Schmawkward, though.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.

And when your eyes
freeze behind
the gray window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.
When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.
May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

from Anam Cara by John O'Donohue

Moonrise by Stanisław Masłowski, 1884

Friday, December 11, 2009

Today's important life lesson - Knowing the lyrics is always optional

Itchy nose 

Ukulele skillz 

natural and complete unselfconsciousness of a child 

makes me smile

We should all be this free and joyful.

He's singing "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz.  See Jason's take on it at his blog =
Itchy faced kid does amazing rendition of I'm Yours 

And if you are ever in need a 19-letter word,
go ahead and use the one in this post.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Old is the New New (huh?)

I have never understood the attraction of shopping the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday) or the day after Christmas (does this one have a name?)  I just can't imagine a single appealing aspect to all of that frantic energy and the teeming crowds fueled by lack of sleep and an unsettling sense of entitlement.  People must be infected with some kind of deranged and overgrown case of the Gimmes for another human being to be trampled to death at a Walmart.  No "deal" that you can get could possibly be worth it.  As I have stated before - I would rather disembowel myself with a rusty spork and then set my intestines on fire than participate in that brand of madness.

But I'm not immune to the consumer culture that we live in.  My two-year cell phone plan expires in about eight days.  My phone is probably two years old.  I typically use less than 200 minutes per month.  I'm not a talker.  (I prefer to communicate through interpretive dance.)

But when it's time to renew my cell phone plan, my first thought is "Oooh...I can get a new phone!"  They always offer free phones when you sign up for another two-year contract.  It's fun to get something new.  It will be all shiny.  I'll get to play around with it like a new toy to figure out all of its buttons and gadgets.  I consider that fun.  I'm kind of a geek like that.

But then it will sit in my bag.  Sit on the table at home.  Sit on my desk at work and I will hardly use it.  And my old phone will become just more electronic waste in this world.

Gordon Gekko should have kept this phone.  It could also be used as a barbell.

It is so seductive and insidious.  I don't consider myself a materialistic person, but in this case I was almost blindly sucked into the genius marketing that is all around us, telling us:

"New is better!"

"Just throw it away and get another one!"

"You deserve it!"

Now that I have given it more thought, there is no good reason to stop using my current cell phone.  I plan to walk into a T-Mobile store, show them my old phone and ask them if it can be used with their calling plan.  (They have a cheaper plan than Verizon and no contract.)

I am fully expecting the salesperson to automatically switch into all out Zombie Sales Mode (they try to eat your brains) and offer me some fabulous way to get a shiny! new and improved! fully gadget-ized! phone for free.  Free!!!  He will flash his fancy electronics in front of me and hope that the blinking digital screens and melodious ring tones will lull my brain into a somnolent stupor (mmmmm.....shiny) so he can sign me up for a phone that will make my life finally worth living and turn me into a new and improved, better version of myself.  Come on!  Don't I deserve it?

I will thwart him with the Luddite Laser-Stare that I've been perfecting back at headquarters and I'll use my Power Bracelets to deflect the sparkly trance-rays right back at him.   If that doesn't work, I'll turn to the trusty Lasso of Truth to get him to answer my simple question - "Can I use this 2-year-old phone or not?!"  I may or may not use my Boots of Thunder to cause a seismic disturbance and bring the whole building down in order to spare the other poor saps from falling into their brain-eating clutches.  It depends on my mood.

Zombie Sales Boy had better hope I'm having a pleasant day.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Oh Danny Boy

Friday night when I volunteered, I played with a number of the children.  But a 2-year-old named Danny* stuck out for me.

He was there last week and needed a staff person with him constantly.  He had trouble with hurting other kids for no reason.  Well...I'm sure he sometimes had his reasons.  He would reach out and grab and pinch other children or hit them.  He needed to be watched at every moment and redirected to do "nice touch."  This week he was much better.  He didn't need someone watching him like a hawk.  He still wanted to resolve problems by hitting, but he wasn't indiscriminately trying to hurt others.

He found a small rubber ball (too big to choke on.)  He began to throw it around the playroom and chase after it while it bounced crazily around.  I tried to get him to play a game with me of rolling it along the floor back and forth to each other.  He was hip to the game for about thirty seconds.  Throwing and chasing was much more fun.

At first there were not many other children in the playroom, so his throwing was moderately safe.  As more children came in, it became a bigger problem.  There was a very good chance someone would be hit with it and a few of the other children wanted to chase the ball too.  Danny got very upset if another kid went near his ball.  He's not very verbal so he screeches loudly to show his displeasure and gets close to throwing a tantrum.  We mediated a few spats and asked the older kids to let him play by himself.  But it kept happening.  And Danny was getting more and more ramped up.

I finally knelt down next to him and told him, "Danny, no more throwing the ball.  You can hold on to your ball, but there are too many people in here. So no more throwing, okay?"  He was wiggling and whining as I talked to him and I was aware that at his age, he was not able to fully understand what I told him.  He did stop throwing the ball for about a minute.  I was shocked it worked at all.

So, as is completely understandable for his age, he started throwing the ball again.  I made an executive decision.  I took the ball away from him and told him, "We are done with the ball.  No more ball."  Now that I write it down it sounds mean.  But it wasn't!  I said it as nicely as I could, but also firmly.  I wasn't going to give him a long explanation or try to reason with him.  It needed to stop and he needed it to stop.  He was getting really worked up each time another child tried to get his ball.  I took the ball out of the playroom and put it on a shelf in the kitchen area - in a different room, completely out of sight.

When I came back, he was throwing a small fit.  I tried to get his attention with some new excitement - "Danny, want to go play with CARS?!"  He kept screeching and throwing his fit.  I walked across the room and sat in a chair to give him time to calm down.  Then he surprised me.  He got up and walked over to me.  He sat himself in my lap and snuggled close to me while he cried. "Awwww, it's okay," I told him.

He was crying and snuggling, and he seemed to be agitated by the other kids being nearby and looking at him.  So I took him to a seat in a corner further away from the general chaos.  It hit me then what a shame it was that he had to be there.  At that moment, he really needed to be brought to a quiet room by himself to calm down from all the stimulation.  But it wasn't going to happen.

The center is just not set up that way or staffed for that.  Everything is a group activity.  Volunteers cannot be alone with the children.**  I have to stay where the staff people are.  From what I have seen, the staff rarely take children off  to be by themselves.  They are always together in a group (except when sleeping when there are only 2-4 in the same room.)  Each staff person usually has one to three children who they are mainly responsible for.  But they still do everything together.  It doesn't seem like they have a mechanism in place for one to say to another, "This child needs some quiet time. Can you watch my other two for half an hour?"  Unless a child is having a total meltdown and then he is taken to his room.  It's too bad they can't do it before total meltdown happens.

I could be wrong since I am only there a few hours a week.  But it seems that the overall thinking is geared towards the needs of the group and less towards the individual needs of the child.  And maybe it is impossible for it to be any other way?  (No.  It could be different.  So says know-it-all Kathy.)

So the best that Danny was going to get that night was a slightly calmer corner of a loud and boisterous room.  Poor kid.  He is safe there and will get so many of his basic needs met.  But he is one of many and lots of things will be overlooked.   He deserves to have someone who loves him looking after his individual needs.  I hope that happens for him soon.

*I never use real names.

**We have been given long, thorough background checks before we are able to volunteer.  My fingerprints were run by the state and the FBI.  But I do understand the policy of not letting volunteers be alone with the children.  With that age group, the staff has to constantly keep a count of children and can't have volunteers wandering off with them.  Also, volunteers are given NO training. That's right - NONE.    (I've got a draft post with a whole rant about the volunteer coordinator and what a crappy, half-assed job this person does - but we don't have to get into that.)  So I understand keeping the volunteers supervised.  Just because we can pass a background check, doesn't mean we know anything about children or how to treat them.  And with zero training, the staff should be required to keep an eye on us.  Just because you are not a criminal, doesn't mean you're not a jackass.

Friday, December 4, 2009

I don't follow

I've been messing around with my blogger account today and figuring out how to follow blogs and add them to a reader.  I've been geeking out like this for at least an hour (okay, maybe two hours.)  I tend to investigate all possible settings and gadgets, just to see what they do.

So I have a question.  I used to bookmark blogs that I read.  But now that I follow them, what is the deal?  Is it considered proper Blogger etiquette to follow someone if they are following your blog?  Because I really DO NOT WANT people to follow me just because I follow them.   It is just not necessary.  Please, please and pretty please don't do it.  I beg you.  Only follow me if you are truly interested in what I have to say.  It would feel disingenuous to me and why waste your own precious time?

And so, as I emerge from my two hour techno-trance,  my right brain is tired of being ignored.  Here is my No Follow plea in poetry form:

A limerick:
Please and please don't follow me
If I am not your cup of tea
Life is too brief
So don't be a thief
Stealing time from yourself, what folly!

The old classic:
Roses are red
Violets are blue
Don't follow me
just cuz I follow you.

How much time, really?
Do not waste one waking breath
on scattering words

(Okay, maybe my right brain was just tired.)

Original depiction of fictional anthropomorphic rabbit from 

And another thing- 
Please don't feel obligated to leave a comment on my blog just because I have left a comment on yours.  Again, it is just not necessary.  Comment if you feel like commenting. That's it.  And feel free to read along and never, ever comment. That is perfectly fine too.

So does this go against some sort of blogging community rules?  Am I being an online social misfit?  I guess I don't care if I am.  It takes time and energy to write comments.  I don't want anyone to do it out of a sense of obligation, especially if what they are saying has no real meaning to them and they are just doing it to be nice.  Save your time and energy for things that really matter to you.  Engage in a comment conversation when you really are moved to do it. 

I have this whole sonnet in Middle English about commenting prepared....nah...I'll spare you.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Derek-bot Strikes Back

Follow up to this entry.

I didn't know he had it in him.  But I should have suspected all along.  Those $50 credit forms that he promised arrived rather quickly.  I know now that it was just a ploy to distract my attention.

I have two Citibank credit cards.  While I was calling to cancel one of them, I also had to make a payment over the phone for the other one.  They had issued a new card and number because of some security breach on their end. This is the second time they have done this.  Just another example of their twisted mind games, I'm sure.  So my online account access was limited and I could not make my payment online as I usually do.

Derek was more than happy to take care of that payment for me.  I could hear the smile in his voice.  I gave him the required routing number and account number from my check.  He read me the canned blurb from their payment script - "You authorize Citibank to make a payment in the amount of blah, blah, blah....."  I gave him my verbal consent and then we were on to other matters. 

I had spoken with the Derek-bot on a Sunday.  My payment was due on a Monday. On Wednesday I checked my account.  No payment was made and it now showed that I was late.

Well done, sir.

It was surprisingly easy to remedy.  I was ready to go into full battle mode. I had my cape and bullet-proof bracelets, Derek-bot's ID number, and the date and time of call in hand.  But it wasn't necessary.  I called and talked to Citibank's Amanda-bot and she was able to make the payment for me and change my grace period so that the payment did not record as late.

Of course, they couldn't just let it go at that.  My next statement arrived and it contains a line item that says "Late Payment - Fee Not Charged" with an amount of $0.00.  The Citibank version of a severed horse head in my bed.

Oh, I get your message, Citibank.  Don't you worry.  Enjoy your brief victory.  As I have said before...this is not over...

This is a PG version of the horse head in bed scene from The Godfather movie. 
I promise, it isn't scary or gross.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Not so perfect me

Immediately after I wrote my last entry, I thought to myself that it sounded a little arrogant. As if I were saying that I can do anything. That is not what I meant at all.  I am in touch with the reality that there are lots of things I can’t do.   My last post was more about my overall positive outlook on trying new things. And my sometimes naive idea that nothing bad will happen.  So to even out the cosmic blog karma, here's a list of things I am not good at.


Do people even call it that anymore? I could never pull off that kind of exercise class where your arms and legs had to do something different at the same time. To be truthful, I couldn’t even manage getting my legs to do the right steps. Lift, step, kick, step back, lift.  I couldn't follow and was probably as graceful as a cow in high heels.

I believe it has to do with thinking.  I'm fine with coordinating my limbs to jump up and hit a volleyball (which I used to be very good at.)  But that is mindless action.  I'm not thinking about what to do with my left leg or how to position my right arm.  I'm just doing.  The aerobics classes required me to think too much about how I was moving and my body wanted nothing to do with that.  My body is smart sometimes.  I should listen to it more.


I am WAY to practical and detail-oriented to ever be successful at selling. If I were trying to sell a bottle of water to a guy who had just emerged from twenty days in the desert, I’d bore him to death with the mundane facts about the water bottle and make sure he knew all of the issues facing him should he choose to make the purchase.  And if it didn’t seem like a good idea for them to buy it, I’d probably tell them that too.  He'd wander back into the desert - still thirsty - just to escape my pathetic sales pitch.


Not that I have ever tried this but I am pretty sure I could never do it. I’m a little bit claustrophobic, so the idea of squeezing myself through small passages in cold, wet caves makes me very, very nervous.  I used to read Outside magazine and there were stories of extreme cave explorers that fascinated and horrified me at the same time.  They wouldn't just explore caves by walking and crawling around them like normal lunatics.  They would go diving with specially-made rebreathing scuba gear into deep, unknown, water-filled caverns.  They needed the rebreathing gear because it allowed them to stay underwater for much longer periods of time - because they had NO IDEA where any of the caves would lead, or how long they would have to be underwater.  I shudder just thinking about it.  Here's a link to a story about that from 1996 if you want to freak yourself out.

Being myself

This should be an easy one, right?  Who else would I be?  But I have always had a hard time sharing myself - my true and real self - with others.  At some point when I was growing up, I seemed to get it in my head that my role in life was to be the good girl who never rocked the boat.  I was incredibly adept at hiding what I was really thinking or feeling.  I was an expert level pretender.  We are talking first round draft pick material, people.  If they had an Olympic event for it, I would have been looking like Micheal Phelps with stacks of medals hanging off my chest (or Mark Spitz, if that's your era.)  It became so ingrained in my personality that I really and truly did not even KNOW what I was feeling most of the time.  I took my cues from everyone around me and did my best to be what I thought everyone wanted me to be.

That is one of the reasons I struggled so much in college.  Up until that point, my world had been a place where I knew my role and was pretty damn good at it.  When I went off to college, suddenly no one was around to tell me who I was supposed to be.  I was so used to defining myself by the expectations of others, I had no idea what I really felt or wanted.  I was lost.

In the twenty years since then I've managed figure some things out and I am pretty confident about who I am.  But I still struggle to show myself to people.  I seem to have the most trouble with people I am closest to.  On most days, I could not care less what strangers think of me.  But I still find myself feeling like I have to meet some expectation with people closest to me.  Always be okay.  Always be fine.  Always be good.  Even when I feel like total shit.  I know that it is something I do to myself and I am working on changing it.

This blog has helped.  I am better at expressing myself in writing than I ever am in person.  And I can write something revealing or difficult and then shut off the computer and go dive under the covers and hide.  Time to take cover.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Forklift Friday

It was forklift Friday for me today. I am most definitely an office worker, but in a small company there are times that you do whatever needs to get done.  On Fridays, I'm the only one here who knows how to drive the forklift. That is not a picture of our forklift.  The one in the picture is way cooler looking than ours.  Looks like you could go off road with that bad boy.

Today was an interesting challenge - find the one crate out of thirty-two on the pallet rack and take it down, all while maneuvering in a very tight space because the guys had left a whole bunch of stuff crowding the shelves in the warehouse. It would boring to explain it, but let's just say that it would have made a good YouTube video. The one where they play goofy circus music while you watch the dummy on the forklift - move forward, back up, move forward, back up, turn too far, pull the pallet halfway out, push it back in, move forward, back up, pull the lift up too fast and dent the shelf above, back up, move forward, turn too far, etc. There were also various scraping noises involved.  I did successfully get the 400 pound crate on the ground and nobody was killed.

The next task was to try to put the crate in the back of a guy's SUV.  Ha!  He did not witness the previous forklift episode, but I showed him the dented shelf and told him that was my handiwork.  But I was the only one here and if he wanted to try it, I was his only choice.  He was a risk-taker. We tried it.  It actually went well - no scraping or denting this time.  It just wasn't possible to do it without crushing the back door of his SUV. We jointly decided against that.

There was almost a third opportunity to drive the forklift today because we had a truck come to pick up two outgoing crate shipments. But I decided not to push my luck and let the truck driver do it.  I'm actually not a bad forklift driver. The pallet rack incident was the first time I felt stupid.

So how do I know how to drive a forklift?  Just had one of the guys show me - on-off, forward-backward, up-down. Not that hard.

I have always had a good amount of what you might call blind confidence.  I just never think that there is any reason I couldn't do something.  And if there are doubts, I have the ability to act like I know what I am doing, at least until I really figure it out.  I can't say that this has led to an exciting life full of daring escapades or stupid risks.  It just leads to things like trying to juggle eggs in Beth's kitchen when I was a kid.  I was sure I could do it!

Or driving from Boston to LA by myself in a borrowed car in five days when I was 24.  Stopped at the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis and the Grand Canyon.  The rest of it was just highways and motels. How could anything possibly have gone wrong there? (And nothing did!)

In college, driving the church van by myself in New York City to pick up the local disadvantaged youth and bring them to Sunday school. Going in to seedy looking apartment buildings to get them if they weren't waiting outside (even though the priest told me not to.)  I wasn't going to just leave them. How could anything bad have happened?  (Nothing ever did.)

Going into a crack house and watching a woman who was overdosing have seizures while I was training to be an EMT in New York City.  In this case, I wasn't actually required to do anything.  I was just riding along as part of the training.  How could I not pull that off?

Moving to California in my early twenties with no money, no job, using credit cards for everything and having only a friend's living room to sleep in.  How could that NOT be a recipe for success?  It all worked out exceptionally well.  Found a great job that made me an imaginary millionaire for a brief time.  Found a beautiful, rent-controlled apartment right in San Francisco and lived there for eight years.

Okay, maybe I have done some stupid things.  Now that I really start to think about it, there were plenty of stupid, risky things I have done based on my blind confidence that nothing bad could happen.  So I must be blessed or watched over by guardian angels.  I am grateful for that. They haven't had to work too hard lately.  My life has been relatively sedate these past years.

But you never know.  If I find myself in Beth's kitchen again, I might have to try that egg juggling trick just one more time.  I know I can do it!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Because I am from New England, I was watching the results of the vote on gay marriage going on in Maine.  From the title of this post you can probably tell how I feel about the results.

Last year, I wrote about my disappointment with the outcome of Prop 8 here in California.

Most of my links from that earlier post don't seem to work anymore, but here's a new one: 

The man who ran the campaign in California also ran Maine's Yes on 1 campaign.  I think it is a shame that they used the same tactic of misleading people about how the law would impact what was taught to our vulnerable, innocent children in schools.   Lying stinks.  Let's teach that to our children.

You know what I hope that they are teaching in our schools?  Civility and basic human decency.  You can't make fun of Johnny because he has two Moms.  You can't pick on Jenny because she likes to play with trucks.  Some people don't look just like you.  Some people don't act or think just like you.  They deserve your respect and you should treat them with kindness.  If they are reading a book about how different families look, that is what they are teaching. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Dorothy Day

It is 
blustery and 
this morning.

I'm going to 
grab my basket 
what the wizard is up to.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

We meet again, dear Citibank...

Oh Citibank!  When will you learn?  You are going up against a superhero - don't you get that yet?!   You can try to trip me up, but it won't work!  I have powers that you cannot overcome.

We have battled before - oh yes, we have.  Did you learn nothing from that encounter?  Were you not sufficiently humbled and awestruck by my incredibleness?

My special offer for 1.5 airline miles for every dollar spent was good for one year.  That year was almost up.  You were getting ready to charge me a $50 annual fee - you know you were.  That's why I was calling to cancel my card before the fee kicked in.  The whole balance was paid off and the card was no longer being used.

Your weapon of choice this time was Derek.  He was no Joe, but his amiable manner could have lulled mere mortals in to a peaceful stupor where they wouldn't have expected your duplicity.  But my defenses would not be cracked with pleasant chit-chat about the unseasonably warm weather in Nebraska that day.

I told Derek straight up - I was going to cancel my card because I didn't want to pay an annual fee and in truth, I was only using you for the extra miles.  He complimented me on my responsible use of the Citibank credit cards.  He was sorry to hear that I wanted to cancel.  Then he dispensed with the soothing platitudes and brought out the big guns.  He would sign me up to get DOUBLE miles for the next three months if I stayed on.  He would also take care of that $50 annual fee.

Derek, you sly devil.  You were on to my weakness.  I was jonesing for more miles like a crackhead for the pipe and you could smell it.

But you won't just GIVE me the $50.  Of course not.  You will mail me a form that I have to sign and mail back and THEN you will credit my account $50.  Nicely played, Citibank.  I expected such treachery.  Your tangled web of paperwork will not defeat me.

I agree to your terms.  I will await your form.  I will gleefully rack up my double miles and pay the balance off every month.  And don't think you can "forget" to send me the form.  I have the badge number of your Derek-bot and I won't hesitate to use it. 

It's been lovely to tangle with you again, dear Citibank.  Really it has.  But you and I both know  - this is not over...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

my Friday lesson

My Friday night ended with me in the bedroom of three little boys singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

Jonathan, age 4, has been there before.  For at least a month the last time.  All the staff know him.  He was gone for a while, but now he's back.  It probably does not mean good things are happening in his life if he's back there again.  Poor kid. 

Mikey, also 4, got attached to me.  I never deliberately try to make this happen.  I always let the children approach me and decide how long they want to hang with me.  I don't follow them around the playroom or try to sit next to them on the couch.  I am actually quite passive.  Except when a child needs some redirection or a toddler dispute needs mediating.

Mikey needed coaxing to go take a shower.  I helped him by telling him that I'd stay outside the bathroom door while he was in there and wait for him.  The staff do the bathing and dressing. Then I did one of the worst things I could do.  I didn't keep my promise.  I completely forgot what I had said and wandered away from the door.  He came out of the shower room, glared at me and said "You didn't stay at the door!"  I apologized and told him how sorry I was that I forgot.  He grabbed my hand to try to squeeze it and pinch me because he was so mad.  I tried to get him to tell me how mad he was and I kept saying sorry.  He still seemed angry, but he let me help him put his socks on. 

He sat next to me during movie time (Toy Story 2.)  It was a rowdy night in the toddler section.  There were at least twenty children there.  Lots of staff, but it was still a bit loud.

When it was bedtime Mikey got nervous and didn't want me to leave.  I told him I'd read him a story and that's how I ended up in the room with the three boys.   It is not easy to get three 4-year-olds to wind down when they have just come from being in a noisy room with twenty other toddlers.  I read a book.  We sang songs (softly.)  I turned down the lights.  I spoke softly to them and eventually got us all down to whispers.  I was in there for an hour before they began to settle down.

When they had quieted down a bit, I tried to leave but Mikey wasn't having any of that.  He sat up and told me that if I left then he was coming with me.  He was determined and put his two feet on the floor and would not get back under his covers until I told him I would stay.

So I sat on the floor, aware of the minutes passing by and annoyed at the staff chatting in the hallway.  (Um...ladies?  Children trying to sleep in here!)  I was thinking to myself, "Okay, what can I do to get them to sleep faster so I can get out of here?"  And then I realized - why do I care how fast they fall asleep?  Where do I have to go?  I'll just go home, eat a late dinner and sit in front of the TV.  Why am I in such a hurry to do that?

The meaninglessness of my work life has been bothering me lately.  I like the people I work with.  I enjoy the freedom that I have and the fact that in a typical day I get to use both my left and right brain.  I am grateful that my efforts contribute to this company staying afloat and therefore seven other people get to keep their jobs. But really, what I am doing?  Helping to sell stupid crap that nobody really needs.

This volunteer thing is the best thing I do for my soul all week. 

Once I realized that, I sat there in the dark with the three boys with a much calmer mind and heart.  I rubbed Mikey's back for a while.  Then rubbed Jonathan's back.  I was no longer focused on completing a task.  I was just happy to be there with them and glad to know that my presence brought them comfort.

Study of a Sleeping Child by Václav Malý

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Nobody puts Baby in a corner (or gets in the way of her morning coffee)

So this morning, I had a little encounter with an 18 to 20-year-old “I am invincible and look how fast my car can go” young man.  You know the ones I am talking about.  They speed through parking lots in their crappy Hondas; race through our neighborhoods with their Nisson POS; and hold the mistaken notion that they have complete control over their cars and all the other objects in the world around them.

It was a battle over the Starbucks' drive-thru.  The young man didn’t stand a chance.

The Starbucks was on a busy road with a small parking lot.  I entered the Starbucks' parking lot from the road – what you might call the front entrance.  He went around to enter from the back alley.  There was a minivan pulling out of a parking space in front of me, so I patiently waited.  The minivan then headed in the direction of the back alley to exit.  The young man came flying around that corner, clearly intent on cutting me off and getting to that drive-thru first.  According to my set of rules, if I am in the parking lot first, I get to go first.  I sometimes enter from the back alley, but if there is a car already in the parking lot, heading for the drive-thru, I defer to them and let them go ahead. 

So he comes whipping around the corner and he most definitely should have slowed down when he saw the minivan heading towards him.  I'm sure the minivan had to slam on its brakes.  But he didn’t slow down at all.  I saw his intention and did not hesitate.  I had a little jump on him so I refused to back down and kept going at a normal speed right into the drive-thru ahead of him.  It was close.  Very close.  We didn’t make eye contact.  I tried to act like it was oh-so casual.

What I did next is a little weird.  I felt like I had the right to gloat a little about my victory.  Maybe flip him off and say, "Ha, ha you little jerk.  I win!"

But instead I paid for his coffee.  Take that, punk!

 Dame mit Kaffeetasse (Lady with Coffee Cup) by Emile Eisman-Semenowsky

I don't know what possessed me to do it.  I might have felt slightly bad about our aggressive interaction. But only a little.  I think it was more that I was delighting in my *****Winner***** status.  I would be a benevolent dictator and buy coffee for all of the peasants.  ("Shirley Temples all around!")  Perhaps, I was trying to teach him that there are people in the world who can respond to his jerk behavior with only kindness and love.  Make him think a little about how he acts and maybe, just maybe, feel a tiny bit ashamed of himself.

Later I realized that, if he is like a typical 18-year-old male, he might not have gotten my happy-hippie peace-and-love message.  He might have thought I was trying to hit on him.  Ewwww!  That's just what the world needs - this young man's ego puffed up some more.  

"Chicks buy me coffee!  Must be the car."

Last photo is Portrait of a Young Man by Agnolo Bronzinon

Monday, September 28, 2009

An important question

Is Dr. Oz a Vulcan?

Has anyone ever explored this question?

 It is more noticeable when you see him on TV.  The eyebrows.  The ears.  The giant brain.


It just makes sense, doesn't it?

Sunday, August 30, 2009


I downloaded this song from iTunes this week:

I am amazed that I still know all the words - what - 30 years later? I'm fascinated by the fact that there is a place in my brain where the lyrics to this song reside. There are neurons buried somewhere in that soft gray mass in my head, which have been so deeply imprinted by this song that even though I rarely access the memory, it is still there in full. A cascade of synapses fire, sleepy neural pathways awaken and these silly lyrics pour out of my mouth. I am in awe of that power.

But I am also mystified by how variable and unreliable memory can be. Beth just told me about the time that she came to visit me while I was at college in New York. I have absolutely NO memory of that. NONE. She says that she has pictures of me in my dorm room. I remember my dorm room, but don't remember Beth ever being there. She remembers that we went sightseeing together and saw the Empire State Building. If you asked me if I had ever been to the Empire State Building, I would have told you no. Even though Beth filled in some of the details of her visit, I can not conjure up a single thread of a memory about it.

So strange. So random. I suppose every memory is a miracle.

I hope when I am 96 and sitting in my nursing home chair, that I bust out this song and all the staff look at me funny. (And then probably increase my meds.)

Said a hip, hop, hippy to the hippy to hip hip a-hoppin' you don't stop rockin' to the bang bang boogie said up jump the boogie to the rhythm of the boogie-bee.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Party Pooper

Gross discussion of bodily functions below. If you can't handle it, stop reading.

Should a person be worried if her (kinda loose) poop this morning was a bright red color?

Not if she drank a huge glass of beet juice last night.

This happened to me this morning. When I noticed it, I started to think, "What the...." and then I remembered the beet juice.

Actually it was orange/beet juice but the orange flavor was nowhere to be found. Beets just take over everything. Like some obnoxious guest at a party who hijacks every conversation and has to be the center of attention the whole time.

I'm roasting a bunch of vegetables in the oven right now, including beets.

The beets had better not ruin the party.