Thursday, December 29, 2005
We had so much fun. There was a great little partner-group of two guys with acoustic electric guitars playing obscure and not-often-heard songs. I cut a rug to “Feel Like Making Love” with my new almost-birthday buddy named Paul (cute, single, my age AND employed!) Nothing much developed between us, however, because he said something really strange on the dance floor. And then he left. C’est ca!
Not to be discouraged, Jamie and I danced to a quite a few songs, totally ruling the dance floor. At one point I did a ninja move on her (in a skirt no less!) and landed a rear high kick right in her tum-tum. Luckily, her legs were too short, and her foot couldn’t reach my ass. Otherwise I’d be skewered on the end of her elf boot. Later she made fun of me by making faces and I caught a totally Rosie O’Donnell moment on film. Mom and I squealed we laughed so hard. Mom, you gotta post those pics. We need to share the wealth!
All in all, it was probably one of the best birthdays I’ve had in a quite a few years, which honestly surprised me. I would not have picked this year as a good birthday year, that’s for sure! But I got three singing Happy Birthdays on my voicemail, two calls from my daughters, a huge gift bag from my co-workers and dinner plus drinks from my mom and sister. And several really nice cards. Which all adds up to one very big thing: it truly is good to be loved. Thank you, everyone, for not letting me forget that. You took what could have been a very gloomy and sad day and made it really, really special!
Hey, who the "F" needs a special man in their life when they have family and friends like this, I’d like to know!
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
"Oh, it's Laura's birthday....gosh, I should do something really nice but I'm broke and damn if I'm not tuckered out!"
That's enough to cause more than a few guilt trips. To make matters worse, we've got two other birthdays in December, my niece's being just the day before mine! And then Emily's birthday (that's my daughter, BTW) in two weeks and Ray's birthday the following week (Ray = ChillDaddy). This all just makes me think that it is just too busy to bother with my birthday.
On the other hand, I've always dreamed that when I met the special person in my life, he would know all this about me, but he would make a special day for me every year anyway because he would know that birthdays are about celebrating the birth of someone special; it's like saying thank you, God, for bringing this person into the world. In this fantasy-world where I actually have someone who feels that way for me, he would always remember my birthday, always spend special time with me and always make me feel loved, appreciated and valuable, as though the world got someone special on December 28th.
Hmph. I'm still waiting.
UPDATE: I can't say too much now....my co-workers showed up with a HUGE gift bag full of goodies just for moi! It warmed the crispy cockles of my grinchy little heart. I am loved.
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Chilldaddy here -- I don't know why Bunny's getting all impatient for this, (referring to the 'where's my dang picture?' statement at the top of her blog). She only dropped off her disc yesterday, and I've had to spend more than six hours of my precious time editing out warts and scars and bits of chewed up food that had dribbled down her chin. Dammit Laura, I'm a blogger, not a miracle-worker.
Well here it is, hope y'all like it. Ask Bunnyjo what was originally in the picture that I had to magically remove using every scrap of graphical knowlege at my command.
After making out on the beach (spoken with surprise):
“I’d actually date you!” This, just before my recently-dumped boyfriend showed up and scared the hell out of him. He jumped in his van and ran over all his camping gear that was piled up in front of it. Apparently he felt he needed to make a quick exit! Ah, how I’ve relived that moment with relish over the years!
“You are easy on the eyes, you know that?” Actually, I didn’t - I had no idea what it meant. When he explained to me that he was complimenting me, I felt insulted.
“You’re the marrying kind of girl, not the dating kind of girl.” Perhaps he felt I wasn’t going to give it up anytime soon.
“You would be the perfect package-beautiful-irresistible-sexy-etc if you just lost 5-10-50 pounds.” This I’ve heard MULTIPLE times. Little did they realize, I am all of that now. I would just be MORE beautiful, irresistible and sexy if I lost weight…which would actually be good, because it would put me way out of any of those guys’ reach. J
“If the side of the barn needs painting, by all means paint it.” This was spoken by a man who doesn’t “believe” that women should wear make-up, but he was willing to make an exception in my case, I guess.
“It’s my pee-jar.” This was all the explanation I got after discovering a nearly-full milk jug in the closet containing a suspiciously yellow fluid. He did NOT find it humorous when I put it in the fridge and labeled it “for his drinking pleasure.”
“I’d just love to come home to some bologna in the refrigerator and some Hamburger Helper on the stove!” This was spoken by my ex-husband after I had been buying expensive deli select meat and rushing home from my exhausting, demanding corporate job every night to cook elaborate dinners. Was I lucky or what?
This I’ve heard from every boyfriend I’ve ever dumped (with some variation):
“Look, don’t do anything rash. If you ever feel lonely, before you go picking up some jerk from a bar or whatever, just know you can always call me.” Thanks, I’ll remember that.
“Unless it’s got blood, sex, aliens, serial killers or a lot of fighting, it’s a chick flick and the only reason a guy is going to see it is because he wants to poke-poke-poke.” So I guess seeing “Memoirs of a Geisha” is out, right?
Which just goes to show, crazy is as crazy does. Although I could go on in this vein for some time, I thought I would give YOU a chance to share the misery. What is the craziest thing YOU'VE heard from a man's lips?
Monday, December 19, 2005
1. Presents from my daughters. They came home on Saturday night with a present all wrapped up in gorgeous paper and sung a song to me. I had been feeling so lonely while they were with their dad, it was balm for my heart....I cried. Absolute sweet hearts! :)
2. Presents from my ex-boyfriend (he was the present-giving KING)
3. Great music, inlcuding my new favorite, James Blunt.
4. Good food: taco salad, Scrib's pizza (pepperoni, bacon, green olives), swiss steak, BBQ anything, BUFFALO WINGS, any kind of salad whatsoever, and certain sweets.
5. New clothes and shoes, especially boots, high heels, sexy shirts and skirts. Or VICTORIA SECRET anything! Yum.
7. Oh, yeah....friends and family and all that cr*p :)
8. Dancing with my high heels on...and just generally being bad!
9. Buying, wrapping and planning present-surprises for people I love. I'm a person who won't give a shabby present; I won't give it unless I can feel proud to give it. I often lead with my heart when I shop, which means I generally get very sentimental and buy things that really, really show my love. Like one year, I got incredibly fervently touched and bought everyone in my family emergency kits for their cars.
10. A nice, clean, good-smelling home, which I'm happy to say is nice, clean and good-smelling again after a two-week stint of piles of mail, smelly garbage, decaying food in the fridge, mound-o-dishes and strewn clothing. I had been dwaddling. If you were to walk in today, you would see no dust, clean and sparkling surfaces everywhere and a complete lack of clutter laying about. Yay! :)
Thursday, December 15, 2005
The problem is, we tend to choose email addresses that make sense to us, but make absolutely no sense to anyone else. For instance, my editor at the Bay Window uses her zip code after her name. Great for her, because she obviously is familiar with her zip code. However, I’m never going to remember it because I don’t live in Holland! Or how about an old boyfriend who used the number from the Fahrenheit book after some nickname of his. I can’t remember his nickname to save my life (although I know what I would call him) and the only number any Americans associate with Fahrenheit now is “911” thanks to Michael Moore. Yesterday I sent five emails to a colleague because each time she told me something different but every one came back undeliverable. Even she can’t remember her email address! Now that’s sad.
Wouldn’t life be interesting if we could choose email addresses for other people? We could choose email addresses that either embody what we think of them or we could cleverly hide our secret resentments within couched terms of good will. Like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. You know…fun stuff like that.
But until that day comes when we can choose emails for other people, we are going to have to live with the drivel they come up with themselves. Which makes my email address completely drivelishous! Yum!
Friday, December 09, 2005
Many of you may remember that during the Presidential debates 2004, a lot of time was spent talking about prescription coverage for seniors. The problem is that all of us intend to retire on a small portion of what we now live on, predicated by the thought that our living expenses will be greatly reduced by the fact that we’ve paid off our home, got the kids through college, and no longer have expensive lovers to maintain. It sounds like a good plan, but unfortunately we had too many seniors eating dog food so that can keep popping those $35 each hypertension pills.
With the population in America aging rapidly, politicians suddenly realized that they needed to do something to keep seniors voting their way. Thus, the Part D plan was born. The Part D coverage is offered by literally hundreds of insurance companies across America. Each company offers three levels of coverage. Every plan is different, covers different drugs, and has different costs. But regardless of the plan chosen, the senior will pay $3600 out of the first $5100 in drug costs, including co-pays and deductibles. After the $5100 threshold, they reach the “catastrophic coverage” level where they are responsible for the first 5% and Medicare subsidizes the insurance company for the other 95%.
Advocates say that this is the best thing that has ever happed to seniors. After all, they used to pay 100% of their prescriptions. Opponents, nay-sayers and cynics think that the program leaves a lot to be desired, like a genuine release of prescription cost burden on the seniors.
Interestingly, our dear ol’ Prez hit a home-run just by passing this legislation. Now, the legacy of his presidency will officially include the fact that he gave seniors what they needed – desperately. However, as a wise person once said (myself!), you can’t just give people the help you want to give, in order to make an impact you have to give the kind of help they really need.
While “W” spends his political capital on crap policies like this, our soldiers are dying. While “W” writes his legacy about helping seniors in a pen of gold, there will still be a lot of seniors eating dog food. And while the blue-nosed bureaucrats pat each other on the back about what a wonderful thing they’ve done, the oil crisis builds.
If we can’t drug the elderly, the least we could is drug ourselves. With the way things are going, it looks like we are going to need it.
Monday, December 05, 2005
Sunday, October 02, 2005
Since Michelle doesn't have the exit interview paperwork, I thought I would take a few minutes here and express a few thoughts regarding my employment at Charter Communications.
At my current wage, I would have made roughly $20,028 this year. According to 2004 Health & Human Services guidelines, that puts me at 125% of the poverty threshold for a family of 3, which I have. For a family of five, they would be below it. Poverty status is attained by family units whose income is so low, they are spending 1/3 of their income on food alone*. For a normal family, their food budget amounts to approximately 12-15% of their total monthly income. To put this in perspective, I am what is considered near poverty or near poor, being above the poverty threshold but below 125 percent of poverty. At my current income level, my children qualify for free lunch. I don't even make enough to be considered responsible for providing lunch money.
Here are some other interesting statistics. The US median income is $33,000. Customer Service Rep is at number 44 on the list of 50 occupations with the lowest median earnings for year-around, full time workers.
The reason I wanted to share this information with you is because when I look around at my co-workers, I am looking at the working poor. There are two kinds of people who work at Charter as CSRs. There are motivated people who want to get ahead in life by being promoted. If they aren't promoted, they will move on. The rest of these people have no marketable job skills to put them outside of either the poverty level or the near poverty status. Where else are they going to work for $10 an hour? They think they are lucky.
For the privilege of working at a near poverty level, these people are treated like children. They can not get up and stretch their legs or go grab a cup of coffee if they get sleepy. They can not go to the bathroom if they've already used their emergency break. I've seen a coworker puke in her garbage container, and I know of another that did it as well, simply because they couldn't just get up and leave their desk. My children's school can not call me directly. I've had three occassions where they had to get ahold of me immediately but were forced to leave messages on my cell phone. I didn't get the messages until my next break. In addition, we are held accountable for every minute of our shift and yet in order to do our jobs effectively, we are forced by virtue of excessive call volumes to use personal time to read the glut of emails, KM Hot Topics and handouts. We use our personal time to make work order corrections. We use our personal time to address envelopes to send name change forms. We use a ton of personal time to do company work. And yet, if we fail to submit a segment for off-phone time? We are not paid. We are held accountable for every minute of our shift here and despite the low wage we are given, are still forced to give up what precious little free time we have here to do company business. And showing up early just to get logged in? Don't get me started.
To make employment at Charter palatable, promotion possibilities are pushed heavily in the training here, but what people don't realize is that being promoted to HSD or dispatch is largely a lateral move. They are still small cogs in a gigantic wheel making little more than what they started out making. Empowerment is another buzzword intended to encourage new employees. We are "empowered to help the customers." What CSRs discover once they hit the floor, however, is that our ability to help the customers is hemmed in by the overabundant policies dictating responses to every possible scenario that occurs. There is no empowerment for CSRs, only compliance and non-compliance with those policies. Quite literally, CSR's are paid to take the abuse and somehow soothe these people so they don't disconnect.
For myself, I have marketable job skills that can put me above the "near poverty level," and that is why I am leaving Charter. Truth is, I can be poor working most places. Why be poor and miserable?
I realize that because this comes in the form of an email, it does not give Charter an opportunity to respond. However, whether or not my feelings about being employed here are ameliorated is irrelevant. The question, as I see it, is twofold. Number one, with the incredibly low wage being offered by Charter, how do they intend to recruit and keep high-quality employees? The second question is where the rubber meets the road: does Charter recognize the need to better compensate both through more freedom and better pay the hard work being done by the frontlines of its organization? The voice on the other end of the phone represents who Charter is. Having a well compensated, fully engaged and knowledgeable, top notch employee there might go a long way toward improving Charter's image. And the truth is, people who can't afford to pay for their children's school lunches could care less about employee recognition. Just help us pay our bills. That's what we sacrifice our family time for, and that is the least of what we should be able to expect.
Sincerely, Laura Wilson
*Since the USDA's 1955 Food Consumption Survey showed that families of three or more people across all income levels spent roughly one-third of their income on food, the SSA multiplied the cost of the Economy Food Plan by three to obtain dollar figures for total family income. These dollar figures, with some adjustments, later became the official poverty thresholds. (This information taken from the US Census Bureau Poverty website https://outlook.chartercom.com/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/poverty.html)
While I'm at it, I shall send a nod to my newest blog link, Daily Brane, a longtime family friend. I like subversive, strange and somewhat controversial people. I would have been a good friend of Marx's. Now, Brane resides just this side of evil, but that is part of the charm. I've known him, loved him or hated him since the first time we met, he chunking a block of ice at my brother's head when we were but wee little elementariaries. I told Ray to never speak to him again and he remained in my Total Freaking Brat category for many years. Which explains why I dumped the curtain on his band mid-song in the high school talent show I was student director of. However, once I grew up I came to really appreciate his *uniqueness* and deeply regretted being such a bitch. Now, I abuse him every chance I get. :) Check him out. Like me, you'll be intrigued.
Tata little peoples. I shall write more later.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
I said, "I need," and he said, "Later. Maybe."
I said, "Hey, that doesn't work for me!" and he said, "Too bad, I'm God."
"Ok," I said, "You said specifically that if a son asked for bread you would not give him a stone. Now, what exactly do you call this?!?"
"It's all-knowing goodness. You just don't know it yet."
God and I, we are just fussin'.
Last Friday I spoke with a woman who had authorized an $80 credit card payment over the phone because she had been told it would keep her service on. However, that was not the case. She had already been shut off and the CSR would have known that if he/she had been doing the job properly. Discovering that her service was not going to be restored, she called and got me, demanding that the company return her payment. When I explained that the company would not refund her payment because A.) she legally authorized the payment and B.) she owed the money, she became irate and told me what a POS I was to work for such a company and then informed me that she'd be suing my company and myself and my supervisor. And the flea on the hair on the wart on the frog on the bump on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea.
I have discovered that being a customer service rep is akin to the grease that keeps the pistons from seizing up in your car's engine. We are the grease that lubricates the friction between a ginormous corporation's terrible policies, the incompetent employees and the reasonable customers who are getting bitch slapped. And we are hired to use our "customer service skills" to explain why the customer should be enjoying the experience.
Coming to this realization also made me realize another thing. I don't have any customer service skills. I think the giant corporation is akin to the 50's science fiction monster BLOB that engulfed everything in its wake. I hate making excuses for this company, and I think the customers are rightfully angry - most of the time.
One other thing I would like to note. If I ever work in customer service again, I will make sure it is in face-to-face customer service. Generally, people will avoid looking like an ass in public. They will make a greater effort to keep themselves under control. They are much more likely to use manners, exercise the Golden Rule and refrain from making threats. However, people generally do not make such efforts in the comfort and sanctity of their homes. They will scream, they will cuss, they will call names and they will get very, very personal. And in the end, they still get f*cked. Poor customers.
Friday, September 16, 2005
While we have all longed to abuse the customer, very few of us have the cajones to actually do it. I, however, exacted one of the most heinous, cruel punishments on a customer that could be devised. And I did it completely on accident.
When I was pregnant for Emily, I worked at Barnes & Noble. I loved every minute of my job there. I loved the customers. I loved the atmosphere. It was a genuine joy to help a customer find the exact book he is looking for when all he can remember is that it is red with black letters. I lived for the challenge of making our customers happy.
One day while working at the cash register, a gorgeously dignified black woman came up and requested her book that had been specially ordered. I went to the bookshelf and quickly found the book with a piece of paper bearing her name held on with rubberband. Slipping the rubber band around my wrist, I rang up the book.
"That will be $14.93," I said as I quickly whipped the book into a Barnes & Noble shopping bag.
"Oh, I'm sorry," she said, "This book should only be $2."
"Well, unfortunately I do not see anything in our system. Let me call the supervisor."
I made nervous conversation with the customer while I waited for a supervisor to come and take care of the pricing issue with the customer. Especially at that time in my life, any professional confrontation made me intensely nervous. To my vast relief, I saw Kristen coming. She was one of my best friends and vastly funny. I was sure she'd be able to get it settled quickly.
"I'm sorry," Kristen explained. "This book is $14.93. We can't give it to you for $2."
Within moments, to my ever-growing horror, Kristen began to argue with the customer. This gorgeous, dignified woman was giving as well as she was getting, insisting to Kristen's well-reasoned logic that the book should be given to her for $2. Completely forgetting my presence, they began to debate about what had actually happened when the woman ordered the book. The situation had escalated to an almost shouting match when suddenly the rubberband I had been nervously twittering with flew out of my hands and hit the customer square in the forehead!
Whipping her head toward me with shock and disbelief, Kristen exclaimed, "What did you do that for?!?!"
As though I had done it with a purpose in mind!
As though I was chiming in on her side and the best way to win the argument was to slap her in the forehead with a rubberband!
And with every progressive thought of my whirly-birly mind trying to explain and defend myself, the absurdity of the situation became more obvious. A rising laughter I couldn't control was wrestling its way out of me. And Kristen knew it.
It was that moment of anxiety turning to panic and the insane laughter that seems to explode out of nowhere. Like when your mother falls on the ice and you can't help because you can't stop laughing and you are too weak to keep on standing yourself. And the worst part about it is that you genuinely feel bad. You just can't stop laughing.
Working my mouth frantically to get something out before the guffaws began escaping, I managed to get out, "But I didn't mean to!" before running away. I was still laughing uncontrollably five minutes later when Kristen walked in to find out exactly when I had lost my mind.
God, there are fewer things in life funnier than smacking an angry customer in the forehead with a rubberband. Truly.
Monday, September 12, 2005
Hopping out of my car that day, I enjoyed prancing into the store. I was just sure that the looks I was getting were in admiration for my foxy-fine self. As I hesitated at the door, an older woman came up to me and whispered something in my ear. I didn't quite catch what she said, so I asked her to repeat herself.
"I said, your skirt is unzipped!"
I gasped and looked down in front.
"Not the front! The back!" she whispered loudly.
In absolute mortification, I whipped my hands to the back and felt a good four inches of crack hanging in the absolute WIND!!!! My underwear, having slipped down yet again, had exposed far more than I would ever have shown to anyone but my doctor! All I could think of was getting my stuff and getting the hell out of there.
Quickly zipping up my skirt, I rushed over to the hardware department sure that every look my way was hiding a smirk in remembrance of my ass crack display. Rushing around the hardware department in an absolute flurry, I couldn't find what I was looking for. To my relief, an employee who worked in that department (and thus could not have seen my ass crack in the parking lot) asked if he could help me.
"Yes. I need this stuff. It's umm... you know, it's paper but it is rough and you rub it on stuff."
"Like...sand paper?" they guy looked at me like I had just escaped from the mental ward.
After collecting my stuff, I paid and left. The only question remaining is....why didn't I just leave? Ah, just another anomoly comprising the charm that is Laura.
Sunday, September 11, 2005
The day in question found me whizzing along the highway guzzling water, as is my wont, enroute to a day of chesterfield-shopping with my own dear sister. At the time, I still resided in that red-neck-loving town that shall remain nameless, so it was a considerable jaunt to my sister's abode in Grand Rapids. By the time I arrived I was in dire need of Facilities, my kidneys being the overachivers they are. Being only my second trip to my sister's apartment, I relied on my keen sense of direction to point me at her door. Rushing up the stairs, I immediately began to pound urgently, uttering plaintive cries as I did so:
"Jamie! Let me in! Let me in, girl! I need to go potty!" I shouted as I continued to pound. "What is taking you so long? Get your ass moving! I'm dying here!"
At last, I heard her respond, "I'm coming! I'll be right there!" I could tell by the way she said it she was thinking I really was dying!
When the door finally opened, a frazzled looking elderly woman was looking at me with the wide-open eyes of a terrified woman. "Are you ok?" she asked with genuine concern.
Not understanding (apparently the urea had gone to my brain), I exclaimed, "Where's Jamie?!?!"
"I don't know any Jamie. Do you need to use my restroom?"
Rushing down the stairs, I knocked on the door directly beneath the old lady's. I knew that if Jamie wasn't upstairs, she had to be the apartment directly below. To my surprise, it was not Jamie who answered the door. It was a beer-guzzling, pot smoking, dirty-looking guy who was partying it up with his good friends at 10:30 on a Saturday morning.
"Hey, baby" he said, "How's it going?" Somehow he managed to burp it out without once raising his eyes above my cleavage-level.
Damn! Foiled again!
I quickly excused myself and rushed away, but being the gallant gent he so obviously was, he decided to escort me.
Walking quickly, I was loudly explaining that I knew exactly where I was going when....Jamie walked out on her balcony.
We both nearly peed our pants over it.
Sunday, September 04, 2005
C'est moi, Bunnyjo!!!
Predictably, a discernible shortage of resources by Louisiana's poorest segment of society, comprised primarily of blacks, left them hardest hit as they struggled to survive the category four fury imposed by Katrina. In the days that followed, New Orleans' Mayor Ray Nagin errupted in tears and volleys of cursing over the slow Federal response to a city out of control. Amongst the greatest concern were the looters who stripped many businesses of supplies such as diapers, food and drinks. However, as one newsclip showed two young black men carrying bags filled with what appeared to be shoe boxes, not all the looting was for supplies. Even worse, rival gangs began pelting the police headquarters in New Orleans where the grim sign hung: Fort Apache. For non-history buffs,
Love her or hate her, Cindy Sheehan represents what is best about democracy: the right to publicly debate the decisions made by the powers that be. But what makes her mad-mother tirade all the more poignant is that the very thing she is protesting - the war in Iraq - is being waged in the name of spreading democracy by a nation that is incapable of initiating enough passion in a vast number of voters to participate in something as simple as voting, much less participating in the process of political debate as Cindy Sheehan is doing. The critical lesson here is much less about one woman's grief and much more about the impact one passionate, driven individual can make on a nation at large. So, whether you are a student or a faculty member or an administrative official, the power to make a difference rests within your own two hands. If you care enough, that is.
Thursday, September 01, 2005
All those soft feathery feelings turned to hardened Elmer's glue, however, when I began to see the coverage of looters ripping off Walgreens Drugstore. Walgreens! It was horrendous. Well....on second thought perhaps it wasn't so horrendous. I saw one woman run out with a couple bags of Huggies. Watcha gonna do when you run outta diapers, huh? Rob a Walgreens.
Seriously, though, it was the picture of two young black men trudging through calf-deep water with bags stuffed with what looked like shoe boxes that really pissed me off. Then I heard a reporter talking about how the police headquarters in New Orleans was coming under so much gunfire by gangs and vigilantes that someone put up a sign that said "Fort Apache." Galling.
Made me not wanna donate any money.
But then I started thinking (ka-blam!!!) Perhaps the reason so many black people were robbing and looting had less to do with their moral character and more to do with what they had learned to expect through a lifetime of conditioning in a town rife with racism. Like not to expect a policeman when you need one. That the needs of white people tend to come first. And that in a choice between a black man who needs rescuing and a white man who needs rescuing, the black man better have a plan B.
Sunday, August 28, 2005
Which brought me to the point of realization. It really isn't the Hummers on the road that drives America's black hole oil consumption. It is the sheer volume of commuters. You remember...we're the ones who took our bourgoisie ass out of the city to make a better life for our children. Yeah, we're the ones to blame. So, here's the sign I'd like to slap on my back:
SAVE AN IRAQI AND RIDE YOUR BIKE TO WORK.
Course, I'd look like an ass if I put it in my back window. Sha.
Realizing that my fans are champing at the bit for new words descended from on high (moi), I have taken a few moments to direct some words right at their blessed little hearts. Now I know that many of you are seething from boredom when I am not posting, so I have decided to give you a taste of the excellence in viewing that I enjoy so much, i.e. rockin' cool movies. So, here are a few quick and dirty recommends to get the job done.
Stylish and Clever: Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
At the top of my stylish and clever category is the balls-to-the-wall Cockney scam-fest by director Guy Ritchie. The heavy cockney accents and east-London slang may leave you a little bewildered in the first half hour, so, if you are a speed reader, use your closed captioning to keep up. This movie moves at a lightening pace, virtually studded with grifters bent on getting the best of somebody. The punk-soul soundtrack keeps things jumping until the unbelievable climax. You won't be tossing old guns off a bridge after this. Guaranteed.
Movies to Impress: Primer
Hey, let’s face it. Sometimes we just want people to think we’re smart. This indie film by Shane Carruth and David Sullivan, two green grads from director school, will fool ‘em for sure. This movie is so smart I literally watched it straight through twice just to figure out what the hell was going on. Which was ok, because not only is it smart, but it’s also freaking amazing. If you don’t drop jaw, someone better check to see if you are breathing. Virtually shot in two locations on a budget somewhere under $25,000, these two guys not only convince you they are Hollywood caliber, but they put Mensas to shame. Rock on, little director grads.
Twistedly Funny: Drowning Mona
I gotta say, if it’s twisted, I probably think it’s funny. That is why I so dig this movie. Listen:
"Does anything about this murder strike you as odd?" said the sheriff.
"You mean like the fact that no one cares?" said his deputy.
"She's dead, Wyatt. Whoever killed her did us all a favor. As far as I'm concerned, ding-dong the wicked witch is dead. End of story."
No one in Verplanck, New York gives a flying fig that Mona Dearly was killed. Not her husband. Not her son. And certainly not the grease-spoon floozy playing Wheel of Fortune with her husband. The only movie in the history of movie-making that features a Yugo car chase, this movie abounds with quirky characters and off-beat humor. It’s worth the watch just for that. With stellar performances by everyone in the cast including Casey Affleck, Neve Campbell, Jamie Lee Curtis, Will Farrell and Danny DeVito, you’re sure to get your laugh off. And I love the stylin’ sounds of the seventies soundtrack. Righteous.
Sexually Repressed and Explosive: Girl with a Pearl Earring
Boy, you gotta hand it to those Dutch people. They sure were repressed. And religious. But it is precisely the repression and tightly-bound religiosity of this movie that gives its powerful impact. In a household brimming with the intensity of insecurity, jealousy, creative genius and slightly mad passion, Scarlett Johannson plays a pawn in a sexual chess game of the wealthy and powerful. But it’s the eye candy of Cillian Murphy and Colin Firth that makes my mouth water. Yum. The silence and low-tempo movement of the film only heightens the anticipation of what’s to come, like slow-moving heavy petting. Despite a complete lack of any gratuitous flesh being exposed, it’s one of the most sensual movies I’ve ever seen. Hands above the covers, now.
Enjoy, my people. And we'll talk later. Peace out.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Sunday, August 21, 2005
Goodbye, Burger King's Spicy Tendercrisp chicken sandwich. You make my eyes water.
Goodbye, Cherry Garcia icecream with Hershey's Chocolate syrup and maraschino cherries.
Goodbye, Famous Dave's BBQ cheddar bacon burger with the best fries on the planet. Guaranteed heart attack on every plate.
Goodbye, homemade southern Frito pie (Fritos corn chips and homemade chili smothered in cheddar cheese). Aka, how to get fat and really enjoy it.
Goodbye, Apple Avenue Cafe's stuffed hashbrowns. Many an ass you have widened.
Goodbye, BW3's Smoky Southwest buffalo wings. I've killed too many chickens as it is, thanks to your Two for Tuesdays special.
Goodbye, Cole's cheese garlic bread. You make my breath stink, but my tongue quiver with joy.
Goodbye, Dolly Madison's Raspberry Zingers. Best twinkie on the planet.
Goodbye, Papa John's pepperoni pizza and cheese bread sticks. Into a food coma you've ushered me on many an occassion.
Goodbye, homemade swiss steak. The best damn steak you'll ever eat.
Goodbye, Mexican Casserolle. Stroganoff. Pizza. French toast. Zupa Toscana.
Goodbye, all the comfort food in the world. It was nice knowing you. But you never tasted as good as thin feels.
Friday, August 19, 2005
Like the woman who could spend 30 minutes trying to convince me that I should make her new high-def TV work (which I already explained I couldn't do) instead of taking five minutes to look in her owner's manual (which I advised her to do repeatedly). No, instead she wanted to explain to me - yet again - that the SERVICE TECHNICIAN (who specializes in setting up video) couldn't get it to work.
Or the woman who repeatedly yelled at me because the technician didn't arrive when he was supposed to. After I told her that I'd sent a message to dispatch. After I'd assured her that dispatch promised they would do everything they could to get a tech out. After I'd explained that we had done everything we could do. She STILL wanted me to know what she would do IF the technician didn't show up and IF her cable wasn't fixed and IF we lose the war in Iraq and IF hell freezes over....
You get my point. People are just freaking STUPID.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Yes, George W Bush is my new crush. It is a mystery, but I find myself strangely attracted to his squinty blue eyes and devil-may-care, heigh-ho silver Cowboy Attitude. I know there is a rumor running around that cowboys don't exist anymore, but I would like to say this to those people: you're wrong. And even if you were right (Bill Maher), women don't care. Ask any woman the best line in the history of the world and she'll say Val Kilmer as Doc Holiday: "I'll be your huckle-berry." But George...he has the intensity of God behind him when he cocks his head to the side, narrows his eyes, looks right into the camera and delivers yet another Bushism: "Hear me now or hear me later, there are no massive weapons in destruction of Iraq for our troops." Sends thrills right through me. I lovya dubya!
And for my money, it just doesn't get any better than Jon Stewart's crooked-finger, squinty-eyed impression of studly Texan Cowboy. Yeeeeeee-haw! Ride 'em cowboy. I'll be your huckleberry!
Cowgirl king of the rodeo
Let the good times roll
Let the good times roll
-Kings of Leon
Monday, August 15, 2005
What happened was this: you know those pivotal moments in life when you really need to just be completely transparent, even if it makes you look completely needy and weak? Well, I'm really bad at those. When I'm in that situation, my mind instantly reverts to ANY other position than weakness or neediness. To be quite honest, I get this mind-block thing, almost like a panicky thing happening and neediness or weakness or vulnerability actually ceases to be an option. It goes right out of my brain. It isn't a dishonesty thing. It's just that neediness, weakness or whatever presents itself in my mind as a problem to be addressed, so I address it by putting myself into the un-needy or un-weak position. So instead, I make these stupid decisions that put what it is that I really need and really want in jeopardy. Those of you who know me are thinking of many examples of this right now. Come on, I know you are....be honest.
Oh, and before you get started, yes, I know this is a global village and that truly no one does anything on their own and to be completely honest, the only thing we all have in common is our need for other people, our need for help, our inability to provide everything we need for ourselves. I know all this but my knee-jerk reaction independant-ness prevents me from taking advantage of these realities in my personal relationships. To be quite precise, the knee jerk reaction keeps me from having personal relationships. And quite recently, this damn knee jerk reaction made me say some really stupid things to someone I really care about all because I couldn't utter the words embedded in my heart, the undeniable truths: I love you and I need you and more than anything, I want to enjoy your company every day of my life because I genuinely enjoy who God made you to be and having you as a part of my life - just knowing you are there - makes me very, very happy. You want to give me what I want? Give me you.
But nooooooooo. Instead I basically said I don't really need you in my life. I said I don't really want to hang around, I've got other people who want to be a part of my life. Like I said, truly an Ass.
Sunday, August 14, 2005
So, here's what happened to me. I have this friend who is continually making the same mistakes over and over again. Now, this is a very lovable person, but the repetition is getting a little old. So, I thought I would help him out by giving him the best lesson I've learned this past year, and I learned it from Captain Jack Sparrow. You remember, he's the staggering swaggering swashbuckling heart-throb of the blockbuster kiddie hit "Pirates of the Caribbean." There's this scene where he tells innocent Will Turner that his father was the black-guard pirate, Bootstrap Bill. Of course, Will threw a fit and Capt. Jack had him literally out on a limb in moments. The next words out of his mouth were profound ones. He said, "There are only two things that matter in this life, matey. What a man can do and what a man can't do. Now, you can hang there sputtering about your old man or you can accept your fate and help me dock this ship at Isle de Morta." Or some such gibberish as that. But the important part is the first part. That whole what a man can and what a man can't do part. That, matey, is profound.
You see, we expend a ton of energy contemplating the what if's of life. And, in reality, most of our what if's boil down to how other people are going to act - or react - to the decisions we make in life. As if the what if's determine whether the outcome of our decision or action is successful or not. It does not! We are absolutely in no way capable of controlling the decisions that other people make. We can not even influence the decisions other people make most of the time. The truth is, people do what they want to do, whether they want to admit it or not. All we can do is choose our own actions and responses. In the end, you see, it is not what they do but what we are going to do about it that matters.
The choice is ours. We can choose to accept things the way they are or choose to make things different. In the end, we can't make people do what we want them to do. We can't make people accept the decisions we make. But what we can do is know ourselves well enough to make decisions that we can live with, regardless of the circumstances. And we can only do that once we know 1. what we can live with and 2. what we can live without.
And this place, people, is absolute freedom. It is freedom because it gives us the power to say, "Hey! This is what I want, this is what I need and if you can't accept it, you can go to the deuces." The reality is, no one lives our life but us, ourselves. What we can live with and what we can live without is a complex amalgam of our personality, circumstances, inherent temperament, childhood scars and current resources. No one can assimilate that complexity for you, therefore no one is qualified to tell you what the resulting "live with" or "live without" should be. It is just you and the person you shave with every morning. We all need to get to a place where we can look at that person we shave with every morning, right in the eye, and like what we see. But if you look that person in the eye every morning and ask, "WTF are you doing, you stupid asshole?!?" chances are you need to make some choices. And changes.
And if you choose to NOT make a choice, and if you choose NOT to make some changes, the least you could do is just try not to take anyone else down with you on the way, drowning man. You've got a lifeline. Pull yourself to shore.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Unwittingly, I got behind the wrong person. I was standing in my usual state of equanimity (HA!) when I heard the cashier ask the woman in front of me whether she'd like her winnings in cash or lotto tickets. It took everything within me to keep from audibly groaning when the woman in front of me began rattling of a HUGE, looooooooong series of numbers so that she could take her winnings in tickets. I exaggeratingly rolled my eyes for the edification of anyone clever enough to look to see what my reaction was to this unseemly development: a handful of fanned lotto tickets and then about ten of those expensive scratch-offs. While I waited.
Being sociologically aware, however, I used the opportunity to critically observe the woman so I could reinforce my already disparaging views of the type of people who buy lottery tickets. I was not disappointed. Now, let me preface my observations with a bit of a nod to Dave Ramsey, best known for teaching people how to get out of debt and achieve Financial Peace. While I don't know if he was the first person to say this, he is the person who says it best (and most often): lottery tickets are a tax on the poor. A voluntary tax. This woman standing in front of me physically represented what could be construed as "poor." She was wearing flip flops (the $1.99 kind you can get at KMart in which the rubber begins to fray around the edges after day two), a cheap looking pair of shiny athletic pants that were too short and a nubbly-worn pink tshirt with an advertisement for the Bahamas on it.
Now, people can dress any way they want. It was not her attire I disapproved of. It was the fact that she was obviously poor and she was there spending good money on a statistically improbable chance at winning millions. She has a better chance of getting struck by lightening than winning the lottery. Even worse, instead of using her winnings to pad her obviously depleted wallet, she used it to perpetuate her long-odds hope.
I believe this situation makes a deeply striking statement regarding human beings and how we will grasp at toothpicks even as we go down, flailing, in the water. Let's think abut this woman in Wesco and use her as our example. Now, she's obviously poor. As a poor person, she's got a few options to turn her situation around. Undoubtedly, the hardest option open to her is to continue working at whatever godforsaken shithole job she currently occupies while she attends higher education part time until she educates herself enough to either get promoted or get a better job. Ten years down the road. While it's the hardest, it is also the most profitable. Her lifetime earnings would statistically be three to nine times higher. Another option would be to get a second job. That would suck, but it would also probably serve to get her to the Bahamas occassionally. Or she could sell various consumer products, both legal and not. Or she could go to the casino/buy lottery tickets. But the farther down this road she goes, the longer her odds get at actually getting a return on her investment. Unfortunately, she doesn't realize this because she is not educated. If she were, odds are that she wouldn't be in line buying lottery tickets. She'd probably be in line somewhere to buy concert or theatre tickets, things that could actually enrich her life. But no....we find her wasting away my precious time buying her one in seventeen million chance at untold riches. Like I said, a tax on the poor.
Oh, and while I am busily improving the world, let me make another suggestion: could convenience stores make a lottery-only line so the rest of us could zoom through our transactions, please? My excellence thanks you.
Friday, July 29, 2005
Dr. Adam Levine, an obesity researcher at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn has been developing a new work environment that encompasses NEAT, non-exercise activity thermogenesis. You may recall my old post about sleeping on top of the covers to make our bodies burn more calories. In effect, our bodies are like big, old factories requiring heat energy to keep us warm. This heat energy is produced by the burning of calories. Simple science. Dr. Levine capitalizes on this fact by designing workstations that require workers to participate in a very low level of activity while they work. For instance, a work station may be attached to a treadmil set at 1 mph so the employee walks at a slow pace while working, without breaking a sweat or becoming winded. This low level of activity yields some big results. Dr. Levine estimates that the average person will burn an additional 100 calories per hour with as much as 1000 calories per day. Overall, this could result in a fifty pound weight loss per year with no other changes either to diet or exercise. What obese person wouldn't jump at the chance to do this?!? Hellow, one of the biggest hurdles to my weight loss is finding a way to fit in the time to get it done with everything else I'm doing. Voila! Problem solved. Thank you, Dr. Levine.
Now another of Dr. Levine's innovations is the moving meeting. Instead of sitting around a table discussing strategies and solutions, meeting-goers would pace the track together looking at the whiteboard walls as they go around. Now, as wonderful as all of this sounds, I can't help but find myself feeling very skeptical about the potential for success here as I look around the training room and my fellow trainees. Now, I certainly could be throwing the first french fry here, but most of the women in my class make me look petite. I'm talking two to three Muskegon units each. And extra large chairs.
However, all hope is not lost. I've noticed a marked prediliction for all things sweet and squishy by the fellow trainees. So, using the old donkey following a carrot scenario, I can totally imagine my coworkers chasing the donuts around the track. How's that for the office of the future?
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
NO ONE LIKES TO FORGIVE BAD GUYS. Bad guys should eat dirt and learn to love it. Right?
Well, let me refute you. I recently had a bad experience. Someone hurt me. Now, I had every right under God to get mad and stay mad. As a matter of fact, no one would have blamed me if I had done something really mean like taken out a billboard in his hometown detailing his exploits. But I didn't. I forgave.
Now, you all know that humility is my middle name and that I would be the last person to toot my own horn, but forgiving him makes me a good person. Better than good. Saintly. But that is kind of beside the point.
My exemplary characteristics aside, defending forgiveness goes deeper than the validation it gives me (as much as I looooove validation). It is about moving on. Being healthy. And someday being whole enough to let good things into my life. Ok, so I've hit the whole person stage and am ready to get on with the good things life has to offer me. So, of course, my attention turns to all of you.
I can't help but think of the ugliness that unforgiveness breeds. I think of it like a canker. You hold something against someone because some day you are going to whip it out and lash 'em with it. But what happens is that canker begins to infect the area around the heart. It begins to flow through the veins. It begins to poison everything you touch. And you know the worst of it? That ugliness, that poison, it rarely gets spewed on the source of your unforgiveness. No, that poison gets spewed all over the ones you love the most, the ones you breathe and eat and sleep with. Yeah, we think our unforgiveness is a weapon against the one who hurt us. In reality, all it does is ensure that all the other relationships you once enjoyed get tainted, too. So much for love.
Friday, July 22, 2005
Grouping the mental loins of my mind, I have devised a plan by which we can thwart said worm should there be random recurrences of its ugliness. But I will need your help, Dear Readers. If you would please join with me in this fight to the death against a viral anomaly bent on destroying the narcisstic armour I have constructed so diligently, shielding my true persona from the harsh light of celebrity, I would be immensely grateful.
What needs to transpire is merely this. If a post should appear here which mysteriously reeks of truth, transparency or unabashed sincerity, the Dear Readers need to spring into action. As quickly as your nimble little fingers are able, post a response which includes the code words "snake in the grass" or "snake on the loose" or "uncurable maniac invades blog." I have installed a hidden device which, upon detecting these words will instantaneously send me a super-buzzing text message on my phone instructing me to call a secret 1-900 number where I will hear nothing but the words: "Who doth hast the unalienable right of pretension?" whereby I will give the password "Thy delectible diva, Bunnyjo." After a series of beeps, a computer generated voice will direct me to enter my secret 4-digit pin number. Then I will have to verify the last four digits of my social security number. Then, after spelling my mother's maiden name, the computer-generated voice will read the posted message. Pressing # then activates a seek-and-destroy counter-worm programmed to decimate any invading worm within contact. Voila! Problem solved. Ingenius, yes?
It is good to be Bunnyjo.
Sunday, June 19, 2005
But my waste-of-a-day yesterday has me thinking about the nature of procrastination. What is the purpose of procrastination; where does it come from, and why do we indulge in such a self-sabotaging behavior? I think it boils down to avoidance. We avoid what we don't like, what we don't want to face. Right now I have some BIG things I'd rather not face, rather not find time for in my life. I'd prefer that life would stand still and I could exist in that hypersleep state like in the Aliens movies. Just wake me up when the mean-and-nasties are gone. A bientot, ma copine.
But no! Life does not allow us to channel surf the boring ads of life; it does not allow us to TiVo the moments we were too busy to notice; it does not allow us to scene select the good stuff and leave the gore alone. No, we are forced to experience it all, every damn moment of our lives.
I, for one, cast my vote for procrastination-avoidance. I mean, if life doesn't give us the option of picking and choosing our moments, the least it should let us do is postpone them a little. Especially those gory ones. Garsh.
Sunday, May 29, 2005
As a rather detached observer happily staking my claim on the sidelines of science fiction frenzies nation-wide, I watched the glut of media reports with quiet disdain. Although the whole concept of good people battling darker forces has its appeal, I find myself continually amazed at the lengths to which fans will go to declare their allegiance to the Force.
I heard a radio interview of one guy who'd been camping out in front of a California theatre for weeks so he could be twelfth in line to buy his ticket on opening night. I'm sorry, but all I could think of is, why couldn't he just wait and go the next night? I mean, he'd have to quit his job to do something like that!
Then, there was an old acquaintance of mine, grinning from the front page of a local newspaper, sporting his $500 and three-weeks-in-the-making Star Wars costume. I wish I still had his number. I have a really good use for that $500.
Obviously, I just don't get it. I'm not with the Force or on the light side or whatever it is Luke was always blathering about. But that doesn't mean I don't appreciate one aspect of the Star Wars insanity. I can say I do appreciate the laughs in what would otherwise be more boring news about Iraq, the falling dollar and how business professionals can't get hired, but there are plenty of jobs in the service industry. Enough of that crap. Bring on the crazies.
But seriously, perhaps now that we have walked a mile in ol' Darth Vader's shoes, and have a sense of kinship with him despite the pure evil he became, we can happily go on about the more pressing business of American life.
So, for those die-hard fans hoping for the resurrection of Star Wars fantasies on the small screen, I thought I would indulge myself with some suggestions of how you can pass the time until the next blessed event.
*Invent a recycling process for the millions of Star Wars' Happy Meal toys that will be discarded a few weeks from now. There are people dying for want of an alternative energy source, you know.
*Create a living monument to the Star Wars tradition with the thousands of people who would rather quit their jobs than go see Star Wars the night after opening night. They could hold placards that read: "The Force will be with you if you let me work for food."
*Write a screenplay about a young man who saw the first Star Wars movie, became inspired and then grew up to fight the forces of evil in the world. Call it, "Mr. Bush Goes to Washington."
*Finally, if none of these ideas appeal to you, there is one last resort: Move out of your parent's basement, get a job, and instead of spending money on bills, save it for the special edition DVD collection likely to hit stores by Christmas. The Force knows, George Lucas' will need every dime of it to cover his special effects bills.
Thursday, May 19, 2005
About six weeks ago I was at a client site with my sometimes boss, Loyd or Eddie. This was my first time out to this client's business, so we were doing the glad-hand and making all nice-nice...when suddenly I realized it was 4:15!!!!! I was an hour away from home!!!! And my children would have been crying and whining and scratching at my back door for the last 30 minutes since they arrived home to find.....their mother missing!!!!! I gasped! I looked around in panic! I started five exclamatory sentences and breathed in and out rapidly!!!! My eyes were round and protruding, people were dialing phones, alarm bells were going off in people's heads as they twirled their finger around their ear while I was busily exclaiming about my POOR CHILDREN!!!!!! Luckily, I had just the week before made child care arrangements, and had I just taken one quiet little moment to think about it, I would have realized that they had been picked up by the babysitter approximately four times since said arrangements had been completed. Oh, DUH-UH!!!! Furiously backpedaling, I tried to explain how the girls had been instructed to go to the Stone's house if they ever arrived home and I wasn't there, so all was not lost anyway. Which only begged the question: why would such arrangements be necessary in the first place? Judging by the nervous laughter and sidelong glances, I doubt a soul existed at that client site who had one iota of faith in my parenting - or business - skills. Well, forget that part. Just focus on the excitement of the non-procrastination procrastination panic. That's the point.
Ain't it great to have me back?
Monday, May 09, 2005
1. I sing the guitar solos in all my favorite rockin songs. I know, I know...shameful. A habit I acquired during my brief tenure as Dork in Residence. So far the hypnosis hasn't eradicated it, but I'm sure to strike on a cure soon.
2. I have been known to do my nails as I drive down the street. Priorities, people. If I die, I can't do it with cracked, chipped nail polish.
3. I spit my gum out my window going down the road. I like to shoot it out high and far-I can really make that thing fly, even when whipping down the road at 55 MPH. Often, I hope the people in cars around me observe my trajectory with awe and wonder.
4. While doing that, I once spit it out the passenger window from the driver's seat and missed. OK, it was last summer. Apparently it landed inside the well of the door handle. My boyfriend pointed it out to me as he was getting out of my car, and I did what any normal, intelligent woman would do in such a circumstance: I blamed it on my children.
5. Another odd car-related behavior is that I often have epiphanies behind the wheel. Whether I am overcome with regret, sadness or joy, it often results in erratic driving behavior. Look, if you see me on the street, just get away. It's really better if you do.
6. I have a deep-seeded mistrust of that guiding light known as "common sense." Whatever my instinct tells me to do, I usually do the opposite. Perhaps that sheds a little light on the interview with myself. J Thanks, James.
7. I constantly shed hair. OK, that may not be a personality quirk, but it adds to the overall package.
8. I make great first impressions, but rarely good long-lasting ones. Hmph.
9. I AM INCONSISTENT. Sort of on purpose. It adds to the genuine intrigue that surrounds my life.
10. I am not a high maintenance woman, but I do expect complete and utter devotion from my friends, family, people that love me. It's not that I think anyone owes me anything. It's just that you should give it to me. Kind of like ownership by proxy. If you have it and I need it, don't you think you should give it to me? See, it just feels good.
11. OK, that last one was meant to be facetious. Except that everyone will say it's true. C'est ca.
12. I say I'm open, but I'm not. I say I like people, but I don't. I say I'm funny, but I'm not. Don't listen to anything I say. Well, except about the whole excellence thing. I'm right about that.
13. Here's another thing. I'm one of those people that speak with absolute certainty and authority, but am often wrong. But I'm very good about admitting it.
14. I don't lose my keys, my purse or anything I'm carrying. I don't lock my keys in my car. I don't forget things. But occasionally I do one or all of these things. Part of the intrigue thing.
15. I have been known to turn the wrong way on the same street three times in a row. Return home up to three times for forgotten items in the same morning. Find three left shoes, no rights. And I've been known to bounce three checks in a row. Three is my lucky number.
Oh, I could go on like this forever. It's such fun. But you get the idea. I hope I have inspired you with a few ideas of your own. Have fun being intriguing, inconsistent and just a little bit dorky. People will love you for it, too.
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
-Anna Grace, 9 years old
Monday, May 02, 2005
"Well, don't let me distract you gentleman from doing your duty to God and man! Go on now and do what you have to do," Hollow replied with his usual savoire faire.
The men all burst out laughing, and Yellow Todd got up to give Hollow the good seat, a broken-down kitchen chair in the shade. As the chief weaver in the craft of tale spinning, Hollow was always given his due respect.
"Come on, Hollow, you promised to tell us about that cow tippin' in the prayer meetin'!" shouted Wilford.
"Now, give 'im a chance to get settled!" Thurm scolded. "Here's something cold for ya, Hollow. Water yer throat before ya dry it out keepin' us fellas entertained!"
The men cracked jokes while Hollow just smiled quietly. Waiting his turn to speak, he delicately removed the top to his home-grown wine with only his thumb and forefinger, then spun it out into the grass. Holding his drink high with his signature blessing, "Lord, I thank Thee for all Thy bounty," Hollow took a long, slow drink. The group recognized their cue and settled down expectantly.
"There are moments in the pulpit when Time seems to hold its breath and it's as if you feel the pulse of God in your head, pressing on your brain...forcing your thoughts into order. The clergy call it the Annointing. For me, it was awakening. As if the door of Heaven had creaked open a sliver and my eye alone beheld the glory of God.
"The awakening never came often enough or stayed long enough for my liking. Marching out of cadence with the Spirit seemed to be my specialty. It's not that the annointing didn't fall. No, it was there all right, like ants at a picnic or mosquitoes in the summer time. I just couldn't seem to get my fill of it. When the annointing would depart, I'd ignore the hint and carry on, grasping for another glimpse of perfection. And that's when things usually took a slide.
"On the particular evening in question, the annointing had fallen like dew from Heaven, covering the just and the unjust alike with its crystallized intensity. I don't think I'd ever experienced such a presence...so thick. As if I could reach out, envelope it, draw it close. God was there.
"And when He departed it was as if my soul had been ripped out of me, leaving a barrenness so profound as to drive every thought from my head. It was the contrast, you see. I couldn't bear it. I went into a sort of frenzy. Started screaming, 'Get in line! Get in line! The Lord is gonna heal you tonight!'
"Truth is, I didn't have an inkling of what to do next. I'd never healed anyone. I guess I was hoping that what with the flurry and rush of expectation, the annointing'd have to come back.
"Meanwhile....the people! Like lambs to the slaughter they pressed forward in the overwhelming anticipation that absolutely sparkled along the ends of our nerves. Like water flowing down a drain, the people flowed from their seats into the center aisle of the meeting tent. The line began to form so thick and long, about four people wide and stretching way out the door. God bless 'em, they didn't have any more sense of the spiritual than a tomato worm. Arms held high, eyes squirting, they couldn't even see what was coming.
"I stepped up to the crush of bodies at the head of the line and layed my hands upon two foreheads. I began to pray with all the eloquence of King Lear himself, invoking the God from on high to send a mighty wind of the Spirit to blow through our tent and tear down the strongholds of the flesh.
"In all my gusto, I must have accidentally lost my balance and leaned into those foreheads. Suddenly, those two began to sway. They grabbed for the poor dupes next to them to steady themselves. Unfortunately, having their eyes closed and all, it took 'em by surprise, upset their balance and their arms flew up. It was like poetry in motion: a thick, tight column of human dominoes began to go down in front of my unbelieving eyes.
"And do you know, they thought it was a miracle?! They thought it was that great wind from Heaven flowing from my mouth that blew them over! They congratulated me and began praising God for my gift! No one questioned it.
"That's the funny thing about spirituality. Most everyone in that line was taken by surprise and knocked over. There wasn't a soul there that didn't wonder whether it was God or man pushed 'em over. But no one questioned it out loud. Didn't want to look like a Pharisee. Doesn't take much for one Believer to turn to another and say, 'Get thee behind me, Satan!'
"As I stood struck dumb in amazement, they started praising. Why didn't anyone ask? I was waitin' to tell 'em. That day I became a fraud. I did it because I wanted to believe it was God who touched me with a gift that had blown out over the people. But it wasn't. It sure wasn't.
"All this and yet...I know that deep down they were jus' wantin' a little of what I'd experienced. They just wanted God to love on 'em a little bit."
Friday, April 29, 2005
sittin here with a kitten on my neck
wonderin what i will do with my life
and wonderin how old you have to be
to be too old to start over....
so i sit here, feelin soft kitten fur
as i run my chin along its back
and wonder if life is still around the corner
like it was ten years ago.
i remember feelin free;
invincible as youth always is
as i am sittin here.
sittin here with a kitten on my neck,
rememberin what it was like to be strong
as my innards tremble
like the kitten on my neck....
So fragile, so weak, so natural
not runnin, playin; still nursin.
some say that life is happenin
as i’m just sittin here
sittin here with a kitten on my neck.
but i say life is sittin here
and wonderin and feelin and rememberin...
sittin here with a kitten on my neck
touchin soft fur that comforts the part of me
wishin for answers and youth and peace....
just before i stand and put the kitten down.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
While I am bettering your life, I must tell you - no, insist - that you go straight to the Harbor Theatre and see "Bride and Prejudice." (For those fans who do not live in our quaint little backwoods city, get it on NetFlix.) It is a two-hour phantasmagoria of color, music, romance and intrigue coupled with pulse-pounding song-and dance numbers and a sort of tongue-in-cheek humor that makes it easy to laugh and enjoy. At $5 a ticket, it is slightly more than what you are used to paying at the Harbor, but it is worth every penny. You'll not only be watching a great movie, but you'll be supporting a new business. How cozy is that?
Finally, I'd like to encourage my dear readers to invest a little time in the blogs listed at right. Both written by dear friends of mine, the blogs are intelligent, witty and have important things to say. Well, they try to compete with me, but I don't mind. Anyhoo, you'll love me for it.
Love, your mentor,
So, here is the result. I am sharing it with you, dear readers, so that you know that even perfection can be vulnerable. Again, my only motivation is to encourage you that you too may someday reach the pinnacle of existence, the place where excellence abides. Where I live.
Romantic Personality Type: The Sonnet
Description: Deliberate Gentle Love Dreamer (DGLDf)
Romantic, hopeful, and composed. You are the Sonnet. Get it? Composed?
Sonnets want Love and have high ideals about it. They're conscientious people, caring & careful. You yourself have deep convictions, and you devote a lot of thought to romance and what it should be. This will frighten away most potential mates, but that's okay, because you're very choosy with your affections anyway. You'd absolutely refuse to date someone dumber than you, for instance.
Lovers who share your idealized perspective, or who are at least willing to totally throw themselves into a relationship, will be very, very happy with you. And you with them. You're already selfless and compassionate, and with the right partner, there's no doubt you can be sensual, even adventurously so.
You probably have lots of female friends, and they have a special soft spot for you. Babies do, too, at the tippy-top of their baby skulls.
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
I opened the door.
The stature of the woman on the other side of the door belied the power she could wield over my life with the mere twist of her lips. Who was this woman? She was me.
Inside all of us lives that little piece of nagging flesh known as Intuition. She gripes, she complains, she butts in when you'd really rather she wouldn't. She tries to steal all your fun. She says you shouldn't when you really think you should. She says stop when all forces say go. She pulls in the reigns just as you were about to let your wild horses fly.
And, if you would just listen to her, you just may be able to save yourself a little grief over the relationship you should've walked away from. You may have saved yourself a little money over that car you wanted but couldn't afford. You could have saved yourself the humiliation of being wrong when you thought you were so right. Because she bats 100.
So, looking at the woman on the other side of the door, I had just one question: will you still love me even when you don't understand me?
Because all of life boils down to the profit and loss statement on the incorporation of our lives. All transactions with friends, family and loved ones a cost/benefit analysis. Our talents, assets. Our faults...catastrophic write-offs on next year's tax return. Every disagreement becomes a negotiation to determine who will divest what asset in order to turn a profit this quarter. In the big world of commerce, a fine line exists between a merger and a hostile takeover. Beware the latter.
So, when that friend or loved one comes to me and says they don't understand me, I go see the woman. Because if all else fails, I know she will love me.
The question is, will you?
Humility notwithstanding, dear readers, that question can only have one answer.
Monday, April 25, 2005
I have included on this web page a link to my (not quite) Daily List. Despite the recent controversy over certain references, I quite enjoy my Daily List. I do hope that you are benefiting from the listing of such important aspects of my being as what I am hearing, what I am thinking, and what I am reading. Several of you may garner some pointers that will "buck up your ideas" a bit.
I am implementing plans as we jointly peruse the workings of my fingertips on keys to expand the vision of my Daily List. I have included this week's It List (a must-read for any upwardly mobile persona) which highlights the best and worst elements of the Laura Experience in recent weeks. I trust you will find it informative, witty and oh-so-revealing about what it is that makes my life experience worth duplicating.
So...until we meet again over the wonderful workings of my mind...a bientot, ma copaines.
Saturday, April 23, 2005
However, Tracy’s most recent column was custom-made for the obese Muskegonite. Applying his mensa-worthy intellect to the three problems above, he devised a weight loss program that even a fat, lazy, do-nothing Muskegonite couldn’t fail.
His theory is simple. The body is like a furnace. It burns fat to maintain the 98.6 degree temperature required for normal functioning. Well, if that body were placed in cold environment for long periods of time, it would consume more of that fat fuel to keep things at 98.6 degrees, resulting in an over-all fat reduction. Voila…weight loss!
Actually, his theory has been proven by the Aleutians who live in northern Yukon Territory. They must consume large amounts of fat in their diet to replace the fat that is burned to keep them from freezing to death. I’m sure if you talked to a person from Iceland, they’d say the same.
Ok, since we don’t live north of the tundra line, how do we keep our bodies in a cold environment for long periods of time? Simple: sleep over your covers.
He lost seven pounds in seven days doing this.
So, I challenge any one of my blog readers to do the same. At the end of seven days, post your weight loss. I, on the other hand, will continue my regimen of healthy eating and exercise during that same seven day period. Comparing notes, we’ll determine if Tracy’s intellect is a mere cranial flatulence or real genius.
To quote Muskegon’s infamous former resident and now-columnist of our excesses: this is so simple, we can do this with our eyes…closed.
So, who’s game?
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
We've become a nation so inundated by opinion masquerading as news analysis (resulting in misunderstandings of truth) that mere words can evoke a reaction stronger than ol' W discovering the White House is out of buffalo wings. God help the poor fool that gets caught in either firestorm.
Consistent with my do-gooder heart and rather innocent intention, I wrote a column for my college newspaper about how pro-choicers should support the ban on partial-birth abortions because it is a heinous, ugly, cruel act. In doing so, I describe the procedure for the uneducated populace that all-too-often decides an issue based on a clever editorial or the vociferous claims of a know-it-all acquaintance, rather than the actual merits of the issue.
The response? I'll never know. I killed it after it was critiqued by my editors. (Sensitive journalist, I am.) Apparently, "partial-birth abortion" is a "pro-life" term and the "graphic description" is too much for any readers of a college newspaper. Besides, they said, we are sure people are aware of what the procedure entails. Describing it is not necessary.
For me, taking the description of the procedure out of the column took the bite out of my argument. By doing so, I would be left re-hashing all the typical pro-life arguments, saying nothing new or original.
But that is not actually the problem. The problem is that even my own editors are so programmed by the partisan bickering on the issue, they could not see past the semantics of what I was saying to see the real issue at hand, which was that if pro-choice people were to realize the horrific nature of this procedure, even they would support the ban.
But...that argument will never get heard, at least not with my by-line. And so, I'm beginning realize that, award-winning journalist or not, being thick-skinned is the first criterion for success.
Quick, insult me and let's see if I can roll with the punches.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
Apparently that last one has a few people befuddled. Walk into any restaurant in the greater Muskegon area, and I will guarantee at least one juicy, rip-snorting, nose-blowing incident before you leave. And if you have my luck, it’ll be right as your food arrives, saving you a heaping helping of calories to boot.
Admittedly, I'm one of those people that keep their head down when I hear a vociferous sneeze in a crowded place. I don't want to see the gore. But there are no hard feelings. After all, you can't control when you sneeze. But blowing is another matter. It is not as if you don't have that warm-up sniffle that warns that a good nose blowing is imminent. In my opinion, this is what the public restrooms are for.
It is the gurgly, snotty sound, you see... it just kills my appetite.
Now, I may be a tad on the fussy side, but my mother was a world-class nitpicker at the dinner table. However, it’s not fussy to object to the raunchy sound of nose-blowing as a forkful of potatoes and gravy slips between your lips. It’s a sign of the evolution of our species. But unfortunately, nose-blowing is just the beginning. I’ve seen nose-picking, sugar packet “toothpicks” digging for hunks of food, boil-fingering and toe scratching. And yes, I’ve seen it all in public restaurants.
Perhaps these people think that because their great-grandmother who smoked three packs a day would hawk up lugies at the dinner table, a mere nose-blowing is negligible. Or maybe, like monkeys at the zoo, they think personal grooming at the dinner table is a bonding experience. Even wilder yet, maybe they think that we enjoy hearing them blow and silently congratulate them on their nose-blowing efforts, rating them on a one-to-ten continuum, with ten being the all-snot-in-one-blow.
Look, I’m not buying it. You people know what you are doing is wrong. So, Muskegon, I have a couple questions. Has eating out become so commonplace that we feel as comfortable at a restaurant table as we would at our own dining room table at home? And exactly why would we indulge in these behaviors at home, anyway?
I don’t know if anyone famous has said it, but if not, I’ll take the leap. Good manners are a sign of a civilized society. Opening the door for a woman doesn’t mean you are sexist, it means you have good will toward your fellow humans. Covering your mouth when you cough shows a consideration for the health of others around you. Wearing deodorant helps you win friends and influence people. And blowing your nose in the bathroom ensures that I won’t get up and dump my drink in your lap. Because if I have to sit through it one more time, I may just go postal.
A recent outing with my two young daughters was a colorful lesson in just how bad things have gotten. Our experience began as we walked in the door of a local seat-yourself establishment and were rudely pushed aside by an older fellow eager to get the one good table left. We politely took a less appealing table nearby.
He then removed his jacket revealing a shockingly-grungy, wife-beater undershirt that did nothing to hide his aged man-boobs and hairy armpits. Within minutes, he was joined by his rowdy friends who talked loudly about how their friggin’ car kept belching black smoke and the stupid cop who gave them a ticket for it. Feel free to insert colorful expletives and belching at will.
Then, just as our food was served, a woman began to blow her nose.
Perhaps you think that I had just picked a bad restaurant. Think again: I’d seen it all before. No, it was not my fellow diners' behavior that was remarkable, it was that they were all engaged in my most-hated behaviors seen individually at other times, now united into one unique dining experience.
Thanks to my own nitpicking at the dinner table, it is unlikely that my children will suffer any ill effects from this day-at-the-farm dinner. But one question does remain to jostle me nightly from my pleasant slumber: where, oh where, have all the manners gone?
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
That's where this blog comes in. Today (I stipulate this condition since I may change my mind tomorrow) I plan to use this blog to explore the different sides of my personality and the various issues that drive me mad. That's my role.
Your role is to be a good reader and look here often. You are to laugh when requisite, cheer me on at all times, agree with me often and always, always think I'm brilliant.
Oh, and for those dedicated readers, you may post comments to my blog entries by clicking the "comments" link directly beneath each pearl of wisdom I dangle before your startled and unbelieving eyes.
Pssst. Picture coming soon. Shhh....
Monday, April 04, 2005
In addition, I'm not afraid to let you see only those parts of myself I deem acceptable for public viewing. And I'm not afraid to reveal one deviant thing about myself per millenium.
This millenium's deviant thing is this:
When I was a little girl, like ten, my friend and I were dallying with the idea of becoming smokers. Problem: moms were counting the cigs. My solution: the ground in our quaint little downtown community was virtually littered with partially smoked butts. Suddenly, we had a plethora of tobacco choices. Pall Mall, Merit Menthol, Kool, Camel, Salem, Virginia Slims. We were in a tobacco paradise for fools. For days, we joyously snatched half-deteriorated butts and sucked them down to the filters. Round about the third day, I was snagging my daily stash when the sudden thought dawned on me: who the hell's mouth had been sucking on this thing? I whipped the offending butt to the ground in humiliation, realizing that what I had done, I had done on main street in the light of hundreds of curious on-lookers. That day I determined that no one would know what I had done. Except, of course, for the observers lucky enough to glimpse a feckless kid being a piggy wig with discarded ciggie butts.
But then there's always that once-a-millenium confession. Good for even the deviant soul.