Friday, August 31, 2007

What was I thinking?

Once again, I've let my penchant for shameless self-promotion and the possibility of a handful of new readers do me out of a good thing.

I can't even pretend to be ashamed.

Last night, I shared my blog address with my 26 students of Composition II. I wasn't going to, and to give credit where it's due, I did make it through two and 1/4 class meetings before giving up the ghost. But in the end, I just couldn't resist. I had their attention, I'd lost my place in my lecture notes, and there was a whole lot of silence to fill.

It fell out of me before I could stop it. I had an out-of-body experience. "This is my blog address," I heard myself say, and then I watched, dumbfounded, as I wrote it on the board.

Behind me, I could hear them all scratching it out on their notes. And I figure each of them will click on over here, at least once. Either they've worked out that it can't be a bad thing to curry favor with the instructor, they've heard something from me in class that's made them curious about what I might write about, or they already dislike me enough to want to compile information for a possible blackmail scheme.

I don't care. I just want the readers.

Oh, didn't I tell you that I was teaching a night class this semester?

Well, that sucks. Because now that I've given them all this address, I can't talk about it.

photo, Justin Wan

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Poke a stick in that puppy and give it to me to go.

I love corn dogs. I don't eat them as often as crunchy and delicious drive-through tacos, but every now and then, nothing will make me happy but a steaming hot battered wiener on a stick.

For instance, I like a good corn dog on my birthday. And because this week has been a bit of a pisser, I think I'll look one up today on my lunch hour--sort of the working girl's alternative to the good-Lord-I-hope-this-gets-me-to-5 o'clock, two-martini lunch.

Because I don't eat them every day, when I do get my hands on a corn dog, I want the experience to be all it can be. There are, however, a few things that can really mess it up for me:

No mustard. Who does this? Yet, every time I order one, I have to send the server back for the mustard. This one point is non-negotiable. A dry corn dog may as well be no corn dog at all. Come back and get it, cause I'm not eating it.

Anything less than a steaming hot corn dog. Nobody likes a cold wiener. Okay, a dog will eat a cold wiener, as will a small child. And both will eat practically anything, provided it is found unguarded on the floor, so there you go. If your judgement is such that you will eat a weiner off the floor, then a cold weiner won't give you much pause.

A wiener that is too large. There must be the correct ratio of dog-to-corn. Otherwise, what's the point? One might as well be eating naked wieners off the floor with the dogs and the little children and the people with questionable judgement.

Anyone reminding me what comprises a wiener while I am in the process of eating one. There's no real reason to expound on this one, is there? Too much editorializing, and I run the risk of ruining my own corn dog.

If you're thinking that a lot of things have to come together to result in the perfect corn dog, you're right. But when it works, it's well worth the trouble--and waiting for the server to fetch a packet of mustard.

photo, Pronto Pup Company
Please, please note their slogan.

Hear a podcast of this post:

The extremely righteous music on this podcast is a remix of Feel My Pain Miss Jane, words, music, production, and performance by David Henderson.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Getting your house in order.

The last thing on earth I would want to do is start a big controversy and alienate a reader or two. But surely anyone reading me with any kind of regularity isn't subject to enroll in Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's newest concentration of their BA in Humanities program.

I know you've heard about this.

If you are a woman enrolled at Texas' SWBTS, you can now choose a concentration in homemaking endeavors at that university.

Enrollees will receive instruction in homemaking skills, developing insights into home and family...

The homemaking instruction student will be practically equipped to (1) nurture and care for the family; (2) be conversant in the area of nutrition and food preparation; (3) develop a skill in clothing and textile design, and (4) receive practical experience to develop skills for the most important job a woman may have: the nurture and care of the family.

Well, thank God. Because historically you know, those are areas that we've always pretty much sucked at.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The jewelry dance. Every day.

Paw through morass of jewelry, searching for specific pair of earrings. Locate one.

Choose silver watch or gold watch, depending upon earrings. Remember that silver watch does not keep accurate time and make mental note as to what calculations will be necessary today to avoid being late for meeting with other very important and busy publishing professionals.

Spend five minutes locating second earring.

Select bracelets to coordinate with earrings and watch.

Remember that earrings have matching brooch. Search for and find brooch, attach brooch to lapel, spend four minutes squinting and cursing at and trying to fasten micro-Whoville-sized pin back. Examine overall effect.

Remove brooch.

Select shoes (see Shoe Dance).

Notice that earrings are 1/4 inch longer than the last time they were worn (?) and are now too long for either your hairstyle or your face, resulting in a horsey look that you don't altogether care for. Remove earrings.

Decide that you really do want to wear the selected bracelets today as they make your wrist look lovely.

Search for earrings to go nicely with bracelets. Forget to insert second earring.

Arrive late for work. Again. Wish you'd worn brooch.

Monday, August 27, 2007

How to be a busy and important publishing professional.

Perhaps you are wondering what sort of special training and skills are required for a rewarding job in one of the nation's fastest growing industries.

Surprisingly few, as it turns out.

In this, the first of a continuing series in which we survey the attributes necessary to be successful in the world of publishing, we will examine the first and foremost skill necessary of any bonafide publishing professional.

Be inscrutable.
It is very important that your visage be that of an unopened book. Your poise and calm may be the only thin tether connecting your boat of salt-encrusted writers to the shores of reason during storms of great stress.

If you are worried about making deadline or missing a printer date, your uncertainty will be legible on your face. Supervisory-doubt is a major contributor to Writer's Panic Syndrome (second only to the ever-pervasive, self-doubt). And like ladling chum into the ocean, any tentative expression on your part could incite a feeding frenzy among the other busy and important publishing professionals. For these reasons, you must practice inscrutability. The last thing you want is for others to read on your face what you are actually thinking.

Fortunately, this will be easy to do, provided you never engage in actual productive thought.

Instead, try picturing that last chocolate-covered donut you passed on the way to your meeting. Imagine how delicious it will be. Tell yourself how much you truly deserve that donut, since you are, in fact, so very busy and important. After several moments of this, it may be necessary to excuse yourself temporarily from the meeting to go down to the kitchen area and wrestle the subject donut from the hands of a starving editorial writer. However, be careful not to hurt the writer, or you will be personally responsible for writing the clever cover copy you were depending upon her to think up at the last minute during the last hour of the workday.

Once you have managed to remove the donut from the editorial writer, take an extra moment to refill your coffee cup. Because a full bladder is so effective at disrupting coherent (and therefore readable) thought, remember to drink up at every available opportunity.

Other thought avoidance strategies might consist of: puzzling over whether or not you did in fact turn off the iron this morning; weighing whether you have adequate fire insurance coverage just in case you did not turn off the iron this morning; deciding on the advisability of telling the woman in accounting that her mustache is showing--a lot; trying to remember the punchline to that extremely funny and slightly ribald joke you were told yesterday; doing kegle exercises, and wondering whether or not saving the cheerleader was in fact, enough to ultimately save the world.

I think you will find that once you get into the habit of practicing non-productive thought that it will come quite easily to you. Next time, we will examine another of the special skills necessary for those of you aspiring to one day be a busy and important publishing professional.

Until then, just focus on that donut.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

A little Sunday something I found when I was supposed to be working. See how I'm always thinking about you, even when I'm stealing content?

Dan Liebert,Verbal Cartoonist.
By Dan Liebert
- - - -
Fun Facts to Know and Tell.

Some so-called superstitions have a solid basis in fact. For instance, if you're leafing through a magazine at a newsstand and a subscription card falls out and touches the floor before you can catch it, you will die before nightfall, because I will follow you home and kill you, I swear I will.

more at

Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday night lights (out).

Here's the wonderful thing about Fridays. They come attached to Friday nights. I know people who like nothing better than to go out on Friday night to raise hell and put a block under it. As for me, it's all I can do to drag myself home.

On any given week, I'm focusing all my strength on just getting to 5 pm Friday. After that, I don't really have a plan. I like to drift along, rudderless. I take a great big old pass--on anything and everything.

Saturday through Thursday nights, there's no real excuse for not doing the reasonable, adult things. Lock everything up tight; floss and brush your teeth; wash your face; set the alarm; turn off the lights, and go to sleep. On Fridays, I like to do that last thing first, and then I let the rest of it all go to hell.

Who's to know?

That was pretty much my thinking as I carried my coffee to the computer last Saturday morning, wearing the same clothes I'd worn to work on Friday. Oh sure, I admit to having had a brief and fleeting thought that this would be an excellent day for Tawana to surprise me at the end of her early morning run. This is a favorite trick of hers. If she can catch me in my bedhead and before I've brushed my teeth, she can lord it over me how much more industrious she is.

And so she must be. She did manage, at least, to remove her work clothes and actually go to bed. I had fallen asleep on the couch and stubbornly resisted all attempts by Muffin Uptown to convince me to get up, put on my pajamas, and relocate to the bedroom. Instead, I slept all night on the couch in my work clothes. I disobeyed convention; I snubbed my nose at the mores. Respectability be damned.

So when I answered the inevitable knock at the door, Tawana took one look at me and said, "Where are you going all dressed up so early?"

This, I did not anticipate. I had expected to be ridiculed, was prepared to be chided for my lack of fortitude. But this? I had an epiphany. Either my clothes wear extremely well, or my everyday look is such that those who know me have very, very low expectations.

If that is indeed the case, I am spending way too much time and energy trying to get it together to leave the house every morning.
photo, Stephen Gibson

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I would claim to be speechless, but--well, you know.

My good friend Andy called and left a message while I was in Chicago. He needed a short story for a small printing project he was about to start.

So I emailed him a copy of Chicken Freedom. Not a story, per se, but short enough, I was guessing, for whatever he needed it for. I was expecting post cards or perhaps some sort of flyer.

But wow! Look what came for me in the mail today. I love how old school this is--see how it's all wrapped up in craft paper and twine? Even without me saying so, you can tell that this is a handkerchief-carrying, old-fashioned kind of guy.

These are miniature books, and according to Andy, three inches is the maximum dimension allowed in order to qualify. Who knew there were qualifications for such things?

They are 6 point type hand and Linotype set. I keep seeing him hunched over a cluttered work bench in a noisy, dark workshop, setting all these teeny tiny letters by hand and in reverse. He probably worked all night by the light of a short little candle stub, too.

He's made both hard and soft cover editions. Hand printed on a Sigwalt press. Signed and numbered. Again I say, "wow."

Andy, you know all that stuff I said when we were working on the NASM reaccreditation? About how I wanted nothing more than to poke you in your ear hole with a cello bow? Well, I want you to know that I didn't really mean it. Not really truly.

Waaaiiiit a minute.

Now that I think about it, I'm not sure I actually said all that stuff out loud. Never mind.

Thank you, Andy.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

What's cookin?

Here's something you might not know.

College students love-love-love the Food Network.

Which is somewhat confusing to me, seeing as most college students prepare only three carbo-loaded menus: spaghetti with beer, peanut butter and jelly with beer, and Poptarts with beer. Round-the-clock cooking shows seem to me to be superfluous, if those three menus are your only interests--unless, I suppose, your focus is on perfecting your technique.

Yet every student I've ever known will spend days staring dumbstruck at the Food Network. They'll watch it all, but they're most enamoured of Giada De Laurentiis and Paula Deen.

They do not, as a rule, care for Rachel Ray.

I don't watch a lot of TV myself, and I never, ever, sit staring for hours with my mouth hanging open. Unless that is, I've wandered cluelessly into the room when Ms. De Laurentiis is on screen. It's all fascinating, but the payoff comes when she finally eats whatever it is we've been watching her cook up.

"Wow, just look at how moist and juicy this moist juicy dish is!" and the flavor is so intense that she actually closes her eyes; she is all but overcome. The only time I remember being compelled to squeeze my eyes shut during a meal, I had shovelled a heaping teaspoon of Captain Crunch into my maw late one Saturday night without first checking the expiration date on the milk carton.

I get a little squinty and teared up thinking about it even now.

So though I am not an actual fan, I can quite understand the compulsion to sit for days and watch little Giada rattle those pots and pans. But what's the deal with Paula Deen? Notwithstanding the fact that both are television personalities who cook food for a living, there just don't seem to me to be many similarities between Giada and Paula Deen.

So last weekend, after catching Muffin Uptown glued to the Food Network again, I sat down quietly beside her on the couch.

"Hey, what's the attraction here?" I asked, and was just about to say something about chitlins when she stopped me in mid-snark.

"Mom. Don't be making fun of Paula Deen. Seriously."

So. I guess I won't.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Who are you and who let you in here?

It was a crisis in confidence--an unplanned, unforeseen, oh-my-God-
I'm-about-to-be-exposed really scary moment.

So she called me.

I can't imagine why she would think I might know anything at all about slipping up and letting the whole world get a really good look at my raggedy underwear.

We talked for a while--not long--and she calmed down. Eventually, she saw that she was in no real danger of flashing her panties at the unsuspecting, general public. She shouldn't worry, I've seen her drawers and trust me, they aren't as bad as all that.

It was her first real flim-flam scare. And don't even pretend you don't know what I'm talking about.

I suppose men must indulge in the flim-flam as well, although I've never asked. But almost all the successful women I know suffer from a deep-seated fear that they will be one day found out; the jig will be up.

Because in order to do what you gotta do, you first have to convince yourself that you're capable of pulling the whole thing off. Sometimes, for girls, that's a tall order. Then, when you're sure you've got what it takes, you can go about convincing the rest of the world. But if you cut corners on that first step, if you aren't absolutely positive that you're convinced--well, you've build your house upon the sand. Worse than that--you've built a house of cards on sand. And each and every day of your life, you're waiting for that sucker to fall. Cause you know--it's not if, but when.

I was really astounded, many years ago, when my mother told me that some part of her was always afraid that someone, somewhere, would see her for what she truly was. Now you don't know her, but I can tell you that before my mother lost her mind, she was one of the most intelligent, accomplished, and well-read people alive. But then she got her Ph.D., and now she can't remember where she's parked the car. It's not her fault--it's an occupational hazard, as I understand it.

My point (and yes, I know you've been waiting patiently) is that if the world's experts--the Dr. Whozits, the scientists, the college professors, the think tankers--if they live in dread of the day when everyone else sees through them, then what hope do the rest of us have for pulling the wool over the collective eyes of the world?

Absolutely none. So, we'd better be making our own reality.

And that's my plan. I'm working on buying my entire bill of goods. That way, when it all comes down and I'm finally exposed, they won't be adding "intentional misrepresentation" to my list of sins.

They'll just shake their heads and say, "Yeah, she always did think she was all that."

photo, Jack Delano, 1941

Monday, August 20, 2007

Trust your gut.

Ordinarily, I believe in Oprah. On an average day, she's all about saving my bacon. And Oprah keeps saying that when that tiny little voice is trying to get my attention, I need to drop everything and listen. I need to throw my purse and run for the door; I need to shout "Fire!" (or whatever will get folks' attention); I need to pick up the phone and call to make sure the electric company really did receive my check.

I already know that when I don't trust my gut, I get caught with my bare face hanging out. That's when I say, "Oh, man! I KNEW something was up!"

So why can't I just learn to go with my instinct?

Why? Because despite what Oprah says to the contrary, my instinct ain't got no credibility.

My instinct didn't go to college. What does it know? I wouldn't give my instinct a job--it has no resume; it can't even produce three professional references. It has no visible means of support. My free-loading, mooching instinct sleeps on my couch, in a pair of borrowed sweats.

Instinct answers to no one--even when it's out and out wrong. It cruises along on just the caché of being what it is. It carries no endorsement from Consumer Reports or Good Housekeeping. I'd be happy with a couple of thumbs from Ebert and Roeper--anything at all to give me reason to trust it, especially since it's let me down at least as many times as it's saved me.

And part of the reason for this poor track record is that my instinct seems to have the same trouble with decision making as do I. One moment, it pops its noggin up all big, proud, and sure, shouting, "Hey, jump on this! NOW!"

And then 6 seconds later, I hear a little niggling voice whisper, "Waaaaiiiit a minute. That might not be such a good idea."

I can't be the only woman on earth with TWO instincts. Does that mean that my one single instinct is just standing around, eating my M&Ms and drinking my Diet Cokes while waiting for the best time to flip a coin and mess with my head?

If that's the case, my chances for evolution aren't looking so good.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Do you think this will make her stop riding me about the quality of my posts?

When my second *husband forgot he wasn't allowed to date and then announced that he was leaving, the very first thing I did upon hearing the news was to pick up the phone and call Tawana.

I didn't call her for comfort, or to ask her for a place to stay. I just reported to her what he had just told me, and then turned and handed him the phone.

If you ask her, she will be happy to provide you with a litany of all the other things she has done for me over the years. There are many, many of them.

She's really kind of an ass about it.

But everyone who knows us knows that I was waiting for her right up until the minute she showed up. Nothing since has been as difficult as it should have been. And even though I know her flaws better than virtually anyone else on earth, I am absolutely incapable of judging her. She may complain about plenty, but she's pretty happy about that part of the relationship.

If I could wish one thing for all the tired-ass, strung-out, overworked, misunderstood women of the world, it would be that each of them have one friend exactly like her.

She told one of her East coast friends recently that I can never, ever, repay her. And she's absolutely right.

*Not Muffin Uptown's dad, who is an exemplary husband, especially when married to someone else.

Oh, yeah--one last thing.

Please don't think that just because I've said something sweet in a moment of weakness that I am finished making fun of her. I'm just waiting for more material.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

I can't help myself. Really. I can't.

This NPR teaser sounds more like me than the post I actually wrote.

I think somebody at Morning Edition is copying me.

I gotta get Nina Totenberg on the line.

Tell 'em Jane sent you.

Because I am a busy and important publishing professional, and because I am better at overseeing the perfection of crafty-type projects than I am at actually performing the crafting of such projects, I am giving up the hand-making of mundanejane tshirts for my friend-fans and family-fans.

Mom, I'll still make yours. The rest of you can get jane stuff here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Because I've never really been a believer in the concept of leaving well enough alone.

If a millimeter is good, then a mile must be better. And if I got a laugh with a bit, I'm trotting it out for another run.

At least one more.

Feather Pillow Update
There may, in fact, be a subtle difference between my $15 pillows and the $69 Hyatt pillows that was not immediately evident when I tried the former out in the store.

As I think I've mentioned, there are no sharp, pointy objects in my home that have not jabbed or poked me in some way--many, more than once. Knowing this, I made a major error when I neglected to think about the fact that feathers are, while soft and fluffy on one end, extremely pointy and sharp on the other. Unfortunately, it's the vicious end that sticks out of the pillowcase and pokes me in my face--and it does so when I am at my most vulnerable.

Now, in addition to all the hormonal reasons for being awake during the threes, I am awake because I've just been jabbed in the jaw. Or because I am afraid I am about to be.
Despite my near (accidental!) plagarization of his chicken phrasing, lurking outside his actual place of business, and repeatedly dropping his name in my blog, Mr. Glass has apparently not yet noticed me. I must redouble my efforts.
My mother now prefaces her calls with, "I'll bet I'm catching you during your nap window." And she is.

I wish I could tell you about it, really I do. Unfortunately, the only quote I am allowed to use in conjunction with MU this week is, "Mom, please don't blog this."

photo, Hilary Quinn

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I lied.

Yes, I'm going to say a few words about the heat. I simply can't help myself.

The high temperature here on Monday was 105 degrees. I don't think I can set my toaster as high as 105. And we're not enjoying what you've heard of referred to as a dry heat. Dry heat is what they claim to have in New Mexico and other desert states, and it will turn you into an applehead doll right quick. Here, we have moist heat--the kind that will keep you young and soft and supple-looking, while giving you a diaper rash behind the knees.

We may be used to hot, but not this kind of hot. When the mercury inches up past the 90 degree mark on a typical summer day, we all just crank everything down a notch or two and try to move... as... slowly... as... possible. That seems to help us cope somewhat, while simultaneously contributing to our well-known, easy-going Southern charm.

But this weather right here is Armageddon-style hot. There is no slowing down enough to get around this kind of miserable. And yet the world just keeps on spinning. Deals must be done. I've been plodding along miserably to the next meeting, trying to pretend I can't smell my neighbor.

This heat is affecting everyone.

It's been days since I've seen a mashed critter on the road. In fact, I've noticed a dearth of the usual animal life along the highway; I've seen no kamikaze turtles, no roaming packs of chihuahua dogs. And not a single bird. You can say "birdbrain," all you like, you won't catch a robin or blue jay all trussed up in slacks and a jacket, flitting about at midday. When the weather gets this hot and still, the beasts of the wood find themselves a cool spot and they lay the hell down. And they're smart enough to stay down, moving only when the shade moves.

Which makes them a damn sight smarter than their two-legged counterparts, whom I'm still seeing every morning and afternoon, jogging alongside what must feel to them to be the literal, melting road to hell.

I guess they just can't help themselves.
photo, Tatyana Bolshakova

Monday, August 13, 2007

Watch out, world.

I am seriously going to have to try to convince my mom to let me stay home from school today.

It's going to be one of those weeks when all my friends have something else to do, and I will be stuck there with just the teachers and the goofy kids. There won't be anyone there to make faces at or to pass notes to during the meetings. At lunch, I won't have anyone to sit with, and will have to pretend that I don't notice that I'm eating my sandwich all by my lonesome. Even though I have people who enjoy eating lunch with me, I know that for the whole of this week, lunchtime will feel like I don't have any friends at all.

Yup. It's going to be a long, hard week. But by next Monday, my friends will be back from vacation, and things will get back to mostly normal.

Sort of.

Except that my friend Cyndi won't be coming back next Monday.

She's chucked it all and is hanging out her own shingle, opening her own shop, going out on her own. She'll be taking her tele-meetings in her pajamas and slippers and petting her dogs as she answers her email. No more traffic snarls, editorial meetings, spreadsheets, or contact pages for her. At least, until this next gig takes off and she makes another big success.

It takes a lot of fortitude to attempt what Cyndi is doing. But she's in, because she has a vision. She has a plan. And she's committed to it, even if it means sacrificing a few niceties. After all, she's used to making something great from ordinary, everyday things. That's what designers do. And in the meantime, she doesn't mind a few bologna sandwiches. What's a little processed meat in pursuit of your dreams?

I'm not worried about Cyndi at all, because I know what she's capable of--I've seen her do it a thousand times. She's going to be fine. She's going to be better than fine.

Cause love is all around; no need to fake it. She's going to make it after all.

photo, Afonso Lima

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Small things. One more time.

A Sunday morning surprise. One more post from the Muffin Uptown portfolio.

Because I love it.

Friday, August 10, 2007

It's a dog day every day.

I'm not going to talk about the miserable dog days we're having here. My friend Cheryl over at Material World beat me to it, and I've already acknowledged it and vowed not to copy her. Sheesh.

But I will go so far as to say that the heat outside isn't helping my unpredictable internal temperature situation. I'm always hot--except when I'm cold. Sometimes, I'm absolutely oh-my-God-I'm-going-to-have-a-stroke, just about to burn up.

Except, that is, when I'm cold.

Maybe back when Rosie was on The View, you noticed she or Joy claiming to have a hot flash, and then fanning the air with their little ineffectual prompt cards. I've seen a hot flash from the inside out, and you can't prove by me that either one of them has more than a nodding acquaintance with such an event. Those people didn't look even a little bit uncomfortable.

A woman in the throes of a genuine hot flash will (1) notify everyone within shouting distance, (2) disrobe to the degree possible, and (3) find a way to truly generate some cold air around her head. Social mores, business etiquette, and Al Gore be damned. The people I work with have seen more of my altogether than anyone I was ever married to.

Which is why I keep my thermostat set at 68 degrees and a sweater close at hand. When I'm a normal, functioning human being, I wear the sweater. When I start feeling like my head is on fire, I drop the sweater where I stand.

After I leave each day for work, Muffin Uptown (who is staying with me for the month of August) goes through the house, picking up and putting away, and returns my sweater to the closet. After three days of searching beneath and between the couch cushions and all around on the computer chair, I finally thought to ask if she'd seen it.

The expression on her face compelled me to try and explain, especially since I was daily subjecting her to possible hypothermia. She smiled at me--blue lips and all.

"Don't worry about it Mom," she said. "Whatever makes you not complain."

photo, Zern Liew

Thursday, August 9, 2007

New panties.

The Tuesday after her husband left
Amanda Anderson stood frowning
in front of the panty bin--
at a loss
as she realized that she could not
remember her size.

But she knew the
one thing that could bring her down
lower than
wearing raggedy, worn-out panties
after her husband left her for a
twenty-three-year old, would be
new panties
that were too tight and left her spilling
out and crowded in.

Pragmatist that she
was, Amanda bought all the
largest size
they had in stock--in lace, silk, cotton,
and mesh--twenty-seven pair in all.

Throughout that February
she wept in
front of strangers, friends and family
while the cold winter wind blew up the
gigantic legholes of her new panties.

She felt as
frigid and undesirable as
she must surely have been to lose her
husband in such a tired and
clichéd way.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Hold on. I got your soapbox right here.

One of my friends sent this old letter (from sim sandwich's flicker photostream), asking that I forward it to Muffin Uptown, who's been planning to be an animator since she was a tot.

Considering the date of the letter, the content is not that surprising. What surprises me, though, were the comments it solicited:

"Simply amazing;" "Scary;" "Unbelievable;" and "The world sure has changed, and I'd say for the better."

Whoa. That's a hell of a lot of self-congratulatory back slapping to digest all in one sitting.

I work in the creative arts, and there are lots and lots of women in my line of work. As a matter of fact, I work in one of the few fields in which there are just as many women as men in positions of all-consuming, soul-corrupting power.

That's part of the reason why, when I was offered this job, I told my friends I felt as though the mother ship were calling me home. After spending so many years during which all my bosses and most of my coworkers were men, it was a real thrill to imagine myself working alongside other women--women just like me--day in and day out.

But then the other day I heard a statistic that stopped me dead. Someone tried to tell me that women today make roughly 75% the salary as men employed in the same position. That statistic had to be wrong, I said, because it was the very same percentage I quoted in a sociology paper I wrote in undergraduate school in the early 90s.

So I looked it up and you know what? The statistic is correct.

So is the one that claims 200,000 more degrees were awarded to women than to men in 2005.

So, yeah. Simply amazing. Scary. Unbelievable.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Small things.

Since school has been out for the summer, Muffin Uptown has been filling a sketch book with tiny little cartoons.

I got a look at it yesterday and liked it so much, I said I would like to publish some of it.

She might not have actually been in the room at the time.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Looks like trouble.

I know trouble when I see it.

Maybe I should say that I know trouble when I'm having breakfast with it. On Sunday, by the time I could see how much trouble I was in--well, it was way too late to avoid it.

Here's how it all went down.

On Saturday, I mentioned to Muffin Uptown's dad that I had, of late, been feeling the urge to have a small fixer upper. House. Again. Now that's no skin off his nose; for the eleven years we were married, he treated the location of the electric drill like a national secret. It wasn't until after we divorced that I bought my own power tools and started restoring houses.

When he next saw MU, he must have mentioned it to her.

So. Speaking from the relative ease and safety of the pleasure of Mom's hospitality (where she has been living while waiting for school to recommence and university housing to reopen), my child did what she regularly threatens me with doing.

She ratted me out to Tawana.

She waited until everyone was seated and served to announce, "Mom's thinking about moving again."

Even a talent as verbose as mine cannot adequately convey the level of animosity that descended upon our table. Several nearby diners quickly paid their checks and made for the exits. My breakfast partners, however, didn't notice--they were concentrating on giving me the stink-eye, all the while taking no pains to hide their malevolent intentions.

Everyone except Carol, who is--I am happy to point out to all--above that sort of thing. And has only helped me move twice.
photo, Jack Delano, 1914

Friday, August 3, 2007

My, those NPR people are smart. And helpful, too.

On NPR's All Things Considered Wednesday, Nell Boyce told of a man who, due to severe brain damage, had been minimally conscious for over six years. Minimally conscious meaning that during this period, he "barely interacted with people, only sometimes nodding yes or shaking his head no." Occasionally he mouthed a word.

But since doctors implanted stimulating electrodes into his brain, he can now speak in phrases and recite a portion of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Seriously. I totally gotta get me some of them electrodes.

Because even though it might appear that I am incessantly running my mouth, I am seldom, in point of fact, interacting with my fellow human beings. And despite English being my first and only language, I lack the mental faculties to hold any of the actual vocabulary in my head.

There are days when mouthing a word would be a step up for me.

Last week, several coworkers were held hostage in a meeting where they were forced to try and help me remember the word figurine. They were unfortunately unable to assist me, even though I repeatedly gestured at them with my thumb and forefinger in the universal symbol for "small carved or molded figure."

I prompted, "You know, it's a... It's a..."

"...village idiot?" suggested one woman (who is now first on my list of people to call when I'm locked out of the house at 2 in the morning--because you don't want to waste someone who still thinks you're smart on a call like that).

Thanks to Nell and NPR, I'm thinking that with just a little bit of hard wiring and a couple AAA batteries, I could get a discreet little bzzzt delivered directly into my thalamus. One shot and I could be right back on track--sort of an electrical HEY YOU--PAY ATTENTION! to get all the little marbles back into the grooves.

Cause it's really important that I get them to let me back into the meetings. Word on the street is that they are looking for someone who can lead The Pledge.

photo, Donald Cook

Thursday, August 2, 2007

It's all downhill from here; please keep your hands and feet inside the cart as long as it is in motion.

Sometimes it takes a couple months for me to put a story into perspective. While relaying this exchange to Tawana last weekend, I had what can only be described as an epiphany. It was probably my last one. Ever.

Back when Spiderman 3 was being advertised, Muffin Uptown and The Boy and I were watching television one evening. After viewing the trailer for the movie (which these people just sat there and watched with slackjawed awe), I asked what seemed to me to be a perfectly reasonable question. Indeed, it was a question that occurred to me each and every previous time I had seen this trailer. I asked these people, because so much of the time these days, they seem to know everything.

"Hey! What's with the backward E?"

Insert one of those 2.5 seconds of silence here.

"Oh, my gosh! Mom, that's a three! Like in Spiderman Three!"

Well, sure--when you put it like that. But when I opened my mouth to ask the question, it was very clearly a backward E.

And that feeling I had right then, after I had asked what was, to everyone but me, so clearly the wrong question--that feeling is one I need to get used to. Because some day in the not-too-distant future, I'm going to look up and ask "I'm sorry; do I know you?"

And the answer will be, "Sure you do Mom, it's me."

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

What? Like you never?

Congestion? Check. Headache? Check. Sinus pain and pressure? Check. Feeling generally putupon and unloved? Check.

One would think that a woman such as I--a woman who intensely dislikes sitting in the physician's waiting room with all those mucous-y sick people or standing in line for hours at the pharmacy (when I would much rather crawl onto the counter and ask someone to stroke my hair)--would have a more extensive stash in the medicine cabinet, just for contingencies such as this.

But, although I should be a professional self-medicator, my over-the-counter reserves are embarrassingly spartan. What I did have, however, was an unopened box of Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold medicine, New Improved Formula, in the Sparkling Original Flavor.

Expiration date 12/03.

2003? I don't even remember who was president in 2003.

You're not seriously asking if I took it anyway? Come on. You know I did.

There was a reason, as it happens, that this medicine was sitting unopened in my medicine cabinet for almost half a decade. It's just that nasty. I don't imagine its great age did anything to enhance the flavor. The ack-ing and associated carrying on brought neighbors to their front porches and ominous black birds circling overhead. The fabric of the universe tore, just the teeniest bit, in the upper left corner. I had to eat two cat treats to get the taste out from behind my teeth. (Take it easy--they were chicken, not salmon flavor).

And then it rawked my world.

Whether it was reaction to the trauma experienced in the taking of it or the ingredients that used to be in OTC medications before the tweakers discovered Walgreens, this. stuff. was. the. bomb.

I think I felt great. I couldn't tell you for sure, however, because I was in a coma most of the day. But while I was there, I think I felt great. When I came out of it, I was a new person for all of 25 minutes before the bottom fell out. Now I need another dose and I'm dreading it.

So I think I'm going to try dropping it into a jigger of gin. There's no expiration date on gin, is there?
photo, Jelle Boontje