Wednesday, October 31, 2007

And she was like, "Boo," and so I was all like, "Boo back at you, too."

I've not been able to figure out why, but people in my line of work really get into celebrations. I'm not talking about your run-of-the-mill employee Christmas party, here. These are people who have made it their business to do the holiday du jour--whatever it may be--up right.

And it doesn't necessarily have to be a national holiday to bring out the crazies. There are shots over on Material World Girl's site to show you just how over-the-top these people can be on some poor, unfortunate soul's milestone birthday.

But Halloween? For folks in my line of work, Halloween is the most cherished of all holidays. And look. It's upon us, now. Once again I must call your attention to the fact that I must surely have one of the world's most interesting jobs.

There will be an enormous party beginning at noon today, and everyone from the mail dude to the VIP dude will be there. There will be free food, a chili cookoff, and a scary dessert contest. There will be prizes, and music, and costumes. Lots and lots and lots of costumes.

I don't understand it, but I like it.

photo, Karen Barefoot

Lead CSI (Craft Scene Investigator) Mundane Jane reads the toe-tag of an unfortunate resident of the Pre-press morgue. (The other CSIs are no doubt standing around the candy machine, waiting for another bag of M&Ms to get stuck so they can shake the machine and get a two-fer. They're like that.)

Keep in mind that everyone in and around this scenario is on the clock.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I thought you said this barrel was a women's medium. Feels a little tight to me.

I know people (and you may even be one of them), who--after deciding to enjoy a nice, long, luxurious bath--carefully set the faucet temperature for optimum relaxation and skin puckerage. When it's just right, they light a few candles, put on some jazz-to-be-alone-to, and slide into the perfectly-adjusted and slightly scented water.

I, on the other hand, prefer to twist the hot water tap wide open, walk away to do something else until the tub threatens to overflow and steam is hanging visibly in the air, and then return, disrobe and unceremoniously plunge my foot into the scalding water. I do this every damn day.

I then stand naked next to the tub, hoping up and down on my scorched foot, as I add enough cold water to keep from boiling myself alive.

There are also, as I understand, folks who are able to assess the various opportunities that come their way and to differentiate between those that comfortably fit within the scope of their real life, and those that represent too much of an additional commitment--either in time, effort, money--or some combination thereof.

No surprise--I can't do this either.

So, as is my long-established pattern, I will now begin the bi-annual process of looking for bodies to throw overboard. Since I've found that this procedure goes so much more smoothly if someone volunteers, please drop me an email if I've recently said something to you along the lines of, "of course it's no trouble; I'm happy to do it."

I will, however, put you at the top of the list for the next time I decide to overextend myself. I expect the wait to be about six months.

Monday, October 29, 2007

I wasn't able to finish writing that novel this weekend. Do you think I will have to return the advance money?

I am sorry to report that while casting off parts as though they were loose hubcaps, the one-eyed, three-legged dog from next door also inadvertently threw off his mortal coil.

I'm sorry in all kinds of ways.

The broken-hearted doggy-parents rushed right out and purchased a replacement--a lovely, similarly-colored pup of uncertain parentage they have named Clara. And while Clara may (for now) be in possession of all her appendages, she does lack her predecessor's calm reserve, his stoicism, his placability. I've been listening to her whine, moan, and howl from across the way all weekend.

As it turns out, if you're thumping around on three legs and have to cant your head a certain way to see all that there is to see, it just doesn't occur to you to lean back on your haunches and bitch all day because you've been left home alone.

Friday, October 26, 2007

I'M IN UR BLOGSPOT WRITIN UR BLOGZ.

My brother and I moved around a lot as children. This doesn't sound like something most people would want to do, but we've found that it has its advantages: we're fairly comfortable in unfamiliar situations; it's mostly easy for us to warm up to strangers; we pick up on the local dialect fairly quickly.

So much so, that the second time my brother telephoned me after moving to New York, I didn't know who he was. His is a voice that threatened me with death several times a day for the first seventeen years of my life--it's not one I am likely to forget. But after just a few weeks of living up North, he had unconsciously adopted the dialect. He could have been Brooklyn born and bred for all anyone (including me) could tell.

Mostly, I've stayed down South, and I sound pretty much like you probably think I do--Chitlins, cornpone, and chiggers with a college degree. And while I have some of that same talent for dialect as my brother, for me--it only threatens to come out when it's subject to get me into trouble.

Three pages into Alice Walker's The Color Purple, I was afraid to say anything out loud. I would suddenly catch myself thinking in the dialect of the novel, and I was terrified I would let something slip that would be misinterpreted and start a race war.

I've had a more benign form of this same problem since I started using Lolcats, I Can Has Cheezburger? and Cute Overload as my chief procrastination devices. What should have been a minor phenomenon has turned into a big hairy deal because of the amount of time I've invested in this pursuit. And what's more pathetic than a 40-something-year-old woman surfing the internet for cat pictures?

Trying to resurrect your self-respect after you've said the word "Kitteh" in front of a roomful of instructional writers.

photo, Pontus Edenberg

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Know what you're good at. And what you aren't.

Every now and then, someone will ask me why I haven't married again. Notwithstanding the fact that I don't date enough to whittle down the field, the main reason I've not remarried is because I'm just no good at it.

Granted, it may be possible that a portion of my ineptitude lies in my inability to differentiate between an available match and a good match. The fact that the man in question is not already married is, of course, paramount. But you would think that the fact that they are also card-carrying members of the NRA would, at some point before standing before the altar, get my attention. Yet I married not just one, but two fellows who espoused the "sure, you can have it--when you pry it from my cold, dead hands" philosophy of gun control.

As it turns out, physical attraction is not near as important to the success of a union as is having something you can talk about without coming to blows.

What I have discovered since my last unfortunate attempt at matrimony, though, is that I'm pretty good at being single. Actually, I excel at it. I may very well be the best professional single you know--so good, in fact, that today I tried to flirt a man into checking my tire pressure for me and he offered to instead loan me his tire gauge.

Now I've come down with another cold and in one of only three times that I really miss being married (the others being 1. when it's time to figure out the whole personal tax vs. property tax vs. assessment vs. late fee mess and, 2. never you mind), I find that I really wouldn't mind someone hanging around who would stroke my hair and fetch me socks and force feed me Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold Medicine and Gin.

Ira, are you listening?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I'm beyond redemption. And I've been caught at it by the one person for whom I am supposed to be setting an example.

One morning last week Muffin Uptown came into my room as I was getting dressed for work. She looked at my bed and then at me. The bed was exactly as it was when I'd crawled out of it an hour earlier. On the right was a Jane-indented, faux down pillow. The covers were just barely mussed.

On the right--stacks and stacks and stacks of clean laundry.

"Did you sleep like that last night?" she asked.

"Yeah, I really did."

I've gone from sleeping in my clothes to sleeping with my clothes.

Please. Don't tell my mother.

photo, Fleur Suijten

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Don't know much about...

I've only been out of school for a little over two years. That's a relatively short time when one considers that I managed to drag out my post-secondary education for almost a decade. Ten years of college seems to be a reasonable investment for, say, a doctor of internal medicine who specializes in the reattachment of *subdural hemotomal tissue and endometrial infarction, but for an English major?

Garrison Keillor likes to joke about English majors and the fact that they are, essentially, the single most important cogs in the workings of the nation's economy. Without the hard-working English major, there would likely be no one qualified to build your favorite Quizno's sandwich, stock the shelves at the local Circuit City, or to run the Tilt-a-Whirl ride at the state fair. You no doubt unknowingly encounter and tip at least one English major during the course of your normal activities almost every day.

And while there continue to be people who just can't work up enough of an I-care to learn the difference between an em-dash and Emily Dickinson, there are others of us who just can't seem to get enough of all things English-y. And while I do love the subject of English--or more specifically, literature (reading it, deconstructing it, studying it, writing it), I am also pretty keen on the whole college process. As a matter of fact, two years out gives me plenty of perspective with regard to how much I miss it.

Since I'm not prepared to return to school for that terminal degree (and I've already reached the point where my college loans are going to outlive me by about eight years), I've come up with a couple of ways to make work life more like the college life I miss so much:

Can a girl get an A? One of the realities of the world o'work is that you seldom get an Atta-Girl for doing something with mere competence. Many times, in fact--even when you hit the ball completely out of the park, smashing the windshield of the opposing team's coach in the process--you aren't guaranteed positive feedback. You don't get good grades just for doing what you're supposed to do. Spend enough time on campus, though, and you start needing those grades. Some people who know me think of me as being inordinately competitive, but in reality, I'm still just trying to get that A.

What did you do on your summer vacation? If I could get a couple months off in the summer, I could get myself a little no-pressure job at Barnes and Noble, read the latest Stephen King novel, drink sangria in the afternoon, and come back in the fall ready to kick ass and take names. And as long as we're on the subject, I'm fairly sure any employee would be much more productive (and less likely to call in sick on Mondays and Fridays) if she had a week of R&R stuck into the middle of March.

Please make an appointment to speak with me during office hours. Just think of all the work I could finish if I only had to deal one-on-one with actual people between the hours of 2 and 4. My budget would be balanced, my expense reports filed, and all the writers who are currently lurking outside my door and hoping I will have time to scribble on their copy would have every good reason to assume I will get to it today. Or tomorrow at the latest.

Ohmygawd! I have the world's best schedule this semester! There are worse things than only having to report for duty every other day--or better yet--why not put Tuesday off until Tuesday night? I could be the world's very best busy and important publishing professional if my first class didn't meet until 9 and if I only had lab to go to on Thursdays.

Of course, all this neglects that one hard-to-ignore reality. I and everyone I work with is here because we are paid to be--not because we've written a check in the thousands of dollars to have the opportunity to be. And maybe that's the secret. If I had to pay to go to work every day, instead of the other way around, I might actually be more excited about going in and bringing it day after day.

Well, you might have to throw in a couple interesting guest lectures. Maybe a pizza line in the caf'.

*Sorry. I made a bunch of crap up. Sue me.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Why you should not trust me to watch your children, figure your taxes, sing backup in your band, or not tell your husband.

Because I cannot be trusted--not even with the tiniest, most fundamental thing.

When I was a young woman, I was the epitome of good judgement. When my friends were going home with men they'd only just met at the disco, I was still on the dance floor. Let them go Down to Love Town; I preferred to be Dancing Queen. I may very well be the only survivor of the eighties who can't boast of having shared a hot tub and pipette of cocaine with 5 other people whose names I did not know. But this--along with my knowledge of how to dance the LA Hustle--is apparently history.

On Saturday, I made an appointment with the same hairdresser who gave me that fantastic haircut I raved on and on about. Just so there would be no misunderstandings, I took along with me the same magazine clipping she had used to give me the great cut in the first place. "Just trim it up until it's the same cut as the one before," I said. As to what happened next, I've no idea. I can tell you that a mainstay of every hair stylist's evil plan is to take your glasses so nobody but God and the little old lady getting a finger-wave in the next chair knows what's really going down.

But some portion of the conversation in which I detailed my wishes sounded to her like, "Billy Ray Cyrus" and the resultant haircut was too short in the front and way-way-way too long in the back. By the time I realized her mistake and had driven back by to have it corrected, she was long gone and the salon was sealed up tight. Until Tuesday.

So what? A modified mullet isn't the worst thing that can happen to a girl; I figured I could deal, at least until Tuesday. But then as I combed out my wet hair on Sunday morning I found myself reaching for the manicure scissors. And before you could say, "For Professional Use Only," I had lopped off a sizable chunk of the back of my hair. There'd been no tentative clips with the tips of the scissors--I had gathered up the offending hanging-downage as though I were going to tie it into a ponytail and sawed right through the whole thing. It was as though I were watching the entire episode on television. I had an out-of-poorly-coiffed body experience. It wasn't until I saw an alarming amount of wet hair in my sink that I realized what I had done and actually used one of the expensive curse words--the ones I save for company and special holidays.

I sought out Muffin Uptown to see her reaction. The look on her face was anything but hopeful as she flooffed at and otherwise tried to manipulate what was left of my hair. "Maybe you can get an appointment with someone else to fix it on Monday," she said. But what do you think it means that her criticism was aimed entirely at that portion of the haircut I had actually paid for?

It was at that point that it dawned on me that I had, many times, paid money for worse. Every woman knows that some of the bitterest tears ever shed are those wept over an unfortunate haircut. But aside from having wasted one of the good curse words, I just haven't been able to work up that much of an I-care. It's just hair. I've got lots of it. Everywhere.

It looks like crying over having done a stupid thing may have gone the way of my good judgement. Which is good, I guess. It probably wouldn't do to have one without the other.

Friday, October 19, 2007

I'm sorry, could you step back just the teeniest bit? Maybe a leeettle bit more. Just a tad more? Just a--oh, okay. That's fine, then.

For the past few days, I've been trying to decide on my Halloween resolution.

Waddayamean, you never heard tell of a Halloween resolution? How many times have you awoken on November 1st and said, "Oh, God. I'm never, ever going to do that that again."?

There you go--Halloween resolution.

I've pretty much already decided not to resolve to give up anything that would negatively impact my blogging capabilities--like candy corn or beer. And while I did briefly entertain the notion of making an effort to bellyache less about how much work I have to do in relation to how little time I have, I think we all know I'm not going to do that, either.

What I will do, I think, is resolve to enforce the parameters of my personal space more stridently that I have in the past.

I think we can all agree that as a general rule, we stand much closer to one another than is absolutely necessary. If I can just convince the people with whom I come into direct contact during the day to stand at least five and a half feet away from me, I can resolve some of my body-image issues without having to resort to expensive, time-consuming therapy.

I can stop worrying once and for all about the ever-expanding size of my pores, and whether or not a rogue chin-hair has popped out during the drive into work. For that matter, I won't have to spring for one of those $23.00 five-bladed razor refill packs, since it would no longer be possible for someone else to see my long, Van Winkle knee hairs from that distance.

As long as you stay over there where you are supposed to be, you should be none the wiser on those days when I slept just a bit too long to allow myself time to wash my hair, and the fact that my head smells like a week-old, wet bathing suit should not cause you any discomfort at all. From almost 6 feet away, you might not even be able to tell that I am wearing clothes that I slept in last night.

The more I think about it, the more I warm up to the idea. And if enforcing a six foot, no-fly-zone around my person really does enable me to stop worrying so much about what other people think, I may even one day be able to shout across the room, "See? It wasn't me after all. It was you."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

'scuse me--does this bus go uptown?

Everybody knows that my navigation skills aren't that advanced. Muffin Uptown and The Boy alternate between pity and disdain for my inability to maneuver through the town in which I've lived now for two years. At the office, it's not unusual for me to change course in mid-stride when I suddenly realize that I'm traveling in the wrong direction. (Almost always, somebody catches me doing this.)

I don't even pretend to know where I'm going anymore--I just trust in Jesus and let whatever good-hearted soul who wants to rescue me lead me back to the right route. But I do, for the most part, know where I am supposed to be.

Or so I thought.

When Wednesday morning's three-legged race for the door was in full swing, I knew I had to complete three things before pulling out of the driveway. I had to make sure I was wearing all the clothes I meant to put on that morning; I needed to remember the items I had worked on the evening before and would be presenting in an 8:15 meeting, and I really wanted to finish up and publish that day's post. Neglecting the first carried with it the guarantee of ridicule from my coworkers. Failure to get to work with the proper materials would result in a serious loss of professional face. Being late with my post meant--well, I didn't really know what that might mean, since any deadline associated with my posting was self-imposed.

As it turns out, I have a very real deadline for posting. If my blog isn't right where it's supposed to be, my mother worries that I have again succumbed to a malicious corn dog, Tawana and my readers on the East Coast start jonesin' and calling my house for their fix, and my Fred-in-law sends scouts out to make sure I haven't succumbed to marauding savages.

Meanwhile, I'm dripping crunchy and delicious drive-through taco juice all over editorial copy or Composition II papers, or sleeping through CSI, or wondering how to make Ira Glass notice me. All the while, I'm wishing that someone within my sphere of influence would do something I could lie about and make sound funny.

I don't know what kind of powder keg you people are used to, but that's way too much pressure for a girl who can't find the conference room without Mapquest.

photo, Steve Woods

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Word.

A few days back, I ran a post with the title, Slippage. As it turns out, this word does not mean what one would automatically assume it means (that is, if one does not number in the 4% of the population actually familiar with this word). Apparently, slippage is the difference between the estimated broker fee and the actual charge the broker hits you with.

Even had I been aware of this arcane definition, I would still have used this particular word in the context I did. Why? Because I can.

I'm allowed to make up my own definitions for words; I'm even allowed to make up a word out of whole cloth. That's what us writer-types do. As a busy and important publishing professional, I certainly don't always have time to sit and scratch my head while I come up with the already-existing perfect word or phrase. And because of slippage, even if I had the time, there's no guarantee I could actually put my hands on it.

In fact, many of your favorite words are probably the direct result of a writer somewhere being too lazy or stoned to get out of the chair and fetch the thesaurus. The problem, of course, with making up your own words--especially if you are like me and have a hard time keeping the words you really do know corralled in your head--is that you are as likely as not to forget its made-up meaning the moment you hit the return key.

Fortunately, if it's a really good word, somebody else will glom onto it and you can derive the meaning of your own word from someone else's context. If you're really lucky, Tommy Lee Jones will use your word in his next movie and ta-da!--it's part of the national lexicon. It's just a short hop from there to realizing that you would be perfectly happy to never, ever hear that word again.

But when my self-imposed deadline looms large, Material World Girl hasn't posted anything from which I can steal, and my friend Tawana is phoning first thing in the am to say, "New post, please," I find myself wondering if I will again be able to come up with two good words (real or imagined) to string together. Those are the days when I'm waiting--along with everyone else--to see what words I'm going to say today.

And hope that today isn't one of those days when only a certain word will do.


photo, David Kirby

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Cups and Saucers.

If the thought of me in my underwear is a little too much for you to contemplate, maybe you could go surfing for a bit and let me get this out of my system. Otherwise, the pressure will just keep building and building, and once it blows, God only knows who'll be hurt. On top of everything else I have to deal with, I just don't want that on my conscience.

Apparently, the company who makes my favorite bra decided that keeping me happy doesn't matter to them anymore, and they've stopped manufacturing the 023047265 F16734498. This is, by now, an old song for me, and as you can imagine, is about to cure me of ever falling in love again.

We women really do have a love-hate relationship with our foundation garments. When they do what they are supposed to do and are easy to look at, we consider ourselves to be the luckiest women on earth. I know that I myself have never done anything to deserve my delicate little chocolate brown lace number that makes me feel secretly beautiful, protects me from the unwanted glances of strangers, and keeps my breasts at parade rest--no matter what tasks I've chosen to accomplish that day.

The world is full of bras that seem okay at the outset, but are, in reality, just a little too high and mighty--and a woman must be constantly on guard against bringing any of these into her home. Introduce enough of these into the rotation, and fairly soon you begin to look as though you are wearing someone else's bosoms to work.

If you think it's hard to judge a bra by its cover, consider how difficult it is to gauge its inner nature. I've had the unfortunate acquaintance of a great many mean-spirited brassieres that scratch, pinch, or itch--as well as those that perform as capably as any Chinese thumb-puzzle ever imported. Speaking just for myself, if there's any breast-heaving to be done during the course of the day, I prefer it to be the result of finding myself in the clutches of an unexpected burst of passion, and not because my b├╝stenhalter has been slowly and methodically tightening its grip around my ribs as the day wears on. It's that boa constrictor effect that compels me to so often to shed my brassiere in the parking lot as I pull away from the office. By the end of the week I have to root around beneath the car seats and in the darkened recesses of my handbag, or go a capella to work on Friday.

So, yeah, I'm a little chapped. Granted, I did a little belly-aching when they stopped making a couple of my favorite fragrances, but come on. If a girl can't depend on her bra, ain't nothing in this whole, wide world worth counting on.

photo, Oliver Gruener

Monday, October 15, 2007

Looking for the much-touted Tattoo Tees Podcast? Check Sunday's post.

Really love your peaches, wanna shake your tree. Oh, Mama wait--ain't you got no tree without the plastic bag action?

I always thought of myself as a conscientious consumer. I recycle. I reuse.

And I was feeling pretty good about my plastic bag practices: I've found that they're good for cat box duties, and I've used them for years when I color my hair. (There's nothing in this world more attractive than a woman with a plastic bag wrapped 'round her head and clipped in place with a clothes pin.) I sometimes tote my lunch to work in a plastic bag, and after I've finished, hand them over to one of my writers, who then uses them when she walks her dogs.

Yup, I was pretty much feeling like a part of the global village. Until I read some of the stats. Thanks a lot, Al.

Plastic bags are cheaper to manufacture and way easier to tote than the old brown paper bag. So much so, in fact, that they're everywhere. People who make it their business to tally such things have estimated that the world uses roughly 1 million plastic bags per minute. A great many people use these bags once and then toss them into the landfills, where they photodegrade--break down into smaller toxic bits--and are then absorbed into our food chain. And then there are the millions that end up in the litter stream outside the landfills (National Geographic News), where they are tantalizingly appetizing to certain animals and virtually all the world's trees. So, even if you're reusing your bags, they still stand a very real chance of ending up someplace they don't belong.

The solution? Reuse, recycle, and rethink. I'm going to have to cut back on my bag habit. So, I'll be buying one of those adorable reusable bags to bring things home and tote things back.

I'm not sure yet what I'm going to wrap my head in, but I'll come up with something.

Use those plastic bags to knit a reusable bag
Save a tree or two. Get yourself a bag snagger.
Shop for reuseable bags and read statistics to make you want one.

photo, reusablebags.com

Sunday, October 14, 2007

In which you get to see the reason for all the hoopla.

The Tattoo Tee Podcast

video


Here it is--several hours before the official release. I just couldn't wait to scoop myself.

If you really dig Kerry Politzer's song (and why wouldn't you?) you can get her new album over at Amazon. Buy the book, too, while you're there.

I'm going to stop talking now so you can watch it two or three times.

Watch the larger file (better quality) on YouTube.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Slippage.

There's no shortage of things I can think of to worry about. I can obsess over whether or not I remembered to pay the bills this pay period (a worthy worry, as it turns out) or whether I have--as I realized upon awakening today--scheduled myself to be in two places at one time. I worry about the bald spot that I know is developing on the back of my head due to the viciousness of my car's headrest and whether I will be the first to notice or will instead receive an anonymous email one day at the office. Some days, I fret over whether or not my pores really are as large and cavernous as they appear to me to be in the mirror.

Whatever else may be missing, I have a rich and fulfilling fretting life.

But this past Saturday, I found a grocery receipt in my purse for a bill of items that I don't remember buying. Most were things I haven't bought in years (High C Fruit Drink, baby wash and no-more-tears shampoo). I can't stop trying to figure out how this receipt happened to be in my pocketbook. Have I slipped so much that I am now buying items that I don't remember needing (and can find no evidence of in my house), or worse--do I have some sort of psychological larcenous obsession that is causing me to steal other people's grocery receipts? More alarming still--who rooted through their pocketbook this past Saturday and found the receipt for the sofa I purchased for a photo shoot (and am now needing in order to process my reimbursement)?

There's probably an entire tribe of us out there--confused, not-so-middle-aged women wandering the streets of the city, ardently searching for our grocery receipts, misplaced hairs, and concealer sticks. Please, if you spot one, send her home.

We are probably looking for her.

photo, Jan Willem Stad

Thanks for waiting.

My best laid plan done gone awry.

Please check back later for today's post.







photo, Nick Cowie

Thursday, October 11, 2007

You call this workin?

Last Sunday, I and a small crew filmed a new podcast for Tattoo Tees, a collection of iron-on designs we put together to make any t-shirt your new favorite. In an attempt to break from the ordinary, we decided to make this one a music video.

And wouldn't you knock me in the head right now if you could have my job?

We're in post-production and you'll be able to see the finished product on the website by Monday; it'll hit You Tube and iTunes right after that. I thought you might enjoy a peek at some behind-the-scenes shots.

It's hard to go wrong when you've got such talented and good looking actors touting your wares. This is Talley Gale and Dustin Curry (above left). You might want to make a note that you saw them here first, before they were all rich and famous. (And have you ever seen so many dimples in one shot?)

Working on the technical stuff: Lloyd Litsey (left) checks the previous shot. Clint Hansen (right) zooms in on Talley's good side.




Tattoo Tees
Item Number 4516
10.95
ISBN 1601407661
48 pages

Yup, you can buy it now.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Malus domestica is here! (are here?)

Or the Honeycrisp, as you may know it. Or maybe you don't. I hadn't heard of it myself until last year. But now that I have, don't even threaten me with any of those ordinary, run-of-the-mill apples. This apple is crispier, sweeter, and more beautiful than even the apples you remember from your childhood.

And you can only get it from September to February! If I had known that after first discovering these apples it last winter, I might have hoarded a few bushels. Instead, they disappeared from the shelves without warning. I had eaten my last one without knowing it. I hate it when that happens. Poor little vitamin-deficient Muffin Uptown has been practically pining away for want of just one more, singularly perfect apple.

And then, suddenly last week--there they were, and I was Navin Johnson on phone book day. I think the National Association of Apple People must be owing me a commission, I've been so strident about insisting that all my friends and coworkers try this fruit. I just can't help it. Next year, and the year after, and every year after that, when you truck home your first sack of the season of beautiful and delicious Honeycrisp, you'll say to yourself, "I'm so glad Jane told me about these apples. Reading her blog has really enriched my life." Or something like that.

When you write to thank me, just address your message to Jane Appleseed.

photo, Arjun Kartha

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Not now. Maybe later. Or not.

As many of you know, I've been practicing my procrastination technique. As a result, I've become so adept at the art of putting off for later that which really should be taken taken care of right now, that this month, my local utility company very nearly shut off my power for my trouble. Once you reach the point where you are receiving threats in the mail, you can safely assume that your practice has made perfect; you have attained procrastination nirvana.

As an inarguable expert in the field, I've compiled a list of the five main types of procrastination tactic. You may do whatever you wish with this list, or you may do nothing at all and thus practice your own fledgling procrastination skills. I myself am using the act of compiling this list as a means to avoid doing something else that I would rather not do.

I am calling this list the Jane Hierarchy of Not Now.

1. This other thing is much more urgent and so must be taken care of to the exclusion of damn near everything else. This is a very large and self-perpetuating category and is often the result of days or weeks of perfect procrastination of virtually all the tasks on your to-do list. Items that had previously been assigned low priority (such as my electric bill), are very often suddenly catapulted to this urgent status. The very nature of a good procrastination technique virtually assures that there will always be at least one item ready to accelerate to this status just when least expected. If your technique is really accomplished, items falling into this category may even require a personal or vacation day to resolve.

2. I just can’t deal with this crap now. Very similar to #1, but without the sense of urgency a shut-off notice produces.

3. I work so hard, no one could begrudge me one tiny little four-hour nap. Also known as the entitlement, or poor-me defense. One may also use this tactic to defend a day-long CSI marathon, 2 or more hours watching You Tube videos of singing, talking, or dancing cats and dogs, or surfing the web looking for naked pictures of Ira Glass. For the most part, pretty much any otherwise un-justifiable activity will work here--anything at all to keep your mind off that task you need to do but would really, really rather not.

4. Oh, baby, I’m so tired. Plans made at 5:00 pm become progressively less important as the evening wears on. Thus, by 11:00, virtually everything shifts to this category. In an average week, this tactic very often results in my being late for work, since so many of the tasks I meant to accomplish the evening before were shifted at the last moment until early the next morning. Caution: By week's end, this practice may result in the falling into bed while still in one's clothes phenomenon.

5. I don't want to. This is procrastination in its purest form, without all the bells and whistles, and is also known as the Obstinacy Defense. My brother, when practicing this form of procrastination, announces his intent with, "I'm a grown man..." Alternatively, my friend Tawana prefers, "I'm not eating those eggs." I have been known to steal either phrase when deciding to not decide.

And there you have it. Those are, essentially, the main forms of procrastination available to you. If you find that you're having difficulty deciding on a form, don't fret. Just wait for another, more urgent time to think about it. That almost always works for me.


photo,© Jenny Rollo

Monday, October 8, 2007

Knitting for Noggins.

Not my noggin, obviously. Anyone looking at this picture can plainly see that this activity is definitely not doing my noggin a bit of good.

Just for the record, this is me trying to coax my stitches onto the wrong needle--something my friend Mary tells me I must do to perfect the i-cord. At least that's what she says. Now that I've seen the picture, I think this was a conspiracy hatched up to capture me on film in my natural state--all knotted up and confused. (Do you think I should be concerned that the photographer of this shot is my boss?) The i-cord should have given me some clue, now that I think about it--it sounds like something you have to pull to make your chute open so you don't get CSI'ed all over the pavement.

Although Cheryl over at Material World loves to dis her own knitting, she doesn't have a clue when it comes to cluelessness. I happen to have it on good authority that she actually completed an article of clothing that a human being (albeit a tiny one) can actually wear. I, on the other hand specialize in pushing the yarn around until it looks like something that's ready to rip out again. I don't like to brag, but I have completed hundreds of ripped out projects, each one more ripped out than the one before.

Okay, enough of this foolishness. Get your hook or your needle and help us whip up 30,000 hats for Arkansas Children's Hospital by October by October 14. All the really cool busy and important publishing professionals are doing it.

photo, Susan Sullivan

Saturday, October 6, 2007

What I'm missing.

It's not unusual to miss a couple of fun things when my plate gets too full, but I'm sorta chapped about missing this one.

My friends Deborah and David are playing tonight at one of our old haunts. With my other friends. Without me.*

My good friend John sent the picture so I would know that they missed me, too.

Wish it had sound.

*Like you care. But now I have proof that I actually do know real people who are walking around out there in the real world. At least, that's what they email me.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Ooh look--another reason to get all pissy on the drive in to work.

I’ve encountered an unforeseen and nettlesome problem with my new car--or more specifically, the upholstery of my new car.

The headrest is plucking the hairs out of my head as I roll down the highway. I’ve never even heard of this problem before.

Granted, if I hadn’t been so cheap and had sprung for the fancy leather upholstery, I would be blogging about something else right now. But I also would have been forced to take better care of the car.

Why, I don’t even have leather on my living room furniture.

For the longest time, I was waiting for Muffin Uptown to grow up–just until the age when she was no longer spring boarding from across the room before falling onto the furniture. She’s 21 years old now, but she still launches herself into low orbit before coming down for emergency landing on the couch. I’m probably not going to be comfortable with the idea of leather furniture until she’s leaning on a walker and is physically unable to accomplish lift-off.

Once again I’ve digressed all over the place. The real issue isn’t the leather furniture I don’t have, it’s the hairs I did have until a couple of hours ago and that are now poking up out of the upholstery of my car. By month end, the front seat is going to look like the Jungle Room at Graceland.

There are really only two things that provoke my ire: having my hair plucked and my teeth poked--both, unfortunately--necessary torture if I am to appear well-groomed. I can control my temper as long as these operations are being performed by properly trained and licensed professionals. But having my hairs arbitrarily and unexpectedly yanked out by the root as I speed along highway 10 is making me quite fractious. By the time I arrive at my destination, all I really want to do is hurt somebody the way I've been hurt.

It's a vicious cycle.

photo, Michael Mardahl

Thursday, October 4, 2007

A three-legged dog walks into a saloon and says, "I'm lookin' for the man what shot my paw."

I guess my Karma will never recover, but I just can't help myself.

I will now be referring to the three legged dog who lives next door to me as the one-eyed, three legged dog.

Every time I see him, he's missing another part. One more surgery and he will qualify for a handicapped parking sticker.

I have several friends who will be weeping by now--their ego boundaries are so thin that the story of any animal in pain hurts their hearts. But I am happy to report that the one-eyed, three-legged dog does not seem to be in any sort of pain. In fact, when Tawana, Carol, and I ran into him right before his unfortunate de-peepering--even though he looked like that part of CSI from which I must always peek through my fingers--he seemed quite happy and upbeat (notwithstanding his obvious embarrassment at having been caught wearing the dreaded plastic Elizabethan collar).

He's a very nice dog and a pretty good neighbor, as far as the four-legged variety go. But I'm afraid I am going to have to insist that he stay in his own yard, from now on.

At least as long as bits of him keep falling off.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The war on crack.

Once again, my home state has done me proud. Yesterday, a council member of the great city of Pine Bluff withdrew his proposal for a ban against baggy pants when it became obvious he was going to have to wear that stupid idea all by his lonesome.

Apparently, we don't cotton to having to look at other folks' cotton undies down here in the South: Florida, Texas, and Virginia state lawmakers all entertained the idea of a ban against "sagging," but ultimately thought better of it. Dallas and Atlanta are still thinking it over, and--no surprise, several Louisiana towns already have their ordinances on the books (because you know that's got to be that state's most pressing concern right now).

Notwithstanding that such an ordinance has to be constitutionally unsupportable, or that it is obviously another thinly-veiled attempt to legalize racial profiling (see bell hooks' fascinating thoughts on the attire of young urban black men), just who the heck do these council members and legislators think is going to enforce such a law--the trouser police? The pants po-po have been after me for years, and let me tell you, they are fairly easily eluded. If I had to pay a fine every time my breeches were poorly fitted, I wouldn't be able to afford the self-same very expensive, albeit unflattering, designer pants.

If it's just absolutely necessary that we legislate the way we wear our clothing, maybe our lawmakers could be convinced to concentrate on forcing men over 22 years' old wear their shirts in public, even when--especially when jogging on a public thoroughfare?

That's a law I could really get behind.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Since it's October, it must be time for a few words about Christmas.

I find it incredibly ironic that any woman who is so discomfited by Christmas should find herself working at the one place in the world--other than Santa's workshop--where it's Christmas every single day of the live-long year.

I don't have a problem with the idea of a Christmas holiday on general principle, although I do think that me and mine could do with one less societal-endorsed reason to buy more crap.

And I have to say that if Christmas is something you really feel you absolutely must have, my company does it better than anyone. Virtually everyone who works there loves-loves-loves the holidays. But when the Christmas balls come out and the rosy-cheeked, turtle-necked models begin roaming the halls, I start looking for something to hide behind.

This is because when I was growing up, the advent of any major holiday meant that somebody was going to the emergency room. Or jail. Sometimes, my family made deposits in both facilities. Like every other family, we had holiday traditions: start drinking; raise hell; call the law; go in for stitches, when appropriate.

The first two weeks I was married, every time my new husband removed his belt and the buckle rattled, I peed my pants. At my first Thanksgiving dinner with the in-laws, my father-in-law reached for the mashed potatoes and I ducked. It took a lot of years' reconditioning to be able to tolerate the holidays without major pharmaceuticals.

That's pretty much all behind me now. These days, I just suffer a feeling of general unease that begins around Halloween and lasts through the New Year. It's been decades since the police have come to dinner, and the only time I have to go to the emergency room these days is when I topple over in my walker and break one of my brittle old bones.

And nobody in my family raises hell and puts a block under it for Christmas anymore.