Tuesday, January 31, 2006

"Aunt Coretta"

I graduated Law School in 1991.

There were two graduation ceremonies -- the graduation ceremony with the entire University, and then a smaller one, just with the Law School.

The Commencement Speaker at the University graduation was then-President George Bush.  We all had to walk through metal detectors before we could graduate.  We sat there in the sun with thousands of others and listened to a moving speech about ... free trade with China.

We then proceeded over to our own graduation ceremony, where the commencement speaker was a professor from the school.  (Can't even remember who it was.)

But, before he spoke, the Dean noted that we had a special guest in our audience, and asked her if she wouldn't mind saying a few words.

We didn't know it at the time (at least, I didn't), but one of my classmates was Coretta Scott King's nephew.  (A name like "Scott" doesn't always ring a bell.)  And his "Aunt Coretta" was in the audience to see him graduate. 

I don't know if Coretta Scott King was often asked to make impromptu addresses wherever she went, but she certainly was a poised and thoughtful speaker.  She was, of course, there because she was proud of her nephew, but she managed to share a little bit of that pride for the rest of us.  And because she was who she was, she also reminded us of the obligations that we have to a society -- both as citizens and as (new) lawyers with a responsibility to uphold the Constitution and make certain its protections extend to everybody.

Ask any of my friends and family who were at my graduation who my commencement speaker was -- not one will name President Bush or the law school professor.  We all remember Aunt Coretta.

My condolences on her passing to her family, and everyone touched by her life.

Saturday, January 28, 2006


Saw my sister in a dance show tonight.  (Go Joyce!  Wooo!)

Driving home, I listened to one of those 80s shows on the radio, and it took me back.

In the 80s, I was in this summer program called Teenage Drama Workshop, for all us little Theatre Geeks.  The program was geared to High School students and took place at a nearby college campus.  We'd rehearse all summer and perform children's theatre shows at the end of the year.  We got the chance to perform (on a real college stage in front of a real paying audience!) and the little kids got some (semi-)decent entertainment.  Win/win.

But the Workshop wasn't all rehearsal -- it was also CLASSES.  Every morning, we'd have classes in Drama, Improvisation ... and Dance.

I am not a dancer.  My sister is the dancer.  (I'm the lawyer.  We decided early on how to divvy up the tasks.)  But Dance was a mandatory class.  So (this being the 80s) I showed up every day in one of them leotards that was kinda half-suspenders so you wore it over a shirt, and some stirrup tights, and I put on my dancin' shoes.

The dance class took place on the stage of the big theatre at the college.  We all lined up on the stage -- there were four rows of us.  (I guess this is traditional in dance classes.)  Every once in awhile, the instructor would assign us into rows, but it never stayed that way for long.  Even when she'd purposely tell two lines to switch places (to bring the kids in back to the front, and vice-versa), we'd eventually settle back down into our favorite positions.  People had places they liked to dance, and there really wasn't much the teacher could do about it.

I fell naturally into the second line.  I wasn't a good enough dancer to be in the first line -- and even if I was, I wasn't confident enough to dance in the front line -- which, when you think about it, means I wasn't a good enough dancer, because confidence is surely a part of dance.  But I was never sure that I knew the routine well enough, and I always wanted to be behind someone who DID.  Besides, when I was in the second row, I was behind the really GOOD dancers, and I could actually learn something from them.

When I joined the class, my teacher -- to my great annoyance -- put me in the fourth row.  I'm useless in the fourth row.  There are three rows of people between me and the teacher, so I can't see her well enough to learn the combination.  And there are two rows of people between me and the good dancers, so I can't see them well enough to pick anything up.  When you're in the fourth row, you've really only got a good view of the third row of dancers, and they don't know what they're doing either.  Basically, if you put me in the fourth row, I will become a fourth row dancer, which isn't any good for either of us.

So, the teacher would generally assign me to the fourth row, and by about ten minutes into class I would have woven my way back up to the second row.  It was never difficult to do -- there were kids in the second row who preferred to be farther back, so the rearrangement happened sort of naturally.  (Nobody ever said a word; we just danced on over to where we thought we belonged.)

And then, one day, we were taught a combination to a particular song (which I just heard on the radio driving home from my sister's show tonight).  And it was a bit of a lengthy combination, but I got it and -- unlike nearly every other combination -- I knew I got this one.  As it turned out, I was one of the only people in the class who did, and as the music played, the six girls in the front line missed beats, stumbled, and otherwise dropped out.  Usually, when this happened (as it did, from time to time), everyone else stopped too, because we were all following those six.  This time, I didn't stop.  Like I said, I knew this combination and I knew I knew it, so I didn't really see any reason to stop dancing, even though I was pretty much the only one who still was.

The combination ended, and I stopped on the beat.  My teacher -- my freakin' teacher, who had taught me for something like six weeks by now, looked at me with surprise and said, "[NZ], I didn't know you could dance."

She put me in the second row for the rest of the summer.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Well, that's solved

Upstairs.  The son.  Overflowed the toilet.  And, for some reason, declined to answer the phone when I'd called.  Also decided to exercise his right to remain silent when I knocked on their door that night, asking if anyone had any idea why it might have been raining in my bathroom that morning.

This is, I note, the second time they've had a toilet-related flood incident that had effects in my unit.  (The first was in the other bathroom, and ultimately resulted in me having the wall torn out and re-drywalled.)

Think they'd take it in the right spirit if I left a plunger, wrapped up in nice big ribbon, on their doorstep?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

... and a do-over of this morning, too

I'm tired.  (Went to sleep late -- big surprise.)  Alarm went off and I hit it.  Went off again; hit it again.  None of this is unusual.  I was sorta giving myself till 8:00.

And then, before 8:00, I heard it.

There are sounds that immediately wake you up -- sounds of something crashing to the floor; a yelped meow of surprise; a siren; a scream; or ... in this case ... the sound of it raining inside your house.

More precisely (can you guess?  can you?) the sound of water pouring from the air vent in the ceiling of my brand new bathroom.

OK, to be fair, the air vent was probably the best place the water could be coming out in there.  (If it was coming from over the shower, for instance, where we removed the whole wall to get rid of the mold, well, that would be bad.)  And the fact that the water did not smell of human waste is definitely something I'm putting in the "plus" column.

But the air vent is now quite likely the lowest place in the bathroom ceiling.  Which would make it the most likely place water from anywhere in the bathroom upstairs would decide to come pouring out.  And given the history of the bathroom upstairs in re: leaking, and the thousands of dollars of repairs done to both our units in light of said history, the fact that water came pouring in (I've got about four towels on the floor to sop it up -- it soaked the carpet in the hallway, of course) is a distressing event.  (Did I mention the housekeeper came yesterday?  So up until about 15 minutes ago the place was freakin' sanitized.)

I called her.  (The neighbor, not the housekeeper.)  It took forever me to achieve this as she blocks calls without known numbers and my number is set to automatically not identify.  So I eventually remembered how to unblock (*82) and called, and her phone rang, like, nine times and then the machine picked up.  I hear people upstairs so I know she's there.  Wonder if she was too involved with the flood to pick up the phone, or if she's just ignoring me altogether.  Am half tempted to run up there and pound on the door.  (The fact that I'm not yet dressed is weighing heavily against.)

Sob.  Whimper.  Cat likes it, though.  Water dripping from an unidentified source is a total toy.  Glad someone is getting amusement out of this.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Shows on Fox

So, looks like "American Idol" is preempting "House" again this week.  I am bummed by this.  Yes, I know, I can still watch an Englishman acting like a total jerk to people, but it somehow isn't quite the same.

And speaking of "American Idol," did you ever imagine, in your wildest dreams, any situation in which you'd say "Dorothy Hamill is following in Paula Abdul's footsteps"?  Yeah, me neither.  It's a weird world we live in.

Too bad about Todd Bridges on "Skating With Celebrities."  They totally should've kicked Nancy and Dave ..  dude still won't skate with toe picks.  Dude, you've gotta have the right footwear for the--  holy cow!  Dave Coulier is the Master P of figure skating. 

Anyway, the day they eliminate Kurt Browning from this thing is the day I stop watching.  Like they think I actually tune in to watch Jillian Barberie do a layback spin?  Yeah, sure, she's miles ahead of the rest of the class on this, but really, could you imagine what Dick Button would say about her free leg on that?  Look, if I want to see better skating than Jillian and the rest of the celebs, I can just go to my neighborhood rink and watch eight-year-olds skate rings around them.  I tune in to watch the professional skaters be adorable -- and ain't nobody does this better than Kurt Browning. 

So, yeah, the day they eliminate Kurt is the day I stop watching.

Come to think of it, that's kinda win-win for me, isn't it?

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Do Over!

I demand a Do-Over on today.

Woke up.  (OK, slept in.  That part was OK.)  Showered, did some online stuff, decided to drive to the mall, get my nails done, see a movie, and stop off at the store on the way home.

Problem:  A neighbor had parked in such a way as to prevent me from getting out of my spot.  (This happened before.  I tried to get around them and misjudged the distance.  Ended up smacking my car into a post.  $1000 damage.  I was so not going to try this again with my new car.)  Left a nasty note on their windshield.

Tried knocking on doors in the building, but nobody would admit to this being their car.

Walked to the stupid mall.  Knew I could not stay for a movie because it would get out too late to walk home.  (Too dark and way too cold.)

Got my stupid nails stupid done.  The lady giving me a pedicure was very nice and thorough; the lady giving me a manicure -- not so much.  She was totally superficial with it, and ended up flinging polish so that it spotted all down my finger (which she didn't clean off).  I called her back over and made her re-do one of my fingers 'cause she did such a lousy job.

Walked home.  Freezing.

Stupid car still stupid blocking my stupid spot.

Called another neighbor and asked for a lift to the grocery store.  Bought some stuff, but some other stuff I wanted was no longer on the shelves.

Came home.  Stupid car still blocking stupid spot.

Paid bills.  Noticed my cable bill was charging me for two things I do not use (Latino programming and Sports programming).  Called to get rid of those services.  Service representative explained that I had those services because they were all in a promotion I'd been getting, but the promotion had expired so they were just billing me for everything.  She said she had another package she could give me -- the other package charged me for an extra cable box (which I don't have) but would give me everything I want and save me $20.  "OK," I said, "You do that."

She did that.  While she was doing that, she had to turn off my cable box to reprogram it.  I'd been planning to watch "Crossing Jordan" so I'd had it on "pause" (I got one of them DVR things on my cable box) from the beginning of the episode -- it was now 15 minutes in.  And completely lost when she turned off the cable box.  Oh well, I figure, I'll just watch the last 45 minutes.

Except the cable box didn't go back on.  The service rep gets back on the phone to cheerfully inform me the system froze.  While they were updating my box.  Oh no!  No TV!  (I suddenly have flashbacks to "Max Headroom."  Do you remember that?  Not the talk show, but the drama that ran on ABC.  Took place in some post-apocalyptic future where people wandered around the devasted landscape and clustered around TVs.  Gotta have my viddy.)

Yeah, so, 15 minutes later, she comes back on -- apologizes, and says everything is fine now.  Except the package will cost a little more than she'd said.

How much more?  Twenty dollars more.

"OK, wait," I says.  "That's more than what I'm paying now for all these services I don't want.  The idea here is for me to get rid of those services and pay less."  I mean, hell, might as well just keep things as they are if it's going to cost me the same.

She explains that what happened was that I was still on a partial promotion, but I shouldn't have been, and when she called up my bill on her system, it corrected and then started charging me the full rate.  So I can't even leave things how they are.  Things how they are cost more now.  "In other words," I ask, "Because I called you to take unwanted stuff off my bill, now I'm going to have to pay more money?"

She (bless her heart) realizes that there is something a little unfair about this, so comes up with, "You know what, ma'am?  I'm going to just leave everything how it is right now and have someone from Sales call you tomorrow and find you a package that suits your needs."  Yeah, good idea.  Let's do that.  Hang up with her just in time to watch Jordan finish up solving the case.

I'd tell you what I did next, but you don't want to hear it.  I'll give you a hint -- it has to do with taxes.

This week's homework

At this link here:  Weekend Assignment #95: The Best Money You Ever Spent , Scalzi gives us this week's homework. 

This week's special Weekend Assignment was suggested by Teeisme57:

"My ex-husband always said the best 10 bucks he ever spent was buying his dog, Ace, from the local animal shelter. What's the best money you've ever spent? Whether it's something you love, something you use all the time or something that doesn't owe you a nickel, what is it?"

"Extra Credit: Aside from food, what's the next purchase you plan to make?"

Thanks for the question, Teeisme57 -- that's a tough one.

Hmm.  My cat was free.  (Neener.)

I would be quite tempted to say my education -- excepting my parents spent that money (thanks Mom & Dad) and I'm not sure it's the best money they ever spent.  It's certainly in the running for the best money ever spent on me, which is saying something.  I mean, I sure wouldn't be where I am today without that law degree.  Or the college degree, come to think of it.

And while there are a few other obvious candidates here (my home, my car, my computers...), I think that I have to go with:  my featherbed.

I mean, if you're going to spend 8 hours a day participating in a single activity (that would be sleep, people -- minds out of the gutter), I figure you might as well splurge a bit on giving yourself the best possible environment for said activity.  Ever since I bought myself my nice gushy featherbed, I've turned into a stomach-sleeper, and I've slept way more soundly.  I've probably always been a stomach-sleeper-trapped-inside-a-side-sleeper-with-a-hard-mattress, and the featherbed has given me night after night of warm, soft, sleeping comfort.  Well worth the eighty bucks.

As for the Extra Credit question, I'm not exactly sure of the next purchase I'll be making.  It's likely to be some airline tickets (as there are no less than three trips in the planning stages right now -- something for my father's 70th birthday, a trip to my cousin's wedding, and a "ski" trip with friends.  That latter being in quotes as I've never skied.  Perhaps that should say a "trying not to run into a tree and end up sitting in the lodge sipping hot chocolate with my leg in a cast" trip with friends.)

I Don't Get It

Am reading AOL's article on Jennifer Berry, our new Miss America.  It says:

Berry said an incident in her childhood helped shape her.

"When I was in sixth grade I had big huge glasses, frizzy hair and I was about 5-foot-8. And I remember being in music class and a girl came up to me and said, 'Why did you have that picture taken with those horrid glasses?'

"And I looked at her and I was just heartbroken, and I remember going through middle school being heartbroken regarding the fact that she asked me that. And because of that I learned how to become the women that I am by accepting the person that I am through everything that I have done, and experiences such as that have shaped me."

Okay.  I've looked at the pictures of Berry online, and she ain't wearing glasses and has really straight hair.  (I think she kept the height.)  So how, exactly, is this "accepting the person that [she is]?"  I wonder if she wears contact lenses or if she went so far as to have vision corrective surgery to "accept the person that [she is]."  Does she sit around with a straightening iron every morning for an hour attacking her naturally frizzy hair, or did she get it straightened chemically to "accept the person that [she is]"?  I didn't watch the pageant myself, so don't know for certain whether she participated in such other time-honored traditions as putting vaseline on her teeth, duct tape on her boobs, and adhesive spray on her butt ... all as part of "accept[ing] the person that [she is]."

It's actually funny because I took a scroll through some of the contestant headshots and some of the ladies seemed rather more accepting of the people they were.  Miss Delaware, for instance, definitely went against the norm and kept her beautiful curly hair.

I do -- in some ways at least -- admire the Miss America organization.  Especially because of all the scholarships it gives out.  And I also don't have anything against people trying to look their best, and doing whatever they feel is necessary to change whatever parts of their appearance might make them feel unhappy.  (Hell, I proudly admit putting highlights in my hair 'cause I like the way they look.)  But what gets me about this story is that little sixth-grade Berry was apparently totally happy with her tall, frizzy-haired, glasses-wearing self until some heartless superficial wench told her that her look was "horrid."  And Jennifer's response to that wasn't to tell the kid to go jump, because surely she wore "those horrid glasses" because she thought it'd be nice to actually see, rather than walk around without them for everyone else's viewing pleasure.  Instead, Jennifer's response was to do the sort of the thing where she changed herself to comply with a pageant's idea of female beauty, so she could come away with the crown.

I'm sure Jennifer thinks of it as a great big "in your face" to that girl in sixth grade.  Y'know, "You thought I was ugly but I'm Miss-freakin'-America now."  But it looks to me like something of a hollow victory.  In some way, she seems to be almost thanking that girl for the wake-up call -- for telling her that her appearance needed fixing and setting her on the road to success. 

I totally approve of Berry's words -- her purported message of accepting the person you are and even acknowledging the more difficult experiences of your life and growing from them.  I'm just not sure that changing your appearance when another kid says something insulting is really the lesson she ought to be role modelling here.  Perhaps standing there on the Miss America stage being proud of her tall, frizzy-haired, imperfectly-visioned self would have been the better way to go.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


This is so exciting.  I get to say something I never thought I'd ever be able to say.  Ever:

I can skate better than someone on TV!

I've just begun watching "Skating With Celebrities" and saw the very first pair compete -- Kurt Browning and Deborah Gibson.  And I can safely report that everything Gibson managed -- I can do!  (At least, I could, back when I skated.)  I never really could get a good one-foot spin going, but I could go three revolutions.  (A spin has to go 5, I think, for it to legitimately be called "a spin.")  And those little bunny hops she was doing? -- check.  And the way she sorta couldn't stand up from her lunge without pulling her leg out to the side?  I can totally do that.  Because, you know, I kinda suck as a skater.

I've been wanting to go back to the rink and start skating again.  I've been hesitant to do this because they just had the Nationals on TV, and every little girl wants to be Sasha Cohen (or Michelle Kwan, even though she wasn't even at Nationals) -- which tends to make the local rinks really crowded from this time of year straight through the Olympics.  Until such time as the little girls learn that it actually takes, y'know, effort to do a waltz jump.  (Like Bruce Jenner did.  I can do them, by the way.  And his two-foot spin.  Oh yeah.  I was all over the two-foot spin.)

Which is actually why I think a show like "Skating With Celebrities" is doing a public service.  Because, in addition to providing what will probably be a decent demonstration of all of the simple little skating moves I used to do, (and therefore would try to explain to people), it is also an excellent illustration of how phenomenally stupid you look when you're first learning to skate.  It isn't all these beautifully graceful spread-eagles and layback spins.  It's arms waving wildly to keep you from losing your balance, and spins where -- if you accidentally bend at the waist -- you start wobbling around like you're drunk.  I have great hopes that this show will actually discourage people from going to the rink, and make it a slightly less crowded experience for me.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Tales From Macy's

Went shopping today.

Tried on a skirt that was labelled "Color may rub off; wash before wearing."
And it also said "Do not machine wash; do not dry clean; spot clean only."
.... no wonder the damn thing was on sale.  I don't think you can ever wear it.

And then I went upstairs to the lingerie department, and I saw a $63 bra.  A bra.  For $63.  And I'm not talking some bizarre crystal-encrusted model made for a Sports Illustrated photo shoot.  I'm not even talking about one of those big ol' whale-bone-corset numbers that brides buy to wear under their wedding gowns.  I'm talking about a regular, run-of-the-mill, wear-it-everyday bra.  Look, I don't want to violate TOS here or anything, but if I'm gonna pay $63 for something to hold my breasts, it damn well better take out the garbage.

On the way out, I stop at one of the makeup counters to ask about a concealer I kinda like.  They've discontinued it, but of course she can sell me the new concealer.  I'm not really interested, but she dots it on my face anyhow.  She then says, "I really hate putting concealer on someone who doesn't wear foundation," and then goes into this sales pitch for her absolutely wonderful foundation.  "But I don't wear foundation," I say.  She is undeterred.  "I call this line our foundation for women who don't like to wear foundation.  It's so lightweight."  Blah, blah, blah.  She's now putting a different shade of concealer on my face, but still going on about the miracle of her foundation.  I'm about to yield and let her throw some of that on me too, when her partner in crime -- the other makeup lady -- joins her to ask a question.  My makeup lady then goes in for the kill.  "Don't you think..." she says to the other makeup lady, "that she would look great in our foundation?"  And the other makeup lady -- who knows a cue when she hears one -- looks at me and says, "It looks terrific on you."  My makeup lady is horrified as she hasn't actually put any foundation on me yet, and says, "I just put the concealer on her and I think she'd look good with the foundation..." but the new lady is on a roll and she's just, "Yes, I saw you putting it on her just now, and it looks wonderful."  I give my makeup lady the "You know, you just lost this sale" look, and head out of the store.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Er... sorry about last year...

I haven't really blogged about this particular topic but, um, here's the thing.  Somewhere around the Christmas Shopping 2004 season, I started experiencing what we'll politely call a bit of a chronic pain thingie.

It took way way way way too long to get diagnosed -- but three doctors later, I finally got a diagnosis and a treatment, which involved (who knew?) taking antidepressants.  I'm not an antidepressant sort of person by nature, but, as I quickly learned (after much poking around on the internet) tricyclic antidepressants tend to work on chronic pain thingies.  (And, as I also learned on the internet, "we don't know why -- they just do.") 

So, I started on the antidepressants around last May -- I take a pretty high dose, but only at night.  I noticed a few behavioral effects ... mostly the added 25 or 30 pounds (side effects include "an increased appetite, especially for sweets" -- which translated into my sucking down a big box of Jujyfruits every two days).  Not that I had a really big problem with that.  Sure, I pretty much had to buy a whole new wardrobe, but it was nothing I couldn't deal with.  Because the tricyclic antidepressant actually WORKED for the chronic pain thingie, and I'm all about the no chronic pain thingie.

Somewhere around last September, my doc switched me to a different tricyclic (it promised less side effects) and told me to go three months pain free, and then taper off its usage.  It didn't work at all.  Still had the side effects AND the chronic pain thingie came back.  So I switched back to the old one and have been taking it solidly since October.

Which means that now, I've hit my three months pain free, so I'm tapering off the usage.

I've noticed a change over the past couple days -- mostly with my sleeping.  I woke up yesterday at 8:30, and today at 9:30.  Unbelievable.  Ever since I started on these things, I've been unable to wake up without my alarm clock before 10:30 (and, even then, it usually required the alarm clock -- sleeping til I woke up generally meant 1:00 in the afternoon).  And last night, I couldn't fall asleep cause a neighbor's windchimes kept me up.  Windchimes.  I heard windchimes and they bothered me. Wonder how long they've actually had the windchimes and I just didn't notice.  Falling asleep was never really an issue ever since I started taking these drugs.

I'm also just way more alert.  I feel it.  Not like I'm all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and all that.  I just feel more awake.  Don't want to lie down and sleep another 4 hours or anything.  Just want to get a move on the day.

I'd been aware, in some ways, that the antidepressants were having this sort of effect.  And I know there were definitely some days where it was obviously worse than others.  (Er, sorry again 'bout your Christmas party, Peg.)  But I don't think I've realized until just this morning exactly how much it was affecting me on a day to day basis.  Wow.

I may have to go back on them.  The tapering off thing has been "so far, so good" (knock wood) in terms in terms of the chronic pain thingie -- but the specialist suggested that they might not knock it out for good and she'll put me back on them if I have a relapse in the future.  (Boo on relapses.)  And I really need to emphasize that this is ok with me, because the exchange of these symptoms for no chronic pain thingie symptoms is so worth it -- I'll take the damn antidepressants every day for the rest of my life if that's what it takes.  I'm OK with that.

Still.  How amazingly wonderful it is to have a day or two that's been pain free and without the side effects of being highly medicated.  I hope I can do this more often.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

This week's homework: Don't MAKE me sing that...

OK, at this link (thanks, "Blog About This Entry" button) ....

Weekend Assignment #94: Evil Earworms

... you'll find this week's homework.  In which Scalzi asks:

Weekend Assignment #94: What's the worst possible song to get stuck in your head? You know: the song that once you hear it you cannot drive from your skull, even with an ice pick and a centrifuge. They have a word for that kind of song: "Earworm." We want to know what you consider to be the most evil earworm possible.

OK, so, I used to hang out with this friend named Vicky.  And whenever one of us wanted to be really cruel to the other, we'd start singing the first few lines of the very worst earworm we knew, in order to inflict it on the other person.  And that song was "Consider Yourself" (from the musical, "Oliver!")  You know, the song the Artful Dodger sings when he's welcoming sweetly annoying little Oliver into Fagin's merry band of pocket-pickers...

"Con-sider yourself.... at home.
Con-sider yourself.... part of the family.
We've taken to you... so strong.
It's clear... we're... going to get along."

All you'd need is for one of us to start the other off on it, and it was earworm city for hours.

.... which, of course, I'm currently experiencing now, thanks to this weekend assignment.  :::shakes fist:::  Damn you, John Scalzi!

My New Look

I am annoyed today.

I am annoyed today because I am annoyed by three separate individuals.

And it isn't so much that they each, in their own special ways, did something that pissed me off today.

It's that, for three separate reasons, it is best that I hold my tongue and not rip any of these boneheads a new one.  This is annoying.  Annoyance is a part of daily life, but having to take the high ground and let three freakin' jerks get away with it seems a bit unfair, y'know?

And then ... when I went to the restroom to fix my lipstick for the evening, the lighting in there was really bad and I wasn't close enough to the mirror and I screwed up and drew the lip-liner too low, conveniently drawing a nice red line under my lower lip.  Sure, I did my best to blend it in with the lipstick, but the whole I-injected-fat-from-my-butt-into-my-lips look just isn't me.  So then, I try to wipe off the excess.  I grab the nearest wipey-offy item, which is a paper towel, and carefully try to wipe off the extra lip I've drawn in.  This is only partially successfully -- although I've wiped off some of the lipstick, I've managed to rub the rest of it into my skin, which is now a little red and puffy after its encounter with a rough paper towel.  I keep trying to fix it, but no matter what I do, I still give off the overall impression that I've just been feasting on the still-bloody flesh of my enemies.

And then I think, "Y'know, projecting that image isn't necessarily a bad thing right now."  Hell, if I can't get my revenge on people who piss me off, I might as well look like I do.

Monday, January 9, 2006

Customer Service

I went to the movies this weekend.  Yet again, I spent too long waiting in line at the concession stand, while the employee behind the register asked each and every customer, "Would you like a large for only 75 cents more?"

I understand this.  I really, really do.  I worked at a movie theater and I'd been directed to "up-sell" as well.  Which I did, on occasion.  But, generally, when I had a long line, I wouldn't.  I thought the customers might: (a) actually know what size they want after staring at the menu for the past ten minutes; and (b) appreciate me not wasting any more of their time while they were trying to get to their movie.  And, oddly enough, I never got in trouble for this.

I am reminded of an incident that occurred at a job I'd held during college.  I worked at a video rental place.  (See, kids, before DVDs, there were videotapes, and before Netflix, you'd have to go to the store to rent them....)  So, here's me, working video rental.  We were all high tech because we had little bar codes on all the videotapes, and little scanning wands that would read them and tell us what the customer was renting.  (This also stopped unfortunate incidents of people being surprised by the wrong tape in the box -- as we scanned codes on the actual tapes through a window cut out of the bottom of the box.  It was only a problem when I had to look my customer right in the eye and say, "I'm sorry, the box says 'Small Town Girls,' but the tape is 'Bodacious Ta-Ta's.'  Do you want to rent it anyway?"  I digress.) 

ANYHOW, our whole system was based on these little bar code scanners -- we would scan a customer's video rental card and their name and address (and whether their credit card was still valid) would pop up on the screen.  And sometimes, a customer would want to change this information.

Well, this was a problem.  Changes -- like credit card expiration date updates -- could only be made by management.  Of course, as far as the computer was concerned, you were management as long as you logged in with a management code.

I was not management.  I did, however, possess a management code, which I had come to acquire in a fairly above-board procedure.  (I can't exactly remember how, but our manager had once asked me to do something on the computer for her, so she gave me her code to type in.  Not my fault if I remembered it.)

OK, fast forward, like months.   I'm working the rental counter.  There's a line.  Next dude in line comes up to me to rent some tapes.  Problem:  His card has expired.  He has the new one, but, y'know, I don't have authority to fix it in our computer.

My manager is in back somewhere.  No one on the floor has a manager's code -- at least, no one on the floor is supposed to have a manager's code.  I give the dude the world-famous, "Hang on, I'm not supposed to do this, but..." conspiratorial fake-whisper, log in with my manager's code, change the dude's expiration date, rent him the tapes, and move on to the next customer in my line.

I did not know this at the time, but a Regional Manager (aka, my boss's boss) had been in the store for inventory or something, and was watching me.  I did not get busted for this, nor did my manager get busted for giving me her code.  Instead, I got commended for doing what I could to help the customer and move the line along -- and I ended up with legitimate management-level-access on my own computer code, because they decided they could trust me with it.

Why is it that so many people working in fields that require them to relate to the public spend so much time sticking to the script, rather than bending the occasional rule in the interest of customer happiness?  Hell, I'm still on a crusade to get my grocery store to stop trying to pronounce my last name.  "Thank you, Ms. ... how do you say that?" they ask.  And I invariably respond, "Don't even try" -- both because they'll get it wrong, and because I don't really see a need for the people in line behind me to know my last name.  And they will always, always, ignore my protestations, and butcher my name anyway -- probably because they've been told to "always thank the customer by name," and they're afraid a regional manager will be looking over their shoulder and will fire them for not doing it.  But if my experience is any guide, perhaps what the regional manager actually wants to see is an employee who respects their customers enough to not thank them by name when they've asked not to be thanked by name.

Saturday, January 7, 2006

What Part of "No Pop-Ups" Do You Not Understand?

Logging onto AOL, my welcome screen is covered with a cheerful ad for ... actually, I don't know what it was, as I generally ignore unwanted advertising.  Pretty sure it was something to do with AOL Music.

I check my preferences.  Sure enough, my preferences are already set to "No marketing pop-ups from AOL."  I hit the button AGAIN, as though maybe AOL forgot about my preference for no AOL pop-ups.

I switch screen names.  Now, I am treated to an AOL pop-up about AOL phone service.  I check this screen name's marketing preferences -- yep, already set to no AOL marketing pop-ups.

When this happened a few days back, I sent AOL some "Ad Feedback" (from the link on the welcome screen).  So, I mean, if there's some sort of "forget everyone's preference to not get AOL ads" bug in the system, I've done my part to put them on notice.

This is getting freakin' ridiculous.  There is (believe it or not) quite a lot that I like about AOL -- one of them is the ability to customize one's online experience to get rid of unwanted advertising.  But when that customizability has no effect, it isn't worth anything at all.

Thursday, January 5, 2006

Be honest. Does this make me look....

... short?

OK, so, I saw this wool coat on sale on Amazon.com.  It was on massive sale and it happened to be available in my size.  In petite even.  You know, for those of us 5'1" - 5'4"

Now, to be fair, it was labelled as a "long" coat.  But, on the model on Amazon, it was a perfectly good 3/4-length coat.  So I thought that they meant "long coat" as opposed to, you know, a "short jacket" or something.

And then it arrived.  And I tried it on.

What do you all think?  Do I keep it, or does it make me look like I'm playing dress-up?

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

New Year -- Day Four

I don't have resolutions.  I've noticed, however, that I'm working on a few new practices.  Which is to say, I haven't resolved to do anything in particular, but I thought I'd give some new things a try.

Item:  Wear lipstick every day.

I've tried this several times before without success.  The problem is that I put my lipstick in my purse for the day (for touch-ups) -- so, by the next morning, it isn't handy for application.  I will have to solve this by either buying a second lipstick, or keeping my purse in the bathroom.

Item:  Wear earrings every day.

I've actually made progress on this -- to wit, I bought a jewelry box.  My problem here (similar to the "where the hell is my lipstick?" problem) is that I used to keep all my earrings in a big ol' untidy box on top of my dresser -- where I'd have to go digging around every morning to find a pair that matched.  Now, I've got a nice box which has a bunch of little suede straps with holes in them -- every earring is with its partner attached to a little snap-off strap.  It's much easier to pick when I can review the whole collection at a glance, and find everything in seconds.  I even wore a bracelet yesterday.  I know.  I should slow down before I hurt someone.

Item:  Wear the dry cleanables more often.

This is my reaction to gaining weight.  Sure, diet and exercise is the more traditional response, and I am trying to do a bit more of both of those, now and again.  But the thing that really irked me about putting on weight is that I'd just bought a lot of clothes.  Some of them were a bit on the pricey side, but I'd justified the expense by saying, "Yeah, but I'll be able to wear it for years."  Right.  Twenty-odd pounds later, and I can't cram myself into the silk suit or the velvet top.  But what really roasts my cookies about the whole thing is that I hardly ever wore them.  They were sitting in my closet looking pretty, but, when an occasion arose where I could have worn them, I ended up going with another item, because I knew I'd have to dry clean the pretty stuff, and I'd rather just wear the stuff I could toss into the machine.  No more of that, baby -- that new silk dress I got in Hong Kong already came out for the office holiday party, and it'll go out to dinner every chance it gets.

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

This is your cat; this is your cat on drugs...

My cat is two-and-a-half.  ish.  I haven't given her catnip because it seemed somewhat redundant.  You don't give catnip to a kitten; she's already hyper enough.

So, here's me at Target, buying silicon sealant, seven pairs of underwear for five bucks and, y'know, half the rest of the store.  And I spy the little mice.  Jasmine has always loved little mice, but these have big furry tails.  I think she might go for them.  But the tag says they're catnip mice.  And I think, well, she's old enough, let's see what happens....

As reported earlier, I got home, tried to use the sealant, had to return the sealant, got a different sealant, applied the different sealant ... and journalled about it.  Totally ignoring the three bags of stuff from Target I had plopped in the hallway a few hours back.

Jasmine wasn't ignoring them.  Jasmine was digging through them.  I deduced this from the cute little kitty butt in the air, while she determinedly attacked something inside the bag.

"What have you found baby?" I asked, clearly forgetting what I'd purchased earlier.  "Oh!" I say, "You found the catnip mice."

I could barely get her off of them long enough to take one out of the wrapper.  And Jasmine was off.  Not just batting it across the floor or stalking it like she does with a normal toy mouse.  Sthe was standing on her hind paws whacking it around, flipping herself around in all sorts of weird positions (a forward pike with one-and-a-half twists!) while attacking this mouse with a kitten-like enthusiasm I hadn't seen from her in years.  Wow.  This stuff is really feline speed.

.... wonder when she's gonna start jonesing for another fix.

Monday, January 2, 2006

How I Spent My Day Off

My new shower door leaks.  Not very much.  But still. 

First time I used it -- dry as a bone.

Second time -- a drop or two in the corner.

Third time -- several drops gathering together in an itty bitty pool of water. 

Clearly something must be done.  Something involving silicon sealant.

Knowing that I'd never actually make my way out to Home Depot, a friend suggested Target.  Good plan.  There's a Target a few blocks away.  So I figured I'd drop by this afternoon and buy me some silicon sealant.

Things you need to know:  I live in Pasadena.  The Target is on Colorado Boulevard.  Yes, that Colorado Boulevard.  Where the Rose Parade was.

I wait until 1:30, till I'm sure all the parade traffic has well and truly cleared.  I drive out to Colorado.  It's deserted.  Sure, you can see the empty stands, and the various papers and other debris in the street -- remnants of the parade earlier this morning.  But that's gone now, and Pasadena has been left to the locals.  (Until the Rose Bowl on Wednesday, anyway.)

I cruise on up to the Target parking lot and find it is chained off.  This is not good.  I park by the curb and walk over to the entrance.  There are about 8 or 9 people standing there in front of the door, eagerly awaiting their First Target Shopping Of The New Year.  There's a handwritten sign on the door saying they'll open at 2:00.  I forgot to wear a watch, so I ask someone what time it is now.  1:45.

Do I stand around in front of Target in the rain for 15 minutes?  Surely there's something better I can do.  I go back to my car -- I'd noticed I'd parked one of my wheels on a small plank of wood (more parade debris, I'm sure) so I pulled it out of the way.  That killed about a minute.  I went back toward the entrance and someone called my name.

Amazing.  Ran into a friend (who doesn't even live in Pasadena) waiting for the Pasadena Target to open.  Who knew?  We walked around some neighboring shops for about a half hour, then returned to Target and parted ways -- I was after silicon sealant and he was after a bathroom rug.

In Target, I found two different types of silicon sealant.  One brand had a "doors and windows" type which was offered in clear and a "kitchen and bath" offered in white.  This was a bit of a problem as I needed "kitchen and bath" in clear.  Luckily, the other brand came to my rescue, with "kitchen and bath" silicon sealant (in some grout/silicon combination) available in white, beige, or clear.  I grabbed a tube of clear (and various and sundry other items -- can't buy just one thing in Target) and headed home.  It was, by now, 4:00.  (There was a lot of shopping under the heading "various and sundry.")

I throw all my other purchases on the floor and attack the silicon sealant.  And I mean "attack," as you need to cut open the tube with a knife.  After I saw at it with a blade for awhile, the plastic cuts off revealing liquid goo inside.  I go to my bathroom, approach the corner of my shower where the leak seems to be and apply the sealant.

It's white.

I look on the tube of this stuff, which clearly says "clear," and I look back at the unevenly applied sealant in the corner of my shower door, which clearly is white.

I look at it again.  I ask myself, "will this bother me?"

"Yes," I say out loud, "Yes, it will."

I wipe it all off, grab my receipt, and head back out to Target.  I don't get anywhere near the kick-ass parking spot I'd gotten earlier in the day, when they hadn't opened yet, and end up hiking to the store.  I find customer service and explain the problem.  She refunds my three bucks.

I go back to the sealant section.  I'm hesitant to try another tube of this stuff -- what if all the tubes marked "clear" are mismarked?  I consider the other brand -- I could get clear in the "doors and windows" model.  Says it works for indoor and outdoor use, but I'm still not sold.

Aha!  A third brand.  Clear silicon sealant.  For kitchen and bath use.  Works on metal and tile.  Hey!  I need to seal metal to tile.  This sounds like a plan.  I buy myself a tube.  (And, since you can't leave Target with just one item, I also buy some masking tape -- as my experiment with the white stuff earlier suggested I'm not the tidiest sealant putter-onner.)

Stopped off for dinner.  Came home.  Opened sealant.  Hooray!  It's clear!  Put masking tape along the area I wanted to seal and just doused the area with sealant.  Smoothed it on with my finger, just like I'd seen the dude do when he installed the shower door to start with.  (Small bit of panic when it WOULDN'T WASH OFF MY HAND no matter how much soap and water I used.  Read tube -- said to wipe off with dry towel.  Oh.)  Ripped off the masking tape so the silicon was now in a nice even line where I'd wanted it.  Felt all professional and home improvementy.

I'll know in 24 hours if I've solved the problem.  This time, I'm keeping the bathroom door closed until the sealant has totally cured.  (Last time, I left the door open and that's how I got that picture of the cat on top of the shower door.  Let's wait till it dries before the shower door has to support kitty weight again.)  Keeping my fingers crossed. 

(Perhaps permanently, if I didn't wipe off all the sealant.)