Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Warning! Incoming rant

I was all set to write about how my physical therapy is going great and my knee is feeling pretty normal but on my way to my keyboard I realized that someone had injected the city water supply with a fresh batch of stupid. Everywhere I went people were driving as if it were their first time behind the wheel of this new-fangled thing call an automobile – parking a semi in the middle of a city street to make a delivery when the delivery dock is just around the corner, making a left turn from the far right lane, rolling through a stop sign to come to a stop in the middle of an intersection with traffic coming, stopping at an intersection clearly marked “Please proceed. Do not stop.” Just a few of my favorite things. Not that I’ve never done anything stupid but at least I have the good grace to act contrite when I’ve blundered. I don’t think these folks realized there was even another person on the road. I’m waiting for survival of the fittest to kick in. Unfortunately, these people often drive the biggest vehicles and would take several others out with them when they go. As I watched the old lady trying to figure out what the big sign was saying to her, I told myself to calm down; that could be me some day. But it won't. No. I'll take the bus.

Monday, December 04, 2006

I wasn't going to talk about work, but ...

In my adult working life, I have been asked twice to explain what I do with my time on the job (not just me but everyone in my department). The first time, we had to break down our day and list all activities – including potty breaks. This time (which just happened today), we’ve been asked how many stories we write for our weekly and monthly publications. And, it should be noted that we don’t just write – “just writing” a story involves research, setting up and conducting interviews, writing the story, editing the story, someone else editing the story, making revisions, laying out the story for publication and proofreading the final layout. We are researchers, writers, editors, layout designers and proofreaders, and we still have to perform the day to day administrative crap that’s required of anyone who works in an office. Frankly, I’m not the one who didn’t make budget this year. But, because sh*t rolls downhill and someone at the top of the hill must be having to justify her existence in cubicle hell, I must. Somehow I think my existence will be found to have more justification than hers. One can only hope.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Snow globe

It's snowing again! While I hate (I mean really really really hate) driving in snow and ice, I love the snow. I'm spending Christmas in Vail this year with at least a couple days skiing and I can't wait. It's been a long time since I looked forward to Christmas with this kind of childlike anticipation. With my new skis hanging in the garage, waiting to be used, I'm reminded of the sleds my brothers and I dragged across a snow-covered park for an afternoon of hurtling down the hill. We probably spent as much time slogging back up the hill as travelling down but nothing beat the thrill of the snow in our faces as we raced our toboggans, discs and gliders. Sometimes our parents were with us but most of the time the hill was filled only with kids -- the big kids watching out for their younger siblings. I hate to wax nostalgic and say it was a simpler time, but it was. I had no deadlines, no bills, no worries -- I just had to stay warm and hang on! And when we finally were forced back to the house in the dark, Mom had a dry towel and a hot dinner waiting.

Skiing brings that back to me. A day on the mountain followed by a cold beer, warm meal and a good night's is like taking a small step back in time. I still have deadlines. I still have bills. But for a few hours, the only worries I have are staying warm and keeping my skis on the hill.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving seems to be the one holiday that really makes sense. Even if you're not a religious person, you can be thankful for people and things in your life. I am thankful for my family and my good friends. I have many close friends who don't live near me. Still, I know I can count on them if I need a word of advice, a joke or a shoulder to cry on. I am thankful for the things in my life that many people don't have -- plenty of food, modern medicine and a safe place to live. I am thankful for the luxuries of life like Tivo, high-speed internet and a good glass of wine.

I spent last night baking an apple pie and twice-baked sweet potatoes. So, I have to say I'm looking forward to overeating today.

I hope everyone has plenty to be thankful for today. Enjoy!

Friday, November 17, 2006

When I grow up, I want to be a writer

I made a recent business trip to Wickenburg, Ariz. to preview a new Toyota vehicle. It was my first trip of this nature and, I have to tell you, it rocked. The agency wined and dined us and showed us a great time. We had a horseback ride to a cookout, complete with a cowboy balladeer. We drove their new truck on road and off.
But the people were the best part. I met some great people from the auto industry – writers, broadcasters and only one real creep. Well, he was rumored to be “mean and creepy” and I have to say (back me up on this one, ladies), if you’re going to be mean you’d better also be dead sexy. Because we can tolerate mean for a little while if you’re easy on the eyes. My only experience with him was in the van on the way back from the cookout. He had his drink in his hand over a bumpy dirt road, almost spilling it in the lap of the guy next to him and talking about how he was going to puke. I could laugh because I was sitting behind him. But I really felt sorry for the people in front of him. Luckily, he wasn’t typical of the auto folks at this event. Everyone else was smart and witty and full of great advice for someone starting out in the industry.
Spending time with other people who are interested in and write about cars has sealed my fate. I will work for a big automotive magazine someday. You can say you knew me when.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Making small talk

And today it reached almost 80 degrees. Yes, Fahrenheit. I always thought Illinois had some crazy weather, but really nothing compared to Southern Colorado. Less than two weeks ago, I had a snow day – a serious blizzard. Today, I’m driving around with my windows down, wondering if I should turn on my a/c. By the weekend, there’s a chance of snow showers. Whoopee!

Funny how when you can’t think of anything else to say, you can always talk about the weather. When I talk to my parents on the phone, they always ask about the weather here and talk about the weather back in Illinois. They really are interested in the weather, but you’d think we could come up with a better topic of conversation.

Although, I’d rather talk about the weather than health. My parents are getting up there and their health is an important issue but do we have to talk about their medications, my medications, other members of the family’s medications? It’s enough to make you ask, “Say, how’s the weather?”

Don't get me wrong, we often talk of important things. But sometimes I think we call just to hear each other's voices and then it really doesn't matter what we talk about. We just hope for a good connection.

Monday, October 30, 2006


Did you ever dream you were back in high school and couldn’t (a) find your locker, (b) remember your locker combination, (c) remember what class you were supposed to be in or (d) all of the above?

I have had that dream multiple times in the many years since graduating from high school, although not for awhile. Last night I had a new variation on that dream. I dreamed I was back in college – and it really was my alma mater (mostly) – and had left my class schedule at home. I remembered the first class and made it there on time. The other classes were sort of a blur; I could vaguely remember which building to go to but not which room – and the building was only a guess. So, I’d wander into a building and stop by each classroom to see if there was any indication that it was the class I should be attending.

I tried getting my class schedule from the administration building – a complete dream building as it didn’t exist on my campus and it had a teeny tiny door that I had to squeeze through and almost got stuck (just to add to the stress of the dream). Unfortunately, the computers were all down so they couldn’t give me my class schedule. So, it was back to wandering the halls of various buildings trying to find which class I should go to.

It was a stressful dream and I was happy to wake from it. Although, I don’t think it was more stressful than the dream from the night before in which I kept “waking” only to discover I was still dreaming. Oh, and my boyfriend turned into a zombie and tried to eat my hand. Why is that one more stressful? Because a zombie invasion is a lot more likely than me going back to college.

Friday, October 27, 2006

More snow

It's October. It's supposed to be a time of watching the leaves change, carving pumpkins, watching cheesy zombie movies as Halloween approaches. It's not supposed to be a time of shoveling snow and missing work because of a blizzard.

We got hit by a major snowstorm yesterday. A snow day is always cause for a celebration. But, lots of people lost power and the heavy snow brought down tree branches.

A bunch of pictures of the snow and its consequences can be seen here: www.gazette.com/gallery.php?gallery=37#/.

Luckily, I didn’t lose power and was able to do some work from home, as well as enjoy a day of toasty fires, blankets and homemade soup.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Bury me not on the lone prairie

Funerals suck. I understand they represent some kind of closure for many people. And religious people view them as a passage (or some such). But they suck. What is the morbid fascination with looking at a dead body? I firmly believe we move on from that body when the heart and brain stop. I'm not sure where we go from there but what's left is a shell and honoring the shell just feels wrong to me. There's also the fact that I never feel like the body laying there looks they way the person would have wanted to be remembered.

I go to funerals for the family and or friends of the deceased but I really don't think the dearly departed cares if I'm there or not. Honoring someone's memory with a song or by planting a tree or some other private gesture seems more meaningful to me.

I'd like to be cremated and scattered at the top of a mountain or in a forest. But don't stick me in the ground in a box to rot. And no leaving me on the mantle in a fancy urn. Throw a party, drink a toast to me, have a good cry (I expect that) and then remember all the good times. That seems like the perfect way to say goodbye.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Still snowing

Seven hours of snow and it's still coming down.

Say it isn't snow!

It's snowing. The experts - I mean "experts" - say we'll have a mild winter due to El Nino. Yet, here we are less than a month into autumn and we're getting a pretty significant snowfall. I can only hope this means the mountains are getting a truly significant snowfall and my ski and physical therapy investments will pay off.

I spent most of the afternoon tooling around town in someone else's brand new Rav4. At first I was worried that something might happen and someone might run into me. At first. Then I stopped worrying and just enjoyed the new car and the snow coming down. Now that I'm off the road, I like the snow a lot more. If I never had to drive in it, if I only had to ski in it and sit by a fire and watch it fall, I'd love the snow.

Here is a photo of the backyard this evening. You can still see grass through the snow but isn't it pretty?

Maybe the experts are right and we will have a mild winter. Autumn I'm not so sure about.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Overheard at work

White woman in her mid-30s, to co-worker: "For reals?"

Thursday, October 05, 2006

October is breast cancer awareness month

My mom is a 6-plus-year survivor of breast cancer. Because of her fight to overcome cancer, I feel I owe it to her to keep myself healthy, do self exams and get mammograms. We all have our personal causes. No soapbox here. I just want you to know that October is breast cancer awareness month. So, take a few minutes to know the facts (www.breastcancer.org) and, if you know a survivor, give her a hug.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


While having blood drawn: "I won’t believe (evolution) is true until a monkey walks out of the jungle and asks for a job."

Doc, it hurts … an update

The doctor diagnosed me as having Patellofemoral Syndrome – which isn’t nearly as sexy as it sounds. It means my knee cap is out of alignment. If you look it up on the internet, you’ll find it is sometimes known as “secretary’s knee” or “housemaid’s knee.” Nice. But, it turns out that it’s not an old-person’s disease but rather something that happens to active people. So, eat right, exercise, die anyway.

There is also medial collateral and lateral laxity, which means my knee ligaments are too stretchy side to side. Knees apparently are only supposed to bend one way.

The good news for me was that the doctor didn’t use the words “surgery” or “MRI.” I really don’t want to be stuck in a tube or have to “go under the knife.” Instead, I’ll be seeing a physical therapist. And, she recommended putting orthotics in my shoes. I can do that.

So, I’ll live to ski again – in case you were worried about me.

Monday, October 02, 2006

It hurts when I do this

Remember the old joke about the guy who goes to his doctor? “Doc,” he says, “It hurts when I do this.” The doctor replies, “Well, don’t do that.”

It’s a lousy joke but I’m thinking about it because I’m seeing the doctor today for my sore knee. It hurts when I squat or kneel or wear high heels for an extended period of time or if I put weight on it the wrong way. So, “don’t do that” isn’t really an option. And, because I bought skis this year, not being able to squat or twist is also not an option.

I don’t know what I did to my knee. It’s an old injury – from when I was about 12. I don’t know what I did to it then either. I was running around outside with my cousin all day and I was fine. The next day, I stepped down off a stool and my knee went POP. Ick. I spent a day in the ER with the doctor finally saying he thought I tore a cartilage and putting me in a cast for four weeks … in the middle of summer … in central Illinois. It was an awful summer. Years later while playing sports in high school I went to a sports medicine doctor who told me my chart said I may have cracked my kneecap. Ick.

Since then I have kept up with exercise and weight lifting and have only had minor aches in that knee. But recently it has been giving me trouble. Blame age but it started quite suddenly and has been getting better and worse with no real connection to my activity level. So, with ski season approaching, I’m going to see the doctor. I expect X-rays and possibly an MRI. Let’s hope she doesn’t just say, “Don’t do that.”

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Blog, blog, blog

Blog – it’s an ugly made-up word. Microsoft Word doesn’t like it and neither do I. But I use it. “I have a blog,” I tell people (and by people I mean those of you actually reading this). Much is made of people getting in trouble for their blogs – people getting fired for talking about work or posting pictures of themselves in their uniforms. Stories abound regarding bloggers being passed over for positions because of what they’ve written online.

So, I try to be careful with what I say online, mainly sticking with (what I hope are) humorous anecdotes and observations. And, when I do talk about work it’s just to say what I’m working on at any given time. My goal is to keep in touch with some of you and (hopefully) amuse you in the process.

Plus, I’m kind of an attention whore and want to know that people care what I have to say – or should I say want to believe that people care what I have to say. I’m not making my private journal public or ragging about my boss (who I love, by the way). I’m just blogging along.

I’m going to stop saying blog. Right now. I really do hate the word. In fact, I hate most made up words, with the exception of ginormous and craptacular. Those are good ones. And, I hate when people use a noun as a verb – like task, as in “I’ve been tasked with gathering the data for the blog.” Ugh.

Putting two words together to form a new compound word is ok – such as pisswit or dipshit. It’s always important to be creative when using curse words. We don’t want our cussing to get stale.

To sum up: Blog – no. Craptacular – yes. Task is a noun – you can be assigned a task but not tasked with an assignment.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Who you gonna call?

I was flipping through the channels the other night when I stopped at The Discovery Channel to watch a few minutes of a program called “A Haunting.” They were talking about The Lake Club in Springfield, Illinois. This program “recreates” the haunting with actors but also interviews the real people involved.

A woman comes on the screen and I think, “That looks like Aunt Minnie – but fatter.” Then they go back to the “recreation” and talk about “Barbara” seeing the ghost. It starts to add up. I use the handy dandy rewind feature on my fake Tivo and pause it to look at the woman again. It’s not my Aunt Minnie but it is my aunt – my Aunt Barb! I never heard them mention her last name but she did work at the Lake Club in Springfield. I know because she found a little dog there and named her LC. It was definitely my aunt. All I could think was, “I wonder if the producers of this program know she’s schizophrenic.”

Schizophrenia is not funny and I shouldn't make light – because I worry it runs in the family and it'll happen to me. But we did laugh (possibly so we wouldn’t cry) when my aunt was convinced that my deceased grandfather spoke to her through the TV and that she was a CIA agent with the secret code name Steel Magnolia. So, seeing ghosts seems pretty par for the course.

I haven’t seen this aunt in probably eight or nine years – and only briefly then. It was really weird to see her on TV.

Baby boom

Seems like there’s an epidemic of pregnancies lately. Look at all the celebrities having kids. Two women I know at work recently gave birth and there are four more who have recently announced their pregnancies. I have two friends outside of work who are expected and one friend who will be a grandmother soon. I’m not sure if the influx of buns in the oven makes me want to have a baby more or less. I’d hate for it to look like I was just hopping on the bandwagon. And what name could I give my little bundle of joy that isn’t wildly popular or just plain crazy?

Sometimes I can see myself doing the mom thing – taking Jr. to school, soccer practice, piano lessons; attending PTA meetings; baking birthday cakes. Other times I see myself as the mom that drinks too much and causes her kid to need years of therapy. I don’t think anyone has all the answers to raising kids. It’s hit or miss. And no matter how great a job you do, your kid can still end up a drug addict or serial killer.

I just know I’d end up with a girly girl – me, the lifelong tomboy – and not know how to shop for her or even act around her. I can handle a tomboy – or a boy – or a super smart (not smart ass) kid. But what would I do with a little glamour girl who wants to wear dresses all the time and is into makeup and fashion?

It’s scary thinking whether or not I should be a mom. With all the pregnant ladies around, until I make up my mind, I’m sticking with bottled water.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Maybe terrorists control the weather

I had to fly on September 11 this year and it made me a bit nervous because I thought, what self-respecting terrorist wouldn’t want to make a statement on the fifth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center? Apparently, only Mother Nature decided to cause a ruckus this 9/11.

My flight out of Champaign, Illinois was delayed an hour, just long enough for me to miss my connecting flight by a matter of minutes – a flight that must have been the only non-delayed flight out of Chicago all day. I spent the next hour and a half running from one end of O’Hare to another, (at least I got some exercise) trying to get booked on a new flight. Someone had the bright idea to try send me to Las Vegas to get me back to Colorado Springs at 3 a.m. However, if the flight to Vegas was delayed even a few minutes, I’d be stranded … again. Besides that, I couldn’t find the gate for America West to even get on that flight. I was tired, irritable and just wanted to get home. All I could think about was “The Terminal” with Tom Hanks. I wanted to cry.

I finally was able to get on a flight to Denver that had been delayed two hours. The passengers originally booked on that flight were grumbling about the delay but I was ecstatic. My boyfriend could drive up and get me and I’d be home by 1 a.m. No sleeping on a cot in the airport for me! I popped a couple of Dramamine and sat back to enjoy the ride.

My luggage, though, is still stranded at O’Hare International Airport, waiting for a direct flight later today. All the delays were weather related and just inconvenient. All night I dreamt I was still on the plane. Today, I’m tired and irritable, but I’m home and I can stop thinking about annoying moments in the career of Tom Hanks.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Leaving on a jet plane

Tomorrow I take off for a weekend trip to Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. Woo hoo. Am I an international jet setter, or what?

Preparing for the flight, I checked out the TSA Web site (http://www.tsa.gov) to see the list of permitted/prohibited items. Check it out. It’s interesting to think someone actually would have to ask if it’s ok to carry on a saber or spear gun. Why can you carry on KY Jelly but not toothpaste? Why exactly do they think you’re going to need personal lubricant but not fresh breath? And, you can carry on a cigar cutter but you can’t smoke on the plane.

So, it looks like I’ll have to check my throwing stars and cattle prod. But thank goodness I’ll be able to carry on my personal lubricant and Toy Transformer Robot.

Monday, September 04, 2006

After the boys of summer have gone

Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer. Pools close. Schools are back in session. For someone who works 40 hours a week, 12 months out of the year, Labor Day doesn't usually mean a whole lot.

This year, the few days before Labor Day were cool, very cool for summer -- low to mid 60s -- and we had some rain. So it really does feel as if summer is drawing to a close. We spent most of the long weekend doing work around the house -- nesting, I suppose. But the big event of the weekend was buying my very first pair of skis.

Over the last couple of years I've been feeling more confident about my skiing abilities and even tackled some moguls last year at Monarch Mountain (in a snowstorm, no less). This year, I decided to take the plunge and invest in my own equipment. At the end of the last ski season, I bought my own boots. We tried them out at Copper Mountain. And, much to my dismay, I ended up with numb feet. I spent two days on the mountain loosening and tightening my boots -- loose on the lifts, tight on the slopes. When I got back, I returned to the store for some help fitting the boots. Turns out they were two sizes too big. The guys at Colorado Ski and Golf set me up with new boots without charging me anything extra.

They price matched a set of Callaway clubs for me last summer, so I try to go back to them for ski or golf stuff and yes, I recommend them if you need anything. I got a pair of Volkl skis and bindings. I'll go back later for poles and to have the bindings mounted. I also need new long underwear and new ski pants this year. Let's hope global warming can hold off for a few more years for me.

Ok, summer's over. Bring on the snow!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I don’t want a new car

A lady rear ended me this week. I was sitting at a red light, enjoying a perfect afternoon, listening to the radio, when BAM! I’m hit from behind. I look in my rearview mirror and see an older (not elderly) lady fiddling with her radio and then suddenly looking around confused.

I get out of my car. “What the hell?!” She gets out of hers looking even more confused.

“I’m sorry,” she says. “The car just rolled forward.”

It must have “rolled forward” rather quickly to create the impact it did. I look at my Jeep. Nothing. Maybe a little white paint on the bottom of my bumper from her car. But no major damage. I look at her car – an Infinti sedan of some sort. Her hood is crumpled up like a used Kleenex.

“What a junky little car,” she laughs. Then asks, “Are you okay?” I’m fine and by this point laughing. I suspect she may have had a few cocktails at lunch. “As long as you’re ok. Bye!” and she gets back in her car. I drive away keeping a close eye on her in my rearview mirror.

I can only imagine what damage she would have caused if I was driving one of the new cars I’m eyeing – and how pissed I’d be. Instead I drive away, shaking my head in wonder at her flip attitude toward smashing up her (expensive) car. Scary.

I guess my Jeep takes a beating pretty well but I doubt it’s that safe in a rollover or side-impact collision. But I hate to think of the dents and bruises my new car is going to endure in this city.

Can you retrofit airbags onto a ’93 Jeep Cherokee?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Family affair

My dad turns 70 this year. His birthday is September 12 and I'm flying home the weekend before. That means I'll be flying on September 11 -- the five-year anniversary of 9/11. I'm not sure if that's really significant or not in light of what happened in London this month. Security is already heightened so it should be as safe a day as any other, if not more so. But to ease my own security-check experience, I plan to check almost everything and carry on the bare minimum. I thought about skipping the trip but, over the past six years I've missed family events I wish I hadn't.

I wasn't there when my dad had a stroke. I wasn't there when my mom got a clean bill of health after fighting breast cancer. I wasn't there for holidays, birthdays or my parents' 45th wedding anniversary. I think I can suffer through a little (a lot?) extra security to be there to help my dad celebrate his 70th birthday. He's done a lot for me over the years. It's the least I can do.

Besides he makes my brothers crazy every other day of the year so I have to put in my time with him.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Overheard at work

"I sometimes get diarrhea so bad it makes me weak."

Do these people think cubicle walls are soundproof or do they just not care who hears this kind of thing?

Hi. My name is Pammeey and I’m a geek.

Friday night the Sci Fi channel aired the 200th episode of Stargate SG-1 and I was there. At first it appeared that it was going to be a clip show – imagine my disappointment. But, no, the “clips” weren’t actually from past shows. They were new footage made to look like clips, including in-jokes to past Stargate episodes as well as references to other sci fi franchises. The best one was an “obscure” reference which ended up being a nod to Farscape, with Claudia Black reprising her Aeryn Sun character, Ben Browder playing Stark, Christopher Judge as D’Argo, Amanda Tapping playing the part of Chiana and Michael Shanks in the role of Crichton.

To top it all off, Richard Dean Anderson showed up as General Jack O’Neill after many references to him not appearing.

It was awesome.

Can’t someone help me? Please?

Friday, August 18, 2006

Does this make me a geek?

I love Sci Fi – not all science fiction, rather the Sci Fi channel specifically. When I was single – and therefore cable-free – I would while away my hours reading or watching network television through static or watching DVDs. Now that I am the proud mother of digital cable and TiFaux, I spend many an hour watching the Sci Fi channels fine programming – the new Battlestar Gallactica, Stargate (both SG-1 and Atlantis) and Eureka (new show – Tuesday nights!).

I’d say it’s my boyfriend’s fault that I’m addicted to these TV shows – after all, he pays the cable bill and introduced me to the shows. But, the thing is, I used to be a complete geek for shows like Sliders and Quantum Leap.

I really can’t name a favorite because each one becomes my favorite as I’m watching it. But today I’m on pins and needles waiting for 7 p.m. and the return of Jack O’Neill to the SGC for the 200th episode of Stargate SG-1. Jack Effing O’Neill! Ok, it’s just for one show, but I'm still excited. It’s not that I have a thing for Richard Dean Anderson – no – it’s just that his character brought something to the show that Ben Browder’s Cameron Mitchell – while undeniably HOT – just can’t match.

So, I won't be recording tonight's show. I'll be watching it LIVE and I can't wait. Does this make me a geek? Never mind, you don’t have to answer that. I already know.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Cranky and whiney, not clever and witty

I haven't felt witty or clever for awhile so I'm having a hard time keeping up with my goal to update this page two or three times a week. At the risk of sounding like a whiner, I've been having some health issues and fatigue is among the symptoms. Yay!

I've always had a pretty high energy level so I'm not doing well with my lowered energy level. And I am whiney and cranky and I don't like myself like this. I've tried to write something that's worth reading but it comes across as bitter and bitchy. (See the Brat Pack post.)

Another fun and fascinating thing is that I've been having semi-hallucinations -- nothing as wonderful as pink elephants. Rather, I've been seeing things wrongly. For example, I saw a peach crumble where there was actually hamburger and chilies. I saw "tomato magnet" instead of "tornado magnet" on a friend's Web site. It's funny but still a little disconcerting. Too bad I can't have a really cool hallucination where I'm sitting on a beach drinking Coronas and reading a trashy novel.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Brat Pack

Am I going to be the kind of person who yells at kids for being in my front yard? Am I already turning into the wicked witch down the street? I like kids. I really do. But, twice in a two-day period, I found myself talking sternly to children for being rude and frankly, downright stupid. I must note that their parents were nowhere to be seen.

The first incident involved a preteen girl crossing a street against the light – a busy street where the speed limit is 40 mph. Her male friends hurried to cross while she actually slowed down the closer our vehicle – a Toyota 4Runner – got to her. We actually had to stop because the light turned red but she was in the middle of the street long before the light changed. I said, through the open car window, “You know you’d lose that contest if we hit you.”

She laughed. I said, “It won’t be funny if you’re dead.” Yeah, not very clever and totally something my mom would say. (My mom used to say, “Don’t coming running to me when you break your neck.”) But it had to be said. What if we were crazed lunatics out on a bender looking for little kids to run over? It wouldn’t be the first time. Don’t you people ever watch “Cops” or “The World’s Most Amazing Police Chases”?

The second incident was at a minor league baseball game. Three boys sitting behind us were eating sunflower seeds and spitting out the shells – not just the shells but partially-eaten seeds as well. I wish I could convey here the sounds they made while spitting out the shells.
My boyfriend went to the concession stand and I noticed there was some residue on his seat from these kids spitting out seeds. I turned around and said, sternly but politely, “Please don’t spit seeds on this seat. Someone will be sitting here.”

Again with the laughing. So I said, “I’m asking nicely.”

They moved to another row up and I thought things were solved until my friend found chewed up seeds in her hair. And my boyfriend and I found seeds on the backs of our shirts. At this point two of the boys had left so I say to the sole survivor, “Please stop spitting on us.” I got a blank (possibly defiant) stare. So, I said, “I mean it.”

When I turned back around I said, “I may have to get stadium staff.” Then I got up to use the restroom. When I returned the last boy was gone. I feel like I’m a mean old lady. But, I really wasn’t out of line. Nobody wants someone else’s food in her hair. And, where were the parents?

I said it before, I like kids. I just don’t like brats and I'm not going to put up with their crap.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Get on your bikes and ride!

I was visiting my mom recently and she was telling me about her “gym.” She belongs to Curves – the ladies-only 30-minute workout place. I’m really proud of her for going and working out three days a week. She’s 69 and a breast cancer survivor. So, good for her.

But, I have a hard time imagining myself at such a gym. The ladies-only aspect has a certain appeal – no men ogling a woman’s jiggly bits – but, on the other hand, no men for me to ogle. Where’s the motivation in that?

Plus, my mom tells me that her Curves personnel had to remove posters from the walls that told people how many reps they should be performing. They had to take down information about goals because some of the women couldn’t do that many reps and it “made them feel bad.” Maybe I’m wrong but isn’t the gym about reaching goals? Maybe that’s the point of a ladies-only gym – to perpetuate the stereotype of the “weaker sex.” Now, granted the Curves clientele is probably mostly older ladies but they have to realize they’re going to get chicks like my mom who are in there to kick butt and not just wimps who can’t open a jar of pickles. And, they have to cater to the butt-kickers as much if not more than to the wimps.

Someone like my mom joins a ladies-only gym because she’s self conscious and wants to work out with others of a like mind – but even she gets irritated with the “little old ladies.” That’s my mom – it only took me this long to see how much like her I am – and how much like her I want to be.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Don’t you forget about me

I remember why I didn’t like high school. I returned to my hometown to attend my high school reunion over the weekend. I had convinced myself that I was looking forward to it. I had convinced myself that 20 years is a lifetime and most people wouldn’t be the same people they were in high school.

Sadly, with the exception of one boy who is now a woman, they were the same. The same “popular girls” were hanging out together. The same attitudes were coming off the “cool” guys. Some of the women were genuinely friendly and seemed to be interested in my life. But most people gave me a I’m-pretending-not-to-know-you once over and then the big I’m-pretending-to-be-surprised-by-how-much-you’ve-changed remark, followed by the I’ll-catch-up-with-you-later disappearing act. Meh.

At first I cared. Then I remembered that I have a great job, an awesome boyfriend and I’m not still living in my Podunk hometown. My boyfriend says he wishes I had had a better time. I didn’t have a good time. But it was high school and I’m a grown up now. All the popular girls from high school can suck it! Ok, maybe not too grown up.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Rock me, Amadeus

I’m heading off to my 20-year high school reunion tomorrow and I was all set to write a piece about 1986 and the great music. But music from 1986 wasn’t all that great. I keep wanting to say there was some good stuff to come out the year I graduated from high school but as I scroll down a list of the top 100 songs of 1986, I see mostly crap. Check it out: http://eightiesclub.tripod.com/id214.htm.

A lot of the songs have value as camp or nostalgia. Only two are from my list of favorites: “What You Need” by INXS and “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel. Both good songs from good albums but not my favorite song from either artist.

So, what the hell was I listening to in 1986? Apparently the same few albums:
“So” by Peter Gabriel, “Bring on the Night” by Sting, “Graceland” by Paul Simon, “Listen Like Thieves” by INXS and then older stuff by Sting, The Police and INXS.

I'm not saying I had an eclectic taste in music but I steered clear of a lot of the bubble gum pop of the day. Madonna and Janet Jackson for instance. Come to think of it, I steer clear of that crap to this day. Rock me, Amadeus. Rock me, indeed.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Some may say I'm wishing my days away

I'm going to my class reunion next weekend. On top of that, I just finished reading Sting’s memoir “Broken Music” and am currently reading a book called “In My Mother’s Kitchen.” It’s a collection of stories and recipes from chefs and writers. Plus, my uncle’s illness has progressed and every time I call home I’m told the doctors say he’ll die “any day now.”

The books and reunion have me thinking about my youth. I’m reminded of the person I thought I would be by now. To a certain extent I am that person: I’m independent, headstrong, a writer. Back then I thought I was going to be a best-selling novelist who also happened to be a large animal veterinarian (I read a lot of James Herriot growing up) living on a huge farm with horses, goats and about eight dogs. Oh, and I’d be married to Sting. I know I’m not going to be a vet, but I still hope to write a book someday and I’m sure Sting will come around soon.

I’ve also been thinking about my parents and their youths. I’m planning to take a notebook home so I can take down some of their memories and some of my mom’s recipes. I want to make sure I have my grandma’s recipe for peanut brittle. I doubt I’ll ever master the technique but I want to try. If I ever have kids, I want them to experience making peanut brittle on the kitchen table.

Mom would mix the candy in a heavy skillet and then pour it out on a buttered slab. We kids would gather around with butter on our fingers and pull the peanut brittle out to a thin sheet. After it cooled, we broke it into pieces and sealed it up, but not before sampling enough to get a stomach ache. I’ve never tasted peanut brittle that rivals Mom’s homemade.

Thinking back on high school isn’t all bad but it certainly isn’t good. I’m going to my reunion because (1) I like my job, (2) I have a younger boyfriend who is successful and good looking and (3) because I didn’t get fat and I want to see who did. Yes, I’m that shallow. Anyone who goes to their reunion to hang out with friends is either a liar or a loser (or both). I’m sure I’ll have plenty to say about the reunion when I get back.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Baby you can drive my car ... if you wait long enough

Once again I have to bring up the subject of customer service and common courtesy. Today I went to a local Chrysler dealership for a test drive for work. I suppose you could say that I wasn’t technically a customer. But, I feel that I represent the customer and common courtesy dictates that I should be treated with some respect.

I got to the dealership a few minutes early and expected to wait because the man I was meeting had a phone call. After 15 minutes he came out and apologized for running late. I don’t have a problem with that. We had an appointment at 9:30 a.m. but I understand that things come up at the last minute. He told me they were getting the car ready for me – cleaning and gassing it up – and they’d bring it around. Silly me, I assumed he meant they’d bring it around shortly.

After 20 minutes, I started feeling a little put out. I would feel different if I just showed up out of the blue but I always phone ahead. I didn’t say I’d been in around 10 a.m. or between 10 and 11 a.m. I said I’d be there at 9:30 a.m. and I was early. While we were waiting for the car I was to drive, someone could have been showing me the features on the car sitting in the show room. There were salespeople standing around. I’m sure one of them could have taken five minutes out of their busy day to tell me about a car they’d really like someone to buy.

At 10 a.m., I began writing the time in my notebook. I had been waiting over 35 minutes with only about 30 seconds of face time at that point. At 10:10 a.m. I saw a guy drive up with the car only to leave a minute later for 20 more minutes – I assumed he was going to get gas in the car. The whole time I felt there was no point in leaving as this was a work assignment and I would have to come back some time. But I was fuming with no outlet for my anger.

At 10:30 a.m., the first guy came to me with the key. The car was ready to go. A salesman went over the features with me and sent me on my way. About five minutes down the road it occurs to me to look at the fuel gauge – there was less than a quarter tank of gas! The car only gets 14 mpg in the city. I normally drive a car about 2 hours and now I have less than a quarter tank of gas to drive this gas guzzler. What were they doing with the car all that time? It looked great but it could have looked great an hour earlier – they knew I was coming.

I took a shortened drive and actually really enjoyed the car but the whole experience was a pain. I won’t be buying a vehicle from that dealership any time soon. I’m sure they don’t think that far ahead at the dealership. They know I won’t be buying that particular car so why waste their time? How about my time is just as valuable as their or anyone else’s time? How about common courtesy? How about word of mouth?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Don't read this if you have a food allergy

As I enjoy my organic dry roasted and salted soynuts from Wild Oats, I read the package. Serving size? Check. Calories? Check. Fat and nutrients content? Check. Ingredients? Check. "INGREDIENTS: Organic Soybeans* and Salt." Wait. What's that asterisk doing next to "Soybeans?" Let's take a look down the package and find out.

"*Contains Soy" Wait, now. What? Soybeans contain soy? Seriously? Holy crap. Thank you Captain Obvious. To be fair, I understand warning labels for people with food allergies. Food allergies are scary -- deadly scary. And I don't have a problem with the warning that this item is "Made in a plant that processes peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat (Gluten) and milk products." I wouldn't have known that.

But are we really such a bunch of moronic consumers that we can't infer from the fact that "organic dry roasted & salted soynuts" contain soy? Is Wild Oats that worried about being sued to have to include that asterisk?

Then again, maybe I'm an idiot for assuming that all soybeans contain soy. Maybe most don't.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

May I help you?

I went shopping over the weekend. I didn’t need anything specific; I just wanted to check out the new Ross store. Because it’s new, it’s nice and clean and pretty well organized. The dressing rooms are bigger and have actual doors rather than half-torn-down curtains. Overall I was pleased with the store – until I came out of the dressing room.

Three women stood at the entrance – three employees of Ross – hanging up clothes that customers decided not to buy. All I needed to do was hand my “1” card back to an employee and leave. One woman never acknowledged me. One women gave me a rude, “I’ll be right with you,” and the third women gave me a complete head-to-toe-and-back-again look of disdain and superiority. I guess if you *work* at Ross you’re better than people who *shop* at Ross. In my younger days I was a much angrier woman than I am now (no, really) and probably would have dropped the card and the slacks on the ground and walked away, no matter that I actually planned to buy them.

Instead I waited politely while a line built up behind me and three employees busily ignored us. A forth woman finally came over and took our cards and discarded clothes. I thanked her and walked away, wondering if I should complain to a manager. I realize that Ross is a discount store and many people shop there because they can’t afford to shop at more expensive department stores. That does not give any employee the right to be disrespectful. If you work at the store, you should – should, should, should – treat every customer as if she is your boss.
I probably should have talked to a manager and then walked out without buying anything. But I really wanted the t-shirt and jeans I had picked out. Thankfully the girl at the check out was polite – even friendly – and removed most of the lingering effects of the rude women at the dressing room. If you hate people, maybe you should choose a career path other than customer service. Just a thought.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Indoor voices

I haven’t been to the movies for awhile. I’ve watched movies – on TV and DVD. But to actually go to the theater and get popcorn and watch a real live new movie, it’s been months. The last movie I saw in the theater was “Silent Hill” – no classic by any stretch of the imagination, but fun and really creepy. And, while I enjoyed the movie and the popcorn was perfect, the experience was tainted by the kids talking throughout and the guy answering his cell phone and talking on it just a few feet from our seats. He got up out of his seat to stand near us and talk. After the movie, I left feeling like a crotchety old person because I wanted a quiet movie-going experience.

Am I crotchety for expecting common courtesy? I still expect people to talk quietly in the library. Hell, I expect people to use “indoor voices” at the office. It seems people have forgotten what those are. When I was a kid, my mom used to say to me, “I’m right here” when I would get excited and start talking loudly. I often want to say that to certain co-workers who are speaking to someone sitting right beside them or on the phone. I think most phones nowadays don’t require shouting to make yourself heard. I enjoy a rousing conversation but there’s a place and a time. The bar: right place. The library: wrong place. A friend’s house: right place. Three feet from me at the movie theatre: really wrong place.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A truly American holiday

Ah, the Fourth of July – Independence Day in this great land of ours – a day to barbecue, drink beer, shoot off fireworks, annoy the neighbors … wait, what? So, we have Memorial Day – which, I thought, was to honor those who have died in the service of the country. We have Veteran’s Day – to honor those who have served. I respect that. We have Independence Day to remember … what? How this country’s independence was won? The hardships overcome? Or, has the day really just become a day to drink beer, lose fingers with firecrackers and make as much noise as possible so that anyone not from this country will be convinced that we’re all a bunch of red neck, ugly, obnoxious Americans?

I’m all for cooking out, enjoying some truly American food and beer, and hanging out with friends and family. But why (oh why) does that have to involve motorcycles without pipes revving and roaring around the neighborhood and firecrackers until midnight? Thankfully, this year’s late night fireworks were rained out. Eh, maybe I’ve become a crotchety old lady can’t we all just enjoy our burgers and beer quietly from now on? Please?

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Oh, the noise! Oh, the noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!

I love a roof as much as the next person. I see their importance – keeping out the elements, protecting people and property. I also see the importance of a well-maintained roof. But I don’t see why that roof has to be repaired while I’m under it.

Roofers pound and grind away at the roof of my office building in the middle of the day. I’m trying to concentrate on the task at hand. But the noise precludes real concentration. One would think that roofers could start at daybreak – before the office is full of people. Or late in the afternoon – we have sunlight until nearly 9 p.m. Or weekends are good too. It seems to me that working in the heat of the day would be dangerous. Not to mention the fact that I could get to a point of wanting to kill one of them.

Not having the authority to stop them (by legal means), I will endure. But oh, the noise! Oh, the noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!

What are you worth?

According to this story a woman is auctioning her Ferrari Enzo and herself with a starting bid of 1.25 million euros ($1.6 million). The Enzo on its own is worth between $600,000 and $1 million, so she’s saying she’s worth about the same. While that is a lot of money, I don’t know that I would sell myself that short.

Even if I only made $30k a year and work for 30 years, I'll earn more than a million dollars. Add to that my companionship, sex, cooking, cleaning, etc.

But can you really put a price on a person's life? Do you really want to auction yourself off to the highest bidder? Then again, would you want to auction your Ferrari to the highest bidder? What a world!

Monday, June 26, 2006

June 26 – Good day/bad day

My dad’s dad was born this day in 1888. He lived to be 98 years old. My mom was born this day in 1937. My mom’s brother and sister were born on her ninth birthday, and she lost another younger brother to cancer on this day in 1988, less than two weeks after her father died. When I was growing up we had a family reunion and birthday party every year on or near June 26. We started them about the time Grandpa turned 88 and continued them for 10 more years. They were always happy times with everyone gathering together to celebrate the patriarch of this large family – eight children, 24 grandchildren and even a few great grandchildren before Grandpa died. I love that my grandparents stayed married for over 50 years despite 25 years difference in their ages.

I always associated June 26 as a good day growing up – Mom’s birthday, Grandpa’s birthday and a chance to see my cousins. We continued the reunions for a few years after Grandpa was gone but when Grandma went into a nursing home, they fizzled out.

This year, my dad’s younger brother is dying from brain tumors. So, when my mom called to thank me for the flowers I sent her, I assumed she was calling with bad news. I haven’t seen my uncle since my grandmother’s funeral nearly 10 years ago. I know I’ll be sad when it happens but why? I’m not cold-hearted, but will I miss someone I haven’t seen in years? No. Will I feel sad because he’s still fairly young? Yes. Will I feel bad for my dad? Of course. But I also mourn the loss of my own youth, and I fear the inevitability of my parents deaths and yes, my own.

So, here’s to June 26 with the hope that it will pass without adding another milestone to my family’s life.

The land of race car ya yas

I can appreciate fast cars. I really enjoy a car that jumps off the line and pushes you back in your seat. One of my favorite test drives was the Volkswagen GTI. I had a car tailgating me on the interstate. I just pushed the accelerator down (I didn’t even punch it) and next thing I knew I was doing 80. Cool.

I really can’t appreciate the cars that look cheap, sound like crap but are apparently fast – or at the very least are driven by guys who think their cars are fast. Granted, almost anything is going to be faster than my Jeep. But, I’m not impressed with the late model Bonneville with the loud pipes and the busted door handles. I’m not impressed with the fast and furious paint job – that usually just means they painted it fast and furiously. Are they overcompensating for something?

On a recent evening, driving home about 9 p.m., I had a group of three or four of these “hot” cars switching lanes back and forth in front of me. I mostly laughed it off until one of them practically sideswiped me trying to get in my lane. Because (as I’ve said before) I try to watch for other drivers, I saw him and avoided an accident. I know these boys were only trying to impress each other and don’t care what I think. And I know it’s all about who (thinks he) has the bigger cajones but it’s times like these that I want that fast car. I could show them all who really has the biggest ya yas.

Friday, June 23, 2006


Everyone is in a bigger hurry than everyone else these days. I know. I get in a hurry myself sometimes, and we all make mistakes. So I try to drive as if other drivers don’t see me. But, It seems like a lot of folks on the road drive as if other drivers don’t exist. Scary.

I get cut off in traffic quite often. Sometimes it’s by the boys who souped up their moms’ cars and watched “The Fast and the Furious” a few too many times. Sometimes it’s by the guy in the Beemer who knows his car’s faster than mine and doesn’t want to ride in my wake. The worst, though, is the SUV or minivan that cuts in front of me with a Jesus fish on its rear end.

I often wonder how would Jesus drive. Would he be in such a hurry to pass his fellow man that he’d cut him off in traffic – without so much as a courtesy wave – and potentially cause an accident? I think not. The man turned water into wine. I don’t think he’d need to speed around me to get to the Starbucks drive through first. He waited three days to rise from the dead. I don’t think he’d run a red light just to get to another red light on down the street.

If you’re going to advertise your religion on your car, you might want to try to display some of the qualities that made the religious figure you claim to worship worth following. And I don’t mean following as in tailgating. I mean following as in emulating. I’m no theology scholar but I have a feeling that the whole “love thy neighbor” thing didn’t involve road rage.

You call yourself a writer?

I’m a writer. Well, that’s what my job description says and technically I do write for a living. But I sometimes think I’m not very good. Maybe my job is too easy. Maybe it’s too rote. Maybe it’s just the same thing day after day and I haven’t learned how to creatively say, “This four-door sedan excites me more than the last four-door sedan I drove” or “This over-priced three-bedroom, three-bath home has features you’ll find nowhere else.”

So, what does excite me? I really do like driving new cars and writing about them. I can’t say I critique them because I really don’t. I get to list their features and talk about why those features are great. But, I really don’t get to say what bugs me about a car. I can mention Mercedes-Benz locates their cruise control in an inconvenient spot but I have to put a positive spin on it. I can say the seats of the Impala are “a little too roomy” when I really want to say the seats are designed for fat American men. I can say that the GTI is fast, fun and good looking – which it really is. What I can’t say is that it is overpriced for the size of car it is and the insurance would probably also be too expensive considering the demographics of the target market. I’d love to work for a publication like “Car & Driver” but I have a feeling the boys over there don’t take kindly to a little woman thinking she knows anything about cars or driving. Well, I’m learning.

Soon I will begin my new car hunt in earnest, and when I do, I’ll be armed with the knowledge I’ve taken from my work doing test drives. Minus the positive spin of course.

Trip to Lincoln

Back in late March, I took a trip to the UK with my boyfriend. We started out in London and ended up in Edinburgh, Scotland. We took a train from Kings Cross to Newark North Gate and then on to Lincoln to visit friends.

Lincolnshire isn't as large or as well known as some of the other shires in England. But it's a lovely town that houses a cathedral that’s over 800 years old, a castle and Joe Cook, who gave us a private tour of the Stonebow and Guild House.

Our hosts, Steven and Dorothy Roper took us first to the cathedral. "The Da Vinci Code" filmed some scenes there and we were able to see and photograph some of the left over props. Afterward we had hot chocolate at the hotel where Tom Hanks stayed and learned that Ron Howard had eaten at the Old Bakery where we had our room. The food at the Old Bakery was quite good although we only had breakfast there. Our room was cozy and comfortable with a small bathroom at one end.

It's too bad the movie wasn't very good. The cathedral is beautiful and more people should see it.
Later we met Joe Cook at the Guild House. A friend of our hosts, Cook entertained us with the history of Lincoln, the Guild House and his time in the army. He works for the mayor, and has since the early ‘80s. He had stories of Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana.

He explained, “You address the office not the person” so “Mister Mayor” is appropriate – and even insisted upon – whether the office is held by a man or a woman. The current Lincoln mayor is a 4-foot, 8-inch woman, who is tough as nails, according to Cook.
Later we visited the castle, whose walls offered great views of the cathedral and surrounding Lincoln. Inside the castle we visited the old prison, or gaol, and stood in the prison chapel where prisoners were separated from each other by high stalls that resemble cattle chutes.

For dinner we drove to Louth for fish and chips at Mr. Chips. Albert, Steven and Dorothy all ate mushy peas, which, to me, looked like radiated refried beans. They’re a sickly green mush made of peas – thus, the name. They really did look like radioactive refried beans. Just looking at that pile of goo covering the tasty fish and chips made me feel ill.

Our whirlwind tour of Lincoln was much too short. There's more to see and I recommend anyone visiting the UK make a stop in Lincoln, even if only for a day.

The grass is greener

I’ve discovered a downside to test driving new cars for a living: it makes me have disparaging thoughts about my Jeep.

I like my Jeep – most days of the month. It’s gotten me through hard times. It’s taken me to great places. Normally, I sing the praises of my Jeep. I’m proud of its 215,000+ miles. I feel safe in it. I don’t know if I would be as safe from hit and run drivers (I’ve been hit twice on the same quarter panel) in a smaller, newer car. Most of the time, I love my good ol’ 1993 Jeep Cherokee Sport.

But on the days I test drive a new car for work – whether it’s a car I’m really excited about or not – my Jeep loses all its luster. Yes, the honeymoon has been over for awhile but we’ve settled into a comfortable relationship, like an old married couple or a favorite pair of jeans. And then here comes a hottie – a Mazda CX7 or a VW GTI – to turn my head. It’s hard to be loyal to my heap after driving something with all that horsepower and torque, eight-way power adjustable heated leather seats and radio controls on the tilting/telescoping steering wheel. Not to mention shiny new rims and a 6-disc CD changer (the Jeep has cassette deck – yeah, cassette, it’s a ’93 people!).

After driving a new car, especially one I’m excited about, like the CX7 I drove today, I don’t love my Jeep. I want it to go away. I don’t want to sit in its busted old seats and listen to its tinny radio and not know if the intermittent wipers will work. The Jeep is lifted so it rides rough. It’s loud. It doesn’t have a moon roof or power windows or a sport shifter or a voice-activated navigational system or keyless entry.

It also doesn’t have a payment. I own it free and clear. My name on the title and the title in my possession – when I think about that, I remember the good times and why I love my Jeep and it looks a lot better.

I still wish it had a moon roof.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Welcome to my ramblings. Here I plan to write about things that interest me -- mainly cars (test drives), travels (when I get to), books and things that bug me. I'll try not to whine too much though.

If you're here to read my thoughts and maybe comment on them, welcome and thanks. If you're here because you're a crazy stalker, get lost!