Monday, January 30, 2006

How to diminish my productivity

Step 1: Allow a certain gray cat into my home office.
Step 2: Watch as said gray cat sashays back and forth on top of the desk, dipping his tail into my water glass, swishing it over my girl scout cookies, blocking my computer monitor with his large bottom.
Step 3: Encourage me to lean in close to his face and say "NO" very clearly.
Step 4: Watch as undeterred, he leans right back, touching my face with his juicy nose in a "I love you too" gesture.
Step 5: Allow cat to flop down on top of my keyboard as I type.
Step 6: Listen as exiled gray cat howls and mewls at the office door. Until I give up and let him back in.
Step 7: Repeat every 15 minutes.

If you were to stop by my place for dinner tonight? You'd be getting fried cat flank, that's for sure. Oh, and of course a nice bottle of wine...

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Going postal.

I've never gotten into it much on here, but I participate in the "swapping" of unused beauty products. If you're a girl, you'll get it — you too have bottles and tubes of things here and there that you bought or received as a gift, bottles and tubes of things you have a) never used, b) have no intention of ever using and/or c) feel too guilty to just throw it away. So instead, these things accumulate under bathroom counters and in linen closets all across America. They mate and multiply when you're not looking. And then on some quiet Saturday morning, as you innocently open the cabinet to retrieve a new bag of cotton balls, WHAM – it all comes tumbling out. Well there is an entire online community dedicated to the swapping of these items with other beauty-product-plagued women. It's pretty awesome — what is your trash is someone else's treasure, for the mere price of postage. I mean, how awesome is it that someone so craves your Avon wisteria-scented bubble bath that they're willing to trade you a shiny new MAC lipstick???

So anyway, I mail a lot of packages. I rejoiced at the recent rollout of the self-serve postal machine. Maybe you've seen it — it resides in your local P.O., looks like a giant ATM machine with a scale, and is open 24/hours/day for your mailing pleasure. This invention has saved my life, or at least my lunch hour. So imagine my disappointment the other day when I lugged in an armload of packages only to find an "Out of Order" sign on said machine. Ugh. Since I was already there and the P.O. was still open for business, I took a number. Along with the 500 other people who stopped by to pick up a stamp and now found themselves standing around waiting for two postal workers to eventually call their number. Not fun.

I discovered, during the 40 minutes that I stood around trying not to breathe the contaminated air around me and to ignore the three kids weaving around the patrons playing a rousing game of what I shall call "shrieky tag", that the P.O. is a great place for people watching. IF you're in the mood. And I wasn't. Two people in particular (aside from the shrieking, running children) were bugging me big-time. I heard them before I dared sneak a peek. Or I heard HIM, really. "Him" was a very large (think, massive) guy wearing a t-shirt and flimsy cotton shorts that hit at the flattering level of mid-calf. His socks stretched up his calves, reaching for the shorts, but falling, well, short. The guy was talking geek-speak, which is not at all uncommon in Austin. No big deal. The big deal was his VOICE, people. He was talking/shouting, as if to a deaf person he assumed to be mentally impaired. Only he was talking to a woman sitting right next to him. At first I thought, that POOR WOMAN, she can't get away, why won't he shut up and leave her alone…" But after a few minutes I figured out that they were together. And this woman was very old and kind of shrunken looking. And she had no teeth. BUT she seemed very bright and seemed to understand all the geek speak he was throwing at her. There seemed to be no reason for him to shout, as she was neither deaf nor mentally impaired. In any event, here's a snippet of the conversation I could Not. Get. Away. From.


little/lady: oh, thank you big guy, that would be nice, although I only use the Internet for email so I don't think –


little/lady: oh, well, that's nice, but I really don't think I need –


I don't know if I've properly conveyed the annoyance of the whole interaction. So there was that, coupled with all the bitter-looking women in rumpled work clothes jingling their keys, and did I mention the shrieking, stomping children?? In any event – it sucked.

Oh, and one more thing: what the HELL requires a 10-15 minute transaction??? Person after person would step up to the counter with one package to mail, and still be there 10 minutes later. Someone stepped up for seven minutes — and walked away with stamps. SEVEN MINUTES it took him to get a book of stamps. I watched in disbelief as the little old lady from above stepped up to the counter — empty-handed. Seems she just had a question. A 15-minute question that apparently required her face-to-face interaction with a postal person, then she finally left — empty handed. Now, why didn't the large, helpful, loud young man tell her ahead of time she could have just gone to the f***ing website??? AAARRGGHH!

Throughout the chaos, the two postal ladies managed to remain calm and even polite. Amazing. But all I kept thinking was how I could NEVER work at a post office or I'd be the one who ended up grabbing a rifle and shooting up the lobby while cackling in maniacal glee.

Guess writing was a much safer career choice for me. Thus far, anyway…

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Stop right now...

...if you are at all squeamish about bras and what they contain. Mine in particular. If this thought alarms you, stop reading. Now.

So I've been dreading this particular shopping trip for months, but I really couldn't put it off any longer. I've been busting (haha) out of my bras for a while now, but I have been in denial. Oh, how I miss denial. Denial, it was a warm, quiet, safe place.

But noooooo, I was feeling crappy and depressed when I left work, so I thought, let's just roll with it - go shopping for jeans and bras. Can't get much worse!

Oh intuitive reader, you can already see where this is going, can't you?

At first all was well, in fact I actually found two pairs of jeans I didn't hate -- in less than an hour. So, yay! I took a deep breath and headed across the aisle to the bra section. Now, when I mentioned to a friend recently that I needed to buy bras, she responded with an astounding "Oh, FUN!" I sat in shocked silence, not getting it. Then I got it -- this girl has normal boobs. This girl is not manatee-like. This girl can still buy 'cute little somethings' at Victoria's Secret. Well, THIS girl cannot. And you know, it's really not fair. It used to be that the only positive thing to gaining weight was finally having boobs. Until they kept getting bigger. And bigger. And... yes, bigger. I. Hate. Them. While others may appreciate them, the owner of these boobs does not.

So, with this knowledge I plunged (haha) into the bra department, looking for what size I thought I might be. I figured this out by adding quite a bit onto the last size bra I bought. A good year ago. Ha ha on me.

First of all? If you have big boobs? Forget any cute color. All the reds and pinks and greens only seem to be available in 34As. If you need something crazy, like say, a D CUP, you're looking at hospital white or pancake brown. Oh, and forget about lace. Or anything without a wire. Oh, and? The bras in your size will not only be hidden on the very bottom row, behind all the other bras, but they will not be on sale. So. There I am, on my hands and knees, lumbering down the bra aisles trying to find the proper size. Fast forward 45 minutes, where I emerge from the dressing room with sore boobs and a handful of rejected bras, only to begin Forage #2 for the size I REALLY am. It was almost as traumatic as swimsuit shopping. Almost.

I ended up with a black one (which, hallelujah) and a shockingly white one. Ugh. I am not at all sure they fit "properly" (thank you, Oprah, for instilling this fear), but at least they're a bit more comfortable.

The bottom line? It just adds insult to injury that I have to keep buying fat clothes for my "temporary" size. Well goody, now I can add some fat bras to the future Goodwill collection I am ever so reluctantly acquiring.

That and two pretty cool pairs of jeans.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Less is more

I may be lazy, but even I have minimum beauty standards. Even on the days when I'm running uber-late, I wouldn't dream of leaving the house without washing, applying toner, and moisturizing my face – as well as putting on lipstick. Same thing at night — must remove makeup, tone, moisturize. No compromise.

I guess I totally buy into that philosophy that "your best accessory is great skin" — or else my mom just scared me to death about getting wrinkles starting when I was in middle school. All I know is as far back as I can remember, I have always taken care of my skin. I can count on one hand the number of times I've slept w/all my makeup — and those times I've been drunk, let me assure you. So, must wash face, must wear lipstick.

However, my hair looks like crap if I wash it more than every other day. Thank God my hair is low maintenance, people – it goes up in a hairclip, every day, no matter what. I only use hairspray on the hair at the very center of my forehead, to keep the cowlick from popping loose mid-day.

I think back to the beauty routine I had in high school, even college, and it brings me to a dead stop. WHAT was I THINKING?? I remember getting up Two. Hours. Before. School. in order to curl my hair with a curling iron, just so, and plaster it w/hairspray. Then there was the full-face-of-makeup thing. Ugh. Even in college, when I wore sweats to class, I still had on eyeshadow. It's really hard to imagine now. These days, when I wear makeup, people stop and stare at me in the hallway, mumbling that I look vaguely familiar… it's embarrassing, actually. And at my holiday party? Where I not only wore something other than jeans, but I wore my CONTACTS, did my hair (in a slightly fancier up-do than usual) and wore full makeup — well, let's just say it caused our IT guy to stare at me and say, full of wonder, "Wow. You look REALLLLLLY GOOD without your glasses…". Um, yeah. I also look REALLY GOOD 50 pounds lighter, 10 years younger, and with curlier hair, but such is life.

This has led me to question other people's minimum beauty requirements. For instance, it astounds me that my mom STILL gets up at the ass-crack of dawn and takes the time to curl her hair w/a curling iron and do the whole makeup thing, AND, wear pantyhose and fancy clothes to work. Panty. Hose. Mind blowing. Even my sister, who has 3 kids, always has on makeup. And she's skinnier than me. Really, it's not fair.

I'm curious about other people's beauty minimum. Please, do share if you are so inclined…

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

My shiny silver alarm clock

I have the most handsome, sleek, shiny, silver alarm clock. While it is fabulously attractive and I lurve it, it IS an alarm clock -- so inherently, it has cons. Even though it's special. I mean, does YOUR alarm clock gently yet insistently nudge you awake every morning between 6:30-7 with a wet nose and crazy whiskers in all your facial orifaces? Does it? Does it purr ever-so-loudly and happily in your ear, as its juicy nose rests on your eardrum? I think NOT.

But I have to give it credit where credit is due; it does NOT let me oversleep. No way. At the risk of personal harm, my alarm clock does. not. give. up. Evah.

Meet my alarm clock:

He is always serene and modest once the task has been accomplished. Well, after the canned catfood is all gone. And he has bathed. Right about the time I'm leaving for work, and he's tripping me on my way out the door....

See? Aren't you jealous? Don't you wish you had one?? Except... on the weekends......... it pretty much sucks.

Monday, January 16, 2006


Hello. My name is Lisa and I'm a stressaholic. THERE, I said it. But it has been baaaad, if you didn't get that from my last post. It has been so bad that this weekend I started to freak out about my taxes; I started thinking, oh no, I have received not ONE SINGLE tax form yet and the deadline is in THREE MONTHS, and...and...wait. It's only the 3rd week in January. I've only been back from the holidays for two weeks. OMG. Is that even possible?? How did this happen, this gross error in time-estimation???

In any event, I'm coming down off the big spin. I had a "normal" weekend this weekend, meaning I relaxed more than I have in weeks and even did some fun, social things. AND, today? I went to lunch. Yes, I did. Haven't done that since...before the holidays?

So I am back and ready to blog again. I am starting to once more have bloggable thoughts, thoughts that are not necessarily related to work. Yay! So, what's been going on? Anyone have any news? The most news I've got at this point isn't even mine, really; but my sister had a worse week than I did last week. Her husband had pneumonia, one of the kids had croup, and to top it all off with cream-cheese icing, the baby (well, 18 mos. old now) fell off the bed and re-fractured the same wrist as last summer -- so he's back in a cast for another two months. Yippee! I hear having a toddler in a cast ROCKS!!! Just kidding. It so does not rock. I'm sorry, sistah -- I hope this week will be better for everyone. Poor little Cooper and his bright green cast.

In other news, tomorrow I am getting my cat ashes. I feel odd about it. I guess I'm apprehensive because um, what does one do with one's cat ashes? I've never had this dilemma before. A co-worker of mine has admitted to having a row of boxes full of his various pet ashes; each box is carefully labeled w/the pet's name and a photograph. For some reason, this seems a little ... much. I mean, where on earth should I put the little box? It's not like I think Megs is still WITH her ashes in the box, it's more that I didn't want her body just discarded with so many others. It just seemed wrong. So did burying her in the backyard. Too "Pet Semetary". Anyway, if you have any ideas, let's hear it... in any event, I'm glad she'll be back home. Gosh, that sounded weird, too.

Ok. Well that's it. Just wanted to say I'm back and hopefully I'll be more diligent about keeping in touch this week. I will certainly try, at least.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

useless rant that used up more energy than it was worth to even have the thoughts in the first place

Rant ahead:

Today is one of those days when I've been so crazy busy that I've needed frequent brain breaks in order to keep going. Have you ever felt like on the entire Internet, there's just nothing out there for you anymore? Like you've seen everything interesting, read every blog, all the news, you're up on the weather, you're done shopping? It is so frustrating for me when this occurs because really, that's the only brain break I can think of these days. See, my brain clearly needs a break. And what does it mean when the only entertainment I can fathom is staring at my computer even longer than I am required? WTF? But if I'm not upright looking at a computer, I will be horizontal, snoring on my couch and fucking up my sleep pattern for at least another week. I am dead tired. But it's the twitchy kind of exhausted, where you can't just relax and…well…relax. You're still wound up so tightly that it might be weeks before you calm down. You're bone-tired but you need help to get to sleep at night. However, you would have no problem whatsoever with crawling under your desk at any given time during the day and sleeping for hours.

So that's where I am right now. No, NOT under my desk, silly, but bone tired and unable to relax. I can no longer remember the last time I went to lunch or did anything social, for that matter. And? And? I have another brilliantly timed freelance deadline this Friday. Yes, three days from now. And I have not even begun to think about that project because people, there is simply no space left in my brain.

Rant complete.

Monday, January 09, 2006

a babysitter story

My siblings and I had a lot of babysitters growing up. My parents went out a lot, in retrospect; once a week was "Bible-study night", where we always had a sitter except on the nights it was at our house, which we hated even worse b/c then we were stuck in the back of the house and couldn't even go down the HALL. Also, my dad was an officer in the Army and I guess they attended a lot of events. Also, my mom would often get a babysitter for us during the day so she could go shopping. I never knew what was worse — to be dragged along on her endless shopping trips or to be left with some inept teenager. Or mean old woman (Mrs. Morris — ahh that is a post in itself… remind me if I forget…). But then, for a few years, there was Carol.

She was my Favorite Babysitter Evah. I must have been 5 or 6 when she started babysitting us regularly. We lived in San Antonio, pre-Kansas. I guess she was 18 or 19, but it's hard to judge when you're that little. In any event, she was nice, fair, firm, but loving. I remember being very sad when we had to move away to Kansas and leave Carol behind. As a parting gift, she took me to the mall and told me I could "pick out one thing, ANYthing, and she would buy it for me". O.M.G. Do you know how spectacular that is for a 2nd grader??? It was soooo generous and soooo amazing and sooo exciting! ANYthing? I couldn't believe it. What would I get? After what seemed like hours, but probably wasn't, and after much agonizing, I chose perhaps the ugliest stuffed dog on the face of the Earth. I remember she kept asking me, "Are you SURE? You're SURE? Ok. You're SURE?" I insisted that I was. And how I loved that ugly stuffed dog. You may be wondering how any stuffed dog could be ugly; well I'll tell you. It was white with black ears; it was made cheaply, like a carnival stuffed animal – filled with those little Styrofoam beads, so not even very soft. And the kicker? It had a rubber face. Like a doll's face, only a dog. It was even pink, like a doll face. And its tongue stuck out. I don't know if my description can possibly convey the disturbing nature of this dog, but anyway — that was my Carol dog and I cherished it. (Sidenote: I honestly can't remember if my sister went with us to the mall — seems like she would have, but then again she was only 3 or so…Nicole, do you remember?)

So in 1976(?) we moved to Ft. Leavenworth, KS. It was the first time we had ever lived in a place that got snow, so as kids, we loved it. Also, there were tons of neighborhood kids to play with at any given moment — we lived on base, and it seemed every house had 2-3 children. Life moved on, I started 3rd grade, we began the process of going through a battery of weird babysitters. I don't remember how long we were there before my mom got a phone call one night. I think it was within the first year we lived there. The phone call was from Carol's mother, informing us that Carol had died. Carol was dead. As in, gone forever. My mom told me this, but I didn't grasp it. I didn't know details, only that we were flying back to Texas to attend her funeral. Again, I can't recall if Nicole was there, it may have just been my mom and me.

We went to the "viewing" at the funeral home the day before the service, and I sat there, in a room full of flowers, watching my babysitter, Carol, laying very still in a casket. It was an open casket. She looked puffy and smelled like roses — to this day I can't stand the smell of roses or carnations b/c it takes me back to that funeral home. While my mom and her mom chatted and cried, Carol's little brother tried to entertain me. It was very surreal. I remember watching Carol very closely, waiting, willing her to open her eyes. I really just thought she would sit up at any moment and say, "Hello, I'm back, just sleeping." But she didn't.

Years later when I was 14 or 15, I was doing dishes with my mom one night when the subject of Carol came up. My mom then told me what had really happened, and I felt the shock all over again. Carol had been going to college. She had gone out on a date with a "friend" and had been raped. She got pregnant from this rape. Despite being from a staunch Catholic family, supposedly she was "highly encouraged" by a family member to get an abortion, and she did so, against her own wishes. It appeared that she never recovered from the trauma, because they found her one morning in her apartment, dead, with empty bottles of prescription pills scattered around her bedroom floor. It was determined that she had killed herself.

My whole world shifted that day. Things from the past started falling into place: the guilt that her mother had spoken of that day at the funeral home; the unusual awkwardness I picked up on, even at 7; my mom spending hours comforting the mother, even though they were not close friends. My mind went even further. That explained why Carol looked "puffy". It was macabre and devastating and fascinating all at the same time.

I had not thought about that incident in a long time, until I had a strange conversation with a friend several years ago. We were somehow talking about funerals, and as I told her Carol's story, for the first time I realized how weird it was that a 7-year-old spent the day in the room with her dead babysitter in an open casket. I had already been to lots of funerals by then, which apparently isn't everyone's experience. I guess I had a lot of very old relatives die throughout my childhood, but Carol was the only person I ever knew personally, until my best friend Ann's father died our senior year of HS. But this friend was telling me how she had never been to a funeral until her Grandfather died a few years ago. I was amazed, but have come to realize that perhaps I was the anomaly…

It got me thinking. I'm still not sure what I think. But suffice it to say that there was never another Carol, and I will never forget her extraordinary kindness. The tragedy of her short life still makes me ache when I think about it. Which I'm doing today, for some reason.

Friday, January 06, 2006

PTSD (that's post traumatic stress disorder for you "normal" people out there)

Oh man. I was so right about work this week. And it's not over yet. There's still the weekend. But -- I survived, and am less stressed now than I was 5 days ago, for whatever that's worth.

There were so many times this past week that I've thought to myself "I need to blog about that" -- but of course now that I'm sitting at my computer, my mind is completely blank. Suffice it to say that work has been challenging. And I've been tired. Coming off Christmas vacation is a bitch. This was the longest 4-day workweek in the history of the world.

Anyway. Aside from work, I've done.........hmmm. grocery shopping? BT? laundry? do any of those things really count?

I'm actually sitting at my desktop computer (GASP) for the first time in a long time, because I realized last week that I was getting a crick in my neck from surfing on the couch w/my laptop. Who knew. As I type this, Jess is sitting right in front of me staring at me, his gray leather nose and abundant whiskers about 2 inches from my face. And in the background I can hear some documentary about Bigfoot on TV -- yes this is what I've been reduced to -- Bigfoot on a Friday night. Oh well. What I don't get is I heard (ok, ok, SAW) this guy living in the Everglades who claims to be "protecting" Bigfeet(?) (although he called them something else I can't recall -- swamp something?). Anyway, he sits in this deer blind kinda thing and watches through binoculars 24x7, "protecting" Bigfoot. So they can "continue to live in this area for a long time" -- and I'm thinking,'ve never, I dunno, SEEN ONE? Do they NEED protection? If there's no concrete proof that they even exist? Don't get me wrong, I believe -- oh, I believe. I'm just sayin...

On that note I really need to end the agony and just go to bed. More this weekend, hopefully -- maybe some of the witty and interesting blog topics I've been thinking of all week will come back to me. We can hope.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Real-Life Eve

sucks. So today was my last day of freedom, and I was going to go to bed early so I can wake up early and be uber-productive at work tomorrow (after I get there ON TIME)... and I just looked at the time and it's already after 1am. I am so. screwed.

I'm wide awake, just as I knew deep down I would be. The key to getting through this (very busy) week is going to be NOT collapsing upon entering my house after work every day. The only bright thing is it's a 4-day week, so the torture will be relatively short.

I did, however, leave the house today. Close your gaping jaw, you're embarrassing me. I went to the mall, which I had been dreading. And it really wasn't that bad. Bad as in crowded. I caught a few sales and then hit Target, buying a few essentials like, oh i dunno, toilet paper, and headed home, exhausted from my long adventure. Long as in 3 hours.

Tomorrow is going to suck, isn't it.

Well I lied when I said I'd have something interesting to post "next time". Sorry. The only thing I've got is a nephew story via my sistah. She said the other night, her hubbie was trying to get Claytie (#2) to brush his teeth before bedtime. After a long struggle, D picked my flailing nephew up in some sort of quasi-wrestling hold and said "Son, we can do this the easy way, or we can do this the hard way -- but you ARE going to brush your teeth." To which my adorable 3-year-old nephew furrowed his brow and snarled "Then let's do it the HARD WAY."

That's my boy.