29 December 2009

Big Ghouls Don't Cry

I have recently re-discovered eyeliner.

I'm probably a little slow on the get-go, here, since I'm 26, and the last time I was at the mall I saw these 10-year-olds who were more heavily made up than a Miss America contestant. But I'm a little on the uncoordinated side, and I've found that I do best with makeup that can't render me blind if I mess up.

I tried eyeliner a number of years ago. It was a bad thing, very bad. I was even pastier in my teens and early twenties than I am now, if you'll believe it, and I was clueless when it came to cosmetics. But I'd started reading Glamour magazine, and their makeup tips were pretty and colorful and they encouraged me. If this 14-year-old Brazilian model in the photographs can do it, I told myself, than so can I! It didn't occur to me at the time that the model probably couldn't do it either, and the makeup she was holding was probably a prop for the photos, and the photos were likely taken in between bits of work by a highly trained makeup artist.

But I was a little slow - I grew up in a pathetically small and isolated town, and I thought I could do it. I bought eyeliner. Charcoal black eyeliner. Did I mention how pale I was? And that I have blue eyes, and that my hair was at the time fairly light? And I bought black eyeliner. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Especially since Glamour was, at the time, spreading the rumor that any woman can wear red lipstick.

Suffice it to say that even my best, most practiced efforts left me looking like a Kabuki hooker.

A few years later, when I was about twenty or so, I decided to try again. I thought maybe it would be okay if I dropped the red lipstick. But I was still terribly pale, and horribly unskilled with an eyeliner pencil. If my hair had been darker I'd have looked goth. As it was, with the beret I'd decided to start wearing, I looked a bit like a mime. I am terrified of mimes and clowns. So once again I gave up on the idea of ever wearing eyeliner.

But recently (I'm a little slow as I said) I discovered Sephora, and I decided I needed to give eyeliner one more shot. I found a Sephora brand pencil in a pretty dark copper color. I practiced. I discovered I actually looked okay if I applied to my heart's content and then used a Q-Tip to remove 75-80% of what I'd put on. I actually looked pretty good, if I say so myself. I started wearing it almost every day, and I thought I looked terribly sophisticated and alluring.

Then one day, in a fit of hormone-fueled frustration, I ended up crying about something. I expected sympathy, at the very least, from my mother. What I didn't expect was the look of abject horror on her face.

"Jill! Are you okay?"

"Do I look like I'm okay?" was my mature, controlled response. Come on, Mom, I'm crying here!

"Your eyes are bleeding!" she said, shoving a fistful of Kleenex in my direction.

As it turns out, a big part of the pretty copper color was red pigment, and my tears mixed with the eyeliner to form a rather convincing-looking sort of fake blood. I had to take my contacts out and clean them and spend a good ten minutes removing the red streaks from my eyes and face.

Oh, well. Maybe I'll try again in a few years.

20 December 2009

I have nothing new to say, but I found this when I was going through my "My Pictures" folder and it made me laugh. Bono is so smug. Smugness is a very irritating quality.

08 December 2009

Whine, whine, whine

It's been a while since I complained. Something must be wrong with me. I ALWAYS complain. I need to rectify the situation. So here goes - the latest list of things that are cheesing me off today.

-It's called the fast lane for a reason. If you want to go 60, get out of the fast lane. 60 is not fast. Especially when the speed limit is 65. Speed up, change lanes, or be prepared for a vicious tailgating.
-I hate it when I want to read a book that has been made into a film or TV show and I can't find a copy at the store that doesn't have Jennifer Aniston's dumb face on the front. Famous actors and actresses rarely look the way I imagine characters to be, and I'm buying the dang book, people, not the movie. They are rarely the same. Did you know they changed the whole bloody end of "My Sister's Keeper"? And Cameron Diaz is SO not the mother I pictured.
-While I'm on the subject, I bought "Flash Forward" at Barnes & Noble the other day and the description on the back of the book is a description of THE TV SHOW. Not the book, the TV show. And they are not the same thing. The book is very different.
-It's not irritating, but when I was at the zoo last, I walked past the primate exhibits, and a zoo employee nearby asked me, "Do you want to go in the monkey house?" which wouldn't have been funny except his tone of voice made it sound like the worst chat-up line in history. I don't think he said it that way intentionally, because he looked confused when I laughed and declined his offer.
-I got a new debit card a few months ago because the old one finally expired. I didn't just get a new card, though, I got a new PIN. I didn't want a new PIN. I'd had the old PIN for 10 years. I wrote the new one down somewhere but I lost it and it's really irritating. I tell cashiers to run the card through as credit but they always forget, and they have to cancel what they did, and sometimes my card won't work again so quickly, and I have to use another card.
-I seem to be missing $600 from my savings account. Last time I checked, I had $700 in savings. Now I have $123. I'd check out my transaction record, but the credit union website no longer likes my password and I'm too lazy to call their corporate office and fix it. I shouldn't have to! I KNOW I have the right password.
-I'm not very funny anymore. I used to be funny. Then people started telling me I was funny. The more people told me, the less funny I got. Now I'm about as humorous as cancer.
-TV Guide magazine keeps cheating and putting together these double issues. It's a double issue because they put two weeks in one. Which means two weeks of listings but only half the other content I'm paying for. And they got rid of the "Is It Just Me?" column, which was my favorite.
-I've had a migraine for three weeks.
-Did you know that the Salvation Army bell ringers make like $7.25 an hour? They can't even be bringing that much in with those little buckets. Which makes me suspect that the money I donate goes to pay bell ringer salaries and not to help the homeless. The bells were irritating enough when I thought they were helping society. Now that I know it's not a volunteer operation, it's extra irritating.
-I hope I never meet Stephenie Meyer, because if I do, I'm likely to hurt her. If I have to hear the words "Twilight," "New Moon," "Jacob," "Edward," or "Sparkly Vampire" one more time I will bloody lose it. It is a bloody stupid book, people! And yet there are women - grown women in their forties and fifties, puff-painting t-shirts and screaming about Robert Pattinson. Can you imagine if the genders were reversed? It wouldn't be cute if a bunch of middle aged men lined up to see Miley Cyrus walk the red carpet.
-Speaking of, WTH happened to Miley? She used to be this cute, age-appropriate, normal little thing. Now she's a cheap skank. I cringe when I hear my 7-year-old niece talking about Hannah Montana.
-I am only going to say this once (once today, anyway): Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, looks good in skinny jeans. Skinny jeans are gross. I'm looking at you, Jonas Brothers.
-Fibromyalgia sucks. I sleep for ten hours and wake up feeling like it was closer to 10 minutes. And I feel like someone was beating me with a sack of unripe fruit while I slept. And you know how sometimes you don't feel like exercising but you know that if you do, you'll get this nice energy rush? Fibro ruins that. I exercise and feel like crap. Worse than crap. Crap squared.
-People keep feeling the need to chastise me for complaining. Because it could be worse and I could be homeless and disabled and have no family and no food, or because I don't live in the coldest place in the world, or because I'm not fat enough to require surgery. Well you know what folks? If I want to complain, I can complain. I don't care if there are people who are worse off than me, I don't care if I'm not the fattest person in the world, and I don't care if you don't consider 50* to be sufficiently cold. I'm crabby and tired and thoroughly miserable and a size 18, and if I want to whine, I'm by gosh going to whine. I'm allowed to, and you can't stop me.
-Someone asked me the other day about "giving away" my baby. Excuse me? I did not give her away. I placed her for adoption with a wonderful couple. I did not put an ad on Craigslist.
-I used to be able to wear my contacts for days, even sleep in them, and these days I get five, maybe six hours of comfortable wear out of them and then they hurt my eyes. Well, that was a fun fourteen years.

Enough about me. I've found a new way to annoy others - or to trick them, in any case. When I'm at the zoo, I'll pick an empty patch of land to stare at and photograph, and I'll see how many people stop to stare, too. My record is five.

21 November 2009

Missed connections

I have done a craptastic job of blogging lately. I can think of a number of reasons for it but none of them are very good.

In the time I have spent online not blogging, I have been indulging a guilty pleasure. I am slightly addicted to the "Missed Connections" section on Craigslist. Have you ever looked at Missed Connections?

The concept is a simple one. You're out somewhere - a club, a grocery store, a gas station. You see someone, you make eye contact, maybe you say hi. And then the moment is gone, and so is the person you connected with. So you go to Missed Connections, write up what happened, and see if that person responds.

If I'm honest, I don't read Missed Connections because I have missed any connections. My purposes are much more nefarious than that. I do it for entertainment. Because there are an awful lot of idiots in the world, and these days most of them have internet access.

I stick to m4w, Men for Women, because I've found that men tend to be a bit more ridiculous and maudlin in their posting. I've only gotten a laugh out of Women for Men once or twice. M4w? The world is a scary place, ladies and gentlemen.

I am slightly worried that so many men seem to find "hot" women shopping at Wal-Mart. Especially West Valley Wal-Marts. The West Valley is where 99.9% of violent crimes in Phoenix seem to occur. And Wal-Mart is ... well, have you been to the People of Wal-Mart website? It's a leper colony.

But overweight hoochies aside, there is a sort of poetic stupidity in the subject lines I've encountered. I've been collecting them for a while, and I'd like to share my favorites with you, faithful reader.

I think my favorite so far is "You returned a Derek Jeter Halloween Costume." Brilliant, isn't it? There'll be no mistaking that one. How many people returned Derek Jeter costumes? Actually, I'm not sure, but I think this one is still brilliant, and I never even read the posting, just the headline. The headline is all I ever read, if I'm honest.

Equally brilliant (in its stupidity, anyway) is "You startled me in the alley while I was peeing." Kind sir, while I don't doubt you may have been stumbled upon by a beautiful woman in the alley, do you really think that said woman is going to be interested in a man who urinates in public? Is she going to be sitting home, thinking to herself, "You know, that guy who was peeing in the alley was pretty hot. I wonder if he noticed me?"

There has to be a story behind "I can't believe you bossed your grandma around" and I, for one want to know what it is. I read the listing for this one and I'm still not sure what was going on. Or why a man would be interested in a woman who bosses her grandma around.

"No Tip was big enough, Emily." Was it because Emily was beautiful or because Emily was an unusually competent waitress? The world will never know, because I never read the posting and the listing's expired. Alas. Rest assured, Emily, your efforts didn't go unnoticed.

I have a few questions for the man who posted "T-BIRD ER WAITING ROOM." Sir, who sits in an ER waiting room and checks out the women there? Especially T-Bird. Their patients are either criminals or the elderly. I realize you're stuck there for four or five hours, but maybe you ought to let the doctors reattach the woman's severed hand before you attempt to hit on her. Just a thought.

When I read "I bought eggs from you =)" I sincerely hoped it wasn't from the same people who post every day offering 8 grand to a Jewish egg donor. Perhaps it was a trade, as the same day, posted in w4m, was "to the kind stranger who bought my pumpkin."

Ah, Craigslist. You give so much and ask so little. Idiots of the world, post on. And please be specific.

16 November 2009

You Can't Say I Didn't Get Something Out of It

In mid-October, my mother and I attended Kendall Summerhawk's Money, Marketing and Soul Intensive, or MMSI for short. My mother was excited to learn about how to grow her business and market herself. I was excited to get a facial at the hotel spa. But my ticket was dirt cheap owing to a great deal my mother got, so I went along to the workshop as her personal assistant.

I don't know if it was the stress of travel or the fact that I sleep poorly in hotel beds, but I had the attention span of a fruit bat during the event. I could not pay attention had my life depended on it. I tried very hard to pay attention but failed miserably. I thought that perhaps if I took notes, I'd do better. I was wrong.

The notebook wasn't lined. I can't write in an unlined notebook. Not only that, I can't stop myself from drawing in an unlined notebook. Never mind that I have little to no artistic ability to speak of. So while my mother and the rest of the crowd were excitedly learning about money archetypes and branding and seeding and all sorts of strange verbs, this is the sum of what I accomplished in four days.

I showed my mother my work. I'm not sure if she was horrified or amused. I like to think she was amused. And my facial was awesome.

04 November 2009

Baseball Will Kill You

I mentioned on Twitter the other day that when the Yankees won the world series 11 years ago, my father killed a man.

This is a true story.

But lest my father's memory be tarnished with a half-truth, I feel I should clarify what exactly happened in 1998. Although my father hated the Yankees, he certainly didn't mean to kill anyone. Especially not Leo Larson.

Leo was my parents' insurance agent for around 25 years and a friend of my father's. Despite a near lifetime in Arizona, Leo was a big, big fan of the New York Yankees. In the mid-90s, Leo took on a position of leadership in our church. My father was the executive secretary, so he attended every Tuesday meeting the church leaders had. Leo and my dad used to talk baseball, because my father couldn't stand the Yankees and because Leo loved them.

I should mention here that Leo was diabetic, and there were complications. His health was poor, but his spirits were good. Leo, busy with work and church all day, missed game 4. My dad saw the game before he left for the church - a bit later than he'd have normally left, but he was hoping the Padres could pull it off and force a fifth game. No such luck, however, as the final score was 3-0.

The meetings proceeded as usual that night and, my father later said, if Leo was a bit quieter than usual, no one noticed. He looked a little pale, but that was typical given his health. When the meetings were over, everyone left but my father and Leo, waiting to rehash the game.

"Well, Leo," my father said, eying the man's Yankees necktie, "The Yankees won it. You can die a happy man."

And he did, late that night or early the next morning. I never heard for sure when it happened. But my father said later that he was pretty sure he was the last one to see Leo alive, and that other than a goodbye, "die a happy man" were the last words anyone ever spoke to him.

Last year, a month after my father died, I was watching the Dodgers lose the NLCS, and I remembered that world series ten years ago, and I smiled to myself for a minute, thinking that when my dad ran into Leo in the next life, perhaps Leo would reassure my dad that he had indeed died a happy man.

30 October 2009

The Return of Mr. Whiskers

I held out as long as I could, I really did.

For weeks, I found excuses for giggling during therapy - knock-knock jokes, lines from sitcoms, bumper stickers. I tried as hard as I could to keep from mentioning how much mental energy I have expended of late thinking about my therapist's cat.

Yesterday, I failed.

I blame my mother.

John's birthday was the 24th, and my mother mentioned something about having a birthday party with the cat, and I mentioned something about giving the cat a party hat, and it went downhill from there. Yesterday, about two-thirds of the way through my hour, I pictured Mr. Whiskers in a party hat, and I lost it. It started with a choked-out laugh, scarcely suppressed.

John raised an eyebrow, clearly wondering what I found so amusing about having boundary issues. I tried to cover my laugh with a cough, but that only made things worse. I found myself wondering if John would say "Bless you" to his cat if the animal sneezed (do cats sneeze?), and I laughed again. Unbidden, the image of John and his cat in matching Christmas sweaters came to mind, and I found myself shaking like a hotel bed with Magic Fingers.

I laughed out loud, more of a bark than anything else, and the dreaded giggle loop came crashing down around me.

I bloody lost it.

John stared for a moment, clearly worried about my sanity. Then, perhaps realizing that as my therapist, he should have a better grasp on my sanity than to simply wonder, he asked me what I found so amusing.

Excuses flooded my mind, each less plausible than the last - I just got a joke I heard yesterday. I figured out the best way to exact revenge on my ex-boyfriend. I'm having a seizure.

Perhaps if I hadn't been trying so hard to come up with an excuse, I could have actually come up with one. But in this sudden surge of brain activity, I lost control over my tongue, and out came the words, "You have a cat!"

Understandably, John didn't see what was so funny about the fact that he owns a cat. I can't blame him. I laughed the laugh of the damned for another minute, and then the tale of Mr. Whiskers came tumbling out of my mouth. The cat's name. The leash. The screensaver. The matching Christmas sweaters.

John seemed particularly offended at that last bit. "Oh, gosh, no!" he exclaimed, and I could see him racking his brain, trying to figure out what he may have ever said to me to make me think that he was the sort of man to put a sweater on a cat.

I gave him the first excuse I could think of. I blamed my mother.

"She's a sick woman," I blurted out. "She needs medication!"

He raised an eyebrow, which gave him a rather unintelligent look owing to the fact that his mouth was still open, as it had been since I brought up the topic of cat sweaters.

"I don't know what's wrong with her," I continued. "It's got to be her ADD!"

John managed to compose himself at last. "Does she do that sort of thing often?" he asked. "Just take a topic and go off on it?"

I thought about that for a moment. "Yes," I lied.

I'm not sure if he believed me or not. He didn't seem to, but I could tell that he wanted to, that he would rather believe me than accept the fact that after working with me for four years, I am still mentally disturbed enough to spend the better part of two months imagining his life with his cat.

After the tale (no pun intended) came out, there was a moment or two of awkward silence, during which, I believe, John and I made a tacit agreement never to speak of Mr. Whiskers again. Then he asked me how long I'd been seeing him, and I cheerfully told him it's been four years.

I think a little bit of him died when I said that. I could see a bit of light leave his eyes. I smiled more widely. It is slightly perverse, I'll admit, but the truth is that, as much progress as I have made since 2005, I didn't feel I'd accomplished very much until just then, when I realized that, whether he liked it or not, John would never be able to forget me for the rest of his life.

And if I'm not mistaken, he's learned an important lesson about sharing bits of his personal life during an hour that someone else is paying for. And that, my friends, is progress.

23 October 2009

Birthday Blog

So. It's my birthday. I'm 26.

I'm not sure how I feel about that. On one hand, I am now firmly out of my early twenties and smack dab in that comfortable mid-twenties age bracket where you are neither too young for things nor too old for them.

On the other hand, I don't think that anyone aspires to be mid-twenties, single, unemployed, and living with mom.

In my defense, I've had a rather busy year. I got dumped, fired, and pregnant, my dad died, my car broke down four times, and I placed my baby for adoption. I think I can be forgiven for taking a little time for myself to figure things out.

Part of me feels that, at my age, I should know what I want to do with my life. I thought I did, actually. But the more I look into certain degree programs, the less excited I get about going back to school. I'm not even going to get in to the cost of ASU.

At the moment, I have an AGS, a cosmetology license, and a notary commission for the state of Arizona. I sort of like that none of those things are the least bit related. It makes for an interesting resume. I've considered spending the next few years getting more interesting little certifications and qualifications, just so I could print up the world's strangest business cards. For instance, I'm considering learning to drive a forklift. How cool would that be if my business card said "Jill Elizabeth. Hairstylist, notary, forklift operator"?

(Pardon me while I have a strange interlude. It bothers me that I can't ever remember whether in cases like the preceding I should put the question mark inside or outside the quotation marks. I think I'm doing it wrong, but it doesn't look right when I do it the other way. Grr. Okay, end interlude.)

I've also recently got it into my head to become a CNA. And a pharmacy technician. And I'd love to learn stunt driving. And get a masters in social work - which of course means I'd have to first get a bachelor's in social work.

None of this has anything to do with my birthday, does it? I've slept seven hours in two days (I've been doing school presentations for LDSFS, and high school classes are early) so I have the attention span of a fruit bat at the moment.

But it's my birthday, and if I want to ramble, I'll ramble.

I have a personal history of bad birthdays. I had good ones as a child, but the older I got, the worse my birthdays became. I think it was my eighth birthday party when one of my friends convinced another two of my friends that none of them liked me anymore.

There was one year when I was late getting home to a family party, and I arrived to find that my relatives had eaten most of my cake without me. No candles, no singing. There was the year I was in a car accident. The year I started taking antidepressants. The year everyone but my parents seemed to have forgotten my birthday. The year I failed my driving test. The year my college roommate's bad hygiene made the dorm room smell like excrement. The year my mom was in the hospital for gallstones. The year I was in beauty school learning exactly how little talent I had for doing highlights. The year I had to work at the salon for ten hours all by myself. The year my dad had cancer. And last year, when I found out I was pregnant.

Happy birthday? Not possible.

This year's been pretty good, actually. I think partly because I had such low expectations, but there you are. I had to wake up early to do two more school presentations, but then I had brunch with a friend and then relaxed and played a video game and read a bit and went shopping and went out to dinner with my mother and came home to watch TV and chill.

Not the most exciting birthday in the world by anyone's standards. But nothing horrible happened and except for my birthday migraine, I feel alright. So far my 27th year is off to a dull start. But on the upside, dull is better than bad, and I did get a free Grand Slam.

19 October 2009

On the Upside, There Were No Mountain Lions

I don't usually use this blog to talk about specifics of my life or what I've been up to lately. I have another blog for that, and it is appropriately pathetic. But I just got back from a trip to Tucson and suffice it to say that an acid trip would have been less upsetting.

I got directions to the hotel from the hotel's website. It was fairly specific, down to the fact that one road would change names after I'd been on it a few miles. However, it then specified that I needed to stay on said road with changed name, so when I was on Skyline and saw that I needed to turn left to stay on Skyline (the road was, just for the hell of it, changing names again, which the website didn't mention), I turned left. There are a number of places in Tucson where, for reasons unknown, the same street intersects itself. Skyline intersects Skyline, Sabino Canyon intersects Sabino Canyon, and Kolb runs parallel to Kolb in one place. Sort of a nexus-of-the-universe thing.

I should not have turned left. As it turns out, I needed to stay on Sunrise, which was once Skyline, which was once Ina. It would have been nice if the website had mentioned that.

But Jill, you might say, how hard could it have been to find a giant resort built into the side of a mountain? And perhaps I could have found it by myself had it been daylight. But this was Tucson, and for reasons I can't explain, they aren't big on things like streetlights or signs or roads that go in straight lines or roads that actually lead somewhere. But they especially hate lights - I have never been in a darker city. I think there may be some sort of city ordinance where no one is allowed to use anything brighter than a ten-watt light bulb, even outside. The hotel wasn't lit up and the street wasn't lit up.

After an hour or so of trying to find my way around Tucson, I found the hotel. My mother checked into the hotel. It's supposed to be this luxury resort. Well, I don't know where all the money goes, but it isn't into their electric bill. We drove around the hotel for ten minutes trying to find the parking lot by our room, but again, it was too dark to see where I was going. We returned to the lobby area and one of the valets drove a golf cart in front of us to show us where to go.

The hotel is quite literally built into the side of a mountain. Our room, which had an outdoor entrance, faced this:

My mother was afraid that a mountain lion was going to come down and eat us. I was more concerned about the unusually large cockroaches, several of which seemed to be enjoying the lack of light around the hotel. We got into our room. My mother claimed one bed, so I went to the other one. It had hair on it. I don't mean two or three long hairs. It looked like this all over the bed:

Apparently, the Wolfman is on the housekeeping staff. I am highly allergic to dogs and their fur, but Loews prides itself on being a pet-friendly chain of hotels, which apparently means dogs are allowed to frolic in freshly-cleaned rooms. I found hairs in the bathroom as well. The front desk was called, and hell was raised. I got fresh bedding. I inspected it closely for more mystery hairs. It seemed to be okay so I went to bed. I was looking forward to seeing Tucson during the day. Unfortunately, the money and marketing conference my mother and I were attending went from 8:30am to 5:30pm, so by the time we got out, it was too dark to do anything. I gave up on having any sort of good time and commenced drawing cartoons in my notebook.

We checked in on Wednesday night, and while I was waiting for housekeeping to de-fur my bed, I looked out on the balcony. There was a grassy sort of area outside the patio and a woman was walking one of those nasty little furry crap machines - pomegranates or whatever they're called. So on Saturday night, when I heard a strange grunting bark outside, I figured someone else was walking a dog out there. But the dog sounded sick. Really sick. And angry. I opened the curtains to see what sort of dog it was.

It wasn't a dog. It was a pack of javelinas. Javelinas, or collared peccaries, are a sort of wild desert hog. They are alarmingly large and noisy, and they were hungry. I'm an idiot, so I went out on the patio with my camera. Of course, it was too dark to get a good shot. Not because it was night time, but because there are about two light bulbs lighting up the whole of the outer hotel.

I saw the javis again in the parking lot on the way to find a Denny's. I almost ran one over with my mother's Highlander. But the car's headlights illuminated them a bit better, and I got this picture:

Apparently, my mother should have been more concerned about javelinas than about mountain lions. There was also a frog by the ice machine, and a coati by the swimming pool, and of course the world's largest cockroach hanging out on the stairs, and a few grasshoppers that were determined to gain entry into our room. The mountains are indeed beautiful, but it was all just a bit too much nature for me.

I've decided I hate Tucson. I don't ever want to go back. Maybe someday, if they decide to invest in lighting. But I'm getting a room inside, and I'm taking a gun in case the javelinas get aggressive.

05 October 2009

Happy Anniversary! You're Crazy.

Tomorrow is kind of a big day for me. Kind of.

It's also sort of depressing. Tomorrow is the four-year anniversary of my being in therapy (with this particular therapist, anyway). This is depressing for several reasons, two of which are that 1) my relationship with John is the longest I've ever had with anyone to whom I am not related, and 2) it's been 4 years, and I am still in therapy.

I mentioned the anniversary to John last Thursday at our session. He wasn't sure of the date. He unearthed my file, which is dangerously thick.

He rifled through a heavy stack of session notes to the last page. "Four years," he said. I wondered if he was thinking what I was, which is that I'm not sure what it says about his skills as a therapist that I am still seeing him four years later, and I'm not quite 26 so how screwed up can I really be yet that I need four years of therapy?

He then asked me what sorts of things I felt I still needed to work on. I'm sure he was thinking along the lines of grieving my father's death and my baby's adoption and the anger I have at my ex.

But what I was thinking to myself, that I almost blurted out, was, "I have a problem, John, and it is a big one. I have spent more time wondering about you and your cat than I have spent on anything else this week."

I didn't say that, of course. I thought about it - several times I thought about it, throughout my session. And at one point I actually laughed out loud about it. John asked what was so funny and I had to make something up to keep from telling him that every time I drive past a pet supply store I picture him inside pushing his cat up and down the aisles in a shopping cart.

I told him what I felt I still needed to work on, and he said something about how those were valid issues, blah blah blah, and as he spoke I pictured him discussing boundary issues with his cat.

I'm not sure how much longer I can keep this up. Eventually I am going to have to tell him about the cat problem, and I'm not sure how he'll react. I'm hoping he will find it funny and we can have a good laugh about it and move on.

I am terrified that he will feel the need to give me details to set me straight on the subject. I know too much already. What if I discover something even more distracting? What am I going to do then?

I think it's probably a good thing that, four years later, I am still in therapy. I seem to need it.

28 September 2009

My money's on "Mr Whiskers"

My therapist has a cat.

I wish I didn't know this, but I do. He mentioned it in my last session. My therapist is in his forties, and single, and he has a cat.

I wish I didn't know this. Oh, certainly I'm glad to know that he prefers cats to dogs, because I've found that cat lovers are more empathetic than dog owners. But I still wish I didn't know this. I wish I knew that he liked cats, but not that he owns one. Because my mind can't just let it go. I can't just accept that he has a cat, and move on with my life. One could argue that, were he a better therapist, I would be able to let it go. But I've been seeing him for four years, and he has a cat, and I can't let it go. Questions arise, unbidden, in my neurotic brain.

I start to wonder about the cat. Is it a shelter cat? What sort of markings does it have? What color are its eyes? How big is it? How old is it? How long has John owned it?

What is its name? What sort of name would John choose for a cat? Paws? Frankie? Boots? Mr. Whiskers? Or does it have some sort of embarrassing lovey-dovey name like Angel or Sweet Pea or Baby? Does he talk to the cat?

Is he the male equivalent of a crazy cat lady? Does he have a picture of his cat as a desktop or a screen saver on his computer? Does he subscribe to Cat Fancy magazine? Would he, in casual conversation, refer to his cat as his furbaby? When he gets home from work, does he announce to the cat that daddy's home? Does he kiss the cat on the mouth? Does his cat screen his dates? Is that why he's still single?

Does he take the cat for walks? I think he's the sort of man that might put a cat on a leash. Do they go shopping together at Petco for kitty toys? Is he the kind of person who puts outfits on his pet for different holidays? Is there a picture of the cat with Santa? Are there pictures of John with his cat? Would he send them out in his Christmas cards? If the cat went missing, how much would he offer for a reward?

I am taking advice - life advice - from a man whose house contains a box that holds cat poo. How can I do that? How can I take my psychotherapist seriously when I know that he spends some of his time scooping cat poo out of a litter box? Is anyone who would voluntarily handle cat poo really qualified to give advice?

I don't know how I'm supposed to take him seriously now. Tomorrow I'm going to see him, and I have to try and sit there and discuss my problems and pretend that he doesn't have a cat and that I haven't spent the better part of an hour wondering about the cat. What if, mid-session, I crack up? What if I can't stop laughing? He's going to ask what's so funny, and I'm going to have to tell him that I have a mental picture of him and his cat in matching Christmas sweaters.

I'm not sure this is going to work anymore. I think I may have to find a new therapist.

25 September 2009

And now, for something completely different

I don't have anything to say today, but I'm sick of this blog being stuck in the middle of my list on my Blogger Dashboard. Which is my own fault for having more than a dozen blogs, but I digress.

Here's a pig in a bath.

19 September 2009

Talk Like a Pirate Day

Today is, apparently, Talk Like a Pirate Day.

I don't know how I missed this earlier. I can't believe it's not printed on my Audobon Backyard Birds calendar. And it wasn't in the newspaper.

Maybe if I'd turned on the TV. I think this sort of thing is right up Channel 3's alley. They've probably got Beverly Kidd on location somewhere in a tricorn hat and an eyepatch.

You may say, Jill, isn't this the sort of ludicrous hilarity in which you typically revel? Well, if you do, you'll have to speak up, because I can't hear you. Maybe consider sending it by e-mail next time so my ears don't strain.

But I digress. I do indeed enjoy a bit of juvenile frivolity every now and then. But I do not participate in Talk Like a Pirate Day.

There are two main reasons for this, which I shall elaborate for your reading pleasure. The first is that, despite the recent pop-culture success that it has enjoyed, I do not think piracy is funny or cool. Perhaps if actual piracy was a thing of the past I could bring myself to laugh about it. But there are plenty of places in the world where actual human beings are attacked, brutalized, and killed by actual pirates, and I don't find it the least bit funny or cute. These pirates do not have a skull-and-crossbones flag on their ships, and they do not dress like Johnny Depp in one of the wildly popular Disney films based on an amusement park ride. Real pirates are much more dangerous and ruthless than that. They are cruel, they are terribly violent, and some of them are downright evil.

So forgive me if I don't think that pirates are cute or funny or simply pop-culture. I haven't been able to forget an article I read about a British civilian who was savagely and brutally slain in front of his terrified wife. Maybe when I can, I will find pirates cute and amusing.

The second reason I will be speaking in my normal hybrid of American and British English today is because of the TV show "Wife Swap." Yes, "Wife Swap." I'm rather embarrassed to admit that I have actually seen that show, but the fact remains that I have actually seen probably a dozen episodes. There was a time when I needed something to fill my TV-watching gap of 4 to 6pm, and Lifetime had the answer in the form of shrill, nasty women torturing the families of other shrill, nasty women.

In one episode, one of the families involved in the swap is headed by a man whose real name eludes me because he insisted on being called Chumbucket. Yes, *the* Chumbucket. The one responsible for this august occasion known as Talk Like a Pirate Day.

How can I describe Chumbucket? Out of touch with reality is the first phrase that comes to mind. Chumbucket, and his wench - I mean, wife - are a good argument for fewer personal freedoms in America. They dress like pirates (or rather, like the Disney version of pirates), talk like pirates (or rather, like Disney pirates), annoy their neighbors, and raise their psychologically damaged children by ignoring their problems, allowing them to curse wildly, and teaching them that there is no reason to aspire to do anything to contribute meaningfully to society (or "pirattitude," as they call it). They stage pirate plays in the backyard of the hovel they call a house, they have pirate friends (Say hello to Cap'n Slappy), they wave swords. Here's a family begging for matching prescriptions for lithium if ever I've seen one.

I won't go into detail on the episode featuring this family. Suffice it to say that Chumbucket and Mrs. Chumbucket are two of the most reprehensible human beings I have ever encountered (and I went to a community college). The fact that one of them created this holiday and stands to profit from it, even in a non-monetary fashion, repulses me like a pus-oozing face wound.

So no, I will not be talking like a pirate today. And be advised, those of you who know me, that if I hear that you have spoken like a pirate today, you will land on my spreadsheet of respect somewhere in between Dr. Phil and the man who invented Esperanto. And I think we all know how I feel about Dr. Phil

16 September 2009


I recently announced that, if I ever owned a boat, I would name it Three Hour Tour. I want to clarify something.

I have no plans to buy a boat.

I would also like to add that, were I ever to purchase a racehorse, male or female, I would name it Good Morning Dan.

Again, thank you.

14 September 2009

Alert the media!

I have made an important decision.

I've been thinking about this for a while, and the answer simply wouldn't come to me. But after a lot of thought and consideration, I think I've got it. I think I have the answer.

If I ever got a boat, I would name it "Three Hour Tour."

Thank you.

11 September 2009

Accentuate the ... negative?

I have been trying for over an hour now to update this blog.

I feel like I have plenty of things to say, but two problems keep coming up.

The first is that I don't feel like I'm particularly funny anymore. I used to be able to crank out three or four rants in a sitting, and find them rather clever and well-written, with at least one turn of phrase of which I was particularly proud. But lately I can't even make a joke about infomercials, which is saying something.

The second problem has to do with a promise I made to myself, one I made, if I'm honest, in part to get my therapist off my back. I promised myself I wasn't going to be such a negative person. That I was going to try to lighten up a bit, try to be humorous without being sarcastic.

It's a lot harder than I thought. I'm not sure what it says about me that I can't be funny without being mean. I don't like the thought. I have always thought that I was just generally a rather clever person. I didn't concern myself with the fact that I was overly sarcastic.

I'm starting to wonder if I've ever been funny at all, or if it was just rudeness. If it's the latter, that's sort of an earth-shattering revelation. My sense of humor is an integral part of who I am. I don't like to think that rudeness or nastiness are such a big part of my personality.

Am I a negative person? I've never really thought so, but lately I've started to wonder. I don't want to be a negative person. I want to be clever and funny without risking offense. I wonder if I can.

But I think I've mostly decided that, if I can't be funny sans sarcasm, I simply won't be funny anymore. I want to be a happy person. I want to be the sort of person that my family can be proud of, that others will be drawn to.

One thing I've learned about myself over the years is that I am capable of doing very hard things, of living through hard things and becoming stronger for it. Lately I feel I've had more than my share of hard times, and I do wish God would back off a bit. But if this is the lesson that I need to learn, I'll learn it.

Maybe I won't be funny anymore. But I am going to try to be happy. I am going to try to be positive.

I should probably start by getting up before noon.

01 September 2009


I'm working on a few new rants, but in the meantime, here are a few random items from my list of deep, dark secrets (so deep they squeak).

-I have no idea what “3G” means.
-I didn’t know how to pronounce the word “mojito” until about three months ago.
-I have two Hannah Montana songs on my iPod (but I won’t say which two).
-I have had the game of football explained to me more than seven times, but I still couldn’t tell you which guy does what and for which reason.
-When people in public places ask me to sign a petition, I tell them I am Canadian so that I don’t have to sign without hurting their feelings.
-I cried at the end of “Nanny McPhee.” I cry every single time at the end of “Nanny McPhee.” I have seen "Nanny McPhee" about ten times.
-I joke about my fear of fish, but I am seriously terrified of the things. If I ever had to touch one I think I’d have a seizure.
-I think that pigeons are adorable. Also, chickens. Farm animals in general get me very excited. I think they are fantastic.
-I do not understand the cultural appeal of the zombie. Or the pirate, or the ninja.
-I once kicked a dog. The dog had it coming, and if I had the chance, I would kick it again. It was a horrible beast.
-It's not really a secret anymore, but I watch "SpongeBob SquarePants" with alarming regularity.
-I enjoy watching TV infomercials.
-I screen my phone calls.
-I am addicted to celebrity gossip. I waste my money on at least two scandal rags every week.
-I faint at the sight of my own blood.
-I'm not sure what it says about me that the preceding are some of my deepest, darkest secrets.

30 August 2009


Yesterday was an anniversary of sorts for me.

It marked one year since my father had a massive stroke.

One year ago yesterday morning, he was driving me to the bank. One year ago yesterday afternoon, he would never drive me to the bank again.

He didn't die right away - he lived for another 11 days, first in the neuro ICU at St. Joseph's, then at a hospice in Mesa. But in my mind, he died on the 29th. That was the last day that he was himself. The last day that he was awake.

Yesterday I looked at the clock at 3:45, at 4:30, at 6:15, at 7:20. I could remember clearly what I had been doing a year ago at each time: balancing my checkbook, talking to my mother in hushed tones about what we should do for my dad's headache, calling an ambulance, sitting in the ER at Gilbert Mercy waiting for news.

My mother was waiting for news. I think part of me already knew what the news was. I knew when the paramedics called out his blood pressure - 60 over 40 - that he was gone.

Knowing didn't make it any easier on Monday morning when a doctor, one of my dad's neuro-oncologist's lackeys, told us my dad wasn't going to wake up or recover. Nothing in the world could have made it easier, because they were talking about my father, and telling me he was gone.

I miss him every day.

17 August 2009

Fat Pants

I went shopping recently for a pair of pants.

I had a baby on July 7th, so I’m not even sure why I thought I ought to go shopping for regular pants. It probably would have been more prudent to stick to maternity pants for a few more weeks at least. But I had it in my head that, dang it, I was going to wear pants that button and zip. So I went to the mall.

I went to a department store at first because for one reason or another, probably denial, I thought I had lost a lot of my baby weight. But after forty seconds in the dressing room at Dillard’s, it became abundantly clear that my beluga-sized hips needed a specialty store.

I went to Torrid, which is a store that caters to the not-slim young woman. I haven’t shopped there in years, because I didn’t need to, and because I wore neon the first time it was cool and I don’t see a need to repeat the trend. Neon aside, they do carry jeans in my size so I thought I’d give it a go.

The saleswoman that greeted me looked terribly out of place, because she was … oh, what’s the word … ah, yes. Skinny. I can’t imagine why a skinny woman would want to work in a fat girl’s store. I can only assume she feels some sense of moral superiority to all the pathetic fatties who can’t shop at Abercrombie like she can. Maybe it was my imagination, because of her size, but she seemed kind of condescending, which irked me. I was tempted to asked why she worked there. Torrid starts at a size 12, but if this woman was a size 12 I’ll eat my Spanx.


Skinny Suzy asked if I was looking for anything in particular, which struck me as an odd question because I was standing in front of a wall of jeans. I don’t like having salespeople shadow me while I shop, so I told her I was just looking. She said okay, and left me alone.

I found a few pairs of pants to try on and Skinny Suzy started a dressing room for me … and promptly disappeared. I tried on the pants, and I have to say it’s been a long time since I’ve been quite so offended by the sight of my own body. I dumped the pants on the appropriate rack and went in search of more. Lather, rinse, repeat – try on, make face, dump trousers. On my third trip to the dressing room, Skinny Suzy reappeared.

“How’s it going?” she asked, in the way that one might ask a small child his name.

I smiled tightly. “Not well at all!” I said. Suzy looked stunned.

“Oh. Sorry,” she said, but made no offers of assistance. She seemed surprised I hadn’t given a perfunctory “Great!” Well, if she didn’t want to be verbally abused by fat people, she chose the wrong line of work.

I finally found a single pair of jeans that fit and weren’t a foot too long. But, you know me. I can’t be happy with pants that fit. Because, apparently, at some point in the past few years, clothing manufacturers decided that it is no longer fashionable for a pair of jeans to be uniform in color. The butt looked worn out already and there were some strange light horizontal lines on the upper legs. My mother told me to ignore the irregular wash and buy the jeans, because they fit, and because they buttoned and zipped.

I bought them. Skinny Suzy seemed happy. Probably she was relieved that I wasn’t going to say anything else unexpected. I paid cash, which confused her a little. I don’t mean to malign her cash-handling skills. I don’t imagine she has to deal with paper money very often. When I worked at Horribly Managed Children’s Salon, I got cash so rarely I always had to stop for a moment to remember what to do with it.

Suzy spent a bit more time than one would think necessary to check the fifties I gave her for watermarks. She looked from me to the cash once or twice, as though she had some sort of x-ray vision that allowed her to spot counterfeiters. I’m used to that, because I have what I like to refer to as Dorian Gray syndrome, which is to say that I haven’t aged since 1997. Salespeople are naturally distrustful of teenagers. I can’t blame them. I don’t like teenagers either. I didn’t like teenagers when I was a teenager.

So, I have normal pants now, pants that zip and snap. They fit well, and although they are 4 inches too long (as are most pants labeled Size X Short), I do like them. I put them on out of the dryer this afternoon. And you know what?

I miss my maternity pants.

13 August 2009

It’s that time again, boys and girls!

It’s been well over a month since the last list, so here we are: things that are bothering me right now!

-What is the point of a heat advisory in the Phoenix area? It’s Phoenix. It’s hot. Don’t we all know that? But Jill, you might say (which would be stupid because I can’t hear you), sometimes it gets a bit hotter than normal, and people need to know to stay indoors. To which I say (or I would, if I’d heard you object), is 114* really that much more dangerous than 110? Do the risks of heat rise exponentially with every degree of heat over 109? And do people really need to be told to stay inside when it’s really, really hot? I think that if you don’t know that, that if you’re the sort of person who would cheerfully go for a run when it’s hot enough to fry eggs on the sidewalk, this is what’s known as natural selection. Survival of the smart-enough-to-avoid-heat-stroke.
-When someone admits to being an unapologetic (fill-in-the-blank), it tends to be the sort of thing for which they should probably consider apologizing.
-I’m never sure whether, when writing, I should use the passive voice or end a sentence with a preposition.
-Ninety-five percent of the American population wouldn’t know a preposition if it bit them in the collective arse.
-The difference between a perfectly browned grilled cheese sandwich and a blackened mess seems to be about ten seconds. Maybe it’s my stove. Maybe I’m too bloody stupid to make a grilled cheese sandwich. Either way, I’m irked.
-I want to smack the next person to speak or write the phrase “natural childbirth.” Ten times out of ten these people think that childbirth is only natural if it’s drug-free, and that the only admirable, good, acceptable birth is a natural one - otherwise, you have failed as a woman. I had an IV painkiller and an epidural and finally a C-section because my body didn’t want to birth a baby. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that and I’m sick of certain people judging me for not wanting to be in excruciating pain. They’ll say that drugs aren’t good for the baby. Well how the hell is my suffering and being exhausted any good for the baby? I got drugged and I got sliced and my baby was pink and healthy and aced her APGAR. I’ll probably blog about all this later because it really bothers me.
-I watched a few episodes of “Toddlers & Tiaras” last Saturday. The fact that this show exists at all just kills me. (In my defense, there wasn’t anything else on TV.)
-The media seem incapable of using the right words when discussing Twitter. The verb is “tweet,” not “twitter.”
-The fact that the preceding bothers me, bothers me.
-My neighbors’ dogs are at it again, which mystifies me. Doesn’t the barking at 3am bother them, too? Because it sure as heck bothers me. I need to replace the battery in my Dog Silencer Pro, and all will be right with the world again.
-A few days ago “Access Hollywood” named Madonna as one of the sexiest women over 40 in show business. They said she had the body of a woman half her age, or something like that. This makes me wonder if they have seen Madonna lately, because as near as I can tell she has the body of a med school skeleton.
-I had a funnier comparison than “med school skeleton” yesterday but I’ve forgotten what it was.
-I have the Stanley Steemer jingle stuck in my head.
-I’m not very funny anymore.

09 August 2009

Happy? Birthday.

Today is my dad's 53rd birthday.

I remember his 51st birthday. It is, in fact, seared into my memory more clearly than almost any other day of my life. That was the day we found out he had a brain tumor.

I remember his 52nd birthday as well, although not quite so clearly because it was a good day. My mom had made a banana-flavored cake and my dad had finally found a good pair of non-bulky cargo pants at Mervyn's. We talked about the year before and how this birthday - and every birthday after it - were, by default, better than the year before, because what's worse than a cancer diagnosis?

We found out the next day: a terminal cancer diagnosis. They gave him three months. He got three weeks. And suddenly my dad's 51st birthday seemed like a great day, because he had been alive. Now every birthday after his 52nd is, by default, worse, because it means that nearly a year has gone by without him, and there are days when that thought alone is almost too much to bear.

I hate that all these thoughts come up on his birthday. I hate that I can't just take this day to be happy that he was born, happy that I had him as long as I did. I know there are people worse off than I am, people whose fathers died younger and more tragically than did mine.

But he was my daddy, and he is gone, and I miss him, and today is his birthday. It's hard to think of anyone, and anything, else.

03 August 2009

Ripped pants and other occupational hazards

I have a confession to make.

I have been doing something lately that I am in no way proud of, and I'm not even sure I should admit to it.

I have been watching "SpongeBob SquarePants." A lot.

I used to hate SpongeBob. I first watched the show when I worked for the Horribly Managed Children's Salon. I had heard of SpongeBob but hadn't been subjected to the questionable humor and inane story lines. Then came HMCS and their DVD collection, which included one disc of SpongeBob. You'd think that only one DVD would be a godsend, but the fact is I'd have been happier with about twenty SpongeBob DVDs. The fact that there was only one meant I had to watch the same ten episodes over and over, and mostly I only saw the first one on the disc ("Ripped Pants," in case you were wondering) because every kid wanted to watch it from the beginning.

I began to loathe SpongeBob. I found myself suggesting other shows to children, hoping against hope that even one of them that I talked to would choose something that would offend my ears less, like, say, fingernails on a chalkboard. But I was never able to talk more than one child out of watching it in the nearly two years I spent at HMCS.

I was terribly relieved, therefore, when HMCS got another SpongeBob DVD. At last, I thought, new episodes to get sick of. I eagerly slid the disc into the DVD player, wondering what childish adventures awaited me. I'm sure you can guess what came on, though.

That's right. "Ripped Pants." It was the first episode on this DVD as well. I think a little part of me died that day. Incidentally, during the time I worked for HMCS, I did tune in to SpongeBob at home once. The episode that aired was "Ripped Pants."

So, how did I end up watching SpongeBob SquarePants voluntarily; purposely? Well, the problem is that if you don't watch Oprah or soap operas, daytime and afternoon TV is a scary, boring place. SpongeBob is one of the more sane, normal, entertaining programs on the air between 2 and 7 or so. When I channel-surfed last week, my best TV prospects were a fishing show, a Bruce Willis movie dubbed (poorly) into Spanish, a show about people who had things left in them after surgery, and (I wish I was making this up) a cartoon of the crucifixion. Yes, that crucifixion.

Can you blame me for taking refuge in Bikini Bottom? No, it's not the smartest show on TV. It isn't even *a* smart show. But things could be worse. I could still work at HMCS. Frankly, ripped pants were the least of my worries there. I was about as happy there as Squidward at the Krusty Krab.

Did I really just compare myself to Squidward? I think I've been thinking too much. I need a TV break. I think there's an episode of SpongeBob on ...

I still have all of "Ripped Pants" memorized, for the record.

27 July 2009

Dear Madonna,

Please eat something.

Up To No Good

14 July 2009

The operative word here is "emergency"

I went to the ER on Saturday night.

Strictly speaking, it was Sunday morning. It was a little after midnight when my mother pulled the car into the ER parking lot at Banner Desert.

I had my choice of ERs. There's a hospital every few miles around here, I swear. But I couldn't go to Gilbert Mercy, because that's where the ambulance took my dad after his stroke, and I don't know much about Banner Gateway, and Baywood was too far. When I had gallstones three or four years ago, I went to the Banner Desert ER. They treated me pretty well. So I thought I'd go there this time.

I had a fever of 100.5, chills, and a sharp pain in my back. I told this to the woman at the front desk. She seemed uninterested and shoved a paper at me to fill out - their computer system had gone down or something like that. I filled in the blanks and gave it back. I was sent a few feet away to have a nurse (I think) put a little clip on my finger and ask me the same questions the first lady asked me. Then I had to sit in the waiting room. My mother had found two chairs apart from the rest, which was a good thing because the waiting room had sort of a leper colony feel. My skin was crawling just being in there, and if I hadn't been in so much pain I'd have just walked back out the door. The place was packed.

I sat and waited. And waited. I observed an interesting cultural phenomenon during this time, and if I have any Hispanic readers, perhaps they could enlighten me. But it seems like every Hispanic person that came into the ER had the entire family with them - no less than five people.

I waited. Finally, a nurse named Alvin called me back to a little curtained-in area. He asked me the same questions I'd already answered twice and took my vitals. I waited a few minutes more and an actual doctor came back. He asked me the same set of questions. I started to think that maybe someone should write my answers down, save a little time for the next person. The doctor said something about my appendix and my kidneys and wandered off. Alvin led me back to the waiting area.

About 45 minutes passed. The waiting room was filling up. Several people seemed possibly to have highly communicable diseases. It was getting harder to avoid sharing their air. Finally another nurse called me back into a corridor marked "Procedures." She said she was going to start an IV. She asked me the same questions I'd already answered.

I should mention that, in addition to being exceptionally pale, my skin is on the thick side. No one has ever been able to find a vein on the first try, and most of the time it takes a good 5 to 10 minutes. It took two nurses and an ultrasound machine to locate a vein for my IV. They got it going, put me on a saline drip and gave me drugs for pain, stomach acidity, and something else I'm not clear on. And then ... they sent me back out into the waiting room with my IV pole.

About a half-dozen or so people in the waiting room also had IVs in. My mother and I found a place to sit that seemed slightly less disgusting and were settling in when two orderlies wheeled two women into the area in hospital wheelchairs. One of them had a plastic bag she was vomiting into. And vomiting, and vomiting. I'm not sure what the volume of the average adult stomach is, but this woman had to be pushing it. I thought surely she'd run out of contents to vomit, but no such luck. And these were gut-wracking, 50-decibel heaves. I nearly threw up myself. I found myself wondering, shouldn't someone do something for this woman? Pump some fluids into her? Find a bed for her? And what about the rest of us with our IV poles? Why the wait? If I felt well enough to wait, I wouldn't have gone to the ER. But I did. I went to the emergency room because it was an emergency.

A nurse called me back into a little room. He checked my IV and asked me the same questions I'd answered already. He said something about a CT scan and a room but implied it might be a few hours. I was sent back into the vomitorium. This part of the waiting room was emptying, and my mother and I, too, went to the other side. Right next to an elderly gentleman who was hacking up a lung.

We'd been there three and a half hours, and I was in a great deal of pain. I whined to my mother for a moment, then went back to the nurse in the little room and asked him to remove my IV.

My mother drove me to Gilbert Hospital on Power Road, where they say it's door to doc in 31 minutes. Only six or so people sat in the waiting room and none of them were losing bodily fluids. A kind, well-dressed young woman asked me a few questions and printed out a bracelet for me. No sooner was it on my wrist than I was taken back. One nurse took my vitals while another asked me a series of questions - and put my answers into the computer. Then I was taken back to a room. An actual room with a heavy wooden door. I changed into the gown they gave me and a nurse started an IV and took some blood. A doctor came in. Both he and the nurses knew my answers to their questions from looking at the computer. Fifteen minutes later I was getting a CT scan and an hour after I'd arrived, I had a diagnosis (a kidney stone and infection) and I'd been given an antibiotic shot. Then they sent me on my merry way with a prescription.

I don't have any funny points to make and there is no moral to this story (although it's obvious which hospital I'd recommend) but, seriously, vomiting in the waiting room? That was pretty bad. I'm just saying.

01 July 2009

Pam's problems blow.

I recently read an article about how this summer has been bad for retailers, and how they’re not doing as well as usual, and how markdowns that usually take place in August took place in June. The article is here if you’re interested.

I’m sure it’s a fascinating article that makes a number of good points about … oh, I don’t know, the economy or the weather or something like that. I’m not sure, really. I got distracted when the article introduced me to Pam MacWilliams.

Pity poor pam. The economy has been tough on her family. Says the article, “She's spent only $200 this month on clothes for her family, compared with about $600 a year ago.”

Um, excuse me? $600 a month? Multiply that out and the woman spends $7200 a year on clothing. $7200. A year. On clothing.
Oh, Pammy. May I ask why? Why do you need to spend $600 a month on clothing? Does a new month necessitate a new wardrobe? Are January’s sweaters not good enough for February? Are your children taking growth hormones so that none of their clothes fit them from month to month? Does your weight fluctuate enough week to week that you need new clothing that often? Are you unable to pass by an item of clothing you like without buying it in every color? And where in the name of arse do you store $7200 a year worth of clothing? Is an extra bedroom serving as a closet?

Ah, but Pam doesn’t need to worry about storage space. Do you know why? She has a lake house. The article goes on: “She also hasn't loaded up her lake house with the usual summer accessories like blowup toys.”

I hate to repeat myself, but excuse me? A bloody lake house? You want to cut expenses, start with the lake house. And what happened to last summer’s blowup toys? The ones she loaded up the lake house with in 2008? Do blowup toys have an expiration date? Are last summer’s toys no longer fun or useful? Are her children (hopped up, perhaps, on those growth hormones) such terrors that they destroy a lake house full of blowup toys each summer?

The article quotes Pam. "I thought that the economy would turn faster," said MacWilliams. "I had high expectations. Now, I want to save more."

You want to save more? Sell the bloody lake house. Make your children wear something more than twice before buying them new ones. Something tells me that a woman who buys new blowup toys for the lake house every year and blows seven grand a year on clothing isn’t going to make her precious children wear the same swimsuit every time they swim. Her daughters probably have a swimsuit for every day of the week each, with a matching blowup toy.

You want to save more, Pam? You’re worried about the economy? Cry me a river. I’ve been unemployed since August. I spend less than $200 a YEAR on clothing. I’ve had the same swimsuit since I was twenty, and I haven’t bought any blowup toys since 2003. I don’t have a lake house. I live with my mother. And I can’t afford a vacation to Manhattan. Oh, did I not mention it? Pam is a tourist from Oshkosh, Wisconsin. She was interviewed during a trip to New York.

You know what irritates me the most, I think? Not Pam, although she irritates me plenty. What irritates me the most is that the AP reporter who wrote this story thought Pam was a good person to talk to about the economy. Pam, a woman who is not only gainfully employed but who is married to a man who is also gainfully employed. A woman with a bloody lake house. The reporter thought that this woman represented concerned Americans and their economic woes.

Well, you know what, Pam? You know what, Associated Press? My aging blowup toys and I spit in your general direction, and we don’t consider any of what you had to say as news.

30 June 2009


I bought one of these and it saved my life. Also, the lives of several dogs that would have been shot. Or poisoned. Or a combination of the two, because I'm not confident enough in my math skills or my aim to leave it to one of those to shut the dogs up.

But I don't have to. Which means no jail time for me!

22 June 2009

Have It Your Way

I went to Burger King a few days ago.

My mother was driving, because I am morally opposed to speaking into a box and too lazy to get out of the car and go inside to order.

Where was I?

Right. Burger King.

The Kia in front of us seemed to be taking a long time. Like, three full minutes, which doesn’t sound like much, but if you were to stop and count to 180, you’d realize that’s an inordinate amount of time to spend ordering food.

“What’s taking them so long?” I asked. “This is Burger King. They sell hamburgers and French fries. How hard is it to order a hamburger and French fries?”

I mean, there are only so many variations on a burger and fries. Even if the car’s occupants wanted crispy chicken and onion rings, that would only account for an extra five or six seconds as the order-taker looks for a less-familiar button on the register.

Still, the Kia sat. I stared at the picture of the Angry Whopper on the menu board. I began to empathize with the Whopper. I was getting pretty angry, myself. And hungry.

“Maybe each burger is special-order,” my mother suggested.

I couldn’t argue there. You are supposed to be able to have it “Your Way” after all. Of course, my way involves a lot less time burning ever-more-expensive gasoline in the drive-thru, but I digress.

Finally, the Kia pulled forward, and we pulled up to the box. The previous order was still on the screen. I expected to see a long list of food, each item special-ordered, but was surprised to find that they’d ordered only about five things – burgers and fries all.

“Well what the heck took them so long?” I asked.

My mother knew better than to answer me.

After a moment, a man’s voice came out of the box.

“Welcome to Burger King, would you like to try a value meal today?”

“Yes, I’d like a number 4, no cheese, ketchup only,” my mother said slowly and carefully. I always get a number 4, no cheese, ketchup only, but sometimes this falls beyond the comprehension of the average fast-food employee. “Large size, with a root beer.”

There was silence.

“Okay, that’s a number 1. Would you like cheese on that?”


“No, a number four, no cheese,” my mother corrected.

Silence. Then, a woman’s voice. “Okay, what size and what to drink?”


I always find it a bit disconcerting when a man takes my order and a woman repeats it back, or vice versa. I always hope that they’ve been communicating with each other. They didn’t seem to have been.

The car behind us inched closer to our bumper, apparently in the hope that if he hit us, we’d get a move on.

My mother repeated the order. It had become abundantly clear why the Kia had taken so long to order.

We pulled up behind the Kia at the window. The fact that the Kia was still at the window sort of worried me, considering how long as it had taken us to order. I wondered if, inside, they were still peeling potatoes for the fries.

The driver of the Kia was handed a large sack. I could see the driver digging through the bag. I can’t say I blamed him. Finally, he pulled away and we moved up to the window.

They had our total right, that was reassuring. Then the woman who opened the window spoke.

“You wanted a Coke, right?”

16 June 2009

“How exciting to be present at the birth of a new phobia.” – Niles Crane

Ladies and gentlemen, I just got even more lovably neurotic. I have developed a delightful new phobia.

You wouldn’t think such a thing was even possible, considering I have about thirty-seven phobias already. What more could I possibly have to worry about?

Barking dogs.

I don’t know if it’s because the weather’s been in the double digits lately, or if there’s been a rip in the space-time continuum or if there’s a disturbance in the force. I don’t know why, really. But I do know that in the past week I have heard more barking than I have heard in the past … oh, year or so. All of a sudden, the dogs in my neighborhood can’t keep their yaps shut.

My neighbor, Zippy the Pinhead, has two or three of those nasty little fuzzy crap machines – pomegranates or whatever they’re called. I’m not sure why. I’ve never seen him or the vampire chick that used to live there or Bobby Hill or the ugly beer-drinking chick go anywhere near the dogs. No one walks them. No one pets them. No interaction. And every so often, perhaps in protest, one or more of them will start yapping.

The yapping I can handle. My father had them trained, Pavlov-like, to run into their house when our back door opened (he spent months using a powerful spray bottle full of water shooting each dog when the noise got bad). They don’t do that anymore, but I’ve found that they respond rather well to me shouting “Shut up!” at them. Also, I know the exact address of next door so if the dogs don’t shut up I can always call the police.

The booming bark is new.

A few weeks ago at 11:15 it started and didn’t stop until my mother called the police. The next morning it started again. The police were summoned again. The barking stopped. I didn’t hear any barking for about a week. I thought perhaps the police had put the fear of God into the dog’s owner. But a few days ago it started again. At 3am. And again at 4am. Then this morning at 6:30. This dog barks whenever it wants, for as long as it wants to, and the owners seem to neither know nor care.

I can no longer relax.

I spend an unprecedented amount of time worrying that barking is going to start at any point. I dread coming home from stores and events because I think, I’m going to sit down to relax and then the barking will start. I dread going to sleep because I think, as soon as I’m mostly asleep, the barking will start. I’ve been wearing earplugs but I don’t know how much I trust them to keep things quiet in my head. I realized a few days ago how fixated I have become on the possibility of barking and I decided to keep track of it. I made a note of the time each time the paranoid fear hit me. Here’s a sample day:

(out of house for a while)
(out of house)

That is, I believe, at least 70 times. And that was just when I had a pen and paper handy.

I’m not sure what to call this new phobia – the fear that sometime soon a dog will start barking – but I think I’ve got enough empirical evidence here that it does in fact exist. If you can think of a good name for it, let me know. But speak loudly – I’m wearing earplugs.

10 June 2009

Nine months

Yesterday (the ninth) marked the nine-month anniversary of my father's death.

I can't believe it's been nine months. Some days it feels like it's been years since he's been gone. Other days it feels like hours. I can still remember everything very clearly - the day he died, and the eleven days before it. The day he lost consciousness (August 29th) is especially clear in my mind. In some ways it feels like he died that day. His brain did, I suppose. He had the stroke on Friday. When my mom and I saw the MRI on Monday, we knew he was gone. The doctor said the white areas were dead spots. The image was blanketed in white spots.

I knew earlier, though. On the 29th, when we couldn't wake him up. We called 911 and the ambulance came, sirens blaring. I met the EMTs in the driveway. They came in. They took his blood pressure. It was 60/40. When I heard those numbers, I knew then and there he wasn't going to wake up.

The EMTs had my dad strapped to a stretcher. They asked if we had a hospital preference. They took him away. That was a Friday. One week later, in the hospital, the nurses took out his breathing tube. Again, an ambulance came. They took him to the hospice we'd visited earlier that week.

On Tuesday, September 9th, another ambulance took him away. They didn't use sirens that time.

How has it been nine months already? Where did the time go? I've done so little with it. I've had so little energy.

I bought my dad a Homer Simpson card for Father's Day last year. I feel the strange compulsion to buy a card this year. Why? What on earth would I do with it? I don't know, but the urge is there just the same. Habit, I suppose. I've bought one every year that I can remember. It seems strange I don't need to buy one this year. That I'll never need to buy one again. I think my dad's birthday will be hard, too, especially since it'll mark two years since the initial diagnosis.

Brain cancer, I'd thought. Who the hell gets brain cancer? It seemed unfair. Why did it have to be my daddy? He thought differently.

"Why not me?" he'd say. "Am I so special that I can't get a brain tumor? I'm no better than anyone else."

But he was, in so many ways and for so many reasons.

I miss him so much.

04 June 2009

Insert bear-related pun here

I went to the zoo a few days ago. I got a Sno-Cone. Sno-Cones are the sort of thing that seem exciting at first but then you sit down with one and you think, I spent three bucks on this? Mine kept melting and dripping onto the picnic table I was sitting at.

But I like the zoo. I don’t know if it’s on purpose or not, but at the Phoenix Zoo you have to do a lot of walking to see not a lot of animals (so it makes for good exercise if nothing else). I don’t mind too much because the animals have large habitats instead of little cages or fenced-off yards or anything like that. They’ve all got plenty of room to … do whatever it is that animals in zoos do. And there are unusually large squirrels all over the place, as there’s ample room to frolic. The meerkat exhibit was full of squirrels. I didn’t see any meerkats. Maybe the squirrels, hopped up on Sno-Cone juice, ate them all.

When you first get in to the zoo, if you keep going straight ahead, past the carousel, you get to a little African savanna area with four or five giraffes, a number of alarmingly large birds (not emus – I’m talking vultures), and a few odd ungulates. The giraffes are terribly curious, especially the younger one (little guy, probably only 11 feet tall). It kept looking around at all the people on the other side of the fence as if he was thinking, “Oh, look, they’ve got humans on display today. I love those things.” I got some really good pictures. I like to spend a bit of time at the Savanna because from there, it’s a good five-to-seven minute walk to see another living creature if you head to the left. And that’s assuming you can spot one of the bighorn sheep on the mountains. I saw one once, when I was on the road on the way home.


I have been to the zoo probably eight times in my life. I have wandered from one end to the other and I have seen almost every animal on exhibit, with one notable exception: I have never seen a bear.

If their website can be believed, the Phoenix Zoo is home to at least one spectacled bear. I learned all about spectacled bears from watching “Go, Diego, Go!” at my last job. Something tells me they don’t actually talk in real life and would be more apt to rip Diego to shreds (this is the only thought that kept me going during my 100th viewing of the DVD). Anyway, according to the zoo’s map, the spectacled bear exhibit is in between those for the anteater and the capybara (world’s largest rodent!). I have been by the exhibit several times. It’s a nice little patch of land with lots of trees and rocks and vegetation, but something seems to be missing, or at least it’s been missing the times I’ve checked.

I have never seen a bear.

I have spent the better part of 20 minutes scouring every inch of the enclosure. I have walked by at different times of day. I have checked for signs that the exhibit was closed. And I have never, not once, seen any signs that there is indeed a bear living there.

I have a theory about it, actually. It’s a very nice enclosure, as I’ve mentioned. I’m sure it wasn’t cheap. So I think that the zoo poured a lot of money into putting it together, and then when it came down to it, they didn’t have the money left over to get an actual bear to put there. So it’s been empty all this time, and they think that no one is going to notice, that people will just figure the bear is in the back or napping somewhere and no one will be the wiser.

Well, Phoenix Zoo, you’re not fooling me. I’ve never seen a bear, and I’m not going to be satisfied until it’s been proven conclusively that there is indeed a bear in all that foliage. I want proof, Zoo people, and when you’re ready to give it to me, come find me. I’ll be the one by the Sno-Cone stand taking pictures of squirrels.

Separated at birth?

New "Burn Notice" tonight at 9.

28 May 2009

Writer's block and tiny cats

It occurred to me a few days ago that I hadn't posted anything new in a while. I buried that information in the back of my brain for later review and it only just came up again.

I haven't been able to put together anything coherent lately. I don't know why. I certainly haven't run out of things to complain about. Plenty of things irritate me, particularly when I'm hungry.

I'm working on a few good rants, but in the mean time, here are a few things that popped into my head this week. They may or may not be funny. Or interesting.

-When did John Cougar Mellencamp dump the "Cougar" from his name? I think that, considering the pop-culture phenomenon that is the "cougar" he ought to put it back in there. Capitalize on the trend while he can.
-It rained last week. I was looking forward to a good rain because my car is a mess. It rained enough to clean most of the dirt off my car, but not the bird poop. I don't know what those birds around here are eating, but something in their excrement, when mixed with the finish of my Cavalier, formed a powerful epoxy and that stuff isn't coming off without a fight.
I put a feeder in my backyard, and *this* is the thanks I get. Stupid birds.
-My “Check Engine” light has been on since I took my car home from the shop a few months ago. You’d think they would have checked the engine while they were fixing everything else. The light didn’t actually turn on until I’d driven about two miles from the shop.
I’ve decided to “fix” it by putting a piece of electrical tape over it.
-Why does the media always make a big deal about how popular and athletic and smart a missing/killed teenager is/was? Would it be less of a tragedy if some fat, stupid loser was killed by a drunk driver? Is it a matter of not wanting to speak ill of the dead, or do people just not care what happens to unpopular people? Nancy Grace talked yesterday (I changed the channel as fast as I could) about a "beautiful young wife and mother" who was killed by her husband. So would it be okay if she was a single, childless hag? I think to Nancy it would because Nancy doesn't talk about the ugly victims of crime on her program. Ever. If Natalee Holloway had been hook-nosed and greasy-haired and overweight, Nancy wouldn't have given the story air time. Neither would anyone else have.
-Last night I saw a commercial for a nasal spray for allergies. To illustrate how pet dander irritates the sinuses, the ad featured a tiny kitten dancing around under a large, disembodied nose.
I know I hate it when tiny cats frolic under my nose. Of course I'm not sure how I feel about the solution offered in another ad: an army of tiny CG men marching a nasal allergy spray towards my nostril. That worries me a little as well. Maybe the tiny army men could take on the tiny cats, and that way I wouldn't have to take any medication.
-Speaking of which, side effects are getting scarier and scarier. One new nasal spray carries with it the risk of a hole in the nasal septum. I'm not 100% certain of the purpose of the nasal septum, but something tells me it's important and that I'd rather just have nasal allergy symptoms than a hole burnt through the sucker.
-Can anyone give me a reasonable explanation for the current pop culture obsession with zombies? I don't know, maybe it's because my father died of brain cancer last year, but I don't understand the appeal of the dead rising in various stages of decomposition with the purpose of emptying our living skulls. Why would I want that on a t-shirt or a mug or a bumper sticker?
Of course, I didn't get the whole pirate trend either and I don't have a compelling reason for that. Although my ex's pirate fixation doesn't exactly endear the pirate movement to me. My ex is ... let's call him a rotten sack of crap and leave it at that, since my mother reads this.
And pirates? Yeah, guess what folks, they still exist, and they commit horrible atrocities. A British man was brutally beaten to death, in front of his wife, by pirates. Maybe we shouldn't glorify that, okay, Disney? Johnny Depp? Y'all got it?
-There was a big to-do on the news about how swine flu deaths now number 100 or something like that. Yeah, okay, that's sad, but do you know how many people die every year of the regular flu? 20,000. Why aren't we keeping tabs on that?
-I'm sick of hearing about how Mancow Muller has decided, after experiencing it, that waterboarding is torture, for the sole reason that when I hear the name "Mancow" I get this nasty mental picture of a grotesque man-cow hybrid. Can we just call him by his real name of Eric and leave it at that?
-Why do they spend ten minutes discussing the heat on the news? We live in Phoenix. It gets hot. That's not news. If the heat is news to you, maybe you ought to finish moving your belongings out from under that rock before you worry yourself with the news. Phoenix is hot. It's always been hot, it will always be hot.
And you know what? It hasn't been as hot as it usually is! That's news. Shove that in your pipe and smoke it, Royal Norman.
And, finally ...
-Words I do not ever want to hear again: bromance, sexting, waterboarding, BFF, swine flu, twilight, Jonas Brothers.
Thank you.

17 May 2009

In Your Face … book.

I will admit to being vain enough that I have “friended” people on Facebook just to see my number of friends go up. I won’t send out requests, myself, but I have accepted friend requests from people I don’t really care about.

For the most part, it hasn’t been a problem. Most people don’t spend an inordinate amount of time or effort on their Facebook profiles, and it’s easy enough to hide updates on Mafia Wars or other applications that I find inane.

But there are a few friends I have – one in particular, who shall remain nameless – who don’t fit into that “most people” category, and whose updates I am seriously considering hiding on my friend feed. This one friend is someone I haven’t seen in the better part of nine years, someone who I was only acquainted with in high school. And yet I know more about her personal life than I do about clipper cuts, and I’m a licensed hairstylist.

This person – let’s call her “Jane” – is under the mistaken impression that everyone she has friended on Facebook is on tenterhooks for more intimate details of her stunningly unremarkable life. You know that video, “The Trouble with Twitters,” where people Tweet things like “Watching TV with my cat” and “I forgot how much I like pickles?” Well, Jane is like that on Facebook. Nothing is too unimportant for a status update, including household chores and her husband’s bowel movements.

For instance, Jane recently baked a fruit-filled cake. How do I know this? Because she had no less than three status updates about said cake, and a photo album of the cake and the people who ate it. We see Jane in the kitchen. Jane mixing the cake batter. Jane pouring the batter into a cake pan. Jane adding the fruit filling. Jane putting the cake into the oven. The cake coming out of the oven. The cake on a cooling rack on the counter. The cake being iced. The cake being decorated. The decorated cake. Several women standing around the cake, smiling. Jane next to the cake she baked. Someone slicing the cake. Someone holding a slice of cake. Someone putting a forkful of cake into her mouth. And several more random shots of … you guessed it. The cake. I exaggerate a bit, but there were nearly twenty pictures in the album and I got a little teary-eyed at the thought that some poor bandwidth somewhere died to put those pictures on the internet.

And the status updates? “Just baked a yummy cake!” “Everyone loved the cake!” “Fruit filling is so yummy!” I’m paraphrasing here, but you get the idea. To hear Jane tell the story, it all started in a Betty Crocker mix factory in Des Moines.
You know what, Jane? It’s a bloody cake. And no one cares.

The cake is only the most recent of her over sharing. Every single picture she has ever taken is on an album on her profile. Yes, your baby may be cute (in an awkward, let’s-hope-he-grows-into-his-looks sort of way), but do I really need to see ten nearly identical photographs of him making funny faces? Here he is in a diaper, smiling. Here he is in a diaper, smiling again. And here he is, this time smiling, in a diaper. I don’t mean to sound cruel, here. But I don’t even know the kid. If I had more than three similar-looking photos of my own nephew, I’d get a little bored. And this woman has more than thirty photo albums on her profile, each more superfluous than the last.

And I have noticed that the people who clog up my friend feed the most (Jane and those like her) seem to have the worst grammar and spelling. I’m reasonably certain these people have graduated from high school, but I’d never guess that if I were to judge on their ability to put more than three words together. These are the people who randomly ad Os to the word “so” in an effort to convey emotion. “I am sooooooooo excited!!!!!!!!!!!” They might say. Because they also enjoy overusing punctuation marks. After all, they think, if one exclamation mark means I’m excited, then twenty of them must mean I’m super (or sometimes suuuperrrrrr) excited. Exclamation mark! My recent rant about grammar and spelling was a direct result of too many illegible status updates by two specific people.

I don’t mean to pick on oversharers like Jane, though. There are plenty of other annoying friend habits that make me want to log off for good (although I’ll concede that some of it has to do with how Facebook is set up). There’s the obsessive quiz-taking that several friends practice. I have hidden many of them from my feed, but, like a particularly virulent strain of the Hantavirus, for every one quiz I stamp out three more seem to emerge in its place. No offense, Facebook friends, but I don’t give a crap what color your aura is, what supernatural creature you are, who your Twilight soulmate is, or what your Native American/Redneck/French/Scottish name is. You’re a fan of not being shot in the face? Of not catching on fire? Congratulations. You’ve acquired common sense. Now, how about becoming a fan of shutting the heck up?

I’m not saying I’m perfect and none of my updates are ever annoying. I’ll admit to being guilty of some of this, myself. I had to find out what Golden Girl I am (Dorothy). But I do those for me. Half the time I don’t post my results on my wall, and I figure when I do it annoys people so I limit myself to one, maybe two a week. And I post other things. I’ve found that I’m most annoyed by repeated quiz-taking when it’s done by people who never do anything else on Facebook. I have friends I know nothing useful about, but I could tell you what their Barbie name is, and that annoys me.

So take heed, potential Facebook friends. I will accept your friend request, yes. But I can only hold back my snarky commentary for so long, and if it’s only a matter of time before you post one too many cake pictures, beware. I will comment. And I will not hold back the snark.