Friday, April 30, 2010

Game Delay Due to Rain

Sorry folks. The weather has been hit or miss. My finances have been hit or miss. My mood has been hit or miss. My symptoms have been hit or miss.

All in all, it has been a roller coaster week and I have had to focus my energies elsewhere. In case you didn't know, I have about 2 - 4 hours worth of energy a day. Usually that comes to me in the morning. This week I have helped a friend out by babysitting her six month old for a few hours. The kid sleeps as much as I do so it worked out pretty well. My job sent me an application for Long Term Disability. I spent a few hours filling that out. I pouted a bit and cried on the phone to my mom which ate up a few more hours. Sadly, you, my dear peeps, have been neglected. I have story ideas and keep sitting down to start posting, but I get overwhelmed at the idea of writing out a story. I start to write a bunch of nonsense, but when I am not in a whimsical mood, they don't really come out well.

It is the same in real life. I have a very dry, sarcastic wit. When I am full of life and energy, I can pull it off because I am careful to watch everyone's responses and make sure they are getting that I am telling a joke. When I am tired or moody, I just piss people off and hurt their feelings. I forget to smile and they think I am just being mean. I don't know why. I can't remember a time in my adulthood when I have actually made fun of someone else. It goes against my nature to build people up. Why people would ever think I would say something intentionally degrading is beyond me.

Ah well, the point is I have learned my lesson. Which means you get stories or nothing at all! (I write as I totally negate the statement with this entire post.) I did make mini apple pies this week. I have been craving them, but I make them from scratch. I finally decided to try making the crust in my food processor. I figured it didn't matter if it turned out too badly, it would still be pie. And I like pie! As it works out, minus the cooking time, I made a pie in 15 minutes. This is not good. It cannot be that easy for me to make pie! And it gets worse.

After I devoured the first one I made, I was still craving more. This time the crust was already made. So, I made another one in about 10 minutes and ate it too. I cannot have that kind of temptation sitting around! Unfortunately in my pie craving madness, I bought a 5 lb bag of Granny Smith apples. Each pie takes one apple. I have six apples left. Plus, I still have crust in the refrigerator! Hmmm, I think I have to go now. To make pie. Because pie is 4th on my list of true loves after Goldie, Bacon and Batman. I wonder what Bacon Pot Pie would taste like?

Yeah, I gotta go. Now.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Men love to play with kitchen utensils

Another pay per blog. This one I have "guest" blogger write the ad and then I copy and paste. I'll probably update this later with a real blog. Or delete it and start over. You never know. I have received one offer to write a post about a website that doesn't actually work. I'm not so confident about the reputability. However, knowing the type of readers I have, we might have fun reading the *ahem* marketing ideas of others!

Edit: This is not for an ad. It is a test post to prove I own this blog so that I can get set up to receive ads. Also, I keep forgetting to say that in case you haven't noticed, I removed Google ads from my pages. They were ugly. They lied when they said I would get paid for traffic as well as clicks. I felt no need to let them advertise for free on my blog if they weren't going to pay me. In short, I felt used and icky.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Silver Tongued Devil

Today is Brother R's birthday. I don't have a lot of money these days, so I thought I would use this blog to pay tribute to him. When I first started writing this blog, I made him read it so that I could get his approval before circulating it among the masses. He loves to write. He even published his own magazine.

This magazine, The Trucktacular, was a huge success. He only stopped doing it because it became too much work to do on his own. It was pretty much a blog in paper form. He filled it with stories about people he knew. He had a question and answer section with his dwarf character from World of Warcraft whose answer to everything included use of an axe. There were interviews with random people in his life including his 7 year old daughter. There was a recount of his weekly basketball game that was retold in a way that even I, a total sportsophobe, looked forward to reading. The best was a monthly in depth account of a local gang war titled, "The Corporation Vs. The Working Man." He allowed us a rare insight into the gritty rivalry that had pitted his box store warehouse co-workers against his brother and wife's office coworkers. There were beat downs, kidnappings and turf invasions as each gang tried to establish their superiority. There are not many published authors who can make me laugh as hard as I did reading those accounts.

I just can't sit here and describe his writing. I am going to reprint my favorite episode for the rest of you. Please note that his style is to use everyone's real names as well as nicknames making the stories are more personal. I do the opposite in my blog so I will just use nicknames wherever possible and initials when they are not. Mostly because I haven't even met some of these people and don't particularly want to get sued. Without further ado today's surprise (as much to him as anyone else) guest writer Brother R.

The Corporation Vs. The Working Man
Tales of a Secret War
Episode 2 (In Episode 1, The Lockbox Corporation had gone to Bullseye Mart and was attacked with various products by The Truckabee gang.)

Disclaimer: Corporation names have been changed to protect the innocent.

The Truckabees knew that they had started an all out war with The Lockbox Corporation and knew they were always going to be in danger. The day would come where a bloody unneeded battle would take place and people would die. Cobra could not let this happen. He knew that if he went alone to the Lockbox Corporation headquarters he might be able to reach some kind of truce with his brother. He also thought that since it was during business hours it would be less likely to get a beat down.

As he waited in the lobby for MF to come down, he was noticeably nervous. Ding. The elevator doors opened and the younger F brother stood inside. But he was not alone. His "friend" MC was with him along with a man called EB. EB was a man that had a past with Cobra. Once friends, they turned into bitter enemies over a questionable homerun call at a whiffle ball tournament. EB swore it cleared the fence and was in fair territory while Cobra thought it was the opposite. Needless to say this was an explosive relationship.

"I thought maybe we could reach a truce, so that none of your people would have to miss any work time." Cobra spoke with an arrogant smile.

"How bout this?" EB leaped across the room and slapped a figure four leg lock on him instead. MF ran over and dropped an elbow right on top of his head for good measure. Cobra looked up at the receptionist, hoping that she was on the phone with the police so that a little justice might prevail. He was quite shocked to see her laughing and pointing as the Lockbox employees imposed their will on him. Finally, MC ran over and said that they should stop before they went too far. Then he laughed, kicked Cobra in his rock hard abs and slapped him in his face.

"You guys wanna throw soup cans at people?" Matt asked as he opened a thermos and began to dump it out on a now semi-conscious Cobra. "Well, here is some soup. And it's split pea. HAHAHAHAHAHA!"

I guess it was clear in the mind of Cobra that there was going to be no truce. This thing had already become more explosive than even he had thought. As he crawled out the doors of the enormous office building, he had but one thing on his mind. Revenge!

Cobra struggled to get to his car, but finally did make it. He grabbed out his cell, and placed a call to his colleague, The Incredible Bulk. The Bulk couldn't believe his ears. A three on one beat down? That was more Truckabee style than anything. "Don't worry chief, I got the payback taken care of."

"Hello," Bulk said on one end of the phone. "Yeah, we have a bit of a situation. Yeah, they got cobra. Three on one. I know, that's more our style. OK I am on my way to pick you up."

4:55 PM Lockbox corporation Headquarters

Work was over for MF and he was on his way out of the building headed to his car. It was dark now and there was a weird feeling in the air. Unfortunately for MF he didn't park in the parking garage. No, it was too full, so he parked down the road. This had the mark of trouble written all over it.

"Hello MF." A dark and mysterious voice came out of the bushes. "I hear you like to fight unfair wars against solid citizens of this country. Well I am here to even the score up."

A tasty guitar riff began to play. The Elbow jumped out of the bushes with guitar in tow. Behind him, tripping while exiting the bushes was TruckaD. He had some hot bacon in his hand. "These odds look a little bit better." Cobra was speaking with The Bulk at his side.

"You think I didn't know you Truckalosers would be out here?" MF snapped his fingers. MC and EB jumped out from behind the bushes on the other side of the street. (Man, there are a lot of bushes in Salem.) Then he whistled and two women jumped out of the backseat of MF's car. It was Cobra's wife, EF and her BFFL SM.

The line in the sand was drawn and each group was trying to stare a hole right through the other. Just then The Elbow started a solo on his sweet musical instrument of choice. The Truckabees seemed almost possessed now. Their eyes were red and they didn't look like themselves. TruckaD threw his hot greasy bacon and hit MC right in the face. "My eyes!" MC screamed. "You got bacon grease in my eyes."

EB was now looking right at The Elbow and started playing air guitar to some KISS song he had in his head. The Elbow stopped to check out how frickin' sweet EB's moves were. That was all the chance EF and SM needed. EF pulled The Elbow's hair and SM tried to scratch out his eyeballs.

Seeing his opportunity Cobra grabbed MF and held him as The Bulk was about to take a vicious swing. But then a voice was heard by a man passing by. "Hey guys, what you up to?"

It was DM, SM's husband. "Yes!" Both SM and Cobra yelled at the same time. "What do you mean yes?" SM asked. "He is my husband and he will fight on our side."

"Your crazy." Cobra told the delusional Mrs. M. "He is my best friend and a former Bullseye Mart employee, he is obviously going to fight on our side."

"Well?" SM asked as she peered into his soul. "You have to decide."

"Yeah buddy," Cobra pleaded. "You are going to have to pick a side."


(OK, I will at least resolve the major cliff hanger with the first bit of Episode 3, "Danny's Decision" since none of you probably have access. As for the battle, no one ever really wins a fight.)

Episode 3

DM was deemed The Franchise by Cobra back in the late nineties because of the promise he showed right from the beginning. These two kids became the best of friends right from day one. They spent countless hours playing PlayStation and running plays down on the Courthouse basketball floor. But his life was now with his wife, SM. How could friendship compete with love? I mean sure Cobra and The Franchise just stood there between the proverbial rock and a hard place. What could he do? He had to break someone's heart. So he did the only logical thing. He turned and ran as fast as he could and he didn't stop until he got home. And even then he went straight into his bedroom and hid under the bed.


So, that is my brother. I am going to send him this link for his birthday. Please take some time to make a comment below to wish him a Happy Birthday and tell him how awesome you think he is.

I love you bro!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

How Insanity Is Keeping Me Sane, a Public Service Announcement

I love Allie. Who is Allie? She is the author of a riotous blog called Hyperbole and a Half. Her posts are twice as long as mine which makes me feel better about writing out my stories in full instead of trying to edit them down to keep people's interests. I have been reading her entire blog from start to finish and it has kept me entertained for days. At this point, I am only a third of the way through, so I have plenty of distraction for my fifth month of mono ahead. I am sharing the following with you because it it awesome for two reasons:

1. She actually writes an ironic statement that uses irony correctly. For those of you who may have forgotten, I hate the word ironic. I can now stop hating that word out of ignorant fear because of her. Anytime I start to have a panic attack or feel that my head is going to explode when I try to think about the word ironic, I will simply go back to her post that I have bookmarked and be able to face the world again with confidence.

2. She writes out what it is like to have ADHD and I swear I almost peed myself reading it. It is really long, but so true I couldn't stand it. If you want to know what it is like to be in my head, read this and make two substitutions. a) exchange her being out of work for my mono. b) exchange her process of driving for my process of riding the bus. It doesn't sound like a fair trade, but considering the bus stops 1/4 of a block from my house and 1 block from the bank, you can see how simple it should be to walk out the door at the right time and complete a simple errand.

In all seriousness if you have ever wondered why the crap your loved one with ADD cannot handle a simple task, read this. I swear she is not exaggerating.

I am NOT a Drug Addict So Stop Thinking That if You Were and Don't Start Thinking it if You Weren't Already, Okay? Also, This Post Kind of Starts Out Lame and Then Picks Up Steam, so Keep Reading

You're welcome.

PS I don't get offended by this stuff, but in case you do, she uses the F-word once and the S-word once. I counted. Just for you. Another you're welcome.

And Now a Visit From Chef Gordon Ramsey

More fun in dreamland!

Last night I dreamed that I was a contestant on Hell's Kitchen. The weird part was that it all took place at my Uncle & Aunt's house. They weren't there, but my cousins from Hide & Seek were. While the it was on the same property, it was a completely different house. I only know it was in the same place because I could see the front yard from the kitchen window. Ramsey was upstairs in another kitchen with a bunch of contestants. The contest had him taking us one by one into this tiny little pantry-kitchen about 6x6. It had a stove lining one wall and a sink lining the opposite wall, leaving very little room for Gordon and one other person. Things were crazy and everyone else was tense, but I was just relaxed and waiting for my turn.

Since I wasn't up for a while, I decided to go downstairs to the main kitchen to get coffee. It was early in the morning and being the nice person that I am, I asked everyone else if they would like me to bring them a cup. I popped my head into the pantry/kitchen and asked Gordon if he would like some as well. He actually looked touched.

Then he decided to throw me another test and asked me to make him breakfast. Instead of telling me what he wanted, he started speaking French and gave me a list of ingredients. I told him I wouldn't be able to remember everything by the time I got downstairs. I was also desperately looking around for paper and pencil to write it all down when he looked at me and said, "Look at me. Now, concentrate Love, you can do this, yeah?" This was followed by a second list of ingredients this time in a French accent. As I went downstairs, I realized that the first list was in English but with the accent and weird phrasing I hadn't recognized all the ingredients. I started repeating the list so that I wouldn't forget them. Potatoes, pencil onions, sausage and oregano.

When I got to the downstairs kitchen, I was horrified to see that the kitchen was a mess and everything I needed had already been used. There had been another challenge taking place in this kitchen. It had been led by Gordon's very yummy sous chef, Scott Liebfried. I looked around for something I could use. There was a prep bowl of green onions, sausage meatballs and a pan of cooked hashbrowns. I figured that was just about everything he had asked for so I would go from there. E and T were sitting at the table in the breakfast nook eating the remains of the challenge. I asked them if they thought there were any other onions around. They told me to help myself to whatever was in the fridge and then they left for work. I opened the refrigerator to see if I could find white onion. I found more raw sausage meat balls and patties.

I thought about using them, but they had been mixed with red and green peppers. I didn't have time to pick them out and I didn't think that would go with the oregano. I saw a lot of red onions that looked like they had been cut into rings for hamburgers. I rejected those out of hand because I wouldn't be able to cook them long enough to without overcooking the rest. There were a bunch of ends of white and yellow onions scattered throughout the fridge but they were all moldy. As I opened the vegetable crisper and saw the green onions, it hit me that they were shaped like pencils if you thought of the white part as an eraser. Pencil onions must have been a French description of green onions.

Realizing I had everything I needed I went back to the stove. The first thing I did was look through the sausage balls for all the undercooked ones. Apparently in every contest someone invariably undercooks the meal. I was starting to prep everything to cook when Scott came over and asked what I was doing. When I explained the situation to him, he jumped in and offered to help. As long as he only followed my directions, it wasn't cheating for him to do the cooking. It occurred to me at this point in the dream that Gordon and Scott were nicer to me than everyone else because I stirred up less drama. I asked him to cut away the outsides of both the hashbrowns and the sausage balls. I wanted to use the insides as they would be less likely to get overcooked.

I started looking for oregano on the spice shelf; I kept finding rosemary instead. I decided to use fresh oregano when it appeared before me and started worrying about how I was going to present the dish when it was finished. I also realized that I would have to somehow infuse the fresh oregano into the already cooked product in order for it to have enough flavor. I cut up slices of lemon and threw them into a pot of water to boil with the oregano and set a vegetable steamer over the top with the hashbrowns and sausage. Scott complimented me on my ingeniousness but questioned the consistency of the final product. I assured him that this would keep everything from drying out as it heated up and I would fry it all together before serving it to make it brown and crispy.

When everything was ready to go, I started looking for the dried oregano again. I thought it was ridiculous that a kitchen wouldn't have any. That is when I woke up.

Now I ask you, what kitchen product could I not advertise in this already twisted dream?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Oh Lord, Is This Really My Life?

So, you are getting multiple posts today. For one thing I feel guilty about the ads. For another thing, I am bored out of my mind. I feel like a caged animal. I want to go outside in the beautiful weather before it goes away, but instead I am stuck here on the couch. Luckily I am easily amused once I can distract myself.

Take for instance the ads on my blog. I know actually writing about them is only going to make it worse. But, the crap? Menopause? Low Testosterone? Now I have advertisers trying to diagnose my hormone problems. This is so awesome and humiliating all at once. I only really have myself to blame. Now I am on a mission. I must write about enough things to upset the balance I have already created here.

This will be the ultimate test of my evil genius. I can see if I can predict the ads from my posts. Since I have already subjected all you peeps to multiple posts of randomness, I can't imagine this will make much difference. Oooh, I know. Let's talk about my mom's careless flaunting of power tool safety.

For starters she told me a story the other day about how she saw a neighbor out in the yard mowing his lawn. So she sneaked up behind him to startle him while he was backing up. I laughed hysterically and can't even remember what the actual story was about because I could totally see her doing that. Not a thought of what might happened if he tripped and upset the mower, just pure excitement and getting to make someone jump. The best one was when I went out into the backyard to ask her a question and found her up in a tree.

She was standing in a flower bed on a small 3 or 4 foot stepladder, hanging onto a branch for balance with one hand and a chainsaw in another, while cutting another branch out of said tree. Go back and reread that last sentence and see how many wrong things you can find with that. Shocked and horrified, I yelled at her to get down from there and asked her what she thought she was doing. She said I was being overly dramatic and I had nothing to worry about because she had done it before. I just turned around and went back into the house.

These are only the things I know of. My mom is an awesome carpenter and works with tools all the time. She even built a wall in our old house. And the garage remodeled into a family room was built by her and her father. He had a little carpentry shop in his garage and to this day the smell of cedar reminds me of him. I have no idea where that gene went with her children. I know I don't have it. I can't even hang a picture without help. As near as I can tell both of my sister-in-laws do any building type projects around my brothers' homes. Maybe it is just skipping a generation.

OK, let's see if I can get some Makita ads, Ace Hardware or Home repair. Is it sad that I find this more than a little exciting?

And So It Begins

I have to publish this phrase to prove I own this blog.

The unbalanced discovery boosts the unseen blast.

I do like that it uses the word unbalanced. It is a sign that this will be a good match for me.

Ugh, I am already hating the cheesiness factor of this whole idea.

I Am Not Sure About This

Someone suggested that I enable Adsense on my blog to make money. She also told me that she has made $5.00 in two years. I am going to give it a go and see what happens. I am waiting for approval, the story of my life. I am also looking into a couple of other options. Apparently there are companies that will pay people to blog about their products. Unfortunately the blogs have to be approved by the company before they pay you, so I don't know if that is really going to help me out or not. But that does seem more my style.

Don't worry I will always start the post with a disclaimer letting you know that I wrote it for money. However, I will not be changing my writing style so I will be incorporating my humor, memories, rantings and everything else into the so called advertisement. If you have seen Anne of Green Gables, just think Avril's Atonement. If you haven't seen it, just know that Anne is trying to get a story published but it keeps getting rejected, so her friend submits it to a contest sponsored by a baking soda company. The story wins, Anne is humiliated and says that she doesn't mention the baking soda anywhere. Her friend says she just added that part herself. She inserts the specific brand of baking powder during a cake baking scene and has the lovers credit their eternal love to the baking powder itself.

I figure if I am going to be writing anyway and I can find a product that fits into the story why not? For instance, in Some People Think it is Fun to Make You Wet Your Pants, I could totally mention how if I had self-tanning lotion back then, I would never have been found. I really hope this works because my head is already spinning with ideas for crappy tie ins!

Please let me know in the comments what you think of all of this. In the long run this is a place for me to practice writing. I don't want to lose readers because they find the ads too obnoxious. I'd much rather lose them because they think my writing is too obnoxious.

In the meantime, click on the ads. Just think, every 20 ads you click on, lets me do a load of laundry. For another 20 ads, I can dry them too!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Poo Sandwiches Taste Like Crap!

I feel like a poo sandwich but I don't want to lick myself so I don't know how I taste. I hurt. All over. My eyelids are sore. This is not a good day. I thought I was really getting better and now this. Ugh! I am starting to think that my physical well being is directly related to the weather. It is very weird that how I feel is inversely related to how much sun is out there. Call me crazy, but I can't help but notice. I have acupuncture again tomorrow so maybe I can get him to validate my theory. At the very least I am hoping he smiles and nods politely while I tell him. I am paying him after all.

I am dealing with life right now and it is arguing with me. I am looking at my finances and it has become painfully obvious that I am in over my head. I have no idea when I am going to go back to work and that means no income. I was pretty much treading water before this whole mess struck. And while I have just started to go into debt, I can see that it is going to be an extremely fast ride to the bottom. For the last couple of days, I have been looking into what it would take to sell my condo and move to an apartment. I could get out of debt, save up another down payment and try again later on.

When I got my new job, I knew it was going to be a close shave budget wise. I also knew that I could manage it and I always live within my means. I am starting to see that it may not have been the wisest choice. I am too old and too single to be scraping by every month. I need to get to a financial place where I can go through something like this and not even have to voice more than a "meh." I need to start saving for retirement. I need to have a savings account. I need to start living like I am 35 not 25. Odd how growing up would include selling my home and going back to renting.

I am not making any decisions yet and it will be another couple months before I put it on the market. I like to plan in advance. This way I can mentally go through all my belongings and decide what to purge. That is the other thing. I have too much stuff. When I first moved into this place, I had enough furniture to decorate the master bedroom. Now I have enough to fill it up and the spare bedroom is just acting as a catchall instead of having a purpose. Where did it all come from? I don't know, but I do know where it is going. Away.

This is my life, or as Goldie says in Overboard "Yes, (sigh) I suppose I belong in this hovel. I didn't marry very well, did I?"

I just realized that sounds sad an pathetic, but it is actually making giggle so I hope you all get the joke.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Flamingos and Gnomes and Bugs, Oh My

I haven't posted in a few days and I would like to take this opportunity to BLAME MY MOM! We have both gotten into the PC video games. When I was first sick I was obsessed with Plants Vs. Zombies. It is where my profile picture originates. I stopped playing games about the same time I started writing this blog. I was bored with them and needed new fun.

This last weekend my mom asked me if I had played a game she had recommended to me called Garden Defense. She had brought it up multiple times as something she thought I would really like. When I lost my internet one day, I finally decided to play the free trial I had downloaded. It is awesome! I have spent the last three days playing that game almost nonstop. When I was on the phone with my mom, I let her know that I loved it and she immediately started asking me questions. It turns out that she wanted me to play it because she needed help leveling up. Sneaky, mom, very sneaky. But, she has me hooked. Last night we were on the phone playing it together.

I have to take a break. It is all I have been doing and I dream about ants being destroyed by rocket launchers. Plus, playing video games may actually make my mono worse. Playing a game like that requires massive brainwork, quick thinking and problem solving. I have been playing that game for 10 hours a day. Add in the fact that I have been staying up later than I normally do because I can't shut it off and you have me getting sicker by the day.

I didn't piece it together until this morning. My sore throat is getting worse, I am way more fatigued than I have been and this morning I have body aches. In the shower, I started trying to figure out what I have been doing differently because it isn't like I have even left the house or gone out as I try to do. It's the game! To make it worse, I tried to find a link to a website for Garden Defense and instead I found a video that shows a glitch in the system that would allow me to have unlimited money to buy gadgets and plants.

You know I have quit a lot of things. It almost makes me sad that even as I type this I am fighting the urge to just play for a couple of minutes. Just to test the theory. Somebody get me out of this house. I think I am slowly going mad.

Mom, I am sorry but you are own your own. Keep up the good fight! And call me so you can test that glitch for me!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Rules Are Meant to Be Broken

Why I Sleep With a Nightlight
Part II

(Click here for Part I)

The most memorable game of Hide and Seek in the Dark was an almost surreal experience. By surreal I mean scarring. And by almost, I mean with absolute certainty. My aunt and mom were hiding and the kids were seeking. Try as we might, we could not find them. My cousin T and I got bored and decided to let the boys keep looking while we took a break. We climbed up on my parents bed and proceeded to scare the holy hell out of ourselves. I don't know who started it, I wouldn't doubt that it was me and my overactive imagination. We started talking about how it was so dark that you could make yourself see things. It was like when you close your eyes, you can still see pictures and images.

As we described the things we saw, the ideas got creepier and creepier. The only thing I remember specifically was one of us saying there was a claw creeping over the edge of the bed. We started screaming and did not stop even when all the boys stampeded into the room to our rescue. Hysterically we told them how we had freaked ourselves out. After we calmed down, we had a mini conference to discuss the situation we were facing. We had been looking for them for over an hour unable to find them and had to face facts. It was time to break one of the rules.

The amount of dedication we had to keeping the game rules intact amazes me. Not one of us even contemplated turning on the lights. I could be remembering this incorrectly, but we didn't even turn the lights on during the screaming. The boys had to calm us down in the dark. It was extremely important that we not violate their hiding places. After much discussion, it was decided that we would give up. We all went into the bathroom and waited while my cousin E broadcasted the terms of our surrender throughout the house. We would retreat to the bathroom and make a lot of noise to cover up any sounds they might make extracting themselves from where they had hidden. They could come out without worrying about discovery. Then he joined us and closed the door as he yelled, "Olly, olly oxen free!"

Ten minutes passed and nobody came to get us. To say my family is stubborn is an understatement. We assumed that they weren't going to come out even though we couldn't find them. So we decided we were just going to stop looking for them. We went out into the living room. For some reason during this particular game, the living room curtains had not been closed. This gave us enough light to see; it was eerie and ghostly. After the screaming earlier, we were all a little tense. I don't remember what we talked about but I do know that E and I were a little worried.

It is funny to think back on how we started taking charge of the situation. We quietly discussed between ourselves what we thought was really going on while reassuring the younger kids that everything was fine. The only plan we had worked out was that we were just going to keep everyone calm and wait until our moms got bored enough to come out. They had been hiding for almost two hours which was twice as long as we could ever remember a round lasting for so it could only be a matter of time.

During one of these discussions, I happened to look up and see my aunt reflected in the living room window. I whipped around to look at the dining room thinking that she had finally decided to come out. She wasn't there. I turned back around and saw nothing in the window. All I could do was point at the window in mute terror trying to comprehend what I had just seen. E had watched the whole mystifying performance but had not seen what I had. Somehow he managed to get me to explain what was freaking me out. Another conference was had and we decided to look outside. None of us believed that they would hide outside because A) it was against the rules and B) they would have killed any one of us who had dared to go outside in the middle of the night, so there is no way we could have found them if they did. However, we had to find out what was going on and see what was out there.

After much discussion, it was decided that I would be the one to open the door. No one else was willing to do it and the general consensus was that I was the oldest by six months, so it fell to me. Looking back, it seems like a sit-com. We formed a sort of line that went in order from oldest to youngest. I was pushed to the door by the four others clumped behind me to lend me moral support. Taking a deep breath, I reached out and grabbed the door handle. Before I could do anything, I felt the handle turn under my hand. Screaming I flung myself backwards with so much force, I knocked everyone down into a giant heap. At this point, every child there was screaming, yelling, crying and/or peeing while trying to extract themselves from the pile up to run away.

My aunt hurried through the door followed closely by my mom. I don't know how long it took them to calm us down. I do remember being livid and yelling at them for breaking the rules and hiding outside. I wasn't angry that they had scared me so badly I may or may not have peed my pants. I was indignant that they had destroyed the integrity of our game. Especially after we spent so much time preserving it.

It didn't help that they couldn't stop laughing.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Strike Two and Apology

Sorry folks, but I don't think I will get to the second part of the story today. I have a couple of high energy hours when I get up before I start to get fatigued again and lose my mojo. Today I decided to use it and go to the grocery store. I have had people bringing me supplies, but I really wanted to get out. It is hilarious that the thing that brings me the most satisfaction and happiness these days is grocery shopping. I feel normal. It boosts my self esteem and lagging spirits to be able to take care of my needs. Plus the people who go grocery shopping in the morning are usually nicer. They aren't in a hurry and it feels like you are all there hanging out. I get plenty of chances for interaction and small talk. And I get to pick out my own produce. I am super picky and even though I appreciate people bringing it to me, it is never the same.

I will tell a little story for your entertainment. I don't remember the exact words in the exchange, so they aren't direct quotes, but I think you'll get the point. A friend who teaches grade school told me she was teaching kids in the second or third grade and the students were asked to write a story about their weekend. A young boy needing help came up to her desk and asked, "Teacher, how do you spell penis?" Immediately she was startled and fearful of what she was going to learn. She asked him why he needed to know and he informed her that his uncle had come to visit and said, "I have the happy part, I just need the penis part." Her heart fell into her stomach. Not wanting to startle the boy by asking too many questions when he seemed willing to talk, she asked him to tell her the whole sentence. So, he read to her, "My uncle came to visit we all had a lot of happiness this weekend. See, I have the happy, now I just need the penis."

Relieved, she wrote "happiness" on a piece of paper. Not wanting to explain what was funny, she walked out of the classroom before exploding with laughter.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I Jinxed Myself

As soon as I typed the word "tomorrow" at the end of yesterday's post, I knew I was in for trouble. Some of you may have been expecting to read Part II of Why I Sleep With a Nightlight. Instead you will be treated to Why I Can't Sleep. I will warn you this is about "girl stuff." If that bothers you, skip it.

To refresh your memory, my acupuncturist believes my problem is that my liver has been unable to metabolize hormones out of my body. Instead of the doctors taking those hormones out, they put me on The Pill, overloading my system with more hormones. I hope everything I am going through points to healing. The treatments are definitely doing something in my body. This last week my cycle has been like it was before I went on The Pill five years ago. It is funny how easily we forget the things we had to overcome in the past.

I used to get mind numbing cramps the first day of my period that started in the wee hours of the morning and got progressively worse throughout the day. I would try to go to school, but always ended up having to go home. When I got older, I thought it was irresponsible for me to take a day off of work once a month when none of the other women I knew did the same. Instead, I would drag myself to work, barely functional and count down the day minute by minute until I could leave. I did eventually find something that took away the pain, but it also knocked me out. Instead I had to struggle to stay awake.

If I could go back in time, I would assure my younger self that I was not weak and this pain was not normal. I would also give myself permission to take that day off of work. Then I would ask what it was that killed the pain because I am desperately trying to remember right now. I would also encourage myself to start tracking my cycle so I could see how much of my moodiness could be attributed to PMS.

On The Pill, I had one day of PMS exactly one week before I menstruated. This would involved grumpy mood swings, anxiety and nervousness. Off of The Pill, and this last week, I have had Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde scale mood swings, anxiety and nervousness. I have actually caught myself multiple times before I threw an inanimate object out of anger. I have also suddenly become fixated on being out of work and my finances when I haven't before. I managed to forget that these fits went away with medication. Somehow I had altered my memory to see myself as just being emotionally immature. I thought I had grown up and learned self-control. For the record, that is a falsehood!

I had so many emotional issues, I am surprised I was not institutionalized at some point. Layer on top of that intense, uncontrollable moods that swing erratically between depression and rage for an entire week every month and you get one insecure, confused, little girl. Even with the knowledge I have now, I couldn't make myself remember that I was just going through PMS this week. Which makes sense. One day is PMS, seven days is an altered mood and attitude. But, it was still out of my control. Until just now I used to be thoroughly ashamed of myself for being unable to control my emotions. Now, I just feel bad that I had to go through that without knowing what was wrong and thinking I was crazy. Because I didn't track my cycles and I had no idea it was PMS.

I am sure it is the PMS talking, but I honestly feel sad. I was such a wreck back then because of so many outside factors. Lack of sunlight made me suicidal for years. PMS made me crazy one fourth of the time. So many things that made me think I was insane and worthless were out of my control. I am glad that I was able to finally escape all of that. But I can't help aching a little for that lost and lonely, young woman. With a little bit of knowledge, she could have avoided so much suffering and anguish. My heart wishes I could comfort her even as I realize that I could not have become the person I am without going through all of that.

By the way, I am awake because of the cramps. They are worth the trade for a healthy liver. In all honesty, I am not willing to give up my emotional stability. If there is one thing I have learned throughout this bout of mono, it is that I can live without a lot of things including my health as long as I have my sanity.

That is a dealbreaker. It was a miracle I made it out the first time and I am not willing to find out if I can do it again.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Some People Think it is Fun to Make You Wet Your Pants

Why I Sleep With a Nightlight
Part I

When I was about twelve, my dad used to work nights. Every couple of months, my aunt would come down with my two cousins E (12) and T, (10) to have a slumber party with my mom, my brothers R (10), M (8) and me. I know we must have done a lot of fun things, but everything is overshadowed in my memory by the main event of Hide and Seek in the Dark.

We would play kids against the grownups with only three rules. 1. You couldn't go outside. 2. You couldn't turn on the lights. 3. You couldn't give up. You had to search until you found everyone. My mom would turn off the lights and close all the drapes which left only the small kitchen window and appliance lights to break the darkness. This opened up a ton of places to hide.

Because it was pitch black in some rooms, you could pretty much stand in the middle of the floor without being found by sight. Our game was very hands on and even that didn't guarantee success. The seeker might touch you and not "find" you. Many times a hider started talking, thinking that they had been found, only to startle the seeker into a blind, screaming panic. I wonder what the neighbors thought was going on. We would have company over, wait for it to get dark and turn off all the lights. Then occasional, random screams of women and children would be heard from the otherwise silent home.

I now have an intense fear of sticking my hand in dark places thanks to my aunt who managed to squeeze herself between the water heater and the furnace in the laundry room. Because we had exhausted every thinkable hiding spot unable to find her, I had finally decided to feel all the way around the interior of the house. Much to my horror, it worked a little too well. As I was feeling hand over hand against the outline of the room, I suddenly felt fabric. This being the laundry room, I thought it was clothing. But it felt like it was wrapped around a tube-shaped object. I started to explore it further, trying to decide what it was, when it started laughing maniacally. Terrified, I screamed bloody murder. It turned out it was my aunt's arm. That was the LAST time I stuck my hand anywhere that was large enough for a body part to hide.

Our house was a typical, three bed, two bath home with a living room and a garage remodeled into a family room. You would think that after a while, the game would get old because all the good hiding spots would be found. You would be underestimating the creativity of my family. One of my brothers hid in the dryer. It took forever to find him. After she found him, my mom told me that she always thought it would be a good hiding spot, but she never expected anyone to actually climb in there. My best spot was on top of the refrigerator. It took forever before my aunt finally found me and taught me an important lesson. I glowed in the dark.

I had very long blond hair and was extremely pale. Any light at all would reflect off of my skin and hair. I had never realized this and since I have never been comfortable in the dark, I always hid in the rooms that weren't completely blacked out. All this time, I had been mediocre at hiding. I had great spots, but was too easily found. Because I was above the line of sight, I may have never been found had she not gotten desperate and looked up. From that night forward, I wore a dark hooded sweatshirt that transformed me into a hide and seek ninja, enabling me to finally pay my aunt back for freaking me the hell out with her disembodied laugh and arm.

I had learned that the best places to hide were right out in the open. People still tried to hide in places where they couldn't be seen if the lights were on and expected everyone else to do the same. I used this to my advantage after I learned what was giving me away in the dark. I finally found sweet revenge on my aunt just by sitting in a living room chair. I put my ninja cloak on backwards with the hood up over my face and tucked my hair into the collar of my shirt. Then I pulled the sleeves down over my hands; sat back and waited. When they couldn't find me, my aunt came through the room again and started feeling along the furniture with her hands. She felt my wrist, covered by the sweatshirt, and started feeling her way up my arm. I pulled off the hood and started to stand up. Terrified she screamed bloody murder.

Scaring her was totally unintentional, but immensely satisfying.

Tomorrow I will give you Part II: Rules Are Made to be Broken

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I Can Tell When I Am Close To The Edge

People seriously annoy me. Generally speaking, I am too self-involved to really notice those around me. It's true. Most of it revolves around the ADD. I daydream to block out all the extraneous information coming my way. If they do manage to pierce through my mental fog, I normally find it amusing and makes me laugh. It does not anger me and make me want to crack skulls. I have been in a bad mood all day. Well, not all day. It started out well enough, then my internet went out and I noticed I was pounding on my keyboard as if that would correct the issue. I feel a temper tantrum brewing. I should probably just go ahead and let it boil over since I will feel better when I am finished even if I feel silly. I am mad at the world and I am going to start taking it out on complete strangers if I don't watch it.

I am at the coffee shop. I thought it would help me to get out of the house because I have a horrid case of cabin fever. It didn't work. There is a guy sitting next to me who has created a mini office, while working on his laptop which is fine. But, he is listening to his headphones and conducting music while he skims the pages. It started with a harmless head bobbing, but then I swear he closed his eyes and punctuated whatever beat he is hearing with his hand and I wanted to slap it. Now he is moving around, sighing heavily as if deep in a intellectual conundrum. Of course, I have to look over at what he is working on. I am so glad I did, because I was just in time to see him typing in 30 font, using Lucida Handwriting to create some sort of sub header at the end of his document that says "Happiness is found within." HOLY CRAP, he just answered the phone and told his friend that he was almost done with the business proposal. What the hell kind of business is this?

Of course, he just has to leave right as I am typing this and make polite small talk so that I can now relate to him as a human being and feel badly about all I just wrote about him. And he even has the nerve to be incredibly good looking! What is this world coming too?

I have to get better soon. I promise, I am trying really hard to be happy, but this is just starting to be too much.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

How Postcards Get Made

More stories from the traveling circus.

My favorite trip was when we went to Cocoa Beach, Florida, very early in my career. We had this brilliant mix of people. There were four younger people all around my age and two retirees who had seen it all and were not afraid to join in the fun. I would later learn that the gentleman used to work in television and had directed an HBO award winning documentary. The lady was a fireball. She had worked in construction all of her life and had the language and jokes to prove it. I was still having trouble being shy around strangers, but I felt at ease with these folks by the end of the first night.

At our first dinner I was seated next to the older gentleman. He was in is early 60s and seemed very nice. I had just come from an office where I worked with a bunch of pastors his age. At that point all the men I knew at his age were the deacon types. I didn't know they came any other way and while they taught me to relate, I still was nervous around older men I did not know.

He made polite small talk with me between the jokes at the table. I had started to feel comfortable enough to talk to him and the whole atmosphere had me relaxed. The waiter served our dinners. I don't remember what I had, but I will never forget that he ordered the peel and eat shrimp. When he got his plate, I couldn't stop staring at it trying to figure out what it was. It turned out to be an overturned wooden salad bowl for him to put the peels in, but I couldn't see anything but a giant turtle shell. He saw me looking at it and leaned in close as if to tell me a secret. So, I leaned over. He lifting the bowl to reveal the shrimp; smiled slyly and offered an invitation. "Hey little girl, do you want to try my little shrimp?"

I pulled back and kept glancing from him to the shrimp trying to decide if he knew what he said and if he did, did he mean it as a joke. Then he wagged his eyebrows at me. I blushed from forehead to neck and buried my face in my hands laughing hysterically. When everyone wanted an explanation, I looked at him to explain. He was wearing the most innocent face I have ever seen. Seeing him sitting there looking like a wolf in sheep's clothing was too much and I had another laughing fit. That weekend was more like a vacation than a job.

Because our team was so large, we had to travel in two cars. It seemed natural to split by age. It was probably a good decision because the four of us drove around like teenagers. Everything was funny, the music was always loud and, best of all, we were constantly driving down Highway A1A. The first time I saw it, I started chanting Ice, Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice. No one understood the connection until I reminded them of the line, "the block was dead, yo. So I continued to A1A, Beach Front Avenue." Which ended up turning into the magic word for the trip. Every time we turned on to that street, the driver would yell, "A1A!" and the rest of the car would respond by yelling, "BEACH FRONT AVENUE!"

One night, we ended up on the beach. The setting was unforgettably beautiful and still clear in my mind. The sky was cloudless and the moon was close to full. Because the sand was so white, it reflected the light and made it bright enough to see naturally. I grew up in Oregon where the coastline is wild, rocky and severe. I had never seen a beach like they show in tropical pictures. We were all just taking it in when we came across a carcass.

We could not figure out what it was. At the time we debated about it being a seal or a baby manatee. The reason it was hard to be sure is because it was only the top half of the body. We imagined it had been bit in half by a shark. Of course, after we had figured out what it was, the guys' first reaction was to find a stick so they could poke it. After they had satisfied their curiosity and released the horrible stench trapped in the body, we moved on. One of the guys said he would come back and take a photo of it so he could make a postcard. The rest of the walk back was spent discussing what the best caption to add to the photo would be.

Hands down, the winner was, "Looking for tail in Cocoa Beach."

PS - The difference between boys and girls:

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Christmas Story in June

Yesterday when I was writing about birthday hijinks, I remembered another story initiated by my birthday celebration. The same week I got the surprise party from our clients, my project manager and good friend decided we should have our very own celebration since we had kitchenettes in our hotel rooms. We went to the store; bought a bottle of my favorite vodka; went back to her place; and made martinis. The two of us without alcohol involved is bad enough. We can get into all kinds of trouble because we egg each other on and have the same sense of humor.

It all started during our first martinis when she expressed a desire to repay my dad for a bunch of bootlegged Bob Dylan CDs he had made for her at my request. As I was mixing the second martinis, I asked her if she remembered the leg lamp in A Christmas Story. I told her about this gift I had seen online and wanted to get for him, but it was too expensive. Hoping she would chip in, I brought up a website that sold leg lamp replicas and that's when the trouble began.

She loved it so much that she decided to get one for her husband for Father's Day. Since she was willing to do it, I changed my mind about it costing too much. They were only $70 and definitely worth the price. As we were checking out, we were presented with the option to have the lamp shipped in a crate exactly like the one in the movie. We debated the pros and cons over our third martinis. The crate was $150, but weren't we already laughing hysterically at the mere thought? The shipping cost came to $80. But only because the crate was so heavy. And we had already decided the crate was essential. We made our purchases and congratulated ourselves on being generally awesome.

The next morning, dreams and reality were fighting over my state of consciousness, when reality landed a drop kick to my gut. I shot out of bed with the realization that the previous night I had spent $300 on a gag gift. I called my coworker who told me she woke up the same way, but got on line immediately and canceled her order. Since she was on her way to the client's office, I couldn't use her laptop.

Not having one of my own, I called my then boyfriend in Denver and begged him to cancel the order for me when he got to his office. With his commute and the time differences, it shipped before he could cancel. When I called, they said I could return it for a refund but I would still have to pay the shipping fees. This left me to decide if I wanted to pay $300 for a lamp or pay $160 for no lamp. I told them I appreciated the help, but I would go ahead and keep it. He then said he had received another order to the same city that had been canceled earlier and asked if I knew anything about it. I confessed the incident and we both laughed. I decided to make the most of it and prepare my mom for the arriving present.

I vaguely described the situation and told her it was an expensive present that I couldn't return and implored her not to lecture me if she ever found out how much it cost. I didn't tell her what it was. My family is cuckoo for gifts, mostly the watching others open them part. I figured I had already ruined the surprise for my brothers when begging them to chip in. The least I could do was let my mom enjoy the fun. I called her and told her something was being shipped to dad and I needed her help to keep him from figuring out what it was until he opened it. I told her she would have to cover up the box when it came, but to call me so we could share the joke.

I called her a week later when I didn't hear from her. She told me she did get it, but she didn't call me or cover it up because it was in a wood crate that hid what it was. She giggled and announced they knew it was Italian because it said "Fragile" on it in big letters and paused for my reaction. I didn't quite know what to say. She explained that it looked just like the crate that gets delivered in A Christmas Story. More silence from my end. Exasperated, she described the leg lamp delivery scene to jog my memory. The only thing I said was, "And you still don't know what it is?"

"No!" She laughed. "But, it says Fra-GEE-lay on it just like that scene, so we can't stop repeating it." It finally dawned on me that there was no way they would guess the expensive present was a leg lamp. I suddenly laughed wishing I could be there when he opened it just to see my mom's face. I asked her to call me so I could at least hear the reactions. She agreed and we left it at that. Unfortunately, my mom's mom passed away a week later. I went back to Oregon for the funeral. The silver lining was that it meant I would be in town for Father's Day.

The time finally came for my dad to open his gift. My brothers brought it into the room with my mom chanting "fra-GEE-lay" in the background. She tried to stop them from laying it down on its side and pointed to the "this end up" printed on the box. I interrupted and told her to trust me, it would be all right. They got the crowbar out and took the lid off. When my dad started digging through the excelsior, my brothers repeated lines from the movie and threw chunks of it over their shoulders, while my mom exclaimed, "They even have straw just like A Christmas Story!"

I knew when my dad found the lamp because he stopped digging; took a couple of steps back from the crate; looked at me; and laughed harder than I had ever heard him laugh before. My mom, couldn't stand the suspense, so she reached into the box and pulled out the leg. At that point, she started laughing and my brothers reenacted the scene complete with stroking the leg up to the thigh in a creepy imitation of Ralphie. It was an amazing shot of humor after a weekend of grief, which may have accounted for the extra hilarity. It has even become a part of our family traditions as we have "just the place for it. Right in the middle of our front room window." The neighbors wait for it to come out every year.

It turns out $300 was a bargain for the amount of joy we got in exchange.

Friday, April 9, 2010

55 Shopping Days Until My Birthday!

This will be the first year I have ever taken my birthday off from work. My mom will be in town that week and if I ever do get back to work, I figured it would be the only day I could probably guilt them into letting me take. Birthdays trump mono. Most everyone I know takes a day off for their birthday. I don't get it personally. It's the one day that everyone has to be nice to you. In my office they put up an banner at your desk to announce it. Then, even the people who don't like you have to say something nice or avoid you altogether. Either way it is a win-win.

Ever since high school, I have big on the notification process. There are people I haven't seen in years who could probably still tell you when my birthday is. I make sure everyone has plenty of warning. I like to start about three weeks out. A month just seems needy. One day I heard someone complaining that no one ever remembered their birthday. I suddenly realized that we all just sit back and hope that someone recognizes it is our day and end up being severely disappointed when they don't. I decided I wasn't going to let that happen anymore. I was so bad that anytime I got near a calendar, I would make sure that I wrote it on the correct day. When I was able to start accessing people's electronic calendars, I was ecstatic and a little out of control. Let me tell you, it worked like a dream. On my birthday, I get all the attention I could ever want.

There was a time in my twenties when I started throwing myself large birthday parties. It was important to me that I have a lot of people around me on that day. I had a boyfriend pass away when I was twenty. We had the same birthday. When that day came around the following year, I was terrified to be alone. For a long time after that, I continued to make sure I was surrounded by people that loved me on that day. I don't know that I told more than one or two people, I didn't really want their sympathy, I just wanted them to be there.

One year I threw a party at a huge park back in Oregon. I invited everyone I knew and made presents mandatory. I know people say they don't want presents, but I just can't believe that could possibly be true. I made sure to specify that I didn't care what they got me as long as it was wrapped up. I got two of my all time favorite gifts that year. Lawn gnomes. They were awesome. Unfortunately, they were eventually stolen, but I will never forget Fungi and Dumpy. Fungi held a mushroom. I guess Dumpy was supposed to be put behind a plant to look like he was hiding behind it. But, since I've never had plants, he just looked like he was getting ready to take a poo.

At my last job, I was so annoying to one of my teammates, I thought she was going to smack me. I didn't realize how bad I was until I was thrown a surprise birthday party by our clients. People I had never met before brought in a cake and sang Happy Birthday to me. The next day as we were checking out of our hotel and packing up the car to head for the airport, one of the housecleaning ladies yelled a parting birthday wish to me. My coworker could only stare at me in awe, unable to say a word.

I have that affect on people. I finally decided that maybe I was a little too old and too professional to be playing up my need for attention after I started my current job. Two weeks before my birthday, my boss came in and announced, "Happy Birthday! How does it feel to be a year older?" Everyone looked at me and I just shook my head and said my birthday wasn't for another two weeks. He looked at me funny and then said that the alarm on his phone had gone off at 4:00 in the morning with a reminder that it was my birthday. I was mortified. I had put my birthday on his calendar and set the reminder to go off two weeks early. I thought it would be funny to tell him he had two weeks to shop for my birthday. It was funny. To everyone else in the office it was hilarious. But that wasn't the worst part.

In all the blushing, stammering and apologizing, I forgot I had set it to repeat every year. My boss didn't think it was as funny the second year around.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I Used to Work For a Traveling Circus

Or just about. It was this company that manufactured and sold electronic locks for real estate agents. Some of you may have seen them. They are the huge gray or blue padlocks real estate agents put on the doors of houses for sale. Agents can then access those locks with a device that looks like an old school pager, or their smart phone. I haven't worked there for a few years, so I am not sure exactly what products they have now. My job was to work for the Installations Department.

Every so often the keys or the lockboxes would have to be exchanged out. My company would send a team of people out to their location; take back their old product; and give them new product. Also included in that package a shiny, new 6-year contract. And you thought cell phone contracts were bad! My job was to supervise temporary employees to take the first payment and newly signed contracts, making me Verbal and Occasionally Physical Abuse Representative as well.

Our install was set up so the agent would begin by attending a 30 minute information session. After which, they would be checked in at the first station with photo i.d by a temp who would also take their old key and lockboxes. The temp would start their paperwork with basic information. Then they would come into the room and be divided by product type. If they wanted the basic key they would follow one line of tables. If they wanted the software programed into their device, they would follow another line of tables.

The process looked the same for both sides of the room. They start at the distribution table where they would be given a key by a temp who would document the key assignment by hand. The next station was my accounting table where they would sign their contract; complete the paperwork; and make their first payment. At the following station a temp would program the key with the agents preferred pin code. They would also assign the agents information into the key for tracking purposes as well as electronically documenting the key the agent actually went home with. At the last station another temp would test the key with a live lockbox to ensure it was working. Then it was off to a training session. In the meantime, a group of temps would assign the correct number of lockboxes to the agents and make them ready for pick up after the agent was done with training. Sounds simple enough for changing out an entire city's system, right?

Most of my time was spent fending off angry people. On average, the team traveling for our company would consist of 6 - 10 people. We would hire 60 - 100 temporary employees. Because we could only hire one temporary agency, they would barely have enough temps available to fill our needs. We would send them a list of qualifications we needed for each job and they would send us every available body they had. Then, and I swear this is true, they would go out and recruit whoever they could find. I was lucky in that I needed a higher level of temp, so I usually got the best of the bunch which consisted of students and retirees, people who had a reason for only working part time. But I did meet some real wackos. A common saying among us is that these people are temps for a reason. We would bring them in for four hours on a Sunday to train them.

The training consisted of the Project Manager (PM) going over our company and what we did. They would cover all the basic rules and guidelines for timecards, breaks and such. After that, they would split the group into all the different stations they would be working at. IF I was lucky, that process would only take 30 minutes to 1 hour. Sometimes, the PM would take up to two hours to cover the basics. This left the remaining time for me to train my team of 8 - 14 temps.

In order to explain all the payment plans and amounts they would be charging the agents, I had to explain the differences between the product options. In order to explain the different product options I had to explain how our product worked. In order to explain how the product worked, I had to explain what a real estate agent's job entailed. In order to explain what a real estate agent's job entailed, I had to explain how houses get marketed and sold. Then I had to split them into two groups so I could explain how to fill out the paperwork according to each key. After that, they had to learn how to use the credit card terminals. In. three. hours. Pit these under-trained people with almost no knowledge against the rageaholics and egomaniacs that make up 90% of the real estate agent population and you get some interesting results.

There are some really good Realtors out there. But when 10% of the agents are making 80% of the money as a whole, you have to realize that 90% of the agents are splitting whatever is left. So, not only do they suck at their job but the small income they do make goes towards the fees and costs of being a real estate agent. I had no interaction with the other 10%. They came and went without a fuss. I went to real estate school. I saw the same people at the installations that I saw in my class. There are the people who think they can get rich quick and people who do not work well with others and go to work for themselves. Not your cream of the crop types. Not the types to embrace new technology or understand how it works.

But, that's what our team would bring them. New technology that someone else decided they were required to use. On top of being told they had to use a new system, they had to now pay annual fees and could only lease their product instead of owning it outright. Oh, and by the way, here is a six year contract that you can only break at any time, but you will not receive a prorated refund of the prepaid annual fee. Now sign here. No, I cannot answer any questions you might have, you can ask those in your training class. Yes, you must make a decision before you understand the product you are leasing.

I have been screamed at by a little, old man for 20 minutes; seen someone pick up a chair to throw at me but toss it across the room instead; watched someone dance because they were so angry; knocked over by a woman using a door to hit me; physically inserted myself between a fist waving agent and a teenage, female temp; and been smuggled out of a city because my life threatened by an anonymous phone call. I have cost hundreds of agents million dollar deals, and destroyed the lives and livelihood of hundreds more. I know, they told me. The first six months of the job, I went to my room and cried every night. This is how I went from a meek, mild tempered, caring, idealistic twenty something to a hard nose, cautious, blunt, argumentative, totalitarian thirty something.

Why am I tell you all this? I have plethora of stories I have been holding back because each requires you to understand the volatile background those stores take place in. Please tell me it has at least piqued your interest!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

My Niece's First Shopping Disaster

My oldest niece is probably the most fascinating of all my brother's kids. Do not misunderstand. I love both my nieces and my nephew and don't have a favorite. I just find this kid sometimes acts like she is me reincarnated, except I am not dead. Which is entertaining, sometimes a little freaky and always disconcerting to me. Maybe it is because she is the first so we just notice it more, but this child is a living example of nature over nurture.

Two years ago I went back to visit and my mom called her over and told her to show me how she twirled her hair. I was notorious for my hair twirling. I reconnected with a classmate on Facebook and the first thing she wrote was how she still remembers me sitting in class, reading and twirling my hair. The thing that freaked me out was not that she did twirl her hair, but that her technique was eerily the same as mine. My mom asked her why she twirled her hair and I answered, "Because it feels soft against her fingers."

That startled my niece who replied, "I especially like to do it after I use conditioner."

We stared at each other for a while and then I told her, "I like to twirl my hair too. I find it comforting." She agreed.

A few years before that I was talking to my brother about something I found exciting when he just started laughing. I asked him what was funny and he told me that I said, "I KNOW" just like my niece. I laughed and told him that I had been saying it long before she had. The weird thing about all of this is that I don't have any regular contact with them living so far away, so it is extremely unlikely that she is picking up these habits from me. This is evidenced by our mutual love of fashion, even if we don't have the same tastes.

I was once getting ready for a date and had no one to talk to for advice. I called my niece who was probably in kindergarten. I thought it would be fun and settle my nerves. Plus, she was waaaay into teenagers and the prom so she was a little obsessed with the idea of dating and fascinated with her unmarried aunt who still did such things. My mom told me that one time she was talking about dating and said I would know. Leaning in with her hand up to her mouth she whispered loudly, "She dates." Then she pulled back and blushed at the idea.

When I called her and explained the situation, she got very excited and exclaimed, "I have a passion for fashion!" I don't remember the date or even who I was going out with, but I do remember that I was told to wear teal. She was "very into teal" at that time. I also remember that it took much convincing on my part to get her to accept the idea of a skirt over a dress because "you should always wear a dress on a date."

She also used to live in her mind. I don't really know how else to explain it which is why it was so odd for me to recognize it in her. Her brain processes information quickly and follows thoughts to their logical end. Which means she has an answer for everything, not because she is guessing but because she had already thought of an answer ten minutes ago when the concept first presented itself.

Both my nieces between the ages of two or three thought I lived at the airport. Which was heartbreaking because they thought I lived an hour away, but only visited them a couple times a year. When the oldest finally understood the concept of an airport, she came running in to my mom. I was supposed to arrive that day and she wanted confirmation that it was my plane she had just seen overhead. She asked my mom what my plane number was because she thought she saw it but couldn't quite read the number on the plane. After she received a made-up answer, she said, "I knew it!" My mom asked her if she had waved at me and she said no. When asked why not, she replied like my mom was ignorant, "Because she was sitting on the other side of the plane and wouldn't be able to see me."

She has this whole inner storyline that no one else can see. I have the same thing. It is why I sometimes say things completely out of context but expect people to know what I am talking about. I forget they can't see the really random connections that my head makes. When my niece was much younger, you could watch it in her play. She wouldn't play out a storyline that already existed in her mind, she would play through the story as it occurred to her.

I was at my mom's house on vacation a few years back sitting in the living room playing my Gameboy. My four-year-old niece wandered in the room and said, "Is this yours?" I looked up and nodded when I saw her holding a box that was the packaging for something I had gotten in the mail. It was medium sized about 12x10x7. "Can I have it?" She asked, looking genuinely concerned that I would say no. I told her to go ahead and went back to my game.

A couple of minutes later I heard her say, "Oh no! Doggin'!" I looked up to see her scrutinizing the inside of the box and asked what was wrong. "I ordered a bicycle helmet so I could get to work on time, but they sent me a space helmet instead." She paused, continuing to look the box over before she said, "I must have said space helmet by mistake." She put it on her head, looking around with it covering her face and said dejectedly, "Nope, this isn't going to work at all."

When I realized that she was trying out the box to see if it would still work, I lost it. I still laugh whenever I think of her looking around blindly, trying to see if she could make her mishandled order work anyway. She jumped five feet when I guffawed; whipped the box off her head; and looked at me sheepishly as if she had forgotten I was sitting right there. Looking indignant she said, "It's not my fault, it just isn't going to work."

Which sobered me up and made me reply, "Well, you can't be late for work. You'll have to send it back for an exchange. But make sure you have them send it express mail to so you get it sooner."

She nodded her head sagely at this advice but then said, "Or I could keep the space helmet, you never know if I might need it." Then she left the room, leaving me to dissolve into laughter again.

I hope she becomes a writer some day. I can't wait to hear her stories.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Acupuncture Is What I Imagined Going to a Psychic Would Be Like

The first part was like a normal doctor visit. I filled out paperwork and the acupuncturist asked questions to clarify information. Then we went upstairs and it was more like a massage appointment except I only took off my shoes and socks. I was asked to lie down on my back and he felt my wrist. That's where it took on a more dream like quality.

Right away he said my liver was the issue. Then he felt a different part of my wrist and stood there for a few minutes. He felt that there was some stagnant blood in my system. Then he placed his hand on my lower abdomen and asked how my cycles were going. When I turned 30, I started having two cycles a month, which was bad enough but they were accompanied by extra horrific Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type mood swings. So I was put on The Pill. The dose had to be increased when the symptoms resurfaced. Lately, they have started again. There is more, but I don't want to get graphic. Let's just say he was right on the mark.

At this point he went off into a rant about doctors medicating without diagnosing and then proceeded to explain what happens with hormones during a woman's cycle. Hormones circulate through the blood stream, making the body perform different functions until processed by the liver so they can exit the body. My liver has been taxed and unable to process them. Instead of removing excess hormones, I was put on The Pill increasing hormone production to overpower what was left in my system and create normal cycles. He went on to white blood cells should be able to fight this virus off. To be honest, I sort of zoned out and don't know what the connection is.

Then the needles came out. I was curious to find out what it would feel like after everyone said it feels like a prick, but doesn't hurt. I am here to tell you THEY ARE LYING! It pricks alright, like being STUCK WITH A FRICKING NEEDLE! Most of them stopped hurting after insertion. Some felt like being pinched and took a couple of minutes before it stopped. One needle went into the group of muscles that runs down my forearm to my thumb. I have now idea how one little needle can cause twelve inches of pain. I do know that wriggling it around, doesn't help. I assume he was trying to get it into the correct position, but I immediately thought of butterflies stuck to boards while they are still alive. It was a dull ache that went down to my bone eventually subsiding as well; until I forgot and moved my thumb. It wasn't bad when the needles were all finally in, just uncomfortable.

While he was inserting the needles, my mind wandered to work and finances. Mid-thought, he shook his hand while jerking it back from the needle he was adjusting. I swear he gave me a dirty look and said that he got a shock from me to his hand. Since he was pointedly looking at me as if I stabbed him, I asked what that meant. He said HE didn't know; something in me had jumped out and shocked him. I confessed I had thought about work and money. He scolded, telling me to keep my thoughts in the present. The needles were like conduits magnifying my energy to his hand. Which horrified me because at one point I had distracted myself with thoughts of Vin Diesel. It also gave me an extreme sense of power and sadistic desire to see if I could do it again. Unfortunately, he seemed wary of any further needles. Or he was finished. I doubt he thought I would intentionally shock him. Just goes to show, you never really know what is going on inside someones head.

After that he left the room. During one of the times he came back to check on me, he put charcoal some to heat them up. I thought the charcoal was going to heat up. But, no. He whipped out a flamethrower. I swear I almost jumped out of my skin when he turned it on. It was good that he wasn't touching a needle, because I might have killed him with my fear. OK, it wasn't a blow torch. It looked like a creme brulee torch. Still, you don't expect one to get fired up and pointed at your leg.

I was on the table for two hours. He said I should feel rearing to go, but I was wiped. I guess I was supposed be so relaxed I would sleep. I don't know if my body is that messed up or what, but it felt like things inside me were twisting. Not in a bad way, just like they were working themselves back into place. It reminded me of when the doctor made me wear arch supports to help with my knees. They stopped the knee pain, but for two weeks it felt like my legs were being twisted in a vice. My muscles had to get back into realignment and it was painful and exhausting. But, if my body is so out of balance that it hurts to be corrected with a couple of pin pricks, then I probably need it pretty badly.

Before I left he gave me some homeopathic remedies to use at home. It consisted of pills to take twice a day; powder to mix with juice; and dirt to mix with hot water and drink like a tea. (Who the hell calls dirt flavored water "like tea?" Probably the same person who doesn't think acupuncture hurts.) I still have to go back 5 or 6 more times before I am healed. Then we can work on the whole hormone issue.

Won't that be fun. I wonder if it will feel like cramps?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Shameless Plea For Money

Well, I am at a place in my mono recovery where I have finally lived past my means. I have been extremely lucky and blessed to have gone over three months without working and not gone into debt. To the left of this page, you will notice I have added a PayPal donation button. I am more than willing to sing for my supper, as they say, and will offer any reasonable service for any reasonable amount. As Daniel, my acupuncturist, is actively trying to repair my liver, I will have to turn down any requests to eat or drink things unordinary.

I have offered up a few suggestions to start:

1. Ask me any question you want and I will give you an answer. I am not sure if it will actually be worth a whole dollar, but I didn't want to mess around with smaller amounts and rounded up from valued amount of $.05 to $1.00.

2. For $4.00, I can provide kitchen help. While I can't come over and do your dishes, I am actually a whiz at converting recipes, both in measurements and nutritional content. Cooking for one is tricky and scaling back seasonings and cooking oils with mathematical preciseness isn't as straightforward as you might think. Also, I have spent 2009 losing 20 pounds. Part of that process was changing my eating habits which meant modifying recipes to be less caloric and still taste good.

I am also willing to research recipes for you if you don't have the time. I know how easily it can be to get stuck in a rut. You want to find something new to cook, but finding and easy and delicious recipe that doesn't take all day and a dedicated shopping trip for ingredients is hard. I can find something by ingredient, theme, flavor or course. Family friendly, or more upscale I am sure I can find a new recipe that you will love. I would even be willing to help you disguise your leftovers into a new meal, but that, I cannot guarantee.

3. For $22, I will write a story for you on whatever subject you like. You can be the main character or someone else can. You could even name the villain if you prefer. If you can give me something to work with, I will give you a Shakes original.

As I am sure you may have guessed, these amounts were totally pulled out of my nether regions. The $1 was intentional, but I accidentally hit a 4 so added that to the list. Then, it just didn't look right without a third option and 2's seem to be popping up in my life a lot, so I added a $22 option. Please feel free to come up with any other ways you would like to see this monkey dance.

If you have something particularly awkward, you might want to wait a couple of weeks until desperation sets in and I can't say no.

So hit that donate button and email me at and tell me what I can do for you!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Nothing To Say

I don't really have anything today. But, I am at the coffee shop at a table again so I feel obligated. Not really, but it sounds good. I am sitting here searching for something to write about, but nothing is coming to mind. But, the last time that happened I wrote Curses!, which turned out to be a huge crowd pleaser. I don't know if I can do that again, but I can try. The best part is that if I actually do come up with a subject, you probably won't even see this paragraph because I will delete it. My posts are way too long as it is.

I did finally install a stat counter so I can tell how many people are reading my blog. It only matters because I am more inclined to write regularly. If I don't think anyone is reading, I just figure it doesn't really matter. Yeah, I know I am doing this for myself to practice writing but come one, who are we fooling? I have always loved an audience. Besides, this relieves a tremendous amount of pressure from my mom who felt sorry for me not getting any comments. This is when the fun begins peeps. My mom and I are weird together. She can't help but reveal herself in time but this will lull her into lowering her guard. Now, she won't have to force her comments, and will only write when she has something to say. Or more likely, when she has something to make fun of me for. I have been saving these links for a while. I didn't know how I was going to use them, but it seems like the time is ripe and you'll get a better idea. If you don't watch House, you won't get this. and This is totally something we would do. and She would totally say this.

Well, I still can't think of anything else, except a letter she wrote to me once. But, I can't do it justice unless I print it verbatim. When I find it...