Friday, December 30, 2005


Here's Mia today.
I was out of the office yesterday, so she wasn't watered. Most of her growth is at the bottom of the planter (where it remained moist) and in the drip pan (where I have yet to clean off the seeds which dropped off). I wonder how she will fair the 3 day weekend - eek!

I'll wrap her in plastic and see what happens.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Welcome Mia the Chia!

My Christmas wish came true! Mia came into my life a couple of weeks ago, but I was unable to start raising her until yesterday. I had her belly-up in water for 24 hours (trust me - a very upsetting sight), and I soaked her seeds overnight. When I came to work this morning, I pulled her out of her pond, flipped her over and coated her in the pasty goop that the seeds had become.

Yes, I did this at work. Yes, my office is alright with me being a bit odd. My supervisor asked early on if he could co-parent Mia with me. I told him I wasn't so sure I was ready for that kind of relationship. With that always comes the risk of loosing custody.

So here is what she looks like right now. She's supposed to be at full growth at around 1-2 weeks, and I will keep you posted on how things are progressing.

I am Queen Dork. This is my coronation. You may crown me now.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Isn't it funny that at Christmas something in you gets so lonely for - I don't know what exactly, but it's something that you don't mind so much not having at other times.
-Kate L. Bosher

The past few weeks have been rather busy. My husband and I decided to skip town each of the four weekends leading up to Christmas. We were in Hershey PA, Orlando Florida and on the west coast in Las Vegas and LA all last week. Each Sunday, where in the past I would be lighting my Advent wreath candle by candle in anticipation, was now spent a bit distracted. I’m happy to have traveled, but Christmas was gone just as I was catching a breath.

During the rest of the year, I am consumed with work. I take my vacation closer to the holidays because my husband has the time off. During any other month I wouldn’t feel strange taking the time, but during December I feel the need to not only reflect on the past, but to prepare. Prepare my home for festivity. Prepare my heart for the pain as well as the happiness that holidays bring me. Prepare my soul for the logic-defying high dive of faith which believing in the Christmas story requires as a citizen of Earth in 2005. All of this is a process that takes time, because this is not my usual 12-month a year meditation.

In seven hours I will be back to work. I will probably play carols softly from my desktop. I will count down the days until January 6th, the 12th day of Christmas. I will also celebrate each of the 8 days of Chanukah in my own way. I need this time. I’m lonely for the time of introspection, for the time of prayer that keeps me balanced, and for the time I want to spend building relationships and reconnecting. Other times of the year my distractions cover the swelling void in my chest. I was trained to believe that work, fret, and material objects can define me, and in ditching this definition, I trust things will fall into place once again. I fully understand that this sounds trite, but these days keep me in check. These days help me rebuild my soul, and I intend to take them to do just that.

Happy Holidays. All of them.
I’m happy to have left, but I’m happy to be home.

Friday, December 09, 2005

My commute sucked. This here is what is normally a four lane highway. Only in NJ.

Okay, it could have been worse. Maybe if I didn't pack snacks or a thermos of tea.

But my 45 min. commute became 2 hours easily.

No matter - I will be someplace warmer in a couple of hours. Will tell you more soon. Stay tuned.
***ALERT - SNOW DELAY***

TODAY'S POST HAS BEEN HELD UP BY A SNOW DELAY.

DO NOT BE ALARMED.

IT WILL BE POSTED LATER THIS AFTERNOON

THANK YOU.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

December 1st – Time to plant!

This week, I begin concentrating on nurturing my yearly Holiday Spirit “sapling”. It starts as a seed on Thanksgiving, and usually develops into something like a happy little shrub or banzi-like bush of holiday cheer. I pluck it on Dec. 25th and put it in a bucket of water to enjoy until January 1st. After this, like most greenery that has been separated from its roots, it withers and grows funky green mold on the stems, and I have to throw it out. Dead. Until the season comes again when it can be grown again. And that season is NOW!

The following is a list of what I use for my Holiday fertilizer. My husband would find this comparison appropriate, being that he feels most of these items to be crap. That is why the door to the room is closed – so he can’t hear the first ingredient which I happen to be using right now –

1) The John Denver and the Muppets Christmas Together CD.

My favorite, favorite, favorite Christmas album – ever. Close second and third are Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker and Handle’s Messiah. They are just about right up there with Electric Mayhem’s rendition of “The Little Saint Nick” RUN RUN REINDEER!!!

John Denver’s voice makes me misty. Insert taunting here.

2) That damn Starbucks. They starts early, with the Pumpkin Spice Lattes & Caramel Apple Cider. These are soon followed by Eggnog Lattes, Gingerbread Lattes, Peppermint Lattes, and, a first this year (damn them all), the piece de resistance, the Chai Eggnog Latte. I will gain 10 pounds this holiday season. 7 of the 10 will be because of Starbuck’s offerings of these most wonderful, glorious, loveliest of warm beverages. Bastards.

I need to pause for a minute. Kermit is singing…okay.

3) Holiday Sweaters. Yes, another guilty pleasure. I have 2 – one that was a gift from my husband and one that his late Grandfather picked out for me. They are both simple and have snowflakes. They are both very special and sentimental to me.

Translation: No, I do not dress like a kindergarten schoolteacher. And no, I have no need for any other holiday sweaters. Please. Thank you.

4) Did I mention that damn Starbucks?

5) Company Holiday Parties. Yes, I do believe in peace at work after a good night out with coworkers – because I actually like mine and only have to spend one evening with my husband’s. Even the Secret Santa gifts aren’t all that bad. My honey got a penis putter for his golf bag last year. Maybe this year he'll get a testical driver - then we will have a set!

6) My annual vacation is always taken sometime in December. That is enough reason to celebrate. I like my coworkers, but not enough to skip my entitled time off.

These elements make the perfect mulch for my annual “Holiday Growth”. I know lots of holiday spirit isn't for everyone, and hey – maybe a shrub would cramp your style. Maybe you'd prefer a little spirit, like a small cactus, or a Chia Pet.

Translation: Yes, I will happily accept any gift of a small cactus or Chia Pet. Please. Thank you.

Now then, time to git yer Holiday ON!!!

Monday, November 21, 2005


An Open Letter to my Sister’s Boyfriend

Hi there! We’ll be meeting for the first time at my parent’s home, in celebration of Thanksgiving. What a treat! The relationship must be going very well for you to be joining us for this festive occasion. You know, my husband wasn’t even invited to Thanksgiving until we were engaged. That can only mean one thing – you’re not a Jew.

I’ve heard a lot about you from conversations with my Sis. I’ve learned even more from taking a gander of your MySpace website. Apparently you have friends that go by names like “Das Faus”, and “The Dyslexic World of IB. Green” – whatever that means. But since “Biggie Dukes” wants you to “check out (his) page, (where one) can see (him) and you brawling… (where he will) show some chops on your punk ass”, you surely are a suitable match for my dear baby sister.

There is something I tell all of my sister’s boyfriends any time I have the pleasure of meeting one, and you will be no exception.

If you hurt her, I will hunt you down and kick your ass.

I don’t look tough, but if forced to, I will take you out. I was in a fight. Once. I defended my little brother.

All right. I was 10. And I won the fight because I bit the kid. And I embarrassed the shit out of my little brother. But no matter! My love runs deep! Do not hurt her unless you want my teeth in your flesh (and not in the nice way)!

Yes, I understand you are a professional wrestler. Well, my husband once body slammed someone into a piece of furniture.

All right. He was 10. And the person was his 6-year-old sister…but the power of the maneuver broke the bed! And I should know. 17 years passed before his parents replaced it, and I spent many nights at my in-law’s house sleeping on the floor. He is my ultimate Tag Team partner – we’re like Lita and Matt Hardy!

No. Probably more like the Fabulous Moolah and Captain Lou Albano.

Since you have now been read the riot act, I will pass along some friendly advice. I really want you to have as great an experience as possible in my hometown with my precious little sister and keeping your dirty hands to yourself. Thanksgiving dinner should be a blast!

1) If you use the bathroom in my parent’s home (you’ll have to eventually), you will notice that most of the ceiling is missing. Offering help to replace it will not go over particularly well. You’re better off not looking up. Focus on the basket of reading material left on the bathroom floor instead. My favorites: AAA Magazine and the publication sent from Bottle Buys (the local economy liquor store).

2) My grandfather will undoubtedly repeat the same thing to you several times during the night. He just gets really overwhelmed from leaving his house, which he doesn’t do often. Do not joke about the repetition. My sister and I are very defensive of our Grampy, as my husband found out last year. His ribs are still a little sore from the beating.

3) This year, Thanksgiving is my Father’s Birthday! He is King today. He can do no wrong. Bring a present. Sing the Birthday song when told to, and under no circumstances should you bring up Vietnam or Politics (my husband will because he’s a punk. Be happy you were warned – you will see what happens…)

4) Have a wonderful time! We really are a great family. My Grandmothers are warm and fun. My Mother will be overwhelmed, but when she calms down she is a delight. Grampy is a riot, if you let him adjust and listen very closely. Good luck with my Father and my Brother – you are going to need it.

That’s just about it. I look forward to meeting you, and hope you like football so my husband doesn’t have to watch it by himself.

Kind Regards,
-Aj

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Report from Reality: Ben Folds @ Radio City, Nov. 7th (sorry - late)

Ben Folds is my favorite musical artist, hands down, so of course this Report from Reality would be nothing but glowing. So to spare you the gushing and the drivel, I will instead share with you the story of the end of the concert.

Around 10:55, Ben is approached by a large, roadie type, who whispers in his ear. Ben proceeds to tell the audience that he will soon be kicked off the stage, and then started another tune.

The song ended, and as the crowd cheered he yelled into the microphone something to the effect that he was going to run off the stage, but that he and the band were going to run right back and this way, we could pretend it was an encore. He did exactly that.

After that last song, he was approached once more. Ben said into the mic that He would be charged $10,000 if he went any longer, and ended the show by standing on the piano, leading the audience in singing the 3 part harmonies from "Not the Same", then walking off the stage as the audience continued.

Once he left the stage, a wall of roadies took to the scene. The backdrop fell, revealing the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Two minutes later, the instruments were gone. In five, we were pushed out the doors by anxious ushers.

The show itself was warm and fuzzy. Radio City was a terrible host. Thank you Ben, for telling it like it was and letting us in on what the rush was about.

BTW, the Orchestra from the RCCS settled their disagreement with Radio City, and will rejoin the show for the first time this season on Friday. If the way Ben was treated was any indication of the way RC management treats talent, I am not surprised that the orchestra went on strike in the first place.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

We buried Lola today.

Her name was Lola. She was a showgirl. She was also our hamster and we loved her very much.

During a freezing cold February 2 years ago, we lost her. The ground was frozen outside our apartment, and we couldn't bury her. We were not going to throw her out, and we certainly were not going to flush her (that is only for fish, thank you). We also wanted her to be buried somewhere more permanent, like in the backyard of one of our parent's homes (that, and we don't have a shovel). But getting Lola back to New York would be interesting too...

So we put her in the freezer. Behind the bagels.

We would go back to New York for a visit and forget her. When we would remember her, the ground would be frozen again. She was out of sight so we would often forget to move her out of her "spot", and whenever we thought to do it we were afraid that she may thaw out.

Last week I was at my parent's home, and while transferring wedding gifts out of the garage I spotted a small garden shovel. I asked my Mother if I could borrow it.

So it is today, November 12th 2005, about 21 months after her passing, that my husband and I decided to bury her outside of our apartment. I feel badly that we didn't do better by her.

She was my favorite pet - which is probably why I was so paralyzed by thought and couldn't do what really had to be done. She was very friendly - a quality that dwarf hamsters are not known for. She loved her hamster ball, and never tried to break out of her cage. She never bit unless provoked, and won over the heart of everyone that encountered her. She was truly a very special hamster.

I'm sorry Lola. I hope we have finally done right by you.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


My gym’s aerobic classes are much like a Sunday morning tent revival.

I enter the studio and sneak into the back row of the class. The others pile in, packing the room until one can hardly move – let alone move enough to break a sweat.

But who is The Gym to turn away those who want to repent for their weekly sins? Can I Get a Witness?

The Instructor comes into the room and receives a warm reception from the crowd. He knows many by name, and understands their transgressions. A CD is popped into the player, he steps up to the alter and begins with the confession.

My confession today? That I actually kinda don’t mind warming up to Donna Summer’s rendition of MacArthur Park. Please have mercy on my soul.

The main work out suddenly begins.

The room is so full that if you miss a step, you are likely to take a tennis shoe to the jaw. The group writhes to the beat, grunting along with the music and loudly counting out the repetitions. Nobody has asked them to count – they just do.

The strangest phenomenon that happens is among the fanatics in the congregation. There are many who, at the peril of everyone else, decide to scoot across the floor in random directions while flailing their arms and spinning in some kind of endorphin inspired rapture. I don’t understand them. I just want to come in, do my thing, and get out unnoticed –unlike the whirling dervish that just flung a fist into my stomach.

For the quite gym go-er such as myself (who this year plans on attending Gym only a couple more times other than the high holy days – January 2nd, November 25th and December 26th), I’d rather not have much to do with the parishioners. For this reason, the worst thing is about to happen.

After guiding the class in what might as well be a 45-part combination of kicks, jumping jacks and hi-bred cha-cha meringue moves, I realize I should have worn a more supportive bra.

The Instructor tells everyone to face left.

We repeat the entire combination, and The Instructor again tells us to face left.

I am now at the front of the class. Leading the 45-part rumba nightmare. And my breasts are everywhere. I feel as though I have been dragged up to the front of the congregation to be cleansed of my sins – to have the hands of humiliation laid upon me to remove all of the dirty, sinful dignity from my spirit. I am drenched in sweat and panting – mostly because there is not much oxygen left in the air to breathe because the others have already gotten to it.

Finally, after what seems like a purgatories’ length of time, the class is Instructed to turn left once more. My penance is over.

Class ends with a cool down – a meditation of sorts, which ends with fingers touching toes, then arms out to the sides, then a stretch to the ceiling. The Instructor looks up to the heavens, arms reaching out, euphoric. He then brings his hands together, lowers them to his chest, and finishes with a bow.

A bit melodramatic for aerobics, but the class seems to be with him.

As I drive home, I think of whether I am being too critical of the people in the class, and of the instructor. I decide that I have been too judgmental. What matters is that these people are doing what makes them happy – and that in itself can be a sort of salvation.

Just give me my salvation with extra spandex and an under wire.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

I post with apologies - it has been far too long.

I plan to write weekly for a while for now. I'll try to pull together something on Thursdays to appear for Friday if you want to check in.

The weather has been beautiful in New Jersey, and I'm sure you really can't blame me for taking in as much warmth as I can until the winter hits. Tonight will probably mark the end of the beauty, so I'll be back indoors for a while.

Again, look for more on Fridays, and thank you for checking in on me.

Much love,
-Aj

Thursday, October 20, 2005



One of the women in the "girl band" picture bares a strange resemblance to my sister


And the woman on the bottle looks too much like me.


There's something really freaky about seeing something completely foreign with your own face on it.

Sunday, October 16, 2005


Right now, I can piece together a playlist in ITunes, hit burn, and it's done painlessly. Instant mix.

Mix tape creation, on the other hand, was something of an art. One would skillfully think out the list of tracks that they wanted to have on the tape. If you were making tapes in the early ninties, before CDs, you had to own a double-decked tape player/recorder. If the machine didn't have the ability to high-speed copy, completing a tape was going to take a while.

Start the tape on one deck, and hit "record" on the other. Wait for the song to end. Rewind - play back - rewind - play back on the tape until you were close enough to the end of one song that you could record the next without too much blank space. If you used the pause button on the tape deck that held the mix tape, you were able to avoid the annoying "click" sound that would be produced if you hit stop instead, and neglected to record over the click because you didn't do the rewind - play back - rewind - play back ritual before adding the next track.

And if your songlist was too long...if the last song cut out before the end of the tape - jeez, it could either:

A) Ruin the mood of the ending
B) Cause a new choice of ending song, which could ruin the whole mood of the tape
C) Cause you to start taping all over again, to:
1)Tighten up the open spaces
2)Re-choose all of the tracks, because the mood is forever tainted.

I have received many mix tapes over the years. Some from friends, many from men. The first time someone gave me a mix tape was in 8th grade. The quirkiest one was from a High School friend in 1992. The most controversial were ones I had received from a coworker in 1999. My favorite tapes are from my husband, circa 1994. I know that I have never formally parted with a single one, although my tape player could easily chew through any of them. They are a history of different introductions to new sounds. The tapes were also journeys into someone else's internal soundtrack that often vastly differed from my own.

Now the techno-savvy exchange Mix CD's. The love of music and the desire to share a mood, a feeling or a whim are all still there, but much of the labor is gone. Although now the ease of mixing is fantastic, there was always something sublime about hearing that final note followed by 3 seconds of silence and a loud, hollow click.

Monday, October 10, 2005


Once I was in a very public discussion about the Vagina Monologues.

How I got into this situation is a completely different and extremely long story.

Regardless, I was asked, “If your vagina could speak, what would it say”?

I responded, “My vagina cannot be reached for comment. She is at the spa for the week. She is wrapped in a cotton robe and taking it easy. You may speak to her next week, when she will be up for another month of activity, and before she has to rest again”.

Yup. On the rag.

I don’t understand why the topic is still taboo. Maybe it’s a government plot to ignore the fact that the body needs rest. We should all embrace the menses! Today’s my first day of my coochie’s monthly break! I’m ready to celebrate! I can’t plug-up my enthusiasm – I have to let it flow!

Woo hoo! My girl’s taking some time off! The rest of me should take a hint from her and tell the world I’m taking a week off every month. No, it’s not convenient. It never is. But when is a break really convenient? It needs to be taken, regardless of circumstances. Regardless of the mess it always creates.

All can learn from the wise coochie. Everyone deserves a period.




pic is from www.tamponart.com

Thursday, September 29, 2005

I am down to 3 squares.

I will probably need more than 3 squares before I leave.

Thinking that I could make it until my next shopping trip, I held off buying more. I got my direct deposit this morning, so I had planed on waiting until I had more money before shopping. Now I am about to leave my bedroom and prepare for the day, knowing that between me and my front door are 3 squares. Only 3 squares. This has to be well managed.

I'm drinking my morning beverage now, before my shower. What if the 3 squares aren’t enough? Shower is the back up. But what if I am in need of the squares after the shower? Another shower?

When my husband leaves for business trips, I become another person. When I come home from work, rather than taking care of business (sweetie's influence), I collapse in front of a machine that talks at me. It tricks me into believing that I'm not at home alone. When I leave the house, I am tired and reminded that not only am I on my own, but that I know very few people in the area and that I am alone. I used to love the anonymity. Now it kind of gets me down.

And this is what I get for it. 3 squares. Me thinks its time to re-locate my tissue box.

Monday, September 19, 2005



Footsie.

Last week my husband was telling me a story about the old days back in college. Sweetie and I went to college together, so I was around probably more often than he would prefer. We were dating while we were freshman, and one night we were studying in the dorm's lounge with another girl from down the hall.

Funny, but I had no idea until the other night (while my husband was telling the story) that 11 years ago that slut was playing footsie under the table with my boyfriend while I was sitting there.

Apparently, not a particularly mild game of footsie either.

It was 11 years ago. I am pissed.

That little disrespectful bitch.

I take the time now to reflect.

When I think back to the girl I was 11 years ago, I imagine what that girl would do if privy to this tidbit. Maybe cry? Maybe offer my boyfriend a break-up to see if life is any sweeter on the other side? Maybe flip the girl off behind her back.

Then I think of the girl I am now.

Looking across the table to see my boyfriend's face and sensing a certain tension in the room, I would instantly know what was up. I would call her out while her foot was still firmly planted on his thigh. Slapping her swiftly across the mouth, I would re-introduce myself as a woman not to be fucked with. Ever. I would threaten to box her head in if she ever disrespected me in that manner again. Flirt with him all you want, but not in front of me or under the table I'm sitting at.

I would then walk out of the room and crazy-glue the lock to her suite.

I'm not bitter so much as I'm a woman learning how much she has grown…

No - I'm bitter.

I was played. I didn't know. I didn't have the chance to stand up for myself.

But now I do.

Friday, September 16, 2005



The Award-Winning Beefsteak Sculpture!

Thursday, September 15, 2005


Beefsteak.

Tonight my honey and I went to a Beefsteak. I think it's a Jersey thing, along with basket and cookware parties (the joys of suburbia). A way of making money – this time for a local basketball team.

We arrived at the restaurant around 7:30 pm. They served some cold anti-pasta, then some not-so-anti pasta. This was followed by the steak.

Little pieces of meat on little pieces of bread. Buttered bread. Buttered steak. All you can eat.

You eat the first couple of pieces with the bread, because it tastes good. After that, you would have to be a lunatic to continue to eat any more. Regardless, we continue in the gluttony, now discarding the bread (we made a lovely sculpture with it in the middle of the table) and consuming more red meat than, well, we should be consuming.

I asked if there was any salad. I was laughed at.

After the meal was the main event - a "Tricky Tray". It is a Chinese Auction, but re-named to be less offensive. There were no trays involved, leaving me quite confused. Again, I think this must be a Jersey thing - maybe developed by someone on the verge of a meat-induced coma.

So they auctioned off all kinds of things that I would never want. Things like free oil changes, supermarket gift certificates, candles and inflatable lawn ornaments (apparently giant snow globes are going to be the hit of the holiday season. Great. I can inflate it and display it by partially shoving it out of my apartment window - just like my neighbors do. No, I'm not kidding). Needless to say, I did not win the one prize I set my heart on (Broadway Show tickets and dinner for 2), but we did win best bread sculpture (a pyramid of buttered bread with a breadstick wrapped in steak on top - a true thing of beauty).

My stomach and I had a long discussion when we got home. It told me that it had been so happy with the way I had been treating it all week, with the bland food and lack of butter. Now, I have again betrayed its trust, and I will tell you my intestines made a huge stink of the whole matter. I'm not sure we will be on speaking terms for a while.

Now to bed - hopefully the cow hormones have worn off and I can get some rest.

Monday, September 12, 2005

My college roommate wrote today. She's been MIA for the past couple of months, but I had really thought little of it. Turns out that she has been working in the Lesbian Porn industry.

Yup. Lesbian Porn.

All this time I think that my little life has been the stuff of awe and wonder. The ranting about rogue poo. The dreams of creating reality television around my in-laws. The temps - ah, the dreaded temps. All to be eclipsed. Eclipsed by a confession way too amusing to be the stuff of imagination.

Lesbian Porn. How can I beat that?

No, she has not become an actress. More of a studio administrator. It is still a riot.

Am I allowed to assume her personal adventure as material to make me funnier? "Yeah? Well my friend is working in the Lesbian porn industry." I tried that one at work today, and although it did go over pretty well, I felt like it was all a sham. My stories of once being a "short bus" driver are far less amusing, but at least I don't feel as cheap telling them. At least those tales are mine.

So I'll keep trying with my own material until I give up on the dream. My friends will still remain an endless source of inspiration:

The best friend that hob-knobs with carnies
The high school pal who gave up Opera for Psychiatry
The camp friend who has a new career choice each time I speak to her
The other camp friend who called the other day from her job, and had to cut the call short because she had to go "chase someone down"
The sister who is one of my best comedy partners
The brother who is really uncomfortable about the sister's adulthood,
The new friend that retches whenever his involvement with VH1's "101 Hottest Hotties" is mentioned
The family friend who recently spent a day at an amusement park strung out on 2 pot brownies
The sister-in-law who mothers a hamster, 2 cats and a new husband
The 2 friends who's partner just moved in and whose heart has obviously been claimed (funny, one moved from Texas, the other to Texas - a plot in itself)...

...but those are their stories, not mine.

I'll try from here on in to not pirate the tales, but if I may...

Damn! Lesbian Porn!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

We have since returned from Maine.

Ah, Maine. Land of micro-brews, seafood, blown tires and comedians named "Yo, Adrian". But that's for another time and place.

On this, my 4th pilgrimage in 3 years, we brought my honey's best friend from high school. WC is a sweet guy. Big heart. Warm personality. Screwed up internal clock.

WC gets in the car last Thursday evening and is all energy. That evening, when we make our first stop of the trip in Connecticut, he says he can't sleep and wants to stay up a bit. The next morning, there is a strange beverage on the nightstand (remnants of orange, cranberry and tonic), and WC in bed, still half-dressed from the night before. Seems he had been in the hotel bar, which lead to another bar, then back to the hotel. He slept through the majority of driving the next day.

That evening, we stayed in a hotel next to the Portland International Jetport. Knowing that there were no local bars, we spent the majority of the night in Portland, drinking at pubs and watching WC pick up girls.

This is where we witnessed "Dance Fight"

A lanky, sweaty guy in a white tank top, black biker shorts and yellow construction hat challenged onlookers to "Dance Fight". He moved like that awkward white guy you can see at weddings. You know the one. He's quite at the beginning of the night, but about 4 hours into the party he's on the floor doing the snake. The difference between sloppy white guy at the wedding and "Dance Fight" guy is that DF is clearly sober and is being followed by videotaping friends. As he flailed about on the cobble stone streets, the posse cheered the train wreck on. It was a sight to behold. But I didn't want to behold it for too long - for fear of getting a rash.

We return to the hotel at 2:00, and WC is back on the prowl - this time getting friendly with the folks at the hotel front desk. At 9:00 am we awaken to another strange left over beverage (half consumed Orangina), and a passed-put WC. For the rest of the day he took frequent catnaps.

Next night, same of the second. This time WC was in the hotel lobby until 4:00 am. Seems he fell asleep watching wrestling, and the guy at the desk had to wake him up. Orangina again was the mystery beverage of choice.

Outside of a potential date with a front-desk clerk (he wrote her a customer review card that could have been easily mistaken for a letter of intent), WC was unsuccessful in finding a mate this weekend. What he was successful in was:

1) Providing beverage intrigue with each new day.
2) Providing an excuse for me and my honey to stay out after our usual 10:00 pm bedtime.
3) Providing many an instance to take pictures of his sleepy ass all over the back seat of the car.

FYI - establishments of note:
Bull Fenney's for Irish food, fresh pots of loose-leaf tea and wide beer selection. Delish.

Gritty McDuff's for a great fresh beer and fantastic people watching.

The Oasis on Wharf Street is ok, I suppose, if you're into meat markets. When I'm doing test-tube shots, it tells you that this married girl was really bored. There is a dance floor inside and up the stairs, which felt like it was going to cave in. It's a wonder we made it out alive.

Gilbert's Chowder House is Mecca for those looking for chowder. Enough said.

Check out the pier at Old Orchard Beach in Saco, and the shopping in Freeport if you want to venture further...worth the effort.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Hey folks - me and the Mister are in Maine!

We stayed in Conn. on Thursday night, leaving only about 3 hours of driving yesterday. Portland is fantastic. Shepard's Pie at Bull Fineys' is the best in the business. Drinking at Gritty's is great ("Vacationland" is a micro-brew on tap that starts smooth and finishes "hoppy" - refreshing for the summer). We'll be starting out today in Freeport, and returning to Portland for Gilbert's super seafood chowder for lunch (the food of the gods).

Will write more later - Aj

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Yesterday I had to fire a temp for not being able to answer a phone.

Temp #1 shook my hand with well-manicured, clammy fingertips. Blinked with eyes outlined in about a quarter inch of black liquid liner. Walked in little white flip-flops that smacked her heals with each step.

Have I ever worn flip-flops to the office? Yes, BUT I WORK THERE! I WAS NOT A TEMP ON HER FIRST DAY!!!

It's all right, I think. I'm a nice person. She's young. She looks 12-ish. Kinda cute in a prosta-tot way. Besides, I just need her to answer the phones.

In a matter of 1 1/2 hours, she managed to drop every call received. She could not pick up a ringing phone and say hello.

I began picking up the lines, hearing from those calling that they had tried earlier, but they just couldn't get through that morning. I blamed it on the last night's storm.

After several attempts, the temp agency finally got a call through to me. They had even figured out that this was entirely no good. I sent her home at 12:00, saying that the day was really slow and that I had misjudged our need.

I'm a nice person. I lied.

Not her fault. She was not phone competent. I had requested phone competence. The temp agency set her up to fail.
I'd try another agency tomorrow.

Today, Temp #2 comes in. She had a much better handshake. That's about it.

Temp #2 spent her first hour answering the phone with the wrong company name.
Temp #2 passed a call to my boss, saying "Joe is on line 1, he is from, uh, a company with a lot of names".
Temp #2 asked a caller twice what her name was, and repeatedly called her Julie after she had responded "Alice"
Temp #2 lost calls, screwed up extensions, but got quite a lot of work done on an outside project that she brought.

When I called the temp agency and told them about the first hour's disaster, they asked if anyone had told her the name of the company. I thought, "Gee, that's your job”, but said, "well, it's on the door, and she had to have come in somehow". They asked if I wanted her day to end early, and I told them I was hard pressed for help. I had a meeting, and although the calls may get fucked up, at least they were picked up.

I sent Temp #2 home with a smile and a mention of seeing her tomorrow.

I'm a nice person. I lied.

Not her fault. She was not phone competent. I had requested phone competence. The temp agency set her up to fail.

I followed up with the agency to make sure they would let her know not to come back. They said of course they would. I'm not too sure. Every time I had contacted the agency they screwed up my name (where do you get Lisa from Aj?) and often answered the phones saying, "Good Morning, uh, I mean Good Afternoon. This is, uh...hello?” Really should have known. But I was polite. Not about to berate anyone for being a complete idiot.

I'm a nice person.

Temp #3 comes tomorrow.
Two nights ago, I was lying on the couch watching television. I hear a series of taps on the window-mounted air conditioner. Peaking out the window, I see that the sound was caused by the downpour of a passing storm. The sky is lit with bold shocks of lightning, which are shortly followed with the tear and boom of thunder. The temperatures had dropped due to the storm, so I turn off the AC, turn off the television, open the front door and sit in the doorway.

The drone of the air conditioner and television gone, I breathe in the acidic moisture from the street. The rain is falling in waves against the pavement. The tapping on the air conditioner and the ceiling is louder, and calming. My childhood bedroom was a concert hall during rainstorms, and often the sound of drops against the house would lull me to sleep. There comes a point when the sound no longer seems like it is coming from outside, but more like it had permeated inside. I look around franticly wondering why the drops sound like they are falling in the kitchen, but find nothing. The rain has thrown its voice.

The sounds of our environment are often agumented by humanity. The birds in this area mock the sound of car alarms. Save for the wind and the rain, how many sounds really connect us with those who have gone before? I have to assume that a rainstorm probably sounds generally softer when there is less pavement. But a storm's force on a house in the past as well as now must sound similar. It does if you decides to leave the comfort of white noise and forced air.

I opened up the windows, and let the outside energy push out the days-old processed air inside. The storm lets up. I feel strangely renewed.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

My Mother in Law can kick your Mother in Law's ass.

I kid you not. Do not mess with my Mother in Law.

Whenever I wince in pain as she complains about restaurant service, co-workers or family members, I now channel my anxiety into a game. I imagine a "Mother in Law Death Match" of sorts. Maybe a bit more like BattleBots.

Lights come onto the platform and I sit ringside, behind a steel cage, dressed in a theme-park poncho. In the far corner, your Mother in Law. Yeah, she looks tough. When she visits your home she runs her finger along your shelves and says, "Honey, if you really need the help, you should hire someone. Really". When the topic of children comes up (and you never mentioned it), she weeps until you bring your 2 year "wait period" down to 6 months. And she never has anything nice to say about you to anyone. Ever.

Enter my Mother in Law.

The crowd erupts as she lights a cigarette and gazes, completely unaffected, through your Mother in Law. She takes a few steps closer, sniffs a bit, sucks down a drag and stares down her bent nose at your Mother in Law's left hand.

"Nice ring. The stone would look a lot bigger if you cleaned it".

Your Mother in Law coughs from the smoke blown in her face.

"You have a problem with the smoke? Well, I've got a problem with you. Who the hell do you think you are to tell me how to live my life?"

See that? She's already all over your Mother in Law! All your Mother in Law did was cough! Bring the Pain!!!

She'll spend the next half hour chewing your Mother in Law out, leveraging superhuman mind-fucks. A brass-knuckled, backhanded complement. Poisoned-dagger glances. And guilt. She'll mystically make you feel guilt for being beaten by her. And make no mistake; my Mother in Law has beaten you.

I sit in the cage, covered in salty tears, cigarette ash and reeking of Chanel no. 5.
Damn, she's good.

Monday, August 08, 2005

TMI alert - Toilet story

The other day I was attacked by a turd.
Yes. A turd.

All I wanted to do was clean the toilet. Simple. A little cleaning solution, a toilet brush. A quick flush, swish, brush and flush. Done.

As I swirl the water around the bowl with the brush, this lingering turd leapt up from the bowels of the bowl and smudged up onto my toilet brush. I had run the brush around the bowl at least twice before realizing what had happened.

What does one do with the brush at this time? Rinse it in the toilet? Too late for that. In the tub? Ahhhh, no. The sink?

So I had a small funeral for the brush and the adorable rubber-ducky holder that was it's home. Peace out nasty. We now have a new brush in new Hello Kitty toilet brush holder (my husband believes that Kitty's true place is next to the toilet - easier for him to piss on her).

Until now, I had never been attacked by a rogue turd. May this never happen to you or your children. Nasty.