Sunday, July 29, 2007

The coast is finally clear. I am free to write.

Lately I see personality traits of my mother bubbling to the surface of my psyche. For example, like my mother, I enjoy waiting for the perfect moment to enjoy a treat. If presented a gift of fine tea or a small box of chocolates, I wait for a quiet pause to savor the experience.

I remember one evening years ago my mother cut her finger on the razors edge of a canned ham. The exact circumstances surrounding the incident are unclear, but I know she was annoyed by either something my father did in his usual oblivion, or by me and/or my siblings in our own unique state of self-involvement. Either way, she just stood there bleeding from one hand and ham in the other – the result of loosing focus on the chore at hand due to aggravation. She did not want stitches, and she sure as hell didn’t want to go to a doctor. She sucked it all in, and with little assistance dressed her own wound. Tough as nails.



The Yoo-hoo bottle was in the sink.
That drink was for me.
I did not consume it.
I did not put the bottle there.
Empty.
Motherfucker.

Bitterness flowed up into my veins. I felt its grip in my jaw. It had been 6 days. It was supposed to be 3 and we were now at 6. Day 6 and my Yoo-hoo was gone.

Fuck hospitality.

I rinsed the bottle and threw it in the pail. It shattered at the bottom. Fucking dishes were in the sink…again. I picked up the cheese slicer at the bottom of the sink, and began to clean it.

Not just for Jarlsburg anymore - apparently cheese slicers are great for fingers as well!

My right ring finger was suddenly spilling blood. No skin remained to fold over the wound – a clear chunk was removed. I ran through the house yelling profanities, and looking for a bandage. Later I would retrace my steps with a paper towel, cleaning up the puddles on the floor.

I called my husband, but I really needed my mother.

After some tears, I realized it was time to find my own “tough as nails” place. I sucked it up, took a breath, and awkwardly dressed my own wound.

Last night, I called my mother. I told her about the last 7 days. We laughed about her 5 days as host, an event that took place long ago with her own husband’s best friend. The one who also overstepped boundaries of time and tact. She was surprised that I had the ability to speak after my own ordeal, but that is my father in me (who also surfaced during the before mentioned swear-laden first-aid-kit search). I told her about the Yoo-hoo, and I didn’t even have to explain – she knew.

“You wanted to savor it, didn’t you”?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Hi. I'm Aj. And I have a cat problem.

No, they are not my cats. They are my neighbor's cats.
No, they do not come out on my property. I don't even see them.
But I can smell them.
They pee on the connecting wall, and it's driving me mad.

My neighbor, Bane McAssHole, has a problem cleaning a litter box, it seems. Either that or he's patching holes in the mortar with litter chucks.

The only time I hear McAssHole is on garbage & recycling day.
No, not because he's taking it out.
He's taking other people's trash in.
He is also conveniently not around when the health department comes by.

The other day he had a blackbird in the front window,
Thrashing around trying to get out.
I heard it later being attached by the cats.
I can see where it got in, and have seen other birds like it.

But the biggest problem for me is the cats.
More than 3 cats requires a kennel license.
"Can you prove he has more than 3"? Health Department Guy says?
"No. He keeps the little peeing machines in the house. But I can smell them
when it gets hot
and the AC is off
and whenever I'm home and health department guy is off duty"

So I'm thinking of breaking a hole in the wall
and saving the cats.
Cause cats don't like living this way,
And I sure as hell don't like living this way.
But I fear the wrath of Bane
Cause he's nasty in smell as well as temperament.

But I'm not to talk about it to anyone.
Cause we're embarrassed to say
that sometimes our guest room smells like stale cat ass.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Today I ran the longest distance I ever have in my life - I completed a 5K as a runner rather than a walker. Like a dork I sprinted at the finish line, and came in at a steller 36 min. and 40 sec. I have beat my 15 minute mile (which I was famous for in High School).

Funny that I am able to do what I was not able to 15 years ago. But there's a catch...

I've been sleeping, eating and drinking water all day!
My body is taking the rest of the day off (not my congnative choice either!)!
I'm relatively useless!

So I'll take today, but will learn for next time - I think between now and October I can figure out why my system crashed.

Time for a nap.

Friday, June 22, 2007

New Blog!!!

In an attempt to diversify, Professional Tourists has expanded to a BRAND NEW SITE!!!

Que Traveling Music

Every good trip deserves a soundtrack - especially trips taken by Professional Tourists.

I hope you'll check it out!
-Aj

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Tomorrow, I rejoin the workforce.

I just left my rooftop deck, where I enjoyed a glass of wine and read a bit. The sunset fizzled out early tonight, but since the row houses block my view of the horizon, I wasn't disappointed.

This has been the longest amount of time I've experienced without a job since I left college. The span left me inside my own head way too long. After this experience, I don't believe I will ever be interested in retirement...but ask me again in 30 years ;)

My lack of action on the teashop is not an excuse due to fear. It's playing the game of life conservatively for the time being. We have a mortgage. We have "family planning". I'm not playing solo - I'm a valued member of a team of two. Besides, I made some fantastic connections last week and I suspect I can keep my toe in the tea pool - and cannonball at will. It really is all about strategy and timing.

But for tonight, I am strangely relaxed for "night before first day". Mostly because the last 95+ days have forced me into my own skin, and have given me the confidence to feel that whatever will be fed to me tomorrow is something I can handle.

I'm finally okay with this. It's go time.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

For the next 4 days, I will have the luxury of pulling my head out of my own ass.

My cousin is getting married, then shortly afterward I will be traveling to Atlanta GA to attend an annual tea expo.

For the past 86 days, I have been living a lie.

I have told the multitudes that the career I am looking for is one of a customer service rep/marketing manager/traffic coordinator/account executive. All because it’s been so damn hard to start doing what I really want to, with it’s subsequent pay loss and “start at ground level” reality.

So now, for a short time, I can feel free to be myself. A woman among her family. A woman who wants to manage or own a tearoom, and create on the side. But while that goal is still out of reach, I’ll have to continue lying in order to stay in the game.

Good thing my stellar dancing skills are distracting enough. I was so inspired at the last wedding that there is video. Me vs. my cousin – white folk disaster dancing at its best. I trust there will be a rematch throw-down, but how will I top what went down 2 years ago? Catapilliar? Moonwalk? The Carlton Dance? Maybe I’ll kick it old school, Bawlmar “Hairspray” style with “The Bug” or “The Roach”! Bet they’d never see that coming! They probably wouldn’t understand it either. This is Lawngoiland after all.

So the plan:

1) Enjoy wedding
2) Don’t get drunk enough where head returns to the comfort of my own ass
3) If someone asks about job, say “tea” and then ask him or her to dance
a.Regardless of age
b.Regardless of gender
c.Regardless of relation
4) After wedding, board plane
5) Upon arrival, fake it till I make it
6) Upon return, do the same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try to take over the world.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Happy Monday!
Welcome to my report on best job headlines of the weekend from Craig’s List B’more!!!
Would you reply?:

Sat, June 2nd

Afternoon Delight. Make Cheese in Your Pjs - customer service

BECOME AN ORDAINED MINISTER! - nonprofit

Play free online games for money - et cetera

Market our biz while loading your PayPal account (Baltimore area) - marketing/advertising/PR

Sunday, June 3rd

Facebook? Myspace? This is the next step!! - customer service

ABSOLUTELY PERFECT IS A RIP OFF!!!! - food/beverage/hospitality

Actors/Actresses Needed For 48Hr. Film Competition (Baltimore) - tv/film/video/radio

Paid research studies, no bs, no riches either, just extra easy pocket (Baltimore online) - et cetera

Monday, June 4th

Looking for a Passionate and Reliable Dance Educator - education/teaching

Phone Actresses get started now! - customer service

Let me teach you Italian ABSOLUTELY FREE! - education/teaching

ACHIEVE FINANCIAL FREEDOM! EARN $300-$1000/WEEK! WEEKLY PAY! - admin/office


Good morning, World! Overwhelmingly impressive employment opportunities like these make employment searches like mine feel like a slow jog on a Mobius strip. At least my coffee tastes good ;)

Thursday, May 31, 2007

My beautiful deck has become Pigeon Patio.
Mamma pigeon introduced her babies to my deck for some shade, sun and peace.
They are very cute.
Their shit is everywhere.

Shit on the landing
Shit on the railings
Shit on the steps
Shit on my hands, as I run about with a bucket, brush and water doing battle

...and more shit is on the way. If you don't leave the house to seek the shit, no fear. Shit will find you at home. Guaranteed.

And in about 15 min., more shit will arrive. I'll let you know how that goes.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Does this job interview make me look fat?

Yesterday I unintentionally appeared at an employment cattle call. When answering ads, I try my best to avoid employment agencies, but sometimes it can't be helped. Sometimes good comes out of it. But nothing good can come out of an employment cattle call.

The room is always filled with identically dressed people, and there's always the schmuck who interviews you, who seems more interested in the fact that you have a heartbeat than a resume. You then have to endure a 30-45 min sales pitch about what he does and how it's fantastic work, rather than the anticipated 45 min. sales pitch you planned to sell yourself.

Warning signs in his pitch:
  • "Ground Level" opportunity
  • "Possibility of 6-figure income"
  • Defining cold-calling and door to door sales as "Public Relations"
  • The words "We are a legit business" are spoken at ANY time during the course of the interview.
  • About 30 min. into the interview you are finally given enough information about the company where you can figure out what they do - and it is nothing like what is described in the ad.
  • If the interviewer makes a joke about taking you to dinner behind your husband's back, and continues the joke saying we can go couples after you clearly give the impression that you get the joke, but are not flattered or amused by it.

Look. I'm 31 years old. I have been out of college for 9 years. I am not a child. I am not a moron. I am not falling for a ploy. This "opportunity" is selling discount coupons door to door for restaurants. Coupons that's creative is done in India. I have already done door to door sales, back in the 80's with the Girl Scouts. THEY don't even go door to door anymore!

And of course what's better is that these coupons encourage people to consume more. They pay for the coupons so they can have a bargain at a restaurant, and of course will use all of the coupons because they paid for them. Eat eat eat. Consume consume consume. Feed more oblivious cattle who feel they have "benefited" from your product, then invite some of this new American Cow to your cattle call to sell more. "Again, we're a legit business," he says. "Look for our seal on the back of the coupon sheet the next time someone comes to your door". Like hell I will - there won't be time to look for anything, as I will be too busy slamming the door.

So there are lots of ways to make money in America. Many "corporations" of one sales guy lay hiding in industrial parks, behind the masks of fresh faced girls answering phones. I wonder how many people were "recruited" yesterday. I'd call back to say thank you for the opportunity to meet, but I feel this guy already wasted enough of my time. And I wore my suit for that?!?!

Employers: If you cannot describe your opportunity in 1-2 sentences (3 if you have tendency to ramble), do not reply to my job inquiry. Save us both the hassle.

I will do my best to stay true to the mantra:

"I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that. " -John Cusack as Lloyd Dobbler in Say Anything

...but I'm beginning to loose hope. Is there any other way?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I came across a blog post today, which spoke a bit to the level of consumerism we as a country have reached...

http://www.chrisbarton.info/blog/2007/05/what-hath-shrek-wrought.html

Being without excessive expendable income, and having just reduced the amount of "stuff" I own due to moving, I have become acutely aware of how my own consumption over the years has unfortunately defined me.

We as a culture have been reduced to one of fear and consumption. What would happen to us if we stopped buying out of compulsion? Would we then have to face our fears of want? It only leads us to consume more - pills, alcohol, food - all industries that profit from insecurity. An insecurity which keeps a passive generation from action.

I am ashamed of myself. Mostly because I'm still having a problem getting past my own fear. Will future generations have it any easier?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


We are quickly approaching the 2 month mark, ladies and gentlemen, and there's still time to get in your pledge of any gainful employment!

You can help a woman in Baltimore Maryland reach her goal of contributing to her mortgage as well as to the good of society. Maybe you need help watching your kids, planting some bulbs or power-washing your deck. Perhaps you need an administrative associate, marketing guru or voice-over actor. Ever think of opening your own teashop? Help her help you by offering her a job!

Time is running out...this offer will expire once enough time has elapsed that our "B'more Hun" looses her mind to vapid afternoon television, fruitless hours of Craig's List job hunting, and the ever-present sense that her in laws have nothing to say about her to her husband other than "why is she still unemployed?" Please pledge now - operators are standing by!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Back in B'more, 1 hour behind mentally and 7 pounds heaver physically.
Thank you to the midwest for the minor jetlag and the lovely bbq...

Sunday, May 06, 2007

I am a Yankees Fan.

Clemens is a sell out.

Enough said.
Pouring rain, flash flooding, and now a second tornado in Oklahoma.

Get me the fuck out of Dodge.

I do hurricanes. That's what I know. I don't do tornadoes.

We're just outside of Kansas City MO tonight. Got to walk around their downtown and Westport. Fantastic tea at Teadrops* - solid variety of teas, beautiful selection of BeeHouse teapots, and affordable matcha accessories. The people behind the counter were very pleasant, and I felt welcome. They are very much what I want my tearoom to be - they have "it".

Anyhoo, enough about tea. I'm stalling with my impressions of Kansas. Mostly because I am having problems with finding its redeemable qualities.

I learn something from just about every state I visit, and usually fall in love with one area where I hope to visit again. Branson was something else, as I mentioned. There is a new area called Branson Landing which features local as well as national chain stores in an outside promenade, complete with a huge fountain (complete with show - read lights, fire and FRAMPTON!!! FIIIIRRRE!!!). It was peaceful and lovely for an evening walk. Silver Dollar City is a gem of an amusement park, layered with character and tons to do. Stayed at a swanky hotel and was very pleased with my time there - glittery, gaudy and great.

Kansas has prairies. They are beautiful. Lots of cows. They're everywhere. That's about it.

Something that has me upset for days is the midwestern brand (I do mean brand) of religion.

Even for someone who considers herself faithful, the heartland is over the top. "Christian" religion is everywhere. It made me uncomfortable. Between billboards condemning the sinful and the pro-choice speckle the highways, as well as other instances of this kind of expression, which, due to the reasons why I'm here, I can't elaborate upon. Please trust that the messages was coercive and subversive, conservative and exclusionary and frankly made me mad.

And people are making crazy money off of these messages - kids are wearing t-shirts with altered logos to read something religious. G-d merchandised. And where is the money from that shirt going? Do kids wear this stuff because they believe it or to insure fitting in? The billboards, the huge churches, the flamboyant shows of praise among other things make faith feel less inspired and more socially imposed.

I could not imagine being anything other than a conformist in this place. Perhaps I distrust the midwest because I can feel it's pressure in my chest. If this culture (for what I understand of it) was all I knew I could see it crushing my heart. It'd probably eliminate my acceptance and love for others (which incidentally I learned in church) that have brought a different perspective - and ultimately greater love and joy - to my life.

My soapbox now has a broken board from the length of my rant, and needs to be fixed. That being said I will put it away.

I guess that's all I have to say about that.

-Aj

*Aj approved for delightful tea!
Teadrops
4111 Pennsylvania
Kansas City, MO 64111
(located in Westport)
Made it through a second night in Kansas - it's damn windy out here.
Leaving this morning, heading toward Kansas City MO.
Checkout at 11:00 am - gotta pack up.
More details on my time in the land of Dorothy Gail later tonight (if we have WiFi)...

-Aj

Saturday, May 05, 2007

The tornado touched down about 100 miles west of where we are staying.
My thoughts are with the people down the road who's lives have been altered.
On the news stations, the first question is "how can we help?".
It should be interesting to see how the rest of the day pans out.
Tonight we drove 300 miles from Branson to Witchita, Kansas.

There are many familiar town names to my ears along the way - Oswego, Fredonia and New Albany to note a few. Must have been a migration from the hills and mountians of upstate New York to the prairies of Kansas. Talk about one extreme to another - cause let me tell you, if you have never been to Kansas, it is flat and grassy. Beautiful, but flat and grassy. For miles and miles and miles. I think the people hide in distant valleys or underground, cause the only sign of life you may see for miles are cows, horses, goats and sheep.

The sunset over the prairie was breathtaking.

Then, clear out of nowhere, civilation strikes and you're in Augusta.

It's late as I write, and my body is still recovering from the battle of the bowels. Off to sleep - more Witchita tomorrow.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

I have spent the past 24 hours in Branson, Missouri.
The "Capitol of Live Entertainment".
Home of Yakov Smirnoff & the Andy Williams Moon River Theatre.
It's like Lake George, Wisconcin Dells & Niagra Falls had a child, and it grew up to become a God-fearing, America-lovin' drag queen with a yen for floral prints and madris.
I also now know where all of the sequined American flag baseball caps and fannie packs of the "grannie" set came from.

Middle America is very different for me. I grew up on the East Coast. I don't even know where to begin. I'll take some time to wrap my head around it, and get back to you.

In the meantime, I will now go to sleep, resting on a stomach filled with sausage, peppers, beef jerky, bbq brisket sandwich, kettle corn, chocolate dipped strawberry, peanut brittle, beef and shrimp shish-ka-bob, a glass of reisling, and a cup of mango sorbet. I will fart all night, which will keep the bed plesantly toasty. It will also make the tummy ache go away.Thank you Silver Dollar City (most underated and Aj friendly amusement park ever - just needs some good tea - as if I needed to consume anything else).

Hugs and kisses from the Ozarks,
-Aj

Ps. Sonic Limeade is not what I remember. It sucked. If you go for the Sonic Limeade, I highly recommend adding a cherry flavoring to it. Otherwise, it just tastes like sprite.

Pps. Heading to Kansas tomorrow. Left ruby slippers at home...

Monday, April 30, 2007

B’more Update

Every night of Karaoke should begin with an 80’s glam rock standard. G&R’s “Sweet Child O’Mine” is early enough in their repertoire to fill this requirement. It marked the beginning of my birthday night out, and the night was the perfect beginning to what I trust will be another year of madness.

No job yet – mostly because every fiber of my being is resisting corporate environments, yet craving weekends off. Something has got to give eventually.

Survived the first parental visit to the new digs. Everyone approves. Insert long sigh of relief here.

Will be traveling again soon! Looking forward to getting out to parts unknown…

Friday, March 30, 2007

A good friend speaks of the “curb of the unknown”. You reach the edge, about to step off, but since it is unknown you don’t quite realize it is merely a curb. Well, stepping off the curb was not the problem. It’s the standing in the middle of the street, waiting for the stability bus – all the while tempted to hail the desperation taxi. I’ve hailed those taxis before, which always lead to some crazy crack-den temp agencies where I’ve ended up working for pimps. Don’t want to whore myself out if I can help it, but eventually I’ll have to help out my sugar daddy.

Back to the job hunt. Anyone willing to hire a slightly batty writer with a love of video editing and tea? Please don't let me go back to the streets!

Thursday, March 29, 2007


The move is complete, and my computer connection restored.

Tomorrow I will change over my lisence and registration.

I reside in Baltimore MD. They call it Charm City and the Land of Pleasant Living. So far, I am finding both to be true. My neighborhood is a fantastic mix of city and suburban living, with friendly enough people. My home is comfortable, outside of a mystery scent on the second floor that we have somewhat masked and fear finding the source.

We have a dishwasher and garbage disposal. The washer and dryer kick ass. Best is that my sweety is doing far less traveling so far, and I see him all the time.

I am very very happy.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Life's gotten a bit nutty. A 2 month long customer-service induced holiday breakdown (accompanined by a new wicked bubble-bath addiction), followed by two simultanious Grandmother falls and ongoing recoveries, followed by two major at-work departures (of two favorite co-workers - and leaving me very alone in a very quite office) and now, a relocation. Happy New Year!

Boy got a new job, and we're moving to Maryland.
Closing on a rowhouse next Tuesday.
Planned move 2 weeks later.
Gave notice today.

Peace out NJ and swanky job.

So there it is. No excuse, I know. This is the time I should be writing.
10 points for a swift kick in the ass.