May 31, 2005

A Chat With The Cat

I knew it was time again to have a much needed talk with Gatito, my oldest cat. His name came from the side of a kitten chow box; in Spanish it means “little cat” and we have discovered that in English it actually translates to “sly little furry bastard who will amuse you in his own good time but most often will give you the stare of death when you piss him off.”

The “talk” I had to have with him was not unlike the type you might have with a young child who is usually on his best behavior but turns into the kid from hell around houseguests; embarrassing you at every turn and going all out to ruin a good time.

He’s a large cat, as common house cats go. He weighs about 21 pounds and there isn’t an ounce of fat on his body. He prances about the house in his little “tuxedo” as if to say, “I’m bad, yeah… I’m bad.” For all intents and purposes, he is convinced he rules the roost, and stands at the top of the pecking order. He’s wrong of course, but so as not to bruise his fur-clad ego, we let him think he’s in command.

As the weekend (and company) approached, I knew I’d have to take him aside and give him “the talk” once again. You see, he’s actually quite neurotic. The second he sees us cleaning under furniture and removing dust bunnies from those hard to reach crevices in our 14 foot living room ceiling, he knows we’re going to be entertaining guests. That’s when his neurosis starts to kick in. Bear with me as I offer what I would imagine to be his thought process.

“Oh crap, they’re doing the thorough clean up… this could only mean one thing … the dreaded houseguest.” Then he gasps.

As Ed moved the sofa away from the wall to reach under the floorboard heating device with the vacuum, Gatito backs away slowly, down on his haunches. “No! Not the floorboard vacuum deal! Christ! These people must be pretty special!”

He backs clear out of the room and races up the stairs to the bed to claim position. He thinks to himself “I will NOT accept these changes, I will NOT.” Then, I swear to you, he starts to scheme.

And so, while Ed was off to pick up his daughter and her fiancé at the airport, Gatito enters the room and gives me a look as if to say, “Well? What have you got to say for yourself? Don’t think I don’t know what the plan is here… I heard the word 'airport' and that means SUITCASES. You KNOW I hate suitcases.”

So I picked him up and we had “The Cat Chat” that he has come to know and hate so very much.

Me: Listen buddy, we have to entertain on occasion because if we don’t, people will swear we’re socially inept and they will not send us birthday cards anymore.

Cat: You know I can’t stand change.

Me: Yes, but you WILL behave or we’ll move your litter box while you’re sleeping.

Cat: Go ahead, I’ll dump on the floor where it used to be.

Me: Then we’ll put you on a diet.

Cat: No you won’t because there are two other cats and we’ll band together and meow you to death all night long.

Me: (in deep thought now – rubbing his belly so he’ll retract his claws) Okay well listen then, will you at least refrain from jumping on their stomachs during the night if they forget to close the guest room door?

Cat: You ask so much of me.

Me: (thinking for sure I’ve got an edge now) And could you wait till AFTER breakfast before you take your first ‘special’ crap of the day? You know how that stench wafts through the entire house.

Cat: You know I always get Irritable Bowel Syndrome when guests arrive. I’ll try, but no promises.

Me: (smiling at him and scratching behind his ears … trying to win him over before making the biggest request of the day) Okay Gat-man, we need to discuss the hairballs.

Cat: (trying hard to pull away from me now) You’re pressing your luck.

Me: Come ON, dude. Just this once … just this one time, will you please stay ON THE FLOOR, preferably in the basement, when you feel the need to hawk a hair-lugie? Please?

Cat: But I prefer the couch. It leaves more of a mark and I love how you guys get all excitable trying to clean it up before anyone comes downstairs. Plus you turn the cushions and you KNOW I love freshly over-turned couch cushions. It’s like a whole new bed for me.
Me: (lifting him up to look out back at the pond) Can you tread water?

Cat: Okay couch - off limits. Got it.

Me: And one final request… can you somehow manage to stay clear of Jazzy’s butt for the weekend? You know what it smells like, there’s no need for our guests to witness that sort of activity during dinner.

Cat: Who ARE these people? The Queen and King of England?

Me: No, it’s Stacy … you know Stacy.

Cat: (now curling into the folds of my arms and purring loudly) Aah yes, Stacy. Wait! She’s a cat-lover. I like her. I can live with the rules just this once.

Me: (gently placing him back onto the floor) There’s a good kitty. I knew you could do it.

And so the weekend came and the weekend went, and though I think he did make an effort to do the right thing, he failed us once again.

The hairball fairy came in the night on Saturday and left a lovely surprise (at least it was on the floor) right smack in the center of the living room for all to see first thing in the morning.

I don’t know how he did it but he somehow managed to create the most steamy piles of crap in the litter box at the most embarrassing of times; and to make things worse, he left said piles uncovered. They were like feline works of art – smelly, smelly art.

He pounced on the couch several times without warning and though our guests couldn’t see it, we recognized his angrily flared nostrils each time this stunt failed to shock anyone.

He shed four times the normal amount leaving little black and white clumps on every chair and bed in the house.

But perhaps his best antic yet, was walking all over the brand new air mattress we had bought, puncturing a hole just big enough to offer a nice slow leak so that Stacy and Mike found themselves on the hardwood floor Sunday morning.

It doesn’t help when the guests pet his head at the end of the day and say things in pet-owner-speak like “Oh you’re such a cute kitty.”

When that happens, he shoots us that familiar look that says, “I’m bad… yeah, I’m bad,” and I swear on all things sacred ~ he winks.

May 25, 2005

My Resume; It's Real and It's Spectacular

While sitting in an employment agency many years ago, I was filling out a job skills sheet when I was overcome with a case of inside chuckles. They always offer these pre-printed forms that include such items as “MS Word” and “Powerpoint.” Next to each item is a box that you either check or leave blank. What made me smile inside were visions of a form that might be more appropriate for someone like me to fill out – though I’m unsure as yet what the check-off options might read like.

When people create a resume, they start out with honesty (name and contact information) and ride that wave until the waters get choppy. They might play around with dates to avoid the dreaded “unemployed” time frame, or they may completely bypass jobs that are too embarrassing to admit to. I sometimes wonder if prospective employers would prefer a short bio from the applicant, telling what they can do, what they excel at, and what they wouldn’t do under any circumstances. Wouldn’t it be a more simple process?

Since my chuckle-fit at the employment agency stemmed from imagining what a true-to-life resume of mine might look like, I came home and decided to write one up, in story-telling format. Upon completion, I shared it with some choice friends at the time and they urged me to include it in my book “someday.” Since that time, I’ve continued to hold some rather unique positions, so in order to bring it up to date, I’d have to edit quite a bit.

In the meantime, I’d like to share some of the varied jobs I’ve held in the past thirty-five years. Before reading any further, I’d love for you to imagine yourself as an HR director receiving this piece from an applicant … then let me know if you’d take a chance on me.

My full-time working life began at fifteen years of age. I got my foot in the door at the New York Telephone Company back in the days when you dialed “O” and got a live person (who could actually assist you) ((with a smile in her voice)).

My next job was a receptionist at a posh Wall Street law firm. The year I started working there was only the second year in a row that they allowed women to wear slacks to work.

Following that, I took some temp jobs throughout the city, mostly as a telephone operator, a receptionist, and at clerical type work.

Then the fun began. I won’t be exact in the time frame from this point forward. I don’t have to be … this is purely for entertainment value, and I’ll entertain in any format I damned well please.

I have worked as executive secretary for the president of large and world-renowned advertising firm on Broadway.

I worked in a factory in Red Hook, Brooklyn. (took my life in my hands just walking to car every night)

I was a shill in Las Vegas.

I was personal secretary to one of Liberace’s protégés in LV and had the great joy of speaking to “Lee” many times on the telephone.

I was a telephone answering service operator (too many times and locations to list).

I waitressed at a Greek restaurant. This is where I learned many excellent swear words in Greek.

I was advertising director for a martial arts magazine called “World Tae Kwon Do.” They have since folded (no pun intended).

I was a junior dance instructor (jazz interpretive/tap). “Junior” meant they didn’t have to pay me much.

I was a classified sales rep at a shopper’s guide newspaper. Started out as a receptionist, moved up to administration then moved down to ad rep.

I managed a sandwich shop (Blimpie’s) in Seaside Heights, NJ.

I worked as a clerk/typist at a brokerage house on Wall Street and on Broad Street.

I sold snow cones and hawked pretzels at a stock car racing track (still love stock car racing).

I worked on a boardwalk behind a “spin the wheel” booth.

I was a screamer at a live house of horrors.

I was a cocktail waitress and featured ‘starlet’ at a swanky nightclub (can you say “Lady in Red?”)

I bartended at various corner pubs as well as the nightclub mentioned above. Excellent job if you enjoy people-watching.

I was a runway model for clothing for a new designer … exactly ONCE. I got paid for it ~ that makes it a job.

I sang at small clubs in the city, and at one hotel club in Las Vegas. (It wasn’t karaoke … I got paid)

I worked for a book publisher on Broadway. (they weren’t honest in their ad; I ended up being a go-for; it lasted about a month, but I worked for Robert Blake’s older brother - which made the job kind of cool).

I was a Chiropractic assistant; I enjoyed learning to operate the equipment, but couldn’t stand touching stranger’s bodies all day. Ew.

I was a costumed character for assorted parties and events. Though we weren’t allowed to use the real names of said characters, I was Barney, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Elmo, Woody and Buzz (Toy Story), a crotchety nun, a grim reaper, both male and female gorillas, a cop, a Ninja Turtle, a wizard, a stork, Winnie the Pooh, etc. Nailing the various voices was one of my specialties. Many posts may spawn from this experience alone.

I worked as a newsroom clerk for a daily newspaper. I edited incoming copy and prepared it for print; collected disposition data from three courthouses on a daily basis; organized the religion section including church service listings, special events, etc.

I worked for a huge photo lab which dealt in mail order processing. There was one aspect of this job I will write about sometime soon; in a word – unique.

I currently work as a reservationist at a large aquarium. Strange as it may sound, this is the job I hope to one day retire from. Recent upheavals and stresses aside, I greatly enjoy my work.

Through all of these years, I’ve never had to sell my soul or my ass, and I wouldn’t have wanted to miss out on even one of these opportunities. I learned lessons from every job … met a lot of fine people and made a lot of connections. I have no regrets (okay, maybe being Barney). It’s been a very full, well rounded working career (meaning a career at working) and I’ve had a million laughs along the way.

I do believe I can be almost anything, almost anywhere, and be damned good at it ~ at least for a time.

The thing is, checking off little indicator boxes at employment agencies just isn’t going to capture the complete listing of experiences I’ve had in the work environment.

Sure I can run circles around MS Word or Powerpoint, but where’s the box that says “Can you order supplies in a Mickey Mouse voice over the phone while mixing the boss a mean drink, making him a kick-ass sandwich, and typing a report on the guy down the street who was arrested for DWI ~ all the while modeling a nun habit?”

May 19, 2005

One of Those List Things

While visiting various blogs in the past couple of months, I noticed that list-making was fast becoming the thing to do. In a pathetic attempt to prove that I still had a bit of “rebel” left in me, I resisted the urge to create one myself, but I woke up this morning compelled to conform. Dammit.

Even as I sit here prepared to cut into myself and bleed confessions and/or revelations all over this page, I still hold fast to a speck of good old fashioned mutiny and refuse to announce just how many Hagtoids (Hag factoids) I intend to cough up. It’s my way of saying, “I don’t want to be like everyone else - kinda, in a way, a little, sorta ~ or do I? ~ well maybe just a bit.”

1. I don’t care to take part in illegal doings.

2. I have willingly taken part in illegal doings ~ though not recently. (nice save)

3. My ancestors were from Germany, England and Ireland.

4. I am American.

5. The dogs in my life have been as follows: a mutt (part terrier), a Saint Bernard, another mutt (part Beagle) a German Shepherd, and a miniature Beagle. I currently have three cats.

6. I warm up to most people rather quickly, but it takes me a very long time to become best or even close friends with someone.

7. I take great personal pleasure in making people smile or laugh.

8. I have had more medical problems than I can fully recall in one sitting. As far as I know, I’m pretty healthy now, though according to charts, I’m 30 pounds overweight.

9. My hair has grown to about two inches below my waist and it’s completely uncooperative.

10. I have no appendix but still cling to my tonsils.

11. I hate to blow my nose in front of people but have no issue with people blowing their nose in front of me.

12. My work-space at home looks like a war-zone. My work-space on the job is immaculate.

13. I excelled at Spanish in college and can still understand it if spoken slowly, or in print. I have trouble recalling it quickly enough to speak it when needed; same applies to American Sign Language.

14. I spent a night in Union Square Park (Manhattan) to explore the lives of bums. They were kind, and quite eager to be interviewed. It really felt as though I was visiting their "house."

15. For a very short time, I worked as a shill in Las Vegas. (shill = decoy gambler)

16. I live within one mile of the world’s largest casino (Foxwoods) and never go to it, or any other casinos, for the purpose of gambling.

17. I loathe traffic jams; they almost make me physically ill.

18. I slept on the sidewalk outside of Madison Square Garden back in the early ‘70s just to get in to see Bob Dylan the next night.

19. I had the ever-loving shit beaten out of me during high school race riots in the early ‘70s.

20. I don’t drink alcohol … unless you count Bailey’s Irish Crème on very rare occasion. I’ve never been drunk in my life.

21. I have three older sisters; no brothers. My neighborhood buddies (da guyz)were like brothers to me.

22. I have 27 first cousins; most are still alive.

23. I have often felt as though I was in love ~ until now. Now, I know I’m in love. (Thank you Ed)

24. I have lived in New York, New Jersey, Nevada and Connecticut.

25. Throughout my mid- to late-teens, I was always the designated driver ~ long before “designated driver” was even a coined phrase. This never bothered me in the least.

26. I have a wicked, unforgiving, mean streak. It rarely surfaces, but when it does, I hold little (and sometimes nothing) back.

27. I have suffered with Panic Disorder for most of my adult life. I was Agoraphobic for eight full months – rarely leaving my bedroom, and never leaving my house.

28. I attended two acting schools. (“I coulda been a contendah…”)

29. I wrote several short children’s stories in my early 20s. I never published them, and they were lost in the shuffle that was my life at the time.

30. I am a passionate person. When I love, it’s passionate, when I hate it’s equally as passionate, when I’m indifferent ~ it’s no different.
I’m rarely indifferent.

31. I suffered with severe migraines for many years. I still get one on occasion, but they are now few and far between.

32. I’ve held so many jobs that I tend to lose count. Some were laughable, others enviable.

33. I’m not a huge fan of change, but I adapt quickly and handle it well in the long run (in most cases).

34. I absolutely HATE the fact that I have to take pills on a daily basis just to stay alive. This truly pisses me off.

35. I used to be a total control freak – the type most people just hate. It took years to break away from this, but I’ve done a great job of it. Now I’m just a self-control freak … which, in some ways, isn’t much better.

36. I like poetry, but have a hard time understanding it much of the time. I write some, but only when the mood hits me ~ and it probably sucks when I do.

37. I had a heart attack at 43. It’s in the genes. My grandmother died in her early 50s, an uncle died at 37, and a nephew died at 30 ~ all from sudden, massive heart attacks. I’m frightened enough to take my meds and eat decent foods, but I’m not scared shitless to the point of allowing it to ruin my time while I’m on this earth.

38. It took me about 40 years to learn how to compromise. It’s actually fun, and makes for a much simpler life.

39. I have an incredibly strong work ethic. Sometimes, like when I know I’m getting screwed over on a job, I hate this about me.

40. I know less-than-nothing about politics. I don’t view this as a negative – or as a positive.

41. I like odd numbers far more than even numbers, and for that reason, I’ll end here today. Will there be more? Ya just never know.

May 16, 2005

My Mental Scrapbook

Just when you thought it was safe to visit The Cerebral Outpost, I’m back again from my birthday weekend trip and have dozens of little stories to tell. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t. Almost every moment of my weekend in New York City was scrapbook-able. What’s unusual about that is the fact that I grew up there … yet I am finally able to see it from a tourist perspective. And oh what tourists we were this past weekend!

I often feel like one of the luckiest people on earth to have grown up in such a diverse and ethnically-rounded city, with such hope and promise and overall weirdness. The entire time I lived and grew in NYC, it never occurred to me that I was being shaped and molded into the adult I am today with each step I took, each person I met, every mistake I made, and every opportunity that came my way ~ whether I grasped it and made something of it, or side-stepped it and moved on. And now, as I step back and look into the mirror of my very soul, I can see it all so crisply clear … and it amazes me.

I thought about what type of post I might create upon returning to my little routine here and decided that a list of events might make for an easier read than my typically long-winded narrative* form. In the future I may expound on some of these happenings, but for today, I want to get something published so that I can make my rounds and visit all the wonderful blogs I’ve missed over the weekend.

Below is a list of some of the more outstanding lessons I learned while visiting my hometown this weekend. They’ve already been added to my mental scrapbook and will remain there, safe from torn edges and dust bunnies, forever.

1. I learned that it sometimes pays to take a totally different driving route and risk getting completely lost in order to avoid a four hour traffic tie-up. Can you say George Washington Bridge? That confounded thing should have been built sixteen lanes across to accommodate today’s traffic. If you're coming from New England, DO NOT TAKE THE GW, take the Triboro or Whitestone.

2. I learned that I’m getting closer to home when I can see landing gear and wing flaps in operation on approaching planes. Between Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark International Airports … there was damned near as much sky traffic as there was land traffic. I can deduce that for every person afraid of flying, there must be at least 4,895 who clearly are not.

3. I learned that the skyline of Manhattan, amazing as it always will be, screams “VOID” where the Twin Towers once stood. It’s always so bittersweet to me now ~ evoking both a “welcome home” and a “oh good Christ, look what the fuckers have done” feeling inside me.

4. I learned that ~ how everyone in NYC isn’t 400 pounds is just short of a miracle. The food there is incredible, and no ethnic style is left out.

5. I learned that the same people who undoubtedly complain about lines at their local bank or DMV (department of motor vehicles) will stand CHEERFULLY, in the hot sun, on a three hour line to get on board the Circle Line so they can visit Ellis Island or the Statue of Liberty and walk on her turf.

6. I learned that people whose lives have somehow taken a most sour turn along the way, can fit everything they own into a small shopping cart, and still manage to whistle or sing to their heart’s content while pushing said cart from one garbage can to another ~ all throughout the city ~ all day long. They never seem to tire.

7. I learned that there IS pizza, comparable to Pal Joey’s, on Staten Island ~ and that the only time you can get a seat in the place is during lunchtime on a Saturday afternoon. (that must be when everyone is at the mall or still sleeping off a Friday night out on the town) GO DENINO’S … woo hoo!

8. a) I learned that tourists seem unable to wipe huge grins from their faces at every street corner as they realize they are seeing something remarkable, for the first and perhaps only time in their lives in this city.
b) I learned that once you approach the footprints of the World Trade Center, start to read the time-line from 9/11, see the list of victims nailed to the protective fencing that surrounds Ground Zero, and notice the still-broken concrete slabs and cross-shaped metal beam that was pulled from the wreckage that day, there isn’t a smile to be found among the throngs of people. Not one. The faces all look the similar; some tearful, some stone-like, some almost angry, but most ~ quite reflective and somber; in a word, disbelieving.

9. I learned that they renamed a section of the street I grew up on in honor of my friend Annie who lost her life while working in the South Tower on 9/11. Seeing this new street sign gave me such a strange buzz.

10. I learned that a man can squeeze himself inside a clear box smaller than the one your monitor was packaged in. No really, I saw this. He also hoisted himself up onto a pair of stilts then wrapped his ankles around the back of his neck ~ in mid air, while balancing on his hands. Incredible.

11. I learned that you can play Big Band music ~ perfectly ~ on a steel drum! Also incredible.

12. I learned it’s quite easy to get romantically sappy when you’re standing in a park late at night with your honey, under the lights of the Verrazzano Bridge with the city skyline off in the distance.

13. I learned what great fun it is to hear my own accent echo back to me in every person we came in contact with over the weekend. Nothing like a bit of familiarity to perk you right up.

14. I learned that you can find “that perfect picture,” framed no less, on a street vendor’s table in Battery Park ~ and if you jump up and down a little, pointing and gasping and smiling really brightly, your honey will buy it for you ~ right then and right there. Especially if it’s your birthday!

15. I learned how much fun it is when you’re with someone from out of town (my man is from the Midwest) and they get approached by a guy with holes in his pants offering a Rolex watch from his filthy shirt pocket. “Now I feel complete,” said Ed, as we strolled away hand in hand, “I’ve been hit on by a NYC-Rolex-vendor-bum.” (I’m thinking Ed has a mental scrapbook too)

16. I RE-learned to hate the fact that along with the building of the VZ Bridge, came the traffic, noise and half the population of the borough of Brooklyn as they shifted to the more “rural” Staten Island through the years. I’m all for community growth, but this is borderline ridiculous already. Triple parking is the norm there now, and the quiet little streets out on the South Shore are now lined with obscenely huge mansion-style houses with Hummers, Lexuses and Mercedes in the driveways. What do all these people DO for a living? Christ.

17. I learned that it’s important to remember that you cannot automatically take a right on red in NYC like you can in Connecticut and New Jersey. Unless, of course, you are suicidal.

18. I RE-learned that walking 10 blocks in the city is NOT the same as walking 10 blocks anywhere else in the world. It’s like the equivalent of walking 30 blocks anywhere else. Sadly, I didn’t remember this until AFTER we walked 10 blocks. We yellow-cabbed it back to the ferry, thank you.

19. I learned that one broken down truck can turn the Van Wyck Expressway into a parking lot inside of three minutes. The “parking lot” doesn’t start to move again until the driver of said truck is already home eating dinner. Why? There’s two other lanes in which to go around the thing; I just want to know why we sat still for an hour?

20. I re-learned the grand picture of devastation to families on 9/11 while visiting my nephew’s gravesite – just behind his headstone, were FOUR stones in a row, all belonging to firefighters who lost their lives at the WTC. This was just one cemetery on Staten Island, just one small corner section of an enormous cemetery, and there were four graves just behind my nephew’s ~ each marking someone lost to this event.

21. Mostly, I learned that as much as I love this place I now call home, this rustic and quaint town with cows and horses and pig farms and wildlife, I miss the city that is ever-engrained in me and I so much appreciate the fact that I had the marvelous opportunity to grow up there and to be shaped by all that it is.

Thank you all for the wonderful birthday wishes and for stopping by my blog, leaving your kind and thoughtful comments and for sometimes cracking me up with your humor and wit. I had a lovely weekend and though my legs are a bit tired, my soul feels refreshed! Now off to make my rounds and see what’s new in everyone else’s lives!

*I knew I couldn’t shorten this up. Why do I even try?

May 09, 2005

Up, Down and Away!

My blog-world has had to be shoved aside lately and it’s time for a re-think about how I can recapture it. No, I haven’t run out of writing topics (as if), and I surely haven’t lost interest in reading others’ posts. I’ve simply run out of time in the past few weeks ~ over and over again. Oh I usually make my way to the computer twice a day, but haven’t been able to devote the number of hours I used to ~ before things turned upside down at the job.

I apologize that I haven’t been able to visit as many blogs as I normally like to. I need to develop a little system for myself, and as soon as things calm down at work, that’s something I intend to do.

All in the past few weeks time, our office coordinator resigned, our office was suddenly relocated (across campus), another coworker moved on to a different department, we’ve taken on a way-too-huge task assigned by our Marketing people (poor timing), our little department was reassigned, and while trying to adjust to all the changes, we’re being flooded with bookings for those who have included the aquarium in their vacation plans.

Being a creature of habit for the most part, this is like a test of survival for me. Some days it feels more like Candid Camera ~ without the laughs.

My little routine in the mornings has changed; my routine in the afternoons has all but fallen apart, and in fact, the only constants in my life at present are my family, and those beloved hours when I lay still sleeping. Lately, I appreciate these constants more than ever.

My generally happy and upbeat demeanor has suffered somewhat and I find myself less tolerant ~ more testy. I’ve given some thought to throwing up my hands and leaving the job, but somehow, in addition to being a creature of habit, I also welcome a good challenge ~ so I’ll stay, believing that “this too shall pass.” Cripes, it better!

Sadly, this week will be more of the same ~ longer and harder hours, non-stop prioritizing, coming home in a heap, connecting (for way too short a time) with those I love, grabbing whatever computer time I can manage between getting ready for work in the mornings and fixing dinner in the evenings, and trying hard to look forward to the coming weekend when Ed will take me away from all this insanity.

When asked some weeks ago what I’d like most for my 50th birthday, I told Ed I’d like a slice of pie (that’s a slice of pizza for the non-New Yorkers) from my favorite pizzeria back home. I wasn’t joking. Neither was he, and he has made arrangements to take me “home” for a visit. We’ll leave on Friday and return ~ when the mood strikes.

Yesterday I received a lovely Mother’s Day greeting from an old neighborhood friend on Staten Island. I wrote back to him telling him about my upcoming plans and he quickly wrote back again saying that our favorite pizzeria had closed eight months ago. CLOSED? Pal Joey’s? I couldn’t even imagine this.

This place had been in business since the 1950s and as a young girl I would go there for take-out on Friday nights with my dad - watching them build pizza after pizza behind the glass partition as we waited for our own order.

It had been the most quintessential New York City style pizza I’ve ever seen or tasted. One slice would take up the better part of a dinner plate and the REAL mozzarella cheese they always used would string apart with every bite. The REAL olive oil would drip onto your plate as you folded your slice and raised it up. (nowadays many places use imitation crap)
A blend of just the right spices in a savory sauce (perfectly infused sweetness with a sharp edge) could be detected from nearly a block away. The thin and slightly crisp crust completed each pie as though it were a piece of art; a carefully ‘painted’ masterpiece.

Shit. So the one thing that I wanted most of all just isn’t going to happen. Still, with hotel reservations made, I’ll get to go back to the place of my birth and visit some of my favorite childhood sights. All in all, I feel lucky to have this opportunity amid such hectic and turbulent times at the office, and I know we’ll have a blast while we’re there! It’ll all be good.

If I seem scarce for the coming week, rest assured it’s not from lack of desire. I’d like nothing better than to roam about Blogger reading and commenting on post after post on all my favorite sites, and even taking in some new ones. It probably just can’t happen this week and for this, no one is sorrier than I.

The bad news is that I’ll be 50 years old when I return after the weekend, the good news is that I’m sure, come hell or high water, I’ll have something interesting to add to my posting list!

Stay well all, and thanks so much for stopping by!

May 03, 2005

Things That Annoy, Irritate or Disturb Me

There's a little unwritten law that permits those swiftly approaching fifty to go town with themselves in whatever manner they so desire.

Before I create my list, I’d like to plug FrustratedWriter’s blog. If you haven’t visited as yet, you can’t know that his posts are quite entertaining, diverse, charming, comical and creative. He has long been one of my favorites, and a recent post of his inspired me to attain some list-style release. Below is a list of things that generate varying degrees of displeasure within me. Enjoy!

1. Rude insects that will fly into eyeballs, up noses or into open mouths. There’s no excuse for that sort of behavior.

2. People who make a polite laugh sound at something funny but won’t give you the satisfaction of grinning while they chuckle. Either you thought it was funny or you didn’t. Don’t placate me while you practice your poker face ~ go home and do that in the mirror. It makes you look silly anyway.

3. People who speak louder at foreigners, figuring they will best understand English if it’s screeched into their ear. Volume has absolutely no effect in this situation.

4. Cars that quit making a “strange sound” or misbehaving the moment I pull into the repair shop. How do they do that?

5. Racing to catch the phone and hearing that “click” the second you pick it up. (especially when it doesn’t ring again) (it never seems to ring again)

6. Sore winners. These are those disturbing people who insist on grinning ear to ear and jumping up and down in their chair because they won the game. The worst ones are those who have to tell everyone within ear shot that they made minced meat out of you. I ought to know … I am a sore winner.

7. That stare-of-death that cats make when you are all alone in the house and suddenly they find something terribly intriguing over toward the door or window … or worse, at the top of the stairs!

8. Boogers running down a baby’s face as he/she sits in the stroller. The only thing worse than this is crusty boogers, because you know they’ve been ignored way too long.

9. {fasten seat belts for this one} Women who insist on whipping out the breast to feed junior in the middle of a large crowd of mixed people. There are restrooms or alternate feeding places. At the very least, please exercise discretion. Sure, I know what you’re doing, but maybe the five year old son of the man standing next to me doesn’t and I doubt the guy feels like explaining the miracle of mammaries to him at that very moment. I do understand the whole bonding method, but I’m not sure you do. If you’re attempting to bond with everyone else at DMV or the zoo, it’s not working and it never will. Keep those moments private, or if it simply cannot wait, please be a bit more discrete.

10. Women who think that because I sometimes gripe about women, I’ve deserted my entire gender. I haven’t, nor will I ever.

11. Advertisements that offer “free gifts.” Isn’t a gift SUPPOSED to be free? I’ve never paid for a gift in my life.

12. See above but insert “extra bonus.” A bonus IS something extra. I probably won’t buy your product or take you up on your offer just based on your over use of come-on words.

13. People who don’t take the nanosecond to say “thank you” when I’ve stood holding the door for them as they walked up behind me. I don’t get paid for this; it’s a courtesy. Show a split second of gratitude. It goes a long way.

14. British folks (here’s where I lose my British readership) who think it’s absolutely hilarious that Americans are in the habit of saying, “Have a nice day,” when parting company. Would you prefer “Bend over and bark at the moon?” This can be arranged. Just let us know.

15. Movies that spend 30-minutes worth of footage on close-up headshots because there isn’t enough substance in it to eek out the seemingly required hour and a half of storyline.

16. Fine print on legal documents.

17. Forms that ask if I’m a US Citizen. If someone lies, do they ever really check? (Never mind, don’t get me started on forms and documentation)

18. So called professional baseball players who let their hair grow long, apparently stop taking showers, and refuse to shave their stubble. Notice I am not being specific. Or am I?

19. Legal entrapment of prostitutes. By this I mean the deliberate luring of prostitutes by police officers, for the sake of putting them in lock-up for ohhh, say three to six hours; an inconvenience to them at best and often just a means to stay warm for a bit. This, to me, is a waste of tax-payer dollars. This is NOT going to “show them the way” or save them from themselves. It may, however, teach them to a) be extra cautious in future transactions, and b) choose another corner.

20. People who profusely slather on cologne, perfume, hairspray or other smelly crap and truly believe that others will appreciate it somehow. This especially disturbs me in restaurants, buses, theaters or other venues where I’ve paid a ticket or acquired a seat and am now forced to either choke on their stench or leave. I’d like to petition for no-perfume seating in restaurants.

Assume there are many, many more gripes. Imagine pages and pages worth, if you will. That’s what fifty years will produce, if nothing else. Since I seem to be one of the oldest bloggers out here, you’ll have to just trust me on this. Wait and see.