April 24, 2006

A "Something's Just Wrong With This" Kind of Monday

A couple of oddball things happened while visiting my doctor’s office this morning. I had to stop in to have blood drawn after a night and early morning of fasting.

While sitting in the waiting room facing a window to the parking lot, I noticed a car pull up. The female driver had nosed into the spot, giving me a bird’s eye view of her and the entire front seat. There we were – face to face separated only by about ten feet of space and two crystal clear panes of glass.

Next time you pull up to a building and find yourself facing a window of any sort – be warned that someone might be looking out at you.

I sat and watched as this woman adjusted her bra strap, not once, but twice, pulling the collar of her sweater completely over the shoulder while tugging at the clasp. I was a little bit embarrassed; kept looking away then back again to see if she had noticed me. Surely she had by now. Guess again.

Suddenly she boosted herself up toward the rear view mirror as if to apply lipstick or something. Well, it ended up being the “something.” She started popping zits all about her face, and I might add, with reckless abandon! To avoid being overly graphic, I’ll stop here and leave out the part that deals with fingers and tissues.

This woman, probably in her mid- to late-thirties, would have been so completely humiliated had she known she was taking care of such business less than ten feet from a total stranger. Short of going outside and telling her, there was nothing much I could do.

Much to my horror, she walked into the office and stepped up to the receptionist’s desk. I had such an uneasy feeling about seeing her standing there; like I already knew way more about this woman than I ever cared to. I knew the moment she sat down near me and looked out that window and into her own car, she would have realized she just put on quite the show for me. Fortunately, I was called inside just before that happened.

The second odd thing that happened was just a strange response from the nurse who drew my blood. I had asked her what I thought to be a rather intelligent question. It occurred to me that when we have to fast for blood work, how is it that they will get an accurate or “true” reading since we don’t normally go about without food or drink in our tummies. Are you with me so far?

In other words … I had to fast since midnight – no food or drink. For the sake of not knowing a more medical term for it … let’s just say my blood was then “pure.” They get their readings and document the results. Great.

The problem is, these results are not realistic by any stretch of the imagination. During the course of any day, I’ve eaten at least a couple of meals, drank lots of fluids and munched a few snacks. I have shat and I have replenished. Drawing blood at some point DURING this type of routine would produce a more typical result, no?

So it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t ask about this. Without hesitation, this was the nurse’s response, “No no... your blood doesn't really change during your daily routine... it's not like food makes a big difference... now if you were to drink a large glass of Orange juice an hour before... THAT could change your sugar levels."

My mind went completely blank at that point. This happens to me when someone says something so completely stupid that it simply cannot register in my gray matter. The thing you do NOT want to say to a caffeine-starved, food-hungry, 10-hour faster is that “it’s not like food makes a big difference.” Why then couldn’t you have just told me not to eat or drink anything ONE hour before, instead of ten?

Driving home from the doctor’s office, I turned on the radio hoping to hear anything at all that might make more sense than what was dumped into my head just minutes earlier in that chair.

The deejay was talking about the sun index today (as though there was one), and said, “So folks if you’re already traveling to the beach, don’t forget to pack your sun screen or leave it home today because you probably won’t need it... and if you left it home, you should think about doing that anyway.”

There was so much wrong with that sentence that I turned the radio off, lit a cigarette and hoped against hope that this wasn’t what it feels like at the onset of insanity.

“Those who dance were thought to be quite insane by those who could not hear the music” Angela Monet

April 17, 2006


Mondays can stink even when you stay at home. This morning I got up, made my tea and trudged back up the stairs, eager to create a new post, take a look at the news and answer some email. I didn't sleep restfully last night, and in fact, had one of those dream/nightmares that you keep trying to make sense of all day long. I knew my computer would come through for me though - filling my mind with tons of other stuff and setting me back on track.

Instead, I found myself face to face with a monster. It won't allow me into any of my Word documents - or assorted other files. Marvelous. This has really set the tone for today. I'm looking into some possible fixes, one of which was to defrag the existing data. While that's being done, I'm able (lucky for me) to use Ed's laptop to update my blog. I thought to myself "Good post topic" as I watched the defrag graph do its thing.

Here are some of the brain-bytes (fragments) that have surfaced in my head recently:

> I don't understand why hospitals and funeral homes bother to advertise on TV. It's not like anyone watching will suddenly nudge their companion and say "Hey, we had no other plans today, let's head over to (insert hospital or funeral home name) and kill some time."

Do you know how much television advertising costs? Do they really think they might go out of business if they don't promote their organization? Do you realize we eventually end up absorbing at least a small percentage of the cost involved for this stupidity?

If they were offering a huge sale ... now that would merit advertising. Imagine this - "Buy one wake, get one free" or "Two bypass surgeries for the price of one; bring a friend."

> It bugs me when people use acronyms then add the last word on at the end. A couple of examples would be "E.R. room" or "IRS service." While I've never used either of those, I have caught myself saying "ATM machine" and it annoys the daylights out of me.

>I wasn't always the good little doobie I am today. When I first got my driver's license, my friends and I would pick a frigidly cold day, drive up to a group of folks waiting at a bus stop and tell them they ought to start walking because the bus broke down several blocks back. The best part would be seeing them midway between stops, swearing up a storm as the bus whizzed past them.

> I also made my share of prank phone calls back in the day. We'd look up the name "Whitehead" in the telephone white pages, dial the residence and ask for Mr. Blackhead ... then quickly add "Oh sorry, wrong pimple."

Ordering pizza and taxi cabs to show up at random people's houses was fun too ... though it was always much better when you kept it in the neighborhood so that you could actually watch and laugh as they pulled up to the house.

Caller ID has really put the kibosh on this sort of child's play.

> I don't understand what's so attractive about cruises. Isn't it kind of like saying, "I'm going to drop thousands of dollars so I can do all of the same shit I can do on land while I risk nausea and/or drowning at the same time!"

And let's not forget about those nifty accommodations. If you paid that much money and showed up at a resort to discover that the room you'll be occupying for seven days is about eight foot by eight foot, you'd be all OVER the hotel staff.

>I hope when I die, people don't say I was the nicest person in the world, or that when I walked into a room - the whole place lit up. That would just lump me together with every single other person who has already died. Or, am I the only one who is a little tired of hearing those two lines at funerals?

> Speaking of death ... I get really annoyed when people react differently to the tragic or untimely death of a nun, priest or popular celebrity than they would to the tragic or untimely death of the average human being.

Case in point: Someone in the employee lounge reads aloud a newspaper clipping about a fatal accident on the highway the day before. Everyone seems eager for details, but when the speaker announces that there were two nuns amongst the dead ... trust me, at least ONE loser will gasp with horror and say, "Oh my God ... there were NUNS?"

Oh, because the story wasn't tragic enough when it was just a few everyday civilians?

> Ed has solved the mystery of the Easter egg business for me. It dates back very long ago to when early Catholics fasted for Lent ... so long ago in fact, that they not only abstained from meats, they also abstained from eggs and sweets too. To avoid temptation, one family member would go about "hiding" all the eggs around the property. Needless to say, this made for quite the abundance of unused eggs and sweets, so on Easter Sunday, they would celebrate using as many of these food items as possible. The coloring came into play so that they would be easier to find and wouldn't be left out to rot. This also explains the big meat meal and the baskets filled with candy. Thank you, Ed.

> I don't think handicapped drivers should ever be permitted to use one of the regular parking spots. There should be a huge fine for this. Okay, I'm kidding. Or am I?

> I have recently been asked by a couple of bloggers if there is anything I haven't done. My standard answer for this remains, "Why yes, but strangely enough I don't have any interest in writing about those things."

> Some people still have reservations about self-publication. Pulling just a couple of names from a long list of "surely you've heard of" people who initially self-published ... Mark Twain, TS Eliot and that H.D.Thoreau dude each assumed that his early work wasn't worthy of submission to an established publishing house. It was from these self-published works that they attained further recognition.

"Computers are incredibly fast, accurate and stupid. Human beings are incredibly slow, inaccurate, and brilliant. Together they are powerful beyond imagination." Albert Einstein

("Except when said computer dies a sudden death. But then, at least it wasn't a nun" WH)

April 10, 2006

Picture This!

I often write about the ‘70s because I think that was the most remarkable decade of my life. It was during that period of time when situations changed almost daily, I thought I was invincible, and I swore I knew more than anyone else in the world – you know, my twenties.

I have two lists that I will probably someday post – one is my list of things I hated about the ‘70s and the other of course, would be the list of stuff I loved and miss about that decade. For today, I want to reminisce about one of my favorite memories back then – my sisters.

My sisters (three – all older) and I were very close then … not only in proximity, but also in heart. We all had our own ‘stuff’ going on, yet we always managed to make time for the family gatherings at our parents’ house for holidays and birthdays. Of course, trying to get all of us to agree on times and dates was no picnic, but somehow, it usually worked out in the long run.

While reading through blogs this morning, I came upon a post written by Wicked H that truly struck a familiar chord. She and her sisters were preparing to have a professional photo taken for their parents’ upcoming birthdays. We did this too in the late ‘70s and what a fun memory it made.

We agreed (which was a small miracle) on a time and place, and all we had to do was show up, sit and smile, and be done with it ~ as IF it could have been quite so simple.

Let me bring you back into the studio on that Saturday morning.

Janet (J), Lynn (L), Susan (S) and Carol (Hag) all arrived within minutes of one another. No one had discussed color schemes or clothing beforehand, and what happened was right out of a Stephen King novel. We showed up wearing the same style blouse; the only differences were subtle lace arrangements and colors.

Now one might think this would evoke some chuckles and back patting, but nay! I’m talking about me and my sisters here.

L: Oh my GOD. I had no idea you’d all be wearing those blouses.
J: How could you know? What do we do now?
S: Well I’m NOT coming back here again and there’s no time to change, so we’ll have the picture taken and get it over with.
Hag: Okay, but they’ll never believe we didn’t plan this.

S: Wait. What color is the backdrop going to be because I’m wearing black and there’s no way it will show up against a dark setting.
L: Well I look too washed out with light colors.
J: You should have thought of that when you picked out a blouse.
L: So what are you saying? You don’t like the color of my blouse?
J: (eyes upward) Well listen to yourself! You said you wash out in light colors and your blouse is light blue.
Hag: Let’s ask Jack (the photographer/friend of mine) what he has available.

Jack: Looking perplexed and well … SCARED at this point. “The choices are a marbled blue, marbled green, solid black, white, powder blue or dark blue – and please don’t ask me what I think because there’s no way in hell I’m shuffling THAT deck of cards.”

L: I know. Let’s all stand in front of each of them and see which looks better!
S: No. That won’t work because we’ll never agree. I’ve already said no black or dark blue for me. You guys work it out.
Hag: I think the darker blue is nice BUT clearly that’s been voted out by now (sneering at Susan).
J: I look pretty good in front of any color so don’t involve me.

S: Well I say we go with white.
Hag: I hate white backgrounds. It will fade out the rest of us … Susan, you will stand out like a sore thumb.
L: Yeah! White’s no good at all. Carol and I are blonde … do you KNOW how badly that will show up against white?
J: Well Lynn, nobody told you to color your hair. Besides, it’s just a picture for Pete’s sake … let’s just get it DONE.
L: (to Jack) Why did you have to have choices? You should have only ONE backdrop so this doesn’t happen.

And Jack throws up his hands and exits the room.

S: If you use black, I’m leaving.
Hag: Figures.
L: Nobody has to leave! How about the powder blue?
Hag: I thought the marble look was nice. The green marble!
J: I’m not saying another word till you guys decide, (looks at watch) but I have another appointment in an hour and I’m not missing it.

Enter Jack …

Jack: (gingerly) Um … ladies? For the sake of maintaining what little sanity I have left … can I interject?
Sisters: (looking at Jack like he just kicked a dog) What?

Jack: Generally, the darker blue looks richer … AND … the black blouse will show up just fine if we place Susan in the forefront.
Susan: Me… in the forefront? I must admit that sounds like a clever thing to do.
L, J and Hag: (audible sighs and with eyes up to the sky) Okay … we’ll try it.

Now for the pose ~ though admittedly this musical chair activity evoked many chuckles and nudges … it took about four roles of film before finishing the shoot.

When the proofs arrived (to me), I chose my favorite one almost immediately. Janet, Lynn and I were all seated on studio chairs, legs folded showing off our skinny angles and hot shoes; Susan was seated on the floor just in front of us and her damned black blouse was neither faded nor prominent.

To save a lot of writing (on my part) and reading (on your part), let me just say that the seated shot was not the photo that was finally decided upon. The one we all agreed (?) upon for our parents is below.

In order of age … Janet (the elementary school principal) sits to the right and has rich dark hair; Lynn (the NYPD retiree) is seated next to Jan; Susan (the clown) sits in the front, and I think you all know that used-to-be-skinny-but-looks-nothing-like-that-anymore lady standing in the back.

The smiles are pretty much the same now, but three-plus decades later, the sisters are not. Neither is the closeness … which I often miss even more than the perfect size-seven clothes.

April 03, 2006

A Perfect Ending

Back in the late seventies, I was working various jobs through a temporary agency in Manhattan. Most of my assignments were receptionist or telephone operator positions in midtown and downtown law firms, publishing companies and stock brokerages.

One day the agent called me to see if I could take on a position as executive secretary at a posh ad agency. I laughed. “I don’t know how to be an executive secretary,” I told the woman. She assured me that not only could I handle the job, but that the man I would be working for was easy going and rarely ever in town. It was a one month assignment so I decided I’d give it my best shot.

I was nervous as hell. I’d be working for the president of the agency and I had no clue what kinds of duties would be assigned to me. But this was a high paying gig and I had to feed my hunger for stylish shoes back then… so off I went. All the way up Broadway, as I walked from the ferry, I worked hard convincing myself that I could pull this off.

The job turned out to be incredible. I guess the higher up you go, the less you actually have to do. No, seriously.

My desk was situated just inside of wide, double glass doors … the carpeting was so thick you had to really watch that your heels didn’t catch on the nap. It was a large organization that spanned three floors of a typical Manhattan skyscraper. When I first saw all of this, the whole place screamed at me "Carol? You're in over your head, babe." And yet, I wasn't.

The man I worked for turned out to be the nicest and most accommodating boss I’ve ever had. He was rolling in money and was very well respected in the world of advertising; neither of which ever got in the way of his down-to-earth humor and wit. A typical assignment for me during a day’s work was to book reservations for him to fly off to England or France to hold seminars or host great ‘business’ parties. My very first task was to phone his daughter’s school in Switzerland (yes, Switzerland) to check in on her progress. I believe she was twelve. I was impressed.

There was one other desk in the open area of the executive floor, and that one belonged to Amy. Amy was secretary to the vice-president. She was a riot a minute with her spiked heels and pink hair. She helped to “break me in” – giving me all the dirt on everyone there.
She made no bones about letting me know who to like and who to avoid amongst what she referred to as “the underlings.”

The thing is, this punked-out beauty was brilliant – though you’d never suspect it from her multi-pierced ears and nose, and tattoo-legged appearance. It wasn’t unusual to find Amy filing her nails while reading Nietzsche (propped up on her typing stand). We two had a blast together … I knew I was in good company the first time her boss popped his head out of the office asking, “Amy, coffee?” to which she slowly pointed to the pot-full on the étagère.

One day I was mortified when my boss caught me typing up my singing repertoire. Even though my work was caught up, ethics told me this was just plain wrong. Instead of blasting me, he leaned over, took a look at the list and started singing verse after verse of “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore.”

From that day forward, we bonded like glue. He loved jazz and we talked about “the old songs” almost daily. He even hired me on permanently when the month was over, paying a hefty price to the temp agency and offering me a handsome salary.

I’ll never forget the first time he asked me to come into his office to take a letter. I sat there with my pad in hand, twitching a bit from nerves as I listened intently to every word he said. Around the middle of the letter, he looked over the top of his reading glasses, paused and said to me “So I take it you don’t know shorthand?” “Nope,” was my answer … “but I can write really really fast.” We laughed it off and he continued – a little slower than before.

I didn’t stay at this job more than a year; typical for me. I’ve always hated the whole 9 to 5, Monday through Friday thing. It just felt “off” for the night-owl that I was back then. It interfered too much with all the things I really wanted to be doing. So, as much as I loved working for this wonderful man in such a cushy job, I resigned. But not before having one last blast.

Below is my actual letter of resignation that I handed to my boss. The italicized words are all song titles from the Big Band/30s and 40s era. I took them from my repertoire sheet that Michael had caught me typing. I found it the other day amid my treasure of “old stuff.”

Dear Michael,

I just wanted you to know that no matter Where or When I work, There Will Never Be Another You. I’ve given this matter a great deal of thought, and I have No Regrets about my decision to leave Albert Frank Guenther Law, however, I will miss The Nearness of You.

I thought Night and Day of ways to Try a Little Tenderness when breaking the news to you, but there’s no sense trying to Pretend. Although I may have some Twisted reasons, I can’t just wait around and Watch What Happens here – I feel that to satisfy All of Me, I have to reach for it, no matter How High the Moon. But don’t worry Michael, in my mind, we’ll always be Inseperable.

So some lovely evening in the Summertime, when you look out over the Harbor Lights and think Tenderly of me, just know that I’ll be out there somewhere, with The Man I Love, perhaps on a Sentimental Journey or enjoying the Moonlight in Vermont; maybe traveling along Route 66. But wherever I may be – rest assured that I Ain’t Misbehavin.

Boy, Am I Blue now – I hate to say goodbye this way. I get Misty just thinking about Embraceable You … but since It’s a Sin To Tell a Lie, and for the Second Time Around, I’ll just say, it’s been Unforgettable working for you.

That’s All.

Your blonde bombshell* secretary,

*a name assigned to me by Amy that swiftly became the joke of many staff members