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...over-educated and under-experienced, or so they say...

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Weirdo Table

Yes, it's true. If you read yesterday's post then you know it's out on the table: Pandora has a gluten allergy AND a dairy allergy and pizza has become her worst enemy.

Oh how life mocks me. All that my taste buds had grown to love gives way to what my stomach has grown to hate. And Thanksgiving weekend was none too kind to my new way of eating. I used a vacation day so I could sit at home, terribly sick, and wait for my digestive system to finish its rant against me.

All weekend I sat by and watched as others consumed pumpkin and pecan and cinnamon apple pies. All weekend I had avoided the stuffing and the gravy soaked potatoes. All weekend I sat wide awake with my plate of turnips and carrots while others laid on the floor in a food coma. But when the turmoil began at 3:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, there was no one to blame but me.

After days of abstinence, I had allowed myself to give in to temptation and granted my palate the pleasure of a Chocolate Magma Cake. I knew it would probably do me harm, but it was a birthday celebration and to sit one more time over the long weekend and watch others eat a most tasty treat while I sat with my hands in my lap and my eyes averted to the ceiling was more than I could take. I had to eat it! I had to taste its chocolaty goodness! I had to feel normal! But as I hovered over the toilet in the dark of night I knew that "normal" was nowhere in my general vicinity. On top of that, I had to make yet another "family" appearance Sunday night and, though I did my best to avoid all things gluten and dairy, I don't know all of the ingredients that another has used to create a meal, and gluten has a way of hiding itself in things. Unsexy as it may be, I burped like an alien all night last night and when I woke up this morning I still wasn't well. I felt like the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood, after they disemboweled him so Grandma and Little Red Hood could escape and replaced his innards with rocks.

I really am not a fan of this part of my life. I'm like some kind of odd ball now. It's like I need to carry my own food with me no matter where I go. "Thanks for inviting me over for dinner. I hope you don't mind that I brought my own food. It isn't personal, I swear, I just don't want to die tomorrow. Not that your cooking is bad or anything, because it isn't, I'm just afraid it might kill me, but that's not a reflection on your cooking. I promise."

Seriously... What is that? I am a stickler for social grace. I was raised that way. It's a matter of respect. It's part of understanding people and meeting them where they're at. When someone invites you to their home and offers you a meal, you eat it, even if it isn't something you like! You eat it because you are rejecting their hospitality if you don't. Now, look at me! I'm some kind of freak! I'm the lady in the office that you all think is weird because she can't eat a burger and fries and smile while she does it! I'm the person that puts a lettuce leaf and a tomato slice on my plate while the rest of you make something called a sandwich! I can't walk into a room and eat just anything out of politeness, at least not without spending 24 to 48 hours sick after that. What did I do to deserve this? What kind of karmic punishment is this? What is going on? Is this some kind of argument for evolution? Am I one of the lucky humans whose body has evolved because it knows dairy and gluten are the biggest contributors to obesity and heart failure? Is this some kind of forced survival of the fittest? Natural selection? Or is this a downgrade? Does it mean that I'm dying because I can no longer biggie size something? Does it mean that the smiling people at the drive-thru will now spit on my salad with no dressing instead of my cheese burger? Is it going to be like Clan Of The Cave Bear where the people who were hurt by my refusal to eat pie will tell the witch doctor to throw down the bones and determine whether I can remain a member of the tribe? Am I going to be ousted to the weirdo table? Seriously! I need to find a white robe and a staff so I can at least present myself as some kind of guru and all people can sit at my table mesmerized by the fact that I would rather eat imaginary slack out of someone's hand than barbecued pork, because, well, taste is in the tongue of the beholder. Bring on the bland! The High Priestess of Hyper Allergenic Gastro Paresis lives!

I hate it, really, I do. I was making Hope's lunch this morning and I was talking to her and putting some of those cheesy bunny crackers in a bag when I absent mindedly popped one of the bunnies into my mouth and ate it. Then I stopped in mid sentence and looked at her and said, "I just ate that, Hope. I just threw that in my mouth without thinking and I ate it and I'm already sick!" And her little mouth turned down and she said, "I'm sorry, Mama. This is going to be really hard for you, isn't it."

Needless to say, I am miserable. I am miserable because I blew it on Saturday with the chocolate magma ice cream meltdown cake, because I most likely ingested additional gluten without knowing it, and my uniqueness has crossed over from the intellectual & spiritual into the physical where I can truly be seen as one crazy eccentric odd duck.

"See that woman over there? They say she's a writer."
"Which woman?"
"The one with a plate full of cranberry sauce."
"Cranberry sauce? That's all she's got? A plate full of cranberry sauce?"
"You know how writers are... always trying to be different."


It's okay though. At least I know I'm not alone. If the bones say that I have to pick up my zip-lock bag of nuts and berries and move on, at least I know the weirdo table to the north is more likely to hold stories about chemtrails and government conspiracies. Sure, they might smell like patchouli and tell me I'm really an alien from Planet Zircon, but at least I won't be lacking in the story department.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

It's A Penguiolles Thanksgiving

In the following dialogue:
Pandora -- Thirty-Something Menace To Society/Notorious Scribe
G.B. Wittington -- close friend of Pandora and fellow Thirty-Something Menace To Society.
OCD Wittington -- G.B. Wittington's older sister, also Thirty-Something Menace To Society.
Saucy Wittington -- G.B. Wittington's younger sister, mother of Baby Leham.
DownTempo -- Saucy's boyfriend and father to Baby Leham.
The Grand Ma -- Mother of the Wittington family.

The setting is the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving at OCD's apartment. The small family has decided Wednesday is the best time to have their Thanksgiving celebration.
Pandora and G.B. Wittington enter the room and it begins.

The Grand Ma: Oh! Look who's here! Pandora! So good to see you again! Come... come here and sit down. I will move so you can have a seat.

Saucy Wittington: Here Mama, you can sit here in the padded chair next to me. Pandora can sit on the other side.

The Grand Ma: Oh no. Pandora needs to sit here. Sit here, Pandora. I can go sit on the couch.

Pandora: At the head of the table? No. I can sit here, you stay there.

The Grand Ma: No no no... you sit here.

Saucy Wittington: Mama! Sit here in the padded chair next to me. You don't need to sit on the couch. I have a chair right here for you.

The Grand Ma: But I want Pandora to sit over there.

Saucy: She can sit there, but you sit here.

The Grand Ma: (wanders off to the living room a bit confused by the padded chair idea)

Pandora: (sits next to the padded chair, leaving the head of the table empty)

Saucy: Mama! Come sit here! There is a chair here for you.

G.B. Wittington: (makes himself at home in the kitchen)

OCD Wittington: (looks at Pandora) Get yourself some pizza and pasta, Pandora. There's plenty to go around.

Pandora: (steps into the kitchen)

G.B. Wittington: Go sit down. I'll fix a plate for you.

Pandora: (sits back down)

OCD Wittington: (looks at Pandora) Get yourself some pizza, Pandora.

Pandora: (looks over her shoulder into the kitchen and then looks back at O.C.D.) Apparently, G.B. is fixing a plate for me.

The Grand Ma: Well, we are just so happy you could make it, Pandora. It's good to have you here with us.

Pandora: Thank you. It's good to be here.

The Grand Ma: Have you met Baby Leham? (she smiles proudly at her four month old grandson)

Saucy: Yes, Mama. She's met the baby, but you'll have to excuse me for a few minutes. I need to go in the back room and feed him. I'll be back in a few minutes.

DownTempo: Pandora, welcome to the family dinner.

Pandora: Thank you.

G.B. Wittington: (places a plate of chicken and rice in front of Pandora and takes his place at the head of the table with a plate full of pizza and pasta)

Pandora: (cuts into the chicken when she notices The Grand Ma staring at her plate)

The Grand Ma: Where did the chicken and rice come from?

Pandora: Well, I have a gluten allergy so...

The Grand Ma: ...a what? You have a what?

Pandora: ...a gluten allergy, so...

The Grand Ma: ...a gluten allergy? What?

G.B.:(puts down his fork) Okay. Let's just get this out on the table.

DownTempo: (looks up from his plate) Wait a minute, what? Something needs to get out onto the table?

G.B.: Yes, we just need to get this out on the table, say it once, so everyone knows about it, and then we're done.

DownTempo: Wait a minute. Saucy just left the room. You can't get something out on the table without her. This sounds important. Maybe you should wait.

The Grand Ma: What's going on?

OCD: Yes, what's going on?

Pandora: (sits up in the chair) No need to get excited. Nothing important and significant to anyone's lives is about to be thrown out onto the table here.

G.B.: Pandora has a gluten allergy. She has a gluten and a dairy allergy. She cannot eat any kind of breads or pastas and because she can't have dairy, pizza has now become one of her worst enemies. Because of this, she has a plate of chicken and rice while the rest of us eat the pizza.

DownTempo: Aw man... that sucks!

The Grand Ma: Oh my! A gluten allergy? Is this new? Have you had it forever? You ate pizza last time you were with us, didn't you?

DownTempo: damn... man... that really sucks. Dairy too? Oh man... what are you allowed to eat then?

Pandora: I don't know how long I've had it. I've been going in for tests since July and they recently diagnosed me with the gluten and dairy allergy.

The Grand Ma: Oh my...

DownTempo: Dude... I went into my room and sulked for three days when I found out I was allergic to guacamole. If they told me I had a gluten allergy I think I'd off myself.

OCD: Well now I feel bad. I wish I had known that before you came over.

Pandora: It's okay. I've only been doing this for a few weeks so I don't always think to tell people about it.

The Grand Ma: What is gluten?

Pandora: It's in all wheat and flour based things, like breads and pastas, but it's also in some sauces and other things that I can't have anymore. I can't drink beer anymore either.

DownTempo: (puts his fork down and sits back in his seat) No beer! Really? Oh man... that sucks. That really sucks.

The Grand Ma: So they found out because you were having stomach problems and they ran some tests to find out what it was? Hey... Maybe you have the same problem, G.B. You've always had a gurgling stomach.

G.B.: What?

The Grand Ma: You've always had stomach problems. I think you have the same problem she does. I think you need to go get some tests done.

G.B.: Pfft... No.

The Grand Ma: No? You don't know. You should take a test.

G.B.: Mama... I've seen Pandora get sick from the allergy. I don't have that.

The Grand Ma: Well, how do you know? You've never taken a test. Have you ever taken a test?

G.B.: I took a test once.

The Grand Ma: You did? You took a test?

G.B.: Yes, Mama, I took a test once.

The Grand Ma: And? What happened?

G.B.: (chews his food, swallows, and reaches for his glass of water) I got a C.

The Grand Ma: ...

OCD: ...

Pandora: (waits in silence)

DownTempo: ... Bah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Pandora: (watches G.B. resume eating)

OCD: ...

The Grand Ma: What? You got a C? What does that mean? Pandora, what does he mean? ...a C?

Pandora: Don't worry about it.

The Grand Ma: Well, it makes me feel bad because you won't be able to enjoy the yummy dessert I brought for you.

OCD: You brought dessert, Mama?

The Grand Ma: (drops what appears to be packages of Hostess Cupcakes on the table) I brought cupcakes for everyone!

OCD: You brought Hostess Cupcakes?

G.B.: (picks up the package closest to him) These aren't Hostess Cupcakes, these are Penguiolles.

OCD: What?

The Grand Ma: They're Hostess Cupcakes.

G.B.: No, Mom, they're Penguiolles. Penguiolles are not Hostess Cupcakes. They are a Mexican rip-off found at places like Food City. Have you been shopping at Food City again?

The Grand Ma: They're Hostess Cupcakes and I have not been shopping at Food City.

DownTempo: (picks up a package) Yep, they're Penguiolles.

OCD: (opens her package) Mama, they're not even soft. They're hard like rocks. (takes a bite) It just crumbled in my mouth! (stands up and leaves the table)

The Grand Ma: Well, we had a social at the park the other day and everyone brings a treat and someone gave me these. Lewis eats them all the time. He loves them. So I just thought I would share with you kids. It's Thanksgiving and we need to have dessert, don't we?

OCD: Lewis will eat anything, Mom. Those are hard like rocks!

G.B.: (shows the package to Pandora) Penguiolles... yum yum. Gluten allergy saves the day.

Saucy: (comes back into the room) What's going on out here? (looks at DownTempo) You keep saying something sucks. OCD is in the bathroom washing her mouth out. What's going on? What sucks?

DownTempo: Pandora has a gluten allergy! AND a dairy allergy! She can't have pizza or beer ever again in her life!

Saucy: Oh wow! That's harsh.

DownTempo: Oh, and your mom brought Penguiolles for dessert.

Saucy: What? Penguiolles? (picks up a package) Mom? You brought Penguiolles for dessert? Have you been shopping at Food City again?

Monday, November 23, 2009

The D2 Button

The vending machine man finally came and fixed the D2 button, so I was able to enjoy a mid-morning snack of Grandma's Fudge Chocolate Chip cookies and a Dr. Pepper. It's a good thing too because I was walking down there thinking, if it doesn't work today I'm going to have to write the following note:

Dear Mr. Vending Machine Man,

You don't know me, but I am one of your valued customers. And as one of your valued customers, you may want to take note of the D2 button and that it has been out of service for nearly a month. Why is this important, you ask? Because I'm one of the few people that enjoy Grandma's Fudge Chocolate Chip cookies -- they make me happy and often spare individuals from enduring a grumpy me. But for the last month I've had to substitute my happiness for either a bag of Doritos or a Snickers bar, which really doesn't satisfy me. So please… take the time to repair this button -- for the good of my snack craving sanity and for the good of my coworkers. The cookies look sorry and sickly -- that same bag has been staring at me for weeks and I swear it's starting to look crumpled. And you really haven't made any extra money from this because, while the Doritos may cost 5 cents more, the Snickers cost 5 cents less and more times than not I choose the Snickers -- nacho cheese will never over power chocolate needs. So really, while I suffer so do you, even if you're unaware of it.

Thank you in advance for your prompt attention in this matter.


Grandma's Favorite Girl.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ding Dong! Windmill Dick Is Gone!

Despite the wonderful story telling opportunities and the character study he provided me, I feel no sorrow when I say: Ladies and Gentleman, Windmill Dick has left the building! *applaud here*

Just two nights ago I was woken up at 3:00 a.m. to the sound of him screaming "Mike! Yo Mike!" which was shortly followed by some inexplicable banging and clanging noises. I have no clue what he was doing down there, nor did I think it was in my best interest to find out. (The man disturbs me.) I did, however, lie there in my bed thinking, "How long, oh Lord? How long?? Surely his lease is up soon! Is it too much to ask that the guy find a new place to live and torment some other poor soul's sense of peace and harmony?"

Earlier last week I was sitting here, again with the windows open, and my daughter was at the table doing her homework. Windmill, as always, stepped outside for a smoke while talking on the phone. What I heard was, "She gave me The Clap, Dude! It's the second fuckin' time I've had it! The first time was from my wife! Women! They can't be trusted!"

So I sat there for a minute, wondering how much, if any, my daughter could hear and whether or not I should just forget the fresh air and shut the door. Before I could complete my thought and make a decision, he continued, "Ya, man. I got it taken care of, but I went out and bought a sign that says Never Trust A Cunt and I hung it over my bed. It's awesome dude! I'm leaving it there cuz it's the truth, Man! The other night I brought this other chic home with me and when we got into my room and she saw the sign over my bed she asked me what it said. So I said, 'I don't know. Let's turn the light on and find out.' So when I turned the light on she read it and got all pissed at me and she left. I didn't fuckin' care though. She was just a stripper anyway." At that point my daughter turned around and said, "Mom? What's that guy talking about?" And so I stood up and shut the door saying, "Nothing your sweet little ears need to hear." As I sat back down at my desk she said, "Mom? What's The Clap?"

Ah... nothing like an impromptu lesson in sex ed brought about by Mr. Dick himself. Thank you...

Now I don't know about you, but I have learned to cut my parents some slack in their inability to properly explain anything in regard to sex and sexuality. My dad's best attempt at helping me understand was at thirteen years old after a boy had given me some cheap ring he bought at the county fair. Once Dad saw the ring on my hand he said, "It's time for us to have a talk. Pandora, there comes a time in every young man's life when he learns that his penis can do two things instead of one. Remember that." After that he walked away and left me sitting there thinking, "What? What does this ring have to do with a boy's penis?" And my mother wasn't much better. All I got from her was around the age of fourteen and she said, "Your husband will know if you're not a virgin when you get married." At that point I hadn't even really kissed a boy so again, I just sat there thinking, "What is she talking about?" It is one of those things that I later wished they had been better at but what can you expect from a father whose parents thought giving him a book about the chicken and the egg was an ample explanation? And, having had a few random talks here and there with Hope, I understand how uncomfortable it is to talk about with your child. It takes busting through the wall of what you perceive to be a beautiful and necessary innocence to shoot straight with the kid. Each time it comes up I encounter this internal struggle with myself -- one half tells me that if she hears the truth from me it's better than hearing something skewed from one of her immature friends and the other half wants to say, "Sex? Who told you that? Remember Dumbo? Babies are brought down from Heaven by the stork."

I digress...

When faced with questions like, "Mom? What's The Clap?" I find that it's best to swallow your fear and shoot from the hip. This is a teaching moment, an uncomfortable teaching moment, but a teaching moment none-the-less. So I turned to her and said something profoundly parental like, "The Clap is a slang term for a sexually transmitted disease called Gonorrhea. It's a disease that attacks your private area. People that have careless sex with multiple partners are usually the ones that get it. This is why it's important not to go sleeping around with a bunch of random people. There are lots of diseases you can get from doing that. You know how your friend got head lice? Well, there's also something called crabs which is basically lice found in your private area. I could go on and on about this, but I think that's enough for now." With absolute horror she looked at me and said, "Crabs? Like... little bugs crawling around down there??" I simply smiled and nodded. She stared at her pencil for a moment and said, "That's gross, Mom. I need to finish my math," and she turned around, continued to work away at her homework, and that was that.

I, on the other hand, thought about Mr. Dick and how loathsome he is to me. Truly, the man is... well... (I really wish I hadn't sold my Dictionary Of Insulting English because I'm sure there were some good ones I could really use right now) repugnant is the best I can come up with, and that just seems too refined a word for someone like him. I would like to cut the guy some slack, but I just can't. The man has exposed himself to be low-brow porn star, a blatant supporter of violence, a disrespecter of women (as evidenced by his bedroom wall hanging), and a disgrace to the male gender. The man is lucky that I'm not some shaved head, camouflage and combat boot wearing feminist, because if he's a Windmill then that would've made me Donna Quixote and I would've gladly taken him down with much more than a letter regarding the proper disposal of garbage. I would also argue that men like him are the biggest reason militant feminists exist. And...give me a break. Are we supposed to show sympathy for the guy? So you got the clap. What did you think would happen when dipping your wick in the world of strippers and pornography?

Anyway, at least he's gone. I saw him and his cronies moving things out yesterday, and when I came home today I found his side of the garage completely vacant. As Thanks Giving approaches, I find myself grateful that I will no longer endure the stench of his trash in my garage, and I will be able to enjoy the fresh air without inhaling his cigarette smoke and listening to the sound of his voice.

Ding Dong! Windmill Dick is gone! I can now don my ruby red slippers and reclaim this space I currently call home.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Chain

It is quite possible that I belong to a minority group. You say, "A minority group?" And I say, "Yes. That's right." I apparently belong to the small group of people that find chain emails ridiculous and annoying and I am regularly oppressed by their constant appearance in my inbox. You say, "Oppressed? That's a strong word, Pandora. How can you be oppressed by the happy little baby with angel wings that promises to grant you great joy in your life as long as you send it off to ten people who could also use great joy in their life?" And I say, "Because when I come to work in the morning and find sixty emails waiting for me, most of them from the same people that need something from me, I find myself spending twenty minutes sifting through the tripe of 50 chain emails before getting to the point with the remaining ten!"

Ok. So maybe I exaggerate a little, but one chain email is one too many. Really, whose stupid idea was this and why must I be subjected to it on a daily basis? Yesterday morning I got some stupid email with one of those stupid pictures of Jesus where he looks like some kind of pansy or something, making the sign of the cross with his right hand, while red and blue rays of light come out of his belly button and it said something stupid like, "Forward this message the same day you received it. It may Sound ridiculous, but it is right on time. We believe that something is about to happen. Angels exist, only sometimes they haven't got wings and we call them friends; you are one of them. Something wonderful is about to happen to you and your friends. Tomorrow at 9:20AM somebody will address you and tell you something you have been waiting to hear. Please do not break this. Send it to at least 7 of your friends!"

Um... it may sound ridiculous? How about: it is ridiculous. The last time I checked, Jesus prefers it when I speak to him directly, not through some stupid email forward, and I'm pretty sure he doesn't take orders like, "...and would you please have this to me by 9:20 tomorrow morning? I promise to pray for seven of my closest friends via email forwarding. How's that? Pretty good deal, ain't it? Oh, and I like my steak medium rare. Thanks, Bro! You reign!"

And this whole, "angels exist" thing "only sometimes they don't have wings?" First of all, I think I said something about that concept in my Angels Or Aliens post and secondly, having worked with the dude that sent me this thing, assuming he forwarded after someone who sent it to him, I'm pretty sure the guy's temper is enough to prove he isn't an angel (with or without wings) and, despite what some other metaphysical humans might think, I'm not one either.

Seriously... these things drive me nuts. I've gotten everything from Jesus promising to send me something at 9:20 in the morning to Angel Babies sprinkling me with love dust to Buddhas promising world peace to Feng Shui emails granting health and wealth to Fairies bringing "wind falls" of coin to Leprechauns promising that this email is the end of my rainbow and a stupid pot of gold is waiting for me on the other side (as long as I help 20 more people find the end of their rainbow by forwarding the Lucky Leprechaun). I have even gotten some stupid email from the Dali Lama explaining the 8 Key Points Of Life that I should live by, which I admit were good points, only to be ruined by the something like: if you send this to 1 - 5 people your life will improve slightly, if you send this to 5 - 10 people your life will improve, if you send this to 10 - 20 people your life will improve greatly and you will know great joy and happiness all of your days. ...um... is it bad if I'm inclined to say, "Please shut the hell up."

Oh, and I particularly love the ones that come with curses attached to them: "If you don't forward this to at least 10 people something bad will befall you." Seriously? Are you kidding me? Something bad befell me as soon as I opened this stupid email! Something bad befell me on more than one occasion in my life before I ever had access to email. What is going on, people? Where are your brains? Why are you sending this garbage? Because you truly believe something bad will befall you if you don't? And who uses the word befall anyway?

My favorite chain email that promised something bad to befall me was a "genuine Chinese Proverb" that originated in Switzerland. I can't remember the actual proverb because it was just a tad bit overshadowed by the story of the guy that didn't forward the email and his son grew deathly ill two days later, but once he realized the error of his ways and sent the email off to ten people his son was miraculously healed.


Is there no end to our idiocy? At what point do you not notice that "genuine" Chinese Proverbs don't originate in Switzerland? And if I'm not mistaken, the purpose of a proverb is to enlighten you with its truth not threaten your well being with a stupid curse. Where oh where has common sense gone? Is this the work of some stupid liberal regime that also believes people should be paid for lying around doing nothing? Did you really think you'd find wealth and prosperity if you sent this email to me? I'm pretty sure you're still sitting there in that stupid cubicle with the same salary you had yesterday. I'm pretty sure the bills are still waiting to be paid by the usual means with which you pay them. And I'm pretty sure something bad will befall you even after you sent this stupid thing to me. Why? Because it always does. Because that's the ebb and flow of life, people. Because in the joy there is also pain. How's that for a proverb?

Here's a genuine American Proverb straight from the borderline ghetto of Phoenix, AZ -- something good will happen to you today and something bad will happen to you today, there is a high point and low point to every day, and well... that's what we call the human experience.

Now email this post to 20 people because I really need some more readers.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Medium

This Eye does see the world.
This Mind inherits and begets.
This Ear does hear
voices, vehicles, and victims,
wind, words, and wisdom,
moans, mayhem, and music.
This Mouth...
speaks wit,
sings soul,
smacks love,
swallows life.

inhales experience -- exhales perception

This Body lolls on the berth and bathes in the light.
This Body lies with your thoughts on a sensual night.
This Hand does write -- taunt, tease, twist, and tie.
This Hand does...
hit and hurt,
bind and break,
soothe and stroke,
comfort and create.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ignoring The Toilet

A good friend of mine loves to call me Her Royal Highness because of the disdain I hold for dishes and laundry and such. He says it, of course, poking fun at me because these are tasks we all must do and my griping about them conveys, to him, a sense that I am above it all. Being someone who regularly does such chores without a second thought, I think I may very well be his first experience with a human who would prefer to leave the dishes in the sink for a night or two because I obey the call of my imagination before obeying the call of "duty."

This is not a rant against him, by any means. The man has come to my home on more than one occasion to eat a dinner I made for him (cooking is an art, by the way) only to willingly and ever so naturally stand up to wash the dishes with a beautiful smile saying, "Do what you need to do. This is a job for peasants, not for women like you." So no, this is not a rant against his playful statements.

I think of this now because, less than an hour ago, I sat down to write only to hear an ominous glub glub glub , followed by the sound of my daughter saying, "Oh no! Oh No!" and the bathroom door slamming shut behind her. As I went down the hall, I found her standing with her eyes wide open, hand still on the door knob, saying, "You don't want to go in there, Mom." I opened the door to find water spilling over the toilet, flooding the bathroom floor, and all I could do was stand there and stare at it thinking, "If there was ever a time I felt like a peasant, it would be now."

And, so, here is the part where all anal retentive cleaners of the house cringe as I tell you I simply shut the door, looked at my girl and said, "Use my bathroom to get ready for bed. I have writing to do. I'll get to this craziness later."

For the record, then, it isn't because I am above it all, nor is it because of laziness or lack of care. I put these things to the side for one reason only -- to live.

Anyone who reads my blog regularly should be familiar with my rants about the mundane as it actively opposes my need to be free and creative. And, in fact, somewhere in here is a post about Obsessive Lackadaisical Disorder where I mock myself for not taking the mundane duties of existence seriously. But the truth is, anyone who taps into their imagination now and again knows that when it calls to you it must be followed, lest it disappear and leave you with nothing but frustration and a sense of heartbroken sorrow like a lover that left you wanting.

There are things in life that can't be avoided. I can't avoid my job because it pays the bills, puts a roof over our head and food on the table. I can't avoid raising my daughter and doing my best to help her grow into a fruitful contribution to society. I can't avoid the obligations to friends and family that need me. But I can avoid the dishes for a while, I can avoid laundry as long as I have something to wear tomorrow, and I most certainly can avoid the stupid overflowing bathroom long enough to get my thoughts onto the page before time to sleep. Why can I do this? Because, if I don't, I am convinced death will soon follow -- maybe not a physical death, but most definitely a spiritual death of sorts.

Writing feeds my soul. The times that I neglect it are some of the darkest and most depressing times of my life. It makes me feel whole. It gives me a sense of purpose outside of merely existing. And the chores of life, though necessary, in my already busy schedule, threaten to consume every opportunity to create something outside of myself.

One of the strongest memories I have of myself is looking through a day planner when my marriage was falling apart and finding this:
Monday: go to the gym, clean the bathrooms and kitchen, wash the whites, iron, cook dinner.
Tuesday: go to the gym, vacuum the floors, dust the living room and bedrooms, wash the colors, iron, cook dinner.
Wednesday: go to the gym, clean the bathrooms and kitchen, wash the linens, iron, pay the bills, cook dinner.
Thursday: go to the gym, vacuum the floors, dust the living room and bedrooms, do the grocery shopping, cook dinner.
Friday: go to the gym, clean the bathrooms and kitchen, wash the uniforms, iron, cook dinner.

I remember calling my mother and sobbing because I had completely lost sight of who I was. I never wrote, I never read, I did nothing but keep the mundane tasks of life under control and I never felt more empty than I did at that moment. I had become what Brenda Ueland described:

Like many of the most talented and funniest people, ...too nice and unconceited to work from mere ambition, or the far-away hope of making money, and had not become convinced that there are other reasons for working, that a person like herself who cannot write a sentence that is not delightful and a circus, should give some time to it instead of always doily-carrying, recipe-experimenting, child-admonishing, husband-ministering, to the complete neglect of her Imagination and creative power.

In fact that is why the lives of most women are so vaguely unsatisfactory. They are always doing secondary and menial things (that do not require all their gifts and ability) for others and never anything for themselves. Society and husbands praise them for it (when they get too miserable or have nervous breakdowns), though always a little perplexedly and halfheartedly and just to be consoling. The poor wives are reminded that that is just why women are so splendid -- because they are so unselfish and self-sacrificing and that is the wonderful thing about them!

But inwardly women know that something is wrong. They sense that if you are always doing something for others, like a servant or a nurse, and never anything for yourself, you cannot do others any good. You make them physically more comfortable, but you cannot affect them spiritually in any way at all. For to teach, encourage, cheer up, console, amuse, stimulate, or advise a husband or children or friends, you have to be something yourself. And how to be something yourself? Only by working hard and with gumption at something you love and care for and think is important.
(_If You Want To Write_, Pg. 89-90)

So, in my well earned freedom, I have never forgotten that image of myself. I keep good house, I keep things afloat, and when people come to visit I do my best to present the best of myself and my home. But in my everyday existence, I have learned to shove that shit to the side so I can light a candle or two, I can burn some incense if I feel like it, I can turn on some inspiring music and shut out the world and write (even if all I come up with is a post to my blog). Why? Because it is the one thing that makes me feel alive. And I am convinced, if you were to talk with the people whose lives I have touched, this is the same reason why it would be said I am strong, confident, and actively help others get through some of the more difficult times of their lives -- because I work with gumption at something I love and care for and think is important, and it isn't the stupid dishes, or the laundry, or even the damn toilet.

The idea of royalty is always nice, but... let's be realistic. I'm a single mother living in a hovel with Windmill Dick below me. Last week I fixed my backed-up sink with a wire hanger, the week before that I fixed my backed-up shower drain with Liquid Plumber, and tonight, after I finish here, I will be mopping backed-up toilet mess and feel less than beautiful as I grab the plunger and give the toilet a run for its money. I am, as my colleagues at the mortgage company said, down here in the mud with everyone else, but the only reason most of you can't see what I'm looking at is probably because I'm one of the few that actually take the time to give my chores the bird and actually "look."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Online Poker Table Talk

setting: Briguystx just won the hand, knocking out two dumb people who went all in. Doughnut had apparently been booted by the system before calling the bet and returns to the table in a bad mood. Agent58 gets religious. Pandora, well ... the following chat is what took place:

Doughnut -- Stupid fuckin system booted me! I hate this stupid site! It sucks! Stupid fuckin pop ups always booting right as I had a stellar hand!

Agent58 -- (who currently holds 7,000+ in her bank roll) Calm down.

Doughnut -- What?! Don't tell me to calm down!! I had a stellar hand and I was just about to go all in Brig! But then I got booted! I had two jacks and two tens, bro!

Pandora -- Probably good you didn't go all in then.

Briguystx -- lol... yeah, probably.

Pandora -- Brig's full house killed the other two all ins. I'd consider it divine intervention if I were you.

Agent58 -- (who now has 9,000+ in her bank roll) A calm spirit breeds peace while a bitter soul dries up the bones... Proverbs 17:22.

Briguystx -- Amen!

Doughnut -- What the hell?

Pandora -- In other words, your bad mood gives you and all of us osteoporosis.

Briguystx -- Lol!

Agent58 -- What do you mean, a bad mood gives osteoporosis? Is that your perspective?

Pandora -- No, that's your perspective.

Agent58 -- That's not my perspective!

Pandora -- You just said, with your little proverb, that a bitter soul dries up the bones. Osteoporosis is a disease that causes brittle bones that break easily, hence Doughnut's bad mood = brittle bones = Osteoporosis.

Agent58 -- (who now has 11,000 in her bank roll and at this point I'm wondering how this dumb girl wins like that) I guess that's your perspective.

Pandora -- lol... I think you're missing it. I was just elaborating on your proverb.

Agent58 -- it's okay, I won't argue with you. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

Pandora -- ...

Briguystx -- Lol! Bitter doughnuts and broken bones!

Pandora -- It's all good Agent58. :-) (meaning, please shut up now before I get more interested in schooling you than playing poker)

Doughnut -- A baker, a doctor, and a preacher all walk into a bar. What kind of bar is it?

Pandora -- The kind of bar where the baker, the doctor, and the preacher can all get drunk together in perfect peace and harmony while reading the book of Proverbs.

Agent58 -- (who now has 13,000 points in her bank roll) UR Bad, Pandora!

Pandora -- And you're winning. I'll stop talking now.


Friday, November 13, 2009

A Response To My Response To Emily

I recognize, having been both a student and a teacher of English, that poetry is a lost art. I recognize that if the poet and the mathematician hold anything in common at all, it is that a select few truly understand where their mind is at and what they're doing with it. I used to write poetry all the time, it used to be my method of choice, until I realized that if I wanted to live my life as a starving writer, poetry was my best bet.

I still write a poem every so often (The Drain, which I posted a few weeks back, is the first one to come out of me in quite a while), and I still enjoy writing them. The problem is, I fear, my readers may not enjoy reading them, which is something I completely understand.

Poetry is a puzzle. It makes use of various stylistic and grammatical subtleties to get its point across, even as it's somewhat hiding that same point from your view. As a reader who may not enjoy poetry, this can be frustrating. As a reader who loves poetry, this is where the fun begins: this is your time to solve the puzzle, in which there is no complete way for you to walk around feeling 100% positive with your result, but you can be satisfied with your understanding and walk away with an immense amount of appreciation and fondness for the writer and the writer's ability to share their emotion and imagination with you in such an enigmatic and esoteric way.

I bring this up because one of my readers expressed some interest in what I was doing with yesterday's Response To Emily. I appreciate his question because I knew when I posted that poem, out of all the ones I have written and shared on this blog, that it was a difficult puzzle to solve. But his interest was enough for me to believe more of you may be interested and so... here is my answer to his question, and here is a breakdown on "the puzzle" that is "the poem."

Response To Emily is a response poem to Emily Dickinson -- a 19th Century American poet. I wrote this one a long time ago. I was still living with my parents, finishing my BA, and in the midst of divorce at the time. It was an assignment for a Whitman & Dickinson class I was in (I wrote Autumn Leaves, also posted to this blog somewhere, for that same class as a response to Whitman's Song Of Myself).

Traditionally, a response poem is both an exercise in walking in another writer's stylistic shoes as well as showing your ability as a writer to adeptly mimic their style. (I once wrote a dialogue between theorist Stanley Fish and 18th Century poet Alexander Pope called Tea and Crumpets With Stanley Fish for a Literary Criticism class. I did that one as a bet. Alexander Pope wrote in everything in heroic couplet -- every line is written in iambic pentameter and every two lines have a rhyme at the end of them. I had made a joke about doing it for the dialogue assignment and then two fellow English Majors dared me to follow through with it. They were betting on the fact I wouldn't be able to write in heroic couplet for five to ten pages. They lost the bet, which on a student budget meant I got two soft tacos from Taco Bell but still...) If you studied Dickinson, you would recognize that I mimicked her style as I expressed concepts of my own life and perception through her "voice." Both Autumn Leaves and Response To Emily were showpiece compositions that year, and they have followed me around all this time until I finally decided to post Emily's piece yesterday. She was never my favorite of the two, but as I dug through my past work the other night I ran across it and found it a worthy addition, even though I knew most people would not understand.

Dickinson's style, even more than Whitman's, is one weighted in symbol and metaphorical imagery, which is why I used so many images in this poem: the Dawn; the Moon; the Pinnacle; the Mouth; the Eye; the Sky; the Birds. When faced with something like this as a reader, it is important to see the image in your mind first and then think about the words and the grammatical tools that surround them -- and depending on the poet, use of rhyme and meter. Dickinson was known for the strange use of the dash and her use of capitalization. Her use of these is actually the topic of much research and debate and has a lot to do with the way the reader interprets the poem. I always believed they were simply there to direct the reader's attention to a specific image or metaphor, causing them to think on it for a while; at least that was the effect she had on me.

So, in this poem, the first thing you see is "At Once" followed by a dash. This indicates there is a significance in the sense of suddenness in the timing. Following that is "Arose the Dawn," also set apart with a dash. If you have ever sat and watched a sunrise, you have experienced a slow and peaceful observance of something that gradually rises and sheds light upon your world. It never rises "at once," it is never "sudden," so immediately the reader should notice that, despite the natural images, the author is using them as a metaphor to explain something else. The next line is "A Tirade to the Moon." Obviously, when the sun comes up the moon goes down. The Moon could be understood as the keeper of the night: it sheds a light of its own, but it never sheds enough light for an individual to see that clearly. And a "tirade" is bitter outburst. The last two lines of that stanza, "Brilliant Beams ascending O'er Pinnacle's said Doom" create the image of the sun beams rising over the mountains. So if you look at that stanza as a whole, you can interpret that the writer was previously sitting in the midst of the dark night, with no light except what was given by the moon, and suddenly, out of nowhere, the most powerful light that could possibly shine rises up over the mountain tops, shedding light on what could be understood as certain doom.

So then, stanza two helps the reader understand what that doom could very well have been. "In Lunar Light -- pale skin Does glow -- as Languid Lips Fabricate Amorous Mouthing -- An Eye, in deed, mislead." In other words, in the dark, underneath the limited light of the moon, you have a set of lovers, naked ("pale skin Does glow"). And in this darkness, words of love and promises were whispered like lies by an indifferent soul: "Languid Lips Fabricate Amorous Mouthing," which could also be understood as a sexual metaphor, supporting the concept of two lovers beneath the moon. "An Eye," something that can be fooled by a slip of the hand or visual action as well as a metaphorical image for an "I," that was "in deed/indeed" mislead -- play on words being, yes, "I" was indeed mislead, but also through the deeds of another "I" was mislead.

As the second stanza depicts the events of the darkness, the third stanza explains the significance of the light: "But Sweet the Light that shines, Condensing Careless words --, Unto the Boundless Sky -- And I, away with Birds." The light that suddenly rose over the mountain (metaphor for the uphill climb) is sweet as it shines brightly, shedding light and truth over all that was hidden by dark and false; "condensing [the] careless words" and actions of the "amorous mouthing" into nothing, like clouds dissipating into the "boundless sky," and therefor, freeing the "I" from the "doom" it was headed for, allowing the "I" (the same Eye that was in deed mislead) to make an escape into freedom -- flying "away with Birds."

So, there you have it. Maybe I should explicate myself more often. That was kind of fun. ;-) Remind me to tell you about my experience with T.S. Eliot sometime.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Response To Emily

At Once -- Arose the Dawn --
A Tirade to the Moon --
Brilliant Beams ascending
O'er Pinnacle's said Doom.

In Lunar Light-- pale skin
Does glow -- as Languid Lips
Fabricate Amorous Mouthing --
An Eye, in deed, mislead.

But Sweet the Light that shines,
Condensing Careless words --
Unto the Boundless Sky --
And I, away with Birds.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dark and Light

Sometime between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five my dad started saying something like, "What do I need to do to get you off The Good Ship Lollipop? When are you going to learn that people aren't inherently good?" And I'm pretty sure there were a couple instances between twenty-six and thirty-five where I told a story or two that evoked a "Well, I can see you still like to ride The Good Ship every once in a while." By that time I usually just laughed at him because I was well aware of my stupid naivete in those moments, but when I was younger those questions used to make me angry at him.

In my innocence I wanted to believe nothing more than all people were good, they just messed up and made bad choices here and there. Most likely I wanted to believe this because that's how I saw myself and, at that age, it's very difficult to see the world outside of your own perspective. I think it took me getting severely beat down by life and the people that comprise the various aspects of it before I realized his words held some veracity. But to this day, I still struggle with the concept of "bad people." Maybe it's the artist in me, or maybe it's that I believe in things like redemption and true forgiveness and second chances, but I seem to walk through this life convincing myself there is a light in all people, it's just that someone needs to fan the flames a bit so that light can grow to something more than a flicker.

Because I hold this view, I leave myself open to great disappointment and discouragement when I happen to run across people that not only lack a flicker but seem to take great pleasure in the darker shades of life. I had one of those devastatingly discouraging moments today.

On a last minute whim, I drove home for my lunch break, just to take care of a few things. As I sat here and paid a couple bills, Windmill Dick stepped outside, like he often does, to smoke a cigarette while talking on the phone. Of course, with my windows open, I could hear every word he was saying. As much as I would love to make you laugh about his conversation, I can't because I actually sat here stunned and sick and wishing I hadn't heard a word of it.

Apparently Windmill Dick has a son who had a birthday this past weekend. Mr. Dick was at the birthday party with the rest of the friends and family and the kid got angry with one of his cousins. So, in his anger, he went into the house, went to his room, picked up a baseball bat, walked back outside and cracked his cousin so hard in the back of the head the cousin fell to the ground, knocked out and bleeding. After that, his son went back into the house and back to his room where he shut the door and started playing with his toys. As if that's not disturbing enough, Windmill Dick laughed as he told the story saying, "Yeah, man, it was the coolest thing I'd ever seen! And everyone started screaming and my ex was crying and screaming at me because she wanted me to do something about it, but what was I going to do about it? I didn't give a shit. The kid pissed him off! Man, it was awesome! It was a completely premeditated action and when everyone was screaming and crying he just stayed calm, cool, and collected. He didn't give a shit about the other people. I taught the kid well."

Instantly my heart sank and my head started reeling in all different kinds of directions ranging from past conversations with stupid egotistical academics that argue evil doesn't exist to time I spent as a teacher where a kid pulled out a pair of scissors from his pocket, stabbed another student in the hand, and got away with it because he was "ADHD." I drove back to the office with a subtle sense of horror lingering in the back of my mind, along with the sound of my dad's voice saying, "When are you going to learn that people aren't good?" And my usual need to rise up and speak on behalf of all I perceive to be good and right was completely disabled because... what can be said to the person who takes pride in his child's premeditated act of violence? What can be said to the man who thinks good parenting is bringing forth a child with a taste for blood? What can be said to the person who has no respect for life? What can be said to someone who would spit on me in an attempt to douse my light because he prefers darkness? And damn it... I hate it when I hit a block wall with nothing but a soft fleshy fist that is easily broken. I hate it when I have moments where I think, "This person is a lost cause, a waste of time, a danger to society and the lives around him, including you and your own beautiful little light of a child, so keep your distance and don't bother."

It's obvious that this ran through my mind the rest of the afternoon and evening. It has taken me all this time to collect my erratic thoughts long enough to make something of it. When I think of him, my mind's eye sees nothing but darkness -- not a single spark of light and no hope of one. And the same people that would call me an angel would call him a demon. And the more charismatic lot that call themselves Christian would blame the work of "The Evil One" and do their best to exorcise the demons from him. And the bleeding heart liberals would say it isn't his fault because he was abused as a child. And the champions of postmodernism, cozy in the safe surroundings of the university, would call me close minded and say that this is his truth and there is no such thing as evil. And the clinical psychiatrists would give him Anti-Social Disorder and prescribe a few pills and send him to group therapy. And the court systems would let him off the hook because he's a victim of society. And I sit here knowing that he is a proud human that thrives off of his own destructive behavior and the destructive behavior of others.

"When are you going to learn that people aren't good?" ...lingers and lingers in the corners of my mind. And this is the reason I entered into the Martial Arts, but even as we learn to break necks and destroy life we are taught that life is precious and that becomes more and more obvious as we learn how easy it is to snuff it out. It takes more effort to make something grow and become fruitful and prosperous than it does to destroy it, and so we must do what we can to protect and preserve it. And why is it that anyone would want to do anything other than make life grow into something beautiful?

And as I ask that I hear the Principal I worked for saying, "Pandora, as you enter into graduate school and move forward with your life, I want you to remember that people like you are the backbone of society. We need you, so don't lose hope and don't lose heart." And I hear my friends at the mortgage company smiling at one of my more naive moments saying, "This is why we love you, Pandora. You're down here in the mud with the rest of us, and yet somehow you're still lingering high above where we can't see what you're looking at." And I hear the voice of my daughter saying, "I love you, Mom. You're my hero. And someday I want to be an astronomer so I can name a constellation after you." And I hear the voices of many whose lights are flickering, and many more whose lights have turned into warming fires, and more still that shine like beacons through the fog and yes... we are the backbones of society. And yes, not all people are good, but not all people are bad. So, like a million points of light, I guess it's our job to shine for those who are looking for it and for those who are just like us -- occasionally lost in the darkness, breaking a fist or two on the block walls we blindly run into.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Happy Monday!

It’s probably cliché to sit here and ramble on about how loathsome Mondays are to me, but it hit me sometime this morning as I drove to the office how much I hate them and how I never take the time to think about hating them or why. To make matters worse, I’ve had two people approach me this morning and say, “Happy Monday!”

What?! What’s that about? No one ever comes over to me and says "Happy Monday," but the one Monday I spend my twenty minute drive thinking about how much I hate Mondays two people come up and say that to me? What is this, some kind of bad joke?

To make matters worse, one of them was the same person who said, "Happy Friday!" two days ago! I guess I shouldn’t be annoyed when someone says Happy Friday, but, right now, I can't help it. Want to know why? Because it’s pointless. Don’t tell me Happy Friday when you’re the same person who’s going to come up to me and say Happy Monday two days later! Fridays and Mondays aren’t even in the same ball park of happiness so they can’t both be happy!

Please, people, please…

Anyway, I decided that I hate Mondays mostly because it’s like ripping a stream of morphine from my vein and forcing me to get up and put on the face I hate to wear the most – the business face. All weekend long I’ve been allowed to dress and talk and act the way I want, and suddenly I have to wear what the proverbial they tell me to; I have to speak the way they think is acceptable; I have to think the way they pay me to; and I have to weigh in to their standard of success. This isn’t new, this is stuff we all do, regularly, it’s just that by Tuesday through Friday we've grown numb to it again. But after two days off, Monday flies in like a bad hangover with or without the pleasurable party the night before, like the unhappy jerk back into reality from the greatest of dreams – Free To Be.

Happy Monday… please… More like, Happy Reminder That This Is The Start Of Yet Another Week That You Don’t Get To Face As The Writer You Keep Thinking You’re Supposed To Be.

What I've Heard

I have heard nothing from the Leadership. To me, a good Leader is one that knows how to say things like "thank you" and "good job" and "well done" when you've gone the extra mile and done something special. A "thank you" can at least be said when you've done a task that is normally their own and you did it specifically so they could have a break. Maybe it's that you've done the task too well, eh? Maybe it's that the Leadership is riddled with insecurity and instead of thank you they are overcome with jealousy and wish you weren't standing up there doing their job so well. Maybe, instead of being thankful they have someone like you on their team they're wishing you would fall and break your leg because your success, even though it contributes to the same cause and effort they've been in charge of and asked you to contribute to, makes them burn with envy on the inside as opposed to joy in your accomplishment. That's really too bad too. A good mentor is one that takes pride in the success of the student and makes sure that student knows they have done well. It surprises me, sometimes, how some people are considered Leaders when they really have no clue what that means.

I have heard that Mr. Toe Nail (I gave him that name because he loves to clip his toenails over the garabge can in his cubicle) thinks he hurt his back while trying to lift 800 pounds at the gym. Seriously? 800 pounds? Doing what? Squats? He’s such a Rock Eater. Thinks he’s Mr. Universe. He went and got veneers or whatever those things are on his teeth and now they stick out from his mouth like a overly white overbite. I’m sure he thinks he’s hot though. He has this wall paper background on his computer of himself with two dudes snow skiing. They all have their shirts off. The other two guys look pretty average, but Rock Eater looks like he eats a dozen eggs for breakfast and a barrel of creatine and he’s flexing his pectoralis majors and puffing himself out like some sort of quail in mating season. bleck… He nauseates me. For the past week or so he’s been on the phone with some lender in New York. Apparently he’s trying to buy a boat (in a feeble attempt to appease his succubus wife) and for whatever reason he couldn’t qualify for a loan out here. To get a loan from the lender in New York, he had to show some sort of part-time residency or some crap. So he found some online university based out of New York and registered for classes just to get a stupid loan for a $70,000 boat. Really? Are you kidding me? The admin assistant asked him what class he signed up for and he said, “Blogging.” She asked if he was actually going to take the course and he said, “Pfft… no.” This guy is truly a dunderhead. I should be glad he isn’t going to follow through with that class because he may run across my blog and find himself as the subject matter for one of my rants. Every day he looks like he’s wearing a new pair of shoes – nice shoes, money shoes, TRENDY shoes… idiot. Apparently his wife is having some sort of mid-life crisis (mid-life crisis is psychobabble for self-centered idiocy). I guess she used to be fat and within the past year she lost all kinds of weight. Still unhappy with her appearance, she asked her husband to buy her a new set of bosoms, which he did, along with a complete reconstruction in the area below the belt (so she could feel virginal again), a nose job, a face lift, and a new tattoo. A few months back he bought her a new Mercedes, as well as a new truck of some sort for himself, and now he’s buying her a boat because the one they already have isn’t as flashy as she would like it to be. After all of this, he is constantly crying to the secretary about his wife's infidelity. Really? Seriously? What a shock! You know, it’s stories like this that help me understand why “good” people (that is people that don’t commit crimes like rape and murder etc.) are still lost because obviously they just don’t get it. Vanity is one of the seven deadly sins, after all, and no one ever thinks about that. Vanity, Greed, Laziness, Envy, Pride, Gluttony, Lust, and Wrath… no one thinks about these things too much because most of them are internal, easily hidden from the external human eye, but… they’re all one way tickets to your own personal doom if one isn’t careful. No one is perfect, we all have our things, but I am convinced that if anyone is driving the highway to Hell, no matter how “good” of a citizen they think themselves to be, it is the people that refuse to look inward and find a deeper meaning within the self and a purpose to their lives beyond the material and the external. Idiots.

Speaking of external, I have heard that my hair looks nice today.

I have heard, for certain, that my current health insurance plan is no longer going to be offered after this month.

I have heard, that the Land Department will experience no further lay-offs for the remainder of this fiscal year.

I have heard that the axe is going to fall on the rest of the employees later this month.

I have heard that Sunshine’s mother (who is only two years older than me) is dying of cancer and she has no health insurance to help her even with the pain. This makes me sad. These are moments when I wish I had an arsenal of money to help the people I care about. When I first started working for the mortgage company and I started seeing the money come in, I created this plan in my head and I called it “The Arsenal Of Funds.” I was good at selling loans and I always believed God “paid” me well for my honesty in a business that was just a tad on the corrupt side. I was making more than enough to pull myself out of the hole and set myself up for a “successful” financial future. During that time I had to evaluate what was going to be most important to me. I had come from nothing for so long and been around family and friends with nothing for so long, I didn’t want to become one of the idiots that went overboard with the material things. This was when I decided I would make a comfortable space for myself and my daughter and the rest would pile up in the “arsenal” so I could help out my people whenever they got stuck – like Sunshine and her mother. She told me today that her mother has stage three cancer and her only shot at sending the cancer into remission is to have chemo treatments once a week until remission becomes apparent. One treatment, without health insurance, is $20, 000 dollars. (Maybe Obama has a point? Or maybe the government can't afford another debt like $20,000 a week for numerous people without insurance? Or maybe people like Mr. Toe Nail should send $70,000 Sunshine's way?) Sunshine, of course, is in tears and I, for once, have no clue what to say. The best I could come up with is, “I’m sorry, honey. Feel like going to lunch with me today or tomorrow? My treat.” Inside my head though, I could still see The Arsenal Of Funds that never came to pass.

I have heard people coming and going from their desks, depending on the time and the reason I sometimes do the same.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Lesson In Fund Raising

Yesterday a dude down the hall sends out this mass email that says, “It’s that time of year again, folks. My daughter’s school is on the fund raising trail again and I am now selling Entertainment Coupon Books. Please come see me if you’re interested.” So I stare at the email and think to myself, “Dang it! I know Hope is going to be coming home with one of those too and I can’t hit anybody up for her cuz this guy beat me to it!”

This morning Hope sits down at the table and plops the coupon book down in front of her:

Hope: We’re selling the entertainment books again, Mom.

Pandora: Aaaa! I knew it was coming! I was going to bring it to work but yesterday another guy brought his daughter’s in and so we’re out of luck.

Hope: You were going to try to sell some to the people at work? Oh Mom! That would’ve gotten me the portable dvd player for sure!

Pandora: Portable dvd player? How many do you have to sell for that?

Hope: 55 books.

Pandora: Well, I doubt I would’ve been able to get 55 sold for you, but it would’ve been more than the usual one you sell because I’m the only one that ever buys anything from you. Haha…

Hope: Yes… I know.

Pandora: Do you even get a prize for that?

Hope: …a lame one. Last year I got a giant pen.

Pandora: (smiles at Hope) …a giant pen? I think I remember that.

Hope: Yep. Wanna know what lame prize I’ll get this year when you buy this from me?

Pandora: What is it?

Hope: A six to seven foot blow up balloon.

Pandora: …

Hope: A seven foot blow up balloon, Mom. …a seven foot long balloon… What am I going to do with a seven foot long balloon?

Pandora: Hahahaha… I don’t know honey.

Hope: Want to know what I’ll get if I sell five books?

Pandora: Sure.

Hope: …a giant wobbly pen. (she looks at the prize list and dryly reads the description) “The Giant Wobbly Pen: watch it wobble and bobble as you write while doing your homework.” (she looks up at me blankly) Want to know what I get if I sell ten to fifteen books?

Pandora: Ok.

Hope: I get to have the seven foot balloon, the giant wobbly pen, and a fuzzy face cube.

Pandora: …a what?

Hope: …a fuzzy face cube.

Pandora: …a fuzzy face cube?

Hope: (turns the prize sheet around and points to a picture of a red fuzzy cube with a smiley face and a large tuft of yellow fuzzy “hair” coming out of the top) … a fuzzy face cube. (stares at Pandora exasperated)

Pandora: Hahahahaha! What? You’re not excited about the possibility of receiving any of these things?

Hope: (turns the prize sheet back around so she can look at it) …a fuzzy face cube, Mom. It’s a fuzzy face cube, a giant wobbly pen, and a seven foot balloon that I have to blow up myself. (she puts the prize sheet down on the table and starts eating her cereal) No. No, Mom. I am not excited about these.

Pandora: Hahahahahaha… Oh Hope… you make me laugh. And how many do you have to sell to get the dvd player? 55?

Hope: Yes, 55.

Pandora: And how much do these books sell for?

Hope: $30 each.

Pandora: $30? I thought they were $25?

Hope: That was last year’s price. This year they’re $30.

Pandora: Hmmm… well, this is a good life lesson right here. Remember when I used to work for the mortgage company?

Hope: Yeah.

Pandora: Do you remember when I explained what it meant to work for commission? Meaning, I sell a loan and the company gives me a percentage of the money they make from the loan I sell?

Hope: Yeah, I remember.

Pandora: Well, when schools do this they’re doing two things: first, they’re trying to raise extra money so they can take care of a few extra things around the school and second, they’re giving you guys a taste of what it’s like to work in the land of sales. I could go to Target right now and buy a portable dvd player for $100. If you sell 55 books for $30 a piece you just made $1650 in sales. So if you get a $100 dvd player as commission for your sales, they’re giving you about 6% of what you made for them.

Hope: (stares at me deep in thought and then she looks down at the prize sheet) It is a lot of work, and I already have homework to do and soccer practice. You would think they could at least come up with better prizes than wobbly pens and fuzzy face cubes.

Pandora: Hahahahahahaha…

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Passing Thoughts

I've been sitting here for thirty minutes, staring at the blank screen. I keep thinking and thinking -- an image here, a concept there, but coming up short. I keep seeing a woman lying in her bed, fetal position, weeping for some reason unknown, and I want to write about her but, much like her, I'm not sure what to say.

I find myself thinking about the artist in California sitting on his couch staring at a giant canvas -- a blank canvas, the same giant blank canvas he's been staring at since August, and I understand. I see shades of murky red and murky green in some strange swirling pattern like root and heart that have lost their place but, as with the rest of my thoughts, it comes to little more than a passing vision.

If this hand were able, I would paint my mind... and if this mind were able I would think of something good.

The clock is ticking and Hendrix sings, "the hour is getting late."

The guy next door plunks away at his acoustic, doing little to inspire me. But somewhere, about twenty minutes East of here, I know a mesmerizing musician fills his home with a sound I'd give anything to hear. I would lie on his living room floor and listen, just close my eyes and listen to the sound of emotion passing through his fingers onto a set of six strings.

If only I could ride that wave long enough to tap in and create something new.

And then I see the twenty-something girl that's made of gold, thinking herself little more than tarnished brass. And I can see her tucking in the three children she saved from Hell two days ago. And I can see her lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, wondering how she's going to care for them all, how she's going to make it through. And I say a prayer for them all because her story is far from over and is waiting to be written.

And I think of the people that fear "The Evil One" and I want to say something they should all remember because it has a familiar ring to it and it goes something like this: Whom shall I fear?

I'm wondering of my friend on the East Coast, finding herself lost in the world of academia, and I'm hoping she smiles tonight. I'm hoping she finds herself sitting in good company with a glass of wine and good conversation. I'm hoping she realizes that she is in the perfect place at the perfect time.

And I've been thinking about The Yellow Wallpaper and I'm thinking if I could have a conversation with Charlotte Perkins Gilman she might agree that today, though she is different, the woman is still trapped behind the wallpaper; it's just a wallpaper of a different kind.

And my little girl, fast becoming a young lady, sleeps away... as I should be doing. She grows a little bit more and changes a little bit more with each passing moment. And a clock of a different kind is tick tick ticking and I fight the need to panic because time is running out. Each day with her is a treasure and I am thankful for it.

And like my thoughts, time just passes and passes and I am unable to harness any of these thoughts for longer than a fleeting moment so they are written as just that -- passing thoughts. Sooner or later, I will learn to stop this brain of mine long enough to focus on the plot. But tonight... this will have to do.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Midday Ramblings

Have you ever noticed how some people need to take a break from the Crest Whitening Strips for a while? I mean, really… some of these people need to spend the next thirty days drinking 8 cups of coffee per day just to bring the gleam back down to a non-blinding level. (and god help us if the same people visit the tanning salon regularly)

I’m glad I’m not 6 feet tall.

I forgive the person that can’t help but explode in the public restroom because they’re suffering and most likely mortified, but I show no mercy to the constipated soul who bears no shame while grunting in the public restroom.

I hate standing next to women that are six feet or more, particularly in a business arena where I’m trying to impress others with my intellectual prowess. Somehow, this makes me feel like a barking Chihuahua beside a silent Mastiff. And I have this terrible feeling, despite constant eye contact, the guy is pretending to listen to me while he’s thinking, “Damn, that woman is gigantic!”

When Obama took office, government control of private industry was at 34%. When he passed the bailout it became 40%, and if he passes the healthcare proposed it will be 45%. 47% of Russia’s private industry is government controlled. Hmmm… I’ve always idolized the success of Russian economy, haven’t you? And… Russia has a McDonald’s at least in Moscow, don’t they? Egg McMuffins abound!!!

Maybe I’ll go buy some Crest Ultra Powered Whitening Strips. I hear they come with a special UV ray light to shine on them. Awesome! I’ll be able to compete with my plastic neighbor in no time!

There’s a room full of engineers behind me right now. They love to make themselves laugh with math jokes. They are a different breed of human.

I just acquired an easement from the Mormons. I was told that was next to impossible.

We’re having a going away luncheon for one of the assistants today. She’s heading off to Law School next week. Lucky lady is moving to Denver. She and her man are moving out there together. She asked me if I would ever come visit her. I have a feeling a trip to Denver is more than possible.

The Land Department is known for eating. I’m not sure why, but these people love to eat and therefore they often find reasons for pot lucks. Today’s reason is the assistant's departure. They’re setting up the food in the conference room behind me (yes, the one the mathematical comedians just left) and the miscellaneous aromas are making my stomach growl.

I bet there’s a lot more than salad and broccoli in there.

My hair could use a trim.

The vultures are gathering behind me.

Bombastic Babbling Boy is also standing outside my cube trying to sound smart again.

The food is glorious. One could probably eat until they passed out. Free food heaven. Everything from chicken to sushi to pasta to veggies to pita sandwiches and fruit and crazy desserts and deviled eggs and hummus and… well… more stuff that I can’t remember. Land eats well.

Hummus sounds like a game we might have fun playing.

…some kind of crazy chicken stuffed dumpling thing that was absolutely awesome…

"…some people drink Pepsi, some people drink Coke, the wacky morning dj says democracy’s a joke…" (from Comfort Eagle -- Cake)

Women that squeal “HIIIIIiiiii…” and then hug each other kinda nauseate me.

…I’ve certainly had better sushi but…still good.

…the strange pasta dish lacks flavor.

Pasta dish number two also lacks flavor.

Come on people! If you’re going to make pasta you must DOUSE it with flavor!

I think, when attending a potluck, it’s best to take small bits of everything. The one thing I think I’ll start doing next time is writing down the names of the people who made what and take notes such as follows:

Jane’s pasta: lacks flavor

Jan’s pasta: lacks flavor

Cowboy: he brought Popeye Chicken. Guess it’s amazing he brought anything.

Louise’s Jalapeño Cornbread: awesome…

You know, something like that. So next time I can avoid the less flavorful dishes.

I ran from the dessert table.

My favorite thing was the pita bread stuffed with some kind of chicken salad goodness. That was yummy.

I’m done now.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Angels or Aliens?

So I was standing in my closet this morning, staring at my clothes, trying to decide what to wear. And I was standing there thinking about wearing the green blouse but then decide against it. And as I was dressing, I listened to the long string of random banal thoughts about bills and groceries and laundry when suddenly I heard myself think, “I can’t wait until my shift on Earth is done.” And just as my mind moved onto the next thought, I stopped myself and said, “What? I can’t wait until my shift on Earth is done? Did I really just say that to myself?” So I stood there for a minute and started laughing at myself for that comment.

It really was a strange thing to say. And it wasn’t said out of depression, nor did it have some suicidal tone to it. I didn’t say, “life on Earth,” I said, “shift on Earth,” as if I were some being from another realm sent here for a purpose, a job, a task at hand like garbage detail or something -- as though I were some kind of celestial so and so who would much rather be working a shift on planet Zircon but somehow got the short end of the stick and got stuck here on Earth. And as I was listening to the mundane meanderings of my mind, I had a moment where I realized I sounded so much like a regular human I disgusted myself and said, “I can’t wait until my shift on Earth is done,” implying a return to the glory of my celestial splendor and a shift I truly deserve.

Really, if I didn’t actually have laundry and dishes to do right now, I could run with this one for quite some time.

If I told this story to a New Agie, I imagine they would say it was my “angel existence” that made the comment. Some people believe that a certain number of us are actually angels in human form, sent to Earth for a purpose, and not all of us know who we are yet. If I told them about this moment, I would most likely be told that I’m “awakening,” that I’m starting to realize there is more to my life on Earth and my purpose here than all of the mundane thoughts that were rolling through my mind at that specific time.

Another response might be to say it was my “higher self,” which simply means that it is the part of me that is fully aware of who I am and what my purpose is in this lifetime , and the fact that I spoke to myself in that manner would mean that I am getting closer to becoming all that my higher self is. (Sounds somewhat similar to the angel people idea, but it isn’t. The higher self is just me, completely human but fully aware of all my talents and abilities and unafraid to foster the qualities of myself necessary to hone those talents and abilities and master them all. The higher self is able to shake off all of the things that make humans stay put in their day to day mindless existence and live the purposeful life The Universe intended.)

Then, of course, we cannot forget the people who would prattle on about past lives and that I’m something they call an old soul that has traveled many lifetimes to get to this one. They would say the voice that spoke up this morning stems from a life that was quite possibly spent on Planet Zircon (and, I'm totally making that planet up, by the way, so don't go searching around for it in some galaxy far far away... although... I'm sure some of these same people would argue that since I gave it a name that proves it exists, or something like that) where I floated about in a white glittery gossamer gown and laid upon the grass in the quiet meadow where I wrote volumes of poetry and songs.

Nor can we forget the people that believe right now, this very minute, that I am an alien from Planet Zircon and that I have been encased in this human form for so long I’ve nearly forgotten my extra terrestrial self and completely lost sight of the assignment the mother planet sent me out here to do. They would tell me that my name is Astra and that I need to stare long and hard into some kind of crystal prism so I can travel to the nether realms and get in touch with my people in an attempt to remember why I've been given this shift on Earth. (these are also the same people I highly suggest you smile and nod at while they’re speaking to you and then walk away and never speak with them again)

My favorite idea, though, is one I came up with myself (surprise you that I like my own idea best? It really shouldn't). I imagine some poor Angel of God who was assigned to be my Guardian since the day I was born. I imagine that she was excited on the day of my birth because she could see all of the potential I have to do great things and she looked forward to helping me foster them. But after 35 years of following me around (making sure I didn't break my neck on the monkey bars when I was a kid at school, making sure I didn't die in that car accident on the freeway, making sure I didn't talk to that idiot at the bar when I was 21, making sure I stayed strong enough to get through my education as a single mother, making sure I followed the right path to the job that would give me enough financial security to free my mind of just enough worry to have room for the imagination) she now sits beside me frustrated because all I do, day in and day out, are the same stupid mundane tasks. And no matter what she tries, no matter what she places in front of me, hoping to spark an inspirational fire in my soul, all she hears come from my mind is, "I shoulda thawed some chicken last night… I’ll just have to pick something up… I hate picking something up… I need to renew my lease… I need to stop by the bank... I need to make the lunches… I need to hurry… I need to pay my car insurance... I need to pay the electric…" And at that moment she couldn't stand it anymore and she plopped down on the edge of my bed and said, "I can't wait until my shift on Earth is done." And when she realized that I actually heard her, she sat up with excitement thinking she may have finally made some sort of breakthrough. Unfortunately for her, I am a skeptical human who thinks people that hear voices other than their own get sent to the asylum and swallow little purple pills every four to six hours. So... I let it go and laugh it off.

...poor thing. She's probably pacing back and forth behind me right now, grumbling to God about what a waste of her talent it is to be assigned to a stupid human like me.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Introducing Bombastic Babbling Boy

Pandora pulls into the parking lot and gets out of her car just as Bombastic Babbling Boy steps out of his and sees her.

Bombastic Babbling Boy: Hey! Top of the morning to you!

Pandora: (polite smile) Yes, good morning.

Bombastic Babbling Boy: I really hate these early mornings, you know? I'm not used to it.

Pandora: It takes a while.

Bombastic Babbling Boy: I just graduated from Law School a few months ago.

Pandora: Oh? That's nice.

Bombastic Babbling Boy: Obviously, I'm not practicing law right now, but I will be. I mean, I plan to, but I'm going to stay here for a while and learn some of this while I look for a place to practice real estate law.

Pandora: Well, that's a good idea.

Bombastic Babbling Boy: Yes, it is a good idea. Make some money while I try to find a real job. Not that this isn't a real job, no offense.

Pandora: None taken.

Bombastic Babbling Boy: (opens the door for her) I guess I should consider myself lucky though. Most of my law school friends are still unemployed, but not me! I actually have money coming in now and that's awesome!

Pandora: (presses the elevator button) Yes, money is always a good thing.

Bombastic Babbling Boy: You're telling me! I was starting to worry about what I was going to eat tomorrow, you know? But not now! But still, I need to be a lawyer, you know? That's what I'm trained to do. Law!

Pandora: Hmm.

Bombastic Babbling Boy: I don't really fit in here much though because I'm so much more educated than everyone else in this place. You know? No offense to you, but people can't keep up with me here because I just know so much more than they do, you know? I mean sure, people have been working in here longer than I have, but they don't know what I know.

Pandora: (takes a good look at him and then steps into the elevator) And what is it, exactly, that you know?

Bombastic Babbling Boy: Well, I went to law school! No one else up here went to law school. Some of these people only have high school educations. Pfft... they don't know what I know.

Pandora: Most of those folks have been in the field for thirty years or more. I'm inclined to say they know plenty that you don't know.

Bombastic Babbling Boy: Ah... there's nothing they can teach me that wouldn't take more than two seconds to learn. High school education vs. law degree? I don't think so. I guess I should've asked you though, you do have a degree, don't you?

Pandora: Yes. I have two.

Bombastic Babbling Boy: Oh! You went to graduate school?

Pandora: (wishing the elevator would hurry) Yes.

Bombastic Babbling Boy: Oh! I didn't know that.

Pandora: Well, as you said, you didn't ask.

Bombastic Babbling Boy: So what's your degree in?

Pandora: (steps out of the elevator) 19th Century Literature

Bombastic Babbling Boy: Oh! 19th century! I know all about the 19th century! (starts following Pandora down the hall) I know all about those guys! Let's see there's that Wordsworth guy... Oh! And that guy that wrote that stupid poem about the Grecian Urn.

Pandora: (two steps ahead of him) Keats.

Bombastic Babbling Boy: Who?

Pandora: Keats wrote the poem about the Grecian Urn.

Bombastic Babbling Boy: Ya! Keats! I like Keats! ...and um, you know... that one guy. What's his name? Something Blake? Was it Walter? Yeah, that's it! Walter! Walter Blake!

Pandora: (steps into her cube, puts her things down) It's William.

Bombastic Babbling Boy: What?

Pandora: (sits in her chair) William Blake. His name is William Blake, not Walter... William.

Bombastic Babbling Boy: Oh! You know him? Well, I knew it was a W. Anyway, that guy sucks! I hate him! I had to write this paper on The Book Of Lika and...

Pandora: (growing a bit irritated) The Book Of ...what?

Bombastic Babbling Boy: Lika. The Book Of Lika, you know. Lika?

Pandora: No, I don't know. I know The Book Of Los, but no Book Of Lika.

Bombastic Babbling Boy: Oh, right! That's right! Los! The Book Of Los! That's the one. Well it sucked! I hated it! It went on and on forever and it made no sense! Yeah, that sucked. Blake really sucks. Don't you think he sucks?

Pandora: (her eyes have now turned to steel) I wrote my Master's Thesis on Blake. So... no. He doesn't, in my opinion, suck.

Bombastic Babbling Boy: (face turns red) Oh, well, I guess you know all about this guy then.

Pandora: Yes, I do. In fact, it could be argued that I may be the one person in this office that knows something you don't know, despite your fancy law degree.

Bombastic Babbling Boy: (chuckles) Heh! You got me there. He still sucks though. I had to write that stupid paper on The Book Of Lika

Pandora: Los

Bombastic Babbling Boy: Los, right, Los, and I hated it! It sucked so bad. And then he wrote that other stupid poem about the Albatross that went on and on. And I hated it!

Pandora: That wasn't Blake.

Bombastic Babbling Boy: What?

Pandora: The stupid albatross poem that went on and on that you hated because it sucked so bad? That wasn't Blake.

Bombastic Babbling Boy: Yes it was!

Pandora: No. You're talking about The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner and that was written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, not Blake.

Bombastic Babbling Boy: (blank stare) ...oh, well, it still sucked.

Pandora: (turns to face her computer and logs in)

Bombastic Babbling Boy: Oh! You're going to start working now?

Pandora: (without turning around) That's what one does when they come to the office. They work.

Bombastic Babbling Boy: Okay. Well, before I go, you need to know something. You are my new best friend now!

Pandora: Excuse me?

Bombastic Babbling Boy: You're like my new best friend now. You want to know why? Because you're educated, that's why! (big smile)

Pandora: Lucky me?

Bombastic Babbling Boy: I'm just letting you know because I'm going to be doing this for the rest of my time here.

Pandora: What?

Bombastic Babbling Boy: This! (he points between himself and Pandora a few times) I'm going to be doing this for the rest of my time here because you're educated and you're the only one that can keep up with me.

Pandora: ...

Bombastic Babbling Boy: And when I say the rest of my time here I mean the rest of my time here... not just today here... the rest of my time here. (waves his hand around the office)

Pandora: ...

Bombastic Babbling Boy: Ok! See ya later! Have fun doing whatever it is you're doing! (big smile... takes his exit)

Pandora: (stares at her computer) My education mocks me... it does... it truly mocks me...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween ...Bust?

This may be a sign of getting old, but I'd like to know when dressing up for Halloween became synonymous with stepping out as a man's kinky fantasy. Please, someone explain this to me. Last time I checked, dressing up for Halloween meant dressing up as an alter ego, or a favorite character, or the traditional witch or vampire or ghost or something along those lines. Since when does dressing up as Dorothy mean wearing a push-up bra and five inch heeled red pumps with white fishnet stalkings in a blue pinafore dress that barely covers your ass? Seriously... where have I been?

I can't remember the last time I went to a Halloween party. For the past ten years I've been following my daughter around trick-or-treating and making sure the candy isn't filled with arsenic and razor blades. But this year she went to a friend's place for the night and I found myself free on Halloween. I figured I would just spend a quiet evening at home when a last minute party invitation came about. Now, more times than not I would simply say no to something like this, but given the people who invited me and the fact that I hadn't dressed up and celebrated Halloween in years well... why not, right? It might be fun, right? uh...yeah...

Being in a last minute crunch for a costume, I made my way over to one of those "Halloween" stores that open specifically for this occasion. I really didn't have anything particular in mind, but I was certain I could find something in a sea of choices. Unfortunately, my choices boiled down to something between tease and whore. Don't get me wrong, I am far from prude, but sexy is a state of mind and is best conveyed through subtle sophistication, not blatant boob betrayal in an outfit that quite possibly came from the local strip club.

No joke. I walked into the store and went directly to the women's section. As I worked my eyes from one end of the section to the next I found the She Devil, cleavage abounding; the Fallen Angel, cleavage abounding; the Good Angel, cleavage and thighs abounding (I guess the only real difference between good and fallen is that the Fallen Angel shows enough concern to cover the scrapes and bruises her legs acquired after taking a pretty tough fall). Along with Sexy Dorothy there was Sexy Scare Crow, Sexy Tin Woman, Sexy Cowardly Lion, and Sexy Glinda of the North complete with cleavage and derriere (should you happen to bend over to pick up the ping-pong ball from your missed shot in beer pong). There was also Sexy Nascar Girl, Sexy Jane & Judy Jetson, Sexy Wilma Flinstone, Sexy Betty Rubble, as well as your traditional Sexy French Maid, Sexy Nurse, and Sexy School Girl. I could continue on, but I won't. What I will tell you is how completely disgusted I became and how my desire to attend this party grew less and less. As I stared at these costumes and the representation of women presented by these costumes, I couldn't help but think of Freud and Lacan and how badly I hated their theories of women as The Other: women are little more than a figment of a man's imagination and the object of his sexual desire.

I hate to even think of Freud and Lacan. That was a time in my graduate studies of theory that I abhorred and worked tirelessly to dismantle and disprove. Theirs are theories that objectify and oppress women and I always felt that the feminist theorists did little more that perpetuate these theories by continually whining and complaining about it while doing nothing to actually overturn it. And suddenly I found myself face-to-face with the practical reality of two academic schools of thought, and the two that I hated most. As I stood there staring at the Sexy Snow White costume, right next to the Sexy Olive Oil costume, I could only think about the fact that, were I to walk into a party dressed in one of these, I would quite possibly be dressed as some idiot's fantasy and, well, that was not my intent. Halloween means I dress up as my own fantastic idea of some neglected aspect of myself, not some Nimrod's strumpet! And all I could hear in the back of my mind was the voice of that egotistical french man, Jacques Lacan, saying, "the problem of [the woman's] condition is fundamentally that of accepting herself as an object of desire for the man." (pg. 68, Feminine Sexuality, Jacques Lacan)

Here's the deal: I do accept myself as an object of man's desire. Hell, I accept myself as an object of a lesbian's desire. Want to know why I accept that? Because that's life -- plain and simple. I endure the gaping maws of men on a regular basis and it doesn't matter if I'm in an evening gown, a conservative business suit, or a potato sack. It's like Misanthrope says, as long as I can fog up a spoon some dude out there is going to think it's an invitation to a party in my pants. But because I know this, because I accept this, because I understand myself as an "object" it then becomes the burden (if you will) of my existence to create an image of myself above and beyond the "object." And, from where I'm standing, I hardly think this can be accomplished by stepping into a man's reality dressed as one of his favorite sexual fantasies for a Halloween costume party. (if I'm going to dress up as a nurse and play doctor, it isn't going to be in the presence of 20+ people at a party! Seriously... I had to ask myself if I had mistakenly walked into Frederick's Of Hollywood, because it sure didn't feel like Halloween.)

Anyway, after becoming thoroughly annoyed with the costumes and the people, I finally decided my best bet was to go Goth -- you know, rebel against mainstream society the way I did "back in the day." I figured, at least it was Halloween and I was allowed to look as scary and as socially unacceptable as I wanted. If nothing else, I would dress as a creature that could fog up a spoon but wield enough serious juju to do some harm, should someone step out of line. So I donned a black hooded robe, painted my nails black, darkened my hair, painted my pale face with some stylishly dark make-up, wore some beautiful Gothic jewelry and made my way to a party full of people that, aside from two or three, I didn't know.

What I found, when I got there, was a bunch of men that had, for the most part, well thought out costumes -- costumes that showed creativity and character. But the women? Well... there was a Sexy Robin Hood, a Sexy Nascar Girl, a Sexy Pumpkin, a French Maid, a Sexy Wizard Wanda (who apparently teaches at Hogwarts though I've never heard of her), a Sexy Snow Queen (who would die of frost bite the minute she stepped outside), a Sexy Bar Maid, a Sexy Pirate, and some Sexy something with a purple tutu and a top hat that looked like some Broadway reject from 42nd Street. Then, of course, there was me -- the only woman whose costume showed a hint of a figure beneath the black hooded robe that left much to the male imagination.

Needless to say, I did not have a rip-roaring good time. While everyone else ate, drank, and made merry, I sat and wrestled with my overly analytical mind. I sat and wondered why it doesn't occur to these women that they're playing into something that does little for those qualities of the self that will make them continue to feel beautiful and confident and satisfied with their lives once gravity and age set in. I wondered if they have any concept of themselves beyond a man's gaze. I wondered if they ever have moments in their lives where they wish to be recognized for something other than the curves God gave them, or if they simply live, day in and day out, moment by moment, for the drool encrusted masculine gaping maw.

This is not to cast judgment on them, I have memories of myself (particularly in adolescence) where I took notice and pleasure in being the recipient of a man's eyeballing. But I have since learned that an eyeballing isn't exactly a compliment and that lust, more often than not, equates to heartbreak and emptiness. But all of that aside, why is it that a man's costume can exhibit thought and character but the woman's gets lost in translation? If I dress up as Dorothy on Halloween, I dress up as the innocent who realizes, despite all the adventure in the world, there is no place like home. If I dress up as the Nascar Girl, I dress up as a race car fanatic who can rattle off the names of the best drivers and their best times and sure... I'm down with Miller Time too. If I dress up as Marilyn Monroe, I dress up as the woman that loves to feel glamorous and sexy, but the only way you get a glimpse of what's under my dress is if I happen to stand over an air vent. And if I dress up as Robin Hood, I dress up as the character who robs the rich to feed the poor. But somehow, none of those sentiments get through. Somehow, through mainstream media and the perpetuation of theories a very small percentage of us find important enough to study, the character concepts behind all of these costumes have become overshadowed by the seductive glow of tits and ass. hmmm... This is not the Halloween I want for my daughter, the girl who still finds meaning behind the costumes she chooses. (and I'm suddenly very glad she is a tomboy)