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

Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Scrooge

I admit it.  I am a bit of a New Year's Scrooge.  I could really care less.  Want to know why?  Because everyone seems to approach this day like something magical is going to happen, something wonderful is going to shift in the universe somewhere and this year will be the year that nothing but good things will befall you.  It's like the addicted gambler that keeps wasting his money because he knows that this time he's going to strike it big.  And for me, to the people that keep looking at me and saying something like, "2012 is going to bring you good things this year, Pandora, because you deserve it and it's your turn," I want to say the following:

Thanks for your well wishes, and thanks for thinking me worthy of good things, but please.... let's be real.  Good things might happen in 2012, but so will a whole boat load of bad things.  Want to know why?  Because that's just life.  That's just the way the stupid proverbial cookie crumbles.

And when 2012 hits we'll still be watching all of the ridiculous politicians tell us things they think we want to hear and then turn around and do whatever makes them happy.  And we'll be watching all of those same yin yangs debate and vie for position in the coming election and I'll still be vomiting every time they open their mouth because they're all full of it.  And the news media will continue on in their ridiculous puppet show, both right and left, and stir the overly dramatic political pot because true journalism died decades ago and all they care about these days is ratings and which political yin yang they can get to stroke their ego.  And there will always be another war to replace the one that the stupid politician promised would come to an end.  And there will always be people pointing fingers and placing blame on this Capitalist pig and that Capitalist pig, and there will always be people pointing fingers at the finger pointers crying Communism is just around the corner and it's because of you idiots.  And the government will do what the government will do because the people are so caught up in the stupid puppet show they aren't actually thinking for themselves and doing what needs to be done to truly bring a positive change.  And the rest of us will sit here and watch the puppet show from a distance and shake our head and go to work and pay our bills and say to ourselves, "I just need to take care of my own, because the rest of this is outside of my control," and things will change, for better or worse, it's all relative at some point.

And really, I have no idea what 2012 has in store for me or for you.  I do believe good things will come my way, as they will come your way too, but the question is whether any of us will have a clear enough head to recognize them when they do.  And I do believe bad things will come our way, because for some of us, they already started.  There are people who received the happy Christmas news that their partner wants a divorce and I'm pretty sure they're not looking at 2012 with hope.  And there are people who lost loved ones this past week and they're starting 2012 with grief at their side.  And there are parents with children just starting their fight against cancer and for them, 2012 is starting with a great struggle to find healing.  And there is a world full of unemployed struggling people right now and January 1, 2012 isn't going to magically change any of this for them, and they may not even be in a space to celebrate the turning of time.  For all of these people, I pray that they have the strength to endure the bad things that have already fallen on their plate because, whether we can see it at the time or not, everything does have a way of working out, sooner or later (it's just waiting for the "later" that seems endless and unbearable).

I guess if there's one thing we can look forward to is that 2012 already has some hilarious and ridiculous "bad juju" looming over it: the Mayans and their mysterious calendar that just stops may prove to make this one of the most entertaining years since Y2K.  If nothing else, maybe we can all get together once a month and have a good laugh at all the nut jobs on Earth desperately searching for the 13th Crystal Skull (which is a story I will have to tell soon because I have something to say about that one) and place it at the right vortex point on Earth so they can save the world Indiana Jones style.  And we can all have a good laugh at the less informed nut jobs that know nothing about the saving grace of the Crystal Skulls and start packing up their things to head for the hills (because we all know caves help one successfully survive any apocalypse).  

So tonight, as I sit in a room full of happily married friends and families and try to swallow my own jaded bitterness as midnight rolls around and I have no one to hug and kiss and say something like, "I love you and I am so happy to spend this coming year with you," I will give a kiss to my own glass of wine and say something to myself like, "Bring it on, 2012, because my name is Pandora and if I've learned anything thus far it's that I can take any solid punch you throw at me and I can bob and weave with the best of them, even if my limbs are broken and my eyes are blackened like a Cajun salmon."  And I will wish something similar for all of you.

Happy New Year... and all that stupid jazz...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Twisted Christmas

So anyone with an email account has probably received things like People Of Walmart and other such forwards with disturbing photos of people doing or wearing something odd… to say the very least.   Anyone that knows me knows that I rarely laugh at these photos because I have this part of me that actually gets disturbed by the thought of people walking around doing these things or wearing these things.  And these same people that send me these emails do it because they know I’m going to end up going off on some kind of rant.  That being said, someone sent me an email this morning titled: What Were They Thinking?  I opened the email to find some Christmas Family Photos taken from AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com that did indeed disturb me with their awkwardness and pretty much sent me on the following rant or commentary (if you prefer).  See below…

What is going on with this crazy well-to-do-family in formal attire with all of the dogs?  ..the hell is going on here?  …and is that the mother?  …the matriarch of the family in the center with the most dogs?!  She looks insane.  She must be the reason there are so many doggies and this entire family is whacked, I don’t care how wealthy they are.

Okay… weird guy with no shirt and an entire family of women in matching pajamas.  They must be fundamentalist Mormons from Utah. 

Goth kids… “Life sucks… Christmas sucks… Let’s take our picture with Santa and show the rest of you how much we hate you and your stupid commercialism and stupid holidays.  Holidays suck… society sucks…”  Good grief… I really hate adolescence.  Please Lord… Please don’t let this happen to Hope…

Um… I don’t even know what to say about the nudist family.  That’s just problematic and gross.  Straight up gross.  Whose idea was that?!  Had to be the dirty father’s idea.  So gross.  Questions of over sexualizing yourself, your wife, and your two little boys with that strange look on their faces as though they were just visited by the Joker and his laughing gas come to mind.  I bet they all need some serious therapy these days.  Jacked up people right here.  So gross.  GROSS!

Yeah, I really love my dog, I love her a lot, but “The World’s Best Dad” guy and his wife look like people that I would run from only I would never be successful.  They’d see me heading to my car at the grocery store and stop me in the parking lot and bore me with their detailed ramblings about their latest trip to doggie school and what Shmo Ho learned that day and I would be taking baby steps backward ever closer to my car saying things like, “Oh? How nice,” and cursing them inside my head and asking myself what I did wrong in life to have people like this following me around.  

Monkey Girl is strange.  I wonder if that thing bit off her face years later.  That happens sometimes.  Monkeys can’t be trusted, just ask Indiana Jones.

Oh… Giant Penis t-shirt guy… what a shock… there’s always a giant penis t-shirt guy somewhere.  Idiots.  

Look at the face of the girl at the bottom of the human family Christmas tree.  She’s so miserable.  She hates her family.  I bet that’s her in the Goth Kids Santa Clause picture too, years after this one.  Poor kid.  I guess I can’t blame her.  It could’ve been worse though, she could’ve had the nudist dad and his bright ideas.   

 So… this creepy clown and Santa picture…?  I’m pretty sure I had a nightmare about this once.  And I’m also pretty sure that clown murdered those two children after this picture was taken.  Those poor kids look so uncomfortable.  What a stupid mom this one must’ve been.  Most kids scream when they go sit on Santa’s lap anyway, throw a clown in the mix and well… they’re dead.  Those two babies are long gone. 

Okay… cute mom and two kids in their jammies with naked dad behind them in front of the fire place?!?!?!  What the hell is going on with all the nakedness?!?!?!?!  THE HELL IS GOING ON?!?!?!?!  PARENTS!!!!  WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?!?!?!?!?!  PUT YOUR FUCKING CLOTHES ON!!!!!  YOU’RE TRAUMATIZING YOUR CHILDREN!!!!!  AND IT’S CHRISTMAS FOR GOD’S SAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ha… ha… The NRA goes to visit Santa… pfft….

 I’m pretty sure this little old lady with the hat that has that coil thing on it has no clue where she is or what’s going on.  She probably has Alzheimer’s or something awful and lives in an old folks home and her daughter, sitting next to her, made the family go to the home for Christmas dinner in the facility’s cafeteria.  And when they sat down for the family photo, the dad pulled out that stupid hat and put it on the clueless old lady’s head because, well… look at his face!  Look at his daughter’s face next to him!  They’re dying because they want to laugh so hard at this old woman and that stupid hat on her head!  Shame…  Shame on them… 

The Striped Family?  Look out, opponents!  They might be the next contestants on the Family Feud!  I’m also pretty sure I’ve seen them at one of Hope’s soccer games, back when she played club.  I think they were club parents.  They look like club parents.  I hate club parents.

 The swim family with the tree full of swim meet ribbons… they’re jacked.  That poor kid is jacked.  Is that Greg Luganis?  Did this happen to him too?  Again.. club parents… they really do nothing for the future of the world.  They create problem children because they treat their children like trophies that are reflections of themselves instead of working to nurture future human beings that should grow up to become well balanced and successful contributors to society.  Again… WHAT IS WRONG WITH PARENTS?!?!?!

It’s moments like these when I thank the Lord my parents were only somewhat jacked up.  And it’s moments like these when I think I need to go have a few Christmas Cocktails and pass out simply so I can forget I just saw a series of photos this awful.  

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Darwin Who?

(Pandora is standing in the break room, staring hopelessly at the vending machine, when some random young employee she hasn't seen in months come bouncing in)

Random #1:  Hey.... It's Pandora....  How you doin....?

Pandora: (looks over her shoulder, gives a slight smile, and responds while continuing to stare into the lying eyes of the vending machine)  Hey there.  How've you been?

Random #1:  Awesome!  I'm totally awesome!  Life is good, things are going my way... can't complain.  I can't complain.  How 'bout you?  What you up to these days?

Pandora: Oh, you know.  Working, playing, staring hopelessly into a vending machine that truly has nothing to offer, and watching cartoons with my kid before bedtime.  Same old same old.

Random #1:  Cartoons, eh?  Which ones you watch?

Pandora:  Well, we seem to have graduated to a more intelligent humor in the cartoons these days, which I support.  One of my personal favorites it's called The Amazing World Of Gumball.  It seems that the characters would all be about junior high, but they're totally random in appearance: a walking talking banana, a walnut girl with antlers, a dinosaur, a ghost.  But my favorite is the fish named Darwin.  He's actually Gumball's pet gold fish but he grew legs and walked out of his fishbowl, so he's now a part of Gumball's family as son and brother and they named him Darwin.

Random #1: ...huh...  What's so special about Darwin?

Pandora: (takes her eyes away from the vending machine)  Well... he's a gold fish that evolved, grew legs, and walks outside of his goldfish bowl now.

Random #1:  ...  Am I missing something?

Pandora:  You know... Darwin...? Evolution...?

Random #1:  Who?

Pandora: ...you're joking, right?

Random #1:  ...

Pandora:  Darwin...?  CHARLES DARWIN...?  Theory Of Evolution...?  Sea creatures eventually evolved and grew legs and walked on land?  ...first creatures to evolve and step out of the water... things like that?

Random #1:  Wow... I have never heard of Charles Darwin.  I think I've heard of Evolution, but I really don't know anything about it.

Pandora: ...

Random #1: So that fish in the cartoon is some sort of spin off on this Darwin guy?  Does your daughter get that?  Cuz I didn't.

Pandora: (putting the dollar that she was never going to spend anyway back into her pocket)  Yes... yes my daughter gets it.  Where did you go to school?  

Random #1:  In Mesa.  Mesa public school district from Kindergarten through High School.

Pandora:  ...and you never heard of Charles Darwin?  Not even in High School?

Random #1:  Nope.  Is that bad?

Pandora: ... um... I think so, yes.  I think that's bad, but... that's me.  Anyway (as she walks toward the elevator) good to see you again.  Take it easy.

Random #1:  See ya! (big smile)

(Pandora steps into the elevator completely confused as to how a kid can be somewhere between the ages of 18 and 21 and not know Charles Darwin)

Random #2: Hey Pandora!  Going to 5?

Pandora: Yes, please.

Random #2: (studying Pandora's face) Bad day?

Pandora: Confusing day.  I just spoke to a young man that had no clue who Charles Darwin was.

Random #2: Charles who?

Pandora:  Darwin.

Random #2: Who's that?

Pandora: ... Charles Darwin?  Father of Evolution?

Random #2:   Father of what?

Pandora: ... evolution.  You know what evolution is, don't you?

Random #2:   um... please don't make me feel stupid right now, but... no.  I really don't know what that is. 

Pandora: ... Did you go to public school here in Arizona?

Random #2:  all my life.

Pandora:  ...and you never heard of Darwin or the theory of evolution?

Random #2: Well, no.  I mean, it sounds sciency and if it is sciency or historic or something then I probably just didn't pay attention because I just get the grade and get out.

Pandora: Even if you just get the grade and get out, it's a little hard to forget the guy that says you came from Monkeys.  What is going on in the education system here?!

Random #2: (shrugs shoulders)  Is this something I should know about? 

Pandora: Well, considering that the world of science uses the Theory Of Evolution to base most of its understanding of the beginning of life on Earth, yes... yes I do think it's something you should know about.  But... I'm having this strange Twilight Zone moment right now so... don't take me too seriously I guess.  (steps off the elevator)

Random #2: You have a good afternoon, Pandora!  Don't let our lack of education get you down! 

Pandora: (walks into The Kid's cubicle)  I have two words for you:  CHARLES DARWIN  

The Kid: (turns around from his computer)  ...and...?

Pandora:  Do you know who that is?

The Kid: Yes.

Pandora:  Tell me... tell me who he is.

The Kid: (looking somewhat unnerved and confused as though Pandora may have lost her mind completely) um... He's the Father Of Evolution?

Pandora:  YES!  YES! Thank you!

The Kid:  Why did you just ask me that?

Pandora:  Because it came up randomly in conversation with two people and neither of them knew who he was.  Neither of them even knew the theory of evolution.

The Kid:  Really?!  I thought everyone knew that.  Where did they go to school?  Had to be a private school.

Pandora: No, man.  Public school. 

The Kid: What?!  No way.

Pandora: Way.

The Kid:  Well, your daughter goes to private school.  Does she know who Darwin is?

Pandora: She knew who Darwin was by the fourth grade.  Want to know why?  Because private school thinks like this: "Here is Creationism, and here is Evolution.  Learn them both, because you need to know."  

The Kid:  Huh...  That's kind of disturbing that there are adults walking around that have no clue who Darwin is.  If they aren't teaching Creationism and they aren't teaching Evolution and they aren't teaching Intelligent Design, then... how do they address the issue of life's origins?  ...the stork?

Pandora: My point exactly!  Very disturbing!  I am disturbed by this.  (turns to walk next door to her cubicle)  ... I am disturbed...

The Kid: (someone walks into his cube and starts to ask a question.  The Kid turns around) Dude... Charles Darwin.

Random #3: What?

The Kid: Come on, man:  Charles Darwin.  Who is he?

Random #3: Well, he's the guy that came up with the evolutionary theory.  The hell are you asking me this for?

The Kid:  Because man, Pandora just ran into some people that had no clue who he was and I started to wonder how many other people may not know who he is.

Random #3:  People don't know who Darwin is?  ...that's kinda sad, man.

The Kid:  Yeah... it is...  What's your question?

(The Kid goes about his business and a few minutes later another individual steps into his cube to ask a question)

The Kid: Do you know who Charles Darwin is?

Random #4:  ...what?

The Kid:  Charles Darwin... do you know who he is?

Random #4: ...why are you asking me that?

The Kid:  Humor me.  I'm taking a survey.  Some people do and some people don't.  So do you know who he is?

Random #4:  Yeah, I know who he is.

The Kid:  So who is he?

Random #4:  Why are you asking me this?

The Kid:  You just can't say you know who he is and get out of this.  What did he do?  He did something.

Random #4:  Um... wasn't he the guy that discovered milk?

Pandora: (sits silently in her own cubicle but, from hearing this, leans back in her chair and lifts her eyes to the ceiling in disbelief)

The Kid: ... um, no.  I think you're thinking of Louis Pasteur, and he didn't discover milk he pasteurized it. 

Random #4: Oh.  Well, I guess I don't know who Charles Darwin is then.  Who is he?

The Kid:  Nope, it doesn't work that way.  You have to go look him up now and find out for yourself.  This is important.  Go do it.  Go look him up and read about it. 

Random #4: Oh.  Okay.  (leaves his cube)

Pandora: (talking to The Kid over the cubicle wall) I can't believe that!  I can't believe what I just heard!  The guy who discovered milk?!

The Kid:  Yeah... milk and evolution... they're inseparable.  You've got me on a mission now, Pandora.  For the rest of the day and night I'm going to ask anyone and everyone that crosses my path if they know Charles Darwin.  I need to know how bad this actually is.

Pandora:  Well, so far your statistic is 1 in 2 people know who he is.  I guess, if we count my two random selections and you, we've got 2 in 5 people know who he is.  Still... things aren't lookin' so hot here. No wonder China is kicking our ass on everything.  No one learned about Natural Selection or Survival Of The Fittest over here.

The Kid: They're coming over in row boats, Pandora...

Pandora: ...in row boats and they're gonna take us down with spoons.  

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Christmas Angel

So I stopped at Target on my way home from work tonight because I needed to buy some clothes for the child I adopted for the Christmas Angel program at work.  And as I was standing in the checkout line to pay, the lady in front of me takes her receipt and says, "Happy Holidays!"  The cashier just smiled and said thank you and started ringing up my things.  Suddenly the woman behind me says, "Pfft... Happy Holidays...  How 'bout Merry Christmas?"    Aside from a side glance and a smile, I didn't respond, and neither did the cashier, because we all know the "anti happy holiday" rant just waiting to happen and I'm guessing no one wanted it to happen in the middle of the Target checkout line.  Unfortunately (or, perhaps fortunately, depending upon how you look at it), no one was spared from the rant that follows:

"Really... Somebody's gotta do somethin' about this shit up in here.  You look like a nice young lady.  I don't know how old you are, but when I was a kid, every body went around sayin' Merry Christmas.  There was no Happy Holidays up in this place!  It was just Merry Christmas and there weren't nothin' wrong with that!  What the hell happened?  And I heard on the news today that some government guy up in there be all mad that they lit a Christmas tree outside the Whitehouse, he be sayin' somethin' 'bout separation of church n state and I'm thinkin' since when does a Christmas tree have anything to do with church n state?!  When I was a kid, it was all about Santa Clause.  I didn't grow up goin' to church.  The only day my mama made me go to church was Christmas Eve and I swear I be all sittin' there thinking what the hell are we doin' up in here?  It be Christmas and I wanna go home cuz Santa Clause was comin'.  And ya, they be all talkin' 'bout Baby Jesus and all that, but I swear, all I could think was lets go home cuz the magic is comin!  Now they be tryin' to take away that magic!  They be takin away that magic from my babies cuz they all worried about some Kwanzaa or some Hanukkah or some crazy ass Muslim... and do the Muslims even do anything 'bout Christmas time?  I don't even know what they be doin' aside from threatenin' to blow us all up all the time.  I can't walk around and say Merry Christmas to people cuz they might get offended?  You look like a nice young lady.  Would you get offended if I said Happy Kwanzaa to you?  (at which point I said no, I wouldn't be offended)  Right!  That's what I'm talkin' about!  No one is gonna get offended up in this place, but some damn idiot somewhere said we all be offendin' people and now everyone be walkin' around sayin' Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas because somebody somewhere decided it was 'bout Baby Jesus.  And when I was a kid, the church be all mad about the Christmas tree because it WASN'T 'bout Baby Jesus, now some guy somewhere in that stupid government up there thinks the tree is 'bout Baby Jesus and now we can't have no tree?!  What the hell is goin' on 'round here!  When I was a kid the tree was the prettiest thing in my mama's house.  When I was a kid we sat around watching Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer and Santa Clause Comin' To Town and Frosty The Snowman... There weren't no Baby Jesus in those stories!  There was just Christmas.  There was just Magic!  I want MAGIC for my babies!  Let's have Christmas back!  Stop makin' it all about religion and make it about family time!  It's about family time and giving!  What's wrong with that?!  What do the stupid government folks plan to do with Christmas time in the future?  Mark December 25th as just a HOLIDAY?!  Or maybe they should just call it Happy Winter Solstice Day and let all the damn hippies dance around some kind of pole!  This be gettin' outta hand here!  Let the Christians have their Baby Jesus day and leave them poor folks alone!  And let the Hanukkah people and the Kwanzaa people be, but for damn sake, can't we just have Christmas and Santa Clause day?!  What's wrong with that?!"

At that point I simply took my receipt and smiled at the lady and said, "There's nothing wrong with that.  Merry Christmas," and I gave her the biggest smile I've given anyone in quite some time because I felt honored to be standing in the middle of Target while listening to some random lady go off about Christmas in an absolutely non-religiously charged way.  And I do honor Baby Jesus, I do go to church more than once a year (though that may be a shock to some of you), and I do respect the other religions that have their spiritual holiday celebrations this time of year, but this woman has a point.  For some people in America, Christmas has nothing to do with a religious affiliation of any kind and I guess for once, the voice of the completely secular Christmas tradition made itself known in the middle of the Target checkout line and I was lucky enough to hear it.  And I walked out to my car listening for some sort of "It's A Wonderful Life" bell to go off, because I'm pretty sure a Christmas Angel just got her wings tonight, and it wasn't me.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Botox Brows

(Crazy walks into Pandora's cube)

Crazy: Hey! (in a sort of shouted whisper)

Pandora: (turns around and pretends not to be startled by the weirdness that are Crazy's eyebrows)  Uh... Hey...

Crazy:  Check it out.  Do I look different to you?  (she poses and angles her face just a bit)

Pandora: (trying very hard not to focus on the eyebrows)  Well, yes... yes you do look different.  What did you do?

Crazy:  I got Botox this weekend!  Check it out! (she runs her hand along her forehead)  No more wrinkles!

Pandora:  Oh!  Hey, ya.  I see it now.

Crazy:  It's so awesome!  Cost me about a thousand bucks, but so worth it!  The wrinkles in my forehead were driving me crazy.

Pandora: ...cost you a thousand dollars for an injection in your forehead?

Crazy: Yep.  But I had to.  I kept looking in the mirror and thinking I was too young to look that old.

Pandora: You know, I never really noticed any wrinkles on your forehead, but... right now your eyebrows are doing a little something odd.

Crazy:  What?  What do you mean?

Pandora: You haven't noticed?

Crazy:  What are you talking about?  (she reaches up to touch her eyebrows)

Pandora: Well, you may want to go check it out in the bathroom, but... your eyebrows, particularly your right eyebrow, is sort of... well... like you've got it raised constantly although I'm not sure it's raised in a fashion anyone would be able to do on command.

Crazy:  Really?!  Oh my god....

(she runs out of Pandora's cube and a few seconds later storms back in)

Crazy: You're right!  (she fiddles with her eyebrow in an attempt to bring it back down to reality)  What am I going to do?!  We have that meeting in an hour and my eyebrow is out of control!

Pandora:  ...maybe no one will notice?

Crazy: You noticed!

Pandora:  ...maybe it will stop doing it?

Crazy:  Maybe.  The meeting is an hour from now, and it wasn't like this when I got up this morning so maybe it will just go away.  Okay... see ya later.  (leaves Pandora's cube)

(an hour later Pandora, Crazy, Santino, Quazi Moto, Cowboy, Egoist, Beulah, are sitting around the conference room table waiting for Bates to come and lead the meeting.)

Bates: (sits down at the head of the table)  So, I've called this meeting because there has been a change in our mapping process and I need to go over that with all of you.  (looks at Crazy and takes a bit of a double take but keeps on rolling)  In the past we haven't turned the documents over to the GIS team until after they've been recorded, but we've found an increase in re-records because of errors in the legal description so we're going to try something new and see if we can catch the errors at the front instead of the back. (looks at Crazy)  What?

Crazy: What?

Bates:  Do you have a question?

Crazy: No.  I'm just listening.

Pandora: (bites her lip to prevent a smile)

Bates: (stares at Crazy for a minute and proceeds)  Starting tomorrow you will all be required to submit your documents to the GIS team for review before you proceed with acquisitions.  I know that timing may be a concern, but the GIS management staff assures me that there will be no more than a 24 hour turn around time and if you need it faster than that ....   What?

Crazy: (looks around the table and back at Bates) What?

Bates:  You look like something is bothering you.  What is it?

Crazy: What?

Bates: I'm asking you what.  Do you have a question?

Crazy: No.

Bates:  Are you sure?

Crazy: (looks at Pandora who has completely pursed her lips and proceeded to stare at the table in a fight against ensuing laughter)  I have no questions.

Bates:  Okay.  Just making sure.  (stares at Crazy for a few more seconds and continues)  So, as I was saying, tomorrow you will be... What?!

Crazy: What?!

Bates: Why do you keep looking at me like that?!  You look like you're either hating everything I have to say here about this new process or you have a question.  So what is it?

Crazy:  Nothing!  I swear!  I have no questions and I have no problem with what you're saying!

Bates:  Then WHY are you constantly looking at me with that look on your face?!

Crazy: What look on my face?!

Bates: (looks over at Pandora who is now looking directly into her own lap and slightly shaking with laughter)  Pandora.  What is it?  You know something.

Pandora: (raises her head and pulls herself together) I really don't think there's anything to know.  She doesn't have a question.  It's just something going on with her eyebrows.

Bates: (completely frustrated) Oh, right... her eyebrows... just something going on with her eyebrows... hmm?  (looks over at Crazy)

Crazy: (looks over at Pandora, as the rest of the table is now looking at either the floor, the ceiling, or the center of the table) Okay, fine.  I had a Botox injection this weekend and apparently my eyebrows are reacting to it.  That's why I have this look on my face.

Bates:  ... uh... what? (looks over at Pandora)

Pandora:  It's true.  I pointed it out to her this morning.

Bates:  Oh. Okay then.  (shuffles her papers)  Well, does anyone else have any questions?

(everyone stays silent)

Bates:  Okay then.  New process begins tomorrow.  Meeting adjourned.

(everyone files out in silence and Crazy follows Pandora to her cube)

Crazy: oh... my... god... I can't believe that just happened in there!  And you didn't help me any!

Pandora:  What was I supposed to do?  They're your thousand dollar eyebrows!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Joker's Gone Wild

I'm trying to get in the spirit,
to get in the mood,
the mindset,
the tap in or tap out,
something like that.

I'm trying to clear my head,
trying to think,
but all these mismatched moments,
like layers of red and black playing cards,
keep me shifting this one here  and that one there,
and just when I think I've got it hacked,
that damn ace gets in the way.

...Aces in the way...
... story of my life...
Just when I think I have it,
that Ace in the hole,
up my sleeve,
under the table,
that beautiful pair of pocket rockets,
someone comes and trumps my shit
with the Queen of Spades.

... the hell is that?
... trumped my Straight?
... trumped my Full House?
... trumped my Royal Flush?

Guess this Joker's gone wild
and I sat at the wrong table,
and brought the wrong deck,
and played the wrong hand
in an entirely wrong game.

Mismatched moments...
one business -- one personal
one sequence -- one group
one deck -- one suit
one red -- one black
one heart -- one club
one for the beating
... the other for the blood.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Attitude Of Gratitude

"Attitude Of Gratitude" is a phrase one of my wacky new agie friends and her husband loved to say all the time.    Something good would come their way or they'd make some kind of purchase they'd been working toward for quite some time and they'd turn around and say something like, "It's all about the attitude of gratitude, man.  When you're grateful for what you have, The Universe gives you more because The Universe KNOWS you're going to be grateful for that too!"

Now, I never really questioned their thought process in front of them (mostly because I was always happy to see them being grateful for what "The Universe" had given them), but it seemed to me that there was a flaw in their logic.  I'm pretty sure the starving people in Africa are grateful when they finally get to eat something, and I'm also sure they're uncertain when they may have their next meal so I'm not sure the thought process of being grateful for what you have been given automatically means you'll be given more.  But I do believe there is power in what my friends called the Attitude Of Gratitude, but I believe it is a more personal and internal power -- one that heals and brings joy to the life of the grateful person, not necessarily through material or physical things, but through one's self-awareness or one's spiritual existence, if you will.

I remember another friend of mine going through a particularly dark period in her life.  Every where she turned something was going terribly terribly wrong, and it wasn't long before depression and bitterness took over her entire being.  Every word that came out of her mouth was dark and hateful, every tear that she shed was the tear of the self-absorbed victim as opposed to true expression of grief, and no matter what I said, no matter how I tried to turn her eyes toward something more positive, some form of hope, she shot me down with more hateful words.  Finally I asked her to at least do one thing, to lay down in her bed that night and say thank you for something.  I told her if she can think of one thing to be thankful for then she needs to say thank you out loud for that one thing and then think of another.  And I told her to start small.  I told her to start with the basics, like being thankful for her bed and being thankful for her clothes.  And I promised her, that once she started the list, eventually it would branch out to things she realizes she has and has never truly been thankful for.  And I also promised, if she did this, she would probably feel the first sense of joy she'd had in months.

She went home and she did it.  She continued to do it daily for weeks and eventually those things that made her so bitter and so angry and so depressed, even though they were still there, even though they hadn't vanished, had very little power over her life and her own personal sense of well being.  And to this day, she's one of the strongest people I know and has mastered the art of finding something to be grateful for even in the midst of what appears to be Hell.  There may not be more "things" around the corner, but there is healing and there is joy in expressing the Attitude Of Gratitude.

We all have dark times.  I've had many, I'm going through one right now, and I suspect I'll have many more between now and the hour of my death.  But even in the darkest of times, much like my friend there, I have to take a moment and start with the basics and say:

Thank you for this bed I'm laying on.  Thank you for this apartment.  Thank you for the clothes I have.  Thank you for the food in my kitchen.  Thank you for the job I have that pays me enough to ensure I have these things.  Thank you for the car that gets me there.  Thank you for my daughter and how wonderful she is and how much she loves me.  Thank you for the love I experience in my relationship with her.  Thank you for the chance and the joy of being her mother.  Thank you for my parents.  Thank you for the love they gave and continue to give to me and the hard hours they spent working their whole lives to make sure my brother and I had everything we needed to become successful in our own adult lives.  Thank you for my brother.  Thank you for giving me a sibling that understands me like no other and has spent countless hours making me laugh through the years when I would otherwise sit down and cry.  Thank you for giving me a confidante in him that I have had nowhere else.  Thank you for his wife, thank you for giving him a wife that loves him and cares for him in the most beautiful way.  Thank you for their beautiful son that brings them so much joy.  Thank you for my closest friends.  Thank you for giving me friends that would come to pull me from the fires of Hell if they had to.  Thank you for allowing me to experience truly good people in a world that seems so dark sometimes.  Thank you for giving me hope, that everything works together for good, that everything will be okay.  Thank you for giving me strength to move when I really feel like I can't keep going. Thank you for giving me a sense of wisdom when everything seems to make no sense at all.  Thank you for giving me a sense of peace when everything around me is storming.  Thank you for giving me everything I need, physically and spiritually to survive this world, and thank you for giving me a sense of accomplishment through each and every life experience I encounter.  Thank You.

Friday, November 18, 2011

90 Day Chip

It's been 90 days.

Yes, I'm counting.

Some people don't get that, but I had no recourse, no way to navigate through the fog called grief.  And somewhere in the clouded visions of my mind I remembered someone calling Love an addiction and so, in the midst of my misery, I decided that if Love was an addiction then I needed to count my days through withdrawal and keep track of my recovery and well, here we are:

I don't know what to say, really.  If you know me, if you were lucky enough to truly know "us,"  if you know what I went through here, you would know that I don't truly have the first clue what to think or say about of any of this (regardless of the jaded jokes I may make about it at this point in a further and more developed attempt to survive).

On day one, after no sleep, I got up out of the pointless bed and poured myself a cup of coffee and called my family and told them that I wasn't getting married.  I then pulled myself together long enough to go find a place to live because my lease was up and I had nowhere to go.  I came home and wrote my own phone number and address on a piece of paper in front of me so that I could remember what I needed to tell the moving company when I scheduled them to go pick up my things from his house, and I then I called my friends to tell them I wasn't getting married and I needed a group of people to help me move what was left in my hovel over to my new apartment and after I got all of that done... I lost it.

On day two I pretty much stared at the wall even though I was supposed to pack up the rest of my apartment.  At some point my "matron of honor" showed up and packed up the rest of my place.

On day three I pulled myself together enough to get to work and told myself that even I sat there like a zombie, at least I was there.

On day four my daughter fell apart and the rest of the week was a wash.

On day six, when I was supposed to get married, my friends came and moved things out of my apartment and the movers came and brought my things over from his place.

On day seven, the day after what was supposed to be my wedding, my family, some of which had flown out from out of state, came to my new apartment to bring me wedding gifts that they now called house warming gifts, and toured through my new apartment trying to be as positive as they could be and all I could do was look at my brother and say, "I know what they're trying to do, but I can't help it... I'm not supposed to be here right now."  And all he could do was nod at me in silent recognition of the emotional hell I was in because he's my brother and knows me better than anyone and he's the best person I know and pretty much the only person I really wanted to see that day.

On day eight I couldn't get to work.  I woke up and promptly fell to pieces and called my secretary and told her I just couldn't get there and then I went back to bed.  Around 11:00 a.m. she messaged me and said, "At least get up and unpack your boxes."  She was right.  I got up and unpacked my office because that's my sacred space and I at least needed to make that place happen.

Between day 8 and day 29 I got up and functioned.  I got up and went to work and explained repeatedly that I didn't have a honeymoon because I had been dumped by the dumpster.  And I was thankful for all of the meetings that usually stress me out and frustrate the hell out of me because at least they forced me outside of my own head, but somewhere between the office and home I would sink back into hell and there was no stopping it.

By day 30 someone asked me how I was doing and I said, "I went to bed crying and I woke up crying.  I feel like someone sapped my A Game and I have no clue how to get it back, and in the mean time the B team is running with the ball but they keep dropping it and they're fouling all over the place."

By day 32 I received a phone call from my daughter's teacher saying she wasn't doing well and I checked her grades and I fell to pieces because I knew it was my fault, because I knew her performance was directly related to my own and well... we were failing.  So I sucked it up and I pulled myself together and I pulled her together and we spent three nights making up work and sleeping very little but we still came out on top because that's how we roll.  Shit gets ugly sometimes but if you don't keep moving with life it's going to move on without you and well... that's just unacceptable so... shame on me for letting it get down that far but I'll be damned if I let that happen again.

And somewhere between day 32 and day 60 I was haunted by crazy nightmares where my subconscious either replayed the event over and over again or I was following him around picking up pieces of things he dropped behind him and begging him not to do this.

Somewhere around day 61 my nightmares shifted to him begging me to come back to him and me saying no.

Somewhere around day 65 a friend of mine went out of town and we baby-sat her dog and that was the best weekend we'd had in 65 days.  That doggy was the brightest piece of joy we'd had in quite some time and so by day 67 we decided to adopt our own doggy, Charity, because we needed a sweet little happy thing bouncing around our new home to remind us that life isn't all that bad.

Somewhere around day 72 a gentleman from a group of friends I know creatively took me off guard and asked me out on a date and I said yes even though I didn't really want to.

On day 73 I convinced myself that I should at least go on the date and let the man take me to dinner and help me remember that I'm pretty and intelligent and worth being around because my confidence was completely shot.

On day 75 I found myself telling this man that had started texting me and calling me as though he were already my boyfriend that I was far from ready and I remembered why I hated dating and I fell back into some pit where I hated my man for leaving me in this stupid space.

And somewhere between day 75 and now I looked at my daughter and said, "I think I need to resurrect Pandora."  And she said, "Yes, you do.  She's a strong woman, Pandora, and right now I think we need her."

And somewhere between 75 and 80 something I brought Pandora back and it felt like the best moment I've had in a long  long time because I remembered a bit more of who I was before all this shit went down.  And somewhere in my head I remembered someone saying, "You don't need him, you just want him.  You never needed him, you lived a long time without him, you'll be fine.  Just get over the hurt and remember who you are."

And in day 87 someone said to me, "What do you need to do to get your A Game back?"  And I said, "The first step is writing."  And here I am, best player on the A Team making her appearance.

And on day 90 I want to take a moment to say the following:

I loved that man, not in the shallow way that most people toss that word around, but in the way in which I truly believed I was going to look into his eyes until I was too blind to see.  I was going to be with him until my singing voice made people wish I'd realize how old I was and sit down.  I was going to be with him until my body was too crippled to move.  I was going to be with him until I breathed my last breath.  He was not bad to me, he has some strange hang up that ripped the carpet right out from under all three of us because I apparently was too love struck to see it coming but... please don't tell me I'm better off.  I may be, but I have yet to have that moment of breathing a sigh of relief because I dodged some kind of bullet.  Most of the time I sit here and say to myself, "If he's that fucked in the head, then yes... I can see that this may be best, but the past three years with the man tell me otherwise and this just doesn't make sense."  I had beautiful years with this person, I didn't see this coming and I do hope for his own sake he fixes his stupid ass crazy shit (if for no other reason than the fact that he's going to live one hell of a lonely ass hermit life if he doesn't).  And I do want to give a certain amount of props to the unique people who have said the following:

"I know you're hurting.  I want you to remember this: you did not pick a bad man, Pandora.  He was all the things you believed he was.  He is just a man with a blemish.  I'm sorry."

"We have no doubt that he loved you, but you were obviously a trigger for something he needs to come to terms with."

"We know you, we watched you, we all believed this was perfect..."

"We're going to be okay, Mom.  We're going to be okay without him.  He's not going to be okay without us, but we're going to be okay without him.  I promise."

"It's just a speed bump, Pandora.  ...just a speed bump in the road."

My name is Pandora.  I've successfully completed 90 days of rejection recovery.

Now give me my damn chip!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Detail Is In Your Toes

So... I win an Oscar today for playing it off.  Playing what off?  Well, I pretty much sliced off the top meaty portion of my second toe and I still stood there and smiled like Miss Congeniality and walked out with the poise of a super model with a book on her head when I completely felt like screaming the infamous F-word multiple times. 

"Oh my gosh!" You say (except you don't say "gosh")  "What happened?" You say.

Well, I had just been in a meeting for the past hour and a half where I had, once again, been the bearer of somewhat (or at least potential) bad news, and when I got up to leave the conference room I was talking to someone over my shoulder as I pulled the heavy conference room door across my right foot which, as I said above, pretty much sliced through the top meaty portion of the second toe on my right foot. 

It hurt like absolute hell. I'm not lying.  If it had happened at my house, I have no doubt that I would've fallen to my knees and screamed sinful obscenities in front of my beautiful daughter and would've owed her much apologies later (which pretty much mean nothing to her these days because I'm certain, by the age of 12, she's grown to expect nothing less from me).  But instead, I felt the searing pain and simply continued to smile at all the gentlemen in the room as though it hadn't happened and say my goodbyes.  I proceeded to walk out the door and greet the gentlemen on the other side of the door, who knew me, as though everything was just peachy.  I walked down the stairs as though nothing was wrong when all I really wanted to do was fall over and make a painful and overly dramatic scene.  I calmly and elegantly walked out to the parking lot and casually conversed with the engineer I came with as the blood began to pool so badly beneath my foot inside my high healed sandal I could feel it splashing out onto the asphalt with every step.  And I didn't say a thing about it until I got into the car and I sweetly asked the engineer that I came with if he happened to have a tissue because I hurt my toe and I thought it may be bleeding.  At that point he stopped and looked at the horror that was my toe and said, "Holy shit!  We got some blood born pathogens going on here!"  (and we need to take a moment to recognize that's a pretty colorful response, for an engineer. We must applaud him for that.)

Anyway, he dropped me off at my office and I promptly walked (or limped by that point because my entire foot was throbbing by then) to the nurse's office (and yes, my company has a nurse's office the same way your child's school has a nurse's office and well... I have to say it's one of the coolest things ever).  They soaked my foot in some sort of something and they bandaged me all up and then they wrote a short report and sent it to my boss (which is hilarious and at some point I will have to write about "safety minutes" and such, but now is not the time).  And no, in case you're wondering, this is not an OSHA recordable event (thankfully).

After I walked back to my desk and sat there long enough to respond to my boss who had just received the report, my mind started wandering about toes and things (because that's what my mind does, it wanders about stupid things like this).  At some point I remembered what a wacky new agey friend of mine would've said at a moment like this.  She would've said, "Hmmmm... What detail are you not paying attention to?" 

Now, for you or I, we would most likely respond with, "Well, obviously I wasn't paying attention to the fact that my right foot was dangerously close to the stupid door I apparently pulled open with the strength of an ox."  But that wouldn't suffice for her.  She would be applying some kind of crazy symbol to it because to her, there was no such thing as an accident, everything in the body was a symbol for something else in your external life, and if you did something like stub your toe (let alone slice off the meaty top portion of the damn thing) you must be walking around oblivious to some other detail in your life. 

Like I said, everything to her was a symbol.  The back is the "support system" of your life.  So, if you have chronic back problems, to her this means your "support system," like your friends or your family, is failing you somewhere.  Your knees were your ability to be "flexible in life," so if you had knee problems there was obviously something somewhere in your emotional life that you were refusing to "bend" for.  She called this "body feng shui," and if you didn't "heal" what was happening on the outside of your body you would never "heal" what was wrong with the body. 

I never really took her too seriously because... well, logic and reason and science pretty much overrule any of that mish mash there.  However, at least from a writer's perspecitve, her view on life and the symbolism of everything proved valuable for creative purposes.   ... for pracitical everyday living?  Not so much.  She would spend an entire afternoon trying to figure out the meaning behind her papercut and then, after hours of stressing over what spiritual shift must've taken place because of the papercut were wasted, she would call me up hoping I might have an answer and be sorely disappointed when I would say, "You got a papercut.  It happens." 

I really don't talk with this person anymore, but every once in a while she, or something she said in the past, crops up into my head.  This whole slice my toe moment was one of those.   So... I had this moment, where I was remembering her and recalling how she would've responded to something like this, and I sat there thinking, "Okay... what detail are you not paying attention to?  Did you miss anything in the information you provided?  Nope.  Did you miss anything in your delivery of the message?  Nope.  Did you not smile in the right place?  Nope.  Did you miss some sort of political nuiance?  Nope.  Did you not notice the man off to the side looking at you a certain way that was not business oriented?  Nope. Did you not notice that you've been ignoring the dishes lately?  Nope.  Did you not notice that you've been stressing out over things that you would usually take with a grain of salt? Nope.  So.... what did you not notice?  Um... I think I didn't notice where my foot was when I opened the door and that was a pretty significant detail so... that must've been it." 

I think that thought process lasted less than the time it took me to write that paragraph, but I still laughed that my mind took the time to consider her perspective.  I mean, I guess I could say something like I must've scraped the meat off my toe because I really needed to take more time on the couch tonight instead of doing the dishes in the sink but... I still don't think that's it.  The details may be in the toes, but I think it's more like it's because they're easily forgotten.  I mean... they're just toes, after all, and I'm one woman in a room full of male engineers who most likely hated what I had to say so... hell... who wouldn't inadvertently slice off the meatiest portion of their toe when trying to escape a room like that?!

(...and suddenly I can hear her saying, "why are you still afraid of the engineers?")

 ...unspoken details....

...stupid toes....

Monday, November 14, 2011

So... much like everything else that has changed since I wrote last May, this stupid blog decided to "upgrade" the way they do things.  I'm currently sitting here staring at this, even while I'm typing, and thinking... really?  This is an improvement?  Because it really looks like a waste of space on my computer screen.  No joke.  What I'm looking at right now is a small white rectangle with an arrow at the bottom of it, in the middle of a huge gray rectangle, with some stuff that looks similar to microsoft word at the top (probably put there to comfort my writing soul) and some some "post settings" at the right margin that I will most likely never use.


I'm really super tired of change right now.  As much as Obama may have used that word to win his way into office, right now it's my enemy (much like the rest of the country... but then again, we could probably make more of a case for stagnation there with the rest of the country, but change is definitely the enemy of my life here personally).

I've lived in this stupid apartment for almost three months now, since my "dumped by the dumpster" incident, and well... I'm not in the hovel anymore, but I am in the same complex (even if we call it an upgrade) and it's irritating me right now (not that there aren't many things that wouldn't irritate me right now anyway).  I moved myself into a three bedroom (which is nice, because I actually have an office now instead of a "living room" that I've turned into an office, which also means I actually have a living room now instead of a "master bedroom" that I turned into a living room), and this three bedroom came with complete upgrades: all new flooring, and renovated bathrooms and a renovated kitchen and laundry room.  It really is nice to look at.  The one thing that's really getting on my nerves is that the upgrade somehow means I've gone green.

Now... I'm very much aware that I'm treading on thin ice here.  I've been intending for some time to rant about how "going green" has basically become some sort of government endorsed religion, but ... obviously I haven't done that yet.  And unfortunately for me, I may have waited too long because that religion has now forced itself upon me (and isn't it just like the government to preach tolerance until it has a religion of its own to force upon the people).  You see, all of my appliances here in this new apartment have "gone green."  And I'll be honest, I don't care about the gone green microwave or the gone green dishwasher or the gone green washing machine and dryer.  But what's really getting to me is the stupid gone green toilets.  REALLY?!  Why did they have to mess with my toilets?!  I am willing, oh great government, to do the "if it's yellow let it mellow" thing, but to force it upon me in the way you have done is just ... I won't even say unfair.  Let's just say it's disgusting.

You see, I have these toilets in here now that have two buttons.  One has one drop of water on it and the other has two drops of water on it.  I had no clue, the first time I used the things what those stupid buttons meant.  So, I apologize for my crudeness here, but I took a doo doo in one of the toilets and I had no clue what I was supposed to do.  I pushed a button, to be more specific I pushed the button with one drop of water on it, and next to nothing happened except I'm almost certain I plugged the damn thing for life.  Later that day I made a comment to my daughter about and, unfortunately for me she's growing up in the "gone green" generation and so she says to me in her overly educated way, "Um... Mom... one drop of water is for number one and two drops of water is for number two.  I can't believe you didn't know that.  Gosh..."

So... In all of our highly intellectual gone green save the Earth mentality, when it comes to toilets gone green we still need to speak to one another as toddlers:  When you go number 1 you push number 1, when you go number 2 you push number 2.

Dammit... aside from the fact that I've clogged my toilet for life because I pushed number one when I went number two, does this piss anyone else off besides me?!?!?!

stupid gone green....