TV Is My Drug of Choice
"Perhaps if you watched a little more television, you'd be better at your job." Ty Lookwell, "Lookwell"

Thursday, December 08, 2005


I'm a Big Kid Now 

Dooney bag

I just got my first Dooney & Bourke bag. To a lot of you, that means nothing at all. But for me it's one of those milestone moments. The kind where you think, "Wow, I'm a real grown up now!" My friends and I used to have moments like that all the time. Something would happen to one of us, who would call the others to say, "Today I did X and I felt like a real grown up!"

Some of these were traditional milestones. First jobs, first house, marriage, first baby. But some of them weren't big. They're not the normal milestones, but they're important, too. Sure, the first job was a big deal. But my first promotion based on merit made me felt even better. Likewise my first business trip.

My first business trip really made me feel like a grown up. I flew out to Tucson, Arizona and stayed in a hotel for two weeks. I even had to buy some new luggage for the trip, which also made me feel like a grown-up. I drove my very first rental car and filed my very first expense report. And I didn't abuse the privilege of an expense account, because I was too damn scared. (I still don't. I'm still scared!)

Two years later I flew to another state for a job interview where I was asked to give a presentation. Even though many of my past jobs had involved public speaking, that would be my very first presentation to management. I learned how to use PowerPoint just for the interview. I bought my first suit. I felt uncomfortable in it, like I was a little kid playing dress up. I was certain they would see through my charade and know I wasn't really a grown up yet. I was scared to death. I didn't get the job, but I got hired for another position and they liked one of the ideas from my presentation so much they used it. That was another milestone. I came from a much smaller company. Having a big company like my idea and use it? That was awesome.

This November I turned 36 and bought my first Dooney & Bourke bag. (If you've read my "About Me" page, you read that I'm 34. I'm not lying about my age. I'm just too lazy/forgetful to change it.) Turning 36, other than being on the depressing side, wasn't a huge deal. But the Dooney & Bourke bag was.

I group up in Richville. I don't mean that's the name of the town, I mean people there have a lot of money. When I say a lot of money, I mean the President of my Senior class in high school had an after prom party to which he invited the entire senior class. An after prom party that included a catered breakfast and a DJ, both in the ballroom his parents built onto the house when his sister was a debutante. When I go home to visit, I don't see a lot of SUV's in the intersections. Instead I see cars by Mercedes, Lexus, Jaguar, Cadillac, Audi, Saab, and Volvo. That class president I mentioned? He drove a Maserati. Sure, it was a sedan, but it was still a Maserati. I will not deny that I was a spoiled kid from the suburbs, but we didn't have a ballroom and a Maserati. My father builds million dollar homes, but we never lived in one. I went to school with Preppy kids, but the only Izod shirt I ever owned was part of a choir uniform. I didn't own designer clothes, unless you consider L. L. Bean a designer. These days I drive a Honda Civic Hybrid, and if you gave me one hundred thousand dollars to spend on a car, I'd still own a Honda or a Toyota. (I'd probably also buy '57 Chevy Belair with whatever was left.) I'm not about status symbols.

But I have always wanted a Dooney and Bourke bag. I used to look at them behind the glass at the counter at Macy's. They had pebbled leather and a little duck embossed on them. Even the small ones cost more than one hundred dollars. When I was 15, I couldn't even imagine having one hundred dollars, much less spending it on a purse. That would be crazy. They also made leather key fobs, and even those were too expensive for me. When I was in my early 20's, I went to visit a friend of mine. She was very excited about something and as soon as I walked in, said, "I have to show you something!" She went into the other room and came back to the front door, holding something behind her. "Look!" She proclaimed, and brought forth her new Dooney & Bourke bag, holding it in front of her like a prize. And it was. It was a gift she bought for herself after getting a new job at a prestigious company in San Francisco. It was a rich chamois color, the pebbled leather soft under the finger I ran over it. We both ooh'd and ahh'd over it. "Someday you'll get one too," she told me. I nodded silently, but I didn't believe it.

She was almost right. For my birthday, I bought myself a Dooney & Bourke bag. It was on sale and I got it for about $100 less than retail. It came with a matching cosmetics bag and even a leather key fob, the kind I couldn't afford when I was in high school. It's not leather - I still can't justify spending nearly $300.00 on a purse. They don't use the duck symbol anymore, so it doesn't have that, either. But it is a genuine Dooney & Bourke. And it's mine.

It may seem crazy. It is just a purse, after all. But the girl in me, the one who always wanted one... when she put her wallet and keys inside that bag, she said, "Now I'm a grown-up."


Tuesday, December 06, 2005


My New Renter - Ask the Soldiers 

Please welcome my new renter - Ask the Soldiers. It's written by two soliders currently serving in Iraq and they encourage you to write in with questions about what life is like for our troops over there. Whether you lean to the left or the right, you can't beat getting information direct from the source without the filters of the American media.

People who know me know that I don't support the war in Iraq. But I do support our troops over there. They're doing a hard job and a scary job. They're doing it because they believe in our country. They believe in the freedoms we have here and the potential for other people all over the world to have the same rights and freedoms that we do. And they're over there so that I don't have to be. God bless them. Thanks to all the men and women over there for your service. Keep them in mind when you visit their site and ask some questions. Go, now! Quick, like bunnies.


Sunday, December 04, 2005


Holiday Traditions 

Christmas tree I am fascinated by the holiday traditions of other people. My family has never had any really big traditions at Thanksgiving or Christmastime, which is probably a part of the fascination. We always open our presents on Christmas Eve. This was my mom's idea, and it was a pretty good one. Mom's a smart lady and is always thinking ahead. She thought about having small children open presents on Christmas morning and then having to get those children dressed and get them to stop playing with their new toys in order to go to church. That was a fight she didn't want to have, so we opened our gifts on Christmas Eve. That gave us time to play with the toys the night before, so it was easier to get us away from them for church the next morning. It also meant she didn't have to worry about small and excited children waking her and my dad up at the crack of dawn. Like I said, Mom's a smart lady.

Because we opened gifts the night before, she would fill our stockings later that night so we had something on Christmas morning. That way it still appeared as if Santa had come on Christmas Eve. I think this is extra sweet of her, since, as she tells me, it apparently wouldn't have mattered much to me. She says that one December, when I was about 3 years old, I sat up in my bed and loudly declared that "Santa doesn't bring Christmas presents, Mommies and Daddies do!" It's unknown if I was a child prodigy akin to Sherlock Holmes or if maybe my older cousins broke the news to me. I don't remember the event at all, so I'm not a reliable source. Mom still fills the stockings ever year. Now it's with practical items, like little flashlights, nail clippers, Band-Aids, and toothbrushes. The kinds of things that would have left me disappointed when I was a kid, but which I really appreciate now.

gingerbread house My friends had some stronger Christmas traditions. I met Natalie when I was in Junior High. Natalie's family was Swedish, and they celebrated Santa Lucia Day. It was strange and mysterious to me. That same year I was invited to Natalie's Christmas party. Every year Natalie had a big Christmas party filled with traditions her family had. First there was the gingerbread house. Only their gingerbread house had grown from one small house to an entire town, all laid out and lit up in the dining room. It was really beautiful. After we all oooh'd and ahhh'd over the latest additions, we would get some spiced apple cider and go on a scavenger hunt. We would look all over different assigned areas of the house for items on the list. In all the years I went to one of Natalie's parties, I can't remember who won or what the prizes were. Winning was never the point. After the scavenger hunt, we would all bundle up, grab a candle or a lantern, a song book, and head out to go Christmas Caroling. Seriously, we really did. When we were all worn out, we would head back to Natalie's house for the cookie exchange. We all brought a different kind of cookie to the party, usually things we baked ourselves, and everyone would take one or two of each kind to make a big cookie assortment to take home. Natalie's parties managed to be both terribly corny and wonderfully magical, all at the same time. I hope Natalie is now having those parties for her own children.

Christmastree farm Dan's family also had a Christmas tradition. His family and family friends would all pile into as many vehicles as necessary and head north. First stop was the apple farm. The apple farm sold all kinds of holiday foods and apple cider. We would wander around the apple farm and make some holiday purchases. After that it was back in the car and on to the tree farm, where we would pick out the trees we wanted, cut them down, tie them to the roofs of the cars, and head back home to put the trees up and decorate them. I didn't get a tree from the farm for my family, but helped them set up and decorate their tree. We often didn't have a live tree at our house. My family usually drove to Los Angeles to spend Christmas with my Grandparents. We didn't want to leave a big fire hazard in the house while we were gone, so we didn't have a tree. Having no tree at all made my sister and me sad, so we convinced Dad to get an artificial tree. As artificial trees go, the one we got from Sears wasn't so bad. From across the room, you couldn't tell it wasn't real. And we got to decorate it and the lights would welcome me home when I came home after dark. A lot of people don't like artificial trees. But you know, if you can't have the real thing, they're not so bad. And the idea of not having a Christmas tree at all still makes me sad.

So, I'm really interested. What kinds of traditions do you have every year? Are they some you dread? Some you love? Some you stopped for some reason and miss? What's your favorite holiday tradition? Click the "comments" link to share.


Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Diamond Dogs 

This is a reposting of something from last Christmas. Because some things are worth repeating.

It's Christmas time, and just as it happens every year, the diamond people would have you believe that every woman wants diamonds. If you believe the ads on TV, that's all we want. If you buy us diamonds, we will be happy and we will love you more. And if you don't buy us diamonds, well, you'd better get a dog, because we won't be sticking around.

Every year, especially around Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, and Christmas, the diamond industry does more harm to the image of women than Pamela Anderson, Larry Flynt, or Anna Nicole Smith could ever do. They portray women as one note creatures who only care about one thing - diamonds. And it's not even an engagement diamond. The diamond engagement ring is the one with the oldest traditional meaning. If there's any diamond a woman does care about, this is it. But even so, the diamond is merely a symbol. It doesn't matter nearly as much as the piece of paper and the ceremony itself. Young girls spend far more time imagining what their wedding dress will look like than what the ring will look like.

And maybe it's because the ring doesn't matter as much to us as the diamond people would like that they had to go come up with so many more diamonds we're supposed to want. Your wife wants a diamond eternity band. Shhhht! Don't you question it! She just does. If you've already given her one of those, then you'd better hurry and get her the three stone pendant. If you don't, she will most likely leave you, possibly for your best friend. Why? Because he knows a good jeweler.

I have no idea why the diamond companies feel the need to treat women in the manner. Perhaps they believe that most women don't buy diamonds for themselves, so it doesn't matter how they are portrayed. According to the diamond industry, that's because diamonds = love, . Diamonds are forever! And if you buy a woman a diamond, your love will be forever. Do men really believe that? I think the men I know are much smarter than that. I certainly don't have a big bag of diamonds men have given me to prove they have fallen for the hype.

And if women aren't buying the diamonds for themselves, maybe it's for a good reason. Like because we don't like you, diamond companies. You suck. People who make hardly any money die in your mines. You hoard your product to drive the price up to a falsely inflated level. And you portray us as soulless people who will only warm up when we're wearing your ice.

Men, I'm going to tell you a secret. We women will love you if you don't buy us diamonds. We don't need you to drop a sack of cash or go into debt to buy us gifts. What we'd really like is something that shows that you know something about us. Something that says you listen to us and notice what's going on with us. Here's an example for you. One year, maybe two months before Christmas, I was out with a guy I was seeing. We were going to see a movie and had time before it started, so we walked around the outdoor mall and talked. When I passed a store that sold windchimes, I went inside and talked to the clerk. I had seen a pair of silver windchime earrings in a catalog and I wondered if she carried them. She said no, but mentioned that they would fit in with the other things she sold and said she would look into carrying them. My conversation with the woman lasted fewer than five minutes.

Can you guess what I got for Christmas? He went back to that store and had her order the earrings for me. This was the best Christmas I've ever received from a guy I was dating. They weren't very expensive, but they were something I really wanted. The fact that he paid attention to my conversation with the woman, remembered it, and took that kind of action was really touching. That was a long time ago, but I don't think I'll ever forget the gesture. I will always remember him for it. Had he bought me something more expensive but with less thought behind it, I wouldn't remember it. The thought really does count.

I know. It's probably easier to just buy diamonds.



The Bitch Is Back 

Actually, she's never been here before. But I couldn't pass up the chance to use a song title to welcome a renter called The Rock Bitch. RB is a DJ for a hard rock internet radio station. She loves classic rock, which is something I love, too. We share some favorite artists, including The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, John Hiatt, Stevie Ray, AC/DC, and Aerosmith.

She has a fantastic template and you must go see her "About me" page, because she has a picture of herself and she looks exactly like the artwork on her template. How cool is that?? She will be the first to warn you that if you don't like profanity, you may not like her site. As for me, I'm ok with it!

She is a cancer survivor and works to raise money and awareness for cancer research. How can you not support a person like that?

She enjoys martinis and bitching about a variety of things including, but limited to: work, hormones, and the stupid things people do.

Go click the link to the right and check her out.


Sunday, November 27, 2005


Hell Is Other People 

Jean-Paul Sartre was right. People never fail to amaze and disgust me. Recently I went out to lunch at one of the local fast food establishments. Before I went back to work, I stopped in the restroom. As I entered, I heard someone say, "Welcome to Fast Food Hell. May I take your order?" In the background I heard the toilet flush and saw the stall door swing closed as a woman with the drive-through headset came out the restroom door.

Yeah, that's right. She was taking drive through orders while she was in the restroom. While I commend her for her multi-tasking abilities, that is just over the top, don't you think? Also, she didn't wash her hands, so I hope she doesn't handle anything other than money. She wasn't someone I'd seen in the kitchen area earlier. Just the same, I don't think I'll be going back there anytime soon.

I also don't understand people who feel the need to bring reading material that doesn't belong to them into public restrooms. Like the newspaper at the library or the coffee shop, or the magazines at the doctor's office. I mean, do what you want at home, I don't care. But don't leave the comics I wanted to read in the toilet. And if you are going to bring them out, please don't leave them on the table I was eating my croissant at. Yuck.

And people of Austin, can I please pull out of my parking space without you trying to drive behind me? Nearly every time I try to pull out of a space in a crowded parking lot, someone tries to zoom behind me. It doesn't matter if I'm halfway out or more. The other day I was 7/8 out of my space when someone tried to zoom behind me to get through the lot. Since the person obviously couldn't fit, she honked her horn at me. What? Look, you weren't there when I started pulling out of the space and I'm nearly out. You can't wait 20 more seconds? You'd better have a pregnant friend in your car with a baby's head sticking halfway out of her. If you don't, then shut up and wait.

And don't think I don't see you picking your nose and flicking it in the trash every 10 minutes. (At least it's the trash you're flicking at...thank goodness.) That's what they make tissues for!

And you, dumbass, why are you letting your tiny black dog run around in the dark without a leash on. Can you read the sign he's playing next to? It says "Drive through." Your tiny black dog is playing in the drive through of a restaurant parking lot in the dark. You shouldn't be allowed to have pets.

Years ago I worked with this guy who was... a little odd. I spent my first 6 months at that company getting moved from one cubicle to another every 4 weeks. My boss told me it was because I was one of the only employees she could count on not to complain about being moved so much. Where I sat just didn't matter to me. But then she put me next to Norman. I'd met Norman outside of the office a few years before I started working there. Norman was one of those people who irritated me. The kind who says, "Hello, how was your weekend?" and it made my teeth itch. When I'd known him years before, he had a crush on me. It was the kind of crush he wouldn't say anything about, but everyone noticed. The kind where everyone took great joy in pointing out to me how, "did you ever notice that Norman shows up at every part you're at, always sits in the same room you're in, and never leaves until you do?" Yeah, I had noticed. Thanks. And now I got to sit next to him all day. Yay!

Norman liked to listen to CD's with his headphones on while he worked. But Norman had a partial hearing loss in one ear, and always had his headphones on really loudly. And what he was listening to was usually bad Hair Band metal from the 1980's. He liked Ratt, Warrant, Cinderella, and Stryper. Now listening Warrant singing Cherry Pie, might not be so bad. But hearing it as bleed-through from someone else's headphones? Ugh. I would ask Norman to turn it down, and he would gripe about it, blame his hearing, turn it down for 5 songs, then crank it back up. Like maybe I wouldn't notice. And hey, I'm sorry you don't hear so well in that ear, but that doesn't give you the right to force me to listen to your crappy music.

Still, it was bearable. The thing that wasn't? Norman talked to himself. Just mumbled and babbled all day. I often thought he was talking to me, so I'd ask.

Sheila: What was that, Norman?

Norman: Huh?

Sheila: Were you talking to me?

Norman: What? Oh no, I was talking to myself.

Sheila: ...Oh. Ok.
I usually ended up repeating that conversation several times a day. But Norman liked to change things up on me for excitement...
Norman: So?!

Sheila: ...

Norman: Hey! So what do you think?

Sheila: About what?

Norman: About what I was just saying. Weren't you listening?

Sheila: As a matter of fact, I wasn't. Because the last 6 times I asked you what you were saying, you said you were talking to yourself. How was I supposed to know you were talking to me this time?

Norman: Whatever.
And then Norman would proceed to pout and turn his Discman up even louder. Yay.

I finally asked my supervisor if one of us could be moved. Since I'd never complained about anyone before, she took me seriously and moved Norman across the office that same afternoon. It's a good thing, too. My Workplace Violence record has always been spotless, it would have been sad to ruin that.

I try hard not to judge. I really do. For example, if someone is driving really slowly in front of me and leaves her blinker on, I try to tell myself that maybe she's new to this part of town and lost. Being lost can be scary, so I shouldn't be too hard on her. But when it's the same lady every day, well, I'm out of excuses. And it is the same woman. I get stuck behind her and her turquoise sedan several times a week, and she's always going 10 miles below the speed limit. People doing the same crazy thing over and over again make it hard for me to be charitable.

So, how about you? What's driving you crazy?

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