Happy New Year and Shit

With about 19 minutes to go before the ball drops and 2008 begins, and about 20 minutes to go before my sorry old ass can get to sleep, I figure now is as good a time as any to reveal my latest batch of resolutions. Well, not resolutions, per se -- it's really hard to improve yourself when you're a veritable Mary Poppins*. But stuff I'd like to work on in the new year, just the same:

10. Make a flaming dessert. Not "learn to make one," because I already know how to make at least three (two of them intentionally), but actually commit to actually making one.

9. Be less artsy and more fartsy.

8. Stop getting into discussions with anyone about the Philadelphia Eagles. If necessary, I will use my father's gambit on this and say that "my anger management counselor told me I am not 'allowed' to discuss religion, politics, or sports."

7. Eat more vegetables.

6. Learn to say "please," "thank you," and "fast" in as many languages as possible, in case I ever end up on The Amazing Race. Also, learn to drive stick shift.

5. Forgive Santa for giving my husband "Guitar Hero II" for Christmas.

4. Somehow, some way, forget the words to "Surrender" and "Possum Kingdom," and replace them with the words to "Strutter," "Tattoo Love Boys," and "Jessica." Heh.

3. Blog more regularly.

2. Finish the goddamned novel that I have been writing in my head, little by little and piece by piece, since I read my first Judy Blume book when I was 8 years old.

1. Live well, laugh often, and love much. Especially myself.

And not that you asked, but the best part of the last year? This minute, right here:

* = Practically perfect in every way. Heh.


Dōmo Arigatō, Mr. Super Mario

Dear Nintendo Corporation of America,

As a person who watches entirely too much television, I watch a lot of commercials every day. (Well, hypothetically, anyway.) In the run-up to Christmas, I saw shills for several thousand products, but I believe that only one did as advertised and brought our family together.

So, thanks for the Wii. We didn't get one for Christmas because we already had one, but we did get a lot of use out of it. My husband, father, and brother-in-law all have rotator cuff injuries from playing the Home Run Derby game. And we're actually going bowling for real later this week!

It's been so long since I've worn rented shoes, and I have the Wii to thank. Happy Holidays, Nintendo.



Crazy Is Contagious

Another one of my many mental ailments: I am a wicked hypochondriac. Like, if I smell coffee or bacon in the morning, I am instantly convinced that I have a brain tumor or nasal polyps or epilepsy or something, and not until I am actually holding a plate in front of me and bitching about how this pigmeat isn't crisp enough does it ever once occur to me that I might be smelling strange things because someone is cooking something.

Example: from time to time I wake up in the morning with a sore throat, cotton mouth, a splitting headache, and absolute killer death-breath. According to WebMD (the Internet is a wonderful thing, no?), I might have Sjgren's syndrome, or acute kidney failure, or constipation, or mono (which I'm pretty sure I already had when I had "the flu" in college for six damn weeks, but who knows?), or even leukemia -- OK, leukemia isn't technically on the list, but I know that different kinds of cancers manifest in different kinds of ways.

Of course, what I really have? Is a hangover. It's the great-goddamn-grandmother of all hangovers, but still. God. Weirdo. (But I can't really help it that I'm allergic to having a good time.)

But the point of all of this is that right now I have a cat with the sniffles, and so of course I am freaking the fuck out. You can ask my husband about last night, when I lay in bed weeping and shrieking hysterically because I was terrified, absolutely inconsolably convinced, that something is seriously wrong with the cat. Practically at death's door. Making funeral plans and picking out an outfit and everything. I mean, come on! He's been hanging out in the bathtub, ferchrissakes!

Plus I recently discovered WebDVM, which is like WebMD for animals, and ... Christ on a cracker, the horror! Owen has been sneezing and coughing, which could mean kennel cough, or feline herpes, or heartworm. He also has the sniffles and some congestion, which could be COPD, or distemper, or pneumonia. And he's been drinking a lot, which could be diabetes, or kidney failure, or a thyroid problem. Every single one of these things sounds horrible. A simple cold, which is probably what he actually has, is almost anticlimactic now.

I figured out what will fix him, though: Valium. Lots and lots of Valium. Or Zoloft, or Xanax, or Prozac, or some other mood stabilizers. Oh, not for him, though. They're for me.
UPDATE 12/14/07: G took Owen to the (craptacular) emergency backup vet today, because he wasn't sounding very good overnight into today. Poor little bugger is on antibiotics ... and now I need to watch out for amoxicillin allergies, because cats can be allergic to amoxicillin, and since I'm allergic to amoxicillin you just know the O-Bert will be. If Something Bad happens we might have to give him steroids or epinephrine. Like what happens to me, only I don't know if you'll see his hives under his fur. Oh, and feline herpes is apparently a possibility. Sometimes the worst-case scenario is actually possible. Oy vey.


Um. So. On my way home from work today I was sort of planning this whole long post about how on the day before Thanksgiving, November 21, a day that shall live in infamy forever and ever, amen, G and I had this interview for a potential adoption placement and we finally got an answer and the response was, basically, FUCK NO YOU CRAZY GODDAMNED LUNATIC AND WE'RE SORRY MR. G BUT DO YOU KNOW YOUR WIFE IS INSANE AND UNFIT?, quote-unquote, and how now I'm all spiralling out of control because the whole entire world and parts of Mars are conspiring to commit this whole nuclear complete annihilation of my soul and all that rot, but ... well, I'm just not really prepared to deal with it right now, so I won't.

I mean, don't get me wrong: I'm hurt and angry and pissed off and tired and I want to rend my garments, hypothetically speaking, but then again I just bought this sweater on Friday and it really reminds me of this sweater I had back in the day from the United Colors of Bennetton but then my boobs and my ass got too big to fit into it any more and now I don't know where it is, somewhere in the black hole of my mother's house, I think, but anyway this particular sweater is new and I just wore it once and I only have the one stain on it so far, so maybe I'll rend something else later, OK? Not right now.

It's tiring being told over and over again that things just aren't going to work out for you. Never in my life, not seriously, have I ever had to take "No" for an answer, and something just does not compute. Now matter how many negative pregnancy tests I take, no matter how many times different counties or caseworkers tell us that we are denied, no matter how much blood and hormones and money and sweat and tears and actual tiny little pieces of my heart the doctors take month after month, week after week, day after day, even two years after I've stopped giving myself shots in the stomach literally one day before I'm supposed to get on the plane for my sister's wedding, no matter how many times and how many days and how may tries and how many ways, I just can't figure out how to let it go.

Some people, they keep telling me, are just not meant to be parents. Their purpose is broader or wider or higher or different, but I just can't wrap my head around that. I don't care. Even though I know, somewhere deep down there where all my primordial feelings live and breathe, that this thing I want so much is just not going to happen for me, I can't give it up. And it is killing me. I am killing myself, and I can't stop it. It makes me ridiulous, irrational, irritable, eleventy kinds of crazy, and I just can't shut it off.

And I am just not prepared to talk about it. Not right now.


One of my super-secret mental illnesses, one of the so very many I have but definitely one of the less visible, is my absolute love -- LOVE! -- for wrapping presents.

Yes, really.

No, I am not making this up.

Although I've never talked to a therapist about it (because, let's face it, the fact that I am a Type-A paranoid borderline schizophrenic with half an Electra complex, inappropriate rage issues and an obsession with LOLspeek tends to take up a lot of lot of time on the couch), I believe this is part of the reason why I start shopping for Christmas presents so early, and why I buy so many.

It might be part of the reason why I became a retail terrorist, hunting high and low for the absolute best bargains anywhere, so I can get the most things for the least amount of money, so there are more things to adorn with shiny paper, curling ribbon, gift tags, and 47 metric tons of Scotch tape. (When the Grinch looks down on Who-ville and notices that Christmas "came without packages, boxes, and bags?" I always think, deep down in my heart, that this is bullshit, because while I believe that World Peace is a beautiful thing, I am also smart enough to know that it's even more beautiful with a little bit of sequins and a gift tag.)

And if you know me even in passing, you're probably vaguely aware that I am something of a grown-up Garanimal: everything must match. So it will come as a surprise to approximately no one that I spent more than a hour in a T.J. Maxx store back in October, trying to find three rolls of gift wrap that matched this year's wrapping theme. (Note also that I was doing this in a store where I wouldn't have to pay full retail.)

When I'm shopping, I am often drawn to gifts that come in weird, strange, odd, or oversize packages, so that I can challenge myself when I wrap them. Wrapping is not an obligation to me, a traditional formality; I believe that it is the thought that counts, and I want the thought to be: "I care enough about you to fold this paper with hospital corners and match the patterns and tape every single seam and make you earn this present, dammit."

Of course, the problem with this is that I go through something that is maybe like postpartum depression when people open their stuff. I watch them tear into everything that I took such time and care to prepare. Not because I am afraid that they won't like their gifts -- sometimes I honestly believe I might not even care about that. But because I put a lot of work into wrapping those things, and I want my family and friends to stop for a second and say, "Hey, wow, this really looks too pretty to open." Admire my craftsmanship. Call me an artist.

And then: gimme gimme gimme. Pass the loot. Because even crazy people like presents, you know?


So, probably against all better judgment (but when have I ever been known to show that?), we went shopping today. Our first stop was BJ's, for cat litter, and then we ventured to Toys 'R Us, which is so many kinds of stupid it can't really be quantified. But I wanted to try to get everything done for my Christmas Kid, and what she wanted was toys, and I want to go on record as saying that I might be crazy for going to Toys R Us, but believe me when I say that even I know it would have been retarded to get anywhere near a Wal-Mart.

I've "sponsored" a Christmas Kid every year since I started my current job. My company hooks up with a local children's charity and we get info packets on needy kids. You know me and my weak little bleeding heart; as soon as I heard about the program, I signed up. It never once occurred to me not to. You get a name, some basic information like sizes and toy list, and a bag for you to fill with goodies. The usual Christmas stuff -- clothes, books, toys. I also get basics like hairbrushes, toothbrushes, and socks, because I have some kind of thing for socks.

This year I got a girl who will be two in January. I requested a little kid for the past two years because I've always found something ... illogical, maybe? ... about getting consumer electronics for teenagers whose families can't afford Christmas presents. I have no compunction about getting a CD player, and since I'm a retail commando I can totally get one for almost nothing. But if their parents can't afford a cheapo generic Discman in the first place, where are they going to get CD's?

Anyway, I was wrapping today's acquisitions and I was sort of freaking out, because my bag looks so empty this year. When I first showed G the wish list for this little girl, he was partly stunned, because it was a short list. "Doll, learning toy, blocks, play telephone, toy box." That's verbatim. I am not the least bit ashamed to tell you that I might be more excited than she will be when I found light-up sparkle Strawberry Shortcake sneakers in her size.

But for all the good stuff I got -- two outfits, a hat and gloves, barettes, adorable pajammies with monkeys on them, a musical tea set -- I still feel like a cheap bitch. Why isn't the bag full yet? I've been shopping for more than a full month, and there are still two weeks to go. What else can I get? Probably dozens of things, maybe hundreds. More clothes? A new coat? Perhaps a little baby doll so she has someone to have tea parties with?

One thing I do know: it will probably take me years of this sort of penance before I feel like I've repaid the Universe for all the good karma it's thrown my way. I don't care how much it costs, or how "over budget" I go when I'm shopping for these kids. Because if not for me, they might not have a Christmas. And I must do what I can, because I am a Haldaman, and one year someone gave my Dad tomato soup for Christmas.


The now legendary story of the Christmas Tomato Soup has been verified by my grandmother, the one who was born in the manger next to Jesus, so I know it has not been made up, but that doesn't make it any more mythical or extraordinary. And now matter how many times I hear about it -- I think we are going on eleventy bajillion times, now -- it still does things to my hard, black, bitter, little heart that I cannot control or understand.

As far as I can tell, the facts are these: My father is one of thirteen children. His family lived in a small house, everyone together, on a very tight budget. Sometimes, they did not get all new things for Christmas. Sometimes, their Christmas dinner was barely enough. But always, no matter what, there was Christmas. It might not be what the rest of us take for granted, but it was what it was, and it is what it is, and they made do, and were happy.

When my father was about 7 years old, so the story goes, someone asked him what he wanted for Christmas. And he said -- this is my father, remember, so don't say I didn't warn you -- "tomato soup." Always he has been a simple man with understated expectations. Do your best, work hard, love each other, clean your room, eat your soup. So to me, it is no surprise that he would ask for soup for Christmas. My daddy loves tomato soup.

I don't know how much time passed between when my father asked for soup and when Christmas came, but I know that things got rough. Really rough. Can't get a confirmation on this, because it was so long ago, but I believe there was a strike at the Steel that year, and my grandfather was out of work for a while over the holidays because of it. So when it came time to get presents? Yeah, not so much.

Except an amazing thing happened: everyone got what they wanted that year. Everyone in the family. And nobody knows how or why. Presents appeared on Christmas morning. And my dad? Got a whole case of tomato soup. He says it was one of his best Christmases ever.


This is the way I was raised: don't be greedy. Ask for what you want, but want what is simple. I don't really ask for much around the holidays. The best Christmas present I ever got was my iPod, which is seriously the coolest toy ever, and which I never expected. When I asked for it, I was kidding. One of my sisters is making my Christmas present this year. And I am giving everything I can to this little girl, whom I've never met, whom I might never meet, because one year someone got my dad tomato soup for Christmas.

Whatever you want this year? I hope you get it. And I hope you can find it in your hearts -- hard, black, bitter and little or not -- to share.

Happy holidays.


Congratulations to the new sexiest man in all of baseball: J-Roll. Way to win that MVP! Much deserved, indeed. Hardware is HOTT.


I has a cheezburger!

And you can, too -- click here! U can has funz, too!

PS - More in the continuing saga of how much work sucks later. Today, I needed a diversion, m'kay? Don't you judge me, dammit!


In an (admittedly weak) show of solidarity for the striking members of the WGA, I would like to point out to TV addicts such as myself that the quality of television will most definitely not improve if we are forced to endure a whole lot more of "unscripted" shows, to wit:

Residuals, people. They're a very good thing.

Oh, and you can get more of Bucky & Rob (plus Satchel, not pictured!) online at Comics.com. (Other great comics, too, that I might borrow later.)


Riddle me this, Batman: why in the holy hell is it so goddamn difficult to get a pretty party dress if you're a real live grown-ass woman with actual fucking boobs?

I ask this question because I am looking for something to wear to my company's swanky annual booze-and-schmooze holiday party, and asking the vapid vacuous twiglets who work in so-called alleged "customer service" in mall department stores where one (aka "I") might find the plus-size cocktail dresses is apparently akin to asking Britney Spears if she knows where one (aka "any-damn-body") might find some underpants.

For example: at Macy*s in the King of Prussia Mall today, I asked someone -- she was maybe 22 or 23 years old, and she was wearing a pair of jeans that looked like they had been gnawed by badgers and then run through a thresher, so probably she was one of those faux "alternative" girls who has no earthly idea who the Ramones are and I swear to God, I don't know what is wrong with these kids these days -- if I might find the women's dresses in the dress section (where I was) or in the women's section (which is hidden up on another floor, waaaay in the back, hidden behind the coats and the elevators).

First, she blinked about seventeen times, like she couldn't believe that I was daring to speak to her. (Possibly, this was the case at first, since I do not speak like I am constipated and trying not to vomit all at the same time, thereby revealing myself to be not a native-born Main Liner.) Then I saw her mouth move for a full ten seconds before any sound came out. When she finally spoke, what she said was this: "Aren't you already in the women's department?"

Don't know about you, but I didn't really have anything to say to that. I know I about felt my eyes roll out of my head, though, and I guess Miss Wisconsin (get it? her pants were chewed by badgers? oh, never mind, you're ruining my joke) thought I was having a seizure or something, because she got this panicked look on her face and quickly added: "I mean, we don't really have a separate section for the trannies or anything. They just shop with the rest of us."

Is that so? Was she really telling me that it would be easier for a Joan Rivers impersonator to find a dress in that store than it would be for me?

Look, I'm not ashamed to admit that I am a size 24. In fact, it bears repeating: I am not ashamed to admit that I am a size 24. Really, it's not like I'm diseased or anything. Could I stand to lose a few pounds, or a few dozen? Hell yes. But I assure you, cellulite is not communicable. Maybe I can't sneak up on people the way I used to (and I would argue with my big freaking mouth that I never really could), but I don't deserve to be treated like I belong in a circus freak show.

There are only a couple of stores around here that carry clothes in my size anyway, and most of them either do not carry dressy stuff at all, or they stuff they do carry is hideous and looks like it's made out of upholstery fabric. Which makes me wonder what is wrong with retail buyers. Do they really think they're helping us out by buying ill-fitting blazers in floral chintz with giant fucking buttons? That blending in to the sofa is going to make us look smaller? Are they deranged, blind, or just assholes?

Alternatively, do they really think I'm going to spend $149.99 on a dress that is so shapeless and unflattering that I wouldn't expect my 80-year-old grandmother to wear it? I am 33 years old and, if I may say so myself, fairly hip. Which those frocks most definitely are not. I double-dog-dare the "social occasion" dress buyers at Boscov's to actually wear one of those ugmobiles out in public. Are you kidding me? I'm fat, but I'm not hideous, and I'm definitely not stupid. No way am I spending money to voluntarily look dowdy.

So at this point it looks like I'm going to be doing the tackiest thing in the history of ever: I am going to wear the same dress to the same event twice. Two years in a row, even. But I shouldn't complain too much (although I will). Last year's dress was red and kind of slutty and made my rack look fantastic.

Miss Wisconsin? She'll have to buy 'em if she wants 'em. Heh.


Things I Have Been For Halloween In The Last 10 Years (that I can remember):

What I Am For Halloween This Year:

  • Overworked
  • Underpaid
  • Overstressed
  • Underappreciated

How I Am Celebrating Halloween At Work:

(UPDATE!!) Halloween iPod Playlist:

  • "Werewolves of London" -- Warren Zevon
  • "Sympathy for the Devil" -- Rolling Stones
  • "Monster Mash" -- Bobby "Boris" Pickett
  • "Thriller" -- Michael Jackson
  • "Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)" -- Concrete Blonde
  • "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" -- Charlie Daniels Band
  • "King Tut" -- Steve Martin
  • "Witchy Woman" -- Eagles
  • "Ghostbusters" -- Ray Parker, Jr.
  • "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" -- Jimi Hendrix
  • "Rock Lobster" -- B-52's
  • "Zombie" -- The Cranberries
  • "The Time Warp" -- from Rocky Horror Picture Show
  • "I Want Candy" -- Bow Wow Wow
  • "Nightmare on My Street" -- DJ Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince
  • "Don't Fear the Reaper" -- Blue Öyster Cult
  • "Bark at the Moon" -- Ozzy Osbourne
  • Zombified (entire album) -- Southern Culture on the Skids

Happy Halloween, Boils & Ghouls!


Tek 10:28-2007
"So it is written; and so it shall be. Amen."


This Mid-Life Crisis Moment is being brought to you by the letters E, A, H, and S, and by the numbers 92 and 15.

So ... 15 years, 4 months, and 11 days ago, I graduated from high school. I was 18 at the time, which makes me 33 years old now. (Remember that for the next time you hear someone ask me how old I am, because odds are I won't be telling that person the truth. Usually, I round up and say I am "almost 40," so people will tell me how good I look -- "ohmigod, you don't look 40!" To which I humbly but nonetheless knowingly reply, "Thanks." Because I am vain and selfish and I will get my compliments however I can; I don't look like I'm almost 40. Because I am not. It's a weird ethical calculus, I guess, but in my head it makes sense. Yes, I know I am kind of a jerk that way, but being smart and being jerky are not binary conditions. But I am digressing.)

I have been poking around, and it doesn't look like my class has a reunion scheduled before the end of the year. Those people suck. For some reason, this comes as a great disappointment to me. To be perfectly frank, the odds of my voluntarily attending my high school reunion are approximately equal to the odds of me getting myself sperminated by Josh Beckett anyone who isn't my husband. Which is to say, about (-1)ⁿ against. (Definitely take the under on that one, boys and girls.) I know I am fifteen years removed from the alleged so-called end of my adolescence, but let's face it: I am still bitter. High school sucked hard, and I don't like remembering it if I don't have to.

Just the same, I am disappointed that there doesn't appear to be anything going on. Paranoid schizophrenic sociopath that I am, I can't help but wonder if this is some kind of personal affront. I didn't go to the last reunion either -- I was even more bitter and crazy then than I am now. What if I missed out on a crucial memo or something? What if all the cocktail napkins had some top-secret password on them that I am supposed to enter into a special website where I can download all the specs of the mission? How am I supposed to know what is going on?

These feelings are weird, even to me, because I am not really all that interested in what everyone else is doing. I went through that not that long ago (OK, wow, a year ago already?), and it took me to a very ugly and unpleasant place that I am not particularly interested in visiting right now. But when I have to think about high-school-related events that I plan to avoid, it makes me think about high-school-related events that I would like to relive, and it makes me kind of sad to realize that there really aren't that many of them.

Essentially -- and I mean zero disrespect to anyone who actually knew me in high school -- my entire highlight reel of high school looks like this:

Greece. 1992. April, I think. In this picture are, left to right, Ellyson Stout, Analia Regina, me, and Vivian Schoeppner. (Not pictured is the 100 lbs. or so that I have gained since then, but don't worry -- it's mostly boobs and anyway, I carry it well. Shut up.) In the background is the Acropolis. That is one of the bluest skies that I have ever seen, before or since. Even with all the smog, the noise and the pollution and the zillions of people, I can't remember anything ever smelling so sweet. Freedom. The whole wide world, laid out in front of me, and I was going to take it on, guns blazing. I was going to be a sportscaster, dammit! I was going to do play-by-play on Monday Night Football, ferchrissakes.

Wait ... I was pissed because those people suck? Hmm. Guess I'm the sucker.


This blog post is titled "My Life, In Words and Pictures Misappropriated from Teh Intartubes."

Two days ago, it was a great day because

yay caturday

Caturdays are full of win and awesome. I love Caturdays. Everybody loves Caturdays.

The next day it was Sunday -- not Caturday, but is OK -- and Sunday was also a great day because

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

But today it is Monday, and Mondays are full of lose and pleh and also I had an interview and I feel like I am


And also it is month end and so


Please send money for an escape, OK? And booze. Lots and lots of booze.


Is anyone else having panic attacks because it's already October 15th and they only have two Christmas presents purchased? No? Just me? Really? I'm the only one?


Ahem ... sorry about that. I don't remember when I started competing with myself over how early I could complete my Christmas shopping, but I do know this: already, I am panicking. Every day, I spend about an hour working on The List. What I want to get for whom. What I already got them. What stores and websites are having sales. What gifts go in what paper. What the theme will be this year.


I always do themes for Christmas, although I don't always know what the themes are going to be ahead of time. Sometimes I'm a few gifts in for each person before I decide. One year I did this whole big hockey theme for G. The big gift was a pair of Flyers tickets, and I filled his stocking with a bunch of hockey movies, like "Miracle" and "Mystery, Alaska" and "Slapshot." There were even ice skaters on his Annual Christmas Underpants.


So far I feel like I am stranded in Christmasland without a map. And I am losing my mind. Although I hate the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, not to mention the fruitcakes (by which I mean: my crazy-ass muffing* family), I secretly really do think Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. It's an excuse to spend money, sure, but it's also an excuse for getting dolled up and crinkly shiny paper and stealing tape from work to secure every little edge and corner.


It's a good thing that they don't shut down access to shopping websites at work, because I'll be spending a lot of my so-called "spare time" over the next few months at Amazon and eBay and Overstock and all my other favorite vendors looking for those perfect little things that will fit into the budget and which will say, "I love you, (relative), but I don't like you enough to pay full retail price, and I hope you understand."


It's also getting to be that time when I have to start mentally rearranging the living room furniture and maybe picking out some new curtains so that I can get the perfect tree and lovingly decorate it with just the right amount of lights and arrange the ornaments in just the best formation so that when I put the star on top I can hear the angels sing and there will be peace on earth and goodwill towards men for like 15 whole minutes until our 30-lbs. felonious felines figure out how to knock down a two-ton Frasier fir so that I am cleaning up sap from between the slats of the hardwood floor for months.



So, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go watch some baseball now and maybe start making some cookies and poking around in the drawers to see if G bought me anything yet and singing some carols and having another nervous breakdown.


(* = "Muffing" is a code word for a popular rude phrase that rhymes with "rubber ducking." You're welcome.)


Things That Are Sexy Right This Very Minute:

10. Chuck on NBC, Monday nights at 8pm - Because I ♥ Nerds

9. Anybody who beats the Yankees - Bonus points because: Grady Sizemore! Squee!

8. Gossip bloggers who are bitchier than I am - Plus, pink hair! (Sometimes!)

7. High-definition television

6. House on Fox, Tuesday nights at 9pm - Because I ♥ Snarky Bad-Asses

5. Scrapple, sliced thin, and fried until crispy on the outside but still mushy inside - with ketchup

3 (Tie). #26

3 (Tie). #11

2. American sports cars - Mustangs & Corvettes especially

1. Shutouts in the playoffs

Oh! And Matt Damon (note: NOT Tom Brady)!


I have to admit: I can't believe this is really happening. I can't believe the Phillies actually made the playoffs. I can't believe that they overcame a 7-game deficit since September 12th and actually pulled it off. I can't believe they went 13-4 in the last 17 games to beat the Mets. I can't believe they won the NL East for the first time since I was in college. I can't believe they really did it. And I don't know why.

Despite my own arguments to the contrary, the Phillies are clearly not the worst team in Major League Baseball. Perhaps they are the worst for my health -- I had approximately 15 strokes this weekend, at least 2 heart attacks, 125 apoplectic fits, and countless nightmares, plus I about wrung the skin clean off my hands -- but they are not the absolute worst team. They're not a laughingstock. They may be the losingest team ever, but they're not just the lovable losers anymore. Hell, even the lovable losers are winners sometimes: the Cubs won their division too, didn't they?

It's just so surreal, this NLDS business. I mean, I'm an Eagles fan (not to mention a devout Donovan apologist), but I can honestly say that never, not once, did the Eagles making the playoffs feel so real or so important as this win for the Phillies does. This is weird, historical, legendary, epic-movie-making territory here. Jayson Stark wrote an awesome article for ESPN about this, which is probably better than anything I could have come up with, but which I still think is lacking something.

The awe is there. The facts are definitely correct. And the quotes he uses sure seem to sum up the Phils we all know and love around here (especially the quotes from Jamie Moyer, who made me cry and whom I secretly love a whole really lot and I want to move in with him and be, I ), but it's not ... enough. Not shellshocked enough. Not dazed and confused enough. Not "oh-my-god-am-I-really-seeing-what-I-think-I'm-seeing?" enough. Not Philadelphia enough.

I do know this: the last time I felt like this after a baseball game, the Red Sox won the World Series. It was an unreal, completely bizarre, totally otherworldly experience. And damn, if I don't LOVE IT. Go Phightin' Phils!

(Video NOT used with the express written consent of MLB. Hope they understand.)


April 28, 2007
Atlanta Braves - 15-8 (+0.5)
New York Mets - 14-8
Florida Marlins - 11-12
Philadelphia Phillies - 10-13
Washington Nationals - 8-16

May 28, 2007
New York Mets - 32-17 (+4.0)
Atlanta Braves - 29-22
Philadelphia Phillies - 26-25
Florida Marlins - 24-27
Washington Nationals - 21-30
June 28, 2007
New York Mets - 43-33 (+3.0)
Philadelphia Phillies - 41-37
Atlanta Braves - 41-38
Florida Marlins - 37-42
Washington Nationals - 32-46
July 28, 2007
New York Mets - 58-46 (+3.5)
Philadelphia Phillies - 54-49
Atlanta Braves - 54-51
Florida Marlins - 48-57
Washington Nationals - 45-59
August 28, 2007
New York Mets - 73-58 (+4.0)
Philadelphia Phillies - 69-62
Atlanta Braves - 68-65
Florida Marlins - 58-75
Washington Nationals - 58-75

September 28, 2007
New York Mets - 87-72 (--)
Philadelphia Phillies - 87-72
Atlanta Braves - 83-76
Washington Nationals - 72-87
Florida Marlins - 69-90
What in the hell is the world coming to?


UPDATED AT 11:02 PM EDT -- Phils win, Mets lose. Phillies are now 1 game up on NYM with a "magic number" of 2. Also, Red Sox clinch AL East thanks to a walk-off RBI single from Melvin Mora in the 10th in Baltimore. Also looks like the Cubs will clinch NL Central tonight (Brewers are currently losing). If it didn't stress me out too much, I would LOVE down-to-the-wire September baseball.

Plus, MLB.com had the following picture up which I am totally not making up (see here for the actual story). It's so sacreligious, it's fucking wonderful. As an FYI, Cole Hamels is married to the former Heidi Strobel, who once got naked for chocolate and peanut butter on "Survivor: Amazon" when she didn't have to and then posed for Playboy and lost her job as a teacher because she's basically an idiot. I wouldn't exactly call Hamels a "savior" for Philadelphia -- everybody knows J-Rol is our Jesus.

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UPDATED AGAIN AT 11:18 PM EDT because Jesus Christ on a cracker, I cannot handle formatting on the Intarwebs, oh my head -- Cubs clinch. Rockies lose. Oh, and while nobody was paying much attention, Jimmy Rollins quietly set a new MLB record tonight.



Dear friends, family, Romans, countrymen, etc.:

It is television premiere season, and for the next month or so, on Monday through Friday nights, between the hours of 8 and 11 pm ET, I will be mostly unavailable because I will be (choose one of the options below) —

[__] Checking out the season premieres of my old favorite TV shows
[__] Checking out the series premieres of my new favorite TV shows
[__] Geeking out over the awesomeness of the new TV season
[__] Snarking about the complete crapitude of the new TV season
[__] Trying to figure out how the holy hell to set up my DVR
[__] Mulling over my multitude of unresolvable DVR conflicts
[__] Attending 12-step program meetings for my television addiction

Should you need to contact me during this hectic time, please (choose one of the options below) —

[__] Send me an email
[__] Send me a text
[__] Send me an Instant Message of some kind
[__] Send me a bribe
[__] Send me another TiVo

I appreciate your patience and understanding. See you all at Thanksgiving, if I live that long!

PS - Think I'm kidding? Here is my personal programming grid — see why I am losing my ever-loving mind? And please note that this does not even include the "bonus" programs on the cable channels. "Slacker Cats" is missing, and "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," and "Lil Bush," and etc. And everything will change again in January, when "Jericho," "Lost," "American Idol," and OMG "The Amazing Race" make it back into the starting rotation. I think I need to lie down now ...


HAIRCUT!! I had more than 6 inches cropped off. Photos and details to follow but it's sort of a longer version of Posh's most recent 'do. Not quite a bob, definitely not a pixie, maybe kind of a wedge? Dunno how to describe it exactly -- one of the stylists at the Hair Cuttery had it, and I liked it, so I told my stylist to go for it. Good idea right now? Who knows. I needed a change, though, and my hair was getting into trashy-looking Brit-Brit bad weave territory (and it was real!). Maybe tomorrow I'll hate it, but for now at least, I don't regret it.


Although I'm not entirely sure that one is necessary, I still feel the need to apologize to G for everything that happened yesterday.

You see, I had a migraine that ruined our whole day. It wasn't a bad one, as far as my migraines go, but it was bad enough. I kind of knew it was coming and maybe I should have given G more warning, but I've always been stubborn and I must admit to a certain amount of better living through denial. Perhaps it is better to say that I was suffering, at the beginning anyway, from a preponderance of hope.

We were both up late on Friday night, until after midnight, and I was up before 8:00 yesterday morning. Inadequate sleep is one of my triggers. To kill time until we were going to leave for the baseball game, I played a video game until noon. Doing puzzles on the computer for an extended period: another unwise move. Plus, it was hot and sticky after a few days of rather nice weather. Barometric changes sometimes set me off.

It didn't start to get bad until we were on our way to the game, though. Stopped at Wawa for lunch, and had a delicious roast beef ciabiatta melt sandwich. (If you're anywhere near a Wawa, try it! Fantastic.) But the juice from the tomatoes dripped on my shirt, and I was irrationally irritable about it. I practically started to cry when G wouldn't turn the car around to take me home and let me change. I wonder now if he wishes he had.

[ED.: To review: Lack of sleep? Check. Eyestrain? Check. Humidity? Check. Hunger? Check. Random everyday stress? Check. Oh, we can already tell that this is going to end well.]

When we got to the game, it was already too late. At that point my headache was already im full force, although I remained optimistic that I could battle through it. That's the thing about migraines, sometimes: they can blow over like afternoon thundershowers. Not often, but sometimes. If I give myself a wide enough berth, stay cool and calm, there is about a 50% chance that I can will myself to remain functional.

No such luck yesterday. By the time the game started, I was a goner. My migraines make me hypersensitive to stimuli of all kinds, particularly sound and light. Controlling one or the other helps -- for example, if I get a migraine at work, I can make it to the end of the day by putting in my earphones to block out background noise, or by making my cube as dark as possible and wearing sunglasses indoors. (Not entirely unlike suffering from a hangover that starts at 2:00 in the afternoon.)

But at a baseball game it is nearly impossible control your surroundings. Plus, we were in a different section than usual, so I had to deal with change, in addition to endless mindless droning chatter and the harsh glare coming off the field and the marked lack of air in the stands. And the smells! Food and people and the city and the grass. Everything. The absolute kicker was when people in the seats next to us showed up late. Manners especially matter to me when I am feeling ill, even though everyone knows that etiquette rules do not apply (1) at sporting events and (2) in Philadelphia.

I don't remember much after that yesterday, except that I needed to leave, and G knew it. I was miserable, short tempered, almost hysterical, trying to breathe without making a sound, practically gouging my own eyes out so I could have some darkness. We left before the end of the third inning, I think -- I don't even remember. We made one stop on the way to the car, so he could get water and I could throw up. Someone laughed at me, called me a stupid drunk, and I didn't have the strength to argue.

Sometimes when I get a migraine, I see "in color," where everything has a sort of a psychadelic haze around it. That happened yesterday on the ride home: objects were in supersharp focus, and I could see each individual leaf of every passing tree, and everything was outlined in shades of purple. I don't always see purple, but that tends to be the most frequent color I see. Maybe it's because that's my favorite color. Anyway, at that point I know all hope is lost. Once I start hallucinating, I know I need to put myself to bed and hope for nuclear war.

We left the game so early that we didn't hit any traffic, so we were home before the Penn State game started (which is impressive, since the Phillies game started at 3:55). I took two Advil, two Tylenol, and an Aleve, turned the air in the bedroom down as far as I thought I could stand it, and tucked myself in. I didn't take a Toradol for only one reason: I wasn't sure if I was doing being sick, and I hate to waste good medicine.

The timeline isn't entirely clear, but I'm pretty sure I was asleep by 6:30. I woke up once during the night, around 11:30, and went to the bathroom. G was still up then. As a preventive measure, I took a Benadryl at that point, so I knew I would sleep through the rest of the night. Probably I didn't need it, because I slept until 8:00. Almost 14 hours in a row. I feel better now, but still exhuasted. Maybe football will perk me up, or maybe I only feel temporarily better, like the eye of a hurricane is passing over my head.

[ED.: Bonus reference materials: Joan Didion's essay "In Bed." WARNING! Background on linked page might cause seizures. Or migraines.]


Not everybody knows the story of how "Sweet Caroline" came to be associated with the Boston Red Sox -- I didn't know it myself until a couple of years ago, and I've been a fan for quite a while -- but regardless of how things developed, there is nothing in the world that describes my relationship with the Sox quite like that song does: "Where it began, I can't begin to know when ... And when I hurt / Hurting runs off my shoulder / How can I hurt when holding you? ... Good times never seemed so good."

That song, however inadvertly, is all about being a fan, about being so in love with a team that you can't even think straight, because you well up with tears when you hear a song written by a man who also wrote the (in-?) famous lines "I am, I said ... and no one heard at all / not even the chair." I don't really care that Neil Diamond is more the Sergeant of Square than the Sultan of Swing. Doesn't matter. When I took G to Fenway Park for the first time, for his birthday, and I heard him singing along with the Fenway crowd, and I saw the look of utter bliss on his face, that right there was my own personal nirvana.

And I was wondering: do the Phillies have a song that invokes the same feelings in its fans? I can't really think of one, and I've been a Phillies "phan" longer than I've been a member of Red Sox Nation. Well, maybe "Loser," but that's more intended to be more ironical than anything. Their storied history notwithstanding, the Phillies aren't really losers, and certainly not this year. Except for Pat Burrell, and even he only sucks for half the season. The half when it matters, but still.

I just did an informal scientific survey of 6 specific random Philadelphia sports fans -- me, my dad, my grandparents, and two of my cousins -- and between the lot of us, we couldn't come up with an analogue for "Sweet Caroline" to represent the Phillies. There were lots of suggestions, including but definitely not limited to:
  • "I'm a Loser" by The Beatles (hey! a song older than Jamie Moyer!)
  • "I Hate Myself for Loving You" by Joan Jett (already used for football, so right out)
  • "You Stink But I Love You" by Mucky Pup (bonus points for this one, IMO, because it came from a 15-year-old that I didn't know had ever even heard of Mucky Pup)
  • "I'm Still Standing" by Elton John (... I don't know)
  • "Against All Odds" by Phil Collins (no! no love songs!)
  • "I Will Always Love You" by Dolly Parton, then wrecked forever by Whitney Houston (barfbarfbarfbarfbarfitybarfBARFBARF!)

None of these were my idea, by the way. After careful consideration and a thorough review of the 7,000+ songs on my iPod, I came up with two really good options, both of them with the exact same title, as it turns out -- "Bad Reputation," by Joan Jett or Freedy Johnston. Two totally different songs with two totally different attitudes, but convincing case can be made for either one, really.

Joan Jett's song is more defiant and, to the uninitiated, more "Philly style." I know that we Philadelphians have gotten bad press for being mean, nasty, and fatalistic. And we really don't care, frankly. What do you expect when our teams suck so hard? As long as we keep coming close-by-no-cigar to a championship of any kind*, we're going to be this way. Deal with it: "Don't give a damn about my reputation / Never said I wanted to improve my station ... Everyone can say what they want to say / It never gets better anyway / So why should I care about a bad reputation?"

The other contender, Freedy Johnston's song, is much different, and a song I like to think is more about the players speaking to the fans rather than the fans speaking to everyone else. It's sweet and melodic, wonderful in places, but also very plaintive, a plea for forgiveness or at least absolution: "I know I got a bad reputation / And it isn't just talk, talk, talk / If I only could give you everything / You know I haven't got ... Don't you think I've heard the talk? / Nobody's going to tell me who to love / Been breaking down / Do you want me now?"

Personally, I haven't decided what the theme song for the Phillies ought to be, for this year or for any other. I don't know how much time or energy I have to devote to the search, either; I'm too busy giving myself agita, hitting F5 on the MLB.com standing page, waiting for the "GB" figure to change and the other shoe to drop. Two games behind the Mets in the East, two games behind the Padres in the Wild Card, and a whole long month to go before it's over. Maybe I should worry instead about the music I want played at my funeral, when I die of exhaustion from worry.

* Another vicious lie. God, I'm lousy with them this week. In any event, Citizens Bank Park did just win "Best Ballpark Eats," according to the Food Channel. Hey, listen, I'll take what I can get!


When I die, I would like my obituary to read as follows:
rockle is dead. She was unruly and ornery and absolutely monkeyshit crazy, but at least she never dressed like a crack whore for work, except for that one time, which was a complete accident, and she ran out and got a replacement outfit to cover up for the wardrobe malfunction and anyway, it was her husband’s fault.
That “one time” was today, unfortunately. Well, it wasn’t unfortunate that it was today; mostly, it’s unfortunate that it happened at all. I might not always behave professionally, but I like to pride myself on the fact that at least I look like a responsible grown-up when I walk out the door in the morning. And now all of that has gone up in smoke because of a warm day, bad lighting, and one seriously ill-advised top.

I had my reservations from the beginning. The top I wanted to wear to work today – a cute new yellow empire-waist number with a bow in the back – was lightweight cotton, and I was afraid that there might be some peek-a-boo action going on. This is may be my biggest style issue in life: I have been gifted with, as they say, quite a rack. Where others have cleavage, I have Cleveland. The Girls come in handy at bars and Christmas parties, but they kind of get in the way when you’re trying to be taken seriously as a professional outside of the sex trade.

How do I normally handle a questionable sartorial choice? I ask the cats, every time. But they are almost never of any real help; I mean, come on, they’re colorblind, so I can’t reasonably expect them to know whether this shirt goes better with these pants or that skirt. So then I ask G how something looks. And being a good husband, he always says, “Fine.” Which is exactly how I trained him, so I know going into it that I can’t trust his words – but this time I did anyway.

We were running late this morning, so I assumed (fool!) that the pre-selected and pre-screened outfit was still OK, even though I was wearing a different bra that I was wearing last night, when we did the walkthrough. Like I do every morning, I got dressed by the light from the reading lamp. Went down the stairs, kissed my husband goodbye, ask him sign off again on the boobage, heckled “Mike & Mike” in spectacular high definition on ESPN, got in the car, rocked the iPod, went to work.

My hands were full when I got to work – of what, I don’t remember – so I put something down on my hood and you can imagine my horror when I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the window. There, right in front of one of the VP’s and God and everybody, was my bra. Showing through my shirt. And not just “oh-hi!-rockle’s-wearing-a-bra-today” kind of showing, either, but “Christ-on-a-cracker-rockle’s-wearing-a-yellow-lacy-number-today-and-she-fills-it-all-the-way-out” showing. Like, I have nightgowns for intimate purposes that cover more than this blouse did.

I stuck it out for two hours before I was so mortified that I had to go shopping a buy a new shirt. When your friends can’t tell you with a straight face that you’re decent, you know you’re in trouble. Thank heavens for TJ Maxx. I changed in their dressing room before I went back to work. I still got comments, almost all of them good-natured, because I am still showing some skin, but definitely not so much that I feel uncomfortable about it. A certain amount of exhibitionism is fine by me.

Let it be known: I am a woman of principles, gosh darn it, and one of those principles is that I don’t care if people can see my boobs, but they are not going to see my underwear.


The Netiquette phrase of the day, Gentle Readers, is this: responsible reportage.

My training as a journalist is far behind me, but in my mind (debauched and deluded though it is), I still consider myself something of an ink slinger. Many serious bloggers consider themselves reporters, and I think rightly so; in my own personal case, I think it is perhaps overly generous to say that my byline has moved from the Metro section to the Op-Ed page. I’ve long since made my peace with that.

Here’s the thing: when I started blogging, I made the conscious (and, I hope conscientious) decision to deliberately avoid talking about that category of news that could best be classified as “Somebody Else’s Problems.” And now I find myself smack-dab in the middle of my own little Ethical Dilemma – how do you write about some seriously ill shit that has gone down around you when the drama falls squarely into the realm of S.E.P.*?

First, a little clarification. Better to get it out of the way now than to have to issue a retraction later. I am absolutely and unequivocally NOT above writing about celebrity gossip. In fact, I love it – scandal rags are a personal indulgence of mine. I can’t even call them a “guilty pleasure,” because I don’t feel the least bit of shame when picking up US Weekly and People and whatever the hell else and perusing them in line at the grocery store.

The reason why I don’t actually blog about these things? Is because I think there are so many people out there who cover them better than I could ever hope to. Everything I need to know about the mess that is Britney Spears’s life I get from MamaPop and Perez Hilton and PopSugar and Celebritology. Oh, and The Soup on E! Ditto Lindsay Lohan and Owen Wilson and the Beckhams: other people cover “Hollyweird” so that I don’t have to.

But when I say I won’t write about “Somebody Else’s Problems,” of course I mean that I won’t document the goings-on in the lives of people who are near and dear to me. Not the bad stuff, anyway**. I am willing to bare all about my own personal faults and foibles – of which there are many, believe you me – but when it comes to the people I am closest to, there are lines I don’t want to cross. For their protection, and for mine. You might have noticed that I don’t even refer to my husband by his real name, and most of you already know him personally.

So, anyway, here I am, between the devil and the deep blue sea, trying to figure out how to talk about things that are currently distressing me without naming names and, more importantly, further bruising hearts that are already broken. What can I say that will be specific enough for those concerned to know what I am really feeling, while at the same time being vague enough to throw the uninitiated off the scent? How can I vent my frustrations and pitch my own personal hissyfit without pissing more people off?

Also: am I still being an honest reporter when I use veiled references and weasel words and deliberately ambiguous language? Is it fair to try to protect my sources, even if it means that to do so, I cannot discuss what I am really feeling? Is it right? Am I just pretending to be trying to be objective? Is this really a gigantic fraud that I am perpetrating? Do other on-line journalists ever experience this conflict of interest? How do they deal with it?

And, am I fooling anyone by framing this entire situation as an ethical debate, when the real issue is, I just don’t know what to say?

For now, I think I will hedge my bets and err on the side of caution. I’m not 100% sure how to put all that I am thinking and feeling into words anyway, so it’s probably best to lay off for now, stew in my own juices, and come up with something brilliantly apropros later. (As if.)

Still, I can’t help thinking about what Dante said: “The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.” Does this apply to me, here? Does being careful equate to being neutral? What if I come right out and admit that I am choosing to say nothing because I don’t want to deal with all the bullshit aftermath? What then?

And when all is said and done, who is going to protect my feelings? Who is going to save me from myself?

* = Not my original concept. Borrowed – or, perhaps more accurately, “misappropriated” – from one of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books. Sorry, DNA.

** = Vicious lies.
Sometimes I write about the bad stuff, when I don’t think the subject will ever read what I wrote. Or if I don’t think the subject will care. Or if I don’t give a wet rat’s ass whether the subject will care or not. Suck it, Alan!


Oh, hi there! I'm still alive, but only barely!

Right now I'm in the middle of 5 days off, colloquially known as a "vacation," but don't worry: I'm not vacating anything, or going anywhere. My sisters are in town for the weekend and I am going full-tilt boogie until they leave, or I go back to work on Tuesday, or I keel over dead from exhaustion, whichever comes first.

(Question: Do normal people, without a drug or alcohol addiction situation, get to go to one of those fancy-schmancy rehab places when they have a complete and total physical and mental meltdown from "exhaustion"? Can I go to Promises Malibu and lounge by the ocean and be forced to do yoga and have to suffer through therapeutic pedicures? Please?)

Anyway ... Baby Sis got in on Thursday morning. I picked her up at the airport and it has been go-go-Gadget ever since. She is trying to get the bulk of her wedding planning done in a week, and it's going to be tough, but I think it's doable. Someone might have to be commit Hare Krishna, but I think by the time she goes home she will have spoken to everyone in the Lehigh Valley who has anything to do with anything even tangentially related to the Military-Industrial-Bridal-Complex.

What we have done: florist, baker (x2), photographer, plus looked at dresses online. What we still have to do: check out the hall, another florist, and actually try on dresses. Where we have been: I have no fricking idea, but I have put approximately 458,000 miles on the VW since 7:30 on Thursday morning.

Middle Sis finally got in last night at 11:00, about 6 hours behind schedule. Whee! There were storms in Chicago for the last few days, which I had no idea about because you already know my position on the news, although I should have suspected something serious was up when the Red Sox-White Sox game in Chi-town on Thursday night was postponed.

So now the gang's all here, for a little while, anyway. Not sure what's all scheduled for the rest of the weekend, but I'm sure there will be no rest for the wicked, as usual. Hopefully they give me time to eat and pee without me having to throw a tantrum. And maybe squeeze in a nap, and some sun time. If there is anything worth reporting, I will, as long as all this fun and frivolity doesn't kill me first, which it very well might.

But I'm not dead yet.


Not sure whether you noticed or not, what with the Earth continuing to revolve around the sun every day according to its usual schedule, but this week marks the publication of the final print edition of the self-proclaimed “world's only reliable newspaper,” Weekly World News.

WWN, the sister publication of that other giant in the world of hard news, National Enquirer, was nothing short of genius in the 28 years it was around. Don't believe me? When the shutdown of the paper was announced, every major U.S. News outlet – and I do mean every – covered the rag's demise. Perhaps the best tribute appeared in the Washington Post. Yes, that WaPo, home of Woodward and Bernstein and my secret alien lover, Gene Weingarten.

Of course, everybody covered Elvis's funeral, too, and we know what a scam that turned out to be. Everyone knows that The King didn't really die 30 years ago; he's been living in Kalamazoo. Or he was until 1993 anyway, when WWN reported that Elvis actually did finally die, and then later disclosed in a series of follow-up stories that prior reports were yet another elaborate hoax.

So who knows what the real deal is with Elvis these days – my guess is, he's living it up, smoking Cuban cigars and drinking mojitos and playing pinochle with Amelia Earhart and Eddie Clontz and P'lod, the alien with the Gene-Simmons-esque tongue that Hilary Clinton was having an affair with a few years back.

What will I do without WWN? Where will I get all my news about “the exploits of alien babies, animal-human hybrids and dead celebrities”? Wherever will I learn about the “shocking and almost always exclusive reports about extra-terrestrials, ghosts, scoundrels and scientific discoveries, such as the cure for lovesickness found on the walls of an ancient Mexican monument”? [cite] You just can't trust the pinko neo-con libertarian mainstream media to report these things accurately, without bias or baseless accusations!

I was wondering about this when I happened upon the truly uplifting story of Jonathan Lee Riches, distinguished resident Williamsburg Federal Correctional Facility in the great state of South Carolina. It is a true tale of passion, conviction, and mind over matter. It's about grit, and determination, and how Michael Vick owes him $63,000,000,000,000,000,000 [sic] – sixty-three (!) quintillion (!!) dollars, payable in gold and silver (!!!) – for “physically hurting [his] feelings and dashing [his] hopes.”

And as I read this story, I thought: Who needs to make shit up, when reality is weird enough to begin with?

I'll miss the adventures of BatBoy, though. And I do hope that someday he finds Osama bin Laden. Tell Eddie I said hi, won't you?


In case you haven't noticed, I blog to deal with life. It's cheaper than therapy, and in a lot of ways more honest -- I already know I can't impress the whole Internet, and so I feel no need to lie. Other people deal with their issues in other ways. PostSecret is one of them. I check out PostSecret.com every Sunday to see the new art-projects-cum-catharses that people send in. Frank Warren, the creator/curator of PostSecret, has made a little movie about his site, so I'm helping to get the word out. I don't normally do pimpage, so believe me when I say this is worth checking out.

If you like what you see, new secrets are added to the site every Sunday. There are also some PostSecret books available on Amazon.com. Check it out, and know this: whatever your secret might be, you are not alone.

PS - This video was also inspired by PostSecret and some of the secrets were used with permission. Great song, too.


One of the problems with being a word wonk who feels the compulsive need to overshare and habitually document every-damn-thing is that I live in constant fear that all the records of my tragically misspent youth will come back to bite me in the ass.

So of course it practically goes without saying that I am torn about what to do with three of my old handwritten journals that I uncovered recently in my parents’ garage. Hardly an important archaeological or anthropological find, these, but nevertheless there they are, in all their neglect-scented floral-bound glory.

I have to say, if you think I’m an emo kid now, you should see the stuff I wrote back then. Jumping Jesus on a pogo stick, some it is almost physically painful to read. Not just because it hurts to remember the situations and events, but also because these books are lousy with horrifyingly bad writing: overwrought idioms, twisted metaphors, random melodramatic punctuation.

You know, not at all like now. Heh.

That’s the part about all of it that’s so discombobulating. As far as I can figure from using an exclusive proprietary scientific method of carbon dating and reading the names of my idiot ex-boyfriends, these diaries are from about 15 years ago, when I was still in high school. And I still sound exactly the same.

For example, here is an actual verbatim excerpt from an entry labeled “13-1-92” (what the hell kind of shorthand is that? a date? January 13th 1992, maybe?):
Poets and Broadway musicals make a big deal out of being in love. Irving Berlin said in Annie Get Your Gun that “falling in love is wonderful … in every way.” Well, I beg to differ. Right now I feel kind of like I have the flu in reverse. Instead of upset stomach and light head, I have an upset head and a light stomach.

My heart is eternally optimistic, forever the romantic. My heart is madly in love with being madly in love. When I see Scott and I get all warm and tingly all over, that’s because somewhere in between my eyes and my brain my heart gets in the way, and my perceptions are distorted.

But my brain … well, that’s a different story. My intellect is not 100% behind me in this endeavor. Part of me – the part that I used to call my conscience, but I don’t anymore, because there really isn’t any “science” involved – keeps making me second-guess myself. That little voice keeps screaming, “Wait! It’s too soon! It’s too fast!”
I can’t be honest with myself and still say that I wouldn’t write something like this now. I mean, some things have changed with the passage of time – instead of quoting show tunes, for example, I might now pull a line out of a Patti Griffin song, and of course I am no longer writing about the parade of hapless dorks that I’m dating – but that language is all me.

Guh. What have I been doing with my life? I have a degree in Writing, ferchrissakes. Am I really using my hundred-thousand-dollar education to come to the conclusion that I hit my peak around the same time I was dating Scott Buhrman? I know that God allegedly has a plan, but can this possibly be it? Really?

And also: now what do I do with these journals? They’re kind of hanging around, like so many albatrosses around my neck. I shredded a couple of pages last night, and G had a look on his face like I’ve never seen before. “Some people want to hold on to their history,” he said, as if this was some kind of ground-breaking genealogical study. It’s kind of a good point – maybe someday I’ll be able to show it to my kids and prove that I was once their age and I once had the same kinds of feeling that they’ll be having when they’re teenagers.

But on the other hand, do I really want to keep these books around as reminders of what used to be? Especially when what used to be was obviously not all dead rats and warm cream? I’ve moved on to what I believe are bigger and much better things, even though my craft doesn’t appear to have developed any additional sophistication in the intervening years. Still and all, I am what I am, and my life is what it is – what good can it possibly do to look back on what was never going to be?

The toss-up in all of this is one random passage I found written on the bottom of one of the pages of a journal that was started in about 1991, I think. I find it particularly meaningful in ways that maybe only resonate with me. The entry is dated January 31st 1993, almost a year before I started dating the man who would eventually become my husband. If you know G, you will understand why I believe that the Universe must have been trying to tell me something that day when this particular thought occurred to me.
Quote of the Day: “Don’t ever let anyone monkey with your swing.” – Ted Williams


I spent the weekend at my grandparents', as I've been doing since approximately the dawn of time. My grandparents are great, and they have a pool. Comes in handy when it's 412° and 206% humidity. Almost everyone was there this weekend. It was just like old times. Except: it wasn't. Things are never as they were, are they? My grandparents are still the same as they ever were -- card players, joke tellers, gracious hosts who always have a supply of assorted Tastykakes at the ready -- but at the same time, I can see them changing before my eyes, and I don't like it one bit.

Took a walk around their yard on Saturday, and I spent a lot of time reminiscing about what used to be. The pop-up camper used to be right there, on the side of the house, filled with laughter and juice boxes and suntanned children playing spades and taking naps and pretending. I still remember Nana Shively's sheets: white, cotton blend, with a red rose print, soft from years of wear, always cool in the middle of a sweltering summer day, fragrant with the familiar perfume of mustiness and fabric softener.

Where the table is now, on the concrete patio, there has always been a table, but this weekend it was just Nana and Poppy, Kim and my mom and me, when it used to seem like God and everybody would be there every day. Nana Agnes, Nana Shively, Faye and Gladys and Sr. Patrick, Aunt Shirl and Pam. Aunt Bet and Tina and Stephanie and whatever kids we would bring along from swim team practice, some of them relatives, some of them friends, all of them family.

Now we drink from paper cups of ice water and cans of generic diet soda when there used to be a refrigerator filled with Coke in the garage. Colored aluminum cups and plastic Tupperware tumblers would hold ice water and Hi-C and Hawaiian Punch and sun tea and, now that I look back on it, probably mixed drinks made of whatever was around. Sometimes for dinner the grownups would drink wine, chablis I think, from a giant green bottle.

Towels and bathing suits would hang all over the fence in various states of air-drying. I recall the summer we all had "Where's the Beef?" beach towels. There was a constant rotation of gradually fading bright colors coming from the garage, reds and blues and pinks and yellows and stripes and abstract patterns. They would wave in the wind like so many flags of a comfortable kingdom. Now the only towels are mine, and they don't stay on the line for months at a time any more; as soon as I get dressed, someone folds them and sends them home like unpopular leftovers.

But it is the garden that has changed the most, so much it almost kills me to remember. There used to be roses everywhere, every color. My grandmother was so proud of her roses once. The bushes were always so properly kept, deadheaded regularly, watered and fertilized and loved so very much. Up in the yard, by the trees, were Poppy's tomato and strawberry plants, his wild rhubarb, his bright red gladiolus that seemed to grow as tall as the trees. Now there are hibiscus, beautiful but not the same, and a riot of cosmos and some other flower that nobody knows the name of, growing unkempt like weeds. Annuals, as though everyone suspects that next year there might be no one there to see them.

Maybe if I had children of my own things would seem different to me -- the cycle might continue, unbowed and unbroken, unchanged. But then again, maybe not. Perhaps all the years of wrangling us kids, of zinc oxide and iodine and baby oil, of ants on the deck and caterpillars and naps in the grass and swim meets and skinny dipping, perhaps all of it has finally caught up with my family. We're not, none of us, as young as we used to be. It is unreasonable to expect us to continue as though we are.

But I'll be damned if I don't miss the days when there was nothing more to life than diving for change at the bottom of the deep end and feasting on Schafer bologna and Country Time lemonade and fudgesicles. When did summer get so bittersweet, and not the fall?


Having a bad week at work is the surest way to find out what you're really made of, and I feel like I am made of marshmallow and depression, fear and loathing, anxiety and angst and crippling self-doubt, all wrapped up in the skin of a woman who is suddenly so frail and tired.

I always thought I was a strong, powerful woman, but there's only so much I can take. I'm smart and funny, capable and quick, but the one thing I really need to be to get through this is of course the one thing that I have never been, not really: confident.

My career has been built on the bricks of hard work, fast learning, interpersonal relationships, and Microsoft Office, but everything is collapsing around my ears like a house of cards on a rickety table in a stiff wind. I love what I do – or at least I think I do – but I don't know how much I enjoy it any more.

I feel like my department is being run by an old-boys' network of accountants and thieves, jokers who keep trying to trump policy and procedure with fake made-up rules and strawman logic. Bullies are terrible leaders, always obsessed with the bottom line but with only misappropriated ideas about how to get there.

Except: I'm not Tiger Woods, and I don't live my life in a Nike commercial. “Just do it” doesn't cut it when the Prime Directive makes no sense, and no amount of managerial gerrymandering can polish a turd. And anyway, clichés are for the uninspired, and threats are for the weak.

And yet, I am in a position where no matter what I do, no matter how I move my pieces, the endgame is the same. I can't win, and I can't resign, either. The White Queen is trapped in the corner with nowhere to go and no one to protect her.

There are only so many times you can be told how “valuable” you are, how much of your “contribution” to the team is “net-positive,” before you feel you have no choice but to stand up in the middle of a meeting and punch a couple of Directors and Vice Presidents square in the mouth.

But you can't, because you have that Other Opportunity hanging over your head, and it you know it would look bad when they're doing your background check and they find out that you are an H.R. nightmare because you knocked your boss's teeth down his throat. No matter how much he deserved it, the snivelling little shitweasel.

So there's nothing else you can do but cry, and feel weak, and call people names that don't mean anything anyway, and after three consecutive days of people reminding you how small and wrong and dispensable and replaceable you are, you begin to believe them, even when you know you're not. You're none of these things, but they'll have none of it.

After three days of being told of precedent being set in conversations that never happened, of manufactured memories, you begin to feel the piss and vinegar pouring away in tears that will not stop. All the spit and sand are gone in racks of sobs that sound so small and insignificant.

Then, when you finally discover, after more than two months of waiting and wishing and hoping and actually praying – praying! something you haven't done voluntarily in so long you can't even begin to guess how long it's been – that you didn't get that other job ... then there's nothing left.

I'm numb, cold, so shell-shocked and disappointed that I don't even know if I remember how to feel anything any more. Except worthlessness. Fatigue. Apathy. Fear. Instead of a Pawn becoming a Queen, the Queen has become a pawn, and ... there's nothing left but marshmallow mush.


Could someone please tell me what in the holy hell is the big goddamned deal about Hillary Clinton's cleavage?

Wait: let me backtrack. I don't usually talk about politics much this early in an election cycle. There are still, what, 16 months until the 2008 Presidental Election? So it's about 400 days before the commercials start, and about 450 days or so until the really bad mudslinging gets under way. If my math is right, that's about eleventy bajillion soundbites from the talking heads on the news (which is why, dear readers, I get all the news I need from SportsCenter).

So of course I was shocked to discover that there's been a lot of buzz lately about strong words being exchanged between Hillary and Barack Obama already, with the occasional ineffectual rejoinder thrown in by John Edwards, or something. I'm not really sure what's happening. I will be the first person to admit that I'm not paying attention yet, because the person I really support for President (w00t! Bill Richardson in the hizzle!) is still under the radar. For now. Plus, what news I don't get from ESPN I get from the most awesome blog ever, maruthecrankpot.blogspot.com.

(OK, maybe it's not the most awesome blog ever -- mine is, har har -- but if you've already made up your mind about the relative evilitude of the current "misadministration" and you don't really want hard news, but juicy almost Perez-Hilton-style partisan gossip, Maru is the wo/man. Check it out when you don't have anything better to do.)

So, annnnnnnnnnnyway. Back to Hillary's boobs. I overheard somebody at work talking about some incident with Hillary and some cleavage, and I thought, quote, "[Scooby-Doo noise]?" What? Why on Earth would anyone be talking about Hillary Clinton's breasts? Did I mishear her? Was she maybe talking about Bill Clinton's moobs? (Love the guy, voted for him twice, would have voted for him again if I could have, but let's just call a spade a spade and acknowledge that he isn't the fittest guy in America, m'kay?)

But, no, I continued to eavesdrop (what? I'm a witch! whatever!) and my coworker very clearly said "she." I believe the words "classless," and "hideous" entered into the picture somewhere -- which is funny, because one of the people in my building is a woman who is absolutely the trashiest, crack-ho-iest, most terrible dresser ever in the history of the world and I include the Dirrty-era Xtina Aguilera and the late-model Brit Brit in those calculations, plus this particular woman at work has the worst weave ever oh-my-god-i-don't-even-want-to-talk-about-it-halp! I can't believe Hillary could have been worse than that, but then again, I am not a registered Republican, so what do I know?

So, long story short, I came home and used my awesome Google-fun powers and ... 348,000 hits on the string "hillary clinton cleavage"? Really? The fashion writer for the Washington Post felt compelled to write an actual story about the fact that the Senator wore a pink blazer and a V-neck top to talk about education, and you could maybe if you looked real hard see a bit of boobies? For realsies? And people are writing letters to the editor about whether or not it was appropriate for someone to write a story about Senatorial cleavage? Like, this is what passes for news?

Is it any wonder that I get all my news from SportsCenter?