Monday, January 29, 2007

Neighborhood Watch

My mom’s Latin boyfriend likes to build stuff. He’s one of those guys who will spend all of his free time in the garage tinkering and sawing and nail-gunning things. (Well that’s not totally true. A good part of his free time is spent watching TV with my mom while they polish off a bottle or two of wine and he rubs her feet even though she doesn’t ask him to. It’ll be like, “Honey will you refill my glass? I need something to wash down these cheese puffs.” He’ll laugh, “Sure baby. Now take off your socks I’m going to rub your feet.” This is where I start choking because yes, I’m sitting there with them. “But they’re not sore. I sit down all day.” “You crazy girl,” he laughs, ignoring her protests and my contorted face of horror - a look that suggests, “Hey man about to touch my mom’s bare feet, I just want you to know that the only reason I’m not slapping the wine glass out of your hand and rushing off to the nearest high school biology classroom so I can use the eye wash center is because I like you as a person and you make my mom laugh. But seriously dude. Feet and me are not cool.”)

I tend to not really worry about what he’s doing out there in the garage at all hours of the day. And when he comes in the house at 8pm all dusty and tired, nods and says, “I gotta go pick up some light bulbs and fishnets.” I just give a thumbs up. Because it doesn’t seem dangerous. I don’t think you can build a bomb with fish and the proper lighting.

My friendly neighbors were a little more curious than me and asked what he was building all the time. And I had no idea. It occurred to me that the reason I didn’t think to ask was because throughout the first 18 years of my life my father spent every single evening in his office in the garage “working on stuff”. Becky would walk down there to tell him it was time for dinner and he’d be morse-code talking with someone in Polynesia, or sautering some sort of electrical panel back together. Usually he was fixing a TV Becky and I had found on the side of the road. Some kids brought home puppies, we brought home broken TVs. But he always fixed them, and so we always had an upgrade of sorts and a TV in every room. All our friends came over to our house because it was the only place you could watch 90210 in the kitchen and not miss anything when you had to run downstairs to get the laundry, or go to the bathroom to wash your hands. When my college roommate suggested we chip in together and buy a TV I was shocked. What do you mean pay? Who pays for TVs? And why the heck are they so expensive, this is ridiculous, let’s go drive around the neighborhood.

Just recently when I visited my Dad I noticed a new lamp and commented on how neat it was, to which he replied, “Thanks, I found it by the dumpster at the back of the building.” Of course you did. Now that I’m older I do buy my appliances, so it would be a little embarrassing that my Dad is fishing stuff out of the trash except for the part where he’s so proud he brought it back to life. Who am I to take away his pride, I get excited when I vacuum well.

So I don’t really care to know what E is doing in the garage at all hours of the night. Whether he’s building a dresser or a the beginnings of a space ship, as long as it’s making him happy, it’s really none of my business now is it.

Plus my neighbors are apparently keeping a close eye on him, so I’m sure they’ll let me know if they start seeing dead bodies.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Lark Creek Elementary School


They're making a movie out of Bridge to Terabithia.

I cannot express how much I love that book and how excited this is making me. I re-read it my freshman year of college (ASU) because since I wasn't blonde I didn't have any friends, except for my roommate who spent the night the very first night we moved in and then the only reason I saw her after that was if she was picking up her mail or asking me to take her to her boyfriend's house because he got lost somewhere selling sheets of acid and couldn't pick her up. Anyway, it was just as good. To the point of making me cry when it ended. But at that point in my life I cried when my VCR didn't tape Taxi like I told it to, so you know.

On my list of exciting literary things, this is number three. Right below meeting David Sedaris(1), and finding this picture(2):


That is a Stephenson manuscript, written by hand.

Ok, so maybe being brunette wasn't the only reason my roommate was my only friend.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Coffee & Carrie

Because I don't usually get to my desk until a good hour after I arrive at work (coffee and Carrie) I didn't notice the door was shut to my office. That is until Miss H walked in and screamed.

"Oh no! My door is shut!"


"My door is shut." She repeated.


"What should I do?"

"Open it?"


I'm not really sure what else she thought there was to this. Does she not understand how the doors work? I imagine she's opened closed doors before. It's not like she comes home every day and says, "Dang. Closed again," sighs, slumps her shoulders and sits on her stoop waiting for someone to help her figure out what to do next; her door winning another exhausting round of Stumped. Or maybe she was half expecting the office to be Muppet-y and if she opened it she'd see ninjas mid-ninja star fight. (Which is something I think we all want.)

I started talking about how ridiculous she was being until Carrie stopped me and pointed out a totally untrue fear of mine.

“Didn’t you just tell me you’re still afraid of Vampires?” I had said no such thing.

“I said no such thing.”

Plus being afraid of things that want to kill you in a sexy way is not the same as freaking out because you don’t know what to do with a closed door. Obviously.

Am I the only one who read Anne Rice novels in elementary school?!

You know what Anne would say? She would say, don’t open it. They can’t come in unless they’re invited.

Friday, January 19, 2007

I Got My Lungs X-Rayed And They're Fine, You Know, Except For The Fluid

My grandma is making me drink a crazy concoction of red zinger tea, vinegar and cheyenne pepper to make my pneumonia go away. I don't remember her ever going to medical school, but she claims this will cure my horrible cough - along with joint inflamation, and the sewer problems plaguing our inside toilet. (We don't have an outhouse, let's not get carried away, but we do have a bathroom in the garage. Cause that's how we roll. Garage bathrooms for everyone!)

I'm here to tell you that vinegar and pepper do not make a good replacement for cream and sugar. I don't know where she got this crazy reciepe but maybe the gagging is supposed to distract from the coughing. Now she's got her little Russian, 88 year old, worker-man making me this stuff every hour, and he speaks very forcefully to me when I don't finish my tea. He probably would be yelling at me if he could, but his vocal chords don't work very well anymore. The angrier he gets, the more his voice turns to a whisper.

Russian: YOU DRINK TEA OR you get sick in the lung.
Me: But have you tried it? It's torture.
Russian: I drink all the time. Is good.
Me: Yeah but how do you know it's doing any good, I mean listen to yourself man.
Russian: Ah. . . I think you make fun of me yes? Now you drink more. I stand here and watch.
Me: Like a spy? You're not an ex-KGB are you?
Russian: DRINK!
Me: This isn't the U.S.S.R.!
Russian: asldkjfao ieurjwal nerfas ff9.
Me: I don't know what that means, but I'm not drinking that.
Russian: **stares up at me with crazy eyes**
Me: **am not distracted. will not back down and drink poision tea.**
Russian: **still staring with intensity of someone that's killed for less**
Me: Stop it.
Russian: **stare**
Russian: Ha. Russian always win.
Me: Yeah, good job with that Crimean thing.
Russian: What?
Me: I love tea.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Listen Old Man Winter

This isn't funny.

"Fair 49
Feels Like:
30.13 in and steady
48% "

Fuck you it feels like 46.
Why don't you make it 49 that feels like it's 82?

My space heater at work keeps blowing the circuits down the enire east side of the office building. Well that and this building is so crazy right now that if you brew coffee and turn on your calulator at the same time - the whole place blacks out. Throughout the day people run down the hall yelling, "Turn off the lights in Payroll, I need to add up this spreadsheet!" or "Goddamnit, I just want some coffee, who's the genius who decided to send a fax?"

I think I'm bringing in some blankets with me tomorrow.

Monday, January 15, 2007

I Love How They're Individually Wrapped In Foil

I walked into my office at 6am today to find a group of men standing where my wall to the outside used to be. A pleasant surprise. I mean if my wall is to be replaced with something, it may as well be a line of calloused, tan men. Or a giant pyramid of Ding-Dongs. Whatever.

So that was cool, until about 6:05am when I realized it was 37 degrees at my desk and the men were not keeping the chill out as well as I would have liked. They offered to help keep me warm, but I know what that means. You can't trick me, tricksters.

The secretary leaned in my office and told me she was going to call everyone and tell them not to come in because the workers wouldn't be done for another hour. Which was really nice of her because no one besides us comes in until 9, which if my calculations are correct, will be AFTER the men are gone. I also like to wake people up to tell them things that don't pertain to them, but I typically only do that when I'm drunk, and in love with them.

"Who is this?"
"Lifen, I just wanted you to know that the olly reason I (*hiccup*) drove to that Starbucks is cause I hate coffee."
"I love you."
"Shhh. You should (*hiccup*) be sleeeeeeeping."
". . . Amy?"
"I think you knowed."
"You probably shouldn't drink on a school night. Pull yourself together. I'll see you in class tomorrow."
"Goodbye Mr. Welch."

High School was a rough time.

Along with calling all the other employees to warn them about the construction they will not be party to, the secretary also opened all the doors in the office to air it out - because apparently the GIANT HOLE WHERE MY WALL USED TO BE isn't breeze-y enough.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Color Me Retarded

I have had a runny nose for weeks. I just could not shake this cold and was pretty sure I had mono.

That is until Grady pointed out that I was getting a runny nose from eating Flaming Cheetos periodically all damn day.


This is why I don't babysit anymore. "Why is he crying. He just KEEPS CRYING!" "Uh, Amy? He's hungry and you won't untie him from the hood of your car."


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Sometimes You Just Need A Good Night's Rest

I used to think it was incredibly creepy when young people call each other ‘Mama’ and ‘Papa’. Only moving up a creep-notch when they refer to themselves as such, in the third person. It’s like saying, “I talk about myself in third person because I’m lonely, and I am probably going to make you feel really awkward when I joke about my mother’s suicide in a minute.”

Plus the only one who can really pull it off is a thirty-something, single mom, named Fern at the craps table in Vegas, gambling all her rent money in one roll of the die to help pay for her dying son’s surgery. Brushing the hair out of her tired face she pleads, “C’mon. Mama needs a new pair of shoes!”

Or so I thought.

I woke up one day after watching a touching, be-open-to-all-things episode of Oprah and proclaimed, “Hey, it’s really not that bad. And you know what, it’s really funny when A2 says it.” (I also woke up that week and decided I could only eat things if they were labeled “Flaming”, and that me and Bubby sometimes wearing our Mom’s underwear is really not that weird – so take it how you will) My friend, A2 doesn’t have a dying son, and she totally pulls it off. She refers to herself as "Mama" but only in the “appropriate times”. Like when I don't want to get up off the couch and pour her some more wine she'll say, "C'mon. . . do it for Mama." Or when I walk in to find her hands swaddled in gauze, she’ll awkwardly swig from the bottle and explain, “Mama isn’t allowed to use the kitchen knives anymore.”

Recently my baby sister slammed on her brakes and told me I had better stop talking like that or she was going to wash my mouth out with soap. This was shocking coming from the girl who says, “Holy fuck balls” when she’s happy about something. She once came home from work and found me watching an episode of Buffy she hadn’t seen in a while and happily exclaimed, “Oh my shit! I fucking love this goddamn show!”

We typically agree when it comes to what we approve of and what we do not approve of ('NSync = good. Andie Macdowell = bad.) But when I got a little chilly and said, “Can you turn on the heat? Mama’s getting cold,” she was appalled and ready to disown me for lack of good sense. Was it the fact that I said it with my best James Earl Jones voice, or the fact that I said it at all? I tried to argue my point, to make her see how things can change, that this could be a good thing. But she was having none of it.

“Oh really, like that time you tried to convince me being adopted was a good thing?”

“But it is.”

“Yeah, but I’m NOT ADOPTED.”

“Well, maybe you should have been.”

She stormed out of the car and into Coffee Bean. I watched her, more amused than I have been in a long time, as she stopped in the middle of the store, took a deep breath and turned around to come back to the car. Because she’s a really good sister and wanted to know if I wanted anything. I did.

“Can you get me a large iced coffee? Mama’s really thirsty.”

“I hate you,” she said storming away, mad at herself for being so patient. Which was really a mistake she could have avoided.

“Mama knows you don’t mean that!” I called after her, because sometimes waking up and changing your mind about something really is the right thing to do.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Pull This Thread As I Walk Away

Every day, for the past two days, I have heard a Weezer song right when I pull into work at 6:30am (the devil time).
I'm pretty sure this is a sign from God that Joaquin Phoenix and I are meant to be together.


Because obviously he knew that Rivers always reminds me of Joaquin. Obviously.

God is really clever sometimes.

And apparently in charge of all radio stations in Southern California. But then again, who else would play Ace of Base and Wilson Phillips back to back making Tuesday morning the Best Morning Ever?

Nobody merely human. That's who.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Ten Years. I Don't Want To Talk About It.

The new girl just asked me how long I've been working here, and since she's new, I decided to let her live for asking me such a loaded question.

Plus I was too busy getting over my most recent encounter with the Sparkletts water guy.

It wasn't bad when he dropped all of his water bottles and ignored them as they rolled down the hallway. "Uhm," I pointed hoping he'd run after them, "Your water bottles are about to crash through that glass door." "Huh - aw don't worry about them. How was Ireland?" (whisper)How did he know I went to Ireland? Help. Someone heeeeeelp.

It wasn't even bad when he proceeded to tell me we should sit down and catch up on my travels. "Have a seat." I looked around confused because we were in an empty hallway of a building currently under construction.
"Where not?"
"I. . . I don't really know what that even means."

And it wasn't even that bad when I turned away from him and walked into the bathroom. You know, that is until he FOLLOWED ME IN.
Naturally I shrunk to the floor. "This is the women's bathroom," I said. Be cool. Stay cool.
"Do you know how many germs are on that floor?" he took a step in further and the door shut behind him.
"Heeeeelp." Not being as cool as planned.
"Sure I'll help you, you really shouldn't be sitting on the bathroom floor though, I'm not kidding." He helped me up, chuckled and walked out. After I was sure he was out of earshot I yelled, "AND STAY OUT!" just to make myself feel better.

When I got back to my desk there was a water bottle in the shape of a mini water cooler - like a personal size one - with a bow on it. A poisoned bow, I guessed. Until my mom pointed out the water was more likely to be poisoned than the bow.
"You can't apply logic to this situation Mom."
"Ok. But I'm not giving you a ride to the hospital when you eat that bow just to prove me wrong."
"Like I would ever. . . don't be crazy."
". . . "
"How do you always know what I'm thinking?!"

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Friends, Trains, and Automobiles

Recently,on a trip to Vegas, I got into a debate with my friend Gaby about trains. Neither of us really knows anything about trains except for what we learned from reading Boxcar Children, so this was a pretty stupid thing for us to start arguing about. We may as well have been discussing the economic system of Angola for what we were accurately bringing to the conversation.

She claimed, very scientifically, that we should take a train to Vegas because they go FASTER THAN CARS. She put on a Captain Jean Luc Picard voice to say this, which was surprising because Gaby does not emote beyond what is absolutely necessary.

I was almost positive that the trains running right alongside the freeway, the ones we were currently passing up, did in fact, go SLOWER THAN CARS.

But she wasn't hearing any of it.

G: You don't know what you're talking about.
A: You don't either.
G: I know that you're wrong.
A: Gaby, you don't know that. You know you have the herp cause you get a breakout every month, you do not know the average speed of trains travelling to Vegas.
G: Oh really? How do you know I didn't check it before we left?
A: Because there is no train to Vegas!
G: Listen Miss Factoid, I think we all know who's right, and I don't want to gloat so lets just knock this off.
A: If you weren't driving and paying for all this gas, I'd be really frustrated with you right now.
G: I also brought flaming hot Cheetos.
A: Really?
G: Uh huh. How much do you love me?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Happy Birthday! I'm Not Allowed to Publicly Announce It But It Ryhmes With Bifty Bive!

Some of you may not know this, but I work with my mother. Not only do I work with my mother, but we also share an office. And, not only do we share an office, but we also live together.

Yeah, soak it in. Take a minute.

I work five feet from my mother and then I go home to her.

This makes for a very odd time in both our lives. My sister has probably thought about disconnecting her phone so that she won't have to hear another, "Your mother just said 'bad' in a Michael-Jackson-really-means-good way" phone call again. I think it was surprising when we found working together was not an awful nightmare - considering the fact that I am (cringe)my mother's daughter, and am equally as prone to want to be in charge, right at all times, and the prettiest one in the office. But I may have lost that last one. My mom is really pretty. She's also incredibly patient and intelligent, and is good about being a mom at work without being a mom at work.

She's had a pretty tough life, but you'd never know it. Not ever. Not from her demeanor, not from the things she says, not from the constant smile on her face. She has never complained about a single thing, but has taken joy in all things life and love. I didn't really let her life sink in until recently, when I fully understood that she's had some pretty shitty things happen - death, divorce, disease (the d trifecta), working for her mother. . . all these horrible things yet she's never let it bring her down. I, on the other hand, fall into a deep depression when Desperate Housewives is a re-run, so it's nice to have someone so grounded around me.

She's a wonderful mother, sister, daughter, boss, and sweetie (Yeah, my mom has a Latin boyfriend who calls her sweetie/baby/gorgeous, or some variation therein, and it is very ew-y, and eye-rolling-y because they're so in love and it's my mom so - gross. But she's really happy so it's hard to be too grossed out when they've forgotten each other's names and introduce one another as, "This is my sweetie. Sweetie, this is Jill Sobule." All you can really do is be glad they act like school kids and not like Fred and Ethel.) And it's pretty hard to be good at all those things, but she pulls it off. Without the help of prescription drugs.

Happy Birthday Momma. You are pretty awesome.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Crying Her Way Through The New Year

Me: *Avoiding eye contact with the office . . . leprechaun(?), I busily study the paper in front of me.*
Lep: *Standing at my door waving frantically and doing a little shimmy*
Me: *Trying my best to send out a signal that says - Damn this paper is really interesting, I'm so absorbed, please do not disturb me.*
Lep: Soooooo. Whatcha reading?
Me: *Dang. I was reading my time sheet.* Nothing.
Lep: *sighs and closes her eyes for a good two minutes* The meds are working and as long as the meds are working everything is going to be good.
Me: Should you be telling me that?
Lep: Haha, I have a prescription silly. You sound sort of gruff.
Me: I have a cold.
Lep: Yeah, we just partied too much.
Me: No we didn't.
Lep: Yeah, me either. I was in bed at eleven.
Me: Hmm.
Lep: Next year I'll have fun. Next year. *starts to cry and walks away*
Me: I . . . uh. . .

Talk about awkward. This would have to be the number one reason I'm afraid to get a new job - because I'm pretty sure at most businesses you do not see a quarter of the staff crying on any given day. Not that I enjoy the crying, at first I was very concerned for the morale of the employees and considered spiking the water cooler with anti-depressants, but now it's normal daily business. And I'm sort of afraid it has transferred over to me and that if I were to get a new job I might cry the first time the copier breaks down. But maybe I wouldn't. Maybe I would just scream and kick it like Miss Havisham does yelling, "I hate you. Why don't you just find yourself some eighteen year old copier whore and run off with her! Bastard!"
Who can really say?