Story Value

random musings and episodes from the life of a 40 something comidienne/corporate refugee/mom - since whatever doesn't kill you provides excellent story value.

Monday, May 03, 2010


I admit to the guilty pleasure of watching reality TV shows with a sense of smug self-satisfaction.

Whether its the Real Housewives of blankity-blank, Biggest Loser, or Addiction -- I always smile to myself that ... no matter what, I ain't "that bad."

That would be true ... unless they did a reality show on coffee addiction. I didn't realize I was this pathetic.

During two pregnancies, I quit cold turkey without a second thought. Turns out I need a baby on board to do without a cup-o-Jo.

A massive water main break outside Boston means there's no coffee to be had in Bean-town today. Ironic. No latte, no hot, no iced, nada.

I'm not jittery. I'm just plain incoherent and brain-fogged. I am fantasizing about getting myself out-of-town so I can inhale some Java. Pity the slow-moving barista, mama needs her fix!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Parton me, that's inappropriate

When my boys are eager to learn, it lights me up. At heart, I am an educator, driven to share all the wisdom the universe has provided.

It warmed my heart when my youngest came to me, cradling a calculator, with earnest desire for knowledge burning bright in his young eyes.

"Mom, can you show me the Dolly Parton thing again?"

I forgot that I had shared this little jewel, once again forgoing appropriateness for the cheap laugh.

"Sure -- Dolly Parton went to a Doctor who was 69 years old and told him her boobs were 222 big."

* A flurry of giggles here* (mostly mine)

"So he gave her 51 pills and told her to take them over 8 days (X8)."

And then she was .....


That little ditty has killed with 2nd graders for 30 years. Does anyone even know who Dolly Parton is anymore?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It's fashion, baby

I subscribe to several casting call email lists. I'm not sure why. I don't act, and I doubt the Ford Agency is going to launch a search for a "40-something blonde with just the right combo of freckles and wrinkles who can peel a banana with her toes." You never know though. Lately, I've been seeing more specific casting calls, like:
- hair models - especially silver and salt & pepper
- hand models - especially Asian
- and LOTS of calls for baby models

I wonder if there are baby hand models. That casting call would be awesome.
"M'am ... your baby has a face for radio ... but those chubby little knuckles are cherubic. Can you have her hold the Gerber's jar in front of her while covering her head with a blanket?"

I think I'm going to put "baby hand model" on my resume. Who'd know?

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Monday, April 19, 2010

One little volcano can ruin your whole day

The last several days, I've been leading a double life. While attending a humor workshop, a First Communion, flying to New York and driving to Boston, I have had to repeatedly answer the bleating electronic panic button. I have been continuously summoned to write Urgent...Urgent...Emergency (Sorry, I started channeling Foreigner for a minute) client web copy.

What is so important that I interrupt my life every 6 minutes to retrieve desperate requests for instant pithy content? Well, Wednesday kicks off the International Swaps and Derivatives Association conference. Surely you've been tracking the frenzied Twitter stream and counting the hours. ISDA is like Woodstock for puffy, middle-aged, white guys who favor hand sewn loafers and Thomas Pink shirts. We have to rush, in order to announce (dry-ice please) the latest derivatives collateral management workflow solutionzzzz. Whoops, there's the narcolepsy again. This time, I think I even drooled a little.

Since Thursday, I have been playing freeze tag -- cutting my activities short to stop, drop & type. Type what? Gobbldygook. No one actually reads this stuff. And because I don't have the sense god gave grapefruit -- I missed cocktails, nearly missed a flight and pulled the car over in front of a Sabrett hot dog stand on 49th & Park today to hold my computer out the window ... just to get those words out on deadline.

I made it, and I felt smug about for two hours, until I heard the news. "Due to the situation in Iceland, the conference looks to be a disappointment, and the copy will not be used."

Stupid volcano.

Actually, its pretty dang hilarious that my day was ruined by a volcano. I think volcanos are my favorite new excuse.

"The volcano made me do it."

"Due to the situation in Iceland ... I cannot come to spin class, or the neighborhood Creative Memories shakedown (I mean party)"

"How can you expect me to make it into work? There's a volcano. Did you not hear the volcano cancellations on the radio?"

Tomorrow looks to be a no-schools/all-schools Volcano kind of day. I may just have to invent a cocktail in its honor.

Ingredient suggestions?

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I love the smell of white boards in the morning

Three years and six months ago, I cast-off from corporate America, looking to make my way as a free-lance consultant. I had had it up to here with "the man." I was burnt-out on office-politics, the thankless tasks of middle-management and with hauling my patootie for a 3 hour round-trip to a glass office tower.
I wanted something different. Anything different. And I felt I had to whole-sale reject all the corporate trappings to pursue my true creative muse.
And now, I'm contemplating making a return trip.

What could possibly make me go back? Many things. As with most decisions, there's a push and a pull.

Consulting is lonely. For three of my years, I had the best of both worlds with a "Sugar Daddy" client. Two days in the office, two at home, one of pure freedom. The paycheck was solid and steady, the work compelling. My colleagues didn't really have the chance to become truly annoying before I'd have another break from them. A few colleagues rose to the annoyance challenge, but that is to be expected.

Now that I consult remotely, I find myself loathing my home office -- a laptop, desk & printer shoved in the corner of a guest-room. It's challenging to structure my day so that work gets done before midnight. Too many distractions. I am my own annoying colleague. Boy I can be a pain in my own ass.

I miss learning, bantering in the conference room and hashing out solutions in a group. I miss cracking wise with my peeps and killing in the hallway with my dead-on impressions of Senior Management.

I miss the routines, I miss the free coffee, and I miss the smell of fruit-scented magic markers. I miss commiserating and offering advice to quell the sting of petty office dramas. I miss buying Girl Scout cookies in the spring. I miss those huge vats of bad caramel corn that comprise 2 of my 3 daily meals for months after the holidays.

I miss crazy off-sites where we endure forced bonding and think big thoughts on flip-chart paper that never gets looked at again.

I miss feeling "mue importante" when people bring me tough problems to solve. I miss "being the client" and getting my bootie kissed by potential vendors with the odd pair of Red Sox home game tickets.

I miss dumb jokes, dispatches from the Onion sent from bored colleagues, and huddling around an office computer to watch wildly inappropriate YouTube videos.

I miss sharpening my pop-culture references and musical knowledge by bantering with the 20-somethings and burnishing my political and cultural opinions by talking them through before meetings begin.

I miss the ribbing of the sweet, funny, English-challenged parking garage attendants and making the lunch lady giggle and blush by complimenting her bling.

Sock puppets don't have the same effect. The 'interweb' doesn't satisfy my need for contact. I'm just not being all I can be sitting by myself in front of the laptop screen in my room. My chair's not ergonomic, my time-management is shot, and my hairdo is suffering from severe lack of effort.

The grass is always greener I suppose. How quickly I forget the grind part of the daily grind. I am sure I would cringe if I re-read my diaries from the last year before I 'left-office'.

I wouldn't trade a moment of the last 3 1/2 years of creative self-discovery. It has been an exciting and wild ride. I don't know for sure that I'd give it all up ... but I have rediscovered some of the small pleasures of office co-habitation. That would get me through the first 3 days back at least.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Fair Enough

The Marshfield Fair completed its 141st run and left town nearly two weeks ago ... and yet, the controversy continues.


Each year the Fair comes to down, there's one carny drama or another. Last year two carnies got married under the Ferris wheel. Awwwwww. They had something like 12 children between them. That's one big trailer.

This year, an 18 year old carny was accused of raping a 13 year old girl and her 14 year old friend. Things weren't looking too rosy for this young man, until it was revealed that these girls had gone to the Fair with the specific goal of seducing a carny.

What little girl doesn't dream of that?

Carnies simultaneously fascinate and disgust most of us. The disgust is clear -- B.O., "summer teeth" and facial tattoos -- but why the fascination?

I think the alternative outlaw carny lifestyle is the draw. Think about it, all the fried dough you can eat, the opportunity to find out how the games are rigged, unlimited turns on thrill rides which (as my two boys describe) "make your penis tingle." It doesn't get much better than that.

People yearn for this kind of fun. Its why middle-aged bankers are now sporting so many tattoos its hard to pick the real carnies out of the crowd. Now carnies have to wear uniforms.

Personally, I have never dreamt of seducing a carny, but I have toyed with the idea of becoming one. Just for a week. I'd be a carny temp, just to see what it was like hanging in the Airstream village after-hours. Oh, like you're not a little curious?

Once, I almost completed an application when I saw a sign posted on the Zipper ride. It read, "Help Wanted: Must Love Travle." I love Travle. I think. I decided not to gamble, just in case "travle" is some euphemism for corn liquor-fueled bestiality. You can't be too careful.

I'm curious about the job interview process. I imagine it might go something like this:
Me: "I'm here about the carnival job, I love travle."
A carny boss throws a wrench at me. I pick it up off the ground.
"Be here at 11!" He yells.
I am now in charge of assembling and running the Bumper Cars.

I'd be low on the carny totem pole until I had proven myself at 3 card Monte while doing Jack Daniels shots.

The carnies who really fascinate me are the professional-grade carnies. At our Fair, there is a duo: Lance Gifford and his ambiguously sexual partner Jarrod . Not only are Lance and Jarrod a class A magic act ... they moonlight running the pig races. Each day they perform 8 - 10 shows, racing from one end of the Fairgrounds to the other, stripping out of their glittered attire to don overalls and straw-filled hats to transform themselves into Granny's champion pig callers.

One year my eldest son recognized Jarrod from his earlier gig and yelled, "Hey, its the magic man!" while pointing enthusiastically. Jarrod momentarily looked panicked and quickly shoved a whistle in my boy's mouth and deputized him as Assistant Pig Caller. Identity crisis averted.

I wondered if my magic men were perhaps double-dipping without Fair management permission? It didn't seem too necessary to preserve the illusion of being only a magician or only a pig caller -- a pig-calling magician is a pretty solid act.

I read in Lance Gifford's online bio that he left home at 16 and travels regularly with the Fair. He has a pretty plush stage & all those pigs. I wonder if he has a grade A RV in the lot, or if he bunks in a hotel. He and Jarrod are like the kings of carny world. They look like they are having a blast. Maybe its all the travle ... or maybe their penises just tingle, magically.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Square Peg at the Playground

Today we had a pre-first grade playdate with all the other kiddies & mommies at the playground. I was reminded, again, of how much I don't fit in with the stay-at-home crowd.

Oh, I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover and you never know how alike you may be deep down ... but I'm pretty sure my kid was the only one who was eating a frozen pancake while wearing a tin-foil hat on the way over.

The frozen pancake honestly can't be chalked up to negligent parenting; my boy prefers them frozen. And the tin foil hat -- hand made. I don't think he's schizophrenic, though maybe I'll have him checked. He does commune with aliens, but we've been chalking that up to a colorful imagination. At what point does that veer into diagnosable mental illness?

I guess tin foil hats, like chubby dimpled thighs, are cute until 5th grade - and then you're just fat and creepy. Pity the kid who is sporting both.

Once we arrived at the playground, we left the foil hat in the car and joined our playmates and play mommies.

Some of the other moms are neighbors and I was glad to chat with them since I always feel slightly guilty and sad that I don't know them better. They seem to have their own stay-at-home clique and, as a worker-bee, I'm usually excluded.

I work from home many days, but I can see the full-timer moms are wary of committing their energies to me, sensing that I might turn on my high-heel any time, grab my briefcase and leave them high & dry on the day its my turn to host coffee.

They sense I'm a love 'em & leave 'em play-date player, apt to mosy on as soon as I got a better offer in a conference room with Powerpoint. True dat.

What can I say? I'm just not cut of the same cloth. I don't care that much about organic cleaning supplies, who's had BoTox, or what's on sale at the Christmas Tree Shop. OK, I totally want to know about the BoTox, but I don't know who they are gossiping about.

I don't apply the same level of energy to analyzing the first grade teachers, classroom composition or anticipating the homework amounts. FT moms think about these things ... a LOT. They apply a level of strategic thinking I've seen only on reality TV shows, and in the office. I was impressed, and yet bored. I was boredpressed.

Fortunately, there was a crisis to divert my attention. The FT moms had all thought ahead to pack coolers full of snacks and beverages. I did not. It was a 10:30 playdate -- that's between meals!

My boy was unpsyched. "I'm hungry and thirsty!" He yelled. "Ummm, you have any of that frozen pancake left in the car?" I asked. I got an eye-roll.

All around me, moms were plying their children with whole-grain crackers, fruit juice sweetened cookies, and juice boxes. I got the pity offer from a couple moms. "We have some extra, if your son needs a snack."

Instead, I whisked him off the playground to the nearby French bakery where Captain Fancypants eyed all the treats, settling on an Orangina, a Quiche Lorraine and a mini-eclair -packaged elegantly to-go.

We made quite the return entrance as Andrew marched back to the picnic table and set out his array of delights. The other kids oohed and ahhed and immediately started demanding better snacks like Andrew's. He gloried in his fancy treats while the other kids simmered and the mothers rolled their eyes.

I just shrugged and smiled apologetically and then began checking my Blackberry, like a nervous tick.

On the way home I wore the tin foil hat. Who knows, maybe the aliens are more my cup of tea.