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.

Friday, March 31, 2006

A beautiful day in the neighborhood

Its one of our first gorgeous spring days -- sunny and nearly 70 degrees. My husband and I have a bad case of spring fever so we dashed out for some afternoon delight at - where else? - Dairy Queen.

As we sat there snorfing down our twistee cone and Blizzard, we realized we were being passed by no fewer than six yellow school busses.

I can only imagine our seven-year-old son's face when he looks out the bus window to see his parents slurping down dairy treats without him. Scandalous!

Ladies and gentlemen ... I give you "Parents Of The Year." I'll just pre-pay that therapy tab now!

Dazzle Me

So last night,my four-year old asked me for a "Bedazzler". More specifically, it was my four-year old son, and he didn't ask, so much as he pitched the idea.

"Mommy, wouldn't you love a Bedazzler? You could make a butterfly! If you had a Bedazzler, I could make a heart on my pajamas that says 'I love Mommy'."

Sold! Actually, he could have stopped after "wouldn't you love a Bedazzler?" Because, really ... yes, yes I would! I have always longed for a Bedazzler, as it was on the long list of forbidden pleasures denied to me simply because they were, in my mother's words, "tacky".

The Bedazzler ranked right up there with the Jordan Marsh sandals that could transform into roller skates and anything made by Candie's. How I longed for red patent-leather platform clogs and a pink jean jacket bedazzled with beautiful jewels. I could have been the hottest thing going in the fourth grade. I could have been a contender.

Instead, I wore Cloud Climbers along with the oh-so-snappy outfits crafted by my mom in her "Stretch and Sew" class. To this day, Mom insists that no one can really tell the difference between denim-colored polyester gabardine and a pair of Levis. Yes, and Thanksgiving is even better with Tofurky.

Now that I am an adult, and a parent, I realize that tacky is sometimes an end-game in itself. I'm one of those backlash parents that over-compensates in the areas I feel my own parents were lacking. I let my kids go to the grocery store in tin foil hats and red velvet capes and I probably over-encourage self-expression.

I'm sure I'll be rewarded with their own rebellion later in life. They'll probably join the Young Republican's club and start sporting searsucker suits with bowties.

Until then, my youngest son and I will be a couple of Rhinestone Cowboys.

I didn't order a bedazzler though; I ordered two. Because I'm sure as heck not sharing ... there wouldn't be nearly enough tacky for both of us.


Thursday, March 23, 2006

Just "Hirarious"

Small, true, hilarious thing that made me laugh out loud last week.

My son's elementary school has a wonderful relationship with a sister school in Japan. Every year the children write letters to one another and exchange tokens of friendship.
This year, our school posted letters sent from their Japanese pen-pals. That these 7 and 8 year old children can compose letters written in English is pretty amazing. I am fairly certain that our American students aren't corresponding in Kenji.

As I read the letters that detailed students' favorite seasons, colors and foods, I noticed their teacher's corrective phrasing or spelling in the right-hand margin. After all, its important to be understood.

One young boy had written about his favorite season (fall), his favorite sport (soccer) and his favorite food. His handwriting was a little jumbled, making it somewhat difficult to read.

Luckily, there in the margin, the teacher had carefully written out the message in clear, concise text.


There you have it ... I am easy to amuse. More loast beef please.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday

Several years ago, a good friend of mine was dating someone who appeared to be the dating trifecta - handsome, smart and nice. When they broke up suddenly, I just had to ask “why?”

“He goes to church on Wednesdays” was her reply.

“Oh … Isn’t that technically a good thing?” I asked.

“Ooh, yeah.” I caught myself, and we both just looked at each other.

“I guess that is pretty weird.”

Unrequired church on Wednesdays is simply too much of a good thing. It’s like spiritual OCD. Either you’re on your way to being a religious militant or you are doing serious penance for something we’d rather not know about.

I, on the other hand have spiritual ADD. Being raised by a lapsed Catholic and an Episcopalian who couldn’t care less (I guess THAT’s redundant) church wasn’t really a big factor in my life.

When, as an adult (and parent) I eventually decided to check out which religion might “be for me” I took a shopper’s approach to make an informed choice.

For a while, I thought I might be a Buddhist. That lasted until I received a week of daily Buddhist affirmations and couldn’t understand a damn one. Basically, I got the gist that I would be serene once I surrendered any expectations or attachments to anything. Sounds like the church of apathy to me. Not that I can’t be lame … I just can’t imagine making a practice out of it.

I took an E-harmony-type spirituality quiz that declared me 84% compatible with the Unitarian faith. At last, I thought, a place where I belong!

Unitarians are like the AB+ blood type of religion – they are the universal receiver. Come one, come all & let’s get down. My only spiritually snobbish concern is that this isn’t the church for the discerning spiritualist. We’re reading the Torah, we’re saying the Rosary … it’s almost time for coffee and donut social hour so just hang in.

A pastor gave me a nice overview that sounded like a speech they give incoming freshman at University. “Many of our members go on to become Lutherans, Methodists … even Congregationalists.” He described.

“So this is a little like the religion of the undeclared major?” I asked.

“It’s inclusive” he shot back. I love good marketing spin.

I am now wondering if my next stop will be spiritual correspondence school. I’ll be forced to draw Tippy the Turtle with the Virgin Mary to gain acceptance.

One thing I know for sure -- I won’t be going on Wednesdays.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Happy Hour?

Just the other night, the head of the illustrious marketing department where I consult suggested we get our rapidly expanding team together for a social outing – all in the name of good cheer.

We selected a nearby watering hole for its ambiance and prepared to settle in for some fellowship. What transpired was something else altogether …
Let’s just say it’s amazing what a little repression, combined with alcohol, will conjure up. The demons came out to dance!

As an outside consultant/free-agent/contractor, I have the benefit of a spectator seat with some really enjoyable objectivity. No one works for me, and I don’t have a boss as much as I have a client. I set the terms of my contract, negotiating both hours and pay. I’ve got no ax to grind and I sleep much more peacefully at night.

I don’t for a minute feel superior, since I have nearly two decades logged in the employee trenches of middle-management. Believe me, I know the drill. Corporate America is a soul-sucker.

During one particularly bleak period a few years ago, I began to pursue greater self-awareness through the exercise of keeping a diary of the first thoughts that entered my head upon waking each morning.

When I look back over those diary entries, I am amazed at the amount of vitriol, of sheer unchecked rage I felt over my corporate bondage. I am shocked by my own anger at a collection of people and projects I can barely recall even a few years later.

On this more recent night, as I sat sipping my martini, I looked around the table at colleagues who, by day, are nothing but civilized and professional. Fueled by booze and a little off-site latitude, these same people reflect a bubbling cauldron of the seven deadly sins.

At one end of the table sat Anger – One Grey Goose in and you could already see her furious Irish whispers with her small clique who feel particularly unappreciated and left-out. Nasty dagger-filled glances made their way down to the other end of the table and their glasses repeatedly hit the table hard.

Closer by, was Gluttony who continuously dove almost to his ankles into whatever food was on the table. No stones thrown from this glass house, since Gluttony has often been my own role of choice as I self-medicated corporate rage with a steady diet of Twizzlers and Ketel One.

Most disquieting of all was the Jeckl and Hyde transformation of our leader into Lustful letch. Almost upon the first sip – every word out of his mouth became a double-entendre, every look lingering, and there was far too much touching and rubbing to be accidental. How a calm, mild mannered Clark Kent so quickly transforms into someone who gleefully describes being the “baloney in a girl sandwich” is beyond me.

Next to me, sat Envy. Envy was sure her life would be perfect, if only she had the apartment, the boyfriend or the size 2 booty of nearly anyone else.

Most obvious and annoying was Pride. Pride “do go on” about how fabulous and brilliant he surely is, and how no one can match his intellect. It certainly is no trick to measure up to your own yard stick. Pride becomes even more annoying the longer you speak with him.

Two drinks in, and up piped Greed. Greed always seems to miraculously know what how much money everyone else makes, and he’ll be only too glad to tell you so you can share the outrage. To make up for any salary imbalance, Greed has an endless number of schemes, from padding expense reports to pocketing Post-its, to bilk the company for the compensation he is due. You have to admire his creativity.

Last comes Sloth. She’s easy to overlook. That’s her plan. She’s the one who just takes it all in. She lives to attend meetings and always does the minimum possible. She’s never unpleasant, always non-committal and easy to miss.

As I looked around the table at all this playing out, I was also struck by how business environments may differ, but the roles are nearly always the same. It’s as though at every new job the announcer might read – “In this office, the role of Envy will be played by Julie.” People move from job-to-job and are pretty well type cast.

During the day, we repress our anger along with the most interesting aspects of our personalities, since being a good corporate citizen requires we fit in. Alcohol pierces the veil and washes away our veneer of self-control. It’s much harder to hide the hate after a cocktail or two.

I am amazed though when I meet a former deadly sin colleague outside a work context and they seem so much more multi-dimensional and enjoyable. This surely is the environment effect.

As for office get-togethers, we should just be thankful for the ‘hour’ in Happy Hour.

I can spell Inaugural

eek. Blog lesson #1 - don't start at 1:30 AM when you are too tired to spell check ... people will think you are RETAHDED

Inagural blogural

Oh bloggy,
I am so happy to have started you! I've thought of starting a BLOOOOOOOOOG (or "online diary") as my best friend Violet insists upon calling this, for at least 30 months.
Now I will have to think of all sorts of tres amusing episodes and adventures to fill-you up. Where to start???
This week I made a fabulous impulse purchase -- a $44 plastic handbag in the exact likeness of "The Count" from Sesame Street. Its not a necessity, really -- though it is waterproof, durable-looking, and very colorful - and thus almost a practical accessory. I do love practical.

Those who know me might wonder -- Why a "Count" handbag? Do you really have the lifestyle for that kind of accessory?

Well, truth be told ... Nostalgia. The Count was one of the first crushes I had on TV icons ... My current and enduring fixation with Andy Garcia only goes to show you I stay true to "type". Actually, The Count came after Mr. Snuffleupugus -- but who wants a big brown furry handbag ... really!