PlazaJen: Passion Knit

Monday, May 30, 2005

As These Two Flames Become One

I did not lose my tone, I did not smirk, I did not laugh, as I said the above line during the commitment ceremony Saturday night. I am once again convinced I am missing an Oscar for my ability and stage presence: after all, as two gay men are lighting a candle, using the word "Flame" repeatedly, it carries a double entendre not lost on me (or the audience) and during the rehearsal I lost it (all three times I read it) by the time I had to say "as these two flames..." I toyed with hitting a high-pitched falsetto and throwing in some jazz hands, but in the end went with my sincere, warm (and controlled) voice. And no jazz hands.

Mike & Gordon threw a great party, they declared their love & commitment to each other, and I danced with my husband to the song we got married to: Barry White's "You're the First, the Last, My Everything", which actually got everyone out on the floor (not because of us, because it's BARRY). Then we had to leave because it was 800 degrees in the tiny ballroom, and despite having windows open, there was not enough air circulating to combat the crowd & the heat. Good thing JWo drove us home, because I wouldn't have passed that eye test thingy.

Today is a barbecue at Roger & David's, and then it's back to work - and I am again, looking forward to going to work. I swear, I'm not acting, either. But I will ALWAYS give you jazz hands, because they are such a happy thing. And because my self-portrait for work was deemed "too boring" (wha? Me? TOO BORING?) I give you some hamming for the camera, right before we left for the ceremony. I put on half the scarves I've knit (to show something about me) and then it was all Vogue covershoot from there, only I started singing and waving the scarves and making up new words so they were funny and about JWo, and in half the pictures I look like a total goober because I have on so much lipstick, any odd position of my mouth gets exaggerated. So here's the "normal" one. Sorry, no jazz hands. But there's a little Diana Ross going on. Because I am Supreme.
posted by PlazaJen, 8:34 AM | link |

Drama Queen. Posted by Hello
posted by PlazaJen, 8:27 AM | link |

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Checkpoint Charlie

Have you ever been through a sobriety checkpoint? I've seen those commercials on TV, where the voiceover man, presumably a warden at the Prison for Drunk Drivers, berates you in a very scary voice and promises that if you drink and drive, and we catch ya, you will be sent to prison immediately, where you'll be forced to clean up vomit every day and raped on the hour. The visual is always some college-aged dude squinting into the bright light of the flashlight and there are GUNS EVERYWHERE.

So last night, after the commitment ceremony rehearsal, we carpooled up to the HinterNorthLands (hey Judy!) for the dinner at the groom & groom's house. It was awesome barbecue, and I had a couple of beers with my dinner, and because we kept waiting for the cap pistol to be shot, indicating we could finally go eat, my first beer started making me feel loopy, and I announced several times that I was going to start chewing my arm off. I also kept telling Roger to keep up with me because, I guess, I've taken over the bossy role and demand that he drink as much as I. Plus it's handy if he gets done at the same time because he'll bring me another drink. I am that lazy.

So we had a plate of BBQ, and it rocked, and I had a SECOND plate. Which also rocked, but now I was slowing down, and I didn't finish my beer, because I had transformed into the Veruca Salt girl from Willy Wonka and was waiting for the Ooompa Loompas to show up and roll me to my car. Plus, I was the driver. I joked that David could take over and drive, but I knew still, I'd have to get home from their house, and so it just seemed like a good point at which to stop. We sat and chatted with people for a while, played with Jimmy & Kelly's beautiful baby, and then eventually left. Roger & I put Lewis & Clark to shame, because every time we drive up north, we convince each other we're going the right way, regardless of if it's correct or not. Amazingly, we wound our way out of the subdivision and right onto the street where Sheridan's is. YUM. YUM. YUM. It's frozen custard, because it's so fatty. I had a cone (I like a cone) and it was so tall, I thought I was gonna get it all over the interior car roof. So I drive us back to Roger & David's house, drop them off, jump back on Hwy 71, and head towards home. I even thought, "There've been some gang shootings on this road recently, I wonder if I should jump off and take another road." But traffic was rolling along and I decided to keep with the straight shot home.

Then traffic slowed to a crawl, and a stop. I was in the left lane, and saw police lights. I was convinced it must be a bad wreck, or worse, another shootout. As we inched along, I realized it was more than one lane shut down, the whole damned highway was closed, with cones and everything. I'm thinking, man, this is a hell of an accident, it must be over that hill because I can't see anything. And then I see two motorcycle cops (my FAVORITE!) in the dark, in the second lane, and I think that looks funny, like they're waiting to catch somebody.

THEN. We're all exiting and concentrating on not hitting each other, because there are like, 200 cars going into & through this bottle neck of the exit ramp, and there's a little government sign on the other side of the road that says, "Sobriety Checkpoint Ahead." And everything in my stomach turns to soup. Because now I have to decide, am I going to tell the truth? Or am I going to lie? I can hear the question from the tv commercial thundering in my head, "Have you had anything to drink tonight?" and I look at the clock, and it's almost 10:00 p.m. and I've had two beers (three hours earlier) and two huge-ass plates of food, and an ice cream cone that contains more calories than Lindsay Lohan, Nicole Ritchie and Paris Hilton consume, combined, in a week. And I can assure you, I am not impaired, but I do have cramps and I need to pee, and if I have to get out of the car, I'm going to be shaking so hard I might just lose control of all my bodily functions and then I'd be blogging from prison about how some lifer named Wanda has made me her bitch.

These checkpoints are not set up for diffused lighting photography, in case you think you might try to get some portraits taken while you're there. They have generators, they're big lights up on scaffolding-like stands, and there are two cops waving you into two lines, and there is a whole line of cops with their flashlights, spaced out to examine the next block of cars. And they've all got guns. And they're wearing gloves and hats. It's VERY formal. I, of course, get the guy who isn't dressed the same as everyone else, and so I assume he is the Baddest Motherfucker of the Checkpoint, and I am extremely sober and nervous. BRIGHT LIGHT in my eyes, thank god I'm not a gremlin.
"Good evening, ma'am" (FUCK I am old. MISS. MISS. Just one more time before I go to the Big House.)
"Can I see your driver's license?"
I am now extremely friendly. I start to chirp. "Yes! This is very exciting! I've never been through one of these before!" And I can't get my license out of my wallet, because it never comes out of the wallet, and I'm a little palsied as I FORCE THAT GODDAMN PIECE OF PLASTIC OUT before they think I'm a Columbian drug runner.
"Have you had anything to drink tonight?" he asks while I'm wrestling with leather and plastic and a three-inch card.

Moment of truth. Kindof.
"I had a beer at a barbecue, about four hours ago."
Because I can't lie outright. I just can't. I did when I was 6, but I thought I was saving my mother from being hauled away. I hand him my license.
He inspects it. I have my old address on it still. OH GOD. I hope I don't have to deal with that, too. "Do you still live in Kansas City?" he inquires. "Yes."
Now we're gettin' down to business, wherein he will establish that I am not drunk because I have copped to drinking earlier that evening. I continue looking at him, and he bends down further.
"Keep facing me, but I want you to move your eyes and look to the right." Thank god he moved his hand to indicate that it was to be MY right. I didn't want to have to have that conversation. (Your right? My right? Ociffer?)
I slide my eyes over, then back.
"OK, you can go, thank you very much, drive safe."

I drove off, happily, of course, and all I could think was: James will know why this is a conclusive test. And he did. I guess our eyes are very fine-tuned when it comes to motor control, and they're a good indication of how in-control you are. If my eyes had jerked, it would have indicated a lack of control. I did a little search this morning, and lo & behold that particular test even has a name: Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN). I wonder how many people didn't pass, and that's scary, too.

So, I'm glad to say I'm not blogging from the pokey, and I am SCARED STRAIGHT. I'm kind of glad I went through the experience, but I'm really glad I didn't have to stand on one leg. I'm a big girl, and I don't do one-legged stuff well. But I'll admit, I did run through the alphabet real quick-like in my head while I was being waved "into position". And now, when I feel really out of control, I'm going to go look in the mirror and slide my eyes from side-to-side. At the rate I'm going this holiday weekend, I'll be in the bathroom until Tuesday.
posted by PlazaJen, 10:25 AM | link |

Friday, May 27, 2005

Interviews with Crazytown Mayors.....

On the drive home from KnitNight, I was chatting with my friend Beth & was reminded of a job I had NO interest in taking, based simply on the interview and the environment.

It should have been a sign that the flight attendant came out and asked me if I planned to catch my flight (good god, can I PROVE to you people any more that it's an illness, this lateness?)..... I can be THAT UNAWARE sometimes, I'd wandered off to get a coffee & sat back down just enjoying my Starbucks and the entire fucking plane had boarded and I HAD NO CLUE.

And really, my wonker radar had been triggered already by the personal profile on the owner of the agency; the shop was media-only, and they had a folder they sent me, and the whole thing was allllll about the owner. And one whole section in the folder discussed how she'd been overweight and how she'd overcome it and I am not kidding, they used this for new business and prospective employees, and so I already had the hairy eyeball goin' on as I headed off to this place.

But there were two things that clinched it for me. The first: she liked to rescue cats, and so they had three stray cats that lived at the agency, and being blunt like I am, I said, so what about allergies and the litter box? And they said that allergies weren't a problem (gee, do prospective clients get weeded out this way, too?) and that the staff rotated litter box responsibilities. Ohkaayyyy. And then they had all kinds of Bible verses and catchy God sayings (printed out on copy paper) taped up randomly, like, "This day has been brought to you by GOD." "Let Go and Let God." and then some Scripture quotes. (I'm not particularly religious, but I believe it should be like underwear - wear it or don't, but you shouldn't have to see anybody's at work. Plus, this is ADVERTISING, people. We sell sex, booze, smokes and dreams.) Most of my one-on-one interview with the owner was spent with her championing her weight loss and me feeling like I would be put on a diet if I worked there. Awesome! It'd be just like living with my mother again, but now with cats and Jesus. Because nothing makes a job look more appealling if you think everyone's going to count your calories, in between facing your Lord and Maker at every step around the office, while popping Claritin every two hours to combat cat dander.

And suddenly my alcoholic, weepy, free-cell playin', dancin'-as-fast-as-she-can-but-never-working boss didn't look too bad. I did not miss my flight home.
posted by PlazaJen, 7:38 AM | link |

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Various Mayors of Crazytown

I was thinking it would be fun to list, in no particular order, some of the more stellar attributes I've been privileged to see in some of my previous supervisors and bosses. Since I have worked for a LOT of insane people over the years, including all the way back to college, this probably won't fit into one post. But starting is always fun, to see just how far we can go! So, sit back, don't drink anything, because you might have to spew or drop your jaw - and cleaning keyboards can be tedious.

1. Agoraphobia. Did not ever leave her home. I called her and we went through her mail, over the phone. She would talk about playing tennis. She was wonkers.
2. Alcoholism.
3. Weeping and playing free cell for the first two months instead of working.
4. Never actually working. Would come in and then leave at some point, sometimes never to return for the day. Astounding. Did this for over 10 years and collected a check. Close to 6 figures annually, by my best guess.
5. Actually, many of them didn't work. Kept it to a minimum if they did, but one often described herself as "busier than a one-legged wallpaper man" and our favorite, "I'm dancing as fast as I can." One girl did a great Flashdance impersonation on that one.
6. Used company resources, including employees, to do research for her new business she was starting. Told the employees it was for "new business". Technically, not a lie....
7. Was in love with the head of the company, who was an alcoholic.
8. Abused recreational and prescription drugs. (Hmmmm, there's a pattern here.)
9. Had me sell her old clothes on eBay for her.
10. Made selected employees dress her, including put her pantyhose on her.
11. Removed the voicebox from her dog to eliminate that bothersome barking.
12. Put his best effort in to making prospective employees cry during the interview process. I simply became enraged and left in a huff after telling him off. I was hired the next week.
13. Left fifteen-minute voicemails stating the same thing three times. STAR SIX BABY. (the fast delete)
14. Had three dresses, exactly the same style, in three different colors - and wore each of them, every week.
15. Kept money in her bra and would reach in and hand you a (warm) $20 if you asked if it was ok to get breakfast for the department.

Now, I like my tequila every so often, and I've even put a dollar bill in my bra if I find myself combining a trip to the restroom & the coke machine & am without pockets. And I've goofed off and not worked. But so far, I think I'm doing ok by patterning my life and management approach in the opposite direction as those who walked before me.

To paraphrase some old-school XTC,
"And I may be the mayor of simpleton,
But I know one thing,
And that’s I'm not you....."
posted by PlazaJen, 6:50 AM | link |

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Captain Freakazoid

I just can't get places on time. I had a very bad model in my father, who would get IN THE SHOWER when we were supposed to be leaving for my chorus concerts at school. His philosophy was, I wasn't at the start of the event, therefore why should he sit through all the other stuff, let's just get there in time for me to go on stage. Add to that a natural tendency to space out and get distracted, and it's a disaster.
My apologies to Kristin, on her first day of work. My apologies to my husband, for past, present & future latenesses that will undoubtedly make him nutters. I even got up early, was dressed before 8 a.m. and still couldn't pull it off. I'm Lucille Ball and the conveyor belt of chocolate is always piling up.

I did, however, break many speed limits recklessly this morning, and no motorcycle cops caught me and therefore I was not as late as I could have been. WHEW. But JWo forgot to take the garbage out, so I had to do it, and then I got distracted by stuff in the garage and then I was Mario Andretti-ing it up Ward Parkway, calling everyone and apologizing. I should just have cards printed up & engraved with my name.
posted by PlazaJen, 9:53 AM | link |

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Welcome to Crazytown, an Ongoing Story

I had my one & only employee quit last week; it was a blessing for her and an opportunity for me; fortunately, a friend of mine was already pursuing something here with my bosses, and it all fell into place at the speed of light. So now, Miss K is coming here this week, and life will be even better!

When we were discussing her future (the girl who quit), she said how she had liked working with me, and felt like she'd learned a lot, and that she would always associate "crazytown" with me.
Immediately backpedalling, as I was hooting and saying things like, "GEE! THANKS!" she said, "No, no! It's just your phrase!" Because I use it all the time, and at the new job it's mostly to refer to processes or systems that aren't in place and the helter-skelter manner in which stuff around here gets done. The cool thing is, I at least get to exercise the chance to CREATE the processes and forms and whatnots. My thing is, you have to have a level of organization and some systems in place, but they shouldn't vine up and get a stranglehold around your neck.

The last place I worked tended to get choked by the philosophy of "must adhere to The Way". One of the things that made the last place Crazytown was how my boss would snap at me for being "too creative" and dismissive of any alternative ideas I had, but then in department meetings would say over and over, "Don't do it the way it's always been done! Think creatively! We need to push our vendors to really come up with creative solutions!" Uh, yeah. In a home environment being forensically examined by a psychologist, I think that's called "Mixed Messages". And as I look back on my time there, I see that it's incredibly logical what happened to me in the final couple of years: I got paralyzed. Fear of doing too much, saying the wrong thing, fear of doing it differently, fear of losing my job. One of the things that saved me, albeit just a month before I quit, was the decision I made: I would quit before October 1. (Some dreaded, dreaded work happens in the fall.) The day I said, out loud, "I'm not going through (dreaded work) again," I felt like half a ton of bricks had been taken off my body. Then, four weeks later I got to say, "YO, I'm not only leaving, I'm gonna be the director at the new gig! hah!" Karma? Luck? Divine Intervention? I dunno. I know I was due.

I left Crazytown with some baggage. I don't plan on having this baggage in four months, but I know I have it now, I own it, it's got my name on it, it all matches, and I know exactly where it came from & how it came to be. I still get angry when I think about particular situations and people, I want the karma bus to gas up, hit full speed and drive right over a couple people there. It's not good to be obsessed with commeuppence, I know. I'm giving myself six months to be rid of the anger and resentments - I figure it took over two years to create, it won't be gone in a week - and I'm gonna keep squawking periodically to get it out of my system. The good news is, I've already seen and felt the difference in me, as I'm way more relaxed, I don't have headaches every day, and my jaw isn't clenched from the moment I start my workday.

So I chalk some of my penchant for frothiness up to that crusader inside me, who wants to fix the world and make everything "right" and "fair". Because there are a lot of good people working at the old place who are renting living space in Crazytown (as opposed to those who've bought property & changed their drivers' licenses and everything - "lifers" who've bought the program and drink the kool-aid). The renters, they deserve better, and it honks me off that the "powers-that-be" there don't feel compelled to really dig in and fix it. Fixing things usually requires a lot of change. Change can be good, but it usually isn't simple or comfortable. I see it at my new job - people are craving change, but they don't want to go THROUGH change.

In the end, you can only control so much & you just have to decide - do you wanna live in Crazytown? Or in Hopeville? I was grateful to find a bus out of Crazytown before I had to start hitchhiking.

Smart dude observation for the day:

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." ~Benjamin Franklin

My mantra:
Be the change you want to see in the world.
posted by PlazaJen, 7:07 AM | link |

Monday, May 23, 2005

My Early Encounter With The Po-lice

Before we moved to Iowa, we lived in a tiny town in Wisconsin. My mom was working in the school system & my dad was on the land we'd bought, building our geodesic dome home in the woods.

One of the rituals we established was that anytime we went to the little corner store/gas station, I got a fudgesicle. I loooooved me the fudgesicles. I would eat it while my mom would pump gas into her white Ford Falcoln, with a red vinyl interior. After gassing up one bright sunny afternoon, she backed up and straight into another car. I barely remember all of this, I was 6, and had my priorities straight: eat the fudgesicle before it melts. Anyway, I guess they exchanged info and all that, but it was going to take too long for the police so they were to come to our house to take a report.

Nobody told me.

I answered the door, as I happened to be strolling by into the kitchen and noticed there was a very nice lady, in her blue police officer uniform, standing on the front step. A police cruiser sat beyond her, parked directly in front of the sidewalk. I walked up to the screen, and she looked down at me. She had curly brown hair and she smiled as she asked me, "Is your mommy home?"

My legs began to shake. I absolutely knew in that moment that she had come to take my mother away, and I would be left alone to fend for myself. I looked to the left, towards the living room where my mother was (she hadn't yet realized there was someone at the door.) This was also perhaps a tip-off to the police officer that I was lying when I stuck my chin out and answered, "Nope."
She patiently said again, "Is your mommy home? I need to talk to her. It's OK." My mom had heard her by now and she was starting to come towards the door. I commenced to have a full-blown FREAK OUT. Crying, hysterics, establishment of anarchy and public unrest. The police were here to take my mother away for hitting another car, and there would be no more fudgesicles, I didn't even know how to call my father and I certainly wasn't going to go down the street to my babysitter's house, she played a 45 of Neil Diamond singing about Reverend Blue Jeans over and over and had large wall art made of wire and nails. I tried to push my mother out of the doorway, out of the line of sight of the police officer, screaming NO NO NO. Assurances that everything was going to be ok fell on deaf ears.

Of course, they didn't haul my mother off to the pokey and it was simply paperwork that the officer had to go over. In our living room, she tried to be nice to me again, and tried to reassure me she wasn't going to take my mother away. I stayed glued to my mother's side and glowered at the police officer, as if to say, "Bitch, don't take me on." I didn't believe her, either, until she had driven off, and I watched her taillights disappear down the street.

Thirty years later, I know now that one shouldn't lie to the police, and that the song is actually called "Forever in Blue Jeans". But I still don't like Neil Diamond, and I hate the threatened feeling of an authority that has the power to take away MY power. I respect the police, but I dislike it if their only job is to write speeding tickets. Last, but not least, I'm still not a fan of wire/nail art. These things get rooted in our systems early on and they never let go.
posted by PlazaJen, 6:47 AM | link |

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Guilty Pleasure #829

I love COPS. Not motorcycle cops with radar guns, I think I've established my deep dislike for them, but the Fox show, COPS. LIVE on LOCATION. With the men and women of LAW ENFORCEMENT. I admit it, I own it, it's all mine, it's my guilty, guilty pleasure.

Saturdays are awesome because you can catch COPS on Court TV before the regular hour starts on Fox. Tonight, we watched one that took place in Portland, Oregon (hey, Shannon!) (Shannon wasn't featured, thankfully) and we watched in amazement as one wacked out dude refused to stand up for the po-lice. They twisted his hand so far around, and finally had one knee on his back while another ociffer rushed up and they found the gun they were looking for on him, and the WHOLE TIME the dude kept saying, "Wha? Wha'd I do?"

I turned to JWo and said, "If some big cop like that tells me to stand up, I will not only stand up, I will pee my pants, take off my clothes, do whatever's necessary, all the while keeping my jazz hands visible."

Because, bad boys, bad boys, Whatcha gonna do?
posted by PlazaJen, 10:20 PM | link |

Friday, May 20, 2005

Friday Flowers! A view of the pink peonies from my desk (last week - this week's are white & red). My most favorite flower. And yes, those are my Charlie's Angels trading cards. Posted by Hello
posted by PlazaJen, 7:36 AM | link |

Friday Flowers, Part II. We only have one white peony bush, but the flowers from it are incredible - opening up to at least 6" across each bloom! As my mother-in-law declared, they are "Big Ass Peonies!!!!" And gorgeous, and they smell heavenly. Posted by Hello
posted by PlazaJen, 7:30 AM | link |

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Land of the Free, Home of the MudHole.

If you want a quick snorting honk of a laugh, read this story.

I marvel at how we are all human beings, with blood vessels and muscles and lungs and skin, and yet our reality infrastructures are so wildly different. Now, if something like that happened here in the U.S., you'd be more likely to get a quote about a big mother of an alien ship that caused the destruction, not "Russia finally got to us". LOL, baby. LOL.
posted by PlazaJen, 3:46 PM | link |


The bag was in my car, it must have fallen out & I didn't notice it as I headed in to work. The thing is, I feel completely naked without my lipstick - I can skip all the other goop, and granted, when I do, I get a lot of comments like, "You look tired." "Are you feeling well?" so apparently I look a little more "alive" when I put the ol' mascara and eyeliner on, but all the same, I can't function properly without my lipstick, or my lipbalm, for that matter.

We can resume to normal daily life again. Crisis averted. Carry on.
posted by PlazaJen, 2:04 PM | link |

Red Alert

I have misplaced my Hello Kitty pencil case that I use for my daily-wear lipsticks. THIS IS A NATIONAL CRISIS. Please seek shelter and await further instructions.
posted by PlazaJen, 8:43 AM | link |

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Must-See For Me

I've been noodling this idea for a while now, to blog about the shows I MUST NOT MISS on TV, but it's kind of a walk of shame, because there are so many. But the truth is the truth, and I also admit to being the TechnoGadgetFreak of the house, as evidenced by my non-stop lobbying for a large-screen TV. This campaign was not helped when my father supported me, saying, "Do you watch TV?" (I replied, "Yes.) "Well then you should watch it on the best TV possible." Daddy, this is what got me into financial trouble all those years ago, thinking I should have the best of everything, or at least just everything. So there will be no plasma-screens at our house, but I still drool openly every time I go into CostCo and my heart beats a little faster at the idea of a widescreen digital TV.

JWo & I finally struck a deal that if I clean out the garage (which is filled to the rafters with all MY CRAP that was in storage, the aforementioned "everything"), we can get a big TV. And now that the door is open (and I have done nothing yet to clean out the garage), somebody has decided he needs an X-box 360, which means we'll have yet another thing to fight over: gaming or television-viewing.

So, I give you the shows I love, with commentary. My excuse at the end of the day? It's my business, I need to know what's on TV, and it's an integral part of conversations with clients and vendors. Plus this is the week all the networks are unveiling their Fall lineups and so it's really top-of-mind for me!

"The Shield". Holy crap. This is thug city and I get really stressed and nervous watching it. I'm blown away by the risks they take, by the gut-wrenching ethical dilemnas they put before you, and the acting is awesome. I LOVE THIS SHOW.

"24". Kiefer is having yet another very bad, no-good, rotten day. I get nervous sometimes. Kiefer is a great action-hero. LIKE, bordering on LOVE.

"Law & Order", "Law & Order SVU". I'm a tried-and-true loyal L&O fan. SVU is the better show, if not grittier to boot. I've skipped on the other two - they don't trip my trigger and besides, there is a limit. LIKE: L&O, LOVE: SVU.

"CSI", "CSI Miami" (or CSI My Jammies, as I like to call it.) JWo prefers Miami, I prefer Vegas. Miami is a little more cheeseball to me, and this is one where the original still sets the standard. I tried to get into CSI: NY - finally had to give it up. It was too dark (from a film standpoint) and the characters too wooden. Again with the only so many hours in a day. LOVE: CSI. LIKE: CSI Miami.

"Without A Trace" - The character development has been great, and it's still a well-crafted, unique show. LIKE, bordering on LOVE.

"Lost" - am behind on this show. It's confusing. Great concept, can't imagine how it's going to play out for more than a couple of seasons, I want the mysteries resolved. LIKE.

"Desperate Housewives" - hey, it's a nighttime soap. I enjoy it, and I like all the characters they've developed. ABC's crown jewel, and it's fluffy fun. LOVE like a friend.

"Alias" - this show has slipped on the Jen Love-O-Meter. I used to really get into it, and now it seems a bit lackluster. I'm taping all the episodes and transferring to VHS to (eventually) watch on the treadmill. If I actually get my butt moving I may have to revise my label, but for now, it's LIKE from afar much like a friend from high school.

"Survivor", "Amazing Race" - I lump these together because I love 'em both, I think Amazing Race is one of the best reality shows because it's great TV, it's all around the world, and you still get the interpersonal stuff that makes you like (or hate) people. Survivor is still the bomb, though I did dislike the "total tribe domination" that left this season with a lot more "hanger-ons" that didn't work or do much of anything and would have gotten sent home a lot sooner had both tribes been booting people out regularly. Despite that, still giving them both LOVE.

"As The World Turns" OK, OK ok. I watch a soap. I've watched it since college. It's great knitting TV, I don't get nervous, and I once quit it (cold turkey) when the writer change resulted in a horrid show. But I'm back and it's a guilty pleasure. LOVE like a longtime friend.

Now, lest you think my brain has gone to mush, let me follow that one up with the statement that just about everything on HBO is worth watching, even if I don't watch it regularly. I'm flat-out addicted to "The Sopranos", "Six Feet Under" and "The Wire". Greatest shows on TV. LOVE LOVE LOVE like I loved Rick Springfield when I was 16. I hate that "SFU" is going into it's final season, and the wait until 2006 for both "Sopranos" and "Wire" episodes is gonna kill me.

That's it for what gets DVR'd in the house; of course, I enjoy the train wreck that is "The Surreal Life", catching an episode on Saturday of "Best Week Ever" on VH1, even watching the tail end of "American Idol"'s season this year has been fun. "Simpsons" is still brilliantly written television, and I adore Jon Stewart and his crew on Comedy Central. "South Park" still amuses and reviles, pushing the envelope almost more than any other cable show I've seen. This is a lot of television to consume, but I enjoy it - and I knit cool stuff through all of it. As we head into Summer, and all the replacement shows shuffle in next to the re-runs, my tv-viewing will decline a bit, but once duck season returns and JWo is away on the weekends, I sure hope I'll be curled up on the couch with my remote & knitting projects, clicking away at a BIG SCREEN TV.
posted by PlazaJen, 11:34 AM | link |

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Dream Analysis

So last night, I dreamt I was walking around the Plaza area, which is not an unrealistic concept, but then I saw a raccoon riding a tricycle. And I thought, "Huh. That's interesting. Wish I had my camera." The raccoon even looked up at me and made eye contact, and then kept on pedaling.

But then, half an hour later? (in dreamtime) I saw a SKUNK riding a tricycle and it had a piglet on a leash running alongside.

And in my dream, I thought: "I have to blog about this! There are animals that can ride tricycles!"

Happy Tuesday. Would you like the blue pills or the red pills today?
posted by PlazaJen, 8:59 AM | link |

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Two years ago today, we stood in that gazebo and said, "I Do." Posted by Hello
posted by PlazaJen, 10:31 AM | link |

Six Years Ago Today

I had a first date with the man I would marry.

I thought relationships were like a puzzle, and didn't realize the pieces change and grow and I laugh now about just how much I had to learn.

Our first date lasted eight hours.

I had no idea we'd get married, but I knew I liked him and he was cute.

We had dinner at a restaurant that no longer exists.

Four years later we stood on blindingly bright Jamaican beach and then in a gazebo as the wind whipped around us and Barry White played on the CD player and we promised to love and support each other for the rest of our lives.

We had no family, friends or guests at the ceremony, and our witnesses were another couple staying at the resort.

Two years later, we're living in a house and have two dogs and a bountiful garden and wonderful friends in our lives.

It hasn't always been sunshine and roses, but we've worked hard and pushed ourselves to grow up a little bit more each time.

It's a good life.

I love you, JWo.
posted by PlazaJen, 10:30 AM | link |

Married for One Day. Posted by Hello
posted by PlazaJen, 10:27 AM | link |

Saturday, May 14, 2005

The Face of Low Morale

Not too long ago, this title was bestowed upon me, by my dear friend Kristin, who now gets to carry the title at my former place of employment. The title was her spin on the label, but the real bestower of the title was my former boss, who's a nutjob, can I just say how nice it is to say that out loud finally?

Anyway, I feel for Miss K, because we're very close, and we also have a lot of the same fiber content in the proverbial fabric of our lives, one item being, we can't pretend everything's ok. (Like Green Day's singing about right now.) That character "flaw" is what earned me the label of being responsible for all the bad morale in my department. Because, dear blogosphere, I am JUST. THAT. POWERFUL.

In a conversation this week with my new boss, he said, "I just think it would be impossible for someone NOT to like you." And I said, "Oh, don't kid yourself, they're out there."

I spent most of my youth basically begging for the world to like me. All those silly kids at school, my teachers, various boys, my parents - I defined everything in my life as others defined it for me, and their approval was necessary for me to function, as much as one can when you're expending all that energy into attaining everyone's approval. As you may know from your own experience, or can even imagine, by the time you hit your teen years, this sort of behavior hits a manic level - and suffering from depression and a deep desire to end it all, the only solution I could find was to pretend. I pretended everything was ok, and (I think this is the part that means the most) I pretended I didn't CARE. Maybe it was my own version of fake-it-til-ya-make-it, and then the weirdest thing happened: I became more popular. Now, you'd think that would teach me to not care, or perfect the art of going through life with blinders on. But the flip side was that I'd come home from a passable day and spend my evening trying to determine just how much damage I could do to myself if I flung myself out of my bedroom window. So, I've concluded that denial isn't really a good coping tool.

In order to preserve some semblance of peace at my last job, I did live in a pretend world. I hunkered down and collected my check and did a shitload of mind-numbing work. I could have hunkered down and done it for ten years, except my hair started falling out, and eventually, the real person inside me, who shouts for a living and would have no problem singing loudly in a restaurant if it made you laugh, couldn't take it anymore. It was like I was getting suffocated in the layers of crap and lies and the same daily gruel that we were supposed to fawn over and declare tasty. As I said many times in my last months there, "It sucks if the only thing you have to look forward to is lunch." So I started letting my voice speak again, because there are more of the unhappy than the soma-pill eaters, and I always think that perhaps just once, the little people can rise up and tear down the ivory towers. My swan song was at a goodbye lunch, where I bellowed about the Machine and Their Stupidity and traced the history back to when everything went south, and how I'd been telling them this for over a year, and in their slothlike managerial style, they'd rather shout "Off with her head!" than get up off the raised daias and do something.

And the very next week is when I got called in and was accused of contributing to the low morale. Damn! We had a mole at that lunch! Ahhh, Sidney Bristow would have spotted that spy and taken her out with a swift chop to the jugular.

But the next Monday after that, I quit. And I love my new job. I'm still working to shed the shreds of mummification I feel I had on me from the last job. And there's crazy stuff at the new job, sure, and there's loads to get straightened out and loads of plain ol' work to do, but nobody's telling me to silence my voice. The thing is, I don't speak from a place of making it all about me. I joke about it being all about me, all the time, but I can't shake off twenty-plus years of wanting to make other people happy. I am really good at making things better, and seeing things from multiple perspectives. I'm a problem solver and a general peace-maker, but bitch, if you wanna go toe-to-toe, bring it on, I'm not afraid to fight. But I'd rather make you laugh. As I was told at the last place, I have tremendous influence, and can have a great impact on how people react and respond to things. (Then why wouldn't you want me, the Great Influencer, to be happy? AH GRASSHOPPAH, still so much to learn.)

My joke a year ago was that I was in the Gift Shop of Vietnam. I wasn't going to get fired, and I wasn't on the front lines anymore, but I was stuck in the gift shop, would you like to buy a postcard while I waste my talents? I can give you updates on the front line action, it's horrible, but I can't do anything, I'm stuck in the fuckin' gift shop. And then I got airlifted out, and I have survivor's guilt. I love my friends and when you share a common experience, you can't turn it off and pretend it doesn't still exist, even though it's not happening to you anymore. (Well, some people can. Not me.)

And so, when I popped in on (another) goodbye lunch yesterday, I felt guilty.
Because I'm really happy. I want everyone to be happy, and I know, I can't make it so. But I'll never, EVER, stop trying. The leopard can only change so many spots, and those are stuck on me for good.
posted by PlazaJen, 9:08 AM | link |

Friday, May 13, 2005

More Costco Adventures....

Well, I do love the CostCo. I love saying "THE CostCo", because I feel like I'm already moving right into being the amusing, yet grouchy, eighty-year-old woman with large black plastic shades over my regular eyewear that I am destined to become. I already have the cane from my gymnastics accident last fall, I just need to shake it at people.

So, last night, as Miss Kristin & I breezed through all the foodstuffs, stopping to devour a sample or three, I discovered one of my favorite things to do: Lie to people, specifically, people I'll never be accountable to, ever again. One of the sample-server people admired the enormous cake we had in the cart, and believe you me, CostCo cake is one of the greatest sugar delivery methods on the face of the planet. You can get cheesecake-flavored filling, and icing made with real Philadelphia cream cheese. And you can have them decorate it with a princess, and I'm here to tell you right now that Subway got all the artists in the food industry, because the representation of princesses on CostCo cakes is a little lacking when it comes to the beauty department. They're actually ok, until it comes to features, and then you just get the standard two black dots and a smile. It looks funny as hell to me. Anyway, we were getting the admiration from the worker, and I breezily replied, "Thank you! It's for our niece's birthday. She's six." Like Kristin and I are sisters, or lesbanese, and it was for OUR six-year-old niece, NOT for our fellow knitter, Kim, who is at least 29.

As we wheeled away, Kristin started laughing at me - "What the hell was that?"
And I said, "It's fun to lie freely to people I'll never have to answer to, ever again." It feels fun, it's not hurting anyone, and it's in the same category as JWo at a restaurant, always putting us in under his alternative name, "Kowalski". It also feels a little like that kid we were & we all outgrow and forget about, so long ago, who makes up stuff and adventures and friends or pets, and can convincingly talk to you about Snuffles the Magic Turtle, or the invisible friend Ethel who only shows up to chat when you have to pee. (I had a friend who had one of those, for real!)

Our little niece, Kim Kowalski. I hope she has fun on her big birthday today. ;)
posted by PlazaJen, 2:21 PM | link |

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Keep Your Hands at Ten and Two, Sir.

JWo and I went to a party last night thrown by one of the outdoor vendors in town - it was really fun: great decorations, including elaborate ice sculptures, martinis and loads of food. Fabulous weather, too. They even gave away prizes, like iPod shuffles and a playstation, and did we win? NO. Oh well. We still got dinner for free, and we're simple folk, that's good enough. On the drive back, I was behind the wheel & I commented on the driver in front of me (of course! I am the best driver in the WORLD!), and muttered, "WHY does this guy keep hitting his brakes?!?"

JWo (being a smartass): "He's gittin' a handjob."

And we were laughing & then, one second later, the passenger in the truck scooted closer to the driver and then THE OUTLINE OF SAID PASSENGER DISAPPEARED as she dove face-first into the driver's lap! OH MAH GAWD. JWo was only joking about the handjob but it was actually true, and apparently the distracting situation had - shall we say - escalated!

Let me say, despite JWo's hootin' and hollerin' and thumbs-uppin' as we passed the dude: not only did Mr.(presumably) Happy's driving skills continue to deteriorate? His driving SUCKED!
posted by PlazaJen, 12:19 PM | link |

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

I Knows How To Party

There's something odd and funny when you go to a concert and you're bridging that gap between "older fan" and "potential chaperone". As someone who never got to go to concerts as a teen, I came late to the sport. Living in Minneapolis was awesome, and I saw loads of concerts, many at First Avenue (where Prince played in Purple Rain!), and would get sauced up and dance and have a grand old time and then, if necessary, go to work the next morning.

Now I schedule half-days off the following morning.

And I drank just enough Smirnoff Twists to feel perky, and kept yelling at Roger to keep drinking, as he was starting to melt into the couch and fall asleep before we left for the concert! We watched American Idol, and then the first hour of the Amazing Race finale, and his boyfriend chauffeurred us to the concert. We timed it perfectly, missing the opening act, and got there maybe twenty minutes before the Killers were to take the stage. So we spent it having a couple more drinks, hanging out in the lobby area (where it was only 250 degrees, as opposed to in the concert area, where it was hot enough to bake a pot roast in thirty minutes: that translates to convection-oven heat at approximately 500'.) We ended up hanging out with Afentra, the morning show host for the station sponsoring the concert - talking about people we all knew, her upcoming wedding, how we normally communicate - she sometimes reads my blog, I call in and rant about politics and stupid people and email her at the station, frothing at the mouth, it's all good. Then the music started. We stuck it out for maybe 30-40 minutes, until the played all the songs we wanted to hear (they only have one album, though they're crankin' on new stuff), and then we called David to come back and get us! Did I mention it was HOT? Even the BAND commented that they were from Las Vegas, and they weren't used to heat that was so - so - "moist". Uh-huh. Welcome to Misery, kids.

David gets us, accompanied by li'l Emily-loo-who, one of the cutest dogs on the planet, and we head back home. Suddenly, David veered into Wendy's. Good call. Junior cheeseburgers and frostys, soaked up all the sugar and alcohol, and we went back to their house & watched the taped last hour of the Amazing Race finale. Peeps, there is a God. Roger & I cried, as we watched Uchenna & Joyce race in to the finish line. My need for fairness and justice in the world was quenched, at least for one night. I hit the sheets at midnight, and snored soundly until this morning, where I had a leisurely time getting ready & then met a magazine rep for lunch. Now I'm at work and should probably get some work done, because that's what this whole grown-up life is centered around.

Ah, Youth. Like the flip-flop I totally (and accidentally!) ripped off some idiot girl last night because she was walking too slowly and being indecisive - it's gone so fast.
posted by PlazaJen, 1:39 PM | link |

Monday, May 09, 2005

Monday Ughs

I've got the Ughs. I'm wiped out from this weekend, I have a concert to attend tomorrow night, which will be awesome fun, but because I'm now an Old Lady, I have to take Wednesday morning OFF from work, because I can't go to a concert that starts at 9 p.m. and still get up and go to work the next day. I'm trying to finagle some VIP passes so I don't have to be mashed on the floor with the riffraff...actually it's more about me being short and not wanting to have to fight for space in a crowd and have my view for two hours be of some idiot's back.

That aside, we had a horrible accident here this morning in in a northern suburb - a schoolbus carrying 38 children hit two stopped cars & killed both drivers, one of the men killed is my close friend's boss at a small agency of 4 people. So I felt sadness & empathy for him today, as well as all the terrified parents who tried to find out if their kids were ok in the aftermath. He's been one of the people answering the phone & fielding all the calls, so I'm sure he's pretty worn down himself.

OH, after my big gettin-lost-in-the-rough-KCK last week, I did get my new chair this morning, but I apparently sparked a wave of ChairEnvy(tm), and now other people are lobbying for new chairs. Whups.

Lessee. I went for sushi at lunch, ate eel for the first time, and had to climb into my rep's Ford F-150 that was way the hell off the ground with no steppy things, and let me tell you, hoisting my bodacious booty up into a truck is not one of my favorite things to do, given that I'm 5'3". Short people got all kinds of business, so piss off all you who think that's a funny song, and make sure you have running boards on your goddamn vehicle and be a dear & get me some VIP passes for the Killers, would you please? This short lady needs a break.
posted by PlazaJen, 4:41 PM | link |

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Just Happy Day.

It's always a conundrum, this holiday. I dread finding the card, because as hard as I try, I always end up grabbing six gushing, fawning, "You're my mother, my BEST FRIEND, thank you for all your love and support, you gave me life, you're the wind beneath my wings, Heaven sent you to be My Angel, so Happy Mother's Day", and eventually I get to the card that just wishes a happy day, simply stated, and I avoid an emotional breakdown in the middle of Target. Now, I also buy cards for JWo's mom & grandmother, so it breaks up the focus a bit, and this year, I also got a card for my Auntie Karen who is here this weekend visiting from Florida. It was fun to buy her one of those gushing cards, as the first one I saw was absolutely nail-on-the-head perfect: To my Aunt, who is like a second mother.

For those who have wonderful mothers, who have great relationships with their mothers - enjoy today. Appreciate what you have, for not everyone is as lucky. I have tried every which way to make today a different experience for me, I have engaged and I have cut off, I feel guilt and anger, helplessness and sadness, but in the end, I have to take care of myself.

Last year, I sent a card, AND a live rose bush. Yellow roses. Her favorite. There was no acknowledgement, no thank you, and as my very-wise Auntie pointed out long ago in one of our conversations, "Behavior that is not reinforced is not repeated." This year, I bought myself three pink hedge rose bushes, which should arrive this week. They will represent the last two years of marriage, plus the third for the future. Next Sunday (our two-year anniversary), is the real holiday this month.

Celebrate what you have, what you want, the ones you love - every day, not just when Hallmark tells us to.
posted by PlazaJen, 10:31 AM | link |

Friday, May 06, 2005

Cinco de Me-O

Boy, howdy, I do like the tequila. Not in vast, falling-down quantities, of course, but I still marvel at how many different kinds there are still out there, waiting for me to try them. The new bosses decided to buy everyone beverages at the bar/restaurant next door, starting at 4 pm yesterday, and I had a shot of something called "Patron" - it's a sign of good tequila when you DON'T need salt or a lime to keep your face from screwing up into a pre-toddler wail.

Anyway, I went off to knit night in a considerably giddier state of mind than I normally do, and all my co-workers were stunned I was leaving the partying to GO KNIT. I said, "I can't stay any longer, my gauge will be OFF!" which of course meant nothing to them, and at first they thought I was using "knitting" as a euphamism for something else. To borrow from JWo, they will need more time to reconcile the contradictions that are the Jennifer - a girl who can toss back the top shelf tequila, AND knit like your gramma.

Funny crib notes from knit night? One individual was bestowed the title of "Master Baker", which said quickly sounds extremely funny, and good old Mike Hunt came up in conversation, which meant we were giggling and snorting like ten-year-olds. But the funniest? The development of a practical joke on someone we know who WORSHIPS Alice Starmore & her patterns, to plant someone near her at the yarn shop with a photocopy of one of the patterns & something that looked like it was just being cast on for such a sweater - out of Red Heart. Preferably in a variegated dyelot, for an Extra Ugly factor.

(Alice Starmore aran sweaters are unbelievable and incredibly complex - the charts alone make me flinch & my left eye starts twitching. So to knit them in Red Heart? :clutching at one's heart: It would drive someone to drink - probably an entire bottle of tequila, including the worm.)
posted by PlazaJen, 8:54 AM | link |

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Man Who Go Through Turnstile Sideways


(That's James' joke. It's one of the very few I can remember.)

There's a reason I'm talking about Bangkok and Thailand today, because my best friend Shelley just got home after spending three weeks in Thailand! I've missed her while she was gone, catching myself as I reached for my cell phone, or the home phone, to call her and tell her about something funny or scandalous. We have loads to catch up on, but we did have a short chat yesterday morning, where I ascertained she did NOT get engaged, as many thought she might, she is NOT going to eat rice for a long time, and she DID ride an elephant and get to play with their trunks. BITCH! How freaking awesome is that?

She went there with her boyfriend & his uncle's church group, where they worked in a village, building a water system. She slept on the floor of a thatch hut, and they apparently lucked out and had a more deluxe model, with planks, surrounded by a bamboo floor. (bamboo! Abbey, I'm gonna kill you for ingraining your little Bamboo! voice in my head.) Under the hut: chickens and roosters. Apparently roosters cock-a-doodle whenever the hell they feel like expressing themselves, not just at sunrise. And when it rained, birds and whatnot took shelter in their hut as well, because it's not like it was a hut with a door and double-glazed windows. I cannot wait to see the pictures. I can't wait to SEE her! I guess it also was quite hot, as they returned to the city of Chang Mai, where they had thermometers, and it was 104 degrees. She was a foot taller than all the people there, and they kept chirping, "Big one! Big one!" when they saw her. She was like, uh, yeah, thanks.

And apparently? If you are riding an elephant & they go downhill? You hang on for DEAR LIFE.

So in honor of Shelley returning from Thailand, I finally present photos from an awesome brunch at THAI 2000! I bet she doesn't want to go on Sunday.
posted by PlazaJen, 7:25 AM | link |

Appetizer Medley: Lettuce wraps with a pork/vegetable filling (you put cilantro & mint in the roll, too), waterfall rice noodle salad, and heavenly spring rolls. Posted by Hello
posted by PlazaJen, 7:20 AM | link |

JWo loves loves loves the desserts. At the top we have gellified water chestnuts in coconut cream (I like this one - traditionally, crushed ice is also added), and the pink and white squares are some kind of weird rubbery jello that have the resilience of Knox Blox on steroids, and a texture when you eat them of little hard bits of jello everywhere. The texture freaks me out & I'm not normally affected that much by texture. So this is alllllll for JWo. Posted by Hello
posted by PlazaJen, 7:19 AM | link |

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

My Love For The Free Spirit Who Is The JWo

Yesterday, I was in the shower, blasting my shower radio & listening to the DJs stick their noses into people's business, at said people's request, and marvelling at the stupidity and naievete of people who think resolving personal issues via the radio is a good idea.

Suddenly, James was in the bathroom (he had left for school right before I got into the shower.) I asked him what was wrong, pulling back the shower curtain. His face looked so sad, I was bewildered & was immediately concerned that something terrible had, though I guess it wasn't so desperate a demeanor to make me worried about the dogs. He told me that we'd had a frost, that's what had killed the tomatoes up by the house, and - this is the bad part - it killed his giant pumpkin.

Now, as you look at words, and you maybe read about James' desire to grow a giant pumpkin for the first time, you might chuckle. The phrase "Giant Pumpkins" is kind of funny, on its own. But my heart just broke for him, and I sent him an email mid-morning, expressing my sadness and how I wished I could fix it.

He wrote me back & told me that he was already germinating some fresh seeds, and while he was bummed, he was ready to try again. Since he'd been talking about the pumpkins with his classes, he had to tell them the bad news. One of the other fifth-grade teachers had her class make him SYMPATHY CARDS. It was so touching. Here are a few pix - the collection was touching, hilarious, and bittersweet. And as JWo put it, moments like that are exactly why he teaches, and they're moments most of us never get in our jobs.
posted by PlazaJen, 7:45 AM | link |

"Sorry about your sweet little pumpkin", and "Sympathy pumkin. Sorry about our pumkin. I know your sad but know its in heaven playing with its friends" sic Posted by Hello
posted by PlazaJen, 7:41 AM | link |

"Sorry", "Loving Memory", "Sorry you lost your prize possession" Posted by Hello
posted by PlazaJen, 7:39 AM | link |

"I'm sorry about your pumpkin. Death will come and death will go. You can always try again. Again I am sorry about your loss. I know how it feels to lose your loved one." Posted by Hello
posted by PlazaJen, 7:38 AM | link |

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


If Patternworks was the cocaine equivalent of yarn in the 90's, then Knit Picks is the crack of our current era. DAMN THEM for creating even MORE new lines of yarns, and making them beautiful, and making them affordable! DAMN DAMN DAMN! Our needles are healthier than heroin, but all the same, there's something to be said for a knitting addiction and deluding oneself into buying more yarn than can be knit in a lifetime. No, JWo, I didn't buy any (I'll wait and just get some sock yarn when our knitting group places an because I am still reveling in my acquisition of a Habu linen-paper-silk purse kit that is going to cycle in to the WIP's. (Works In Progress) And I'm making good progress on my pale blue "Pasta" ribbon lace jacket, the yarn is stretchy & pretty and soft, and I think it will be a fun summer topper. I also want to wind up my Noro I bought last year & make another Flyaway Free Jacket. Sigh. The list just goes on and on.

I leave you with K's Choice. It's the song I hear playing in my head as I look at new sock yarn.

Not An Addict
Breathe it in and breathe it out
And pass it on, it's almost out
We're so creative, so much more
We're high above but on the floor

It's not a habit, it's cool, I feel alive
If you don't have it you're on the other side......
posted by PlazaJen, 11:59 AM | link |

Morning or Night?

When I filled out my personality profile for college, one of the questions was, "Are you a morning or night person?"
I decided to ask my parents, and they both erupted in laughter. My mother said, while gasping, "Morning? Night? You're neither!"

Well, piss off, that doesn't help me guarantee I'll get a roommate who will be my best friend forever and make my first year at college the greatest ever! Maybe I sleep all the time to escape you nutjobs who don't understand me. I think I checked "morning", even though I desperately wanted to be a night person. Night people seemed much cooler from my home in the middle of nowhere without television. Night people surely partied, while morning people were dairy farmers and never left Iowa, ever.

Now, at the ripe age of 36, I still don't have it figured out. I've been both in my life - in college I hardly slept the first year, what with all the new experiences and PARTIES, but I still got up early every day, even if I was hungover. I probably lean towards being a night person because, hey, once you're up, it's easier to stay up than GET up. If you just push through that first round of sleepy, you can catch the second wind and stay up til, oh, 1 a.m. - but heaven help you on the flip side the next day. I have a greater appreciation of sleep with everything JWo went through with his sleep apnea. I also have had several bouts of insomnia, which left me feeling quite manic, jittery, and not really a safe driver. I keep thinking I'll pull it off, become something of a morning person again, get up & work out, have breakfast, read the whole paper, and still slide in to work on time. Hope springs eternal and self-delusion is a wonderful thing. :grins:

Oh, my roommate in college? Heh. We were pretty good friends but haven't kept up with each other. She started things off by locking me out of our room the first night because she brought a boy back to our room, and after she promised to be out in ten minutes, I went & sat on the steps of our dorm, looking out into the night, thinking, "Boy, I sure hope this doesn't happen every night," and ten minutes lasted into twenty and then I marched back to our door and demanded she finish the hell up and let me in. Damned if I would spend my first night at college in the lounge on the couch! Man, she's at least one or three blog entries....

I leave you with my ode to sleeping in on Saturday morning: There is nothing greater than being able to sleep, uninterrupted by an alarm, or internal alarms ringing wildly about all the stuff you have to do. To wake up at 7 a.m., yawn, stretch, and then snuggle back into the warmth of bed and sleep until you are fully rested? Bliss. Pure as snow.
posted by PlazaJen, 7:26 AM | link |

Monday, May 02, 2005

Kiss Up & Kick Down

I'd never heard that phrase before, but it is astonishingly succinct & captures what is wrong with oh, a gajillion people in management out there. In her regular column in the Sunday KC Star, Dianne Stafford wrote all about John Bolton, here. (Apologies in advance, you have to register to read it.) Apparently this dude was a nightmare boss to everyone under him, but was exceptional at kissing ass and so has risen up through the political world, and thus the phrase, "kiss up & kick down". And to explain my reading habits, I make it a point to read the employment section, even since getting my new job, because I always think it's interesting to see what activity is happening in the market, and the articles on the front section are worthwhile.

So, I was struck by the phrase, "kiss up & kick down" - universally, we've all known a manager/boss who does just that - treats the people below them with disrespect & disdain, while solidly sucking up to the political stratosphere floating above their level. I've known a lot of people like this, some have been my bosses, and I'll admit I've been political myself, and done some level of sucking-up, because I guess I've concluded that it's part of business. But I have never kicked down. I take it back. I did it once, in St. Louis, because I had an assistant (pre-dovetail boy) who was insolent and demanding, and she pissed me off. In her review, we had a come-to-jesus of sorts, and I learned just as much as she did - for she said to me, "You never thank me and you never appreciate the work I do." And I said, before thinking, "Well, I don't get thanks or appreciation from anyone, so...." and then I heard what I said. Huh. I guess the buck CAN stop with me, and I interrupted myself by continuing, "And I guess what that means is just because I'm not getting it, doesn't mean I can't give it, and so I will try to do that more for you." Our working relationship improved over time, and while we still never saw eye-to-eye on things (she was the one who believed Richards Simmons was NOT GAY), I still look at that supervisory experience as the one that taught me the most, because she was so difficult, and she was so direct.

So as I reflect on the bosses I've had, the bosses I have now, and the boss I want to be, I think of some of the conversations I've had of late with friends, about the battles they have at their current jobs, along with the giant battle I waged for two years that essentially got me nowhere towards attaining change, except to have learned more about another venue of my business (knowledge that, I admit, is necessary for my current job!) So I can't say the last two years were a waste of time - but the direction I expended energy, and the anger I held so tightly was a waste.

My problem is twofold: I want work to be about the work. Not about someone's ego, or somebody's need to create an award-winning television spot, even if the money to buy the airtime isn't there, not about doing everything the way it's always been done, not about being afraid of new ideas. I want work to be about doing the best damned job you can, and even though what we do is harder to define, in the end, it's just like cleaning the bathroom sink: you scrub it and clean it and you don't leave toothpaste behind and call it "artistic" or worse, tell me you don't clean sinks because you've been with the company for 25 years and doing any kind of work is beneath you now. My other problem is that I care too much about things being "right". I want the little people to get their cake. I get angry when they're denied tap water and a cracker. I run headlong at brick walls, because I believe so strongly in the average worker, I think my force of will has the power to break the wall down and make the world a better place. I have the arrogance to think I'm a better manager than most of the people who've ever managed me, and I'm smart enough to know that arrogance is not a good quality. I basically never want to become those bosses I abhored. I've never seen the movie "Norma Rae" but sometimes I feel like the main character in that movie, because I wanted to start a revolution at my last job. Hey, my dad tried to start a union in Colorado when I was a baby, and that action got my mom & him fired from their social worker I guess I come by it fair & square. And I almost got myself fired in my crusade, and then I tried to keep my mouth shut as long as I could, because, like, you can't make a mortgage payment with a passionate desire for justice and a strong sense of ethics. But now that I'm not there? I realize I've still got a pile o' bottled anger to get rid of, and I'm working through it. I don't want to still be bitter in two years, I want to be able to laugh about it. Right now, I can laugh, but not without feeling that burn in my stomach at the same time.

Here's to kicking up and kissing down. I still believe you can save the world, one person at a time - starting with yourself.
posted by PlazaJen, 9:50 AM | link |

Sunday, May 01, 2005

I SEE You!

Extremely late Self Portrait. I took it on Thursday in my office. Feel like spelunking in my nose? Posted by Hello
posted by PlazaJen, 2:52 PM | link |

I Never Claimed I Was Normal

The mishmash that is me, as illustrated by my desk: trout can holder for the Diet Coke; spiffy new pale lime green business card holder from Target. Posted by Hello
posted by PlazaJen, 2:49 PM | link |