PlazaJen: Passion Knit

Friday, September 30, 2005

The American Royal, or, "How I Got Hobbit Feet"

Whew! A long fun night of traipsing, sitting, getting bbq sauce everywhere, beer, bbq, more beer, and running into friends. And missing phone calls from more friends.

Tomorrow morning, we haul ass to Weston for the Apple Festival, a pumpkin patch, and who-knows-what-all-else, then it's on to Oregon (MO) for a Waterfowler Banquet, and then back home by uhhhhhh, midnight. Depending on the time zone you are in, you will feel the earth tremble a bit under your feet, and that will indicate the moment I fling myself onto our bed in a state of utter collapse.

But plan for lots of pictures by Sunday/Monday. While I may not have any pics of Tony Danza (that meet & greet happened too early), I DO have the best pictures of Elvis. He's alive. Don't try to tell me otherwise.
posted by PlazaJen, 11:02 PM | link |

The Taste of Memories

All this reminiscing about college & I'm suddenly craving "Scotties" which were a drink specialty of a restaurant at Grinnell. Shocking news, but I was quite chummy with the bartender, a behomth of a woman and foul-tempered, but I've always had a knack with (most) people & she liked me - thus assuring that I was never carded. We'd sit at the bar & get pitchers of Scotties & order french fries to keep us from completely falling off our perch. I can still see the french fries they served: crinkle-cut & never fried to a full crisp.

A pitcher of Scotties consisted of regular ol' beer (Bud? Pabst? The Beast?), tequila, and Rose's lime juice. It sounds really weird but holy toledo they were good. I'm totally making them soon. I'm not sure why they were called "Scotties" because they were neither Scottish nor similar to a short black dog. I've never seen them served anywhere else, either, and the Longhorn restaurant is long gone. A perfunctory Google search yielded nothing, except a lot of margarita recipes. If I perfect the recipe, I'll let you know!

Meanwhile, tonight, think of me & my oh-so-glamorous life: I believe I'm getting a meet & greet with ........drumroll........... Tony Danza. At the American Royal, so don't think it's fancy or nothin'. Yes, the girl who was raised without television, and never saw an episode of "Who's the Boss?" will stand in line to say howdy and have my husband take my picture with him. I guess I did see him in "Taxi" re-runs, but I remembered all the other characters more, and was chastised at knit night for my faulty memory. Damn Andy Kaufman & Christopher Lloyd for being so much more memorable!!! I promise, this celebrity encounter will not involve me losing my mind & telling him I've had a sex-change operation, like I did with Bryan Adams. And Kristin's Mom has already given me an ultimatum: if I have the opportunity to get his autograph & don't? My Frango Mint Underground Railroad is gonna get SHUT DOWN. She also wants me to tell him she hates his hair (I guess he is looking for a new hairstyle b/c a 63 year-old woman told him his hair's bad), but I'm a little too Midwest-polite to pass that along. I'd rather share obscene lies about myself......
posted by PlazaJen, 7:04 AM | link |

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Like A Moment, Frozen, Forever There....

ahhh, a quote from one of my all-time favorite bands, Concrete Blonde. Song: "God Is A Bullet". Anyway. At book club, I was asked if, since I identified so much with the main character, could I, as he did, stand by as his friends murdered their loose-cannon friend? (They pushed him off a cliff, mind you. Happened quite fast.) I pondered it briefly and said "Yes." And they alllll moved away from me on the Group W bench.

I felt somewhat pressured throughout the evening to explain my response, which I think I eventually did, for it wasn't an indication that I condoned murder, or thought I could truly be a party to it, but I understood, in Donna Tartt's oh-so-visual text, that horrible feeling when a moment in time freezes you, when you feel stunned by the endorphins & it's like all the Brain Gnomes are desperately trying to put the right connectors into the right sockets, and failing miserably, and you are trying to process and trying to understand and meanwhile, time is still moving for everybody else.

The example I gave made it clear.

When I was first starting out in advertising, I worked at the biggest agency in town. We were little worker bees, putting in long hours, partying like mad, and sticking together at our worker-bee level. Three of us worked for this woman who was Awful. Dreadful. And rather Stupid, which for me is the kiss of death. Anyway, she never exactly knew what she wanted, but she would sound like she did & send you off to do days of hardcore salt mine labor, only to completely 180-degree-it when she saw it and result in you doing it ALL OVER AGAIN with the new parameters. Do you see why we disliked her so? It was after several days of us slaving away, we had handed it off to her, waiting for the inevitable, and our bitter, motley trio who'd sweated it were gathered in a cube. She in her office chair, me in the guest chair, him standing by the "doorway". Said supervisor came by, and FUCKING PROCEEDED TO UNDO everything she'd asked for and basically puked another 20+ hours worth of work onto us. She strode off, and at the general space she had occupied seconds earlier, I had both arms outstretched, both hands with middle finger raised, wildly waving them up and down, much like you would at, say, a Chiefs game where you'd just gotten a bad call, your chest is painted red & gold, and you were into bad sportsmanship.

But she hadn't strode off very far. In fact, I only had started to get warmed up with my Fuck You Gyrations, when she suddenly re-appeared in the doorway. In that split second before she actually looked at me, I wrapped my arms up around myself in the most awkward, bizarre position, and blithely pretended I was starting a yoga movement, years ahead of my time. Our faces said it ALL. We were caught. Time was frozen and our mouths were open and we were waiting to see if she'd seen me, were we caught, what was happening. In fact, she had come back to add one more thing she'd thought of - another many hours worth of work - and in our terror, we quite chipperly agreed to do it. She knew something was up, but what was it? Nobody was going to speak, since we were all simultaneously experiencing massive coronaries.

And that's what I mean, when the sound goes out and your blood rushes at breakneck speed and your mind races, sprints, bounds and trips, trying to figure out what you should do next, when fight and flight round the corner travelling in opposite directions & flat-out clothesline each other, leaving you transfixed, unknowing, blinking.

Being a quick learner, let me just state that I've never repeated that behavior. I've done plenty else to get myself in trouble, but neeeeever again with the wild bird-flipping Fuck-You gestures. And you KNOW we had a hell of a lot of fun with it all later, once our heart rates slowed down - re-enactments and re-telling at many a happy hour for years after it happened. I haven't got a real moral to the story; just know that I'm not a proponent of pushing people off cliffs, and if you want to flip off your boss, you should think twice about it.....or at least be working in an office with hard floors, not carpet, so you can listen for footsteps & be sure they're gone. I heard through the grapevine, many years later, that she was fired/let go. In my mind, that just further supports the notion that when the Karma Bus comes to town, you better have a ticket - otherwise, it's gonna run you over.
posted by PlazaJen, 7:14 AM | link |

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

From One Extreme to the Other

Woohoo! I finished my book club book ("The Secret History", by Donna Tartt) with 53 minutes to spare. It took me almost that long to drive to the Hinterlands, where book club was meeting!

I really liked the book, as did everyone else. There was lots of lively discussion, and it was interesting to discover that some people liked characters I hadn't liked at all. In any event, a book I'd suggested last go-round was brought by another person, and was voted as the next selection: A Million Little Pieces, by James Frey. Here's the extra bonus: I've already read it! I'll probably re-read parts of it/skim it as we get closer to meeting, but I loved the book. Absolutely loved it. I even loved the book cover design, and I don't normally get wound up about that. And now that it's Oprah's book club pick, I guess a whooooole lot more people are going to read it. (Get your copy quickly, is what I'm sayin'.) We also noted that we were going from a book where drugs & alcohol were used freely & in the utmost bacchannalian sense - to the starkest description of recovery & withdrawal. The not-so-pretty side of it, and there are some graphic, painful descriptions of his autobiographical account of getting clean & then trying to stay that way.

Well peeps, the morning is slipping through my fingers. I awoke to the oddest color of sky this morning & now it's grown darker & darker with thunder rumbling & rain is starting to fall. Once again, I will be challenging myself to drive to work safely & under the speed limit, wishing I were curled up in bed with a good book, some yummy tea & a dog at my side for pettin' and yarn for knittin'. Have an excellent Wednesday!
posted by PlazaJen, 7:39 AM | link |

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Peter Principle, Alive & Well

Oh no he DI-IN'T!

"My biggest mistake was not recognizing, by Saturday (before the storm made landfall), that Louisiana was dysfunctional," Michael Brown told a House of Representatives panel looking into the aftermath of the catastrophic storm.

The Peter Principle (as defined by Wikipedia):In a Hierarchy Every Employee Tends to Rise to His Level of Incompetence.

Who among us HASN'T worked for a Michael Brown? This quote of his smacked so badly of a couple of my former bosses I almost went blind.

Blame shifting? Dude. You're already fucked. Shut up while you can still find another excessively-ovecompensating job where you can throw people under the bus at your leisure.
posted by PlazaJen, 3:58 PM | link |

Book Club: The Alcohol & Drug-Free Way To Recapture Your College Years.

I like my book club. We meet every 6 weeks or so, and talk and drink wine & eat really good food. We've read some awesome books, too. Life of Pi, Bel Canto & The Kite Runner to name a few. (All standard good book club books.) Last gathering, half the attendees didn't read the book, yours truly included. (The book was not to my liking.) The latest book is quite good, "The Secret History" by Donna Tartt, and three guesses as to who was cramming half the book the night before book club?

MOI? But I bought the book right away & began reading it right away. And when I reflected on this, ohhhh, I saw this blazing pattern in lights and shimmery stars, to how I approached EVERY assignment in college. Start early, set it down, party party party, cram it finished in the final approach.

I'm reliving my youth, plain and simple, only without the hangovers or grade cards. Now, I'm almost done with the book, and I've got 'til 7p tonight. And? It'll be fresh in my mind! Hah! The justifications haven't even changed over the years. Except the beer's been replaced with knitting.
posted by PlazaJen, 7:12 AM | link |

Monday, September 26, 2005

Enough With The Meatshake!!!!!

OK, I'm not getting over-obsessed, but I went back to look & see why I was getting the "Cuz I Got High" hits, and LOOK AT TODAY'S STATS!

ENOUGH with the meatshakes. Bleah! OK, but I will give wild props to Mrs.Strizzay for the line, "My meatshake brings all the boys to the yard." Between that & "Pay it forward MOTHERFUCKERS" I will be retiring from my Cafe Press riches in two weeks.

Oh, and Becky, people searching for "Cuz I Got High" are hitting me because of this blog entry.

People. I am high on life and Thai food. Not the wacky tobacky OR meatshakes.
posted by PlazaJen, 1:26 PM | link |


Kristin has returned from Chicago, and she brought me a pressie! Me loves the pressies! Pressies turn me into an Australian Cookie Monster, apparently! (At least that's how the dialect sounds in my head. Feel free to embellish.)

Which Came First?

Isn't it just the cutest? I LOVE IT! I shall spend the afternoon measuring things.
posted by PlazaJen, 11:22 AM | link |

Sometimes He Wants To Drive, Not Hover:

Yoda was apparently behind the wheel on my (very late again) commute to work.

Overheard: "Ran that red light, I just did!"
posted by PlazaJen, 9:20 AM | link |

Sunday, September 25, 2005

My Work Here Is Done

I don't check my statistics obsessively - a few times a week, and even less than that, do I check "keyword activity". But today? I did. And was GREATLY amused.

OK, so 2 people searching for "cuz I got high" found me. Even more scary, somebody searching for "meatshake" is out there. And if I ever decide to start a band? I've got the perfect name now: "Jen and the Fabric Freaks".
posted by PlazaJen, 12:25 PM | link |

Me & You & Eric Chaloux

(as sung to the tune of Me & You & A Dog Named Blue.....)

Eric Chaloux. He's a reporter on the local CBS affiliate, and he used to be on the NBC station. Where do I begin? From a global overview, I think it's funny how with some things, we change our feelings over time without even really realizing it.

When Eric first appeared on NBC's 10p news, I could. not. stand him. His delivery for every news story was dramatic, over-wrought & inconsistent with the rest of the news program. He was the fodder of many jokes I made, with others in the media biz, about the Highly! Dramatic! Delivery! And then he was gone from NBC.

Because he'd gone to CBS (KCTV). The station had undergone huge changes, new management, and they were re-positioning themselves in the market with a whole new approach: LIVE! Late-Breaking! Investigative! Essentially, if it bleeds, it leads. Quite the perfect environment for Mr. Eric. Except now he was on mornings. Ohhhhh, new fodder & fun in our household. Poor Eric. He gets sent out at 4 a.m. and reports from old crime scenes, still with the unflagging enthusiasm that seems to be part of who he is, not an act. And he did tone down his voice, that was the thing that really made me nuts. James, being the early riser in our home, would tell me "Eric Chaloux's out on an on-ramp, waiting for the ice!" "Eric Chaloux's stuck at some strip mall where a robbery happened 14 hours ago!" One of the funniest early-morning adventures came when Eric tried to demonstrate how thick the ice was, and broke his ice scraper. Even the "pretty people" back in the studio seem to chuckle a little bit more at/with him. I developed a little bit of a soft spot for the guy, because anyone who's dedicated & enthusiastic, despite getting stuck with the shitwork, deserves some appreciation.

So in my new job, I work with a lot of different sales reps at KCTV, one of whom is drier than dry & makes me laugh every time I see him. In our first lunch, I think he heard basically the same things I've just written, and, like any good jokester (and salesperson), stowed that information away. The next time we had a meeting, he was presenting some football packages, and (with great dramatic flair) gave me an autographed picture, from Eric Chaloux. Ohhhh, lordy. I got a little worried, that Eric Chaloux was starting to think he had an obsessive admirer, but I was reassured that was not the case. Fast forward to the .Access Hollywood event, and lookie-who's covering the excitement? Eric Chaloux. My funny sales rep? Got Eric over for a picture, which turned into a GROUP picture with all my sales reps & the general manager of the station. Good Grief. Kristin was, once again, laughing hysterically.

I told the general manager of the station, "You know what? Eric should move to evenings. He's been on mornings long enough, don't you think?" The GM said they were discussing it, in fact. And a week ago, Mr. Chaloux began appearing on the 10p news. I don't want to take ALL the credit, but I'd be fine with a brief interview/profile on Hilarious BlogWriters of Kansas City.

The moment, captured. (And cropped. I'm not giving my reps any extra glory.)

posted by PlazaJen, 6:27 AM | link |

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Hey Party People....

So the open house party was a success; it looked a little sketchy at first what with all the rain & I think everyone's anxiety level was hitting the roof. Having sat at my desk smelling garlic and cheese for two hours, it was all I could do not to leap onto the table and sit in the middle of it, grabbing brie with one hand & shrimp with the other. Since I'd like to keep this job, I refrained.

However, once the crush of people started, I found myself squirrelling off to my office to sit and just be still for 5-10 minutes at a time. I think I'm more the 20-person-max-party-girl, and I like to have the option to SIT DOWN in a four-hour window. There was no sitting, and there were at least 100 people milling about. I spent most of my time talking to co-workers, one of whom announced she was gettin' drunk, dammit. I felt so old at that moment. My days of getting drunk around all my coworkers (at the office no less!) are gone gone gone they been gone so long gone gone gone so long. I have been known to whoop it up in a bar setting, but anymore, the meds I'm on make me sweat like a sprinkler if I'm drinking and it's slightly warm, so that's unpleasant, and I'd rather not lose control in front of people who don't really know me yet.

I had some fun conversations, though, and my boss & his wife are just awesome. The stories they tell about their kids make me laugh SO HARD, because each of their three children are so different, and yet such characters. I'll re-tell them all, I'm sure, but for today I'll leave you with the one from their youngest, a 3-year-old boy. He wanted McDonald's. And stated it as such. "Mom, I want McDonald's." "No, honey." "Mom, I WANT McDonald's!" "No!" "Mom, I WANT MCDONALD'S, GODDAMMIT!" She almost drove off the road. And upon learning he shouldn't use that word, it became a mantra chant from the backseat: "GODDAMMIT GODDAMMIT GODDAMMIT GODDAMMIT!"

I said, "So, did he get McDonald's?"

I love good parenting.
posted by PlazaJen, 9:07 AM | link |

Friday, September 23, 2005

Driving With Cindy

I had lunch with my good friend Cindy today; she drove, and on our way back we encountered all the blocked roads & extra traffic due to the art fair on the Plaza starting today. Cars weaving in and out, stopping, crossing intersections in the midst of traffic, just your usual pell-mell excitement down here. We both decided that the restaurant was yummy, but we were annoyed that we both smelled like a hot pancake griddle after we left. I guess that's what happens if you eat someplace that serves a lot of paninis?

Anyway, Cindy's yelling at the bad drivers, and I said, "We are exactly the same when it comes to driving. I'm glad you're screaming at them, because otherwise I'd have to, and it's nice to let someone else do it." Two minutes later we're at one of those decision-points, where a giant Mack truck wants to turn in front of us, but we're sorta in the way of their path, and we can see our light is green, but the 10 drivers in front of us are apparently asleep and not pushing the little square acceleration pedal. Cindy declared, "I have to decide. I have to decide!" Since nobody in front of us was moving, she put the car in reverse and made room for the truck to turn. The light turned red as we waited for the truck to get out of the way.

"I hope that was the right decision, don't let it be wasted," she grumbled at them as they turned, hoping that the accomodations she made would result in the MackTruck People doing something equally nice to someone else.....

Shaking my fist, I shouted: "PAY IT FORWARD, MOTHERFUCKERS!"

Cindy: "I'm gettin' that tattooed ON MY ASS."

It's good having good friends, especially if you swear like sailors and smell like hot pancake griddles.
posted by PlazaJen, 1:04 PM | link |

Like Wrangling Cats

Suzy & Polly are EXTREMELY demanding when they have a photo shoot together. It's like having Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie in the same room for 6 hours, posing for shots illustrating the concept of BFF while a plate of nachos sits just out of reach. I heard Suzy mutter something about "beef jerky in my rider next time" after these pictures were shot. Celebrities! I tell ya! Next thing you know, my dogs will be demanding gift baskets!

In the same vein, we are having an open house for our clients & whatnot this afternoon? And you might think, working here this week amid the MadCap Cleaning and the emails containing Important Instructions and Reminders, that this was the First Party Ever Under The Milky Way Night Sky of Earth's Orbit to be thrown. Ever. Perhaps this is why: it has been ALL BOYS working on planning this party. Grown-up men with letters in their titles scurrying around like wedding planners, debating over where to put chairs.

And there you have it. Not to be all "I'm The Greatest" or "Chicks Rule", but a girlfriend & I were in charge of a similar open house at my last job, for 4x the guests, and I don't recall being this squirrely, even on the day of the party. It's always interesting to see the differences between men & women, and it's actually funny when it's over something as simple as a party. Boys will be boys.... At least they knew they needed to do more than open a bag of Doritos and get a couple cases of beer - Dean & Deluca are catering.

Despite the yummy food & free drinks, it's raining outside & staying in bed never looked so good! I need a rider. On party days, I don't come in until 3. I bet Paris Hilton has one.
posted by PlazaJen, 7:26 AM | link |

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Random Orts*

I'm thinking that, if you are selling yourself as a hip trendy nightclub, the fact that you tag your radio spot with the location-helper: "Located between Hobby Lobby & Price Chopper"???

That kinda undermines the whole "hip-trendy" effect, peeps.

*ORT, a great crossword-puzzle word; definition: a morsel left at a meal : SCRAP (in other words, a new category for the random bits that fall out of my mind.)
posted by PlazaJen, 4:36 PM | link |

Equal Time

When I got home last night, both dogs met me at the door. They told me about their days, and they tried the game of "Daddy di'n't feed us, you should feed us now!" but I was on to their game, having spoken with James & he told me he'd fed them. I called them on their little trick and then we all laughed and they said they couldn't help it, they're labs, they have to always try for some more food!

Later on, though, Suzy came & found me, and I saw she was struggling a little to talk, but she finally confessed she had been reading my blog. (Since she's been working really hard at expressing her feelings, I didn't interrupt to ask whose computer she's using.) She then said that when she saw pictures of JUST Polly yesterday, and there wasn't even mention of her, she felt sad. And left out. I told her that I was sorry, and that I don't mean to play favorites, but she knows as well as I do, that Polly's younger and a lot more pushy and so sometimes that means she gets more attention, but I didn't love her any less, and I promised to put HER pictures up today. Because Suzy's a good dog, too.

posted by PlazaJen, 7:28 AM | link |

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


I was sitting here with this big blank space, and I'm still rather tired, not woken up, trying to figure out what I wanted to write about today: the waiter last night, Dave Grohl, the new tv season, silliness at work, insaneness of a former workplace, you know, the general swirling maelstrom.
Then, I felt a nudge.
I looked down.
Aw. I'd much rather pet my dog. So I made her pose and told myself you'd understand. Pretty Polly just sneaks up sometimes and makes me want to play hooky & skip everything!

posted by PlazaJen, 7:10 AM | link |

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

We Interrupt This Blog For Actual Knitting.

Oh, yeah, baby. There are people out there with "knitting blogs", and hell, the TITLE of my blog is about knitting, but let's not sugar coat it people. I enjoy the blog for the bitching and the kvetching and the shouting and the laughing, and sometimes I give you knitting updates. So today I give you some updating on how I do spend a lot of my time!

These are socks for JWo; custom-fit, toe-up, using Lucy Neatby's little square toe. I did not like the idea for leaving the heel until the end, so I abandoned the pattern for hodge-podging my own. The yarn is Regia 100g, and it came in one big ball. I always do my socks at the same time! Two socks on two circs, it's the way that works for me.

These are socks for me, and they knit up SuperFast. I don't know why! They're a little snug, but they feel like warm wooly feet hugs, so I'm pleased. My feet like to be hugged. The yarn is Parade, from Knit Picks, color Plum. It's sport weight, and I got some in Pumpkin Patch for socks for James! I see from the website that they re-named it to "forest". Whatever, I have the label that calls it punkin patch and there is no better-named yarn for my Giant Punkin Grower! The pattern is Lucy Neatby's Mermaid Sock, with the wavy cuff. The twisted rib was really fun, and I think contributed to why it went so quickly. The self-striping made it look like I was making entrelac socks, but really, it's a simple pattern with the stitch & the yarn making the magic. Also, the big short-row heel was awesome. Loved it. No gaping holes, no doing slip stitches, just a cushy garter stitch. I'll be using that heel again! If you like to knit socks, her book "Cool Socks, Warm Feet" is a must-have.

This is the start of my clapotis. I worked on it on & off in the car yesterday; it at least made the drive go faster! I managed to get more stitches between the markers than I think is called for? And I. Don't. Care. It's a scarf, it's adjustable, and I'm capable of adapting the pattern to my mistakes! So we'll see how I feel about it when it's done! LOL! I'm using an extremely soft sock yarn from Knit Picks, Sock Landscapes, in color Rocky Mountain Dusk. I have four skeins of it (so I've got more yardage to play with as I "adjust" this pattern), and the Clapotis will cost me $16, vs. the $90 I'd pay to use the called-for Lion & Lamb. Sigh. Yes, I realize I'm not knitting with silk/wool in an exquisite colorway....and yes, I'm using Hello Kitty & Spongebob Squarepants shoe charms for some of my stitch markers. I'm just a Knitta With Attitude. Look for my hip-hop album to drop next year.....
posted by PlazaJen, 7:13 AM | link |

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Everybody's Doin' Done It

So I'm finally gettin' going on having the clap. The clapotis, that is. I pronounce it clap*o*TEE, but I'm sure there are as many ways to say it as there are knitting styles. In any case, I'm going to use my commute time tomorrow to get goin' on it - given that I'm spending over 5 hours in the car to & from a new business meeting. I already told the guys who're going with me that I'll be in the backseat, knitting. Forewarned is forearmed, baby.

My old boss used to denegrate a franchisee who would go to meetings & bring her knitting, because she said it was so unprofessional looking, and it made the woman look stupid. I asked if the meetings were really boring & unproductive, and she enthusiastically agreed with me..... I might have muttered something about how instead then, she was pretty smart, using that time to accomplish something worthwhile. (Oh, and nevermind that the woman was a millionaire, as required to even BE a franchisee.)

It's all about the culture, isn't it? Excellent article in today's KC Star, reviewing a book I plan on getting, called "Bait & Switch". Basically, white-collar corporate America is more interested in creating a "culture" based on "personality", and the desirable personality profile is one that looks just like the people running the place. Because yes-men and people who think just like their bosses? Now that's creativity, people......
posted by PlazaJen, 7:38 PM | link |

Saturday, September 17, 2005

You Had Me At "Fraud"......

OK, that's a horribly petty title. But good grief. First off, is anyone REALLY surprised that Renee Zellweger & Kenny Chesney are no more? That their marriage, like the Monty Python parrot, is dead? (A "Fraud", no less! Whatever that means!) eGad. It's the price you pay, being famous, in exchange for all your fucking celebrity gift baskets (that I am positively GREEN WITH ENVY for) and your fat bank accounts, everyone gets to make fun of you for being an idiot.

See, I was thinking about this (in all that blank vacuum-esque time when training was going on, and it was being taught in Swahili, for all I could tell), that my personal approach to my marriage & most all of my relationships is what I'd describe as "the opposite of Jenga". I prefer to build up, with precision & a steady hand, taking my time to lay the small wooden sticks in order to create the strongest foundation possible. These speedy-flash marriages make me visualize a Jenga tower, thrown together & stacked high, without a lot of care or thought into how long it might stay up, or what happens the first time one of the blocks gets knocked into, bumped, or taken out. I know, there are people who get engaged in two weeks, married in six months, and stay married for the rest of their lives. My best friend Shelley's parents' story was exactly that - 45 years later, they're still chuggin' along. If my approach classifies me as "cautious", well, I'll live with that. We got engaged after 3 years & 3 months of dating; married at 4 years, and now we're at 6 years and 4 months. (Don't worry, I don't keep a ticker going, I use my fingers to count off from May to figure out how long it's been.) I just don't know how you truly know someone in less than 6 months. I had a 7-year friendship bite the dust, for pete's sake, over basic personality & belief differences. I suppose the flip side is if you have a whirlwind romance & get hitched & keep a lot of romantic notions about love & relationships being like something out of the movies, then you're bound to hit the rocks pretty quick-like. Kind of like your Jenga tower falling down after only two blocks get pulled out.

For the record, though, I figure if anyone's spouse gets within seduction-range of Angelina Jolie, nobody's marriage is safe. Hell, I'd probably leave JWo for her. (Oo! Think she'd adopt me? Then I'd get to fight Maddox and Zahara for the cool shit in her celebrity gift baskets!)
posted by PlazaJen, 12:22 AM | link |

Friday, September 16, 2005

Update: Glamorous Life

Oh. My. God.

Training is over.

I actually wrote down, "This is the point at which the cougar would start to chew his paw off."

People, that was around 11 a.m. I just now finished up with training (with a break for lunch), and the last 35 minutes were the only ones I needed.

I wish I could hide my feelings better. Because right now I look like a mental patient with anger management issues who escaped lockdown, hasn't had her meds in three days, and is seeking SOMEONE TO PAY FOR HER PAIN.
posted by PlazaJen, 3:13 PM | link |

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Glamorous Life

I love that song.

She wears a long fur coat of mink
Even in the summertime
Everybody knows from the coy little wink
The girl's got a lot on her mind
She's got big thoughts, big dreams

doo doo doo doooooo she wants to LEAD the glamorous life she don' need...... training....

lalalala, and so let's talk about how NOT glamorous my life is this week. What with the sewing and the schlepping and the running around frantically and then my day tomorrow, which will be spent in training. You guys think it's all free lunches and private concerts? Ha! Hi. I'm Velvet Jones. And I don' like no trainin'. I once endured 2 hours of training where the trainer dude said "Are you familiar with....?" every 2 minutes as he opened another application. Finally, with all the tact of a bull moose, I said, "YEAH. WE'RE FAMILIAR."

I don't envy trainers, especially if I'm in the room. Not like I'm Ms. Whiz-Bang, I'm just very impatient. I want to know what I need to know, and to get all my questions answered, and then I want to get the fuck out of there and back to the 800 things that are accumulating on my desk in my absence. I had to sit in on a "pre-training" session today, to set expectations & get the trainer started. It's never a good sign for anybody if I start making notes for my amusement later. But if you use the word "bloomin'" repeatedly, as in "You don't want to have to see every bloomin' job number", and then you insist on using "bloomin'" at least another 6 times in the next 10 minutes, well, then, "bloomin'" gets written down in my notebook. Along with this li'l gem of a malaprop:
"Exactly, it's like kissing two birds with one kiss."

Eeeeeeeexactly. Tomorrow morning will be the longest morning of my life. I'll be the one writing softly and carrying a big stick, so I can whack the bushes and find the kissing birds. And choke the life out of them. AND THEN EAT THEM FOR LUNCH.

doo dooo do do do dooo doo doo the girl's got a lot on her mind.....
posted by PlazaJen, 10:32 PM | link |

She Coulda Been A Screamster.....

The marvelous Kristin, modeling the Dracula Cape for the TV commercial being filmed this morning. I'm rather proud of it, truth be told. Especially because I violated one of my Craft Rules: No Sewing After 9:30 p.m.! And doesn't she do scary well? I was scared. You've been warned. View at your own risk. People with heart conditions should just move on to the next blog.

(don't worry - I know the pumpkins are upside-down. But the black cats are right-side up! That's the beauty of crazy plaid prints from the quilting department. Which, credit should go to JWo for finding the fabric - I had given up by that point.)
posted by PlazaJen, 8:16 AM | link |

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Why I Love My Job:

Because even on the hardest of days, it's still a better day than the flat-lining quasi-good days at the last place.

Yes, it's realtime, 12:20 a.m. I just spent the past 3.5 hours sewing a purposefully hideous dracula cape for a television spot that's being shot Thursday morning. Because I'm a crafty, creative freak & I feel like Mohammed Ali and I am SO MUCH MORE THAN just one thing, including my job title. If it were snowing, I'd run around in it right this minute, barefoot, catching snowflakes on my tongue.

Reality crashes, I should just go to bed. Perhaps a celebratory swig, and a hug from my dog?
posted by PlazaJen, 12:21 AM | link |

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

White Dove

For whatever reason, the more noteworthy characters in my hometown have been rolling around in my head the past couple of weeks. There's Jack, who had a physical disability that caused his chin to smash down onto his chest. He worked at the gas station and was very animated, which compounded with his permanently hunched/surprised expression, made for a lot to look at. There was Marvin, who was certifiably NUTS, and terrified every kid in the town. Well over six feet tall, he strode around town, yelling at anyone who got near him. It was a big thing to dare one another to run up to his porch. Just so you don't get any ideas about how brave I am, don't worry: I never did it. What made Marvin really stand out was his year-round overcoat, on the back of which he'd hand lettered, "If it weren't for handguns, we'd still be British subjects". Hand lettered with electrical tape. The pieces that came off left behind shadowed letters, since the sun had lightened the overcoat from years of wear. He was somethin' else.

But the real talk of the town was the Garbage Lady. Cecilia Something. She and her husband lived in a trailer, in the more questionable trailer park in town. (There were two.) I don't think they really had jobs? I would see her, as the school bus drove into town, rooting in the trash barrels in front of the grocery store. She filled a large black trash bag with her discoveries, and she also didn't have much to do with kids, beyond yelling. Looking back, I'm sure she was horribly taunted and villified by older kids, but to me, she was just plain scary. She smelled something awful, and her face, forgive me, but the only way to describe it was rather troll-like. Long, unwashed graying hair framed her face. Her lower jaw jutted up and out, pushing her lower lip higher and gave her a comical look. She wore old cat-eye glasses, and, unfortunately, she had whiskers. There it is: whiskers. There weren't many occasions I was close enough to see them, maybe two or three, but boy, those whiskers sure were vivid. Made an impression on MY young mind, you could say.

One of those whisker-viewing times came on a Saturday in October, when a small group of us were trick-or-treating for UNICEF. After much deliberation, we decided to try her trailer. It was curiousity, really, and we were feeling brazen. She let us in, and we saw that every horizontal surface in her home was covered in trash. COV-ERED. I don't really remember if she gave us anything, maybe pennies, small change - I know she gave us a lecture on how she didn't have much, but she also didn't stop talking to us and we eventually started to feel trapped. I mostly remember thinking we shouldn't be taking anything at all from her, because she obviously needed it. Around the same time, I remember attending a Democratic Party meeting with my parents, in the basement of the Farmer's Mutual building in town, it was 1976, and Jimmy Carter was running against Gerald Ford. Those meetings were a blur to me, being 8 years old; I mostly recall animated voices & the smell of strong coffee. But Cecilia came to one, and had a long conversation with my dad, in which she (oddly) informed him of her CB handle: White Dove. I know later we laughed, because goooood lordy, those truckers had no idea from her handle who they were talking to.

And that's really it, isn't it, that missing piece that keeps us from understanding people? Not knowing or being able to fathom their needs, motivations, etc.? I still don't understand her world, how someone could live a complete life in a town of 700 people, with no visible means of support, where going through the trash every day is your routine. Yelled at by teenagers, an icon of fear to children, yet, there she went, every day - rummaging through the trash, waddling back home to her husband and apparently, onto the airwaves with a moniker that allowed her to connect with other people, if at a distance.

It's funny, because when I lived there, I absolutely hated my hometown and its smallness and simpleness, yet it is so rich, in its colloquial-ness and oddities, like a small handmade marble that, as you turn it, catches the light and flashes color in a new way you didn't see before. Don't worry: I'm not going back (they don't have cable modems, for pete's sake), but I do like to indulge in the memories of some of the more colorful incidents & characters that populated that little speck of land in Iowa. I remember a mixture of admiration and mostly embarassment, watching my dad spending time talking to the Garbage Lady. I know now, he was being kind. His is the bar I hold for myself, in trying to be good, in trying to be kind to others.

Ahhh, White Dove. I hope she was happy.
posted by PlazaJen, 6:50 AM | link |

Monday, September 12, 2005

Oh, It's Definitely Monday

....And these are the earrings I'm wearing.

Fitting indeed.
posted by PlazaJen, 9:16 AM | link |

Saturday, September 10, 2005


So, I have this cold. And today finds me in an exceptionally whiney place. Charming, eh? Reminds me of this book I had as a teenager, full of advice & whatnot, probably an attempt at keeping the average outcast 15-year-old from killing him/herself with sage advice and homespun wisdom. Mmmmm, yeah. Because 15-year olds really LISTEN. Anyway, it had this line in it, "When you're bored, you're boring to be with!" I would like to find the fucker who wrote that and beat him about the ears. I know I'm boring & whiney right now. I am betting all of my savings that when you're whiney, you're a PAIN IN THE ASS to be with. Go chirp platitudes somewhere else, we're cranky.

Thank goodness JWo is spared the dubious pleasure of my company today, since he's off helping build a duck blind. The dogs are content with pets and pee breaks, so it's just me here to inflict self-torture with my incessant INNER WHINING. WAH wah. Woe is me. Then I get this reminder from the intellectual gnome, who is buried under the cold virus, so he doesn't surface too quickly, reminding me that there are people in the world and our country who are having a much tougher go of it, and I should be grateful I'm merely trying to distract myself by playing "Bejeweled". Unfortunately for Intellectual Gnome, the Whiners are running as a pack today, and they promptly stuffed a sock in his piehole & shoved him in the closet. Perhaps he is the thumping I feel at the base of my neck? Or is just MORE PAIN from this BLASTED COLD??????

There better be some Netflix movies in the mailbox today. Do you hear me, Mr. Man? THERE BETTER BE. That is all I'm saying. You'd be wise to just steer clear this weekend. I fling myself on the couch with all the angst of a 15-year old. Who is boring. And extremely adept at rolling one's eyes.
posted by PlazaJen, 11:50 AM | link |

Friday, September 09, 2005

Head Colds & Celebrities

I love this fountain:

OK, so the Access Hollywood bus was in town, but Billy Bush wasn't on it. I KNOW! He's the cute one! He had to jet off to Miami to interview Paul McCartney. :tsk tsk: The life of these celebrities, I tell ya.

So it was 90 degrees, which I guess it's going to be until Christmas, heaven forbid it cool down here. We stood around for a long time, waiting. The setup was a little overblown, and random people, including homeless people, all sorta fell in to the area around the J.C. Nichols fountain, some people there for the meet-n-greet, other people just wandering through. We had a nice time chatting with our reps, and they served Gates BBQ, which we did not partake in, though we did watch one of our reps actually eat an entire plate of sauced food while wearing a crisp collarless white dress shirt - and not get a spot on himself. Now that, my friends, is a true celebrity in my world.

We ended up leaving and skipping the autograph section - I mean, I'm not going to grab Nancy O'Dell and say something pithy and meaningful, because unlike those celebrities that have gone before her (Martha Stewart & Brian Adams), I really had no connection or interest. Plus, I have a head cold. I'm about as intriguing, peppy and exciting as a vanilla wafer. It was interesting to see just how much she got touched by other people. I think it would drive me nuts.

So, here, for your viewing pleasure, are my shots of the whole shebang:

Here's a pic of the mega buses they were driving, as taken from the shaded, slightly cooler side of the fountain:

The little short dude was just everywhere, running around, getting things set up. My gaydar had him at "hello". Therefore, I instantly had an affinity for him. Swishes, honey!

So, finally, Nancy has made her way over to where they're making the shots & she's doing her AH bit. I took the first picture without any adjustments (circling Nancy), and then thought it would be fun to try out the zoom. I felt very paparazzi-esque - not bad for a li'l Kodak 10x zoom!

Kristin & I blew the pop stand, grabbed some Wendy's & went back to work. I eventually left & came home, falling into a blurred, cold-medicine-induced coma. I did, however, get a lovely shot of the fountain, homeless people got a really good meal of barbecue, and my picture taken with Eric Chaloux, a morning reporter on KCTV5. He is an entire blog entry on his own, but it's a long running, funny thing, both at home and at work. Stay tuned, as they say! ;)
posted by PlazaJen, 8:28 PM | link |


Ugh. James got a cold earlier this week & now I have it - and it SUCKS! I thought, for a couple days there, that I was escaping it, but of course, I should have realized it would hit me in time to be in full-blown awfulness just in time for the weekend. I feel like I'm underwater & my sinuses & ear canals feel like they've been pumped full-to-exploding for the Poseidon Cold Adventure.

I'm not sure how long I'm going to last at work, which also sucks, because I have a ton of things to do & I was also supposed to go to a meet & greet with the Access Hollywood people (Nancy O'Dell & Billy Bush), which sounds way more exciting and glamorous than my life really is, mind you. Especially with the clogged schnozz. It's hard to be glamorous when you're honking like a goose defending its turf.

The only upswing I've thought of? I probably won't say anything really, really STUPID, because I'm in such a stupor! Otherwise, god only knows what I'd be confiding in those people. Probably a discussion about my phlegm and how I really like the night & day packs of cold medicine from Costco.
posted by PlazaJen, 9:00 AM | link |

Thursday, September 08, 2005

More Frank & Carly

I talked to my dad on my drive in to work & told him I'd done some writing about Frank & Carly; he told me that he'd gotten a copy of the article that was written about them, oh so many years ago. He's going to send it to me - he'd gotten it from the doctor who bought their land as a getaway acreage. In our chat, I reminded him about the lemon meringue pie & he reminded me of the dogs' names - it was like uncorking a bottle of champagne, the memories just flooded around us.

How on earth I could have forgotten those dogs' names: Toots and Casper. Toots ruled the roost, was the yellowy-lab sort of mix, and Casper was just some flotsam-jetsam mix of something that had a lot of hair. For some reason I'd made Casper into a hound, in my memory twists, but indeed, he was an explosion of fur and not exactly placeable. And Frank - lordy. Dad reminded me of how he'd imitate Toots defending her food, like a maraca rattling in the back of his throat, lips curled up, exposing his teeth.

Dogs. For those of us who love them, we sure can connect easily with others who do, too. The photos from New Orleans shred my heart, especially those of lost animals & then even the happy photos, of people reunited with their pets. (I should note it's pretty easy to get me weepy.) Maybe because I love our own doggies so much, I can't imagine being without the comfort & joy they give us.

Suzy & Polly: lovable lummoxes!

posted by PlazaJen, 6:40 AM | link |

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Kristin F. Bentley

OK. So you know Miss Kristin and I work together. But now our working relationship is taking on a bizarre parallel to Puff, wait, P, wait, DiddyDaddyDoDongDay and Farnsworth Bentley.

Last week, we went to lunch, and it was raining. Always prepared (ok, I'm a flippin' pack rat and my car's a giant purse), I had two umbrellas in the back seat. By the time lunch with our (hilarious) rep was over, so was the rain. So we're walking back to my car, and she suddenly gets the notion to be all "Farnsworth Bentley" on me, and walk behind me while carrying an open umbrella over my head. As silly and ridiculous as that was, it was so funny, I was hooting like I was calling the cows in from the back 40. Anyone who saw us had to think, "Whooo, stay away, that one ain't right." (I don't care, I'm almost used to it now.)

Oh, it doesn't stop there. Did you know Farnsworth also works as a bodyguard? Yesterday, I see this dresser for sale on CraigsList, and it's cheap, it's purportedly from Target, and I send an email. A girl writes me back. Turns out, she lives a block from work! So I announce to anyone within earshot, "OK, so if I don't show up tomorrow, it's because I went to buy a dresser from a girl who turned out to be a killer." And Kristin offers to come along. (Our boss Jim was not pleased when I informed him his entire media department could be kidnapped and enslaved after work.) She defined herself as "the muscle". Anyway, the dresser wasn't my thang, we would've had to cart it down three flights of stairs & on the way back to the car, I noticed Miss K was wearing cute little sandals with heels. Not good moving shoes. But excellent for Charlie's-Angels-ass-kickin'. If necessary.

I'm so glad she's here. I'm protected from being kidnapped AND the sun.
posted by PlazaJen, 7:00 AM | link |

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

I'm Purple With Envy

I guess it's not about WHAT my favorite color is, but what the personality of my blog is...... Thanks to Scorpy for the fun quiz link! Guess I'll be humming that Coldplay song, "Yellow", all day now.... 'cause my blogs allll yelllooooowwww.

Your Blog Should Be Yellow

You're a cheerful, upbeat blogger who tends to make everyone laugh.
You are a great storyteller, and the first to post the latest funny link.
You're also friendly and welcoming to everyone who comments on your blog.
What Color Should Your Blog or Journal Be?
posted by PlazaJen, 11:02 AM | link |

Monday, September 05, 2005

I Can't Make This Stuff Up:

On tonight's 10p news, there was a report about an apartment building fire in Midtown KC. Two mattresses were intentionally set on fire in an apartment, and they have a suspect; the arsonist's mug shot was shown, with the quote that he allegedly started the fires because? Oh, don't even try to guess this one. He set shit STUFF on fire because he felt unloved. Yes, UNLOVED. I guess he was hoping for a big wet one & bear hug from the firefighters?!?

I am thinking someone at the Tele-Prompter might be a long-lost cousin of mine. Because that was one of those lines where I surfaced from my own fog with the look of a large bear being rudely interrupted from a fresh raspberry tart. The link at the tv station is not up yet, but if/when it gets posted, I will update. Because otherwise, somebody at Live, Late-Breaking & Investigative is having a leeeetle bit of fun on this holiday weekend!!!!!

Only in America: The I'm-So-Unloved Defense. I much prefer the Too Many Raspberry Tarts and Chai Lattes Defense.

Updated 9/6: Confirmation of Unloved Rationale can be found here.
posted by PlazaJen, 11:07 PM | link |

Fashion Nugget

I remember being 8 years old. I thought I was the SHIZ-NIT, and nobody could touch my essential J-Funk kinda style. Mmm-hmmm. Kickin' it in black & white Mary Janes, wide wale corduroys, shapeless vests that are now strikingly similar to the Wal-Mart uniform, with side ties. When my mother took me out for my birthday, I wore my grandmother's long-discarded cat-eye sunglasses and carried an ancient purse. I made those relics look GOOD.

So it was with great regret later, when I realized I had not brought my camera to MommaLinda's last night, because my nieces were there, and the 8-year old made her entrance into the living room with a flourish. Miranda was wearing overall shorts & a t-shirt, and that's where normal stopped. She had on a crazy purple headband, lots of blue eyeshadow, a pair of enormous pink & green fleece slippers on her feet, an Eeyore purse carabiner-clipped to her right overall strap, and a black monkey named "Chatty" carabiner-clipped to her left strap. The PIÈCE DE RÉSISTANCE? One white glove. I nearly bit my tongue in half, because I had to force myself to remember she is only 8, and so I kept my Michael Jackson comments to myself.

She then proceeded to perform magic tricks. It was hilarious. She did a great job, and after a couple of hours hanging out, having things clipped to one's overalls seemed kind of normal. (Hey, after my previous post, I don't claim to be the standard for normal, either.) But let me just say that the funniest line came from her sister, directed at JWo, later in the evening. He was giving her a hard time, teasing & so on, and she finally had had enough & said, "Don't make me fight you, little man."

So you know what phrase will be overused around HERE over the next few months....
posted by PlazaJen, 9:55 AM | link |

Sunday, September 04, 2005

I'm Speshal

OK, I got a little loopy at knit night last week. There was a point in time when Abbey and I were laughing so hard, I was doubled over, crying. But you know how it is when you hit the wall? Well, I hit the wall. Beth & I had carpooled out to the Hinterlands (a.k.a. "Olathe"), and I was ready to go. So I was standing up, and everyone was still talking, and I was speaking in my "speshal" voice, which is reminiscent of Sylvester the Cat, because I was still feeling goofy, even if I was tired. I also had my purse & knitting bag on my head. Straps over my forehead, bags hanging at the back. It seemed perfectly normal to me - and then Abbey looked up at me and said, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" And I explained that my people in my tribe often carry their bags on their heads when they are tired of carrying them in their hands. My people do! I told Beth to get a move on or I was gonna put a plate in my lip for the drive home. Amid all the laughter, I believe I also discussed my special shoes. (Not really, but come on, any footwear I'm wearing is, by definition, "special". And my spluttering special silly voice lends itself to question whether I'm completely mentally competent.) And just in case you thought I was SuperVain about having my own tribe, I put it out there for ridicule: me with my purse on my head. I'm not proud. Just silly. And don't forget speshal.

posted by PlazaJen, 8:50 AM | link |

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Melancholy & Moby

The best way I can describe how I've felt this past week: melancholy. I don't mean to minimize anything, and I've seen some blogs & lists get overrun with vituperate comments, because obviously, there are a lot of opinions & emotions running high. I had some of my busiest days ever at work on Tuesday & Wednesday, and both evenings were spent doing things - so I pretty much felt like I'd been living under a rock when I finally had a chance to see what was happening in New Orleans, and the aftermath of the levee breaking. It's horrible. There are a thousand heart-wrenching stories, the images and accounts boggle the mind that this is happening in our country - after all, we're the law everywhere else in the world, how can we have anarchy in our own streets?

OK, that broached starting a debate. Not my goal. I am sad, and like many people, feel helpless. I made a donation to the Red Cross, just as I did after 9/11. I can't look at any more pictures, I can't hear any more stories about dogs, because it's going to pull me under, and again, I can't do anymore than I've already done. I am going to keep checking on bloggers like Amanda B., from Hattiesburg, who has lost her home & material possessions, but fortunately got out with her husband & pets. I'm going to trust in our rescue organizations, the National Guard, and the cities surrounding the area to get order restored & save lives.

I listened to Moby's "Play" album today while I pressed tomatoes for sauce & thought about how his music is perfect if you're feeling a bit melancholy, but don't want to sink below the surface - it's got haunting sounds, but it also soothes. Some of the songs are very upbeat, and it's just such a good balance of music. While I cranked the tomato press, I thought about a lot of things I take for granted every day. For those things, I am grateful. Grateful and happy, with a twist of melancholy.
posted by PlazaJen, 12:46 PM | link |

Friday, September 02, 2005

The Story of Frank & Carly

About three miles from my childhood home, in the farmlands & woods of Northeast Iowa, there lived two old, pencil-thin men, German bachelor farmers, and they ran a sawmill on their property.

Frank was the younger of the two, and he did most of the sawmill work. Gigantic hands. Carly walked with a cane, and would sometimes come outside to watch the work, as big thick trees were fed into the deafening, screeching sawblade, wood chunks and dust spewing. They had a couple of dogs, one that looked "mostly" black lab, the other "mostly" some sort of hound. Carly would often sit, with his right hand on his cane, and his left hand on the head of a dog. In the summer, this pose was outside; in winter he would be found by the stove. I never saw Carly wear anything but overalls.

They lived in a primitive two-room house, with no running water and their source of heat was a large, black, cast-iron stove that also served as their cooking surface. My sense of what they ate was primarily oatmeal and soup. Water came from a pump, a few steps outside the front door. Carly slept on a small cot in the main room, and you could see Frank's single bed in the other room, neat as a pin, one lone pillow & a dark green blanket, neatly spread over his mattress.

Mountains of sawdust appealed to me, being an only child who spent loads of time in the imaginary worlds of my mind. They looked like you could have the same experience as with a mountain of snow, so I would clamber to the top, and slide down the other side. The difference, of course, being that when snow goes down your pants, it's cold - but it melts. When sawdust goes down your pants, you never quite get it all out, and it scratches. I spent most of my time at the sawmill regretting my belief (that renewed each time we went) that the sawdust mountain would be great fun, and the rest of the time grabbing at my butt, trying to extricate wood shavings from my underwear.

Frank & Carly had never married. I noticed that when my mother was there, they both studied their shoes, ever polite, but definitely more uncomfortable. Painfully shy around women, it was not surprising they'd never found someone. They spoke very little as it was, their German accents thick and their lives spent together meant a learned communication that didn't require speaking often. I was a little easier to take, being 9 or so, despite my gyrations to get sawdust out of my clothes. Just a kid. I'd play with the dogs & pet them, but I still remember just a lot of quiet sitting, waiting for the wood to get cut, shifting & itching in my chair.

As we'd had a rough transition into living in the area (most people feared the long hair of my father & his hippie friends, and were convinced the next Woodstock was coming to their safe little world), we were always Midwest Polite, bringing baked goods on our visits to those who would see us. It became evident that Frank & Carly loved pie over all other baked goods. LOVED it. Lemon meringue was their favorite. My mother would make two pies, keeping one for us, and sending the other along with my father, beads of browned sugar floating along the surface of the baked meringue. Since they had no oven, and a simple diet, I'm sure the tart lemon and creamy meringue was always a treat to their everyday world. We'd get the pie plate back, clean as a whistle; though we knew how they washed their dishes: boiling hot water, heated on the stove, and no soap. My mother would always make me wash the pan again, even though I protested the first time, showing her how clean it was. No matter, they didn't use soap. I always felt guilty when I washed that pie pan, because it seemed as though we were quietly saying we were better than them, that our ways were somehow superior to theirs, despite their limited world and how well it functioned for them, despite the fact we were certainly bigger outcasts than they were.

The funniest thing was something Carly would do with whichever dog was by his side. He did it in those times we'd find ourselves sitting together, during long stretches of quiet. He'd look at me, and then reach down to the dog, gently putting his hand over the muzzle, fingers reaching down to the bottom of their mouth. He'd pull up on the skin, exposing the dog's teeth in a faux snarl. In his thick German accent, he'd say, "Wicious!" and I would laugh and laugh, both at the absolutely NOT vicious dog, and the V sound becoming a W. My father and I siezed it as our own, and always with the dramatic pause & look before pronouncing our dog, "Wicious!" Frank and Carly are long gone - but their simple life and that strange mix of shyness and politeness still sticks with me. The humor, of course, of "Wicious" - still lives on:

posted by PlazaJen, 7:32 AM | link |

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Evasive Maneuvers

While driving home last night, we encountered another Idiot Who Got His License On BOGO Free Day, as he attempted to merge at a rate slower than normal traffic, veering back and forth as he doubted his every move. JWo flashed his brights at him, indicating, yes, we see you, please come over; he did, but still, going loads slower than normal highway speeds.

So, we're calling him an idiot, but our exit is next, so it's just another Idiot Encounter that's about to end, and our blinker's on, and we're moving to the off-ramp. OH NO! Idiot cannot decide where the F he's going! Now his blinker is on, to also exit. JWo backs off on the gas. Blinker goes off. WTF? Blinker goes on. JWo has had it! He accelerates, and we pass Idiot Who Knows Not Where He's Goin' and speed up to the light. When we pass, I see that the passenger in the car looks like she has escaped from a mental institution, and she balefully looks back. Her hair alone said "I Have Nothing To Lose". I am a little nervous, and watch the mirrors, as it's now Two Confirmed Idiots progressing down the ramp, ready to tell JWo to run the light if any Idiots gets out of the car with automatic weaponry. Idiots instead pull up to the right-turn ramp, and we look at the car. JWo says, "Ford Escort?" I say, "Could be Mercury Tracer." We laugh. It's been in an accident or two, big dents, a piece o' crap, with not much better behind the wheel.

The light changes, and we part ways with Idiots.

Two lights later? Holy Crap. Idiots on the right, in a turn-only lane. We're not sure, if it's the same idiots, but it's a banged-up dented car, same color, and the Dude Idiot gave JWo a big "look" when he glanced over. I just noticed the front end of the car, and we were staccato whispering to each other without moving our lips. (Everyone's windows were down.) Me: "IS THAT THEM?" JWo: "I don't know. He looked at me. Don't look." Longest. Light. Ever. Finally, it's green. JWo punches it. Now we're sure they're the Idiots, because they are trying to go forward, from their turn-only lane. Free from stiff-upper-lip speech, I squeal, "You gotta lose 'em, James!" JWo is already on-task, stating he is now "engaging in evasive maneuvers". Because we're only blocks from our house, we can't lead them to our home base! So the Idiots are forced to fall in several cars back, and we take a circuitous route home. After two blocks, it looks like we've lost 'em, so I engage in some lighthearted Cartman-esque "Pshewh! Pshewh!" fake gunfire out the backwindow, as though we are not Jen & JWo, but Bonnie & Clyde, fleeing the scene.

Before we even pulled into the drive, we could see Polly, waiting, there at the door. I love how dogs sense & know you're coming home, especially after an evening ending on Evasive Maneuvers. Bonnie & Clyde should have been so lucky.
posted by PlazaJen, 7:04 AM | link |