Monday, September 29, 2003


I have a confession to make.

I love Staples. I love office supplies. I think my adorations of those things printable, inkable, writeonable and organizable is bordering on obsession, nay, fetish.

Jessica informed me at about noon that she has a project due tomorrow, which is all fine and good. Thing is, she needed to print some things out in color. We were out of color ink. And our printer is such that it won't let you print at all in black/greyscale if the color cartridge is Gobi dry. So I had to run to Staples today.

All I needed was a color cartridge for our printer and some quality paper. I spent a half hour running up and down the aisles, touching, thinking, fantasizing, mentally organizing.

For someone as abysmally disorganized as I am, this fetish is interesting. It's not a dangerous or unheard of fetish like that of Troy McClure on the Simpsons (something involving... fish?) So why do I not indulge in my desires and buy that shelving unit with the organizational cubbies? Those plastic file thingies which can be loaded up with all my bills, in paid and due order?

Because this fetish is expensive. Fancy pens, gorgeous papers, placemats with the solar system printed out... these things can certainly help my life, but they will destroy my bank account.

So sadly I buy just a couple knicknacks and escape from the confines of the office super store. And return home to help my daughter finish her project.

But I'm dreaming of portfolio presentation folders, and it's getting my pulse up there. Yeah.

Speaking of elevated pulse, we're currently in the throes of watching football with our new Direct TV NFL Sunday Smorgasbord ticket. I need to get back to that.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Employee Appreciation Day Party. Woot Woot

First and Foremost: Robert Palmer. Again I see that the scythe of death has received little rest since mowing down the two Johns a few weeks ago. Most recently Robert Palmer met his maker, and I have a short anecdote about him.

I never liked him.

I didn't know of his existence until the "Addicted to Love" video came out back in the 80s with the humanoid "lady" musicians behind him in what is now a pop-culture icon. It has been parodied, and applauded. I thought it was revolting. And he didn't look the least big convincing as a man who would be happy to be surrounded by "gorgeous" women like that.

But the song itself was of interest.

I worked in a restaurant when I was in college. Doug and I both did, together... along with Boston Herald writer Eric Convey and my roommate from college. We had a lot of fun there. Doug and I were dating when we got hired, but after a couple months, we'd broken up. We were still on good terms, sometimes driving to work together. Some people knew, others did not.

One of the other guys who worked there was named Bob. Bob Davis to be exact.

He was the pot washer. And he'd stand out back, washing pots, singing and talking to himself. He would do this David Letterman-esque show opening thing that always cracked my shit right up.

"This is the Bob Davis show! Staring Bob Davis! With special guests.... Bob Davis and Bob Davis!" with studio announcer voice, dragging the Bob out so I can't even spell it without it looking like Boooooooooob Davis!

He would sing to me. And one day he started singing "Gonna have to face it you're addicted to Doug." Little did Bob Davis of the Bob Davis show with special guests Bob Davis and Bob Davis know, that Doug and I had broken up.

I wanted to kick his fucking ass.

He would sing it to me all the time. So much so that I can't hear the song now without hearing Bob's version. RIP, Robert Palmer and thanks for making a song that a crazy guy could make alternative lyrics to and give me a chuckle all these years later.

It isn't even 2 pm and I feel as If I could crawl into bed now and sleep through the night.

Yesterday was the annual employee appreciation day at our office. I was put in charge, as many of you know, and had some guidance from people who were there in the past, but not a lot. Being the new kid there, I felt I had a lot to prove, didn't want the day to be a dud, but especially wanted to have fun myself. Ain't no fun plannin' the party if you ain't gonna have fun. Right?

We were originally set to do this thing August 15th. Everyone whined that it was too early in the season, too many people would be on vacation etc... so we pushed it back to last Friday, when we were visited upon with the remnants of a hurricane, which sucked and caused us to push it back another week. Huzzah.

Thursday I spent a good 3 hours out of the office running around and tying up loose ends for the raffle gifts and decorations. It was nice to be out of the office. I felt uber productive, zipping all over the place in our little VW Passat, filling the trunk with all kinds of crazy crap.

There were six raffle prizes this year. I spent less than 500 dollars on them all.

1. a $50 gift certificate to a really nice eatery in our town
2. a $50 gift certificate to the 99 restaurant chain
3. "Are You Ready For Some Football?" package, with a Patriots T shirt, Sweat shirt, NFL pro football, Pats Beanie Baby, license plate frame, mini monster truck, munchies, soda and beer, all packaged up in a really awesome cooler.
4. "A Little Vino would be Keen-O" package, which consisted of a very unique wine rack, 2 bottles of wine, four wine glasses, a ceramic and cork wine bottle topper for plugging an open bottle back up, glass ornament dangly things to identify who has what glass, and a really nice bottle opener.
5. "Make it a Blockbuster Night" package, 30 dollars in Blockbuster gift cards, popcorn buckets that you throw in the micro, a gift certificate to Dominoes Pizza, and 2 bottles of coke/diet coke
6. "Frou-Frou for You You" package, which was about 90 bucks worth of really nice smelly crap from Bath & Body Works, in a gorgeous metal mesh basket.

Keep in mind, I thought those all up by myself. I ran them past my boss and A, both liked them and were encouraging towards me for my decisions. So, I went out and blew a wad of company sanctioned money.

I bought tablecloths, huge buckets to put ice and soda in, picked flowers from my church garden and put them in these really cheap dollar store bud vases that I got yesterday... everything looked awesome, it was so cool.

When it was time to start putting all of this together in June, I picked the caterer (Cateringman, of course) and didn't even bother calling around to get quotes and menus from other rackets. I knew what I wanted and knew where to go. I wasn't about to call all over the place and waste my time.

I kind of got grilled by A for that. I told her I was certain this was the best deal, everyone said the food the year before sucked and I know a caterer that does the best damn job on earth so shut up.

Well, I didn't say shut up. I wanted to. But I didn't. I called around, got quotes, and basically ended up just staying with my first choice. A was impressed with the price they were giving us, which made me feel good. See, I know what I'm doing [grin].

I told Cateringman we had a large ethnic population, so he specialized a menu for me, and added moros y cristanos (rice and black beans) in addition to the basic pasta/potato salad, and did a really spicy Jamaican Jerk chicken in addition to the regular BBQ action. He also waived the labor fee (nice, a 200 dollar savings right there) and from my personal experience in working for them I knew for a fact they were the best.

The "ethnic" guys, our Hispanic and Cambodian populations, were really happy with the food. They were thrilled to see something other than basic burgers and dogs. A had wrinkled her nose at it when I showed her the menu, but I tell ya, some good spicy-assed rice and chicken made these guys so happy, like we were paying attention to where they were from. Sometimes it is so easy to make someone's day by doing something inclusive, even if it is outside your comfort zone.

Here's how the day went:

Morning dawned with a rainstorm. I woke up to the sound of the rain and was rather confused... and pissed. Last time I'd checked it was supposed to be partly cloudy, not partly pouring!

It was 6:30am, I took the dogs out, and got all the things out of the hatch of the VW that I picked up the day before. Got the buckets ready for soda and ice. Had it all under control. Nice and organized.

I left to take the kids to school, and realized our volleyball was in the VW. See, I had taken the volleyball home to swing by my kids' gym teacher's office in the morning and get some air pumped into it. "Wilson" was a little flat..." So Wilson was on the passenger's seat. Not in the hatchback with all the other things I bought.

And the passengers seat of the VW was long gone as Doug was heading to Connecticut. Of all the things to leave in the car. Oh my GOD! Why the hell wasn't he in North Andover or Medford! Why Connecticut. Crap Crap Crap!!!!

In my getting ready at zombie thirty a.m., I didn't take the damn thing out of the car, and it was probably in... Sturbridge MA by that time. Shit shit fuckity fuck. I dropped Geoff off at his class and ran down to the gym looking for Mr. Gym Teacher. Not there. Ran to the office to ask where he might be. The secretary (who, by the way, needs tact lessons) looked at me like I was a retard and said "he's on hall monitor duty somewhere." So I put a visitor tag on and went up and down all the halls. Didn't find him. Went back to her and asked if she had any other ideas where he might be. "I don't know. How about his office." Where's his office? "By the gym."

Thanks. I guess I could have figured that one out. Okay.

I went to his office, the door was open, he wasn't there. I saw a woman hanging around the hall at the other end and asked her if she'd seen him, as there were car keys and a thermos of coffee on the desk.

I discovered that he was out and she was the sub filling in for him. I explained my situation to her. I asked to borrow a volleyball for the day. She was hesitant but told me to go ask the front office.

So I did. Back to the office.

The secretary, sick of me at this point, sick of my stupid questions, told me "Oh, I just found out Mr. Gym teacher has a sub today." Yeah, no shit Ms. On Top Of Everything, I found that out myself. Thanks. I asked for permission to borrow a volleyball.

Tactlessly as usual, the secretary made a face at me like this was the dumbest question ever asked. "Sure, yeah, go ahead, whatever," was her response. Thank you, have a nice day, go back to polishing your fingernails and disconnecting people. Have a good weekend.

I went back to the gym, confirmed the verbal permission, got a volleyball and took off to the office at warp speed, having wasted close to 20 minutes in the missing volleyball snafu. I got to work, I'm cursing and laughing at myself for forgetting the volleyball and it is still raining.

I knew I had less than two hours to do some morning work and to wrap the gifts, load the rest of the stuff into my truck, and get to the park to meet the table/chair rental people.

I check my messages. I never ever have messages in the morning.

My boss left a voicemail telling me she was ordering balloons and would I pick them up when I went to buy ice, the place was right next door to the grocery store. Check. Got it.

My boss left another voice mail "I'm picking you up coffee." Great, check. Super super, I can enjoy that along with the coffee I picked up for myself after the volleyball odessey

Another voice mail "Okay, I've gone to seven stores looking for cellophane wrapping paper, no one has it. I'm going to try another place and I'll be in." Great, okay.

I get a call from someone I've been waiting to hear back from all week to go over legal policies and drug testing, so she gabs on and on for a half hour. It was important, I was glad to have finally heard back from her but shit. Why not yesterday or the day before?

Another voicemail from my boss while I'm on the phone -- she suggests we call the table/chair guys and get a tent, seeing as it is still raining.

I call the table/chair guys and they are just about to leave to deliver for me, so I'm lucky I catch them. They throw in a 20 x 40 tent, which sounds WWAAAAYYYY too big to me, but, it's the smallest size I can get where they will assemble it for me and I don't have to.

I figure, I don't know who is going to meet me over at the park for set up, so I'd better invest in the assembled-by-others size.

I call Doug and he's in the Hartford, CT area. I ask him how the passenger in the front seat is doing. He got to Lowell and realized it was there, and wondered if I realized he had it, but he was too far away to turn around and come back to give it to me by then if he was going to make it to work on time. I assured him that his resourceful wife handled it and got a substitute from the substitute.

My boss comes in, she and I wrap the gifts. We both are going fast and having fun, and I say to her that if A was there she'd probably be having a cow and making me INSANE. So as much as I love her I am relieved she's not there. My boss laughs and laughs and says "Uh, YEAH! totally true." A would have had everything wrapped 3 months ago. But that's just not my staaahhhhyyylllllleeeeeee, you know? Feel me? Yeah.

We wrap everything, I run to my desk, buy 2 BNL tickets for the Orpheum show on October 21, thank you very much. They're balcony seats which sucks ass but... at least they weren't sold out. This was 7 minutes after they went on sale. Fuck! unbelievable!

I run over to meet the table/chair/TENT guys. They're late. Incredibly late. I'm sitting there burning the minutes that I could be over at the market getting ice or picking up balloons or back at my office doing a little work. I figure there are two things that guarantee them showing up. I could go to the bathroom or sit down to eat a meal. That always works at home when I'm waiting for someone to call. I go sit on the can, the phone rings. I put a fork to my mouth, the phone rings.


There's the bathroom, so I go in and sit down and ... there's the truck. Excellent.

The tent guys help me figure out where is best to stick the tent. Seeing as I've never run one of these before and don't know where they've put the tables in the past, I have no clue where to do set up. I'm totally guessing.

So I pick a spot away from the ball field and volleyball court, but I could have had them set up right in between. But there's a stiff breeze coming off the pond. Would people whine? Would the catering truck be able to get down there? Oh the decisions.

They start unloading and setting up the tent, I ask if it's okay if I bail on them and run the last of my errands. They're fine with that.

I run to the office, my boss is in a meeting with the plant manager and Executive VP of Everything discussing the situation we've been dealing with for the past week with the incident in the plant. I decide not to bother her and update her, I load the raffle gifts into truck.

The EVP and plant manager come out of my boss' office as I'm getting ready to go down to the basement with a hugeassed dolly, and offer to give me a hand. They load up the sodas. I don't bother to go back in and update my boss. Time is precious. I go get ice. I get the balloons. I tear over to the park.

It is now noon. The party starts in 15 minutes.

Some of the guys from the plant are there, and they are waiting for me (so now I look like I'm the late one. How funny is that!) They start setting up the tables and chairs.

We got 24 oblong 8' tables, which just barely all fit under the tent. We have 124 chairs. One of the guys looks at everything and says "this many people aren't going to show up!" and I shrug my shoulders and say "well, that's exactly what we got last year. I'm just going with what we had in history."

The guy tells me that maybe 75 people came last year.

That I didn't know.

So... we set everything up anyway. My boss shows up and does the balloons. We throw some tablecloths onto the serving table and the table where the raffle gifts are going. We get the place pretty. Cateringman shows up. The gig is underweigh.

And everyone shows up, starts playing games, volleyball, softball... one woman chides me because I said I'd bring UNO cards and I forgot. I said, "Dude, I said I'd bring the volleyball and I forgot!" Everyone laughs.

We run around and take pictures. The Executive VP of Everything stands up to give a speech to the masses, letting them know that it was a tough year, but things have gone great this last quarter and everyone rules.

There isn't an empty chair under the tent. Everyone came.


Except for the people who were already out on vacation, like A and a co-worker who lost her mom this week... and the President's Secretary, who chose not to come because she had work to do.

Like we all didn't have work to do. Whatever.

I go pick up my kids and miss the speech, where the EVP praises me for all the work I did, declares it "Best Employee Appreciation Day Ever," and I get a big fat round of applause. In absentia.

All told, I received more compliments yesterday about the job done than I've received praise for anything else in my life.

Even that EVP guy shook my hand, thanked me, and gave me flowers. This guy is a very tough nut to crack, a very hard person to read. Seems to have absolutely no sense of humor and no patience. But. The man bought me flowers. (actually, I do believe my Boss bought the flowers, but the handshake and thanks came from him).

He made eye contact with me for the first time in six months (recall if you will my long-ago post about executives having no interpersonal skills and how it pisses me off and you'll know exactly how I feel about this guy).

He told me that he can't wait to see what I've got in store for Christmas. Greeaaaaaat.

And now you know why I'm exhausted.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

BNL Tour 2003; Employee Observations...

Oh yeah.

I joined the Barenaked Ladies Fan club, "The Ladies Room" to get a discount on tickets. And I bought some tickets.

I bought BNL tickets. It's official. I'm stoked.

BNL is coming on tour!

Today's ticket purchase was for my sister for Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC for their October 22nd show. I do believe I'll be buying October 21 at the Orpheum and/or November 13th somewhere in Hartford.

I'm going to see BNL.

It's been a while since I've been to a bona fide rockshow. In fact, BNL was the last show I went to see, as a birthday present to myself in November 2001. Doug said he doesn't need to see them again, so I do believe I will take Jessica to at least one of the shows. I'm thinking I'll take her to Oct. 21 in Boston, and if I buy tickets for November in Hartford that Lee Lee can come up and meet me there, perhaps we'll get a hotel room so as to avoid killing ourselves driving home that night in the lateness, and then take the morning off work the next day. If that was okay with Doug.

Doug said he "doesn't need to see them again," which is okay with me as long as he's not bent out of shape about me going to see them with Jessie or my sister. After all, he was only irritated with me not taking him to see Dave Matthews because the tickets were in the luxury box at Foxboro, not because it was Dave Matthews.

I so hope the new album doesn't suck. I was disappointed with Maroon. I feel that songwriting wise they were trying too hard... it's so hard to follow up an album like Stunt. Some of the big hits off Maroon were good, but some of the songs were not to my liking at all (Baby Seat for one).

I can't wait. I'm giddy as a school girl. I'm mental. I'm excited.

Thing is, so far I only have tickets for my sister! I'm not going to NYC, I bought them so she can pay me back and take a friend, possibly her "Powder" (long story to the nickname but that's what it is until he can be revealed in any other light).

Perhaps Andi and Joe would want to come up from their new digs in the New Haven Area and do a Hartford BNL show. It would kick ass to meet a fellow X-files, BNL lovin', monkey admiring girl like Andi.

I don't care who else goes.

I'm going to see BNL.


This has been a very bizarre week.

A has been on vacation for 2 weeks, she's back on Monday. And in her absence I've been unbelievably productive. I've accomplished everything thrown at me, and chipped away slowly at the list of things she left me to do. All of them won't be done when she gets back, but I've already informed my boss that I prioritized differently and handled far more crucial things.

Like this. We had an incident in our plant last week that has turned into a big ugly situation of sorts. I can't discuss it in detail, obviously, but I have been pondering how some lives just get stuck. Things happen that put one in bad places at bad times, and one has no idea how to break out of that place, get out of the hole.

It also has me scared, because the incident in and of itself could turn into a dangerous situation if the individual in question decides that the way to break out of his own personal hell hole is to turn against people who have tried to help him, spurring workplace violence.

I work where there is a manufacturing facility, a plant. Many of the employees are Hispanic, or Cambodian. Puerto Rican and Black and White.

In the past we've had domestic situations, abuse situations, fights, and terminations and arrests.

All of them predated my being there, so I don't know any details. I know some of the people involved personally.

There isn't a grumpy bastard in the group. Everyone is sweet and kind. People stop to say hi when you come through the plant. They stop and ask questions about benefit plans, or how my dog is (when they found out about the cliff jumping episode, I got all kinds of concern and care from people I didn't even know).

It's a family business, with a family feel at times. But in all families, some members are rocket scientist smart, and others are trade school candidates.

A lot of the guys out the plant there are of lower or borderline intelligence, or, if they were of higher intelligence at some point they've squandered their facilities with substance abuse.

They've destroyed long term interpersonal relationships with people that resulted in children, they've gone to jail, they've worked in a not-going-anywhere-fast position with little incentive to improve their stations for long enough to know they can just get by okay and that's ... okay. They have children who hate them. They have girlfriends who want to kill them, or, they can't make any connections with women because even the dirtbaggiest of gals will have nothing to do with them.

Some of them have hearts of gold and will give you the shirt off their back or do whatever they can to help. They are a fraternal organization, looking out for one another, like a pack of strays that find common ground huddling in the cold of winter under a granite cliff in the woods.

Like a family. Some of them stick together because to be honest, if they didn't have one another they'd have fuck all.

It's sad.

They make 10 bucks an hour while the president buys a new Audi. They don't invest their money to make more money, the way our executives do, they drink their money and pay what they can towards spine-crushing rents for shitbag apartments or pay for repairs on whatever rolling POS mobile they have at this given time.

My hope is that whatever happens in light of the things that have gone on this week, the individual in question takes a good look at himself and says "How did I get here?" and reaches for the golden garter floating in the murky water above him, to have the gods of mercy lift him out of the sea. Do I think this guy has an Odyssean-chance of making it out of the ocean alive? I can only hope.

It's better to hope that he can affect change in his life than worry he'll come to the office and kill us all because he was suspended, terminated or whatever.

I wish my company had an Employee Assistance Program. A good one. A helpful and supportive one.

Not one where they blow you off and then call your answering machine a few weeks later to see if your divorce is going well, when you haven't even had a chance to talk to your spouse about it (yes, someone reading this HAD that happen. Those shitbag idiots left a message on her answering machine to see how her divorce was going when she hadn't even gotten up the muster to have a talk with her husband. Can you fucking BELIEVE that shit?!)

Our health insurance plan, to which the gentleman is a subscriber, has a mental health program. He said he'd called it once and they said "they'd get back to him."


Anyway... there's been a lot going on at work that has me infinitely thankful that I've ended up where I am. Not because a particular president was in the white house, or a particular social program was in place to feed my kids or pay for my heating bill... It was because of choices I made. Choices Doug and I made.

And the long and the short of it is, free will is a beautiful thing but a curse in many ways. We all make certain choices that get us into dangerous territory. I think of Clayton, and how he had the best of everything given to him by a mom who refused to allow him to become a black-man statistic in Philadelphia. And what happened? He became a black-man statistic in Boston.

This entry started out so much happier, didn't it. BNL tickets to possible workplace violence.

Just goes to show you, you never know what you gonna get over here at (a)musings.

In other news, Aaron and Michelle were going to come down this weekend to get the Joy Mobile from us. We're giving it to them so Aaron has a ride this winter, instead of riding his motorcycle in the Arcadian Frigid Northern Wilderness. Looks like we're postponing to Columbus Day weekend (sorry Bree, I know you don't like the term) and I can't hardly wait.

In years past, we've done Equirox (pretty much a year ago this weekend), the Northern Hospitality Tour, New Year's Get Freaky with tha Tiki, and Lobstercaust.

This time -- It's Lobsterpalooza 2003. 2 years ago this entry I was talking about the same thing, Aaron and Michelle comin' down to see us.

I will be making an official print banner, as usual. What's a fun weekend get together without an awesome graphic banner to remember it by?

Damn if we just don't have the best ole time when we get together.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Geoff and Soccer

It has been a very long week, I'm in dire need of a nap. But I'm baking loaf after loaf of banana bread. Geoff loves bananas, sometimes. If I take him to the market, he'll insist we buy bananas. He'll eat one or two, and then go off them all together and I'm saddled with a good six or so from the bunch. In the past I've been glowered at for buying just two bananas when I've torn them off the bunches. I cannot imagine what old pensioner ladies do in the same position. Do they also get stuck baking banana bread before the fruit flies invade?

Anyway -- the banana bread is always lovely and wonderful and tasty. I've started adding baking soda to the recipe that I had been given, and it makes a difference in the size of the loaf and quality of the taste. The quickbread recipe that I used for so long didn't call for it, but I found it's essential.

And that's about all my Martha Stewartesque chat for the day.

The week was long and arduous, as I mentioned. Geoff's week at school was hit or miss. And I did speak too soon in my last entry when I theorized Geoff was starting to get the hang of it. Yes and no. Good day here, bad day there. He's getting evaluated for special ed.

I would put money on a diagnosis of PDD-NOS because he's sometimes difficult, not always, and thus categorically indefinable. PDD-NOS is the catch all -- "something's wrong with your kid" kind of thing. He isn't ADHD/ADD, perhaps a touch. Not an Aspbergers kid, I don't think... not sure what else to categorize him in. I'll keep you posted.

He started soccer this morning, which was a load of fun. The kindergarten and first grade are together, and he, as well as 80% of the other kids on his team, had absolutely no idea WHAT was going on.

First, they did a half hour of drills, throwing in an out of bounds ball, trapping with feet, kicking and not using hands.

He'd pick up the ball, tuck it under his arm and start calling plays. "Okay. 25, 88, Molly Red to 12. Go!" and then he'd drop and kick the ball.

When he was doing the overhead throw thing from the sidelines, he insisted on spiking the ball instead of throwing it as far as he could ahead of him.

Then they all played a game of sorts. 1/2 field length and utter chaos. His team is the khaki colored shirts and they were up against the gold team. Geoff was told to play defense at one point, and so he ran up to some gold team members and started shoving them out of the way. I yanked him off the field and told him in soccer you can't just run up to people and shove them.

"But I'm on DEFENSE mom!" he tells me. I explain the difference between soccer defense and football defense. He says "I don't like soccer."

After a cup of water and a little more thinking and playing and standing facing the wrong direction when the ball got kicked his way, he finally decided it was okay. He told the coach he'd see him next week. All drenched in sweat and exhausted, he gives soccer the thumbs up, kinda.

But you can tell what sport he knows more about. We're a football family. American Football. Soccer never crosses the airwaves at our place. We simply aren't into it. Doug rarely if ever played it growing up, in western PA it wasn't hip. They play night football there, and the little kids are brought up early on the gridiron in Steeler Nation. I played soccer growing up. I remember wearing this hideous gold colored league T-shirt that didn't fit me, and I had feathered hair brushed back and shoulder length.

My soccer experiences were alright. I was never athletic, and would whine about being out in the cold on a Sunday morning with girls I wasn't even friends with for the most part. I got put in the fullback position. I was (and still am) rather big, so other teams would see me and be all "Oh, look at that huge big girl at fullback, it'll be tough getting past her!" But they soon found out getting past me was not that challenging.

If I was able to get the ball to myself, and have a moment of time, I could kick that bitch clear all the way to the other goal. And oftentimes I did. The long kick was my expertise, my talent. Blocking, kicking, getting into a defensive press and holding my ground to kick the ball out with a little 78lb hoochie girl wearing perfume and being all super strong and athletic was NOT my forte.

I remember I had a coach whose daughter was the star player on the team. I also remember her snubbing me and not wanting to talk or walk with me one day after a game. I thought to myself "She is gorgeous, but she is a certifiable bitch" and I looked at the backs of her thighs as she walked away with her cute little body and her cute little friends, and she had the hairiest monkey thighs I'd ever seen on a girl.

That made me laugh. And that image sticks with me today when I think of jockish athletic middle school girls.

I hated playing soccer.

Boys on the other hand, I loved watching the boys play soccer. It was faster, harder, rougher, more exciting. My friend Jen had a thing for all the soccer boys, and our middle school science teacher was the high school varsity team's coach. He asked her if she would want to be scorekeeper and do the stats book at the games, and she readily agreed.

And brought me with.

We were in 9th grade maybe, and all the boys on the team were juniors or seniors. She flirted relentlessly, I wallflower sat in the front seat of the smelly yellow school bus that took us all over Long Island to away games. The boys were all nice and polite. I would often serve as ball-girl, running on the sidelines with a whistle and calling balls out of bounds. I'd get the balls and chuck them back to the players so they could throw them in, like Geoff did today only with more enthusiasm, accuracy and effort.

Jen and I stuck with this pasttime for a while, and I remember going to a game without her once where I was the statskeeper, sitting at the desk with the time guy and the head ref. I'm all of like 15 years old.

One of the opposing players came running up to me after the game calling my name. His name was Kevin and he was in my grade (10th) but had made the senior varsity squad. His family moved to another town, and we were at his school.

He was incredibly happy to see me, and we talked for quite a while, sitting in the grass outside of the school while my school's players got all cleaned up in the locker room. He told me that he hated it there, and that all the people, boys and girls, were horrifically unfriendly to him and unaccepting of him as a new kid in town. He asked about all the people he knew to see how they were, no one ever called him, so he felt abandoned on both the new school front and the old friend front.

He asked for my phone number and wanted to know if I'd go out with him, even though he was in another school district.

I was flabbergasted. No one had ever asked me out, and here is this super athletic beautiful and wonderful kid asking me if I'd be prejudice against dating outside the HUFSD highschool I was in.

I told him I'd love to go out and asked him to call me that night. He called me twice, but never asked me out and never called again.

Not sure if he finally found someone at the school he was at worth dating. Finally got accepted into the new flock, but... whatever. I can't even remember his last name.

In short. My experiences with soccer were better as an observer from the sides. I know for a fact I'm not cut out to be a 'soccer mom' even though I'm a registered Republican living in a whitecrust town in northeast MA. I drive a cool truck and not a mini van. Heh.

So we'll see how Geoff does with this whole soccer thing. He had trouble getting instructions in his head. Doug kept muttering "Get your head in the game, boy!" under his breath as Geoff played with his shin guards and faced the sidelines with a bored look on his face as the herd of kids came his way. I don't know that Geoff can get his head in the game. But he kicks almost as good as I did once upon a time. If he can get his head together, perhaps he'll do alright.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Hurricane, Hydes, Flowers

Today I'm sort of depressed. I realized that all the effort I've put in on putting together this stupid Employee Appreciation Day cookout are going to be for naught. Or for rescheduling.

There's a stupid hurricane coming, and we should get the brunt of the crap weather all day on Friday. The day of the party. The day we rescheduled to from August 15th which was the original date I picked.

The caterer (my catering man) called me yesterday to ask me if I'd been paying attention to the weather. Absolutely... and chewing my fingernails. I can't believe this.

We get NO storms all summer, hardly, and then the one day I have something huge planned it's going to deluge like Genesis.

At least it isn't my wedding or something IMPORTANT.

Anyway... we're thinking of pushing it back a week, which is going to require some crazy scrambling on my part, and some more pissing off of the populace, but hey. Remember ... I wanted to do this on August 15th, but a mess of people whined. This is what you get when you don't do what I want to do in the first place. Nyeah. Nyeah.

The best part is I got to go spend a boatload of money. That was fun. I so enjoy going shopping when there's a task or a mission. And when I don't have to really worry about how much is being spent in the end.

Sunday at the Hydes was awesome.

They are excellent hosts and we had much fun watching football. I'm glad the Patriots eeked it out but am mad that the Steelers lost. It's usually one or the other all season long. My kids had a blast playing with the Hyde kids.

And Nathan baby is 9 months old and huge and bald and gorgeous. He looks like Moby. Geoff especially enjoyed Pete's "Hulk Hands," which he isn't allowed to have due to the heavy punching temptation that they carry.

He spent probably close to an hour total punching the brick wall on the back deck, over and over, like Rocky Balboa. He and Jessie each took one and went knuckle to knuckle the way only two siblings can. Peter watched with great interest. He's not allowed to punch anyone with them, nor are any of the Hyde kids allowed to punch one another. So for him, seeing my kids go at it a la Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots was quite fascinating.

I'm wondering if he walked up to Natalie and punched her in the face with them yet. Wayne theorizes he doesn't let them do a lot of "normal sibling" things like interacting with the punching hands in such a manner because he was an only child and sometimes isn't sure what's right and normal. He defers to Marcia on those instances. We had an interesting talk about what's right an normal. For Jessica and Geoffrey, if they're punching and laughing, it's good. I let them. But I always warn them, the second I hear someone crying that she did this or he hit me here... both of them are doomed.

That, my friends, is normal Sibling Interaction.

They've been playing incredibly well together lately, and she's been reading to him nightly, so I have no complaints. His behavior is improving it seems.

I don't want to speak too soon, but I think he's starting to get a hang of all this new schedule/school regimented routine thing. And that's beautiful. Hopefully he'll continue to improve.

Anyway. That's about it. Here's my favorite picture from this past week, from the flower shop. I liked the way the one flower petal was bent over on the top, catching the light. Full sized it's pretty impressive. Small ... well. You can still like it and see it.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

The Two Johns

This has been a busy week for the Grim Reaper. Warren Zevon... the Leni Reifenstahl, and today two big names in show biz. John Ritter and Johnny Cash. I hope he doesn't mind, but Mr. Garfield sums it up nicest. And seeing as he doesn't yet have his own weblog (cough) I will share on his behalf:

I lean more to Johnny Cash than John Ritter.

Ritter was funny guy, at least in the early days, before he was entombed in "Eight Moronic Rules for Dating My Daughters." He was often genuinely likeable and exhibited a great gift for funny pratfalls on "Three's Company," one of the most successful T'n'A comedy and home lobotomy combos ever.

This morning's news called him "a comic genius." John Ritter??

Letch that I am, I watched for glimpses of Joyce Dewitt. "2.5"


Now, The Man in Black was the real thing.

I'm just a little Johnny Cash fan --- I don't go out to collect his records, but when one finds its way into my player, I play one side and then the other, and more times than not, if it's one of those albums where it sounds like a train playing along with the guitar in the backround, so there's this choogling sound that runs under all the tracks
and Johnny seems to hardly break a sweat whether he's singing his way through heaven or hell

I play it again, all week.

I thought the Johnny Cash Show featuring June Carter Cash was a smarmy bit of Las Vegas showmanship, a tough vehicle for a simple performer. I thought his guest star rolls on "Columbo" were..... unintentional bits of comic genius.

It sounds like we get the best of Cash on record, that he was often a mess in his semi-private life. He left his first wife to hookup with June Carter and there was a Tandem Truckload of whorin', drinkin', and drugs along the way that ended him up in jail for a while.

Hey Porter
Rock Island Line
I Walk the Line
Ring O' Fire
Folsom Prison Blues
and I guess I gotta mention
Boy Named Sue.

There's plenty of Cash anthologies out there, you just have to buy one now before they issue one with the Nine Inch Nails cover added on....

... Rank this one "2.2," for that unmistakeable voice, recognizable to 2 or more generations.

Mr. Garfield's comments made me think back to childhood and I clearly saw myself listening to "Boy named Sue" and laughing my ass off at about age 6. Like Geoff finds Lightnin' Hopkins' "You got to fan it" amusing. Same kind of laughing. I remember developing a hatred for all things country, especially if it was wet-cat Appalachian mountain Carter Family kind of country. Much later in life, I got turned onto the Grateful Dead and their many (GD and Jerry Garcia Band) renditions of fabulous old bluegrass and gospel standards, folksy roots music and beauty all put together with a psychadelic twist.

I sometimes think that Jerry Garcia and Bono led me to Jesus. Sort of funny if you think about it from some sort of Fundie angle. But music-wise, they turned the words into that which I could hear and feel, songs that became written in my soul. And so I did some delving for a little while, in the Coffeehouse years, listening to old gospel standards done by their original interpreters, most of whom I scorned in the Disco years of my junior high school life.

A new appreciation was born.

Add to that the fact that Doug comes from a long line of family singings where Gospel is the cornerstone, and I found it very interesting to learn more about groups like the Carter Family and Johnny Cash.

I never got full force into Johnny Cash. There's always been a fond appreciation. I actually cried this morning on the way to work when the radio stations were talking about his passing. And it wasn't just because Justin Timberlake gave him mad props at the VMA either. I do believe Mr. Timberlake probably has cried today as well, if the kind and powerful words he spoke at the VMAs about Mr. Cash are true.


On John Ritter -- Jack Tripper was the first "gay" character, at least someone pretending to be gay, that I was aware of in the media or anywhere else for that matter.

How sad is that?

For instance, I was a huge Monty Python fan, but never knew until after his death that Graham Chapman was gay. Who knew. But a man who has to pose as gay to live in a really nice apartment with two pretty women, THAT was funny.

Not so much because I thought gay was funny back then, I thought it was funny that a man who was so openly lecherous (ie: falling off his bike on the boardwalk because he's checking out ass cheeks) would have to pretend to be gay. Har dee har har. The best part of that show was Mr. Roper. He was so stupid. And I loved that.

In looking at his CV on IMDB, it's really sad. He was in so much absolute made for TV dreck and the "Problem Child" movies which give me nightmares worse than anything Freddy or Jason could. The shining gem in the middle of it all was Slingblade, which, if one finds it ironic, is a fabulous gay role for a fabulous actor. It's one of the best jobs the man ever did on film. Instead of that fake gay thing on Three's Company.

I had tried to watch the 8 Simple Rules show. I found it insufferable. I think I'll remember him for Vaughn in Sling Blade. How 'bout you?

Got out of work early today. Seeing as I'm supposed to work a 28 hour week, now that I'm working five days it's far easier to get over 28 hours if you aren't paying attention. I've been getting home at 3 to meet the kids. Usually by 5pm I'm astonished that it isn't 9 pm, and I'm exhausted.

9/13/03 - Spent the day at Honey's flowershop in Boston helping out with their website. Honey's friend Rita designed it. Content-wise it's got a lot of great stuff, organizationally it's easy to get around. It's a good page, but she did it in Frontpage because the webhost recommended it. And she's had nothing but trouble with it. Stupid Frontpage!

She'll apply a theme to the pages, and the theme will fall off a page for no reason, leaving it ... themeless. Links work one day, and the next day they don't work. She's got extra files, files of old stuff she isn't using, crazy amounts of photographs that aren't being used, file names that are all long and crazy. It was complicated. I worked hard to fix the structure and linking, reapply themes and curse the computer because the themes vanished in preview mode.

Dan (Honey's husband) had suggested I take what Rita has done and completely redo it in Dreamweaver, make them customized graphics for their navigation etc... but I refuse to do that as Rita has done a bang-up job. And I know she'll be mad. Don't want to madden a Rita. So I spent the day down there QA'ing the page, fixing links, redoing themes, figuring out Frontpage which I haven't used since oh, 1998 when I bailed for Dreamweaver. And we had it all ready to go, 100% done -- and the FTP information that she'd been given when the account was established was invalid. I called the host. He's a friend of the shop owner. He's on vacation. He'll email me the FTP info possibly Sunday.

So. In short, I may have to swing down and make another visit next Saturday. I don't mind... I loved being there. Without kids, listening to opera, smelling the flowers, listening to Honey and her brother Jimmie interact with customers and then talk in Thai, switching back and forth with no effort at all. I had a smile on my face the whole afternoon. Especially when Honey brought me a huge plate of padthai and the most interesting Thai iced tea drink. When I refused payment for my services, she insisted I take flowers. (If you don't recall my last meeting with Jimmie and Rita, it was at Dan & Honey's wedding.

Jimmy even told me at one point in the day that "it's SO hard being the Queen!" as he swished around the store helping customers. He absolutely revels in his gayness, and it's so fun to be around him. He glows and adores and loves. I had so much fun seeing him in action with people, and flowers).

She gave me an arrangement that has to retail for about 100 dollars. It is HUGE. I had to strap it into the carseat on the way home, with a seatbelt. My kids laughed at me when I picked them up.

Tonight I ran around shopping for the Employee Appreciation day festivities coming up this Friday. I'm in charge of everything, especially the raffles. So I bought stuff for:

  • Patriots/Football themed raffle
  • Wine Rack and goodies raffle.
  • A Blockbuster Movie raffle.
  • Some restaurant gift certificates.

I have one more raffle to buy for, and that's a girly frou-frou stuff raffle. Last year the greasiest longhaired Ozzy fan from the plant won that raffle. He gave it to his wife. Instead of scoffing at it, he was really psyched. Everyone made fun of him and he said "When my wife gets this, she'll be all happy and pampered. You KNOW she'll be appreciative, so SHUT UP!"


This year, I think the items that I picked out for the raffle gifts are cool. I have a really hard time doing stuff like this because I shop for ME and my interests. I asked dozens of people what they'd want and NO one gave me any feedback. Bastards. If anyone disses these raffles, I'll have to kill them.

When I went to buy the stuff for the Football raffle, I went to Olympia Sporting Goods, and just started picking stuff out that fit the theme. The manager and the kid working there asked me if this was some sort of gift, so I explained the raffle theme. They were psyched and started helping me pick stuff out. They gave me a 15% discount. I got a business card and will give them MAD props the day of the gathering. These people treated me right. Unlike the jerk at Blockbuster who rolled his eyes at me when I asked him for ideas and suggestions. He pointed at the gift card rack and called "Next" to the man in line behind me.

Gah. Jerk.

Anyway -- we rented movies for ourselves tonight but I don't think I'm up for staying awake. I did get to see The Transporter and for a completely mindless fight scene after fight scene no-character development movie, I liked it a lot.

The guy who plays the Transporter, Jason Statham, is awesome. They do cool fight scenes with him wrapping people up in his shirt and fighting in axle grease. He's not quite as good as he was in both Snatch and Lock, Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels, but it was him and he's fun to watch.

And the girl who played his cohort, Qi Shu, was in the WORST Jackie Chan movie I've ever seen -- "Gorgeous." Which was hideous. Best scene in the movie Gorgeous is when she comes into the scene in a beautiful dress with wind blowing and she's all glammed up -- and Jackie Chan looks confused. He then turns to the side where a man is running a wind machine. The man says "Oh, I thought she was so beautiful that she needed some wind effect!" Like there'd normally be a guy with a wind machine hanging around some building. It was so bad it was funny.

She's okay in this movie, but when she gets pouty and pleady in the one piece of character development they even attempt, she's awful. I liked the fast driving and car crashing that was going on. Much fun.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

No 9/11 memories here

I am not writing anything retrospective and contemplative about the last two years. If you want to know my thoughts and feelings and relive what I had to say back then, feel free. Go back to the "What Just Happened in NYC" entry that I posted 2 years ago when my journal was 2 months young.

I just did and it was enough for me.

I have no ponderings, no deep thoughts, no fist shaking because the world hasn't become a giant 1973 Coke Commercial of peace and love yet and I'm angry kinds of thoughts.

But, I agree with Michael's Assessment about "tourists" when he visited Ground Zero last month. As it is every American's right to do, and perhaps everyone SHOULD go there, his opinion and mine are one in the absolute same - that people who go there and have their picture taken while SMILING are fucking freaks just don't get it. I go a step further and I think that touristy guffaws, grins and waves to grandma should mean these folks are rounded up and shot.

"Hey! Lookie me here Maw! I'ma standin' on a giant fuckin' tomb where 3000 people done got blowed up, gahey gahey!!"

It ain't Disney, Mt. Rushmore, or The World's Largest Plastic Duck on Long Island or some crap. When you go, if you go, be at peace... contemplate. Think. Remember. Have. Some. Somber. Humility. Please. For. The. Love. Of. God.

That's all I have to say.

Geoff has had 2 out of 3 good days so far (hee hee, I typed fart) at school this week. His teacher called after school to tell me that not only was his behavioral control in perfect check, but that he got work done, and that she thinks (without having him tested this is just opinion) that he has auditory processing issues and spacial relation issues and each of these can be addressed and corrected through special education.

So having her spend time with him and me processing some of her feedback, I'm starting to think that

a) he isn't possessed by Satan 24 hours a day every day,
b) his behavior issues may be learning disability based
c) he may not need meds because if he can learn to work through his frustrations with an education plan, he'll be well on his way to being a super behaved kid
d) auditory processing issues may be his biggest problem and we can teach him around those and
e) I'm less stressed.

Doug and I still need to talk about what we're going to do for him, get him tested or wait. His teacher stressed about 8 times in our discussion that she is gravely, seriously, extremely and unbelievably worried about him. And I'm glad. At least I know it isn't me.

I had considered yanking him out of the public schools and going to a montessori school, like one where he came from, but I don't just want to have him taught to his strengths. I want him very badly to learn how to work through his weaknesses, and make them better. That's the Geoff update for today. He's in a fabulous mood. I really hope it continues.

And the more I talked to her, the more I thought, Jesus... I have auditory processing issues. Which is why I have to keep a spreadsheet with every damn last little tiny task I need to accomplish. That is keeping me organized. It seemed demeaning at first. But a checklist to make sure I cross stuff off and archive and update where I am in the process -- that has made me much happier at work. My sister jokes to me all the time "didya put that on your spreadsheet?" and the answer is YES! I did. And I didn't forget to do it.

When I look back on last year's entry where I talk about why my house is a mess, not withstanding that there are 3 other people in my life who could do some cleaning, I think I may have some spacial relation and processing issues. Perhaps I'm the one who needs therapy.

And the more I think about it -- who isn't a mess? I mean, people who are so organized that they're perfect are also OCD and screwed up in the head beyond belief. I talked to someone recently who bought birthday cards 5 or 6 months in advance. Jesus. What do you do if that person dies two months from now. Albeit I usually buy stuff on the way to the Birthday Party and stress my husband out because we're going to be late, but at least I hope in my heart that person will be alive 2 hours from now when we get to their house and they open presents.


We finally rented The Two Towers and watched it. Twice. I loved it but someone should have edited it down. Too many long sweeping landscapey shots. Yeah, we get it. Middle Earth is beautiful and majestic and it is beautiful and majestic. Too much Arwen in Aragorn's dreams. More Orc Ass Kicking. More Dwarf Humor. That's what I wanted. Yeah!

Faults: The Ents were too phony looking. Doug wasn't at all convinced of the size of the hobbits in the Orc/Rohrrim battle when Merry and Pippin are running around trying to escape. While I'm somewhat impressed with Gollum/Smeagol, he did look too CGI for me at points.

I can't fault Peter Jackson and the adaptation team too harshly. The book itself is the driest and hardest to get through of the trilogy. It is important, brings the whole human side, and explains the whole kingdom of Gondor and Rohan and all the other places of the story of Middle Earth and shows you that the age of Man is truly beginning. And to be honest, the whole Kingdoms of Gondor and Rohan and blah blah blah is really dull. A lot of it gets totally glossed over in the movie. And that isn't too good, because you need to know WHY there is a Steward of Gondor in the third book. Hmmmm. It will be interesting to see how they handle that whole explaining thing there.

And will Liv Tyler just get on the damn boat and leave or just stay and be with her man. Gah. Drag that shit out through three movies please. Mercy.

Pros: The story continues right where it left off and hits the ground running. No horrid "recaps" to let people know what happened in part one. The Orcs/Uruk hai were nasty. I loved when Gandalf released Theoden king from his enchantment (kick ass Gandalf!). Wormtongue was so good. His casting -- the best in the film. That's exactly the person I saw in my mind every time I've read the books. Excellent battle scenes, funny lines from the Dwarf, and lots of peril. Frodo and Sam are the best in the end of the film when Sam gives his spiel about "the great stories, the ones that stick with you" have an element of hope in them. And he wonders if they will survive. Frodo says the sweetest things to him and gives him his great nickname "Samwise" which he thinks is a joke. Their relationship is stunningly entertaining and engaging. I loved them.

And, I thought that Faramir was more beautiful to look upon than that filthy messy ole Strider Aragorn! David Wenham. Me-ow! I actually thought he was the same actor who played Boromir (Sean Bean) they look enough alike to actually be brothers. Excellent casting. And Damnit if I don't just LOVE Sir Ian McKellen. He is the frigging BEST. From Magneto to Gandalf, Sir Ian rocks.

If you've never read the books, I swear -- they really ARE the greatest story ever told. Go read them.

This time, for the final installment, the Return of the King (watch out you pissy Steward of Gondor! You know who he is! If you haven't figured it out yet, I'm so not tellin') I'm going to the theatre.

And I wonder how long it will be before theatres show all 3 of them in limited release back to back in a festival of Frodo-ness. Oh yeah! Oh, and Tess, there's a really really really big spider in this next one. You may want to cover your eyes when you see it. It is really gross.

We rented another movie that I was too tired to watch, "The Transporter." Doug watched it last night and said it was great. I may try to watch it tonight and let you know my opinions. Doug said he'd watch it again, and for Doug to watch a movie twice... well. That says a lot. I don't think it's a chick flick though. I think there's a lot of car crashing chasing and explodings and other guy stuff. The stuff I love in film.

More later. I gotta make supper!

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Warren Zevon; Trainspotting

I was never a big fan of Mr. Warren Zevon.

I was a little too young to catch him as singer/songwriter extrordinaire in the 70s, and by the time I discovered the genre, I focused mostly on people like Neil Young, Jackson Browne and James Taylor. I thought of Warren Zevon as an "I'm too smart for you common people" kind of songwriter.

"Lawyers, Guns and Money" was the first song I ever remember hearing someone actually swear in. So for that reason alone he impressed me. But the Genius of Zevon, which is being spoken of on just about every radio station eluded me, because just about every radio station played only three songs. The aforementioned L, G & M was most played along with Werewolves of London in "rock blocks" (when I hear it I see Tom Cruise in my mind playing pool and lipsynching to that particular tune, slicking back his hair with his "Vince" T-shirt on). And the title track to "Excitable Boy" which always frightened me and I never wanted to meet someone like the song's character. I found little humor in what he had to say, so I gave up on him. Even though everyone else I was fond of listening to, from Fleetwood Mac to the Eagles, thought him to be genius.

Ironically, I often mixed-up Randy Newman and Warren Zevon. Two older white guys who play piano and write sarcastic songs. I have never really gotten into either of them, although in his more recent career I've found Randy Newman to be genius for all the work he did for the Toy Story movies. In my honest opinion.

I did, however, enjoy the Zevon's wonderfully silly hockey song, "Hit Somebody," with David Letterman yelling in the background. It tells an amazing tale.

Warren Zevon has passed away. Caus of death was mesothelioma, a rare form of lung cancer most often associated with exposure to asbestos. He dies just a few days after his "I'm dying, remember me" album, "The Wind," was released. Just a few months after his daughter gave birth to his twin grandsons. Warren Zevon was 56 years young.

On the front of the webpage, "Jordan" encourages us all to "enjoy every sandwich." I presume that's an inside family joke espoused by Mr. Zevon. But. I will do just that. And when enjoying a sandwich, I'll toast him. And I promise not to confuse him with Randy Newman in the future.

Bye Mr. Zevon. Sorry I didn't know you better. But there's time for me to go back through the discography and pick from the "songs you wrote to amuse" yourself.

I received an interesting email today alerting me to a new book that will be coming out. Pains on Trains, by Andrew Holmes. Mr. Holmes himself authored the note, and informed me that based on my entry about Amtrak adventures I've had, this book may be something I would find amusing. He is even sending me a copy.

Needless to say, I'm thrilled. The book sounds funny. It outlines all the different types of "pains" one can run into while commuting on trains. The nose picker, the smelly person, pan handlers, and all the assorted unwashed heathens that you can "pain spot" as you ride.

From the inside cover (lifted out of his email and off the website):

You have seen them, heard them, smelt them, been touched by them and had your commuting life made miserable by them. Welcome to the world of Pains on Trains. Pains on Trains come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but all are destined to add woe to the life of the modern commuter. This book gives you the opportunity to lighten your journey by indulging in the craze that's set to sweep the nation's travelling fraternity - 'pain spotting'. From the broadsheet to the mobile phoner, and from the nose picker to the over your shoulder, you'll be able to have hours of fun with the person sat next or opposite to you, without them even knowing. Start pain spotting today and put the fun back into commuting!

Pain spotting. THAT is funny!

I'll be sure to let you know how I find the book. Perhaps he can take a greyhound bus across America and meet some of those fine specimens of the flesh and being. Tess can vouch for how super they are, and I know I have some stories!

Friday, September 05, 2003

Geoff and school...

I've had a rough week.

There are some life issues that are bogging me down, but I've chosen not to write about them. They concern Geoff and school and because I keep a journal and he doesn't have a say in it I'm choosing consciously not to really get into his issues until I know more. It isn't his choice to be spoken about on the internet. Jessica wasn't happy with me the other day when looking over my shoulder and realizing that I posted the picture of her with her "cow legs" a couple weeks ago after we got stung by yellowjackets.

I keep the journal for my entertainment and sometimes don't THINK about whether or not the kids want to be represented here. Just like I don't talk about work because that could get me fired, I know that talking about my kids too much and their issues too much could reflect poorly upon them and they have no say.

So suffice to say -- Geoff's got some school issues. We had a meeting. In person. Both parents. Both principals. Teacher. We'll see where it goes from here.

Geoff is the most lovely and wonderful child. You have no idea how much I love him and love his little heart.

I want nothing but the best for him and the Bacraders and the Disgusting Gotes for the rest of his life.

Please pray for him this year. First grade is not going to be easy. Pray for him, and for his teacher, I'll call her "Jo", and for us -- thanks.

Anyway. We've been busy. Holy cow it's been a fast week. Schedule wise I feel we're settlin' in nicely. I have been working 8:30-2:55 to get home in time to get the kids. My greatest triumph in history is that we've totally trashed use of ADP's Benefits Expert system and given up on it after 3 months of trying to make the thing work.

Not for nothing -- their tech support has been sterling and the team we worked with has been the best, but in order to change an existing enrollment, or do something slightly out of the ordinary, it was a day of jumping through flaming hoops, and the sad thing is, we're a small company. How are they going to sell this to BIG companies? Gah.

Benex sucked for us. We had exceptions that it didn't like, it did things that fucked up life for our employees -- short story is that we canned it.

This past week was the first full week that we didn't have to use it and I was SO much more productive at work than I've been since I started there. Holy crap. I was getting so much done. All because I wasn't focused on fixing crap that Benex did or didn't do right.


So work has actually been the wonderful part of my life. And leaving at 2:55pm is nice. A and I have gotten along sparklingly. Since my review when I started keeping a spreadsheet of all my tasks, I've been keeping up with everything. I'm not a list maker, but now... I am. HR is changing my life and how I do my day to day work. And A is the funnest coolest person on earth. If she reads this, she should know how much I love her. Even when we disagree, I try to walk away with "I love you." So she knows that it is the situation and not HER that I'm bothered by.

A you rock and that's not just the tequila talking! I'll miss you when you're on vacation. And you so deserve a vacation!

For those who haven't figured it out, I won't be babysitting baby Ben anymore.

Gah, I look like crap in this picture, but hey. It's me and my favorite baby other than my own babies.

With the kids in school, me needing to leave early the four days of the week meant that I'd need to work on Fridays. So I adjusted my schedule. And today was my first non- baby Ben day in a long time.

Jesus, I miss him.

There's a picture of my kids wearing cheeseheads. Gah. Football reigns supreme in Dan's house. And there's my baby Ben. I miss how he smells. I miss his kisses. I miss him so much.



Sentimentality aside, I am more inclined to care for the needs of my own kids. But. And this is a big but. I am so going to miss my weekly Baby Ben days. And my card games with the guys. I miss the guys. I miss Ben more than the guys and love my kids more than playing Uno with those mental cases... but. I miss them. I love Ben Brian and Dan. They are good friends that I will always love and cherish.

My kids and their needs -- more important though.

Monday, September 01, 2003

Mystic Seaport and more Geocaching

Yesterday we ended up taking a day trip. We planned for it on Saturday night, went to ole Mystic Seaport and had a grand ole time. A ye olde time as a matter of fact.

When we told Geoff where we were headed and what the place was about, he ran into his room and got his pirate hat. He wore that thing all day. People smiled and laughed, and he said "Aaargh! Matey!" to passersby and did a bunch of outrageously cute and funny stuff that will hopefully stay with my mental faculties longer than his one massive hissy fit.

Aaargh! Cute but Deadly Piratey Geoff ready to pillage Mystic Seaport, mateys!

We hit the road early made it there around 10:30ish. Bought a membership instead of just tickets in (aaargh! mateys!) and entered for a day of pillage. The weather was gorgeous, sunny, not too hot -- perfect all around.

We boarded and toured three ships: Charles W. Morgan, Joseph Conrad and L.A. Dunton. My favorite of them was the Joseph Conrad. It was smaller (built for up to 80 boys in training) and just had a prettier wood coloring and style to it. The Dunton is a fishing ship, so it's beat up and not so shiny, but I felt the strength of a lot of years worth of labor in her deck. And the Charles Morgan is a whaling ship, famous for being the last of its kind.

They did a cool demonstration of how they got the smaller side-boats back up onto the rigging, and the kids enjoyed the wheels of each vessel. Here are the obligatory photos. We missed the presentation on whaling and whaling tools/weapons.

Geoff was somewhat surprised to learn what came out of whales and we told him an untruth that it doesn't happen anymore... that most of what they used to use whale blubber for we now have synthetic/petroleum solutions for. I know there is still whaling that goes on. But he doesn't have the mental faculties to grasp that concept. So the little exposure to whaling history that they gave him was just enough for him to understand that it happened. End of conversation.

You know how he latches onto things and becomes Nazi about them. Remember the Arboretum? I sure do.

These four pictures here are different views of the Charles W. Morgan. The rigging and ropes at the masts are impressive.

Geoff was especially impressed with the bathrooms. "There's no flusher." He noted. "There's no water. It's got a hole that goes right out to the outside of the boat"

You betcha. And mercy on any souls in the cabin below should you wash out while ship is tilting to the right.

Left, looking through the opening behind the wheel of the ship, the rear view into town. Right, the dining table is right under this glass window. There's an office above, which I didn't see a staircase to. Behind where I'm standing is the captain's quarters. I imagine a pirate swinging through onto the ship and crashing through this glass, right in the middle o'dinner. Arrrgh! Stand and Deliver!
The very first thing inside the park is this little boat.
Made me think of Brooks Williams' "Inland Sailor."
"I'm an inland sailor miles from the sea
I'm way off course not sure how I can to be here...
I've a boat in my garden, it lay upside down
Sometimes when I stand real close
I hear the gulls cry, I smell the sea salt
I feel the waves going up and down..."
Hah! Snarf. Too damn funny.

There was a class on pirate myths and legends. They loved that Geoff showed up in his hat.

After they dressed a volunteer (not Geoff, but he was a willing crewmate) up, they invited the kids up to look in the "treasure chest" to see what pirates would hoard/steal/sell.

In the box? A jug for rum, sticks of cinnamon for spices, and fabric.

Geoff? Mad.

No "gold," nothing he was interested in. Oh well. The reality of piracy is sometimes hard to accept.

this house and every single building we went into was "abandoned" in Geoff's mind. "Oh! An abandoned Doctor's Office!" No honey, it's an historic recreation to show us what a doctor's office would look like. "NO! It's abandoned!"

So he was shocked as shit when he found a woman sitting at the hearth knitting. "You live here?" The woman had no sense of humor and tried to explain as we had the concept of historical recreations.

"Oh. So it IS an abandoned house..." Sure honey. It's an abandoned house. Whatever.

A view of Geoff & sky on the Joseph Conrad. Complete with pirate hat.
The Joseph Conrad from the pier.
It was my favorite ship (oops. I typed shit. Bwah!)
The soprano Jenny Lind immortalized as a masthead. Her actual portrait is in the display in the forefront. It would be the historical equivalent of slappin' Britney or (eww) Christina on the bow of your ship, I guess.
The planetarium, the one building we didn't get a chance to go into. The sundial on the outside was amazingly accurate. I was impressed!
The outside of the oyster shack.
A view of the Ole Mystic Downtowne.

While it was fun, it was a long, long day. A very draining and exhausting experience. By the time we left there, I was tired and stressed out. The kids were tired and stressed.

There were way too many smarmy French people there.

I hate crowds, and the bookstore/giftshop was the most crowded place since Amistad's below deck. I wanted to run screaming into the depths of the harbor, especially after the guy walking around inside with his French Bulldog aimed the business end of the damn thing as it farted making the most horrible stench in olfactory history. That set me on edge for the rest of the ride home.

We had talked to Aaron's mom at lunch time and were going to head over to their house, but getting into the car, Doug and I knew we had to hightail it home and get the dogs taken care of before Kinger (in a fit of "I'm being abandoned" fear) crapped and pissed all over the place. We knew from the parking lot it was 2 and a half hours to home, and a visit at A's parents would have been nice but we wouldn't have been the best guests...

We got home before a canine explosion, grilled some brats and crashed. I feel bad we didn't go to Aaron land. But ... sometimes you just gotta know when the time is right to not do something. Know what I mean? Now I know why my parents didn't take us all these places all the time when we were growing up.

Sitting around the house is so damn much easier!

Today we got up early, the dogs were in need of outdoors and the neighbors were making use of the holiday to work on their projects, at 8 friggin' am. We ended up going out geocaching but only hit one of the seven we intended.

We did Where's George(town) because our not too far away neighboring team Fismo put that one out a couple weeks ago... and we hadn't hit it yet. A Fismo cache is a good one, they always put a lot of effort in. We got to the first coordinates with great ease. I entered them into the GPS and we headed to the next set of coords.

I must have mis-entered the coordinates.

We got to a point in the trail where it said we were 300 feet or so away from where we wanted to be. Doug wasn't sure if we were to continue down trail or cut into the right and bushwhack. I knew from the clue that the the coords were supposed to be right off the side of the trail, but the GPs said... 200 feet, then 100... we were bushwhacking and getting closer.

Into someone's backyard. Uh, Hi. Sorry. Sorry... we're just passing through. Cough.

I told Doug that Fismo would never send us off trail like this. They're better than that. They are seasoned hiders and finders, and I didn't feel good about where we were headed. He was tenacious. So I screw up the coords and he is relentless in pursuit.

Both our dogs, especially Jack, were in the creek, in the mud, enjoying themselves greatly. Jack is a freak in the deep woods. He just goes and goes. We walked the deer trails, I told Jessie to think like a deer, would a deer continue straight through here or zig to the left AROUND the pricker bush (duh?). We continued on, through their deer blind and hunting spots, and wandered around crossing the brook and walking through dozens of prickers before we finally said screw this, we're outta here. We turned around to backtrack our exact steps. Jessica was very angry but we told her it was the only way out of the area, to go back exactly the way we came.

We got back up to the trail, and the coordinates were tacked to the tree which fit the description of the clue DEAD on, but I 'd ignored because I was sure the coordinates were right. I had stood right next to it saying that it sounded EXACTLY like the clue, but it couldn't be the one. Nah.


So I did screw up. But there we were. Muddy, filthy, bugbitten and scratched but we had the next set of coordinates and were good to go.

The final hidingspace was a piece of cake. We inserted our Travel Bug Cartier, and started the trek back. We saw the saddest thing in the world on the trail. No, not any sort of sweet little dead animal. The most saddest. The penultimate paragon of sadness.

A batch of stray balloons, deflated and dead, hanging on a bush in the deep woods.

Think about it. Someone buys balloons for a party. They're happyassed balloons, full of joy, full of life. Suddenly, something happens and the balloons go flying. Up to heaven.

Oh, the humanity!

They eventually end up somewhere, don't they? The relentless pull of gravity combined with helium's inability to last and latex' thin skin, they burst -- they plummet. They land.

In this case, we found their sad little bodies, clumped together in the woods near the path.

A batch of sad dead balloons is sadder than a good clown turned evil. There were hopes in them there balloons -- well wishes. Happy Birthdays. And... oh. I'm too sad just thinking about it.

Jessica felt the same way. Oh, the poor children, they had to witness this! Oh that I could have protected them! Look at that poor child's face! Can you feel her pain??? Oh, I can't bear to look! Oh! The Calamity! Oh! The Catastrophe!

Oh, the humor of it all. Saturday we see the chair of the devil at the crossroads and today we meet balloons in their demise. Too damn funny!

Anyway, while we were contemplating dead balloons and the significance of their tales... I looked at Kinger and he had two big yellowjackets on his head, stinging him. Jack had run ahead, and I noticed he was chewing at his backend, and there was yet another yellow jacket.

Holy shit. Not AGAIN!

I told my family that we need to leave quickly and why. We all start running. This time though, only I got stung. There was a yellowjacket on my abdomen, I smashed it with my fist after it stung me. The dogs were both freaking out, Jack especially, and we made it to the bridge about .30 of a mile from where we found the cache before we stopped.

I swear, I'm so not happy with geocaching. I'm surprised as hell they didn't chase our asses. We didn't have the added siren of Jessica screaming this time, which hopefully helped. They weren't extra agitated by her screeching at the top of her lungs and stampeding through the woods this time. I think I may want to avoid heading out again until well after the heavy frosts of late October.

And I'm especially glad no one but me got stung. Oh, and the dogs. I feel bad for the dogs. We thought about doing another cache near our house. There are 3 that are extremely close to our house that we haven't done. But. We figured we'd be pushing our luck. Round trip the hike we took today was close to two miles, what with our woodsy excursion and all. So we needed to come home and drink Lynchburg Lemonade, make dinner and just be home.

That, and it started raining. Sorta.

Doug grilled up a great big huge pork roast on the Weber tonight. I made potato salad from scratch. All told, we had a meal that couldn't be beat. Life is good.

I'm not wanting to go back to work tomorrow. I feel like I need another day to fold laundry and do dishes what with our having barely been here for 3 days. Oh that I didn't need to work.

Anyway -- I have to get lunch ready for the kids for tomorrow. Hopefully Geoff will EAT his lunch instead of charging lunch. gah. Have a great night all.