Oh For a Scotch and a Pack of Cigarettes


Okay folks, so you want a story about my new job? Let me just tell you about my glorious day.

I got up early and got ready – determined to get there ahead of everyone else. New schedule, new commute still trying to hit it just right. And yesterday I was broiling in the office because I wore a sweater, so today just a cotton turtleneck and trousers.

Out the door and the air is like ice – 39 degrees – in California mind you. That’s really cold for us out here. Already I’m rethinking the cotton turtleneck but there’s no time so I jump in my little Chevy. But wait, what’s this? Why did it practically take two hands to turn the ignition? No radio, no heater, no lights, my ABS light is stuck on and there’s this funny smell….

Okay, clearly not getting in ahead of anyone. Drive straight to the mechanic (who I only just saw last week for one of those delux tune-up jobby-do’s) – but only the non-english speaking mechanic guy is there. The manager will be back in an hour – the owner who I’ve known for a bagillion years had just left. Nice big cold wind coming up. Hmmm…who can I call at 8:15 in the morning who won’t want to kill me? Why Zelda of course. Call home phone. No answer. Call cell. No answer. Decide to call work to tell them I will be late. No answer.

Yay, Zelda calls back. Yes she will take me to work. Be there in a few. Now with Zelda a few minutes can mean anything from 5 minutes to an hour. More standing in cold office and cold parking lot at mechanic’s. Finally Zelda arrives, I get in the car, which isn’t quite as cold as outside but not doing much to thaw me out. See Zelda doesn’t like heaters – in fact, she runs the A/C pretty much year round. So I keep my shivers to myself since she is doing me a favor.

Now I’m dreading how many bagillions of dollars it’s going to cost me to fix the car. I have visions of redoing the entire electrical system and various other stomach-churning possibilities. Enough. I throw myself into work. The place is a mess. There is stuffed crammed in every nook and cranny. Old papers, old envelopes, parts of equipment that no longer exists. Magazines, notepads, broken clipboards, Halloween decorations – pretty much everything but the fricking kitchen sink. So I spent most of the day going through all that crap. It did warm me up though – so I suppose that’s the upside.

Then I needed to talk to the bookeeper which took forever because she had to do this or that or whatever – long story short, I finally got a few minutes with her and got her on Quick Books tutorials. During which I discovered she doesnt’ know much about Quick Books and really pretty much computers. Cool, so it’s going to be a long road there.

Then the soon to be ex office manager had a fit because she didn’t get her overtime and she’s going to walk out and ooh, it’s such a drama. I mean we’re talking about $20. Right? So I told her I’d talk to Zelda cuz she was the one who put the kabosh on that – don’t even ask. So I just got off the phone with Zelda and she’s all pissed. And the other one is all pissed and it’s all on my plate anyway cuz well, it just is.

The good news is my car only needed a $50 part – a relay? And it works just fine now. I’m still alive, that’s good news. And there are only two more days left to the work week. Also good news. But Friday we’re having a little party for the ex office manager whom everyone hates and can’t wait to have go – but any reason to have cake and coffee, right?

Right now, a scotch and a pack of cigarettes would do a lot to improve my mood. I gotta tell you I’m not sure I’m cut out for this kind of crap. It’s all stupid and petty to me. I’d rather be writing. I’d rather being reading. I must be out of my mind. Oh well, maybe it will be better next week.

Though the 2nd night of American Idol tryouts is on tonight. I think I’m having a bad day? I’ll betcha there will be others who have a way worse one than me after all is said and done.



Really Stupid Shit


Since the internet is filled with stupid shit, I thought I’d get in on the act. Hence my favorite stupid shit, and stupid shit that is just stupid:

Favorite stupid saying: You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose but you can’t pick your friend’s nose. (How come?)

Favorite stupid movie: Monty Python’s Holy Grail. I especially love the horses they use and their many special effects.

Favorite stupid food: Artichoke, steamed with mayo for dipping. This is a stupid food because 1) who the hell figured out you could eat it? 2) who the hell figured out how to cook it so you could eat it 3) and  how did anybody convince anybody that you should all sit around an artichoke, pulling off leaves, dunking it in mayo and the scrape the meat off the leaves?

Favorite stupid sign:

Favorite stupid car: The original VW Bug. First of all, who wants to drive something called a bug? It conjures visions of motorized cockroaches or something. Then there is the engine in the back. And of course, the ever popular heating system (has anyone ever felt warm on an icy day in a VW Bug?).

Favorite stupid song: Weird Al Yankovich’s “Eat It.” Nuff said.

Favorite stupid website: Stupid.com – yep there really is a website by this name and you can check it out here. In fact, I purchased many stupid Christmas gifts from them this year and they were a hit. Don’t believe me? Ask Michael at Smoke & Mirrors.

Favorite stupid dance: The pony. For those of you who have never heard of this dance or seen it performed, see if you can find some old American Bandstand reruns. It’s worth it and hysterically funny.

Favorite stupid children’s character: Barney the purple Dragon. Not only is he huge and purple but he is butt-ugly. If I were a kid I’d be afraid of that sucker. And also somebody needs to work on the lyrics for his songs.

Favorite stupid tv show: Friends. A bunch of 20-somethings (who are really a lot older than that) have adventures in the big city. They are all struggling, lost, have career and life issues but live in a really cool apartment in the village, dress in all the latest fashions, go to fancy restaurants for dinners and have problems like jellyfish bites, whether or not to kiss Rachel, getting rid of annoying girlfriends and sibling rivalry. Great fun.

Things that are just stupid:

1. Bicyclists can ride on the open road but cars can’t drive on bike paths.

2. Joggers jog to become more fit and healthy but jog along heavily traveled roads – can you say carbon monoxide?

3. People who don’t pay taxes are pissed that they don’t get refunds.

4. Indecivise customers at fast food restaraunts.

5. Diet coke & chocolate cake.

6. Frisking old ladies at airports in case they’re terrorists.

7. Road construction during rush hour.

8. Cheerleaders at pro basketball games – for that money, they don’t need encouragement to cheer – you bet your ass they’re going to.

9. Pocket protectors – you might as well just stick a post-it on your head that says “Geek & Loser.”

10. Stop signs in California (more like avoid the oncoming car, signs).

Okay – that’s about all the stupid shit I can come up with tonight. I’ll let you know if I think of anything else.


Retail Sales & 12-Yr Old Chivas – 12 days of xmas #8


Unencumbered and foot loose and fancy free and…unemployed….I agreed to do one of those Christmas sales stints. It sounded very good during the talking part. 30% of the sales, they provide the space and the goods and after 6 weeks I’d be about 5 grand richer. It sounded VERY good.

Now, I don’t know if any of you out there have ever worked in a mall during Christmas…but if you want my advise…DON’T. Frankly, you’d probably do better washing windshields in the 7-11 parking lot and the hours are much kinder.

This particular group of yahoos had a system are taped out. They’d been doing it for years and they knew just how to make it work for me. First I started ‘training’ under another guy so I could learn the ropes (read that as working for free). Since he was a friend of mine – a british chap and fellow writer, Giles, was pretty easy to work with. Of course there was that working for free part which I didn’t care for, especially since any sales I made went into his pocket but I agreed anyway because I’d passed up a couple of jobs for this adventure so now I was committed (or I should have been).

So for about 10 days (straight, no time off) I worked Giles’ stand and made some pretty good sales. Of course the company was real swell and paid me a ‘draw’ from my future sales at my own stand, just to help me get by.

Anyway, I finally got my own stand – in West Covina. Which may sound nice and everything but it was about a 30 mile drive from my house and it was a particularly cold and rainy winter season – oh and I really hate to drive the freeways. Oh and I had to go through downtown L.A. to get there. Yeah, that was really great – especially since my heater decided to quit on my and I had to keep a steady supply of napkins handy to wipe away the fog on my windows.

Anyway…I got my own stand in the mall and honestly it was a pretty nice mall. And to be fair to Giles he did come and help me set up and hire some high school girls to do some selling for me – and the sales, well they were smoking. I was able (because of my desparate financial situation) to justify selling gold and silver plated jewelry by just completely ignoring the fact that it was junk. But if you put anything sparkly in front of a person during Christmas they just want it. Truth.

So for 6 weeks, 16 hours a day (not including drive time), no days off I sold. I sold and I sold and I sold some more. I learned how to take naps with my eyes open and while talking to staff and/or customers. For a release I would walk the mall and buy things. Once a week I made a field trip to the company office to restock and get my ‘draw’. Happily gas prices were dirt cheap at the time and with as hyped up as I was on coffee I hardly ever thought of food.

Forget the fact that I didn’t know what I looked like without the pallor and blood shot eyes, that I ended breaking up with my boyfriend over the phone and quite frankly, if I was even conscious by Christmas day there really wasn’t anything to remain conscious for. The minutes, hours, days, weeks went by in a blur of Christmas muzac and the eternal hum of hundreds of shoppers.

Finally came Christmas Eve. The mall was closing early and so I’d only have to work ten hours that day. My girls who had worked for me were so sweet that they pooled their money to buy me a plaque to commemorate an ‘in’ joke we’d developed over those few weeks. And honestly, it was one of the best Christmas presents I ever got because it was so unexpected and it spoke of true affection and good times from some girls who probably should have spent their money on clothes, make up, jewelry and their boyfriends.

Finally, six o’clock rolled around. The big boss came by and congratulated me on my sales which apparently was WAY over what they expected and told me to roll around on the first to pick up (what was left) of my commission check. I gave him the keys to the safe and the receipts and off to home I went.

Giles and I had planned to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day together since we were both on our own for the holidays. So I got home, showered and changed, plastered on some make up and went over. I looked like I’d been on a 12 year drunk and didn’t know my name (see picture above).

When I got there Giles was all smiles, wished me a ham sandwich and a happy Christmas. Then he whipped out the big surprise he’d been holding back on for weeks. A 12 year old bottle of Chivas. Now, from what I’ve heard that’s some pretty impressive stuff. I believe it is scotch but maybe it’s whiskey but really I couldn’t tell you the difference anyway.

So me and my pal Giles drank off that bottle of Chivas for the next two days. Occasionally pausing for ham sandwiches or an old movie on the telly. We were so exhausted I’m not sure we even spoke all that much. It was more on the order of grunts and groans and “I’ll have another.” By December 26th we had finished that bottle and were ready for the New Year. Sometime in the next couple of days we got some sleep and finally I went to get my commission check.

Sadly, Santa didn’t have much leftover for me. Just enough to pay the coming months bills and maybe a little extra if I was strict. I actually sat down and computed my hours against what I made and it turns out I made about $3 an hour. Who knew? I could have worked at Kmart and done the same, plus I woulda had that 10% discount. Live and learn and don’t do mall sales! 😉


Empty Stocking – 12 days of xmas #7

This is actually not what I intended to write originally. I had another more enthusiastic post planned. Yet, it seems somehow inappropriate now. Surprisingly (at least to me) this Christmas is going down as one of my most memorable Christmases. But for reasons I truly didn’t anticipate.

I’ve always loved Christmas, even when I was hating it. I don’t know why. Perhaps it is because there is a part of me that simply refuses to grow up. A part of me that wants to believe in the impossibility of dreams coming true, happy endings and the basic good-heartedness of people in general.

And in recent years I’ve heard a lot (and there are even whole series of articles dedicated to this theme these days) about how Christmas isn’t what it used to be. There is the commercialism, the basic cynical outlook of society today, the stress, the unusually high expectations that inevitably sets people up to fall. This and much more is what I hear is wrong with Christmas today. But if I reach back into my memories I can easily recall my mother making the same claims when I was a child. And if I reach further back than that, by watching old movies, those claims appear too. To quote a character in the movie Miracle of 34th Street – “There are a lot of isms in the world, but the worst one is commercialism.” Indeed, that story was all about how society had lost the magic and true meaning of Christmas and how if you ‘just believe’ you can recapture that feeling.

This year has been a very tough one for me. For many reasons – not the least of which is that the company I work for came very close to shutting its doors this past week. Somehow, we have managed to avoid that castastrophe, at least for now. Although, there is no promise that it won’t rear its ugly head again next week or the week after that. Despite that (and many other things), I was completely and totally unwilling to let go of my love of Christmas. I was sure, very sure that I could still spread the magic and enthusiasm. Cheer friends and family alike.

And try I did and have. To no avail, I’m afraid. It seems everywhere I go there is a pervading sadness. Whether it be dinner with friends, shopping, the blogosphere – it doesn’t seem to matter. It’s like no one really wants to be cheered. And it’s not the Grinch angry kind of thing – even that (in comparison) is not so bad. It’s worse than that – maybe an indifference??? I don’t know.

All I know is that I’m tired of swimming against the tide. I’m tired of fighting people to be happy for just a few days. I guess I’m just plain tired. Perhaps I’ve finally grown up and realized there really is no magic. Or I just simply don’t have enough magic powder to go around.

My plans are made. The gifts are bought. Heck I’m even making a turkey dinner for Roomie, lest he eat hot dogs and watch cowboy movies all day. But my heart – it’s just not in it any more. I’m just not feeling it in the air, I’m just not seeing it in people’s faces or hearing it in their voices. And it’s kind of lonely here at the party by myself.

So this Christmas is my empty stocking. Not because there are no gifts there – because there are and there will be. Not because there won’t be good food and some laughs and goofy pictures to hide from public view. Not because I’m broke or I’m driving an old car that has a new weird sound almost every day. Not because there won’t be snow on Christmas Eve. Not because – in a phrase – life is a bitch and then you die. But because the sparkle that’s behind filling that stocking just ain’t there this year. Maybe next year it will be back. I sure hope so.


Julia Child’s Turkey Christmas – 12 days of xmas #6

New house, new man (with two sons…why do they come in two’s?) and yet another memorable Christmas. Still cooking. In this case, cooking up a veritible storm. It started out pretty simple me, Tom and the boys with a few friends…but then I started getting these phone calls. There was a bevy of Christmas orphans that year with nowhere to go and could they come to my house? Sure, the more the merrier!

As each day inched nearer to Christmas, more phone calls, more unexpected guests to feed. I’d never made a really big turkey but this was the year to do it. The house was small so there was no way we were all going to sit down, so a buffet it was.

It’s a rather odd and surreal experience (even to a Christmas nut like me) to have a houseful of guests for Christmas dinner when you’ve never met half of them. Sort of like stumbling into a big frat party. But I loving to cook and have guests the way I do decided to just roll with it.

I got up early (can you say 5 am?) and Tom just had to get this shot of me in search of my first cup of coffee. Oh how I love to have my picture taken in my jammies with no makeup and a dumb expression on my face.

But I digress.

So, out came the 30lb turkey to sit on the counter while I drank coffee and made the stuffing. Now I’m a kind of organic cook – I generally abhor recipes and I honestly can’t follow one completely as I always add things or change things. So instead of taking the easy way out and following Mrs. Cubbitson’s recipe that was quite conveniently on the back of the box, I set to chopping up apples, nuts and onions, sauteed all that in some butter and threw in a few handful of raisens – I happened to have some cranberries too so in they went. Once the vat of dressing was made and the turkey stuffed to the gills and the remaining dressing in a sheet pan, we set to making the basting sauce. Butter, chicken broth, orange juice and white wine, a little sugar for good measure and we were ready to roll. Into the oven it went.

The next hour was spent peeling potatoes because of course home made mashed potatoes were a must and I had a lot of guests and they were going to want those darn potatoes. Ooops, one of the kids just shot a toy soldier into the potato pot. No harm done, the soldier was barely injured. On the back burner with those. Next sweet potatoes, peeling, dicing, glazing with butter, cinnamon, pineapple juice and brown sugar. My gawd how glad was I that I made the pumpkin pies the night before? Very, I must say.

As an afterthought, I grabbed a couple of bags of frozen peas since no one really likes vegetables with their Christmas dinner, do they? Unheard of, really , absolutely scandalous!

And between the basting and trying to find enough dishes and the the parade of guests and little gift giving, before I knew it, it was time to pull it all out of the oven. Of course by that time I was ready for a nap but i had an army to feed and they were getting restless with Ruffles and beer being their only appetisers (I know, shame on me – but I just couldn’t clone myself to make nibblies).

The turkey needed to rest before we could carve him up – so I put on my best Julia Childs impression and entertained the guests while extolling the many virtues of the giant perfectly browned bird.

Then came the rue for the gravy and separating the fat from the drippings – oh my where was that little bit of coffee I saved for the gravy? Is that bowl big enough for the potatoes? Why on earth don’t I have an electric mixer? Do you know how hard it is to mash and whip 10 pounds of mashed potatoes? My biceps were quite impressive that day. At least Tom opened the cranberry sauce and carved the turkey.

Finally we ate and ate and then we ate some more. We played Trivial Pursuit, got drunk and finished the leftovers. I think I finally had to kick everyone out around midnight. Since my orphans had cleaned up after me when dinner was over, I had a clean kitchen and just enough to share a turkey sandwich with Tom before we crawled into bed for a long winter’s nap. Of course I swore I’d never do that again. And yet I did, the next year and the next year and the year after that. 😉


Christmas on the Boulevard – 12 days of xmas #5


Cooking is something I love and coincidentally one of the things I do best. For that reason (and many others) when time and space allow I can usually be counted on to cook up a storm on Christmas. This particular year though I opted out.

It was my first Christmas after Mike and I broke up and something about doing the big dinner just didn’t sit right with me. Instead I put together a co-op Christmas Brunch. Which really turned out to be great. I made the eggs, bacon, sausage and fresh-squeezed juice, Maxine brought breads and muffins, Libby brought fruit, somebody brought deserts, and yet another brought cheeses and other nibblies. We all lazed around in my tiny livingroom, after feeding heavily from the buffet I set up in the kitchen. It was a wonderful 80 degrees outside and it was more like a pool party than Christmas.

One by one my guests bid their goodbyes, having dinner plans elsewhere and I made sure that each took away some of the leftovers, lest they pass my lips and end up on my thighs. A brilliant plan I thought….at the time.

Libby, my somewhat eccentric friend had no plans so she stayed and we yakked and laughed and smoked for hours. We were having such a good time in our chat we decided to keep it going and thought what fun it would be to just go out for Christmas dinner. Nothing fancy mind you, especially since Libby was attired in her usual denim overalls and sneakers, but surely Denny’s would be open or someplace like that.

So, we decided to walk down to the boulevard. That’s Hollywood speak for Hollywood Boulevard. You know that famous little strip of land that you hear about and read about out there in the real world? Where every step you take lands you on the star and name of somebody famous. Where drag queens, hookers, tourists, wannabes and regular folk alike stroll and take in the sights.

A good plan, right? I mean how could something go wrong? Who woulda thunk that not one shop, store or restaurant would be open? Ah…us! Yep, that’s right. We walked and looked and walked and looked and walked some more. But, ah…no….didn’t we realize it was Christmas day? Didn’t we have family or friends who could feed us? I mean…didn’t we?

Of course we weren’t having any of it. We knew if we just kept walking that we were sure to find someplace. Just as we reached Grelman’s Chinese Theatre (you know the one with all the handprints and footprints of movie stars?) we spotted a lovely pink neon sign that said ‘open.’

“See,” Libby crowed, “I knew we’d find someplace.”

So we crossed the street and pulled open the door to Frank’s Diner. (Yep, that is really what it was called.)

Oh good, I thought – some good greasy spoon Christmas dinner was going to hit the spot.

The waitress who was a mere 150 years old shuffled over to us as we sat at the counter. “What’ll ya have?”

“Turkey dinner, of course,” we said.

She screwed up her face in a sour puss. “We don’t got no turkey dinner.”

“Really?” our eyes were wide and hearts very sad.

“What’ll ya have?” she asked again completely unphased by our charms.

“Menu?” Libby chirped.

Two xeroxed sheets of paper were plunked down in front of us. “Coffee?”

‘Ah, sure.”

We studied the menu and looked for anything that could possibly approximate Christmas dinner. We both decided on the hot turkey sandwich. It was almost like Christmas and we’d have pumpkin pie for desert. We ordered.

The coffee came and our spoons stood straight up in it. We went through two cream pictures in an effort to make it drinkable but the color never really changed from the muddy brown hue it came with.

At last the hot turkey samiches arrived and our eyes sparkled until Myra (we named all old waitress Myra) slapped them down in front of us. Okay, ready? Wonder bread with turkey loaf, instant mashed potatoes and BROWN gravy all over everything – even the peas and carrots. To say it was fucking awful is to pay it too high a compliment. But we were starved so down it went. And we laughed like a couple of giddy cokeheads. For some reason it was hilarious to us that this was our Christmas dinner.

When finally we gave up on the brown gooey mess we asked for pumpkin pie. “We’re out,” she said and gave us our check.

Of course they were.

We paid our check and walked arm in arm back down the boulevard toward home. On the way back we spotted a Falaphel stand and ordered a couple. Hey, at least it was edible and the big tanker of diet coke helped it go down nice and easy.

By the time we got back to my place it was late and Libby decided to go home. I plopped down on the couch and turned on the tv – what luck – White Christmas had just started and it was the perfect end to a perfect day.


You Know You’re on the Date From Hell When…

I think most of us have had at least one really bad date. Some of us have probably even had more than one. But for those of you who don’t know how to tell if you are on a date from hell, here are a few clues:

You know you’re on the date from hell when:

1. You mustached dinner date has a booger resting between nostril and hairlip and despite frequent trips to the restroom has not noticed. So, you spend the evening waiting for it to fall.

2. Your date prefers to watch you eat rather than order a dinner for himself and even volunteers he hasn’t enough money for two dinners anyway.

3. Your date feels free to scoop up tips left by other patrons in order to pay for his beers.

4. Your date doesn’t tip the waitress (who he just ripped off) which causes you to wait til he isn’t looking to slip the waitress a five.

5. He arrives at your house to pick you up for a coffee date, with grocery store roses and a cheap bottle of wine (how lucky does he think he’s going to get?)

6. For said coffee date he passes on Starbuck’s and goes straight to Denny’s.

7. Your date suggests dessert then drives you to the Shell station convenience store (30 miles away) and tells you to pick anything you want.

8. Your date looks like Steve Buscemi’s ugly older brother. ( Have you seen Steve Buscemi?)

9. The good night kiss reminds you it’s time to clean the fish tank.

10. The picture your friend showed you to agree to the blind date is clearly a picture of a model in a magazine or taken so long ago that there is no trace of resemblance to the current person.

11. Your date reminds you of one of Santa’s elves (and makes you feel big and fat to boot)

12. Your date feels that eating off your plate and making creepy sounds is a sexy come on.

13. Two minutes after you order your date launches into a monologue of all the bad relationships in his life – which apparently is every one before you.

14. When your date suggests you might like to read his short stories and you agree he whips his laptop out of his trunk and asks where he can plug it in.

15. He gets sulky when you tell him you want to go home after the 5 hour coffee date.

16. Your stomach is growling so loud that it is setting off car alarms yet he doesn’t notice and asks if you’d like more coffee or to go for a drive.

17. When he asks if he can see you again and you decline he acts as if you are breaking up a 20 year marriage.

18. Your dog will not stop barking at the man.

19. Your cat barfs on his shoes.

20. You slink down in your seat when you see someone you know – lest they see you with him.

21. His idea of a nice drive is playing chicken with pedestrians pushing baby strollers.

22. He tells you his favorite movie is Dune.

23. His favorite sport is bitching.

24. He brings coupons to pay for dinner.

25. His car smells funny.

26. During the drive to the shell station his facial features turn into an evil mask and you wonder if he really is a serial killer and what you might have in your purse to fend him off.

27. He leaves his sunglasses at your house so you have to call him back – which he turns into an opportunity to discuss what went wrong with your relationship.

28. Being 20 lbs overweight, he wonders out loud if you should be eating such a fattening dessert.

29. He does not understand the words, ‘please go home.’

Feel free to share and add to the list. 😉


Hotmail Sucks

Okay, so this weekend, I am minding my own business – darting about – checking this and that. Then in a split second I can’t access my hotmail account.

It started out innocently enough. I got the usual ‘server too busy’ page, so I decided to try later. Well later on, same thing. A little more annoyed, I went about my business – worked on this and that. Came back, now it was a whole new thing – ‘hotmail temporarily unavailable.’ Okay gritting my teeth now.

Now granted I used the hotmail account for non-essential mail. Various Enewsletters, Amazon email reference but also a few friends contacted me that way – and it was my backup should my main address go kaput. So it wasn’t vital. But on the weekends I like to read my newsletters, and the various other type of stuff that comes into that box and here I was unable to access it. So much for my coffee and catching up on my reading.

I contacted help from msn and essentially based on their advise I needed to completely reconfigure my security settings, my lan settings and various other bullshit things. Which in essence was inferring I was some kind of fricking idiot who had somehow managed to do something stupid to my computer because I had to reset the settings. Of course the fact that I’d done nothing at all to change anything was utterly irrelevant to help and they promptly ignored my response which granted wasnt’ all that polite. Basically I told them to forget about it, I wasn’t going to reconfigure my computer so I could get fricking hotmail to open.

I tried the entire day and the entire next day. Sunday things changed a little. Suddenly I was getting these cute little pop-ups prompting me to download the latest version of Internet Explorer. “Ah,” I thought, “so that’s what is going on.”

Now it’s bad enough that fricking, ugly ass Bill Gates has permeated just about every aspect of my modern life. That I can’t even get a decent word processing program because his company has convinced everyone that being an idiot is cool and a fricking animated paper clip knows quite a bit more than they do. And that I can’t no matter what I do actually get rid of Internet Explorer and it’s a ram whore – but now if I want to access a stupid ass hotmail account I have to download more of his idiotic mediocricy laden programs. They should rename that thing to Idiot Explorer if you ask me.

But…I digress. So these nifty little pop ups keep nagging me and nagging me. OOoooh download me. Ooooh, you want your hotmail mail doncha? Come on, just click yes or I will drive you insane by popping up every time you click on any fricking thing. I’m gonna gitcha!

I ignored it and it wasn’t easy since that little bastard was really getting on my nerves. Instead, I waited until this morning. I knew I could access hotmail on my Mac at work (finally a reason I was glad to have a Mac at work) which I did.

I cleaned up my files, downloaded my address book, deleted everything and told them to stick it.

Ironically, ten minutes later yet another ‘help’ person sent me an email with even more nifty instructions on how to reinvent my computer so I could access hotmail. I told her she was a nice person but she could stick it too.

Out went a gang email to friends and bloggers for gmail invites and in they came. So, I’m now on the G-train and happy as a pig in shit.

Hot mail can bite me. Bill Gates can bite me. And if I never have to deal with another microsoft program or website or browser I will be a happy woman.


Road Trip

(About 3 years ago, I got it in my head that I needed a change and decided to uproot my life in California and move to Florida. I know, what was I thinking? LOL. Anyway, here’s my manic account of the trip. Bear in mind that I avoid freeways, hate to drive and my only companions for this trip was my dog Maggie and cat Boodie. Neither of which are great conversationalists. WC)

Okay, first let me start off by saying, if I’d known what lie ahead of me, I’d never have made the drive. Luckily, I was protected by my total clueless-ness until I’d made the commitment and was halfway across the country. So, my advice is “don’t try this at home, kids.”

On Sunday morning, October 19th, I stumbled out of bed at 5:30 a.m. and began to assemble the piles of possessions I hoped would fit in the car. I had a quick cup of leftover coffee from the day before, took a shower, dressed and rousted my neighbor out of bed so he would move his car. The packing went amazingly well and quickly. Although, I found I had to leave behind dishes, lots of toiletries, towels and various other things I’d hoped would fit. I gave my neighbor a hug, put Maggie and Boodie in the back and made my final tour of Tujunga as I neared the 210 Freeway. It was only 7 am and Sunday so I anticipated little to no traffic. Surprisingly, there were many early birds on the road and the anxiety grew to a lump in my stomach and stayed there for my entire drive to Desert Hot Springs, my first stop.

Outside of nearly missing the off ramp to the 605 and bumpy roads, the trip was uneventful, except that my tolerance for freeway driving was so low that I feared I’d missed my exit ramp 20 times before I actually reached it. The sky was blue and the desert sun mean and relentless. The most remarkable thing was the windmills stationed by the hundreds on the desert floor that seemed to wave hello/goodbye to me as I approached. I found my exit and got off. Said a quick prayer to God, thanking him for keeping the car from exploding and me from having an anxiety attack.

I managed to get to Marli’s and we had a happy meeting, laughing and crying and so happy to finally meet. Although, within an hour my dog had decided to poop on Marli’s carpet which put a damper, I think on the rest of the visit. It was cruelly hot, and I felt compelled to constantly walk Maggie around the trailer park so she would do her business outside. Rather than further desecrate Marli’s pristine home.

I had reservations on accepting Marli’s invitation and I was tense at times because of my dog and the trip I was terrified to make and knew I was going to anyway. At the end of the evening, we had a good talk about my fears of trip, making the drive and God and some really profound thought provoking ideas were exchanged. For this I truly thank Marli. She is a lovely person and her kindness at letting me stay with her before I really started my trip I will never forget.

Not much sleep that night. It was hot. I was anxious. The cat was already traumatized and we hadn’t gotten more than 120 miles of a 2500 mile trip. I awoke, gulped a coffee, hugged Marli goodbye and we were off.

20 miles of access road to the freeway, a mile before the on ramp I saw a detour sign and was loathe to turn back so I followed the arrow and when I could stand it no more, asked the next car if they knew where the freeway was. “Over there” they pointed to my left. Okay, back comes the lump in my stomach and we’re on the freeway again. A stop at the Burger King in Blythe, some gas and cigs and back on the freeway. “Welcome to Arizona” the sign said. And I giggled and cried just a little – feeling I’d made some small bit of progress.

Though hideously hot, the drive was flat and straight away and by 1:30 I was pulling into the Motel 6 in Casa Grande, where I arranged to meet my buddy David, from my writer’s group. What a delight a Motel 6 can be to a weary, hot, tired traveler with two impatient pets. The air conditioning worked just fine and the tub filled up quickly. I called David and we agreed on a time and I took twenty minute nap. Across the street for smokes and a tee shirt a couple of calls to friends and then David and Stella were there.

David was just as I thought he’d be – big, happy, and enthusiastic. He insisted on taking pictures, though I knew they’d not be a pretty thing to view at a later date and ironically, though I’ve been sent the files twice I can’t open them. Again, God is listening. We had a nice dinner and a good talk and off they went to their home and off I went to my motel room. Some tv, a midnight snack from the diner and off to sleep.

Wake up call, 6 am and back in the car we go. I drive and drive and still seem to be in Arizona. Then I see a sign that says goodbye Arizona, hello New Mexico. Gas, cigs, water, check the tires, check the oil and off we go again.

The cat is not talking to me and has that vile vindictive look of a seasoned enemy – no doubt still remembering my prying her from under the bed that morning. My legs cramp and tremble – I sing along to Eric Clapton and BB King. Maggie finds a perch atop the cat carrier and watches out the back window as the scenery rushes by. “Welcome to Texas.” Again a prayer and giggle and tear. We’re in El Paso. Boy does it smell bad. There is stuff in my eyes and I’m wildly blinking so I can see. It smells like gasoline, oil and dirt. I want to go further but I don’t’ know what’s ahead of me, if anything and I can’t see and the smell is terrible. Okay, we stay in El Paso. Travel Lodge. Nice room, too expensive.

I settle the pets in, the dog is wound up, the cat is plotting revenge. I walk – again it’s vicious hot weather – to the Burger King and get more junk food. I bring it back and me and Maggie eat. A bath, some calls, some tv. Potty breaks for Maggie and into bed. 5:30 wake up call because I’m not sure if the traffic ever ends at this juncture, it seems in full force even at 3 am when I wake up and wonder where I am.

Back in the car, onto the freeway and drive, drive, drive. Does the sun ever come up in Texas? Bumpy roads, road work, driving through mist and roads cut into mountains. The stink never ends. Cow poop, gasoline and oil. Will I ever smell anything else? My legs are in permanent ache and agony and I can’t feel my feet and I know I’ve got 1700 miles to go. I drive, I stop, I drive some more. Finally, Sonora, Texas. Get a room – the most depressing of the drive. Twin Oaks motel. Makes Norman Bates’ place look like high hog digs. The air conditioner is conveniently located in the dressing room and keeps my clothes nice and cool. I have come to sweating permanently – food – is there any? Well, I had a tasty salad at the Dairy Queen. Fast food abounds, except there are no Burger Kings or McDonald’s. I need real food. I go to the convenience store and get canned peaches and milk for dinner. “Tomorrow I’ll have a decent meal,” I tell myself.

6:30 wake up call. Cold and damp, can’t see a thing. Bad coffee at reception. I pass on the honey buns and fruit loops. Back in the car after prying the cat loose from under the bed. I really want to get to Louisiana today but know I’m dreaming. More up and down mountains and canyons, more oil, cow poop and gasoline. I’m afraid to light a cigarette for fear of setting my hair on fire. I can’t feel my legs, much less my feet. I think my jeans could drive without the help of limbs they are so ‘broken in’ and smelly. I can’t make it to Louisiana but get to Beaumont, Texas. 50 miles from the border. I can live with that. Again, all the good restaurants are on the wrong side of the road and can’t bear to drive to them. So, Domino’s delivers. Sure do love those cinnastix, especially with that icing. Diet coke, starch and sugar- a fine dinner.

Calls to friends, a bath, tv. Can’t stay awake. 6 am wake up call. Back on the freeway. Yay! “you are now leaving the State of Texas.” “Welcome to Louisiana.” At least I think that’s what the sign says – does the fog ever lift in Louisiana? Nope. It sure don’t. Driving 35 mph, visibility about 20 feet – trying to keep the big trucks and red cars in sight. Need something to follow. Keep telling Maggie – “it’s okay, hon, we’re okay.” But really I’m talking to myself. I’m talking to God, I’m just talking – hoping it isn’t my day to die.

Then we STOP. Idle. Crawl. Stop. What’s going on? I know there must be an accident up ahead. Yep, about 10 cars and 4 big rigs. I thank the great spirit in the sky for not involving me. Now, I must get out of this state. Into clear weather. I stop for gas and a ‘meat pie’ – yikes! Don’t ever eat one of those things. I couldn’t’ even give it to the dog. It’s cool though, cuz I’ve got cigarettes and peanuts and warm diet coke. Life is good. More Clapton and BB King. Endless bridges. Just when I think I can turn off my brights, the fog comes back like a ghost with a grudge.

Well howdy doody, I’m in Mississippi! McDonald’s, Wendy’s, whatever. It’s food I recognize. The dog, happily gets most of it. I get to pee and back on the Freeway. I have to get to Florida today. I must!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

More bridges, more water, more humidity, more bridges more road. I cant feel my arms, my legs, my feet, my back. I am one with the road. I am the road warrior. I will get to Florida or die. Maggie looks so trusting, I’m glad she doesn’t know the truth about me. Doesn’t know I’m scared shitless and am praying the whole time that the car doesn’t explode, the tires go flat, I fall asleep at the wheel, I get stopped by the lurking state troopers who’d love to take all my traveler’s checks from me. She happily sits on the cat’s carrier and watches the scenery go by.

Glory hallelujah, I have made it to Pensacola, Florida. I have arrived. I must pull off and find a motel and celebrate. The room is okay, the cat actually doesn’t dive for under the bed and peers out the window. Maybe she knows we are almost there?

It’s hot, it’s sticky – hell, it’s Florida what do you expect. Today I MUST have a decent meal. I decide to get in the car and drive to wherever they serve real food. IHOP at your service. I order two meals – believing myself to be that hungry and starved for something that actually resembles food and doesn’t come with a happy toy inside. With wild glee I drive back to the motel with my giant bag of food, open it up and guess what, no napkins or silverware. I call the restaurant, nope they won’t bring it to me, I just can’t go back out and get it. I go to the front desk, do they perhaps have an eating implement? I get a plastic knife. Ever eaten pot roast and sweet potatoes and corn with a plastic knife? It’s a lost art. Sort of like using one chopstick. Well, the food tastes good anyway. I’m in Florida for God’s sake and I’ll be in Clearwater tomorrow, so who cares. Phone lots of friends, no one home, leave messages. I sit on my bed and cry for a while. I think it’s relief but there’s probably a good dose of fear in there too. I suddenly realize just what I’ve done and can’t believe some awful thing hasn’t befallen me and pray that my last 500 miles will go as the previous 2000 – uneventful, even, steady as she goes.

7 am wake up (I thought I deserved to sleep in) – on the road, driving as non stop as I can stand. I make a pit stop in Tallahassee, ask about the alternate route my cousin suggested and decide it’s better to stay on the 10. One more stop at McDonald’s and then we just meld with the road. We are the road and the road is us. We will not stop til we get to Clearwater. Hurray, there is the Tampa sign, I’m in Tampa, I’m seeing the signs but where is the Clearwater sign? Wow, these guys drive like L.A’ers without the hatred. Scarey. Happy nut jobs… I get off the freeway sure I’ve missed the off ramp. A nice couple informs me if I’d stayed on the freeway 5 more minutes I’d have seen the Clearwater signs. Sigh…Maggie is anxious, I’m a mess, so hot, so tired, my legs don’t feel like they really want to support me any more. Back on the freeway. Oh there it is, off the freeway, on the causeway, yep, there’s the beach, ain’t it pretty? Driving, more and more, well it seems like a lot but probably a mile have to pull over, call Trina see how far I am from the house.

I ask directions from the Clerk at the convenience store but the customers behind me are ornery and tell me to read my map. I of course say if I could read it I wouldn’t be talking to the clerk… Okay, call Trina, she tells me where to go. Back in the car, Maggie is whining she knows we’re close and just doesn’t want to be in the darn car any more and who can blame her. Finally, there it is, I turn, drive into Trina’s driveway and stop the car. Trina comes out, gives me a standing ovation and a cup of tea.

I try to chat casually like a sane person should be able to do but of course I’m babbling and probably sound like a homeless woman with too much thread in her shopping cart, unable to find anyone who wants to trade it for anything. She takes me to the house, I get the tour. She leaves.

I put the pets in the house and they bolt for parts unknown. I drag my paltry belongings into the house and dump them on the floor. Take a bath. Go to the grocery store and buy the weirdest combination of non food items and a couple of things to eat.

By midnight, I’ve put away everything I can, determined there is no television reception and fall into bed. “Tomorrow I start my new life,” I tell myself as I drift off to sleep in my new time zone.

And that’s the story of how I got to Florida.