Friday, January 29, 2010
My dad, who pastored a large church, was accused of stealing money from it. Before the whole nightmare was over, Dad would end up in prison, and the rest of us -- me, my mom, sister, brother-in-law, even Dr. Wonderful -- would lose an incredible array of things that were important to us.
We've emerged on the other side now. Our lives will never be the same, but in some ways, that's a good thing. I wouldn't repeat the whole experience for any amount of money, but I wouldn't go back to being the person I was before, either.
The experience taught me more lessons than I can count, but two in particular have really stuck with me. First, that people who are closer to you than family can turn on you in a heartbeat and become the nastiest, most hateful people you ever met. And second, that kindness, support and friendship can come from the most unexpected places.
When the nightmare began, my mom and sister had to go to work every day knowing that their coworkers knew the whole story. They couldn't escape the whispers and the gossip and the headlines. I, on the other hand, was lucky -- I had just landed a new job (the one I got because of my amazing cleavage) 50 miles from home. No one at my new job knew that the pastor in the news was my dad, so I could come to work every day and spend eight hours thinking about other things and pretending everything was peachy.
And that's when I started to notice that small acts of kindness could bring me to tears.
I shared an office with a woman who was a hoot. She had no idea what was going on in my life, but somehow she always knew when I needed a laugh. I could find myself laughing at one of her jokes and suddenly have to turn away before she saw the tears. That's how grateful I was to have something to laugh at. We're no longer close, but I remain grateful to her for being a friend when I needed one, even though she didn't know it.
My back gave out (not coincidentally, I think) about the time all this mess began. I started going to a chiropractor in the town where I worked. His office staff was (and is) very good at knowing everyone's name and making every patient feel that they're being taken care of. It's not rocket science -- it's just good customer service, and they do it for everyone. But I can't tell you how much it mattered to me to spend an hour with people who made me feel like they gave a rat's ass what happened to me. They still have no idea how much their kindness meant to me -- I've tried to thank them, but I always end up crying. I think this has left them with the impression that I'm not grateful, but crazy.
The few people at my church who supported us turned out to be, in some cases, the ones I didn't expect. One family in particular took care of my mom the whole time Dad was in prison -- mowed grass, cooked meals, planted flowers. They weren't people we'd been close to before, and they're probably busier than anyone I know. But they still found time to be Mom's support system. The mere thought of all they've done for us still makes me cry.
I tell you all this to say that I've been reminded once again of kindness from unexpected places.
As I've searched for a job over the last three or four weeks, I've pulled out all the stops. I've emailed people I haven't seen in ten years. I've asked my friends to put me in touch with people they know. I've tweeted and blogged and facebooked about my search, all in an attempt to turn up some leads. I know it's called networking, and I know this is how it's done, but I've still been overwhelmed by the response.
I got a lead from the husband of a lady I worked for ten years ago. I emailed a random guy I met at Skyline Chili a few weeks ago -- he responded with a posting he'd seen that sounded promising. I have a networking lunch next week with someone I met on Twitter. I tweeted my friend Shannan, who really doesn't know me that well, "Girlfriend, I need a job!" Next thing I know, I've applied for a position at her company.
And my friend Beth has been a one-woman search engine, filling my inbox with a deluge of postings she's found online.
It hasn't been lost on me that much of the help I've encountered has come from my online community -- people I've never met face-to-face, in some cases. And people say online support systems aren't for real. Believe me, I know better.
I'm probably the most cynical person you'll ever meet, and most of the time, I think my cynicism serves me well. But sometimes I get reminded that cynicism isn't always necessary. Sometimes people really do have good hearts, and you really can depend on kindness from unexpected places.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
The ad goes on to say that the young man is considering a move to the Arabian Peninsula, as he has "always had a love affair with the horse."
"I will bet you that no matter how Hott you are or think you are. No matter what you say or do or what sexy outfit you wear. That YOU! Cannot get me to sleep with you with in the first three days! If you win you get a gift certificate to a day spa. If I win you buy me a real steak dinner with the works and take me to some cool guy movie."
BTW, I've lost count of all the ads I found that are far too dirty and disgusting to publish here. And just so you know? If you Google "online dating married," you get A LOT of hits. Which is just wrong.
My favorite is the woman who briefly mentions in her online profile that she holds a Ph.D. She got this response from a gentleman looking for love:
"You should not state that you have a PhD on your profile. This could intimidate men. And if you choose to keep it on your profile, you may otherwise attract pretentious, egomaniacs who can quote you every line from Shakespeare. Admitting that you have a PhD is not wise when searching for love. In fact, you shouldn't even mention it unless they ask. Such admission can steer good men away from you; believing that they may never be able to relate to you intellectually. When searching for love, one needs to be open minded. Be completely receptive."
Thanks, asshat. I'm sure she'll take your advice and attract high school dropouts who threaten her with bodily harm if she leaves the house. Oh, and telling her to lie in her profile is great advice. That's sure to attract just the type of guy she's looking for.
This guy? This guy is hard to pass up. What a catch!
"I graduated from Duke University a couple years ago. I have a great job which pays incredibly, a Lexus, and an apartment which is filling out very nicely. I've been wanting to buy a house, but there is one thing missing, my thin, beautiful trophy wife on my arm. You should be athletic (I run five miles every day, rain or shine) and your fat ass will not be sitting on the couch. You should be intelligent enough to hold a conversation in polite company, but know your place, and when it is appropriate to speak. You should know how to cook, because I am tired of ordering in, and going out every night. My mom has already said that she'd be happy to show you how to cook some of my favorite meals. You can be college educated, however you won't be working anyhow, so I don't see how it matters. Unless of course you studied home-making. Be sure to send a full body photo of yourself, clothing optional."
Sign me up! Hurry! Before he gets away!
As scary as the profiles are, I think the photos may be the worst:
And then there's this guy:
Monday, January 25, 2010
It involves my cleavage.
On the morning of my interview, I put on a suit I had worn only a time or two. It had a wool jacket that zipped up the front, and a scarf that went around your neck -- not one of those silk scarves that's all flimsy, but a real live fuzzy winter scarf that hung down the front of the jacket.
The jacket, by the way, did not involve a blouse underneath. It was just a zip-front, form-fitting jacket.
You can see where this is going, can't you?
When I arrived at my destination, I opened the car door and prepared to step out. I glanced down at myself one last time to make sure I was put together, and that's when I realized I was NOT put together.
The zipper on my suit jacket was wide open. It was hooked together in one tiny place just south of my boobs, but everything else was flapping in the breeze.
Yikes, I thought. How had I managed to leave the house without noticing my suit wasn't zipped?
I tried to zip the jacket back up, only to find out WHY everything was flapping in the breeze: somewhere between my house and my job interview, my zipper had broken.
After a moment of panic, I closed the car door and got out my phone. I had only one number for anyone in this building -- the lady who had called me to schedule the interview. I dialed her up.
I called information and got the receptionist's number, and then prepared for the weirdest conversation of my life.
"Hi, this is Emilie. I have a job interview with Mr. Big Boss RIGHT NOW, but I'm having a small problem out in the parking lot."
Where was the phrase "wardrobe malfunction" when I needed it?
The receptionist, bless her heart, laughed hysterically and then promised to send help.
A minute later the front door of the building opened and out came Mr. Big Boss's assistant. She wrapped me in my raincoat and led me into the building, where she handed me some safety pins and showed me to the restroom.
I tried. I really did. But the suit jacket didn't have enough overlap to allow for safety pins. I guess what I'm trying to say is that my ample bosom didn't allow for overlap. Anyway, you get the point.
I emerged from the restroom to find Mr. Big Boss's assistant AND the lady who had scheduled my interview waiting for me. They took one look at my suit and deemed it unworkable.
There followed a discussion about where I might go to purchase something else to wear. The consensus seemed to be that Wal-Mart was my only option, and that, of course, wouldn't do.
That's when Ms. Assistant took charge. She cocked her head to one side, examined my suit critically, and picked up her stapler.
By pinching the fabric just so all down the front of my jacket, Ms. Assistant was able to staple me into my suit. But, as you can imagine, this left the front of my jacket looking horrible.
That's where the scarf came in.
Remember the fuzzy winter scarf that came with the suit? Ms. Assistant draped it strategically around my neck and down my front so that it covered her hasty "sewing" job. Then she stapled it to my lapels so that it wouldn't move.
I went through six hours of interviews that way. And except for the first two people I talked to (who had to be told why I was late) no one ever knew the difference.
Mr. Big Boss told me later that he hired me in part because he figured if I could keep my cool in that situation, I could handle anything this job might throw at me.
I still think it was my amazing cleavage.
Friday, January 22, 2010
I'm looking frantically for a job (more on that at a later date), and my mind is completely toast. I wake up in the middle of the night with ideas about people I should contact, only to have the thought evaporate by morning. The result is very little sleep, a great deal of worry, and, so far, no new job.
Here's an example of the mush that is my brain: you may have noticed I didn't post on Monday. Why? Because I forgot it was Monday.
I was off work Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, so I went to bed Sunday night thinking it was Saturday. Around lunchtime the next day it hit me that it was Monday, not Sunday, and that I hadn't written anything. I fired up the laptop and tried to think of a topic.
That's when I realized I had nothing to say. So I just decided not to waste my time or yours.
I have to admit today isn't much better. I can't think about anything besides my job search, and what will happen if I don't find something soon.
So, with that said, I recognize that this isn't exactly a stellar blog post. I know I can do better, and next week maybe I will. But for now, cut me a break, okay?
Random (and possibly incoherent) thoughts:
- I am in love with my Crock Pot. It may be the closest I ever come to having a spouse who cooks. I love walking into the house in the evening and smelling dinner. It's like someone has been at home all day, just waiting for me to arrive so they can greet me with a kiss and a hot meal. I think Ellie may soon be hugging the Crock Pot instead of me.
- Ellie has always said "fwiss" instead of "kiss." She also said "hog" instead of "hug." I can't tell you how much it delighted me when she would throw her arms around my neck, declaring that Mama needed a "hog and fwiss." A couple weeks ago she started saying both words correctly. Our hog and fwiss days are over. *SOB*
- My niece looked at her big sister the other day and said, "Sissy, you look fab-yoo-wuss."
- Last night when we got home, I said to Ellie, "Let's go inside and find something to eat." She said, "Okay. Then? Sit Mama's bed. Watch Snow White." That's exactly what we did. It was the best way to spend an evening, especially when your brain is mush.
Friday, January 15, 2010
The SarcMark is a period with a little squiggly thing around it, sort of like the circle that surrounds the "a" in @. I would love to show it to you, but I'm too cheap to pay the $1.99 to download it. If you want to know what it looks like, check out the website for yourself.
When I first heard this idea, I thought it was great and wondered why I hadn't thought of it myself. A punctuation mark to indicate sarcasm -- what genius! I even spent part of my morning discussing the topic with Emily, who was unsure if the sarcmark constituted truly necessary new punctuation, of which she's in favor, or just another stupid emoticon, of which she is NOT in favor. I came down on the side that said it's a great addition to the punctuation pantheon, not just another smiley face with which to end your sentences.
"We DO need a sarcmark because people who use social media, email, texting, etc., don't always have a sense of humor. If punctuation could convey humor, we'd be in good shape," I said. "It's new punctuation designed to help the dimwits who can't decipher humor when they see it."
What a great idea, right?
The people who invented it seem to agree. According to their website, SarcMark is "the official, easy-to-use punctuation mark to emphasize a sarcastic phrase, sentence or message. Once downloaded to your computer or cell phone, it’s a quick key-stroke or two to insert the SarcMark where you want, when you want, in your communications with the world. Never again be misunderstood! Never again waste a good sarcastic line on someone who doesn’t get it!"
And that's when I realized the error of my ways.
If you're the kind of person who doesn't get a good sarcastic line, why am I wasting my time trying to help you get the joke? Will the line suddenly be funny to you because you see a squiggle at the end of the sentence? No. You will still be the same humorless moron you were before, and I will have wasted $1.99.
People I consider kindred spirits get my jokes. They know what an incredible cynic I am, and they recognize sarcasm when I use it, even in print, because they know me. They know what I find funny, and they usually agree.
If you are not a kindred spirit, I really don't care if you get my jokes. Like, for instance, if you are one of those people who leaves serious replies to my sarcastic Facebook status updates. Or who responds to my sarcastic tweets with anger, confusion or consternation. I'm not wasting my time on you. Do not expect me to respond to your comment, either to defend myself or to explain the joke. It's not worth the effort. If you don't get it, you're not the sort of person I want to be joking around with anyway.
Have you ever been in a group where someone tells a joke, but they have to explain the punchline to the one person who wasn't bright enough to get it? It ruins the joke for everyone. This is the same thing. I'm not going to insult the rest of my audience by punctuating the sentence differently just for the dork who doesn't get it. At least let everyone else enjoy a good laugh.
I suppose you could argue that we offer help to the physically disabled -- we provide curb cuts, wheelchair ramps, elevators and all manner of other things to help them get around. So why not help the humor disabled as well? For me, those are two different things. Your physical disability is in no way your fault and I am happy to make accommodation for it. All other things being equal, your lack of a sense of humor is likely because you lack intelligence, and I'm just not willing to make allowances for that.
So. I started out with the intention of writing a post about how great the sarcmark is, and how much we need it. But I think I agree with what Emily was saying: it's just another emoticon. Unnecessary clutter that's only there for the benefit of the idiots among us.
Don't be looking for a sarcmark on these pages anytime in the near future.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Which explains why I have a basement full of barely-used exercise equipment.
But the other day I saw an infomercial that convinced me the fitness experts have gone too far. No matter how late it is, no matter how many chips I've consumed, no matter how delusional my fitness goals, I will never believe that I have to resort to THIS to get fit:
According to the fine folks at Flirty Girl Fitness, you can be "flirty, fit and fabulous without ever having to do another boring, tedious workout again! Treadmills, bench presses and stair climbers have been replaced with dance poles, kitchen chairs, and pink feather boas."
I just don't think I would look like the girls in the video, or that I would achieve the same results. In fact, I think I would just look and feel ridiculous, and I really don't need Flirty Girl's help with that.
On the up side, the Flirty Girl website does include a handy-dandy installation manual, so that you, too, can have a stripper pole in your living room. And you damn well better follow the instructions, the site warns, because improper installation can cause serious injury or even death.
Hmm. Death by pole dancing. Now there's something I bet the coroner doesn't see very often.
My favorite quote from the web site is this one:
"Missing any parts? If you have lost or misplaced any parts of your pole, click here!"
I think the Flirty Girl folks might be promising WAY more than fitness.
Monday, January 11, 2010
That, my friends, is a direct quote from my high school English teacher, a crotchety old goat named Otto Emmelhainz. When we stumbled over pronunciations in Shakespeare or Milton, when we failed to know the definition of a word in a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem, Mr. Emmelhainz stood on his desk and shouted that at us. And when I say he stood on his desk, I don't mean in a Robin-Williams-Dead-Poet's-Society-O-Captain-My-Captain fun sort of way. I mean he climbed on his desk and crouched there, pointy elbows balanced on knobby knees, and looked each and every one of us in the eye while describing in great detail what incredible losers we were.
Actually, I believe the word he used was "turnips."
He was the best teacher I ever knew.
He is the reason I know how to string sentences together, and he is the reason I recognize atrocious grammar when I see it.
He's also the reason I decided not to become a seventh-grade English teacher, which is something else for which I'm grateful to him, but that's a story for another day.
Now, in memory of Mr. Emmelhainz, I have one thing to say to all of you turnips, particularly those of you who blog:
If you are incapable of learning and following simple rules of grammar, please stop writing. You make my eyeballs bleed.
You have, no doubt, heard all this before. Like, for instance, when you were TWELVE. But clearly you have forgotten most of your lessons. Let's review, shall we?
Are you and Bob the subject of the sentence? Then by all means feel free to refer to "Bob and I." If you and Bob are the predicate, then it's "Bob and me." See the difference? No? Then you and Bob are morons.
Bob and I usually drink margaritas, but today we're having beer.
Why don't you join Bob and me for a beer?
If in doubt, take good old Bob out of the sentence: I usually drink margaritas, so Bob and I do, too. I would like you to join ME for a beer, so you can join Bob and ME, too. Get it? I would never ask you to join I for a beer.
Even President Obama got this one wrong recently, but that was in an impromptu speech. NOT in a written blog. Or paper. Or letter. Or whatever. That he had a chance to proofread and correct. YOU, the writer of WHATEVER, DO have a chance to fix this stuff. SO DO IT.
Are you trying to indicate possession of something? Do not use it's. You look like a dimwit. Use its, which shows possession. It's really NOT that hard.
It's is a contraction for it is or it has. Say the sentence out loud and replace it's with it is. If the sentence makes sense, congratulations. You got it right. If what you have said makes NO SENSE, then you've probably used the wrong form of it's/its.
It's true that some people are idiots. (Yes, IT IS true. So this sentence is correct. In more ways than one.)
The world would be a better place if some of its inhabitants were eaten by spider monkeys.
See what would happen if you used it's? You'd be left talking about some of IT IS inhabitants, which would make no sense whatsoever. That would be your first big clue that you got it wrong. So you use its, which denotes possession of the inhabitants. See? Not rocket science, people.
Are you trying to compose a sentence involving the words you are? Then write you are or you're, for God's sake. NOT your. Remember the guy with the grammatically incorrect tattoo? You do not want "your mine" on your back for all eternity. Your mine? As opposed to MY mine? What are we mining? Diamonds? Your is possessive. You're is a contraction for you are. Mmmkay?
And don't even get me started on they're, their and there.
Are you trying to indicate that someone is a sorry excuse for a human being? Do not call the person in question a "looser." This forces me to ask, "Looser than WHAT?" If you LOSE something, you have misplaced it. If something is LOOSE, it is no longer tight. Got it?
An apostrophe does not mean "Look out! An S is coming!"
Kid's eat free.
Employee's WHAT? Kid's WHAT? The only reason for an apostrophe to be present in those words is to denote possession. So unless the employee's wife is entering the room and the kid's dog is eating free, leave out the apostrophe! Why is this so hard? Even major newspapers are getting this wrong in headlines now. How did those editors ever graduate from high school, much less become editors of newspapers?
One last pet peeve: using myself in place of me or I does NOT make you sound smart. It makes you sound like a pretentious idiot. Reflexive pronouns exist for two reasons - to refer back to the subject (when the subject is also the object), and to add emphasis, as in "I did it myself." Unless you routinely walk around saying "Allow myself to introduce myself," please get over yourself.
Okay, my rant is over now. Thanks for paying attention.
Friday, January 8, 2010
Not MY resolutions. Yours.
Yes, that's right -- my world would be a better place if you would resolve to fix a thing or two.
Let me make some suggestions:
I would appreciate it if you would resolve to stop telling me how great your workout was this morning. I do not care. I worked out, too, and it was NOT great. It was hot and sweaty and painful and involved much huffing and puffing and jiggling of body parts covered in frumpy gym clothes. So I really don't want to hear about how many miles you ran, how many spinning classes you're attending, or how long you can hold a yoga pose. I'm glad that working out makes you feel energetic, vital and alive. It makes ME feel like flopping back into bed. I can see that you're physically fit and I'm happy for you. Now shut up.
If you cannot drive, please make it your resolution in 2010 to get off the damn road. I am tired of trailing along behind your sorry ass, tailgating you while you coast along at 30 miles per hour on a road with a speed limit of 55. I am tired of seeing your brake lights come on every 10 feet for no apparent reason. I am tired of watching you apply your makeup/talk on the phone/fiddle with the radio instead of glancing in your damn mirror to see the three-mile line of traffic back-up you've created. And if you can't read that sign that says "Keep right except to pass," then please keep yourself and your car in the garage.
In 2010, it would be a good idea if you would resolve to stop talking like you're reading from the Dictionary of Corporate Bullshit. I do not want to think outside the box about action items necessary to create a value-added win/win situation. I do not wish to push the envelope, pick the low-hanging fruit, or create a proactive paradigm shift. Going forward, if you force me to touch base with a holistic benchmark, then, at the end of the day, I will have to punch you in your core competency.
And one more thing: please resolve to learn the English language. This topic is worthy of a rant all its own, so let's finish this conversation on Monday, mmkay?
I'm sure there are many other things that you could resolve to correct that would improve my life considerably. At this point, however, I can't think of any more. If and when I do, I will let you know.
We'll chat next week.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Monday, January 4, 2010
Yes, that really is a wedding dress. On my two-year-old. Complete with veil, flowers, high heels, ring and garter. Compliments of Grandma.
They were quite proud of themselves, if you can't tell.
Since Christmas, Ellie has worn her wedding dress EVERY DAY. She's getting way more use out of it than the average bride.
Of course, at this point, Ellie has no idea what a bride IS. She just thinks the dress transforms her into Cinderella. The whole idea of a bride may remain foreign to her for quite some time, since she is, after all, being raised by me.
As my mom pointed out, she's just a little girl pretending to be a princess. But I have to admit I have mixed feelings about watching my two-year-old prance around in full bride regalia.
And having said that, I also have to admit that I tried on the veil.