Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Office Chic Part One

In 1992 I took a work-study program for my fall semester at Gordon College, which meant that I lived on campus, but worked at a job 40 hours a week instead of going to classes. This was supposed to be a position that related to my educational goals, but a lack of proper guidance from my advisers in the face of my career indecision, I wound up working the phones at Christian Book Distributors, a mail-order book warehouse. This was pre-Internet, young ones.

My mother and sister had just relocated to Massachusetts that summer and in a Herculean effort to bring money into the household and motivate her wonky daughter (that would be me) my mother contacted local theaters to see what work th
ey might have available. Wondrously, I received a call from the Gloucester Stage Company in Gloucester, MA who were looking for an assistant to the stage manager for the run of it's final show of the season NORTH SHORE FISH. GSC is a regional theatre company whose original artistic director was the playwright Israel Horovitz, so it had/has cachet. So for Tuesday through Friday, I worked 8:30 to 5:30 at CBD and then drove 30 minutes north to Gloucester and worked 6:30 to 11:30 at the theater and then again at the theater from 12:30 pm to 12:30/1:00 am on Saturday and Sunday. Monday the theater was dark.

Oy. Vey.

The theater wound up being a particularly illuminating experience for me in a number of ways - almost all of them good - and I still carry remnants from those days; a plastic, breadcrumb-covered fishstick, the plastic fish earrings that were given to me, and a wind chime made out of shells that was made for me by my stage manager.

One of the life lessons I learned was from one of the young actresses with whom I had a rapport. She told me to always make the space that you're in your own. She backed up this philosophy by gifting me with a wooden trinket box at the end of the show's run - and yes, I still have that as well. For a stage actress, this space may only be a tiny portion of the counter in front of a overlarge mirror highlighted by glaring, uncomplimentary florescent lights. For a medical editor (moi again) it's a double-sized cube at the apex of four co
rridors in a large, trendy advertising office.

I've been in my little cave here for four and a half years now and though my cleaning urges may be rare (I've just defrosted my mini-fridge for the first time in the three years since I bought it) my style has entrenched itself firmly into the space. My philosophy is that since I spend more time in my office than I do in my home, it might as well be comfy. And since I've had "oh, your office is so comfortable and homey" compliments, I figure I'm doing something right. Some of the stuff I've inherited from departing colleagues, some have been gifts, and some are favorite things that stir fond memories.

I thought it would be fun to highlight some of my more unique chotchkes. I share a half wall each with the cubes on either side of me, but as the one to my right is immediately next to our promenade and ergo, oh so noisy, it's been empty more often than not. I've taken advantage of that by unearthing some of my keepsakes and lining the wall with them. Some are more precious than others, but they're all fun.
Here is my perp walk line up. You'll see the black and white kitten calendar and print-out photos of the twins (did I mention that I like cats?) beneath the line up. Deal with the bad picture people. You don't know what I had to go through with my little Cannon digital camera to get even this poorly focused photo. Ansel Adams I am not.
Working right to left, we meet our first lucky contestant. She likes to accessorize with bullet-deflecting bracelets, has a nifty golden belt and tiara, and when she opens her mouth, candy comes out! Come on down Wonder Woman Pez Dispenser!!!! Don't let that sexy red sheath fool you, folks. Underneath, she's all sweetness and light and just filled with sugary goodness.

I was a total freak about Wonder Woman in my childhood - and beyond. I had the Wonder Woman Underoos and they were a treasured thing. I think I had the dress up armor too - but that may have been something I commandeered from Kim Snyder. I once had my Wonder Woman T.V. show-watching privileges revoked because after the episodes ended, I could inevitably be found bouncing on my sister's canopy bed, which was a few feet off the ground to accommodate the trundle bed beneath it. Excellent for imitating those Wonder Woman leaps. Princess Leia and Wonder Woman were the women I aspired to be. Although Han Solo had a lot to do with the Leia thing.

When you think about it, Wonder Woman is the archetype for some of our modern iconic, cult figures. Would we ever have a Xena or a Buffy or a Sydney Bristow without Wonder Woman paving the way? I think not.

I'm pretty sure that my Pez Wonder Woman was courtesy of my mother. So awesome. It sat on my kitchen table - where unwanted mail goes to die - for a long time, mostly because I just didn't know what to do with it. And then I had the positively inspired idea to add it to my to my perp wall, claiming that small space for my own. Plus, on bad days, she's been know to deflect pesky traffic coordinators like silver bullets gone awry.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Feline Fun for Engineers

My dad is a textile engineer and as anyone with an engineer in their family can attest, there are certain qualities that accompany such a profession. An attention to small details that occasionally borders on the annoying. A penchant for neatness and brevity (Neatness counts ten!). A tendency to find something they like and stick with it for llloooonnnnggg periods of time (I inherited that one). An affection for gadgets (yep, got that one too). And an otherworldly ability to pack many things in small packages. Seriously, you should have seen the job my father would do packing everything I insisted was necessary (including my stuff dinosaur, unimaginatively named Dino) into the backpacks and duffel bags I used when I went on two-night overnights with my summer day camp program. When I went backpacking through Ireland for 10 days whilst in grad school, those lessons on how to roll my underwear served me well. And we won't even mention the feats of packing accomplished every summer finagling two teenage girls and a wife and all their STUFF into a four-door Volkswagen Rabbit for two weeks in the Pocono Mountains. Eventually it wound up taking two trips, but any normal dad would have been looking at three or four easily. Consider this: one year, my mother accidentally packed every pair of shoes she had - and not a single pair of underpants. Enough said.

So when I saw this video of An Engineers Guide to Cats, I just about busted a lung laughing. The styles of cat dancing, the marathon lounger, the cat yodelling, the problems of cat motivation, the apex measurements - oh just watch it and laugh till you wet yourself maybe just a little. (Don't miss the cans in the cupboard - it's the attention to detail that slays me.)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Personality #12

You Are An Exclamation Point

You are a bundle of... well, something.

You're often a bundle of joy, passion, or drama.

You're loud, brash, and outgoing. If you think it, you say it.

Definitely not the quiet type, you really don't keep a lot to yourself.

You're lively and inspiring. People love to be around your energy.

(But they do secretly worry that you'll spill their secrets without even realizing it.)

You excel in: Public speaking

You get along best with: the Dash

Friday, April 18, 2008


Oh 142, how I've missed you.

Lately I've been shamefully seduced from your comfort by the tease of post-post-Easter discount candy and have squandered my premenstrual, mid-menstrual, and upcoming post-menstrual needs on the tasty chocolate/caramel/cookie wonder that is a bag of mini Twix bars.

Here, on a stress-filled afternoon, after a weary week of woe, I wander to your welcoming bosom, coins jingling in my hand, anticipating the sweet goodness of your chocolaty shell, the fluffy comfort of your nougat center. I eye the empty slots of the long-neglected vending machine and rejoice when I find your precious niche filled with plenty. As my coins slide into the slot and thunk down through the innards of the great prison that withholds you, one pesky quarter is rejected by the Philistine machine.

In desperation I rubbed the quarter against my thigh. When that fails, I entreat the aid of the machine, hoping the friction of coin edge to metal wall will correct its deformity and deem it acceptable to the fascists that impede our reunion.

Success! The display shows my credit of $.75 and I type 142 without verification, confident that our time apart has not impacted our deeply nurtured relationship. The round circle of your captivity recedes and you quickly burst forth in freedom and tumble down into my waiting embrace.

Oh 142, sweet Three Musketeers Bar, I will never doubt you again.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Good Day Sunshine!!

What A Way to Greet the Morning!

I confess - I am a child-skip
per. Whenever I'm reading a blog and someone goes off into paragraphs of glee about their kid(s), I skip down, tune out, phase away. My friend Moyra got me hooked on and I get a kick out of it and read it every day, but when the author does her monthly letter to her three-year-old daughter? I'm gone.

Don't get me wrong, I love kids. Someone else's kids. I am a kick-ass babysitter, mostly because I (nearly) always tell the truth to kids so long as it won't scar them for life. Kids are quick - they know when you're lying or hiding something and they lose respect if they catch you at it.

Good thing I don't usually get caught.

I'm crazy
about Moyra's boys, enjoy hearing about Melissa and Alizia's kids, and am literally tickled purple (I don't do pink) by my cousin Julie's loony threesome. If (when) my sister and Marcy have kids, I'll be the most fabulous aunt you have ever seen. If nothing else, they'll always have music and laughter with me.

I love the Christmas postcards and e-mails I get from far-flung friends with pictures of their kids and updates on their schenanigans so I can keep tabs on what's going where and who's doing what. But I have zero interest in having children of my own and while I understan
d the all-consuming obsession parents have for them - especially the first one or if there's an only - I'm an eye-roller when it comes to epic odes to their latest poop or hour-long conversations on breast-feeding or artificial insemination or the cuteness of baby clothes (these are examples of ACTUAL CONVERSATIONS I've had the dubious pleasure of sitting on the cusp of.) Oi Vey.

I also never coo.

All of which makes me have to laugh at myself when I go off about my cats. Because I have a double X chromosome, genetics has instill a latent mothering syndrome in my DNA and it rears it's ugly head when it comes to my cats. This may be somewhat of a cliche, but I think I avoid being a punchline by refusing to refer to myself as their mother (I do not give birth to cats - my life may be many things, but it hasn't become an alien movie yet.) And as my sister has one more cat than I - two if you count Feaghan as my mother's cat - she holds the crown as reigning Crazy Cat Lady allowing me to escape that cliche as well.

After yesterday's post, I figured y'all were free of any feline ra-ra-rees for at least another week, but this morning's montage could not be resisted. Every morning the sun rises over the metallic peaks of New York City and shines a bright light directly into my bedroom and kitchen. Usually this is greeted with an ARGH from me, especially if Baxter has knocked aside the super dark shade and curtain in the night, thus allowing the morning sun to shine right onto my face. But this morning's wonderfully Spring weather was a joy and had me repeatedly smacking the snooze button and rolling deeper into my covers as the cool air and tempting sun wafted through the open bedroom window. It all was too much for Hollis who I found fully seduced and rutching around in the window seat in convulsions of pleasure, rollicking in the sunbeams with all the passion of a sun worshipper's unholy devotion. And so I share her with you.

Simple joys, simple pleasures.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


I have been remiss in posting, there's no question of that, but I have good reasons and right now I'm much too weary to dive into the post I've been writing in my head for the last ten days to explain those reasons. Actually, there are three or four posts ruminating in my head (a lot goes on in there at any given time my friends. Most of which is rather scary) but they - and you - will have to wait little longer.

But I've just spent a long stretch of time trying to understand HTML code so that I can add some enhancements to my page and followed that with a few minutes of looking at cute kitty photos, which put me in a much better frame of mind. Because there's precious little that can't be improved by a picture of a cat pushing a baby carriage or a kitten licking someone's toothbrush.

In that spirit, I add here a quartet of pictures of my own menagerie that never fail to make me smile.

Though not usually a talker (Hollis holds the crown for that) here Baxter made a rare, emphatic vocal performance. Her voice is used so infrequently that it always sounds raspy and tentative and rattles deep in her throat. Here she's either trying to save me from the monstrous thing obstructing my face, looking to eat the camera itself, or just hoping to impress upon me her desire to be fed. Personally, I'm betting on number three.

I've shared in an earlier post about the twins and Feaghan how Feaghan's favorite pal is a hamster named Percy. How my mother came up with Percy, I couldn't tell you, but since the twins have a hedgehog named Mountjoy, I'm not exactly in a position to point fingers. Feaghan has a ritual every day where she'll bring out all her troops one-by-one into the living room and then back into the bedroom over the course of the night. It's a little parade of inanimate objects and stuffed toys. It also can make walking around in the dark a little dodgy. One morning I came out into the living to find Percy standing at attention, bold as brass, waiting for the day to begin as though daring me to get in his way or be a wuss about it.

Being the imp she is, Hollis can never resist investigating everything that crosses her path. She is a sucker for bags, like most cats, but has been kn
own to get herself wrapped up in the plastic grocery bags and then drag it all around the kitchen with her in alternating paroxysms of glee and fits of get-this-thing-off-me. Guess which one she's thinking here.

And I am not so good-hearted of a kitty wrangler not to let her languish there to learn her lesson while I point and laugh and take pictures.
And last but never least is a "jeez, she's just too cute" photo of Feaghan who's basically wondering why we all just can't get our acts together and chill out, man.