Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Swap Meet

I took my kids and Sara's little friend N. to a coffee shop the other day for hot chocolate. One of my little treats at the coffee shop is to grab an issue of City Weekly, which is a free local publication. Somewhat edgier than our daily print offerings (doesn't take much). So, I generally expect some eyebrow-waggling content: the hookah bars; the strip joint ads; the too-weird-to-be-funny comic strips. Sara and I like the column "Ask a Mexican", a tongue-in-cheek cultural primer; and I was about to flip to it when the cover story (this article) caught my eye.

Swingers in Utah? I was more than interested. A junior high-type fascination. I almost covered my mouth and tittered. The kids must have seen my gob-struck expression. "What? What? What's that story about, Mommy? Why are those people on the cover in their underwear?"

Flap! The newspaper disappears. "Nothing! There is no way I could explain it so it would make any sense to you. How's the cocoa?"

But later, of course, I read the whole thing. Aw, 'cmon. There must be, like, 15 couples in the Valley that do this, right? So I paid a visit to the website mentioned in the article, and was doubly gobstruck: if you look at the postings on the message board and the discussion lists, LOOK AT ALL THE PEOPLE FROM UTAH! Is there a more conservative state in the country? And the cities where a lot of the comments originate? Layton, Orem, PROVO. Could any towns be more straight-laced? I'm eyeing my neighbors in a different light, I'll tell ya'.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Lesser-Known Super Heros

Like Electra-Woman and Dyna-Girl. I’ll bet they aren’t lighting up anyone’s Saturday mornings anymore. Anyway, who needs them if we have Zebra Woman and Leopard Man?

It’s that time of year again: when Simon works days on end without a break and comes home with the most bizarre stories of customers and how they torture him. This week…

1. There was the guy who bought $500 worth of reduced-priced passes at an outlet in Provo, then left them in his car without tearing of the little receipt thingies. His car was broken into and the tickets stolen, along with other stuff. He came to the resort, insisting on a full refund. Sure, and Sears will compensate him for his missing tools and Sanyo will be replacing his stereo.

2. And then there was the guy who got mad at one of the staff in the ticket office. She was making a season pass for him and misspelled his name. When he pointed it out to her, she said (jokingly, she claimed) that perhaps if his handwriting were a little neater… (Ha-ha-ha-ha! That is so funny! Why she couldn’t have just said, “Very sorry sir. Let’s do that again, shall we?” I don’t know. Some people just can’t.) At any rate, he didn’t like her tone. Then, she made the corrections but forgot to save them; so when she printed out the pass, the spelling error was still there. At that point, he went ballistic and started screaming the house down. Can’t believe the insult! The outrage! *nudge, nudge, wink, wink* The opportunity to try to scream his way to a free season pass. No apologies were adequate. Not from her, her supervisor, the head of the ticket office: he insisted on sit-down meeting with Si. He showed up with pages torn from the resort employee manual on customer service. He had highlighted the salient points. Simon offered to him a full refund if he would just please hand in the pass, go away and never come back. He finally settled for a $50 gift card. His request that the ticket office employee be publicly flogged is still under consideration. I think that, provided with a cat o’nine tails, Si would love to have a go at them both.

3. Finally, there are Zebra-Woman and Leopard-Man. They like to shred the steep powder in their spandex animal costumes and wish only to be seen caped and masked. They fill out their pass forms, “Last name: Woman First name: Zebra”. The signatures on their risk awareness forms: “Leopard Man”. They are outraged that Si won’t let them be photographed masked on their passes. What a killjoy. They’ll have his badge for this! No wonder Si’s rum and Cokes get rummier and rummier this time of year.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Definitely NOT from the Olympics

So when Mark disappeared from the party and came back a few minutes later dressed in THIS, we all just about wet ourselves.

Besides working with us at Guadalupe Schools, Mark works for Friends of Big Brothers / Big Sisters. He coordinates the trucks that drive around collecting second-hand items that Friends then sells to thrift stores to fund its programs. So, Mark finds some really weird-ass stuff, but this takes the cake. The costume is essentially a spandex wet suit. Doesn't leave much to the imagination. All I can say is that the muff keeps the thing from being NC-17.

Nice gloves.

We all had to mess around with the boots. I have never been that tall.

But here's the mystery. Where the hell did this thing come from? Mark said, "It's from the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics."

"Weren't the opening ceremonies all on ice skates?

"Opening Ceremonies of something, maybe, but not the Olympics."

"I went back and looked at the opening ceremonies again, trying to find it. There is no one wearing that thing. "

It has the name "Andrea Coffey" written in all the pieces. I think it's from some Vegas show and Andrea Coffey was a showgirl. I Googled her, but there are a LOT of Andrea Coffeys out there. Is she:

  • the board member of the Salinas, CA Jaycees?

  • the 41 year-old from Waynesborough, VA?

  • The 1994 Emory grad residing in Fort Lauderdale?

  • The Charter School Coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Education?

  • The Australian amateur photographer who loves playing board games?

The world may never know.

Andrea, if you ever Google yourself and find this blog entry, we want to know whether you're a Vegas showgirl; whether you absconded with your costume; and why you ditched it (Actually, I have a pretty good idea of why you did that).

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Can I Just Go to Bed Now and be Warm?

I’m freezing. You’d never guess that I was born and raised in the upper Midwest. I can recall walking to school when it was so cold that my eyelashes would freeze and seal my eyes shut. I remember delivering Domino’s Pizza in the middle of a Minnesota winter night when the thermometer on the bank clock read -30F. So, where is that girl? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I’m thinner? Or older? I blame this drafty house.

Strategies for staying warm (besides sticking burritos in my cleavage):

1. Leap out of bed, grab clothes and go dress in the bathroom, which is the smallest room in the house. Try to stand on the heater vent while dressing. Fall over.

2. Wear at least three shirts (that’s the number I’m wearing at the moment).

3. Cook supper in a muffler. Scorch the fringe. Of course.

4. Before folding the freshly dried laundry, sit on the sofa and tip the basket over myself, moaning in ecstasy.

5. After using the oven, turn it off and leave the door open. Stand near the open door. Try to eat supper in that position. Feel bummed when the family insists on my joining them at the table.

6. Make tea and drink it, holding the electric kettle in my lap. Carry electric kettle around the house, clasped to my bosom.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Pass The Speculum, Please

There was no way I was forgetting this gyno appointment, because:

  1. My blog-buddy SueSun is going through chemotherapy for breast cancer. I have been scared straight.

  2. In every morning paper this week, just below the comics, was depicted the smiling face of my new gynecologist in this big ad: "Western Gynecological would like to welcome the newest member of our team, blah, blah, blah!"

She should cut it with the advertising - the girl's (I mean that literally. She's about 20.) hands are full with the patients she already has. I was Mary Poppins spit-spot punctual at 9:00 AM sharp, and spent an hour waiting for an examining room to open up. How can things get this backlogged at 9:00? At least I had my book.

Y'all know the routine. Get into the exam room, shed the clothes and put on the gown. Except it isn't a gown. I swear everything in this benighted land is being downsized. It's a cute little shoulder cape thingy. It is hard to maintain one's dignity and keep one's mind on one's book whilst freezing to death in a little cape.

Finally she breezes in and it's wham, bam, thank you ma'am. Two minutes communing with my whoop-woo, another minute fondling my breasts; recommendations for all the expensive tests I need now that I am in the geriatric zone of 41; and fwing, I'm outta there.

Oh, not quite. They insist on weighing me. 128! This is what I get for all the working out? All the weight lifting? Muscle weighs more than fat, yeah, I know. Wah, wah, wah. Does this mean that, if I let myself get any fitter, I'll soon weigh 130!?! Maybe I don't want muscle after all.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I Made It! I Made It!

Whew! I'm on my blog!

My absence has been involuntary, believe me. The goody-goody priss-heads at the Utah State Office of Education are trying to stifle my artistry. The school where I work has several types of programs, including an elementary school for Kindergarten through Third Grade. It is our great good fortune that the State Office provides our Internet service. Ahem. Look, I'm telling you with a straight face that I'm grateful! I am!

Now, the adult education part of the school doesn't have a lot of contact with the children. Some, but not much. Our hours are different; well, the whole culture is different. We in adult education like to view ourselves as geeky wonks, devoted to our narrow little specialty; as more cynical. We use bad words. (Well, not all of us; but the ones who don't use bad words are gifted at saying good words in a way that makes them sound bad.) We like unfettered Internet access.

Now, I kept my cool a few months ago when I couldn't go on Flickr or Facebook anymore. Who cares? I didn't like them that much anyway. But, on Monday when I came in and discovered that I couldn't get any Blogs!?! I joined the ranks of the living dead. Oh, and we can't Google images any more. WTF!?!

This is war. I wrote a snooty e-mail to my boss telling her that blogs are the go-to network for everything these days. And, no kidding; how can you have a team of English as a Second Language teachers who can't Google images? We use pictures all day long. After my initial complaint and request for an override code, I got an e-mail from our business office, asking, "Well, tell us what images you need to Google. Maybe we could get you access to those images." Hilarity upon reading this back in our office. What images DON'T we need to Google? (Well, all right - there are a few.) I replied that, on a typical day we might have the need to Google, "volunteers helping with a community cleanup"; "man walking with his dog"; "common caution signs"; "9 X 13 inch pan". And, if we occasionally want to debate the relative merits of the different Bonds through the ages (the new guy is too mean-looking, if you ask me), well, it's a handy tool for this as well.

Which gets me to the heart of the matter: am I a lazy, unprofessional slob because I want to read and write blogs at work? The thing is that I work hard, I work a lot of hours, and I'm salaried (AKA owned). And after working a lot of hours at school, I throw a bunch of stuff in my briefcase and take it home to work on it some more. As I see it, if I want to top off a twelve-hour work day by staying for an additional half-hour and writing a blog entry, what of it? And if I want to read your blogs while I eat my lunch, well, big deal. I can't type with my hands full of sandwich, anyway.

My boss knows this, and she understands. Or at least, she acquiesces. But convincing the bureaucrats at the Office of Education will be a different matter.

And before I finish my rant, let me explore the possibility of blogging more at home.
  1. This is possible, but challenging, since Si jumps on the computer first and hogs it, doing his own office work. To get a look in, I have to stand there like Puss in Boots in the Shrek movies and promise him sexual favors in exchange for a few minutes in Blogland. It makes me feel so cheap.
  2. Then there's our computer. Start it up and it sounds like a jet taking off. Log on and go make a cup of tea. By the time you came back, it might have set up the desktop. Or not. Go to your blog. Click "View Comments". This rash act will cause the whole thing to freeze up. The computer tells me, "Come back tomorrow, bitch, and we'll see what's what." It does not respond favorably to my offer of sexual favors.
  3. And finally, it's COLD down here! The office is an ice palace. I'm proof-reading this with my hand covering my ice-cold nose.

So, there you have it. I'm in exile. No, in prison. Digging through my cell-wall with a spoon. If anyone out there knows how to circumvent content blockers, let me know. It would be the equivalent of passing me a hacksaw in a cake.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Out of Food

Goddammit, I feel like Old Mother Hubbard.

Our local United Way was gravely mistaken about what they are calling the Neighbor to Neighbor Response. They’ve been doing a media blitz; asking the community to donate money, food, blankets, toilet paper and baby stuff to needy people at designated drop-off sites. My school is one of these sites. Here’s what our “pantry” looks like at the moment.

Last week, it looked better. A corporation did a drive and brought us three truck loads of items. The hallway was piled high and I spent most of one work day sorting out the tuna from the peanut butter, gloating about how we would be able to help all of our own students and the community for several blocks around. But after it went (and it ALL went – even the jars of cilantro honey glaze and the cans of pimentos), no more came. The students have been trying to help it along by bringing in what little they can manage to contribute themselves. Often, that’s a single can of chili; a partially used package of diapers; half a sack of pinto beans, held closed with a rubber band. What’s left on the floor in this picture was donated by people who already have too little.

The economic situation has been hurting my students particularly badly. Every day that we have class, people are telling us that they have lost their jobs, their apartments, their health care.

I wrote a big long post about the growing anxiety, but Blogger errors prevented me from posting it, twice. I guess that may be a sign that I should drop it for now. Suffice to say, things are getting pretty sad.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sara's Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

how are you. first I hav a few QUESTIONS.

1. Do you cut down your own christmas tree, or do you send the elves to do it?

2. where do the elves sleep?

3. when you deliver present, Do the elves come with you?

4. it there really a red and white pole to mark the north pole?

5. what's your all time favorite cookie?

and now I'm going to tell you what I want for CHRISTMAS...

1. iPod or Mp3 player (whichever one it's easier to make)

2. a how to draw horses book thats not really complacated.

3. Big toy horse stable that holds some horses & a rider doll (a doll that can actually ride a horse.)

from Sara Diggins

PS if any of the questions intrude on your personal buisnuss you don't have to answer them

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Little Break

Obviously, I haven't been blogging lately. Just busy, and I'm trying hard to get to bed by midnight these days, when possible. Back very soon.