Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Old is the New New

My New Year's resolution is to be a Sixties vixen.

You know the type, right? Has there ever been a sexier look? I love the teased hair and the liquid eyeliner, the pale lipstick, the short skirts, the boots (manufactured, if I recall correctly, for the express purpose of walking).

Actually I prefer the boudoir version of the look, with foofy, low-cut chiffon babydoll negligees, and marabou slippers, and upswept hair adorned with lots of little flowers. Like Deborah Kerr in Casino Royale (the movie, not the shady, warehouse-like dive down on Saturn). That - oh yes. That is totally going to be my new and improved look for 2006. It's elegant! It's glamorous! It's impractical! Darling, it's moi!

It probably goes without saying at this point that I received a Burt Bacharach compilation CD for Christmas.

And of course the ultimate accessory for the 60s-sex-romp look would have to be Tom Jones; or, if he's booked up for the season, someone equally able to address a girl as "pussycat" in a joyful and lascivious manner. I don't have one of those; and I suppose if you want to get technical, my marriage vows might be interpreted to preclude me from acquiring one. Still, a girl can dream of someone to croon to her about how "soon I'll be kissing your sweet little pussycat lips."

"Cats don't have lips," my 13-year-old remarks at this point in the song; and it's uncharacteristically pedantic of her, I might add.

"He's talking about a girl," retorts the four-and-a-half-year-old. "Gawwwwwd."

There's a good reason 60s sex kittens didn't usually have kids.

Well, 2005 rolls out, and 2006 rolls in; like many people, I have great ambitions for the new year - it feels so shiny and hopeful. And I'll have a new home, and a new job to start off the year with; which makes me luckier than many. At least it makes me a great deal luckier than the 50-odd hapless souls remaining behind with my soon-to-be-ex employer. Whether it makes me luckier than Deborah Kerr remains to be seen; though I suppose if I show up to my new job in the foofy chiffon negligee, I could do pretty well for myself...

I'll probably content myself with wearing a little extra mascara and humming "The Look of Love" under my breath.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Not a Creature is Stirring

It's 8am. I've been up for about an hour, doing dishes and laundry, and trying to get the house clean enough so we can take Christmas photos in it. (They'll still have to be extensively cropped.)

The kids, all three of the lazy little good-for-nothings, are sleeping. What's up with that?!?

You know, I was a champion sleeper-inner, in my day. I could stay in bed till 2pm, easy. 10am on a Saturday or Sunday was absurdly early. The school year was always incredibly difficult - it took years, upon years, upon years to get my sleep schedule in line with "normal" people's (though I do seem at last to have accomplished it).

But Christmas morning? Oh, I was up!

My grandparents - arise-at-the-break-of-dawn, farm people - had a rule for Christmas. The kids were allowed to get up as early as they liked, without disturbing the adults, and plunder their stockings quietly back in bed. Presents had to wait until a decent hour, after everyone was awake, dressed, presentable, AND fed. We had Christmas dinner, the full deal, turkey and stuffing and sweet potatoes and, inexplicably, soybeans; and presents were not opened until afterwards. Then we sat around the tree and the youngest of the cousins played "Santa" and distributed the presents, one by one; tape was slit with a penknife and the paper carefully folded up and put away for future use (my grandparents came of age during the Depression), sincere thanks were expressed as each present was held up or passed around for general inspection, and Grandmother wrote down on a notepad who gave what to whom. The process could take hours.

My in-laws, who I believe I have mentioned are actually a barbarian horde, take about 90 seconds to complete the gift-opening process. You know how, in A Charlie Brown Christmas, the Peanuts gang surrounds a sad, pathetic-looking shrub and waves their hands in the air and steps back and there's a fully-decorated tree?

Imagine that the shrub is the biggest pile of more presents you've ever seen, and that the end product is mayhem and chaos on an unprecedented scale, with wrapping paper everywhere. It's Christmas carnage.

That's later on our agenda for today. We're home now, and we'll open our presents and then have breakfast and shower and get dressed, then head up to San Antonio for Phase II, with the in-laws.

If the kids will ever wake up!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Xmas from Katie & Anna and Some Old Guy

All Tied Up in Knots

Hey! Remember Macramé?

There was a period of a year or so, back in the early 80s, when Mom was absolutely HUGE into Macramé. We had way more plant hangers than plants. And we had this glass-top table that hung from the ceiling in an elaborate Macramé framework of jute rope and earth-toned ceramic and wooden beads. There were a few rugged, rope-based wall hangings that might just as easily have been intended for climbing as for looking at. Also we had some more plant hangers. There's really not a whole lot you can do with Macramé besides make plant hangers, which is probably why the craze fizzled out after a while. Hell, even Rubik's cube had more staying power.

(A little quick browsing on the Internet tells me that the whole premise of this post is completely wrong. Macramé, apparently, is alive and well; and there are whole web sites devoted to commerce in Macramé plant hangers. I stand corrected!)

Now that I've got so many plants going, I'd like something prettier than the nasty little wire hangers they came with. And since my sister's moving out of her apartment in Austin and giving it over to me for a month, till I find a place for the family, I'll be living on my own with no cable and no Internet access.

I'm thinking about taking up Macramé.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Falafel: It's What's for Christmas!

Oh wait, I already did that line, and it was car trouble. DAMN it.

The title is just my amusing social commentary on the fact that Bill O'Reilly, Mr. Wholesome Family Values himself, is quite vocal in the protest against referring to the holidays as.... well, as the holidays.

I could write a long and tremendously witty post about how silly the whole "War on Christmas" thing is, but the thing is that my fellow snopester Echinodermata Q. Taft has already done that, so I'd just be duplicating effort. And nobody wants that.

Inasmuch as there is a War on Christmas, I suppose I've thrown my lot in with the enemy by completely flaking out on Christmas cards this year. What with the job situation and the whole Austin move coming up, and various other things in the air, I just didn't get to 'em. And you know, every year I threaten not to; but somehow, every year I do get them out. Not this time. My husband just dragged me out to do my first Christmas shopping after work last night. I haven't gotten him anything yet. Maybe I'll be able to find a garage sale Saturday. God and Bill only know I don't want to go anywhere near a store. (shudder)

It's my last Friday, though as it turns out not quite my last day, at work. We're closed next week, but Suzi is so desperately behind on some major projects that she'll be coming in at least a couple of days anyway. I can use extra money (if you can imagine that!) and I'll be in town next week, so I volunteered to come in as well to help out, and get paid double. Hopefully it will only be a couple of days.

Again, I am clearly the Most. Dedicated. Short-timer. EVER.

Happy Holidays, everyone! And Merry Christmas, Bill, you perverted, pedantic old skeazebag! Don't get too crazy with that falafel, now.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Talk About Dedication!

What the hell kind of short-timer am I, anyway?!?

Well, I guess I am the kind of short-timer who's blogging rather than doing work - of which there is a-plenty. Still, I'll get to it in a few.

This morning I got in at 8am and found the door locked. A few minutes ago I heard some footsteps, but as far as I can tell I'm pretty nearly the only person here. Luckily, I have a key. I was never issued one. My former officemate has one, so a few months ago I borrowed it and made a copy.

And I was here until about 6:30 yesterday, and about that late Monday and Tuesday as well. And I'll be here tomorrow. I'll bet just about nobody will be here tomorrow.

We use MSN Messenger in the office. Do you know what I've always wanted to put as my tagline?

"So long, and thanks for all the fish."

If only more people were in the office to see it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Say Goodnight, Gracie

Oh, man, it just hit me that my soon-to-be-ex-employer is probably going to want their laptop back. Rats!

So I may be offline for a while. I gave notice today; we're closed all next week, so my last day will be Friday. Or are we closed Friday too? I don't remember.

Currently the plan is for me to go up to Austin and stay with my sister the first few weeks at Shiny Happy New Job, which I start on January 2; and find a rent house for the whole famn damily while I'm there.

I thought Suzi would have a fit, but she was immediately and incredibly supportive. She said I'd better damn well keep in touch, or she'd be pissed. I was so grateful to her I almost cried (sigh).

Oh, man. How am I going to fit all my plants in the car?!?

Goodbye, Imperial Roman family-based company,
Goodbye, sales-oriented career path,
Goodbye, Corpus Christi,
Alas! farewell, dear laptop!
And goodnight, Gracie.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

10 Things I Don't Hate About Corpus

I've been coming down pretty hard on Corpus so far in this blog. So here's a list of great things about this town:

1. No allergies. I used to get really bad seasonal allergies in Austin. In all the time I've lived in Corpus, I've been sick a grand total of once. It blew over after a day, too.

2. My hair! Something about the combination of the humidity, the temperature, the wind, the salt content of the air - I don't know what it is, but I have really great hair here. It's almost never flat. It's bouncy and curly and luxuriant and simply fabulous, dahling! Never underestimate the importance of good hair, girls.

3. The weather is almost always very nice; and when it isn't nice, it's exciting. Granted, it can be uncomfortably warm in the summer (February-November). But since the city is right on the water, there's usually a good strong breeze going.

4. Shrimp. Once a week or so, in season, you can bring an ice chest to work and buy shrimp from some guy in the back parking lot.

I never do this. What do you take me for, a complete lunatic? I'm not buying seafood from some random stranger who lurks in parking lots! But you gotta admit, it's kind of cool that you could.

5. If you're into biking, hey! No pesky hills!

6. Ha ha, our gas prices are lower than everyone else's in the country. Even Houston's. And the row of refineries along the shipping channel looks really cool at night, like some huge, futuristic fairy city.

7. Traffic! Well, there's a good and a bad side to this.

Good: there just isn't that much of it, and people don't drive very aggressively. You can go months without ever hearing the sound of a car horn.

Bad: As far as I can tell, every driver in Corpus graduated from the Mosey-Along school of driving. (Graduated? Dropped out, more likely.) They mosey through red lights, three or four cars after the light has changed. They mosey out of parking lots right in front of you when you're driving down the street at full speed (because you're from Austin - you're supposed to be moseying), forcing you to slam on your brakes. They mosey from one lane into another without signaling. The exception to this is the kids I can hear drag-racing down Staples at 3am on a Saturday night.

8. Beaches... I guess. Since moving here, I've discovered that I like the idea of the beach a lot more than I like the actual beach, what with all the sand and seaweed and stinging jellyfish and such. Still, it's nice to sit safely on the beach (away from the jellyfish) and sip a cold beer, maybe read a nice book, and listen to the screams of the children in the water, getting stung.

9. My commute to work, and my office, have a bay view. On a couple of occasions, waiting at the light to turn left onto Ocean Drive, I've seen dolphins sporting a little ways from the shore. This is a pretty nice start to the day.

10, 10, 10, 10... hmmmmm...

10. It provides a great subject for a really concise blog post!


I just woke up from a dream that I had leukemia, and was in the hospital waiting to begin my first treatment; and the nurse came in with an assortment of needles, some alien machinery, and weird-looking medicines, and told me that my hair would start to fall out at 9am sharp. So I protested that couldn't I just take my chances on getting better on my own, and oh god, oh god, do I really have to go through this??

My sister-in-law does have to go through this, and doesn't get to wake up in a wave of sharp relief, then rinse off the lingering miasma of horror with a warm shower, a cup of coffee, and a little light browsing on snopes.

Mom went through this. Jesus, I don't even know what Mom went through. She didn't complain much. I never realized how badly off she really was. She was trying to protect me - as moms will do - but also she really didn't have a complaining personality. She kept me somewhat posted about what was going on but tended to make light of it. Once or twice she broke down in tears on the phone, talking about a setback in her treatment or fears about her prognosis, but collected herself and apologized for making such a fuss over it. She looked immediate death right in the face and apologized to me for making a big deal.

Oh geez. I'm about to fry out my keyboard with salt water here.

My beautiful stepmother (thank God for her) has MS and I really don't have much of a clue what she goes through, either. Whatever it is, she deals with it with cheerful grace and good nature, and only occasionally will remark in passing on the annoyances of ill-health - and she, too, will apologize for talking about suffering. She is (and I don't say this only because she's reading) probably about the least burdensome creature I can imagine; generous, warm, loving, supportive, kind and empathetic.

According to the Tarot (Disclaimer: I am not a fruitcake), the Death card represents change, and I can see how. I'm teetering on the brink of huge changes in my life and am so frightened I can hardly see straight; and tend to have a horribly morbid viewpoint of late.

In my dream, a friend (someone I don't recognize from real life) dropped me off for treatment at the hospital at night, then went off home to bed, and left me to face it all alone. I'm so afraid of being alone, of growing old, of illness, of death hurtling towards me at a breakneck pace and nothing I can do but stave off the inevitable.

I wish I were a little girl again - I wish somebody could protect me and take care of me, and make the bad dreams go away.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

What's the big deal?

The big deal, for anyone reading who doesn't already know this, is that I have a job interview Friday.

In Austin!

It's so too good to be true. And I wasn't even looking in Austin anymore - not looking anywhere at all, really, since my transfer to Suzi's team. A friend of mine, who works where I used to work, knows someone who is trying to fill a position she thought I'd be perfect for; and as she's (ahem!) familiar with the complaints I have with my current employer, she asked me if she could send in my resume.

Hello!?! Yes!?!

Well, they want to interview me; and they have three openings available and are only interviewing 5 people. And it's in a clean, honest line of work, not sales. And not an admin assistant position. And it's 20% more than I'm making now. Also, in case I forgot to mention, it's in Austin.

Oh. Oh imaginary cyberfriends. Do cross your fingers for me, won't you please? Unless you were using them to type with, or something.

How bad is that? I'm 36 years old and I have an imaginary cyberfriend?!? I seriously need to get a life. Fortunately, I have an interview for one. On Friday!

Monday, December 12, 2005

A Poem for Mom

Found this hidden under my socks at the bottom of the drawer; I must have written it over a year ago and tucked it away, like a chipmunk.

That is to say, like a chipmunk would have tucked a poem away if chipmunks wrote poetry and wore socks. I don't mean to imply that I normally store rodents in my lingerie. (Though you never know - I am a very strange woman!)

Maybe I should have left it there; on the other hand, if you can't compare a blog to the bottom of your sock drawer, what can you compare it to?

When you died I was angry at the weather
Early summer, vibrant sky
Trees in freshly verdant leaves
Day, after day, after day went by
Smiling brightly at the empty space
Where you were not. I wanted rain
Heavy clouds, and gray
Thunder growling at the world
How could it all go on the same
As if nothing major had happened
As if your death were only a part
Of an eternal cycle
that will one day claim us all

Friday, December 09, 2005

Vegging Out at Work

Do you ever lie awake nights, stressing about work? How about worrying that you'll be devoured by an army of snarling, carnivorous plants?

Maybe it's just me.

I saw a botanically-themed horror movie on TV when I was very little. I don't know the name or remember much of what it was about; it's just one of those things that sticks with you. It featured very pretty flowering bushes whose ornamental benefits were somewhat counterbalanced by their tendency to creep around at night, making a strange, low, croaking noise and eating people.

I like having a few plants around at work. But today I moved offices, in with Suzi, who has kind of a miniature jungle thing going, herself. There's room for our desks, computers, printer, filing cabinets, and assorted accoutrements among the foliage. But only barely. We really need a few toucans and maybe a guy in a leopardskin thong to complete the look.

I think, as long as we don't end up fighting over Leopardskin Thong Guy, we'll get along grandly as roomies. The main problem is that we'll be spending too much time pacifying restless vegetation with plant food and gallons upon gallons of water, just to prevent them sinking their creepers into our flesh and leaching out our vital essences, to get any actual work done.

Do carnivorous creeping bushes constitute a hostile work environment? Does the preceding terrible, shameful pun constitute sexual harassment??

You should probably sue me, or failing that, feed me to the orchids.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Car Trouble: It's What's for Christmas

What is it about cars? They have this intuitive sense of when the worst possible time is for them to break down.

Not that there's ever a super-great-wonderful-hooray time for car problems. I mean, really. How often do you get in your car and cherish a tender hope, sweetly in your heart, that just this time, it won't start up? Not very often? Didn't think so. (Though I guess it might depend on where you're headed.)

My car started giving me trouble today while heading away from where I didn't want to be. I had to go to Wal-Mart today. Gahhh! The very thought makes me recoil in horror. Wal-Mart, in December? Could there be anything worse?? Unfortunately, they have my contact lens prescription, and I'm out of contacts, so I didn't have a whole lot of choice. If you think I'm going about my daily business wearing glasses, honey, you have got another think coming.

So on the way back from Wal-Mart I start to notice that the heat (because, let me tell you, it's fucking freezing out today) smells a little off. I try to ignore it, but at a stoplight a couple of blocks from work, I see a little smoke coming out from under the hood. And through the cabin vents. Well, that can't be good. And then I see more at the next stoplight; and by the stoplight after that, I'm firmly convinced that if the light doesn't turn green soon I'm going to die a horrible fiery death, so change, damn you, change change change change change!!!

But I seem to have made it back in one piece, so I parked my car and went back to my desk.

Now what? We have a regular mechanic, but he's on Saturn* which is somewhat far away from my office. So I grab me a coupla guys from the marketing department to come help me look at my engine, which is a large, incomprehensible object located under the hood.

As it turns out, I have no oil. None. Now, I'm sure there should be oil; in order to ensure that there was an appropriately oily component involved in the successful operation of my car's engine, I actually had the oil completely changed out only two weeks ago, when I was in Houston. But no. No oil. It's all gone.

So, I call my Saturnine mechanic; he comes out, tows the car away, and leaves me at the mercy of my coworkers for a ride home. (I found one, thanks for offering.) But who's to say when, if ever, I get my car back?

Hopefully by Christmas. Because naturally I haven't started my Christmas shopping yet; and if the mechanic leaves me any money to shop with, I really should get on it. But I'm sure as hell not doing it at Wal-Mart.

*That joke just gets funnier every time, I tell you!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I Love the Nightlife

Okay, so I lied. So there are a few things that can be done on Corpus on a weeknight.

You have to be willing to hang out in some fairly shady places, though. You have to be willing to drink very cheap beer (these places don’t have Rolling Rock – or if they do, it’s only intended for passing gourmands, and you get stared at for ordering it).

And you must be willing to reek, as you have never reeked before in your life, of cigarette smoke.

Last night, being as I am at the moment une femme seule, I went out with a coworker to a fashionable establishment called Vernon’s BBQ, on Buford & 3rd St. Alas! they have no website. So I’ve grabbed another, similarly-named one at random. The similarity ends at the name, I’m just tired of posting weblog entries with no links in them.

These places have regulars. Real regulars. And by “regular,” I’m talking your Depression-era-doctor-brochure, move-your-bowels-every-morning-at-10:30am-sharp regular. These are not people who feel that a bar is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there. No. These people are regular. Their median age is about 68.7.

We had an intriguing discussion, these regulars and my coworker, last night, about the merits of different brands of cigarettes; of filtered vs. unfiltered; of menthol vs. regular. Every elderly gentleman (no ladies, oddly) at the bar had a grandmother who had lived to be 93 despite (or, dare we whisper, because of) her four-pack-a-day habit. You’d think unfiltered Camels had turned out to be the font of eternal wizened-baritone-great-aunt-style youth.

I just sat and listened. I’m usually pretty good about jumping right into a conversation, sparkling at it, taking it over, if it interests me enough. I’m funny, dammit! But I was just too far out of my depth with this one. I could have carried my own if the conversation had been about wine, about which grapes are best for each variety, about France vs. Italy vs. California, about the best time of year for harvest, about the woody undertones of Chardonnay. If we were talking about box wine, anyway.

Another fine Corpus Christi establishment, where the doors never close and everybody knows your name, would be the Mug Room (not even close, don’t bother clicking the link) on Weber at S.P.I.D. A banner hung outside proudly proclaims, “Now open at 9am!” Thank God. I was getting really thirsty.

I can’t go there now. I’m supposed to be engaged to the work friend I was there with a couple of months ago; and he got a little too far into his cups (of Miller Lite) and damn near got his ass kicked. He probably would have, if I’d had the heart to explain to the regulars (see above) that “my future ex-wife” is just a figure of speech. They felt sorry for me, so I’m pretty sure it was only for my sake that they didn’t beat him to a pulp. So I can’t go there anymore. Additionally, though I stated in only the last paragraph that the doors never close, they actually did lock them when we left (at about 4pm on a Sunday). So I don’t go there now.

The next place I need to check out is Casino Royale, down on Saturn. This guy we were talking to last night knows the owner. (Who am I kidding? All native Corpus Christians know each other.) It bears somewhat more resemblance to an abandoned auto shop than to a grandly glamorous casino catering to the whims of the inexplicably wealthy; then again, I haven’t been inside, now have I?

I’ll be sure to post a blog entry about it as soon as I do. Assuming, that is, that I haven’t got too much else going on. So much to do! so little time!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Do What You Want

I don't know much about politics, but I know what I don't like.

Last night my kids and I were watching Jimmy Carter's guest appearance on The Daily Show, and I remarked to them that Carter had been President when I was a little girl.

"He's still alive?" said my 13-year-old, Katie.

Thanks, honey. He is! Though he is getting on a bit these days, isn't he? Still, it's not like he was any spring chicken when he was in office. My son Eric remarked that Carter is quite sharp for a guy in his 80s, which indeed he is; a great deal more so, I added, than Reagan seemed to be when he was in office.

Eric laughed knowingly. He's all of 15. As if he had any idea what I'm talking about!

Actually, my earliest political memory is of riding in the backseat of our VW when I was four years old or so. We lived in Falls Church and were in DC for the day. Mom pointed out some nice manicured grounds as we drove past and said, "There's where that monkey, Tricky Dicky lives." I strained my neck, but I couldn't see the monkey (sigh). I loved the zoo.

Truthfully, that's pretty much how I feel about politics now. I know they're important, and that aggressive, manipulative bastards market their way into power, and groups of people get disenfranchised, oppressed, or ridden over roughshod, or otherwise taken advantage of. I do more or less keep up with current events, and I vote. But I'm really not passionate about this stuff. My husband is - and then some; and maybe that's part of the reason why. I don't enjoy debate or conflict, and he can't get enough. I've always been your basic can't-we-all-just-get-along type. In other words, I tend to lie around on the doorstep with a plastic daisy in my hair. A little confrontation is probably a good thing.

Because if you know what you don't like, the next step would be to stand up and say so, and do something about it instead of whining all damn day.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Where's Dr. Spock when you need him?

The key to successful parenting, I've found, is to do a Peter Lorre impression whenever discussing sensitive matters with your children. It keeps the little blighters off balance, so they can't get the jump on you.

I have a sensitive matter to discuss with my firstborn, my 15 1/2-year-old son, Eric. Yesterday afternoon he went and brought home a girlfriend.

This was probably bound to happen sooner or later. He's been taller than me for at least a year now, and at some point - not sure when it happened - he went from soprano to basso profundo. Still, it's a bit of a shock to have him come home from the burger place down the street holding hands with a pretty girl.

So far, so good. I was about that age when I started dating my first boyfriend. The part that makes me nervous is that I was only a few months older when we... you know.

She seemed very sweet. I drove her home, and as we passed the mall she mentioned that she was kicked out and banned for protesting in front of the fur shop. Isn't that adorable?

When I dropped her off I had a chat with her grandmother, with whom she lives. The lady made me a little uncomfortable with her evident eagerness to tell me what scum the girl's parents were. Apparently she took them to court and was awarded custody, and the parents don't even have visitation. Should that be a red flag, do you think? She went on quite a bit about how many grandparents are raising their grandchildren these days because the parents are so irresponsible and shiftless. It did not seem to bother her that at least one of those useless parents was the product of her own childrearing skills. Then again, maybe you just practice on your own kids, and once they're totally screwed up you can get it right with their offspring. Frankly, I wasn't asking her a lot of questions.

Eric went to a mutual friend's birthday party with the girl last night, and got home around 11. I had a brief talk with him then. Obviously, a longer, more sensitive one will be in order soon. We've had a few iterations of "the Talk" before, over the years, but I need to make sure he understands not only concrete issues like contraception and STDs (the Corpus Christi ISD sex-ed program is abstinence-only), but the much more terrifying aspects of how sex gets inside your head and your heart and reshuffles all your priorities and turns your world completely upside down. You know - all that stuff you can tell your kids but it doesn't do any good because they won't understand it until it's much too late.

Very likely he's not that interested or ready to embark on a sexual relationship yet. I just want him to be prepared, when he is... or as prepared as it's humanly possible to be. I don't know if anyone is ever really quite prepared.

Oh, be careful, Eric. You have no idea. Don't rush into anything. Don't get hurt and don't hurt that poor little girl.

And finally, (Peter Lorre voice) if you make me a grandma, I KEEL you!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Extreme Makeover: Civic Edition, or Make Corpus Weird

Let's take on a project. Let's make Corpus Christi into the next Austin!

Why not? Austin has lost some of its wonderful Austinness over the last couple of decades. It started to go downhill with the closure of the Armadillo World Headquarters back in the 70s. Then there was the high-tech boom, bringing Californians, Dumb Growth™, miserable traffic, and high housing prices. Then there was the dot com bust, bringing a strained local economy and the removal of Danny Johnson from the leadership of the UT Early Music Ensemble. Finally, dealing the coup de grace, my family left Austin to settle in this benighted burg. What does Austin have left??*

So I've decided we need to reinvent Corpus into a new, improved Austin. Corpus has a lot of potential.

It's a strange place, if you've never been here. Although the population numbers around 300K, it feels like a small town. When I go to the store or out to dinner, I'll often bump into someone I know. It's more intelligently laid out than Austin, with the streets in a nice even grid; it's hard to get lost, road construction projects typically get finished during the lifetime of people born before the projects were even begun, traffic is generally light, the weather is very nice (if on the warmish side), there are beaches, and folks are friendly. As an interesting side note, this town has the highest number of boob jobs per capita that I've ever seen. My sister and I went to a F.U.N. party with a woman from work once, and we were the only two women in the room not packing plastic.

On the minus side, the job market is dismal, wages are low, it's flat as a pancake, the sides of people's fences that face major streets are covered with grammatically incorrect religious billboards, there's no symphony orchestra or opera, the bayfront is kind of smelly, downtown is largely vacant, and there's not a whole lot to do on a Monday night. (Or a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Sunday, for that matter; Friday and Saturday have a few limited options.) So it's perhaps not the ideal place for a displaced Austin pinko liberal intellectual agnostic with a penchant for cultural activities and wild parties.

So let's make it over! All we need to do is get rid of about 3/4 of the current population. We'll start with whoever it is that owns the car in my parking garage with the "Visualize No Liberals" bumper sticker on it. That always cheeses me off. Then we'll import a couple hundred thousand stoners, freaks, musicians, programmers, dreamers, independent filmmakers, and other assorted riffraff. We'll tear down the Selena memorial and put up an Oat Willie statue in its place. We'll fill downtown with blues clubs and independent coffeehouses. We'll start an underground weekly. We'll run Starbucks out of town on a rail! And for God's sake let's erect a few hills over on the west side of town.

Ambitious? Perhaps. But a girl's gotta dream.


*Well, aside from the Austin Chronicle, Eeyore's Birthday Party, gingerbread pancakes at Magnolia Cafe, Sixth Street, Barton Springs, Zilker Park (and spinning around under the Zilker Christmas Tree, and taking in the summer musical at the Zilker Hillside Theater), KUT, Threadgill's, the Capitol building, hike & bike trails along Town Lake, the University of Texas, Hippie Hollow, Hole in the Wall, Mrs. Johnson's doughnuts, Flightpath Coffeehouse, the Texas Chili Parlor, the Renaissance Market, Alamo Drafthouse, peppered onion rings at Hut's Hamburgers, Amy's Ice Cream, Christmas lights on 37th Street, plus festivals for spam, puns, hot sauce, and more, flourishing head shops, live music of every imaginable flavor, and maybe one or two other things that don't spring to mind just at the moment. But other than that? Not much.


Friday, December 02, 2005

Plan B from Outer Space

Well, I found out what Plan B was.

After much background scheming, manipulation, lying, conspiring, whispering, and sneaking about behind Karen's back, this morning my transition to Suzi's team was made official - to Karen's complete shock.

Suzi announced in our staff meeting this morning that she'd like to thank Karen for allowing me to move over to her team. Karen looked as if she'd been hit by a bus.

She doesn't think I knew anything about it. She's feeling bad - for me - because she believes I was manipulated into this as much as she was.

After the staff meeting she called up Suzi to have an emergency meeting to discuss the transition. She ended up getting very emotional, loud, and angry, shouting at Suzi, to the point that Tiffany stepped in and shouted at her (and Tiffany, oh, she can shout at people, yes indeedy she can).

Karen's been in tears ever since, everybody's shouted and yelled and there's been a huge scene, and nobody got mad at me because Magda and Suzi protected me and didn't tell Karen I was even in on it. Tiffany apparently didn't have any idea I was in on it either.

So how, again, do I hold myself up as being any better than anyone else here?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Walking in the Shadow of the Valley of the Dolls

Feminism, some sage once remarked, is the radical idea that women are people, too. But my workplace is making me start to wonder.

Lately the male presence at my workplace (total staff ~55) has been noticeably dwindling. I think this is a real shame. I like men. They look so nice when they're dressed up, and they're handy if you want to move your desk or get something off the top shelf in the breakroom. Also, if you go out for drinks, they usually buy.

When I tell my husband about the shenanigans at work - how Magda is pissed at Suzi because Suzi made negative remarks about Magda in what was supposed to be an anonymous feedback document, and Tiffany turned around and showed it to Magda - or how Karen's in trouble for telling her underlings that in any "real" company, she'd be Ursula and Tiffany's boss, and it's gotten back to them - or how Suzi started a fairly implausible rumor about me and a male coworker, which Tiffany later brought up in my quarterly performance review - or this whole current situation - my husband laughs, and shakes his head, and says, "You know, women just have no business in the workplace."

This always pisses me off, but frighteningly, I'm beginning to see his point. It's always been an intensely political place, but I swear it's getting worse and worse, the more the men get weeded out. Are we suffering from testosterone withdrawal? What the hell?!

Whatever it is, I'm about to OD on weirdness. Spending 10 hours a day in this crazy scene is seriously messing with my head. I'm losing my mind...

Of course, there's a disclaimer to all this, and it's a fairly big one. Ursula and Tiffany, and those lesser women who do their part to make my company a convincing replica of the Roman Imperial court, they aren't really people. They're salespeople. Gender doesn't enter into it, except as a peripheral.

Second disclaimer: If I inadvertently offended any salespeople with the remark above, I really don't give a rat's ass. You people are mindless plastic soulsucking scum!

Sorry. I'm just upset because I broke a nail typing this post. Plus I'm having my period right now, so I can't be expected to behave rationally.

Head, meet wall. Repeat as necessary.

A quick update on yesterday's situation.

Apparently after thinking things over, it occurred to Karen that she'd really prefer having an experienced person on her team rather than a new person. So she called Magda this morning and said nah, that's all right, she's decided to let Suzi's team have the Someone New.

She wants to meet with me this afternoon to micromana^H^H^H^H^H^H catch up on what's going on with me and see how I'm doing and if there's anything I need from her.

Time for Plan B.

Psssst - what's Plan B???