Thursday, December 21, 2006

Merry Mayhem

Good God Gurdy, as Mom used to say. In less than forty-eight hours, my schedule for the next four days is crammed so full of stuff to do that I'm beginning to wonder if I'll actually have time to sleep. Ah....Christmas.

As I noted in my last post, I'm doing all my gift shopping in one go over the next two days or so. I am doing this not because I'm certifiably insane, or because I procrastinated. I have to do it because with the new job and all, I just haven't had time, or frankly, the money until just now. I've been making lists upon lists of the things I need to have done by Sunday afternoon, and my desk is beginning to look like Broadway after the Macy's parade.

I was only informed of my new job's office party yesterday--"An all-day extravaganza," as our receptionist described it to me. So I have to order up a veggie plate, because I don't have time to make it up myself, and I have to run downtown and pick up something for the Yankee Swap. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this time-honored New England tradition, it's kind of like your regular Secret Santa swap, but with a twist. What happens is, you draw names, that person goes up and gets a gift and unwraps it in front of everyone. Then the next person who goes, unwraps their gift and decides whether they like it or not. If they don't, they can swap it with anyone who has already opened their gift, and the preceding giftee can't refuse or argue about it. That happened to me last year. I opened a beautiful crystal vase for my gift, and don't you just know, the next person down the line didn't want her present, and promptly told me to hand the vase over. I, in turn, was the chagrined swappee of a really cheesy Sno Globe.

Anyway, so I have to find something for the Yankee Swap, and I have to go to the grocery and pick up some provisions and my veggie plate. Then I have to run out and do some actual Christmas shopping. And more of that tomorrow. Then back to the grocery store. Why? Because I need baking stuff.

If I could, I'd give gifts to everyone that I love and care about, but as of yet, I'm not rich enough to do that. Besides, if I did, I'd be shopping until past New Year's. But I want to give friends and colleagues something. So I bake.

I go out and get a bunch of those tins--you know, the kind that are used for fruitcakes. And I take an entire day and bake cookies, pastries, and confectionary until I've filled about fifteen to twenty tins with chocolate chip cookies, macaroons, fudge, wonder bars, and almond drops. It's a lot of effort, and takes time to do, but it's so gratifying. My house always smells so wonderful, and the look on people's faces when they lift the lid off that tin is worth every minute I spend mixing, whipping, and baking.

So tomorrow, in addition to Christmas shopping, I need to take the list labeled "Cookie Tins" and get all the ingredients for three dozen of four kinds of cookie. The checkout girl is going to think I'm some kind of sugar junkie, but whatever. I can think of worse things to be labeled. Then Saturday and Sunday, I'll be making like a Keebler Elf. Hee!

What else? Oh, yeah, wrap presents Sunday afternoon and go to Sis' house for dinner. Then back to her house again Christmas morning to do the deal with the kids. Then (I know, are you tired yet?) it's back to my house to get ready for a Christmas party I'm hosting for those friends of mine who don't have plans or family around and just want to hang out.

Sometime in all this, I gotta clean my house so that my Christmas party guests don't think I'm a total sloth--and I promised to go out with some friends during the weekend, too. By next Tuesday, I'm pretty sure I'll be comatose, but hey, at least I'll have had a good time.

More later. Gotta run out and buy the Yankee Swap thing. I'm thinking a Sno Globe....

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Moon Sand and Monetary Misadventure

Okay, I know...It's been over two weeks, and I just know the three of you who read this blog are wondering just what the bloody hell happened to me. Sorry. I kept meaning to post, but as it happened, by the time I'd come home at the end of the day, all I could seem to muster the energy to do was cobble some kind of edible nourishment in the kitchen and collapse into my bed. Getting up at 5:30 ain't easy when you're not used to it. Especially when it's still dark outside when you get up...(shudder). I be. The job is going very well, thank you, and I'm knee-deep in catching up on the Christmasy goodness. That's the other thing that's been corrupting my blog time. It gets harder and harder to shop for my family each year. I try to be creative with gifts and get something that maybe they had never thought of having, but realized they wanted or needed once they opened it. I get kicks out of that. But jeepers, it's difficult. I have no idea what to get my niece and nephew--I mean yeah, they're kids, and kids should be relatively easy to buy for, right? Well, not these little munchkins. I have the blessing and curse of having two very smart, very creative, and frighteningly discerning young whippersnappers for whom Barbies and Tonka toys just won't cut it.

My niece--I'll call her C--is nine years old. Bubbly, full of laughter, terrifying in her erudition and intelligence, and every inch a budding pre-teen. She's artistic, likes music and good books, loves gymnastics and group activities. Loves her sleepovers with her contemporary Scary Preteens, and still gets a little scared when there's a big thunderstorm in the middle of the night. She likes dressing up and putting the pretty on, but she also has equal enthusiasm for getting down and dirty with Daddy when he's mucking out the yard or gutting this year's deer. She's that heartbreaking combination of delicate flower and unstoppable tomboy. In other words, one day her boyfriends are going to have their hands full, and her parents and I are going to be downing Alka-Seltzer in bulk.

My nephew--I mentally refer to him as Animal, because he reminds me of that wild, uninhibited Muppet drummer--just turned five. He's an Imp. I swear, in the classical sense. He's always got this glint in his eye that lets you know that there's something going on in his brain that will completely flummox you once he lets on what it is. And he gets a real buzz off of confounding those of us who are a few decades older. He likes anything that has to do with dinosaurs. Doesn't matter what. Puzzles, erector sets, card games, action figures, DVDs, whatever. He doesn't care, as long as it has scales and teeth and is, for the most part, representative of an extinct species. Animal also loves the usual boy stuff--cars, trucks, his little motocross bike, baseballs and basketballs--you get the picture. Ironically, he's also a tomboy to an extent, although he's gotten past the stage where he liked to dress up and play Princess with big sister C. But he still retains his sensitive side.

Anyway, my sister called me in triumph this morning, having discovered the Holy Grail of the progeny's desires. "Moon Sand!" she crowed.

Moon Sand? MOON SAND? What the hell is Moon Sand? I hadn't a clue. Unfortunately, Sis didn't either, really--she just knows that's what it's called. Apparently, that's as far as she went in her research--the rest is up to me. Having used the great oracle Google, I've discovered that it's apparently some kind of water-resistant, shape-shifting kind of sand that holds together so well you can build sand castles with it. And even more remarkable, the sand has such fortitude that whatever castle you build could conceivably last longer than Buckingham Palace. Jeez, we've come a long way from Play-Doh and Silly Putty.

So, later this week, after payday, I am braving the wanton insanity of the department stores to do all my shopping in one go, and will gird myself for the relevant battles therein. Toys R Us alone is going to take body armor for the Moon Sand and dinosaurs.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Mom is Proud and Heaving a Huge Sigh of Relief...

Yes, Momma, I got a new job today!

It's always fun to get a job offer. It's new and fresh and exciting--kind of like a new boyfriend or a new car. You're all atwitter with anticipation at the outset, and then ya sorta get used to it after awhile, and it's not such a big deal anymore. But hopefully, you're happy enough with the situation that you enjoy staying with it.

My mom, God bless her soul, always worries about me. Now, I know--all mothers worry and want the best for their children, no matter how old we get. But Mom's got a different animal of daughter in me. Because I'm constantly going between freelance and contract work, I never really know from one month to the next how much I'm going to make, let alone save back for a rainy day. That makes her nervous, and I don't really blame her. There have been plenty of times when I've been literally down to the last five dollars in my bank account, when fortunately I got a phone call offering me a gig. Somehow I always land on my feet--knock wood--and claw my way back to solvency, at least for a little while.

Thing is, I'm just really lousy at keeping "normal" jobs. The ones where you sit behind a desk and stay there all day. Now, I don't mind doing that now and again--I'm a writer, for Pete's sake, so yeah, there are days when I sit down and crunch the keyboard for hours on end. But that's different. If I had to sit and answer phones or enter data into a computer 9 to 5, forty hours a week, without ever going anywhere, I'd die. Or I'd kill somebody. I simply suck at that sort of thing. That's why I'm in marketing and public relations; you never do the same thing every day, and you're always meeting new people. The hours are irregular and weird, but I like that. You have room to be creative and innovative--you have to be, in order to keep up. You have to be energetic and out in front of people on a consistent basis, and you have to manage your time extremely well.

I don't know if it's New England or it's me...maybe it's a little of both, but the problem with me is that it's very hard to find an employer who understands how the job really works, and how I need to do it in order to produce effective results. Some people have the idea that I'm out there just having one big ball of fun, and I get paid to do it. Well, that's not exactly how it works. Yes, I have fun at what I do--I'd be an utter dingbat to work in this field if I didn't enjoy it. But it's not an easy job, and it's not a free ride to weekly lunches and business functions. It's work. Some days, I don't feel particularly charming or energetic or personable, but tough noogies. That's what I get paid for, so whether or not I'm having a bad day, I have to pull out the smile and act like I'm the happiest girl on the planet. Doesn't matter how tired I am, or that my feet hurt, or that I have a cold and really want to be in bed with a hot toddy. I am there to represent my client and/or employer, and lots of times my day doesn't end at five o'clock. That's part of the deal.

I've had employers who genuinely didn't understand the necessity of going out of the office to do what I do--and I think that they have it in their heads that I'm on the beach somewhere working on my tan. It boggles my mind that there are still people out there who honestly hold to the belief that if you're not in the office, you're not working. Hello?

We are now a global society that requires us to be mobile. That's why we have those stupid Blackberries and cell phones and PDA's and laptops--so we can work outside of our cages. If you can go to the golf course and call that a "business meeting", then why isn't my committee membership given equal credence??

Anyway, I suck at the cage. I don't like it, I don't want to do it, and therefore it's hard for me to find a "normal" job with the kind of employer who really gets it. That's why I went into doing contract and freelance. I didn't always make as much money, but at least I could do the job the way I wanted.

Which brings me back to my mother.

She's relieved because I accepted an offer today from a "normal" employer. I've been interviewing with them for a bit, figuring out if I'll fit in with them. It looks good, and I'm happy about it. They're a nice bunch of people who seem to agree with my marketing philosophy, which makes me feel optimistic. I figure I'll ease into the job over the next few weeks, tone down a little on my personality so as not to frighten anyone, and then dig in after we've all gotten used to each other. I may even last longer than six months. And if they're just as nutty and off-center as I am, this could go on for years.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Gluttony, Stuffing, and Giving Thanks


I'm still kinda recovering, which I think is what the majority of my friends and acquaintances are doing. You know, I like Thanksgiving...sort of. At least, I like the food, which anyone who knows me will tell you is enough incentive for me to do just about anything. But I suppose I've gotten cranky as I've gotten older. Or maybe I'm just more cynical. Or lazy.

Does anyone else ever feel like Thanksgiving is the obligatory holiday? The one where we look forward to it with a mix of anticipation and resignation? I don't know how many people I talked to right before Thursday who said stuff like, "Yeah, I was invited down to my uncle's house, but it's such a long drive..." and "I'm supposed to go to my cousin's house, but God, it's gonna be a nightmare,because someone always starts an argument," or, "I volunteered to cook this year, and now I wish someone had stopped me before I opened my big mouth."

It's a weird holiday. I went up to see my sister and her family for the Big Day. And I enjoyed it--don't get me wrong. Sis is a fabulous cook, and she makes a stuffing that I could eat for a solid month. She and I can find anything--and I mean anything--to laugh at, and laugh at long and loud, until tears are streaming down our cheeks. My niece and nephew are lively, energetic, and engaging kids, and I absolutely adore them, no matter how much they can exhaust me in an alarmingly short span of time. I love going to visit my sister; that's not the problem for me at all.

The problem is that it's kind of a letdown once you actually get to sit down and eat. It's anticlimactic; after all the cooking and waiting and drooling...and starving all damn day so that you have room for the turkey and fixin's...well, all I can say is, I've never been able to eat and enjoy as much of the food as I thought I would at the start of Thanksgiving day. And that really bums me out. I live for food, and Thanksgiving is the one day I can freely and uninhibitedly indulge in my love (or gluttony) for carbohydrates. To not be able to have second helpings of stuffing, mashed potatoes, biscuit, and green bean casserole is just criminal to me.

Not so bad, in the entire scheme of things, I'll grant you. But I couldn't help thinking of some of those friends of mine who truly could have been just as happy staying home and ordering Chinese. Thanksgiving can be a real chore, let's face it. It doesn't mean we don't love our families, or want to be around them. It doesn't even mean we really mind the cooking. It's just that it's the one day we're all pretty much expected to demonstrate these sentiments, or otherwise be thought of as bad progeny. And that's really not fair.

I remember last year we had a snowstorm Thanksgiving Eve. It wasn't really a very bad one; we've certainly had worse in this neck of the woods. But by morning the roads were still pretty treacherous and icy, and the drive to Sis' house is a good half hour on a really bad highway. I just didn't want to take the chance of ending up as part of New England scenery. So I stayed home. I think my sister was actually a little bit relieved, because the snow meant she only had to cook up a turkey breast and some side dishes for her, her husband, and the kids. She didn't have to spend the entire day waiting for an entire bird to roast, imprisoned in the kitchen. It didn't mean I didn't love her, or that she didn't love me, or that we didn't want to see each other, but I think both of us were pretty satisfied with the arrangement.

Me? I crept to the little market down the street, got myself some provisions, and happily spent Thanksgiving cuddled up watching movies and the parade in New York while the snow fell desultorily past my window. I was warm, full, safe, and comfortable. I was thankful for it, and so was my sister.

*Incidentally, do you know what was actually eaten at the first Thanksgiving? Nope, not turkey and cranberries and stuffing. The surviving settlers feasted on clams, seaweed, nuts, corn, and berries.

I suppose that's another thing to be thankful for. I'd boycott if there wasn't stuffing.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Falling Down and Getting Up

I gotta tell ya, the last three weeks have been difficult. There is nothing in the world that drives me crazier than my sleep rhythm getting f*cked up. With the change in weather, the daylight savings time thing, and stress, I couldn't get to sleep at a decent hour for love or money. Which consequently resulted in me getting up later and later. Which transformed me into a lethargic, numb, and brain-cramped lump with absolutely no energy or motivation do do anything.

Mornings have never been good for me. I am not now, nor will I ever be, one of those creatures who bounce out of bed with the sun, ready to greet the day with a kiss and a smile. I'm lucky if I'm revved and awake by 10am. I will never be a voluntary early riser, much less a "morning person". I really do my best creative thinking and industry in the late afternoon and evenings. Having said that, however, I don't fancy wasting the day by sleeping till noon, either. It makes me feel depressed and ticked off and isolated, and nothing really gets done in my life.

My sleeping rhythm is extremely sensitive. If I'm off by one or two hours getting to bed at night, it wrecks everything for a good two weeks--if I'm lucky. And it takes a long time for me to adjust myself and get back to normal again--which, God willing, I've finally managed to do. This morning I got up, and it was still morning. Did it yesterday, too. It felt like Christmas. The sun has literally returned to the skies of New England, which helps, and I don't feel like I'm in a dark cocoon anymore. I even folded up my afghans and put them back in their basket.

So anyway, now I should be back to writing regularly on this blog, and working on things that pay my rent. I have an essay I've been meaning to finish for a later post--one that a good friend of mine has been waiting to read and keeps asking me about. I wrote two proposals over the weekend and am delivering them today for review. Things are getting back to normal--well, as normal as they get in my life. Heh.

It is still 2006, isn't it?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Back From Hiatus

Sorry I've not been writing the last couple of weeks--I've had a few meetings and have been working on a couple of proposals, so I was somewhat scarce. New blogs coming up this week, I promise. For those of you who are still reading, thanks for sticking with me, and sorry for the delay!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Samhain, in Irish Gaelic, is actually the word for "November". Kinda makes sense, doesn't it?

It was also the word used for the month of the Celtic calendar--there was a festival that marked the end of summer and celebrated the harvest. It also marked one of the sabbat feasts in the Wiccan wheel of the year (the opposite on the wheel is Beltane, which is the Wiccan celebration of life). The modernized version of this celebration is what we now call All Souls Day, or "Halloween".

So indeed, Samhain, or Halloween, did begin as a pagan holiday of sorts. I'd celebrate, too, when the village turned out a good crop and was able to ensure everyone would be fed through the winter. They had every reason in the world to party; the harvest was literally a triumph of life over death. This was the time to take stock of herds, grain supplies, decide which animals were to be slaughtered so that both the people and the rest of the livestock could survive the winter. It's still a custom observed by farmers and professionals in husbandry today.

Samhain Eve in Scots and Irish Gaelic takes place on October 31, during the final harvest. This is the Oidhche Shamnha, the name still used for the modern day version of Halloween.

I mention this in dissertation because, as a descendant of those hardy folk, it rankles when people refer to Samhain as a Satanic holiday, or a holiday celebrated by witches, ie, "devil worshipers". It's not at all accurate, and it certainly isn't fair. Anyone who characterizes it as such is woefully uninformed, and anyone who practices Samhain in that vein is abominably blasphemous about the true meaning of the holiday--and of "witches" in general. True Witches are not devil-worshipers, by the way. If they are committed, honest devotees of the craft, they celebrate the earth and its bounty, its power and its beauty, and revere and hold in high esteem the Creator who made it all.

Some of my ancestors were hung or stoned when they moved to the New World for "speaking in tongues" or for using "questionable" herbs in medicinal practice. Well, most of them were midwives who learned herbal lore from their mothers and grandmothers, and most of them spoke Gaelic. It's a strange-sounding language, I'll grant, and is virtually unlearnable to anyone who didn't grow up speaking it. Ignorance bred fear in the hearts of those who didn't bother asking questions. So people were killed for honoring their heritage. Incidentally, so were the Native Americans, but that's another post.

That ignorance and fear still exists, and I can't help but be astounded at the level of vilification and judgment people hurl at what they don't understand. You build a bonfire at Samhain and some of these nutjobs will say you're enacting a Satanic ritual and are sacrificing black cats to the Dark Prince. Look, Satan doesn't want black cats, trust me. He could care less about that shit; on the scale of his ambitions, cats don't really cause a blip on his radar. He's got bigger things on his mind.

The word Bonfire derives its etymology from Bonefire. Villagers were said to have cast the bones of the slaughtered cattle upon the flames--cattle having a prominent place in the relationship between man and the Creator. In your Judeo-Christian lore, as well as the Gaelic, people were constantly sacrificing livestock as a gesture of thanksgiving and prayer. Moses did it. So did Joshua and Jacob and Abraham. I defy anyone to label them Devil Worshipers.

With the bonfire ablaze, the villagers would put out all the other fires. Then each family, in a solemn ceremony, lit their hearths from the common flame of the huge bonfire--kind of like we do today with the Olympic Flame. This bonded each family in the village together as a whole, uniting in the common struggle of survival and celebrating their prosperity. It was community relations, in short; an act of solidarity.

After the Roman adoption of the holiday (usually celebrated in May) and the advent of Christianization, the November festival of Samhain eventually became All Hallows Day on November 1st, and All Souls Day followed on November 2nd. Both evolved into All Hallows Eve on October 31, and finally reached its present incarnation as the secular "Halloween" that we know today.

Samhain is still observed in Celtic culture today, and it is a wonderful affirmation of life, nature, and the cycle of life and death. It is not a bloodthirsty ritual of Darkness; nor is it blasphemous or even slightly profane.

I consider myself to be a bit of a polytheist, I suppose. I respect and often agree with the beliefs expressed in Christianity, Bhuddism, Islam, and Judaism, among others, and admire those who have the conviction of deep faith in those beliefs. However, I think that there are quite likely many roads to God, Jehovah, Allah, the Creator--or Big Daddy--whatever we call him (or her, or it). I'm not sure I believe that there is just one religion or belief is the "One Way". Frankly, I think it might be just a wee bit arrogant to assert such a thing; how can any human being know the Mind of God? How can I condemn someone for believing something I don't, or vilify them for the same thing? Who died and made me God? If you read your Old Testament, you find out that people got smacked down big time by Big Daddy when they started thinking that way. All I know is that I don't know everything, and I'm not going to. I'll still be asking questions on the day I die.

Sliante o dha dhuit--Happy Samhain, and Happy Halloween. This is the beginning of Winter. Harvest that which you have planted, celebrate it, and share it. May we all emerge together a brighter, stronger, and happier community in the Spring!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Sweat and Sweets

Sorry I haven't posted the last couple of days; I'm working on a particular post that I really want to get right. A pal of mine and I were having a discussion about the subject over the weekend, and it got me thinking. So bear with me; eventually I'll get into the swing of this blogging thing.

In other news, my sister went down South to our hometown and is visiting friends and relatives. I wish I could have gone with them, but right now it's just impossible. I'm in-between clients at the moment, and am looking round and pitching new ones, so I can't afford to be away. Winter is the toughest--and therefore--the most important time for me working-wise.

I hope I get a couple of good contracts before too long. One of the things I love most about the holidays is having the money to buy gifts and bake a bunch of goodies. I bake cookies, brownies, make fudge, and generally turn my kitchen into a haven the Keebler elves would love. Then I package them up into gift tins and give them out to friends. If I could afford to, I'd buy everyone I know and love a Christmas or Hanukkah gift, but of course I can't. Baking is my way of showing I care, and they really seem to like getting the sweet stuff. And boy, does my house smell wonderful when I do that. Any chocoholic would go into paroxysms of ecstasy just by stepping through the door.

Speaking of friends and family--I know some of you have stopped by the blog. See that line down below that says "Comments"? Click on the sucker and leave me a note once in awhile, you goobers!

Elections in about a week. There is weepage in the GOP. GO VOTE!


Friday, October 27, 2006

Blogging Breakdowns

Aha! AHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA!!! I did it! The Technical Trolls did not defeat me. I managed to put a Link List up! Woohoo!

Okay, my uncle helped me through what was truly a hair-pulling, profanity-laden hour of angst while I tried to figure out just what the hell I was doing wrong. You know, I'm a fairly educated, well-read, well-spoken woman, but nothing in this world makes me feel more infantile than HTML code. During moments such as these, Forrest Gump is my soul brother. And he's the smarter one.

At any rate, once Unca shepherded me patiently through the briar patch of writing links, I set gleefully to building my list (thanks, Unca!). It doesn't take all that much to entertain me these days, and writing the links was truly a pleasure once I could see I was doing it correctly. I also had to change the template of my blog, as you see. I kinda like this a little better. It suits my personality more than the previous one. Then again, I'm sure I'll change it every so often, just to keep things interesting.

He also taught me how to link text--at least, I hope he did. This is my first attempt. Keith Olbermann is my hero. (You might want to use Internet Explorer in order to access the link.) One of the few people who is ballsy enough to say what most of us are thinking, and who has the venue for gloriously venting his spleen with scathingly erudite, cogent, and brilliant finesse. What I'd give to see him corner Shrub in a small room with no teleprompters.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Archaeology and Inventory

Well, today looked promising--for a brief space of time. It was sunny this morning for about an hour, and then WHAM--dark, foreboding, moody grey mounds of clouds came rolling in. What is this? Oh, yeah...that's right...winter's coming.

I need to find a sugar daddy who gives me an allowance to go to Italy every year between October and April. I'd be a much nicer person to be around. Mostly because I'd be eating better food and drinking a heck of a lot more wine.

Haven't posted the last couple of days because I've been trying to get my household in order. I do this twice a year: a full, top-to-bottom, inside-out overhaul and cleaning of my house. This means that each room is minutely examined, cleaned, disinfected, mopped, swept, and vacuumed. I go through all of my clothing, bathroom items, food, and papers, and decide what to keep and what to give or throw away. It's an arduous, tedious, frustrating project, but if I didn't do it, I think I'd be buried under the flotsam of my life within six months, and no one would ever find me again.

For instance, my closet and bureaus. It's appalling how many clothes I have and never wear. I have two full bureaus, plus a good-sized walk -in closet, chockerblock full of garments that will never touch my body again. I've gained fifteen pounds in the last year and can't get most of the slacks further than mid-thigh. So I inventory all of my clothing and force myself to get rid of anything I haven't worn in the last six months to a year. Which is difficult, because being female, I will delude myself into thinking that I just might be able to fit back into those cute Ralph Laurens again, if I really try. And this is a complete lie. I'll never fit into those things again; that boat has sailed. If I tried to get back on it again, it would sink. Talk about Titanic.

It took a couple of hours, but at the end of it all, I had quite an impressive pile of defunct slacks, jeans, shirts, pullovers, and shoes, which I then separated into "trade" and "donate" piles. I felt like I was on a dig in Egypt--finding things I didn't even remember having or thought I'd lost forever. If Zahi Hawass ever needs a volunteer to scrape away at an underground tomb, I'm his girl. I've honed some skills. Donations went to Goodwill, I gave some cute outfits to a couple of girlfriends, and I traded the others with a secondhand clothing store I patronize frequently. At least I got some jeans and a pair of boots out of that, and didn't spend any money. This is what my mother would call "thrift". I'm in my mid-thirties, and I'm only now grasping the concept.

Now you have an idea of just how exacting this "overhaul" project of mine is. If you think the clothing inventory was intense, ponder for a moment doing that over an entire house. Hence, no posts for the last three days. I thrifted. I divested. I cleaned and scrubbed and inhaled so many cleaning fumes that I think I now know how the denizens of Studio 54 must have felt when they stumbled out into the cold, grey, New York dawn. It'll take me days to get the smell of Formula 409 and Bartender's Friend out of my socks.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Angels and Devils, Afghans and Books

It's a gloomy, rainy, overcast day here in the East--the kind of day that, no matter what time it is, it always feels like early morning. Days like this make me feel incredibly sluggish and sleepy. I'm completely uninterested in doing anything but curling up under one of my sister's hand-knitted afghans with a good book and a cup of tea, reading and dozing at my leisure.

An activity I must admit, I did indulge, but not before getting some work out of the way so I wouldn't feel like a total dilettante. Being an independent has its ups and downs: you work for yourself, so you get to pretty much dictate what hours you work and what your schedule will be. That's nice. I can work in my pyjamas if I want to and no one is the wiser.

The down side is, I'm my own boss.

I also have to make sure I stay disciplined enough not to bog down in a slovenly, self-gratifying morass of laziness. Which is hard for me, because I really am fundamentally incredibly lazy. But since I'm on my own, no one else is going to set times for me and tell me when I have to work--that's my responsibility. If I don't do it and stick with it, I don't get paid. Simple as that.

But Ohhhh, it was so tempting when I woke up this morning, to give in to the urge to get a ginormous mug of fresh, steaming coffee, tuck up under that afghan, and dive into the stack of books I just got from the library. Had the devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. Devil was whingeing, But it's Friday! You don't have any appointments, and no deadlines. What's one morning going to hurt? You can make it up over the weekend---knowing damn good and well that I probably won't make it up over the weekend at all--I've got too much housework to do, and besides that, weekends are the only time I can legitimately lay claim to my indulgences without guilt. The Angel was, ironically, the one who had to be the bad guy--cracking the whip and telling me to get off my ass and get to work.

Both of them annoy me.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


When is it that celebrities and entertainers first get it in their heads that they're breathing a more rarified brand of oxygen than the rest of us No-Name paeons? I really would like to know when that particular gear in their brain kicks in and they start shouting the weary "Don't You Know Who I Am?" Do they experience some sort of cerebral chemistry change where a selective amnesia kicks in and they simply forget that at one time, they were also one of us No Names?

Madonna's adopting babies from Malawi, Angelina's adopting babies from every country, apparently, she seems to set foot in. Now, don't get me wrong; I'm all for giving an orphaned child a home. But you know, if I wanted to adopt a child, I'd have at least a two year wait on a list before I even got a chance to find a child to adopt. Not to mention the reams of paperwork, the endless background checks, psychological reviews, state reviews, and financial assessments. Granted, people like Madonna and Angelina don't have to worry about the money, but apparently they don't have to worry about waiting, either. Want a kid, Madge? Sure! Come over to Orphans R Us and we'll display a bunch of them for your viewing pleasure. Pick one. We don't mind. We'll even give you a discount.

While I state again that I'm a staunch supporter of adoption, I have a couple of questions: What's wrong with American children? Or even British children, seeing as Madonna is now an expat from Yankee country. There are millions of homeless, parentless, hungry children right here in these here United States that need a home and an education. Yet Madge and Ange seem to keep jetting off (their environmental rants notwithstanding, but that's another post) to third - world countries to load up on the latest specials.

My other question is: if you're adopting children to be philanthropic, fine. But why send out press releases about it? And don't tell me you're not. I lived and worked in the questionable army of Celebrityville for years, and I know that NOTHING of the I'm-just-trying-to-help variety is even contemplated before a well-worded announcement has been drafted. So shut up. If you want to be a benefactor, fine. What's the problem with doing it quietly, without accolades, and without ten thousand photographs and headlines being shoved in the rest of the world's collective face about how wonderful you are? That's not charity; that's vanity.

Lest you think that my outrage is directed solely at the Spotlight Adoption Club, here's another example: Wesley Snipes. News is today that he has been indicted for eight counts of tax fraud and faces up to thirty years in prison. Apparently he hadn't paid taxes in about six years and claimed bogus refunds. Cheeky! Maybe he was taking a stand agains the oppressiveness of government and his right to keep the money he worked his hands to the bone to earn.

That last part, in case you were wondering, was sarcasm.

Wesley Snipes makes ginormous millions of dollars for each sorry-ass film he puts out there--as do the myriad other kindred A-Listers in the biz. To be fair, I've worked on film shoots, and they can indeed be grueling, hard, and tedious work. They're not picnics in the park. So in principle, I don't blame entertainers for their resentment about having to give 40% of it back to the IRS--Hell, I don't like it either. I growl every time I get a paycheck or file my 1099's and have to write my own check and send it on its way. But get a grip, people.

I make considerably less money than Snipes. Most of us paeons do. I'd love to just conveniently "decline" to file or pay my taxes. Personally, I'm not at all happy with the way the bigwigs in Washington spend my money, and I sure as shit know that by the time I reach retirement age, the dough I've "contributed" to Social Security is gonna be goooone. But you know what? I pay it. Know why? Because if I don't, the IRS will do the exact same thing to me as what's now happening to Snipes. I'll be indicted and thrown into prison, because I don't have another ten million lying around to write the restitution check and pay for attorney fees. Of course Snipes won't be thrown in jail--he's an Olympian of a minor order, but an Olympian nonetheless.

There was so much bitching in Hollyweird when it was decreed that celebs had to pay taxes on the gift baskets they get at awards shows that it sounded for all the world like a bunch of whining six-year-olds. Those gift baskets are obscene; I've seen them. They can range in value anywhere from five thousand to thirty thousand dollars, packed full of prime booty such as cell phones, diamond earrings, Sidekicks, designer accessories, and high-end gift certificates. Most of us know that when we get a prize or gift of a certain value, we have to pay tax--even the lottery winners. Yet one actor had the gall to actually say that they'd been screwed on the gift basket tax. Look, sister, I wish I had your weekly net, because that alone would pay my annual expenses. You think you've been screwed???

Pile on top of all the above the crazy idiots who get on planes and gripe about their seats, accost hardworking flight attendants and call them names. Then add in for good measure Useless Personalities who drive drunk and never even lose their licenses. Stir in hissy fits when another Useless Personality can't go shopping in an exclusive boutique because they're closed for the day and won't reopen Just for Her. Presto, your Just Desserts have been served.

It's ridiculous. And yet it keeps happening, because people like that keep getting enabled--whether by the authorities, by the fans, or by their handlers. There's often such a blatant exhibition of entitlement from people that it's absolutely mind-boggling. If I had done any of the things in the above paragraph, I'd have been arrested. If' I had accosted a flight attendant, the Air Marshals would have hauled me in for questioning, and my family might not have seen me for a couple of weeks while Homeland Security went on a rampage checking to see if I was some kind of insurgent.

I've met actors--some famous, some not so much--who are actually generous, down-to-earth, approachable people. Those are the ones who haven't forgotten what it was like to be told "No". They're the people who remember scraping by for rent while they studied for their next audition, who went without cable so they could pay for the electric bill. Who can recall their first limousine, first comped hotel room, and First Class ticket with a sense of excitement and glee. They remember they're just lucky, that it could stop at any time, and that they aren't Anointed ones who simply deserve it.

Rant over. I'm now off to read People magazine.

By the Way: Happy Birthday, John Mayer!!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Miracles, Television, and Missing Links

So I go to bed last night, after watching the truly engrossing History Channel presentation of "Building an Empire: Egypt", and then lay me down to sleep. Only I can't sleep. Every molecule of my epidermis is itching like crazy--although not all at once. One itch would start say, on my arm, and then after it goes away, another starts on my foot, and then after I give that a little scratch, yet ANOTHER starts on my shoulder. And on and on, and on it goes. I was twitching like a beached fish within ten minutes and cursing like a sailor. And I'm thinking, "What the hell?"

Well, I know what it is. Happens to me every year during a seasonal change--the barometric pressure, the dropping temperature--the moisture in my skin is drying out faster than a puddle in the Sahara. I've got to drink more water and quit sucking down so much coffee, or I won't get a decent night's sleep until May 2007. At least the History Channel special was fun.

I don't watch much network stuff--most of it seems to be that reality crap, and I couldn't give a flying fig newton about those. If I want to watch reality train wrecks, all I have to do is go down to the local bar. Any network stuff I watch consists mostly of the Today show in the mornings, MSNBC in the afternoons, and "House" and "Boston Legal" (James Spader! Heh.) My other television fare is mostly Discovery, Discovery Times, History Channel, Animal Planet, and National Geographic. Yeah, I know. I'm a nerd. At least you learn something interesting and useful on those shows, instead of watching people swap wives, eat bugs, or descend into utter depravity for the sake of the almighty buck. Again, all I have to do is go to the bar to see that stuff.

There was a great show that Discovery Times ran over the weekend as a rerun--I guess the original air was back in December. It was called "The Miracles of Jesus", and was hosted by a guy named Brock Gill. He's a Christian evangelist and a magician/illusionist. Sounds like a weird combination, I know, but actually, once you think about it, it's got logic. Rather than fire-and-brimstone preachifying to the masses, he entertains people while at the same time building allegory of the gospels into his show. I was impressed; that's creative. The other thing I liked is that he doesn't run all over the stage telling everyone they're all doomed to Hell or force his beliefs on them. Nor did he do that on the Discovery show. He put his beliefs on the shelf so that he could objectively investigate whether or not Jesus' miracles could have been real, or illusions. Cool. I like people who think, rather than just spout what they've been told.

If you happen to find the show on your TV lineup, it's worth a watch. Gill also has a great blog at (I don't know how to put links in text yet), and you can buy the DVD of "Miracles" on his website, too.

Some of the other blogs I like and read regularly: - the You Are Here blog, written by the inimitable Jean. Intelligent, excellently written with consistent dry wit, and often hysterical. She's had me almost spitting my coffee out on my keyboard in spasms of laughter. - I love this site. He's such a good writer, and a great storyteller. - Another funny one. Incredibly wry, sometimes to the point of farce. Check out his evisceration of the truly execrable "Left Behind" series of books. If there's one thing I dislike more than pushy evangelism, it's BAD evangelism and worse writing, and he lays it out better than anyone. - The world's best gossip blog. I can't start my day without Perez. - Want to learn something? Go here. You'll edumacate yourself. - Because he's just that good.

Maybe one day I'll actually figure out how to link blogs instead of typing the URL out. Man, I'm really behind on this technology crap. I don't even own a Blackberry...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

No Excuses

Welcome to All That and...I'm new to the blogosphere and don't really have a clue what I'm doing, but I realized I've missed keeping a journal, and this is a new way of having one. As a writer, it's shameful that I don't write more, and thus this is a method by which I will have no excuses for slackery. Or if I come up with excuses, they'll sound less viable.

I'm a thirtysomething woman trying to make a living and keep ahead of the curve, and most days I manage to squeak by. Other days I think maybe it would have been a better idea to stay in bed and try again tomorrow. Some days I've actually done that, but not very often. You tend to miss things if you remove yourself for too long.

Anyway, this post won't be very long, as I'm thoroughly flummoxed about what to say. I'm sure that as time goes by, it'll be all but impossible to shut me up. I'll try to post at least three or four times a week, and I'll try to be interesting and amusing. However, if I've not had any chocolate, that might be a stretch.

Thanks for reading. Wish me luck.