All Memes, All the Time

Why, hello there! Quite a few things happened since we last spoke. Mick and I are having marriage growing pains. Sucks, but we come out the other side better and stronger for it. This is one of the nicer things about being older – recognizing that not everything is a be all, end all situation and that sometimes you simply have to shovel shit for a while before the mess clears.

Speaking of older…I had my 55th birthday last Sunday! It was a mellow and relaxed birthday with pizza and family and some pretty cool loot. Got the birthday blizzard out of the way earlier in the week so by the 21st it was actually almost balmy outside. By far the nicest weather on my birthday EVER. And if discussing how the weather on one’s birthday was is deplorably boring then you do not have a winter birthday. Have most of your birthday plans derailed by a lashing ice storm or 9 feet of snow or sub-zero temps and a power failure then get back to me, m’kay? As it was I was delighted to go out for pizza wearing the neoprene and knit cool-ass jacket my son got me and not freezing my tushie off.

As predicted I have a new department manager. She’s VERY young. Seems nice enough. One upside – the regional manager is spending the entire week training her and establishing procedures, something NOT offered to the previous manager. Poor Rue was tossed in feet-first and then got blamed for the resultant chaos. Shitty deal and one I resent on her behalf. Me? I’m doing my job as always. Helping where I can. I’ve accepted I am always seen as a leader and whether I have the official title or not am always a ‘boss’. I struggled with this in the past. Problems owning my power. Believing people deferring to me was some kind of slur and insult because of my physical size. Whatever. Realized most of my problem was a lack of being nurtured. Nobody takes care of the caretakers, you know? If I was always forced to be in charge then no one was ever going to help me or fuss over me or pat me when I was feeling small and low. This was true until Mick. But my guy absolutely acknowledges my strength and size and prowess and still treats me as someone fragile and precious. The former doesn’t negate the latter at all. In Mick’s view it’s because I Do All The Things that I deserve cossetting and coddling and spoiling. See why I keep shoveling when it’s shitty? All worth it in the end.

Onward with the meme! This one is courtesy of that amazing bright light, Karyl.

1. What bill do you hate paying the most? I don’t pay the bills, Mick does. My job is to renegotiate our payments and keep my eye on our overall spending. If there’s a payment I resent I shop for a better deal, haggle, and adjust things on our end as best I can.

2. When was the last time you had a romantic dinner? Food is a love offering with us. So in that sense every meal is a romantic one. Sebastian and I will whomp up a terrific dinner or a weekend brunch and we all sit at the table together having family time. Mick comes in late and half-frozen from deliveries and I’m waiting with a hot dinner. He makes me tea and toast EVERY morning. I come home completely out of gas and Mick bundles me off to the diner or runs out for Chinese. Meals are one tangible way we say, “I love you.”

3. What do you really want to be doing right now? Aside from not dreading yet another kidney surgery next month? I am doing pretty much what I want to be doing. Just cruising. Working. Enjoying my life. Doing memes.

4. How many colleges did you attend? Two. Starting in the 6th grade I took extension courses through the state university system as the regular coursework was absurd. I ran the entire year’s curriculum in a couple weeks and would otherwise sit twiddling my thumbs for the next ten months. The only class I attended with grade peers was math. I had a math block. After graduating high school with 90% of a bachelor’s degree I went to Central Texas College and took any and every course that caught my fancy. Without a declared major I never did get an actual degree in anything. This is what happens when you’re really, really smart and incredibly dumb.

5. Why did you choose the shirt you have on? I am not wearing a shirt, I’m wearing a plaid bathrobe. I chose it because my other robe needs washing.

6. Thoughts on gas prices? Aside from being an artificial construct raised and lowered by a handful of disgusting greedy sacks of filth wearing human skin suits? Again, Mick gasses my car and I rarely pay attention to gas prices except when it’s time to renegotiate my utility bill or make adjustments to the overall budget.

7. First thought when the alarm goes off in the morning? “Wait. What? Which reality is this?” My night world is vivid and visceral. The only reason I concede that this is the ‘real’ world is that it tends to follow the rules of physics more consistently. And that my cats don’t speak Spanish in this reality. “Buenos dias, Senora LA. Meow Mix y’ agua, por favor.” The only thing more irksome than a nudging cat first thing in the morning is one that does it in a foreign language.

8. Last thought you have before you go to sleep? “Ahhh….David Attenborough….”

9. Do you miss being a child? I don’t think I’ve ever been a child. Not really. Seriously. Being a child was never offered.

10. What errand/chore do you despise the most? Crazily enough I actually enjoy cleaning. What I despise is sifting through junk. GAH! Getting rid of, finding homes for, and otherwise dealing with CRAP drives me batshit. Clear away the junk and I will scrub until everything gleams.

11. Up early or sleep in? Sleep is my favorite drug.

12. Found love yet? Well, duh! Not just Mick. I have Sebastian. I have you guys. I have a dog who thinks I’m wonderful. You bet I have love.

13. Favorite lunch meat? I usually say bologna from the deli, and this is still true, but right now I’m having a fling with Boar’s Head teriyaki chicken. Yummy.

14. What do you get every time at Target? Oy, unfortunately I am not in the cult of Target. I wish I were. It sounds great. However Target and Kohl’s just don’t do it for me. Don’t have my sizes. Don’t cough up the goodies. Maddening, especially because I have a black belt in bargain shopping. Ask me about mining the clearance racks at Old Navy or Barnes & Noble or Macy’s and you’ll get a treatise on going home with $200+ of stuff for $11.00.

15. Beach or lake? I miss lake swimming. Growing up there were several lakes we swam in. Some public places with concessions stands and bathrooms and others were just local water holes with a rope swing and a scrap of shoreline without a lot of poison ivy. But lakes have gone away. Insurance and liability woes, probably. The ocean is as essential as ever. And now I’ve swum in the English (fucking!) Channel! Not to knock my beloved Jersey Shore, but check me out with my international sea cred.

16. Is marriage overrated? Um..what? Overrated how? Held up as the only way to have a relationship? Ya, sure. Relationships are yours to make or break regardless of official sanction from the government. But as a legal construct with rights and responsibilities and protections under the law I think marriage is damn important. This is why I have always been a proponent of marriage equality. Unlike the ignorant and religious chuckleheads who saw marriage rights for all as some kind of ‘special’ thing granted to gay people I believe legal marriage is a right everyone should have because it protects people. It gives the law a place to operate from in regards to property and child custody. It’s about being fair.

17. Ever crashed your vehicle? I’ve never been a serious car accident. I have, however, done the same dopey thing three times. When approaching a yield I’d see the person in front of me had time to go and would look to the left to see if I also had a clear lane. Clutch in and rolling slow I’d bump into the person in front of me because they (freaking) stopped dead instead of going through the yield as anticipated by me. Never any damage, just surprise on both party’s parts. I’d always pop out with apologies and and negating hand waving, hiding my fury that the nervous nelly incompetent dimwit in front of me didn’t understand how a yield worked.

18. How long have you and your best friend been friends? I am currently without a female bestie. I have great friends. Wonderful friends. Friends I’d call from jail for bail. But that singular best pal? Nope. And this is okay.

19. Somewhere you’ve never been but want to go? Y’all know my thirst for travel. One place I want to go is the Winter Market in Vienna, Austria. I see myself wandering the stalls with a wurst in a bun in one hand and a steaming mug of gluhwein in the other. I’d buy glass Christmas tree ornaments. And beautifully iced gingerbread cookies. And mirrors in carved wooden frames. In my mind there’s waltz music and the smell of roasting meat and there’s sparkling snow skirling down.

20. At this point in your life would you want to start a new career? This seems to come up a lot in memes. I like my current job very much. And really, how many people get to say they are professional grocery shoppers? But, if we’re talking dream job then I would like to have a small catering business which specializes in cannabis-laced confections. Not your average rookie cookie or jolly lolly, I’m talking about lovely little treasures of spun sugar, wee bitty cakes, candied violets and fruit slices, tiny works of edible art that produce the happiest, most fanciful of highs. I see my goodies being wedding favors and book club treats and the desserts at select B&Bs. I don’t know if I’d grow my own marijuana or work with boutique breeders/growers, but I do see my product as very niche and upscale. Not exactly for the snob status, but so I can craft delicacies rather than churn out assembly line stoner snax.

21. Do you have a go-to person? Besides Mick? I’m fortunate to have friends in any number fields and disciplines so it depends on the problem, but I don’t hesitate to ask advice from my cadre of learned pals. Lucky, lucky, lucky! Sometimes I think MY best talent is making really smart and talented friends.

22. Are you where you want to be in life? This would involve Goal Setting and Fulfilling Expectations. Not really my brand of burgers. My whole life has been one really slow and mostly lousy surprise party.

23. Growing up, what were your favorite cartoons? Looney Tunes, of course. The original “Scooby Doo, Where Are You?”. I watched ‘UnderDog’ and ‘Rocky and Bullwinkle’ – though honestly my favorite things about those shows were the oddball filler shorts like ‘Fractured Fairytales’ and ‘Aesop and Son Fables’.

24. What has changed since you were a child? Got a week? It would take me at least that long to name the changes. I’ll go with just one – the loss of true American exceptionalism. Growing up in the 1960s and 70s there was the Space Race and the Civil and Women’s Rights movements. My formative years were all about how the US would keep getting smarter, and more inclusive and fair, and would use those ever-expanding fields of talent and scientific progress to help and improve life for EVERYBODY. Crash cut to 40 years later and the US is a quagmire of deliberate idiocy and fanaticism of dogma over facts, belief in the invisible over the provable, and irrational pride in being stupid, selfish, and cruel. Add to that the monetization of services which by now should be subsidized from the common pot (taxes, paid by ALL including billionaires and industry), the choking off of education by the tyranny of standardized testing, and the steady chipping away at our infrastructure until lousy, unsafe, and just plain vanished are the norm, and here we are in the sci-fi fantasy year of 2018 and we live in the world’s largest shithole. I continue to be heartbroken, gobsmacked, and humiliated every single day. If 9 year old me who imagined herself striding into the Senate wearing a cool hat like her hero, Bella Abzug, after having lunch with a Nobel prize winner, a couple of constituents, and Cass Elliot, rolling up her sleeves ready to get shit done, if 9 year old LA could see what became of her country and the absolute triumph of hatefulness and greed she’d have curled up and died on the spot. Sometimes I think she did and this LA is just a zombie too dumb to understand she’s dead.

And that, my darlings, is where I will leave off. Other questions await other days.

Much love, ~LA

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A Snowy Night and a Meme

A dear friend and one of my longest tenured pixel pals did this and I HAD to do it too. (Btw, you should visit my dear one’s shop and buy her lovely soaps. Sorry if this isn’t a hot link, WP confuses me. It sure ain’t D-land.)

Anyhoodle, y’all know me and memes. Irresistible. Especially on a snowy night after a chaotic day at work. The weather made many people anxious- including the department manager and several dozen hysterical clients whose deliveries were moved, rescheduled, and otherwise jostled because of the crappy weather. Feels like I’ve done nothing but soothe upset folk all day long. I know the current department manager is not long for the job. She’s a terrific person but ill equipped for the position. I do mind the chaos, but I mind a stranger coming in from another store even more. I’d take over the position myself but going full-time and agreeing to management training means they’re allowed to ship me off to ANY store. Seriously. Like Maryland. Or Ohio. No. Especially since I’ve gotten to know a new transfer from another store and the stories I’ve heard from her confirm every ugly suspicion I held about the other ShopRites. They are NOT my ShopRite. Our new ninja has worked for the company for 20 years and is totally gobsmacked by how friendly, welcoming, helpful, and all around nice everyone is at our place. Employees and customers both. I had her giggling at break time telling her about the ‘Don’t Be an Asshole’ pledge and how our #1 rule is ‘Kill ’em with Kindness’. Those might not be actual dictates issued by corporate, but they are words we live by nonetheless.

Onward to the meme.

1. What was last thing you drank? A beer, believe it or not. Not a whole beer, just a few healthy glugs from the Rolling Rock tallboy I was braising the pot roast in. While it was cold that ordinary cheap brew tasted like Heaven. I’d just gotten home and it was icy from being in the back of the fridge. Yum. A couple hours later it was warm and boring and not worth finishing. Meh.

2. Where was your profile picture taken? At the salon. I’d just gotten a haircut and wanted pics to use as a guide next time.

3. Worst pain? Emotionally? Knowing I’ve hurt others and let them down. Physically? Kidney stones/infections. Relentless pain. Makes me shrieky and mean.

4. Favorite places to eat? Diners. We are diner people. I’ve never found diners like ours outside of the tri-state area. Other parts of the country have luncheonettes. And cafes. And even places called ‘diners’. But they are not our diners. No disrespect to your hometown eateries. Even if it’s a DQ.  Where you get your fries and your drunk food and go for weekend breakfast is insanely personal, I dig it. Our local diners are simply a species unto themselves. Far removed from their chromed railroad car origins our diners are luxe. 24 hour palaces with acres of booths and gaudy ceiling fixtures and menus that have EVERYTHING. Fabulous food served in gargantuan portions at unbeatable bargain prices. I luuuuuurve diners and they are a hefty part of the reason I never want to live outside the Hudson Valley ever, ever again. Having lived away I know that without diners one cannot get scampi, poached eggs and rye toast, and goulash at 3:00 am on demand. YAY diners!

5. How late did you stay up last night? 11:00. I usually go to bed around then, at least on work nights. I know older people are supposed to require less sleep but so far since Sebastian graduated high school and has been in charge of his time I’ve found my body absolutely craves 8-9 hours a night. If undisturbed I can sleep for 14-16 hours on my days off. This is a far cry from the anxious, broken short sleep I’d gotten for the previous 30+ years. Autistic children + Aspie incompetent husband + job/responsibilities = perpetually sleep-deprived LA. Nowadays I revel in sleep. My bed is a womb. A memory-foam padded, pillow-topped, 400 thread count haven of nocturnal bliss.

6. What kind of car do you drive? I drive a Nissan Rogue. It’s my second Rogue. The first was a swanky up market one with many (but not all) upgrades. I loved my first Rogue. I loved its bubble shape and its champagne colored paint. Because it came with I discovered Sirius radio and have become a devotee. This newer Rogue is beefier and it’s painted an aggressive gunmetal grey. It’s a baseline model and I don’t think the build-quality is the same (there’s A LOT of window leak noise) but overall when the lease is up on this one I will probably lease a 2019 (2020?) model. I like the Rogues because they are a good size. Small and light enough to get 32+ gas mileage but large enough not to be scared or feel dwarfed in traffic. I’d driven iconic and seriously cool ass cars all of my life. Vintage Mustangs, VW Beetles and Buses. Jeeps, Broncos, a Trans-Am. I did my time with “Holy shit! Didja see that?” cars. Rogues are nicely anonymous. Just one more Mom car among the herd. It’s peaceful not to be leading a parade of one anymore.

7. Who took your profile pic? My hairdresser. Hazel is a good cutter. Not especially inspired or creative, but I can count on her to give me the cut I ask for. And she works at the salon in the same plaza as the store. Easy enough to clock out and toddle on down to the salon on Wednesdays. (Wash and cut special. I adore having my hair washed.)

8. What’s your favorite season? Fall. After the long brutal summer I am soooo happy to have crisp temps and breezy golden days! I love sweaters and having the tip of my nose be chilly and bright shouts of color from the leaves and the smell of apples and watching the squirrels bury their treasures. And yet, I have feelings for the other seasons too. Even horrible, melty, stinky summer. In the summer there’s fireworks. And swap meets. And farmer’s markets. Spring? How gorgeous is it when those first warm nights come on and the whole world drips and runs with water freed from its ice prison? And peepers? Their homely song inspires deep breaths and stopping to just be for a minute or two. Winter. Sure, it can be a trial and a slog. But there are the holidays. Lights, white twinkle lights and jewel-colored extravaganzas. Everyone is a little happier and wherever you go someone wishes you the compliments of the season. Maybe I’m getting old, but I can find reasons to enjoy just about anything.

9. If you could change your profession? Nope. I genuinely, honestly like what I do. It’s not rocket science. It doesn’t pay much. I have to wear a dopey shirt. But I provide a service. I get to use all my skills. I am useful. I am knowledgeable. I am reassuring. I get to discuss cooking. I can help customers save money. What’s not to like?

10. Favorite childhood TV show? My immediate impulse is to say ‘The Brady Bunch’ and be done with it. I do and will always love the Brady Family. Their weekly (and rerun) stories about such innocent stuff helped me through a truly ugly time in my life. Scarring and one that echoed for decades. The Brady’s made my life less awful. But honestly? I adored police procedurals. Why? Well, for one thing the bad guys ALWAYS got caught. And punished. For someone like me who had no fairness or justice I liked that at least SOMEBODY got theirs, even if they were fictional. Plus, with procedurals sometimes it came to a shoot-out, but mostly the crimes were solved with brains. Another gratifying thing for me, the one always being mocked and punished for being brainy.

11. The thing you are most afraid of? Finding out for certain that I’ve never helped anyone. To go to my death knowing I’d never taught something that made someone’s life better. Or given affection to someone at their ragged end. Or not even that dramatic, I just want to have made a difference toward the good. Finding out the sum of my life has been to the negative…no, I couldn’t bear it.

12. If you could travel anywhere? Now that I’ve actually (FINALLY!) gone across the Atlantic Ocean and trotted around England I think I’d like to go somewhere that English is not the native language. Yeah, yeah, I’ve been to Mexico, but only to the gringo resort places like Tex-Mex border towns and Cancun. I’ve yet to be somewhere that doesn’t give a warm crap about speaking English to make a buck. To totally rely on my ability to communicate sans common language would be cool. Tiring and more than a little frightening, but cool.

13. Favorite animal? See, this is too vague. Favorite animal for what? To eat? Pigs. I like eating pigs. Their meat produces some of my favorite things. Sausage. Pork chops. Bacon. To look at? Horses. I like watching horses. I like watching them work. The Budweiser Clydesdale team. Central Park carriage horses. At the track at Aqueduct. Circus horses with sparkly acrobats on their backs. For companionship? I like cats. Dogs remind me too much of myself. Slobbering, grateful things doing tricks and not minding if they’re foolish and laughed at. Blech. Cats? Cats will always demand what they want and make no concessions or apologies. I am trying to be more cat-like in my attitude.

And that, my friends, is today’s meme.

 

 

Thanks, Michelle. This was fun.

 

Borrow, steal, copy, whatev. You write, I’ll read, ~LA

The Stranger

In 1977 two things happened that changed my life. #1- I turned 15 and for that birthday (among other things) I received a clock-radio. Faux-wood sheathing, bright red digital display, and most importantly an AM-FM radio powerful enough to pull in stations from the city. (New York City, duh!) Believe it or not, FM was just becoming a thing. Hard to imagine in this world 40 years later when I can shoot a text to Tokyo and get an instant reply, but in the late 1970s FM radio was new. It was sleek. FM was hip and almost as wild and free as the internet was in the aughts. After a childhood listening to Dan Ingram and Cousin Brucie and that bad boy Imus on the AM powerhouses WABC and WNBC this new FM thing felt almost subversive.

 

The new stations- WPDH (from Poughkeepsie of all places!) and my fave, WPLJ 95.5, played pop stuff but not only pop stuff. WPDH took chances on smaller releases and lesser known bands and built a devoted audience of musical rebels (and snobs) who knew what was cool before the cool acts went mainstream. And WPLJ? They concentrated on hometown heroes. And if not natives the acts that Hilly Kristal allowed on stage at CBGBs. Thus I heard The Ramones, Television, and the Talking Heads slightly ahead of their popular exposure.

 

But mostly? Mostly WPLJ did two things- they played cuts from Billy Joel’s ‘The Stranger’ album, and on Sunday nights they hosted call-in advice shows. Those shows taught me A LOT about life. My favorite host was Father Bill. He left the priesthood about halfway through his tenure as an on-air advice giver, and for me this solidified his cred as one who can advise how to live. The man left a lifetime gig with housing, health benefits, and a guaranteed income, to say nothing of the extras like a housekeeper, access to the Pope, and a steady stream of dinner invites by the parish’s best cooks. Bill doffed his collar because he truly believed his life’s work was in a different direction. Obviously this was a guy who’d put quite a bit of thought and soul searching into how to live the best life.

Anyway, I’d be there in the dark in my icy bedroom (thermostat set at 50* on the ground floor and my room was over the unheated garage too)  rolled up in the comforter listening to WPLJ and Carol Miller’s whiskey rasp and Annie Leamy’s demented joy about her wedding, and of course, Father Bill on my clock-radio. Those voices in the night interspersed with Bruce, the B-52s, and always, always Billy Joel were/are such a touchstone.

Do I expect you will totally understand this post? Not a bit. What I do expect is that you will apply it to your own memories. Remember and tell me about your songs and DJs and private music and voices. In your room or through your earbuds or your car’s speakers.

Or in the words of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s version of Lester Bangs…

 

Btw? I still have that clock-radio. Knocked to the floor hundreds of times. Abused, misused, moved halfway across the country and back again while in continuous service for the last 40 YEARS and aside from one of the time set buttons being finicky it works just as well as it did as when I unboxed it and set it on my nightstand back in the 9th grade. Well done, General Electric!

 

Here we are waving Brenda and Eddie good-bye, ~LA

What Day Is It?

Now that everyone in this house works for Shoprite (Mick is finishing his last delivery driver training today) the days of the week and their traditional functions are moot. We have no weekends because none of us gets two days off in a row, nor are those off days guaranteed to be on Saturday and Sunday. Well, one of mine is. I do NOT work Sundays. Sebastian’s days off rotate because his department is so small it’s tough to keep to a regular schedule that serves everybody, so they doe-see-doe around to accommodate doctor’s appointments, class schedules, and Life in general. Mick is now a wild card also. Technically he was hired to work the 4-9 shift but the drivers cover things in a needs-be patchwork too.

Upshot?

The family dinner is a thing of the past.

family dinner

Oddly, I mind this more than I thought I would. Since moving into this house we’ve ALWAYS had dinner in the dining room. No distractions. No electronics. That ritual of food, talk, and togetherness was lovely. (BTW, we’re not fancy, my kitchen is just too small to have a table.) Even at the old house family dinner was expected. How many were eating was always up for grabs, but the table was set and the cooking done to include any and all. This atheist finds the communal breaking of bread and sharing of our days almost a holy thing. A touchstone and an anchor in an increasingly fractured and divided world, our family dinners provided continuity and cohesion. Shared jokes. Shared values and expectations. Heck, even how to set a table and eat with manners was a constant. Always administered gently, my dinner table has never been a rigid place with the day’s crimes reported and the lessons slapped on with a stiff trowel. I’ve taught my sons that manners weren’t a scorecard, they are a kindness. The ‘correct’ fork isn’t important, being an appreciative eater and an interesting helpful guest is.

And now thanks to the capriciousness of the retail schedule the family dinner here at Casa Sage is history.

thumbsdown

And doesn’t that suck?

 

Nostalgic, ~LA

 

Thanksgiving-Norman-Rockwell-Freedom-From-Want (1)

Another Broken Chair and A Long Month

Yeah, my new (*coff* 6 years old *coff*) chair broke. A wheel arm snapped and dumped me to the floor a few days ago. No lie, I am hard on my chairs. Not just being fat but I shift position constantly and pack my chair with support pillows and sit in it awkwardly with a leg tucked beneath me or I tilt way back and nap. Honestly? If I were my office chair I’d lodge a protest that my rights to humane treatment were being violated.

So my main Christmas present this year is a new chair. I ordered one from Staples. An extra-sturdy model meant for us larger folk. It’s supposed to arrive sometime this week.

Here’s something unusual…I did a live Facebook promo for the store on Tuesday. I didn’t think much beforehand but afterward I was like, “GAH! I was LIVE on FACEBOOK! And it could go VIRAL! And then I’ll be a meme like…

er meh gerd

GAH!!!!”

But apparently my extemporaneous blurt about the fulsomeness of ShopRite’s holiday area was deemed unsatisfactory by some corporate gank. One further up the chain than the one who asked me to do the promo in the first place. She was a sweetie. And she seemed delighted with my 3 minutes of improv about all the amazing goodies which would make the customers’ winter holiday breezy, delicious, ridiculously inexpensive and good smelling. Really, could anyone ask for more from their grocer? No. But within hours my live-streamed glurt of enthusiasm had been taken down. A few people had seen it and sent me texts about how adorable I was as a ShopRite spokesperson but I never got to see it. Honestly I’m glad. One straightfoward look at my chins and jowls and I’d have to drive off a cliff.

Man, I have a newfound appreciation for those Buzzfeed kids. The ones who make the videos. I know that 99% of the time they can re-shoot and edit, but y’all, doing video is HARD. Especially live.

Why do it then? Feh. Why not? What did I do between the ages of 4 – 17? I sold stuff. With my pantomimed enthusiasm about truly ugly polyester sportswear and dubious snack products. What did I do between the ages of 19 and 35? I sold stuff. With my delight about the $3.99 pancake special at the diner, with proprietary joy at my bookstore telling my scant few customers that ‘All mysteries are 2 for 1 today’, and after taking on management of a store in Sugar Loaf I did a lot of animated pitching about Fenton Art Glass baskets and a select collection of handcrafted kaleidoscopes. I know, right? How bizarre. Then I sold cars. All kinds of cars and was damn good at it.

Selling, apparently, is what I do. And I refuse to be ashamed about it anymore. I was for a long time. How creepy and slimy is it to be really, really talented at sales? Yuck-o. Thinking on it though I’ve realized a few things- I’ve never told a lie in the pursuit of a sale. Plus, while I AM very persuasive I am NOT a bully. And aside from assisting some profoundly drunk people navigate the menu at the diner I’ve never sold anything to anyone who was unable to think clearly.

My success at sales comes from a sincere desire to help. I sold so many cars not because I was slick and fast talking but because I helped my clients find the RIGHT car. (Well, that and after letting the husband mansplain to me all about the cars I’d gone to training school for and had personally disassembled and reassembled as part of that training, and had been selling for years [yeesh] I got with the wife and talked with her about what SHE wanted from a vehicle and what their actual budget was. Fun Fact: 88% of car purchases in the US the final approval comes from a woman.) Helping, not scamming. Listening. Knowing my product and understanding how what I have to offer might be what my client needs.

Example: This past March I was on the phone with a customer going over her order (S.O.P. for my department) and she asks about the serving sizes for the corned beef she was buying. Then she tells me it’s the first time she was making a traditional St Patrick’s dinner. I assure her that it will be fine. Boiled Irish is easy if you have the right stuff. So she and I go over the dinner prep together. She tells me how many she’s feeding and I run the list of things she’s going to need. Some items she’d over-ordered and others she’d gotten too little and other things she’d missed altogether. I explained about cooking techniques and went over the whole menu a few times while she took notes and asked questions. By the time we were finished her total had gone up about $40. BUT now she felt like she knew what she was doing and was confident about hosting a grand feast on St Patrick’s Day. Did I upsell her by $40? Yes. Was she a happy customer who was going to make a terrific meal and feel good about herself? Yes. My intent had not been to bloat her order, my intent was a satisfied customer who’d keep shopping with us. Win-win, yes?

Wow. Hadn’t started out to write a treatise on the methods and ethics of sales, but here we are. It’s discouraging sometimes, that’s all. I dislike being associated with a profession that has such an unethical rep. Especially because I am not a liar or trickster. Meh, enough.

billy mays

What else has gone on with me in the past 37 days?

I’ve been reading. Of course.

Yes, I have a copy of ‘Sleeping Beauties’. No, I haven’t started it yet. I know, I know, LA has new King and hasn’t gone face first into it like an off the wagon diabetic into a banana cream pie?

What can I say? This. This I can say. For one thing I’m having an intense love affair with ‘The Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern. I’m almost finished but am dragging my feet and savoring because I’m a reveur and do not want it to be over. Such a gorgeous dream. Magic and science and showmanship and belief and heartbreak and hope and wishes on the brightest thing in the sky even if it’s really an airplane.

This book is so gorgeous it’s joined ‘The Good Earth’ and ‘Cannery Row’ on my list of stories that can always break my heart. I know I’ve quoted it before but I consider this to be the best paragraph ever written. At least in English. Actually, American because Steinbeck is our Shakespeare.

“Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream. Cannery Row is the gathered and scattered, tin and iron and rust and splintered wood, chipped pavement and weedy lots and junk heaps, sardine canneries of corrugated iron, honky tonks, restaurants and whore houses, and little crowded groceries, and laboratories and flophouses. Its inhabitants are, as the man once said, “whores, pimps, gamblers and sons of bitches,” by which he meant Everybody. Had the man looked through another peephole he might have said, “Saints and angels and martyrs and holymen” and he would have meant the same thing.”

I will never, ever, ever write something even one tenth as wonderful.

The other reason I’ve been putting off ‘Sleeping Beauties’ is Owen. Actually Steve’s absurd favoritism for his youngest child. It’s irked me for YEARS. Okay, I get it. Joe and Naomi were born during the miserable years. During the struggle. The pre-‘Carrie’ years. And Owen was the ‘fun’ child. The one that came along when he had the time and money to enjoy him. But in all the notes and anecdotes and interviews and dedications that youngest kid is made out to be a sparkle unicorn who farts glitter and shits gold while his elder siblings are all but ignored and if mentioned they are always the cause of misery and stumbling blocks to success. Frankly, as the elder child and impetus for a hasty marriage and having lived through the exact same kind of favoritism toward my younger sister whose provenance was assured and arrival was welcome I cannot help but be bitter about my literary crush’s blatant out-sized adoration for his younger son. Stephen King’s gaa-gaa googly-eyed gushing over how he and his baby boy wrote a whole book together! Bah, it makes me pukey.

Yeah, I’ll read it. But I’ll be grading harshly and there will be no curve.

What else? Oh yeah, Thanksgiving. Nice. No, seriously. For once SIL and her hubs came by. On their way to one of his sister’s places but they stayed for a couple hours and we had nibbles and some goofy jokes and a genuinely nice visit. MIL was here, of course. And Sebastian was here too. It was the most relaxed holiday in quite some time. Expansive and intimate. Ended up with too much pie, but there are worse things than too much pie. All in all it was a good Thanksgiving.

My other media consumption is this:

maisel

Oy, you cannot believe how long I waited for this show. I first watched the pilot back in June. I’d revisit it every couple months. Always coming away starving to know what came next. Fierce. Feminist. Funny. Set about 15 years too early to reflect my exact life I still get this show. I get it. Raised in a world where a woman’s role was to be the mirror that reflected back the man’s greatness, a fun house mirror that made him 7 feet tall and brilliant even if he was 5’6″ and as exciting as an oatmeal bowel movement. What do you do when you’ve played by the rules and shrunk yourself down and dimmed your light and turned all your gifts toward HIS happiness? You do all of that and he leaves you anyway? For a ditz? Some pea-brained dope who’d never challenge his fragile ego?

Uh huh.

Midge Maisel is figuring it out. And taking us along with her.

It’s difficult not to gobble this season. Just binge my way through. But I waited too long and her story is too important and hilarious not to give it respect and the attention it deserves.

 

There you go. A highlight reel of the past 37 days. Is it everything? Nope. Is it enough? Yeah.

 

Much love, ~LA

 

Yet Another Meme of Familiar Topics

1. Favorite smell? Spices, mostly hippie-ish spices like cinnamon, frankincense, patchouli. Though I dearly love the smell of a good pot roast too. My house smells wonderful when I make pot roast.

2. Last time you cried? Today. I cry like other people breathe- constantly.

3. Favorite pizza? Plain. NY-style which means long skinny slices folded in half, eaten with a good sprinkle of garlic powder.

4. Favorite flower? I honestly don’t know if I have a favorite. I like all kinds. The idea of a showy, gorgeously scented display which facilitates reproduction? I’m there.

5. Did you go to college? Yes, but I do not have a degree. Unfortunately I like learning for its own sake and spent too much time screwing around trying on different disciplines. I simply like knowing stuff. Then I had children…’nuff said.

6. Untie your shoes when taking them off? No, not usually. I am fat and have VERY large breasts. Bending over is problematic, an unhappy thing when doing my job, but mostly my boobs get in the way of everything. Especially breathing. So, any activity which requires me to bend at the waist is going to suck. 

7. Roller coasters? I appreciate the idea over the actuality. In real life I end up squeezed, bashed, thumped, and bruised. Not fun.

8. Favorite ice cream? Honestly? Ice cream isn’t a biggie for me. I like, maybe, two cones a summer from the ice cream stand and a solace pint of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia somewhere around Mother’s Day. Other than that? Meh.

9. Favorite past time? Daydreaming.

10. Shorts or jeans? Jeans, but my true love is a skirt. Flowy, elastic waist, ankle length. Material: cotton- denim, gauze, twill, but even challis if wool is my only option.

11. What are you listening to? In the car it’s Sirius radio. My pre-sets range from Delta blues in scratchy monotone to ‘Pop Rocks’- my most recent favorite station. I like happy, easy, fun music that isn’t pretentious or obscure. Life is HARD, y’all, music shouldn’t have to be.

12. Favorite Color? For what? Clothing? Black. Interior walls? Grey or yellow. Cars? Greige. Flowers? Carnation pink. Lipstick? Maybelline ‘Wine With Everything’. Candy? Red. Furniture, carpets, curtains? Navy blue. Overall favorite color? Garnet red.

13. Tattoos? Nope. Never have, never will. I’m not really a rebel for rebellion’s sake anymore, but I am rather enjoying my inkless bod and the ‘not on the tat bandwagon’ status implied therein.

14. Piercing? Currently? Ears. Three holes in each lobe. Formerly I had a septum piercing but it made my nose run the whole 3 months I had it. And it was about 25 years too early for public (employable) acceptance. A septum bullring in 1983 was too weird for words. Punk as all hell though and went with my lavender tufty something wicked.

15. Color of hair? I’m not coloring my hair at the moment. Feh. No time, money, or energy. Currently it’s too long, shapeless, and bowel movement brown with an unsatisfying small smattering of silver.

16. Color of eyes? Green. Dark green without any kind of showy beauty or freaky pigmentation. Unlike Sebastian’s which are a to-die-for sea green/pearly grey.

17. Favorite food to eat? WTF? This is a HARD question. Breakfast? At the diner- eggs over medium, sausage, white toast with jam, coffee. Lunch? Egg salad sandwiches and dill pickle spears. Dinner? Pasta, red sauce, mushrooms. Garlic bread. Green salad.

18. Favorite holiday? Thanksgiving. Actually it used to be my favorite. I loved the ritual and purity of it. For me it was THE No Bullshit holiday. I loved getting up in the creaking dawn to put the bird into the oven. And with my first cup of coffee making a chocolate cream pie and then cheerfully cursing at my overly full fridge and finding a place to put the pie to set. I loved pulling out the good dishes and the big stupid turkey platter which spent the other 363 days living on top of the china cabinet (it got used on Christmas too) and scrubbing up all the serving spoons and forks, and plotting out all the bowls and baskets, and gravy and sauce boats. Thanksgiving combined two favorite things- cooking for company and fussing with tableware. Then around midday a bunch of friends and family showed up and we parked ourselves at the table and ate and told stories and ate more and told more stories and eventually made coffee and had some pie. Now? Now there’s nobody to come. Sebastian goes to his aunt’s and I don’t have any friends. So. Favorite holiday? Arbor Day. At least planting trees still makes sense.

19. Beer or wine? Beer. Lager. Preferably on tap. Not picky as to brand or pedigree.

20. Night owl or morning person? For most of my life I was the hootiest of night owls. Now I’m a day dweller. Not a “My! Look at this glorious sunrise! So glad I knocked down all my chores first so I can relax and watch the sun come up without guilt!” Spare me.  But I can and do enjoy the fresh part of the morning and get to my job at 9:00 am without pain or needing an espresso enema.

21. Favorite day of the week? Thursday. It’s my scheduled day off. My other regular day off is Sunday, which is devoted to family. Thursday is mine own. Plus on Thursday nights the Travel Channel runs ‘Mysteries at the Museum’ so after a peaceful day sans brassiere and shoes I trundle off to bed early and get my fill of esoteric trivia and delightfully cheesy historical reenactments.

22. Do you have a Nickname? Growing up my family called me ‘Leelee’. A few of my co-workers call me ‘Lah’ as in the music note instead of pronouncing my chosen moniker as ‘El-Ayy’, but whatever. Honestly? The majority of people I interact with attract my attention with either ‘Mom’ or “Excuse me, do you work here?”

23. Pictures on your wall? Almost entirely personal. Paintings, photographs, drawings, limited edition lithos – all done by friends. The enclosed front porch is a Hil Gallery with additions by several local artists who’ve done chalks and water colors of places I know and love. In the living room there’s a series of temple rubbings from Thailand done by my ex-MIL, plus many prints of photographs taken and developed by me and the ex in our darkroom at the old house. My office is a shrine to my artist cadre with everything from multi-media collages to stained glass spiders to found objects stolen just for me by pals and boyfriends past. Not one thing, including the many, many mirrors, on the walls and display shelves in this house is without personal provenance and a story. As good art should be.

24. What makes you most proud? Aside from not having any tats? I dunno. Recently I watched ‘Last Word’ with Shirley MacLaine and in the movie there’s a scene where she meets up with her estranged daughter. The daughter is stiff and angry with a mouthful of accusations and recriminations as to the lousy job Shirley MacLaine did as a mother. She asks the daughter (who’s a pediatric neurosurgeon and married and mother of two) if she (the daughter) is happy? Yes. Very. So Shirley starts bellowing with laughter. Utterly DELIGHTED! She’d obviously been a GREAT MOM! Her supposedly poorly served daughter had grown up to be successful, happily married, and enjoying motherhood. What the hell else was she (Shirley) supposed to provide? Her daughter was doing wonderfully well! Is that not the definition of good parenting? That your kid has the tools and sense to make a good life for his/her self? I paused the movie and cried for 20 minutes. YES! What the hell else can be fairly asked of a mom? BOTH of my kids are fine. Sebastian had his first cavity but otherwise my children are all kinds of good. Alex has a post graduate degree. A happy marriage. Owns real estate. Has marketable skills. Seb is employed. Has a new car. Is working on a degree. Has gorgeous head shots and contacts in the film industry. He has an ‘in’ on doing voice work for a start-up video game company. He recently met the head of production for Martin Scorsese’s production company as well as submitting an intern application with Story Horse Productions. (Hello, owned and overseen by Mary Stuart Masterson.) Am I supposed to cop to being a monster? Some kind of abusive selfish drug-addled cow? Nope. Despite the horrors of my actually abusive, deprived, fucked up childhood I did MORE than okay by my sons. Alex and Sebastian are fine, happy, emotionally stable, intellectually curious, morally sound, feminist, gainfully employed men. Was I supposed to do otherwise? Shit, they even put the seat down.

So fuck off if you think I owe the world, you, or my children more. olde flipping burd

 

Tired of taking the heat for others’ misconceptions, ~LA

Depression: No Witty Title Required

The thing about Depression is that it exists wholly without cause. It is of itself and doesn’t care fuck all about timing or reasons.

Example: I am just back from the trip of a lifetime. Numero uno on my bucket list. Even if England was boring and ugly (it isn’t) I still would have had a terrific time visiting with my friends.

More friends: Today was old home week at the store and I saw several of my favorite young women. Some just in to do a shopping, but others were home over the holiday weekend and came in to firm up their re-hires for the winter break from school. Hugs. Many, many hugs.

Then there was the healing. Used pressure points on her hand and forehead to relieve Hope’s sinus woes. She’s pregnant and can’t take any meds right now. Before work I’d put together a special infusion mix to help Jan with her erratic menstrual cycle and told her how to brew it when she came in for her shift. Heidi’s headache. Pete accidentally mashed his hand unloading today’s truck and sought me out. Some weeks back I’d helped heal another injury of his and ever since he’s convinced I’m the only medic he needs. Fortunately nothing was broken so after a soothing massage with peppermint oil I sent him off with instructions to take an anti-inflammatory and to keep his hand safe from being re-smushed. A.J got advice about his hemorrhoids (which did NOT involve me putting hands on the affected area, thank goodness) but did include a stern lecture about getting more fiber and the overall benefits of dark leafy greens.

Plus there was the usual assistance to customers. Where to find things. How to cook things. Was this the correct coupon? Could I get something off the top shelf for them? Also my own clients that I shopped for and taking care all of their questions and add-ons.

So, yeah, I know I am both liked and useful. No less than 20 people a day come to me for advice, and most of the younger ones call me ‘Mom’. Including the one I actually gave birth to.

And yet…the Depression. One of its tricksy malign voices sneers and mocks. Another whispers hateful insulting things. And always poking with a sharp stick. Poking, poking, poking. Delighting when it makes me wince. Laughing aloud when I bleed. A sniggering under-voice that tells me how useless I am. How ugly. Oh, I am such a waste of space! How can I not understand how great the world would be without me in it?

depression voice

It says ‘anxiety’ but it’s what Depression is like too. And it blows.

If all it took to beat back this buggardly disease was awareness and some gratitude my life would look like this:

sparkle unicorn

 

Tired, frustrated, angry, and more than a little ashamed, ~LA