Tuesday, December 30


I don't consider myself a cruel person but sometimes inappropriate things make me laugh. Things like this that arrived in the mail the other day:

It's from an organization called Earthjustice and it's tag line is "Because the Earth needs a good lawyer". I'm suggesting the Earth needs a better campaign manager. According to CharityNavigator.com they are a decent, well meaning organization but that solicitation has got to go. I understand it was supposed to make me feel sad yet generous. Instead it just made me burst out laughing. I'm not proud of that reaction, it just happened.

I'm also not in the habit of laughing at other's misfortune but today I did. I had been in the produce section of the grocery store with some poor bedraggled mom being swarmed by her kids. The little boy, around four years old, was really a handful. He seemed to be making a break for it or underfoot no matter where she moved. I'd been sort of ignoring them until I turned and saw the boy standing in front of his mother's shopping cart, stiffly facing outward, with a plastic produce bag over his head. Before I could react (and I would have made a stab at yanking it off his head) his mother saw him, gasped and said "NO!". She had more trouble than I might have guessed taking it off his head. I don't know if he was chewing on it or what but it was really stuck on his noggin. I'm sorry, but the whole scene made me laugh. It made me laugh, shake my head and think 'Ya know, Darwin had a point.'

Then, rather suddenly, karma bit me in the ass. I turned the corner and saw marketing genius in action. Some sadistic store schemer had set up a big basket of Oreo cookies in front of the milk section. I mean honestly who can resist that kind of set up? Well, I did, but still that was cruel! I'm incredibly lactose intolerant and haven't had a glass of milk in years but even I might risk a wrecked stomach for a glass of milk and handful of Oreo cookies.

Look, I'll still laugh at the small misfortunes of others and I'll even laugh at poor little Limpy. I'll just be sure to look over my shoulder when I do.

Saturday, December 27

Hole in Pocket

Today, while listening to NPR, I heard an interview with Meryl Gordan. She was speaking of her new book titled Miss Astor Regrets. It's the story of the end of Brooke Astor's long life. Do you remember, a couple of years back, the shocking story of elder abuse she suffered in her last years at the hands of her son? Well, Ms Gordan has written all about it. It sounded fascinating and I happened to have a big juicy gift certificate to my favorite book store burning a hole in my pocket. I immediately planned a trip to the book store and Mom accompanied me.

I eventually decided against Miss Astor Regrets because it's a hardback and costs $35. I'm not a fan of hardbacks. While they remain durable they are difficult to lug around on planes and are overpriced so I avoid them.

I was in the mood for a good read on a crazy family. Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE to read about rich, crazy families both old and new. (Thank God and Graydon Carter for Vanity Fair). The Tudor's are a favorite of mine with the Romanov's running a close second. I've been hearing good things about the Vanderbilt's... they were good and crazy. I was looking for a book called The Vanderbilt Women because the back cover states "The nearest thing to a royal family that has ever appeared on the American scene was the Vanderbilts … their vendettas, their armies of servitors, partisans and sycophants, their love affairs, scandals, and shortcomings, all were the stuff of an imperial routine." SOLD! Unfortunately I couldn't find that one but I'll pick it up eventually. Instead I picked up Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt. It looks good. I'm not sure how scandalous it will be but Consuelo was a suffragette, romantically linked to Winston Churchill and lived during the Gilded Age and that's always a good time.

Of course I still haven't read The Sisters (all about the Mitfords), or the incredibly cool sounding The Heretic's Daughter (Salem Witch Trials anyone?) and about 300 other books I have in boxes in the garage. Still, I can't stop buying books, I just love them. I have a feeling that I'll be so poor when I eventually buy my house that I'll have nothing better to do than to be a shut in with my books. The idea really doesn't sound all that bad does it?

On the way home Mom and I were discussing long lost favorite library books that we enjoyed ages ago and never saw again. Mom's favorite is something called Tales From New Orleans. Each chapter was about an eccentric New Orleans resident. It sounds a bit like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil but without the story weaving everyone together. My favorite was a now nameless book Mom borrowed for the Monrovia library back in the 70's. Like any good mother of the 70's she didn't pay much attention to what I read... thank God. It was a book all about the most notorious crimes int he past 100 years and I loved it. I picked the book up after she finished it and learned all about the Lindbergh kidnapping, Lizzie Borden and Jack the Ripper. To my 10 year old mind it I was the greatest book written.

I have other books to keep an eye out for that also feature rich crazy families. Here are a few and why I like the sound of them:

Murder of a Medici Princess
"The third of eight surviving children... life apart from her debt-ridden, abusive, playboy husband in Rome... Eager to make his mistress... banished her lover from Florence by branding him a murderer... treasonous behavior... extramarital affairs... murder at her husband's hands and, soon after, Isabella's murder by her husband as well. ." I know it's wrong but I just love this stuff. Besides who else managed to get Michelangelo to do up the family tomb?

The Vanderbilts
"Nearly 250 pictures reveal the striking personalities of this extraordinary family and the glittering interiors in which they led their fabled lives." I enjoy photos when reading biographies. I feel I know the subject better if I have a face in mind. Also, can you ever tire of looking at the The Biltmore?

Queen of Diamonds
"The last and longest private owner of the Hope Diamond, purchased the diamond when she was only twenty-four; spent more than $200,000 on a fabulous honeymoon and ended up in a Paris hotel without enough money to pay the bill; wandered the gloomy rooms of her home imagining crawling reptiles while overcoming her morphine addiction; and stood in the rain wearing a fur coat and clutching the Hope Diamond as her beloved Washington Post was auctioned. The deep indigo stone is but a single facet of her rags-to-riches story." *gasp* SIGN ME UP!!

If you know of any good books on rich crazy families please let me know. The crazier and more scandalous the better!

Thursday, December 25

Merry Christmas

May the spirit of Christmas bring you peace,
The gladness of Christmas give you hope,
The warmth of Christmas grant you love.

Author Unknown

Wednesday, December 24

Happy Christmas Eve

So, yes, I've been overworked and exhausted lately. I didn't get to half of the holiday things I meant to like hanging Christmas lights and sending cards. I've felt like a major loser until today. Today I walked out of the office at noon, as instructed, and actually left it all behind. I rushed home to wrap a few gifts and gear up for Mom's Christmas Eve dinner.

We lit a fire and exchanged presents with my brother and his family and had a wonderful time. My brother got the GPS he'd been wanting, my Dad got a hard core rain gauge that needed some set up and my nephew got to work on this humdinger. In other words, the boys geeked out and had a great time. Mean while my Mom, sister-in-law and I fought to bust Barbie from her pink remote control convertible. Later my niece raced Barbie's wheels against my nephew's remote controlled car that he happened to bring today. They raced up and down the drive way and planned to "ambush" their other Grandma when she arrived. I'm not sure what actually happened but they seemed to have had a good time. They then spent a lot of time checking on Santa's route on this site. It's so cute! All I know is that the Santa Tracker would have blown my mind when I was a kid.

Earlier in the day I was able to either email and/or speak with a couple of friends that have lately been MIA. It was good to hear they are well and safely at home. I'd been afraid one was trapped in an airport somewhere. The other seemed to have been lost in the throws of a new relationship. Turns out they broke up before Thanksgiving then sort of got back together again. I missed the whole thing but my friend sounds good to me so I'm happy for him.

As for work, I'm planning to go in on Friday, to wrap of a few things, then I'm taking a week off. I think I need to for my sanity. It's possible I'm coming down with a cold. I feel a little congested and my throat feels a bit scratchy but I don't even care. I have a roof over my head and a warm bed and cable. I'll be fine. I have wonderful friends and family. Does anything else even matter?

Maybe it's that A Wonderful Life is showing on tv but I think I may finally be feeling like it's Christmas. It's about time. I've been so wrapped up in work that I've barely been able to separate and enjoy a personal life. It's not like me. I need to get back to separating. It's so much better for me.

I'm off to wash my face, put on my pjs and Karen Neuberger socks (the only things that keep my feet warm these days) and hop into bed. It's time for some well deserved sleep.

Have a Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 14

Curses! *Shaking fist in air*

I knew it was too glad to last but it's over already? That's more than my poor heart can handle.

Damn you oil bastards! For the record, the second I'm able to buy a car that has nothing to do with you I will. Then you can suck it!

In the mean time I may just frame the photo below. You know, to remember the good old days.

And speaking of the good old days, it's only fair to inform you that I also equate those oil bastards with our old friend Dishonest John. Remember him? Well that's who I think of when I hear of prices going up. Curse you DJ! I will admit that hearing B&C sing "A Bob Clapett Cartoo-oon" makes me smile. That and seeing just how gay they all obviously are. Faaaaabulous!

Thursday, December 11

Have I died?

I often ask myself if I've died on gone to hell. It's pessimistic, true, but I sometimes can't help but wonder. As I've mentioned ad nauseam, work is a nightmare lately but as Dory reminds us I "Just keep swimming." It's surprisingly good advise and can really help in the middle of a bad day. Best of all, if you say it out loud, it confuses the grown ups.

Until tonight, that is. Tonight as I filled up my tank and saw this staring back at me...

for the first time in ages, I asked myself if I'd died and gone to heaven. I could be wrong but I don't think I've seen gas in the one-fifties since college. It was a beautiful sight indeed.

I hope you're evening has been as lovely as mine.

Thursday, December 4


So, my vacation was more stressful than I'd hoped. In fact, getting back to work proved to be less stressful. I spent a few hours in the office on Monday then hopped a plane to Bentonville. It was a trip full of political landmines but it was a good trip well worth the time and effort.

A Bentonville trip is always an unusual one. One one hand, every person you meet is wonderfully kind and friendly. Everyone is smiling and there is no traffic and God knows the eats are good. It's all so quaint and kind and even Jesus seems to love Bentonville. A "Traveller's Prayer" card is left on your pillow each night. Local commercials remind you to remember the true meaning of Christmas with a Bible quote. There are three humongous crosses standing in front of a church on the highway near your hotel. They are intimidating to say the least. They are the perfect symbols to remind you just where you are.

You meet your co-workers in the lobby of your hotel each morning and inevitably run into several other people you know because if you're in manufacturing, you're in Bentonville. I find that being in Bentonville means being lulled into the safe, warm, strong arms of Walmart. Then, just as you're beginning to relax into those fabulous arms, something happens that snaps you back into reality. You suddenly remember that the place holds so much influence and power that it's scary.

It's a very conflicting experience. We all know about the Bully of Bentonville but the people I deal with just don't seem to be those bullies. They are very nice and patient and great to work with. Still, I don't shop at Walmart. On a personal level I'm against many of their business practices. However, because my job is completely dependant on American consumerism I am inextricably tied with and dependent upon Walmart. I'm a hypocrite and I hate it.