28 August 2008


It is so easy to claim that you are open-minded and non-biased when you aren't faced with someone who so obviously doesn't think the same way you do. It is easy to forget that other people have different value systems, morals and ethics until you're slapped in the face with their deviance.

I started thinking about this earlier today while reading a review of Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What is Says About Us). The other thing that got me started was an incident of some ballsy driving I observed on the Boulevard. I was sitting at the light at Plaza Blvd, patiently waiting for the light to change. I was in the far right-hand lane behind a guy waiting to make the right onto Plaza. Some dude in a black pick-up shoots past me on the left, swings right onto Plaza, flips a bitch, and motors across the Boulevard to the northbound lanes. Did I mention that he was merrily honking to his buddies?

While I was kind of shocked at his maneuver, I was also mildly impressed with his cojones. I can count on one hand the times I have deliberately run a red light and this dude didn't even want to wait 30 seconds for the light to change so he could make a legal turn around. Balls, I tells ya.

The vast majority of us believe we are better than average drivers. No one wants to admit that they often don't pay close attention, or that their driving suffers when they are on the phone. I find it is rather easy to sneer at my fellow motorists and smugly think that my driving skills are far superior.

OK, I guess driving isn't so much about morals and ethics but it is still about a large group of people who have to observe certain rules and strictures in order for things to go smoothly.
So many people are of the firm belief that their time is far more precious, and they are more entitled to take up space. The problem is exacerbated by each person thinking that it doesn't matter what they do because, well, who else is going to be looking out for you? That's right, no one. You gotta reach out and grab at any opportunity to speed yourself along: to make that appointment, to get your kids, to hit the 10 for 10 sale at Acme.

Whew. Alright, shake it off. Really, the thing that gets me is that I hate feeling responsible for other people. I shouldn't have to pay attention for that soccer mom in her H3, yakking away on the cell. Why isn't it enough that I pay attention and (mostly) do my best to be a good driver? Sure, I've done, and most likely will do again, some dumb-ass shit, but that's the exception. And now I know you're sitting there saying, "You just said most people think they are better than average drivers. You're no different." I guess I'm not any different, but the human animal has a great capacity to make sweeping generalizations that have nothing to do with themselves.

A Hunting I Will Go...

For the last week or so, I have been making a concerted effort not to exude bitterness. The first couple of days were hard; after all, I was fighting against an implacable (incapable) foe. But by the end of last week, I didn't have to try so hard.

That all came crashing down today. The Princess pawned her work off on me again because, apparently, multi-tasking is a dirty word to her. Mail was thrown, pens were tossed, and bitterness was released from wherever bitterness comes from. I am a psychic downer. I wake up each day with the hope that I will be fired. I have never collected unemployment and I'm hoping that today will be the day.

I'm sure you've noticed that this isn't the first time I have complained about my job and the royal pain who is making my life miserable. You're probably thoroughly bored with the whole thing and wish I would get a new job already and leave you in peace. Tough.

I am, in a lackadaisical sort of way, looking for a new job. I get weekly updates from Careerbuilder, and my dad carefully lays out the Jobs section of the Inquirer for me each Sunday. There were several jobs I was interested in applying for but have not done so yet. Why? Why because I'm extraordinarily lazy, of course! Don't you know me at all?

I'm sure you're confused. Why am I staying at a job that makes me miserable? Why aren't I making a better effort to get my resume out there? In a nutshell, my level of misery isn't high enough to motivate me. How much miserabler do I have to be? That depends on what next week's Jobs section looks like. Or how things go with my new work schedule kicking in full-force next week. Perhaps I will have a burst of energy and indiscriminately hurl my resume at passers-by, hoping that one of them will be a muckety-muck at some company that is looking for someone just like me. Most likely, I will continue to plod along and apply for a job or two a week; all the while complaining about how miserable my job makes me. Be sure to tune in; it'll be enormous fun.

25 August 2008

Please Leave A Message...

OK, I officially can't stand it any more. People suck. Time for a "how to" list.

Here's the scoop: I do voicemail retrievals for my company. We handle several helplines for various pharmaceutical companies and also do preliminary screening for clinical drug trials. This adds up to anywhere from 25-30 different voicemail boxes. The lines are tested twice a day - once in the morning when they open, and again in the evening when they are closed. It's annoying listening to 50+ test calls, but those are easy to log, and then I get to delete them.

No, the problem lies with the American consumer and their inability to shut the fuck up. I get that you are having an issue with the packaging on product X. Please don't tell me how you used your teeth/fingernails/pocketknife/sewing scissors to open said package. Just leave your name and number and a brief description of your problem. For example: My name is Jane Doe. My phone number is 555-555-5555 and your packaging sucks. Please call back after 11am Monday through Friday. I have to transcribe your message verbatim. I am a better than average typist, but I'm not super stenographer woman. I am not allowed to abbreviate or use any sort of shorthand.

Oh, and people? When you are leaving your name and phone number could you please speak slowly and clearly? Yeah, that would be great. If your name is unusual, or foreign, please spell it. I get all sorts of shit from various supervisors and senior VPs if my transcription is unclear. Before you ask - yes, I can listen to the message multiple times, but ask me if I really want to. Don't you get annoyed when people leave rapid, unintelligible messages on your voicemail? Yup, that's what I thought.

Remember, the voicemail is not your therapist. Please don't ramble on about how your insurance doesn't cover the drug, or your pharmacist is unsympathetic when you try to use an expired coupon. Name, number, brief description of issue, and best time to call. Don't call back all salty because one of our nurses called you at 11 a.m. and you were at a doctor's appointment. We are not mind readers.

For those people calling for clinical trials; please don't give a rundown of your medical history. There are call center reps who will take you through the questionnaire to determine if you are eligible to proceed to the next step. I don't need to know about your lupus, medication history, family history of drug abuse, or any deaths in your family. Name, number, best time to call. Say it with me now. Short and to the point.

Think of this as a general primer for good voicemail etiquette. I, and all other transcriptionists, thank you.

23 August 2008

Don't Rock Like I Used To

My local rock station debuted the new Metallica song the other day. It's crunchy guitars and manic drums; things that Metallica are known for. It runs about 6 minutes or so.

I used to be an enormous Metallica fan. Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets, the Black album - I had them all and knew all the words. I got moshed when they played Camden (where was my For Whom the Bell Tolls, huh?), and I broke land-speed records when they did the free show in Philly. I purchased back issues of metal magazines so I could absorb every tiny bit of Metalli-trivia. I killed many, many brain cells head-banging. Oh yeah, I rocked hard.

I'm not a fan of the new single. I didn't like their last album, St. Anger. I don't know if it was the departure of bassist Jason Newstead, or if I wasn't all about the new, self-aware bent they had adopted. I mean, it's Metallica. I thought that I'd be with them until the end. I can only conclude that I don't rock like I used to.

I don't know if it's because I'm crawling up on 30, or if my musical tastes haven't evolved in the same direction that Metallica's sound has. I still like rock. I still like to blast the radio when Linkin Park or Breaking Benjamin comes on. I refuse to believe that I'm too old to rock, dammit!

Ultimately, it doesn't matter. It's OK that I'm not the Metallica fan that I used to be. I still like the old stuff and maybe I'll like some of the new stuff. Let a new generation of fans take up the hard-rockin' mantle. I'm looking for something new.

21 August 2008

This Is Me: Bored at Work

You ever been on Craigslist? Sure you have; everyone does it. I was perusing the "best of" the other night and I noticed something - Craiglist is filled with articulate, funny people. No, no, I'm not making a joke. Yes, I realize that the "best of" posts are the best of thousands and thousands of crappy ones. Still, I read some pretty good posts.

It got me wondering about whether or not anyone has had a successful response to a Craigslist post. Like the dude who was looking for some hardcore rockers, or the guy giving away sod. I read the posts from chicks who are looking for a lame-ass guy to take advantage of them, or the sad-sack men who very carefully point out their faults in order to drum up sympathy. Guys, we all know that you're doing that reverse psychology thing. We know that when you tell us that you are anti-social, socially-awkward, gangly, bipolar, an unrepentant gamer, too nice, afraid of love, scarred by the callous bitch who took your heart and your dachshund, it's really a cry of "Love me, love me! I am a good person if only someone would look hard enough." And you know what? I get it.

I get it because I'm the same way. I put the worst of myself out there from the beginning. I generally refuse to sugar-coat myself and my, let's call them quirks. It's taken me many years to be something approaching comfortable in my skin and I'm not going to hide what's taken so long to achieve. I don't want to tart myself up when I go out because I'm the lowest maintenance person. I don't wear make-up, I don't fuss with my hair. I wear sneakers and flip-flops. I smoke and curse and say wildly inappropriate things.

OK, as I wrote that last paragraph I realized that I'm not being completely honest. I will tart myself up a bit because I know that someone can't look at me and see the awesomeness inside. The only way these hypothetical people have to judge me is on my appearance and I hate it. I resent every stroke of the mascara wand and every inch I hike up my boobs. I hate that I'll spout all this crap about not misrepresenting myself and then play the fucking game. Yes, I would like that someone, someday, finds me attractive (someone available, B), but I feel like people can smell the resentment and it is off-putting.

I don't know where I wanted to go with this. I could spend all day bitching about appearances, but this was supposed to be about Craigslist and I've been completely derailed. Wasn't I wondering if people ever had success with a Craigslist ad - specifically m4w, w4m, etc? I responded to an ad once. It was entitled "This is why you won't like me" and I liked it. My friend, jr, stumbled it to me and suggested that I respond. Unfortunately, the poster wasn't taking replies. I tried a post of my own, but got a rather lackluster response. Oh well. I'll continue on with my fantasy of meeting that special someone in the Fantasy and Science Fiction section of Barnes and Noble. Look for me: I'll be the chick with the messy ponytail and black Adidas shell-tops.

15 August 2008

Embarrassment-induced Constipation

I'm going to talk about something that is really embarrassing to me. In fact, I can feel my asshole clenching as I plan out exactly what I am going to say.

I read this book a couple of months ago called The Female Brain. My retention isn't what it used to be, but basically everything we feel is caused by different chemical cocktails produced in the brain. Attraction, anger, love, lust - all of it. If I'm attracted to someone it is simply because that person triggers the correct chemical response in me. I am on a quest for the person who can fire up my dopamine and oxytocin. Mmmmm, brain juice.

This all leads me to the cringe-inducing part of today's program. I, like much of the planet right now, am infatuated with Michael Phelps. It started during the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Who is this gangly fish-boy? I wondered. Of course, I felt a little skeevy lusting after him. After all, I was 25 and he was barely 19. This time around it's less skeevy but as I approach 30, 23 seems younger and younger.

Not that there is anything wrong with lusting after athletes. They are in peak physical condition and frankly, I admire all of them for their dedication and obsessiveness. It takes a certain kind of person to be an Olympian and even if I had stuck with the fencing or soccer or softball, I am fairly certain that I would never be that kind of good.

OK, I sense that you're getting impatient. Where's the embarrassment? What is it that has my asshole shut up like a bank vault? Here you go: My infatuation involves elaborate fantasies where I become Phelps' housekeeper/dog-walker and he falls for me. I have had imaginary (duh) conversations with his coach, mom, sisters and friends. I have pet his dog and cooked his food. And yes, I've had the sex. The other night I had a full-blown fantasy that hinged on Phelps being a virgin and me oh-so-lovingly popping his cherry. Yeah, I'm fucking crazy. Please, no comments on how I need to get laid. We all know that - it's not new information.

I've managed not to be all internet stalkerish about it, but it's been tough. All I want to do when I'm at work is Google search and become an expert on all things Phelps, even though I'm already embarrassed by the knowledge I do have. Why can't I use this obsessive focus for something more useful? You know, like getting my MA? Or finding a better job? Or even keeping my apartment clean(er). Nope, I'm all Phelps, all the time.

Apparently this person I have never met, and probably never will, triggers all sorts of crazy brain chemicals. Sure, I would love to rub myself all over that bod of his, but I can't leave it at that. I have to imagine how it would be watching him compete as an insider. If I were sitting in the stands next to his family, nervously clutching at his mother's hand. IT'S NEVER GONNA HAPPEN!!! Even if he does move back to Baltimore, I'm not about to relocate down there on the off chance that I'd run into him one day and he'd be, "Where have you been all my life?" Considering he's been training for over half his life, I'm imagining that he's a bit socially awkward. Which just makes him all the more appealing/endearing, goddamit. I can't wait until the Olympics are over and all the furor dies down. I don't know how much more chemically-induced shit I can handle.

11 August 2008

My 1st Ever Olympic Commentary

I, like many others, watched the opening ceremonies for the Olympics on Friday night. For anyone who didn't watch; it was quite the spectacle. And just in case anyone wasn't aware of this, I'll reiterate: China has a lot of people. There were 15,000 individual Chinese people participating in the ceremonies. Which brings me to the theory I developed Friday night.

I don't think that China was given the Olympics. I believe that China took the IOC hostage and said: "Look, we're gonna take the Olympics for 2008. And you know what? It's going to be ALL Chinese people. Oh, it'll look like all the different countries are participating, but really, it's all gonna be Chinese people."

Of course, since I was a little baked that night, I took it even further. I decided that the Bird's Nest (the crazy stadium the ceremonies were held in) was made out of Chinese people. People dressed as concrete and girders and other building materials; standing on shoulders, arms linked. Then, as if confirming my suspicions, a mess of Chinese people, dressed in yellow leotards with strands of lights attached to them, ran to the center of the stadium and stood on each other's shoulders, linked arms and (extra emphasis needed) MADE THE BLOODY BIRD'S NEST! I am convinced that it was the Chinese people's way of admitting that everything Olympics was made of Chinese people.

I don't suppose that I need to tell you that for the rest of the night, everything was made of Chinese people. The athletes? Chinese people. The fireworks going off left, right and center? Yeah, Chinese people. When the girls holding the flags get tired? Reinforce them with Chinese people. Huh, I guess I told you anyway.

On a more serious, but not unrelated note, someone needs to invent a TV that has the option to mute commentators. Matt Lauer and Bob Costas went from fawning to condescending in the space of one sentence. I forget which country(ies) they were talking about, but comments were made about how that country probably wouldn't win a medal, and so-and-so hasn't been training for that long so that person pretty much has no chance of winning a medal. Shut the fuck up, Matt and Bob. Where's your spirit of Olympic cooperation? Oh, they were more than happy to tell us that there were so many Chinese people who worked so hard to make the 2008 Olympic successful, but god forbid that a single athlete from a less developed country make a showing. Surprises happen, assholes.

06 August 2008

What I Should Have Said Was...

When you can type an email (Outlook has a spellcheck, ya know) without any mistakes; then you can lecture me on data entry errors. Got it, Princess?

05 August 2008

In Praise of Cloudy Days

I was outside on my afternoon nic-fix and was pleased to see that it had gotten cloudy. Don't get me wrong; I mostly enjoy the sunshine and as I am afflicted with a mild case of seasonal affective disorder the summer months are definitely better for me overall. But by early/mid-August, I'm thoroughly bored with blue skies and sunshine.

Besides the obvious benefits of keeping car interiors cooler, the cloudy skies make driving home much nicer. I don't have to plan my stops to take maximum advantage of what shade is available. There aren't spears of light reflecting off of passing cars; blinding me and planting the seeds for future squint lines. It doesn't have to rain, but I am happy when there is a higher percentage of clouds in the sky.

After giving it some thought, I realized that I like cloudy days so much because I don't feel any guilt for sitting inside, blinds closed, reading a book or zoning out to some TV. Sunny days have this subliminal message of "Come outside. Enjoy the light, be active, grow things." I don't mind outdoor activities but I don't have a bottomless capacity for them.

Another reason I like the overcast is because I feel cloudy weather, especially overcast of the grayer variety, more accurately reflects my general mood and attitude. In case you hadn't figured it out by now, I am not Little Miss Sunshine. I have my cheery moments and I'm not depressed all the time, but I'm definitely not relentlessly perky (even under the influence). Hell, I"m not even usually perky.

I'm ready for jeans and hoodies. I want falling leaves and brisk weather and hayrides (jr, we are SO going this year. no excuses). I want a cool breeze through my bedroom window while I sleep. And yes, I know it is sunny in the fall and winter months, but it's easier for me to take if the temperature is cooler.

04 August 2008

Is My Subconscious Speaking to Me? Probably Not.

I had this weird dream Friday night. OK, I know that is just about the most boring sentence I could start a paragraph with, but bear with me.

I don't know if it is because the topic of my ex-husband came up a couple of times last week, or if it was just time for another round of "Why the fuck am I dreaming about him?" but I dreamed about my ex on Friday. It started off, as dreams usually do, with me walking from my parents' house to my grandpa's house, toting my laundry. As I walked to Grandpa's, I passed by the fire station (this is true to life). And who should be standing outside the station but my ex-husband! He was a volunteer fire fighter, so this is still fairly true to life.

I remember ducking my head and hoping that he wouldn't see me. In case you were wondering, we have no relationship to speak of in real life. Of course he sees me and falls in beside me. I don't remember how the conversation started, but he started saying all kinds of things that are guaranteed to piss me off. Comments on how gay relationships are wrong (yes, he was a bit of a homophobe), and assorted other comments that I can no longer recall.

What I'm wondering is this: Was that dream my subconscious mind's way of testing me? Allow me to clarify. I've been divorced for going on 6 years now. My ex and I were high school sweethearts (do people even say that any more?) and married when I was 21. We separated approximately 2 years later. I don't know about everyone else, but there is - and probably always will be - a place in my heart/head for him. This isn't to say that I couldn't fall in love with someone else, because I could. All I'm saying is that I don't know what I'd do if he showed up at my door and wanted a relationship.

Back to this testing idea. Since I have admitted out loud that I don't know what would happen if he wanted me back, I'm wondering if my subconscious was throwing every annoying, irritating, infuriating, frustrating, heart-breaking, etc., thing at me as a way to test the veracity of my "I don't know" statement. Of course, this all hinges on whether or not I believe that dreams say/do anything at all. Jury's still out on that one. Maybe I do know. Maybe I would be able to say "no, sorry" with no difficulty whatsoever. Maybe I'm still holding on to the idea of that love; when anyone can tell me that that idea has long since faded away. I have mostly accepted the fact that he will have about .01% of me for the rest of my life, but that doesn't mean he will ever again have more.

And let's be perfectly honest here; I so wouldn't want to tell my friends and family that I was getting back with my ex. Shudder to think. No, over is over, and done is done. I can mourn the relationship without hoping for a resurrection.