Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mad about Mad Men

I am interrupting my series on the Mr. Dependable years to bring you a lighter fare; though, as is my custom, be prepared for me to go deep. That's me, always taking it deep. Why yes it was, double entendre you say? Thank you very much.

All the hype, all the awards, Gayle gettin' Oprah all excited about it, I finally had to see what this Mad Men thing was about so I DRV'd myself a Mad Man marathon and have now viewed all seven episodes of Season 3. This prompted me to get on ye old AMC website and find out what the hell happened in Seasons 1 and 2.

While there, I created an avatar of yours truly as I would appear in the early 60's Mad Men genre. Cute, huh? Man, this girdle is killing me!

The show is good, full of symbolism, not in your face - you have to dig for it. I could keep it light here and go on and on about the writing, the sets, the wardrobe, the careful attention to every last subtle detail of that era but I won't. You can watch it and appreciate those things for yourself. I prefer to focus on that which has been burned into my brain after seeing 7 episodes. Holy shit, that doleful, haunted, little Sally Draper is me, or was me. No wonder I spent most of my time scared, confused and sad. The early 60's were hard on a girl.

Parents were not the least bit interested in how a child might be feeling when they lose say, their grandpa, who was perhaps the only positive male influence said child had in her life. Sally was told to stop crying and go watch TV, wherein she witnessed a Buddhist monk, Thich Quang Duc, in an act of self immolation during a protest in Saigon. There was no one available to explain what was happening during those turbulent times.

In another scene, Sally runs into the kitchen with a plastic dry cleaning bag over her head and is sharply reprimanded for potentially wrinkling the clothes that were in it. I know this seems a bit over the top but in all
honesty, I think our parents were living in a fucked up time and they didn't have the desire, strength or concern for our social or emotional development. They did the best they could.

I am mad (crazy about) Mad Men but it also makes me mad (crazy angry). Not only am I forced to delve into my own misguided childhood but I am also compelled to analyze the social commentary of the time. The historically accurate account of the life of women and the treatment of minorities is appallingly painful. I've seen the newsreels, I understood people of color were not allowed on buses or in restaurants, couldn't drink out of water fountains and were beaten and hosed down by the authorities. I have cried while witnessing the brutality and rejoiced at the triumphs of the brave leaders who stepped up to pave the way. I thought I had it. I thought I understood why it was so important for us to have an African American president.

Now I realize, I re
ally didn't get it. Isn't it remarkable that a TV show gave me a slap in the face by showing me what I didn't see, what is not talked about? Mad Men has exposed me to the ignorant, infectious subtlety behind racism. It wasn't just the uneducated, good ol' boys from the deep south, it wasn't just the KKK or the police who were to blame. It was rich white people gathered at a party, watching the partner of their Madison Avenue advertising firm singing to his new fiance in black face. This was 1963, the year of my birth. Forty-five years later, we elected an African American president. I get it now.

Then there is the plight of women, making their way in a man's world. I can't begin to imagine what it must have been like to be one of the first women to break those barriers. I am fighting for Peggy, she's smart - a writer, raised to be a lady but not afraid to bend the rules, question authority, even smoke pot if it will get her a guest pass to visit that exclusive club for people with penises. When I watch Peggy, I feel like one of those Sunday afternoon armchair quarterbacks yelling at the referee to call that penalty, "it was holding ref, call it"! I cheer for her, she is my hero.

Racism is still with us and women are still fighting for equality in the work force. I have had my own personal encounters with both. My dad would not let me bring my black friend from our neighborhood (the only black family there) into our house to play. I had to play with her outside because he thought she was dirty. He frequently used the N word and sometimes worse when he would see a black person sitting on their front porch. I used to argue with him about it. When I really wanted to make him angry, I would tell him I was going to marry a black man. I can still picture the fury in his face as he ranted, "like hell you will, over my dead body, etc."

Likewise in my career, I have had more than my fair share of exclusions from the frat club, derivative nicknames, sexual harassment and of course, earning much less than my male counterparts. But hey, after watching Mad Men I know the old Virginia Slims advertisement is true. We've come a long way baby. (Hmmm, I wonder if Peggy wrote that slogan?)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mr. Dependable (Part Two) - Okie in the City

By now, you must be wondering, how did we go from happy simple life to earth shattering loss of life in one post and we're still not done? These things take time to unfold Grasshopper.

Three days after the Murrah building disaster, I was on my way to the Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City. I had driven to the airport in and amongst the largest funeral procession I had ever seen. Everyone in the city was driving slowly, with their headlights on during the day. Arriving at the airport gate, I sat across from Charles Gibson and others who had been there for the national coverage. I wasn't excited to see them; in fact, I barely looked up but I could feel them staring at me. I had picked up a newspaper with the photo of the fireman holding the baby. It was the first time I had seen it and I was crying.

I was heading to New York City for a week-long class. The class had been scheduled months prior. It was the last class I needed to finish up an important credential in my field. I sat in my window seat, gripping the newspaper, unable to take my eyes off that photo and still hearing the cries of those anguished parents in my head.

New York City is my city. I have had a mad crush on it from the first moment I arrived at the age of 17. This extraordinary city has always loved me and taken care of me in a way that makes me certain it is or once was my home. How else could you explain a group of high school students roaming the streets all day and night, with no supervision, during a decade when the city was dirty, seedy, full of potential harm. Yet, there we were, innocent and naive, happily skipping our way through the city, left to our own devices by the young chaperon teacher who wanted to be rid of us. We drank, we danced, we saw our first porn movie (if you can call 'Deep Throat' porn) and we were safe.

During subsequent visits to the big apple, I noticed I had developed an uncanny ability to know exactly where I was within the city grid. I never needed a map, I knew the city intrinsically. This is the same girl who could get turned around inside an office building or lost in my own neighborhood. I could hoof myself uptown, downtown, midtown and back again. I mastered the subways and knew how to aggressively flag down a familiar yellow cab. The little Okie girl was no more.....

.......or so I thought.

Arriving there in April of 1995, I quickly realized I wasn't going to escape the devastation back home. New York was mourning with me. It was everywhere, the flags solemnly waiving from their half-poled postures, crowds gathered around TV's to see the latest developments and the people in my class, warmly embracing me, allowing me to labor through my tears. I worked in a case study group, consisting of six, mostly locals, one other girl from LA and me. From the moment our group took shape, I sensed him. On more than one occasion, I found him gazing sympathetically at me with small tears in the corners of his big, brown eyes.

Mr. Big has already been spoken for so I shall refer to my new friend as Mr. Plentiful. By day two, LA Girl, Mr. Plentiful and I had formed an alliance against the other three whine bag, idiots in our group. We spent every evening together exploring the culinary world through the most amazing restaurants. They introduced me to food and wine I had never experienced. Occasionally, I would transcend into the present moment with them and find myself smiling or even laughing. It delighted them to cheer me up. I felt they had devised a happy plan and I was their happy target.

By mid week, I realized I had been captivated by this devastatingly charming, successful man. He shared the details of his life with me, beautiful country home on top of a hill in South Salem, two young daughters, a wife of 15 years, a beach house in the Hamptons. He spoke of his garden with three kinds of swiss chard, eggplant, serrano peppers, arugula, beans and squash. Grass so lush and baby leaves on the trees so soft and tender they were edible. The forsythia was beginning to fade but the dogwoods were in full bloom and the raspberries and blueberries were popping out buds near the evergreens he had dug up in Vermont.

There were paths he had cleared for his girls to run through the woods, chasing butterflies while delightfully bumping into each other. He picked morel mushrooms along the wooded path, thought they were hard to see through the dappled sunlight. He had a watercress plant as large as a queen size bed. I wasn't sure what a watercress was. At the time we met, his tulip garden had just started to open, casting the first shades of spring throughout this idyllic country setting complete with goats, horses and sheep. I was mesmerized, imagining a life so unlike my own. He must be the happiest person I had ever met. He had it all.

But he wanted more.

Walking me back to my room after one of our evenings out with LA Girl, he asked if he could come in and hold me, telling me he had been yearning to scoop me up in his arms all week. He promised me there would be nothing else. He sensed my need to have someone wrap themselves around me and let me grieve. I opened my door for him. He took my hand, led me to a comfy chair in the corner, pulled me into his lap and held me, gently rocking me and stroking my hair until I fell asleep.

The little Okie girl was still very much present, ripe for the pickin' and in way over her head.

To be continued......

Monday, September 28, 2009

Strike Two - Meet Mr. Dependable (Part One)

It had been six years since I last stood at this plate, aka altar. I am nervous but confident, feeling lucky. The pitch is a fastball, straight as an arrow. I swing and connect, right in the sweet spot. That ball is going, going, going.....holy shit, the winds have suddenly and without warning, shifted direction, carrying my sure fire home run hit into foul territory. I am devastated. This time I was certain I had it right.

I had gravitated to the soft place I found in this man with a pure and true heart after my experience with Mr. Personality. Like an overzealous pendulum, swinging wildly from one extreme to the other, there seemed to be no stopping in the middle for me. The hard lesson learned as I walked away nearly ten years later is there ain't a damn thing you can do to control the wind.

This is the story of Mr. Dependable.

Who can explain why we are attracted to people at different times in our lives? Anyone? Bueller?

Even now, this one is troublesome for me to process. It's no sweat to explain why you left a sociopathic deviant. But how does one explain leaving a man who is, by all quantifiable measurements, the salt of the earth?

He looked exactly like this. Well, maybe not exactly like this but he was adorable in a fun, green, true to his colors kinda way.

Mr. Dependable grew up in Kansas. I'm fairly certain Kermit was from Kansas as well. I'm talking white picket fence, sports playing, church goin', drug free, hard working, simple life, Kansas. Yes, when I met him I questioned how I could possibly fit into this Norman Rockwell painting and yes, I painted myself into it anyway; as usual, with vivid detail and very large brush strokes. After all, I now had a son to think of.

*********Side Note**************

This is my first mention of #1 Son. I realize you're wondering where he came from. Rest easy, he is not the devil spawn of Mr. Personality. More to follow on the origin of #1 Son in later posts.

**********End Side Note*********

The first five years of our marriage was replete with building a house, buying a dog and spending most of our weekends covered in the red dirt of Oklahoma while working in the yard or watching #1 Son play baseball. Mr. Dependable, staying true to his steadfast moniker, even coached the team. He was a baseball player in college, a darn good one. He loved the game and he passed that love on to me. My life was wholesome, sweet and simple, much like me. (don't laugh - I really was back then.)

We went to church every time the church doors opened, we taught Sunday school, served on committees and volunteered for vacation bible school. I sang in the choir. Eventually, I became the Director of Sunday School, as a do-gooder, not as a paid-staffer. Each and every Sunday after church, we would head straight to his parents house for a lovingly prepared meal with homemade rolls and chocolate cake for dessert. This was followed by a ritualistic nap (me) while grandma entertained #1 son, grandpa read the paper and Mr. Dependable disappeared into the telly, as only he could.

We rarely deviated from this schedule, there were no vacations or nights on the town and I didn't care. I had everything I desired; until that is, the winds shifted.

On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh blew up the Alfred P. Murrah federal office building in the heart of downtown Oklahoma City. On that day I was eight miles away on the 10th floor of an office building, I stood helplessly watching from my window as the cloud of dirty, black smoke billowed like a dark angel, engulfing the city. I knew the surface between my feet had shifted. I had no idea my life and everything I knew to be true about myself, the very essence of me, was about to shift as well.

It seemed as if the news choppers were there within minutes. Gathered around the conference table, in deaf-like silence, we watched with trepidation as the camera swung around to the front of the building. It was gone, the entire front of that building was gone. The steel frame was exposed and shredded, suspended in air where the pancaked rubble of the other half of the building now lay in front of it. Paperwork that had just been sitting on a desk, waiting for someone to file, was now swirling in and around fragments of office chairs, cubicles, concrete and the bodies that once held the life, dreams and hope of 168 men, women and children.

It was the children we couldn't bare. We knew there was a daycare in that building. When a child dies, you mourn for the child but you agonize for the people left behind. They were there - these people - pleading and praying, begging and bartering, shoving themselves into the police who stood firm to protect them, screaming for the babies they had dropped off only moments before. I will never forget the sound of those guttural, dissonant wails. By this time I was there, within a few blocks of the building and I heard it. The disharmony assaulted me. Unrelenting, deep and inarticulate; yet, you instinctively knew what the sound meant. My heart, the heart of a mother, wanted to implode at the sound of those screams. All I could think of was #1 Son.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Mommy Word

Night had fallen, the kids were assuredly in bed and exhaustion had leeched on to me like one of those bloodsucking, flesh eating worms used for bloodletting, except instead of sucking out my blood, it was draining me of energy so deeply, even my hair was tired. Yet, there was one more load of laundry left to do. I felt like I was crawling across the Mojave desert in an effort to find sustenance

The kids had been particularly needy that day, it was mommy this, mommy that, mommy, mommy, mommy all day.

One of the girls had clambered out of bed and now stood in the kitchen, looking for me. I was just down the hall in my bedroom when I heard the utterance of that vile and offensive mommy word.

"Honey, mommy is off the clock now and YOU, dear little fruition of my loins, have exceeded your maximum allotment of mommy words for the day. No more mommys, okay sweetie, just go back to bed."

To which her reply was, "mommy"?

So I did what all half-crazed, exhausted mommys do. Borrowing an expression from my Australian girlfriend, I went right round the twist. "Oh no, you jus di-unt say mommy again, did you? I said no more mommys. I do not want to hear that word one more time, in fact if I do hear that word one more time, I think I'm going to have to come in there and give you a beat down to Chinatown (not really a beating, just a euphemism meaning: Bitch is serious). Did you hear me that time, do you understand now, no more mommys or I'm going to scream or cry or possibly scream and cry AND throw things. I am tired and I need to get this laundry done and I can't take it honey, I am so very, very tired sweetie - please don't say mommy again, okay?"

Now standing halfway between the kitchen and my bedroom door in the slightest, most timid almost whisper of a voice she said....


Cue: hugs, tears, laughter. I love this life.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Strike One - Meet Mr. Personality

I step up to the plate for the first pitch. It's a swing and a miss. My heart was all in. It was a powerful swing filled with every bit of gumption, gusto and gutsy determination I had but it was not to be - for the ball was the nastiest curve ball you have ever seen.

At the age of 20, my first marriage was strike one. However, switching sports analogies to golf, I think it might be more appropriate to call it a mulligan.

A mulligan is when you get to pretend you didn't just hit the ball two feet in front of the tee. That shot is forever erased, it didn't happen. You pull another ball from your pocket, place it on the tee and give it another good hard whack. I have grown accustomed to saying my first marriage was a mulligan for it really shouldn't count against me. But you be the judge.

I met Mr. Personality at the age of 16. Introduced by a friend who worked with him at the local movie theater. He was the original all American boy next door. His eyes were an ashen blue, perfectly translucent. He had a smile that made all the girls blush as was evidenced by the fact that every girl in the city either knew him or knew OF him. His personality defined him, it was bigger than all of Oklahoma and Texas combined. I later came to discover that big ol' personality of his was the very definition of a Criminal Personality as a DSM-III-R Antisocial, Narcissistic, Borderline, and Histrionic Personality Disorder.

Turns out, criminals are pretty darn friendly, that's how they get away with all that shit. Who knew?

But my oh my, he did look good. Exactly like this, cowboy hat and all.

Crying my eyes out while walking down the isle should have been a clue but I was too young, too impressionable and too screwed up to know better. I lost my virginity to Mr. Personality so in my fucked up brain, it seemed like I had to marry him; plus, he was the prize and I was determined to win. I had invested too much of myself into this man to lose to one of the other girls in the legion of fans he pursued during our four years of adolescent dating bliss. The guy was teeming with teen skanks who all wanted him.

By pure happenstance, I stumbled upon one of these girls while taking a potty break at the local Godfather's Pizza. I was with four of my best buds, cruising the strip, drinking beer we bought with our fake ID's, the ushe for a Friday night in the big OKC. I was safely sequestered in a restroom stall when I heard one of my girlfriends asking a supposedly innocent, irreverent Mormon girl who she was dating. This seemed odd to me because at the time, I didn't know we had Mormons in Oklahoma.

My friend had noticed the initials dangling from this fallen, wayward Mormon girl's neck (remember drops anyone?). When she said his name, I emerged from the stall with fury in my eyes, slamming the door in perfect harmony with the infantile angst that surged through my veins. Adding insult to injury - she knew who I was yet I had no clue of her existence. Perhaps she had been locked away in the temple while I was traveling to Ms. Pac Man tournaments with him.

In short order we formed a sinister plan to drive to his place of work and confront him as a unified, pissed-off girlfriend front. We arrived at the Hertz Rent-A-Car parking lot around 11:00pm. He saw my car and came running across the lot to greet me. Just as we had planned, she jumped from the back seat, threw the drop in his face, told him she would be praying for him or some stupid shit like that while I said fuck you and the ostrich skin boots you rode in on.

Mormon girl and I were officially best friends. The next day, we both went back to him.

Two years and two failed pregnancies later, I failed to recognize two fundamental truths (me good - him bad), I married him in March of 1984. We were divorced by October of that same year.

Proving the old adage, you never really know someone until you live with them, I quickly discovered he was involved in a gambling/credit card fraud ring. Conveniently, the credit card and occasional insurance fraud supplemented the gambling losses. Inconveniently, I was smart enough to notice when a boat appeared in our driveway with no indication of a purchase.

I thought I had made it pretty clear I had no interest in the life of a prison wife but the shenanigans continued. A new bedroom set here, a lawnmower there. Plus, other aspects of the aforementioned personality disorder were starting to become painfully clear and hideously ugly. He became increasingly controlling, physically holding me down so I couldn't walk away from him, threatening to hurt me if I were to leave him. It was Sleeping with the Enemy sicko, sadistic shit.

It all culminated on my birthday in August when I got a knock at the window which had previously been slammed shut on my common sense. An embarrassing birthday celebratory dinner, credit card confiscated; he told me we had to make a run for it. I refused. He went to the bathroom and never came back. I went home to pack.

Just to be certain I would never don his door again, I was handed an extra heavy, heaping dose of wake-the-fuck-up. He came home before I had finished packing and proceeded to beat me with one of the items I had removed from the wall - a string art piece I had undoubtedly made in junior high school. It was mounted to a sturdy piece of wood with lovely beveled edges, perfect for hitting someone over the head until they almost lost consciousness.

I know it wasn't really art but at the age of 20 I was glad to have anything to hang on those stark, bare white walls of that place he called a home.

I still have that string art piece, though it is tucked away with other relics and no longer displayed in my home. I believe it saved my life. Within six months of our divorce, he went to prison for murdering his bookie. I later discovered he had secretly secured a large life insurance policy on yours truly. Apparently, I was to be the next pawn in an insurance scam.

Looking back through the eyes of the woman I have become, I can find no other words to explain the lessons better than that of John Mayer in his song, Daughters:

Fathers be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers, who turn into mothers
So mothers be good to your daughters too

Give your daughters the privilege of knowing how truly powerful they are.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Be Gentle, It's My First

I was tickled pink to learn I had received my first ever blog award but even more elated to find it came from Monda over at No Telling. At the risk of going all "Sally Field" on you, let me just say I am honored to have someone of her caliber paying even the slightest bit of attention to me; much less, bestowing the renowned Kreativ Bogger award upon me. Talk amongst yourselves, I need a moment here.

There is so much I don't know about this macrocosm we call the blogosphere. I am a new kid in town, afraid to go out and venture too much but secretly dying to know all there is to know. There are tools and tricks of the trade, of this I am certain; however, I am equally as certain I don't know a single one of them. At present, I must simply sit and write because when I am writing, I am where I am supposed to be.

We all write for a reason or purpose. Because of this - there is a sense of community within the confines of bloggers. I picture us all sitting in an exceptionally large circle, attending our weekly meetings for BA - Bloggers Anonymous.

Hello, I am Zen Mama and I'm a blogger.

Hi Zen Mama.

I have been blogging for a few months now and I can't stop. I think about it all the time. I make lists of potential topics. I carry a notebook so I can jot down ideas when they strike. I observe people, places and even inanimate objects like never before. I can't wait until I get my next follower. Sometimes I break out in a cold sweat with mild convulsions if it's been too long between comments. I think I might be addicted.

Yes, Zen Mama - very good, you have taken the first step (applause, tears, women placing their hands over their hearts). Now let us recite the bloggers prayer, "God grant me the serenity to accept that I am a blogger, the courage to keep posting even if nobody's reading and the wisdom to never end a sentence with a preposition."

Thank you Monda for welcoming me into this community. I am out, loud and proud to be here. Here are the rules for the Kreativ Blogger award:

1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who nominated you for this award.
4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting. (see below)
5. Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers.
6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know they have been nominated.

The Nominees:

Robin Thomas at A Nest With A View
Sweetie Pie at Not As Sweet As I Used To Be
Queen of Quite a Lot at A Southern Belle Trying Not To Rust
Sharon at Bump In My Boob
LB at Wait, She Said What?
Carrie Chaney at Carrot Speak
Girl Interrupted at A World So Small

Seven things you might find interesting about me:

1. Electronics seem to mess up when I am near. Example: Long line in the DC Metro station, everyone swipes their Metro Pass with no incident - I swipe mine and the thing breaks.
2. I consider my good girlfriends to be family. I have kept in touch with many of them since childhood and have been fortunate to reconnect with those that were lost through Facebook.
3. I like a strong man in body, mind and spirit but I truly believe for the most part, women are the stronger sex.
4. I was raised to be a lady but have recently fallen from grace.
5. I had a near death experience 10 years ago where I actually heard and saw my deceased father. He came to tell me not to be afraid as I would not be coming with him. Spooky, huh?
6. I don't know how to swim.
7. I've been married three times but the first one didn't count. It lasted less than a year and he subsequently went to prison for murdering his bookie. Can we talk?

Okay, there you have it. I hope my nominees enjoy this award and the exercise involved as much as I did. Now I must get back to more Kreativ Blogging. Ya'll come back now, ya hear.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Don't Get Your Spanx In A Wad

I am adding a new label to my blog log today. I thought of it while driving home tonight just after I discovered I had been wearing my dress backwards all day. Seriously, how does someone manage to pull that off? My office is small - we're all fairly close, that's to say we're close as in a) we seem to like each other and b) there are very few actual walls in our office.

Granted, the dress looks virtually the same from the front or back. I shouldn't have expected anyone to notice but why did it take ME to the end of the day to finally stop and realize the darn thing was choking me. The higher cut back was riding up my neck like a dog collar while the lower cut front had surely exposed my bra straps during that brief stint when I took my blazer off to deal with the stagnant air in our tight-knit little community of unobservant, preoccupied desk jockeys.

If I am ever so lucky to be able to publish my musings in a format other than this, I should like to title my work, "Don't Get Your Spanx in a Wad". It's a way for the sisterhood of backwards-dress-wearing, crazy ass, powerful women to relate to each other. You have to laugh and accept these oddball happenings and love yourself to death for all your human frailty.

I can't begin to imagine what the uptight "Brookfield Betty's" ( local term -utilize your own euphemism for the perfect people in your community here) would think of a woman who embraces this kind of decorum. I not only embrace it, I revel in it - you hear me? It's time for us one and all to unite and admit we can rule the world with one black pump and one navy blue pump pulled from the closet during the early morning haze of burnt toast, fussy children and a make-or-break presentation you're supposed to give later that morning.

You will give that presentation and you will dare them to say something, just one thing, about your clashing clodhoppers. Hold your head up high, take a deep breath, click your mismatched heels three times and then consider yourself blessed to be a part of the sisterhood of the unraveling spanx.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Damaged But Not Broken

I have a reputation for many things - both good and bad. In some cases, my best traits can lead to the worst of circumstances; like when I forget my limitations and try to repair my own shit. A kitchen chair crashes to the floor in the middle of a girls night at my house with my best friend in it. Or when I tear down a game system, thinking I can repair it on my own. I recently messed up this very blog in a desperate attempt to make it more visually appealing.

My boyfriend, who has been called a tech-genius in my presence, who has all the tools and knows how to use them - offered to fix a few of these items for me but it came with the caveat that I promise to keep my mitts off them after they have been restored to working order. He loves me. He appreciates my confidence and applauds my tenacity. He can see my gutsy determination and he knows it's a good thing in spite of the damage it can leave in its wake. He likes that I'm a spunky little scrapper. Right baby?

I spent this past Labor Day weekend with some friends of mine at their gorgeous, relaxing lakefront home. They freely accept me and even seem to like me a lot in spite of the mixed-up laws of nature that seem to plague me. They know me as a leader in my industry, a self made woman who had no help getting there. No sugar daddy, no wealthy parents, not even a child support check - just me and my chutzpah making our way in the world.

I think they get a perverse pleasure in seeing this remarkably talented, successful woman make a fool of herself. Who wouldn't? In this case, it really must have been a sight to see. I had begged them to let me ride one of their scooters around the lake. This was no sissy Moped - it was big, and red and dangerous. Well, perhaps not so dangerous but they knew it COULD be in my hands.

I received a tutorial from Dave - the motorcycle mad man - on how to go, stop, turn - you know, the basics. I placed my helmet on and mounted the machine while making jokes about finally being a biker bitch. I felt powerful and ready to tear up the road. Cue the music....Get your motor running.....wait, take a few pictures for posterity, okay let's go. Not willing to send me out on my own, Vicki led the way.
We turned left out of the driveway and came to our first stop. It was shaky, coordinating the brakes with my hands while knowing when to put my feet down - but I did it. Vicki then informs me we're going to make a slight left, then a sharp right ahead to get around a curve. She takes off slowly with me putzing along closely behind her. I remember my brain thinking we were turning left but my hands were not receiving the message. Turn, baby turn. Turn you mother fucker.

By this time, my eyes have locked on to the ditch that now seems to beset me. I have lost all cognitive reasoning - you know, that part of my brain that should have accessed the aforementioned braking skills. It was gone. Suddenly, it felt as if I were under a gravitational pull. It's the same gravitational pull that takes over when I tee off near a body of water or a sand trap. The ball is drawn to the obstacle just as I am now being magnetically drawn to the ditch.

The rest happens in slow motion......there's gravel under my tires.....I'm still thinking turn.......I'm still forgetting the brake option.......the tires are now past the gravel.....I scream "VICKI"...........into the ditch.......still no brakes.......hit the coming off the bike.......over the handlebars......into a wooden fence.

Vicki is there with concern in her eyes. She's got to be thinking - dumb ass bitch just ditched my scooter but she's not letting on. She helps me up and brushes me off. There are clumps of dirt and grass now stuck in the sides of my cool biker bitch helmet. She tells me she's going to call Dave to come get us. No, I insist - no way. I've got to get right back on and Vicki, I say, Vicki uhm.....this time, I think we need to go faster.

I could quite clearly hear the misfires occurring within the synapses of Vicki's brain as she struggled to process this new request of mine. Her eyes were darting back and forth quickly as she continued to filter through the warning messages flashing in her mind's eye. You have encountered a fatal error in this program, do you wish to delete? She couldn't speak, so I continued. See Vicki, if you had gone faster then I would have been able to accelerate and then I could have turned to avoid the ditch, see - don't you see it? I need to get back on and go faster.

Vicki had to be thinking, "no (pause), no you would have just gone into the ditch faster"...but she didn't say it. She was still at a loss for words.

While this is happening, the neighborly man across the street had come out of his house and pulled the bike out of the ditch. Realizing she had no choice, she let me get back on and drive back to their house. We had been gone for a span of around 10 minutes. Dave met us in the driveway. His spidey senses were telling him something wasn't right. As a former paramedic, Dave insisted on checking me out. No shock, no broken bones, just bruised, battered and still bitchin'.

He finished picking the dirt and grass off of me, cleaned up the scooter; which like me, was dirty but still worked. He placed my helmet back on my head and told Vicki to take me out again and this time go faster and stay to the right. No more left turns. We went around the lake several times, stopped at the diner to visit with the locals. I showed everyone my biker wounds. I was told I was now a member of a select club. See, I knew I was secretly a biker bitch.

Later, we drove back to ground zero hoping to find my sunglasses. They were still there - hanging askew from the fence I had nearly impaled myself upon. They were damaged but not broken. Exactly like me.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Note to Bill Gates

If I were a God, I would smite thee, Bill Gates. I am not a God, not even a Goddess. I'm just a frustrated mom with a large chip on my shoulder. Actually, it's more like I've got the entire mother board on my shoulder. I have donned my armor and charged into battle against the red ring of death while you, Bill Gates, are happily esconsed in Xanadu, enjoying your eco-friendly mansion. I am wondering if any of the elaborate rooms in your earth-sheltered abode are sporting an XBox 360?

I suppose you don't really have to worry when (not if) the red ring of death comes knocking on your door. Do you keep an extra supply lying around for just such occassions or do you have the units specially manufactured without all of the internal problems? I'm just askin'?

I am not technologically savvy or even technologically aware - I am tech challenged at best. The last time I was considered on top of the tech game was when commands like "C> dir a:*.ex" meant something. I was once the DOS queen. Now I am hopelessly lost in a sea of windows that do not open for me. I get angry sometimes and I forget my limitations. I try things that I shouldn't try. I get pissed, then I get dangerous.

I watched countless Youtube videos on how to repair your vile invention. I learned about X clamps, CPU's, GPU's, heat sinks, and RF modulators. I invested in new tools, an arsenol of Torx screwdrivers, a heat gun and a tube of arctic silver thermal compound. I went to war with these implements and you fucked me over. You scoffed at me while you were playing XBox live in your faux fur slippers.

I feel much better now that I have vented. My son wants me to buy another XBox 360 so he can play one of the many games from his now useless collection. He is heartbroken and I am still pissed. They say the failure rate in the electronics industry is typically 3% to 5%. Depending upon the study or the source cited, your systems fail between 52% to 100% of the time. How DO you sleep at night?