How’s The Book Coming?

I can’t concentrate. The squirrels are just too damn loud. Seriously, there are hoards of rampaging squirrels running across the roof of my house, right above my desk. They jump from the tree outside and land on the roof (THUMP) and then scurry across the entire length of the house to the other side (SCURRY SCURRY SCURRY SCURRY.) My roof is apparently where all the squirrel freeways merge.

And just now, the tree started shaking violently – like when the smoke monster used to appear in the first season of LOST (but without the thick black smoke.) I looked out to see two squirrels fighting. Road rage. Or tree rage. What ever happened to letting someone merge ahead of you and giving them a friendly wave? These squirrels are mean. Suddenly I feel sad and I need a cookie.

And that is why I’m having trouble rewriting Chapter five. True story.


When The Student Is Ready, The Teacher Appears And Does Her Colors

Last week I took a workshop with Imogen Lamport, a professional image consultant. I’ve always enjoyed wearing clothes, but I’ve never been very good at it. I mean, they stay on and everything – that’s not the problem – it’s just that I don’t always pick the right ones for me. I can trace the root of the problem back to my days as a kid in Greenwich Village, and my bohemian liberal free-thinking mother. She didn’t want me to grow up with any kind of limitations in life, so I was allowed to run around in such outfits as, say, purple flowered bell bottom pants paired with a green stripped shirt. Nothing was “wrong” or “bad.” Also, we didn’t have a lot of money, and when everything you wear is a hand-me-down, it’s unlikely that any of it’s going to match. But it was the Village in the 60’s, and there were purple pants and tie dye everywhere. I fit in.

It wasn’t until we moved to the semi-suburbs of Staten Island that I started to realize I dressed differently from the other kids. I was very excited on the first day of junior high, and I presented myself wearing a bright orange dress with a big frill down the front, white tights, and my long hair in two pigtails with huge bows of orange yarn in each. It was sort of “Sears catalog as styled by Timothy Leary.” Luckily, by the time I got to high school it was the 70’s and everyone looked bad. In college I majored in theater and wore black for four years. After college it was the 80’s, and we all know how that went. During most of the 90’s I was a struggling actor/writer, which meant I mostly wore my waitress uniform. For a large part of my life, getting dressed has been more about hiding than expressing myself. It was a costume that said to the world “This is who I want you to see,” or a mask that said “Don’t look at me.”

Of course, now that I’m finally interested in expressing who I am through my clothes, I’m at that age where nothing fits my body and I don’t know where to shop. I usually feel like I’m still fairly hip, until I wander into stores like Forever 21, the music blaring so loudly I can feel the vibrations in my feet, and I instantly become ninety years old. I’m assaulted by bright colors and TOO MUCH STUFF jammed onto too many racks. I have to be careful not to look around too fast or I’ll get dizzy because my progressive lenses don’t really allow much peripheral vision. I stumble back into the mall, and feel like falling to the floor, crying out in the words of Britney Spears, “I’m not a girl, not yet a woman ready for J.C.Penny’s elastic waist slacks!” Where do women of my age and sensibility shop?

The workshop was great, though. I had my colors done, and learned I’m a “dusky warm deep.” I love being categorized. For someone who grew up as a geeky outsider with no boundaries, it’s comforting to know that I fit in somewhere. I belong to the world of the “dusky warm deeps.” They are my peeps, my gang, and I shall proudly wear their colors. I also learned about things like body proportions. Apparently Leonardo Da Vinci used to work for Glamour Magazine back in the day, and came up with this really nifty way to figure out how long you should wear your tops. We also talked about our fashion personas and how much of what we project is based on things we learn and carry from childhood. I realized that I have come a long way from the little hippie kid running around in mismatched hand-me-downs. I have learned that fashion can actually be fun, and that clothes aren’t just a way to Stick It To The Man.

And I think I understand now what my high school principal meant when he said to me, “Tara, please don’t wear jeans and combat boots to graduation.” I think what he was trying to say was that a person can look nice, and it doesn’t always have to be a political statement. I can wear pink and still be a feminist. (Actually, I can’t wear pink because it’s not one of my “colors.” But I can wear a sort of dusky rose, as long as it’s more on the “warm” side.) It’s exciting to reinvent ones’ self at any age, and I’m looking forward to dipping my toes into the world of jeans that fit properly (no muffin top, please) and jackets that accentuate my waist. The little hippie girl in purple flowered pants will always live inside me, but she doesn’t get to dress me anymore. Now – who wants to go to the mall?

As you may or may not know, I was laid off from my “day job” some time ago. It was not my “real” job. It was just a way to pay the bills until I find my true calling. I was only there for twelve years, which is hardly enough time to even learn anyone’s name.

Anyway, I came across a job listing today that I think I’d be PERFECT for. I’m working on my cover letter now. Let me know what you think.

Dear Hiring Manager:

I am sure you have received many applications from some very fine candidates for the position of “Quality Assurance Tester with an Online Gaming Company.” Now let me tell you why you should throw away all those other resumes and hire me.

I am an excellent candidate for this position. True, I am not a big gamer. And by that I mean I have never played any sort of online game at all, ever. I did, however, buy that SIMS game for my husband’s friend’s tween daughter about five years ago. Do you know that game? Maybe you don’t since they are probably a competitor of yours and maybe you’re not allowed to play it. I can assure you that it was her birthday and she was very excited to receive it. Therefore, I feel I would be a good fit for the online gaming industry.

In particular, I feel confident that I would be a great addition to the “Quality Assurance” team. I especially like the part in the job description where you say you need someone who can “identify abnormalities and unintended behavior.” Oh my god! That is so me!

First of all, I used to be in the theater, so I am quite familiar with abnormalities. There was this one girl I was in a play with and she used to do those Renaissance Faires way out in the Valley, and she’d be out in the hot sun all day wenching around and serving mead, and then she’d come straight to the theater and would not shower before she put on her costume. Boy, did she stink. I mean, it was really abnormal the way she smelled. At first no one knew where the abnormal smell was coming from, but I was able to identify the abnormal smell, and the stage manager asked her to either shower or get dressed in the ladies bathroom. Everyone was very pleased that I had identified the abnormality. Doesn’t this sound like someone you need to have working for you?

As for the “unintended behavior,” well – I believe I posses exceptional skills in this area. When I was with my former boyfriend, he used to tell me he would call me, and then he wouldn’t call, and when I would go to his house at midnight to confront him, he would say he had “intended” to call but then he started talking to his neighbor (the blond model who had just moved to LA from the Midwest) and had somehow lost track of time. I was able to recognize that this was, indeed, unintended behavior on his part. We continued to date for several weeks, but eventually we broke up anyway because he told me he admired a guy on the street who was wearing MC Hammer pants, and I kind of lost respect for him.

Please review my attached resume, and I’m certain you will see that I have all the requirements to be an excellent “Quality Assurance Tester with an Online Gaming Company.”

I look forward to hearing from you.

Headline of the Day

From Yahoo News:

“Parasitic flies turn fire ants into zombies

I don’t have much to add to that. Except that I see Hugh Jackman in the role of the dedicated scientist who risks it all to save the world from the dreaded zombie fire ants.

Why I Need To Stop Shopping On The Internet

I am re purposing this previous post, because if you can’t steal from yourself, what kind of country are we living in?

This story is completely true.

I recently ordered a necklace online from Ann Taylor. It arrived yesterday. With a little card. Which was strange, because I don’t usually send myself a gift card when I order something for myself, although now that I think of it, I totally will, because why not? (“Hey you! You totally deserve this! Love, Yourself”) The gift card read as follows:

    “Happy Birthday Presh! I can’t wait for you and JG to visit. I love you so much.
    Love, Boo-Boo Kitty.”

Well. Okay then. My first assumption was that the customer service department at Ann Taylor was having a slow afternoon and decided to get a little creative. But then I thought, what if it was actually a real card? What if someone in shipping had just mixed up the orders. Two boxes, exactly the same, only one gets a card and other doesn’t. Except they put the card in the wrong box – mine.

Maybe it really was Presh’s birthday. (Happy birthday, Presh!) Maybe Boo-Boo Kitty actually had sent the necklace as a gift. (Nice taste, Boo-Boo.) I hope JG likes the way it looks on Presh, not that Presh NEEDS JG’s approval or anything. They don’t have that kind of relationship. They’re totally cool, and JG really likes Boo-Boo Kitty too, so it’s all good. I imagined Presh wearing the necklace out to drinks with JG, and they meet up with some friends and have a really good time. They even hoist a round to the absent (yet generous) Boo-Boo Kitty (a fact they don’t know since they NEVER GOT THE CARD.) They’re probably really nice people. Or possibly video game avatars. I guess I’ll never really know.

If it all turns out to be some kind of viral marketing campaign cooked up by a clever writer, with these characters taking on lives of their own and ordering snappy outfits from Ann Taylor in order to get us all to shop more, I’m going to be a little bummed. Because I totally want that job.

Unless there really is a real Presh and JG and Boo-Boo Kitty. In which case, Presh and I should coordinate so we don’t both wear the necklace on the same day.

A Lesson In Tolerance

If you ever get invited to your friends’ house for game night and you end up playing SCATTERGORIES and the letter is “K” and the subject is “languages” and at first you think of ‘Korean” but your team decides not to use that because there is a woman from Korea in one of the other teams and you figure she will for sure use that word and then you will cancel each other out because that is how the game works so you decide to use “Klingon” and several of the other teams challenge you saying that Klingon is not a “real” language and you almost don’t get credit for it, you should direct them to this article on the NPR site about a new Klingon opera, and this quote in particular:

“Thanks to Okrand’s work, thousands of people are conversant in Klingon — and, reportedly, some 100 speak it fluently.”

You Have A Glass?

I have to admit I’m not the most positive person on the planet. When somebody asks me “Is your glass half full or half empty,” all I can think is “You have a glass?”

Maybe it’s because I’m slightly dyslexic, but I’ve always been confused by the whole “half full, half empty” thing. I have problems with things like left and right, and “d” and “b” – they tend to get flipped around in my mind and I’ll write “dog” as “bog” if I’m not careful. So sometimes when I think about a glass that is half full or half empty, it gets flipped and there is nothing on the bottom and all the liquid is up at the top and I know that can’t be right, but I don’t think that has anything to do with dyslexia – that’s just physics.

To my way of thinking, a glass that’s half empty is a good thing. It means you’ve already had some soda or milk or iced latte, or whatever was in the glass in the first place. I don’t know what sort of catastrophic world event has now occurred that prevents you from finishing the rest of it, but at least you’ve already had some.

If the glass was half full, that would indicate to me that you haven’t had any yet, which kind of sucks, especially if the aliens have just landed or Nicholas Cage has failed to prevent a series of events that are about to result in the world blowing up. You haven’t had ANY of your iced latte yet – not even a sip. And now you won’t. Ever. And that seems very sad to me.

But the “official” take on the whole thing is that half full is better. This strange obsession Americans have with “positivity” and “looking at the bright side” really bugs me. I believe in reality, and facing the truth. Things aren’t always “Yes!” and “I can!” and “A winner never quits and a quitter never wins.” Sometimes things are “You have cancer” and “We’re laying you off” and “You’ll never be a movie star, go get a job as a legal word processor.” And then you do, and you work at your office job for fifteen years, and then you get laid off from that job, and you’re too old and tired to start all over and the entire country is in an economic downturn and you can’t even get a job at Starbucks. That’s not being cynical. That’s just reality.

And I’m fine with that, because to me, reality just is. I can’t control it. I can, however, control my reaction to it, and that’s where happiness comes in. Happiness is a choice, and even in the face of being unemployed or aliens blowing up the world, you can still CHOOSE to be happy. It doesn’t take much, really. A walk in the sunshine. A piece of pie. A brand new buttery soft off-white leather handbag charged to Visa. You can always find something. Even if the face of harsh reality, I choose to be happy.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I have a delicious half-glass of iced latte to finish before the aliens blow up the world.

(This post is dedicated to my new blogger friend La Belette Rouge. She’s a wonderful writer, and also likes to shop. My kind of gal.)