Tag Archives: miscellaneous

On Being Italian

OK. Not all Italians are easily excitable, dramatic, exaggerate and gesture enthusiastically but it is not uncommon and I’m afraid to say I got the gene! I do not speak for all Italians. I speak for me and those I know.  I can also tell you honestly that the times I’ve visited Italy it was heartening  and satisfying to see all the characteristics mentioned above, playing out in lively scenes that are deemed “too much” or too dramatic here.

Outsiders can mistakenly think Italians are upset, angry or yelling but we are just showing interest in a somewhat loud way. Every man who joined our family asked the same question, “what’s wrong?” What do you mean one of us would say quizzically. “Why are you all talking and yelling at the same time?”  Yelling!?! We aren’t yelling, we would say, looking at time as if they were crazy.  My interpretation is that we care about whatever it is that has caught our attention.  I would think people would appreciate this fact! I am always suspicious of people who don’t show any emotion…what are they hiding?  What are they not saying? Eh, must be the Sicilian in me.  I just don’t understand this I’m-too-cool-to-release-an-emotion, thing.  We all have them people, let them out!

Drama. One person’s drama is another persons way of life.  When an Italian says things like: You’re killing me here, Madonna Mia! (as in virgin mother not the stroppy singer), Va fancula (don’t use this one), A Fa Napoli (go to hell or get the hell outta here), I can’t take it!  (In Brooklyn “I caaaan’t”)….It’s language meant to express the feeling they are having. They don’t necessarily mean what they say. It is the same reason I exaggerate.  If I say it’s 100 degrees in here. I don’t really think it’s 100 degrees but that’s what it feels like.  When there were two dogs in the house I would say things like , oh God, I can’t walk with 27 dogs in my way!  Again, capturing the feeeling, nothing more nothing less.  I crack up when someone tries to explain the realities to me. “Dana it’s only 72 degrees in here.”  You’re killing me!

A typical conversation between my husband and myself:

Me: “When are you going to mow the lawn?”

Him: “Later”

Me: “But it’s 7:00pm now”

Him: “I know”

Me: “So you’re going to mow the lawn at 12 o’clock at night?

Again, simply underscoring the late hour. The come back is always an explanation of the actual time and how he didn’t say he would mow the lawn at 12 o’ clock. Sighhhh…message lost.

When I’m upset or excited about something, it will be expressed in hand gestures or my speech or both. One way or another it is coming out! It doesn’t matter what the reality is. So one will hear: I’ve had 100 calls today at work (20), I had to pay like $1,000 to get the car fixed ($350), There were 57 people ahead of me in the supermarket line….you get the picture.  And, when I hear something upsetting for myself or someone else, I’ll gasp or say WHAT?!!!  I think being Italian and apatheic is impossible!  Contrast this with my husband, a Brit, who would respond to the same information with “riiight” as he calmly took in the information.
I could write a post on the phrase Oh My God alone. It is used liberally and in many different situations. It is not reserved for a calamity.   There is “Oh my God!” meaning, I don’t believe it, I’m shocked or got bad news. Then there is oh-my-God which means, he or she is an idiot or something is ridiculous.  Let’s not forget  OhmyGod! which means I forgot something or someone or something is in danger and action needs to be taken. And lastly, Oh my Gaaaawd which is said as a cry (not a whine) which means I’m being stressed to the max . Usually because someone is doing my head in and/or annoying me. When this is used the receiver of the phrase will have a short amount of time to correct their offending behavior because the sender is about to blow up!  Each version is said with its own inflection and different words are stressed.  Of course Italians don’t own these three words and other nationalities have their own versions.

When I lived in England, exclamations were frowned upon. Though Brits do know how to curse and do so very well I might add, Brits do not appear to be comfortable with general outbursts as a rule, rather it seems to be a source of pride that one can keep it together in any situation. Keep Calm Carry On was a war slogan meant to remind people that they were not to freak out once bombs started dropping remember!  I once called (called mind you. I didn’t shout or scream) to my husband who was further down the supermarket aisle than I was and everyone turned around. His face went pale and I thought he was going to pass out. He looked at me as if I’d jumped into the refrigerated section and was throwing thing around like an ape.  I’m not uncouth and am appreciative of manners and etiquette.  I was innocently holding  a package of fresh mozzarella but when I saw that it had come from Italy, I had to share it and thought he’d be as happy as I was.

Ever see someone you hadn’t seen in a long time? Do you quietly approach them or call to them in whispering tones? Or do you act Italian and squeal “oh my God! I can’t believe it! Hiiiii!  How are youuuu??? Complete with delight and lots of hugs and kisses? Again, demonstrating care and interest!

I don’t know if it’s an Italian thing or a New York thing but when I get angry, I curse.  I don’t know many New Yorkers who have a problem with this. Cursing is not seen as coarse or crude, rather it is a creative way of expressing one’s self.  Cursing and degree of anger are positively correlated.  Spouses take heed!  Again, it was nice to hear people exclaiming, cursing, and generally expressing themselves in Italy without it being seen as a character flaw!

Italians talk. They talk with their mouths, their hands, their facial muscles, their shoulders, their whole bodies really.  You will always know what we think, how we feel and where you stand.  If we love you, you will be showered with affection and if we are angry you will know it, the offending situation will be addressed and it will be done with.  We are an expressive people and don’t usually hold things in.  What’s the point of having emotions and feelings if you can’t express them?  Viva Italiano!


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A “Short” Musing About Men

The Olympics has re-ignited a question that has plagued me for years. What happened to men’s shorts?  When I  cast my memory back I wonder, am I going mad?  In the 1970s and 80s,  I recall boys, men, professional tennis players and everyone really, wearing shorts that were, well, short.  This was normal. Men in the 1950s were less self-conscious and shy about showing some leg than millenium men of today as evidenced by the photo above!

Pantone Speedo-I’m sorry, there is nothing wrong with this!

Many even wore Speedos on the beach (gasp).  A man’s, shall we say, package, was just that, nothing more, nothing less.  Not unlike women’s breasts, they protruded a bit through clothing. Yes we all see them, but we move on with our lives.  The Olympics reminded me that I was not going crazy, that Speedos and similar swim suits are indeed used and considered quite normal.  I have several European men as Facebook friends and they never tire of posting photos of themselves on boats, swimming in gorgeous places or playing games on the beach, always sporting a Speedo.  And, they look good. Even guys with some weight to lose look better in shorter trunks (why are they called trunks?)  What is with the American male and the Victorian hemline that continues to grow? I remember suits getting a bit longer, to mid-thigh, then above the knee and now more men than not are wearing Bermuda length shorts and bathing suits.  When surfers wear them, they are called board shorts. When guys wear them outside of the ocean, they are Bermuda’s, sorry guys.   Why are 20-year-old wearing Bermudas?  When did men become such prudes and what are they hiding?  Surely they can contain themselves within the confines of a normal pair of shorts, no?  And, is this what’s next?

Are men so modest that they must be weighed down by another foot of fabric?  Take basketball players:


What’s wrong with these?


Look at all that fabric being dragged around on the court!
Photo Credit: Brandon Rush

They look like they are wearing skirts and they look absolutely ridiculous!  I’ve noticed the same disturbing trend in Tennis and British Football. Through the decades there seems to have been a movement going on underground that has systematically and continuously lead to longer shorts.  Have I been unaware of the mystique and taboo of the male knee which must now be hidden at all costs?  Are those with a puritanical bent paying off fashion designers to create these monstrosities?

Men's Tennis Team, 1975

Wow look at all those legs, guys today would be horrified!
Photo Credit: Duke Yearlook/flickr

Meanwhile men are defending the women’s beach volleyball “outfits” if you can call them that, to the hilt. “Oh, they can’t be encumbered, they have to wear swim suit bottoms 3 sizes too small.”  By the same token then, it would stand to reason that men in the same sport would wear Speedos right?  But no, they are wearing at the knee or below the knee mega shorts.

But seriously, lighten up, people, literally!


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Hot Flash? News Flash!


(Photo credit: tejamen1947)

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been filled with a mild anxiety.  Am I perimenopausal?  Men? Come back, come on back, it’s ok. I’m not going there.  I wondered this because every evening for the past couple of weeks, I began to feel flushed  around 9pm and could not understand why. I was downright hot and had to turn on the ceiling fan in whatever room I was in.  Then the gasp. Oh my God is this a hot flash?  Do women become hot all of a sudden? Is this it? I tried to calm myself down thinking ok I’ll research menopause and see what I have to do.  There must be something I can do I thought, as I fanned myself furiously. I figured that I would need a game plan to come to terms with early aging and all that entailed.  One thing I knew for sure is that I would not take hormones.  Didn’t they say wild yam helped? Or edamame?  There was so much to look up!

Then the other day I came home and instead of walking into the kitchen with my mail as I usually did, I saw my cat in the dining room and went in to scoop her up. As I did, I passed the thermostat.  78??? How is it 78 degrees in here?  It didn’t feel like 78 degrees and was “in recovery” trying to get back down to 74 degrees.  I have a programmable thermostat and in the spring and summer leave it on 74 degrees all the time. I never even thought to check the thermostat when having these “hot flashes” because I knew I had it set to 74.  Lo and behold! I looked through the schedule and it had re-set itself to 83 degrees at 8pm. No wonder! So by 9pm the whole house was hot, it was not me! It also dawned on me that approximately 2 weeks before we had had a huge storm and the electricity had been out while I was at work as evidenced by the microwave and stove blinking the time at me.  Ah, so the power outage caused the thermostat to reset. I see. Wait for it….Oh! That means I’m not having hot flashes after all! Yippeeee!

How funny it is that one life event can have us re-evaluating it all. That’s it, I’m old!  This is the beginning of the end! I’m going to fight it every step of the way.  Oh the joy when I realized that fight would be for another day, hopefully a long time from now.   At least for now, homeostatis, hormones and my thermostat are holding steady.


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What We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate

I got the bright idea to begin car shopping so as to maximize the amount of trade-in value I could get for my car.  This began a series of interactions that I  1) thought I had learned from already and 2) assumed were antiquated and therefore no longer in play.

My first interaction was with Car Max for a purchase price for my car. I must say, Car Max has a very efficient and easy system in place and I was in and out of there in about 20 minutes with a top book value offer on my car.  Though this would seem like a good thing, it made me venture further into the jungle that is the car dealership world.

My second stop was at a hardcore dealership. This scenario never changes apparently. You’re browsing at the cars and the salesman sidles up quietly. Seems friendly enough outside, all smiles and jokes. But not unlike guys at a bar around closing time, they turn on you becoming very serious once you go inside the showroom.  They want something from you and they really don’t care what’s in it for you!   “How much do you want your monthly payments to be?”

You said that if I came in we could go over all the numbers to see what was possible. Can you tell me what your best price would be? How close to invoice can I get?

“Are you looking to trade in?”  Yes. “I don’t think you’ll get that much for it.”  I already checked Kelly Blue Book and NADA and Car Max offered me book value, sigh.  When I told him what the offer was he said there was no way he could match it.

“I’ll be right back” Ugh the dreaded visit to the manager already?  As if this guy doesn’t know what the car I’m looking at costs after dealing with hundreds of customers a week. He returns.

“Good news! What if I can put you in to [this] model?’

Um, I thought we were talking numbers first.  Plus, I wanted that model and that engine.

“But if I can put you into this for this much a month?”

But what is the price? No answer. He leaves again.

“Ok we’re going below invoice on this now. I can’t go any lower.  If I can get you into [this] model for this payment would you take it?”

Ok! What you are not hearing is that I don’t want that car. I want the other model with the bigger engine. I don’t want to ride a $25,000 lawnmower, thank you very much. You are also not discussing figures as you said you would. Now, I’m pissed.  This was all a waste of time and he just wanted to get me in here to play his little game.

“Well I know I can get you a good price on this car, I don’t know how much I can help you with that car. Do me a favor, take the car home tonight. Try it out, see what you think.”

I don’t want to take it home.

“Just take it home and see what you think, then just bring it back tomorrow.”

You just want me to take it home, knowing I don’t like it, to get me back in here tomorrow.

“Well, I’d like to get your business.” So, again, just wasting my time then.

And for kicks, you like manipulating people, is that it? I said to myself.

Then get me the car I want at the price I want? How about that?

I left this dealership never knowing what the actual price of the car I wanted was. There was no way he was going to tell me what the invoice price was, what the APR actually was or what credit score he had pulled up.  What I did know was that he wanted me to help him reduce the stock he had on hand and was not interested in anything else. Why would I want to give my money to him?

The next day I got 2 calls in a row from him. I didn’t answer as I was at work and didn’t have time to BS with him.  I listened to the voicemail message.

“Dana, I have great news for you, give me a call.”

I called back.

“So if I can get you the car you want for this price ($40 over the monthly payment I was willing to pay) would you want it?” Oh! He had heard me. He wasn’t deaf after all.

I thought you said you had good news. What was it?

“Well I’d have to call the bank and talk to the manager but if I can get it for you at the monthly payment, would you take it?”

What’s the price? And again, you called me saying YOU had good news. What was it? $40 over my limit was not “good news” air-quoting as if he could see me.

Obviously there was no communication going on here and I fell for the “good news” bs!  This guy did not have the ability to take in information, process it and give feedback based on said information.  I kept presenting him with my reality and he stayed in his own cloak and dagger world of smoke and mirrors.

I’ll think about it, I lied.  And why does it feel so right to lie to a car salesman?

Next dealership, same situation. Can  you do better than the MSRP? Again the answer that comes back is a question, “what do you want your monthly payments to be?”  I don’t know! I’m not making any decisions about anything until I know the best price I can get, here or someplace else.  What happened to the days of getting $2,000 to $4,000 off MSRP?  I need to feel that I’m getting something out of this transaction.

Is it because I’m a woman?  Do they not realize that there are more women than men out there? That even when men are present, a woman’s opinion weighs heavily in the transaction?  Don’t they have wives or girlfriends they must interact with on a daily basis? Are they stupid?  Because they really seem stupid. But I know they are not stupid. They are dumb as fox. They are playing the same game they played when I bought my first car. The day they mugged me right there in the dealership when I fell for every trick in the book.  I know better now. I know I’m not going to fall for inflated APRs or for higher prices. The problem is, I did want a car and could not get past the manipulation to get one! Why was it so difficult to get straight answers?  And, car dealers seem to enjoy dragging it all out with phone calls for days. Sorry! I’m done. I don’t have the patience for all that.

I went back to Car Max which reminds me of a restaurant.  You sit in an office with the menu displayed on the computer in front of you and you choose what you want and go outside and test drive it.  I know they build in cushion on trade-ins and the price of the car is probably $1-2,000 more than one has to pay but you don’t have to sit through hours of mind numbing double-talk and they are nice and they don’t have to speak with their managers.  The figures are right there in front of you and the application is done on the computer you are facing.  If I’m going to pay more than I should either way, I’ll take my car sunny-side up with a side order of satisfaction, and you can hold the crazy bullshit!


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High Anxiety

I arrived at JFK airport, excited to return to Florida for a spot of R&R before embarking on graduate school. Thoughts of  going to the beach, floating around the family pool, sun-kissed skin and casual dinners with family and friends were enticing.

I spotted a skycap thinking great! I can beat the rush and get checked in. He took my bags and I was sure to tip him generously to ensure my bags were not re-routed to Germany.  He checked me in asking for ID and proceeding with the usual security questions:

“Did you pack your own bags?”  Yes.

“Did anyone give you anything to carry? Oh just a bomb.  We both laughed. Laughed. Innocent days before September 11th and a couple of years before my run in with British airport security.  I giggled to myself thinking I had an anecdote to share when I landed.

I made my way to the gate and watched the plane glide up to the jetway. Boarding was uneventful and the captain pushed back on time.  The plane meandered this way and that allowing me to catch glimpses of New York City in my window until it reached the runway.  What is it about take off that is so exhilarating?  The roar of the engines, the intense power of the moment, feeling my body being pinned against the seat, the plane bumping and swaying, nose up then ahhhhhh as the plane rushes into the sky.

We were on a bigger plane than usual for this New York to Ft Lauderdale route and the seats were laid out in a 2-4-2 configuration.  I was seated in the middle with one person next to me and a couple to the right in the cozy 2 seater section. The flight was probably about half full.  Having made this trip dozens of times I knew the plan-fly out over the ocean, turn right, straight line down the coast then right hand turn and into Ft Lauderdale airport. It’s a 2 hour 20 minute flight, tops.

Being the New York City girl I was and having been baptized by the New York City Transit System, I gathered my things during our final decent with the idea of being as close to the front door as possible when the seatbelt sign went off. The captain made that famous right hand turn and we flew into Ft Lauderdale alright however this time he didn’t take it in for a landing. I watched as we flew over neighborhoods and streets I knew very well.  Hmm I thought, must be a holding pattern. It was 1995 and unlikely as Ft Lauderdale airport was still small and I’d never encountered a holding pattern here before.  My curiosity was piqued and I was paying attention.  The couple to the right who I had all but ignored during the flight was beginning to annoy me. They were drunk, laughing loud and I needed to focus.

I continued to watch our progress and noticed that we had left the comfort of Ft Lauderdale and were now flying over the Everglades. Highly unusual-never done! No word from the flight deck and the flight attendants seemed to be going about their business.  I continued to watch South Florida slip out of view as we flew into the Gulf of Mexico.  Now I was alarmed and the first thought that occurred to me was that the plane had been hijacked. Conversations and murmurings stopped and I noticed that we were encountering a lot of turbulence all of a sudden.  What the hell is going on! Why aren’t they talking to us?  Say something!!! Forty-five minutes passed as we floated around the Gulf.  People glanced at each other but said nothing.  The loud-speaker came on and a voice stated simply, “Uh, folks?  We have a problem.”  A wave of fear ran through me and I hung on this strangers-with God knows what kind of qualifications-every word.  He continued, “we have no landing gear, we can’t land the plane.”  I instinctively grabbed the arm rests and raised my feet off the floor as if this was going to help me.  I felt as if I’d been cut free from the world, floating in a heavy metal tube.  “Now, we have 3 options.”  Oh my God are we going to vote?  “We can make a soft landing-fly out to sea and dump all the fuel and make a water landing.”  Sharks, certain death.  “We can dump all the fuel, coast back in to the airport and make a hard landing.”  What are the chances we will reach the airport after we’re out of gas?  “Or, we can keep doing what we are doing now which is to force turbulence to try to jog the landing gear out, get them unstuck.  We will get back to you in a few minutes.” My mind was racing, my own mortality smacking me in the face repeatedly. From the right side of the plane came, “what did he say?”  A red drunk face staring obliviously at me. WE HAVE NO LANDING GEAR AND WE’RE GOING TO DIE, was my immediate response.  Red face just shrugged and went back to his girl and conversation, obviously not believing me.

This is it! That’s it! It’s over! I should pray.  I can’t think of the words.  I sat paralyzed. The woman next to me looked over and we both had tears rolling down our cheeks. We held hands.  Please God please, please God please. I couldn’t make the prayer come.  That’s all I could think to say.  The mind is a funny thing and voices in my head were battling it out. We could survive a water landing couldn’t we? How could we survive that?  Too many variables.  Please God please, please God please.  How long have we been up here? We’re going to run out of fuel, oh my God we’re going to die. No, there has to be a way, even if we have to crash land?  Please God please, Please God please!!!!

As if this scenario wasn’t bad enough. The loud-speaker came on again. This time it was a flight attendant.  “Folks?” she implored, voice cracking. “Folks, we have every confidence in our Captain” voice trembling and tearful. Another shockwave through my body. Oh no! this is really it.  She knows we are going to die. Please God please.  Oh my God!!!!  I heard an almighty bang and huge rush of air.  “Folks! That was the landing gear!”  The plane erupted in cheers. “Uh, folks, this is the Captain, that noise you heard was the landing gear, we will be making an emergency landing. Please stay in your seats.”

The thought crossed my mind, how do we know the landing gear is working properly?  Is it all down? Is it stuck halfway? Will it collapse when we hit the runway?  This last thought remained.  We were back in Ft Lauderdale in no time and the flight attendants prepared us for a crash landing.  As we flew into the airport I realized the captain must have thought the same thing as I could see lights flashing everywhere; fire trucks and ambulances as far as the eye could see.  Oh my God, they are waiting for us to crash, I thought.  We flew over the runway and wheels touched down, nothing happened. We landed! We landed!! Thank you, thank you thank you thank you God!  The passengers erupted again.  The woman and I hugged.

I rushed off the plane, right past baggage claim and ran outside hoping to see my father who had been waiting for me.  I saw him smile and wave then his hand and smile dropped.  At that moment I began hyperventilating.  I think I stopped breathing when I saw the fire trucks on the runway from my perch in the sky.  I could hardly breathe and grabbed at the cars as I passed them trying to make my way to my father. He ran toward me, grabbed me and squeezed hard-which although comforting-didn’t help my breathing situation. He cried “my baby, my baby” and I continued to gasp for air almost collapsing.  It’s funny when I look back as I wonder what he had seen. I must have been white as a ghost. He cried as he held me not even knowing what had happened yet.  I suppose it was written all over my face. I still get choked up when I think of his reaction.

Although the outcome was good, it took me a few days to recuperate and my trip was ruined by the thought of having to get back on a plane to go home. Until this time I’d never encountered a problem flying. Since then I’ve had other hiccups but am still here to talk about them.  Routine plane sounds were seared into my brain on that trip and I’ll never forget them:   The dinging of the bells telling the flight attendants to be seated and when it’s ok to get up and start serving, the sound of the flaps moving and when we are climbing in altitude. Then there are lovely sounds especially that beautiful bang and rush of air when the landing gear comes down just before landing and when the plane’s speed goes from 150 to 30.  I especially love the sounds of the seatbelt sign being turned off, the clinking of unbuckling seatbelts and the door being opened to let me out!


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A Foray Into S&M Otherwise Known As My Trip To The Chiropractor

20110915 Chiropractic Treatment Table

Photo credit: Degilbo on flickr)

I had had enough of lower back pain that would attack, without notice and render me useless for the rest of the day.  Upon closer observation, I realized that it occurred after long periods of time spent sitting and gazing at my laptop, something I’ve done a lot of lately.

The pleasure I sought was the relief of excruciating pain that seems to be getting worse with each episode I had.

I thought it was time that I did something about it and several co-workers recommended a “guy” and slipped me his number.  My thought process was:  get in, get an x-ray, see what’s going on there, see what my options are and get out.

I entered his lair, the smell of leather wafting up to me from the waiting room.  I was ushered into a dimly lit cell and questioned. Then he entered.  All 6 feet, 250 pounds of him. They called him The Chiropractor. He seemed to have enough strength to snap me in two and a chill went down my spine.  He seemed affable enough but moved in close.

He lured me in with promises of relief, range of motion and flexibility. He knew what he was doing and knew all the right things to say.  I could tell he had done this a long time and as his hands moved over my body with a certainty, a confidence , I began to relax.  He touched me in ways I’ve never been touched.  When I told him I was nervous he said “I’m going to enjoy working with you, I like a challenge.”  When he told me to go into another room filled with tables and curious machines, all I could think was yes, Master. His accomplice made me lie down and strapped things to me. They didn’t hurt but I was ordered not to leave until he came for me.

In what seemed like a flash, he darkened the door and summoned me back to the cell. He motioned for me to lie down on a table devised for his amusement. This time he was all business and the warmth I’d seen earlier was gone. He began to push me around, calling it an “adjustment” pushing into my back until I heard cracking and worse, a slow long crunch…..I screamed. I could tell he was enjoying this and about to really get into it, his hands deftly moving down my lower back to strike again when I said, no! Master no!  His hands stopped mid-air, twitching to make contact with my body again.  No, master, please, the pain!  “It’s ok, it’s ok, baby steps” he said and he retreated with a smirk.

His accomplice returned, she called herself Nurse and made me follow her to another dark cell. She placed me on a strange bed and began to bind me with a holster of sorts, pulling it tight until I could hardly breathe.  She connected me to a machine and dropped the table beneath me and ever so slowly the table began to move. With each shift of the table my spine stretched a bit more.  Because of my confinement I could only see the ceiling and either wall in my peripheral vision. I felt vulnerable and a little bit scared.  Had I angered him, would this machine be my punishment?  The accomplice was in my face telling me it would be another 13 minutes.  Why 13 I wondered. I took deep breaths and vowed that if I made it off the table I’d never return.  Seconds turned to minutes and finally the all clear sounded.  The table returned to its original position and I hurried off the second the accomplice unshackled me. I composed myself and hobbled to the reception desk, hands trembling.  “Same time tomorrow?” Uh…yeah, sounds great….yikes!

(all facts accurate however my perception may be a tad skewed!)


Filed under Musings

You’ve Been Freshly Pressed, Now What?

My Year In A Cubicle-screen shot

Well, I’m not going to Disney World, I know that much.

If you thought I’d follow up with an intellectual essay or reflective poem you’ve got to be kidding.  Last Friday was one of the best days of my life and yes I’m writing about it.

I had written about cubicle life and oh! the irony. There I sat in my dark cubicle last Friday morning, toiling away, when I stopped to check my iPhone for blog stats, wondering if anyone at all had checked out my latest creation.  I was shocked when I saw I had a full email inbox and hundreds of hits on WP.  My heart quickened and with bated breath, I checked WordPress to see if indeed the literary Gods had smiled upon me. Sure enough, I’d been Freshly Pressed!  To say I was stunned would be an understatement. I couldn’t jump up and down or yell it from the rooftops as I really wanted to. No, I sat stifled as the number of hits increased exponentially and my ability to concentrate and breathe decreased considerably!  I had to take an early lunch to take it all in and call family and friends with the great news. The funny thing was I told them that I had 256 views, then 500 views, not realizing that number would grow to almost 5,000 each day!  Thank you WordPress for doing it on a Friday. I don’t think I could have functioned if this occurred in the middle of the week, I would have had to take vacation days to recuperate.

I went to a restaurant, where I could focus and read one fantastic comment after the next. I know I had a permanent smile on my face and can only imagine what other patrons were thinking. I loved reading about other people who commiserated about being stuck in a cubicles themselves, shared the ridiculousness they’d experienced and were generous enough to praise my work. Woo hoo, this is fantastic, I thought. I felt as if I’d hit the lottery and I think I now have a vague idea of what winning the lottery is like as I walked around hardly able to breathe, unbelieving that this wonderful thing was happening to me.  I managed to limp through the rest of the afternoon while more comments, likes and followers flowed into my reality. Answer the phone? Send a fax? Are you kidding? I have followers. There are people out there who appreciate my writing and WordPress, in their infinite wisdom, actually read my post and felt it worthy enough to highlight it on Freshly Pressed as a sample of good work!  An achievement I thought was years down the road.  I still smile when I think of that.

I longed to be home with laptop in hand to savor it fully.  Of course, someone up there has a sense of humor and strategically placed a student driver in my path for most of the ride home.  Friends, I’m not proud of this but I must come clean. I hit the gas and passed the child driver on the left and on a two lane road, embellished with double yellow lines.  As I said, I’m not proud of it. I reasoned that I was a good example of what not to do and hoped the driving instructor had pointed this out.

Once home I settled in for the evening to read the comments I received. They were funny, enlightening, witty, generous, creative and cheeky (you know who you are).  Spending an evening with writers from all over the world was amazing. I had the Diana Ross song “Sweetest Hangover” in my head and do feel drunk from the experience.  I was so awash in attention that it was dizzying, a cascade of interest and praise as well as sharing of experience and connecting with other writers which has been overwhelming in the very best sense.

There were times during these glorious past 3 days that there were 50-100 people viewing my post at time. It was unreal and a ride of a lifetime.

What is the etiquette when one is Freshly Pressed? I had to Google to get up to speed. Common sense told me that I should respond to any comment or congratulations that I got which proved challenging with so many coming in at once.  I felt that it was most important to respond to anyone who took time out of their own lives to comment on mine and to say that I appreciate that is such an understatement.  Knowing full well that this may never happen again, I really want everyone to know what their acknowledgement and validation has meant. I’ve been humbled by the outpouring, encouragement and enthusiasm you have shown me.  This experience has opened my eyes to many interesting people and blogs out there and I was planning to check those blogs out out as soon as possible, which….I now find will be sooner than I thought was possible!  Views had been coming in at record speed and I actually thought I’d have even more today than yesterday which was unbelievable in and of itself. However, I have since been moved to the Freshly Pressed second page which I think should be called Day Old Press or Yesterday’s News because hits dropped dramatically, from dozens every few minutes to a few every half hour and the writing, I can see, is on the wall. Currently I’m limping along and I expect that very soon I will relegated and return from whence I came. Oh, if you could see the stats, it’s so sad.

The strangest thing in the world has been how this has messed with my thoughts.  At first I was elated, as I said.  Then, like a junkie, I got used to the high of it all and in 3 short days, it started to feel “normal” to have thousands of people viewing my work.  And now, like any drug addict would attest, my binge is headed for the inevitable crash. I can see Kubler-Ross’s stages of grief before me and it’s started already. I see my numbers slipping and part of me is saying noooooo, not yet, just one more day.  Please! One more day, I’ll do anything (Bargaining). Then, no this can’t be happening. It’s only been 3 days, no this can’t be right.  Don’t they keep posts up for a week? (Denial) I don’t think it was enought time for Anger or Depression.  I can’t imagine what it must be like for rock stars and stage actors who are put out to pasture after decades of getting attention. I can see that 3 days of intense focus was enough of a treat without having any of the “I’m ready for my close-up Mr DeMille” psychological side effects that accompany it. Decadent and fleeting though it was, I will cherish this experience and always be grateful to WordPress and everyone who clicked ‘like’, made a comment or decided to follow me (Acceptance!). I raise my glass to you with a big thank you and the wish that I’ll see all of you on Freshly Pressed very soon.


Filed under Uncategorized

A Poem For All My Writer Friends, with love!

[111 in 2011] #62 - Books

Photo credit: guidedbycthulhu111 in 2011

Waiting For The Idea

He procrastinates, he reads

She masturbates, she sleeps

He whines and he mopes

She daydreams and hopes

He makes coffee, he eats

She paints the nails on her feet

He makes a drink, he takes a toke

She makes and outline, but then writes jokes

He types and types and types for hours

She gets an idea, but then it sours!

He falls asleep with his head on his typewriter

She sits Indian style, flicking her lighter

On and on it goes….

Ode to the life of a writer



Filed under Poetry

Men and Food

Photo by: vmabney

Is it me or do men seem to get very grouchy if they are not permitted to eat at expected times?  While we love them dearly and think that they are generally interesting to be around, I must say, they do not seem able to tolerate wild changes in eating habits. I learned this when I was newly married and still used to my single days and ways.

Knowing that I had a million chores to do on a Saturday, or in preparation for a houseful of guests, I would jump out of bed, into the shower and then into the car to be able to get things done.  My husband would say, “what! and not eat?” Sighhhhhh. Now I’m no stranger to food believe me, but sometimes you just have to get moving and if you don’t you find that the day has gone.  Whenever I acquiesced to his need to stop everything and have a full breakfast, I’d find that we were delayed by hours-you know, it takes time to sip coffee and mop up egg yolks with toast! I would have preferred to hit the mall, get what I had to get then stop at a diner, comfortable in the knowledge that my mission was accomplished.

I notice that if a meal is postponed for whatever reason, men get irritable and almost panicky.  It’s as if they worry they will never eat again; despite having cabinets and pantries full of food, not to mention supermarkets and restaurants down the street.  This is a man who is actually a good cook and likes to cook, mind you.  I wonder if this is a throwback to the primative brain.  Does an alarm go off signaling impending starvation or something?” Men help me out here.

If we were at a family gathering and I made the mistake of saying that we’d be eating “soon” that word would start an invisible stopwatch in his head. Tick tock tick tock…I would continue to chit chat and not long after the conversation would begin:

“I thought you said we were going to eat”

We are.


um, I don’t know, soon

“Well no one’s cooking”

We’re going to order from someplace

“How long is that going to be?”

I’d get a menu for him to peruse which would settle him down for the time being but the dye had been cast and dinner had better be coming soon before his stomach rumblings got the better of him.

The suggestion of food can stave them off for a bit.  “I’m just going to stop at my mother’s house for like a half hour, then I’m making a nice Baked Ziti for dinner when I get home.” Oh! Ok! comes the response.  But don’t wait too long or you will be faced with a crestfallen look and the pout of a 5 year old boy, with a temper to match!

It’s always when I’m fully engrossed in a book or movie that I’ll hear, “what are we going to eat.” Sighhhhh.  One “trick” that has worked wonders is to put a pot on the stove and place some food on the counter when I’ve been delayed in getting to dinner that he is now expecting.  Even though I haven’t chopped or sauteed a thing, seeing the pot brings hope and reassurance and me some time.

By now I’m sounding horrible aren’t I?  It’s not that I don’t like to cook or that I don’t like to make him happy.  It’s just that if I’m busy, I don’t care if I eat at 5pm or 7pm. I know it’s going to happen!

I learned quickly that I could not eschew my husband’s need to eat promptly because like a puppy that refuses to walk one more little padded step, he would balk at going shopping or helping out in the house before breakfast. It’s all in the delivery. If I say, “can we go to Home Depot now?” or “can you put your dirty clothes in the hamper?”  The answer will invariably be no.  If I say “can we get a few things done then go to a restaurant for a nice brunch, you know that place where you like the sausages?”  (Never underestimate the power of pork ladies) What a transformation! He would then move heaven and earth, taking out the garbage, putting tools away, gladly driving me to several shops that he hates to go to…you get the picture.  And like that same puppy, he would look at me with all the eagerness and trust his eyes could hold when he knew that our jobs were done and the time had come.  When I got back in the car  and said yes when he asked if we could get something to eat now,  the tension could just be felt slipping away. The aforementioned irritability dissolved with each forkful of food he took and after his belly was nice and full he would be much more cheerful.  I could almost make out the movement of a contentedly wagging tail.


Filed under Musings, Uncategorized

My Year In A Cubicle

An image of a lot of cubicles that seem to go ...

An image of a lot of cubicles that seem to go on forever (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was reminded of my year in a cubicle this week as I’m moving from an office back to cubicle life again.  I was less than fortunate to work in a tiny cubicle in 2005, for over a year.  Provence it was not. I’m not sure if people realize it but cubicle life has a subversive subculture all its own.  Ok that may be extreme but it does have strange quirks that are funny and beg to be written about.  My personal definition of cubicle:/kyoobikel. n. The vealization of previously free range human beings.  Vealize: v. To stuff or cram into a small space, to ensure efficiency and or tenderness.  The cubicle is a small space that, like torture implements of days gone by, can be made smaller and smaller and smaller as cheap companies try to squeeze more bodies into an existing space instead of obtaining larger offices.

On my first day of work I was brought into the office and there before me, stretched out like a sea of grey on a rainy day, were dozens and dozens of nondescript cubicles. To quote Eddie Izzard, they were interesting in an extraordinarily boring way.  I wondered how I would make it back to my own cubicle after lunch and wished I’d brought a sandwich from which I could at least make a bread trail.

The funny thing about cubes as they are affectionately referred to is that although one is mere feet or inches from their co-worker, people block out or pretend not to see or hear what their co-workers say and do. This is good form and good cubie etiquette. So, you can have a situation where a colleague is fighting with her boyfriend for an hour, neglecting her work all the while; cursing, tears streaming down her face complete with hushed hysterics.  She gets off the phone and turns to you saying “can you believe that!?!”  And, the correct answer is, “Oh sorry, what?  Sorry I wasn’t paying attention.”  The hysterical one, also knowing cubicle etiquette, yet knowing there is no way on earth you hadn’t heard, relates the episode in its entirety so as to maintain delicate cubie balance.

On the other hand, it is not uncommon for cube-mates, again inches away from each other, to call each other or email things they don’t want overheard. The walls do have ears my friends.

Adjusting to cubicle life was very difficult indeed. Difficult and dangerous!  During my first few weeks I nearly killed my co-workers.  Once when crossing my legs, my foot hit a metal bar, which capped off the end of the cubicle lovely I might add, which flew down and almost decapitated someone.  Another time I opened my overhead file cabinet only to knock another colleague in the head!  To avoid injury, I quickly learned that I could only move my chair up and down, not backwards and forwards, as rolling about could be hazardous. To be fair, I must explain that the cubicle I had consisted of the following: cubicle wall, about 10 inches to the back of my chair, about 10 inches to the edge of the desk and the desk backed up to the other cubicle wall.

How do people cope with such small, drab surroundings devoid of any sunlight, nature or interest of any kind?  I’m thinking of draping my new cubicle in fabric and putting down a rug. Some bring in candles, pictures, pretty lamps or a plant to simulate a homey atmosphere. Others attach wedding photos and children’s arts and craft projects to fuzzy cubicle walls. Still others light up a joint and who could blame them.

My very first cubie experience happened years ago.  I was doing temp work for a large, reputable publishing company in Manhattan.  My co-worker rose from her seat, came round to my cubie opening-there are no doors-knocked on the thin metal frame and asked if I minded if she smoked.  As this incident occurred in the late 1980s and there were no restrictions on smoking at that time (God I’m old), I said no. Of course I didn’t like it but didn’t feel I really had a choice. So there I sat, typing away in my little cube as the smoke rose and gently fell on my side of the “wall”.  I noticed that it wasn’t cigarette smoke I was smelling but marijuana. I believe I mouthed the words oh-my-God! As cubicles also do not have their own ceilings the smoke made its way out of the area and down the hall.  It was not long after that a manager visiting from Texas confronted my neighbor and promptly had her fired.

There is this weird schematic thing that happens in the cuber’s brain as it constructs walls, ceilings and doors where there are none. Cubicles more than 10 feet away are like separate continents.  Your group, your cubie family as it were, consists of those who work on the same account or project and whom you can hit with a paperclip with minimal exertion.  Paperclips are the cubie equivalent of emoticons with their tongues out or :P.  So, the comment “nice shoes, guess someone hopes to get lucky tonight” is met with  paperclip fire over the wall.

Then there is the interesting behavior that is created by the cubicle environment.  Some are as territorial as junk yard dogs. God help the cuber (cubite, cubiphile, cubilite, cubinilean?) who does not have a partition to delineate their space because there will always be someone to come around to challenge it and take it away. These hyenas of the working world are those passive aggressive among us who push the legal sized proverbial envelope when it comes to boundaries.  They are the ones who wear enough perfume to choke those within 100 foot radius (equivalent to approx 980 cubicles), play music LOUD, sing hymns to themselves, LOUDLY and open their folders and binders to ensure that at least a corner comes to rest on your countertop.  I had one person ask if she could “store” things in my overhead file (that’s when I bopped her! KIDDING!…or am I).  I had another person, who had the same amount of drawers and wall space, ask if she could hang flyers on my bulletin board!  WHY??  Oh they are slick my friends.

Other people, knowing full well that one need only whisper to be heard, TALK TO THEIR CLIENTS LIKE THIS AS IF THEY WERE HARD OF HEARING!!!  I worked with one person who did this and she managed to evade me for weeks because when I encountered her at other places like the copier or the kitchen, she spoke, not only quietly but I had to lean in to catch what she said. I would hear her start in with “MRS JONES HOW ARE YOU TODAY??? and I would drop my pen and run around to the other side of the cubicles to find out who it was.  I needed to know who was 1) annoying me but 2) breaking cardinal rule #1-to speak quietly at all times.  Because cubicles are so close together, I had a fairly good idea where the sound was coming from but was foiled every time she put the phone down. I would attempt to catch her out by going to the printer intermittently, but somehow like the Scarlet Pimpernel she would elude me.  I gave up trying altogether and then a cubie cousin saw me roll my eyes one day during a particularly piercing projection and said “that’s our Angie.”  Angie! AHA! It was her?  Big mouth by day, Little Voice by night.  It was as if putting the phone to her ear activated an unseen force in her vocal cords.  I wanted to scream over the cubicles LET THE ELECTRONICS WORK FOR YOU THAT IS WHAT THEY WERE MADE FOR!  I later found out that Angie had been made to move from her previous locale as she sat near the Vice President’s office who had his head done in by her eruptions-did I mention that cubie gossip dies hard?

We haven’t even touched on the gossip grapevine which exists in cubie life and is faster than the DSL I have at home!  When I decided to leave this job I walked about 30 feet to my supervisor’s office and by the time I walked back to my cubicle the entire office knew I was leaving.  I could actually hear my co-workers in other aisles saying “did you hear? Dana is leaving.”  But for those who have boyfriends in jail, pending foreclosures, recently suspended licenses and domestic disputes, life can be hell.  No matter how much people say they won’t tell or try to suppress, word spreads like butter.

Butter reminds me of the two worst smells one can endure in cubieland, fish and popcorn!  Lunch times were particularly taxing to the nostrils.  It seemed that the only time people ate at their desks was when they had fish for lunch and it would hit me like a punch in the face.  The smell of popcorn would commence about an hour after lunch and would hang over the cubes like a noxious cloud. If the cubicle was designed to ensure that people could focus on only that in front of them, it failed miserably because there were days when I just simply could not get any work done. Between the sounds of Angie the phone fanatic or the Jamaican hymns of save me Jesus Jessica and the combined smell of what I like to call fishcorn, my mind, like my crappy computer, would freeze! Ugh, they put you in a cube, then tell you to think outside the box!

It was always at these times that the office stalker would come around.  You know the one, every office has one-that person ready to pounce on you at the coffee machine or printer. If you don’t know someone like this but notice that you lose the will to live around someone?  That’s the one. You don’t know her but she somehow believes she is your good friend, or biggest fan-scary!  She attempts to elicit information about your private life and does not or chooses not to pick up on subtle cues such as when you turn around and leave her talking to herself or when you start stapling your own fingers together to avoid the pain of her conversation, gossip and insult to injury, bad breath.  She has an uncanny sixth sense and knows the perfectly worst time to come round and literally hangs off the side of your cubie like an office monkey.  “Hey, Dana, what’s wrong? (she frowns for me)”  Uh, nothing? ” Oh, I saw you just sitting there and I know you are always so busy.” Oh my God what the &#^% do you want now?  I say in my head.  Outwardly, blank stare. Blink. “Oh ok, well I’m going to lunch, talk to you later.”  Slow nod, big sigh.

Back to food though.  There is one word. One word that is magical in the cubicle world.  One word that turns the grey to all the colors of a kaleidoscope.  One thing that makes it all seem, habitable, manageable, at least for one brief shimmering moment………..cake. “Cake? Did someone say cake? Suzy, Joe, there’s cake in the conference room, hurry up!” And all round the office that little word is sprinkled over cubicles like fairy dust and one can see heads popping up faster than a whac-a-mole carnival game…ahh cubie cake, thank God, I can make it through another day.


Filed under Musings