Saturday, June 30, 2007

Eight Random Facts

So Cynthia over at Sorting the Pieces memed all of her lurkers. Here are the rules:

The rules:
1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
3.At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Here are my eight:

1. Sometimes at night I wake up and I see two snarling beast heads over my bed. They are terrible tooth-gnashing, tongue-lolling things, like jackals or hyenas. They appear to be caught in slow motion, their shapes slowly swelling and deflating as if they are trapped mid-attack. I used to be afraid of them. Then I would lie awake and stare at them, trying to discern if they were real. I reached out my hand but could never touch their transparent features. Sometimes I fell asleep and would wake up to find them still pulsing, like evil mermaids suspended in some liquidy hell above my bed. Now I just roll over and go back to sleep.

2. My Superstitions:

-When I run a red light, I kiss my palm and slap the ceiling of my car. This prevents speeding tickets.

-Whenever I realize something positive about my life (For example, I enjoy my job or I wake up refreshed and energetic every day or I am excited about my life) I keep it to myself because the minute I tell someone, it ceases to be a happy secret and becomes a burden, an obligation to feel positive because now I have told someone else.

-If I am compelled to confess my happy feeling, I also feel compelled to knock on wood to protect the happiness.

3. One night when I was working on homework, my mom got a phone call. She screamed, "Oh my God!" and dropped the phone. Before she had the chance to tell me anything, I knew that guitar player Danny Gatton had been shot in a dark place with cars and that he was dead. She called the person back - they'd only had the chance to tell her Danny was dead - and learned that he had committed suicide in his garage. My mom used to work with his wife in the early eighties but I never met either of them.

4. I once sobbed through an entire fireworks display because I was convinced that flaming shards of metal were going to rain down on me. I must have been about eight years old. Finally a young couple became exasperated that my family did nothing to comfort me. They leaned in close and asked me what was wrong. When I told them, they whispered comforting words and told me they would protect me and by the end of the evening, I was completely happy and laughing and enjoying the evening. I think of this when I see distraught children and want to avoid getting involved for fear of offending their parents.

5. When I was very little, my favorite thing about Christmas was when my mom would vacuum before we put up the Christmas tree. She would always push the chair, which had big boxy arms that made up three sides of a square, up against the couch. The arm of the couch would complete the square, leaving a little cushiony hole in the middle of the chair. I would get one piece of American cheese and sit in the hole pretending I was a mouse until my mother finished vacuuming. It was the best.

6. I'm still pissed that I lost the sixth grade spelling bee to Aderonke Ajala.

7. The character trait I like least about myself is that when I try to make a point, there is something in me that wants to pin you beneath the force of my argument, that wants to attack and watch you squirm and fail to escape. It is the ravenous insistent bloodthirst that I have to keep in constant check.

I don't mean that I want to "win" by name-calling or shouting louder than you, which seem to be the techniques employed in much of contemporary American debate. I don't even necessarily want to sway people who disagree with me. As long as you have thought out your position, I can respect it even if I think you are wrong. I just can't respect positions that are poorly considered or reactionary, that fail to look forward to their possible ramifications or backward to see if the "solution" addresses the true problem or only the symptoms.

I want to crush the poor argument, pulverize it, grab it by the throat and tear it to pieces. I tend to keep my opinions to myself or simply ask questions of others rather than making arguments so that I can avoid looking like a rabid wild-eyed frothing-at-the-mouth lunatic.

8. I hate olives, peanut butter, cole slaw, "maple-flavored" meat products, potato salad, pickles in my tuna, coconut, flavored cream cheese, anchovies, radishes, Goldfish crackers, salmon paste and bleu cheese. I love bread, Neufschatel cheese, garlic, basil, oregano, black pepper, oranges, well-seasoned sausage, pizza, Mom's lasagna, raw spinach, Havarti with dill, blueberries, shallots, ripe strawberries, fresh whipped cream, blueberry bagels, tuna fish, Italian Wedding soup, hummus and pita, and lime daquiris. The fettucine noodle is the most perfect noodle ever to be created.

I don't even think there are eight people with access to this blog. If you are reading this right now, consider yourself memed.

As an extra treat, I have added a Random Fact of the Day to my sidebar for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

Friday, June 29, 2007

World's Ugliest Dog

Since this is supposed to be a blog dedicated to my search for a dog, just thought I'd offer up another candidate. What do you think?

"The Chinese Crested dog 'Elwood' appears at the 2007 World's Ugliest Dog Contest Friday, June 22, 2007, in Petaluma, Calif. Elwood, who weighs in at just 6 lbs and was rescued as the result of a New Jersey SPCA investigation, has won the title of World's ugliest dog of 2007." (AP Photo/Ben Margot) --Yahoo! News

Movie Date

So when is everybody seeing Sicko? Anybody interested in a movie night?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Help Prostate! or Crittergal Appreciates Art

I bought a painting. A real honest-to-God oil painting. I feel like such a big girl.

I stopped by the grocery store yesterday to pick up a few things. As I was walking up from the parking lot, I saw several signs: "Help Rid Cancer!"

Rid cancer of what?

"Help Prostrate Cancer!"

Crittergal with a gun: "Get down on the ground, you murdering filth!"

and finally, "Help Prostate!"

Whoa, buddy. You're on your own with that one.

Someone had hung dozens of paintings around the entrance to the store. I was about to enter the store when I saw two paintings that matched the colors in our living room exactly. I've really been wanting a painting to hang in our living room for a long time so I thought, Why not? It doesn't hurt to look.

I wandered down the long aisle formed by tables piled high with paintings. At the very end of the aisle, a man in an apron covered in planetary bodies was talking with a man in a business suit. I saw them exchange money, Business Suit walked away with several paintings and Planet Apron approached.

"Excuse me, ma'am, do you have a peeking pass?"

"Excuse me?"

"Do you have a peeking pass?"

I decided to play along. "Umm, no, no I don't have a peeking pass."

"'Cause I saw you peeking." He nodded at the piles of paintings. "You were thinking about peeking."

Normally I'm the kind of person who wants to be left alone when I shop. Don't cajole me. Spare me the banter. If I have a question, I'll let you know. When I feel a salesperson watch me, I cringe internally, trying not to look interested in an item lest I hear, "Can I help you with that?"

But tonight I decided just to go along for the ride. After all, I wasn't buying anything, was I?

He handed me a piece of paper:

Beautiful Hand-Painted Oils on Canvas
Up to 48'x72'
Helping Rid the World of Cancer
To HELP Prostrate Cancer
Sponsored by SAFEWAY

"Here's your peeking pass," Planet Apron told me. "Are you ready for your sentence?"

"Uh, sure."

"How many paintings do you think are on this table?" He waved a hand across his collection.

"Hmmm, I don't know. Four hundred?"

"There's four hundred just in this pile," he said, smacking the canvas. "Your sentence is 182. You have to look at 182 paintings before you can go." Now normally I would have so been out of there but I just shrugged and said, "Okay." He started flipping through the paintings so fast that I hardly had time to process them, much less imagine them in my home and form that emotional bond that makes people buy art.

"How about I look through them myself?" I offered and started pulling the paintings off the pile, more slowly this time.

The whole time I was looking through the paintings, we were flirting wildly. He was an old crusty coot who looked like he's made his way to the bottom of many a wine bottle but old people are always the most fun to flirt with. He proposed, I declined because I was married, he assured me that was okay, his wife didn't mind having another man around the house; that sort of thing.

I saw a bunch of paintings I liked but finally I found one with lots of bright colors, the sort of painting I have been searching for for a long time. It's a Tuscan villa scene, with a deep blue sky and bright red poppies in the foreground. I like my painting because, while it has the muted olives and golds of the Tuscan landscape, it's not muddy that way a lot of paintings of Tuscany are. It is by no means great art but it makes me happy to look at it.

"This one!" I told him. "How much is this one?"

He rubbed his chin. "Oh, I can give that to you for $125."

I shook my head slowly. "Well, that is a very lovely painting," I said. "But $125 is more than I can afford."

He eyed me speculatively. "I'll tell you what," he proposed. "I'll give it to you for $40 and then you can give something on top of that for the charity. I don't care if it's ten dollars, I don't care if it's ten cents. Just as long as it's something."

"Okay!" I agreed. He stapled the canvas to a wooden frame. While he was working, he asked me what I do.

"I'm a massage therapist," I told him.

"Oh, I used to be licensed in California!" He told me he had invented a self-massaging tool made out of PVC pipe. "Hey, I have one in my truck. Let me show you!" We had to go to his truck anyway because that's where his credit card machine was so I said sure.

He reached into the back of his old clunker and after digging around for a minute, he pulled out an old dirty contraption made of several plastic pipes twisted together. He swiped my credit card and squinted at the machine. "Hmm, sometimes the phone signal doesn't go through." He held the machine up and waved it over his head with one arm, then with the other he took the pipe. "Here, this is how you use it."

He gave me the longest demo in the world, which involved him crawling into the back of his trailer and pulling out some dusty rubber non-skid mats, pulling them out into the parking lot and inviting me to lie down so that I could test out the pipe. "You really need to be lying down to get the full effect." I glanced at my silk blouse, peered into the murky entrails of his trailer and politely demurred. Whereupon he quickly lay down himself and demonstrated the proper use of his tool.

"I had about ten of these made up that I used to sell," he told me.

He continued to talk about his gizmo until finally I had to say, "I'm really sorry. I don't mean to interrupt you but I have to go."

"Oh! Okay." We strolled back over to his other truck, where my credit card had finally gone through. I signed and handed him the receipt, wished him a good night and picked up my new painting. As I was headed to my car, he called out, "Thanks, Crittergal! You're a real nice person!" So I got a new painting and a compliment!

Wonk Humor

I have this client who is a Democratic fundraiser. I had to cancel our appointment last night because I think I overstrained my right arm. When I called him up to explain, he said, "Oh yeah, my right side always bothers me. That's my conservative side."

"What?" I asked.

"My right side. You know the right, they're a real pain in the -"

"Oh, I get it!" I exclaimed. "Hahaha!"

Humor in DC. Thank God for Dave Chapelle . . .

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Night of the Baby Snatchers

African women scare me.

Forget the stereotype of the timid waif cowering in the corner as her brutish husband stalks their tiny shanty. The African women I know are fierce, protective, and confident. If you had an eye on world domination, these women would surely be your first recruits.

Rule of Thumb: The more elaborate the hairstyle, the more intimidating the woman. A short bob = pushover, braids are laid back, an Afro puff or Zulu knots could turn at any moment. But the woman I fear most wears her hair in stylish lacquered coils, perhaps piled high on her head, perhaps framing her face in glistening cascades. The hair bounces and gleams as she shouts, punctuating her most stinging remarks with a snap!

On Saturday night, T-Bone and I went to a birthday party. T-Bone's cousin Igga and her husband Werdna had a baby last year and this party was to celebrate little Nadea's first birthday. Let me reiterate. This party was to celebrate his first birthday.

Now it is customary at African celebrations for the men to gather together in one area and the women in another. By which I mean the men laze around drinking beer and laughing while the women cram into the kitchen, wiping their brows over hot buckets of food and brandishing big wooden spoons at their more disobedient children.

So when we arrived, I was not surprised to be greeted by several women and children, with no men in sight. After a round of hugs and hellos, T-Bone said, "Come, let us greet Werdna." He wisked me down the stairs and out into the backyard, where we discovered several men leaning back in their folding chairs, all holding the obligatory bottle of beer. In one corner an industrial-sized trash can stood filled to the brim with beer and ice. Several other coolers overflowed with wine coolers, soda and water. Six packs lined the wall of the house, ready for deployment should we need them. Werdna stood and greeted us, T-Bone grabbed a Guinness for himself and a wine cooler for me, and we both settled into folding chairs of our own.

Now, I know the rules, but it seems unfair to ask me to abandon the one person I really know and go perch myself in a room full of women who frequently stare at my white skin and on occasion point and giggle. So I hung out with the men for as long as I could before I started to feel like a third wheel but eventually I excused myself and went upstairs to check on the women.

Upstairs the air was oppressively hot. Eight or nine children, most under the age of four, were crammed into a living room the size of a large bathroom, and all of them were jumping, screaming, and running as much as space would allow. It seemed their favorite game was to gather at one end of the room, crouch down on the floor, and then tear off running toward the leather couch, leaping up and dancing on the cushions - with their shoes on.

As I sat down on a love seat, one of the older children wobbled up to me. "I wanna go outside," he whined.

"You do?" I said dumbly.

"I wanna go outside," he whined more loudly, pinching his penis for emphasis.

I couldn't blame him. I peeked out the window at the men. A cool breeze was rippling through the fabric of their clothes. Their rumbling talk swelled in laughter now and again and then receded. I stared at the trash can and longed for my own bucket of ice.

"I think that's an excellent idea," I told him. "But you'd better ask your mommy." I turned to his mommy and gave her an encouraging smile. She pointedly ignored me.

The other children quickly took up the call for liberation. The oldest boy started shouting, "Outside! Outside! Outside!" The younger children crawled up onto the couch and tapped on the window, casting forlorn looks in my direction. I did my best to encourage their release, saying things like, "What a beautiful day for children to play outside!" or, "Gee, I bet it wouldn't be so hot in here if the little ones went outside to play." All of this was as determinedly ignored as my first attempt.

"Hey you!" growled one mami to the rebellious older boy. "Go sit over there!" She flicked her hand toward the most remote corner of the couch. "Stop all this foolishness and quiet yourself." The boy immediately fell silent and shuffled to his assigned seat.

Apparently there is no "Wait until I tell your father" in Africa.

After taking just about as much as I could of the whining cacophony, I finally snuck back outside to sit with the men. After listening to them reminisce for awhile, I excused myself and called Nivek, who babysat me until it was time to cut the cake.

Just as I was hanging up with Nivek, all of the mamis crowded around the back door - strangely, none of them actually stepped out - and started calling to the men to come in because we were going to cut the cake. "Hey, you! You lazy men! Get in here, now! We are going to cut this baby's cake!" A few of the men's eyes flicked in the direction of the door but none of them even turned their heads, much less made any movement to stand.

I scowled at T-Bone and we both stood and trundled into the tiny family room. Children were squeezed in piles on each other's laps or stuffed down into couch cushions. Mamis lined one wall, their hips squashed together so tightly I feared one sharp twist might cause a rupture. "Hey Nadea, what do you think of that cake?!" they roared. Several preteens huddled in one corner, arms crossed and eyebrows arched. "Look, look at that cake!" the mamis howled. They gesticulated wildly, grabbing childrens' faces and forcing them in the direction of the cake. "Is that not pretty?" demanded one mami with beautiful frothy curls. She mashed her child's face between her palms and moved the baby's head up and down in a nod. "Yes, so pretty!" she murmured, satisfied.

Somebody brought in a yellow and green "1" candle. "Who has fire?" all the mamis shouted. "We need fire!" The few men in the room found their chests being pounded. "Do you not have matches?" The men shook their heads sheepishly. "No?! No matches? What about brickette?" they insisted, asking for a lighter. The men shrugged and shuffled their feet, looking at each other helplessly. "Ah! Useless men!" the mamis said, throwing up their hands.

One of the little girls began to whimper. "Sh-sh-sh," said one of the mamis, lifting the little girl into her arms.

"Here, what is this?" cried another, plucking the girl from the arms of the first woman. "Tears? Sh-sh-sh, it is okay," she soothed, stroking the girl's cheek . . .

. . . until she was snatched away by a third mami, this one cradling the child like a baby. "Hey now," she said sternly. "Why are you crying? Look." She swung the child around onto her hip and pointed to the cake. "Look, it is Nadea's birthday. Are we not happy?" And the child was passed around the room, hugged and cosseted for a minute before another woman swooped in and seized her.

The adults continued to accuse each other of incompetence and dimwittedness. They sought in vain for a match. Finally someone had the idea to light the candle using the kitchen's gas burner. A few minutes later, an oozing flaming mass of yellow and green wax was pressed with great ceremony into the middle of the cake.

"Look, Nadea, look! Look at your cake! Now is the time to blow out your candle!" all the mamis shouted. "Let us sing 'Happy Birthday!'" We began a rousing rendition of the birthday song. By the third word, little Nadea's lower lip was trembling. By "Happy Birthday, dear Nadea!" he was in full-blown howl. Several of the other children, overwhelmed by the adults shrieking and the little boy's cries, began to sob too. They were quickly scooped up and the mamis sang merrily in their ears, trying to encourage the children to join in the fun. As the song came to an end, the adults surveyed their weeping overwrought children. The oldest mami pursed her lips. "Hmm," she said after a moment. "It is possibly too loud in here."

The preteens rolled their eyes and hunched down deeper into their shoulders.

Someone brought out a cake knife, its handle inexplicably wrapped in tinfoil. "Here you go, baby!" she cried, waving the knife gaily. "Let's cut your cake!" They tried to offer the knife to Nadea but he wouldn't take it. "Come on, baby," they urged. "Time to cut your cake." His face dissolved into tears. His mother lifted him and patted him on the back. "Sh-sh-sh," she crooned. "It is okay. Sh-sh-sh-sh-sh." She rocked him back and forth for about thirty seconds, until he was hauled away by another mami and the cycle began again.

I caught T-Bone's eye across the room and he gave me the "Let's get out of here" look. I did my best to get through the crowds but it was hopeless. Two mamis collided as they tried to make way, mashing a little boy's head between their backsides. He hung there for a minute, his mouth making little guppie puckering motions, then the buttocks parted and he escaped. He looked around dazedly and began to cry. He too was quickly absorbed by the baby snatchers.

I shook my head and gave up. Slipping out of the screen door, I snuck out of the backyard and made my way around the townhouses until I got back to the front of their unit. Igga was just finishing up a plate of food for T-Bone to take with him. We wished Nadea a happy birthday, said our goodbyes and left. As we trudged to the car, T-Bone turned back to look at the lit house vibrating with noise.

He shook his head wistfully. "They have not even begun to roast the goat."

Monday, June 25, 2007

My Stalker George Clooney

So maybe Dr. K was right.

Maybe signs are important.

Pass me a slice of pie.

After all of the drama on Friday morning, we had several walk-ins who saw our signs and were looking for a chiropractor, which was very exciting. Toward the end of the day, Dr. K and I were alone in the office when a very chic woman with a large handbag and sunglasses the size of satellite dishes swept through the front door.

"Is Dr. Kadin in?" she demanded.

Dr. K stepped out of the restroom just at that moment and gave a little shriek. "Oh, it's so good to see you!" She rushed over and the two women embraced.

It turns out that this lady used to be a patient at ProHealth, the evil empire of chiropractic where Dr. K and I first met. She said she had just been driving up and down the Pike, expecting that one day she would see a sign for Dr. K's new practice. And then one day, there it was.

"So, what have you been up to?" Dr. K asked.

"Well, as you know, I am the President and CEO of the World Food Programme, an international nonprofit to stop world hunger."

Thanks for clarifying, I thought snarkily.

"And yesterday I was just going about my business when my Director called-"

You're the President and CEO and you have a Director?

"to tell me we just received a million dollar grant!"

"Ooooooh!" We all squealed and jumped up and down. "Congratulations! That's wonderful!"

"I know! And that's not the best part!" She leaned in a little closer. "I'm flying to Darfur tonight-" That's the best part? "-and the check will be presented to me on behalf of the foundation by-" and here she made a little weak-needed motion as if to faint. "-George Clooney!"

"Ooooh!" I made little fluttery movements to show how delighted I was but inside I was full of turmoil.

Clearly George has been reading my blog. And clearly, he wants revenge.

Giving a million dollars . . . to your neighbor: the rich liberal way to bust your kneecaps.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Humble Pie

When I arrived at work on Friday, Dr. K was already waiting for me. And I do mean waiting.

We actually pulled in at the same time, about half an hour before the clinic opened and fifteen minutes before I was supposed to be there. As we both got out of our cars, she shouted hello. I waved back and shouted, "Hi, I'm just going to the Pancake House to grab a cup of coffee!" A strange way to greet someone, I know, unless you are trying to avoid carrying whatever of the voluminous tote bags stuffed with medical tomes she is dragging around that day.

So I ducked into the coffee shop and spent ten minutes or so fixing my coffee and joking around with the staff. When I reemerged, my boss was sitting on the bench outside the door to our office. "Hey," I said with surprise.

"Hey," she replied. I stood for a minute, wanting to see if she would make any effort to enter the building. Finally she said, "Oh, I couldn't get to my keys. They're in my purse. Would you mind unlocking the door?"

Oh, I'm sorry, my keys? Yeah, they're in my purse too. What are we going do?

"Sure!" I said, juggling my coffee, my lunch, and my own textbooks in an effort to get at my purse. "Yep, just. Give. Me. A minute here." My voice was strained as I dug blindly through my bag, trying to avoid spilling my coffee on her or braining her with Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn.

I found my keys, unlocked the door, and held it open for her. She stood and scooped up one of her bags. "Would you mind getting that for me?" she asked, nodding at the other one. I tried to grab the handle while holding my coffee, books and bag, still keeping the door propped open with my toe.

"Oops, sorry," she said as she scrolled through her Blackberry.

"Oh, no. Don't even worry about it, it's okay," I drawled. "Really, I don't mind. No really."

She gave me an odd look and went upstairs.

As we set our bags down, she asked, "Did you see the banner?" See, a few weeks ago she ordered several signs: a Plexiglas plaque by the outer door, a sandwich board on the side of the road, and by far the most expensive one, a "Now Open" banner to hang from the roof.

I thought. "No," I said, "I didn't." I remembered going outside the day before to check out the banner and being surprised not to find it. I had thought that maybe I'd misunderstood her and that only two of our signs had been delivered. Now I learned differently.

"Uhhhhhhh," she huffed, sounding like a steam engine. "UUHHHHHHH! This is just so frustrating!!" She sat down at her desk and cradled her head in her hands. "He told me they would be there. He said he'd installed them on Wednesday and now it's Friday. Why would he have told me that if he didn't install them? Unless somebody stole it." She looked up hopefully. "Do you think Nighttime Pediatrics stole it?"

I thought of the shiny-faced nurses who worked in the office below us and stumbled groggily to their cars every morning, their cheerily printed scrubs creased and damp-looking. "Well," I said hesitantly. "It doesn't seem very . . . likely. Does it?"

She frowned. "Yes, but apparently they were upset with our sandwich board. That's what Jim said, so maybe . . . " The unfinished sentence hung in the air. Maybe they used their superpowers to fly up onto the roof and rip down the vinyl abomination once and for all.

"Hmm," I said after a minute. "I don't think so."

"Well then, the only other alternative is that Jim is lying." She picked up the phone and jabbed angrily. After a minute, she spoke. "Uh, Jim? Yeah, hi. This is Dr. K. You were supposed to put up my signs the other day? Yeah, well that's what I'm calling about. Why did you tell me you hung the banner?" A pause. "It is not there. No, I mean, we checked. We checked several times."

Her voice became more punctuated. "Well, no, I didn't drive by on Wednesday night," she scoffed. "I had other things to do on Wednesday night. But my assistant was here yesterday and she didn't see it." Another pause. "So what your saying is, somehow it disappeared between Wednesday night and Thursday morning? Is that what you're saying?" A shrieking tone crept in. "Blown over onto the roof? No, you're not listening to me, Jim. We checked. It looks as if some studs were drilled into the wall and now something has been removed. It's gone." A final pause, then, "Thank you! Okay, we'll see you soon." She closed the phone with a snap.

"He's going to come out and look at it."

But not before picking up his body armor from the dry cleaners, I thought.

Jim showed up a few hours later, scrambled up onto the roof, and with a heaving grunt, flipped over the sign. It had been twisted by the wind and lay nestled on the eaves, hidden from view. As we stood squinting in the parking lot, our necks craned back to take in the full power and beauty of our sign, Dr. K folded her arms.

"Oh," she said.

Turning on her heel, she marched back into the building.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Top Ten Best Movies of All Time

#10 Strictly Ballroom: The Men In Tight Black Pants Award for Best Dance Movie Ever
This movie is totally camp. As long as you accept that this movie is Dirty Dancing on acid, you’ll love the tale of plain Jane Fran (no last name) and sexy Latin Champion Scott Hastings as they prepare for the upcoming Pan-Pacific Grand Championships. Hairspray, platinum blond, and fake tans are abundant, as is love, passion and accepting who you were born to be.

#9 The Usual Suspects: Best Thriller
Who Is Keyser Soze? The camaraderie between the leads makes the already excellent dialogue in this film nearly zing with excitement. I could watch this film a couple dozen times and never get tired of seeing the way the pieces of this story come together or laughing at how the guys joke and banter.

#8 The Breakfast Club: Best Teen Movie
This iconic eighties teen flick makes the list for one reason: five kids spend a couple of hours sitting on hard little chairs in an empty room and manage to make a journey of self-discovery and reconciliation that will change them forever. I love the tight writing, the fact that it could be performed on a tiny stage with no set changes and still depicts the powerful coming-of-age experiences of many wildly different people who start out believing they hate each other and end up recognizing the truth in each person.

#7 Almost Famous: Best Coming of Age Tale
Dorky talented aspiring rock journalist get his big break when Rolling Stone hires him to follow tragically brilliant rock band Stillwater for a summer. I didn’t even live through the seventies (well, only two years) and this film made me feel nostalgic. I guess it transcends the experience of teens in the seventies to speak to the tiny crusted-over wounds we all suffered in adolescence, the futile hope for acceptance, for someone to see the special something, the way a cool kid’s grin made you feel you might suddenly have arrived and then the next day you make your special “inside joke” and they stare at you like you grew a third head. I think I had a particularly gentle adolescence, being in a school that celebrated difference, but I still recognized these moments in an immediate visceral way. Magical.

#6 L.A. Confidential: Best Suspense Film
This is the gnarled complex little tale of a few almost forgotten murders and the detectives who are convinced that there’s more to a midnight shoot-up at a local diner than meets the eye. Outstanding writing, phenomenal acting, completely authentic set design, exceptional lighting and costumes evoke all the heart-pounding suspense of L.A.’s seedy fifties underbelly. This is one of those films that you wish you’d written yourself.

#5 Rushmore: Best High School Loser Movie
This movie was a complete surprise. I rented it on a whim one day and totally fell in love with Max Fisher’s goofy devotion to his beloved high school, where he is flunking out of all his classes but rules the extra-curricular club circuit. When he and his mentor, eccentric millionaire Herman Blume, both fall for the same girl, Max channels all of his considerable energies into an all-out hilarious pursuit of his “Rushmore,” the girl of his dreams.

#4 Wonder Boys: The Richard Pryor Award For Funniest Movie About A Man Whose Life Is Falling Apart
Another brilliant script. I can’t say it any better than this review from IMDB user J.D. Lafrance: “Wonder Boys is a kind of small, oddball little film with a definite, quirky, dark sense of humour and a cast of eccentric characters that are never colourful for the sake of it.” Excellent rich writing bursting with warmth and intelligence.

#3 Harvey: Best Feel-Good Flick
Best Line of All Time: Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, "In this world, Elwood, you must be" - she always called me Elwood - "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. ---Elwood P. Dowd

If everyone sat down and watched this movie together, it would probably end war for all time. 'Nuff said.

#2 The Philadelphia Story: Best Comedy
Normally I’m not a big comedy fan. I know I sound like a punk but I’m just more into witty things that make my mind race than the slapstick crap that Hollywood farts out every year. More “Ah ha!” than “Haha!” I guess. But the dialoque in this film zips along at a breathtaking pace, carried by the effortless deadpan delivery of its leads. Sure, it starts with the terribly impolitic sight of Cary Grant pushing Katharine Hepburn onto the ground, but we quickly learn that Kate can take care of herself. Also showcases the brilliant talents of Virginia Weidler, one of the best child actors of all time.

And the #1 Best Movie of All Time Is . . .

The Man Who Cried
Christina Ricci plays a young Russian Jew who flees to England to escape being killed in the pogroms of 1920s Eurasia. Years later, haunted by the memory of her beloved opera-singing father, she finds herself working as a chorus girl for the Paris Opera. She is befriended by Cate Blanchett, a fun-loving Russian dancer, and soon finds herself drawn to the mysterious Gypsy horse trainer played by Johnny Depp. I love this movie because it is so magically beautiful, it makes me ache. I almost didn’t buy it because once you possess a movie, some of the magic escapes. You never quite want to see it as strongly ever again. Glad to say that in this case, I still love this movie and am swept away by the power of the story again and again.


Gandhi: The “Hey, I Can Do That!” Award for Most Inspiring Film

As Good As It Gets: The “What’s That, Lassie? Timmy Fell Down the Well and Now It’s Flooding And He’s Going To Die?” Award for Best Acting by An Animal In A Film

Now, Voyager: The Golden Tissue Award for Most Romantic Classic Film

Dead Poets Society: The Barbaric Yawp Award for Most Inspiring Teacher Flick

The Royal Tenenbaums: The Murphy Brown Award for Strongest Family Values on Film

Two Weeks Notice: The “My, She Was Yar” Award for Wittiest Romantic Comedy of the Twenty-First Century

About A Boy: The Santa’s Super Sleigh Award for Best Music In A Film

Drop Dead Gorgeous: The "Oh No She Din't" Award for Naughtiest Satire

Groundhog Day: The Doc Brown Award for Best Alteration of the Time-Space Continuum in Film

The Princess Bride: The Heaving Bosom Award for Best Date Movie

And an additional Honorable Mention to Groundhog Day for Best Delivery of Poetry in Everyday Conversation:

A neighbor grunts a greeting to Bill Murray's character as they pass in the hallway but instead of his customary surly snarl, Bill grabs the guy and exclaims, his voice vibrant with goodwill:

“Winter, slumbering in the open air,
wears upon his face the dream of Spring!”

I have always wanted to grab some grouchy stranger in the middle of February, shake them by the shoulders and shout out some poetry.

But I do not want to be shot.

Well, there's my list. Next time I'll have to tell you my 10 Worst Films of All Time. (Evil chuckle and a diabolical rub of the hands.)

Behind Every Successful Man . . .

I couldn't get this to post so I just made a clickable link.

As Luap so aptly pointed out, a good woman is hard to find, too.

Check out this photo of an Albanian man escorting his wife home.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Printed in Black & White

After my dinner last night, I finally took the USB thingy to CVS and ordered some digital prints. T-Bone and his friend had taken some photos at Brookside Gardens and he had been asking me to go print them out - my cute little technophobe - for a couple of weeks now. After I excused myself from my new best buds at El Nopalito, I still needed to walk it off so I ducked into the CVS next door and selected my photos. It was a one hour wait so I decided to come back today to pick them up.

Adwoa, the young Ghanaian girl who works behind the counter, was helping another African lady to print out passport pictures for her baby. Adwoa apologized for not being able to help me right away so I said, "Oh no, girl, do your thang! Actually, why don't I help this customer and you can go grab my photos?"

I edited the photo while Adwoa rummaged around behind the counter. She looked everywhere but she couldn't find my photos, so finally she went over to the photo kiosk to see if maybe they had not been printed. Sure enough, they were still in there, but since that store has a decent machine (unlike my old store!) it only takes about five minutes to print them out.

I decided to do a little shopping while I waited. When I came back to the counter, Adwoa was standing there with a clutch of photos in her hand and a puzzled frown on her face. I tried to peek at the photos - sure enough, there was my pookie - but she still seemed like she was searching for something. Finally she glanced up. "Uh, did you have about thirty photos?"

"Mm-hmm, I think so."

"Okay . . . " she glanced down at my photos with a distressed look.

I guessed what the problem was.

"I think those are mine. That's my husband," I offered.

Relief broke across her brow. "OH!" Then, "I didn't want to ask but I was like, who is this? These are not her photos." We laughed. "I was looking through them, trying to find a white person."

"Haha! Yeah, we get that all the time."

"Where is he from?" she asked as she handed the photos to me.

"Oh, he's from Cameroon." I started flipping through the pile.

"Really?! Oh, I didn't know!"

The lady with the passport photo turned to look at me. "Eh-eh!" she said, making the quick rapid-fire sound that is the West African version of "Say what?!" "I'm from Cameroon too!"

"Wow! Where in Cameroon?" I asked, pulling a photo from the stack.

"I'm from Buea." she answered.

"Oh, my husband went to University of Buea." I turned to Adwoa and handed her the photo I had selected from the pile. "Here you go," I said, pointing to a few tiny pale specks. "White people!"

She laughed. "Oh, you are crazy. I forgot you were so crazy."

"Here, let me see," said the African lady, holding out her hand for my photos. "Yes, yes I think maybe I've seen him. What's his name?"

"T-Bone Obi."

"Oh, I think I've seen him somewhere."

"So, have you ever been to Cameroon?" Adwoa asked.

"No, he's a political asylee, so we can't go back. Maybe someday!"

"Have you met his family? Have you met his mom?"

"He has some family that lives around here. I've talked to his mom on the phone before but you know, her English and my Pidgin, not so much." The Cameroonian lady started laughing. For some reason, Africans seem to love it when you talk about pidgin. You don't even have to speak it - even if you just mention it, they start laughing.

Anyway, so we talked for a few minutes more before I left, but I thought the whole incident was pretty funny. Probably because I've been in the same awkward situaton before, handing someone a packet of photos of people who do not look like my customer. More often than not, I have the wrong photos and the customer is peeved until you find the right ones. So I don't blame her for assuming that I wouldn't have any interest in these photos of a black man.

Still, I wonder if we'll ever get to the point that such a thought would never cross our minds.

Lost in Space

Does this dude not look like Luap?

"I said the meeting was in Chevy Chase, not Space!" --Luap's boss

Love you, bro!

A Good Man Is Hard To Find

Cary Grant: Monsoon Edition!

Quick Note

Hey guys, just a quick note: always scroll down to make sure there aren't any new entries that you've missed. Apparently the blog gods post entries in the order in which they were started, not in the order posted, so if you start, say, a long diatribe about a cranky patient on Tuesday but don't post it for two days, and in the meantime you post a bunch of other things, your diatribe will still appear as an entry for Tuesday, only visible if you keep scrolling down.

Not trying to assume that y'all live for my every word. However, since I check your blogs like twenty times a day to see if there is anything new, just thought I'd let you know you might be missing some precious distraction from the monotony of cubicle life.

The Little Cactus

Well, last night I decided to treat myself to a quiet dinner at the Tex-Mex place near our apartment. El Nopalito, Spanish for "The Little Cactus," serves great food with an emphasis on fish. It was a perfect evening to eat outside - not too warm, not too windy, no bugs. So I asked to be seated on the patio and as they escorted me out, a cry rose up from the next table.

"Oh ho!" shouted a middle-aged man. "Someone is joining us! Joining us out on the patio!"

"Joining us on the patio!" echoed the middle-aged woman and young woman seated with him. They all raised their sangria classes and took a healthy swig.

"Are you eating all alone? No no no, that won't do!" He shook his head, huge hangdog jowls flapping everywhere. I wondered how long they had been out here pickling their brains.

"Won't do!" the chorus sang.

"Pull up a chair! Pull up a table!" The waitress wordlessly grabbed my table and began dragging it toward the leering revelers.

I smacked my palms down on my quickly receding tabletop. "Oh, no! That's okay," I called. "Just me and my book tonight!" I waved the novel I was reading to prove that I already had entertainment lined up.

"No," the man growled disapprovingly into his jowls. "That is just the most tragic thing I've ever seen!" And then they all broke into laughter.

Well, I didn't join them, but I did feel a sort of silent bond. I opened my book and settled in for a session of blatant eavesdropping. They were a family, apparently: father, mother, young adult daughter. They were world travelers with a yen for western Europe: Paris, Barcelona, London. The daughter appeared to have a deep unrequited love for George Clooney, the "Cary Grant of our generation." As if!

Now I don't know how it happened. Somewhere along the way, I laughed a little too openly at something they said, or Papa Bear made an expansive gesture to include all of us in his declarations, but somehow we started talking. When the waitress came back out, Papa gave her their pitcher of sangria and asked her to pour a glass for me. "Come on, pull up your chair! What did you say your name was? Melissa?"

Anyway, I ended up talking and laughing with them until about 9:30, with Papa Bear liberally topping off everyone's glasses. Turns out P-Bear was traveling to Springfield, IL for a ten day business trip and he was treating everyone to "his last real meal" until he could return from the hinterlands.

Whatever, I didn't care! They were just some very jolly folks and I felt blessed - by whom, I don't know. Dionysius? - but I felt blessed to just chill with them for a little while and let the cares of the world slip away.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Pickpocket, The Whore and The Delivery Boy

"The daily lives of the pickpocket and the whore are even more monotonous than those of the delivery boy and the housewife."
-Mason Cooley, whose profession is described by The Columbia World of
Quotations as "U.S. Aphorist"

I have a new hair barrette. It was handcrafted by orphans in the Ukraine and carried across the ocean by a lonely Ukrainian missionary whose only purpose in life is to give meaning to their barren existence by selling these humble fruits of labor. More on that later.

Today we received our shipment of office furniture. The delivery guys were supposed to be there between 8 and 9 in the morning. I am supposed to be at work at 8:30 but I showed up an hour earlier to make sure I was there if they arrived ahead of schedule. And they didn't disappoint. They sailed through our doors right on the stroke of . . . twelve.

Normally this wouldn't be an issue, but on Tuesdays we close at 12:30 and by 11:45, my boss is already twitching because she's having lunch with her mother-in-law - "at Clydes," she says with emphasis - and needs to rush home to "slip a check under the mat for the repair man."

Wait a second, what did she say? Excuse me, ma'am, what planet are you from? Stupiter? Mercuripmeoff? Urheadupyouranus?

So anyway, by the time the guys show up at the office, she has been pacing up and down and muttering to herself for several hours. "Call Marianne," she tells me, naming the saleswoman at the furniture store.

I pick up the phone and began to dial.

"Tell her that the guys haven't showed (sic) up yet. Say, 'Just wanted to let you know we're still waiting for the furniture guys to come.' Tell her they were supposed to be here at eight o'clock this morning."

The phone is ringing. Once, twice, a third time, a fourth.

"No, wait. Tell her that I'd like to speak with her. Tell her this is ridiculous. I mean, you were here at 7:30 this morning, for God's sake!" The spoon in her cup of tea clanks louder and louder as she stirs.

The voice mail begins to play. "Hi, this is Marianne! I can't answer my phone. Leave a message and I'll call you back." The annoyingly long instructions on how to leave a voice mail message begin to play - are these ever really necessary? I mean how often does someone leave a message FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THEIR ENTIRE LIVES? Is this a common enough occurrence that we really need to be reeducated every time someone else doesn't answer the phone? Is there a subliminal message hidden in there?

"Please leave your message at the sound of the tone. To page this person, press *4*. To leave a callback number, press *5*. At the end of your message, hang up, or press *1* for more options. After hanging up, the memory cells storing this information will self-destruct, as will the lyrics to every ABBA song ever written, the exact location of the dry-cleaners where you dropped off your favorite sweater last week and all the steps to the Macarena."

But I don't have to worry about listening to the annoyingly long instructions because my boss still has some instructions of her own.

"Actually, what I want you to say is, 'Hi, Marianne,' umm, 'please call us because we are still waiting for our furniture and,' umm, 'and we ordered it over a month ago, I think we've had to wait long enough, don't you?' but sound nice, 'so if you could call us, that would be great.' Or something like that. You know what to do; you're a smart woman."

At this point, I am smart enough to have my finger stuck in my ear. "Hi, Marianne. This is Crittergal from Kadin Family Chiropractic. Just calling to check in with you. Dr. Kat and I are still waiting for the furniture to be delivered - it's about 11:47 now and I know you had said they were scheduled to arrive between eight and nine this morning, so I just wanted to check in with you to get an updated estimate on their arrival time. Normally it wouldn't be an issue but we close today at 12:30, which is why we had scheduled the early delivery . . . " As I blather on, my eyes start to glaze over. I don't know what else I say but suddenly I am hanging up and my boss's head is bobbing up and down enthusiastically.

"Excellent!" Thank goodness.

At that moment, the door swings open and a woman walks in. She is in her late forties, blonde with a dark tan and deep wrinkles around her eyes and mouth. She has on a loose yellow tank top cut off at the waist and pink terry cloth shorts. But it is her shoes that catch my attention. They are very high sparkly heels with huge rhinestone butterflies tied on the toestrap and they wink and flash as she approaches.

"Oh, thank God!" she exclaims. She puts her hand to her head and I notice that her fingernails and forearms are streaked with dirt. "Do you have a bathroom?"

"Uh, er," I sputter. I'm not sure how Dr. K will react to this woman's tushie touching the same toilet seat as the rest of us. But I needn't worry because Dr. K immediately pastes a smile on her face.

"Sure! Um, it's right through there," she says, indicating the door to the restroom.

"Oh, thank God! You know, things just aren't the same after four babies!" She grins conspiratorially and dashed into the bathroom. Dr. K and I give each other the "WTF Eyeball" but before we can say anything, we hear a flush and she opens the door.

"Man, that was SO good! They wouldn't let me go at La Madeleine. I was in there for awhile but then some lady got an attitude so they chased me out. Some people just don't understand things don't work so good after four babies." She leans on the front desk and crosses her feet. "Them kids just tore me up."

"Oh, yeah!" Dr. K says, a little too loudly. "Yep, we know about that, don't we, Crittergal?" She throws a desperate glance my way.

I force out a "Hahaha" and try to read in Dr. K's eyes how she wants me to act. It's sad because I want to be as open as possible if some homeless woman in revealing clothes wants to use our bathroom but the truth is that some of our patients would feel threatened. I mean, heck, I feel sort of threatened. If we want to keep our patients, we can't welcome people like this woman with absolute openness.

"Yeah, well, it's too bad about them kids. I don't have no way to get back to them right now. Won't be able to till I get enough money for the Metro."

And just like that, Dr. K transforms from helpless and apologetic to Lady Sheriff.

"Well, is you're asking us for money, I mean, I'm sorry but I just don't have anything to give you."

"Oh." This was not the hoped-for response.

Dr. K softens. "Except maybe a few quarters. But really, I don't have anything."

The woman brightens. "A few quarters?" she says hopefully.

"Yeah! Yeah, I think so!" Dr. K leaps up and hustles into her office. A moment later, she is back. "Here, this is all I have. I'm sorry, wish it could be more. There you go!" She drops the money into the woman's outstretched hand.

"Thank you," the woman says, her head already turning in my direction.

"I don't have any cash at all. Sorry!" I chirp.

"Oh, okay." Dr. K is already casting an anxious eye toward the door, hoping that no patients will arrive until we can get this hustler out.

"All right, then!" she says. "Good luck! Hope you make it home to the kids."

"Okay, then," the woman says slowly as she turns the coins over in her palm. She shuffles to the door. "Thanks for letting me use the bathroom." She swings the door open and is gone.

As she totters down the stairs, two men slide past her and head for our office. Their shirts bear the logo of the delivery company. No sooner does the door crack than Dr. K is speaking.

"Hi! Where have you been?! You were supposed to be here between eight and nine this morning, right?" she asks, drawing out the last word with the condescending slowness of a preschool teacher. "What happened?"

The older guy blinks and his mouth gapes a bit. He runs a hand over his head. "Yeah," he says with a nervous chuckle. "Sorry about that. One of my guys called out and then we didn't have enough guys to cover all the jobs so I had to wait for this guy." He jabs a thumb at his younger companion."

"Yeah, I was sitting at home eating my breakfast when I got a call. 'You have to come in.' So I jumped up and got there as fast as I could."

Dr. K restrains herself until the guy stops talking, then, "Well, SHE was here at 7:30! She had to get up early to wait for you guys!" The two men shrug a mournful apology my way and I try to glance at my boss and discreetly roll my eyes. The ol' "Yeah, I know she's a nutcase. At least you don't work for her!" look.

"Okay then!" I say, clapping my hands together purposefully. "Let's see about where we should put that furniture!"

"Oh, yes! Well, the smaller one should go right here . . . " And with that, further scolding is averted. The men make notes and go back out to the truck. When they return, they are groaning under the weight of two huge steel filing cabinets. They slide the larger one into its assigned spot and begin cutting away at the plastic sheeting surrounding it. One of the men reaches for a few scraps of paper inside identifying the cabinet as "factory-direct" and listing the make and model of the unit.

"Wait," cries Dr. K. She grasps at the papers, a pulsating glint in her eye. "Wait, I want to keep those!"

"Okay," the delivery guy says, handing them to her.

She clasps them to her chest and laughs shakily. "I know, I know. Some people make fun of me. But it's always stood me in good stead!" By now the guy is backing out of the room as Dr. K unconsciously smoothes the glossy surface of the paper.

"Oh, okay," he says, nodding.

Outside of the file room, the younger guy has been unboxing a smaller file cabinet to go under the front desk. When he flips it over right-side-up, we all see a large crimp where the top panel covers the cabinet. All three of us tense as Dr. K walks out, still stroking her papers.

"Wait, wait, wait!" The older guy's shoulders sag. "Look, this one's damaged! This one's not right!" They try banging on it with a hammer but it still doesn't look perfect. After several minutes of Dr. K declaring over and over again that "it's not right" and cataloging its defects, it is agreed that we will keep this unit while another is being ordered and that the replacement cabinet will be delivered free of charge.

At least I think that is the agreement, because halfway through their conversation, a wan-looking young woman opens the door slightly and squeezes herself in.

"Hi! How can I help you?" I think my head is spinning. How many random visitors will we have today?

"Hello." Her voice is soft and melodic. She is carrying an old leather briefcase which she swings up onto the countertop. "I am raising money for the orphans in the St. Ludovico Orphanage in Ukraine. I have some items to sell. Would you mind if I show you?"

I am about to ask her to come back some other time when I hear Dr. K's voice raise an octave. "But I specifically asked for eggshell, not candlelight!"

I sigh. "Sure." She opens the case and even I have to admit that everything inside is tempting. There are beautiful handpainted nesting dolls that open to reveal the tiniest little dolls I have ever seen and little mirrors crusted with jewels, painted fans and embroidered handkerchiefs. And there are carved wooden hair barrettes.

I am addicted to hair barrettes. For some reason, every time I use an elastic band to put my hair in a ponytail, I end up with a lump of hair poking up in the middle of my head. But when I use the barrette, no lump. The trick is finding a barrette that doesn’t pinch your hair, snapping off strands every time you take it out.

“Ooh,” I say, fingering the barrettes.

“These are made from poplar. Very pretty. Many layers of poplar that have to dry to the surface before the next one goes on.”

“How much are they?” I ask.

“Twenty dollars. The children carve them themselves.” Uh huh. But at this point, I don’t care who carved them. I want one. “Here, try one,” she urges, holding a barrette out to me. “Looks pretty on your skin.”

It does kinda look pretty against my skin, doesn’t it?

So long story short, I end up plunking down twenty bucks for a barrette.

Hey, I saw that look.

I did it for the orphans!

Shaking Down the Stars

"An ass may bray a good while before he shakes the stars down."
-George Eliot (1819–1880), British novelist, editor. Romola, ch. 50 (1863)

A few weeks ago, Dr. Kat and I hosted a spinal screening at the annual Round Robin Tennis Tournament, a charity event that raises money for a tennis camp for poor kids. It was held at Carter Barron and several famous tennis players (not Rafael!) played with the donors. Bob Ryan, the local weatherman, played a few rounds and Adrian Fenty, the DC mayor, even showed up and strolled around the court a few times with his coterie.

Dr. K and I were there to check people's spines and educate them about the benefits of chiropractic - i.e., to recruit patients. Only two people actually scheduled a follow-up appointment and one of them called a few days later to cancel. The other, however, arrived last Monday for his first appointment. And he is an ass.

He complained about the stairs. He complained about the chairs. Repeatedly. When Dr. K came out to greet him, he snarled, "These are absolutely the worst chairs for an office like this!" Now I love our chairs, huge retro-looking cushy orange things that are oh so comfy. So when I heard him say this, I gritted my teeth and hunched further into my keyboard.

Every time he has come in, he has griped about the lights, the air conditioning, the carpet. He's just an all-around unpleasant fellow. Now, Dr. K has really been working on being unapologetic when she recommends care to people. Sometimes a doctor with "poverty-consciousness" will feel bad recommending the regular course of corrective care because it is expensive, inconvenient, etc. When we went to see Ogi a few weeks ago, he told us to be bold.

Well, this clown got Dr. K so peeved that she completely abandoned any shred of apology. She just told him, "Look, this is what your body needs to get better. Obviously I'm not getting through to you so I'm just going to transfer you to another chiropractor." That made him sit up straight!

Some people just don't respect you until you abuse them.

Now he's just the cuddliest kitten you ever saw. He actually smiled and laughed today when he came in. But that's not the coolest part.

After his adjustment, while I was scheduling him, Dr. K and he were chatting about her interest in chiropractic pediatrics. "And it's so great," Dr. K said, "because Crittergal here is also studying to be a doula."

"REALLY?!" Mr. Ass's white hair shot up even farther off his head. His eyes were big and round. Turns out his father is the one who invented the term doula. He's this bigwig neonatologist who was traveling in South America and noticed that women attended by a non-medical non-family member labor assistant had remarkably easier, more satisfying births. When we looked him up in all of my childbirth books, his articles, papers and books were noted dozens of times! One of my textbooks is even written by the guy.

So for the rest of the day, I've just been floating in this cloud of how-crazy-is-that. I know I'm never going to get to talk to the guy or anything but it was such an unexpected coincidence that you have to sit back and say, "Wow. That is cool." One of those shining stars that make the braying of an ass worthwhile.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Just something funny

I know this is the kind of stuff you usually forward to people but since some people respond to forwards as if you've sneezed on them, I thought I'd post it up here. Made me laugh!

All of these are legitimate companies that didn't spend quite enough time considering how their online names might appear (and be misread). Check them out yourself!

1. "Who Represents" is where you can find the name of the agent that represents any celebrity. Their web site is

2. Experts Exchange is a knowledge base where programmers can exchange advice and views at

3. Looking for a pen? Look no further than Pen Island at

4. Need a therapist? Try Therapist Finder at Actually, you used to be able to find me on

5. There's the Italian Power Generator company,

6. And don't forget the Mole Station Native Nursery in New South Wales,

7. If you're looking for IP computer software, there's always

8. The First Cumming Methodist Church Web site is

9. And the designers at Speed of Art await you at their wacky Web site,

Monday, June 18, 2007

Happy Father's Day

What an awesome weekend! On Saturday I was a total bum - lazed around in bed, read my books, worked on my flash cards for pregnancy massage. After T-Bone got up in the morning, I stretched my whole body diagonally across the bed and just took up as much real estate as I could. Excellent!

In the afternoon, I went to Sutton Place - I guess it's called Balducci's now. I decided I really wanted to splurge on getting some side dishes for Dad's Father's Day celebration since I have been such a loser at past family events, not bringing anything and just relying on my folks and sibs to provide all the yummies. So I went crazy and got lots of interesting-looking things for us to sample.

On Sunday, T-Bone and I loaded up the cooler and grabbed the food and Dad's dad's-day gift and headed up to Boyds. Telmah and Anyhc greeted us and Mom took over with the food, emptying everything into bowls and chopping the strawberries to make a tasty strawberry and blueberry mix.

Semaj and Haras were already there - BTW, it is so not fair that she and I are "Haras" and "Nagem." Not true! :-) Dad had wanted to go to the park but we couldn't rent a picnic area or drink alcohol so we decided to stay at the house. Good call!

Semaj, Haras, T-Bone and I fell into an intense round of Crazy Eights. That Semaj is pretty tricky! Dad watched but I could tell he was intimidated by our skills. Anyhc and Telmah, however, were convined that they could take us all and kept jumping into the middle of the game to try to grab their own hand - paw?

After that, we hung out on the porch and noshed. Luap and Yellek showed up with deviled eggs - yay! They grabbed some chow and joined us out on the porch.

I got to go inside and chat with Mom for a while, just us girls. We had a good talk. Nivek and Nnerb came in from Charlottesville and brought yummy dessert stuff. Mom stepped out for a minute - we were supposed to be watching Telmah but all of a sudden I heard the clink of dog tags on china. I ran into the kitchen to see that Telmah had wiped out our supply of pecan rolls. Bad dog!

Dad got some really cool presents. Semaj gave him The Dangerous Book for Boys, which everybody loved. It had important information for every boy, including how to curse in Navajo. It was so hilarious! Luap and Yellek gave him Godivas and Nivek and Nnerb gave him a bottle of wine. T-Bone and I also gave him wine, a 2005 Frog's Leap Zinfandel. He is so easy to shop for. :-) Looking over his loot, Yellek observed, "Now you can get drunk, eat chocolate and swear at your neighbors!" As Luap would say, CLUTCH!

T-Bone and I had to leave but before we left, I got a great idea - every month, one of us should pick a trail to hike. Wouldn't that be awesome? I totally think we should do it. Anybody know any hikes they either want to try or want to share?

looking for reading suggestions

Anybody read anything good lately?

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Whatever you do, don't get a credit card with SST Card Services.

If your WAMU/Providian card gets sold to SST, pay down your balance ASAP.

If you still have your WAMU/Providian account, count yourself lucky, start paying it down today, and get ready to deal with these bottom feeders as WAMU/Providian seems to be selling all of its accounts to SST.

From my post on the SST Card Services Complaint Board:

"I just received a notice from my credit monitoring service that a change was made to one of my credit reports. I log on, see my SST (formerly Providian) card is now over limit. I call them up to see what's going on and they say they never received my last payment. I'm confused. "I can't believe I didn't make that payment!" I say naively, because obviously if they tell me they never received it, then I must not have mailed it. But I am flabbergasted. I've been paying off balances on various cards left and right and conscientiously paying at least the minimum on whatever account I am not aggressively paying down at the moment. I just KNOW that I sent them that check but as far as I can tell, I have no proof - no carbon copies, no payment sent registered mail. Then I find this page and I am shocked to read other people recounting the exact same experience. Why are these bastards stealing our hard-earned money? Can we take these scumsuckers down or what?!"

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Web of Reeds

Andy Goldsworthy creates beautiful pieces of found art. One day when I have my own massage studio, I will put Goldsworthy prints on my walls.

Sometimes You Just Have To Vent . . .

My boss is driving me crazy. Don't get me wrong; I love her. She's fun and enthusiastic and very encouraging. But . . .

Have you ever met somebody who feels entitled? They just assume that whatever concerns them at that moment should be everyone else's number one priority as well? I'm not talking about me - I'm the employee, so yeah, her business concerns should be my primary focus. But if the girl at Starbucks makes her tall 4 pump no water no foam chai (no joke) with three pumps instead of four, it is an affront to her sensitive soul. She's one of those people who treats retail workers as if they are a different species with diminished capacity and without their own humanity. You know, the woman who rolls her eyes and huffs and taps her fingers on the counter loudly - TAP TAP TAP - if she has to wait five minutes for her sandwich.

When we are not busy, she comes and leans on the front desk and yammers on and on about things that I do not want to know. I mean honestly, do I really need to know how many times in their marriage her husband has ejaculated? (Answer: four)

There is a dish of candy sitting on the desk for patients to take. A friend has come to visit and as she talks, without missing a beat, she unwraps a Lifesaver and instead of putting the wrapper in her pocket or placing it in the trash can, she thrusts out her hand at me so that I can dispose of it for her. Are you serious?! You can't place the wrapper in the trash can yourself?! Or at least turn your head and look at me, acknowledge my existence and ask me to throw it away for you? Especially since I'm the only one doing any work around here. Her hand hangs in the air for a minute and, still without looking at me, she waves it impatiently. I pinch the wrapper between my fingers, give it a puzzled glance, look at her, look at it, look at her, look at it, and place it gently on the counter for her to discard later.

Here's another scene:

She asks me to give her a phone number (a phone number, BTW, that is just as easily accessible on her computer from the same database from which I will retrieve it). I tell her I'll be able to get it in just a moment, as soon as I finish scheduling a patient. The patient's scheduling becomes involved; she has questions about insurance reimbursement and she wonders if she should schedule an appointment for her daughter. After a lengthy conversation, she is scheduled and leaves. Before I can return to writing a letter for the doctor to sign, she asks again for the phone number. "Oh, I'm sorry! Let me get that for you!"

You know the person who responds to an offhanded apology with WAY too much forgiveness? "Oh, no problem. It's so okay! Don't even worry about it. Really, don't feel bad. It's okay, I'm so not worried." Really? That makes two of us.

Another vignette:

We are still waiting for our filing system to be delivered. Until then, we keep the patients' files in a box on the reception desk. The desk is large but oddly shaped, so there is not a lot of space to maneuver behind it. She will come and wedge herself in between where I am working and the file box, bitch about her parents ("My dad is mentally ill! No really, I'm not exagerrating! He drinks too much and he's a lousy tipper!"), and then, "Hey, can you hand me Mary Campbell's file?"

Um, yeah, if your body mass wasn't squashed in between me and the box like an overstuffed Italian Cold Cut. "Oh," I say, "It should be in the file box."

"Can you hand it to me?"

Okay, clearly a lost cause. "Sure!" I swing my chair around, accidentally grazing her arm. "Oops, excuse me!" Another "Excuse me" as I reach around her, clumsily trying to get to the file box.

"Oh, no! No problem! It's all good!" she says, shaking her head and grimacing to display how totally unperturbed she is, how completely I am absolved of my inadequacy.

These are very tiny things. Overall, I love my job and I love my boss. I feel so completely blessed to be working for her. She constantly showers me with encouragement. All day long, I hear things like:

"You have the best handwriting! It is so gorgeous!"
"You completed that project already?! You are so great!"
"How did you know what I needed? You're awesome!"
To a patient: "I couldn't do it without her. She is my brain."
Also to a patient: "Megan takes such good care of me."

She is constantly suggesting that people get a massage from me. The way she talks about my massage, you would think that I have healing balm dripping from my fingers. She is truly one of my biggest proponents.

And the most important thing of all: she demonstrates her respect and gratitude by paying me a fair salary.

So yeah, sometimes she's a pain in the ass. But she really is a great lady and a great person to work with and for and I would be a fool not to know how lucky I am.

But sometimes you just have to vent.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Retreat House Rambles

We're starting to get really busy at work now, which I love. It is so great to see so many people enthusiastic about the care they receive here!

I also got my materials for my Massage Doula certification. I have to learn the massage indications, contraindications and techniques during pregnancy, labor and the postpartum period, read a bunch of stuff about bodywork and massage, attend childbirth education classes, give a bunch of practice sessions, attend live births and give postpartum massage. Then I have to read and learn more general information about women's options during labor so that I can offer my client support during her birth.

And none of that includes the Infant Massage/Infant Massage Instructor certification that is also included in the course. I have a lot of learning to do but I feel super excited!

My weekend was so great! Luap, Yellek and I drove (well, Yellek drove in her wonderfully spacious new automobile - there is SO MUCH room in the backseat) to the retreat house in West Virginia to celebrate Yellek's birthday. Somehow I missed the part about it being a birthday celebration so I didn't bring a gift - imagine me with my fingers in the shape of an "L" on my forehead. Loser! Sorry, Yellek, I don't know why I didn't realize it was your b-day! I'll have to get you next time!

Anyway, we had a fantastic time. I ate WAY too much. Went tubing. Lazed around in the retreat house reading my book. Talked with cool fun people. Enjoyed the scenery. Played some Jamaican horseshoe. Gazed at the stars. Tossed the frisbee. So relaxing. I haven't been there in YEARS so it was a great rediscovery. Thanks guys for inviting me!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Weekend at Ogi's

I had an awesome weekend. My boss and I flew to Detroit to attend a practice managment seminar led by Dr. Ogi Ressell, who operated a huge pediatric chiropractic center before he retired. I learned a lot and was really inspired.

On top of that, we stayed in this fantastic hotel that had THE MOST COMFORTABLE BED I have ever experienced. It was amazing and I totally covet it. After the first day, we drove into town to see if we could find someplace to eat. We must have been on the wrong side of the tracks, though, and after we passed a gentleman's club, the police station and the Esquire Motel ("We rent by the hour!") we decided to turn around. We ended up eating at a fabulous Italian restaurant called Ciao and we ran into Ogi and his daughter there at the restaurant. Then we went back to the hotel and snuggled in our luxurious wonderful beds. Mmmmm . . . They even had a catalog in the hotel room which I stole so that I could have the information if we ever buy a new bed. :-)