Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sassy Sundry Thoughts Has Moved

One of the things that happens when you have a lot of time on your hands is that you find time for projects you never thought you’d get around to doing. For me, one of those projects was revamping the look of my blog. I’d grown tired of my template a long time ago, but lacking true HTML skills, I wasn’t sure how to fix it. I tried new templates and thought about some basic customization, but I still wasn’t happy.

A couple of years ago, I registered for a Wordpress blog, but I hadn’t had the time make the conversion. Well, yesterday I found it. It’s still a work in progress, but you can find my latest post here:

I’ve updated my links, but if I’ve mistakenly left your blog off, please let me know, and I’ll add it. If you would update your link for me, that would be lovely.

I hope you like the new and improved Sassy Sundry Thoughts!

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Sassy Sundries: My Week in Review

Happy Spring! Yay! Winter is over! Woo hoo!

OK, enough of that. Been a bit of an up-and-down week for yours truly, and what better way to talk about it than with the Sassy Sundries, my weekly tally of things personal, political, and nonsensical. Enjoy!

Wound up in Southie with my roommate for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday. We got drunk in a dive bar and watched green bedazzled people make asses of themselves. I suppose I might have made an ass of myself too. Fun day, and now I can check “Went to Southie for the parade” off my Life Experience list. Plus Two

AIG bonuses. Holy fuck. I contributed to my company, and I lost my job. They ruined the economy and got gazillions for it? Something’s rotten in the state of Wall Street. It’s not a good sign that Tim Geithner knew about this. Minus 165,000,000

I don’t know if it was the lack of daytime company or what, but this week I realized that I need to figure out my next step. I spent some time thinking about what I want out of life and realized that I need to keep thinking. Ah, the joys of growing. Plus One

The Nazi Pope pontificates that condoms not only won’t stop the spread of AIDS in Africa, but that they will also increase “the problem.” Maybe if condom distributors denied the Holocaust he’d change his mind? That this happened the same week as AIDS activist Natasha Richardson died tragically only makes this asinine and dangerous position all the more galling. Minus Ten

Afternoon networking coffee meeting for the unemployed took a turn for the boozy. As the evening wore on and things got stranger and stranger, I kept shaking my head and saying, “I went out for coffee. I just went out for coffee!” Ah well. I managed to keep my sobriety pretty much intact, and none of us had to work in the morning anyway. Plus One

President Obama reaches out to Iran through a video address in an attempt to undo the Axis of Evil rhetoric and diffuse the tensions in the region. It’s a small step, but hopefully an important one. Plus One

Spring has sprung. Here’s to hope and cleaning! Plus Five

Total Plus: 10
Total Minus: 165,000,010

TOTAL FOR THE WEEK: -165,000,000

Last Week’s Total: +13

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

On Magic Tricks, Pine Furniture, Hairlice, Marketing, and Hybrid Bikes

Today found me searching online for possible freelance jobs. While perusing the various advertisments, I happened upon a post looking for someone to write two five-hundred-word articles on each of the following topics:

Magic Tricks
Pine Furniture
Hybrid Bikes

I am sorely tempted to respond, saying that I will write one kickass five-hundred-word article incorporating all five topics. In fact, I’ve already written it. It goes like this:

Bruno the Magician needed to improve his act. He had the magic trick—he could turn hybrid bikes into pine Barcaloungers with just a little eye of newt and some hairlice. However, he usually had to steal the hybrid bikes, and while Bruno wasn’t the most cleanly of magicians, he did not at the moment have hairlice. Somehow, he had to find a way to get the bikes and the lice in one place. He also required an audience, as what magician wants to perform such a feat with no one to watch.

Bruno, old boy, he thought to himself, you need to find a marketing consultant. So Bruno got in touch with the guy who sold his pine Barcaloungers and asked him about how he advertised his wares.

“Oh, I go ACME Marketing up the street,” he said. And so Bruno stole his last bike, bought some hairlice from his usual connection, and with his eye of newt went up the street to ACME Marketing. There, he told the marketing consultant of his woes and showed him the trick.

Upon viewing such a magical transformation, the marketing guru cried, “Genius! You simply must continue to transform hybrid bikes into pine furniture. If you will just sign here and give me $500, I will be able to provide you with a marketing plan.”

Now Bruno was not a rich man, but since he did not want to wind up in jail (the signs for missing hybrid bikes were clogging the telephone poles around town, and the cops were on the lookout for the mystery thief), he decided to sign the papers and fork over the money.

“Excellent,” the ACME Marketing consultant said. “Now here’s the secret: Recycling. You convince people who were about to trade in their hybrid bikes that they would rather recycle them instead of junk them. In return for the bike and a small fee, they get a pine Barcalounger, or they can get a percentage from the proceeds of the sale of said pine Barcalounger. That way, you won’t piss off your dealer friend, and you’ll still get some money.”

Bruno the Magician smiled, “Yes, yes,” he said. “That’s just the thing. Recycling. I wonder why I didn’t think of it. There’s just one more thing. Where do I get the hairlice?”

While the ACME Marketing consultant was tempted to charge Bruno more for the advice, he really liked the trick and decided to help the magician.

“I know. You perform you magic trick at a school. School children are filthy beasts, and one of them almost always has hairlice. So you get a group of hybrid bike owners ready to surrender their bikes, schedule a magic show, and presto! You’ll do your trick and stay out of jail!”

So happy was Bruno that he could have kissed the ACME Marketing consultant. “Perfect! I’ll start advertising today! How can I ever thank you?”

“Well,” the ACME Marketing consultant said, “I could always use a pine Barcalounger.”

I think I’ll send the man my story and see what he thinks. I could make fifty bucks!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Why I Owe My Existence to Saint Patrick and Green Beer

Thirty-eight years ago today, friends dragged a young art-school dropout living in Hanover, New Hampshire, out to a Saint Patrick’s Day party. She didn’t want to go—drunken green-beer fests weren’t her thing—but as she didn’t have plans that evening, she reluctantly agreed. She chucked her body paints into the car, just in case the evening was really boring and she needed to spice things up a bit.

One of the party’s hosts was a man in his mid-twenties finishing up his duty to Uncle Sam by working in a lab. He’d come home from Vietnam relatively unscathed the year before and welcomed the cold regions lab work as an alternative to a war zone. He and his friends had invited everyone they knew and everyone everyone knew. They readied the green beer (this being America in the 70s and the hosts being not exactly sophisticated gentlemen, they assumed that this was how the Irish celebrated the day). “Let’s celebrate the luck of the Irish!” they said, as they turned on the music and friends began to arrive. Little did they know what kind of luck the evening would bring.

The party was well under way when the lass and her friends walked in the door. Oh dear, the woman thought. I’m not going to like this. Why did I let myself get dragged here? She also, however, notice a guy regaling his friends with a funny story. She also noticed the half-empty mug of green beer in his hands. Still, she thought he was cute, if a bit old. He must be one of the Army guys. His hair is too short.

As for the guy, well, he almost stopped telling the story when she walked in the room. Her long brown hair was in two braids, and she was wearing some kind of gauzy shirt with jeans. He thought she was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen.

The party went along, as green-beer parties tend to do, and the guy finally worked up the courage to go talk to her. Funny and charming, the guy made the woman laugh, and her friends noticed that she liked him. He seemed too old for their friend, but the woman assured her friends that she’d asked, and he was only a few years older than she was (while she appeared to be about seventeen, she was actually twenty-two).

She learned that he had been to Vietnam, that he was from Philadelphia, and that before he got drafted, he’d studied to become an engineer. He already liked the Red Sox. In short, she learned that while she was a bit of a free spirit, he was shockingly normal. He was actually a grownup, too, even if he and his friends entertained themselves by throwing parties with green beer. For some reason, this appealed to her.

“I think I’m going to go get my body paints. He’s so normal. I bet it will shock him,” she told her friends, smiling. The party didn’t need spicing up, but she liked that guy and thought it would be amusing to see his reaction. If he could handle the body paint, then maybe he could handle her.

Out to the car she went, and she returned with her paints. And as she started painting on the man’s chest, he fell head over heels in love. The woman noticed and smiled a bit to herself. She liked him too, so when he asked her out for a date, she said yes. A while later, she and her friends left the party, and her friends tried to talk her out of going out with the old guy. She didn’t let them.

The rest, as they say, is history.

And that, dear readers, is how my parents met and why I owe my existence to Saint Patrick and green beer.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Sassy Sundries: My Week in Review

Phew. What a strange week. I think that’s all I have to say about that. Without further ado, here are the Sassy Sundries, my (sort-of) weekly tally of things personal, political, and nonsensical.

My dad’s alive. My mom’s alive. They might drive me crazy sometimes, but I love my parents. Too Much Trauma to Rate

Can someone please tell me why one of the most intelligent and incisive interviews I’ve seen by an American was Jon Stewart’s grilling of CNBC’s Mad Money host Jim Cramer on the Daily Show? Stewart exposed how Cramer (and by extension, other financial reporters) had gotten into bed with Wall Street honchos, and in the process fucked the country. He did his research, that thing reporters are supposed to do, not guys who tell fart jokes. News networks, let this be a lesson to you. Plus Five

Date called it quits with me in what had to be the most honest, kindest way ever. We had a great time, but the magic just wasn’t there with us. I’ll miss what we had, but I’m looking forward to our friendship. Plus Five

In a GQ interview, Michael Steele admitted that he believed in a woman’s right choose abortion. He’s also compared quitting being gay to quitting being black—impossible. Conservatives railed against him for the break with their anti-choice, homophobic platform. Man, this head of the Republican Party is just walking in a shitstorm. Heh. Plus One

Bernie Madoff pled guilty to stealing from everyone from celebrities to little old me (my retirement plan had investments with Madoff). I’m happy that he’ll spend the rest of his life in jail, but I’d like my money back, please. Minus Two

This week we marked International Women’s Day. President Obama created an Interagency Task force on Women and Girls. This isn’t everything feminists wanted, but it sure as hell beats the eight-year assault on women’s rights by W & Co. We’re not there yet, Baby. Plus Three

Long, long ago, I won the top-seller award for my Girl Scout troop because my friend’s grandfather purchased two hundred boxes of Thin Mints. Would you believe he was a rail? Times have changed. An enterprising Girl Scout took to YouTube to boost her sales. Alas, Internet advertising is verboten for Girl Scout Cookies, and the young girl had to take the ad down. Honey, you just need to find my friend’s grandpa. You’ll do fine. Plus One

Total Plus 15
Total Minus 2
Last Week’s Total: -651,000

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

One of Those Moments When Everything Comes into Focus

Sunday afternoon found me walking toward Inman Square from Union. The day was one of those days we New Englanders long for—sunny and in the 60s after a long, cold and snowy winter. Wearing a tee shirt and a light cotton sweater, I was bobbing my head and wearing a ridiculous grin on my face as I strolled. Yay! Winter won’t last forever!

I reached into my purse to grab my phone, as I thought I’d heard it ringing, and I saw that I had missed a call from my sister. My nephew’s first birthday was on Monday (my trip to Inman was to get his present), so I figured she had called about arrangements. I dialed called her back, and she answered.

“Hey, Sister! GORGEOUS day! Are you outside?”

“Um, Sassy, something’s happened. I just got off the phone with Mom. She thought she was dialing 911. Dad passed out while driving, and now he’s throwing up. I had to tell her how to get 911 where she was and then I called 911 too. Now she won’t pick up the phone.”

My heart sank.

My body started shaking.

Oh shit. My Dad is having a heart attack. I just talked to him this morning. How can he be dying?

“Oh my god. Dad’s having a heart attack,” I said to my sister.

“That’s what it sounds like to me, too,” she said.



Sister said, “I’m going to keep trying Mom, but I thought you should know.”

“OK. Call me if you hear anything. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

I snapped the phone shut and turned around to head home. Then I turned back toward Inman. Then I turned back toward home. Then I turned around again and kept walking. You can hold it together if you keep walking. Just keep walking.

I kept walking.

Then I called my mom. She didn’t answer. I almost started to cry. Then I called again. This time she answered.

“Hi, Sassy. Yes. We’re in a snow field. The State Police are here, and so is an ambulance. We’re off 93 in Concord. Dad is conscious and talking, and he looks a little bit better. It might have been an issue with his blood sugar, but we don’t know. It doesn’t look like it was a heart attack, but we are going to Concord hospital. They won’t let me go with him. I have to get the car towed out of the snow field, and then I’m going to go. Pray. I have to go now, but keep calling. I’ll pick up.”

“I love you, Mom.”

“I love you too, Honey.”

I called my sister. She’d talked to Mom too. We were both relieved that he was alive at this point, but we were trying to figure out what had happened.

“Sassy, Mom took the wheel. She steered the car through THREE LANES of traffic on I-93. She did donuts in a field until Dad came too and hit the brake. She didn’t know how to dial 911 on a cell phone.”

“Oh my god.” Then, “We need to get her some First-Aid training. What happened?”

“Did you know his blood sugar was an issue? I didn’t.”

“You didn’t? I did, but I thought he was controlling it.”

We talked some more about how to talk to Mom and Dad about how they need to take better care of themselves before it dawned on us that we should go visit them. I had a phone interview early that evening, and even though I said I’d cancel it, my sister insisted that I take it.

We wrapped up the call, and I said, “OK. I’ll call Mom and let her know we’ll be there this evening.” I went in the toy store to catch my breath. I bought Nephew a present and walked back outside. Then I called Mom.

“Things are OK, Sassy. Dad walked to the ambulance. That made me feel better. I’m still here with the car. I’m so glad you’re coming. Don’t skip your interview. My god, that whole thing was so scary. Sassy, I did DONUTS! I don’t know how I did that. Will you call the hospital? I don’t know what is going on with Daddy. They didn’t let me go in the ambulance—those movie scenes are bullshit. Will you call the hospital?”

I called the hospital, and they actually let me speak to Dad. He sounded weak, but he knew what was going on, and he sounded OK. “I think they’ve ruled out heart attack. My blood sugar might have dropped. Or it could have been a reaction to some medication. Mom saved my life, you know.”

“I know, Dad. I’m really happy to talk to you. Sister and I will be there tonight.”

I went to a coffee shop in Union Square and finished making my phone calls while sitting outside in the sun.

On my way home, I called Date to cancel our plans for the evening. He came over and hugged me before my interview. The woman blew me off, which was just as well, as I doubt I would have made much sense. My sister came with Nephew, and we headed to Concord to visit my Dad.

After two days in the hospital, where doctors ran every test in the book, it was determined that he needed a lower dose on his new blood-pressure medication. He got a stern talking-to about losing weight, but his blood sugar was actually OK. Everything else was OK. More terrifying details about my mother’s driving feat came out, but she’s OK too. The first night, she told my sister and I that she was going to go in her room and cry for an hour, but after that, she seemed better. We had Nephew’s first birthday party at the hospital.

My god. My nerves are shot, but I am so so so so so happy that I still have parents. I might complain about them a lot, but I love them. They are OK. So am I.

Friday, March 06, 2009

The Sassy Sundries: My Week in Review

This morning I awoke to the sweet clang of the recycling truck. Today is Friday! I am so happy! I thought, singing my old Friday Song in my sleepy head. Or, I sang until I remembered that I had once again forgotten to take the recycling out. Then I started reciting “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out,” and envisioned waste overflowing the confines of my apartment and spilling onto the street below:

At last the garbage reached so high
That it finally touched the sky.
And all the neighbors moved away,
And none of her friends would come out to play.
And finally Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout said,
“OK, I’ll take the garbage out!”
But then, of course, it was to late…

— Shel Silverstein, from Where the Sidewalk Ends

Hrmph. Happy Friday indeed. Anyway, I thought today might be a good day to resurrect the Sassy Sundries, my occasional weekly roundup of things personal, political, and nonsensical. In a blatant ripoff of the Bean Counter in the Weekly Dig, I assign points to each item and then tally them up to reveal just how my week went.

Here are the week’s Sassy Sundries:

The unemployment figures for February came out today. I am in good company—651,000 of us lost jobs last month. While personally, unemployment has treated me well, our economy has officially landed in Hell in our handbasket. Minus 651,000

Rush Limbaugh, the ignorant hypocritical prick, misquotes the Constitution he accused President Obama of bastardizing. At the beginning of his speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference, he bellowed, “We believe that the preamble to the Constitution contains an inarguable truth that we are all endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life. Liberty. Freedom. And the pursuit of happiness.” In so speaking, he bastardized the Declaration of Independence. By making Rush the de facto leader of the Republican Party, the conservatives have given us an even bigger present than Sarah Palin. Minus Five for Rush, Plus Two for the future of the Democrats.

The International Criminal Court indicted Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir for war crimes. The government there then retaliated by ordering the expulsion of all aid workers. It’s unknown how the Court intends to follow through with the indictment, but right now many people are suffering. An old friend of mine is working there. Not Sure How to Rank

Earlier this week I met Date’s best friends. It went well. Tonight I meet more of his friends at a party. Plus Five

I never thought I’d hear Karl Kassel, of NPR fame, put his gravitas behind the news that a foot of snow fell in New Hampshire. Unless, of course, it happened in August. Less than a foot fell here, and you’d think that the flakes ushered in the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from all the national attention they received. Minus Two

This week marked fifty years of Barbie. For fifty years, girls have learned that their bodies would never be good enough. Oh, and how to make her get it on with Ken. One of these days, Barbie! Poof! Those boobs are going to sink to your knees. Minus Two

President Obama holds a healthcare summit yesterday to begin to address one of the issues that has gotten us into this catastrophe. Ted Kennedy (now an honorary knight) was able to make an appearance. I’m not sure if Obama will be able to pull off what others have tried and failed to achieve, but I am hopeful. Hope counts for something. Plus Two

Total Plus: 9
Total Minus: 651,009