29 December 2007

With Regret . . .

I must announce that my fish Mr. Rochester is no more. He got listless about a week ago, I thought maybe he was cold, but a change of room did nothing to restore him and yesterday he died. What a wonderful way to end a perfectly horrible year.

RIP Mr. Rochester.

22 December 2007

I Wouldn't Even Make It To Initiation

I just returned from seeing Enchanted (I know, I'm way behind in my holiday movie viewing), which I thought was a fun show on several levels. As I superficially pondered the themes in the film, I realized something. I could never be a card-carrying, capital 'F' Feminist because I identified with Idina Menzel's character, Nancy, more than any other. I like the fantasy of being rescued from the stresses of this world and jumping down a manhole (I have some experience with that) into Happily Ever After. Also, I'm sure having animated hair would be fantastic. It never tangles. So, since I don't have anything else to talk about, I thought I would post all the other reasons I could never be a card-carrying, capital 'F' Feminist.
  • One my favorite Christmas songs is "Baby, It's Cold Outside." Which is a fun song, but with some rather sinister implications if one truly thinks about it.
  • I like James Bond films. I don't care that he goes through more women than vehicles in each film. It is a smart, sexy, man with a British accent and a really, really nice car. What's not to love?
  • I believe in the power of cosmetics, perfectly-shaved legs, and amazing, gravity-defying, foot-crippling shoes.
  • I think staying at home and raising children is one of the greatest things a woman can do.
  • I don't care about breaking glass ceilings or the fact that the ERA never passed or climbing my way to the top of the corporate ladder. Maybe I'm lazy. Maybe it strikes me that using a traditionally "male" template for success just plays into the myths behind gender inequality.
  • I love fashion magazines.
  • I'm a sucker for romantic happy endings, which is why I enjoy stories like Jane Eyre, North and South, and anything by Austen repeatedly. The thing that keeps me from reading "romance novels" is my literary snobbishness, not Feminist (or even feminist) ideals.
  • If one of my most beloved Fantasy Boyfriends converted, moved next door, and declared their undying love for me, I might start re-thinking the whole going-back-to-school thing.

19 December 2007

Random Thoughts On Something With Which I Have Absolutely No First-Hand Experience

I am surrounded by pregnant people. Half the members of my book club. My aunt. My sister-in-law. Lily Allen. Britney Spears's 16 year-old sister. Angela from The Office. Which means I've been thinking about it a lot more than I usually would. Which is nearly never, except for when Scully was pregnant on The X-Files and I determined that alien baby or no, pregnancy was a parasitic relationship. Apparently, many people find that philosophy offensive. To whom I say, "Really? Have you seen what happens to pregnant women?" And then they spew forth scriptural references about the sacredness of life and its creation. I do not dispute the sacredness that is new life and its creation. What I dispute is the assumption that just because the new life created is sacred, the entire process is sacred and therefore delightful, beautiful, and something for which a women should be grateful every single second. And here is why:

From puberty, one week out of every four of a woman's life is spent feeling gross, bloaty, and fat. And that is the least obnoxious part. In addition to the bloat, one's complexion erupts regardless of bank-breaking facial treatments, complicated morning and nightly riturals, and abject begging. The dress that made one look and feel like the beautiful, self-possessed woman one is five days ago, suddenly makes one look and feel like the ballet-dancing hippopotamus from Fantasia. Those who were merely annoying last week now stand a very real chance of being strangled where they stand. One is hyper-aware of every muscle, joint, and organ between one's shoulders and knees. Now, take this week-long discomfort and multiple it by 40. "But wait," you say, "that is 10 months, not 9." Yes, my friends, one of the dirty, little secrets of pregnancy is the myth that it lasts 9 months. It does not. It lasts 10. The pregnant one is only really sure of it for 9. In addition to multiplying that uncomfortable week by 40, one also has to increase the discomfort exponentially as those 40 weeks progress. Not only does the pregnant one feel gross, bloaty, and fat, but various parts of her body begin to swell at various rates. Multiple hormones race through the blood stream, meaning the pregnant one never knows what state her complexion or her mood will be in when she wakes up. The pregnant one's body shape also changes on a daily, possibly even hourly, basis ensuring that the clothes she put on in the morning will be unbearably uncomfortable by lunch. And, there really is no sure-fire way to flatter a figure that appears to have a magically expanding basketball strapped to the lower abdomen. Then, towards the end of the 40 weeks, the pregnant one's muscles and joints start to prepare to push something the size of a small watermelon out of itself. This ensures that the pregnant one can't even depend on her ability to walk, something she has done since the age of 1.

Thus, the pregnant one begins labor. Which, from what I have heard, is the most humiliating experience I could ever face. And, I fell into a manhole in front of the love of my junior high life. Not only is one at least half-naked in front of as many medical staff as one's doctor deems necessary, but one is fat and half-naked in front of as many medical staff as one's doctor deems necessary. One sweats off any make-up one might have on and one hasn't been able to dye one's hair for 40 weeks, so one has massive roots. Also, one is in pain. Which never brings out the best in one. Another dirty, little secret is that when one is pushing to get the baby out, other things come out. Unless one undergoes an enema. The word you are looking for is 'EW!' Even the arrival of the baby does not signal an end. There is the whole experience of breast-feeding, which I will not get into, even though I could (just ask Miss Parker) because I took a class called the International Political Economy of Women and a whole section was dedicated to the economical and political implications associated with the act of breast-feeding. The point being that once a child is conceived, the mother's body is not her own, and won't be until that child moves out of the house. And even then, there was research done that showed fetal cells in women's blood streams up to 21 years AFTER childbirth.

Not only is the pregnant one's body not her own physically, the entire world assumes that because her abdomen protrudes, it is now public domain. How often have you heard anyone's first question to a pregnant woman be about anything other than her pregnancy? Or even the fifth or sixth question? I dare you to go up to the next pregnant woman you see and ask her about the upcoming Presidential election. And then watch how the people around you react. Last week at book club, where the stated purpose of the gathering is to discuss the book, we spent 15 minutes on the book and an hour and a half on the various stages of pregnancy being experienced by half our members. I kid you not. Even more disconcertingly, others treat the pregnant one's abdomen like a petting zoo. Strangers touch it. People who would never dream of rubbing a flat abdomen find nothing wrong with stroking a perfect stranger's pregnant one. How is that acceptable?

For all these reasons, and some more that I won't elaborate on because they have more to do with my own psychosis than general experience, I find the idea of pregnancy to be unappealing at best. Some might suggest that I'm a bitter, cynical Singleton who has no idea what she is talking about. They might be right. But the idea that the state of pregnancy, the actual physical experience, is a beatific state of never-ending bliss might also be a gigantic diaper-load of crap.

17 December 2007

Scully, At 6:50 A.M. or Why You Should Call With The Big News At Lunch

Telephone rings, Caller ID reads 'Mime's Cell'

Me (still groggy): Hello?

Mime (sounding chipper, like he has been up for hours): Scully?

Me: uh-huh. Is everything ok?

Mime: Yeah, why?

Me: It's quarter-to-seven in the morning.

Mime: Mrs. Mime is having a baby.

Me: Is this a joke?

Mime (slightly offended): No! We just found out.

Me: Oh. . . . Congratulations!

16 December 2007

I Could Get Used To This 'Christmas Bonus' Thing

I have never received a Christmas Bonus before, so if that means I have to attend an office Christmas party in return, I'm all for it. Actually,the evening wasn't too bad. Most of the attendants stuck with drinking wine, which a) doesn't smell as bad as other alcoholic beverages and b) isn't downed like a shot, rather enjoyed slowly over food, making the drinker less likely to become a bleary-eyed drunk. The exception to this being Dwight, who is the exception to most things. He was ordering his second 'Crown and water', whatever that is, as I sat down.* Also, he chose to sit in the middle of the long table so that people were forced to sit by him or else feel like a massive jerk for not doing so. Guess who caved to the guilt first. Yes, that was me. And, I think I will end up paying for it, more on that later.

But, the dinner was quite lovely and most of the people I work with are very nice and interesting to talk to outside of the office. I ended up staying much longer than I had planned to, but mostly because it took forever for the food to be served. No one else seemed to mind, as they could enjoy their drinks of choice and the dairy-laden appetizers of which I couldn't partake as I had forgotten my Lactaid. Once the food came, it was quite delicious and I was much too full to envy people their dairy-laden desserts. I did end up envying their seats, however.

Dwight not only enjoyed at least two Crown and waters, but several glasses of wine and an after-dinner Scotch in lieu of dessert. Which meant all I could smell was metabolizing alcohol. Not a fan. I also had to desperately try NOT to hear a conversation that had very much in common with the exact point at which I threw down the book Wicked in disgust and swore never to finish it or to read anything by that author again. But the worst thing about my seat was a conversation I overheard between ChattyCathy (the receptionist) and theBarrista (who Dwight unfortunately uses as some sort of therapist/confessor during lunch). TheBarrista had come down to our side of the table to chat and she and ChattyCathy were discussing Dwight's choice of seat. TheBarrista said, "He sat in the middle so that someone would have to sit by him." Which was obvious, but when she said "someone" she not-so-subtly glanced at me. And that, combined with ChattyCathy's assertion to me earlier in the day that "[Dwight] likes you." because he nicely corrected me on a mistake I made, rather than ranting about my stupidity and lecturing, makes me very, very nervous. Please tell me I am hallucinating.

*I did some research. Crown Royal is Canadian whiskey. Way to start out with the hard stuff, Dwight.

12 December 2007

The Aftermath

I've been mulling over this post for sometime now. I didn't know if I should even publish it, seeing as how it is Christmas and the season of Joy and merriment and whatnot and this post is none of those. But, it is my blog and my Christmas this year isn't so much about the joy and the merriment, but rather about surviving whilst avoiding turning into an unholy combination of Ebeneezer Scrooge and the Grinch. So, read at your own peril.

Two Sundays ago was the six-month mark. It seems simultaneously forever ago and like yesterday. After all the family and friends left, I told myself that the only way to survive this was to run as hard and as fast as I possibly could until I got far enough away that I could deal with it. Maybe that was the wrong way to go about things, but it seemed the only way. And, I did it. I focused on anything that could distract me and kept busy. It wasn't so difficult with it being the busiest season at work, having a new job in Church, and looking after my dad. Halloween and Thanksgiving were a little difficult, but I had things to focus on, like a trip to my aunt's or the trick-or-treaters, or making sure I cooked the turkey well enough to avoid food poisoning. But it is still as sharp, as surprising, and as searing as it was six months ago whenever I am side-swiped by a reminder of her absence.

It isn't the things one would expect that do the side-swiping either. I can look at family pictures without a twinge. I can tell my book club about her reading Mary Poppins to me as a child without incident. But, a Sarah McLachlan song on a CVS/pharmacy commercial that I don't know if my mother ever heard can cause me to sob uncontrollably. Flying home from California, between Oakland and Seattle, a glimpse of Mt. Rainier dropped me to my knees (figuratively, of course, as such sudden movement on a plane these days would bring the U.S. Marshalls running). I never know what will push the misery from manageable to overwhelming in an instant or how to keep it from happening in the most public of places and the most inconvenient of times.

I do know what does not help. It does not help to have aquaintances, however well-meaning, comment on how hard it must be for my dad and I right now. Or to further suggest that knowing that she is in a better place makes it somehow easier. It doesn't; I'm not mourning for her. I, better than nearly anyone, know what it was like for her the last days, weeks, months, and years of her life. My worst nightmares these days are that she is alive again, but still sick and wasting away while I have to stand by, helpless, and watch. What I'm dealing with, and I suspect my father as well, is the anger, the grief, the ache of her absence. In that aspect it doesn't really matter what my beliefs about the afterlife are, because what hurts is that I'm separated from her in my life, here and now. Grief, even in its purest form, is ultimately selfish.

09 December 2007

In Which I Make A Sweeping Pronouncement

As one who has endured a singularly craptastic 2007 (which is gratefully coming to a close) and facing a 2008 full of unknown variables AND my 30th birthday, I decided I need something to which I could look forward. That something is going to England. I'm aiming for two weeks sometime in the middle of August and right now the itinerary includes London and Stratford-upon-Avon, because the RSC is doing both Hamlet and Love's Labour's Lost in the 2008 season. I think I already mentioned those are two of my favorites. I'm totally open to suggestions for other points of interest from anyone who wants to come along (Parker, get that passport already!). Let me know if you are seriously up for this, because I think it would a great adventure and I'd like to share it with friends.

06 December 2007

It Totally Negated Any Sleep Benefits

I just have to share the random dream I had last night. I was in charge of keeping a bunch of girls safe and out of sight in Iran while Keith Richards used them in a movie he was filming in the desert there. And everytime the Iranians came to check out the area, I had to keep everyone hidden and covered. It was awful and stressful and why, oh why can I not have TVboyfriend dreams? I can't believe my subconscious would rather spend time with a decrepit, burnt out Rolling Stone and Iranian extremists, rather than any one of the many pretty, soothing members of the FBL. Honestly! One more dream like that and my subconscious and I are through.

04 December 2007

Do Fantasy Boyfriends Count As a Plus One?

Generally, I'm a fan of Christmas. I like the carols, I like the presents, I like the general sense of well-being that permeates the air during the holiday season. I don't have a lot of complaints about how people celebrate the season as long as they keep it within the Thanksgiving-to-New Year's window and don't keep me up at night with their light displays. But there is one holiday tradition I hate with the passion of a thousand fiery suns: the office party.

My enjoyment of holiday office parties died when I turned 10 and no longer got presents from Santa at my dad's work party. I was spared the experience for many years as my dad's company stopped having them and I didn't work while at university. The first year I worked in Salt Lake the office party consisted of the branch manager taking us to lunch and handing out gift cards to Home Depot and Target, which was perfect for me because the socializing was kept to a minimum AND I got to buy cute stuff from Target. Sadly, when the branch manager changed, so did the office party, mutating into an evening at the SkyBox with the office staff, families, sub-contractors, their families etc. Luckily I got a monster migraine and skipped it. It is a rare feeling indeed to be grateful for a migraine.

Today at work we got a memo announcing the office party would be a week from Friday. Which deflated all my hopes that I could avoid the office party pain for another year. It also got me thinking about why I loathe them so much. Here are my reasons for loathing them. Feel free to add your own if I've missed any.

-- Forced socialization with your co-workers. Even though the evening is billed as a 'party', you are pretty much obligated to go. Your bosses are shelling out to thank you for a year of work and you look like an ingrate if you don't attend. So you are forced to endure spending more time with people you probably wouldn't ever talk to if you weren't forced to every day at work. Some of whom you really look forward to escaping from when 5 o'clock rolls around.

-- There is usually some sort of controlled substance. If you, like me, are a non-drinker, watching your co-workers become increasingly inebriated is painful. All the quirks, idiosyncracies and just plain annoying behaviors become amplified. And as I suspect I work with at least 3 functional alcoholics, I can't wait to watch the evening unfold.

-- There is no larger public forum in which display the fact that you will indeed die alone and be eaten by Alsatians. Office holiday parties usually include significant others and if you don't have one or are unable to bribe a friend of the opposite sex with the promise of free food, everyone knows it. It makes the seating arrangements awkward, it opens the door to intrusive questions and comments, and invokes an unwelcome show of pity.

-- Some people use the office holiday party like others use the Christmas card letter; as a forum for demonstrating how much better they are than you. Whether it is about money, travel, sports, children, or even tragedy, they play a constant game of one-upmanship in which they must always win. I have a 12.5 second tolerance for this kind of conversation.

-- By the end of the day, I'm in no mood to make small talk or showcase my sparkling personality. I want to go home, put on my pajamas, and turn my brain off.