Saturday, March 28, 2009

I Finally Got Laid! (Off)

I have a very strong work ethic and have never missed more than 2 weeks of work in my life (other than vacation or disability for my two pregnancies) since I was 15 and let me tell you, that was a while ago! Here I am possibly having to go on the dole for the first time in my near half century of life. Bummer.

When all the bad news about the economy started, what was it, 6-8 months ago? I started changing the channels on the radio again, just like when there was too much election coverage, or when they started talking about number of troops killed, suicide bombings, etc. and stuck to the 'nice' pages of the paper once again, the Travel section, Food & Wine, the Pink, etc. Is this the ostrich head in the sand approach, or is it simply trying to concentrate on the good things in life, thereby necessitating blocking out all the bad?

Last year when the economy started to tank, and after opening up 2-3 statements decrying the deteriorating state of my 401K, I started to tune all that out, too. Once again, like so many times before when news was bad, I felt so powerless. More than ever before, I tuned it out. I occasionally caught glimpses of news in papers or bits on the radio about increasing homelessness, lay offs, plummeting stocks, foreclosures, etc. (I had shut off the TV after 9/11 when I coudn't stand the replaying of those tapes over and over, the ugly racism it brought to the forefront, and the match that lit the fuse of the war machines again). The food bank that I volunteer at couldn't keep up with demand. Supplies were at an all time low, coupled with an increase in demand.

I don't think I'm alone when I say that by trying to block out the bad news, you're trying to make yourself immune. It's as though the problems with the economy are contagious, and if you're not careful it could creep into your life like the plague. Which is exactly how some people I worked with acted towards me when they learned of my plight as a casualty of the latest round of layoffs. It was as though if they got too close to me, it might happen to them next. I don't fault them for their behavior. Most of us feel awkward even though we're not culpable, because as regretful as we are of their situation, we breathe an inner sigh of relief that it was not us. We feel empathy yet can't find the right words to say. I know because I, too have felt that way when it happened to others in the waves that preceeded me.

My prayer for the planet this week is that all of this turns us inside out and exposes the humility deep inside all of us. Instead of posturing ourselves as though we're above reproach and are therefore safe, in spite of the powerlessness that the current situation creates, we have the opportunity to shed much of the bullshit and live our lives with integrity and grace.

I just saw 'Milk' recently. The single statement that struck me the most was in the beginning when Harvey says "40 years old and I haven't done a thing that I'm proud of." Perhaps this is a time of renewal, reflection and acknowledgement for things more important than just earning a paycheck.

But hey, gotta pay rent. Maybe after months of meditating I'll have to go sell dime bags in a park somewhere or service old dudes in retirement homes on SS check days. Girls gotta do what a girls gotta do!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ode to a Discontinued Facial Cleanser

Oh #904, *sigh*, alas, you, too have gone by the wayside! How I loved your faint perfume of weird white glue paste my fellow kindergartners used to eat that I enjoyed second hand whiffs of. Your heavenly aroma brought me back to that bittersweet time of finger painting, naps on mats, sand play and PB & J. You left my skin feeling youthful and dewy, like a baby's ass covered in rose petals. I'm left feeling as though my hair stylist has moved out of town, vulnerable and sad.

One of the suckiest things about being in the minority retail preference-wise is that often things I love are discontinued. I know this happens to everyone, and I am a little paranoid by nature (hey, even paranoid people have enemies) but to me it seems to happen a lot. Or maybe it's just my negative Nancy side popping up like an evil gopher, since of course MOST things I buy are still around, blah, blah, blah, SHUH'-dup!

Items in point - yummy smelling White Lilac scented Tide (although it still might be out there but I couldn't get an answer so far by trying to use their sucky site), the thicker-denim built-like-a-brick-shithouse Lucky jeans, Sensation Totale from Lancome, Aveda Hair Elixir, Gatorade Berry Blast and now the facial cleanser I REALLY loved from CO Bigelow is gone, too. Though I was laid off this week, I am more sad about losing one of my most valued creature comforts. (This of course is totally facetious, which comes naturally to me as an emotional defense mechanism to ward off the horrifying reality which might only serve to send me into a downward spiral, resulting in me putting my head in the oven, which, considering it's an electric oven, would not serve the purpose of ending my desperate life, but could quite possibly catch my hair on fire, but while we're on that subject, perhaps I should clear out the garage so I can pull into it and keep the car running - one good reason to get a jump on spring cleaning!)

While horrible attrocities plague the planet, I mourn for an extinct personal hygiene product. Man, does that make me sound vapid or what?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Annie - the Timex Canine

When my A-hole ex went off the deep end in April of '07 and went into rehab AGAIN, he left behind Annie, his 11 year old dog. Since the ex had exhausted all good will he could from his friends, it was either take her to a shelter or take her home, which of course I did, because being an animal lover, the shelter was not an option. I already had a dog and cat in my new life, but Annie and I had history.

Travel back in time with me to when about she was about 6 months old. A better time in life, when the family was still together and all were relatively happy. Annie kept getting out of the yard. On a routine visit for shots to the vet we brought up her escapes to him. "Well, she's like a teenager with a six pack right now. She just wants to get out and party. If I were you, I'd consider getting pet insurance." We ignored his advice and within a month she escaped from the yard once again and was run over by a car, requiring a titanium plate in her leg to the tune of about $1200. It was then that my mom nicknamed her Timex. Takes a licking...

Back to 2007. A week or so after I brought her home, I discovered something not quite right on her backside while giving her a bath. I asked A-hole ex about it when bringing some clothes to him in rehab and he said "Oh yeah, she's been like that for a while." I immediately took her to the vet. When they told me it had likely been going on for about a year based on the severity I cried silently, looking at the old gal sitting askew on her back haunches, gazing up at me lovingly. Not only did we start her on antibiotics, but we got her on some medicine for her arthritis as well.

Fast forward almost 2 years. Annie is now 13 and every one of her litter mates has croaked. I take her to the vet for some issues with incontinence. The vet recommends a medication to tighten her sphincter to the tune of about $30 a month. Let's see - $38 a month for arthritis meds + $20 a month for food + $20 a month to wash & dry her dog bed in the jumbo washer at the laundry mat = almost $80 a month for a sweet old bitch who I wish half the time would just go to sleep for good so I could be done with it. Hell, I'm gonna be 50 this year and likely I'll need sphincter meds soon, so I say thanks anyway for now.

This week I received news that changes my economic situation from stable to critical, to put it mildly. This when I already as a single mother with 4 pets and one teenager live pretty much hand to mouth. Bummer. So what happens? The old bitch decides to eat about 4 cups of an almost empty bag of organic fertilizer. Greeeeaaaat!

Had it not been for the inordinate reek of ammonia in her urine, I wouldn't have even suspected. That reek caused me to snoop around the garage where she had been hanging out a couple of days before on a rainy day. A couple of feet from the dog door, under the washroom sink, I found the telltale ripped up gallon freezer bag that the Dr. Earth Tree and Shrub had been in. How the hell that 13 year old arthritic dog got the bag off the top of the dryer I'll never know. One vet visit, one urine test and one blood test later = $215. How's the dog? Perfectly damn fine, that's how. Here's where perhaps a little Round Up would have come in handy. Better dying through chemicals! As I type that though, my sweet old bitch Annie stands looking at me, tail wagging, waiting for her evening walk. D'oh!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Drink Up! What are you waiting for?

Last night I dined with my best friends. I had forgotten to bring a bottle of wine as I had planned, so I announced I would pull one from the hallway.

In the hallway with an average mean temperature of about 70 degrees sits a large unfinished wood piece designed for a restaurant with 8 divided areas for wine on their sides below and slots for hanging upside down wine glasses in above, an area filled with half bottles of wine, books, etc. About every two years I go through the same exercise. I take out what's gone bad since I did this last, and rearrange the wines by order of recommended consumption.

After all was done, I put a bottle of Chalk Hill 1998 Pinot Gris in the freezer thinking with its 14.9% alcohol that it might still be good. I also uprighted and sat on the counter a bottle of Caymus 1992 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. I had just told them about tasting the 2006 a day ago, and how one winemaker on the panel had said it 'should be a drink at Starbucks' it was so chock full of black cherry/cocoa/coffee/coconutty deliciousness. Worth every penny.

When dinner rolled around, we found both wines to have held up remarkably well, considering. The Pinot Gris had darkened to amber, but like Judy Dench, though very mature, was still quite lovely. Beguiling aromas and flavors of toasted nuts, dried pear, hints of baking spice, burnt sugar, and a touch of fetid white flowers. Surprisingly, it paired perfectly with the kale, caramelized shallot mashed fingerling potatoes. The Caymus was a little nasty on opening, but with some air time opened up nicely to reveal layers of dried black cherry, old leather, faint cedar, damp earth and roasted meat. Tannins were practically nonexistent, making the acid a little dominant, but it was still holding together, albeit obviously past its prime. Both wines should have been consumed (with such storage conditions) about 6 or so years ago.

Due to the fact that the average American ages their wine about 20 minutes on the car seat, about 90% of all wine produced in the U.S. is meant to be consumed within 2 years of release. Approximately 8% is good for 2-4 years from release, leaving a mere 2% that is ageworthy beyond 4 years. And that's keeping the wines free from heat, light, and vibration. I store my wines under my bead. Ba-dumb-bum! But seriously folks, proper 'cellar' conditions means 55-60 degrees with about 70% humidity, so if you hold your wines in a space that's around 70-75 you have to cut that time in half. Please forget all together the two worst/popular spots for holding wine - on top of the fridge in the kitchen (heat rises) or in a display rack in your dining room with the afternoon sun beating down on it.

Which brings me to one point that often irritates me (a longlist) - What the hell are you people waiting for? A special occasion is usually the answer. Hey, any day where I come home from work to a roof over my head and can put good food and wine in my belly, that's something worth celebrating.

After having told a group once that storing your wine in the refrigerator for long periods of time wasn't good what with the humidifier drying out the cork and the vibrating and all, a woman asked me if that bottle of Dom Perignon she had in the fridge for six years would still be good. "Jeez lady" I wanted to tell her. "You've got worse problems than a bad bottle of champagne if you haven't had a reason to drink it in six years! What about your birthday, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter, New Year's, So Happy It's Thursday, for crying out loud! Anything!"

To sum up - it's better to drink a wine prematurely than posthumously. If you're doubly lucky to have friends to share it with, all the more reason to get to it! Remember, a great glass of wine elevates cheap food to gourmet standards. Be not ashamed to pair chardonnay with a Big Mac! Alas, the wine makes it seem like the world's finest sandwich!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Flat Coat Retriever Bitch Seeks Black and Tan Coonhound

un.mar.ried (un-mar¢-`ed) n. 1. a couple united legally, but not necessarily emotionally or in the same physical vicinity. 2. separated but not divorced –adj. 3. divorced, but constantly haunted by their ex, as in the undead.

Craig’s List Personals Listing under North Bay WOMEN SEEKING MEN - Divorced bitter white female late 40s of average build with superb sense of humor seeks mysterious, independent nature lover to share good laughs, movies, books, museums, camping, great food and wine and occasionally marginal sex. Must love dogs and kids and on general principle abhor cell phones and related PDA devices. Control freaks, married horn-dogs, and vegans need not apply. Ditto for those sporting pinkie rings, class rings, ridiculous mustaches or affected facial hair patterns, multiple piercings, visible tattoos, or tasseled loafers. Must possess good personal hygiene, including flossing and toenail clipping. No crystals, but a little yoga and herbal teas are okay. Limited interest in televised sports a plus.

People ask me if I’m happier being divorced. “You seem happier’, most of them say. Then again, whenever anyone overhears me singing or humming they always chirp “Somebody’s happy!” not realizing that often when I’m singing or humming, I’m on the verge of wanting to commit homicide, just a quick little beheading with a large machete, and humming’s my audio Thorazine, quieting my inside-of-the-head voices.

My answer to the question, is both yes and no. Yes I am happier not having to live with X’s bullshit, and no, I’m not really happy-er, for for that to be true, you had to have been happy in the first place.

The first year was pretty blissful (save an occasional crying jag when missing the kids, usually assuaged with KFC) - catching up on years of lost self-time. Mass amounts of books were read, mass amounts of movies were watched. Long, luxurious baths, manicures, pedicures, facials, journal writing, and long walks were common place, as well as social occasions of various kinds – lectures, wine tastings, trips to the city, etc.

Best Things about Living Without a Man:

You can bend over without inciting lust
You don’t have to cook if you don’t want to
You can sleep nude without being woken by a pole in your lower back
You get to decorate exactly how you want to
You can bend over and scrub the tub without inciting lust, even naked if you want
You don’t have to supply a running commentary on where you’re going or what you’re doing
You can go to the bathroom without interruption
You don't have to go find something in the fridge which was there all along

Worst Things About Living Without a Man:

You have to take out your own garbage
You have to call someone to come help you move heavy things
You have to watch scary movies in the daytime (and even then sleep with a blunt object next to the bed)
You rarely come home to an already cooked meal
There’s no one to take care of you when you’re sick

According to statistics (which I don’t believe are true) the average married person has sex about 2.5 times per week. I happen to like it about 2.5 times, too, but per month, about as often as I shave in winter. In summer, I can be a bit randier than usual, thanks to the regular consumption of cold alcoholic-laced beverages to quench my thirst. However, I’m bitchiest in extreme heat, in which case I lie around on the couch and swing at anything that comes near me.

Close to beating my old record of how long it had been since I’d last been laid, I decided to concentrate my self-time on getting out and meeting people of the opposite sex, because, even though I detest many men, it hadn’t yet reached the point as to get me to switch teams.

I had one date with a person I met off He was cute, but not a good match. I acted like a school girl, but he wasn’t much better, spitting his olive pits into the garden area adjoining our table, and having a discourse with the waitress over the quality of that establishment’s tap water that made Meg Ryan’s character in ‘When Harry Met Sally’ seem like a person who just points at the menu to order.

Months later at a wine tasting, going for ‘almost-a-virgin-again’ status, I got into a discussion with a group of folks about a Bay Area radio show with Jon Carroll that had ‘cats versus dogs’ as its premise. The group discussed pros and cons of each. I proudly and willingly came out on the side of the dog people. One gent I had found initially intriguing turned out to be not only a cat person, but also a total dickwad.

“You prefer dogs because they acquiesce”; the affected wine geek purported to me. “Truly confident people are cat people, who, like cats, value their independence.” This kind of rhetorical punditry fires me up. “You’re damn right they acquiesce!” I vehemently replied. “I’m buying their food, I take them to the vet, I let them shed all over everything… I take them for walks, I buy them toys (even after they’ve destroyed my sunglasses, headphones, my favorite Charles Jourdan handbag, three pairs of shoes and 12 Barbies), and I damn well expect a little unconditional love and loyalty in return! Dogs get that, that’s why they don’t call cats man’s best friend!”

Mr. Superior Cat Person sat smugly and sneered at me. “Well, all I’m saying is, I can love something without requiring it to love me in return in order to feel whole.” “Yeah, well that’s because you’re single and don’t have grown up kids! Talk to me in about 15 years!” I retorted, quaffed the last of my Pinot, set my glass down firmly on the table and left, seeing as how most in the group were cat people, so my prospects for ending my sexual fast didn’t look too good.

On the way home a thought came to me. Part of my problem in the relationship world is that other people see me as more of a cat, whereas I think of myself as more of a dog, with an inner cat. I liken myself to a mid-energy level dog from either the sporting or hound group – I am a loyal companion who likes to snuggle up on the couch at home, but also likes free run of the land. Relatively low maintenance, affectionate but not needy, like strangers, love other animals as well as kids, love the water and the entire great outdoors, and am an excellent watchdog, but have relatively low protection ability.

On the other hand, most men I meet are like dogs from either the working group – not that fond of strangers, but possessing great protection ability, or the terrier group – fun loving, but hard to train (this is why they’re not like the herding group, something that you gals might be thinking of, regarding those who try to fence you in). Kids generally start out like dogs, become cats during adolescence (also hard if not impossible to train), and with any luck from the infinite powers that be, turn out to be a mixture of both, though hopefully mostly dog (I am bias).

More months go by. Record is officially broken. A friend and I decide to try speed dating. The inner cat in me decides to be calculating and come up with a list of 10 can’t stands and 10 must haves to make the most of my 4-minute conversational interludes with 18 strange men. One that wasn’t on the list to begin with, but made the can’t stands count climb to 11 by the end of the night – men who come to a speed dating event totally unprepared, with seemingly little to say.

CAN’T STANDS (my son would say that by listing these first, it cements his accusation that I am a negative person, that my glass is half empty. I do it because it will likely draw the most laughs).

1. Arrogance – and don’t give me that ‘when you point a finger at someone there’s three fingers pointing back at you’ shit either!
2. Environmental disregard (litterers are the lowest of the low)
3. Anti-social behavior (as in - your ass is usually on the couch at home)
4. Control Freaks (see Arrogance)
5. Passive Aggressiveness (can you say - sneaking around the block to go next door?)
6. Low ambition/motivation (not to be confused with procrastination, a perfectly acceptable trait, to a point)
7. Jealousness (insecurity disguised)
8. Slovenliness (I’m no Joan Crawford, but c’mon, we’re adults)
9. Workaholism (got a life?)
10. Apathy (huh?)


1. Sense of humor (ala old Simpsons, Al Franken, original Ren & Stimpy, Michael Moore, Molly Ivins, David Sedaris, Ira Glass, Sarah Vowell, evened out with a little Garrison Keiler)
2. Left-leaning politics (see above)
3. Honesty & Integrity (are they exclusive of each other?)
4. Nature Lover (must included camping)
5. Culture Addict (all kinds, including trashy)
6. Independent Social life, complete with own friends and hobbies and trips away (maybe this should have come first)
7. Dog & kid lover (best judges of character)
8. Meat eater (yes, that’s right, I can't get down with someone who can’t dig into a BBQ’d rib!)
9. Social drinker (had enough of the friends of Bill W., but equally will not tolerate those who drink to excess)
10. Love of travel (not just out of your own county)

Fast forward. Record still holds, but I pray the end is near when I move to a much bigger pond with more fish! Sounds promising, right? Show me a large town where it seems everyone is already hooked up, too young, gay, or not a good fit and I’ll show you a town that does a booming adult video rental business and has a mail truck laden with silicone toys and plastic bagged magazines in plain brown paper wrapping. So what's a girl to do? Get more pets. Currently - two dogs and two cats. Thanks be to God for their unconditional love. Looks like I will be a crazy old celibate woman with a houseful of cats after all.


Obituary listing Nov 4, 2048 – Lara Maxwell, formerly of Salinas, beloved mother of Forest Zero (lead guitarist of the rock group ‘Bus Full of Asians’) and Claire Moots (actress, New York) died ALONE of cardiac arrest on Nov. 1st in Charlottesville, VA. Her coronary was brought on by swinging a broom wildly at a young boy who had ridden his bike through the sweat peas surrounding her mail box. Local animal shelter authorities are doing their best to find new homes for the 7 cats and 2 dogs she leaves behind.