Friday, October 31, 2008

a Halloween question

Why do the fat kids always go as pirates?

I wish I could get out and take a pic, but there is no getting down the main street of Chippewa Falls right now. The downtown businesses have trick or treat hours from 3-5, and then residential hours are 5-7. I am duly prepared, with my blinking ghost headband and my treats (stickers and temp tattoos and pencils this year, all Halloween-themed, natch, since I had to give up candy).

As I came up Bridge Street, I noticed the usual assortment of critters, witches and pumpkins, but the kid who made himself an iPod costume gets my vote for most creative. We'll see if anyone outdoes him.

Meanwhile, last year I had a kid come to the door in full camo, with a BB gun in hand, and instead of trick or treat, he said, "Happy hunting season!"

Only in northwest Wisconsin.

You gotta love it.

Now playing: Joss Stone - Right to be Wrong
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, October 30, 2008

why attention to detail is important

Or, why Candy is an idiot, part 3.

I really needed a decent pair of black shoes that didn't hurt my feet. Being old and fat, I'm partial to slip-ons.

At my local Goodwill, I found the perfect pair. At this particular store, every week, a different color tag is half off. So, for example, my shoes had a purple tag, and everything with a purple tag was half off that week.

I picked them up off the rack, saw a little "12" written on the inside sticker, and then a $9.99, and thought, hey! Discounted twice already and now 3 times! It's my lucky day! So I bought them.

I went to attempt to wear them the other day. While I am still fat, I'm not quite as fat as I used to be, and apparently it's possible to lose weight in your feet. (And in my case, at least, in your brain as well.) I could NOT keep these shoes on my feet. There was a TON of room at the back and they kept flapping up every time I walked.

Only later did it occur to me that -- you got it -- the "12" written on the inside was the SIZE. I am, at best, a 9.5.

So pffffft to whatever idiot put size 12 shoes in the size 9-10 section, and a facepalm for myself for not checking.

Oh well -- I suppose it's reason for another trip to Goodwill!

Now playing: Elvis Costello and the Attractions - Tears Before Bedtime
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

watching over lucky clover, isn't that bizarre?

Oh, Simon, je t'adore.

Monday (10/27), the one, the only, the formerly HAWT Simon Le Bon turned 50.

I am old. I'm not wearing my trousers rolled yet, but I am old.

Duran Duran was on the cover of Rolling Stone in ... 1984, I think. Thanks to Ebay, I own the issue that changed my life. This huge story about DD had a one-sentence lede: "Simon Le Bon wears blue underpants."

Friends, how could you NOT want to read further?!

So right then and there I dedicated my life to writing killer ledes. It has served me well.

I love you, Simon, even if you did get old and fat like the rest of us. (See "The Reflex" video below, and then a 2008 picture. Sadness.)

Monday, October 27, 2008

why I am an idiot, part 2

So I'm unpacking the last of the stuff I took to and brought from Milwaukee. (Helloooooo, lupini beans! DAMN, I miss Glorioso's.)

Anyway, "just in case," since I didn't have TOO many firm plans, I brought a nice (for me) outfit and shoes -- just in case somebody wanted to take me somewhere besides BK for a meal. ;-) It happened to be the same outfit I wore for a whole 90 minutes last week at a job interview -- a really pretty, deep purple jacket, pink ribbed top and black pants.

As I was hanging up the jacket, I noticed that I had failed to remove the tag to which the extra button is attached. So it had been just sticking out of the back of the thing since I bought it.

I haven't gotten so much as the word "boo" from that company. Imagine that. I'm sure they're thinking "geeze, if she can't even yank a tag off a jacket, she must really suck at details." Which I do, kinda, depending on the situation.


Now playing: Cherry Poppin' Daddies - Zoot Suit Riot
via FoxyTunes

funeral for a friend

It's hard to watch a loved one die a slow and painful death.

You know that Martin Niemoller thing about "first they came for (name of group), and I did nothing, because I wasn't one of them," and by the time it was his turn, there was no one left to save him? That's what's happening to newspapers. It just keeps getting worse and worse. A paper in NJ has just canned 40 PERCENT of its newsroom staff. The Los Angeles Times, formerly a really good paper, just got rid of another 75 editorial employees -- their second round of cuts this year.

Ugh. I don't even want to think about it. It's all just too fricking depressing. When something happens and there are no reporters left, o brilliant American public, who is going to save you?

Now playing: The Gabe Dixon Band - Ever After You
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, October 23, 2008


(transcript of my first words upon seeing the "Milwaukee County" sign on 94)

Have you ever been so happy that your heart and soul smiled as wide as your mouth? It's awesome. Even with the chaos of 3 dogs, a 16-lb cat and 2 bickering siblings, it's totally awesome. Miller Park? Awesome. Lake Michigan? Awesome. Quality time with people you share decades of affection and history with? Awesome and priceless.

Now. Somebody win the lottery and split it with me so I can fund a move back here.

my-my-my-my generation, baby

So I ask you, people -- WTF?

My 79-year-old, batshiat-crazy mother is in near-perfect physical health. Yet so far this year, 43-year-old moi has had 3 friends dx'd with breast cancer, one with thyroid cancer, and I just discovered that a guy I went to HS with had a heart transplant 2 years ago. I had that nasty little bout with bone marrow failure that's left me with a clotting disorder.

Is it genetically modified food? Pesticides? Global warming? WHAT? Why is it that people my age, who *should* be in their peak health and earning years, are dropping like flies instead? Am I just unlucky in my choice of friends, or have we done so many awful things in the name of "science" the last 40 years that we're just happening to be the ones getting screwed first? (BTW, my aplastic anemia was chalked up to a medication that didn't exist 40, 30, 20 or even 10 years ago. Love that FDA and the way they ensure our safety -- it's not like Big Pharma pays them off or anything.)

My generation was the first to get screwed by a lot of things -- huge jump in divorce rate, women entering the workforce in droves (leading to us being the first latchkey kids), socioeconomic/cultural forces that ensured most of us would never achieve the standard of living our parents did -- so I guess it's not a surprise. But MAN, does it suck.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

How do you spell idiot?

C - A - N - D - Y, of course! Why? Because she IS one!

Jebus, people. Who else do you know who has ever left her keys in a running car .... TWICE.

The first time it sat for 2.5 hours in front of the South Milwaukee City Hall while I covered a council meeting. (Luckily, South Milwaukee has no crime -- that's all the next burb over, in Cudahy.)

Today after therapy, I went to do laundry. Tried out a nice shiny new place with new machines, overstuffed leather chairs for seating, flat-panel TVs that get more than 1 channel, and free wifi. Oh, and the washers cost $4 to make up for all that, but that's beside the point, of course.

Anyway, hauled in the laundry bag. Went back out to haul in the laptop. Hauled in the laptop, threw the laundry in a washer, threw in the soap, sat down and plugged in the laptop. I am pathological about my keys just because I am an idiot that way, so when I reached into my pocket to make sure they and my cell phone were there -- they weren't.

Which led to the following inside-my-brain dialogue:

OMG, where are my keys?
OMG, I hope I didn't lock the fucking car. I don't have enough cash to pay a locksmith and I didn't bring the credit card.
&^%$#@!!!!!!! -- first 3 doors I tried were LOCKED. Luckily, the right rear wasn't, and I was able to unlock the right front, reach over the 3 feet of trash on the floor (you think I'm kidding, I bet, but it's getting cleaned out tonight) and spy the keys.

But hmm. Why is the CD playing? It's supposed to start up when you start the car and turn off when you turn off the car.

Which would be great, if the frigging car were TURNED OFF.


I guess it's a good thing I don't live in a very high-crime area. But I don't know what one does to cure stupidity.

Now playing: The Gabe Dixon Band - Disappear
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I'm Grouchy Smurf.

What Smurf am I? You are Grouchy Smurf. You are set in your ways and don't like change. You are very vocal with your thoughts and aren't afraid to tell it like it is! People might say you are a negative person, but deep down you really are loving and caring. It just takes the right someone to bring you out of your shell. Those few that you allow to get close to you are better off for it!

Et vous?

Monday, October 20, 2008

things that just ain't right.

Feel free to add to the list.

-- People/companies that make you jump through a million-billion hoops, get your hopes up, and then tell you "oh, sorry, job's been filled."

Right now I'm just pissed because I just spent half an hour filling out a frigging Internet app for a job that turned out not to exist anymore. But the absolute worst was the time I was interviewing for a job with the Small Business Times or the Milwaukee Biz Journal or one of those. Guy chased me all over hell and gone: left me messages at home, at work, on my cell, "I got your resume and I really want to talk to you." So I got back to him and scheduled an interview.

Got to said interview, he looked over my resume and said, "I interviewed somebody this morning with 14 years of business journalism experience, so that's what you're up against. I think you need another 5 years or so of experience. But let me know if you'd like some contacts in the biz, I know a lot of people."

That, friends -- that just ain't right.


(And yes, I'd be happy to give you his name so you can avoid him!)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

whee! rollercoasters are fun!!


But enough about that. I have other places to discuss my moods.

I'm just annoyed, again, always, ever, that the only careers that pay jack are the ones I have no talent or interest in. It would be great (I think) to be a doctor, but I'd never pass the math and science. But what's really bugging me right now is that, if I had ANY interest in covering business, I could have had a journalism job the afternoon of the day I got canned. I just can't think of anything more boring to have to learn about. And yet, it's the biz journos who are the only safe ones right now, and everybody wants 10 more of them.


Friday, October 17, 2008


In cruising through Marquette's website after reading my alumni mag cover to cover, I discovered that they now give iPod tours of campus.

In 1996, when I was trying to apply there, I couldn't even find a freakin email addy for my department chair. And my AOL bill was in triple digits every month, because they still charged for dialup by the hour.

My very first computer was a Commodore 64 with a TAPE DRIVE. That's CASSETTE TAPE. That's BEFORE FLOPPY DISKS.

Damn, I feel old. Moreso every day.

Now playing: KT Tunstall - Paper Aeroplane
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, October 16, 2008

what sucks about the Internet

It allows you to find long-lost colleagues who were losers when you knew them but have ended up with way better careers than you.

A guy who was my boss for 4 years in the early 1990s -- who hadn't even finished a bachelor's, at that point -- now has an MBA and is executive vice president of the friggin' company. He was an absolutely inept manager.


c'mon, we can do better!

For all of you who have expressed the desire to choose your own candidates for president -- well, here ya go!

Personally, I went with ALF and Super Mario for an all-80s ticket, but there are so many other good possibilities!

welcome to Amerika
From Dana Milbank's chat transcript:
I have to say the Secret Service is in dangerous territory here. In cooperation with the Palin campaign, they've started preventing reporters from leaving the press section to interview people in the crowd. This is a serious violation of their duty -- protecting the protectee -- and gets into assisting with the political aspirations of the candidate. It also often makes it impossible for reporters to get into the crowd to question the people who say vulgar things. So they prevent reporters from getting near the people doing the shouting, then claim it's unfounded because the reporters can't get close enough to identify the person.

A version of this has happened to me as well.

Free press? What dat?

why small-town living sucks

1. Everybody knows you.
2. Everybody knows you.
3. Lack of diversity and cultural opportunities.
4. There is something horribly wrong when you have lived in the country long enough to associate the overwhelming scent of cow poop with pleasant memories.

I'm sure I'll think of more later. But it's the everybody knows you one that's getting me. I suppose its corollary would be "why getting canned sucks" (aside from the obvious financial aspect), and that would be because everybody knows you and so they know you got canned. Which makes life incredibly awkward.

I ran into one of our county judges at Mickey D's this afternoon. I tried as hard as I could to avoid him, and he did have the decency to not try to approach me. Ordinarily I like the guy and I would have been happy to chat him up, but things are just in that weird stage for me right now and I don't want to deal with it.

Corollary 2 is "getting canned makes it immensely awkward running into now-former coworkers." I bumped into one in Younkers (dept. store) last week. She was very kind, but it was still horrible. And I rsvp'd for another's wedding reception this Saturday, back when I was still employed, and now I'm wondering: Should I be rude and not show up and cost him money, or should I go and have a bunch of people not know WTF to say to me and make us ALL feel bad? Not to mention it's a dessert buffet, which would be right up my alley if I weren't now diabetic.

Sigh. Where's Miss Manners when you need her?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mrs. Daniels and junk food

I attempted (note I said attempted) to take Latin in 12th grade. I lasted 6 weeks, I think. But Mrs. Mary Alice Daniels -- who had a nameplate on her desk stating, "MA Daniels, MA" -- was better known to the kids as "Attila the Bun." She was rude and snarky, had hair past her butt, when she let it down, and her favorite thing to say when some dolt (like me) finally had the light come on and get it was "EUREKA! cried Archimedes as he stepped into the bathtub."

Well, eureka, my friends, because I have found it. After centuries -- nay, millennia -- of mankind trying to prove the existence of god, I have found it. And so I give you: SUGAR-FREE PEEPS.

This would be even better if I had read the damn label before snarfing one. They may be Splenda-ized, but they still have 23 total carbs (how, I'm not sure) and no fiber to speak of, so each one costs me 2 carb servings. I only get 15 a day.

I wonder how well they freeze.

tell me, please....

If you're reading my blog, then you probably know me, because I didn't give out the addy to just anyone and I really doubt it will turn up in a Google search for fascinating, insightful blogs.

So it stands to follow that you probably know that, personality-wise, I would make a tremendously bad salesperson.

Tell me, then: WHY, when I post my resume on a large, nonspecific job board (I'm looking at YOU, Monster and Hotjobs), do I *only* get uninvited solicitations to apply for a job as a salesperson? Is there a keyword in my resume that some computer picks up on and says "Hey! Somebody with 15 years as a professional writer and editor would make a terrific salesperson!"? Or, "Hey! Somebody with an advanced degree isn't so geeky that he or she wouldn't be able to walk in on people, unsolicited, and convince them to buy crap they don't need"? What IS it, I ask you? Besides frustrating, I mean.


pros and cons of loserish-ness

Sometimes, when I'm hating on myself, and reflecting on the fact that I'm 40-something with no assets to show for it, I get kind of discouraged. And then something that costs thousands of dollars breaks or needs to be replaced, and instead of shelling out my own money and taking a day off to wait for repairmen, I call the landlord and say, "ha ha! Your problem!" and voila! it gets fixed. And then I don't feel so bad.

But then there are days (nights?) like this. Because it is 3:12 a.m. and the current occupant of the other half of my duplex is not only effin weird, but rude and loud and pissing me off.

Then again, he's good for helping me feel un-loser-ish, because he's in his early 50s and is a newspaper delivery boy. Trouble with that is, my former paper, which is what he delivers, is a morning paper. Drop-dead press deadline is 11 pm and the thing starts hitting doorsteps around 1:30 a.m.

I am rather the night owl, but jeebus, you know? I do generally like to get to sleep before 1:30 a.m. And I am highly sensitive to loud noises. It's bad enough there's an a$$hole across the alley with an unmufflered motorcycle, but he's got nothing on Mr. Delivery Boy, who for the last 3 nights has gotten into a shouting match with another driver around 2 a.m. Plus, the driver leaves the van running, and it needs a tuneup in the worst way.

If the yelling and the engine noises aren't enough, the dude is so loud I can hear every word of every one of his phone conversations through the living room wall.

There are a lot of other ways he's a freak, but it's the noise that bugs me most. And as I retreat to my living room at 3:17 a.m., hoping to get some sleep out *here,* I remind myself that if I had actually picked a non-slave-wage profession and graduated from college on time, I could have my own, single-family home, with no noises coming through the walls.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

ohhh, the guilt.....

This was both unexpected and a first for me. Either way it doesn't feel very good, even though rationally I know I really didn't have THAT big of a part in it.

A 20-year-old kid who went to prison for 18 years a few weeks ago, and whose sentencing I attended and wrote extensively about, and whose attorney tried to claim years of abuse and mental health issues (more on that in a minute) .... hanged himself in prison yesterday. :-(

Part of the guilt is that my former officemate is now stuck with the fallout -- the kid's biodad called me all pissed off after the story ran and ripped me a new one, basically, for things that weren't my fault (like his not being notified of when the sentencing was. Um, if you really cared about your kid, wouldn't you be in enough touch with him to know that?).

Part of it is that I feel bad for my favorite judge, who was the one who imposed the sentence.

Part of it -- OK, most of it -- is that I rail all the time against scofflaws trying to get out of punishment by playing the mental illness card, because you know? I have a list of mental health diagnoses as long as your arm and I still manage to be a reasonably productive, law-abiding member of society. Or at least I have the sense to only turn my anger, etc on myself instead of, say, kidnapping my stepdad at gunpoint and crossing state lines (one of the many things this kid did that got him 18 years). His attorney played up the mental illness and parental abuse deal. His mom and stepdad pleaded with the judge to give him the maximum possible sentence so that he had a chance of straightening things out with (taxpayer-funded, natch) therapy. And now he's dead.

Ugh. This is striking me as a good time to down a couple Xanax and go back to bed.

Monday, October 13, 2008

I'm ba-aaaack....!!

So yeah. I have no idea what my little week-long siesta here was for, but here we are.

Nothing particularly interesting has happened over the last week, except for the Wisconsin unemployment division deciding I'm not illegal either and actually sending me a check. Why is it these organizations go after the people who AREN'T doing anything wrong?

For now, I need to go figure out what to name ANOTHER blog, one that I can give potential employers a link to. And then I need to start collecting links of my best stuff and putting it all together. Dammit Jim, I'm a writer, not a graphic designer. Anybody got any ideas on how to make it look like more than a collection of links, let me know.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Life Lessons, part 1

  1. Never go to the grocery store hungry, particularly if you're on a diet, and especially particularly if you're on a largely sugar-free diet.
  2. Never buy an entire six-pack of a beer you haven't tried at least once.
  3. When job-hunting, keep track of where and to whom you apply.
  4. Never send resumes more than an hour after your regular bedtime, lest you forget what you sent to whom (see #3, above).
You'd think I'd have learned this stuff the first time.

Now playing: Sara Bareilles - Love Song
via FoxyTunes

Oh, BTW?

Now playing: Brian Setzer Orchestra, The - Nosey Joe
via FoxyTunes

This was must-see TV for young junior high and high school journos back in the day. ;-) If you can get past the datedness, this is what it was supposed to be like, and what it WAS like. How people who work for TMZ, for example, can sleep at night is beyond me.

Fear Factor

Now playing: Brian Setzer Orchestra, The - Let's Live It Up
via FoxyTunes

So. Today is actually my 3rd day of unemployment, but the first of a new work week. Where ordinarily I would have had my entire week planned out by last Thursday, I now officially have nothing to do, nowhere to go, no structure to my day. Oh, and no money. Good thing I can walk to the library -- that can amuse me for awhile.

Decided this would be a reeeeally good time to start up therapy again. I hadn't seen her in about a month, due, funnily enough, to work. (They were supposed to give me time off for stuff like that, and of course, it didn't happen.) We talked about the differences between the 2001 recession, when I also got the boot, and the 2008 version. I have a fair bit to feel better about, this time -- more skills, more experience, more wisdom, a much wider professional network. However, I am also trained for an industry in its death throes, and I have no idea what to do next. And, if you know me, you know I hate surprises and uncertainty.

So, despite having lots of positive things in my favor, I'm thinking about "omg, last time I was out of work for 10 months, what's going to happen, how am I going to deal with it, I'm such a fraud -- everybody thinks I'm taking this really well, and they don't know how big of a mess I am."

I suppose this is why one pays therapists. ;-)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

So, I finally gave in.

So yeah. I've never been an "early adopter" anyway, as we say in the communications biz, but I am both a dedicated sheep -- happier to follow than lead -- and a Midwesterner, which means trends from the coasts get here 10 years after they're over already. Thus, I have said "WTF" and started a blog, like approximately 4 of the other 6 billion people on the planet. I can't promise I'll ever have anything interesting to say, but you'll just have to take your chances and keep coming back to find out. ;-)

Now playing: Ingrid Michaelson - Die Alone
via FoxyTunes