Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The old man was the real tip-off. The leer on his face was almost frightening. It was like looking into the eyes of a tall hyena with a living sheep in its mouth.

That Time I Met One of Satan's Many Manifestations On Earth: Part One of Two

So did I ever tell you guys about the time I went to Wal-Mart Global HQ, in the hip-hop-happenin' town of Bentonville, Arkansas? It's been on my mind lately because of all the worker protests (and consequently up-leveled retaliatory ratfuckery on the part of the corporation) of the last year or so. And as you know, I hate those motherfuckers -- Wal-Mart, not their underpaid, shat-upon, locked-in, dignity-stripped workers, I mean -- and have hated them pretty much my whole life. So why did I go to their HQ?

Well -- I was desperately unhappy at my old day job, as you all were well aware. I had a bitchin' LinkedIn profile and was actively seeking a new gig (I think all the top-tier interviews I got could actually smell -- no, see -- the waves of desperation coming off me). One day out of the blue, I got an email from ... a recruiter at Wal-Mart. Real sweet gal, said she liked my profile a lot, and would I be interested in the attached job description?

In my head I'm all, hell to the fuck no, you guys are my mortal goddamned enemy. But -- desperation. So I looked at the attachment. The job was a fantastic fit, no kidding around. Just, it was for Wal-Mart. And it was in Bentonville, AR. I wrote back and said it looked great, but I am not interested in relocating from the SF bay area, so let me know if this could be remote/telecommute; otherwise, nah. Imagine my surprise when she wrote back a couple weeks later to say that actually, they might could do this out of their Peninsula office and would I like to interview? So -- fighting my gorge -- I say yes. We set it up -- first a quick phoner w/the recruiter (in which we discuss a salary about 30% more than my current one, yay!), then several hours in the Peninsula office (O SHATNER DO I HATE THE 101 FREEWAY) meeting with five different people, as is the custom around here. This seems to go smashingly. I do a Skype-y thing with my prospective direct manager; it also goes smashingly (I think because I go in to the interviews with the desperation-free attitude of, "Fuck all y'all, I don't want to work for you, I'm just  enjoying making my horrible boss paranoid.").

Another phone call with the recruiter, who chooses this moment to lay it on me about their monthly 7:30 a.fucking.m.-to-9:30 a.m. Saturday morning all-hands mandatory rah-rah/cult meeting, and the general companywide 7:30 start time to the workday (WTF?), and the bullshit cheap-ass holiday/PTO policy ... but I'm sofa king desperate at my job, I'm still listening to these guys. They invite me to Bentonville. I decide, whatever, I hate you guys anyway, and tell the recruiter that o by the waaay, full disclosure, FYI I'm 5 months pregnant; I lay out my Californian expectations for maternity leave (the standard 4 months, during which -- because it would be a new job and I'm a real swell person, plus this is my second so I know how this parenthood thing rolls -- I'd keep in touch). They -- because legally I'm pretty sure they have to, to avoid a lawsuit -- say it's cool, no prob, here's your flight details. I take a day off work, fly out on a Sunday, cry hormonally throughout the two (2) flights because of missing a precious weekend day with Kid Gleemonex and Mr. G., and arrive in Old Bentone.

[Stay tuned for part two, in the next post]

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Mommy, what's a "rough men" that's in the camps?

Further adventures ...

A Few More of the Conversations Occasioned By Reading the Little House Books, In Order, With My Five-Year-Old Daughter in the Year 2013

--The creative bedtime-routine evasion one: 
Me: Hon, it's time to brush your teeth and go potty.
Kid Gleemonex: After I finish my chores, Mommy -- I hafta put my horse on its picket line. [returns to carefully tying length of embroidery thread around a drinking straw stuck deep into the pile of the carpet; the other end is around the neck of Goldie the stuffed unicorn]

--The one about predetermined gender roles: 
--KG: Why can't Laura go with Pa out to the field?
--Me: Well, because she's a girl -- back then, if you were a girl, you did all the work in the house, and if you were a boy, you went out to the fields, and did the hunting, and all that stuff.
--KG, with all the reasonableness of a Montessori-schooled Californian child in 2013: But a boy could learn to sew. He might like to sew. And everybody who wants to can cook, and if a boy wants to wear a dress he can, and --
--Me: I know, baby -- that's how it is now, but in Laura's time, the rule was, boys did the outside stuff, and girls did the inside stuff. Nobody had a choice, and not many people really thought about it.
--KG, declaratively, flatly, with narrowed eyes: I want to learn to sew. And I want to go out to the garden and help my Daddy. And [Danger Baby] can cook. [sudden tone shift, as is her wont] Danger Baby is a poop-butt! He's a butthead! Mommy, Danger Baby is a poopy-butthead butt-poop-face! [extended giggling fit]

--One of the many about guns and animals:
--KG: Why does Pa always take his gun with him when he goes out?
--Me: In case he finds some game to shoot for them to eat, or if he runs into danger.
--KG: Like bears or wolfs or panthers?
--Me: Yeah.
--KG: And if he sees an animal that would be good to eat, he can shoot it and then they will eat it!
--Me: Yeah, they don't have grocery stores, so if they want to eat any protein, that's pretty much the only way they'll get it.
--KG: But my daddy doesn't take a gun with him. What if there are bears when Daddy goes running?
--Me [stupidly, because we have gone down this road before, many times]: There aren't any bears here, not anymore --
--KG, morally outraged: Because BAD PEOPLE went and shot ALL THE BEARS just because they were big and scary and but they weren't even doing anything to the people and now there AREN'T ANY BEARS ANYMORE!
[fifteen-minute digression on how sad it is that all the bears around here are gone, and how we understand that the point of guns was different once upon a time than now and how we wish people weren't such ignorant aggressive assholes]
--KGwith conviction: Guns are the baddest. I would take all the guns in all the whole seven continents and put them in a hole and cover them up and pour concrete on the hole and nobody can ever shoot any animals or people anymore.
--Me: Yeah -- me too, baby. Me too. [hugs her tight]

Bonus Feature: My Image and Search History, Chronicling My Attempts to Provide Visual Aids to My Explanations of Certain Antiquated or Unfamiliar Objects and Concepts Detailed in the Books

--1870s corset
--1870s corset hoop skirts
--covered wagon
--prairie grasses
--where is the prairie
--oat shocks
--how to make butter
--how maple sugar is made
--what is tree sap

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Monday, June 17, 2013

Take a look, it's in a book

Right now, we're in the middle of By the Shores of Silver Lake. 

A Few of the Conversations Occasioned By* Reading the Little House Books, In Order, With My Five-Year-Old Daughter in the Year 2013

--The one about Jack dying: 
Me: Pets ...[choking sobs, tear-swabbing] ... don't live as long as people so ... [honking nose-blow] ... they -- they die [more sobbing] ... and Jack was a good dog ... and ... oh honey, I'm sorry, this is ridiculous [laughing through FLOODS of tears], I'm crying about s-s-omebody else's dead dog from a hundred and fifty years ago! [weeping, nose-blowing, furious tear-mopping]
Kid Gleemonex [wrinkling brow, reasonably, dry-eyed, though possibly worried about my sanity]: But Mommy, Jack was old. He died and went to Kevin, just like your Daddy did.

--The many about how much more was expected of children back then vs. now: 
Major topics of emphasis have included: Mary and Laura taking the family's cow (a huge animal that could trample them to death if it took a notion) to meet the herd each morning; the fact that children did chores, and it was a hell of a lot more than taking their own plates to the kitchen after meals; sitting still and quiet in church; why don't we go to church Mommy; they woke up everybody, all the kids, to work in the nighttime? Won't Almanzo be grumpy and get a lot of time-outs the next day because he's tired?

--The one about Mary going blind: 
KG, extremely alarmed: BLIND? You mean she can't see anything?
Me: No, sweetheart -- she got sick and it made her blind, and that means she can never see anything anym --
KG, outraged: She has to get un-blind! She has to get better. How can she see anything if she's BLIND?
Me: [Fifteen minutes on how blind people adapt to living in the sighted world, with digressions on the topics of seeing-eye dogs, causes of blindness, and the ways in which disabled people were viewed in "prairie times" vs. how they are viewed today]
KG: So can she see again in the next book?

--The one about Santa Claus being unable to cross the Verdigris River: 
KG: But Santa Claus's reindeer can fly! Why wouldn't he be able to get across a river?
Me: ... uh ... they, ahh ... didn't have any snow and ...
KG: Mommy, we don't have any snow. Santa Claus came to us!
Me: ... um ...
KG: Maybe Mary and Laura and baby Carrie weren't good girls. Is that why -- THAT'S why Santa wouldn't come.
Me: Yep! Mighta been. Anyway let's keep reading, OK?

--The one about what a flaming racist Ma is: 
KG: Why doesn't Ma like Indians? My teacher, Ms. Varsha, is an Indian -- she's from India. It takes twenty hours to get there on an airplane.
Me: [Solid half-hour on "not that kind of Indian, the kind of Indian so called because Christopher Columbus was a dummy," and on the racist colonialist mindset of the times which held that non-white people of all kinds but particularly the ones who happened to occupy the land "we," aka settlers/colonists, wanted to live on were "savages," and how fear of them was not necessarily misplaced -- they DID kill settlers -- but was not exactly justified either because damn it we were fucking stealing their land and killing THEM off, so what would you have them do]
KG: Ma was not being nice to Indians. But I bet if she met Ms. Varsha she would be nice to her. Or maybe not nice, because Ma is not very nice. To Indians I mean.

*"Occasioned by" -- is that a thing? It sounded normal when it popped into my head when I wrote it, but the more I look at it, the more it looks like bizspeak verbing or something that does not mean what I think it means ... but hell, I'm leaving it. You know what I fucking mean. 

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

I suppose there is a certain crucial interval in everyone's life when character is fixed forever; for me, it was that first fall term I spent at Hampden.

Fourth in a series of four

Things About and Around My College Transcript: 1995 - 1996

--So many of my favorite classes were this year! Suburbia and Its Culture, Film Censorship in America, The U.S. During the 1960s, The American Revolution, Italian I (easy A! love this language!), and my #1 favorite: History of the City of New York, taught by one of the greatest professors ever, Kenneth T. Jackson. God, that was a great class -- I wish I could take it over and over. The marquee event of it was the annual all-night bike ride throughout the city, with some 250 of us led by Professor Jackson starting on campus at 9:00 p.m., riding all over the damn place, stopping for a pub breakfast at 4:00 in the morning, swinging by the Fulton Fish Market, and finishing by crossing the Brooklyn Bridge at dawn.

--Annnnd also two of the worst: Laboratory in Screenwriting, and Senior Project: Screenwriting. OMFG these were terrible. My screenplay was fucking horrifyingly bad -- so bad that I wouldn't even read it at Cringe, because even now, seventeen years after I turned it in at the prof's office and went straight back to my room to smoke out and watch Dazed and Confused again to get it off my mind, I'd have a brain aneurism and die of shame.

--Mr. Gleemonex and I shared my eensy tiny single dorm room this year (he raaather unofficially, heh). He was working a job that was a very good learning experience and a "name" to go on his resume, but which paid a very studenty wage, so we shacked up. Mr. Gleemonex still had his student ID from the same dorm from the year before, making the whole thing relatively easy to manage. Side bonus: Total parental rebellion on my part. Ma and Pa Gleemonex would have shat twice and died if they knew. To this day, I think Ma Gleemonex prefers not to know. 

--This is also the year we met and bonded for life with the Drink Nazi, aka the Hedonist, aka Our Most Beloved Jew, aka The Kid/The Freshman. The seniors had all the singles in this dorm, and the doubles were filled with freshmen. This guy's roommate was an utter dud, so being a social guy in general, the Kid was more often out of his room than in it, and became well-known on our floor. He stopped in to my room in search of a microwave for his Hot Pockets once, and the rest is history (history that involves a LOT of weed, a ton of booze, the best snacks ever when we were smoking up together [except that one time he brought matzoh crackers which WHAT. THE. FUCK. where is the Ben & Jerry's], making snow angels in the middle of Broadway around 2:00 a.m. one quiet still new-snowy night after tumbling out of an extremely loud campus bar, a lot of the deep philosophical conversations that you have all the time when you're a freshman and have mostly abandoned by the time you're a senior, etc.).

--So, a lot of weirdness, a lot of good times, a lot of graduation-related agita* looming, some of the funnest parts of the whole four years -- and I finished with another semester on the Dean's List and a 3.6 cumulative GPA. College, y'all.

*O dumpster-diving christ I cannot even BEGIN to tell you how stressful it was to have my family there for graduation -- my mom quitting a 30-year pack-a-day smoking habit & going through menopause, my dad recently fallen off the wagon mit force, my sibs not in good places in their own lives, general what-next angst, no job or school prospects lined up, no fucking money AT ALL, weight at an all-time high because of the weed munchies and a diet consisting mostly of SunBolt and Cheetos .... yikes. That shit makes seventh grade look awesome by comparison. 

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Monday, June 10, 2013

For the record, I did *not* run for chocolate.

Interrupting the series that has you all on tenterhooks, I reappear from the schedule-blowing tilt-a-whirl that is Kid Gleemonex's summer vacation to bring you: 

Whatnot in re: the Half-Marathon I Just Done Gone and Ran!

--My finish time: 2:22. That's about forty minutes slower than BlabberMouse can do it, but damn hell am I proud of it! Yeahh boyeeeeeee! I felt great when we started out, kept pace easily with the 10:13/mile group for the first eight miles, and then faded a bit in the heat and headwind. I can't even tell you all what a lift it was to see my little family about a quarter-mile from the end, too, with their GO MOMMY GO! sign -- so much awesome. :-) I finished strong and happy, dead-legged and sweaty, and made straight for the champagne tent. Satisfaction.

--Lesson learned: It's not the running per se, it's the time-suck of the training that makes this type of thing hard to do. It's easy at first -- three miles, two miles, three miles, then a weekend "long run" of 4 miles. I can, and did, usually knock those out in the a.m. and get back before even Kid Gleemonex was awake. But later on, it's five-four-five-tenpointfive, and you're talking nearly two hours on the hoof on Sunday morning, which is just a beatdown.

--Which brings me to another point: "Support" is not a vague thing for the family of a person embarking upon a damn fool half- or full marathon. It's very specific; the partner has to solo with the kids while you're out running, the kids have to deal with Ma or Pa being gone on the reg, the partner has to listen to your run-talk for four months and then take a day off work so you can travel to the event and then bring the kids to the finish line to cheer you on (blowing another beautiful Saturday in the process), plus participate in the purchase of good running shoes, hydration gear, race entry fees, etc. All of which is to say: Thank you, Mr. Gleemonex -- you're a good man and a fabulous husband and I appreciate the hell out of you supporting me in this.

--This particular event was very girly rah-rah empowermentcakes, to the point where my finisher medal proclaims "I RAN FOR CHOCOLATE!" I, Gleemonex, love chocolate like the vagina-owner that I am, but goddamn it, that's not why I did this, and I resent the implication. I know the sponsor was See's Candies, but come ON. I'm a grown woman; I can BUY chocolate. But more to the point, and this is what really chaps my muscular thighs: I don't feel I "have to" run to burn the calories to "earn" the right to eat any fucking chocolate, either. I hate that attitude. I will eat whatever I want whenever I want it for whatever reason I want to, without regard to working out or calories or any of that good/bad food dynamic that fucks up everybody's -- well, every woman's -- life and relationship to food, and so the goddamn hell should all of you. Fuck that noise.

--Wow am I tired of running, as a thing. I want to do some Pilates, play some tennis, swim, lift -- anything but running right now ehhhrrmerrrgaaaaaaaahhhrrd.

--And finally: Ohhhh, you guys. This was something. I trained for four months to get to this point. I put in the time, did the miles, and fucking DID IT. And if  you've ever wondered whether you could or should, I say: yes.

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