Category Archives: Righteous Indignation

High Infidelity

I know I shouldn’t care and it’s none of my business and it’s a little disgusting and disturbing, but I’m obsessed with this whole Tiger-Woods-cheating-on-his-wife-with-several-bleached-blonde-VIP-club-waitresses thing.  I’m not totally sure why. Well, I’ll admit to being quite intrigued by the whole story that Elin beat him with a golf club (the irony!), which of course is awesome.  But I just want his wife to slap his face and walk away. I feel like she must leave him or maybe I’ll die.  Why the outcome of this fiasco is meaningful in any way to me is disturbs me, but somehow it matters.  Like I want to yell, “Elin, don’t let this boy DO you like that! Walk out on his punk ass and don’t look back!” But I don’t know him or her. Or about their pre-nup, which I think matters a lot when you’re one of the most famous/talented people in the world.  I mean, as evidenced by my very scientific poll (question 3) way back when, I have always thought that women that marry rock stars or professional athletes are crazy if they think their man isn’t cheating, but golfers don’t count. At least, until now. But thanks to Cheetah Tiger, I’ll add them to the list.

But I’m completely naive about these matters.  Marital infidelity is something I have a hard time wrapping my mind around.  I just don’t understand why you don’t just leave someone if you want to cheat on them.  Just admit you suck at being married, get a divorce, and then sleep with whoever, whenever you want. But don’t do it while you’re married, behind your spouse’s back and kiss your kids goodnight like you’re not totally fucking up their whole world because you’re horny.

I’ve never been tempted to cheat on my husband. Perhaps it’s because neither Angelina Jolie nor Milo Ventimiglia has begged me to have sex with them, or maybe it’s because cheating on my husband would devastate him, and our children and our families and undo everything we’ve done together.  Or maybe it’s because I’ve never understood casual relationships/sex. I’ve never had a one night stand. Not for any sort of moral/ethical/religious reason – more because it would introduce too many unknowns for me. I’m a binary person that likes things settled. Things are black or they are white. You’re married or you aren’t. You’re in love or you’re not. You’re with somebody or you aren’t.  Oprah is your BFF or she isn’t.  It’s hard for me tolerate “it’s complicated” or “lets not put a label on it” or “let’s just see what happens”.  So I just don’t get how you can live a life being married to someone, but cheating on them and lying about it all the time.  I’m just a total Pollyanna on this subject — I can’t help myself.

I’m 33 years old, so I should have this figured out. Or understand it a little. And YET,  when married men hit on me I’m always completely surprised by it.  Especially when it’s a married man who knows I’m also married.  I’ve found myself in this situation way more than I think is logically probable, which causes it to dawn on me WAY later than it should.  Generally this occurs sometime during what I think is a routine lunch meeting, but which he thinks is his chance to get laid.  When they start getting shady (one guy told me nonchalantly, completely out of the blue:  “I really like small breasted women, like about your size,  because my wife’s breasts are so large. Clothes just don’t fit on her as well as they do on you.”  To which my mind replies : “Oh dear Jesus! We’re not talking about business anymore.  He totally wants to sleep with me! He’s married!! I’m married!! How could he even think for a second I’m interested in him like that? Ew…. EWWWWW… Must. Get. Out of here. FAST.”

I totally panic like a deer caught in headlights when a guy starts getting suggestive because in my world, if you’re married, you’re married, so you’re not making it a top priority to get in my pants.  But apparently I’ve run into several men that don’t share that world view.  And then I spend the next week wondering why, of all the chicks in the world he could be spending his time trying to sleep with, he chose me.  Me, who is married with two young kids. Me, who has absolutely zero interest in him outside of work, who does not flirt with him or dress provocatively.  Me, with tiny boobs and glasses and a muffin top. But also me, who is intelligent, charismatic, hilarious, pretty awesome and completely modest. And married. Do I look like some one who wants another woman’s husband? What makes him think he could even compete for a second with my husband?  Honestly, I’m baffled by this.  Why me?

But I think I finally may have got an answer today I can live with.  I brought up the whole Tiger Woods thing (because I’m obsessed with it, as I said) with a totally random British male coworker about 28 years my senior today. He was saying he was totally sick of the story and couldn’t get why Americans even care when people cheat, since cheating is so rampant here.  He travels a lot on business and says that he is never at a hotel where he doesn’t find married people having affairs all over the place. Really? I guess I’ve never noticed, but then again, I probably wouldn’t see it if it slapped me in the face, because I don’t look for it and I like to pretend it doesn’t happen.

I told him I’ve had several of my clients want to turn a totally normal business relationship into some type of sexual/romantic relationship, and all of them were married and all of them knew I was married as well.  “Well, I don’t know you very well, but I would say it’s easy to see why they would hit on you.  You’re a very open, transparent and funny.  I bet you talk to them about their families. Most people aren’t like that, so you probably make your customers feel so comfortable and they mistake your openness for romantic interest in them.” Reeeally?  I make my living selling.  Salespeople are supposed to show interest in their clients.  I just never thought that asking a client something like, “Did your son win his soccer game this weekend? ” would so easily be translated by that man into “do you want to have a torrid, illicit affair in the back of my Subaru?”.  Maybe I should stop asking my clients about their kids.

Per June’s comment, I put this back in:

Oprah had a dude on her show that said the reason that men cheat on their wives is that they don’t feel their wife thinks they are “special” or important or awesome.  So in order to prop up their fragile egos, they will go out and find someone to have an affair with who does make them feel special and manly and awesome.  The kicker is that almost always the women men cheat on their wives with are less attractive, less educated, and pretty much less everything than their wife.  So I guess I must make my male clients all feel special and loved.  But then that means that if they want to have an affair with me, they also think I’m less attractive than their wives. And I’m offended by that.  Assholes.  Next time one of my clients literally wants to screw me, I’ll remember that they think their wife is hotter and I’ll just kick them in their old balls.  Then maybe their wife won’t seem so bad after all.

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Adventures in Babysitting, the Finale

If you are just joining me, start here.  For the other three of you following the story and want to know what happens when Love insists on choosing a daycare run by a woman who shares none of her interests or philosophies in life, here goes:

After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, and a 10 page signed contract, Miss Amalia decides that we are a good enough family to admit into her daycare and even agrees to take our son at 10 weeks, instead of 6 months, with a little extra charge.  I liked Miss Amalia and her sister, who ran the daycare, but Miss Amalia and I had very different M.O.s.  Miss Amalia loved rules. LOVED rules. I, on the other hand, love to ignore rules, especially when they appear to be arbitrary, which many of Miss Amalia’s were. So when I would visit before my son started I would kind of laugh to myself about how amusing it was the way she clung to her random rules. You know, no shoes in the house. No coming more than 15 minutes early or later than she expected you. No calling during nap time. No breaking any of her 600 breast milk handling rules (thank GOD I didn’t have to deal with that). The list went on and on.  And on.  And on.

So my son is born in June and he turns out to be the easiest, most even-tempered and laid back baby ever born.  God only gives you what you can handle, and that is when I realized that God thinks I’m a total loser, because honestly, the kid never cried, he drank his formula without complaint, he had no gas, he slept all the time, he nailed all his weight and height checks at the doctor. He didn’t even cry when he got his immunizations. I had no idea what motherhood was going to be like, but after the first few weeks with my little guy I was wondering what so many new moms were complaining about.  Everyone was always talking about how hard it was and how they never got to sleep or shower or catch their breath.  I had no idea what they were talking about.  Taking care of an infant was so easy.

When I was on maternity leave, I probably read 100 books and even started watching Dr. Phil (a moustached man who is not a police officer, leaving only one other possibility) just to fill the time.  Seriously.  I was tethered to the house because my baby was always sleeping.  There was nothing for me to do except make a few bottles and change a few diapers every few hours.  And Oprah was in re-runs, so I turned to Dr.Phil. I was totally intrigued desperate.  My son would wake up, eat, be cute for 30 minutes, sleep for a couple of hours and then do it all over again. At  7 weeks he slept through the night.

These facts clearly prove that I must have been the best damn mother in the universe. I had the perfect baby, so that must have meant that every decision I had made had been the right one. If I wasn’t doing everything exactly right then how could my baby be so awesome? You’re stumped. I can tell.  All those moms whose kids cried a lot or didn’t sleep or had acid reflux – it was probably because they weren’t doing it right. I started fancying myself as an authority.  I thought maybe I should write a book about being a perfect parent and I would prove to the world that formula fed babies and their working mothers weren’t all that bad. Scratch that. Formula fed babies and their working mothers were superior! I was a perfect parent*, as evidenced by my perfect child.

(*I think I actually may have believed in my post-partum stupor that my parenting had something to do with my son’s temperament, until I was graced with my second son. The one that feels me up in Target. I now have no such illusions.)

Okay, so now that you know that I am a perfect mother and I have a perfect baby who is about to go to a perfect daycare, you might understand my surprise when my baby went to daycare and Miss Amalia reported that he cried all day.  Ummm? My baby? Impossible. My child does not cry.  “No, he does. All day.” deadpanned Miss Amalia.  “Well, I don’t understand. Are you feeding him? Is he dry?  He never cries with us. Never!”  I was wondering whether she was trying to shake me down for more money. I honestly could not believe what I was hearing.  And yet everyday when I came to pick him up (and he seemed to be docile and happy as ever then), she would claim he spent most of the day crying and fussing.

Not to worry, though.  Miss Amalia knew why.  She suspected that perhaps we let him sleep whenever he wanted to. Yes, we did.  She suspected that sometimes he fell asleep in our arms or in a swing but not in a crib. Well, yes. Sometimes.  She suspected we didn’t have him on a strict schedule. No. At two months old we did not.  “Well”, she said, “you’re going to have to get him on my schedule or this isn’t going to work.”  Your schedule? Um? What the hell are we paying you $375 a week for? I’m not giving up all things fun in this world to pay you just so that you get to be the boss of me, thankyouverymuch.

But I didn’t say that. I asked for the schedule.  Here is a great example of BD and I saying “Sure, Miss Amalia. Give us a copy of your schedule and we’ll make sure we keep to it on the weekends.” (wink, wink, roll eyes, giggles).  She gave us the schedule and I’m pretty sure we used it to pick up the dog’s poop on the way home.  Our kid was younger than 3/4 of the food in my pantry. What did he know about schedules? If he needs to sleep, let him. When he wants to eat, we’ll feed him.  We’re his parents for God’s sake. What does this single woman in her thirties without children know about taking care of children? (Actually – not such a good question to ask yourself when you hired her to do just that). Her unyielding anal retentiveness was really cramping my style and pissing me off.

So a month goes by and he has about 4 bad days and 1 good day a week. After his first four weeks there, Miss Amalia tells us that we need to have an “evaluation” meeting at Starbucks.  We thought this was another one of her random administration rule-y things and we begrudgingly went to our meeting, but were eager to hear about our perfect son’s progress.

She got straight to the point. Our son won’t go to sleep unless she is holding his hand. He fusses and cries a lot and she has other kids to watch, so it’s very distracting.  Perhaps it wasn’t a good match.  Perhaps he’d be happy somewhere else. Perhaps we would all be happy somewhere else.  It just wasn’t working out.  Maybe we’d all made a mistake.  Somewhere in the background the sound of a needle scratches a record.  Oh no she did ent. I saw her lips moving, but I couldn’t really make out the words.  We were getting kicked out of day care.  Oh, helllls no!  After my brief blackout as she was kicking our infant out of the only daycare in Chicago I could find for him, the fighting spirit came back into my body and I begged her not to kick us out. We had nowhere to go, and plus, it made no sense that this baby that was so calm and perfect with us could be such a pain in the ass for her.  I mean, if our kid couldn’t meet her standards, then nobody’s could.  We just couldn’t comprehend the situation we were in, but we promised we would do anything, anything to stay in.

She wasn’t a monster. She only made us beg for 15 minutes until said she would give us another four weeks to either clean up our 3 month old’s behavior or find a new daycare.  Aw, fuck.  I mean, was I supposed to take away his car keys? How do you “fix” a 3 month old who is on probation at daycare and yet an easy, laid back angel at home?

Miss Amalia said she’d work with us. She told us she suspected we weren’t following her schedule. She suspected we were still letting him sleep whenever and wherever and often in our arms. We kind of demurred, but it was probably clear to her that we weren’t doing anything she told us to do.  We sheepishly asked for another copy of the schedule.  We thought it was completely absurd voodoo to have to a kid this small on her strict schedule, but we had no choice. We had to feed him, sleep him, play with him, change him and practice sign language with him, all on this schedule she had.  He had to take all naps in his crib, alone and he couldn’t already be asleep when we put him in there.  No more falling asleep on daddy’s chest, or in the swing or a free bottle here or there.  Obviously, there was no way this was going to work, but we had no other choice, so we decided to do it her way. I really wanted to be right that she was wrong – that the schedule was meaningless — because after all, in just three months I was already a perfect mother with all the answers. So we watched the clock and followed her schedule over the weekend, no exceptions.  Except the yoga part. We weren’t sure how a 3 month old gets the most out of his yoga session, so we substituted Baby Mozart.

On Monday she said he had a good day. “You followed the schedule, didn’t you?” Um. (eyes downward) Yes. On Tuesday another good day. And Wednesday. And Thursday. And Friday.  It had to be a coincidence.  Maybe he had a sense that he was on probation and was on his best behavior. But the next weekend we stuck to the schedule again. And suddenly Miss Amalia is reporting that our kid seems to be so happy and she has never seen him so calm.  Really?  Finally the son we’d always known was showing up at daycare. But only after we went against everything we wanted to do and put him on a schedule. On her schedule. I could tell Miss Amalia was gloating. Because she knew she was right and that we were just punk new parents.  She scared us straight, and she knew it.

Miss Amalia – 1, Love Family – 0. Well played, Miss Amalia, well played.

Eventually our son worked his way off the probation list and we stuck with Miss Amalia for a year. It wasn’t without days that I wanted to punch her in the face because she was so sure she knew everything (and unfortunately, most times she was right).  When she decided she was so awesome that daycare was going to cost $400/week even with 7 other kids there, we gave up.  We couldn’t afford it and she told us she was quite sure that other people could.  We had to move somewhere we could find affordable daycare.  We had to change everything.

So thanks to Miss Amalia, we sold our condo at the height of the real estate bubble and bought a single family in a great neighborhood.  I had to look for new daycare and discovered my Mom Crush in the process and another parent at Miss Amalia’s gave us the lead on the new daycare we found that was almost half of what Miss Amalia was demanding. And we’re still with that daycare. She didn’t make us sign a contract, or tell me how to mother, or make me feel guilty I’ve never seen the inside of Whole Foods. I’m pretty sure she has never done yoga and when the kids get dirty, she washes their clothes, instead of sending them home in a plastic bag. And she loves our kids and they love her. And none of it would have been possible without all Miss Amalia’s rules.  And Starbucks.

So thank you, Starbucks and Miss Amalia — for everything.

Adventures in Babysitting, Part III

(I’m incapable of making a long story short. You’ll need to start here for the first part of the story).

Thankfully, Amalia didn’t make us wait too long.  She called two days later and told me that we passed the first round and she would like to schedule time for me to come over to her home to see the daycare and watch her and her sister in action with the kids.  Score! We had successfully come off as the type of parents good enough for Miss Amalia.  I still wasn’t sure how I would break it to her that we needed somebody when the baby was 10 weeks and I wasn’t breastfeeding, but I figured that I’d ingratiate myself to the point that she wouldn’t be able to say no.

I couldn’t wait for my visit. It was like being invited into a Mormon temple without being Mormon, or to Oprah’s show without being Josh Groban.  By the way she had described her daycare, I was expecting to see brilliant, magical 1 and 2 year olds who could totally go from downward dog into Warrior III without missing a beat. They’d probably be signing questions to Miss Amalia about “Goodnight Gorilla”, like why the zookeeper’s wife had to put all the animals back when it was clearly her husband’s responsibility. I taught myself how to sign “yes” and “no” and “I completely agree. I would’ve kicked him to the curb” just in case that question did come up.  I imagined children that did not cry except for when they wanted more homemade organic pureed beets.  These kids probably didn’t poop either. No, that didn’t seem like behavior becoming of a toddler at Miss Amalia’s daycare. I wondered if a child that sprung from my loins could possibly measure up in Miss. Amalia’s world. (Wait. Do women have loins, or is it just men?)

Being around people I don’t know having awkward conversations is extremely draining for me, so I had prepared for my 45 minute visit as if I were training for a triathlon.  I drank plenty of fluids, got a lot of sleep, practiced answers to questions I thought she might ask, like “which do you prefer the most: the farmer’s market on Randolph  or Whole Foods?” or “describe your daily meditation sequence” both of which I formulated an answer to using the Internet. I had a big carb -filled dinner the night before, just so I wouldn’t pass out from exhaustion, or irritation or judginess.

On the big day, I walked over there with butterflies in my stomach. I was still being judged. And I didn’t really know anything about kids or taking care of them, so I told myself I wouldn’t touch any of the kids.  Just in case I accidentally killed one of them.

It was a warm day and I happened to be wearing sandals.  I found out when Miss Amalia answered the door that shoes were supposed to be left in the hall. No shoes were permitted at any time within the confines of her home. But now I had this awkwardness of having bare feet, which I think is much more gross than wearing the sandals. I think Miss Amalia and I agreed on this.  She brought me some socks before I could step over the threshold into the magical home daycare. If you’ve ever read “Grasshopper Along the Road” (which, if you haven’t, you must) Miss Amalia was exactly like the mosquito that obsessively chants “rules are rules!” and cannot fathom exceptions to any arbitrary rule he makes up.  I’m not a big rules person if the rules are arbitrary.  But again, maybe this is how all daycares were? What did I know?  I put on the socks and apologized for not knowing the rule.

The magical home daycare looked a lot like a regular condo with a lot of toys in it. But they were arranged just so for feng shui purposes, I was told.  The kids were adorable.  And from what I could tell, they cried and they pooped, which I was really surprised about.  Even more surprising was that at least one kid thought I was awesome. I think.  One little 18 month old ran up and hugged me as soon as I got in the door. And he didn’t die right after. He spent most of the visit in my lap. Miss Amalia was astounded. She claimed he only acts that way around her and his mother. Really? Nice. Maybe I would be a good mom after all. And I was so relieved that Miss Amalia didn’t have a rule about kids not being able to cry or poop without being dismissed. And that I didn’t kill any babies.

It was a fun visit. Really. Her sister was a lot less hard-core and rules-based than she was and it kind of made it a little less weird to talk to her. I told them some of my more tame stories that made them laugh, which is really about the only talent I have that usually doesn’t fail me. The kids were bright and lovely and having fun and actually, they really could sign. Which was news to me. I thought all that stuff was bogus, like I did about dogs really staying down in down-stays (which they totally do if you spend thousands training them). And Amalia and her sister took pictures of the kids all the time and then would email them to the parents during the day, which is the next best thing to the live camera feed I got from my doggie daycare. I’m probably making some people uncomfortable with the parallels between my dog and my kids.  I’ll stop, but in my experience, toddlers and dogs aren’t that different.

So I left after my allotted 45 minutes feeling like it was the best place ever and our going there was probably a done deal.  Just as I was walking out, they mentioned that another couple vying for my son’s place was coming the next day. Damn. Maybe I should have brought chocolates or some energy drink or something. Damn.         Damn. Damn. Damn. Fuck. I told them I thought they were spectacular and that my son would be lucky to be taken care of by such good people.  And I meant it. I mean, there were no other alternatives, so they really stacked up nicely compared to leaving him by himself all day.

I went home and ate a tub of Cherry Garcia.  Luckily that isn’t called bingeing when you’re pregnant. I think it’s just called normal. I mean, if you can’t drink your worries away, what other alternatives are there?

I called Miss Amalia the next day to ask about where we were on the list and when she could tell me if we were in or out. She said she was going to hold off on a decision until she met the baby. Who wasn’t going to be born for another 6 weeks. If she said no, then what was I supposed to do?  That’s when I kind of went ballistic.

Love: “Umm…that isn’t going to work.”

Amalia: “Pardon?”

Love: “You can’t just decide a week before whether a family is coming or not! I have a baby that needs to be in a great daycare and I have to know now whether he is in or out at your place so I can make other arrangements if it’s not working out!”

Amalia: “Well, to tell the truth, you are first on our list, but he wouldn’t be here for another six months, and a lot can happen between now and then.”

Love: “What if he came in 3 months? I need you in August, not December.”

Amalia: (silence) “I don’t take children younger than 6 months.”

Love: “Because you can’t or you won’t?”

Amalia: “Well, it is very young to be separated from the mother.”

Love: “I have to go back to school! I can’t change the date that school starts. I trust you. I trust you more than I trust me to be honest. Please make an exception.”

Amalia: “I might have to charge more for a baby that young…”

Love: “Listen, we don’t have a lot of money, but we’re willing to pay you whatever you want if you’ll take him in August.”

Amalia: “I would have to talk to my sister.”

Love: “I need that spot in your daycare. I know very little about taking care of a baby but I know a lot about being in school, which is where I need to be in August. I have no other options. I’m literally begging you. But if you can’t tell me by the end of this week whether we’re in or not, I’ve got to do something else.”

Amalia: “I like you.”

Love: “I like you too.” (I think we’re supposed to kiss here, but the phone made it hard.)

Amalia: “I feel bad for you. You really don’t know much about being a parent.”

Love: “No. I know about being a parent. That is what this conversation is about. I need a good caregiver for my baby and you’re it. If you meant I don’t know much about child care, then you’re right on there. That is no secret. Oh and while we’re on the subject I forgot to tell you I won’t be breastfeeding.”

Amalia: (gasps) “What? Why?”

Love: “I can’t. Physically impossible.” ( Psychologically impossible would be more true. Honest mistake. )

Amalia: “I’ll talk to my sister.”

Love: “Tell her to say yes. We’ll be the best family you have. I swear.”

Amalia: “Okay.  This is a lot of information to take in.” (she is wondering who the hell she is dealing with)

So we ended it there. I was sure that was it for us and Miss Amalia. We’d have to hire a nanny if this didn’t work out, and then selling our kidneys wouldn’t cover it. BD would probably have to go out and turn tricks while I did the night shift at Dunkin’ Donuts. I ate another gallon of Cherry Garcia.

After an excruciating couple of days, Amalia called me back. We were in.

I won! I won! She tacked on another $25 a week, but it seemed like a small price to pay to the daycare gods. I celebrated for a month straight. I went over and visited Miss Amalia’s place up until I gave birth and then brought over my son when he was about 6 weeks. I still thought she was over the top about most stuff, but I was in no position to complain. This was what I wanted, right?

Sometimes you need to be careful what you wish for. (Sorry, Part IV is a must, but I haven’t written it yet. Forthcoming.)

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Part IV

The time in Australia when I almost got murdered by drunk wild boar hunters – The Finale.

In this final episode, I eventually get to the part about my almost-murder by the drunk Australian wild boar hunters. Let’s recap:

I am too drunk to know to say “no” to participating in the “Outback Rainforest Adventure” during my visit to the Great Barrier Reef in Part I, then the tour guide rips off his clothes and goes swimming in a rainforest waterfall pool in an Australian flag Speedo and I get all hot and bothered by it in Part II, and that was just the first day of this whole unfortunate trip.

I really want to remember every last activity we did the whole three days because they all sucked in their own way and because I revel in complaining, and it would be fun to tell you all about them in detail. But I only remember the very worst moments.  So I’ll just have to stick to those for the finale of my Outback adventure tale.

Okay, so the second day starts and Dundee herds all of our hungover asses into the Outbackmobile (this is the new name for our vehicle – since I can’t really describe what it was) and he tells us that we’ll be leaving the rainforest and entering the Outback. I was delighted to be leaving the rainforest behind, because I thought my chances of survival were significantly greater the further we got from all of the poisonous small things that wanted to kill me in the rainforest. But I wasn’t sure about the whole Outback thing. The closest I had been to the Outback prior to this was the Steakhouse, which, let me tell you is as beautiful to me as Oprah herself. I mean, you can order thick, fat steaks and pick them up in a drive thru after 20 minutes? Fucking genius.

So I had high hopes for this thing they called the Outback. Perhaps there would be cute kangaroos throwing colorful boomerangs around that happy Aboriginals dot-painted especially for them. Oh, and an old Aboriginal dude playing the didgeridoo while the koalas sat in a tree unobtrusively eating leaves or sleeping. That would captivate me for about 5 minutes, which is a very long time for me, so it looked like a ray of sunshine was in my future.

That is not what the Outback is like.  The Outback is possibly the most boring landscape in the entire universe. I’m a Midwestern girl, so I thought soybean fields were about as boring as a landscape could get, but no. The Australian Outback is the worst. Even the desert beats the Outback, because it’s all mystical and stuff and there are cliffs and canyons for you to fall off of, so it packs in some drama too.

Not the Steakhouse

See what I mean?

So anyway, Dundee drives us into a landscape much like this one above and stopped the Outbackmobile in all of this nonsense and we had to go have a “look-see”. This is what Dundee called it when we were about to get out of the vehicle and wander around aimlessly. I hated look-sees. You would just walk around and get sweaty and look at dirt and a bush here and there and be like “wow. a fucking bush. awesome. where the fuck are the koalas I was led to believe Australia was rife with?” Dundee was animated. To him, this was all fucking awesome. Again, he was so like the Croc Hunter. He was jumping around with his machete bouncing up and down on his hip pointing out these huge ant hills and animatedly explaining how exactly the ants make them. He’d get down on his hands and knees and ogle the ants’ handiwork. I mean these things were about a foot or two off the ground, which is hella bigger than the ones you find on suburban sidewalks so I guess they were impressive compared to that, but they weren’t the fucking pyramids or anything. Dundee seemed to think they were the work of the gods.  Really? I mean, it’s a fucking two foot hill in the middle of nowhere. And plus, there aren’t any ants or termites or whatever crawling all over them, which was good, but creates too little drama to make me care.  I never got the five minutes of captivation I was so looking forward to.

So we had a day long look-see in the Outback and all we saw were these ant hills all over the place. And there was a little rocky hill thing we climbed too. And by “we”, I mean everybody else. It looked pointless to me. And maybe like it would cause me to sweat more than I was comfortable with. So I just sat at the bottom rolling my eyes and being annoying and scanning the horizon for killer koalas or at least some boxing kangaroos. No luck.

Okay, so then it starts getting dark and Dundee brings us back to the Outbackmobile and he declares that this is where we’ll camp tonight! Ummm – surely you jest? There aren’t any tents in the back of the mobile! How are we going to camp? Dundee informs me happily that we’re “sleeping under the stars – didn’t you read it in the brochure, Love?” No I didn’t fucking read it in the brochure.  I think we established if I had, I would be at a club chugging a Strongbow instead of in the middle of BFE with a Speedo-clad, machete-carrying, Steve Irwinesque tour guide.

And, even if I had read the brochure, aren’t there supposed to be tents? No. We were going to sleep in “swags”, which are kind of like sleeping bags, except instead of being soft and snuggly, they are made of heavy duty canvas and they are kind of shaped like coffins and you’re supposed to zip up your damn head inside them. And that is where I am supposed to fucking sleep. I mean, he didn’t even put a tarp down under the swag. It was like, unroll the swag and just put it on any dirty dusty spot and get in. Oh, and by the way, they don’t breathe at all, so get naked or you’ll probably sweat to death. The FUCK? Dundee was all about getting naked. And in places where a multitude of insects could claim any of your orifices as their own swag. Um. No thanks.

So this is where I have a little mental breakdown. There is no toilet. No shower. No bed. No alcohol. No McDonalds. Nobody, for miles, except us and Dundee. And I’m completely freaked out because I am sure that something or someone is going to attack me as I sleep. I mean, everybody knows that dingoes eat babies in Australia. So whats to stop them from trying to eat my arm? And how unnatural is it for people to just sleep outside under the stars? Are you kidding me? That’s the whole reason we fucking evolved – so that we could live in cool urban lofts with central air and skylights so we could see the stars in our temperature controlled, insect and psycho-free abodes. Why do so many people have such a huge problem with the great indoors?!  Who was going to keep me safe?!

Dundee’s machete. Thats who.  At least that was what he was telling me while I was on my knees screaming to God and tearing at my greasy hair. His machete was pretty big. And by now I was convinced he wasn’t going to kill me, though I was sure that he wanted to. Many times. He told me that he had some chocolate if I would just come back to the fire he built so we could have dinner and tell stories. It was blantantly clear I wasn’t the first hysterical woman he had talked off the ledge.  I was hungry. And I needed chocolate. So in tears, I returned to my friends and the British couple and we sat around a fire as Dundee cooked our dinner. I was still ruminating about how maybe I should spend more time sober so I wouldn’t agree to these insane “adventures” ever again, when suddenly from very far away, we saw headlights.  In the middle of the Outback. We were nowhere near a road. I thought that perhaps God had heard my prayer and sent Ed McMahon with an oversized check to deliver me from this hell. I started jumping up and down, elated. I was sure that I was being saved. It was the only logical explanation of what could be happening.

Dundee looked very concerned. That bastard wants to see me suffer, I told myself. He’s pissed Ed McMahon found me all the way out here. The tenacity of the Prize Patrol in this case was impressive. Those guys just wouldn’t be deterred once they found their winner, even though she is sitting in the middle of the fucking Outback. It was really very moving.  But, then again… We were kind of far away from civilization. And I didn’t know if satellite would reliably work that far away from civilization and it wasn’t really prime time in the US yet, so if they did it now most Americans would miss my glorious moment.  Plus, it would be really expensive to bring Ed’s makeup person all the way into the Outback. Maybe it wasn’t Ed.

The headlights were making zig zags all over the place, but seemed generally headed in our direction.  Now is a good time to remind you that at that time, cell phones came packed in briefcases and were used by about .8% of the population. We had no communication channels to civilization, so whatever was going to happen was going to happen without the benefit of 911. Dundee got up and started pacing. He told us to be quiet and not to talk to whoever it was and he then turned on the Outbackmobile and shined the headlights in the direction of the speeding vehicle that was barreling toward us, presumably so they wouldn’t run us over.

We started to panic a little. Our normally jovial Dundee broke out in a sweat. Apparently this part wasn’t in the brochure. Who the hell was in that car, and what the hell were they doing driving around in the Outback at night?  The headlights keep coming closer and we kind of all huddle together having no idea what to expect, but my hopes of it being the Prize Patrol were diminishing every second the lights came closer. No way Ed McMahon would drive that fast and erratically. Only somebody completely tanked could be driving.

Let me say it again. Only somebody completely tanked could be driving. Aw fuck. Lindsay Lohan was only 10 then. So who the hell was this?  The truck was upon us and our campfire within two minutes. Probably less. Dundee continued to pace nervously, and he took his machete off his belt in anticipation.  We did not have to wait long to find out who was driving. Two men, who I can only describe as extremely hillbilly-esque (they had no teeth – I swear to God), half rolled, half fell out of their jeep. But their messy dismount from the jeep did not affect their ability to hold their rifles.  At first they appeared to be very happy drunks.  They were laughing and wheezing and wanted to know who we were and what we were doing.  Dundee said we were having a look-see and camping.  He inquired about what they were doing.  I couldn’t understand a damn word they said, but I found out later they were looking for wild boars. They were wild boar hunters. Wild. Boar. Hunters.

Ummm….whaaat? Nobody said anything about the possibility of wild boar, let alone their hunters. They wanted to know if we had beer.  Believe me, fellas – if there were any beer, you would find it all coursing through my veins. Instead, I had more than my share of adrenaline flowing through them at that point.  Drunk hillbillies with guns scare me.

Two of my friends on the trip were from New York and LA, and they are whispering that we’re all going to die.  They were pretty sure that these guys were going to open fire at any moment.  I found it pretty ironic that the whole time we were in Australia, the Aussies would ask my friend from LA whether it was safe to go out on the streets in LA because of all of the drive by shootings. Hollywood makes LA look like the killing fields.  They thought Chicago was probably safe because the mob only killed everybody back during prohibition. We thought it was hysterical. But now the tables were turned and three chicks from LA, NYC and Chicago respectively were never more frightened than when faced with random drunk wild boar hunters.

You know how they say you get a “fight or flight” reflex in a situation like this? Now I know I’m a flight person. My goal was to get shot dead running away because there was no way in hell I was going to get myself raped by those two mother fuckers and then killed. Nope. I decided that I much preferred to get killed right away. I told my friends I’d take the first bullet. You know, for the team.

A heated argument seemed to erupt between Dundee and the hunters. They wanted to sit with us and be friends, but Dundee told them they weren’t really invited. Their initial joviality faded and then they seemed to be telling Dundee something along the lines of “Well see, we have guns and you only have a machete”. A pretty solid argument for how sloshed they were. But Dundee kept them talking and at a semi-safe distance from us.  Then one of my friends declared “They’ll kill Dundee first. And then they’ll rape us all and kill us. We’re so dead.” We looked at the guys we came with and asked them if they were going to stand for this. Like maybe they should back Dundee up or something. You know, act like men. They said the hell if they were going to get into the fray. Those guys were big, dumb, drunk and armed. I think their plan for escape was to run while we were getting raped. Pussies.

As Dundee and the hunters argued I was able to reframe the whole situation and kept thinking about whether it would be worse to be shot dead by these guys or to sleep under the stars in that coffin/swag thing. I was leaning toward the former (I seriously was) when suddenly the guys got back in their truck and peeled off into the night.  Wait. What? I was still alive and unraped? Whoa. That was heavy. Dundee came back and told us who they were and what they wanted. He wound up having to buy them off with some of our food. Good thing for me that Dundee was such a skilled negotiator, because if they had asked for one of the women,  I would’ve been the first one Dundee gave away.

I asked if maybe it would be best for us to drive to a hotel. Dundee said we’d be fine. Those guys weren’t coming back. Yeah, right. With all these naked coeds in swags? They’re totally coming back to rape us. I lobbied for us to forfeit our adventure and hightail it to Cairns. Dundee wouldn’t hear of it. He was back to his old self. Gleeful in my misery.

Eventually I had to get into the swag. But first I had a few questions for Dundee:

What if it rains? It won’t rain.

It doesn’t rain here? What if a pack of wild boar comes? No worries.

What about all those ants that built those big pyramid things? There won’t be many insects. Just get in. And take your clothes off or you’ll die of heat.

The hell if I was going to get naked. I had never had crabs and hell if I was going to get them from a “night under the stars” in a cheap swag in the Australian Outback.  I zipped myself in and the gross BO smell was overwhelming, and as promised, it was hot as hell, so I opened it just a little for some air. And I fell asleep.

Only to be awakened in the early hours of the next day by a very large drop of water which fell on my forehead. The fuck? And then another one.

“DO. NOT. TELL ME IT IS. RAINING. ON MY HEAD.” I said this as loudly as humanly possible, without having it turn into a shriek.  Oh yes. It was raining. My declaration woke the rest of the group.  I quickly unzipped the swag to sit up and start bitching more, when my eyes focused on two, no three, no FOOURRR!!! ant-like things that were bigger than a baby’s arm crawling on top of my swag. “HO-LY-SHIIIIIT!”

“I hate it here! I hate Australia! I hate you, Dundee! This is ridiculous. Get me the fuck out of here! You said it didn’t rain? What the fuck is it doing right now? We almost get shot last night and now there is some sort of fucking flash flood in the Outback and these fucking ants want to eat me. I HATE YOOOOUUUU! I hate this! ALL of this! I have never been more miserable in my entire life!” (If this story ever gets made into a movie, only Meryl could handle this complex character. Only she has the power to accurately convey the powerful rawness and the depth of my soul at that poignant moment.)

Dundee shrugged and smiled and said that we should fold our swags up and get in the Outbackmobile.  He was going to take us to a horse farm, then an Aboriginal village and then we were going to a pub. And then we were going back to Cairns. You know when you are fighting for your life, like you fall into any icy river, and your body conserves all the blood and gives it to your heart and lungs and brain and you have this intense focus to stay alive? Thankfully that is what happened to me in that very moment! My survival instincts finally kicked in and my brain focused on the word “pub” and I lived. Thank God Almighty. I lived.

It rained all morning.

The horse farm? Smelled like shit. Like I suppose most horse farms do.

The aboriginal village? Um, it was like going to the projects. We got to hang out with people who hate white people for ruining everything for them and then making them paint boomerangs and didgeridoos so that they could get some money from us so they could use the money to go back to being drunk again.  Awesome.

The pub? Glorious. And I kicked Dundee’s ass at darts. It felt good to be back in my element.

And then we got on with the rest of our vacation. And I lived to tell the tale.

SO…now you know what not to do in Australia.

You’re welcome.

High School Reunion

Facebook has enabled a lot of different things, like keeping in touch with friends, stalking old flames, trash talking family, annoying people with your status and passively aggressively handling random friend requests, but I think the thing that is most fascinating and horrifying at the same time is the way it makes the whole high school reunion thing so much more accessible and easy to plan.

Seriously, what is the point of having a reunion now that we have Facebook? I’ve already seen whether so-and-so is married or has kids and have rated both spouse and kids on my adorability scale.  I kind of know what they do for a living, but more importantly, I know what they do every single day – in excruciating detail — and I’m over it.  And YET – people are still planning the old-fashioned high school reunion – the ones where you have to go to some gym somewhere and try to look at least as good or better than you did 10 or 20 years before, while regaling people with all of the awesomeness your life has been since high school.  (Which, by the way, is easy for me since my high school experience and awesomeness were mutually exclusive.*)

Before Facebook, I always felt that nobody could pay me to go back for a high school reunion, because of these very solid reasons:

a) My class had about 800 people in it. I only knew the names of about 200 of them and I only remain in close contact with 2 of them, so the odds of me running into someone I’d be truly happy to see are approximately  2 in 800. No, I take that back. The 2 people I know would not be there, so its 0/800.  Not good odds.

b) There is nothing I abhor more than having forced, awkward conversations with strangers, which is exactly how I imagine a reunion going down.

c) In order to cope with a. and b., I would require a blood alcohol level of at least 0.10 upon walking in, but by then I would be in the state where I tell everybody exactly what I think of them. Which, sometimes works out great, but mostly doesn’t.

d) Upon leaving, I would probably blow a 0.12 or 0.14, meaning I would have blacked out around the first conversation I started and not have remembered a damn thing for the rest of the night, and would only wonder the next day how much of an ass I made of myself and to whom.  There would probably be pictures. And they would be on Facebook, and I would feel as awkward and lame as I did every damn day I was actually in high school.

e) I have no vendettas against anyone, so I can’t go hoping to tell them off and flash some bling and tell them how great my life is and hope theirs sucks. I honestly don’t really care about what happened to people — not in a mean way — I hope they have good lives, but it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference to me either way. And I’m pretty sure the feeling is mutual.

f) Okay, fine. If I were Oprah, I would totally go. But only if I got to fly in on my helicopter. And my dogs were invited. Then I would go. But see, I’m not Oprah. So…

So I hope I’ve made a pretty good case for why I just blew off my 15 year reunion last month.  Some kid in our class decided to plan one, via Facebook,  at a park that was supposed to be kind of informal.  Show up at a park anywhere from noon to seven. Bring your own food and beer.  No guidance on whether to bring kids/spouses, etc.  Just show up.  The little Facebook invitation let me reply that “maybe” I would go. I live nearby, so going wouldn’t have required traveling or reservations or even directions.  But I have principles. And for the reasons stated above, I would never go to a reunion, the same way I will never get bangs again.

BUT, Facebook has mellowed me a little bit. People were a lot scarier and meaner at 15 than they seem to be today. And if I’m being honest, I did briefly think about breaking my rule and I did suggest to one of my two high school friends that we might want to go.  She was very non-committal. Then I think she said she had to go the Farmer’s Market or some lame excuse that day – which I can understand. So I took that as a “no” for me going with someone to the reunion, which meant if I went,  it would be just me, by myself. It wasn’t looking good for the reunion.

But there was a part of me that tried to psyche myself up for the thing:  “if you do this, then you’re showing you have matured since high school.  We’re all supposed to be adults now. I’m sure there are plenty of fake nice people you forgot about for a good reason who will be very pleasant to have an awkward, unnecessarily long conversation with. You could talk about your family nobody cares about except you, or your job you hate, or your blog you haven’t told anyone about, or how much you hated the good old days of high school.” That wasn’t very effective, so I tried a different tack with myself: “Look, just finish off a half bottle of wine beforehand. That’ll take you what? Six minutes? How bad would it be?” To which my mind replied to itself, “HOW BAD COULD IT BE?! It could be a fucking nightmare! Are you kidding me? What if I show up and I know absolutely nobody? And nobody knows me?” To that, my optimistic side said, “If that happens, you could just pretend you’re just a random person holding a half-drunk bottle of wine in a paper bag that happened to be in the park and then call BD to turn the car around and come pick you up. No damage done.”  The retort: “Hmm. No. Fuck no.”

So I didn’t go. Because I have PRINCIPLES and I made an important promise to myself at my high school graduation that I would never forget what a bad idea it would be to come to a reunion one day.  And I kept that promise to myself , which I guess just shows the depth of my character and strength of my willpower.  I proved that I learned my lesson the time I broke the 1990 rule about never getting bangs again. I was able to remember back to the pain and suffering of Bad Decision 2003:  “Agreeing with Hairdresser that Bangs Might Look Cool.” I paid dearly for that one. Dearly.  So at the end of the day, I had integrity. I was totally not a pussy for not going. I’M NOT. I mean, I wasn’t!! Really.

And anyway, I think it must have turned out incredibly lame because not a single high school Facebook friend posted a status or pictures from this great reunion, so I’m assuming they are all pussies exactly like me and didn’t go, or they did go and then had their spouse or their mom that they still live with pick them up 5 minutes later, or they went and they didn’t really feel like posting a status about going to a high school reunion that sucked balls. That is what I tell myself. I guess I can put this all behind me, until some asshole on Facebook decides to plan a 16 year reunion. Which will be awesome.

* I have decided to unearth my highschool journals so that I may retell some of my story in future posts. I have no doubt they will cause many to pee their pants and/or snort at the sort of shit that I got myself into.  Sometimes even I forget why I hated high school, but I’m sure I will find very compelling arguments in those pages. Just have to tear apart the house first…

Please Don’t Be Mad at Me, Blog.

Dear (Love) Notes to Self Blog,

I apologize for being away so long. I have promised you many of my life stories and I will absolutely deliver, but you see, I have finally admitted a long standing addiction to the internet and I’ve been trying to quit.  (No. Not cold turkey. That’s all kinds of crazy…) But writing you, dear Blog, requires time on the Internet, which I now realize has stolen so much time out of my life.

When I’m not on the Internet, I’m free to spend quality time with my children, cook healthy, delicious meals for them, clean my house, and massage my husband’s feet.  It also gives me the opportunity to focus on my career and exercise and volunteer —

What’s that, you say?

Well, no, not exactly. I haven’t actually done any of these things yet. But I totally plan —

Well, no. Most of these things I have no interest in.  Except the kids part and the volunteering, but I am entitled to dreams of being a better person,  right? Anyway, as I was saying —

Gah! Stop interrupting me! If you must know, YES. I have been on the Internet. But only to catch up on Grey’s Anatomy because it’s on during the Office and 30 Rock. I am not responsible for network TV shenanigans. I am a victim. We all are. Network TV is wrong in a million different ways – TV execs just want to torture us the rest of the week by putting all the good shows on Thursday. But I’m trying to cope as best I can and watching them later on abc.com.

And watching You Tube clips with spoofs of “All The Single Ladies” with my kids is completely justified. Yes, even the fat guy. They need to be exposed to freak shows early so I can tell them its okay to laugh at a fat man dancing  in a leotard on the internet, but in real life they need to run away. Really fast. It’s called QT.

And Facebook!? I haven’t updated my status in TWO whole days! TWO! So I’m making progress.  That I posted my face morphing into Katherine Heigl’s last night doesn’t even count because it isn’t a status. It’s an update or something. It doesn’t even count. And plus, if MyHeritage.com says I’m an 87% match to Izzy, I’m not just going to let that go.  I mean, compliments like that don’t come along everyday. What? No. Okay. No human has ever said I look like her, but computers are smarter than humans and the computer says so so leave me the fuck alone on that one, kay?

Sure, I read other blogs. They’re good! Some make me laugh so hard I cry. Especially this one, which I guess isn’t a traditional blog, but is a site I never tire of.  AHHAHAHAHA. Oh, oh, oh, let me catch my breath…the tears are still rolling down my — God, you are such a jealous little blog.  Get over yourself. I could probably name a lot of other blogs that are awesome – you will find many of them on your right side bar.  No, no. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you feel bad. I’m just saying, you’re in really good company. And it isn’t my fault you don’t win awards because even if you got nominated – no offense – you wouldn’t win, because I don’t spend enough time making blogger friends and plus I wouldn’t even vote for us because — No! Don’t cry! What I meant was, I would vote for us, but then I’d probably vote for some other ones like 5 times, and – I’m not helping myself here.  The thing is, I’m not even supposed to read other blogs anymore because I have an addiction and I do not have a Dr. Drew and blogging celebrities to sober up with. So I have to do this on my own, and I’m going for low internet dosages. And I swear I’ll ignore my Google Reader at least 1 out of 8 times today. Can we be friends again? Please?!

Wow! You’re pulling out all the stops now, aren’t you?! I tell you something honestly and then you throw it in my face?  I mean, well, so yes. A little.  I do have another blog, but you know she is just a friend. I had her before I even conceived you!! I write about my kids there. It’s totally innocent! And they’ve done a lot of stuff lately that I had to write down, because that blog is my little family’s history and I’m the historian. And if they have a huge gaping hole in October 2009, they’re going to think I was living a double life and had a family somewhere else or something, so yeah, I guess I spent some time there too, but you know how much I love you! That blog is like a sister to me.  You’re the love of my life. Really. Don’t be mad. Seriously. I love you! C’mon, don’t be like this.

I’m in recovery! Don’t I deserve just a little compassion, considering the hours I’ve blown writing entries on you? Not to mention the emotional exhaustion and the atrophying of all muscles not directly involved in thinking or typing? I used to be buff as hell and strong enough to lift two gallons of milk at the same time.  Now I’ve gotten all crookedy and bendy and hunched over writing on my small, unergonomic MacBook.  I’ve sacrificed for you!! When is it time for ME?

OH NO YOU DID ENT! Of course I made time for Oprah. I mean, for fuck’s sake, she had Mike Tyson on crying the whole hour and then there was the whole incest update that I didn’t really want to watch, but I mean, how can you not look? Oh, and that Oprah’s favorite families episode? So good. Except for the Osmond’s part, but I fast forwarded through all that.  Oprah is therapy. Not entertainment. Why am I even justifying this to you? We’ve been over this before. Oprah is off limits.

Oh, so now you’re ignoring me? Fine. Fine. Well, it might interest you to know that I’m going out to lunch with Kirsten tomorrow.  Our first date in two years. And I got off the Yaz. My doctor put me on another one and it’s too soon to tell if my husband and I will be having sex this week, but I’m not as hungry all the time so I may not be nicknamed “Porky” by December.  And my Big Boobed Sister just had a birthday. So she is getting older and boob saggage has to be just around the corner, right? (Happy birthday, sis!) Oh, and today I’m going to a “bead party” today to save Ugandan women at the house of my ex-best friend that kicked me out of her wedding. Well, yes. I said yes because it’s for Ugandan women and everybody knows I’m a bleeding heart liberal and you know I can never say no to any charity that benefits women or children. Even if it means I have to buy beaded jewelry and that I have gone to her house twice in the last six months, breaking my once-every-year rule.

Okay, okay? So are you going to be here when I get back? I promise I’ll be back soon. Its just…when my kids pretend to be the mom and they make me be the kid, they want to play on the computer and say “in five minutes I’ll come play with you. Mommy has work to do!” and it makes me feel guilty. So then I try to to get them back and make them feel guilty and just start chanting “MOMMY! MOMMY! MOMMY! MOMMY!” until their ears bleed and then we stop playing because it isn’t that fun and we don’t like each other. So I have some work to do.

So when they go to bed, I’ll come back and snuggle with you. If I’m not having sex with their dad.

Love you always,

Love


Leadership school dropout

Over my 30-odd years on this planet, I have amassed a wondrous pile of stories that I love to retell over and over. And I have a whole arsenal that is waiting in the wings for me to spit out on to this blog.  However, the old stories will have to wait as I record for you a brand-spanking-new story delivered to me on a platter yesterday, courtesy of the HR geniuses at my esteemed company and the crazy-ass woman they hired to help mold me into the next top model corporate leader of the future.

GAH! That is the only logical place to start.

Okay, so I wouldn’t consider myself the best employee in the world. I’m kind of a smart ass and I checked out mentally months ago, but if I learned anything from Office Space, it is that as soon as you just don’t care anymore, your career will take off in ways you never knew possible.

So I get an email on Monday from my manager that says that the powers that be had identified me as a woman with high management potential and, as a reward, they wanted to send me to a “professional development seminar series for business women”.  I was kind of shocked and surprised by the distinction since I thought that I had pissed enough people off that they would not want to give me any kind of reward for what they would call my bad attitude and general disregard for the B.S. they hand out in large, inedible chunks each day.

However, on paper I am a wet dream for the The Man because I went to top schools, earned top grades and impressive degrees and I sell a lot of shit, which is my official job. Somehow I manage to help my clients spend millions on the company’s crap stuff — and not just because I’m their walking, talking “hot librarian” fantasy. (I’m actually not lying about this – you wouldn’t believe how much my glasses, coupled with a quick and dirty wit,  turn old dudes on. I mean, its enough to make them completely not notice I don’t have boobs).

But day-to-day, I’m the antithesis of a corporate citizen, since I generally make it my other job to counsel coworkers I like to leave the company. I send them job postings all the time.  Because I think they could do better. We all could.  This recession has brought out the worst in corporate America, or at least in my corporate ghetto, and most days I just want to puke that I’m part of it. They kind of treat their employees like beaten dogs, but I don’t quit because I like going to Banana Republic and having Leonardo, my gay BR sales associate, dress me up in today’s latest fashions. Because I can’t dress myself and if I were unemployed, I’d be a big hot mess. I make a pretty good living for someone who mostly just sarcastically mocks all of the corporate drone bullshit while protecting my customers from my company and making my coworkers laugh.

So anyway, I should have surmised that this “opportunity” to go to this “professional development” seminar for “high potential” women was a boondoggle when I got invited on a Monday and it took place on a Thursday. I mean, shouldn’t high potential leaders have stuff on their calendars a few days out that would stop them from spending the morning at this thing? Well, I didn’t. Not really, because I was able to use my powers of persuasion to extricate myself from yet another fruitless corporate exercise scheduled for that day so I was free to learn how to develop my leadership potential.

I’m not really sure how to explain what happened when I showed up to this thing.  It was SO. BAD. that it will be hard to convince anyone on the planet that this actually happened. I am physically wracked with convulsions as I recall this Thursday.  I can usually laugh at anything, but this one was so totally fucking unbelievable that the fetal position is really the only safe, appropriate response. But – I have a blog, and for my own sake — my own truth — I must tell the story of what happened to me and the other inmates high potential talent held captive in a room for four hours while some random woman gave us her take on what “leadership” is.  Please have patience as take off the straight jacket and collect my thoughts.

Okay, so the only information I had on this seminar was that we have to meet four times a year for four hours each time. We have to read books and network and do all kinds of stuff that corporate people value.  And we’re going to meet all these other beaten dogs women from other big corporate goliaths that we can get to know and just network the hell out of each other and steal away talent when necessary. I guess. I’m an introvert, so I’m not really into meeting random people and talking about meaningless subjects, and you already know I don’t like other women that much either, but for all I knew, one of Oprah’s producers may be at one of these things and then I could give her my “elevator pitch” – another darling of corporate training programs – about how Oprah and I are soul mates and she could hook me up.   And I don’t hate all women – I love the smart sarcastic ones, so I was thinking maybe some of them may have been included in this thing too? I would be able to figure out who they were because when they inevitably play those stupid “ice breaker” games, we would probably collide in our desperate dash for the door and we could hide in the bathroom together swapping 30 Rock quotes.

So I show up and find myself in a smallish conference room with a very big table, that apparently we’re all going to sit around.  There was seating for 15, but barely enough room to walk since the table filled the room. There was a woman at the head of the table that kind of looked like Cruella DeVille. Except she wasn’t wearing a Dalmatian stole, thank god. I think it was fox. And she wasn’t smoking a cigarette through one of those long plastic things either. Probably because it was a no smoking zone,  but I was sure she’d bust one out at break time.  I guessed she was our “facilitator” and the founder of this company that was going to be professionally developing me for the next year.  AWESOME.

Okay, so we were told to show up at 8am. It’s about 8:15 and most people seem to be there, because it STARTED AT 8, and then she says “the seminar actually starts at 8:30, but you can’t tell people who or else they’ll be late. So I always tell people to come a half hour earlier than they are needed – and look! It worked!” Oh! So I busted my ass to get there on time and didn’t feed my children that morning because I had to be somewhere so damn early when really, I wasn’t “needed” for an extra half hour. Thanks, bitch.  I started wondering if I could take her in a cage match (and I totally could). She proceeded to say that as leaders we have to anticipate that people can’t follow directions and work around it, just as she had just done. So in other words, we’re fucking idiots that can’t follow directions. Hmm.

Okay, so 8:25 rolls around and she wants everyone to introduce themselves.  Say our name and who we work for and what our job is.  Easy enough. But then she tells us that many women have trouble with this.  We need to speak slowly and clearly and loudly enough so everyone can hear us.  Really? Because as top talent at our companies, this never would have occurred to us and we’ve never done such a unique and bizarre activity before, like introducing ourselves.

With that hurdle behind us, she starts to rattle off the “rules” about our seminar. We are expected to listen to others. To participate. We have to do our homework. We must conduct ourselves professionally. We have to go to these networking events her company does. No exceptions. She gave us a book, but we don’t have to read it.  She wants us to read another one she wants us to buy for the next class. She will hold phone calls every month from 8 to 8:30 where we will “talk about whatever is relevant”. They may last 5 minutes or 30. It just depends on what people want to share.  Whaaaat?! It kind of sounds like I just got brought to the orphanage with a locket around my neck from my company and Miss Hannigan was laying down the law. I did not see an impromptu performance of Hard-Knock Life coming, but I thought I would begin humming it, just to see if I had any comrades in the room.  Not so much.

Okay, so then she gets to the heart of the matter – women as leaders:

“As women, its very hard for us to be leaders in business because we are so much more emotional than men.  One thing you absolutely cannot do – that I do not recommend – is crying at work.  We’ve ALL been there. We’ve ALL cried at work before. Raise your hands if you’ve cried at work.” None of the ashen faces of women around the room raise their hands. “Well, I know its embarrassing to admit, but if you want to get ahead, you have to stop crying at work.” Ummmmm…. “Have any of you ever seen a MAN cry at work? If you have, raise your hand. Exactly.  His career would be over. But you can get away with it because you’re female, but people will stop taking you seriously.”  Ummm….Whaaaaat?!  Okay. There has been a mistake. This woman was supposed to be heading up the red table in my son’s kindergarten class. Yeah, I’m pretty sure there is a mix-up. But nobody gets up to leave. And neither do I. Maybe this will get better…?

“You know why we as women are disadvantaged? It was because as little girls we were raised to be in the home with our mothers — cooking, sewing, taking care of our siblings — while the boys were doing things outside the home like playing sports and making decisions on their own.  So when women get to work outside the home, it’s often hard for us to speak up and make our own decisions and realize that the corporate world is a game that we need to play because we just never learned that when we were little. Only the boys did, so they know more than we do and we have to work harder to learn that stuff.”  GAH! Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? I think Cruella may be a little two-thousand-and-late. 1572 called and they want their school marm back.

“Along these lines, you have to learn to stay neutral at all times at work. Don’t be one of those women who is always happy. And don’t be someone who is always crying. Don’t let your emotion show. Because you know what? People don’t care about all of your drama. They care about themselves. And if you’re always talking about yourself and your problems, nobody wants to hear it.  But the people who get ahead in this world –and as women, we’re good at this — are people who ask other people questions about themselves. If you do that, people will think you care about them. And nobody at work does this. You can really stand out if you do.  I mean, think about it. When is the last time someone at work asked you a question about yourself?”

One participant looks around baffled and says, “Yesterday…?” and everyone murmurs and nods. Cruella isn’t convinced. She says, “Well, that is very rare. You must have some very nice working conditions with companies that are ahead of the times. Most people don’t care about you and don’t want to know what is happening in your life.  But that’s really what people want, so you have to be the one person in your company who does that.  I know we have some sales people here. They are probably much farther along at doing this than the rest of you. But we’re going to practice now.  We’re going to go around in a circle and you’re going to turn to the person on your right, shake her hand, introduce yourself and ask her a question.  The other person isn’t going to answer, because the answer doesn’t really matter.  We’re just trying to get you used to knowing how to ask another person a question.”  Someone asks if we all have to come up with a different question and if the question has to be business related.  “No. You can use the same question as someone else. I just want to teach you how to ask a question about someone when you meet them.   After this, we’re going to go around again and then the person can answer with a short answer and then that person has to ask a question back.”  By golly! This kind of strenuous mental activity was really wearing me and the other ladies down. I mean, however could I think of a question so quickly to ask the person next to me? And then answer a question and ask one too? All together!?  Gee, was she asking us to start a conversation with another person? Isn’t this more Level 2 training? I mean, it’s only our first day of training.

Even though I was sweating bullets along with all of the other MBAs and lawyers and executives in the class, we all somehow managed to ask the person next to us a question without anyone bursting into tears. Amazingly. Cruella was delighted and so pleased. She sees why we were hand selected for her seminar and she decided we could move on to the next exercise.

She asked us to name leaders we admire and she was going to write them on the board. I was first. And you know who I said. Cruella:  “Oprah… Yes… Some think she is a leader.” Some, mother fucker?! I almost jumped across the table and strangled her wrinkly throat. SOME?! More like EVERYONE. Don’t talk smack about Oprah or you’re going to get jacked. So she writes Oprah on the board, correctly, and then says “Did I spell that right?”  Yes. “Oh, because it looks so funny written down like that.” For fuck’s sake.  “Anybody else?” Someone asks if they have to be famous. “No. They can be people at your company if you want”. So somebody is like, “Debbie Smith.” and then someone says “Eric Johnson” or whatever the hell and nobody else in the room knows these people, but I’m sure they are probably the people who hired this demented woman from 1572 to teach us about leadership.  So then somebody suggests the mayor of Chicago. (This took place the day before the IOC bitch slapped Chicago for the 2016 games). Cruella writes, “Mayer Daily” on the board. Ummm….

Okay, I need to just put this out there – I cannot tolerate when people misspell stuff. It’s a mammoth pet peeve. I’m a nerd and I expect that if you’re going to get up to a board in front of people and write something, it sure as hell better be spelled right.  I mean, maybe she is dyslexic or something, but then don’t fucking write on the board. Delegate, bitch. Seriously.  But I digress.

MAYER DAILY?

If this seminar took place in Alabama, I might be able to let this slide. But we live in fucking Chicago. He has been mayor for 21 years. He and his shenanigans are detailed in the paper every. single. day. I had to hold myself back from running up to the board, punching her in the teeth and spelling it right. I don’t know if she spelled all the other people’s names right since I don’t have any clue who the fuck they are, but I guess it was really a miracle she got Oprah right, so I just started my deep breathing exercises, so I didn’t lose my shit in front of my new band of brothers sisters.

So then she says, “now that we have our list of leaders, lets talk about the traits that we admire in them.” People suggested traits, and she recorded them on the white board. Here is a partial list of what she wrote:

  • influncial
  • motavated
  • intigrity
  • smart
  • compasion
  • power
  • love to what do

You get the gist. I feel a panic attack coming on. How did I get here? When is Ashton going to come in and tell me I’ve been Punk’d? Because if it isn’t soon, I’m going to have a fucking heart attack.  And if this thing has the power to kill our company’s burgeoning woman leaders, preventing us from becoming the future Commander and Chief, you can bet HR, OSHA  and the ACLU are going to hear about it from me. I take workplace safety and discrimination very seriously.

It is at this point in the seminar that I blacked out. I really can’t remember anything except floating above my body and kind of watching the horror show unfold. I saw lips moving, but I couldn’t make out the words. I think I may have split into several different personalities at that point as a coping mechanism.  But the young 5 year old girl personality named Cassie that was born told me later that Cruella asked if anyone in the room ever read the New York Times because she thought it was a really “neat” paper because it had stories from all over the world in it!  She said we might want to look into it one day so we would have more to talk about with our male colleagues, because chances are that they read it, and it would make us sound very smart. Apparently you can read it even on the Internet.

At some point, I saw my body walk out of the room. And go into the bathroom and light myself on fire wet my face. And get in my car. And drive away. On auto-pilot. I woke up at McDonalds. Only an Extra Value Meal #2 could begin to bring me back into my own body again. And then I went back to my office and told my boss what took place, trying not to hyperventilate.  She thought I was shitting her. No. I am dead serious. Serious as cancer, something both she and I probably have and don’t even know it right now.  Louise Hay (one of Oprah’s esteemed guests, of course) says that if you get cancer it’s because you have some resentment you haven’t let go of, which is why I probably only have a few months to live.  But the bright side is that if I die next month then I wouldn’t have to go back there again. I told her I couldn’t live another minute if I have to complete the program and that I quit.  NO WAY I was going back there.  I was already recognizing the signs of PTSD.

And, God love my manager, she got me out of it. She made me tell HR about the whole ordeal. It was at that point they revealed that we got this leadership series “free” with our corporate sponsorship of Cruella’s company. So I was fucking Punk’d.

HR – 1. Love – 0.

I am a leadership school dropout.  But now I need a fifth of vodka and some major therapy.

Cruella has her own damn business and is the biggest fucking idiot on the planet. And I’m a “high potential” corporate drone working for The Man and getting Punk’d by HR. I’m the fucking idiot. FUCK.