Tuesday, May 29, 2007


I'm leaving for Los Angeles tomorrow morning. I absolutely love Los Angeles, this will be my third time there. I arrive tomorrow afternoon, we ("we" being me and TW who is putting me up for about a week) have tickets for The Hold Steady on Thursday at the El Ray. I'm excited but with a bit of trepidation, being aware that I'll be in a very different city and things might not be the same or what I'll expect. We're driving to Vegas to see them on Sunday too - that's a free show. Again, excited but cautious. I've emailed the guys and hopefully they'll be available before or after either show for a visit . . . and some whiskey.

Luckily, I found an incredible deal on the flights (SouthWest during the week) and a pretty great one on a rental car (enterprise is surprisingly cheap). Gah, I'm sooo worried that I'll forget something. Something important. Like my cell phone charger or my license.

A few days ago, I contacted The Art of Bleeding (you might remember my valentine to you all made by them) who, unfortunately, aren't doing anything right now, but they recommended CIA as a venue for some interesting things. Maybe. I'm very specific about what kind of weirdness I dig.

There should have been a giant blog post about my trip to Harrisburg to see THS. It got really, really, really long. I need to edit. Maybe I'll make it into some sort of poem. Hah! Probably not, but it does need to be much shorter. I know you all love me, but not enough to read 4 pages of my insanity regarding THS.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Who says an ant can't . . . freak us both out?

Today I figured out a relatively quick way to get from the West End to home during rush hour traffic. It may have just been a minimal traffic day, but even with some extra traffic, waiting through an extra light or two, it would be much quicker than the ways I’ve tried before now. I’ll never understand how 376E is still the fastest way in but not out. Never.

Upon arriving home, I see my neighbor’s mother leaving her place and after a few greetings, she tells me that there were ants in the house today. We discussed non-hazardous chemical ways to keep ants out of the house (cucumber peels, water on the other side of the porch – if you have any others, please let me know) and I went inside and didn’t really think about it.

After checking my email, reading my myspace message from K,

Digression: This led me to stumble upon the page of an ex, which I wouldn’t have sought out, but it just happened. He commented on another page and said something about hi
s wife, and me being the kind of person I am, thought, “Great, I’m glad he’s happy” and promptly went to check things out. I’m pretty sure he’s some sort of racist pile of shit – from what I remember hearing about him after we had been broken up for years and the feel of his page and his wife’s page. Nothing comes right out and says it, but it’s the impression the pages give. Unfortunately, they have reproduced.

Further Digression: Sometimes, I don’t want to be right. Not wanting to type unfounded horrible things about someone, I checked it out. There are no pictures of him on the site (pics of him are on her site and I wouldn’t recognize him if he were standing in front of me), but there are five images, one of which has words and . . . are those swastikas? . . . yes. So I searched for the quote and sure enough, it’s some white power bullshit. I found it on the website of some fuck wad. With a book and a law practice. He talks about the masses of unemployed white people being rightly angry at lesser-skilled non-whites taking “their” jobs and therefore being able to live better than them. “Most of them [whites who can be persuaded] already have had their trigger event [life-affecting incident] by virtue of being unemployed while those less deserving continue to earn an income - and, after all, they no longer need fear losing their jobs for expressing politically-incorrect points of view.” There are few people less deserving to be earning a paycheck than this fucker. Okay, so now I’m pissed off that this grossly ign
orant, sorry excuse for a man has a better job than I do and is making more money than I am. Can we please rise up against this shit? Thanks.

and completing various other chores, I finally made it to the kitchen to give the kittens their daily tuna. There are a total of four bowls in the kitchen, two each of water and kibble one set near the door, the other on the other side of the kitchen door. There was a line of ants from the door to the nearest kibble bowl where they were SWARMING. The ants were also in the water bowl and had formed another line across the threshold and into the other two bowls. Luckily there were very few elsewhere.

Yes, shut up, I’m afraid of bugs. Yes, even ants. Shut up. I was completely freaked out, but luckily was able to think clearly enough to distract the cats with their tuna first and then set about destroying our uninvited guests. As I’m getting the tuna together, Armando notices the ants (Mr. oblivious must not have seen them before) and is both fascinated and about as freaked out as I am, becoming very jumpy and agitated. So much so that he could not enjoy his tuna. No, really. He kind of hung out in the dining room not eating until the ordeal was over. Meaning that I sprayed everything down with Lysol multi-purpose cleaner, took the rugs outside and shook them out and then put them in the washing machine, and completely cleaned and properly refilled all bowls.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007


As you all know, I’ve been helping out an art gallery in the West End. You may have inferred that to get there I have to drive (or transfer busses downtown which I may figure out if I do this much longer). In traffic. I haven’t driven to work in traffic in YEARS and it’s all coming back to me now. Please, if you’re out there and you drive to work while having remotely convenient bus service, tell me for the love of god why!

Arrival time is 8:30/9:00am and for the first few days, traffic has been a breeze on the way in. About 10-15 minutes this side of the Squirrel Hill tunnel and about 15 more after. Although sometimes people are just mean and I don’t get it, because we’re all in this together and with just a little cooperation, it can be a bit better, no? This morning there was an accident at the 2nd Ave off-ramp. When I passed the two people out of their slightly dented vehicles I wanted to stop and tell them to look at the mess they caused. LOOK! LOOK AT WHAT YOU DID! You have fucked up the morning of all of these people, possibly gotten someone fired for being late, probably a few were reprimanded (or “written up” which is apparently some sort of regionalism), someone may have been late for an exam that they can’t make up, or late to a meeting that will cost them . . . I don’t know, whatever being late to a meeting can cost, I’v
e never been in that kind of meeting.

But that’s the easy part. Coming home is a nightmare. I’ll not belabor the point. Something good did come out of today’s drive home though. Red was extremely excited to be in traffic next to the MooZoom. Yes, that’s Red. Named Red because he’s tall . . . like a redwood. (Name the movie and win a prize, maybe.) And that's the MooZoom, as indicated by the license plate and the fact that it's a white care covered in cow spots.

So, I get home and start the cat-tuna-feeding-process. They are circling, maowing, demanding. I’m mixing up tuna – because they don't like it in chunks – and the container in which I am mixing slips from my hands, landing sideways on the floor, scattering bits of tuna. Now, if these were normal cats, they’d be all over it. Oh, no. Ebi scrambles to the other room, terrified of the sudden tuna movement. Armando is oblivious and when the tuna is pointed out to him, he snubs it, waiting instead for his tuna on his special plate, like an autistic kid.

Gah, I need a drink. And not a moment too soon - it's 63B girls night. They've not made me sit at a different table because I'm not on the bus any more. Which is nice.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Me and My Hat - blog from Sunday

Migraines suck. Brunch at the Quiet Storm helped (aaahhh, Migas, how do I love thee?) but after digestion, the headache is back and this time it means business. The accompanying nausea is my favorite part. I may just take a half of a muscle relaxant (yep, I’m a light-weight) and sleep. Unfortunately, that won’t help with the possible dehydration aspect of the situation.

This may be what I get for drinking non-top-shelf bourbon last night at the Kelly’s Kentucky Derby party. I got that hat from my friend DR. When he was moving to Denver he called and asked me if I wanted a bunch
of hats. They had belonged to his ex who never took them with her when they broke up. From what I gather, when that particular group of friends would go out and drink, sometimes they’d come back to DR’s place for “after-hours,” drink more and everyone would get a hat and they’d dance around like, well, like drunken fools. (I mean this in the best possible way, although I never participated.) After repeated attempts to contact the ex with no response, he felt that there was nothing else he could do but give them to me. Hooray!

Some of them are truly beautiful, most notably the one in the picture and the black velvet one that I’m wearing as I type. It’s sort of a modified pork-pie hat (which I looked up and was originally a woman’s hat) but the top reminds me of a rustic pie crust. The brim is about 1¼ inches in the front and tapers to nothing in the back. There is a very thin black satin hat band that shows in the back, is threaded inside for most of the hat and reappears to tie in a bow on the right side, with something that looks like a rhinestone pin but I think is sewn to the hat. The inside says, “Chanson” (which is some type of French folk song I think) and under that “body made in France.” If anyone out there knows what kind of hat this might be, let me know. Sure it’s difficult to tell without a photo, but I don’t think a photo would be much help, black velvet on black velvet. And it’s not that cheap black velvet that you get now-a-days, it’s thick and substantial.

This afternoon, I filed my unemployment claim and then renewed my library books – on the internets! Those tubes are amazing.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Volunteering and returning - or not.

Today I decided to do some volunteer work for that art gallery. This way, I gain experience, keep my unemployment and am still able to do contract work for a friend of a friend. The more I'm at the gallery, the more I like it. You all may remember that I interviewed there mere days after being laid off. I was still a bit shaken up and probably not really ready to think about a career change, contract work and fitting in to a whole new place. I'm beginning to really admire the woman who I'll be working for. She reminds me of a prettier version of my grade school principal, with better hair and clothes. It's nice to be able to imagine running into the owners at an art functions somewhere. I wonder if we have run into each other in the past. It's likely.

Before it all gets underway, there's a little matter of an interview in Verona tomorrow. Working there seems like it would be a big step backwards for me - after yearning to escape for about six years or so. On the other hand, anyone who says, "You're shittin' me." when scheduling an interview can't be too bad. The converse is that it's entirely likely that he or someone else in the company recognized my name and wants to get a good look all these years later. (See below for clarification.)

That area seems to be a small, compact version of Pittsburgh's leaving and returning syndrome. Many people who I went to grade school, middle school, high school with did just that. Now, their kids go to the same schools they attended, and hang out with (or hate) the kids of the people they hung out with (or hated).

That reminds me, there has been random talk of a reunion for my high school class. We've never had a reunion. We hate each other. It's true.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

You down with PPT?

This morning I woke up having had about five hours of sleep. Right, my own fault. I was anticipating two interviews. The first interview was to be at a software company, a few miles away from town from me. I was expecting it to suck. When I talked to the interviewer, he seemed like he didn’t really know what he wanted for the position and used a few phrases that I’m OVER OVER OVER qualified for, like front office and reception and etc. The second interview was a few miles on the other side of the city from me, in a suburb that I despise, and which would also mean driving and horrific traffic. The job responsibilities sounded a bit better and actually kind of fun.

I arrived at the first interview exactly on time. They had me fill out an application, during which I almost left more than once. The first time when it asked my date of birth (illegal!!!) and the second when it asked for my salary history, which, not only do I not know off the top of my head, but I just don’t remember at all from 1996. Then came the interview and the manager was extremely nice, explained more about the job and we had a generally good time talking. I even go to use some of my recently acquired trivia – that astronauts get paid for travel time when they are in space. (This American Life) I asked some questions that showed I knew what he was talking about regarding some of their software programs, at least a little. Oh, and it’s a woman-owned business. Not sounding too shabby, but I’m not holding my breath because I can’t imagine that they’d pay me what I want to do what they want.

So, I run to the Kinkos across the street and have a resume and references page printed out –from my ipod. (I adore the fact that I can use it as a flash drive or whatever.) I drive home, snack on some granola, wash my face, brush my teeth, fix my hair and pet the kitties. (That sounds like a euphemism, but it’s not.)

Then I’m off to the North Hills. I really do loathe the North Hills, but I have a positive attitude. It’s warm and sunny and the sky is practically cloudless. No traffic and I arrive early. I take a few minutes to relax a bit, re-read the names of the people I’m supposed to meet, check my teeth just in case.

I drive down the side road from the mall access road (sign #1, no?) and into what looks like a housing plan of condos but is an office park. I see a bright yellow Hummer (sign #2!) and somehow keep the positive attitude. Inside, it looks like an apartment building with one wall lined with mirrors, fake plants and cheap wooden doors with big numbers (sign #879457). Okay the plant may have been real. I’m greeted by a smiling woman and look around to an array of cheap, shabby “wooden” desks with an array of unpleasant, bargain basement dressed, fake-happy women with terrible hair styles. It’s quiet and miserable and reminds me of smoking rooms and the 1970s all-brown TV shows (Fish, Barney Miller, Welcome Back Kotter, you know). In the meeting room, at least the chairs are nice, I sit and talk with the greeter, who I am informed has been there for 18 years, and the manager of the admin staff. I sit with my portfolio in front of me and tell them that I brought a PowerPoint I had just made for a friend to use in a meeting and it’s on my iPod/flash drive. They just look at me. (Like I’m lying and I’ve brought someone else’s work?) They never ask to see my portfolio – the big fancy-business-looking binder on the table in front of me.

They ask me about my PowerPoint experience. They seem a bit surprised by my stance that the training courses are a waste of time and money. I mention relevant articles I’ve read and a relevant controversy from a few years back. They have no idea what I’m talking about. They don’t make backgrounds. They don’t talk about slide transitions. I ask if they use linking for their tables. No. I ask how they lined up the text boxes with the chart and get no answer. They only want to know if I’ll pass their PowerPoint test. Their test is to recreate two slides, one of which is a table that, in my (much more expert than their) opinion should be linked from Excel. So, no, I can’t do it – BECAUSE IT’S STUPID. It doesn’t make any damn sense. The other is to make some graph that I’ve never made before, but I’m also supposed to figure out the font (Ariel, thanks) and colors and sizing from the example they’ve given me.

Somebody, please tell me why I wasted all that time there. Please. In retrospect, I should have given it a nice dark background, basic slide transitions and changed the fucking font. Generally made it a nice view-able presentation. Unfortunately I could hardly breathe or think or have any real brain function in that office. I'm surprised that my heart continued to beat.

I’m calling them tomorrow to ask what in my resume made them think that this job was a good fit. SO I CAN REMOVE IT IMMEDIATELY. And to tell the greeter that she can stop her fake smile and get the fuck out of there because that place is surely hell. It’s odd thinking about it now, she has this smile during the interview, which was almost a plea for me to grab her and make a run for it. Get me out! Grab my arm like I’m your Raggedy Ann doll and run as fast as you can until we’re out of breath and away from this place. Or else it was valium and that office embodies the problem that has no name. Christ – did we exchange ironing and canning and scrubbing for the repetition of tan walls and business casual polyester and upper management that thinks we need to be watched like children?

I still can’t believe it. I was slack-jawed for hours. Do people really live like this? Please, let it be an anomaly.

Tomorrow, I’ll let you know all about my first day (maybe) of contract work for an art gallery! Won’t that be fun?