Friday, June 30, 2006

Al Pacino! Al Pacino! Al Pacino!

So I was sitting here at my desk, with nothing left to do, and it was Friday afternoon before a long holiday weekend (we don’t get Monday off, but pretty much everybody is taking Monday as a vacation day, so I will be one of three people here since I am new and thus have no vacation time to take. It will be me and one person from Payroll. Seriously.), and anyway, I decided to blog, and the. Power. Went. Out.

It’s back on, but it’s 4:12 PM. I think the power outage is a sign that I should pack up and go home, but there seems to be a crew of diehards hanging about.

Before I go, let me tell you that I had a couple of “meet and greets” today, with a couple of department heads, and I was feeling a little unprepared, but they both went well. I was well-pleased with myself, and went strutting down the street back to my office building a la John Travolta back in the Saturday Night Fever days. “Well you can tell by the way I use my walk…”

And then as I was nearing my building, an incredibly sweaty man with wacked-out eyes passed me, drinking an orange soda, and screamed, “Well, that mu’fucka was SLOW!” as I passed him.

Sometimes I think the universe just lobs you one to check your reflexes if you’re getting too cocky.

Have a delightfully unbalanced weekend…

P.S. Someone just came over the PA system and said, "Please be advised...we are having...electrical problem." And, end scene. Well, that's helpful, thanks.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Tip for the Newly Employed

When heating up Trader Joe’s Middle Eastern pizza in the employee kitchen cube*, do not get so distracted by the person you are talking to (because you are talking about shoes! On sale! And the sale may still be going on! And she bought a pair of cute pumps for 20 bucks at the outlet store where the sale is happening!) that you put the pizza into the toaster oven on a Chinet plate and press “toast.” And, even after your co-worker leaves, either not noticing your gaffe or not telling you, do not get so lost in your own thoughts that you don’t even think to check on your pizza until right before the smug little toaster oven “ready” bell dings.

Chinet does not smell so good when it’s been browned.

For more helpful tips on returning to the work world, send your check or money order for $19.95 to:

I am a Moron
P.O. Box 00
Los Angeles, CA 90000

But act now – supplies are limited! (Mainly because we haven’t figured out yet how the photocopier works.)

But wait, there's more! Tip #2: Do not finish your lunch at your desk, eating Pirate's Booty and scattering cheesy Booty dust all over your black pants. It does not add to the ├╝ber-professional, "I can handle anything" appearance you are going for.

That's right, only $19.95. Act now! You don't have to be a moron!

* We have an actual break room in one portion of the cavernous office space we lease, and a cubicle with a sink, toaster-oven, mini-fridge, and microwave in another portion of the cavernous office space we lease.

The Bell Tolls

My brother-in-law Big Mike’s grandma passed away yesterday. A few hours later, we learned that the mom of one of Sweet William’s cousins (I think she is his cousin, too) had a stroke and passed away as well.

This is all sad enough, but they say these things come in threes. I dread the ringing of the phone.

Friday, June 23, 2006

No Mickey Mousin' Around

I don’t have time today to write something altogether witty which will change the lives of everyone who reads it. What I can give you is my fallback position, to wit: my ongoing Vivamentary (Viva + commentary, or Viva + documentary, or, oh, whatever the hell).

Viva is going on a field trip today to, of all places, Chuck E. Cheese. I have never in my life been to a Chuck E. Cheese, nor has she. She is beyond excited and it is all she could talk about for the past 24 hours, which brings us to this morning:

Viva: Are you going to be with me at Chuck E. Cheese?
Mama: No, I have to go to work, baby.
Viva: Oh. Are you going to have fun at work like at Chuck E. Cheese?
Mama: Honey, there is no way I’m having as much fun as you are today.

About twenty minutes later:

Mama: You know, I’m not even sure where it [Chuck E. Cheese] is.
Viva [solemnly]: That’s because Chuck E. Cheese is a far new land.

I forgot to mention that she woke up screaming at 2:30 this morning, having a nightmare about bugs, and when I rushed into the room, the first thing she said was, tearfully, “I’m going to be late for Chuck E. Cheese!” presumably because she realized she wasn’t going to get enough sleep.

I hope that it’s all that she thinks it is, and more. It is, after all, “where a kid can be a kid.” I kind of think preschool itself is where a kid can be a kid, but maybe I’m just a killjoy.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A Cautionary Tale

Oh, and by the way, Banana Republic's shoes are quite seriously not worth the money. I own at least three pairs (bought specifically for office use, not for any serious walking) and each pair gives me blisters in a different spot. I am sitting her at work putting a band-aid on my pinky toe, thanks to the cute wedge slides I bought a few years ago but have rarely worn. And the most walking I have done today is from my cubicle to the restroom. What the hell?

I think Amnesty International denounces Banana Republic in its latest reports on brutal torture around the globe. Were my shoes made in Guantanamo Bay?

Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay (or not)

So clearly, this job thing is cutting into my blogging time. Who would have thought?

For now, I have decided I will compose brief blog entries at work in Word, as a break in between doing the very important work that I do. I will then e-mail said entries to my personal e-mail address. And then I will post later, at home, whenever I can get access to my computer. Since I have a work event tonight, it doesn’t look very hopeful.*

I wish I had some dirt to dish which would make this more interesting, but so far, work is going well. My colleagues are delightful – they work hard but have fun doing it. Of course, because it is right now so perfect, it may not last. We are all worried because the company is doing some restructuring, and the laid-back, really cool, totally together boss** of our department is moving to a new position. They will begin looking to fill her current position at the end of the summer. She will be on the search committee, thank God, and I think she has good instincts (after all, she hired me). So maybe this will not be a bad thing.

Other than that – oh, my dear friend Cee has started her own blog, and much to my shame, she has actually been writing regularly. She has realized that you can pretty much blog about anything and she dreams of writing about toilet paper and the like. Check her out rightchere, discussing her deep love of U2.

Okay, back to work. Tune in again later, when I count paper clips in real time!

* I lied, I’m posting from work because I actually have the time. See what a slacker I am?

** Who, by the way, is a published novelist, I just found out -- getting ready to release her fourth book. Told you she was cool.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


I know how enjoyable it must be for you to read about what a weepy mess I am since I started this new job. But if I didn't have this new job, I couldn't tell you about what happened at work yesterday, and how giddy I was at the sheer Dilbertness of it all.

About mid-morning yesterday, this e-mail went out to all staff in our building:

Good morning!

After a complete service check on the refrigerator in the staff lounge of
suite 700, it has been determined that the cooling mechanism is inoperable. To complete the repair we will need everyone’s cooperation. Please remove any items you currently own in the refrigerator or freezer. There is another refrigerator available in the staff lounge in suite 725 to store your items. Sorry for the inconvenience. We will have this repaired ASAP.

Okay, fine. But 40 minutes later, we all received the following message (labeled HIGH IMPORTANCE) from a staff person whose cubicle is right outside said staff lounge:

Jesus is moving any left items on the refrigerated that have not been removed by now.

For a moment there, I thought the Messiah had come and was removing the "left items," in which case, I can see why this would be a message of HIGH IMPORTANCE. That would be kind of cool, especially because 6/6/06 just passed without anything truly unusual happening. But sadly, no.

Ah, the work world. I see now what I've been missing...

Monday, June 12, 2006

New Job, Day One. Teetering on the Edge.

First day of work: not bad. Simply exhausted from the preparation and organization leading up to it, so I am sitting down to blog rather than making Viva's and my lunches as I should be. Get off my case!

Sweet William was supposed to pick Viva up from school today, so I called him at 5:05, as I was leaving work. "So, you're on your way to get her, right?" he said.

"That is so not funny," I said. "Where are you?"

"We're in the elevator," he said, meaning that they were already home. I heard Viva's sweet little voice piping up in the background. "She says to tell you we got you a flower to celebrate your first day of work," he said.

"That's so sweet," I exclaimed, and then we got off the phone and I started bawling as I was trying to negotiate through traffic in Koreatown. By the time I got home, fifteen minutes later, I had pulled myself together. I walked through the door and my family greeted me with cries of exuberance. Viva showed me the flower, and I kept my shit together and told her it was beautiful, and then she said, "Mama, I am so proud of you for your first day at work!" and I said, "Thank you, sweetie!" and I had to walk away because I was starting to cry again.

Sweet William hovered about me in wondrous disbelief, and then went back to the living room figuratively if not literally shaking his head, while I stayed in the bedroom, blubbering onto my new green shirt.

I don't know if I've mentioned this, but I have never been much of a cryer. Since Viva's birth, I do tend to be more weepy than before. And right now, I am just a frickin' emotional mess.

On to Day Two.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Classic Class Notes

I went to an all-women’s college, and my classmates are all full of energy and gumption. Our alma mater is a place where young women with agile minds explore what engages them intellectually and become the news-makers and world-shakers of tomorrow. No, seriously. My fellow alums are intense, self-directed, ferociously smart and funny women.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I receive my alumnae magazine on a quarterly basis, and I read the “Class Notes” section with great interest. I don’t only read the notes for my own graduating class, because it fascinates me to see what other women of different ages and stages are doing with their lives. Usually, class notes go something like this: “Hannah Smythe’s acclaimed one-woman show has been extended until August 31, 2006. After winning an Obie Award and being featured in Dramaturgica Magazine, Hannah says she is overwhelmed and gratified by the response to her performance…” or “Gillian von Schmidzel writes in from Guadeloupe, where she has been pioneering radical advances in pediatric heart surgery. She reports that her eight-year-old twins are whining about being back in school after a six-week family backpacking trip in Croatia…” or “Valentina Morales has opened a bed-and-breakfast in Vermont while working on her PhD in Economics and raising her three children (Zoe, 5, Chloe, 4, and Ned, 2).”

But I was recently reading my alumnae magazine, and in a class that is not my year, read what has to be the Best Entry Ever. Excerpt below:
[Discussion of attaining doctorate degree, then:] Meanwhile, I got ordained to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church a year ago and am serving part time at a local [Big City] parish as well. I embarked on a gender transition about four years ago and took some extra time in both of my vocational tracks at that point…[Other Classmate and I] just celebrated our 13th anniversary…which was kind of confusing because now we have another anniversary: we got married this past October! What can I say: I’m grateful that [All-Women’s College] helped me become the man I am.
Who can top that? Certainly not me. My life seems rather beige in comparison.


In other news, I was saying something to Will the other day about my new boss and how cool and understanding she is, and he said, “That’s because you’re the bomb!” Viva immediately and furiously said, “NO! I’M the bomb!”

And since she really, truly is: Can’t argue with that.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

On Hair

So Blogger is still down, which is very frustrating and actually made me start looking at other free blog hosting options. You see how fickle I am?

At any rate, I have the feeling that I will be blogging much less these days, now that I am working, so moving the blog might be a moot point. We’ll see.

I am once again writing this in Word and hoping to post later. If I can’t post today, I’m definitely moving the blog.

The reason I wanted to post was (of course) because of the sheer cuteness of Viva. This morning, I was doing her hair. Earlier in the week I had sectioned it off into little square and triangle sections and twisted her hair into Bantu knots, but when I went to pick her up Tuesday afternoon they had all come out, so her hair was just in these really cute kind of curly twists. I have not been able to replicate that, naturally, but I didn’t want to start from scratch. And even twisting the knots back in takes at least half an hour, depending. So this morning I took each section, did a double-stranded twist, and then started piling all the twists on top of her head and kind of entwining them with one another, then clipping the ends of two twists at a time with a tiny butterfly clip – ending up with about 8 multicolored clips all around the crown of her head. I neglected to take a picture, but it looked cute*, and most importantly, it only took about 15 minutes.

At any rate, Viva then said she wanted to be “the barber” and proceeded to put butterfly clips in my hair as I was trying to get her shoes on. This pretty much was as awkward as it sounds, almost akin to playing Twister. Then we fed the fish, brushed her teeth, grabbed her lunch bag, and left the house.

After I dropped her off at school, I went to the bank and the drugstore, and got back home about 9:30. I started cleaning the bathroom, and for some reason, brushed the top of my head with my arm in the process. Hey, I’ve been walking around with various-sized butterfly clips of various colors randomly clipped into my hair! I had no idea she used that many. I must have looked insane (well, even more so than usual) when I dropped her off this morning.

* At some point here I will broach the importance of hair in the black community – specifically, how important it is that you do not allow your child to go around with her head looking a mess or you will be in for a talking-to, or at the least, people talking about you behind your back. In my case, it is even more fraught with meaning, as it is quite possible that people think Viva is adopted or at the least has a white mother, the implication being that I will not know how to take care of her hair properly.

The more hard-assed among you will ask why I even give a shit what people think of how I take care of my child. It’s not that easy. I like to do Viva’s hair. She likes to sit in my lap as I do her hair, and it’s a nice way for us to be close in the mornings (or Sunday evenings, when I wash it and comb it out and try to work out a style that will work for the whole week). And I love to see other little black girls whose parents take the time to do their hair. On some level, I do buy into the idea that taking the time to make your kid look nice is an expression of how much you love your kid.

Hey, this is threatening to get longer than the original post. How did you trick me into that?

NOTE: I was able to log into Blogger at 11:27 AM and tried to post this, but I’m having a persistent problem with the server connection being reset while the page is loading. Flip flop floop! I’m moving my damn blog. I’ll try and post this again after lunch.

1:58 PM. Switched from Firefox to Internet Explorer, tried again. "The page cannot be displayed.” Frickin’ frickety frack!

Friday, June 9, 2006, 1:05 PM. Finally able to post this thing. I am beyond pissed off.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

On Writing

I clicked over to Blogger today to put together a post and found that it was down for maintenance – some database problem that they are trying to fix. I was already feeling a bit lethargic and out of sorts, so I decided to write something else, and then I got bogged down in what I was trying to write, so I went online to research a little bit, and then I got suddenly sick of the whole enterprise, and that led me to wonder why I do all this in the first place.

Why do I write? I write because that is the only way I can make sense of my world. I write because if I don’t, my head gets all muddled, and writing helps to clear it out. I write because if I don’t, I start to get irritable and distracted.

I started writing when I was just a kid, and I was fortunate to have teachers who encouraged me – much love to Miss Johnson at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School, who told me my stories were good enough to be published – and a family who would actually read my stuff out loud with great enjoyment. I had grandparents who allowed me to use their old manual typewriter, banging sporadically away with glee. (I shudder to recall some of those early efforts, which were blatant ripoffs of Judy Blume themes.)

Now, at times I read through my blog archives, and I think, “Oh, that was pretty funny,” or “Hey, that was clever,” but not lately. I find myself less witty these days, more critical of my own writing, and that takes away from the sheer fun of it.

I do not aspire to great literary lionhood here. The blog is here for fun, to help me get my thoughts down somewhere and let me stretch my writing muscles. I was working on a book for a while, here and there, and while at first I thought how great it would be for it to be published, as soon as I started thinking that way, all the joy went out if it. It became a grind.

“How’s the book going?” people would say. And recently, when they found out I was going “back” to work, “Did Lisa finish her book?”

The answer, of course, is no. Lisa did not finish her book, and Lisa feels a bit guilty about that, because it appears that Lisa had a whole bunch of free time for almost an entire year and did not make much progress. Lisa did a whole lot of laundry and dishwashing, cooked a lot of meals, went for walks, did some yoga, blogged a bit, scored some freelance work, interviewed for various jobs, and spent a lot of time with her family.

If the book is really all that damn important, it will get written eventually. And it may even be me that writes it.

NOTE: Posted on Friday, June 9, 2006 at 1:04 PM: two days after my first attempt. Grrr.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Drive, She Said

Have I mentioned that I talked to my new boss on Friday and that she told me to take an extra week to get organized, since they waited 'til the last minute to tell me my background check went through? So I'm not starting until next week! My new boss is so cool! Seriously.

Okay, I have to stop here for a second because my neighbor and his girlfriend are having really loud sex next door. While his wife is at work. And that's just the slightest bit distracting. Okay.... and, they're done.

Hmmm, where was I?

Oh, so now that I am going to be working, there will be times when Sweet William will have to pick Viva up. This means that we need to buy a new car seat, since we only have the one. Now, since Viva is getting to the uppermost height limits for the one we already have, we are not buying the exact same one, because that would just be silly. But that also means that I had to do exhaustive (exhaustive!) research on car seats and find one that she can use until she goes to college, because I am sick of having to buy such things every couple of years. And I also visited not one but four stores to find the one I want. And while my initial impression was that we might be able to get away with spending about $100 on a car seat, naturally, this was not the case. Because I will skimp on many things, but safety is not one of them. And thus, my friends, I just plunked down $250 for the new seat, and here's the bad news: we may actually end up needing two more of these. One to replace the one in my car, and another for my father-in-law's car (he is our backup emergency Viva-picker-upper.).

So it looks like my first paycheck is already pretty much earmarked for car seats and paying off the credit card from buying work clothes. Whee!

P.S. For those who are wondering, we ended up with the Britax Regent, which Viva can use until she is up to 80 pounds (ha! like when she is 13) and up to 53" tall (like when she is 6 - d'oh!). It's swell.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Life is Too Short to Wear Tight Shoes

While out with her daddy yesterday morning, Viva stepped in poo. Sweet William brought her home and put the offending shoes out on the balcony, with every intention (I am SURE) of cleaning up the shoes eventually.

Said shoes are fairly new K-Swiss knockoffs from Target, and technically, they are at least a half-size too small.* The motivation to deal with prying the dried poo off the shoes and cleaning them off is, in my case, very small. I just passed by the balcony and they're still sitting out there, shit-stained and fancy-free.

It seems clear to me that the most logical thing to do is to go buy new shoes and completely ignore the shitty shoes. They are now officially Outcast.

* Viva got her feet measured on Friday, and scored a new pair of shoes on the spot from the chi-chi kids' shoe store in Larchmont Village. She is now wearing another half-size larger. We have been meticulous about measuring her feet because every now and then we realize she has red marks on her feet because she's outgrowing her shoes. So now, it appears, we need to get her measured every 4 months or so. You know, kids are expensive. Have I mentioned this?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Vapid, adj.: Lacking liveliness, animation, or interest

Apparently, I start work on Monday. I called the HR department and the HR rep has been frantically busy so she gave me one of those, "I was just about to call you" kind of lines, and I found that irritating, because although we had tentatively said that I might start next week, nothing had been confirmed, and apparently still nobody knows what my hours will be and my new boss was working at home today and the HR rep didn't have her phone number so blah blah blah, well, just show up Monday at 9 AM and let's take it from there.

It's all very odd. I did an inventory of my clothes yesterday, and found that I am still lacking in "office-type" things to wear -- in fact, I do still need to buy shoes, definitely -- but I think I can manage for the first week or so with what I have. The issue here is that I actually weigh less now than I did before I had Viva, which was the last time I needed to wear office-type clothes. I weigh about ten pounds less than before, and thus some of my clothes are really ridiculously baggy. I was already quite petite before: I am almost but not quite five feet and one inch tall, and I am very small-boned. Until recently, I sometimes ended up buying clothes (mainly T-shirts and sweatpants/yoga pants) in the kids' section of clothing stores like Gap and Old Navy. Even so, sometimes they fit, and sometimes not. But now I have to buy grown-up clothes, and there's the rub.

I found myself recently in the petites' section of Banana Republic, trying on a suit, and the pants were too long. IN THE PETITES' SECTION. Lawd, help me, Jeebus.* I went shopping again yesterday and spent some time at Ann Taylor Loft -- I tried on about twenty pieces of clothing, and only three fit.

"Am I shrinking?" I said to Sweet William. "Because now I'm wearing the same size suit I wore when I interviewed at colleges, way back in the day."

I don't think I'm shrinking. I think the damn retailers are doing the damn vanity sizing, so people who are actually a size 12 think they wear a size 8. And the retailers do not adhere to a standardized size, so you might wear a 4 in one brand, or a 0 in another. I love clothes, but I'm beginning to hate shopping. (I can't believe I just typed that.)

I know, this has to be one of my most fluffy posts ever, but some days are like that.

Edited to add: I am not the only one having problems in this area. The Happy Feminist writes about "dressing room distress," linking to other bloggers in the process, and brings up one of my frequent complaints in regard to women's versus men's clothing: men only need to know their inseam and their waistband, and they can walk into any store, pick up a pair of jeans, pay for them, and walk out. Here is where I'd like a little gender equality. Why does buying jeans have to suck so much** for women?

* A Google search for Jeebus reveals not just the disputed origin of the word, but also an absolutely friggin' fantastic GenX congregation for "those who don't always have a clear picture of who Jesus is." HOT!

** I also tried on jeans at Banana Republic. They all looked like ass. And not in a good way.