Tuesday, April 29, 2008

So long, and thanks for all the fish...

Hi everyone! Foop’s back. It’s been nutty (insert long list of adventures and tribulations here).

Tomorrow is my last day at the “old” job. Since I graduated college lo these many (many) years ago, I have had three professional jobs, all in this industry, all more or less doing what I’m doing until 5:00 tomorrow.

Last week, all the usual trade pubs ran a blurb to say I was leaving the business (“I’m kind of a big deal,” she said facetiously) It felt odd to see my name bandied about with such familiarity. Then came a surprising and gratifying flood of calls and e-mails. “Good for you, Foop!”, “We’ll miss you,” and so forth; lots of sincere if ultimately unlikely declarations that 'we must stay in touch'.

In a funny way, I was reminded of a senior high school yearbook (“Love ya, stay cool!”). It certainly brought up a lot of memories of times I’ve had and friends I’ve made, as well as The One That Got Away. This is a very social and slightly incestuous business, so suffice to say I’ve had a lot of fun. (For the record, I’ve only “fished off the industry pier” once in all my years – see above - and even that was fairly chaste.) The point is that this is momentous.

And I’m alone.

Since moving here to South Crackalacky, I’ve made a few new friends, but I’ve been too crazy with everything to do much cultivating. For all intents and purposes, I am going through the dissolution of my marriage and a major career change da sola.

It just adds to the surreality of it all. I feel a little floaty and disconnected, like I’m watching all of this through a dreamy haze. When whatever I’m on wears off, I sure hope that there’s not a horrible negotiating-with-God kind of hangover awaiting me. Maybe this is just the frozen moment of clarity as my body is propelled forward in slow motion between one trapeze and the next.

I’m constantly surprised that I seem to be in a pretty good place about all of the things that have happened. I try not to overanalyze it. If I’m feeling OK, then great, right? Why try to talk myself out of it? But occasionally I do feel a sharp pang of loneliness. My inner circle at the moment consists of me, one four year old, and a small herd of animals.

Thank God I’m within driving distance of OTJ.

I have a lot of casual friends but only a few soul sisters. Most of the soul sisters have been with me since college and I’ve picked up a handful of others along the way. Maybe the reason that I don’t have a lot of close friends is that I’m spoiled by the ones that I have.

Deana, for example, is one of those friends who will look you straight in the eye, right when you need it, and say “So, what are you doing to do about it?” And then she puts a fabulous necklace on you and pours you a cup of organic tea. Jess is one of those people who, while the rest of the world is busy fretting about whether they’re going to get their piece of the pie and whether there’s going to be enough of it, shouts (mouth full of cherry filling), “Uh ma got! EVERYONE – you have GOT to come over here and try this awesome PIE!”

I have a few other sisters for whom I thank the universe on a regular basis. I’m lucky, really.

I just wish they were here or I was there.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Honk if you heart gay people!

I signed the pledge and I know Lambda Legal is going to pick my picture for something rilly, rilly high profile. In my one-person home office, I am so the poster girl for the fight against workplace discrimination.

What? you want to combat workplace discrimination too? Joy! I'll let you in on the personal e-mail they sent me:

Almost 90 percent of Americans believe that discrimination against LGBT people is wrong. But that’s not enough.
Sign the pledge for workplace equality today and join our fight against workplace discrimination. Already over 2,500 people have!

And visit Lambda Legal’s 2008 FLICKR Clock In Group to see who else has signed on. Then post your own photo.

To add your photo:
Create your sign that clearly says “I signed the pledge.”
Take a photo of yourself holding the sign.
Send it to isigned@lambdalegal.org.*

There are only four weeks left until our national Clock In Pledge-a-Thon for Workplace Equality. On May 15 countless Americans will show their support in cities and towns across the country. Let's send a powerful message to corporations and lawmakers that discrimination is unacceptable in the workplace.

Together we can get thousands more people to sign by May 15. Together we can crush workplace discrimination!

*By sending your photo you grant Lambda Legal permission to copyright, publish and/or use any portrait of which you are included, and your personal statement submitted, in whole or part of, for advertising, trade or any other lawful purpose whatsoever.

Pledge-a-Thon for Workplace Equality
Sign the Pledge


Are you still here? Go sign the pledge already.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I'm just sayin'

Some days I wish I had some kind of timer that would just kick me off my computer and tell me to get a life...

Hint: this is one of them.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Pinkeye Vortex

Somewhere out in the cosmic murk, there is a team of karma engineers – geeky and slightly imposing types cloaked in white lab coats and goggles, right out of a slick luxury car commercial – who test certain models for ability to stand up under strain... and/or impressively streaming clouds of sanitized white smoke.

I was really hanging in there for a while. I swear.

Some very aggravating stuff has been lobbed at me in the past few days, including but not limited to –

A computer virus that sent my laptop into blue screen followed by paroxysms of flying code, every line of which starts with the dreaded word “deleting”. Every contract, letter, photo, spreadsheet and so forth that I have created since August 2007 is gone, daddy gone.

But I was pretty cool about it.

My basement flooded. I didn’t lose any stuff, but I did lose many hours over the weekend shop-vac’ing up gallons upon gallons of water the color of a stiff cafĂ© latte.

No prob, Bob!

Sink’s backed up.

I got it.

Disheveled man at the door telling me I owe him 20 bucks.

Color me cucumber.

The engineers decided to kick it up a notch.

"Throw some pink eye at her, Lars.”

“Ehhxcellent, Roderick. Even better, give it to the child”

Lars: “Roger that. Be sure to pack the drop-in clinic so they have to wait for three hours.”

Roderick (incredulous): “Lars!! Are you MAD!??”

Lars: “Listen, we have to know if this baby can take it”

Dolf Lundgren, Rocky IV: “I must break you”

Lars and Roderick (leaping out of their seats): “Hey, who let this guy in here??”

Do you know what the average four year old looks like after three hours at a drop in clinic?
Ha ha. No, I keed. Not about the three hours, unfortunately, but about E being out of his mind. He was actually ubercool about the whole thing. I kept looking at him, wide-eyed, and telling him how patient he was being and how much I appreciated it.

Nonetheless, I still firmly believe that leaving a mother and small child waiting for three hours should be a felony, punishable by some old Code of Hammurabi type death, or at least by being smitten (smited? smote? OK, pelted) with many small objects that really sting.

After we had run through every snack, toy, and coloring activity, and, to the great delight (not) of the fellow denizens of Sartre’s waiting-room, read several chapters of Alice in Wonderland aloud, they finally called E’s name.

E disappeared into the back of the clinic with the nurse as I hastily collected the vast pile of accoutrements that had spread itself across the northeast end of the waiting area. I then endeavored to catch up without dropping anything more than twice.

Of course, we were not yet to be granted our audience with Herr Docktor. We were directed to cool our heels in a little exam area and corralled by a hospital curtain. I quickly learned that a micrometer of fabric does nothing to muffle the noises of a four year old boy in the throes of activity.

And by “activity”, I mean that he had perched himself atop the rolling doctor’s stool and was flinging himself around the room, deliberately bouncing himself off the exam table, cabinets, etc.

I like to think that, normally, I would have stopped him. But these were extraordinary circumstances. Mommy was Out Of Gas.

Plus he was having SUCH a good time. (“giggle giggle” THWAP! “giggle giggle” BAM!)

It was clear to me, at this point, that the Karma Engineers were satisfied that they had found my breaking point and had turned their attention to the clinic staff.

For the record, the going rate for getting a 4 year old to let you stick a tube of ointment in his eyeball (cajoling not included) is one large marshmallow and three jelly beans.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Her Heart Beats in Me

There is a picture in my room of the grandmother I never met. She died when my father was just a child.

The picture is sepia-toned. The woman in it is wearing a hat and smiling. Not a broad smile, but something more opaque; a Scottish immigrant girl’s take on Mona Lisa. I find myself gazing at her for long periods of time trying to read her eyes, which don’t quite match the smile. I always come back to the question of whether she was happy at all. She worked in a factory. Her husband was an alcoholic. She had six children and, at the time she died, she was pregnant with number seven.

I can’t begin to imagine such a life. Did her children bring her joy? Was she too exhausted to feel it?

I had it in my head for many years, I don’t know why, that she had died of Polio. Later, I heard the official story; that she died of blood poisoning from an injury at the factory. Only recently, my father (who is just now working through the mountain of emotional detritus left by her death and the subsequent abandonment of him and his siblings at a local orphanage) told me that she died as a result of a botched abortion. She was twenty-six.

To say that I was floored by this revelation might qualify as the understatement of the year.

It’s not so much that I discovered that “my grandmother” had tried to give herself an abortion, since I never knew this woman as my grandmother. I never even saw a photograph of her until a few years ago. It’s just that this was the ‘30’s. She came from a time when these things didn’t happen.


The following are some excerpts from an essay someone sent me about the suffrage movement that fought for and won women’s right to vote (as chronicled in the HBO movie “Iron Jawed Angels”). I’m afraid it didn’t include the author’s name, so if anyone recognizes it, please let me know.

Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic.'

They beat Lucy Burn, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air. They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy.

The doctor admonished the men: 'Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.'

The nineteenth amendment was ratified on August 26th, 1920.

While it would certainly be easy to do, I’m not going in a “rock the vote” direction here. Reading the passages above, however, inspires me personally to vote and voice my opinion as a citizen at every conceivable opportunity (condolences are in order to my local City Council).

Nor is this meant to be an exhortation to pro-choice activism, although I do believe in a woman’s right to choose. Knowing how his mother’s death affected my father, and knowing how his own struggle with abandonment has colored my life and relationships, I can’t help but wonder what the world would look like if my grandmother had been able to terminate her last pregnancy and had lived to a ripe old age. But then, might she have terminated her fourth pregnancy, my father, thereby obliterating my and my son’s existence?

And how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

Dad told me about a conversation he had with his older brother:

Vern tells me that we were all taken to the hospital to see her, an experience that is a blank in my memory bank. In a therapy session I had last year in which I was to think of my mother with my eyes closed, an apparition appeared to me in a prone position; it reached out to me with one hand. I told Vern about this experience at Christmas time, and he said she did reach out to all of us on her death bed.

My dad was four years old - the same age that my little man is now. I picture my own son in this scene and I can’t bear it. I wish I could travel to the universe in which my father is four. I wish that I could scoop that scared, abandoned, sad child into my arms and hold him as tightly as I can.

I am humbled and grateful that, if I wanted to, I could go right this second, burst into my own child’s preschool, scoop him up into my arms, and hold him as tightly as I can; at least until he looks at me and says “Mommy, can you be the Tickle Monster?”

I am humbled and grateful that I live in a time and place in which I can vote against the bums who don’t agree with my astute world view. I am humbled and grateful that I live in a time and, as messed up as our country is, a place in which, as a woman, I do have control over my life.

I look back at the photograph of my grandmother and I see a young woman, a sister, maybe a kindred spirit, who was born in the wrong place and time. A woman who got the short end of the stick.

My heart goes out to her. I’d like to think that her heart beats in me.

Her name was Eleanor.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

"We have a winner!" and "My first tag!!"

Such exciting times here in Fooptopia.

First of all, I'm happy to announce that we have a winner in the fabulous Find the Pit Bull Game.

It's... (pause for elimination-series-type dramatic build-up, cut to commercial... annnnnnnnd we're back) Mister Jakelliesmom! (or would that be Jakellie's Dad?) The American Pit Bull Terrier is the little chap in square 16, right below Charles Nelson Reilly (badum-ching!). A list of the other breeds will be at the bottom ("Mommy! That's a bathroom word!") of this post.

Jakelliesmom, send me the pertinent info and we'll have a deluxe Petey the Pit Bull T-shirt on the way. Congrats to the mister. But the rest of you, don't despair - everyone else who played gets a consolation prize: a box of feral cats! Just send along an address and proof of current vaccinations please... Thankyougoodnight!

And B) I'm all wiggly to report that I have been tagged by a fellow bloganista (also Jakelliesmom, but I assure you all that her hubz winning the t-shirt has nothing to do with it). I'm a newbie here in blogworld, so this is very exciting for me personally. Sono arrivata, grazie!

So here's the deal:

Pick up the nearest book of at least 123 pages.
Open the book to page 123.
Find the 5th sentence.
Post the next 3 sentences.
Tag 5 people.

I am flattered that Jakelliesmom is under the impression that I read interesting books. It's fair to say that I have a nice display of interesting books. I had hoped that I might impress my Foopeeps with some lines from, say, Dante's Inferno or Atlas Shrugged, despite the fact that I've never made it past the first 3 pages of the latter before tossing the book over my shoulder in disgust. As my Very Funny Friend Larry says, "I get the philosophy, I get the imagery, I get the ambitious nature of your prose, Ayn...now...MOVE IT ALONG, BABY!!"

But I digress... the first book that my hand landed on was The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the complete and unabridged collection of all six books in the extravagantly ineptly-named Hitchhiker Trilogy.

Don't ever let me try to tell you that I'm not a complete geek. Did I mention that I used to play on the U of I Nuclear Physics Lab softball team? We sucked but we had a lot of fun in the cryo-hut , freezing and shattering improbable things like Kleenex with liquid nitrogen.

Oops, I'm doing it again...

Without further adieu:

"Do you want me to kick you?" said Ford.
"Would it give you a lot of pleasure?" said Zaphod, wearily.

That's a lot of builf up for not very many words, but there you go. Now I get to tag people. Whoopee! I choose you Pikachu!

OK, my first pick has to be OTJ, because she is my hero and she's the chick who nudged me, gently and persistently, until I started a blog of my bery own.

Then, La Liv, of Madness, Madness, I Say, my first friend here in blogworld. Because we're going to rent white tuxedos and get married one of these days.

Chickychickbaby, because girlfriend is hi-larious and loves dogs.

Flutter, because she sees the world through a sometimes dark but always beautiful lens, and she can string words together like nobody else.

and Mama Tulip, because I bought her April Fool's joke and I envy her perpetual bathtub.

Let's play!


Copyright © 2006 Veronique Chesser, http://www.pitbullsontheweb.com/

1. Boxer
2. Dogue De Bordeau
3. Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog
4. Great Swiss Mountain Dog
5. Vizsla
6. Rhodesian Ridgeback
7. Dogo Argentino
8. Labrador Retriever
9. Bull Mastiff
10. Jack Russell Terrier
11. Fila Brasilerio
12. Rottweiler
13. Presa Canario
14. American Bulldog
15. Cane Corso
16. American Pit Bull Terrier
17. Patterdale Terrier
18. Olde English Bulldogge
19. Catahoula
20. Bull Terrier
21. Black Mouth Cur
22. Alano Espanol
23. Boerboel
24. Ca De Bou
25. Thai Ridgeback