Total Perspective Vortex
What really happened to Trillian? Theories abound, but you can see what she's really been up to on this blog. If you're looking for white mice, depressed robots, or the occasional Pan Galactic Gargleblaster you might be better served here:

Otherwise, hello, and welcome.
Mail Trillian here<

Trillian McMillian
Trillian McMillian
Create Your Badge


Women, The Internet and You: Tips for Men Who Use Online Dating Sites
Part I, Your Profile and Email

Part II, Selecting a Potential Date

Part III, Your First Date!

Part IV, After the First Date. Now What?

"50 First Dates"

Don't just sit there angry and ranting, do something constructive.
In the words of Patti Smith (all hail Sister Patti): People have the power.
Contact your elected officials.

Don't be passive = get involved = make a difference.
Find Federal Officials
Enter ZIP Code:

or Search by State

Find State Officials
Enter ZIP Code:

or Search by State

Contact The Media
Enter ZIP Code:

or Search by State

Words are cool.
The English language is complex, stupid, illogical, confounding, brilliant, beautiful, and fascinating.
Every now and then a word presents itself that typifies all the maddeningly gorgeousness of language. They're the words that give you pause for thought. "Who came up with that word? That's an interesting string of letters." Their beauty doesn't lie in their definition (although that can play a role). It's also not in their onomatopoeia, though that, too, can play a role. Their beauty is in the way their letters combine - the visual poetry of words - and/or the way they sound when spoken. We talk a lot about music we like to hear and art we like to see, so let's all hail the unsung heroes of communication, poetry and life: Words.
Here are some I like. (Not because of their definition.)



<< current
4/27/03 - 5/4/03 5/4/03 - 5/11/03 8/3/03 - 8/10/03 8/10/03 - 8/17/03 8/17/03 - 8/24/03 8/24/03 - 8/31/03 8/31/03 - 9/7/03 9/7/03 - 9/14/03 9/14/03 - 9/21/03 9/21/03 - 9/28/03 9/28/03 - 10/5/03 10/5/03 - 10/12/03 10/12/03 - 10/19/03 10/19/03 - 10/26/03 10/26/03 - 11/2/03 11/2/03 - 11/9/03 11/9/03 - 11/16/03 11/16/03 - 11/23/03 11/23/03 - 11/30/03 11/30/03 - 12/7/03 12/7/03 - 12/14/03 12/14/03 - 12/21/03 12/21/03 - 12/28/03 12/28/03 - 1/4/04 1/4/04 - 1/11/04 1/11/04 - 1/18/04 1/18/04 - 1/25/04 1/25/04 - 2/1/04 2/1/04 - 2/8/04 2/8/04 - 2/15/04 2/15/04 - 2/22/04 2/22/04 - 2/29/04 2/29/04 - 3/7/04 3/7/04 - 3/14/04 3/14/04 - 3/21/04 3/21/04 - 3/28/04 3/28/04 - 4/4/04 4/4/04 - 4/11/04 4/11/04 - 4/18/04 4/18/04 - 4/25/04 4/25/04 - 5/2/04 5/2/04 - 5/9/04 5/9/04 - 5/16/04 5/16/04 - 5/23/04 5/23/04 - 5/30/04 6/6/04 - 6/13/04 6/13/04 - 6/20/04 6/20/04 - 6/27/04 6/27/04 - 7/4/04 7/4/04 - 7/11/04 7/11/04 - 7/18/04 7/18/04 - 7/25/04 7/25/04 - 8/1/04 8/1/04 - 8/8/04 8/8/04 - 8/15/04 8/15/04 - 8/22/04 8/22/04 - 8/29/04 8/29/04 - 9/5/04 9/5/04 - 9/12/04 9/12/04 - 9/19/04 9/19/04 - 9/26/04 9/26/04 - 10/3/04 10/3/04 - 10/10/04 10/10/04 - 10/17/04 10/17/04 - 10/24/04 10/24/04 - 10/31/04 10/31/04 - 11/7/04 11/14/04 - 11/21/04 11/21/04 - 11/28/04 11/28/04 - 12/5/04 12/5/04 - 12/12/04 12/12/04 - 12/19/04 12/19/04 - 12/26/04 12/26/04 - 1/2/05 1/2/05 - 1/9/05 1/9/05 - 1/16/05 1/16/05 - 1/23/05 1/23/05 - 1/30/05 1/30/05 - 2/6/05 2/6/05 - 2/13/05 2/13/05 - 2/20/05 2/20/05 - 2/27/05 2/27/05 - 3/6/05 3/6/05 - 3/13/05 3/13/05 - 3/20/05 3/20/05 - 3/27/05 3/27/05 - 4/3/05 4/3/05 - 4/10/05 4/10/05 - 4/17/05 4/17/05 - 4/24/05 4/24/05 - 5/1/05 5/1/05 - 5/8/05 5/15/05 - 5/22/05 6/5/05 - 6/12/05 7/24/05 - 7/31/05 7/31/05 - 8/7/05 8/7/05 - 8/14/05 8/14/05 - 8/21/05 8/21/05 - 8/28/05 9/4/05 - 9/11/05 9/11/05 - 9/18/05 9/18/05 - 9/25/05 9/25/05 - 10/2/05 10/2/05 - 10/9/05 10/9/05 - 10/16/05 10/16/05 - 10/23/05 10/23/05 - 10/30/05 10/30/05 - 11/6/05 11/6/05 - 11/13/05 11/13/05 - 11/20/05 11/20/05 - 11/27/05 12/4/05 - 12/11/05 12/11/05 - 12/18/05 1/1/06 - 1/8/06 1/8/06 - 1/15/06 1/15/06 - 1/22/06 1/22/06 - 1/29/06 1/29/06 - 2/5/06 2/5/06 - 2/12/06 2/12/06 - 2/19/06 2/19/06 - 2/26/06 2/26/06 - 3/5/06 3/5/06 - 3/12/06 3/12/06 - 3/19/06 3/19/06 - 3/26/06 3/26/06 - 4/2/06 4/2/06 - 4/9/06 4/9/06 - 4/16/06 4/23/06 - 4/30/06 4/30/06 - 5/7/06 5/7/06 - 5/14/06 5/14/06 - 5/21/06 5/21/06 - 5/28/06 6/11/06 - 6/18/06 6/18/06 - 6/25/06 6/25/06 - 7/2/06 7/2/06 - 7/9/06 7/30/06 - 8/6/06 9/10/06 - 9/17/06 9/17/06 - 9/24/06 10/8/06 - 10/15/06 10/29/06 - 11/5/06 11/5/06 - 11/12/06 11/12/06 - 11/19/06 11/26/06 - 12/3/06 12/3/06 - 12/10/06 12/17/06 - 12/24/06 12/24/06 - 12/31/06 12/31/06 - 1/7/07 1/21/07 - 1/28/07 1/28/07 - 2/4/07 2/4/07 - 2/11/07 2/11/07 - 2/18/07 2/18/07 - 2/25/07 2/25/07 - 3/4/07 3/4/07 - 3/11/07 3/11/07 - 3/18/07 3/18/07 - 3/25/07 3/25/07 - 4/1/07 6/24/07 - 7/1/07 7/1/07 - 7/8/07 7/8/07 - 7/15/07 7/15/07 - 7/22/07 7/22/07 - 7/29/07 7/29/07 - 8/5/07 8/5/07 - 8/12/07 8/12/07 - 8/19/07 8/19/07 - 8/26/07 8/26/07 - 9/2/07 9/9/07 - 9/16/07 9/16/07 - 9/23/07 9/23/07 - 9/30/07 9/30/07 - 10/7/07 10/7/07 - 10/14/07 10/14/07 - 10/21/07 11/4/07 - 11/11/07 11/11/07 - 11/18/07 12/9/07 - 12/16/07 1/6/08 - 1/13/08 1/13/08 - 1/20/08 1/27/08 - 2/3/08 2/3/08 - 2/10/08 2/10/08 - 2/17/08 2/24/08 - 3/2/08 3/2/08 - 3/9/08 3/9/08 - 3/16/08 3/16/08 - 3/23/08 3/23/08 - 3/30/08 3/30/08 - 4/6/08 4/6/08 - 4/13/08 4/13/08 - 4/20/08 4/20/08 - 4/27/08 4/27/08 - 5/4/08 5/4/08 - 5/11/08 5/11/08 - 5/18/08 5/18/08 - 5/25/08 5/25/08 - 6/1/08 6/1/08 - 6/8/08 6/15/08 - 6/22/08 6/22/08 - 6/29/08 6/29/08 - 7/6/08 7/13/08 - 7/20/08 7/20/08 - 7/27/08 8/3/08 - 8/10/08 8/10/08 - 8/17/08 8/17/08 - 8/24/08 8/24/08 - 8/31/08 8/31/08 - 9/7/08 9/7/08 - 9/14/08 9/21/08 - 9/28/08 9/28/08 - 10/5/08 10/5/08 - 10/12/08 10/12/08 - 10/19/08 10/19/08 - 10/26/08 10/26/08 - 11/2/08 11/2/08 - 11/9/08 11/9/08 - 11/16/08 11/16/08 - 11/23/08 11/30/08 - 12/7/08 12/7/08 - 12/14/08 12/14/08 - 12/21/08 12/28/08 - 1/4/09 1/4/09 - 1/11/09 1/11/09 - 1/18/09 1/18/09 - 1/25/09 2/1/09 - 2/8/09 2/8/09 - 2/15/09 2/15/09 - 2/22/09 3/29/09 - 4/5/09 5/3/09 - 5/10/09 5/10/09 - 5/17/09 5/17/09 - 5/24/09 5/24/09 - 5/31/09 5/31/09 - 6/7/09 6/7/09 - 6/14/09 6/14/09 - 6/21/09 7/12/09 - 7/19/09 7/19/09 - 7/26/09 7/26/09 - 8/2/09 8/2/09 - 8/9/09 8/9/09 - 8/16/09 8/16/09 - 8/23/09 8/23/09 - 8/30/09 8/30/09 - 9/6/09 9/20/09 - 9/27/09 9/27/09 - 10/4/09 10/4/09 - 10/11/09 10/11/09 - 10/18/09 10/18/09 - 10/25/09 10/25/09 - 11/1/09 11/1/09 - 11/8/09 11/8/09 - 11/15/09 11/15/09 - 11/22/09 11/22/09 - 11/29/09 11/29/09 - 12/6/09 12/6/09 - 12/13/09 12/13/09 - 12/20/09 12/20/09 - 12/27/09 12/27/09 - 1/3/10 1/3/10 - 1/10/10 1/10/10 - 1/17/10 1/17/10 - 1/24/10 1/24/10 - 1/31/10 1/31/10 - 2/7/10 2/7/10 - 2/14/10 2/14/10 - 2/21/10 2/21/10 - 2/28/10 3/14/10 - 3/21/10 3/21/10 - 3/28/10 3/28/10 - 4/4/10 4/4/10 - 4/11/10 4/11/10 - 4/18/10 4/18/10 - 4/25/10 4/25/10 - 5/2/10 5/2/10 - 5/9/10 5/9/10 - 5/16/10 5/16/10 - 5/23/10 5/23/10 - 5/30/10 5/30/10 - 6/6/10 6/6/10 - 6/13/10 6/13/10 - 6/20/10 6/20/10 - 6/27/10 6/27/10 - 7/4/10 7/4/10 - 7/11/10 7/11/10 - 7/18/10 7/18/10 - 7/25/10 7/25/10 - 8/1/10 9/19/10 - 9/26/10 10/3/10 - 10/10/10 10/10/10 - 10/17/10 10/17/10 - 10/24/10 10/24/10 - 10/31/10 10/31/10 - 11/7/10 11/14/10 - 11/21/10 11/28/10 - 12/5/10 12/5/10 - 12/12/10 12/12/10 - 12/19/10 12/19/10 - 12/26/10 12/26/10 - 1/2/11 1/2/11 - 1/9/11 1/9/11 - 1/16/11 1/16/11 - 1/23/11 1/23/11 - 1/30/11 1/30/11 - 2/6/11 2/6/11 - 2/13/11 2/13/11 - 2/20/11 2/20/11 - 2/27/11 2/27/11 - 3/6/11 3/6/11 - 3/13/11 3/13/11 - 3/20/11 3/20/11 - 3/27/11 3/27/11 - 4/3/11 4/3/11 - 4/10/11 4/10/11 - 4/17/11 4/17/11 - 4/24/11 4/24/11 - 5/1/11 5/1/11 - 5/8/11 5/15/11 - 5/22/11 5/22/11 - 5/29/11 5/29/11 - 6/5/11 6/12/11 - 6/19/11 6/19/11 - 6/26/11 6/26/11 - 7/3/11 7/10/11 - 7/17/11 7/31/11 - 8/7/11 8/21/11 - 8/28/11 8/28/11 - 9/4/11 9/18/11 - 9/25/11 9/25/11 - 10/2/11 10/2/11 - 10/9/11 10/9/11 - 10/16/11 10/16/11 - 10/23/11 10/23/11 - 10/30/11 11/6/11 - 11/13/11 11/13/11 - 11/20/11 11/20/11 - 11/27/11 11/27/11 - 12/4/11 12/4/11 - 12/11/11 12/11/11 - 12/18/11 12/25/11 - 1/1/12 1/1/12 - 1/8/12 2/5/12 - 2/12/12 2/19/12 - 2/26/12 3/4/12 - 3/11/12 4/1/12 - 4/8/12 4/15/12 - 4/22/12 4/29/12 - 5/6/12 5/13/12 - 5/20/12 5/20/12 - 5/27/12 6/24/12 - 7/1/12 7/1/12 - 7/8/12 7/8/12 - 7/15/12 7/15/12 - 7/22/12 7/22/12 - 7/29/12 7/29/12 - 8/5/12 8/5/12 - 8/12/12 8/12/12 - 8/19/12 8/19/12 - 8/26/12 8/26/12 - 9/2/12 9/2/12 - 9/9/12 9/9/12 - 9/16/12 9/16/12 - 9/23/12 9/23/12 - 9/30/12 10/7/12 - 10/14/12 10/21/12 - 10/28/12 11/4/12 - 11/11/12 12/9/12 - 12/16/12 12/23/12 - 12/30/12 1/6/13 - 1/13/13 1/13/13 - 1/20/13 1/20/13 - 1/27/13 1/27/13 - 2/3/13 2/3/13 - 2/10/13 2/10/13 - 2/17/13 2/17/13 - 2/24/13 3/3/13 - 3/10/13 3/17/13 - 3/24/13 3/31/13 - 4/7/13 4/7/13 - 4/14/13 4/21/13 - 4/28/13 4/28/13 - 5/5/13 5/5/13 - 5/12/13 5/12/13 - 5/19/13 5/19/13 - 5/26/13 6/16/13 - 6/23/13 6/23/13 - 6/30/13 7/14/13 - 7/21/13 8/11/13 - 8/18/13 8/25/13 - 9/1/13 9/8/13 - 9/15/13 9/22/13 - 9/29/13 10/13/13 - 10/20/13 10/20/13 - 10/27/13 11/10/13 - 11/17/13 12/1/13 - 12/8/13 12/15/13 - 12/22/13 12/29/13 - 1/5/14 6/29/14 - 7/6/14 9/14/14 - 9/21/14 9/21/14 - 9/28/14 10/12/14 - 10/19/14 11/23/14 - 11/30/14 12/7/14 - 12/14/14 12/28/14 - 1/4/15 1/25/15 - 2/1/15 2/8/15 - 2/15/15 2/22/15 - 3/1/15 3/8/15 - 3/15/15 3/15/15 - 3/22/15 3/22/15 - 3/29/15 4/12/15 - 4/19/15 4/19/15 - 4/26/15 5/3/15 - 5/10/15 5/17/15 - 5/24/15 5/24/15 - 5/31/15 6/14/15 - 6/21/15 6/28/15 - 7/5/15 7/5/15 - 7/12/15 7/19/15 - 7/26/15 8/16/15 - 8/23/15 11/6/16 - 11/13/16 6/24/18 - 7/1/18

Highlights from the Archives. Some favorite Trillian moments.

Void, Of Course: Eliminating Expectations and Emotions for a Better Way of Life

200i: iPodyssey

Macs Are from Venus, Windows is from Mars Can a relationship survive across platform barriers?
Jerking Off

Get A Job

Office Church Ladies: A Fieldguide

'Cause I'm a Blonde

True? Honestly? I think not.

A Good Day AND Funyuns?

The Easter Boy

Relationship in the Dumpster

Wedding Dress 4 Sale, Never Worn

Got Friends? Are You Sure? Take This Test

What About Class? Take This Test

A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away, There Was a Really Bad Movie

May Your Alchemical Process be Complete. Rob Roy Recipe

Good Thing She's Not in a Good Mood Very Often (We Knew it Wouldn't Last)

What Do I Have to Do to Put You in this Car Today?

Of Mice and Me (Killer Cat Strikes in Local Woman's Apartment)

Trillian: The Musical (The Holiday Special)

LA Woman (I Love (Hate) LA)

It is my Cultureth
...and it would suit-eth me kindly to speak-eth in such mannered tongue


It's a Little Bit Me, It's a Little Bit You
Blogging a Legacy for Future Generations

Parents Visiting? Use Trillian's Mantra!

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Mod Hair Ken

Caught Blogging by Mom, Boss or Other

2003 Holiday Sho-Lo/Mullet Awards

Crullers, The Beer Store and Other Saintly Places

Come on Out of that Doghouse! It's a Sunshine Day!

"...I had no idea our CEO is actually Paula Abdul in disguise."

Lap Dance of the Cripple

Of Muppets and American Idols
"I said happier place, not crappier place!"

Finally Off Crutches, Trillian is Emancipated

Payless? Trillian? Shoe Confessions

Reality Wednesday: Extremely Local Pub

Reality Wednesday: Backstage Staging Zone (The Sweater Blog)

The Night Secret Agent Man Shot My Dad

To Dream the Impossible Dream: The Office Karaoke Party

Trillian Flies Economy Class (Prisoner, Cell Block H)

Trillian Visits the Village of the Damned, Takes Drugs, Becomes Delusional and Blogs Her Brains Out

Trillian's Parents are Powerless

Striptease for Spiders: A PETA Charity Event (People for the Ethical Treatment of Arachnids)

What's Up with Trillian and the Richard Branson Worship?

"Screw the French and their politics, give me their cheese!"

Mail Trillian here

Trillian's Guide to the Galaxy gives 5 stars to these places in the Universe:
So much more than fun with fonts, this is a daily dose of visual poetry set against a backdrop of historical trivia. (C'mon, how can you not love a site that notes Wolfman Jack's birthday?!)


Alliance for the Great Lakes

Hot, so cool, so cool we're hot.

Ig Nobel Awards

And you think YOU have the worst bridesmaid dress?

Coolest Jewelry in the Universe here (trust Trillian, she knows)

Red Tango

If your boss is an idiot, click here.

Evil Cat Full of Loathing.

Wildlife Works

Detroit Cobras

The Beachwood Reporter is better than not all, but most sex.

Hey! Why not check out some great art and illustration while you're here? Please? It won't hurt and it's free.


Kii Arens

Tim Biskup

Jeff Soto


Get Fuzzy Now!
If you're not getting fuzzy, you should be. All hail Darby Conley. Yes, he's part of the Syndicate. But he's cool.

Who or what is HWNMNBS: (He Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken) Trillian's ex-fiancé. "Issues? What issues?"

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

< chicago blogs >

Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Smart Girls
(A Trillian de-composition, to the tune of Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys)

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Smart girls ain’t easy to love and they’re above playing games
And they’d rather read a book than subvert themselves
Kafka, Beethoven and foreign movies
And each night alone with her cat
And they won’t understand her and she won’t die young
She’ll probably just wither away

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

A smart girl loves creaky old libraries and lively debates
Exploring the world and art and witty reparteé
Men who don’t know her won’t like her and those who do
Sometimes won’t know how to take her
She’s rarely wrong but in desperation will play dumb
Because men hate that she’s always right

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Life(?) of Trillian

Saturday, December 20, 2003  
My Life as a Blonde
My Life as a Blonde
Or, well, at least a honey blonde highlighted brunette.

The saga continues. I am disappointed to announce: It's true.

After a week as a much fairer haired lass, I can report the sad facts.

Lighter hair = more approachable.

I hate admitting this. I hate that this is true. But it's the only conclusion I can come to with any degree of honesty.

I have had a chance to put my fairer locks to the test in the alleged rudest city in the world.

Apart from The Boss who kept me hostage in a poorly ventilated conference room for four and a half hours, everyone, and I mean everyone, has been remarkable nice to me. Out of their way nice to me. Okay, so not everyone is walking up and saying, "Hi Trillian, what can I do to make your life easier right now?" But across the board I am getting more hellos, g'day's, head nods and, the big one, eye contact.

I have had more direct eye contact, people looking me square in the eyes, in the past three days than I think I have had in my entire life.

I can only conclude that sultry brunettes, broody brunettes and mysterious brunettes are just so intimidating they strike such deep chords that people are too scared, ashamed or shy to engage in any eye contact.

And here I've lived my life thinking 90% of the population are big fat liars because they won't give me eye contact!

How was I to know all these years it was the hue of my hair that was causing people to avoid eye contact with me?!

I may owe a few apologies.

Girl down the street. You wouldn't look me in the eye when you said you didn't break my Krissy doll. I always thought you were lying so you wouldn't get in trouble. Now I know you were just too afraid of me to look me in the eye. Of course you didn't pull her growing hair out of it's socket. How could I have doubted you all these years? I'm sorry.

School chemistry lab partner. You wouldn't look me in the eye when you said you thought the liquid spilled on the table was water when in fact it turned out to be highly flammable alcohol. I always thought you were lying so you wouldn't get in trouble. Now I know you were just too afraid of me to look me in the eye. Of course you had no idea it was alcohol and me igniting the burner would set the table ablaze. How could I have doubted you all these years? I'm sorry.

Teenaged Boy: You wouldn't look me in the eye when I turned around after being pinched in the ass in the lunch line. I always thought it was you and you were lying by ignoring me afterward. Now I know you were too afraid and shy to look me in the eye. Of course you didn't pinch my teenaged ass. I must have caught it on the lunch tray shelf. How could I have doubted you all these years? I'm sorry.

College Crush Guy: You wouldn't look me in the eye when you said you were transferring to a college 200 miles away. I always thought you were
lying because you had no spine. Now I know you were afraid aid to look me in the eye. Of course you went there to study nuclear physics instead of art history. How could I have doubted you all these years? I'm sorry.

College Professor: You wouldn't look me in the eye when you said you thought my work wasn't right for XYZ agency and therefore didn't recommend me for interview. I always thought you were lying because you wanted the job yourself. Now I know you were intimidated to look me in the eye. Of course they never would have hired me, and you were a far better choice for the job. How could I have doubted you all these years. I'm sorry.

Ex Boss I: You wouldn't look me in the eye when you told me I was only being laid off because we lost two accounts. I always thought you were lying because you hated me from day one. Now I know you were too afraid to look me in the eye. Of course you didn't hate me because I was better in every capacity than you. Of course you weren't looking for the first reason to get rid of me. Of course you didn't then hire a team of bigger fools than you. How could I have doubted you all these years? I'm sorry.

Ex Boss II: You wouldn't look me in the eye when you told me I wouldn't get anywhere in the agency if I didn't adjust my attitude. I always thought you were lying because you were mad I wouldn't sleep with you. Now I know you were just too intimidated to look me in the eye. Of course you didn't want to sleep with me. You were nearly twice my age and had all those other girls to sleep with in your office. How could I have doubted you all these years? I'm sorry.

Every guy I've ever dated except HWNMNBS: You wouldn't look me in the eye when you said "It's not you, it's me." I always thought you were all lying to avoid confrontation or an ugly scene. Now I know you were just too afraid to look me in the eye. Of course it's you. You've got issues. I'm too good for you. I'm better off without you. I deserve a better man. How could I have doubted you all these years? I'm sorry.

See what a few blonde highlights will do? One minute you're going around not trusting anyone because they won't look you in the eye, let alone engage in conversation, the next you realize they were only avoiding eye contact because they were intimidated or shy because of your hair color.

Interestingly enough, the new hair color hasn't thwarted anyone from asking me directions. Three days: 12 people/groups stopping me and asking directions to one place or another. So that little sociological oddity is going to have further investigation and study. As it stands, I think it's safe to conclude hair color must not be a factor.

Nothing too unusual about this news photo, Islams in Pakistan hate the U.S. and march in protest. But check out the guy in the second row on the left. The guy with the beard. What the...?

10:11 PM

Friday, December 19, 2003  
Life Imitating Art
One of my all time favorite movies is Planes, Trains and Automobiles. From the roll of the opening credits to its close, that movie never, ever ceases to entertain me.

The opening scene always grabs me. It is ever poignant in my life, past, present and sure to be future. Steve Martin and a colleague are in an enormous board room, huge conference table, with the Boss (waayyyyyyy down) at the head of the table. The Boss is looking at composition boards. One. Then the other. One. Then the other. One. Then the other. Nary a word is spoken. Looks of hope grow and falter on Steve Martin. He looks at his watch. Boss seems to be in another world. Or doing this on purpose. A way of exercising his power in his role of The Boss (or The Client). It's before a holiday and Steve is trying catch a flight home. The Boss can't decide, they break for the holiday, and so begins the movie.

It's those opening moments of the movie that grip my heart. (Okay, there are a few John Candy moments that always, always make me cry.) Why are the opening credits so heart wrenching for me? I live this. This is my life. And so do a lot of other people. It's a painful scene played out over and over hundreds of times a week the world over.

Welcome to the wonderful world of advertising/marketing/design/selling your soul.

If you're in The Biz, you know exactly what I'm talking about and you're nodding in knowing recognition. Everyone else: That scene is the epitome of The Ad Biz. In all it's unspoken glory, that's really what it all comes down to in the end.

And that was my life yesterday afternoon. Insert me in Steve Martin's role and that is how I spent four and a half hours yesterday afternoon. Fun, huh? Jealous? I wasn't trying to catch a plane ("You'll never make the 6:00...") but dinner with other colleagues. Kind of a big deal. Boss Man was completely aware of this obligation. He was in fact supposed to be at the dinner as well. He didn't care. He didn't have to care. He's The Boss and he can be late or not show up at all if he chooses. But me, well, I'm NOT the boss. If I'm late or don't show up, it will not be good. It will get back to my boss and others in my office. Others who pawned off this holiday tour of duty on me will not be pleased with me shirking the obligation and responsibility. There were a few people in my office who were even jealous of me going to New York the week before Christmas. Apparently they think it's all fun and games and shopping and ice skating. Truth is, I'm on my own dime and time from this morning until I go home. Had I not scheduled some personal time off and used a hotel rewards account to pay for the extra nights in the hotel, I'd already be home and expected back in the office as I type this. I would have been trying to make the 6:00 to O'Hare. Yeah. It's a glamorous job. But consequently, to avoid the frustration, aggravation and stupidity of the people in my office, I fulfilled by professional obligations. And then some. Almost anyone else would have blown off the dinner and gone out clubbing or shopping or crashed in their room.

After four and a half hours of alternating silence and rapid fire questions tantamount to the Spanish Inquisition from The Boss, all I wanted was to return to my little hotel lair sanctuary away from Holiday Hell, put on my sweats and Red Wings jersey (I know, but it's not as if HWNMNBS or any other man is going to come knocking on me door here. Now. Might as well make myself comfortable. Right?) order room service, and watch cable channels I've never even heard of let alone seen.

But no. Obligations. Since I'm the one in the office sent to represent us in New York at this particular little funfest, I am expected to attend the stupid dinner.

I did. The Boss fortunately has A Car, and he offered me a ride to the dinner. (A reprieve from cabs!)

I didn't pull a drink and ditch, but I didn't linger any longer than absolutely necessary. And it wasn't that awful. In fact I left feeling not as bad as I did when I got there, so one could even call it a success.

I walked several blocks before getting a cab to the hotel.

I always forget how much I love New York. It's easy to remember the bad things - expense, crime, dirt, crowds - as excuses for leaving or not moving back, and they're all true. But it's the little things unique to New York that flood back once stepping foot on a few blocks.

Can I see myself moving back here?

Better give this serious thought because I've had three job interviews.

And here's where my life again imitates art.

In Kramer vs. Kramer (another favorite movie) Dustin Hoffman, recently dumped by Meryl Streep, is an ad guy. He's a hotshot. He's a Madison Avenue guru who has devoted his life to his job, or rather, has devoted a lot of hours to his job (sound familiar?) and Meryl's had it, sick of being second or third to his job. She leaves Dustin with their young son. Dustin now has to figure out how to juggle work and single parenthood.

Dustin loses a job because he can't keep up with both. So he's forced to hit the pavement, prostituting himself all over town to find a job. Fast. It's the Friday before Christmas and he's talking to a big shot creative director. The job available is way below Dustin's level. Meanwhile, in the background, there are holiday party innuendos, merry making and frivolity. The creative director's mind is not on hiring anyone, let alone Dustin. Finally he levels with him on this and tells Dustin he's too good for the job, they'll talk about this after the holiday. Dustin is pleading. "I need this job."

The emphasis - the passion, the angst, the desire...Dustin hits all of that and more in the way he emphasizes "need." It's so much more than desperation. It's the humility of his situation, the interview situation, the world of work situation that Dustin nails in that one word.

While I don't need any of these jobs for the reasons or emotions Dustin did, the concept of interviewing for a job a few days before Christmas, when no one is concentrating or caring about any job vacancies or requirements or dazzling body of slapping me in the face. And no, I'm not caring for a young child on my own, but I'm floundering out there on my own without the one person I thought would always be there for me.

The interview yesterday morning wasn't so awful. But more than a little scary. If dropped inside those offices you'd be hard pressed to know if it was July, a week before Christmas or Christmas Day. Work. Work. Work. Noses to the grindstones.

But I still felt the whole process lacked the usual air of gravitas a job interview usually carries. No matter how laid back or casual the office or job structure. Perhaps that's a good thing, but I do wonder how serious the hiring managers and human resources people were taking me or the job. Yesterday's less so, but still...the interviews today, well...I'm sitting here in my hotel lair sanctuary away from Holiday Hell, trying to sort out the events of the past 36 hours, weeding through the options, separating the grain from the chafe, and wondering if I can honestly see myself in any of these jobs, let alone back here doing The New York Thing. Painful phone conversations with my boss in the office, trying to explain what happened yesterday afternoon to a complete nincompoop who has no comprehension of what I do, the way this all works or what needs to be done next make me want to never go back to that office. I met two potential new bosses. One I think would be fine. The other...well...I don't know. I'm trying not to judge by first impressions. The third (or actually second in order of appearance) I didn't meet. Barely got past human resources. Didn't really expect to, this was one of those Huge Corporate Empires where everyone is screened and interviewed a gazillion times before they even get to meet their potential boss, if at all. I liked the human resources rep, if that counts for anything.

And now, I am going to brave Holiday Hell head on. My new best friend the concierge somehow, some very weird how, got me a dinner reservation to end all dinner reservations.

2:49 PM

Thursday, December 18, 2003  
A Sanctuary from Holiday Hell
Thank you to the Universe for business hotels. Real, bona fide business hotels. Hotels that have an unwritten no tourists, no children rule.

That sounds terrible. I know.

It's that time of the year. Holiday Hell. When you're single it's double the nightmare. Everything seems so utterly hopeless because everything this time of year is about family and couples and cutesy this and that and mistletoe and oh just shoot me now. So having to travel on business, endure what is sure to be a painful, boring and long meeting right now, a week before Christmas is in a way, fitting for me. I'm already depressed, lonely, sad...might as well be the only one having to work, and travel for work while I'm down.

But what I realized, as the taxi pulled up to my hotel last night, is that I am not alone. There are lots of other people stuck working and traveling for business this week. Hence the gratitude for bona fide business hotels. They make business travelers feel more in control. Work, meetings...those are known quantities. That can be dealt with on some level. A business hotel allows an air of work no matter the season. Oh sure, a Christmas tree in the lobby, snowflakes or stars hanging around...but it's not all "HOLIDAY! HOLIDAY! HOLIDAY!" Which helps people like me feel slightly more in control at this very out of control time of year. So not so poor me in that regard. I had planned to do all sorts of holiday themed things while in town, and I will (must) do some shopping, but once I walked in those lobby doors and left all the Holiday Insanity outside, I felt a lot better. Calmer. So I may revise my itinerary where I am able - spend time here in my sanctuary from my sad holiday reality.

This is more than a little disconcerting. That I am finding calmness, sanity and control by leaving the "fun of the season" for "get down to business" austerity is not something I want for myself. That's not how I am. That's not me. Or, at least, it didn't used to be me. But now it's helping me cope with a very difficult time. They say it's difficult to see change while it's happening. I beg to differ. It's blazingly obvious to me. And I'm not talking about honey blonde highlights.

I used to love the holidays. Always stressful, financially and time wise, but always fun. Always filled with hope and promise. Always loving to do things for my family and friends. The holiday gatherings. Just being with my family and close friends. Loved it. Then I met HWNMNBS. These have been the pinnacle years of holidays for me. Some years we were apart during the holidays and those were horrible. But filled with hope and promise of our future nonetheless. The years we were together for the holidays were the best of my life. Bar none. Just being together were the best presents I've ever been given. Having him by my side with my family, all the people I love right there with me, in the stillness of Christmas Eve services, in all our traditions, meant (and still does mean) more to me than anything I can think of. And without him, well, it's all very hollow. I'm trying really hard to put on a good face for my family, and once I'm with them it will be better. But there is a huge conspicuous absence in my heart and soul.

Okay, enough Miss Havisham buzzkill. Just trying to bring you to my current emotional place. It's not that I hate the holidays in general, I hate them for me personally this year. I wish everyone else all the best and much happiness and love, but me? Well. Frankly it's just as well I'm having to focus on an interview this morning, a long meeting this afternoon, and two interviews tomorrow. As stressful as that all sounds, it's a relief.

I'm here in my very professional hotel, full of other "strictly business" type people, where the holidays and all the happy togetherness stuff can be forgotten for a few days. Where a person can focus on aspects of their life over which they have some control. Where there are super flying internet lines in every room. Where a very serious business traveler can plug in and surf and blog to their hearts content, just like at home or in the office.

I have my curtains open to the very early morning. If anyone were to look up the 25 floors and see a light on, me feverishly typing away, they might think, "Wow, what dedication, staying at that hotel she must be here on business, the week before Christmas! Up at the crack of dawn working away!" If they only knew. Blogging away my jitters over a first thing in the morning interview. Isn't there some theory about that? I seem to recall some sage advice, "Never schedule an interview before 10 AM" Oh well. Leave it to me to not listen to sage advice. No choice in this matter. I've got two scheduled for a Friday, as well, another interview taboo. Friday before Christmas? That's got to be the all time biggest interview scheduling no-no. Oh well. Nothing I can do about it now.

Book of work: Check.
Extra copies of resumé: Check.
Personal business cards: Check.
Clothes: Check.
Shoes: Well. Check-ish. They're just going to have to understand. Aircast. Can't help it. I can't believe I'm going on job interviews in Payless shoes.
Cab fare: Check.
Phone numbers for meeting this afternoon: Check.

Okay. Ready. Here's hoping.

Thursdays Things I Know for Sure (This Ain't Oprah's List)

Flying for business during the holidays is a nightmare unique to itself. Any business requiring flight between December 15 and January 2 will be fraught with extra time and challenges.

Companies scheduling "real" work between December 15 and January 2, requiring people to fly or travel, should re-evaluate their scheduling. (Do they really think anyone is going to be giving 100% of themselves during this time period??? 50%???)

Being able to schedule interviews for other jobs in another town while you are there on business for a current job is a serendipitous gift from the Universe.

No matter how much you prepare for a job interview you will be nervous.

The more you do not want a job you are interviewing for, the higher the likelihood that you will be made an offer. And a counter offer when you hedge on salary.

The more you really want a job you are interviewing for, the higher the likelihood that you will never hear from the company except for a form rejection letter.

The more people for whom you have to buy holiday gifts, the longer you will wait to buy them.

The more organized and budgeted you try to be regarding holiday spending, the more disorganized and blown the budget will become.

No matter how organized you are about holiday shopping, there will always be someone for whom you feel you would have liked to have done more or better.

It may be a financial relief to not have to shop for a boy/girlfriend, but those are the presents you will miss shopping for the most.

You will find nothing suitable to give to your mother or father, but every store, catalog and website you browse will feature at least 10 items your ex would love.

Madonna's endorsement for any political candidate has no significance whatsoever.

4:58 AM

Wednesday, December 17, 2003  
The thing about office parties is: It forces people who rarely, if ever, interact socially, to not only socially interact, but party during the holidays together.

Holidays are stressful times for most people. Even if a person's life is on a very even keel, most people are busy. From the end of November to the beginning of January, people have obligations. Family, friends...nerves are frayed, tempers flare easily...throwing in a work obligation in the form of a party is wrong.

Or at least a recipe for disaster.

Reality Wednesday
Office Holiday Party

The object of this reality show is to either: A) Behave so outrageously bad the contestant will have to quit or be fired, or B) Behave so well the rest of the office can't remember if the contestant was even at the party.

Contestants from diverse social, ethnic, age and professional backgrounds with nothing in common except they work in the same office are forced to engage in party activity.

The office party planning committee has spent the past three months planning this activity. The party takes place in a private room of an upscale restaurant. Cocktails are to commence at 6:00 PM, hors d'ouevres and "activities" at 6:45 and dinner is served at 7:30 PM. A memo has been circulated that all staff members are to be in attendance by 6:45 sharp.

6:15 PM, half the office has arrived. Alcohol is being poured freely and many are on their second cocktail. The discussions focus primarily on work related issues.

6:30 PM More staffers have arrived. Two dressed in evening formal wear, three in Sunday afternoon on the couch wear.

The die hard "I'm here for the free booze" participants are now on their third or fourth cocktails. Their conversations have become louder. A few are already casting loud commentary on specific issues between themselves and other co-workers. Another few are casting lewd looks at co-workers.

"I never agreed to that expenditure...I knew it was going to be a problem right from the start. I didn't want to spend the money on the Nagle project, we'll never recoup the difference. I told everyone it was a bad idea. But they went ahead and did it anyway, and NOW look what's happening. I told you this was a bad idea. I. Told. You."

"Stickley's got his head up his ass half the time, the project he's been "working" on is two months behind deadline and not close to being finished. Carson could have done it in half the time at half the expense. Why do they keep Stickley around? Can him and replace him with someone like Carson."

From near the bar:
"Heh heh heh. Getta load a Tara over there. She's really showing off the new girls tonight. Gotta get me a piece of that. It's amazing what a boob job does for a girl's looks. I barely noticed her before."

"Yeah, and look at Kelly. The two of them should get a TV show. I'd watch even if it was just a camera following them around the office all day."

From the other side of the room:
"Oh God, look at those two. What do they think this is, the Oscars? Do they know there are not actually awards or celebrities here tonight? Way over the top. I'm still not used to Tara's boob job."

"No kidding. Have you tried to talk to her without staring at them?! It's impossible! And look at her. We all know she has them, she doesn't need to show them off like that tonight. Time and a place for everything."

"Maybe she's on the clock."

"Don't know about her, but Kelly looks like she's hitting the corner after the party."

"But then again, look at Stickley. Are those sweat pants?"

"I think they're those microfleece jog things he wears when he's trying to be young and cool."


"And what do you think about the new highlights Trillian's got? I was so shocked I didn't know what to say."

"No kidding. Pathetic attention grab. She's a brunette personality through and through. Those honey blonde highlights won't fool anyone."

"I dyed my hair once, I suppose every woman does it at one point or another. Looks like Randy likes them. He's all over her like Velcro. Poor Trillian. He just will not leave her alone. When will he ever understand no woman is interested in a 50 year old guy with a wife and two children who isn't stinking rich?"

"She says they're just friends. I know she's not interested in him THAT way. And he is a nice guy when he's not drunk."

6:45 The room is called to quiet by the Office Party Committee Chair. She is standing on a chair. "Okay! Who are we missing? Quick headcount!"

"Geoff isn't here!"

"DeVon isn't here!"

"Where's Trudy?"

"Her kid's sick."

"Okay!" Office Party Committee Chair yells from her chair. "We'll start without them. Did you all submit a card with two secrets in the box?"

Nods and yeses.

"Great. We're each going to draw a card from the box. If you get your own card, put it back and draw another. Then you are to go around the room asking questions until you find the person who's card you've drawn. When you find your person, you help them find their person if they haven't already. Okay? Here we go! Who wants to draw first. (no one) Come on, don't be shy - no more drinks until we get through this!" (Mass dash to the box.)

The room is abuzz with odd questions.

"Do you fish?"

"Are you taking karate lessons?"

"Have you been to every state capital?"

"Do you do carpentry?"

"Were you in the Navy?"

"Do you hate bananas?"

"Have you made every recipe in the Better Crocker Cookbook?"

"Do you have six tattoos?"

"Do you play the cello?"

"Have you dated a famous musician?"

"Do you collect stamps?"

"Do you speak Russian?"

"Were you born in a car?"

"Have you met two prime ministers and three presidents while in office?"

"Are you studying Buddhism?"

One by one, connections are made. The point of the exercise, to learn something about colleagues and promote conversation is made. A few normally polar co-workers are chatting.

The room is called to order. "Has everyone found the person on their card?"

"No! Who's been to Nigeria and doesn't like the color green?"

No answer.

"Must be Geoff!"

"Yes, I think I do recall him saying he's been to Africa."

"And he never wears green!"

"Okay! Mystery solved! Apparently DeVon and Trudy didn't turn in cards. Everyone take a seat - get a drink or hors d'ouevre if you'd like." Office Holiday Party Committee Chair announces.

Much commotion. Line at the bar and hors d'ouvres table.

"Smart - two plates. Could be a long time before we get real food."

"One's for Kelly, she's getting drinks for a bunch of us and asked if I'd get her something to eat." Drops a few carrot sticks on the plate. "That should hold her. For a week."

Guffaws at the old joke about Kelly's diminutive frame and lack of food intake.

The salmon, long since devoured, is conspicuous in its absence and a cry goes out for more.

"Whatever is there is what we've got. Dinner will be served at 7:30. Have some cheese." One of the Office Holiday Party Committee people yells in disgust.

Everyone seated, the Office Party Committee Chair again addresses the group. "Great! Super! Now, we're going to go around the room and tell the two things listed on the card you drew. Then you'll tell us who you thought it was when you drew the card, and how many tries it took you to find your person. But don't tell us who it is! Because then we're all going to try to guess!"

"So, why did we just chase each other down? Couldn't we have just skipped right to this portion?" one of the more sarcastic staff asks of her neighbor. And is overheard by the Office Party Committee Chair.

"Mingle! It got you mingling!"

Collective roll of eyes.

Things progress predictably. Fascinating facts are shared about each and every staff person. Some are actually rather interesting and more than a little surprising. Most are mundane and boring. Chatter develops among staff halfway through the game. Chatter not to do with the fascinating facts being told. Office Party Committee Chair feels she is losing the audience. "There will be plenty of time for chat during dinner!"

Silence. Adults behaving like reprimanded school children.

Downcast mumbles of reproach.

The game continues. More facts are shared. Waddaya knows and hmmms replace chatter.

Finally all the secrets are revealed.

"Can we eat now?!"

Office Party Committee Chair looks at her watch. "Yes! It's time!"

Committee Member leaves to summon the wait staff.

Splinter groups are formed. More alcohol is consumed.

Talk is louder and more lewd.

Dinner is finally served.

Geoff appears. In tighter than tight pleather pants and a lycra t-shirt which shows off his nipple rings.

He's making an "entrance."

No one cares.

This bothers Geoff. He's screaming for attention and can't stand that he isn't getting any. "Oooh, have I missed the fun game? I hope I'm not too late!"

"You're 45 minutes late Geoff. You've been to Nigeria and you don't like green. Game over. Sit down and eat."

Much laughing.

Dinner proceeds relatively good natured and low key.

Until dessert.

Delightfully frothed delicacies artfully arranged appear. It is soon discovered some of them are essentially giant chocolate candies, filled with liquor goo.

Things slide downhill quickly.

Tara, who has had far too much to drink, tries to make a physical joke about her newly augmented breasts by dripping some of the goo onto her chest. She is wearing a very low cut dress. But the goo is dripping into dangerous territory. She begins to dab it with her napkin.

"Oh, no, let me help you with that." one of the lecherous males on staff screams at her in delight. He's on his feet and at her side in seconds flat. He, too, has had one too many cocktails. And commences dabbing Tara's chest area. She's laughing. Everyone else is laughing.

He takes this as a signal to take it a step further.

And licks Tara's chest.

Tara, though, is laughing.

"mmmmm, tastes like chicken!" young lewd boy proclaims.

More laughter. But now mixed with uncomfortable glances. Maybe this is getting a bit out of hand.

Kelly, sitting next to Tara, not to be outdone by Tara, gets in on the action. She is also wearing a very low cut top. She spoons some of the froth from a pastry on her chest and says, "I've got something a lot better than chicken!"

A few people take this as a sign to leave the party.

Another newly minted letch jumps to Kelly's display. And in turn, licks off the froth. He looks up with froth on his face like a Santa beard and moustache. "Ho ho ho!"

"Who you callin' a ho?" Tara proclaims.

Letch one says, "If the boob fits, Tara..."

Tara is now angry and hurt. She tries to get up to leave, but at mid rise, the alcohol hits her and she falls back into her chair. In doing so, she dislodges her top.

Most people only see a lacy bra. But a few seated in the exact line of fire get a look a the full horror that is Tara's new breast.

Absolute silence.

From across the room, a woman comes to Tara's aid. She helps Tara adjust herself and helps her to the ladies room.

Where the two will spend the next hour while Tara is sick. And sick again. The restaurant manager makes three visits to the ladies room. First out of seeming genuine concern for the sick woman, but then out of real concern for the other guests at the restaurant. Tara is far too drunk and sick to leave the stall. Every time she tries to stand she either falls or is sick. Tara's colleague is afraid to leave her for even a minute. She supplies cold towels and glasses of water to Tara in hopes of sobering her up enough to get her in a cab home. The fourth time the manager appears, he tells the colleague that he will call a cab or an ambulance, but the two must leave.

"A cab it is." colleague answers.

"Okay Tara, did you hear that? We've got to go. They're making us leave. You've got to pull yourself together enough to get in a cab and home."

"I can do this. I can do this. I'm okay. Really. I'm okay. I'm fine." And then Tara proceeds to be sick again. "At least now it's dry heaves. If I'm sick on the way home it won't matter."

"Now there's some logic." Let's roll.

Colleague and Tara leave, Tara leaning on Colleague.

The two cause quite a scene in the toney and upscale restaurant. Tara, with her disheveled hair, makeup and clothes, a shade of green (that Geoff would hate) pallor and unable to walk in her 4 inch heels, looks like a poster meant to scare kids from running away from home. Colleague looks like the long suffering nerdy friend bailing Tara out of yet another debacle. Colleague is fully sober, having consumed only one glass of wine. She's exhausted and this is the last thing she wanted to be doing tonight. She and Tara, are in fact, not close. Things have been a bit better since the boob job, but still, they're hardly best friends.

The cab ride home, normally a 15 minute trip, takes 45 minutes due to the four stops required so that Tara could be sick out the cab door. Tara insists all the windows be rolled down completely, so colleague and cab driver are freezing.

Once at Tara's building, Colleague takes Tara up to her apartment and drops her into bed. "You okay Tara? Are you through being sick? Is it okay for me to leave you? Is there someone I can call for you?"

"Naw, I'm fine. Sleep. I need sleep."

"Okay, I'm going to go then. Okay? You going to be okay on your own?"

"yumph. shmike's ganna be here soon."

Assuming she meant a boyfriend, Colleague leaves, gets a cab and goes home. But can't sleep, she's exhausted, but worried about Tara. Thoughts of Janis Joplin and Nancy Spungen fill her head.

The next day, several of the key players from last night do not arrive at their normal time. Email about last night's party have already been widely circulated throughout the rest of the company.

Who wins? Who loses? Anyone who has to attend an office party.

It's happy hour again
I think I might be happy if I wasn't out with them
And they're happy it's a lovely place to be
Happy that the fire is real the barman is a she

Where the haircuts smile
And the meaning of style
Is a night out with the boss
Where you win or you lose
And its them who choose
And if you don't win then you've lost

What a good place to be
Don't believe it
'Cause they speak a different language
And it's never really happened to me
{It's happy hour again}
Don't believe it
'Cause they speak a different language
And it's never really happened to me
{It's happy hour again}

It's another night out with the boss
Following in footsteps overgrown with moss
And they tell me that women grow on trees
And if you catch them right they will land upon their knees

Where they open all their wallets
And they close all their minds
And they love to buy you all a drink
And then we ask all the questions
And you take all your clothes off
And go back to the kitchen sink

10:34 AM

Tuesday, December 16, 2003  
Check Me Out! I'm Pressing Weight!
Weight training. Yes me, of the injured ankle/neck/wrist/you name it...I am officially weight training.

It's been since July that I lifted more than a 5 pound smart-bell.

And even that didn't go so well. Before "Kimmie" had a chance to coach me my doctor said no way, don't upset the whiplash.

So I didn't. And in fairness to me, I haven't really felt like "working out" - even resistance exercises. I miss my little arm and neck weight sessions though. Always a relaxing way for me to end the day.

"Kimmie" says I'm ready. And if "Kimmie" says so, than it must be true.

Last night I did three sets of 20 bicep curls and free weight flies. With 8 pound weights. Ooooh. Ahhhh. I know. You're all soooo impressed.

Well listen to this:
3 sets of 20 leg presses: 40 pounds (both legs). Then three sets of 20 leg presses: 20 pounds (injured leg by itself).

A standing ovation? For me? Why, oh, well, I did work very hard (flustered at the admiration) thank you.

I'm taking a bow now.

I might not be able to get up again, but I'm taking a bow.

Actually, I'm not that sore. My ankle is in agony and has re-swelled from the exertion, but my neck and shoulders feel fabulous. My pecs, on the other hand...ouch! Wow. I didn't know they'd gotten so out of shape.

This was a big deal for me. A huge deal. Weight training was nothing but crazy talk when I first began physical therapy. That I have re-habbed enough to graduate to weight train signifies the jumping of a huge hurdle. It represents an enormous amount of work, effort and pain on my part. And even though I may have overdone it on the leg press, the first sets felt really fantastic.

And the bigger deal is that my sessions with "Kimmie" are going to be greatly changed. It's more and more about me pushing myself with "Kimmie" coaching from the sidelines, and less and less about "Kimmie" twisting, prodding, bending, massaging and otherwise interactively torturing me.

This is a good thing.

There are days I just can't get in my "Kimmie" place and she annoys the crap out of me. That our interaction will be less per session is good. I find myself feeling ever less compelled to restrain my sarcastic tongue when she pulls that baby voice or otherwise talks to me as if I'm four years old. I don't hate her, and I certainly don't want to hurt her feelings. It's a simple case of her personality and mine not being born to mingle together. We're not just ruled by different planets, we're not even in the same solar system. I understand this, but I strongly suspect she does not.

So, as difficult, excruciating, and tiresome as it is, I am thrilled to start this new phase of physical therapy.

I'm a long way from buff, but I'm one session closer.

Holiday Office Party Madness

Now I must take care some very important urgent business. Our office holiday party committee (yeah, really, an entire committee) has told us to write two things about ourselves no one in the office knows on a card to be anonymously submitted in a box. They have "some fun things planned for this year's party." Oh, I just bet they do. This will no doubt be a bonding activity. As if the karaoke weren't enough. Haven't we suffered enough this year?

I've had two weeks to come up with something, and so far I'm drawing a blank. I've worked here long enough most people know the basic innocuous-ities about me, which leaves the rest of my out of work life that I don't talk about at work. On purpose.

Gee, what two heavily guarded secrets should I choose to tell my colleagues?

"I hate all of you and view my time in the office only slightly above eternal damnation. In fact sometimes I think it is eternal damnation."
"I have three job interviews in the next week and if there's a God this will be my last holiday party with you."
"I gave a drunken lap dance to a complete stranger while on crutches"
"This is my blog address:..."
"My boss is a complete incompetent nincompoop. Oh wait, you all know that already."

A better idea, and one I would wholeheartedly endorse, would be for us to write two things about someone else in the office other folks may not know.
"Alcoholic who refuses to get help and is unable to perform her job four days of the week."
"Once said he was at a meeting in Houston but was actually at a spa in Phoenix. For five days. Then expensed the entire trip."
"Steals toilet paper from the ladies room."
"Slept with volunteer committee chair not once but at least three times."
"Earns a higher salary than anyone in the department even though he's the least qualified."
"Lied about degree to get this job."
"Has porn stored on office hard drive."

Yes. Those are all actual secrets I know about co-workers. What better place to expose The Truth about each other than at the office holiday party? If not then, when?! What better time to come clean? What better time to strike the fear of God in everyone in the form of blackmail?

Ah. The holidays. That wonderful time of the year.

8:07 AM

Monday, December 15, 2003  
Update: I have left my office a few times today. My updated hair color has been witnessed. So far: Three positive comments, one negative and several either didn't notice or couldn't say anything nice so said nothing at all.

My friend emailed me photos from Saturday night. In them, my hair looks alternately very light or about the same as ever. I suspect reality lies somewhere in between.

No one is being unusually chatty or nice to me in the office, so no change there. Apparently, if lighter haired people are more approachable, it only extends to strangers.

3:18 PM

Blonding of Trillian, Part II

It took several phone calls, all over town, but I did it. I located the aforementioned hair stylist. She's been at three salons since last I saw her. Fortunately, someone at each salon knew the name of another salon she had been working, and, voila, finally, goose chase over, I found her and got a Saturday appointment. Nothing shy of a miracle.

She can run, but she can't hide.

She seemed pleased to see me again - she didn't cancel or call in sick or quit when she saw me on her schedule.

She said she'd been wondering how my ankle was doing and figured it was because of my limited mobility she hadn't seen me. Wanted to say: You mean it never once occurred to you that moving to three salons in two months might discourage clients from finding you? Instead said: Yeah, my ankle. Physical therapy's taking a lot of my time. But here I am, back in your chair and ready for action.

She might be a bit ditsy in some regards, but she's the first stylist who hasn't left town (and me) altogether and she is pretty darned handy with the scissors and dye. We were just getting established with each other, just beginning to build a foundation on which to lay a future together when she moved. Three times.

Since the last attempt, I have been going over what might have gone wrong, and thinking that I shouldn't let one bad experience, that was completely fixable, dissuade me from all future hair coloring endeavors.

Without further adieu: Trillian now has what she hopes are very fetching honey blondish highlights and a much lighter shade of hair all over.

I thought I was ready for this.

But for all you brunettes out there, let me tell you, hear my words: Nothing in life prepares you for that first look in the mirror with lighter hair. Nothing. Even if you've had lots of shades or have even worn a blond wig (yes. I have.) it's not the same. Your hair. Your hair, coming out of your follicles, is lighter.

So far everyone has noticed, but to varying degrees of response. The thing is...see, the thing is...the thing is...well, gasp...It might be true. I don't know about the fun part, so far I haven't had more or less fun than normal. But, well, the thing is, people talk to me more.

I had an early morning appointment, then took the train to work. Two guys on the train crowded with shoppers got up and insisted I take their seat. Not horrendously unusual, since I've been back on the train in my aircast, people, men and women, for the most part have been thoughtful about offering me a seat. The difference was, both of these guys then engaged me conversation. Not flirting, just talking. And not about my ankle. Just conversation - weather, crowded train, holidays, just conversation. Very unusual. People don't typically just start talking to me. Unless they are asking directions. Everyone always chooses me, even out of huge crowds, to ask directions. As if I have Rand McNaly tattooed on my forehead. Weird. It's very possible it's my purpose in life: Telling people where to go. I do have a keen sense of direction, but come on, it's not as if that sort of thing is obvious by looking at a complete stranger.

I digress.

People don't engage me conversation, small talk. I don't even get many 'mornings or Hi, how are yous. Clerks don't talk to me apart from the bare minimum required. Friends notice this about me, too. They tell me I have what can be a rather intimidating, "don't mess with me" look. Plus, most will add: You're tall. Basically, they say, I don't look approachable. Tall brunettes, apparently, are intimidating. I argue, though, why then, do people come out of the woodwork to inconvenience me by stopping me and asking directions? "Because you look intimidating in a smart way." Frankie tells me. "Stupid people instinctively know to stay away." Funny, I say, because I sure do encounter a lot of stupid people. But she might be onto something.

Benjy met Frankie and I at the very same time. I thought he was checking out Frankie (a natural near white/yellow blonde, by the way), Frankie said hello to him, they started talking, and the rest is history. After they'd been together a while, Benjy told Frankie that it was really me he had noticed and was interested in, but was too shy to approach me, so when Frankie said hello, he was happy to be near me, then realized how much he fancied Frankie anyway. Frankie's made of strong stuff, and she got the man, so we all laugh and joke about this. But it's my case in point: Lighter hair = more approachable.

This has long been my working theory. (having mostly blondes as friends, as fate would have it) I've noticed most of my fair haired friends and relatives, male and female, are the ones approached when we're together, not me. No, I don't have issues. I have long been very happy as a brunette.

Now I'm putting it to a test. Will even a subtle lightening make a difference?

I'm already finding out.

I got off the train and went to my office. The Saturday security guard and I are buddies - we both work a lot of weekends. "Hi Trill, you're in late for a Satur...whoa! Check you out! Girlfriend, look at you! I like! I like! Very nice!"

"Thanks. I'm not used to it yet, I just had it done."

"Keep doing it!" he replied.

Okay, that's one guy. He's rather enthusiastic (and bored silly) under normal circumstances, fancies himself a bit of a ladies man and is always full of compliments. He's the sort of guy who notices things like highlights, a new blouse, manicures.

I worked. I toiled. I changed into my party clothes for a work function. I put on make-up. Uh oh. Make-up. Yikes. Might I need to re-evaluate my palette? Well, for tonight, the old palette's going to have to suffice. Besides, my skin hasn't changed, my eyes are the same - and my hair's not that much lighter.

I left the office. The night guard was now on duty.

"Woooo eeeeee! Miss McMillian, you are look-ing fi-ine too-night!" (whistles) "You got it goin' on!"

"Thanks. Not too much? Not too overdone?"

"You kiddin' me? Girl, it all came together for you tonight. This is your night to shine." (apparently he is auditioning to replace Paula Abdul on American Idol.)

Off to a holiday party - a work related event. Vendor shindig. Several friends will be in attendance.

I arrived about a half hour after the party began and scanned the coat check line for anyone I might know. No one. But the two guys in line in front of me started talking to me. Just talking (I suspect they were gay, so no, I don't think it was flirting). Then the couple behind me joined in the conversation, laughing at a comment I made.

Not terribly unusual - holiday cheer and all that - but still, this is not normal for me.

The coat check girl was nice to me. Actually nice. Not in a perfunctory way, but in a pleasant, "let's chat and hold up the rest of the line, okay?" way. I was trying to get away from her and get out of the way, but she just kept talking to me.

The rep hosting the party saw me and swooped over to me. "Trillian, look at you!" (kiss kiss) "It's so great to see you up and around again!" Scott is a good guy. We go way back. Sure, he's a sales guy, but he's not like a sales guy. He's normal. He's nice. He's sincere. He's honest. He's a good guy. "So what are we drinking tonight? Hey, in this light your hair looks like a different color."

"Scott," I conspiratorially confide, "I had honey blonde highlights put in today. It really is a different color. Tell me honestly (knowing he would) is it too much? Wrong for me? I haven't had time to spend much time in the mirror today, so I'm not completely sure exactly what I look like."

"Trill. Whatever it is, it's great. It's not as if you're not a sultry brunette anymore - you're just a somehow different sultry brunette. Believe me, no one is ever going to mistake you for a dumb blonde. I'll have to see it in regular light to give you a real critique, but honest, it looks fantastic. To the bar, mademoiselle?" Offers me his arm and off we go to the bar station.

On the way, someone comes up to him. (he is one of the hosts, after all, everyone is here because of him or his company) "Scott, how are you? And who is your lovely date tonight?"

Introductions all around. I am often in these situations. Odd man out sort of things, left making polite excuses for departure. This time, however, the other colleague includes me in the conversation. The three of us talk. This is unusual for me. The three of us go to the bar. Scott gives me a glass of wine. There. Now I have something to do until my friends arrive. After all, I can't expect Scott to entertain me all night. This is a big party, and it's business for him.

I make my way to an empty cocktail table.

Then it happens.

People. Men. Women. Younger. Older. People. Approach me. Talk to me. And not just, "Setting my drink here, okay?" talk. Real small talk and conversation.

This is highly unusual. I'm now suspicious. Something's definitely going on. Can it really be the hair? Really? Scott's right, it's not that much lighter, and the lighting in the room can only be termed as "mood" so everyone is cast in a dim glow.

I begin to count the number of people who instigate conversation with me.

6. 10. 18.

I'm starting to freak out, I'm not good at small talk, AND, my voice is already getting hoarse. This has never, ever happened to me.

Scott swings by while I am talking to two women who work at a rival company. We're exchanging war stories. He puts his hand to my elbow and asks if any of us would like another drink. Oh yes please. And water, too. A waiter serving champagne hears this and offers, "If you'll take my last two glasses of champagne, I can get you a glass of water." Deal.

21. 25. 27.

"Trillian, there you are! We've been looking all over for you. (pause, big eyes) What have you done to your hair! (loud and arms out in a presentation expression) My God look at you!" Meet: Catty Bitch Friend. Catty Bitch Friend and I go back a bit, too. We've been co-workers, rivals and semi-friends. When the tale of my mugging made the rounds, Catty Bitch Friend was one of the first to call to offer to bring movies, magazines and food. She wanted the "scoop." We talk and email, mainly work stuff, but this party and one other are the extent of our actual face to face socializing. Since the Incident I've seen her more than I have, um, ever. There's a story with Catty Bitch Friend I will save for another blog. Or two. She's with married friends I hang out with a lot. Wife Friend knew I was getting my hair "done" and was expecting it. "Looks great, Trillian. Don't go another shade lighter, though. It's absolutely perfect as is." Good old Wife Friend. Husband Friend is asking about the possibility of a lap dance tonight (yeah, he was there that night) when another couple walks up and just starts talking, mainly to me. Maybe they overheard the lap dance query. But since it's a couple, that doesn't seem like the sort of thing to compel conversation. Nope, they're just talking. Turns out they know a friend of Catty Bitch Friend's soon to be ex husband.

The night progresses similarly. The entire evening, people talk to me. I had a few drinks and lost count.

I get a really nice cab driver. Speaks perfect English, and, turns the meter off several blocks before my door.

I awoke early and went for a paper. Sunday morning. Early Sunday morning. The Saddam news had barely broken. It didn't make the Sunday papers. Had I not been online I wouldn't have known. So the few people out are probably completely unaware. On my way to the 7-11, I notice the back window of every car on my street has a big heart drawn into the newly fallen snow. Someone has drawn a heart, an anonymous message of love, in every window of snow. At least 50 cars. I like this. I pause in reflection. I love this sort of thing, this time of day, this weather. I am pulled out of my reverie by a guy walking his dog. "Isn't that great?! Everyone's going to think they have a secret admirer."

"Did you do it?" I asked him.

"No, I just noticed you looking at it and then noticed it."

We stand there looking at the row of hearted cars. Another guy walks up with two dogs. The three dogs sniff each other. The three humans stand there in silence slightly smiling. Second guy breaks the silence and makes small talk to me about the snow, the weather, the holidays. The three of us talk about the dogs.

They go to the dog park, I go on my way. Up on the main street, a guy scraping snow off his car pauses and waves at me and yells across the street, "Good morning to YOU!" Me? Me personally?

Hi, I wave and smile.

Something's going on. Something is definitely going on. Everyone's talking to me, and not about my ankle. (which is a relief, but, still, odd, because the only conversation from strangers I've had lately is the obvious, "What'd you do to your ankle?" conversation. Now, still aircasted, no one seems to notice or care (great!) but everyone's going out of their way to talk to me. Can it really be the honey blonde highlights? Really?

7-11. The guy who never utters a word to me, the guy I see at least three times a week, the guy I assumed couldn't speak English, says "good morning - oh, you have changed your hair. nice. nice." Then he sort of leered at me. I think I liked it better when he didn't talk to me. The Muzak is still uncomfortable even when he talks. I pay for my paper and get the heck out of there.

On the way home, two girls pull their car up to me and ask directions.

A woman rolling her granny cart to the laundry says hello.

I go home, glue myself to the computer for photos of Saddam. (Saddam Capture Could Boost Holiday Sales. Huh?! Have you been saving your money, afraid to go shopping because Saddam was at large? Are you so relieved he's potentially been caught that you will go out and spend money you weren't otherwise planning on spending?)

But I'm nagged by all the conversations. I'm desperate to continue trying out the lighter hair=approachability factor, so I decide to give it the ultimate test: The Grocery. I generally avoid the grocery as much as possible.

On the way there, I receive two more good mornings. A couple waiting at the bus stop notice me, look up and smile at me. Whoa. Very weird.

The Grocery. I'm braced for the worst. It's bad under the best of circumstances. Weekends? A nightmare.

A guy pulls out a trolley. I'm waiting my turn to pull one. He wheels the trolley to me as a gift. "Ladies first!"

Ummm. Okay. "Thanks!"

Off to the vitamin/health/Slimfast aisle. Woman looking for vitamins says, "Do you know the difference between these two vitamin C tablets?"

Wanted to say, "Do I look like that freaky Dr. Weil guy?" but she was nice and instead said, "No, not really, but I take this one." (Motioning to my brand)

"Oh, thanks, I didn't notice those. Exactly what I'm looking for."

I think she wanted more conversation, but I grabbed my Slimfast and rolled away. Scary back aisle. Always congested. Always a pain. Always a place I dread. This is worse than any obstacle course "Kimmie" could contrive. It was its usual horrendous dreadful congested state.


A stock boy moved his boxes out of my way (My way, not the other woman rolling along, me), when I thanked him he said the pleasure was all his. A kid moved his mother's trolley out of my way without being asked. A guy looking at eggs looked up and smiled at me and I think he blushed when I smiled back.

I roll on. I duck down the laundry aisle so as to avoid The Valley of Death, otherwise known as the meat counter. In doing so I nearly roll over a woman trying to reach the econosize detergent. Oops. I'm so sorry.

"No, it's okay, really." She smiles.

I help her get the detergent in her trolley.

She "have a nice day"s me.

What the...?

Pet aisle. Choosing food for Furry Creature is a time consuming task. He's rather particular. I'm selecting his favorites when a couple stops next to me. "Picky eater at home?" the man asks me.

"Very. You too?"

"You don't know the half of it," the woman says. We laugh. We compare cat stories. He pulls out his wallet and shows me photos of their cats. Had I lingered any longer, I think they would have invited me to have coffee with them after shopping.

I'm freaking out. It's true. It's all true. All these years, I had no idea. Just a few shades lighter, some subtle highlights...and what a difference. Can it really be my new hair color? Really? I hope not. But...what other explanation? Nothing like this has ever happened to me. Ever. Strangers are talking to me. People are being...being...nice to me.

This is huge. This is a big sociological breakthrough.

The produce and organic section. The true test. I make it through with two women moving out of my way, one stock girl smiling and saying hello, and a guy smile/nodding me.

I get home and call a blonde friend who's been pushing me to have "serious highlights" for years. I told her I did it and about the subsequent approachability.

"You mean other than people asking you directions?!"



"Yes! I'm not sure I'm up to this. My voice is hoarse and a little sore from all this talking."

Afternoon rolls around. I call my local Thai place and put in a pick-up order.

"No dewivewy today Miss McMillian? Feeling bettah now?"

"Yeah, getting there, I need to start walking more. See you in 20." I tell Po, the Thai guy (gai?).

On the way to the Thai place I get several smiles and two "g' afternoons."

Lani, Po's wife, greets me with, "Miss Twiwian, what you do to you hair? I didden not know you at fiwst! I wike! I wike!"

Po appears with my food. He's smiling. He sets down the food, crosses his arms over his chest and says, "Vewy, vewy nice. Men be vewy happy wif fis."

Again, I'm a little nervous. I know Po and Lani well enough to know they are not in any way seedy, but the way Po is eyeing me and the way he said "men will be happy with this" made me more than a little uncomfortable. Especially in front of Lani. This is one of the guys who delivered my food when I was bed/couch bound or on crutches. He's been in my apartment. He's seen Furry Creature. He's seen my bedroom. (weird apartment layout, unavoidable) Our conversations have always been very pleasant but very professional - not one hint of "heh heh heh." But that comment had an unspoken "heh heh heh" that made me uncomfortable. You know that feeling when you know a compliment is more than what it seems? That was the feeling. I paid and got the heck out of there.

I might not be able to handle this new hair. I avoided all eye contact and criss crossed the streets to avoid people, got home, bolted the door and spent the next 1/2 hour in the bathroom looking at my hair.

Is it really that different? It's not extreme. It's different, but it's not extreme. It's definitely still brunette. With blonde highlights. But I'm clearly still a brunette.

I have a brunette personality. What was I thinking?! Blonde? I don't have a blonde personality! Calm down. Adapt. This is all new, you'll get used to it, I tell myself. And maybe all this niceness and approachability has nothing to do with my hair at all.

Work. Work will be the true test. I wore a hat into work and didn't take it off until I got into my office.

Swut. It just occurred to me. People might night I'm trying to make a feeble attempt to compete with Boob Job.

I thought I thought this through. I thought I was prepared. I thought I was ready. Clearly, I am not.

I'm a mysterious, sultry, sometimes broody brunette. That's who I am. I am not a perky, outgoing, "pick me, pick me!" blonde.

What have I done?

9:15 AM

Sunday, December 14, 2003  
It's December 14. You've got 11 days. Shop! Shop like you've never shopped! You can go to The Mall (ugh) and buy the same old stuff. Or, you can exercise your online capabilities. In my continuing effort to provide retail therapy to the Universe, here are my online suggestions.

Red Tango I said it once before but...just go, okay?

Wildlife Works This is a fantastic place. You, yes little ol' you, can help a wildlife refuge in Africa, save baby Canadian seals, and help a captive elephant retire to a natural, happier place. "How," you ask? Do your holiday shopping at Wildlife Works Really fantastic t-shirts, great artwork, gift certificates...and the knowledge that your gift was received not just by the recipient of the goods, but by animals around the world. This is one of the truly good charitable organizations, making real, sincere, verifiable efforts to change animal atrocities. Regular shipping cut-off date for Christmas delivery is December 16. (They offer FedEx for all you last minute shoppers.) The shirts are great, I guarantee you will want pick something up for yourself, as well.

Speaking of donations, a donation to a person's favorite charity, in their name, is a great way to say Happy Holidays AND give that warm, fuzzy glow in their heart and yours. A few suggestions to get you started?
Red Cross
American Cancer Society
American Hospice
RSPCA, Furry Creature's favorite: Alley Cat Allies

Art makes a great gift. Can't afford to bid on that Van Gogh? Intimidated (or annoyed) by galleries? Lots of artists sell online. The great thing about this is you can discover a lot of artists you might not see in galleries or in your town. The even greater thing about the internet is that it gives all artists a chance to show their work. I could blog for the next month on artists, it's very difficult to choose just a few. To winnow down my choices for these purposes is impossible, so I've chosen a few of my favorites, artists I would give to friends and family with reckless abandon. Their appeal is broad and speaks to almost everyone on some level. First: Shag (Josh Agle - get it? (jo)Sh ag (le)) Shag's prices have soared over the past few years. But this site offers lots of affordable goodies, from t-shirts, to stickers, to checkbook covers, and oh, yeah, lithoprints and posters. Shag is a very prolific illustrator. I promise everyone will find at least one piece that appeals to them. I dare you to not buy something for yourself, too.
Kii Arens Fresh. Very, very fresh. Hot. Believe me now, thank me later. Still young and affordable. "Kooky" as some of the art may first appear, there is an undeniable appeal. Plus the site is loads of fun.
Tim Biskup Tim's appeal may be slightly more focused. But, then again, it's not offensive...AND, he's offering a holiday special! (don't you just love holiday specials?) Order $100 or more and Tim will throw in: 5 signed/numbered seriographs, a mini-sketchbook and random goodies (oooh, surprises just for you!) While you're visiting Tim, check out the Seonna Hong links.

Not the artsy fartsy type? Saunter over to my online mecca, Barnes and Noble Books and cds and movies are always a great gift. Always. Barnes and Noble's prices are great and the shipping is incredibly reliable.

"Yeah, those are all great ideas, and I've crossed a lot of people off my list, thanks, but Trillian," you say, "I've got this one person who is impossible to shop for - has everything, doesn't need anything...what can I get them?" Relax. I've got a solution. Lunar Embassy is selling real estate on the Moon (ours) and Mars. This isn't a joke. The deeds are real. And what with all the recent moon mission talk, this is a timely gift. An archive of the deed registry is going to be on that 2004 trip to the Moon. Best of all? You can wait until December 24 to make your purchase. Lunar Embassy is offering a downloadable deed at time of purchase.

Okay, that should get you started. Happy holiday shopping.

7:59 AM

This page is powered by Blogger.