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:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/hitchhikers/guide/.

Otherwise, hello, and welcome.
Mail Trillian here<





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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
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or Search by State

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Contact The Media
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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.)

Quasar
Hyperbole
Amenable
Taciturn
Ennui
Prophetic
Tawdry
Hubris
Ethereal
Syzygy
Umbrageous
Twerp
Sluice
Omnipotent
Sanctuary
Malevolent
Maelstrom
Luddite
Subterfuge
Akimbo
Hoosegow
Dodecahedron
Visceral
Soupçon
Truculent
Vitriol
Mercurial
Kerfuffle
Sangfroid




























 







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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

Slanglish

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?!)

CellStories

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.

Shag

Kii Arens

Tim Biskup

Jeff Soto

Jotto




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.


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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
Single/Zero

 
Friday, November 11, 2005  
Like photos? Like to be inspired? Like to write?

Then do this.

1:58 PM

Wednesday, November 09, 2005  
I like looking at a naked man as much as the next hetero woman. Maybe even more than some women. But. I'm not keen on seeing a guy I'm potentially going to date naked before we even meet in person.
hint of the week
Guys, here’s some advice from me to you. Free of charge. Just because you want us girls to post topless photos of ourselves online doesn't mean we want the same from you.

Let's say you’re a guy who spends a lot of time at the gym and you look like one of those old Mr. Atlas ads. Hey, whatever dude, you might want to cultivate a hobby other than the gym. Maybe something a little less self involved...little less brawn, little more brain...anyway, you've got a muscled body. You spend a lot of time working out and you want to show off the results. A lot. To all the world and every woman on online dating sites.

That’s cool. I guess. There are probably girls who will find the photos of your naked physique hot. They might want to meet you. But don’t count on them liking you for what’s inside. But then, maybe that’s not an issue for you. Or them. Paris Hilton’s available again...

But let’s say it is an issue for you. You want a woman who is "thoughtful, caring, intelligent and romantic" Maybe someone like that girl who’s temping down in accounting.

You really need to think about what you want in a relationship and what sort of woman you are hoping to meet. Think about the sort of girl you're hoping to meet. Got a good idea of the sort of person she is? Maybe a mental image or two? Great! Now tailor your profile to show off your qualities which will be interesting to that sort of girl looking for that kind of relationship. I’m not saying lie about yourself. I’m saying highlight your personality qualities and interests which will be of interest to the sort of woman you’ve decided you want to meet.

Posting a half (or near full) naked photo of your muscled body will attract Paris Hilton types who will find your naked muscled body hot. They will seek you out for some gettin’ freaky with Jello-O shots in the hot tub action. And if that’s what you’re hoping to achieve, great. Good luck with that.

But. If you want someone who is "thoughtful, caring, intelligent and romantic" you might want to reconsider your photo options. And you might want to highlight some of your interests outside of the gym. If you don’t have any interests outside of the gym now is the time to spend some time developing something other than your body. Perhaps you could spin this in your profile. “I’m currently exploring some of my interests like geode polishing and touring the Amish country. I’d like to meet someone to share in new experiences and interests” might pique the interest of a "thoughtful, caring, intelligent and romantic" woman who also has interests and hobbies. A photo of your naked body will pique her interest but it won’t be your mind or interest in the Amish country she finds interesting.

And here’s my issue. You’re a buff, muscle bound, gym four hours a day every day kind of guy. Nowhere on your profile do you hint at anything about yourself other than the gym, fitness and your body. You have one (or usually several) half or nearly full naked photos of yourself posted. You’re proud of your body and your muscles. You spend a lot of time with yourself and your muscles. And you want to portray this on your profile. Fine. Cool. Whatever, dude, good luck.

But why the swut are you writing someone like me? Does excessive sweating and weight lifting kill brain cells? Can you actually read? I spell it out for you in my profile. I say I have a demanding job, intellectual hobbies, and I volunteer. Nowhere in there does it say anything about me having the time or interest in spending four hours a day at the gym. Nowhere in there does it say I value buffing up my body more than anything else. Nowhere in there does it say I'm looking for a guy who spends every spare moment in the gym or in the pursuit of his idea of a perfect body. No indication whatsoever that I'm interested in you or seeing your half naked body in my face when I innocently open your profile. Unless you are in fact a personal trainer, and even then...not only is it intimidating, it's weird that you think posting a photo of your half naked body is impressive and a good way to meet women who want something from you other than gettin’ freaky in the hot tub with Jell-O shots.

I'll leave you with this thought: If the best (or only) thing you can say about yourself is that you have an awesome body, you might want to look up the definitions of narcissism, vanity, arrogance, pride and conceit. Going to the gym, working out, trying to be healthy is one thing. Making your body your only source of entertainment and interest is another completely.

Now. Before all you jocks or "naturally buff" guys start saying I'm fitness bashing, get off your bruised ego and realize I'm not anti fitness and health. If you go to the gym a few times a week or play sports or have a physical job, you know darned well I'm not talking about you. And I'm also hoping you have enough of a life outside of the gym to realize posting a half naked photo of yourself is not the way to make a good first impression on that potential "thoughtful, caring, intelligent, romantic" woman you claim to be hoping to meet online.

On the other hand, let's say you're not really the Mr. Atlas type. Let's say you're just, you know, "regular." "Regular" is good. I like "regular." Most women do. "Regular" can be very sexy. Non threatening. Unnarcissistic. (Those are good qualities, by the way.) So why spoil it, why make us think you're egotistical and weird by posting a photo of your half naked self online? Perhaps even worse than the Mr. Atlas types, you've got seemingly no particular reason for showing off that shag carpet you call a chest.

It's not that most of us prefer the Mr. Atlas types, it's that we prefer a man who has more than an ounce decorum and self awareness. Guys, this is first impression time. Whether you're buff, cut and waxed or dull, soft and hirsute, this is not the time or place to reveal that aspect of yourself. If that's the best presentation of yourself you can think of to give to potential dates, you might want re-think your strategy.

Are you honestly trying to find that special someone or are you hoping to get noticed by a producer of low budget porn?

Because that's just it, guys. These half naked snapshots (or worse, ye gads, the "professional" glamour shots of naked men flexing...ewwwwwww on a hetero dating site? ick) rarely give the impression that you're a confident guy comfortable in his skin. They almost always have a very, very seedy quality to them. They almost always make men appear to either be auditioning for porn or looking at it. (You know what I mean, I’m not going into details, but more often than not these guys also sport “something” obviously going on “down there.” Did you hear me say ewwwwwwww? This is not erotic. This makes most of us think, “Why is he sitting around half naked in a state of arousal, and worse, why did he take a photo of himself like this, and worse, who took the photo?)

And then there are the really special cases. Guys, take note. You or someone you know is probably one of these guys. I say this with a high degree of certainty because I see a lot of this type of photograph. I’m especially talking about the guys who post a photo of themselves, half (or maybe more) naked sitting in front of their computers, the phosphorus green/blue glow of the monitor illuminating their chest hair. EWWWWWWWWWWWWW. You know what this says to me and most other women? "Hi, I'm a perv. I spend a lot of time online. Alone. Naked. In a dark room. And I take photos." See where I'm going with this? Do I need to connect the dots for you? Bad imagery all the way around. Bad, bad, bad connotations. Especially when combined with the weird grins most of these guys have on their faces. Double EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW.

It occurred to me maybe some of you don't realize the bad connotations these photos emit. Maybe you think, "I wish women would post photos of their boobs. Why don't more women post half naked photos of themselves in their profiles? Don't they know us guys like boobs? Maybe if I do it, set an example, and then email thousands of women, a few of them will get the hint and follow my half naked lead. Men around the world will hail me as a hero and I'll get to see more boobs! It's all good!"

Dude. They make internet porn for this very reason. Go sit in a dark room naked in front of your computer and leave the dating to the other guys.

This is about dating. Not about seeing boobs before you even meet a woman.

And that's my whole point. Regardless of the state of your physique, save something for later. I personally like to know a bit about a guy before I want anything to do with his body. Call me a prude. Call me weird. Call me whatever you want. But. Also call me speaking for a lot of women in this respect. We do not have the same sort of fixation on your chests as you do with ours. We just don't. Yes, we like looking at men. A lot. But when it comes to men we date we want to know they have a sense of decorum. We want to know they respect us and themselves. We don't want our sisters, best friends or coworkers stumbling across our date's half naked photo posted online. Get it? It's embarrassing. It's weird. It's so unnecessary.

And I promise you this: Just because you show me yours does not mean I'll feel obligated or compelled to show you mine.

And you just know that this is all leading up to this week's
creep week
I took a break. Left the email alone for a few days. I didn't want to see or think about anything even remotely date related. I was in a sort of licking of wounds state and not in a "hey! Let's meet dozens of new guys who are online right now and waiting to chat with me!" mood.

When I finally opened the mail box, oh man. Oh man alive. I didn't even send any winks or smiles or emails. And yet. My box was brimming with them. That new dating site is full of very, very eager men. Too eager.

Way, way, way too eager.

So eager they obviously didn't read my profile. I waded through hundreds, yes, really, hundreds, of men who were at least 10 years older than my stated desired age range. Most of them 15 years or more. Many more. I swear I'm going to sue the makers of Viagra, Cialis and Levitra. Guys, men, seriously. Leave. Us. Alone. Pick on someone your own age. There are senior dating sites. Use one of those. I thought maybe I innocently stumbled onto one of those "for active mature daters" sites. I even checked to be sure I wasn't misled about the clientele on the site. Nope. It's geared for all ages over 18, nothing about senior dating listed in their “about us” section. And when I search for men in my age range there are plenty there. Yet who contacts me? Men getting ready to retire all hopped up high on Cialis. Can't blame a guy for trying, you say? Bah. This didn't happen before ED drugs were available. Damn you Bob Dole.

Right. So. A bunch of "mature" men.

And this guy.

I read his email twice before checking out his profile. He seemed, you know, sort of okay in his email. He wrote that he likes music and going to concerts and outdoor activities and travel. Hey cool! Me, too! In fact in the last week I’ve listened to music, gone to a concert and traveled to go hiking in the woods! Wow! It’s fate!!! Oh sure, the part about his liking to fish concerned me, especially because I specifically say: No hunters or fisherman, please. But he said he liked my sense of humor and that I look friendly. Okay. See? Now we're getting somewhere. No cliché "I like your smile and eyes." He was able to identify an actual adjective for his perception of my looks. I was sitting there thinking, "Okay, that's it, I'm marrying this guy. As long as he doesn't bring dead fish into the house or insist on telling me about his killing sprees otherwise known as fishing trips I can deal with it. Great. Fine. Job done. Let's check out his profile and email him.

And then I saw "it."

"It" is the photo he chose to use as his profile photo. The image of himself he chose to present to the world and potential dates.

I'm not going to humiliate the guy (or any other guy) by posting his photo for you to see. I'm not trying to humiliate these guys. I'm not on a personal vendetta or rampage against them personally. Well. I mean. Not really. Yes I'm picking them apart in a public forum but I'm leaving out specific details which could in any way narrow down the suspects to him. I’m hoping they, and others like them, will learn from this.

His photo. Oh, where to begin.

There’s no good way to tactfully discuss this. Best to just have out with it.

In his main profile photo he’s: Naked. Not exactly buff. Very hairy. Standing in front of what appears to be one of those metal storage sheds where most people keep their lawn mowers.

With what I calculate to be a 15 foot python snake draped around his neck with him holding the head of the snake in front of his penis.

With me here? The effect I believe he was going for was to imply things like, well, snakes, hands, force and jerking off. Oh. He's also wearing a wide grin. And appears to have some sort of gum disease.

Once I got past the initial "ick" and "please let this be a bad joke" phases I noticed the wood burned cypress sign on the metal shed. You know the kind of signs the retired guys at craft fairs at the mall will make for you, all lacquered and personalized? The kind people have on their cabins and motor homes usually proclaiming "The Andersons" or "Cabin Sweet Cabin?" Well, his said "**'s Snake Shack"

Still clinging to the hope that this was a bad joke, a very bad joke, I read his profile. Yep. There it is:

Pets
Have: Exotic, Reptiles, Other.
Likes: Exotic, Reptiles, Other.

Wavy screen segueing into vision of the future: The sweet little face of Furry Creature caught in the jaws of that python, his eyes scared and confused, imploring, inferring, why, Trillian, why? I know you were lonely, I did my best to keep you company, really I did. I tried to be a good feline companion. You didn't have to let it come to this...I would have gone back to the shelter...why did you let him feed me to the snake? And naked hairy chest guy standing there grinning.

No. Just. No.

And then I checked out the rest of his profile. Not much there. Not much on details, this guy. However, apparently he feels photos are worth thousands of words. Because he has the maximum amount of photos allowed posted. All featuring his Snake Shack, snakes, fish and him naked or half naked with snakes or dead fish. Apparently he's big on scaly things. Apparently he likes the way scaly things feel against his naked flesh. (that sentence is going to be a hit with Google) Apparently he likes spandex, too. Several of the photos feature him wearing nothing but python and flame decorated spandex, um, "leggings." Yes. As in hair band spandex, erm, those things.

Okay. You know, great for him. He knows what he likes, he's comfortable in his skin and that's all really cool. He's got interests and spends a lot of time pursuing them. Take your passion, make it happen. Great. But maybe not exactly a great match for me.

And after seeing his photos, I found his comment about me looking "friendly" a bit odd. Here's a guy who obviously spends most of his time hanging out with menacing snakes and killing fish. Either he needs a break from all that scary business and found me to be a friendly, non threatening, non carnivorous oasis in his otherwise snake eat man eat fish world or he's thinking I'd be easy prey for the python.

Or, maybe, I've got him all wrong. Maybe he's just new to online dating, got a bit over enthused and carried away with the photos, couldn't decide which ones were best, and well, yeah. Maybe I've got him all wrong. He did write an okay email. He is my age. And once you get past what appears to be gum disease he has a big grin in every photo. He seems happy. Dating a happy scaly creature loving guy with gum disease would be a change for me. Maybe I should give, him, us, a chance. I am trying not to be quick or harsh to judge. I’m trying really hard to meet different sorts of men. Well, he’s different all right. But maybe he’s a really nice guy. Maybe he’s got a good sense of humor. Heck, he grins a lot. Maybe I shouldn’t look the gift horse, or in this case, snake, in the mouth. He thinks I look friendly. That must be important to him. Maybe he doesn’t care that I’m ugly, he just wants someone who looks friendly. I mean, hey, there are worse things than being with a guy who thinks you look friendly, right? I spent a lot of years with a man who thinks I look ugly and that ended badly for everyone. So maybe me and The Snake are onto something good here.

If the naked photos, snake and fishing things are all that’s keeping me from considering meeting this guy, am I being too picky?

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1:16 PM

Tuesday, November 08, 2005  
Another one bites the dust.

Someone else quit their job in the office.

Someone else found a much better place to work at a much higher salary. Someone else found someone who wanted to hire them and give them more money. Someone else is moving forward in their life.

And here I am with my life stuck in the past.

This isn’t even worth mentioning it happens so often in my office now.

But here’s why I’m mentioning it.

And potential “proof” the Universe is mocking me. Just in case you're playing along at home and want to keep score.

So, this person at work quit. Okay. Whatever. Yay for you. Congrats. Have a nice life.

There will be ramifications which will directly impact me. Every time someone quits the vacant position is “restructured.” Read: Higher level and difficult components farmed out to existing staff with the menial and mundane aspects left for a downgraded position so they can hire a lesser skilled, lesser paid person to fill the vacancy. Which isn’t actually a vacancy, it’s now an entirely new position. I was told late in the day that I will be handling one of the more dicey functions of the quitter’s job. Because apparently I’m “good with people and all that.” And all that. What the swut?! I’m “good with people and ‘all that?’”

But wait. That’s just everyday stupid talk from my boss. She’s perfected the art of talking in vagaries. The part I really loved most of all was her closing selling point to me about the new tasks being thrown my way.

This is in the running for the quote of the year from my boss: “People who don’t work here seem to like you.”

Uh. Yeah. Thanks, boss. Don’t forget that at review time!

I’d like to think she’s just so bad at speaking that she doesn’t realize what she’s saying. I’d like to think she didn’t mean it the way it sounds. I’d like to think this was not a loaded statement with a lot of lunchroom gossip behind it. I’d like to think all of that. I can probably convince myself that she’s so bad at speaking she doesn’t realize what she’s saying. But the rest of it? Not an easy sell.

I know it’s true. I try, I really, really try to be a good team player and get along in the office. I’m not rude or mean to people. (really, seriously, I’m not. I save the contempt, loathing, disdain and hatred for the blog. Sheesh.) In fact, I think I’m pretty darned nice to people in the office. Sometimes even friendly to people at work. Even people who aren’t nice to me. Of course being nice to people does not mean they will like you. I understand that.

And really, I don’t care if people at work like me or not. As long as we don’t have any “incidents” and work gets done and there’s no childish behavior, I’m fine with not being liked in the office. I’m too swutting busy to care about popularity in the coffee room. And that’s probably the problem. I don’t care about the inbreeding, I mean infighting and pettiness and socialization which seems to fuel everyone in the office except me.

The bigger reality is that I spend far more of my time dealing with people who don’t work for my company. Clients, vendors, sales reps, production people...the majority of my work related conversations and email happen with people who do not work for my company. I have a good rapport with all of them. Heck, I even honestly like most of them. And they “seem to like me.”

Right. So. My boss gives me her patented brand of backhanded compliment and informs me I’ll be responsible for more work which has absolutely nothing to do with my actual job. I make no remark about the backhanded compliment, completely ignore it, and in my best nonsnarky tone ask: “You know, boss, I don’t mind helping out. I think it’s fair to say I’ve pitched in above and beyond the call of duty and have done so with a pretty good attitude, all things considered. I rarely complain about my workload or the fact that I’m the one who picks up the slack for everyone who quits or is unable to do their job. I don’t mind, really, you know, in the big picture, but, at this rate I’m going to be doing every job in the department.

With no benefit for me. Like a pay increase. Or even time off work. As it stands I have difficulty taking time off work because I’m too busy doing my job and the jobs of several people who have quit or are not capable of doing their jobs. I really am fine helping out where I can, but at some point there has to be some benefit for me.”

I know. Way to assert yourself, Trillian! Don’t let yourself get used and abused! Stand up for yourself! Stop the insanity!

My boss was also nonplussed. She simply looked back at me and said, “You’re good with people outside the company. You seem to enjoy people outside the company. I don’t have time for this and you’re better at it anyway. This is more suited to your skills. Do you expect me to do all of this work? You’re the one who’s been here longer. And you know the pay increases are low again this year. You were at that meeting. You know there’s nothing I can do about your salary. If you want more money you’re going to have find a job somewhere else.”

I’m not kidding. She gave me the “if you don’t like it, leave” line. After effectively admitting she’s incompetent and needs me to cover for her and everyone else in the department.And what the swut is with the “enjoy” thing? I’m doing my swutting job! Of course I’m courteous and respectful and, you know, nice to clients and vendors. The overriding message I got from this conversation was: Trill, no one likes you here. I don’t have any legitimate reason to fire you, so I keep dumping more work on you and not giving you more money. And yet you won’t leave. Which is okay because I can’t do any of this work because I have no actual skills. If you don’t like it, leave. You should have fun out there with the people you enjoy outside the company. Go on, run along, go enjoy other people.”

I just got up and left, gave her my “Have a nice day” line and left. After all, I had new job responsibilities to handle.

Okay, right, so, just another day in the life. Living the dream and all that.

I got home, late, and what to my wondering eyes should appear in my mail box? A message from the Universe. A kick in the ass and then a kick in the face. That highly anticipated notice from a company where I had an interview a few weeks ago.

No big happy “ha! Take that, boss, I quit in my future.

More of a, “We regret to inform you we will not require your services for the role you applied for at our company. We will keep your information on file for six months. Should a position requiring your skills become available in that time we will contact you. Thank you for your interest in Swut You Co.”

I know this line by heart. I’ve heard every rejection schtick ever written or spoken. It’s not me/us, it’s you. You’re not good enough. You’ve got a nice personality/good skills but I’m/we’re just not attracted/interested in you that way. There’s someone better than you.You suck.

Jobs, men, life. In the realm of rejection it’s all the same.

It’s a way of life for me. The irony of the timing just adds to the schadenfreudenism of the whole thing. It’s all part of the big joke the Universe plays with me and my life.

Paranoid?

Nah. Just my life. Whatever.

Still. Sometimes I wonder.

I’m not perfect, way, way, way far from it. But. I’m not a bad person. I’ve never hurt anyone. I am sensitive to other peoples’ feelings and needs. I work hard. I try to learn as much as I can. I play by the rules. I don’t want much from life and expect nothing. I’m you know, a good person.

And yet, still, this constant mockery and abuse from the Universe.

I don’t even swutting like irony. It’s an overrated and overused plot method. I get it, okay? I get it. I get irony! Enough already! It doesn’t need to be my middle name. Can we change my middle name to success, now? Please?

Angry? No. I’m not. Maybe it sounds that way. But I’m not. It’s just life. There’s no point in getting angry. What would it solve? Nothing as far as I can figure.

And this is where the true beauty of the no expectation/void of emotion state really shows itself.

I could be very upset about my boss’ words and attitude. Other people would be angry or hurt or maybe even scared. Other people would be upset about having more work dumped on them. Other people would be upset, angry, self pitying at not only another rejection letter but the timing of it. It would push them over the edge of reason.

Not me.

It’s not that I don’t care. I do. I care a lot. But I feel nothing because I have no expectations, good or bad. I see the irony. I’m really bored and sick of the irony that is my life. Yes. That’s fair to say. But. I’m not angry about it or hurt or resentful. I refused to expect it, because I refuse to have any expectations whatsoever. So I accept it. I have no choice. There it is. Done deal.

I need to keep my job because I need my measly paycheck to pay my rent and feed my cat. So I will continue to “enjoy people outside my company” and keep trying to find another job. Until then I have no choice but to accept my current employment situation and the people with whom I work.

See how enlightened that sounds? Yeah. I’m a swutting saint. Not. Just trying to cope with yet another very bad situation in a very bad life. So I suppose, sort of, it is a form of success. I found a way to deal with a really bad situation and life without killing myself. Success.

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12:17 PM

Monday, November 07, 2005  
I took a day off work last week. And I didn’t do anything family, health or work related. I just up and took a vacation day. Just like that. A day off work.

It felt good. I forgot what a vacation day feels like. The past year, well, two years, really, have been entirely consumed with work, family and health related issues. Every day I’ve taken off has been consumed with traveling to my family, dealing with a family crisis or issue of some sort or as a personal day for my own health issues. Where’d I go on vacation last year? My mum’s hospital, my parents’ house, my sister’s house...or various doctors’ offices affiliated with my mother or my own health issues. Not exactly vacations. I stayed home a couple of days because I was really sick, smack down in bed sick. Definitely not a vacation.

I was off on my company’s holiday days, but the past few years I’ve trekked to my parents’ on any holiday to “look in” on them. Not vacations.

I took a day off when I moved. Definitely not a vacation.

I took a few days off when HWNMNBS made a reappearance. But since it ended so badly those days cannot be counted as vacation. Unless soul torturing is some new kind of extreme vacation thing. I can't recommend it. But if you're a person who has everything going for them and you feel a need to feel bad, maybe this would be just the sort of vacation you need.

So I took one measly day off work to do nothing but trudge around communing with nature in the North woods. It felt good.

But I’m worried.

Maybe it’s because I only took one day off work. Maybe I needed more time. Maybe I shouldn’t have taken a day off when a lot is going on at work. Maybe I need to really go somewhere far, far away from home.

I didn’t relax. I couldn’t relax. I didn’t call the office. If I’d had a mobile signal I would have considered it. I might not have actually done it, but I would have considered it. My hotel was wi-fi, though, so a day into my long weekend I checked my work email. I mean, I said I would if I could so I had to, right? I said I would. And it was just a quick check because I have a project on press. If I weren’t in the middle of a lot of work it would have been different. I think.

Or maybe I am uptight.

The problem I face is that with our reduced staff I’m always in the middle of a lot of work. I always have a project either going to press, on press or shipping. And stuff going on with clients. And events either in the marketing, planning or live stage. And meetings. Always meetings. And the hundreds of unforeseen, unplannable questions or problems which are thrown across my desk or phone every week because apparently no one else knows what to do or how to answer the question or handle the problem, even (and especially) the ones which have nothing to do with me or my actual job function.

This isn’t “oh poor me.” I realize this is becoming business as usual for most people. Most of us are asked to do a lot more, some with a pay increase, but most of us are just asked (read: expected) to “help out” during a personnel or budget cutback with no monetary or personal reward. Most of us are team players enough (read: worried about losing our jobs, even jobs we hate) to “help out” where we are asked. Even if it’s not even remotely related to our job function.

The “it’s not my job” answer simply does not hold up in most companies. I suppose some union jobs allow or even require a person to respond with “it’s not my job” with the implied ramification of “...and I really can’t do it because I’ll get a grievance filed against me.” But I think, based on a few conversations with some union tradespeople, that even some unions are realizing and subsequently encouraging their members to “go the extra mile” because, well, times are hard. Don’t like it? Go work at Wal-Mart.

Right. This is all about me. I took a day off work and didn’t really enjoy it.

I mean, I did enjoy it. I went hiking and saw wildlife and ate weird food (please don’t tell me what a cheese curd actually is or how it’s produced) and generally didn’t talk to anyone for a few days. Which felt good. And bad.

And that surprised me.

My family situation is difficult right now. I realize I’m in a unique life phase. My mother’s health is fragile and my father is, well, not really very good at handling emergencies regarding my mother.

I’m not saying they’re incapable of taking care of themselves. They generally take pretty good care of themselves considering my mother’s condition. Swut. I hate thinking about my mother in terms of a "condition." It’s so unfair and wrong. But. There it is. It’s not going away. And my father is in a form of denial about it. And consequently my mother relies on me to help her in an emergency. Yes. Me. Who lives five hours by car away from them. So this sort of weird role reversal has happened. I ring to check on them, a lot, to be sure everything’s okay. I spend a lot of weekends and all my holidays with them so I can help with doctor appointments and things around the house.

I don’t resent this. I’m not saying “oh poor me” or “oooh, look at what a good kid I am” or “no one else is doing it so I have to help them.” None of that. I do what I do because I want to do it. I wish I could do more for them.

But here’s the thing.

I have an increasingly stressful, demanding job which I hate. The little time off I have is really necessary to try to rest and “get away” from work for a few hours or a few days. But. My personal life is also increasingly stressful and demanding. When I "get away" from work, physically at least, I'm smack in the middle of a personal life which is, well, not so great to say the least.

One of the big issues is that it’s just me. There’s just me. I have no one to relax with and no one to help with my personal life demands.

My friend’s father is very ill. She’s doing a lot of spur of the moment traveling to help out at home, much like I do. We help each other however we can - mainly talk to each other, listen, moral support kind of stuff. She’s managing her situation a lot better than I’m managing mine. (at least it seems that way to me)

She and I have learned to live “on alert” for an emergency which is always eminent. We both got over that shock and stress early into our parental situations. That’s not even particularly stressful anymore, which is a whole other bag of issues I won’t get into. But for now we’re both “okay” living on the edge of an emergency, ready to spring into action at the ring of the phone. We’re both able to laugh at some of the weirdness our parents inflict upon themselves and us. (How is it possible a man can strip and rebuild a transmission on a car in an afternoon yet not be able to figure out how to use the washing machine?) We’re both accepting our parent’s physical afflictions and subsequent issues. We're dealing with the reality of our once strong, healthy and able parents now thrust into dependent and frequently uncomfortable daily lives as well (or better than) most kids do. Certainly better than our siblings. And we’re both able to make excuses for our siblings who are not “helping out” while venting to each other about their lack of concern and care for our parents.

But here’s the difference. She’s been under the same (and worse) stress over her father as I’ve been with my mother. And yet she’s not really feeling like it’s starting to take a toll on her. She, in fact, looks and feels great. I look and feel exhausted. Lately I wonder if it’s starting to take too much of a toll on me.

Is my friend just made of stronger, better stuff than I?

No. In fact my friend’s kind of a wuss.

It finally dawned on me what the big difference is between us. Well, I mean, it didn’t just dawn on me, but the ramifications of this difference are becoming obvious.

She’s married to a really great guy. He’s supportive and caring and always does The Right Thing. He keeps everything running smoothly at home while she’s off on a trip to her parents. And when she returns home he always has everything not only under control, but in great shape and has a “treat” lined up for her. Trips to the spa for a relaxation days. A horseback riding outing. A knitting class. All sorts of treats to help her relax and take her mind off things for a few hours. And in between all of this, he plans their vacations. Ski holidays. Tropical island vacations. All designed to help take her mind off things and “get away from it all.”’

Oh sure, I don’t need a man to book a spa day or go horseback riding or take a knitting class. I don’t need a man to go on vacation.

But. His help keeping things going at home would be helpful. His keeping normal life on track would be helpful. His income would be really helpful.

I don’t have time or money to give myself the treats and luxuries my friend’s husband gives her.

Jealous? You bet I am.

Lately she’s been harping on me to take a vacation. “Trill, you really need a real vacation. No work. No parents. No family. Nothing. You need to go far away from your life and relax. St. Croix did wonders for me, maybe you should think about going there. Even if it’s just a few days, Trill, just get away and unwind. You used to love to travel. Just get out there and get away and be you again. You've had nothing but sadness and stress for the past few years. Your mother will be fine for a week, Trill, just get away and relax.”

Good advice, right? Yes, of course it is. But. One small detail. Two, actually.

Money and time off work. I don’t have much of either.

So I spent the one vacation day I could spare hiking in a woods and staying at a Thrifty Miser Cheap Skate Inn for two nights. I didn’t have to pay extra for constant noise from the television in the room next door, and there was a pay phone by the ice machine. I packed my own food and spent almost no money on the “trip.”

Relaxing? Well. Sort of, I mean, nature’s nice and the fresh air was good for me. I saw some deer who had so far escaped hunting season alive and majestic. I saw a white squirrel. And some really cute rabbits. And a lady bug. That was all cool and relaxing.

But the few days I was gone I couldn’t completely forget about my real life. Work. My mother. Money.

There was an outlet mall on my way home. I thought, “Hey, I could stop and do a little shopping...” and then I came to my senses. I can’t afford to shop - not even at an outlet mall. I don’t need to shop - I go to work and go home because I can’t afford to go out - I don’t need anything except work stuff. I could spend the time wandering around, but that’s time I could spend doing laundry, cleaning the bathroom, or, decadently soaking up the last few hours of my long weekend, my vacation, at home with my cat.

See where I’m going with this? There’s no escape from real life when your real life is fraught with financial worries, family worries and work worries.

Uptight, much Trill? You’re thinking. Maybe. But. It’s just me running this life. I don’t have a partner or even a wing man to help me with the stuff of life. It’s me. That’s it. Time and money matters a lot because I don’t have much of either.

Stress has become such a part of my life that I don’t even notice it anymore. I scoff at stress. When yet another “crisis” hits at work and most of the other people are stressing over it, I am nonplussed. I frequently don’t know what all the fuss is about. I think, “Stress? What stress? This isn’t a crisis, this is just a normal situation...in fact, I might actually get out of here by 7:00 tonight and have an hour to find and purchase those birthday gifts and cards I need to send this week...and I might be able to squeeze in 45 minutes for lunch at the end of the week to go to the post office to mail them. Stress? What stress? This is a relaxed week! ”

Someone in my office recently went out on sick leave. Or more appropriately, a mental health leave. This person was apparently having “stress related fatigue and associated ailments” and is going on short term disability leave. This person wisely discovered their “stress related fatigue and associated ailments” before the end of the year and the discontinuation of our short term disability leave. They’re taking the rest of the year off to rest and recover from stress at work. The amount of days covered on their insurance is exactly the amount of days left in the year.

Coincidence? I think not. This person is working the system. Maybe they really are stressed and tired. Though I can’t imagine how a person who habitually shows up an hour late for work, takes a two hour lunch and leaves before 5 every day can be stressed and tired from work. But hey, I suppose looking at web pages checking for bad or out of date links can be a stressful job. So stressful and fatigue inducing that they need not only several weeks of bed rest but a vacation, too. Doctor’s orders.

This person is very popular at work. Everyone likes them. Everyone is concerned and worried about them. There are cards and a donation envelope we’re all supposed to sign and contribute to for their time off. Apparently the donation will go toward a gift card so they can go shopping for their vacation. Because they’re out on sick leave because of stress.

Maybe I am uptight and unthoughtful and callous. But. Huh? I mean, they’re out on sick leave. They’re being paid to stay home because they’re tired from all the “stress” from the job they barely do on a good day. And we're taking up a collection so they can go shopping for their vacation? They've gone off work leaving us here to cover for them, to do their "stressful" job while they take a vacation because of work related stress fatigue, and we're taking up a collection for them to go shopping? Am I not understanding something? Should we be just a little, oh, I don't know, resentful or angry that they've skipped off work for two months to sleep and go on vacation? (So long, suckers, strongly implied.)

It’s not that I don’t understand. Swut knows I understand being tired and stressed and stressed because I’m tired and tired because I’m stressed. A good night will give me five hours of fitful sleep. I really do understand. But leaving work for two months isn’t going to solve my problems. Unless the doctor can write a prescription to the airlines and hotels which will cover a vacation, and a prescription to pay my rent and buy groceries and put a little aside for retirement, time off work isn’t going to help me. But my coworker is taking doctor’s orders and staying away from work and going on a long vacation because of the stress at work.

They’ve worked out a way to get a lot of time off from work and a vacation at the same time. They have to go on vacation because it was prescribed to them. And it has to be done before the first of the year when our revised health plan takes effect. How convenient. How nice for them.

Jealous? No. I am not jealous. I do not aspire to work, beat or cheat “the system.”

I simply want a real vacation. And a husband.

I realized a few things on my day off from life.

a) There’s no day off from life if you are a responsible, caring person.
b) Vacations are nice, really nice, but unless you have someone with whom you can 1.) to share it, 2.) help cover the expenses, and 3.) help you prepare before and after the vacation, going on vacation is a form of stress all in its own.
c) It’s easier to not take a day off work than it is to take a day off work.
d) You will spend as much extra time in the office and making sure things are set at home prior to a day off as you will on your actual day off, thus negating actual vacation hours.

I used to love to travel. Well. In theory I still love to travel. Adventure. A whole big world to see. The lure of the open road. The curiosity of the unknown and comfort of the known former places of adventure. All that still seduces me. Now that I don’t love or want love, I spend most of my fantasy time thinking about my past travels and all the travels I’d like to make.

But with age and continued unmarried status comes harsh reality. I can’t afford to travel very often or very far. I’m luckier than a lot of people, I grew up with parents who liked to travel and traveled a lot. I’ve been fortunate enough to make a lot of travels and vacations in my adult life. Until the past few years, I would take off for parts far away and unknown at the drop of the hat or with great planning. Either way was fine and fun for me. When I had single friends sometimes we’d go together, and sometimes I’d just go off on my own. It didn’t bother me and in fact at times I preferred to be on my own. Set my own schedule, chart my own course and enjoy my vacation. HWNMNBS and I did a lot of traveling together. Heck, our entire relationship was based on the fact that we had to travel 6,000 miles just to be together. I was okay with that because I was an experienced and intrepid traveler.

Now, not so much.

Now I have a mother who is in a vulnerable health situation. I have a hugely decreased health care plan. I haven’t had a pay increase worth mentioning in six years. I had to move. All of these things eat into my personal operating time and budget. Any extra money I have will go to a) traveling to my parents and b) taking care of health expenses.

I just got a bill for my portion of some medical tests. My current health insurance pays 80% of the cost of these tests. 80%. That’s a lot, right? Well, yes, it is. But. The other 20%, my portion of the bill, is $515.67. Yes. $515.67 in out of pocket expenses for tests which indicated I needed further in-depth tests or were inconclusive. Yes. $515.67 out of my pocket for tests which told my doctor nothing other than that I needed more tests. Quite a nice little business they’ve got going there, eh? Too bad my doctor won’t just write a prescription for time off work and a vacation. But then the hospital and insurance company wouldn’t make any money off me. Someone should be getting rich from me. If I can’t reap financial rewards from my life it might as well be hospitals and insurance companies. Maybe that nice insurance company rep will get to have a nice vacation because of my CT scan.

Okay. Healthcare in America is what it is. And it’s not much. And it’s going to get worse. I understand and accept this.

But in my recent fantasy I allowed myself a little real time research.

Let’s say I had a spare $515.67 to spend on something other than shelter and cat food. How far could I go, what could I do with that money other than spend two afternoons enduring a series of health exams?

Travelocity has a last minute five day air and hotel package to three German cities for $524. Okay, sure there are taxes and my personal expenses, but still, for $524 I could get there and have a place to stay. Hmmm. Okay, how about something a little closer to home? San Francisco. $312 includes airfare and hotel for four days. Add another $50 and I’ve got a car. Totally do-able on my $515.67 (fantasy) budget. Or, let’s just say I felt like splashing out on a little luxury for my next trip to my parents. I could rent the Z4 of my dreams for $449.99 for a week. Okay. Plus tax and all the other rental care expense. Which could end up being another $449.99 in Chicago. Still. The base rental price of a Z4 for a week would be covered.

I was somewhat humbled to learn my $515.67 would not take me to New York City, Vienna or Madrid for more than a day. Or to London for more than two days. I was honestly pleased to learn that. Which is a whole other realm of the pathetic depths my life has fallen. I was actually pleased to learn I couldn’t go on certain types of vacations with the money I have to pay for out of pocket medical expenses not covered by my insurance.

The reality is, though, that I don’t have many vacation days to spare. I have to keep a few “just in case.” Just in case I have to rush to help my parents. Just in case I have to have more medical exams or go to the dentist. Just in case I get the flu. These are all real, viable instances which will undoubtedly happen and require a day or half day out of the office.

A luxury for me would be to take a day off and do all the things I normally do at night, or put off as long as possible because I can’t do it at night, or simply don’t do because I can’t do them during the week when I’m at work. Laundry. Clean the compartment. Go grocery shopping. Take the cat to the vet. Call a bunch of job recruiters. Sort out bills and re-evaluate my budget. Shop for presents. (Christmas is coming...that special time of year when stress and suicide are at their peak! Oh boy! I can't wait! And lucky me! I'm still single and get to enjoy another holiday season surrounded by happy couples and families!) See what I’m getting at here? It’s me, and me alone managing this life. I have a job which requires long hours. I don’t have a life partner. That leaves a lot of stuff undone.

My fortunate friend with her thoughtful husband doesn’t have to think about everything all the time. She has a husband she can count on to take care of the stuff of life when she has to rush away to care for her father. She has a husband she can count on to provide her with relaxing niceties and escapes when she returns home. Most of all, she has a shoulder to cry on and support to rely on 24/7/365.

That's the difference. That's why the stress of her father's illness is not taking a toll on her. That's why she's not looking and feeling tired.

But when she tells me I need a vacation and I try to explain this to her, she doesn’t really get it. She’s sympathetic, she knows I’m struggling. But. She, like all my other married friends, can’t remember what it’s like to be single. What it’s like to not have a constant, caring, thoughtful partner to rely on in good times and bad. Why should she remember? She’s normal. She found a husband and they’re going through life, the good and bad, sickness and health and all that, just like they vowed to do, and just like most other people do. Happily ever after. Why should she remember what it’s like to be single in a coupled up society? Why would she want to remember?

Right. So. Vacation. You know, my day off in the woods was, you know, nice.

And it occurred to me that even though I fantasize about vacations I can no longer afford to take, I’m not sure I’d really want to take them anymore. Maybe someday if I have money to take vacations I’ll feel differently. But now I don’t think I really want to travel on my own. It was great when I was younger, unattached, footloose, fancy free, all that. But there were times I thought, “It would be nice to share this with someone...” And about the time I started thinking that more frequently, I met HWNMNBS. And it was nice to share it with him. I had a lot of fun traveling with him. No surprise there, a trip to Target was fun with him. But now, "out here" on my own again, as much as the idea of traveling, the spirit of adventure is as strong as ever, so is the desire to share the adventure with someone significant.

Sure, I can tell you about that white squirrel and the majestic deer and the couple from Sweden who were totally lost on the hiking trail, and you might be interested or get a laugh out of it, but you weren’t there. It wasn’t a shared experience. It was, as ever, me and the weirdness that haunts my life, together again, always. And that makes me feel even more alone.

And more uptight and worried about my life. There’s nothing like a vacation on your own to make you realize how alone you really are. And the more I tried to take my mind off things, my life, the more I was consumed by thoughts about work and my life.

Uptight? Well, yes. But. Uptight because I need to be. And because I don’t have anyone to talk to back in the Thrifty Miser Cheap Skate Inn. Being alone with your thoughts is good, more people need to do more of it. But. When you live your life alone with your thoughts, you need a vacation from yourself. Otherwise you start having conversations with yourself. Stupid, uninspiring conversations. Conversations best left unhad.

“That squirrel was cute, eh?”

“Yeah, totally. I wonder if it was an albino or just white furred.”

“White furred?”

“Yeah. You know, just white furred instead of brown or gray furred.”

“Is furred a word?”

“Ummmm, huh. You know, I’m not sure. How else would you say it?”

“I don’t know. Naturally white?”

“Yes, but an albino squirrel would be naturally white, too.”

“True. Like blondes. Not all blondes are albinos, but most albinos are blonde.”

“Exactly. There has to be a way to distinguish between albino and just white fur. I’ll look it up when I get home.”

“Yeah. Me, too.”

“You are me, idiot.”

“Oh yeah. I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.”

“Oh stop that. You know I hate that song.”

“Expert textpert choking smokers, Don't you think the joker laughs at you?”

“I said stop it.”

“Elementary penguin singing Hari Krishna. Man, you should have seen them kicking Edgar Alan Poe.”

“I said stop it. I hate that stupid song. I mean seriously, how can anyone call the Beatles Gods with lyrics like ‘sitting on a cornflake, waiting for the van to come.’ Sure, I like the concept of ‘Corporation tee-shirt, stupid bloody Tuesday’ but then they leave it hanging and dumb it up with ‘Man, you been a naughty boy, you let your face grow long.’”

“Crabalocker fishwife, pornographic priestess, Boy, you been a naughty girl you let your knickers down.”

“Yes. Exactly. It’s not even poignant or ironic, it’s just a bunch of disjointed thought fragments. I can’t believe you’ve got me thinking about this again. I said stop it.”

“I am the eggman, they are the eggmen. I am the walrus, goo goo g'joob g'goo goo g'joob.”

“I said stop it! I’m telling mum.”

See? This is why it’s not good to travel alone for very long. Have you seen The Shining? Spend too much time alone with your thoughts and this is what happens. A non violent good girl’s version of Jack Torrence sits in her fleabite Cheapskate Inn room arguing with herself about the stupidity and significance of I am the Walrus.

Which is why in the end I convinced myself it’s just as well I can’t afford to take a vacation or have a doctor examine me for work related stress fatigue.

That vacation might end up at a very special place with a comfortable room. A really comfortable room. With padded walls.

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2:23 PM

 
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