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

 
Saturday, February 26, 2011  
See that drunk girl speeding down the street,
She's worried about the state of public schools. 
She likes to party, she likes to rock,
She prays that our schools don't run out of chalk.
-Tom Petty (via The Simpsons)

8:28 AM

Tuesday, February 22, 2011  
Today is February 22. George Washington's birthday. I know, I know, President's Day was yesterday. I'm going old school. Nothing against Lincoln, Abe's cool, but I decided I'm not on board with the joint birthday celebration in the guise of a government holiday.

President's Day doesn't mean much except sales on linens and appliances. Home goods. We shop for good deals on home goods. This is what we do to recognize and remember the two greatest Presidents of the US? Towels and refrigerators? I like Mt. Vernon, but if that's the connection between George Washington and sales on home goods it's a weak link.

So. I decided that it's time to take a stand.

I'm taking back George Washington's birthday.

George Washington is my favorite president. And I will no longer stand by and watch him reduced to a shared birthday with little or no remembrance other than local appliance retailers dressing up as George and making cheesy jokes about him in an attempt to lure shoppers into their stores.



I know, I know, as long as there are locally owned appliance stores there will be cheesy ads with owners/spokespeople dressing up and mocking whatever holiday/theme is current. All the Krazy Larrys of the world aren't going to stop their fun and frivolity just because I find it disrespectful.

And really, I don't want all that to end. I like local advertising. It has a quaintness, a charm, a palpable air of desperation that I find refreshing in comparison to slick, highly produced, well-acted, ultra vivid national advertising. Local advertising is real. Often real-ly bad, but usually sincere. Unlike national retailers or high-end products, locally owned retailers need to advertise. They need customers. So they'll go to whatever cheesy extreme they can imagine to lure viewers' attention to their great deals on whatever they're selling. As long as there's a guy in a turkey suit or George Washington costume selling appliances, there's still a local retailer who hasn't succumbed to Death by Walmart.

But.

I'm kind of protective of George Washington. Like I said, he's my favorite president.

Our only truly independent president. No party affiliations. I like that about him. A long, difficult war was fought for US independence. It would be hypocritical and kinda weird for the guy elected to preside over the US, the first President, to turn around and depend on, take sides with, a particular group of people with a particular, exclusive, political point of view and agenda. That's what the Revolution was about - getting out from under oppressive taxation without representation, sure - but breaking free of titles and labels and antiquated monarchism and plain old biased favoritism. And agendas. There was a document written, maybe you've heard of it, an actual declaration of independence. Breaking free, living free, not burdened by political or religious oppression...it's all very idealistic, of course, and freedom isn't actually free. Freedom is more expensive than a lot of people realize. But. I'll pay the toll.

And dag nammit, I'll honor my favorite president on his actual birthday. He's not some whiny twin child who doesn't want to share his birthday with his sibling. He's the father of a country. He was an independent. So his day, his memorial, should be independent, his own.

It's when I'm in that frame of mind that I find the ridicule and mockery of George in an attempt to sell appliances and home goods disrespectful. Shouldn't someone like, oh, I dunno, Buchanan? Arthur? Harding? be mocked, ridiculed and cajoled and generally disrespected in the name of retail sales? Heck, I'd go to a Nixon's birthday sale on privacy software for phones and internet. They could have a ping-pong contest and give away stuffed panda bears to lure in the kiddies. (I know! I don't know why no one will hire me, either. With ideas like that you'd think I'd be fighting off employers begging me to work for them.)

I know. It's the whole immediate connection with trust. If you can't trust George Washington or Abe Lincoln to give you a good deal on a reliable, quality dishwasher, who can you trust? And it does keep George and Abe in the national conscience. At least once a year people are reminded of Washington and Lincoln. (Because really, when was the last time you honestly looked at a quarter or a penny or a $1 or $5 bill and reflected on the lives of the men emblazoned on them?)

You may have heard  the hullabaloo over the Chia® Obama. But what you may not have heard is that Chia® Obama is one of four in a Chia® "Proud to be an American" series. The series begins with Chia® George Washington. Then there's Chia® Abe Lincoln. And then Chia® Barack Obama. And the Chia® Statue of Liberty (with real lighted torch! Freedom burning bright!). People were outraged over the president represented in Chia®. "It's disrespectful! It's racist! It's tacky!" But I heard no complaints or outrage about disrespecting Washington or Lincoln. And they're every bit as tacky (and weird) as Chia® Obama. Lincoln looks especially, um, "odd" with leafy green algae growing out of his head.  Is it merely because they're white that it's okay to Chia® them up? Why, then, is there not a Chia® John F. Kennedy? Or a Chia® Franklin Roosevelt? Or Chia® Reagan? Or an entire Chia® Mt. Rushmore?! You're chuckling at the thought of those presidents festooned with a head of green Chia® hair, aren't you? Well, why then is it okay to have Chia® George Washington or Chia® Abe Lincoln? If you want to use Chia® as an instrument of mockery, why not a Chia® Nixon or Chia® Buchanan or Chia® Harding or Chia® George W. Bush?*

I went through a coin collecting phase when I was a kid. Okay, it's true, once a coin collector, always a geek. I wasn't interested in coins because of the value factor. I was interested in coins (and stamps, too, go ahead, make your jokes) because of the art and the history of the nation they represent. I learned a lot about different countries' histories thanks to the coins my father brought home from abroad. But it was always the US quarter featuring George Washington that served as my gold standard by which all other coins from all other nations were judged. George Washington looked so strong, so responsible, so capable compared to some of the leaders portrayed on coins from other countries. One of my uncles used to bring me old coins that he found in his spare change. Every time he arrived I sheepishly waited, hoping, that he brought me some coins, too polite and shy to ask. Eternities would pass and finally he'd say, "Oh, I almost forgot! Trillian, I got some interesting coins in my change the other day. Why don't you have a look at them and tell me if they're worth anything? In George we trust, eh Trillian?!"  In George we trust. Amen.

I've been thinking about that lately. In George we trust. That phrase always brings a smile, I can hear my uncle, see him conspiratorially grinning and winking at me.

And that's that.

I'm done with President's Day.

I'm declaring my independence from the treachery of The Man, The Man who decided it's more practical to lump Washington and Lincoln's birthdays together for a combined holiday. I'm exercising my right to freedom from political oppression. 

February 22 is George Washington's birthday. I'm celebrating that day. My mail will be delivered and my bank will be open, but I won't go to the mail box or the bank on February 22. It's my defiant act of solidarity with George Washington.

(Trivia time: The State Quarters were launched in 1999, but what design changes were made to the quarter in 1998? Anyone? Anyone?)


*I'm waiting for the day there's a Chia® Rock 'n Roll series. Chia® Elvis. Chia® Beatles (and you know the Chia® people have pitched that) Chia® James Brown. Chia® Hendrix. Chia® Rolling Stones. Oooo, Chia® Bob Marley. Chia® Clash. Chia® Nirvana. Chia® Red Hot Chili Peppers. Chia® Flaming Lips (something tells me Wayne would be down with that)...the possibilities are endless.

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6:58 AM

Friday, February 18, 2011  
Another day, another sleepless night borne of confusion, frustration and anxiety.

Yep, just another day in Bizarro World. 

I met with yet another recruiter yesterday. Her agency has a job with a confidential employer. The employer is one of those companies you might have read about recently. One of the companies that has implemented a rule about hiring: Currently employed candidates only. No unemployed candidates need apply.

"Why, then," I asked the recruiter, all innocence and confusion, "am I here? I'm unemployed."

"Because you're perfectly qualified for the job. And we are obligated to send them a certain number of qualified candidates. We have one currently employed candidate who's qualified and interested in the job. And we have several hundred mostly qualified candidates who are unemployed. Among them are a few standouts and you're one of them."

"But am I not categorically unqualified because I'm unemployed?"

"They don't need to know that."

"Ummmm, okay, so, what's my story? Where have I been working the past 17 months? Who are my references for that job and, heh heh, what's my current salary? Heck, maybe I don't want to give up this fictitious job I've had for the past 17 months!"

"We can get creative with your history. We can tell them you want to keep your job-hunt confidential, that you have concerns about word that you're job hunting getting out at your current job. In this employment climate that's a common issue, people are looking over their shoulders, no one who has a job wants any cloud of doubt over them in the office."

"I not comfortable lying like that. You said I'm qualified as is, why can't we just leave it at that?"

"Because they are very rigid in their 'currently employed candidates only' policy. They mean it. They've had this policy for over a year. It's the main reason they're using a recruitment agency instead of letting their HR group handle the candidate search. It keeps their hands clean."

"Have you sent other currently unemployed candidates to them? Have other people lied about their employment status?"

"A few."

"Did they get hired?"

"Ultimately they weren't the best fit, but not because of the exaggeration of their employment status."

Exaggeration of their employment status.

Buzzwords for the new decade.

Don't let anyone know you're unemployed.

As if we unemployed aren't carrying around enough guilt, shame, anxiety and fear.

You know when every instinct you have is telling you to flee? This was one of those situations.

I know recruiters regularly "groom" candidates they send to employers. But it's been established that I don't need much, if any, "grooming." I'm a good candidate, a viable candidate. So why the lie? Do I want to work for a company that has such ridiculous policies? If they have a "currently employed candidates only" hiring policy, what other cringe-worthy policies do they have? But mostly my concerns and instinct to run were about the lies that would be told if I went through with an interview.

I think the recruiter sensed my urge to run.

"We're willing to cover for you. We believe in you. You want a job. This job is a great opportunity for you. They want a qualified candidate who is resourceful, current and can hit the ground running. That's you. It's a win-win-win situation. Except for their hiring policy, which, by the way, we do not agree with, so this is an opportunity to beat them at their discriminatory game."

"We're sticking it to The Man."

"Exactly! See? You get it! What do you say? Shall we start adding a few lines to your resume?"

Exaggeration of my employment status.

Cripes.

When real life starts making the hypothetical ethics questions in the game Scruples seem tame and outrageous you know things have taken a serious turn for the bizarre in your life. Things might be a little out of hand. It might be time for some evaluation. And re-evaluation.


I'm no stranger to creative resume-ing. Over the past year various recruiters and career coaches have told me, not suggested, flat out told me, to play down and out-and-out eliminate many of my academic and professional credentials. Every recruiter has said something like the one I talked to a few months ago, "You have fantastic credentials. But. We're not going to showcase everything you bring to the job. On paper you look too educated and too experienced. Too perfect. You look fake. We need to dumb you down on paper otherwise interviewers will be intimidated or disinterested. They'll think you want their job, or, they'll think you won't stay on the job long because you'll leave for something better."

Again I ask, imploring to the Universe, when did s college education and relevant professional work experience become a liability?

And aren't these lies by omission? If I get hired based on a dumbed-down resume I have to remember to never, ever mention the education and work experience that were left off my resume. If they find out I have more education and experience than I represented in the interview...I mean...this all gets really weird.

Misrepresenting yourself in career terms used to be a polite way of saying you lied about your credentials, padded them, made yourself look more educated, more experienced than you really are. Now it's a polite way of saying you lied about your credentials, unpadded them, made yourself look less educated, less experienced than you really are.

Can you imagine that scene playing out in an HR office?

"We're letting you go."

"But, but, I'm doing a great job, I had a great review last month, what's the problem?"

"It's come to our attention that you misrepresented yourself when you interviewed for this job."

"I, I can explain..."

"Did you honestly think we wouldn't find out that you have a masters degree and worked at [prestigious company] managing 20 people?! How dare you insult us like this!"

"...it's just that I really wanted this job and I like it here and..."

"And you lied! You got this job under false pretenses."

"Wait. Wait. Let's be reasonable. You're firing me because I'm overqualified?"

"Yes. And because you misrepresented yourself at your job interview."

I weep for the future.



And now it's being suggested that I lie about the fact that I'm unemployed...and looking for a job. I'm being asked to lie about being employed so that a company who needs to hire someone with my education and experience will interview me.

If you can figure out the reason and logic in that please explain it to me.



As few as five years ago a college degree and 8 - 10 years of relevant professional experience guaranteed an interview and most likely a job offer. Now a college degree (or perish the thought, degrees) and professional experience are something savvy job hunters downplay lest they look overqualified.

It's tragic, sad, and...weird. I don't like the overused hyperbole, but, it's seeming more true every day: We're becoming a nation of fast food workers, discount megastore cashiers and farm workers. Even traditionally "open" industries like nursing and accounting are not hiring in their former quantities - and they're hiring less experienced, less educated candidates. (LPNs instead of RNs, someone H&R Block certified instead of finance majors, for instance). Not that there's anything wrong with those jobs, but where's the incentive to push yourself to study, learn, focus and work at your career?

Bah.

The audacity of aspiration.

Mainly it confuses me.   

I worked really hard to get college degrees. I worked really hard to prove myself to get decent jobs at good companies, doing relevant, professional work. And now I'm being told to lie about it so that I will be considered for a jobs. 

And now I'm being asked to lie about being unemployed. I mean, huh? What's the stigma, the taboo, about an unemployed person looking for, gasp, a job?

So. To lie or not to lie. That is the question. 

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10:25 AM

Monday, February 14, 2011  
I know you expect me to moan about Valentine's Day.

Because I hate this stupid excuse to force romance and affection. It's all a ruse, a marketing ploy, and even when I had boyfriends I refused to be a victim. If you're Catholic you get a free pass (yes, it's technically a Catholic holiday, St. Valentine's Day). If you need Valentine's Day to be romantic, instead of flowers and a box of chocolate you might want to invest in some therapy. Romance...affection...showing it, "proving" it, admitting is, professing it...if you need the marketing hype of Valentine's Day to spur you on or as an "excuse," well, I mean, you know, whatever, I'm not going to judge, but you do realize Cupid doesn't actually exist, right?

Call me cynical, but if I had a significant other who only professed his feelings for me one day a year, I'm pretty sure I would have some serious concerns about the status and future emotional health of that relationship. And if that one day happened to be the heavily hyped and marketed Valentine's Day? Well. Emotion - romance, affection, compassion, passion, love - shown, "proved," no, forced by guilt, appearances and jewelry, card and flower delivery companies isn't exactly the genuine, healthy sort of emotional relationship I want or need.

There. There's my annual Valentine's Day moan. Happy?

Yeah, me either.

I don't hate love.

Really, I don't.

And I don't hate marketing. Really, I don't.

Most marketing is based on triggering an emotional response thus creating a need, a deep emotional need, for a good or service.

So marketing all things romance makes sense. Love is the mother of all emotions, the Big Kahuna. If you're going to market something, go for love. No one can resist it, everyone wants it, needs it, craves it, longs for it, hopes for it, dreams of it and gets high on the feeling of it. Powerful stuff, love. And marketeers know that and use it. Can't blame them. If you're going to evoke emotions, go for the big one. Sex sells, but love sells more and brings in repeat customers.

One really fantastic aspect of being unemployed is that you don't have to endure Valentine's Day in the office. Amen to that, right? Other peoples' romances aren't thrown in your face while you're just trying to do your job.

My Valentine's Day Twilight Zone marathon continues. I feel suitably creeped out and philosophical and definitely not in any way longing for romance or love. Rock on, Rod Serling, my Valentine's Day savior.

But here's the thing.

No, I don't have the big kind of romantic love in my life. And that causes a lot of lonely nights.

But. I do have a lot of love in my life.

And as the Mayor of Singleton I feel it's my duty to provide leadership and guidance through one of the worst days of the year for singles. A moan about it is cathartic, but not helpful. What we, Singletonians, need are survival tactics.

Here's the one that works best for me. It's time tested, mother approved and...it works.

It's not the "buy a nice bottle of champagne, light some candles, take a luxuriously long bubble bath and read a good book, be nice to yourself, love yourself, 'be your own Valentine'" kind of tactic. I mean, you know, that's a good tactic, but it can backfire, badly. It can make you feel even more alone, lonely and pathetic. I know because I've tried that one on more than one Valentine's Day.

Here's another idea.

I've had trouble sleeping since I was a wee tot. This perplexed my mother. She knew I needed a lot more sleep than I was getting but nothing eased or sped my nightly journey to Nod. Songs, stories, counting sheep/kittens/turtles, threats...none of it worked. I couldn't turn off my brain, and mostly, at night, alone, in the dark, sentenced to solitary confinement in my room, I worried. (Yes, I still do this.)

Finally, exasperated, frustrated and tired, one night my wise (and weary) mother said, ""We've read three stories. We sang two songs. Daddy did a stuffed animal re-enactment of Act III of King Lear. That's it, young lady, that is it. Just lie there and think about all the people who love you and all the people you love. Okay? Just think about all the love and happiness you have and don't worry about anything else. All that love is a fortress that will keep out all the scary, mean thoughts. Go. To. Sleep."

It's way better than counting sheep. Mum, Daddy, Gran, Grandad, Nana, Papa, Aunt Daphne...the list included far-flung cousins, friends, neighbors, sometimes even my brother and sister and on particularly difficult nights, every member of our church.

This technique tied in nicely with my parents' ongoing lesson of: "Find contentment within yourself, be happy with what you have, count your blessings. Longing for things only leads to sadness, discontent and an empty life." If I had a penny for every time in my life I've heard, "Find happiness with what you have, not sadness about what you don't," I'd be very happy with all the money I'd have.

And of course it's true. Of course they're right. But. They had good jobs that provided a nice home and a few extras, and, oh yeah, a really solid, good, healthy marriage. So, yes, it was easy for them to go around spouting all zen and hippie-love.

Still.

They're right, you know.

Of course they're right.

Love is not all you need.

Would that it were, of course. Wouldn't that be a pleasant world? But that place doesn't exist for most of us. Most of us do not live in a clothing optional commune where we grow our own food and make vegan soap and pottery to sell at local craft fairs and support the commune.

The notion that love is all you need is ridiculous, foolish and drug-induced fantasizing.

As a review of my nightly list of people who love me and who I love will attest, I have a whole freaking lot of love in my life. But it's not getting me a job, paying my mortgage, or even fulfilling all my emotional needs, and it's especially not fulfilling the biological/hormonal needs. Love is clearly not all I need.

But.

Night after night, when the anxiety, stress, worry and fear are making their nightly rounds in my head and bed, invoking my mother's plan to list off all the people who love me and the people I love as a fortress against the hate and loneliness and fear in life does, you, know, help.

No, you can't roll over and cuddle up to thoughts of people who love you. And most of those people, even though they love you, would probably not want you to roll over and cuddle up to them.

Though. I will openly admit, that after my dad died and there was a house full of relatives, one of my cousins, who I see only at family weddings and funerals, came down to the living room where I was "sleeping" on an air mattress. She couldn't sleep, either. So she sat down next to me on the air mattress and we talked. It was like when we were kids and had to sleep on the floor at our aunt and uncles house. Their den was full of scary stuff and two little girls with overactive and vivid imaginations had a hard time sleeping in there. We surrounded ourselves with the couch cushions and our stuffed animals and hunkered down together. That night, after my dad died, we cried, and eventually we did cuddle up to each other. No, it wasn't some incestuous back-woods lesbian thing. Though we did get a few laughs about it giving new, modern meaning to "sleeping with my cousin."

And at night, when I count her in my list of people who love me, I chuckle at that shared laugh.

Ahhh, love. 'Tis naught more than a shared laugh, n'est-ce pas?


I don't need anyone to prove they love me. I know the people who love me really love me. They don't even need to say it. It's just...obvious. Shared laughs. Shared tears. Shared insights. Shared burdens.

One of the more complex love relationships is the one we have with siblings. For me, it's the most complex. My brother and sister...oh, man, I mean, sigh. It's complicated. We're adults and it bugs the crap out of me that either one of them can reduce me to a 5-year-old in seconds flat. Three adults. Who, by all outward appearances, are mature, reasonable, somewhat sane individuals. But get us together and we're three kids threatening to "tell" on each other. I dunno. I'm not proud of this. But the more I fight it, the more I try to rise above it, the more they push my buttons to invoke the, "I'm telling" response.

But most of the time one of my siblings is capable of doing the very thing I want/need without me even asking or mentioning it.

Today I got the best "Valentine's Day" gift I've ever received.

My brother sent me a whole range of his gently used camera gear. My "good" cameras are film, my digital cameras are either a) crap or b) no longer functioning. My brother's kind of anal, I mean fastidious, and takes impeccable care of his belongings. He could have sold the gear for several thousand dollars. At least. But for some reason, love, perhaps, he instead gave it to me. And yes, I'm telling on him.

It's not about the expense of the camera equipment. It's that he wanted me to have it instead of selling it for a decent amount of cash. The box showed up, completely unexpected, a surprise, for me, on Valentine's Day.

And, that wasn't the only delivery the UPS guy had for me. My parent's neighbors used to do a lot of SCUBA diving, in exotic locations. When they returned from a diving trip they'd invite me over to show me what they found under the sea - exotic shells, coral fragments, sunken treasures from shipwrecks, but mostly photos. Mr. Williams got so he was pretty handy with the underwater camera. They'd pull out a Jacques Cousteau book to correlate their dive to the scientific relevance of the region. That was before Mr. Williams' back and hip started acting up and Mrs. Williams' problems with Lupus prevented them from diving. Lupus, combined with some other health problems, claimed Mrs. Williams a few years ago. Mr. Williams sold their house for a pittance of its value and moved into a retirement condo village. Last Summer I helped him sort through his storage locker, a ton of books and odds and ends their kids didn't want. And hundreds of VHS tapes. I helped him find a place that transfers VHS to DVD. It will come as no surprise that I was one of those nerdy kids who loved Jacques Cousteau documentaries. And of course the Williams' had every Cousteau VHS ever released. Well, yadda yadda yadda my UPS guy brought me a box from Mr. Williams. Every Jacques Cousteau special ever made, transferred to dvd.

Oh. And. A couple books signed by Jacques himself. Oh yes. He did.

It might not be "love" but it's certainly genuine affection. Mr. Williams or his kids could have sold those books for, oh, I dunno, some money. But instead he gave them to me.

And, my mother sent me a care package. Twizzlers and a Snoopy card. I love a Snoopy card. And $20 with a Post-it Note affixed to it saying, "For wine."

I ♥ my mother. Twizzlers, Snoopy and booze. Rock on. Who needs a man with a mother like that?

So.

Do I have a big, romantic Valentine's Day? Not in the usual sense.

But. Do I have lots of love? Yes. I have people who know me, care about me and bother to do nice things for me.


After the UPS guy made his surprise visit I went to the grocery to procure wine, as instructed by my mother.

Wow.

The desperation in the air was palpable. It was late afternoon, normally the first few after-work shoppers would be trickling in. But today, Valentine's Day, the place was thronged with men. Frantic men.

You might be thinking, "Hey, there you go, Trill! What a great time to meet men!"

You would be wrong. Because these men already have someone special. How do I know this? Because they were not flocking to the frozen pizza section.

They were frantically buzzing around the floral/bakery/Valentine's Day candy display section. And the greeting card section. And the "seasonal" aisle. And the booze aisle.

The "good" heart shaped balloons were gone. The ones that remained were already losing helium and buoyancy. Instead of plump mylar hearts with arms jauntily charging in the air, straining on their tethers proclaiming, "I ♥ you THIS much!" there were a few limp, dull mounds of wrinkled plastic, tether strings sagging, mumbling through folds of wrinkled mylar, "♥ yo ch"  But these men, these last minute Valentine's Day shoppers, were desperate enough to grab them, snatching them before someone else could. One inventive guy went for a fully inflated SpongeBob balloon. I later saw him in the "seasonal" aisle buying a bag of candy conversation hearts and a garland of red hearts. I could see his plan. Adorn the room with SpongeBob holding the heart garland and litter the pillow with the most romantic candy hearts. I like that guy. I'd date that guy.

The roses, oh swut, the roses. I mean, if you're buying Valentine's Day flowers at a grocery store it's a given that you're not looking to impress and bedazzle someone with gorgeous flowers. On the other hand, props to some groceries for carrying a half-way decent selection of flowers. Mine grocery store generally stocks some nice looking flowers. The roses are usually "meh" but some of the other flowers are quite lovely. They obviously anticipated the Valentine's Day rush and had loads of rose bouquets displayed in various areas around the floral, bakery, booze and check-out areas. They're not stupid, these grocery floral people. But even with the extra floral supply, the choices were getting thin. The red were almost gone, the pink and white were going fast. That leaves orange, yellow and that odd shade of purple-pink no one ever buys because it looks like Pepto-bismol. And the wilty, half-dead red ones. Desperation does funny things to a man. Desperation will convince him to buy the wilty, half-dead red roses from the grocery store, arguing that some flowers are better than no flowers. That SpongeBob balloon and heart garland are sounding better to you now, aren't they?

The bakery department was a hive of activity. The cupcakes were long gone, even the ones with the frosting smooshed on the plastic container lid. The small heart-shaped cakes were going fast and the full-sized heart decorated sheet cakes were moving quickly. These last minute Valentine's Day guys, though, they're creative. You gotta give 'em that. The ones who couldn't get near the remaining heart shaped cakes were swarming around the brownie and cookie displays. Hey, nothing says I love you like oatmeal raisin cookies.

I was on a mission from my mother. I had $20 wine money. I was going to get a bottle of wine. Dammit. The problem, of course, was that all those last-minute-Valentine's Day shopping men were stacked three-deep in the booze aisles. And yes, yes, there were some special displays of booze for Valentine's Day, but there was no getting near them, either. So I waited my "turn" and grabbed the last bottle of Cabernet I could find that fit my under $20 wine budget. I noticed a lot of guys were opting for vodka or beer.

The card section was, of course, a pathetic vignette of desperation and procrastination. Valentine's Day cards hit the shelves around December 28th. If you wait until February 14th to buy a Valentine's Day card...well...how deep is your love? And, when you can't find that "perfect card" at 4:30 PM on February 14th at your local grocery, are you really surprised? Is it not glaringly obvious to you that you might want to consider putting just a tad more effort and planning into your show of affection to the love of your life?

I know I'm cynical about Valentine's Day, but with guys like this, can you blame me? They're obviously just going through the motion, grabbing whatever they can find at the last minute in the easiest place possible because they know they have to show up with something.

I know. I know. Plenty of men, and women, spend a lot of time, money and effort on Valentine's Day and that can be just as desperate and pathetic and feeble as the last minute grocery store Valentine's Day dash. Lavish isn't better, but at least it shows some amount of dedication and thought. (The last minute SpongeBob guy gets a free pass for his originality.)

But, and this is just my skewed perspective, if the choices are: a) a last-minute impertinent grocery-store card/limp balloon or cookie or b) nothing, I'd prefer b, nothing. I don't want anyone to feel they have to "go through the motions." I don't want a "present" procured only because of marketing guilt. I want something like my brother sending me camera equipment or my parents' neighbor sending me Jacques Cousteau dvds and books or my mother sending me a Snoopy card and Twizzlers. Heartfelt, genuine, relevant gifts.

Today the grocery store bakery, floral and booze aisles were filled with men fueled desperation and hope. Tomorrow the same store's ice cream and Tater Tot aisles will be filled with women fueled by broken dreams. And that, my friends, is the definition of Valentine's Day.

Singletonians, instead of counting sheep, go to bed tonight and count the people who love you and the people you love. I'm pretty sure you'll be surprised at how much love you have in your life and you'll feel a lot less alone.

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5:44 PM

Saturday, February 12, 2011  
My friend has a big romantic Valentine's weekend surprise lined up for her unsuspecting(!) husband. She made a list of all the pivotal moments of their relationship. Their lives prior to meeting each other. How they met. Their courtship. Their marriage proposal. Their engagement. (Yep, proposal and engagement are two separate, distinct phases.) Their wedding. Their honeymoon. (Yep, again, two distinct phases.) Their newlywed year and first home. (One phase, apparently.) Their dog. Their first pregnancy. Their first childbirth and her quitting her career. Their first house in the suburbs. Their second pregnancy. Their move to their second home in another suburb. Their vacations. (Yep, plural.) Their "oh-god-his-new-assistant-at-work-is-24-and-smokin'-hot." Probably no coincidence the most recent phase of their relationship coinciding with Valentine's Day resulted in her big weekend surprise.

A movie marathon! She chose a movie she felt best represented each pivotal moment in their relationship. Yes. 16 movies. In one weekend. 13 romantic comedies and 3 dramas.  Each correlating to a pivotal moment in their relationship.

Okay. I'm single. The Mayor of Singleton. I mean, I'm reallllllllllly single. I don't even think about men or dating or kisses or sex or relationships or, and especially, not romance.

So my take on this is probably very skewed and probably very irrelevant.

But.

I felt a deep, deep moral need to warn my friend's husband about what was really going to happen this weekend while the kids were at his parents'. I felt he should know that in his wife's language "romantic surprise" translates to 16 movies representing their life together. Most of them featuring Meg Ryan, Reese Witherspoon or Renée Zellweger and Hugh Grant. In other words, all of them chick flicks, none of them porn.

I'm single. The Mayor of Singleton. I mean, I'm reallllllllllly single. I don't even think about men or dating or kisses or sex or relationships or, and especially, not romance.

So my take on this is probably very skewed and probably very irrelevant.


But.

I'm reasonably certain a married man with two children living in the suburbs who has a very hot  24-year-old assistant at work doesn't consider a "romantic weekend without the kids" as three days watching his wife's imagined versions of their life acted out in chick flicks. I could be very wrong about this because I'm very single and clearly I know nothing about marriage or men.

But.

I'm reasonably certain a married man with two children living in the suburbs who has a very hot 24-year-old assistant at work thinks a "romantic weekend without the kids" includes "sexy" lingerie ("sexy" in this case means low-rent slutty: lacy, leather/vinyl (or both), itchy and crotchless), porn (including the girl-on-girl stuff) and something from the four basic romantic food groups: something fried, something beer, something pizza, something chip.


Okay. I'm single. The Mayor of Singleton. I mean, I'm reallllllllllly single. I don't even think about men or dating or kisses or sex or relationships or, and especially, not romance.


So my take on this is probably very skewed and probably very irrelevant.


But.

I'm reasonably certain that to a married man with two children living in the suburbs who has a very hot, 24-year-old assistant the only thing worse than a 16 relationship movie marathon would be the opening weekend Saturday afternoon 2-for-1 matinée of the Justin Bieber "documentary."


I tried to warn my friend that her big romantic surprise for her husband might not be met as enthusiastically as she anticipated.

"The thing is, [friend], this is what you want for Valentine's Day. This is what you want him to do for you. You want him to prove his love and respect for your relationship via film portrayals. This is your dream romantic weekend. This is a gift for yourself, not really for him. This might not be what he's expecting for your romantic weekend surprise that requires sending the kids to his parents'."

I crossed a line. She was hurt. Defensive. She expected me to enthuse over her creativity and stand in awe, humbled by her romantic genius. But all I could see was her husband, standing there holding a bottle of champagne and some expensive chocolates expecting slutty lingerie and porn and instead being met with raspberry scones, the cozy movie blanket from the den and 16 chick flicks queued up.

And yes, my allegiance should be to my friend, not her husband. But. In my defense, I was thinking of her. I was trying to spare her the disappointment she'd feel after oh, I dunno, three movies into the marathon when her husband either fell asleep or started Blackberrying for work.

But of course she had to play her winning hand. Married always trumps single. Every game, every time.

"You don't know anything about men. You don't know anything about marriage. Did you ever think maybe this is why your relationships all failed and why no one is interested in you and why you're single? And childless. And unemployed. And moving home with your mother. Huh? Did you ever just once stop to think maybe you have it all wrong, that you don't know anything about men or dating or romance and that's why you're a miserable failure?"

Oh yes she did.

She went there.

And yes, in her eyes, in her world, everything hinges on romantic success. When we were single she always had a boyfriend and at least one or two waiting in the wings. Yes, I knew her when she was unmarried, but I've never known her without a boyfriend. Her motto has always been, "a good man is the best and only accessory a girl needs."

Obviously I have not, and do not, ascribe to her motto. I don't have a motto, but, I think one of the best, if not the only accessory a girl needs is an IQ higher than 124.

But.

I'm single. The Mayor of Singleton. I mean, I'm reallllllllllly single. I don't even think about men or dating or kisses or sex or relationships or, and especially, not romance.

So my take on this is probably very skewed and probably very irrelevant.


And probably very wrong.


I haven't seen much of this friend for a while. We've only recently been in semi-regular contact because I've been seeing more of a mutual friend who lives in the same general suburban direction as her. Suffice it to say we won't be socializing much in the future.

I have tough skin. I've heard everything she accused me of, heck, I've thought it myself. Nothing new there. It's impossible to offend me in any way that I haven't already been offended. She has to dig a lot deeper than that if she wants to really upset me.


But her anger at me, well, you know, that's a bit much. And her complete lack of sense of humor is a turn off to me. And her inability to see from a perspective other than hers is sort of wearying. Now I remember why our friendship faded.


I'm willing to look at my "situation" from other perspectives, in fact that's pretty much all I do, especially these days. I'll take any and all advice. I welcome it.

But. Should I take dating/man advice from a woman whose idea of a romantic surprise for her husband is a movie marathon of 16 chick flicks? Seems counter-intuitive to me.

But.

I'm single. The Mayor of Singleton. I mean, I'm reallllllllllly single. I don't even think about men or dating or kisses or sex or relationships or, and especially, not romance.

So my take on this is probably very skewed and probably very irrelevant.
 


Our mutual friend heard about the "incident." She showed up early for our metallurgy class so we could "discuss" the "incident."

"You know, Trill, her delivery was all wrong and she has some really messed up ideas about love and life in general. We've always known that. But maybe there's a grain of truth in her message. Maybe you're not, you know, romantic enough. Maybe the few remaining men out there are looking for someone who's a little girlier, a little more romantic than you appear to be."

"I'm romantic."

"I know you are. But I've known you a long time and I know you. I know you're one of the most romantic, sentimental, even sappy people on the planet. But. You're also capable and usually you give the appearance of emotional stability. You don't look like you need a man. And you like hockey and guitars."

"I give the appearance of being a lesbian."

"I didn't say that. Lots of women who aren't lesbians like hockey and metal. I like hockey and metal. It's just, you know, we're not kids, Trill. There aren't many available men out there. Maybe you can't just be you anymore. Maybe you need to play the game, now, at least to initially attract a man."

"We've been having this same conversation for way too many years. I know what I'm supposed to do. I need to be more what men expect, more cliché girl. I'm supposed to play needy and silly, incapable of changing a lightbulb. I'm supposed to be afraid of spiders and not understand how cars work. I'm supposed to pretend I know absolutely nothing about anything remotely scientific and I should never, ever watch NOVA, or at least not openly admit it. It's only okay to talk about accessible art and music - Impressionism and top 40. Knowledge or interest in anything controversial or 'weird' or loud is taboo. I'm supposed to make men feel manly and needed for manly things and in order to do that I have to seem incapable, silly and scared."

"See? You do know the drill."

 "Do you think [our friend's] husband will be thrilled about the 16 movie marathon of chick flicks?"

"Of course not."

"How would your husband respond?"

"With divorce papers."

"Exactly. So, if you told her what I said to her it would be valid advice. But because I said it, because I'm a spinster, my reaction and concerns for her are not valid, and further, I'm deserving of ridicule and insult?"

"I know. I know. We know she's nuts. But. That's not the point. The point is that there might be a shred of validity to her rant."

"I should be more girly. Ruffles. Lace. Pink. Ditsy. Stupid. Incapable."

"Well, I mean, you know, you're 5'11". The ruffles and lace are probably not the best choices for you. And I think you're physically and mentally incapable of ditz. But. You know, Trill, you get stuck in the Friend Zone a lot. Guys adore you but they don't love you, you know, romantically."

"Yeah, yeah, I know. I know."

"Why do you think that is, Trill?"

"Because I'm too much woman for them and I intimidate them and so, heartbroken in their abyss of unrequited love for me they're happy to be just friends, protecting their fragile little hearts from being broken?"

"Yeah. I'm sure that's it. Maybe you should spend the weekend recharging your girly batteries. Maybe you should watch 16 chick flicks."

"Yeah, Meg Ryan and Hugh Grant are exactly what I need. I'll emerge all soft and gooey and girly and at least 20 IQ points lower."

"Point taken, but c'mon, Trill, maybe at least try to play the game? Try to be girly?"

"A more appropriate weekend for me would be a Twilight Zone marathon."



Then we went to our class.

And one of our younger classmates was enthusing about her singles-only Valentine's party. Apparently he has lots of single friends. They're going to have a huge anti-Valentine's Day party and celebrate their singleness.

I remember those days. I used to have lots of single friends, too. We all liked being single. And then they all got married. And now it's a party of one.

Because the only single friends I have are: Lesbians and gay men who can't or don't want to get married; and men who have deep rooted commitment issues and will never get married. I have no single girl friends. Not one. And, heck, even one of my commitment-phobe male friends got married last year.

My friend said to our classmate, "Oh! We used to do that! Didn't we Trill?! You should go to her party for singles, Trill!"

Yes. My friend invited me to our classmate's party.

Our classmate was clearly stymied, feeling awkward, "Um, yeah, divorced people are technically single. Most of my friends are around my age, but sure, stop by if you want."

My friend came to my "defense." "Oh, she's not the one thinking about a divorce, and I'm only thinking about a separation, and things are a lot better. We're not getting divorced. And Trillian's not divorced, she's never been married. (grabbing my hand and pointing to my ring finger) She's as single as single can be!"

Our young classmate, clearly feeling even more awkward, just went with it. When things are already awkward why not just say everything you think, because things are already awkward. "You've never been married? You're not divorced? Gawd. Why?!"

Oh yes. She did. She stood there, almost accusatory, mouth agape, gawking at the spinster. And then another even younger classmate joined in. "Wow. You know, my mom has a friend like you."

Yes. She said "like you." Yes. "Like you." As if I'm an exhibit at an endangered species zoo. Or, more accurately, as if I'm like one of the people on the copies of fliers of wanted criminals at the post office. Dangerous. Do not apprehend.

You're probably thinking I'm overreacting, maybe a bit too sensitive. But then another classmate, who is always talking about her husband, and someone who I've befriended and quite like, said, thinking she was coming to my defense, answered for me. "Not everyone is in a rush to get married. I only got married a few years ago. Some of us have other priorities. Travel, careers, lives apart from hunting for a man."

Ahhhhh. A voice of reason. I knew I liked this woman.

And then our younger classmates chimed back at her, "We have all those things. We can have men, too. It's not either/or."

My "recently" married classmate and I shared a knowing smile. Ah, youth.

Suffice it to say I am a) alienated from several of my classmates, b) not attending the singles-only anti-Valentine's Day party and c) watching a Twilight Zone marathon all weekend. Alone. Again. Always.

But.

At least I'm not trapped in the suburbs watching 16 chick flicks.

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4:25 PM

Monday, February 07, 2011  
So, I had a job! Yay!

A friend's brother's friend has a bar slash restaurant. Mostly bar.

He was looking for extra help during the Super Bowl.

Yadda yadda yadda I served beer, nachos, fried cheese curds and something called fried pizza. Don't ask. Some things are best kept mysterious.

Oh. And lemon-limeade. Vodka and lemon-lime Kool-ade.

But mostly I carried a lot of beer from the bar to tables. Tables of thirsty football fans.

I was asked to report early to help prep for the big game. Which translated to cutting limes and lemons.

Fine by me! I was excited and honored to have the opportunity to work!

Okay, I should probably clarify.

Technically I wasn't "working" in the "exchange labor/skills for a paycheck" sense. Technically I was working in the "exchange labor for whatever loose change patrons choose to leave on the table after they leave" sense.

But it was Super Bowl Sunday, the Green Bay Packers were playing, it was a bar slash restaurant 25 miles from the Wisconsin border, I mean, cha ching, right?! So what if I "worked" three hours of prep time without collecting tips, so technically, three hours free labor for the owner of the bar slash restaurant? Really, I didn't mind. I was happy for the opportunity to do something, to be part of a work environment, even if it was just one afternoon/evening at a bar slash restaurant.

The friend who lined up the job for me also got her niece in on the Super Bowl Sunday beer and snack transporting gig. Her niece is 21. A college senior. A 21-year-old college senior desperately wanting to go on Spring Break in a few weeks.

We met at my friend's house and shared a ride to our Super Bowl Sunday work-site.

I know! A coworker! Carpooling! Awesome!! It felt so good to be working again!!

My 21-year-old coworker "couldn't get the hang of" cutting lemons and limes so she helped turn on all the televisions and learned how to use the remotes so when things got busy she'd know how to adjust the volume. We all had a vital role to play on the Super Bowl Sunday restaurant slash bar team! Go team!!!

The game started at 5:00 but there was the whole pre-game show(!), so patrons started arriving around 2:00.

That was pretty much the last time I looked at a clock.

I was too busy ferrying beer and snacks from the serving station to tables of thirsty and hungry patrons. Initially I was supposed to focus on four tables. Nice and easy, just four tables. The more senior-level servers would have more tables. My college senior coworker was also given four tables to manage.

But, she got a nice on-the-job perk! Before kick-off she had already met a nice young man at one of her tables! Romance was definitely in the air!

She asked me to cover two of her tables so she could have a little extra time to focus on the table where her new beau was seated. Who am I to stand in the way of a budding romance?! Of course I agreed to cover two of her tables! Ahhhhh, love. So cute.

Plus, she had the remote control television volume to manage, too. So. You know. She was doing a lot of multi-tasking. Multiple concurrent projects.

Twelve hours after I walked into work I ended my work day with $102.37. That works out to $8.53/hour. Cha ching. One table of six people drank and ate $175 worth of beer, tequila shots and fried pizza over the course of five hours. And left me a whole $10 bill. To be fair, one of them only drank water and didn't eat much, so, you know, you have to take that into the tip consideration. Water's free so the fact that I carried a fresh glass, fresh ice every time her glass was near empty isn't worth anything - because water's free. Of course no one has to tip anything. It's at the patron's discretion. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about that $10. I am honored and humbled by their generosity.

And I'm probably just not very good at serving. I'm a rookie, I have to expect rookie caliber tips.

My college-senior co-worker pocketed $463.85! $35.65/hour! And she only worked two tables! I know, she's really good at it!  And she was lucky, she had two really generous tables of patrons, young guys with lots of cash and credit cards. She also came away with several phone numbers and email addresses! She said she liked that one guy a lot, the most, but she's keeping her options open. And, $463.85! Spring Break, baby! Spring Break!

She said the two tables I covered for her didn't leave much in the way of tips, but she split it with me - another $15 for me! I know! I'm so lucky to have such a great co-worker!

We carpooled back to my friend's house and then I took the train and a bus home. The round-trip commute expense was $13, but thanks to my co-worker's generosity, that $15 she gave me for covering two of her tables covered my commute expense.



Okay.

Of course I'm in no position to complain about work. And I'm not complaining. Really. Honestly, I am thrilled to have $104.

And of course pretty, young girls serving beer earn more money in tips than unattractive, older women. Of course. There are entire bar slash restaurant franchises based on this principle.


But.

I worked. I was on my feet for 12 solid hours and hustled a lot of beer, shots and fried stuff. Beer, in glasses and pitchers, is heavy. But they don't charge by the pound, they charge by the glass, and there were many beer specials so the patrons were drinking a lot but not spending much money so, even the ones who did the "fair" 15% tip for a lot of beer were leaving $5 - $7. Again, not complaining. I'm happy to have the chance to work. I'm just saying...if you're drinking $2 beers for six hours, you're spending on average $18 - $24 on beer, maybe leaving a $5 tip if you're feeling generous. I dunno. It's a hard way to make an unpredictable income.

My college senior co-worker is ready to make a career out of it though. And she's right, she'll be lucky to find any job when she graduates in May, much less one that will pay her $35/hour. So after her successful Super Bowl serving gig she's pumped to take on more serving challenges.

Here's what I'm wondering. "Thoughts Upon Waiting Tables at a Bar Slash Restaurant."

Do men really tip more generously to young, pretty servers?

Taken at face value, based on my one day of experience, the answer is obviously: Yes.

So. If you're either or both unattractive and over the age of 28, is it "worth" serving, waiting tables, especially in a bar slash restaurant environment where the majority of patrons are men?

My theory is: No. I waited on six tables to her two, ferried three times the amount of beverages and food as my younger, prettier co-worker and yet I garnered 1/4 the amount of tips she earned. Of course I wasn't handling the television remotes, so, you know, that has to be factored into the equation. 

This may sound bitter. But I'm not bitter. I'm happy for the opportunity to work my behind off for 12 hours and earn $104. There's no point in comparing my earnings to anyone else. Except, going forward, are there more lucrative serving gigs for women who are not attractive and/or under the age of 28? Or is this just an assumed fact in the serving world? The less attractive and older you are, the less you will be tipped? And if so, then, should less attractive and/or older people leave the serving, and higher tips, to the pretty and younger crowd?

Because let's look at this another way. If I hadn't been there, my college senior co-worker would have had to handle her four tables and maybe at least two of mine. Presuming my attractive/age theory is correct, and using her $463 for two tables as the assumed "norm," we add two more tables to her evening's work and she nets $926 for four tables. Add in two of my tables and she could have earned $1,389. Had I not been there she had the potential earnings of $1,389. Looking at it that way, it's wrong, evil, even, for an unattractive older person to stand in the way of a pretty, young woman's potential earnings. And kind of stupid. Why would I spend 12 hours on my feet schlepping heavy glasses and pitchers of beer to take home $104, when a pretty, younger woman could do the same work at those same tables and take home several times that amount? Since I'd be doing her a favor by not taking those tables. Is it even fair for unattractive and/or older people to stand in the way of tip earnings pretty, younger people could earn?

I'm not trying to get out of work. If I have another opportunity to server beer and fried food to sports fans I'll grab it. I'll cut limes and slice lemons and even learn how to use television remote controls. But. Should I? Should I instead leave those jobs for prettier, younger people who can earn several times more money than I can doing the same work?

$104 v. $1,389. What's better for the economy and society in general? Someone earning $1,389 for 12 hours of work, or someone earning $104 for the same 12 hours of work?

Yes, of course I'm making a lot of presumptions. My co-worker had a little thing going with some of the guys and so, of course, they tipped her generously. That's not always going to happen. Not every table is going to be filled with young men eager to give up their cash in exchange for the phone number of the pretty girl serving him beer. But I think it's fair and reasonable to assume she would have garnered more tips than I did at my tables. (see above, entire franchises based on the pretty girls bring in business and tips business model) Even half the projected amount of $1,389, $694.50, a fair and realistic estimation, is far more than my $104 take and far better for the economy and society in general.

Yes, this is social engineering talk, it's Orwellian, but is there a hard truth and societal value to consider? If you are unattractive and/or over the age of 28, should you step aside and let the prettier, younger people garner higher tips so they have more money to spend and therefore contribute to the economy and therefore the societal greater good?

And if so, then, what do the unattractive and/or over the age of 28 people do for an income? What is their niche, where do they earn enough money to contribute to the economy and society? Where do they earn higher sums of money, hence giving them more money to spend and contribute to the economy and society in general? Or is there even a place for them, us, me? Are unattractive and/or older people just a burden to the economy and society?

Based on my experience waiting tables side-by-side with a prettier, younger woman the answer is obvious: Yes. I worked three times as hard and garnered less than a 1/4 of her tips. She earned more money than I did and now has more money to spend and put back into the economy than I do. Moving from Orwell to Darwin, based on those solid facts, I am a burden on the economy and society, I'm bringing down, holding back, the herd.

So, in the interest of evolution and the greater good, I spent my train ride home brainstorming the "best" careers/industries for people who are unattractive and/or over the age of 28. The requirements are: 1) Face/body not seen and 2) pay not based on subjective tips from customers.


Here's what I've come up with so far:
  • Welder
  • Haz-mat worker
  • Miner
  • Sewage worker
  • Anything with animals - zookeeper, cow milker, egg gatherer, shepherd.
This helps me get a new perspective on my job hunt. Seeing my place in the societal evolution chain helps me realize it's about finding a job best suited not to my skills/talents/aptitudes. It's about finding a job that's appropriate for my place in society. An unattractive, single, over the age of 28-year-old woman who wants to be part of the herd needs to step up to the economic needs of her herd and find a job appropriate to her place in the herd so that she can maximize her earning potential and then, in turn, contribute more to the economy of her herd.

I'm leaning toward shepherd. I like sheep, I like being outdoors in nature, I'm okay spending long spans of time alone. Seems like a good fit for me. And I owe this career and life changing epiphany to a Super Bowl waitressing gig.

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2:24 PM

Sunday, February 06, 2011  
I need help.

We know this. I need so much help on so many levels it's difficult to prioritize the issues.

But here's the issue requiring immediate advice.

You may recall mention of my head-banging-metal stoner neighbor.

For a while the pot smoking was only occasional. Once every couple months.

Over the past six months the toking increased to once a week. And lately it's been three-four day-long non-stop toke-fests. And not the "good" stuff. We're talking rank, dead skunk smell.

Someone told me medical marijuana smells really bad - like the cheap stuff 14-year-olds smoke under the bleachers. So I gave him the benefit of the doubt and some sympathy about the medicinal need for pot. 

Yadda yadda yadda my condo smelled like weed - really bad weed - stale dead skunk weed. I had windows open, vents covered, and still: The stench remained. When friends told me my hair and coat smelled like pot I knew it was waaaaaaay past time to "do" something about my neighbor's habit.

Imagine every movie, television show and documentary you've ever seen about college life in the late '60s and early '70s. Imagine the stoner frat house off campus in Ann Arbor or Madison. In 1971. Now imagine how the basement of that off-campus frat house in 1971 might smell. Welcome to my living room. Incense and peppermints. Turn on, tune in, turn your eyes around. Baby.

I'm, you know, "cool" about drugs, especially pot. I love going to Flaming Lips shows, for flip sake. If the user isn't hurting anyone else I don't care what other people do or smoke or snort or swallow or inject into themselves. I'm not saying I advocate narcotic use. I'm just saying as long as no one's getting hurt it's none of my business and I'm not going to judge.

But.

My neighbor is forcing me and everyone else on our floor and above and below him to endure his pot smoke and affiliated smells.

And no, the issue wouldn't be resolved by giving him a better grade of weed, something more herbal smelling. Even the good stuff smells skunky when toked day in, day out. (We don't really need to delves into why I know this, do we? We can just leave it at: I went to college. I went to art school. I've been to lot of concerts.)

And no: incense, air freshener, dryer sheets etc. are not a solution. My condo is littered with dryer sheets. A friend brought over Fabreeze, soy candles, and a hospital grade odor elimination spray (her husband's brother is an ER doctor). So then my condo smelled like dryer sheets, Fabreeze, sandalwood and cheap, stale skunky pot. Mmmmmm, now there's a lovely aromatic blend.

One day on my way to the trash bins one of my other neighbors cornered me in the stench-ridden common hallway. She's about my age. And a college professor. And spends a couple months a year volunteering at schools in Jamaica. She's no stranger to weed. And she's as fed up as I am.

"What are we going to do about this?" She gestured, pointed, into the hallway air, as if the stench was an entity, a being, and she was accusing it. Actually, it kind of is an entity. It's so bad the smell has become another neighbor.

Both of us are probably the "coolest" people on our floor, "cool" in the sense that we're not judgmental about things like pot and heavy metal and the people who enjoy them. We're certainly the last people among our floor's residents you'd expect to complain about pot smoking. We don't want to be the ones to narc out our head-banging stoner neighbor. We resent that his immaturity and inconsideration are putting us in the situation of "to narc, or not to narc."

But, as my neighbor said, this isn't "just" a matter of moving. 1) This is a condo building, it's not a simple matter of riding out a year's lease and moving, and 2) the housing market is awful and other than the foreclosures in my building nothing's selling. And, even if by some miracle one of us had an interested buyer, the stench of pot in the common hallway and through the vents would drive away most (all?) prospective condo buyers. Would you buy a condo in a building that smelled like stale skunky pot?

When I first moved in I knocked on my neighbor's door to talk to him about the decibel level of his Metallica and the smell of his pot. I approached him with a "hey, it's cool, I've been known to bang my head, too, and I don't care if you smoke pot, but, I have a job and need to get up early and go to work, so I need to sleep and your 2 AM amps at 11 metal fests and pot smoking kind of interfere with that. Could you just turn down the music a few decibels and open a window?" I was upbeat, positive, "hey, you know, I'm not judging, I'm just asking for a compromise." My requests were met with "Fuck you bitch," and "fuck you bitch," and "fuck you bitch." And the music volume was increased and cigar smoke was added into the pot smoke mix.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, my neighbor is not a college student. He is a 45 - 50-year-old man. His father bought him the condo 15 years ago. He does not have a job. The rumor is that he collects disability insurance and/or welfare and medicaid and food assistance because he suffers from agoraphobia. One of my neighbors confirmed that she saw him using a Link card (Illinois' version of food stamps) at our local grocery. Another (the college professor) said she once opened a letter with a return address from a state agency, without paying attention to the addressee. Upon realizing it was a welfare statement she checked the addressee and realized the mailman had erroneously put the letter in her mailbox. But that was 9 or 10 years ago. So. That's pretty much the sum total of what's known about our neighbor.

So, the whole, "just go next door and have a talk with him" about the music volume level and pot smoking didn't go over very well. We're not talking about a mature, reasonable human being.

But.

That didn't make me more "willing" to rat out someone. I mean, I'm not that person. I'm not the person who complains to management about rock music and drugs. I'm the tolerant, nonjudgmental, easy-going person.

And, hey, one day I might be overcome with the urge to crank up the Pixies* or cook spicy curry tofu.

Glass houses.

I wouldn't do these things at 2 AM, though. Or habitually, daily.

After the "fuck you bitch" response I called our building management to talk about the noise issue. They registered the noise complaint. Three of those and you have to go to a condo board hearing.

The problem, though, is that he's not the owner of the condo. And he's not a renter. His father owns the condo and lets him live there. Meaning, my neighbor is not "responsible" for his behavior. His father is. And his father lives in Florida. So. Basically, there's no easy, clear way to kick him out or even fine him, at least under our condo rules.

So that's where the official channels got me with the noise complaints.

And then the pot smoking increased to the three-four day-long binges.

After a particularly difficult couple of days I was past my level of tolerance.

We all know I have issues, problems. Not challenges, bona fide problems. Some days...some days are really, really, really awful. Financial stress, job rejection after job rejection, health issues (with no health insurance)...and that's a good day. I'm not proud that I couldn't separate my personal problems from my neighbor's inconsiderate habits. But. You know how sometimes you just...break? Things hit at once, pile up and you hit your point of intolerance. And do things you wouldn't normally do.

Like narc out someone.

Last month I did the thing I didn't want to do.

I followed protocol for after-hours disturbances in our building and registered a complaint with our night security manager. He's a pretty decent human being so I went to him more to discuss my situation than to file a complaint. The result of that conversation was that our security guy came to "smell" our hall. He said he's noticed it from time-to-time but agreed this was far worse than he's noticed in the past. He came into my condo and confirmed the stench. He also confirmed the ineffective open windows, covered vents, dryer sheets, soy candles and Fabreeze. 

He then logged an official narcotic use complaint along with another noise violation.

A week later I was called to a meeting with the building manager, the security manager and the condo board president. They had a "talk" with my neighbor. The pot is not medicinal. He was told that one more complaint and the police will be called and a board hearing will take place, with or without his father present. 

Oh crap.

I'm really not that person. No one should get busted by the cops and/or evicted for crappy weed. Or good weed, for that matter. 

But then again, no one should be forced to endure pot stench, either. Or three days of Iron Maiden at wall shaking volume.

Things "calmed down" the past couple weeks. I didn't feel "guilty," but I didn't feel "good" about the events that transpired. I didn't mean, "No pot, no music, ever." I just meant, you know, "let's be reasonable about this."

Sooooooo, now, we have a new issue.

My neighbor has obviously heeded the complaints and is "worried" about the cops and his "totally uncool neighbors." If he really does have agoraphobia my complaints and the "talk" with the building management must have been a total nightmare for him. I feel bad if he's living in a state of paranoia, but, dude, look in the mirror. You're responsible for your own paranoia. If you're a paranoid agoraphobic doesn't it seem like you'd live way, way, way above reproach, be extra super careful to follow the letter of the law and not do anything that would cause anyone to want/need to talk to you? I'm not paranoid or agoraphobic so I'm not clear on the the ability to reason, connect behavioral dots, when you're afflicted with paranoid agoraphobia. Insight, anyone?

What's someone like him to do? He wants to get high and listen to metal. That's what he does. That's all he does.

He found a solution.

Our common hallway and my condo now smell like damp, musty, moldy bong water. (We don't really need to delve into why I know what moldy bong water smells like, do we? We can just leave it at: I went to college. I went to art school. I've been to lot of concerts.)

If I complain, again, the cops will be involved and I don't want that. I'm not sure what they'll do. I'm pretty sure our police force has much bigger problems, dangerous, violent gangs, for instance. I think unless you're caught selling/dealing drugs, especially something as petty at weed, you get a fine, like a traffic ticket. If that.

But. The damp, musty, moldy bong air is setting off my asthma. My asthma inhaler is almost empty and I cannot afford another one.

Yes. I will soon be losing my condo and this will be a non-issue...but...my real estate agent was generously going to try a short sale for me. On his visit to look over my place again, the pot/bong smells were so strong he pulled me aside and said, "I'm not judging, I know you said it's your neighbor, but really, if it's you just lay off for a while or do it outside or something, I can't possibly show this place smelling like this."

Yes. My real estate agency counseled me on drug use.

And the only drug I'm using is my asthma inhaler because of my neighbor's bong use.

Okay.

So.

Do I file another complaint which will prompt police action? Try to talk to the neighbor again?

My other neighbors also filed complaints, so we're a unified group and we all know the current score...and none of us wants to see the guy "in trouble with the law" over pot.

And yet...we don't want to live this way, either.

Because I share a common wall and vents with him, and I am the most effected (and affected) by it, I'm the one with the asthma issues stemming from the bong smell, so the verdict is that I'm the one who "should" file the complaint that will trigger the call to the cops.

Or do we ask him to go back to smoking "regular" weed instead of the bong? At least then my asthma won't be as much of an issue.

Help. Please. Help. I need sound advice on this.

Do I just "deal with it" until foreclosure locks down my condo and I'm not living here anymore? My neighbor's feeling on that is that my foreclosure is an unrelated issue. For now, I live here. Period.

So do I pursue justice, follow the rules and get the cops involved? Is there another compromise?

Someone? Anyone? Help?




*And really, the only way to properly listen to Planet of Sound is with amps at 11.

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11:47 AM

Tuesday, February 01, 2011  
So, this happened.

video

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9:17 PM

 
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