Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Fine Art of Fookery

My Aunt Clara scarf is complete and now I'm moving on to the matching hat. Ehhhhhhhhhhxcellent... (Mr. Burns voice)

Why do I find such joy in messing with people? I don't know if I was born with a tendency toward fookery, but I certainly honed my fookery skills while working as a customer service rep for a cellular company. You know when you meet somebody with the same sense of humor as you have and it makes a completely crappy job almost bearable? Every time I watch "The Office" Tuesday nights on NBC, follwing Earl, I think of how important it is to have a kindred spirit when working in a place that sucks your will to live. I met my friend Renee at this crappy job - and Renee's penchant for following the rules just enough to maintain your employment status was equal to my own. Not getting fired is a key tenet of Fookery, and it's especially fun to push the envelope in a Union environment. I mastered Looking Busy When Actually Not by walking around carrying a clipboard and looking worried.

The best way to describe Fookery is a sort of benign heinousness - not anything that would get you in trouble, but just a little creative mischief to liven up your day. It doesn't necessarily have to be motivated by malice, but it can be, and often that inspires a whole different level of creativity. One example is how I pretended to have a lisp when working in a call center. I also pretended my name was Francesca, just to make it funnier. So, when I answered the phone, I said "Cushtomer Shervish, thish ish Francheshca, how may I sherve you, shir?" Shee? Sorry... see?? Nothing's grounds for dismissal if it's funny enough. Your manager can't very well write you up if he's laughing, now can he?

We had this other friend Scott who had more technical ability than we did (it's always good to have someone with technical ability for a Fookery friend, as it opens up a whole world of possibilities) and he often left mysterious company-wide voicemails of cartoon voices. Scott is one of the funniest people I know, and his fookery skills were quite impressive. We would sit in bewildered awe at some of the crazy shit he pulled. He was capable of some damn fine fookery. We liked to call him up after we got drunk on mimosas at Easter Brunch and remind him that he was our second-favorite Jew. Next to Jesus, of course.

Debbie, The Taskmaster of the office (ie. the toadie with no actual authority who walks around like a badass), was nicknamed "The Gooch", after the unseen yet ever-present bully on Diff'rent Strokes (I always wondered, why the apostrophe? Why not just "Different Strokes"?), and if she ever pulled you aside and told you to shape up, it was called "getting Gooched". The Gooch also happened to have the rankest breath imaginable. I don't know what the woman ate, but it yielded a dumpster-like combination of rancid smells, and when she spoke, a green garlicy cloud drifted out of her mouth. One act of fookery involved us leaving a pack of mint gum on her desk anonymously and twittering like chipmunks when she found it.

Then there was a manager with the unfortunate last name of Schwab. Her name was a lot of fun to play with. Anything hoosier-ific was Schwabby, Schwabbified or Schwabalicious. She was one of those who rose above her junior college education and blue collar roots (and don't get me started on her roots, she had a really bad dye job) to be in management but you knew she had a Camaro on cinder blocks in her front yard. Imagine a woman with blonde hair and visible black roots and waaaaaay too much eye makeup wearing tapered acid-wash jeans and fringed boots, and suckin on a Virginia Slim. That's Schwabbery, defined. If you're envisioning a white-trash version of Kathie Lee Gifford, you're on the right track.

Sometimes on our lunch breaks, Renee and I would call in to the queue and when someone answered with scripted politeness, we'd scream as loud as we could for a few seconds, then we'd hang up and call back. Ah, good times... then Renee moved away (sniff) and now we have to admire each other's fookery from afar. Actually, at times it comes in handy to have a fookery friend far away, just in case I want to mail something anonymously to someone who pissed me off and need it to have a postmark other than St Louis, MO.

Renee's had some damn fine fookery in her day. One of my favorites is when she placed a classified ad in the local newpaper asking for 100-pound+ dogs to show up (under the clever ruse of a fake dog food commercial audition) at the office of a woman who hadn't paid Renee for some work that she did for her. We don't know for sure if any 100-pound dogs actually showed up, but even if just one did, it's a fookin genius act of fookery, ain't it?

I'm sure Renee would probably tell you that one of her favorite Moments In Fookery History is contained in an email I sent her back in April 2002. Hubby reminded me that the people involved could possibly be reading this so I've made some adjustments in the story:

Well, I'm sure you remember Mr and Mrs Name Protected who are notorious for giving us re-gifted, crappy, age-inappropriate and incorrectly sized gifts (remember my clothes from the Juniors department and the Bubble Train for ages 18 months+ for Nat's 4th birthday?) that were purchased on clearance and put away for a gift-giving occasion that could be months away, rendering the shitty gift unreturnable and worth about 33 cents in store credit if you can even determine which store it was purchased from? And forget a gift receipt since you'd only get what they paid for it back, which probably isn't much more anyway. We end up giving the gifts they give Nat to Toys for Tots, which means I have to figure out a place to store it for 6 months.

And I'm sure you remember how we attempted to rise above this gift-giving inequity and continued to buy cool gifts for their daughter (Lil Miss NP), such as a wooden dollhouse and a Rainbow Princess Barbie, which were met with Mrs NP muttering "oh greeeeeeeeeeeeaaat, more little pieces for me to pick up..."

Well, we got wise to their scheme and decided to play it to our advantage. We look for toys with lots of parts that are completely annoying on clearance and put them away to give to Lil Miss NP. It's like a sport, and hubby and I are great at it. In fact, it's brought us closer together as a couple. At one point we found the Baskin Robbins mini ice cream maker on clearance at Target, but then we found it at WalMart for 20 bucks, so we returned it to WalMart (hee hee) and made money on the deal.

Then we found Cootie Jitterbug - a battery-operated, noisy and annoying version of the original, and put it away for nearly a year until Lil Miss NPs' birthday. Thank GOD they didn't have a party for her again this year. Every year they try to cram like 12 grownups and 7 kids in their house. No, Mr NP had a conference in LA, so they actually purchased a plane ticket and took Lil Miss NP to Disneyland for her 4th birthday. Whatever.

Anyway, we presented Lil Miss NP with her gift at Easter (in a non-reusable slightly torn gift bag, as I had covered every detail) and to my delight, she shrieked "I ALREADY HAVE THIS GAME!!!" Gleefully I imagined the scenario that we had endured so many times before - standing in line at the return counter "um, yeah, I got this as a gift and I need to return it..." "yeah, RIGHT! we haven't had those on the shelves for 6 months! You can have a dollar in store credit, if ya want it..." "no, thanks..."

Well, apparently Mrs NP knew exactly what it was worth since she probably bought it at the same time we did, and her reaction was " love that you can have one upstairs and one downstairs..." And the best part was that I was in the bathroom at the time, where I could hear everything and yet freely snicker without fear of an embarrassing social faux pas. I was so tickled by my triumphant victory, I don't even care if she's onto us, which I suspect she is.

You'll undoubtedly see this recurring Fookery theme in upcoming posts.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Just call me Aunt Clara

Today my goal is to finish the scarf I started last week so that I may proceed to create the most heinous Mother/Daughter matching scarf and hat ensemble ever. Tee hee!! It's going to look like furry pink puke and I can't wait. I'm going to twitter with fiendish glee when I see my unfortunate family members wearing them.

Ok, ever seen A Christmas Story? Remember when Ralphie has to try on the bunny suit that his Aunt Clara made - Aunt Clara who for years had labored under the delusion that he was both perpetually four years old and a girl? Imagine if Aunt Clara had actually intended to create a hand-made item so awful and hideous not for her nephew to enjoy, but for her own amusement? She knew Ralphie's mother would ensure that she got a chance to see him wearing the revolting frock. Poor delusional Aunt Clara is suddenly my kinda gal - Wicked Diabolical Aunt Clara! That's the kind of crazy old person I want to be. I'll let them all think I've lost my marbles when I hand them a hand-knit acrylic nightmare, and I'll snicker softly when they force themselves to choke back a gasp of horror and instead say "ooooh, thanks Aunt Sarah! You must have worked realllllllllly hard on this..."

Muhhhwaaaaahahahahahahaha!!! Crazy like a fox!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

100 Nifty Things About Penny Karma

Not that you asked, but:

Here are 100 things about me, in no particular order.

1. I was born on January 13, in the 1970's.
2. in Columbus, Ohio.
3. I grew up in St Louis, MO with my dad, mom and younger sister.
4. I am in dire need of a manicure.
5. And a pedicure.
6. I know all of the words to "The Humpty Dance"
7. And "Hey Ladies"
8. And "Baby Got Back".
9. I like big butts, and I can not lie.
10. The only song I've ever karaoked in public is "Son of a Preacher Man".
11. I could eat Werther's Chewy Caramels all day.
12. Today I ate Werther's Chewy Caramels all day.
13. I think I can hear my teeth rotting inside my head right now.
14. I had my first cavity at age 20.
15. I love my actual dentist as a person, but I hate going to see "The Dentist".
16. The worst pain I've ever endured was gallstones.
17. A close second is childbirth.
18. Third place is a tie between a kidney infection (on my birthday, no less, which is when...? POP QUIZ! Yes, January 13th! Yay! Thanks for paying attention)
19. And having 4 impacted wisdom teeth removed.
20. I once had a roommate that was both vegetarian and bulemic. If that makes sense to you, please explain it to me.
21. I admire vegetarians, but c'mon... "Bacon tastes good... Pork chops taste good..."
22. That's the prelude to one of my favorite lines in Pulp Fiction, which is: "Hey, sewer rat might taste like pumpkin pie but I'd never know because I wouldn't eat the filthy Muthahfuggah."
23. For every cow a vegetarian saves, I'll probably eat three.
24. Really, I wish I didn't like steak so much and hate vegetables just as much.
25. If cauliflower was wrapped in bacon and dipped in chocolate, I just might eat it.
26. Enough food talk, I'm hungry.
27. Tonight I'm making chicken on the George Foreman Grill.
28. I love my George Foreman Grill.
29. I used it last night to make turkey burgers.
30. I'm a huge fan of reality shows.
31. I love Survivor - all time favorite castaway is Ethan, who won Season 3.
32. I also love The Amazing Race (even got my parents hooked on that one)
33. And America's Next Top Model. Go Kim!!
34. And The Apprentice (both Martha and Donald)
35. I would rather be Martha's Apprentice than Donald's.
36. My middle name is Elizabeth.
37. I have a BA in English.
38. I minored in French.
39. I took 2 years of Latin in high school.
40. Nobody needs 2 years of Latin.
41. I take Wellbutrin XL, and am not the least bit ashamed of it.
42. I'm a HUGE fan of Indigo Girls. HUGE.
43. My first car was a 1978 Chevy Impala, three-speed on the tree.
44. If my life were made into a movie, the part of me would be played by Jenna Elfman.
45. I haven't had my hair cut since July. It's now November.
46. I had the Dorothy Hamill 'do when I was little.
47. For my 30th birthday, I bought myself the Vintage Barbie Townhouse that I always wanted.
48. I have a tattoo.
49. I got the aforementioned tattoo at Sunset Strip Tattoo in West Hollywood.
50. I love big words, like "aforementioned".
51. I may well be the worst housekeeper of all time.
52. I am, however, a fairly decent cook.
53. I love to make desserts.
54. Once I wrecked a "just add water" Stir-And-Bake cake by adding too much water.
55. When I lived in an apartment I rented a storage room, and for a full year I wrote my checks out to "Pubic Storage". On purpose.
56. I have a violent aversion to pickles. Even the thought of the smell of a pickle makes me want to throw up.
57. I also have an unnatural aversion to clowns.
58. A clown chasing me while wielding a Super Soaker full of pickle juice would pretty much be my worst nightmare.
59. I have never drunk a cup of coffee in my life.
60. Never eaten at Taco Bell either.
61. I bought more yarn today, like I really needed to (shhhh...).
62. I got my Monkeemaven Hastily Whipstitched Handmade Original in the mail today (photos coming soon)!
63. As much as I love to talk about myself, coming up with 100 things about me is harder than I thought.
64. I have a superhuman sense of smell. I often wonder if I'm actually a superhero and I just haven't been able to harness my powers for the betterment of mankind yet because I'm too damn lazy.
65. My checks have pictures from Where The Wild Things Are on them.
66. I need to stop writing so many checks.
67. I was thrilled when I discovered that you can buy Shiner Bock in Missouri now. That's some good stuff.
68. I drink Diet Coke and very little else.
69. I have an embarrassing amount of dirty laundry on my basement floor right now.
70. They're real... and they're spectacular.
71. I love the Godfather films. Well, 1 and 2, anyway.
72. I love the greeters at WalMart. I think they're a hoot.
73. The last movie I saw in a theater was Madagascar.
74. The last movie I rented was also Madagascar.
75. My son Ryan pronounces it "Madaganstar".
76. I love thrift stores and estate sales. I've spent hours at a good thrift store.
77. One of my favorite estate sale finds is a belt buckle with the Whirlpool logo on it.
78. The most I've ever spent on a pair of shoes is $80 on a pair of Doc Martens 9 years ago. I felt so guilty about it that since then, the most I've spent on a pair of shoes is $40.
79. The most I've ever spent on a purse was $60 on eBay for my favorite purse of all time, my gigantic Coach duffle I've nicknamed Colossus. I can fit a 6-pack in there. Don't ask.
80. I'm currently banned from buying purses and shoes.
81. And yarn. (See # 61.)
82. I have a collection of Bad Christmas Music. (Did you know Ru Paul has a Christmas Album? It's entitled "HO HO HO".)
83. I'm probably the only person alive with 2 Falco CD's in her collection. Except for maybe... MRS. Falco.
84. Some of my former employers include: The Gap,
85. Victoria's Secret,
86. The Body Shop,
87. A snack bar at the St Louis Zoo,
88. Bridge / Savvis, whose former CEO was recently reported to have charged over $240,000 on his company AmEx at a strip club in Manhattan. Genius, eh?
89. And Aveda, where I was completely screwed over by one of the biggest beeeeyotches I've ever encountered - Kerry Lane - who deliberately changed the weekly schedule and then when I didn't show up for the shift I didn't know I had, she fired me. I was six months pregnant at the time (which she knew). I asked her why she didn't call me and she said she had called my apartment. I said why didn't you try my cell, you have that number. Then she said "Well, uh... I don't have all morning to call around for you..." Yeah, whatever. Karma'll gitcha, sista.
90. I also have a very large collection of vinyl LP's. Easily over 600.
91. I have a front-door goose named Hamish. I'll have to put up a pic of him. He's hot.
92. I would love to spend a day with Ellen DeGeneres. She doesn't try to tell you what to buy and what to read like Oprah does.
93. If the shoes I ordered from LL Bean don't get here today, I'm going to be really pissed off. (See # 80)
94. Once I dressed as Hester Prynne for a costume contest - and I won.
95. I have an awesome husband and I am crazy about him.
96. I have three awesome kids and I am crazy because of them.
97. If I won the lottery I'd pay off our debt, buy a nice 4BR house and a Toyota Sienna, buy my parents a fantastic house wherever they wanted to live, and take the whole family on a dream vacation.
98. I don't ever buy lottery tickets, so the chances of my winning are rather slim.
99. A book that changed my life was The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.
100. I have a little bitty crush on my local weatherman. ;)

Friday, November 18, 2005

Good Intentions

I have the best of intentions when I sit down to make things for other people, but usually one of two things happens:

A) I finish it and decide it sucks and I'd be embarrassed to give it to the intended recipient

or B) I finish it and decide it's awesome and I keep it for myself.

I rarely follow patterns, I just like to putz around and figure it out as I go along. I don't want to buy more yarn to make a pattern with the yarn suggested in it, so I kinda play around with what I've got and see what works. One of these days I'll figure out gauge. But there's math involved in that... eeewwwwww.

At the moment I have 3 different scarves going and a couple of PIM's (projects in mind?) so I'm holding out the until the Slowpoke Putzer Knitalong starts up.

Ryanisms Volume 1


My son Ryan is almost 4, and he's always whippin out these crazy contextless sentences that sound like Bob Dylan lyrics, so I started calling them Ryanisms. One of my favorite Ryanisms came when I was changing his diaper about a year ago. He looked up at me pensively and said:

"Mom, it's hard to eat candy on a bumpy road."

Think about it. It's true.

And just moments ago, I heard:

"Mom, I'm not going to pick my nose in the Christmas Play."

Which refers to the time last summer when his Vacation Bible School put on a show for the parents at the end of the week, and he sat on the stage with his finger in his nose. This reference alone would have been funny enough, but he went on to say:

"Because camels don't pick their noses."

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Monkeemaven Rocks!

I wrote a J Peterman-esque catalog description for this cool shawl made by Monkeemaven of Knittyfame, and she is so cool, she's going to send it to me!

She was the sort of woman who stays in your memory forever. She had a coy smile that made you wonder if she knew something about you that you'd thought was a well-guarded secret. And as I watched her walk slowly down the beach, her sillouette fading softly into the twilight of that autumn day, I knew I'd never forget the sight of her hastily whip-stitched Very Furry Shawl which captured her very essence... for those rare occasions when she chose to wear her warmth on the outside as well.

Lots On My Mind Today

Lemme think where to start - well, let's see, R (DH, if you're playing along at home) has worked at his job for 2 years coming up next month. Prior to that, we were one of the families that the church adopted for Christmas. That was one of the more humbling experiences of my life, so the holiday season kinda gets me down. It should probably make me grateful for all that I have, but it really just crosses the line into where I feel guilty for all that I have. And then I feel like I have the brattiest kids alive who always want more toys to replace the ones that are on the bottom of the pile of unplayedwith toys that they won't put away.

I haven't slept through the night since March. Literally. I'm lucky to get a four-hour stretch of sleep, then an interruption of some sort, such as getting one of the boys a cup of water, then maybe (or maybe not) fall back to sleep for an hour before either the alarm or one of the kids wakes me up again. I'm used to it. I can function on no sleep. I've done it occasionally when I had to take one of the kids to the ER and didn't get home until the next morning.

The last time I can remember getting a good night's sleep was the night after Randy got me set up on Microsoft Money so I can better track our spending - the month before, a $300 check we had written 3 months earlier suddenly cleared, leaving us with $400 worth of bounced checks and bank fees. I wanted to die. Financial management has never been my thing, and I didn't want to manage our money because I wasn't the one with the big fat wad of credit card debt. This was a major thing when we were first married - I didn't think I should have to dig us out of a hole I didn't put us in, but the more I thought about it, he is clearly incapable of managing it, so somebody needs to or it's never going to get any better. Sure, I could have stuck to my principle that I didn't have to clean up a mess I didn't make, but I'd be stickin to my principles under a bridge. So, long story short, I became the money manager. That was the last time I slept well.

During the last few months, I've come to discover that the most interesting dreams occur when you're not all the way asleep, and somehow I seem to remember them more clearly than the deep-sleep dreams of my fading memory. If having a dream twice qualifies it as recurring, I've had the dream where I'm Martha Stewart's apprentice twice now. I've thought of all the stuff I want to say to her, how passionate I am about everything I do, and how I'd love to work hard and sharpen my own skills with a team that's committed to her passion, and contribute to a company whose focus is to grow and learn and adapt in order to dynamically impact the world that its customers live in. I even had a vision of what I'll make for my Knitting pals for Christmas. See? Wouldn't Martha just want to wrap me up in a hand-knit afghan and crown me Martha Junior? What does this dream say about me?? I watch too much TV.

Next topic - basic manners. A couple of weeks ago I took my youngest child (who will be 3 the day after my sister's wedding) to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. Two interesting things happened there. One, I witnessed the most ridiculous display of poor manners that I've seen in a long time. As the birthday child opened each gift, his mother handed the parent of the child who gave whatever gift was just opened an envelope. I didn't open it right away because I thought, there's no WAY that's the obligatory thank you note. Then I saw another parent open hers and I felt my skin tighten on my bones. I opened the envelope and slid out what was not a kid's thank you note. This was one of those that you'd expect to get from your grandmother after you sent her some socks for Mother's Day or something. I'm pretty sure I saved the actual note so I can scan it. Inside, it said "Thanks so much for the gift." Tacky beyond measure.

The second thing that happened filled my heart with the sort of fiendish glee usually reserved for the moment when you witness a practical joke befalling its victim. I saw Kim - a girl I'd gone to school with since 5th grade (in 4th grade I visited the school she went to and she gave me the tour, so I felt like we should be friends), who has never,ever been nice to me. She was one of the Mean Girls, a Queen Bee. I'll be first to admit, I was a geek, an easy target. My dad was a minister and my family didn't have a lot of money to spend on cool clothes so I got a lot of hand-me-downs from women that my mom knew. Kim was not particularly pretty, but had two pretty and very popular older sisters and a divorced mom who indulged the three of them. She knew all the cool high schoolers and set the fashion trends. We all hated her, yet of course we wanted to be her.

The last time I saw her, she had a baby on her hip and was gigantically pregnant with another. We were outside of Shop N Save, and she said hi to me and introduced me to her husband, her marital status having changed since the big 10-year reunion that she spearheaded 2 years earlier. I'm pretty sure she wanted me to pass the info through the grapevine that she was married with kids so as to dispel the popular belief that she had a touch of the Peppermint Patty thing goin' on. I said hi to her son, who was 11 months old, and asked when her baby was due. Any day, she said. Wow, congratulations. Great to see ya! Yeah, call me sometime! Sure, that'd be great. Buh bye... As I walked away with R, 4 year old Beebie and 4 month old Pie, I thought to myself, my GOD I would die if I had babies that close together. I even said it out loud to Randy. Little did I know I was pregnant with Tito at the time. My sons are 10.5 months apart. Oh, bitter irony.

So this time I saw her and she didn't say hi to me. I know she saw me. And I looked fantastic. Apparently the 40 pounds I'd lost since I saw her last when straight to her ass. Nothing in this world makes me happier than when people I hate are fatter than me. It was a moment I've waited for for many years. I could feel my inner child breakdancing with my inner bitch. Am I being petty? Sure. I'm so junior high. Humor me for a moment, won't you?