Saturday, September 27, 2008

Of Dreams and Nightmares.

Don't you love it when new characters enter my life and you can just tell they're going to be fun to read about? Well, brace yourselves, Bitches. Today we're introducing someone new to the BMB cast.

But first, I have to tell you about my weekend. I had agreed to take part in a study for a market research company. I'm signed up with a bunch of different companies, and every once in a while they'll call me and ask me a bunch of questions to see if I qualify for whatever demographic they're looking for.

This time I got a call asking if I'm a registered voter and if I'm planning to vote in the upcoming presidential election.

Um, yeah...

And if the election were held today...


Great! You qualify to take part in our study...blah blah blah... pays a hundred dollars.

Awesome. I'm there.

Terrific! We'll see you Friday at 7! Bye!

Oh, SHIT, wait a minute. They're gonna ask me my opinion or something. Ok, breathe deeply... when it's your opinion there's no right or wrong answer, right? Well, true, but you can still make an ass of yourself.

That night I had a dream. I've been having really vivid dreams recently. I dreamed that I was having this torrid affair with Don Draper (Jon Hamm's character in Mad Men) and his wife Betty was angrily confronting me with all kinds of forensic evidence and a poster board with diagrams and 8x10 color glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was, to be used as evidence against me. (HUGE cool points if you catch the reference in there.)

And of course, instead of thumping my chest and singing BOOM I GOT YOUR BOYFRIEND! I GOT YOUR MAN! I totally pussed out and asked if we can't all just get along because it's a small town and I'm bound to run into you at the market. Let's put the fact that I boned your husband within an inch of his life behind us, ok, Bets? Love your hair, by the way.

But that's not the dream I wanted to tell you about. I also had a dream in which I hugged Barack Obama. Sweetly, not icky or even remotely sexual or anything like that. A little longer than you'd hug a friend, sure, but totally not a Lewinsky thing. It was just him and me in a room like a library or maybe an office. No one else around. And I hugged him warmly and it felt very comforting. The weird part is how weird it didn't seem at the time.

Ok, so Friday night rolled around and I went to the place for the study. There were about 60 people there, and I was at a table with four other people, including a woman I'd sold something to on Craigslist once and the husband of the woman who was my sponsor when I went through the RCIA thing you have to do when you Formally Become Catholic. As soon as I recognized him, I SO wished I'd brought my copy of The Ethical Slut as reading material.

So at our table we tried to figure out what the format was going to be for this study. And somebody said they'd heard we would be watching...

wait for it...


Fuck. This is total Karma for my ditching Buffy on her Let's Listen To A Conference Call With Michelle Obama invitation. This is a nightmare. But at least there's food.

And then the lady across from me came back from the food table with a big ol' smelly pickle. I quickly scanned the room for Satan and Saddam Hussein because I was pretty sure I was in Hell. No, I'm alive, I'm just surrounded by two of my least favorite things in the world - Pickles and Politics.

So we spent nearly two hours watching the debate and turning a knob to any number between 0 and 100 to represent our reaction to what we were hearing (0 = very unfavorable, 100 = very favorable). Normally, my brain automatically clicks off as soon as I hear the word FEDERAL, because the word itself is a pretty good indicator that I'm probably not going to understand anything that follows it.

I know I dozed off at one point. I'm not used to being up that late. It was after 9pm, you know.

And then here's the best part. Based on their reactions to various parts of the debate, ten people were selected to stay after the debate for another focus group which would last about half an hour, and pay an additional fifty dollars.

Guess who got picked.

If someone asks me what I think about something I really have no idea what I'm talking about, I'll blather on and on and eventually I'll talk myself out of my own opinion. If I could remember what I said, I'd tell you, but I can't - other than that my favorite part of the debate was when Senator Obama said he had a bracelet too. I went home 3 hours later, $150 dollars richer, and physically drained.

And now, I shall introduce our new character.

I offered to volunteer at the boys' school library. I worked at the library at Beeb's school for a few years and I loved it, so I thought this would be a volunteer job I'd like. I arrived cheerful and enthusiastic, confident that I could handle any task they'd put in front of me.

And then I met The Book Nazi. She's actually Chinese (and please don't think I'm being politically incorrect when I quote her broken English, ok? It's not like I said broken Engrish.), so the word Nazi doesn't really seem right. I'm leaning toward maybe The Dragon because she's Chinese and scary and the library is her Lair, but for now, suffice it to say that she's every bit as big a ballbuster as The Church Nazi is.

Oh, GET THIS SHIT - speaking of The Church Nazi, last Sunday we skipped some Required event we were supposed to go to so my kids can go to Heaven. I knew we'd missed it, I didn't care, I KNEW The Church Nazi was going to call and bitch me out, and I was prepared for it.

Today she called MY CELL (Now, I KNOW I didn't give her that number, why the fuck would I do that??), and as soon as she went into "Hi, Mrs. Karma, this is The Church Nazi, and I was calling about the Mandatory..." I cut her off.


Yeah, actually, we're leaving the parish.

You're... You're what???


Oh, er, well, have you called the Rectory to inform them?

(Huhhuhhuh... she said Rectory) Not yet, but I plan to.

So then, did you want to be... removed from our program?

Yes. YES.

I didn't even say Please.

It was a moment I've dreamed of for years. And it was every bit as absolutely fucking beautiful as I'd imagined it would be. But I digress.

I was immediately put to work putting new scanner labels on the Berenstain Bears books. She showed me where to stick the labels, and it seemed pretty self-explanatory. So I stuck stickers for an hour or so. Until suddenly...


She scared the crap outta me.

Ok, here's a pic I just happened to snap that day, just to show the world what a sexy librarian I am. Note the label on the book. See how it doesn't cover up the title of the book? Like any normal person would have done it, right?

NO NO NO! It go in the CORNER just like I show you!

Well, I was just trying not to cover up the title...

Does not MATTER you cover up the title!

Ohhh...Kaaaay... I just figured you'd want the kids to be able to...


Got it. Sorry. Won't happen again. Shit!

It quickly became apparent to me that they do things a lot differently at this library than at the one I used to work at. I'm used to checking in books as they come in and then putting them on a reshelving cart and sorting them later. She wants me to sort them into ten different piles as they come in. Ok, whatever, you want piles all over the desk, I can deal with that.

At the old library, there was a card catalog by the door and each child had their own card with their name on it. So when it was time for them to check out their books, they could scan their card, which would bring up their information, then I could check the books out to them, hand them over and they'd be on their merry way.

Here, the kids show up at the desk, and I have to ask them for their last name so I can physically type it in. And more than once, The Dragon interrupted them and I couldn't hear either of them. It slowed me down (for which I got scolded by The Dragon - HURRY! HURRY! LONG LINE!!!) and it really pissed me off. Look, don't get on me for being too slow when you're part of the reason why I'm not going as quickly as I could. It's my first day, I don't know any of these kids' names... cut me some fuckin slack, lady.

Oh, and the other thing they do that I'm not used to is stamping the due date on the little Date Due Post-it Note lookin thing stuck in the back of the book. I didn't know libraries even used them anymore. Anyway, because another part of the check-out process is stamping the date stamp, The Dragon is constantly standing right behind me stamping date stamps and breathing her evil fire breath down my neck while I'm sitting at the check-out desk asking kids to spell their last names.

In short, my first day was not the fun, pleasant experience I'd had at the other library. Not even close. So this Tuesday when I was supposed to go back, I was seriously dreading it. I didn't want to return to the Dragon's Lair. She scared me. I thought about calling in sick, but then, eternal optimist that I am, I thought, well, maybe it'll be better today.

And it started out better, really. But then a little girl came in and asked if something her teacher in Room 17 wanted had printed yet. I had heard something print a few minutes earlier, so I went to the printer across from my desk, and went through the output pile.

Do you know what it is she printed?


All right then, let's look... it wouldn't be a kindergarten spelling list; you look older than that... well, the only things left are these two pages, go see if these are what she wanted.


Now, I didn't tell her to bring back whatever the pages were if they weren't what the teacher wanted, but I figured that'd be the common sense thing to do, right? And the pages didn't contain anything confidential or anything. I don't know what they were, but they didn't look too important to me.

So the girl comes back a few minutes later and asks me again for whatever the teacher printed. This time I asked the other librarian, the nicer one (which is what I should have done in the first place, I KNOW, but I kinda thought I had it covered since that was the only printer I could see).

There's another printer. This time we got the teacher the right thing. And all was well with the world and I forgot all about it.

Then, at a reasonably tranquil moment toward the end of my shift, I saw her over at the printer I'd gone to the first time, thumbing through the printed pages.


Shit. SHIT!!! I knew she was going to ask me if I went through the printouts and what I did with them, and before I would even get a word out she'd burn a hole right through me with her red hot lazer eyes.

Now, I could probably could have told the truth; that I'd mistakenly given them to the Room 17 girl because I didn't know there was another printer - and I probably could have located the pages if pressed, but I didn't really feel like being pressed, and I KNEW she'd turn it into a way bigger ordeal than it needed to be and she'd tell me I should have known better, like I'm seven.

So I sat at the desk looking dumb. I'm awesome at it.

At one point she turned around and looked in my direction and I got a cold chilly feeling all over like she was gonna call me out, but she didn't say anything.

When it comes down to it, I'm a fuckin volunteer. And I can quit. But I won't. And why? So you can look forward to reading about The Dragon every week. It's all about YOU, really.

You're welcome, Bitches.


Kevin C said...

Maybe Betty Draper would have had the misfortune to be stuck with a blind judge presiding over the case.

OK, my next band on Guitar Hero is totally going to be PICKLES AND POLITICS. And the first song I'll play is Iron Maiden's "Number of the Beast".

Speaking of Hell, what are your children going to do if they're not getting their education at the rectory? (BTW, would that be "rectal tutelage"? Just asking.)

I have to say, I'm not so keen on calling the library bitch The Dragon, because that's severely insulting to dragons. And I noticed that was a Berenstein Bears book you were holding. I wonder if you had the pleasure of labeling any of these books?

Helen said...

heh. Seriously. Imagine my surprise when the fancy, super high-tech newish library in the town I moved to actually stamped the dates in the book. Not even the due date card, but old school paper pasted into the cover. Crazy. Yet they even have those receipts that print out, which is what many libraries are moving to!

Anonymous said...

Wow. I can't believe you were one of "the" focus group. We were watching the debate on CNN and saw that stupid reaction graph on the bottom of the screen. It annoyed us so much we changed the channel to PBS. I'm glad they paid you, at least.

Amy in StL said...

It reminds me of the nun that was in charge of the library at my high school. She scared the crap out of me, but she wasn't Chinese so I guess it's not the same woman. I can't believe they have someone running the library who can't speak English. That's so craptastic!

Kashmir Knitter said...

Kevin, I want to be in your Rock Band. Something tells me it would be epic.

Thanks PK for sticking with the library job, it promises amusement galore... for us!

Kevin C said...

PICKLES AND POLITICS would be beyond epic. I'm envisioning the final experience to be something of a deathmetal/bluegrass fusion for the freeform jazz odysseys amid the barbershop quartet vocals, which would be backed by some kickass bagpipes. For the visual style, think Twisted Sister meets Wham!, only with M.C. Hammer pants.


Poops said...


"...And we all went back to the police officer's station. Obie said he was gonna put us in the cell. He said, 'Kid, I'm gonna put you in the cell--I want your wallet and your belt.' I said, 'I can understand you wantin' my wallet so I don't have any money to spend in the cell, but what do you want my belt for?' and he said, 'Kid, we don't want any hangin's.'"

I said, 'Obie, did you think I was gonna hang myself for litterin'?'"

Obie said he was makin' sure, and friends Obie was 'cause he took out the toilet seat so I wouldn't hit myself over the head and drown. And he took out the toilet paper so I couldn't bend the bars back, roll the toilet paper out the window, slide down the roll and have an es-cape."

Obie was makin' sure, and it was about four or five hours later when Alice--remember Alice?--Alice came by and with a few nasty words to Obie on the side, bailed us out of jail. We went back to the church, had another Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat, went to sleep and didn't get up until the next morning when we all had to go to court..."

I know EVERY WORD. Verbatim. With five-part harmony in the feelin'. I'm just waiting for it to come around on the guitar...

Kashmir Knitter said...

Poops, I can't believe you memorized Alice's Restaurant Massacre! I thought everyone who loved it was too high to memorize anything!

Kevin I will totally join your epic band as long as I don't have to play bag-pipes. I'm willing to front as long as I can use my Dolly Parton wig as a Dee Snider wig. I will also make everyone a pair of Hammer pants.

Penny Karma said...

Alpaca Hammer Pants?

Don't worry, Kev, as long as no actual Pickles or Politics are involved in this gig, I'll play with your... um... Bagpipes.

And just cuz I'm such an awesome friend, I'll even volunteer to help you practice Guitar Hero with a pair or titties in your face so you won't be distracted when chicks flash you from the front row.

I'm not proud. OR TIRED.

Kevin C said...

kk, you're the band's new frontwoman!

Just remember the cardinal rule of playing the bagpipes, PK: Don't squeeze the bag too hard, or you'll hear some terrible noises, surprisingly similar to screaming and wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Kashmir Knitter said...

Wailing and gnashing of teeth? Now that's Biblical agony! Whoa, Biblical Agony is also a great name for a band, maybe that will be my artsy, emo side project.

Beverly said...

I soooo would have lied and said the pages never came out of the printer. Kinda like the times that I forget to email someone at work, weeks go by, they get pissed because I haven't responded, and I lie and say I sent the email weeks ago but it must have been lost in the ether. Totally lame excuse, I know, but most of the time it works.

Penny Karma said...

Biblical Agony - didn't they open for The Who? I heard the whole audience turned to salt. God'll Fuck You Up, ya know.

My Guitar Hero band name, if anyone's interested, is Discernably Turgid.

Nashville Pussy was already taken.

Kashmir Knitter said...

My Rock Band is Toggle the Square (Tetris anyone?).

Hey, PK! Blog about something so we can totally ignore it and change the subject again! ;)