Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Waste of Time

I see by the calendar that it's nearly time, once again, to turn back our clocks. The downside, of course, is 5 p.m. sunsets. The upside is an extra hour of sleep, on one morning out of the entire year. I'll take it.

Not that any mornings, for people like me, are welcomed with bright, sunshiny faces. Some of us take to mornings like Jon Stewart takes to Glenn Beck.

I've come to realize the world is divided into two kinds of people: There are morning people, and then there are people who say, "WTF? Can't I sleep just one more hour?"

Like most morning-challenged individuals, I attempt to cope. For starters, I've eliminated a host of little tasks many people needlessly assign to the early a.m. hours.

I prepare my lunches in the evening. I bathe before bedtime. I even lay out the next day's wardrobe the night before. (Warning: Do NOT attempt this after consuming several drinks. I assure you, by 2 p.m., you will be reconsidering that houndstooth blazer with the fuschia and lime green striped T-shirt which appeared perfectly matched the prior night.)

Sadly, however, not all morning tasks can be allocated to the previous evening. Midnight snacks of cold pizza or an entire box of Wheat Thins aside, most of us need to eat something soon after waking. This, my friends, is why God invented the office vending machine. Or, on a really good day, leftover bagels from an early morning meeting which fortuitously, was not on our calendars.

Makeup, well, that's a nagging issue. I've considered skipping it altogether. But I fear if I attempted a day at the office sans-makeup, my coworkers would flee from the building, shrieking like hapless teenagers in the movie The Night of the Living Dead. Consequently, I apply my makeup each day like any normal woman should--on my drive to work. (What? Do you know a better way to occupy yourself at red lights? I'm all about time management, people!)

By implementing each of these time-saving steps, I've whittled down my morning regimen to roughly twenty minutes. Up at 7:30, out of the house by 7:50, to work by 8:20. Give or take a bit for traffic jams. Or for a few more minutes of sleep.

And you people who start your mornings--BY CHOICE--at 6 a.m.? Because you want to prepare and enjoy a bacon and egg breakfast? Or watch television? Or empty your dishwasher?

Well, don't judge me, you freaks of nature. Because next spring, when the Time Gods mess with us again, you'll be waking up at five! And even you morning people will be whining then.

Don't call me to complain. I don't answer my phone before 7:30, give or take an hour.

But I will take your call in the car on my way to work--as soon as I finish with my mascara.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Promises, Promises

As election day approaches, do you grow weary and wary of dirty politics and ill-fated campaign promises? Do you tire of political candidates who are so full of bullshit they could fertilize every farm field in the nation?

The solution is only two years away. I slouch before my computer today to announce my candidacy for President of the United States in 2012.

First thing on my agenda: outlawing this "gay" marriage stuff. Who's kidding who? Because no one should feel light-hearted and happy after twenty years of picking up a spouse's dirty underwear. (Oh, did I misunderstand the question?)

I will give a nod to my own version of universal health care. And read my lips, "No new taxes!" This cost will be fully covered by charging your own doctor for every minute you wait past your scheduled appointment time. Additional hefty fees will also be assessed to any physician office requiring patients to step on a scale. Finally, painless and affordable health care for everyone!

If I'm elected, millions of Americans who spend grueling days in thankless jobs--as well as stay-at-home parents with thankless children--will receive a special perk: free housecleaning services. Yes indeed, your toilets will be cleaned, free of charge, by those slacker citizens who didn't bother to take ten minutes to vote. I'm calling it the "Don't Dare to Complain that Your Life's Now in the Shitter" law.

Lastly, I will make great strides toward world peace by forcing terrorists and world leaders who can't play nice to watch Barney the Purple Dinosaur sing "I love you, you love me, we're a happy family" on continuous loop for thirty days straight.

Believe me, this is one political candidate who won't back off her promises (unless a publisher offers me a book deal to retract my entire platform) and won't take bribes (unless they're really lucrative).

I ask you: Are you hungering for a new type of leader? One who has the courage to openly acknowledge her blemished background and clearly questionable judgment? If so, then I'm your (wo)man.

I'm Sherry Stanfa-Stanley, and after consuming a few drinks tonight, I approve this message.

Friday, October 15, 2010

What We Take Away

Such a beautiful service, we murmur. The eulogy was so touching. Everyone seemed to be holding up well, considering. She looked good, peaceful, didn't she?

We wipe away our last tears and stuff the tissues in our pockets. We hug a cousin we haven't seen since his wedding ten years ago, and likely won't see again until another occasion like this. We take one last glance at the casket.

We wander to the parking lot, our throats tight and our chests heavy. Yet we're still somehow buoyed by the day's exchange of warm memories. Comforted by those who shared our loved one's life and now, our grief.

As we climb in our cars, grasping the hand of our spouse or our child or our friend, we know the reality of our loss hasn't quite hit us. We will resume our life tomorrow, as we must. And in a few days, or perhaps a few weeks, the void will surface with a jolt. It will rip a hole within us. We will suddenly miss her smile. Her phone calls. Her quick wit that left us in giggles. Her warm embrace which now leaves us with empty arms.

The grief that follows the loss of someone we love never fully disappears.

But in the best of relationships, some bits of that individual linger behind forever: what we learned from them, how they enhanced our life, who they helped us become.

We will always carry that with us. Mere mortality can never rob us of the gifts they gave us in their lifetime.

What was taken from us will be outweighed, always, by what we were able to take away from them.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Monster in the House

A monster dwells in my house.

It's resided here for many years, since that day I unwittingly welcomed it into my home. I harbored a tad of trepidation even then, yet I hoped this harmless appearing thing might be of some value to my life.

I greatly underestimated its power--the terror it could instill, the carnage that would linger after each of our battles.

I contained the monster to a single room and did my best to avoid it. But it remained a lurking evil in the corner, and from time-to-time, I was forced to confront my fear and face it head-on.

Tonight, I know I must once again summon my courage.

Oh how I long for some protective suit of armor. Heavy armor serves no purpose, however, in our terror-filled showdowns. Inexplicably, I must approach the monster while I'm nearly naked.

My bare skin prickles tonight as I enter the room.

Although the monster is mute, I swear it growls as I eye it. I hear an inhuman rumble of evil laughter.

I so want to squash it like a spider. But stepping on this monster only enhances its power. This much I know, even as I am forced to do what I must to see the battle through to its finish.

I step forward.

The monster's red eyes begin to glow. My fear intensifies, and I shield my eyes. Then, I force myself to turn back. I stand tall, peer down and confront the enemy.

My God, the horror.

I leap away. I scream and flee through the house. I collapse on the couch. I whimper and gasp for breath.

The trauma is all consuming.

Seriously, my bathroom scale has got to go.

Monday, October 4, 2010

I Could Have Died on the Spot!

Join me, if you will, in a little game I like to call, "How Freaking Embarrassing Was That?" also known as "Oh My God, I Could Have Died on the Spot!"

I'll go first.

Mid-career and pre-children, I decided that perhaps I'd missed my true calling and should have been an actress. I took a series of acting lessons at the local repertoire theater, and was encouraged in my pursuits by the teacher. I boldly headed off to my first audition.

I knew I possessed a keen memory for dialogue (although not for remembering what I ate at lunch yesterday) and could feign an array of emotions and expressions with ease. Speaking on stage I could well handle.

But singing and dancing? Not so much. Not even a little.

My confidence fled the auditorium the moment they inexplicably asked a group of us to dance. It was a simple Do-Si-Do. I could manage that, I tried to convince myself. However, while everyone else was Do-ing, I found myself Si-ing. Over and over again. For what seemed like several painful weeks. I prayed that, amidst the onstage crowd of would-be actors, the audition committee somehow wouldn't detect my total lack of coordination.

Then I was prompted back onstage to sing. A solo.

Any thought of redeeming myself disappeared as I ran through my very best rendition of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." Oh yes, the gentlemen--and ladies--of the audition committee, the sole audience members sitting in the sixth row of the theater, they soon appeared merry enough. In fact, they were practically convulsed in laughter: peering up at me, nudging each other, and chuckling among themselves.

I didn't stick around to hear about call-backs.

The horror remains with me to this day. No one can top that, I tell my embarrassing story-telling comrades.

But wait--Glo has a tale to tell too.

It was Christmas, and she was in charge of coordinating the annual office party: decorating, planning refreshments, and ensuring that everyone was invited. The newest departmental graduate assistant passed her in the hallway that day. He was a shy and timid student; she was the warm, welcoming type. She wanted to make a point of personally inviting him.

"Don't forget about the Christmas party this afternoon," she told him with a bright smile. "We're having cookies and punch!" Except that wasn't exactly what she said. What happened was that her words became churned within some strange verbal blender of sorts, and what poured out of her mouth instead was, "We're having pookies and cunts!"

The horrific realization of her error hit her as soon as the words left her mouth, and she could do nothing more than simply keep walking past him.

He never showed at the party.

Oh. My. God. My story-telling comrades and I are hushed in empathetic horror.

Until John chimes in.

"I can top that."

John had met a young guy at a party, introduced by a mutual friend. He hadn't quite caught the stranger's last name, so politely asked, "Sorry, what was your name again?"

When the young man repeated it, John squinted and said, "Oh, was that (name redacted)?" Then, to further clarify his understanding, he tried spelling it and added, "like that guy who was all over the news a couple years ago for (redacted very lewd behavior)?"

"Um, yeah," the young man replied.

John paused. "Oh." He managed a nervous laugh. "So, you're not related to that guy or anything, are you?"

"Yeah," the stranger who might have otherwise become a friend answered. "Actually, he's my father."

My story and Glo's? Trumped. Right there.

We'd have died on the spot for him.

Any humiliation you care to share?