Month: January 2009

Can I get some Calphalon and an Adjustment please?

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image If you’re a fan of the Food Network as I am, you no doubt have seen or heard of Alton Brown. He’s the host of “Good Eats” and the host-guy on the newest iteration of Iron Chef. He’s quirky, he’s funny and he lives not too far from me.

I tell this story to everyone, so if you’ve heard it…skip on down to the bottom.

I met Alton, albeit briefly, in a Publix supermarket near my house about six years ago. I dropped in one wintry morning and as I walked down the dogfood aisle, I turned left and came side-by-side with Alton walking by the dairy section. Even though he was wearing a wool cap and jacket, I immediately recognized him. Not wanting to sound stalkish, but still wanting say SOMETHING, I cooly looked over at him and said, “I made your fruitcake last Christmas. My wife’s grandmother hasn’t stopped talking about how much it reminded her of her mother’s.

Still walking, Alton looked over at me and said, with apparent sincerity, “Thanks. I’m really glad she liked it.”

You’re Welcome.” I said. “I really enjoy the show. Take care.”

And with that, I hooked a left towards the bread and chips and that was that.

Random thoughts post-encounter:

  • He’s a lot taller and more solid than he appears on TV
  • He really appears to be a genuinely nice person
  • I’ve found out that he attends a Baptist Church around here that CareerMom and I tried out a couple of times.

So anyway, I’ve lived high on that chance encounter for some years now.

This past Sunday, thanks to the crap-weather here in Atlanta, we took the boys to the mall to let them run off some steam and to just get us out of the house. CareerMom and MLI dropped by Gymboree to see if there were any leftover winter pants on sale since MLI has hit a growth spurt of late and seems to be “high watering” all of the jeans.

Anyway, I’m sitting out on the bench in the middle of the aisle with MLE. We’re tossing the ball in the air, and occasionally at passer-by’s, when who came toodling down the avenue and literally within inches of us, but Altons’ arch-nemesis on Good Eats, the real-life actress-cum-chiropractor “Vickie Eng,” also known on the show as “W.”

The encounter, as it was, was kinda weird. She was literally strolling down the fairway, sort of swinging her arms in a slow, “Does anyone recognize me?” kinda way. She walked one way, stopping occasionally at vendor’s booths to chat, and then came back by me again in a similar fashion. I was so struck by the oddness of her manner, that I couldn’t work up the gumption to say anything to her.

So now, at least, I have another chapter to add to my “The Two Quasi-TV Stars I’ve Met” book. I know…riveting stuff right?


“Good luck with your layoffs, all right? I hope your firings go really well.”

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image I’m not sure which activity I find most distasteful this time of year–taxes, or my annual review at work.

I guess at least with taxes, I can determine when I do it and how much of its crap I’m willing to put up with at any given time.

Not so with personal reviews.

Both CareerMom and I have reviews at the same time each year, so I would imagine that it’s nearly the same for other companies. For my company, imagine that there’s this big pool of cash (or not so big, depending) that they have to divy out in the form of bonuses. There’s also a scale running from…I dunno…like 4, 3, 2, 2+, 1, or something like that. I don’t claim to understand it; all’s I know is the closer to “1” you get, the better you are and supposedly, the more money you get. (psst…I happen to think it’s all a bunch of crap. I mean, if the company as a whole, has posted sucky numbers, then how can you give anyone an excellent rating?)

For two years now, I have gotten a “2,” which my company defines as:

Solid Contributor
Consistently meets job responsibilities; is reliable in doing job; demonstrates appropriate levels of knowledge, skill, effectiveness and initiative.

Doesn’t sound too bad right? Considering the next step is someone who:

Goes above and beyond job responsibilities; outperforms most peers; finds ways to grow scope and impact

…I can live with it. But I think what grates me though, is that I’m the only person who does what I do in my entire wing of the company. So, even if I were only skating by, which I’m not, there’s no one around who is qualified to say whether or not my work is up to par with others doing my same job. And considering these ratings are looked at when you apply for another position in the company, it’s kinda a big deal.

Anyway, a rather curious outcome of my review recently was that my Director stated, The only negative I have about you, is that you’re not assertive enough.”

*I’ll wait for all of the snorting and guffawing to die down before continuing…*

Yes folks, I apparently let people walk all over me.

A colleague of mine postulated that in fact, I was assertive, just not in the right way, no doubt referring to an outburst I had year before last after being transferred to my 6th manager in 12 month’s time. But no, there’s been no such outburst this year and if I’m honest, my Director might be right. I have been quieter this year, but only because I have gotten so tired of beating my head against the wall trying to get things done, that I just sort of shut down.

In my manager’s advice to me, he told me I shouldn’t let people of a lower band (our jobs are given “bands” based on pay scales and duties) dictate to me what I can and can’t do. I’ll agree with that, except there’s a flaw in his advice. He, as a Director, is privy to other people’s bands; I am not. All I can go by is a person’s title, and here at my company, a person can pretty much give him or herself whatever title they please. So it’s hard to know if little Suzy Blowhard is a band 10, or a band 6.

But this all has me considering new job titles for the new year. Feel free to vote on your favorite:

  • Super-duper Writer Man
  • Editor of all things relating to stuff my company sells
  • Manager of everything I touch
  • The guy who just wants to do his job and go home
  • Head Word Czar
  • suggestions?

(P.S. Yes, I know. I am VERY grateful I have a job at all, much less one that pays bonuses. In fact, this is my first company, in nearly 17 years of work, that does.)

Phy-sychiatrist phriday

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image Sorry, I couldn’t find any compelling pictures to support “Picture Phone Phriday” so we’re trying something new today, and probably today only!

But folks, I need your help. We…need your help. See, I have a friend, let’s call her Mary. Mary and I have known each other since 6th grade, when I moved from the relative high-society of Mobile, AL. out to a po-dunk part of town called Semmes, AL. Of course, this meant changing schools and being a 6th grader meant I was the new boy at the bottom of the heap, since the school started at 6th and went up to 8th. As such, I got picked on…a lot. Which might explain my drive to exercise today, but wait! Phy-sychiatrist Phriday isn’t about me!

Anyway, Mary and I became sort of unspoken friends, and for a couple of years there, we alternated between liking each other and completely ignoring each other. For some reason though, the stars never aligned and we never hooked up. But we have remained good friends to this day. She is one of the only people from my childhood that I still keep up with, with any kind of regularity. She even lurks around here and on the very rare occasion, will leave a comment.

I hope she doesn’t mind, but she needs our help and I’m going to plug into the P&P brain-trust and see if we can help her out.

Here’s the deal:

Mary is currently single, and has a son nearly the exact same age (and with the same name) as MLI. It was a strange coincidence to be sure. She’s been married once and, let’s just say, it was kinda weird and that we’re glad she got out of it. She’s been dating a guy now for a while. He has kids of his own and from what little I know, his previous marriage wasn’t all that great either.

Mary is a traditional kinda girl. Meaning, she likes a commitment. She wants to be married. She wants the “dream.” Is that so wrong? Well, it apparently is for her current boyfriend, who claims one minute that he doesn’t want to get married again, while another minute saying, “Give it time, when it’s right, we’ll know,” to yet another time telling her that he loves her deeply and needs her and all that good stuff.

Mary is stuck. She really likes the guy (loves even I would say), but she has a son and a life, and dare I say, parents that she doesn’t want to let down. She wants to be married, but at what cost?

So, she recently asked me, “So do you think I’ve fallen for another man who says he loves me but has no intention of every marrying again?

Now, you can probably guess what I told her, but I’m going to refrain from posting it so that I don’t skew your comments any. But, I pose her question to you. What do you think?

Do you see that you’re wasting my time?

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image I sit at a computer all day and work. That’s my job. Sometimes I think that maybe it would be fun to be outdoors working, but then I have to dig a 10-ft drain line in the back of my house and I realize what a crap-job that must be, day in and day out, and then I’m grateful that I can work on my butt, in climate control 365 a year.

Lately, I’ve been getting little headaches while working. This happened a few years ago, which prompted my first set of eyeglasses. The prescription is really minor, but it helps immensely. Thinking perhaps it was time for a checkup, I made an appointment with my eye doctor.

I walked in one afternoon last week and strolled up to the front desk. There was a lady sitting there who gave me the vaguest of glances and went back to what she was doing. No stranger to this “appointment” process, I signed my name and went and sat down, assuming that someone would call me to come fill out some paperwork.

There were a few other people waiting and in a few minutes a very young girl came out to wait with them, and then was taken back again to have her eyes dilated.

Still I waited.

After about ten minutes, a lady walked in the front door. I knew her from a place called “Massage Envy.” Last Christmas (2007), CareerMom signed me up for a “Massage a Month” with this place. What you do is, join their little service thingy, and for $50 per month, you get a massage. It’s still expensive, but when you consider a massage elsewhere runs $65-$80, it’s not so bad. Anyway, I had several problems with appointments there; the last being that I had walked in–much as I’d done here at the eye doctor–signed in and then sat there for 25 minutes before finally asking, “Hey, where’s my masseuse?” Turns out, they’d just forgotten I was sitting there, which was funny considering they could all see me. They tried to get me to come on back, but I made up some story about how they’d completely fu-barred up my schedule and how I didn’t have time now! It was the point of the thing by then see.

So yeah, I showed my ass a little that day.

Anyway, the lady working the massage place that day, was the one who had just walked into my eye doctor’s. She signed in and within minutes was taken back, helped and sent on her way.

After about 25 minutes, I finally got up and walked to the front desk and asked, “How far behind are we running today?” This brought a questioning glance from another lady who asked if I’d signed in. I picked up the sign in sheet, pointed to my name, which by the way, was the last one on the sheet, and said, “Yep. Says so right here.”

Turns out, they too had “forgotten” I was sitting there.

So yeah, I showed my ass a little that day…too.

But I tell ya what, the next time this lady from the massage place shows up ANYWHERE else that I’m at, I’m leaving immediately, because her being there at the same time can only mean that I’m about waste at least 20 minutes of my life.

Should I be more assertive? HA HA HA HA!

By the way, I did need new glasses. So, here’s to ageing!

Picture Phone Phriday!

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01-13-09_0806 MLI brought this little booklet home from pre-K, and I swear, every time I see it, I chuckle a little on the inside.

Yes, I’m 35.

No, I’m not completely a grown up yet.

Clearly, I’ve looked at been exposed to too much online porn!

And since I used “online porn” in this post, it is surely to be my highest viewed one to date.

That’s kinda sad.

More riveting “parental” stuff

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There are many things, parentally, that I find distasteful. For instance, the disposal of the past week’s Diaper Genie collection, yuck! Finding three-day-old milk bottles under the couch and trying not to gag while cleaning it…the worst! I mean, there are just some things about parenting that are not pretty.

And then there are things about parenting that probably don’t bother most people, but which bother a very small segment of the population. For me, it’s bathtime. In the beginning, I’ll admit that it was cute watching the boys together in the bathtub. They splashed. They laughed. They played together. It was fun. But that got old after like, a week. Now the two fight over who gets to sit in the front of the tub where all the hot water is. They argue over the few meager bath toys that we can find that, when you remove them from the tub, don’t drip water for the next ten hours. And of course, there is the “Hey, I’m naked and I have this thing between my legs!”

I’m sure I need not elaborate.

Suffice it to say that in any given week, if I can cajole CareerMom into giving the boys a bath, I will happily clean the dishes, feed the dog, paint the house…whatever…as long as I don’t have to give the boys a bath. But of course, this is not always feasible, so at least twice a week, I do it.

Over the years, we have tried out a number of bath toys in an effort to get them to stay in the tub, thereby using up precious evening time. Time that we don’t have to spend trying to find something else to keep them occupied with. So we’ve bought pirate ships and boats, floating Thomas the Tank Engine trains and duckies. Heck, I’ve even dumped in the boys’ Transformers.

For some reason though, CareerMom keeps buying Bath Paints. If you’re not familiar with them, they look like this:


So, the kids sit in the bath and they squeeze this paint out and I guess it supposedly helps them creatively.


What I’ve found instead, is that the kids, rather than using the paint sparingly to create their own personal Renoir; instead, they squeeze out huge, oozing gobs of it that run over the side of the tub, down the tub wall, and spread out across my white tile floor.

Oh and it stains the grout. Yeah, it’s great like that.

CareerMom purchases these things about once every 6 months and each time, it plays out the same way:


La dee dah, the boys are in the tub.
“Daddy, can you get the bath paints?”

Yes,” I say, “But now you know the rules. Make sure it doesn’t run down the outside of the tub. Keep the paint INSIDE OK?”

“OK,” they agree; their eyes lighting up as I open each bottle of paint just enough for their little hands to squeeze out a tiny dollup.

Meanwhile, I get involved in something else in one of their rooms.

You boys OK in there?” I ask from the other room.

“Yes!” they holler.

I fiddle some more; perhaps checking the weather on the computer. Finally, after a while I drift back into the bathroom and (insert music from the bathtub scene from “The Shining”) ARK ARK ARK — There is paint everywhere! It’s in huge puddles on the edge of the tub and it’s running down the sides and it’s (GASP!) on the tile and in the grout!

Now, onlookers will tell me that at this point, I lose it. I’m not sure what happens really…it’s all a little fuzzy. But what I do know is that by the time the red haze in my eyes has disappeared and I can think straight again, the bathroom sink is full of bubbly paint colors and empty paint bottles from where I’ve poured them all down the drain. Both boys are sitting in the tub, their little spiked hair punctuating the shell-shocked look of panic on their face as they cringe away from my gaze. And I’m panting like I’ve just run a mini-marathon. My heartrate is spiking and I have a sudden desire to join the World Kickboxing Federation and beat the ever-loving crap out of some punk just to say I can!

Oh, I might also mutter, louder than necessary for anyone who “might” be listening, “I don’t know why your mother keeps buying this stuff! It’s the same thing each time! You boys cannot play with this without making a huge mess.”

After some time, and some deep, cleansing breaths, I realize how crazy I’ve acted and I recall how, after my Adopted Mom walked out on our family a mere two years after adopting my brother and me, and after my dad remarried, that I was playing outside one day and got all muddy. Now, this wasn’t something a child was supposed to do according to my Adopted Mom. Her idea of a child was one that stayed perfectly clothed and clean throughout the day on the off chance that the Mother of the Year Foundation happened to drop by to see what kind of a job she was doing.

Getting dirty was liable to get a pointy nailed finger down your throat (don’t ask!). Anyway, I remember how, upon realizing how filthy I was, I pulled a Ralphie from “A Christmas Story” and made up this crazy lie about tripping in some muddy water. Then I stumbled into the house sobbing hysterically and sought out my step-mother so I could try and ameliorate any repercussions with a preemptive storyline. And I remember how, after seeing me and seeing how distraught I was, she calmly proclaimed, “Sweetie, kids are supposed to get dirty and make messes. This is what you do. Now go get cleaned up.” And with that, she gave me a big hug and sent me on my way. God bless her!

I try to remember this with my kids, even as the Adopted Mom part of me wants to flip out and do unspeakable things. Most of the time, I’m successful, except when the mess is semi-permanent and costs me money (and time) to fix. So yet again, another $4 in bath toys, literally down the drain.

Now, I know I can’t be alone in this. Anyone else have an irrational reaction to a perfectly rational kid-activity?

Insane in the membrane…(insane in the brain!)

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social anxiety Every now an then I have a little cathartic moment–a revelation about myself, if you will. It’s surprising that at 35 years of age, I’m still learning about myself, but it’s true. Perhaps I’m not so much learning something new, so much as I am realizing it. Kind of like realizing that, without knowing it, every time CareerMom forces me to watch a movie with the likes of Brad Pitt, Will Smith or some other Hollywood hunk in it, when the “shirt off” scene finally appears, I’m scrutinizing his body as much as I would a woman’s, to see if he’s lost some muscle mass since his last shirtless film. Or whether being a dad has put a few more speedbumps on his chiseled form. Whatever, I just want to know if I’m holding up as well as he is. Most of the time, I’m disappointed.

But anyway, this past weekend, I discovered something else. For a few precious moments, I escaped from the whiney kids went out to run some errands. Somehow I ended up at Trader Joe’s. I don’t go there often because, while the place is great, it’s really geared for the person who buys food for the day; unlike myself, who bulk shops for groceries whenever possible.

We’ve been all a little blah around here lately, so I grabbed some fresh flowers and some nice Black Tea and headed up to the counter. I stood in line a couple of minutes as the shoppers in front of me chatted up the checkout guy. Finally it was my turn and I handed him my little basket and with my usual “eye avoidance,” I sidled over to the debit card reader. But, instead of just quietly bagging my stuff and letting me go, the checkout guy started talking to me.

“Oh, nice flowers. Great for a day like today.”

“Hmm, yeah they are nice,” I said.

“I’ve been wanting to try this stuff too, but it’s certainly a side dish and I’ve been waiting to find the right meat to have with it,” he said, referring to some spicy rice thing I’d picked up.

Quickly, I replied, “I’m going to have it with that Carne Asada steak. Should go well.”

I hoped that would end the conversation but it didn’t. And as we continued to speak, it occurred to me how much I dislike this banter. Not only does it make me terribly uncomfortable, but anyone who is this happy and perky, makes me suspicious.

Now folks, I have long known that I’m a “Glass is half empty” kinda guy, but this takes it to a whole new level. I mean, what kind of person looks for ulterior motives in someone who is being nice? I tell you what kind…the kind that clearly has issues.

Don’t get me wrong, I can, and do, act normal around other people. But most of the time, I have this internal monologue that’s saying, “RUN, FLEE! DO NOT LOOK THEM IN THE EYES OR THEY’LL SEE WHAT A FRAUD YOU ARE.”

Is that normal? I didn’t think so. And the dumb thing is, as much as I long for adult interaction, when I actually get it, I want to withdraw from it. Yeah, so I’m not OK, you’re not OK, the whole world is kinda weird.

Line forms to the left.