Tuesday, September 27, 2005


The sky had finally cleared up and bits of blue reclaimed it rightful place from the gray clouds. Barry was happily trotting next to me, sniffing rotting leaves and peeking under bushes for his nemesis, the rabbit. I had my iPod on, listening to the summery songs of Jimmy Buffett and walking in time to the tropical beat. The wind was beginning to pick up, the chill made my arm hair stand on end. Autumn was roaring in.

This summer had been particularly difficult for me. I was unemployed for the majority of it and the lack of funds and the feeling of uselessness made getting out of bed seem at times an act of futility. Barry, with his incessant sniffing at my closed eyes and licking the insides of my nose, was my alarm clock. His bladder made all of my lazy mornings irrelevant. But I credit my pursuant pooch with maintaining my sanity. By attending to his needs and succumbing to his unending wishes to play, he has kept me from the dark shadows of depression and self-imposed exile.

I noticed the little white fuzz-ball walking towards us before Barry did. A sweaty, balding man was crouched over, busy picking up his puppy's poop along the walking path. The tiny cockapoo was standing perfectly still, its black eyes standing out like small bits of coal. She was focused on Barry; him still oblivious, staring up the trunks of sapling trees, trying to figure out how to reach the birds hiding perched in the branches.

The cockapoo's high pitched yelp got Barry's attention and he was off running, stretching his retractable leach to the full fifteen feet and almost yanking my arm out of the socket in the process. Back and forth he ran, arcing left and right of the pup who was being dragged in the opposite direction from her owner.

Like David preparing to slay Goliath, I was turning in forward circles swinging Barry around like a slingshot at the end of his leash. His ears and tongue were flapping and his eyes never left the other dog retreating away. He never saw it coming.

Barry was making his third counter-clockwise rotation around me, when he met up with one of the sapling trees. The side of his head bounced off the narrow trunk like a rubber Superball. He stopped for just a moment to shake off his embarrassment and continued on his orbit.

I burst out laughing. I reeled him in to rub his furry head but he seemed completely unaffected by his trauma. For him, there was so much out in the world to discover than to be bothered by such a minor setback. Just shake it off and keep on running.

Funny, the things you can learn from a dog.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Good thing the donuts were fine

Fifteen minutes. That's how long it takes for the police to arrive to the scene of a car accident. I know because I timed it after I called it in.

I was on a grassy patch of land out front of my townhouse walking Barry. I was watching him circle around the grass three times, his tail pointing down, ready to take a dump when I heard the crash.

I looked up to see an Acura Integra stopped across the middle of the busy road in front of the entrance to my complex, not more than 100 feet away from me. It was blocking traffic from both sides. A Nissan Sentra was stopped, crumpled in the turning lane facing north. From the Acura I heard a frustrated "Aaaargh!" from the twenty-something year old punk in the driver seat. Doors slowly opened from both cars, passengers getting out to check out the damage. Traffic was building up on both sides of the road, impatient drivers maneuvering past the frozen cars.

I ran back to my house to call 911. I calmly gave the operator the town, street, cross streets and the landmark of the Dunkin Donuts directly in front of the accident. I went back outside to wait.

By now, the cars were both moved off the road and into the parking lots of the Dunkin Donuts and the adjoining gas station. Traffic was moving normally and a small crowd was gathered by each of the cars. People were on cell phones and a kid with a dog, I believe a passenger of the Nissan, were walking around the parking lot. The nosy neighbor that I am, I watched with Barry across the street and I waited.

Five minutes. Ten minutes. Where the hell were the cops? The town isn't very big and the accident was in front of a Dunkin Donuts for fuck's sake! I would imagine that the place would be swarming with flashing red and blue lights.

Fifteen minutes after I called it in, the police finally arrived. Satisfied with my civic duty fulfilled, I went back home to watch Law & Order reruns on tv.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Retail therapy

I spent Friday morning strolling through the mall, fingering the displays of crisp cotton button-down Oxford shirts and polyester blazers. I coveted the perfectly matched necklaces, dripping with amber and chocolate beads. With the promise of a real paycheck coming in weeks, I decided to celebrate my re-entry into the work world with a new outfit.

In my head, I imagined me juggling 15 different projects, holding a phone in one hand while signing an invoice with the other. Across my desk would be binders filled with project requirements, content decks and tacked to every square inch of my cubicle walls are gant charts detailing precisely when the creative would be approved and when the development would begin. And I would so look the part of pure professionalism: trendy tortoise shell glasses balanced on the tip of my nose, my freshly cut, newly dyed coffee-colored hair perfectly in place and my yoga toned body draped in a smart cream colored sweater set with charcoal herringbone wool pants.

With an exasperated sigh from a young mother struggling with her temperamental toddler, "Nooooo! I want chicken nuggets! Nooooooo!", I was heralded back into reality.

I grabbed the turquoise wrap sweater, the brown and cream paisley skirt and the three pairs of dress pants and took them into the unattended dressing room. In the reflection of the full length mirrors I was reminded that my hair sprung into unmanageable frizz with the impending threat of showers this afternoon, and my tank top kept riding up my body to reveal my belly roll exploding out over my jean skirt. Must. do. situps.

The sweater and skirt ensemble were fantastic, the blue accenting my tanned skin and showing enough cleavage to suggest an hourglass shape, yet still appropriate for the office. The skirt flared out enough to highlight my shapely hips but disguised my 'not ready for prime time' thighs. The military had camouflage fatigues, I had a-line skirts.

I took off the skirt, placed it on the 'Buy' clothes hook, and selected the smaller sized pants. The thinking that if I fit into these smaller sized pants, then the Weight Loss Fairy visited me as my reward for consuming Slim-Fast shake after another for the past 3 weeks. I put one leg in, and steadied myself against the white laminate walls while I stuffed in the other leg. The seams stretched across my thighs and with a big inhale I was able to zip up. Holding my breath I turned in the mirror to examine the calamity. Before I passed out from lack of oxygen, I pealed out of the pants and returned them to the 'No Fucking Way' clothes hook.

In defeat I tried the other pants; the one size larger pants. The zipper zipped comfortably and there was no pull of polyester across my crotch. The length was just the right height for a new pair of black heels and there was hardly any extra room in the waist. I craned my neck over my left shoulder to see the rear view in the mirror and I was satisfied. Yeah, these were my post-college size pants and yeah, I was much more comfortable in skirts nowadays, but these would also be my post-unemployment pants and that had a much more optimistic ring to it.

I happily added it to the 'Buy' rack, whipped out my credit card and strode confidently to the check out counter.

Friday, September 16, 2005

What next? Swarm of Locusts?

Maybe the Bible isn't all full of religius rhetoric. Turn on the news, read the papers and the signs of the apocolipse are almost as blatent as the South of the Border billboards on Interstate 95. American cities are underwater, contrete structures representing wealth and strentgh toppled like dominoes, people are closely tracked through credit card purchases and web clicks, and in Washington, the most powerful man in the free world lists idly by while his bretheren suffer and kill each other in the streets trying to survive, his forked tongue delivering lies to the evening news.

As if this isn't enough, bring on the plague. Mice infected with the bubonic plague are missing from a lab in Newark. The health comissioner says that they probably got eaten by other animals, or if they got out, are already dead, so the health risk is small. Yet the FBI and the CDC are both investigating. This brings me no comfort.

And for those newly graduated twenty-somethings who find themselves competing for entry level positions with thrity-somethings, they can always work for the Catholic Church as student exorcists. Apparany the need is become greater.

The Four Horsemen have mounted their steeds. The white and red horses march along the Potomic River and the black horse wades through the gulf coast. The pale horse laps gently at the waters of the Hudson, waiting patiently for his command to gallop west.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The universe answers

Oh ye of little faith, let me tell you of the wonders of the universe. Simply ask of it and it will provide.

I was walking down the street, just having come from the free jazz night at the State Theater in New Brunswick, still be-bopping in my head and savoring the taste of Corona still on my tongue. The air was still heavy with leftover rain and my hair was no longer following the rules of gravity. I was just at my car when I felt my phone vibrate. A surge of electricity went through my body because I knew that I didn't want to miss this call. I pulled open the string that held the top of my beach bag/purse closed and shuffled around keys, wallet, journal and finally came up with the phone.

I opened the clamshell. "Hello?" I put my finger in my other ear to block out the sound of the passing truck.

"Hi, Claudine? This is Joanie, I have great news! I just spoke with Chris and he was really excited to meet you. As you know, he'll be taking on more responsibility and he thinks you would make a perfect addition to the team. He want's to offer you the job!"

"That's fantastic!" A man swerved passed me to avoid me as I raised my fist into the air, in a half victory sign. I unlocked my car and sat inside so as not to potentially pummel other pedestrians.

I was simply gushing as Joanie was telling me the particulars, when I could expect to start, asking me some information to start the hiring process. Through her questions I kept thinking I can fix my air conditioner, put in custom closet organizers, finish the work on my floors, GO CLOTHES SHOPPING! Finally I can replenish my anorexic savings account. I wouldn't have to feel like the bum of the neighborhood, my car sitting idily by in the parking lot while the rest of my neighbors got up, went to work and contributed to society. I would be starting in 2 weeks. Plenty of time to shop, visit friends and feel euphoric knowing that my financial anxieties can be put to rest.

My backpacking trip around the world would be put on hold, or at least modified in time to traverse the continents one at a time. I would now have the choice to stay in a hostel rather than be forced to stay in one. I could indulge in my pwn private hotel room - with it's own bathroom. Oh, the possibilities are endless.

I know at the days go by and I'm closer to starting the new job, I will get those 'first day of school' jitters. Will they like me? Was that interview just a big put on? Will I get there and be told it was all a big episode of Punk'd? Aston Kutcher would come out in his sideways cocked trucker had and point in my face, "Dude, you are soooo punked! Ha! You should see the look on your face. Wave to the camera, it's over there. Demi, come on out, you have to see this!"

But as this is my daydream, I will punch Ashton in his jaw and leave his with his stupid Kelso expression, saunter past Demi, palm rased to her face in the 'talk to the hand' guesture and slide into my waiting convertible silver Mustang, give everyone the finger and peel out of the parking lot in a defiant squeal of burnt rubber.

breathe easier

The world can breathe easier today. After watching the ongoing updates on tv and the speculations from various media, there is finally some sense of completeness.

Britney Spears had a baby boy.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Universe, it's your turn

When it rains, it pours. And it's a friggin' moonsoon outside, baby!

I'm not talking all about the weather, either. I had a job interview today and I think I wowed them. But what was even cooler is that during my interview, my phone vibrated twice, the voicemail from two different recruiters telling me of opportunities that I would be a fit for.

My confidence has returned with this new wave of attention. After weeks of stagnancy, drowning me in the blahs, a current of capability has arrived.

This position is part project manger, part event planner for a training/education department for a big pharmaceutical company. I love it because I know I have the PM skills, and I sold them on my event planning experience - not professionally, but from my year as sorority president. Jason, the PM who is leaving and is interviewing for his replacement, said that the majority of the events that he has to plan closely resembles the sorority/frat functions. Score two for me!

It's also fantastic because part of the responsiblity in ensuring that the events are being put together as planned is to be on site. Chris, he director is off to England in a few weeks to oversee a training event. So travel is part of the job.

Now Chris and Jason have been very clear that this is a high profile position, often juggling may different projects at once, with priorities changing at a moments notice. It's very hands-on, and the use of Dreamweaver, Flash, Project is all required, all of which I know.

I feel very comfortable with the team members, we get along and I can see us working together as a team, which they emphasize the whole TEAM mentality. AND, it's only 15 minutes from my house.

I am so excited about this job. It's a great blend of stuff I know with new stuff that I'll have to learn. It combines organization, relationship building, getting my hands dirty and travel!! It's perfect.

I called my recruiter to let her know how interested I am in this position and how well the interview went. This feels like a great fit. The whole, short ride home I kept thinking how much I wanted this job. Now I leave it up to the Universe to let it happen.

Monday, September 12, 2005

A writing Exercise

They had nothing to say to each other. Each opened their lunches and spread out their meal in front of them. In the chatter of the school cafeteria the three ten year olds sat in exile.

Louis carefully unwrapped his cheese and bologna sandwich. He forgot to add the mayonnaise again and he grimaced as he swallowed it down. He was in a rush to get out of the house this morning. He didn’t want to be there when his mother finally awoke from being passed out on the couch all night. Louis knew that if she found him there, she would make him make her coffee, bring the Tylenol and rub her head until the headache went away, usually not until after noon.

Stan popped open his soda can; suds foamed over on to the table, his science book and on to his Spongebob Squarepants t-shirt, too small for his bulging belly. In one long slurp, he sucked up the spilt soda and wiped his mouth with his arm. Stan pushed his entire peanut butter and jelly sandwich into his mouth and chewed it like a cow chews its cud, crumbs falling, jelly stuck to the side of his face.

Emily hung her head down towards her French fries but her eyes were on the popular girls’ table. She envied the way their long blond hair bounced when they laughed and how their glitter nail polish flashed in the fluorescent light. Emily looked at her own bitten fingernails and quickly hid them in her lap, silently willing the bell to ring.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Radar Ears

I wish I knew what Barry thinks about when I take him for walks. I can't see his eyes to see what he's focused on, but I can tell when he's on to something. I call it his Rabbit Radar and it's all in reading the action of his ears.

In relazed mode, his ears point to the sides, flap flap flapping along. Both ears droop over and when he runs in a playful gallop I wonder if those ears will give him enough lift to actually get him airborne.

Barry turns the radar on his ears face forward. He is in tracking mode and is intent on searching for something to chew on - a used piece of bubble gum or an inattentive bird. Anything will do. With something in sight every muscle tenses and from my vantige point I can even see the pusling of his butthole below his stubby white tail. His pace quickens and his ears are in full frontal flap. He has spotted a pile of leaves that resemble the ears of a hiding rabbit.

Oooh the elusive fucking rabbit, Barry's sworn enemy. When we pass a patch of bushes or the edge of a wooded area Barry is on full alert because he knows that's where they love to hide. Sometimes the rabbits are smart and stay pervectly still. Barry never notices them. But in one sudden rabbit movement Barry's ears turn and face all the way back for chase mode and he takes off running trying in vain to nab that puffy white tail.

To watch the chases is like watching a ballet with a prima ballerina and a hippopotamus. The rabbit has delicate movements and can switch directions with prescission. Barry thunders behind with inertia on his side and has to take wide and lumbering turns to keep the rabbit in sight.

The floppy tips of his ears flutter behind his head like Superman's cape. He is in The Zone and no amounts of me chasing after him yelling "cookie! cookie!" is going to get his attention.

Soon Barry tires out, the rabbit disappears into the bushes and Barry trots back to me, ears flapping, tongue hanging and his eyes bright and excited as if asking "Didya see that, Mom? I almost caught him! Didya see it? Didya?"

I laugh and scratch behind his radar ears and toss him a cookie, a well deserved consolation prize.