Category Archives: conflict

catch and release

I need a job.  Right now they call me “Budget Analyst,” which is seemingly what government contractors call the lady who orders toner and sets up the auto-attendant for the voicemail system. I should be working with food.

I’m looking for a job.  I’d like to be called “Director” or “Manager” or “The Lady Who Seemingly Knows What She’s Doing.” Any kind of start-up that calls itself hotel, restaurant, catering company, food truck, anything. I want to be working with food. I’m not picky.

I got a job.  They call me “Director of Food and Nutrition,” which is seemingly what public schools call the “Lunch Lady.” I am working with food. I should have been more picky.

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Christmas Carols: A Warning

Christmas. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. They tell you that, in a song. And if it’s in a song, it must be true. It is true and you had better just get on board and believe it, missy, because he knows who’s been naughty and he knows who’s been nice and if you’re not giddy with the joy of the season, you’re going to get something a lot worse than switches and ashes. What you’re gonna get will make you wish you’d gotten a lump of coal, little girl.

Now, the songs don’t tell you that explicitly. They are far more clever than that. They’ve been around for decades, remember? Hundreds of years, some of them. Their siren songs have crushed far stronger souls than yours.

Here’s how they work: they’re chipper, they’re cheerful. They have catchy simple tunes that are easy to remember and hard to forget as they wind their way through and lodge themselves in the undulant curves of your cerebral cortex. They push out important things you’ve been saving in there, SAT words like “undulant” and “cortex.”

Having so implanted themselves within your very being, they begin to take root. They’re like that cruel cactus in Arizona, the one that sheds its seeds in pods shaped like tiny needles. The pods fall to the ground and lie there, benign, until some snake or bird or rabbit – rabbits are best– comes along. The seed pod, which has an outer shell that is spiral-grooved like a drill bit, is covered with tiny, sticky hairs which get caught in the fur of the rabbit. The seed pod, opportunist as it is, twists itself through the dense fur until it hits rabbit flesh. Then it keeps going. It bores through skin, through muscle, past veins and arteries until it hits its mark – the moist center of a vital organ. Then the pod begins to expand. It swells until the seeds burst forth and take purchase in the heart of the unsuspecting animal.

If you look closely at the base of one of these horrid cacti, where its trunk meets the earth, you will invariably find the skeleton of a bunny. That marauding plant infiltrated the innocent creature, grew itself up and through its soul, and left him there to wither, to die, in the desert.

So it is with Christmas carols.

Hum carefully, my friends.

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it was then

It was Wednesday, yes, it was Wednesday and I can only bear to speak of it now – it was Wednesday and on my way to lunch I approached a set of double glass doors, and as I was headed out, a gentleman was headed in, and as he stepped back to hold the door for me, it was then, as I looked up into the eyes of the most handsome man I have ever seen, it was then, my friends, it was then, that I tripped and stumbled and bounced the right half of my body off the adjoining glass door. And it is there that my story ends.

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Bitches Be Crazy

2015-10-20 20.49.40This is what it looks like when you make chocolate chip cookies on the Georgie. It would be a waste of energy (Washington Gas) to heat up the whole oven for just two cookies, and it’s too much energy (oh, my aching back) to climb up to the shelf and get the toaster oven, so I made cookies on the Georgie.

I swear my friend J told me she did this before with good results. But that was in the late nineties, when we got all “holistic,” ate quinoa, went off our meds, and did things like make cookies on the Georgie. “Bitches be crazy” comes to mind.

Last night I shared my cookies and some stories I wrote with my neighbor. I turned my head to look out the window while he read, but I could see the reflection of his face in the glass. He smiled some. He shook his head some. More shaking than smiling. When he finished the last story, he tapped the papers together and looked at me. “Is this true?” he asked.

“Well,” I said, “I change the names and sometimes add things here and there, but mostly it’s true.”

“No, I mean the way the women act. Don’t they have any self-esteem? They keep chasing after guys, well, pretty much the same guy – the one who is the least interested in them. They’re totally disconnected from reality. In every single one of these stories they have a chance to learn something, to change, but they don’t. They just blow it all off with some crap about true love and keep right on making themselves miserable. What the hell?”

I folded my hands in my lap, lifted my chin, and took a deep breath. “Yes,” I said. “It’s the curse of being a romantic.” My neighbor groaned. “That’s bullshit and you know it,” he said.

“Let’s say you’re right,” I replied. “Let’s say there is no such thing as true love. Can’t you pursue it anyway? There are plenty of people looking for the Loch Ness monster, Atlantis, buried Aztec treasure. What if dating is your hobby? What does it hurt if you keep playing the game? When the game involves phone calls, and dresses, and dinners and heartache? It’s exhilarating. It feels. It’s fun.”

“Did you say fun?” my neighbor asked.

“Yes, and entertaining, too. How else could Harlequin and Hollywood stay in business? Women love this stuff.”

“Women. Well that explains it. Bitches be crazy.”

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Chipped Away

My grandmother would pour the last bits of broken potato chip from the rumpled bag into a Pyrex glass custard cup and eat them with a spoon. She passed some years ago.

My first true love trimmed the potato chip bag down, down, down, until it was as shallow as a child’s folded paper canoe and then he’d tilt back his head and let the confetti of crumbs drift into his mouth. He married someone else.

My husband threw out the wrinkled bag of razor-sharp potato shards as soon as he had eaten the last whole chip. We’re divorced.

My current boyfriend tells me, “I don’t even like potato chips.”

“Probably for the best,” I say, and hand him an open bag of Fritos.

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Dating is Like a Chocolate Pecan Cupcake

Yesterday I wanted Pecan Pie. I also wanted Chocolate Cupcakes. So, I decided to put the two together. Seeking guidance, I turned to the internet, where I found dozens of recipes, all written by witty ladies and teeming with glamorous photos of food.

My photo doesn’t look like that. Mine looks like this:  20150809_115211-1

Messy. Complicated. A work in progress.

And so, I bring you: Dating Is Like A Chocolate Pecan Cupcake.

The photo shows you my first tentative efforts. I’ve got the ingredients, I’m ready to go. I’ve told all my friends I’m going to pursue this, so I’m pretty much committed.

The internet ladies didn’t mention that there would be a cat in the kitchen, the one that wove itself between and around my legs while I tried to cook. The cat represents the things about the dating relationship that were cute at the beginning, but soon become a major annoyance, like his snoring or the way I sing Don Henley’s “Dirty Laundry” all day on Sunday when I do, well, the laundry.

Let’s say you get past the cat (although it never leaves the kitchen), and you make it to the point where you’ve got all the ingredients mixed together, the batter in the little fluted papers, and the pan in the oven. You look on the counter and there you see the pecans, which were supposed to go in the batter, and the Hershey’s Cocoa, which wasn’t even in the recipe. These are the little things you didn’t expect, like his friends being complete assholes or your insisting that he go with you to the “80’s Retro Dance Party” on the third Saturday of every month.

You try to recoup by pulling the pan out of the oven and sprinkling the pecans on top of the half baked cupcakes. The pecans are the guy in the accounting department who you keep flirting with, just in case your new relationship crashes and burns and you need a last minute date to your cousin Yvonne’s wedding next April. Speaking of crashing and burning, the pecans begin to smoke. No need to explain this, you all know the beginning of the end when you smell it.

But you remain hopeful, and leave the cupcakes in that 350-degree heat for another little while.

When you finally admit that they’re done, your friends look at your ruined cupcakes and put on fake smiles. “It’s not that bad,” they say. “You can try again another time, maybe use a new recipe.” That’s what all happily married women with 2.5 beautiful children say to their hopelessly single friends.

And now you’re stuck with the dishes. You’ve used every pot and pan you own to make this mess. You fill the sink and squirt in the detergent, you pull on the worn yellow gloves. You can hear your friends telling you that it won’t take as long as you think it will, that you’ll feel so much better when it’s done. You vow that next time you’ll do things differently, you’ll read the recipe all the way through, you’ll, you’ll – oh screw it, there is no positive spin to this. Everyone hates to do the dishes.

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arachnid facial infestation

A spider has laid eggs in the side of my face.
The turgid mass has grown so large that surely, at any moment, it will burst and spew forth dozens of arachnid progeny. I am certain of this.

The lump is definitely not a massive zit that I have manhandled to the point where the resultant purple and yellow bruise is scaring small children.

No. A spider has laid eggs in the side of my face. I am certain of this.

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