Pus Eye

April 14, 2010

For the past few days, my boss Laura has been calling me “Pus Eye”.

Before you go calling the authorities for Employee Mistreatment, let me note that one conversation we had today went something like this:

Laura: I wish I didn’t look like I was 14 today. I’m wearing flats, and I look like I’m 4-foot-nothing.
Ann: Well, if it makes you feel any better, I haven’t showered for 3 days.
Cristina (chimes in): Really? Three days?
Ann: Yes. I’m conserving water. [Pauses]. Actually, that’s a lie. I’m really lazy.

That story was to illustrate that we have good, honest comraderie in my office. We don’t call one another Pus Eye and expect each other to cry about it.

But I did cry about it. Involuntarily.

Because my Pus Eye is also watering.

I think I have an infected tear duct, and the pus has filled the tear duct to the point that it will not drain my tears. Someone ought to create a product to fix this and call it Drano: For Eyes. Only that might not sell very well, so… forget that. Heh.

While my eye has been feeling (and looking) better today, the last few days have been rather tedious. Monday night was the worst. I won’t go into detail, but every-so-often, I’d have to wipe my eye of a substance similar to mucous. It was itchy and hurt a little and all red.

Before you ask if I have pink eye, the answer is no, I do not have pink eye, and that’s disgusting. I most certainly would not be sharing on my blog if I had pink eye, and if you know what pink eye really is, you know why.

It happened a lot to farm kids in rural Minnesota where I grew up.

After they had fertilized the fields, if you know what I mean.

No, I believe Pus Eye is the result of a dangerous liaison. Instead of combining prescription drugs and alcohol, I combined mascara and sleep. For this problem, there ought to be preventative commercials featuring breakfast food.

This is your eye. This is your eye on old mascara.

Anyway, that’s not the point. I do have a point. But first, here is something else that is not the point:

Pus Eye has actually been kind of fun because I get to simulate crying at random moments. For example:

“Do you know Jessie?”
Eye fills up and tear rolls down cheek: “You don’t know how much I wish I could.”

“What are you doing?”
Eye fills up and tear rolls down cheek: “I am eating Cheerios. Grandpa used to eat Cheerios.”

“How is work going?”
Eye fills up and tear rolls down cheek: “They are calling me Pus Eye.”

The point is that the whole thing is making me think about that passage in the Bible where Jesus tells people not to try to pick the spec out of someone else’s eye without first removing the plank from our own.

There is a lot of gross stuff coming out of my eye. People see it and call tell there’s something wrong. It’s pretty easy for this intuitive brain to make a connection between my current physical ailments and my spiritual ailments. What would someone think if I walked up to her and told her that her eyeshadow is a terrible color while my eye is covered with pus?


How amazing would it have been to live in Hollywood during its golden age, back when it was all about fur coats and glamor and long cigarettes and coifs, before people acknowledged that Frank Sinatra was a jerk and Bing Crosby beat his children, before Marilyn Monroe committed suicide (or did the Kennedys kill her to prevent the scandal of her involvement with their sons?) and before Lucy and Desi split? Now it seems odd to think of this place as the setting of what went before it. It is about dollars and producers and shallow connections, connections you could later shove downward to elevate yourself. The street cleaners don’t really clean the streets anymore. They just give the city an excuse to hand out tickets.

This morning the street sweepers came between 8 and 10, so I got up early to move my car from its parking spot on the left side of the street to the right side. A tree had dumped woody gunk all over my windshield. It rained last night. I looked in the back seat of my car to pull out my planner – I have to call the Director of Human Resources at that museum today to see what the next step is in the job process – and had to dig through a bag of stuff. Yesterday roommate J and I became nomads.

Though living in suburbia was quiet and calm and clean, it wasn’t the Los Angeles that J and I sought. Now that Hollywood Boulevard is just a block away (I had to park about a half mile away from the apartment where we’re staying) the city has emerged all around us. We’ve already been advised to purchase safety clubs for our cars. We will take the advice.

The area we are in is residential and full of well-kept houses with middle- to upper-class cars out front, so it doesn’t appear to be dangerous. Still, we adhere to the street smarts we know: try not to go out alone at night, call to check in, lock your car doors while you’re driving, bring a boy. D encouraged me to get some pepper spray to carry in my purse, just as a precaution. Perhaps I will go on a safety shopping spree and get the club, the pepper spray, steel knuckles, chaps, protective glasses, a gas mask, a flame thrower, and a helmet all in one trip. You can never be too safe.

Today is a holiday for many workplaces, so plans are on hold. I spoke to the landlord of the apartment we are dying to have, and I negotiated a little. I’m a good tenant, I told her. Just call my references. I have plenty of money in my checking account. I will soon have a job. I have never paid rent late. I have excellent credit. I can give you additional rental references and even character references if you need them.

Last night before J and I left my relatives’ home, where we were previously staying, they told us that if we really wanted the apartment, we should pray over it when we handed in our paperwork and claim it. “Have faith that God will give it to you,” they said. “You have his favor.”

They made the distinction between faith and hope as if hope is a fleeting, ungodly thing, and faith is complete trust in God. I could’ve prayed over that apartment when I was there. I could’ve claimed it. But what if God has something else? I am not putting my faith in that apartment. I am putting my faith in God, and I will not set up limitations for him in my mind. It seems like the perfect place, but in the past, many things have seemed perfect that weren’t: that guy I hoped to someday marry, that make and model of car I really wanted, those plans I had in college. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. I hope that we will get this apartment. I have faith that God will take care of us, even if we don’t get this apartment.

And the same goes for this job. This museum job would be amazing. Every time I’ve mentioned to someone that I had a phone interview there, they blink a few times. “Seriously?” I was shaking with excitement when I got a call to initially schedule an interview. There? You’re calling me from that place? Seriously? Roommate J’s mouth dropped when I told her. “Ann,” she said, “that’s prestigious!”

I hope for this job. I repeat, it would be uh.may.zing. But my faith doesn’t lie in a job. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.

Yesterday J, her friend A, and I went to First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood. This is the fourth church I’ve been to since my arrival here. Each church has been distinct. First there was the sparkly, white-toothed, high-fashioned church that I will not go back to. I left disheartened that a church could focus more on the accumulation of things, on judging God’s love according to his bestowal of material wealth, than on the sacrifice of Christ.

The church of yesterday was a complete 180. Amid Hollywood’s moral crumbling, all the drunkenness and prostitution and dishonesty and violations and selfishness rests a church that is dynamic because it has to be. The homeless use its steps to sleep. This church is attractive because yesterday we applauded a woman who had attended a Martin Luther King, Jr. march in 1965 and helped one of the first African American families find a home in the area. It’s about doing more than talking. It’s about building a future that exemplifies the innate dignity of all people, home or no home, wealth or no wealth, and it builds that future in the name of Christ.

In every church that I have attended so far, in some form or another, a lyric has shown up on that big screen, a lyric that became part of my legacy back in high school, back when I was deciding if I was going to really pursue this belief in God or turn the other way: This is my story, this is my song. At this time in my life, when I am untangling all these unknowns, it is good to know that all this is my story, and all this is my song, and I am praising my Savior all the day long.

The weekend cruised by so quickly. Of course, right now every day could be a weekend day for me because I have yet to find a job. I found one job I really, really want at the Art Institute of California — Los Angeles. I just sent my resume on Friday, so I’ll give it a couple of days. Also, this is the first day of classes for their winter term, so I’m sure that whoever is doing the hiring is very busy.

Anyway, yesterday I went to two different church services. The relatives I’m staying with invited me to join them for church, so I went with them in the morning, and in the evening I went with D and his brother G. I knew that the first church experience would not be like the church I grew up in. In fact, I found that I disagreed with the majority of what the speakers said. I’m not going to go into detail… let’s just say that the sermon focused on the Prosperity Gospel — something with which I fundamentally disagree. I also got a little nauseous when the pastor’s wife interpreted James 1 as being about wealth when it’s really about perseverance and wisdom. And I struggled with how she used herself and her family as examples of how we all should live. Preaching on Christ was sadly missing. The relatives love their church, and I did meet many kind people. After the service, the hospitality couple who were greeting new people prayed for me about finding a job. It was very kind of them.

In the evening, D and I headed up to Los Angeles proper to attend Mosaic, a church that meets in several different locations in the Los Angeles area.  D and G have been attending the church off-and-on for the past few months. We went to the location that meets in a nightclub building called the Mayan. I have to admit that when I first walked in, the music had me a little skeptical. It was hip. VERY hip. And all the people there looked my age or younger. Now, I have no problem with hip and stylish kids playing their hip and stylish music, but I am often a little too judgmental when it comes to music. I am constantly left wondering if we are truly worshiping God or just jivving to hip music with the hip kids.

I turned to D and said (I had to kind of shout it because it was so loud), “I think this might be a little too hip for me.” It didn’t feel like church at all. It felt like a youth group concert. Now, this might be a good quality for someone who hasn’t grown up in the church and is a little wary of the idea of sitting in a pew and singing hymns. I, however, like my pews and hymns and church choirs and old time religion. D said, “Remember that this church is made up of artists.” Okay. I could buy that. Artists are hip by nature. They have to be to introduce the next new thing.

After the music came the dancers. And man, oh man, was their presentation lovely and worshipful. That morning I had been in a place that was showy and disheartening — not because it was staged but because of the motivation. The dancers presented a rehearsed, choreographed show that was anything but staged. It was perfect and amazing. It was lovely to experience a group of people using their talents in worship. At that moment, hip music or no hip music, I realized that this is a church where I could fit. I’ve always wondered why churches in America depend so strongly on their music ministries rather than pulling in their writers, dancers, illustrators, etc., to make worship more whole. It was exciting to experience a church that does just this.

And the sermon was incredible. The pastor reminded me a little bit of Alan Alda, and as a girl who grew up watching M*A*S*H, this comparison was quite endearing to me. Hawkeye Pierce sat on stage telling me about having a servant’s heart and making it my goal in 2008 to befriend someone who needs a friend. The second church experience was so refreshing. I will go back. And I’m excited.

Today, while going through a box of old college papers and pitching about 75% of them, I ran across my folder of poetry. Now, this folder is generally something I don’t know what to do with. It is where I stash all types of pieces of paper on which I have written anything even vaguely poetic in case it might some day inspire a great American masterpiece. So far all it has done is grow. In fact, I don’t think I have actually ever looked through and read all of this gobble-de-gook. I just keep adding to it. I must be saving up for something big.

When I opened the folder, I did feel a certain pang from those days when I wrote prolifically and had all types of friends nearby to be excited about it. They didn’t even have to read what I was writing — they were just excited that I was writing, the same type of excitement that my boyfriend expresses when I tell him I’m working on something, which isn’t too often these days.

As 2007 is drawing to a close, I’m thinking about doing some sort of 2007 wrap-up on le blog, which will be a synopsis of my top 5 greatest movies, books, TV shows, etc. to see if they’ve changed at all through the course of the year. When I started thinking about the books, I had to smack myself. I’ve been such a bad reader this year, and, consequently, a bad writer. This blog conflicts me a little. While it is good that I am practicing the discipline of writing every day (and believe me, having an audience helps, so thanks! I appreciate you all!), I am not practicing the discipline of re-writing. I sort of just type what I’m thinking and hit publish, only going back in to clarify or fix the punctuation. That, my friends, is not writing. It is drivel. Now, it may be enjoyable drivel, but it is still drivel.

Which brings me to a funny story. About three years ago, I had the honor of living with a house full of awesome girls during our senior year of college (and HK was a grad student). We were all sitting around the living room one afternoon working on homework, but HK was looking at a book her sister had left at our house after we threw the sister a Book Shower for her birthday. Book Showers are very popular birthday parties in my camp of things. Each guest that comes to the party must bring the birthday girl/boy a book as a gift. It can be used, new, whatever. It just has to be a book. I think we had three or four Book Showers in that house for various people the year that we lived there. Anyway, the book was given as a joke to HK’s sister, and the title was something like, How to Be a Good Christian. Now, I am a Christian and have nothing against Christianity as a religion. But I hate, hate, hate it when supposed Christian big-shots pretend like you can have a step-by-step guidebook on how to live a successful Christian life. It’s so trite and cliche and revolting. But all that is a post for another day.

I had the good fortune of living with other Christian women who believe the same as I do about how sad it is that these Christian big-shots shoot up their fellow believers with a bunch of jargon that has nothing to do with making the tough decisions. HK was looking at the book when I walked in, and all I heard was my other roommate A saying, “…why are you reading that Christian drivel?”

“What Christian drivel?” I asked.

A looked at me, smirked, and said, “Your diary.”

That was just another highlight of 616 Maple Street. We got our kicks at 616.

Anyway, back on the topic of my poetry folder… I found a sheet of paper full of lists. At the time that I wrote the lists, I’m pretty sure I was reading a chapter from The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, which is quite the brilliant little manuscript. In it, Shonagon writes these fantastic, concrete descriptions. Amazon.com’s summary of the book says, “The Pillow Book is a collection of anecdotes, memories of court and religious ceremonies, character sketches, lists of things the author enjoyed or loathed, places that interested her, diary entries, descriptions of nature, pilgrimages, conversations, poetry exchanges–indeed, almost everything that made up daily life for the upper classes in Japan during the Heian period. Her style is so eloquent, her observations so skillfully chosen, and her wit so sharp that even the smallest detail she records can attract and hold the attention of any modern reader.” Some of the lines will make you laugh out loud. Others will strike you in such a way that you will never forget them. The description is that precise.

When I was reading this book, I attempted to write lists of things similar to Shonogans’. Mine are certainly not as poignant as hers, but just the same, here they are:

Things the people with whom I grew up consider scandalous:

– Lashing out at other people
– Spending large amounts of money on frivolous things
– Pornography
– Murder
– Abuse
– Racial prejudice
– Benny Hinn

Pathetic Things:

The way a woman opens her mouth when she is putting on mascara
– A dead fish floating in a tank
– The accidental sight of a stranger’s naked body
– The uncontrol of what one eats
– Vomiting

Things of which I am afraid:

Dead things
– Grasshoppers and centipedes
– Being attacked by a crocodile
– Suffocation (in the forms of drowning or being buried alive)
– Heights
– Organized sports
– My own indifference and apathy
– The deaths of those close to me
– Leering men
– Small talk

Things I dislike but will endure to be polite:

Naughty children
– Eating tomatoes
– Hunger
– Bad poetry
– Gossip
– Bad coffee
– Teenage enthusiasm
– Discussions on politics
– Overt flirtatiousness
– Phone calls from acquaintances (I only like talking on the phone with people I know and trust. Otherwise, I loathe it. I’m one of those awkward phone people.)
– Exclamation point rampancy

Things I embrace:

– A good pen
– Hot baths
– A movie as a study break
– A good book on a rainy day (how trite)
– A creative project
– A deep conversation
– New shoes
– Old jeans
– Hard work
– 8 hours of sleep
– Physical affection
– Having friends over for dinner
– Theme parties
– Smiles from kind strangers
– A long email about nonsense
– Bare feet
– Mutts
– Old houses
– The smell of an extinguished candle

In honor of the sapping of my creativity, I am re-posting an entry from my former blog from April 28, 2006. This is the entry on which D first spoke to me, and I got a whopping 18 comments (that is big for me!) because people have some very strong feelings about Christian bookstores and Augustine. Without further ado…

Christian Bookstores and the Absent Augustine

Today I attempted to overcome my dislike for Christian bookstores. I have been in the mood lately to read Augustine’s Confessions, and I got such a spontaenous urge to get it that I decided I couldn’t wait for half.com. So, I went up to the local Christian bookstore, Kingdom Bound. This name is problematic for a number of reasons. I know they are trying to create a glory, glory, hallelujah type of name that plays on words. The word “bound” can mean three things: bound as in I’m going there, bound as in a book’s binding, and bound as in bondage. I hate the first meaning because it connotes an “I’m better than you” sort of vibe. I hate the second meaning because it’s too cute for a serious business. And I hate the third meaning because it seems to say faith is incarcerating, which goes against the gospel of freedom that faith teaches. I don’t think the Kingdom Bounders (saying it like this makes it seem like they jump over kingdoms) took into account the third meaning before they named their store. At least I hope they didn’t.

Anyway, I went into the store and had to search through shelves of Max Lucado, Gilbert Morris, Joshua Harris, and that guy who wrote about how men should be warriors in that book with the rock climber on the cover and based most of his ideas on popular movies. I forgot his name. Finally, I went to the front of the store.

Ann’s first question: Where is your theology section?
The Cashier: Theology? All our books are about theology.

Ann’s second question: Um, do you have Augustine’s Confessions?
The Cashier: I can look. What did you say the name of the book was?
Ann: Augustine’s Confessions.
The Cashier: Oddestine?
Ann: No, Augustine’s Confessions
The Cashier: Oh, Honesty and Confessions.
Ann: Actually, Augustine wrote the book. It’s his confessions.
The Cashier: And that’s spelled O-d-d…
Ann: It’s Augustine, like the month.
The Cashier: Oh! Augu-stein.
Ann: It’s A-u-g-u-s-t-i-n-e.
The Cashier: And who was the author?
Ann: Saint Augustine.
The Cashier (staring at the computer screen): Oh, yes, The Confessions of St. Augustine. Here it is. It looks like pretty heavy reading.
Ann: Not heavy. Just honest.
The Cashier: We don’t have it, but I can order it for you.
Ann: I’ll think about it. I might be back later.

How does one pronounce Augustine? I say it like the month: Aw-gust-eene. But I also pronounce aunt “awnt” instead of “ant.” The cashier pronounced it Augustein, like he was German. Yesterday a friend of mine pronounced it with the accent on the second syllable instead of the first. What is correct?

I have fulfilled my Christian bookstore quota for the year. I am now counting the blessings of half.com.

Then I went to the library booksale, and it redeemed my day. I found W.B. Yeats’ autobiography for 25 cents. I also found a book on Greek and Roman mythology with pictures of artists’ depictions of them through paintings and statues. That one was 50 cents.

Ah, mysticism and the pagans. They are good for the soul.

Yesterday I wrote a post with the title, “The Shoe Diaries Entry 1: I’ve Got a Wedge.” I also write a column at ZIA, an online magazine, about finding affordable fashion. Lately I have been succumbing to the post-college epidemic of Feeling Flaky. You college graduates may know it well, especially if you pursued a highly academic, research-oriented field that throttled you to the highest levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. In college, you had your group of Intellectuals with whom to be Intellectual in class, over coffee, after watching foreign films or reading Proust.

Post-college, you are left with nothing but a desk job and marathons of The Real Housewives of Orange County on television.

My friend Devi writes about important topics on her blog. She writes about politics and religion and oppression, and her writing style is so lovely and straight-forward and well-crafted (and she doesn’t constantly use the word “and” while creating lists) that I want to read whatever she writes.

A few weeks ago at my cousin S’s wedding, I spoke with my cousin’s husband’s brother P for a while. After all, I had to walk down the aisle with him, so I might as well get to know him a little bit. I asked him the general small-talk questions about location and work and school. P works for an organization in Washington D.C. associated with a cause that he believes in so much that his entire Facebook is devoted to it. Now, I must admit that I know very little about the topic other than a liberal-arts-college-American-Government-class understanding, but one must admire his Roman-soldier-like devotion. My Facebook page is devoted to the life of Ann Clipperton, complete with photos of cat Francis and status statements like, “Ann is hungry.” I guess I’m rather low on Maslow’s famous hierarchy.

When P asked me what I’m doing with my life, I told him that I want to be a writer. “What kind of writing do you do?” He asked. “Oh, lots of kinds,” I answered. Because I have. I’ve written poetry and even had some published, and I’ve written short stories and news articles and magazine articles and columns. When I thought of things I’ve been doing lately, I could only think of the blog and the column for ZIA. So I told him, “I write a fashion column for an online publication.”

And for some reason, I felt a little twinge of shame, a little sense of I’m a Barbie girl in a Barbie world. Let’s get something straight — P did not make me feel that way. He was very kind. It was all me, inside, thinking about what my goals are and wondering about what exactly it is that I’m doing with my passion for fashion. Or even with my passion for intelligent thought. Or just for caring about other people.

Like Kate Hudson’s character Andy in How To Lose a Guy In Ten Days, I would hope that my goals in life stretch farther than writing a “How To” column for a glossy magazine designed for glossy women with little else to be concerned about than color coordination and How to Know If He’s Into You. And I would hope that my goals for writing stretch farther beyond Shoe Diaries or columns about discount fashion. Like to something that really matters beyond Ann’s amusement.

At the same time, I don’t want to diminish the importance of fashion and all the thought-provoking questions that come from it:

Does the act of first wearing and then burning a bra have a significant psychological impact on its owner? Does the wearing of pants influence a woman to have a career more like a man’s? Maybe not today, but did it in the ’50s? Did that individualistic style that emerged in the late 1990’s have anything to do with existentialism and advances in technology that make relationships far less relational (i.e. I imagine that I have never met many of my readers, yet they get a glimpse into my life on a daily basis)?

Does philosophy influence fashion, or does fashion influence philosophy?

Once my dear and much-quoted friend Ali told me that perhaps I shouldn’t spend so much time reflecting on things because sometimes I dig myself into my own black hole, an abyss of my own making. Indeed, I have 14 years of journals to prove it. Ali also once told me, “Sometimes you just need to talk about cartoons.” These are wise words, coming from one of the smartest women I know, a woman who is currently pursuing a PhD.

Perhaps my Shoe Diaries are my version of cartoons, and I need them as an outlet for the deeper questions. Perhaps my life is a little more balanced when I can set aside those ideas about the over-sexualization of America’s teenage girls and write about “What to Look For in Thrift Stores” in 1000 words or less, complete with quippy jokes about Saved By the Bell and the nineties.

In society, women’s flakiness seems to be the new black. I imagine that I will encounter this to a greater degree in California, but even in the Northwest corner of Arkansas, I noticed how materialism seemed to cancel intelligence. I hope that my posting of fashion items and purchases does not influence others to materialism, the flakiest of all flakes. That is not my intention. My intention is for images to bring inspiration and creativity, as they do for me. My shoes make me see my clothing in different ways. They make me appreciate the new twists I can put on old items rather than going out to buy new things constantly. The contentment they bring is not from having more but from rearranging what I already have. My brilliant Basic Economics professor, a sweet man named Dr. Balla who spent a year in Mexico living among the poor, once said that having a lot of stuff is dangerous. “The more you have, the more you want,” he said. “And the more you have, the more you’re afraid to lose.”

The constant thirst for more is a dangerous place to be because that thirst will never quench. I hope that any fashion ideas or photos on my blog or in my column will influence readers to create rather than covet. Your life is fine without this stuff. Cute shoes will bring fun but never fulfillment.

…the doctor who birthed you twenty-five years before is sitting in front of you in Sunday School class, and he says, “You becha, you becha,” every time he agrees with the teacher.


October 11, 2007

Francis the Kitten got spayed on Monday. The evening before, we sat down and had a long and meaningful talk with soft, synthesized music in the background about how she will never have kittens. Her surgery went well, and the vet even commented on what beautiful shape she’s in. I said, “It’s because she’s always running around and jumping on things.” She’s the most active cat I’ve ever met. Or maybe I just notice it more because we share a one-bedroom apartment.

When I went to pick up Francis after her surgery, the vet assistant gave me a few instructions on medication, stitches, etc. She kept referring to Francis as “We”:

“Now, if we get red and swollen around the incision, make sure you bring us in.”
“We’re going to be a little bit sluggish this evening, and if we’re not better by Thursday, we might have something wrong, so you will want to bring us in.”
“Give us a full eye-dropper of this in our food. If we don’t eat, make sure you give us 3ccs of water after you medicate us.”
“Now, we’re not supposed to run or jump, so if we get too wound up, lock us in the bathroom.”

I wonder if there’s a point at which one has worked around animals so much that one actually becomes an animal. They say you become whatever you spend most of your time doing. That lady has smelled one-too-many dog biscuits. When the assistant brought Francis out in her little kitty crate, she said, “Now, we’re a little bit angry. We just hissed at me, so don’t feel bad if we hiss at you.” I peeked into the kitty crate. Francis was backed up against the far wall, back arched. She hissed at me at first, but when I said, “Francis, it’s ok,” the hiss turned into a little howl. A howl of What did you do to me, Human? Why? WHY? HOLD ME. Hold me. hold me.

However, later when I got her home, she kept crouching in corners, glaring at me. If I got within three feet of her, she’d scamper off to stand under something. This is Francis. This is Francis on drugs.

For the past few days Francis has been back to her regular self. It humors me that the assistant told me there was to be no running or jumping. That’s like asking a fish not to swim. Lock her in the bathroom? Yeah right. In the bathroom, there are counters! toilets! bathtubs! Shower curtains! Sinks! oh my! In fact, last night Francis didn’t even want to go to sleep. She lay on my back for a while (I sold my bed last night, so I borrowed a cot from dear friend A, and like any cot, it’s far too small for anything larger than me) and then she lay on my chest purring, but after she’d recharged she was crazier than I’ve ever seen her. When I locked her in the bathroom, she was fine for a while. Until she started putting her paws underneath the door and scratching the bottom of it, all while I was trying to sleep.

At that point I was pretty ok with giving her up for adoption… to the ground below my second-story living room window.

Last night Francis was banished to her kitty crate. In the kitchen. Facing the neighbor’s wall. With two ceiling fans running to muffle the noise.

Speaking of animals, this morning before our staff meeting, I had a little discussion with a few staff members regarding the stupidest animals, which are generally understood to be turkeys and sheep. I had a thought. What if instead of all the sheep references in the Bible, Jesus had used turkey references. Now wouldn’t that change the tone of it all?

Behold My Idiocracy

October 10, 2007

As a writer and putter-together of many-a newsletter at my current place of employment, a few small typo-s have slipped by in the past. Two of my co-workers generally proof-read items for me when I’m done putting them together because after staring at a document for about five hours, everything tends to blend together. For the last newsletter, however, people handed in their articles late, and I was crunching up against a deadline that was ready to swallow me whole. Most of the articles had already been proof-read. Except the pastor’s letter. Surely, I thought, between him and me putting this together it should be mistake-free. After all, he is well-educated on grammar, and I rarely have to adjust any of his punctuation. And I read over the article before pasting it into the newsletter document.

I’m not sure what happened, but I know that now I might as well be added to one of those silly email lists of church bulletin bloopers. In the past, I have always laughed uncontrollably at those bloopers. In fact, I would say nothing (aside from D smashing his face against my ear and telling me a story) could make me laugh as much as a good word slip-up. Here are a few of my favorites:

“Ushers will eat latecomers.”

“The concert held in Fellowship Hall was a great success. Special thanks are due to the minister’s daughter, who labored the whole evening at the piano, which as usual fell upon her.”

“Today’s sermon: How Much Can a Man Drink? with hymns from a full choir.”

“Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles, and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.”

“Low self-esteem support group will meet Thursday at 7 to 8:30 p.m. Please use the back door.”

In my own newsletter shenanigans, I failed to consider that the pastor’s newsletter article was all about Consecration Sunday, which is two weeks away. Now you may think that using the word consecration could easily be replaced with something like consummation — the act of finishing something, or widely understood as validating a marriage through intercourse. But no. My mistake is worse. In fact, it’s probably the worst possible thing that I could have done, especially in regard to pastors. Behold my idiocracy:

“When we incest we commit in order to receive a return.”

It’s a good thing that I submitted my resignation two months ago. And it’s a good thing that my boss has a terrific sense of humor, and the whole staff laughed at me, as I, red-faced and giggling, offered my sincerest apologies to my boss in front of them all.

(Tonight I have someone coming over to look at my bed to see if he wants to buy it. I wrote down in my planner: “Ron, bed, after 5 p.m.” Later I added the word “selling.” Now rather than sounding like a lover in an illicit affair, I sound like a prositute. Too bad the bedside tables got sold last night: There’s nowhere to leave the money.)

Brain Fry.

September 20, 2007

Once, in college, there was this guy with whom I went on a date. He was quite the intelligent type, somewhat masculine, with an academic side that made me imagine him perpetually in a sweater with leather elbow pads. We only went on one date, but that was fine because he was the type to take girls out just for the fun of it, just for an evening of discussing philosophy or religion or politics or literature…or all of them at the same time in one evening. Did I mention theology? Yeah, that too. And psychology? Yes, I think we covered that, particularly Piaget. And perhaps even some Freud, but you know that’s a little intense for a first date.


By the time I got home, I was exhausted. I mean, I really like a guy who can think, but seriously… is it even humanly possible to cover all of those topics in the course of one evening over coffee and doughnuts? Okay, so we didn’t have doughnuts and coffee; actually, I don’t even remember if there were any edibles involved, but it was a typical first date. Perhaps the date would have been more digestible with coffee and doughnuts.

Anyway, when I got home, my roommate at the time, a lovely woman named Ali who is currently getting her PhD in Southern Literature, said something that has followed me ever since. She said, “All that stuff can get overwhelming. Sometimes you just need to talk about cartoons.”


O Wise Ali, how you have influenced my life. Today at work we spent an intense seven hours as a staff going through the Myers/Briggs personality test results with a trained professional. I left feeling energized and affirmed in who I am – the man administering the results was kind and brilliant – but now I am oh, so exhausted. As an introvert, I have about a million questions going on in my head about today, and no time, no time at all to process them. So, here is what I want to talk about:


Copy Machine Repairmen. I don’t think I have ever met a lot of odder people. Perhaps it is because I am not used to their type – working my first desk/administrative/publishing job has widened my horizons to many types of people who were previously unknown to me – but really. I’d wager to say they’re just odd. From Jimmy, the middle-aged man who used to bring me flowers and gifts and then not look at my face when he was talking to me (my most frequent question? “So, Jimmy, how’s your WIFE?”); to the man who came over to my workplace this afternoon and looked at me like I was crazy when I tried to tell him what the problem is with our machine (TRUST ME, MAN, I KNOW WHAT THIS MACHINE IS DOING – I EXPERIENCE IT EVERY STINKING DAY!), and then he wouldn’t answer any of my questions when I asked him, he just looked at me, so I walked away and let him work; to the chatty little ladies who prance in to count the pages, “Hi, I’m Sharla, I’m here to count your pages, are you having a good day? Oh, my, my, who has been printing 40,000 copies a month?”

            “Um, that would be me.”

            “Killing many trees, now, aren’t we?”

            “Ma’am, killing trees is my job.”


Edit: The Copy Machine Repairman from this visit has been sitting out in his truck in the parking lot for the last ten minutes. I’m getting a little creeped out.