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Saturday, April 30, 2011

What Are Your Best Qualifications for the Position?

"If you're doing something else I can let you go....."
''m know when we're here on Yahoo chatting and that little notification comes up that you've got mail, well, not 'you've got mail' cos that's AOL but"
"Yeah, Lainey, I get it...your point?'
"Oh...panties in a twist today? Fine. You know how I get all these declarations of love and promises of devotion and fantasies of pure delicious filth on FB and that forum I talk about from people I don't know, how some are quite entertaining?'
"Yeah, you've posted a few gems as your FB status. In case you haven't noticed everyone in my family and most of Lubbock has friend requested you because they find me rolling on the floor in tears and want to be in on it."
"Ahhh...I was wondering how Bradley and I became friends....and then there are spin-offs where your friends friend my friends and my friends friend your friends and those friends friend those friends."
"Lainey, there's a shampoo commercial in there, I know but ffs, focus, please."
"Sorry, anyway.....I'm hungry. Hold on, please."
"You pull this shit all the time. Damn, might as well potty break myself, brb."
"Me too. So anyway, there was a new one today from someone who isn't even a friend and the email was in Arabic but it included a pic."
"Oh Christ. Am I going to regret asking 'of what'?"
"A pic of me."
"So? Remember that stalker you had that did collages of you and him and photoshopped hearts and did morphs of your future babies together...he was from Zyzaroplokikistan or something wasn't he? He was harmless....."
"A pic of me with what I thought was soft focus and there was an indecipherable caption underneath so I put it through Google Translate."
"What did it say?"
"I splooged all over your pic and my keyboard, sorry you are my angle. Can we be friends."
"THAT gets you but the splooging part doesn't?"
"Was there a glitch in Google Translate? Angle, huh?"
"Well, much as I like to hear about your gazillion conquests here and internationally, why don't you just change your security settings so you don't get unwanted messages anymore?"
"Because people who I *do* want to contact me that I've lost touch with wouldn't be able to contact me then."
"True, rabbit, true. You also have four thousand fucking friends. I think everyone you know has found you, Lainey."

"Oooooh, Racketeer Rabbit....oldie but a goodie. Oh and he sent me a pic of his junk."
"Wait...WHAT? Why do YOU get all the good pics. Was it a good one?"
" It was respectable.  I miss the good old days when people just sent greeting cards, valentines, roses, chocolate..mmm chocolate."
"Maybe in his country it was a culturally acceptable form of interest."

"I asked him if he'd show his mother or sister that pic."
"What'd he say?"
"I don't think he's figured out Google Translate. I *do* think that might work in my favor. Meanwhile, I'm blocking him."
"Send me the pic of his pecker?"
"What's wrong?"
"I got a love letter, a poem no less, in French from a lesbian German porn star. It rhymes in English."
"Wow. All hail Google Translate."
"No, I asked the guy I liked if he knew any French and he figured it out for me."
"Which one? Not...?"
"NO. And anyway, he's pissed off at me, now."
"Oh God. What now?"
"Well, this other woman he was crushing on, friend requested him and he was thrilled and then she friend requested me and he mentioned it to me and I said, relax that's just a coincidence but turns out it isn't."
"Why? Is she trying to keep tabs on you or something, like you're competition?'
"No. Evidently she used him to get to me. She likes me likes me."
"AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA. He thought you were cockblocking but he's vagblocking. Oh God."
"Maybe I should figure out and post an application form on 'gettin' wit me' to cut out the riff-raff."
"I could only imagine the interview process."
"Yeah. What are your expectations for the job? What did you like best about your last position? What have you been doing since you resigned? Work history: What were your starting and final levels of compensation? What did you like best and least about your last boss....hey this could work."
"Don't get carried away Miss Ego. Remember, there is no "I" in 'team'"
"No, but there is a 'M' and an 'E'.

"You're fired."

There's a Reason Some Men Are Single

After my first marriage came to a close, I did what any reasonable, grieving woman would do. I signed up for an online dating service.

I mean, where else are you going to meet single men these days? I doubt very much that the love of your life is at a club, dry-humping his way down the bar. Clubs and bars contain men who are...shall we say...less selective. Or perhaps less a victim of "natural selection." These men don't have to worry about commitments deeper than one night and a Walk of Shame to the cab. Do I have to mention Mike "The Situation"? A man whose greatest accomplishments are his stock shares in penicillin and his poetic ability to liken women to "grenades?" Ladies, you MUST aim higher.

No, a much better idea would be to meet strange single men online first. I mean, how faceless, anonymous and dangerous could it possibly be?

My first date was with a 46-year old house-flipper. That was his title. We met for coffee and he spent the first 20 minutes on his phone flipping a house, talking about flipping houses and showing me pictures of the houses he flipped. In between, he showed complete and utter disdain for the fact that I had cats and an IQ greater than the number of minutes it took me to get back to the car. Bye bye house-flipper. Good luck being single.

Then there was Morton the Cheese Man. In his picture, he looked tan and had a nice smile. He was also sitting down (ladies, if a man is sitting down or in profile in his picture, run away. He is either short or cross-eyed.) We met in a public place, and when he approached the table, I noticed that he was about 4 inches shorter than I was, broad on top with tiny little bowed legs. He looked like a bulldog trying to walk upright. He kept looking over my shoulder, and after about 10 minutes, I asked "Did you bring someone here?" He admitted that yes, he had brought a friend "in case I didn't work out." It only got better from there.

If I hadn't made it clear before, he worked in cheese. He bought, sold, and developed cheese. He'd ask me what my favourite brand was, and whatever I answered, he'd announce proudly that he somehow had a hand in it, then he'd fist pump and high-five his buddy (who had by this time joined our table.) Then he asked a series of questions: Meat or cheese? Skiing or water-skiing? House or condo?

I mean, what else could I do but get completely and totally wasted? I was allowed to leave only after promising to join him the next night at a club called Berlin (because every Jewish mother wants her Jewish daughter to frequent a club named Berlin. Or Gestapo.)

I never went to Berlin. I did, however, remove my profile post-haste.

Live at 5 (or so) and TODAY'S TEN MINUTE TOPIC

     It's Saturday and still we keep pressing on. Writing wrongs and rights and lefts regardless of Politics. Speaking of politics, if you're in Canada and reading this you know what you have to do on Monday. Exercise your franchise, and give Stupid Humanoid a surprise. Gee, that almost rhymed.
     The reason today's topic is tardy is that I was at an interview to see if I will be directing more than 1 play next year. And in light of that, Today's 10 Minute topic is: AUDITION
(job Interview, first date...whatever) And Cue...

Project Baby

One of the best gifts I ever received was from a total stranger. Profile D001A. We've never met and probably never will. But she gave me her eggs, and that's a pretty great fucking gift.

We were diagnosed with infertility about a year and a half ago (I use the Royal "We" because the hubby doesn't like to be excluded. He's medically sound. I am not. Apparently, acting like Keith Richards for half of my life has taken its toll.)

I am paying, literally and figuratively, for my past transgressions. The result is a hefty investment in my progeny. An investment that will, no doubt, result one Saturday night in an "I hate you" when they can't borrow the car, or a "you're embarrassing me" when I break into an "Ice Ice Baby" running man at their Bar/Bat Mitzvah. But I digress.

Our first donor wound up having the hormone levels of a 40-year old (no offense to anyone in their 40's but, medically speaking, if I'm shelling out tens of thousands of dollars for eggs, I want something in the "bionic" category.) Something that might have been brought to our attention before we shelled out for a hefty deposit. Our ideas of "need to know" differed, and after some intense emails and phone calls, we were on to donor number two. This donor would only work with one of the other doctors in our clinic, and after much persistence, we found out why. Apparently, her last retrieval went so poorly, that only one doctor in that office would approve her. After much rocking of boats and many toes being stepped on, we had to let her go. I don't know about you, but I would rather NOT have a sonohistogram or an internal ultrasound by a doctor with a chip on her shoulder. Might as well give myself a physical using kitchen utensils. Note to self: get rid of the whisk.

So here we are, on the brink of something awesome. Something we've waited for for over 2 years. We found her. She's great. She has dark hair. She's medically perfect. And, money aside, she's giving us her eggs because "she wants other couples to feel the joy that her child has brought her." Awesome.

Just please don't let my kids be assholes.

Friday, April 29, 2011

How to make a presentation to a room full of people who are fully-clothed, not just in their underwear

Aside from the relatively recent influx of zombies, there is nothing more universally frightening than having to give a speech. Common wisdom says if you can picture your audience in their scanties, this will make the experience a lot less scary and possibly even enjoyable. (Note: The same can not be said for zombies, in their underwear, shambling up to your house; in that case, best to simply hightail it out of there.)

Back to speechifying: common wisdom is a moron. A room full of underpants-clad folk, leaning forward in their folding chairs and eagerly waiting for overdressed me to enlighten them on some topic or another... hell, that's a recipe for stuttering, lisping, senior moments and myriad other indicators of not being able to pay 100% attention to the task at hand. I can't speak, don't ask me.

Here's what you do instead.

1. Understand that they want you to be good, to succeed at this. They want this so much that they are willing to cut you all kinds of slack. They're going to do a lot of the "success" part for you, by way of justifying their presence and possibly the price of admission to others after the fact. Others who were not there. People your audience can lord it over because they were. You're going to have to get up pretty early in the morning to screw this up, believe me. But there's always an outside possibility, so what you want to do is

2. Really know your stuff. Give them something in exchange, you know? Prepare, practice, but don't read it. Say it. Write it all out first, fine, but then

3. Make an outline that is not just a diagram of the exact sentences in your written version. Then practice from the outline till you can say it all in the time allotted while making sure to

4. Smile. there have to be other things to be happy about besides a group of half-naked people sitting and watching you, but if you have to resort to that, OK, fine, imagine your audience in their underwear.

5. Ya happy?

The Lion's Share

The phone was ringing and I was warm and cozy in bed and not being the type to HAVE to pick it up, I let it ring expecting the machine to pick it up and so it did and my mother's voice commanded, "Get up NOW. I need you. Why aren't you here already?' Dad didn't call her 'The Admiral' for nothing. My boyfriend at the time groaned and rolled over and I reached out for the receiver and before I could say a word she said, "I can't believe you're still in bed.' "Mom, it's Saturday. I'm an adult. I have a life. Would you just.....' I trailed off. Something was wrong or rather more wrong. I felt the vibe like a cold breeze and pushed his shoulder and said, 'Don't bother showering. Get dressed. We have to go." I too got dressed and we checked the cat's food and water in case it was an overnighter, left a light and a TV on low for him and telling him to watch the house, locked the doors behind us and ran down the steps to the car.

My mother was dying.

She'd had some kind of gastric discomfort for as long as I could remember but was either too busy with raising us or her job or too ashamed of her weight to actually go to a doctor to see if it was anything more serious than acid reflux. The doctors she would go to were in and out internists at clinics that had one eye on the clock and one eye on the door for the next patient so would just prescribe her a little purple pill or whatever it was then. She tried all kinds of herbal stuff too. We thought it was her gallbladder, honestly. 

Finally she found a doctor who would actually listen and I accompanied her to a battery of tests at a series of hospitals while often at the same time accompanying my father to the same hospitals for his chronic kidney stones and frequent procedures. I was as much a fixture there as the wall fountain in the center of the annex lobby. I still am grateful to the company I worked for that let me take off so much time and when I actually did show up for work, allowing me to spend the entire day weeping and sometimes wailing in my cubicle. I was the oldest of four and there was no negotiation. It was my job to keep it, them and all my shit together and with the help of Prozac and Xanax I put on an epic performance.

The day of my mother's diagnosis, my father and I were pulled aside into a little private room and the surgeon close the door behind him and my blood turned cold. I realized we were in a 'crying room'. He began to show us photographs of the inside of my mother's abdomen. The abdomen that I and my siblings once nested and grew inside, that gave us life. It was now pockmarked with little white innocuous circles and I was faintly hearing, 'It's spread too far. I'm very sorry. It's one of those things that have so many similar symptoms to other benign things that you can't be sure unless you specifically look for it." and on and on. 

Again he apologized and left the room and we got up and staggered out into the hallway and I said very calmly, "I don't want to lose my mother" and collapsed in my father's arms there in the hallway of Geisinger Center in Danville, PA. 

A bit later we were informed that my mother was now in her room, very comfortably numb on morphine and we went upstairs to see her. She was nearly totally out of it and didn't see me wiping my tears and I think I even bit my wrist to stop from screaming. I remember the short stint of cutting myself when I was a kid and my mother noticing the initials I'd engraved on the inside of my elbow with a piece of broken glass I'd found on the street and her grabbing my arm and her words terrifying me so much I immediately stopped that shit, she was so fucking formidable and here was something even she couldn't chase or stop or scare away.

I excused myself to  make a few phone calls. The entire family was on alert. I called her only brother, my uncle John with whom I had a tenuous relationship at best, and I didn't realize I was sobbing until I heard my father calling me from the other room, Elaine, Elaine, Elaine....then I called my brother David and his wife as usual said he was busy and what was it and I said, 'Put him on the phone NOW.' and I heard my mother's voice in my ears. And so on and so on and so it goes.

So here we were now at the house, my sister pulling into the driveway as we were. Future-spouse said hello and immediately went for a walk. He was never one for the warm fuzzies and frequently left  me to my own devices when I was falling apart. One of the first nails in the coffin of my marriage. What a horrid thing to say considering the subject but ironically apropos. 

There was a hospice worker at the house. Before leaving she explained that the device leading to my mother's stomach was so that she didn't starve but it was her wishes that there be no heroic efforts, no attempts to prolong anything. I was stunned. I was in denial and would be even as she took her last breathe. My mother had been unable to ingest anything in months and was literally surviving off the fat of her body and was in the end stages of the disease.
I thoughtlessly walked in with a Solo cup of watered down cranberry juice and ice and she asked me what that was and I looked at the hospice worker, who nodded that it would be okay. "She won't be able to keep it down but it will refresh her." so I handed it to her and she downed the whole thing and exactly what the worker said would happen did, but my mother wiped her mouth and said, "Mmmm that was delicious" and I burst into tears. 

My sister climbed into bed with her and cuddled up alongside and I sat in a chair at the foot of the bed and asked my mother if she wanted me to rub lotion on her feet. I remember a few weeks before asking her if she'd like me to give her a sort of pedicure and she was delighted and so this day, as the scent of French lavender filled the room, I began to cry again thinking of that and she said, "Elaine, it's okay to cry."  I did cry and she said, "I'm sorry for not being the best mom". I said angrily like a child told to lay down for a nap, "YES, you ARE the best Mom"' and she said I was the best too. I said, 'Oh yeah? What have I done for you lately?"  She said, "When you were little and I couldn't reach my feet to cut my nails, I'd ask you to do it and you'd get grossed out and just the other week you gave me a pedicure.....that's just one...oh and the cranberry juice..." 
I got up and wet a washcloth with warm soapy water and began to rub down her arms and the back of her neck. She changed my diapers. My mother was dying.  My mother was dying. My mother was dying.

That day she was remarkably lucid considering the impressive amounts of morphine she was on and she knew it and took advantage. "Go inside and get my jewelry box." I got up and brought it over to her. These were her treasures. Aside from this, she had no material wealth. She began to tell my sister and I, whom each piece would go to. My sister had for years always made an irritating request probably because she'd never comprehend it would actually happen that when my mother died, she wanted her pick of all the jewelry. Sometimes my mother would ask me what I wanted and I always said the same thing, "I'd prefer you live forever." and meant it. The box grew lighter as names were called. Most of the gold chains went to the boys/men as they were least feminine. Her diamond tennis bracelet went to my sister by default because I already owned one, purchased by myself. The box was nearly empty and my mother looked up at me truly surprised and said, "Elaine, I'm so sorry....all that's left are my everyday earrings." I said, "I'll take it."

One sister-in-law got a lovely flawless three-quarter-carat diamond pendant, another got a lovely solid gold San Marco link bracelet. My maid-of-honor and best friend Lizzie got the pearl and gold station necklace she was denied wearing to my wedding because Lisa made such a stink that SHE wanted to wear it, Lizzie gracefully wore the faux copy, and of course, Lisa got the lion's share.

But I don't look at it that way really. Before I said goodnight to her as I was leaving, I leaned down to kiss her and said, 'You know, you were my first best friend.' She said, "I love you." I said, "I love you more." It was a little game we always played but not this time. She grabbed my arm tight and looked me in the eye and said, "NO.... I. LOVE. YOU."  I nodded and said, "I know. I do." 

I was her firstborn. I had her first just as she had me first. As far as I'm concerned, I got the lion's share. And it was an honor and a privilege to be blessed with such a gift.

4 on the Floor and Today's 10 MINUTE TOPIC

Sorry, it's late, but  I was all caught in the Royal Wedding Frenzy...Naah, that's bullshit. I was watching a Cagney movie. I was out late and I slept in.

One tip...Don't worry about the timer. It's not even there, focus on the words.

And in honour of  Will and Kate's Nuptials Today's 10 Minute Topic is: PRESENT
(Gift, The Now, know the drill)

Have Fun!

Who's Next

I’ve been lucky enough to have met a lot of my favorite musicians. A lot of the names wouldn’t mean much to your average person but they do to me, so this is not about name dropping …well, not really.

            I met Arlo Guthrie coming out of the men’s room at the El Mocambo, and shook his hand, and No, I didn’t care. I’ve met Christine Lavin and ended up designing the cover for one of her CDs. Jill Sobule was at the Knitting Factory in LA and I brought down all my CDs  for her to sign. Micky Dolenz – Here he came walking down the street in Westwood. I could go on.
            But the most bizarre one involved my favorite group of all time, The Who.
And by bizarre I mean creepy and by creepy I mean probably only to me, but I’m telling the story so, fuck you, it’s creepy.
            I was walking home from the North Hollywood subway station, taking the route I normally took. I saw about 3 people standing outside a martial arts studio chatting, and I notice that one of them is Roger Daltrey.  I’ve been a huge Who fan since I was pre-pubescent, so I knew it was him, and I froze in front of this little group, heart pounding, barely breathing.  As he starts to leave I find the voice to say “Mr. Daltrey, sorry to bother you, life long fan. Can I just shake your hand?”

            He says “ Sure, Fank you very much” (listening to the Who in interviews is how I learned to do a decent Cockney accent) and he takes off in his appropo Austin mini. And I’m floating…

            The next morning, the news is blaring “The body of John Entwistle, bassist for the legendary rock group The Who, was found in a Vegas hotel Room”. Apparently drugs and a hooker were involved, even though Entwistle was always known as the quiet one.

            And I totally had this Twilight Zone moment. Cold fingers up the spine and all that.
            I mean I’d still like to meet Pete Townshend.

But not if Roger Daltrey has to die for it.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


I realized today that I'm old. I don't get kids today and I sure as hell don't get their music. Which stuns me, because I never had to walk to school in the snow with no shoes, uphill (both ways). I was hip, y'know? I had my ear to the ground, my finger on the pulse.

And then along came Justin Bieber.

I thought it was a disease of the mouth, a kind of fungus that could be treated with penicilin, a fungus that made 12 year old girls have complete and utter meltdowns and sent their cougar-in-training MILFS into panty-toss overload. As it turns out, I was not totally wrong about the Biebs.

And all of a sudden, I became one of those old people who yell at kids to get off their damned lawn. One of those old farts who tell us that we don't know how good we have it with our Sony Walkmans and our computers that fit on a desk (not the width of a room).... Wait...they don't have Sony Walkmans anymore? What about VHS??? Why was I not informed??? BBM what? And what the hell is a Gaga?

So as it turns out, I don't have a clue about music anymore. Kids roll their eyes at me when I extol the virtues of U2, or praise the Beatles or wax poetic about the Rolling Stones. God, now that I say it out loud, maybe I am getting a bit old. I mean Christ, I was in the emergency room for 8 hours last month (Eight.Hours.) and The young doctors walking around did not have wedding bands. Hell, they probably weren't even dating. They looked young enough to have a curfew. And after calling the umpteenth Doogie Howser "Son," I realized that, like it or not, I'm getting on in years.

But back to music.

Bieber sucks, the Stones rule, and get off my lawn.
Wait, what was I talking about?

Breath of Life

A surprise package arrived in the mail from my brother David. He had told me of his discovery but I hadn't know he'd actually make prints for me and I sat there with a series of photographs splayed across the table in front of me, enrapt. To say I was delighted is an understatement. I was looking at prints of sepia tone photos of my paternal grandparents' neighborhood family band, she playing violin, he playing mandolin and they, surrounded by unnamed unknown cousins holding various instruments and wide grins, replete with period clothes which at that time were short pants, long-sleeved thick cotton dress shirts and ridiculous short wide ties; Sunday best for picture taking. That they are all cousins is abundantly clear; distinct eye-set, jawline, and at least four aquiline (we call them 'Roman') noses, which fittingly, David himself a musician, inherited. No one received formal training. Not one, and two generations after, no one still. We played and we sang for the love of melody, harmony and lyrics and the way the poetry of it all woos, dances with and seduces our emotions.
David taught himself how to play guitar first, then bass, then inherited the aforementioned mandolin. Donny played violin very briefly then took up drums for which his talent matched his passion. Lisa and I sang and my parents also sang. I think my father played the sax and also bass when he was younger. He used to regale us with tales of singing do-wop around a burning trashcan on street corners with his buddies. He proudly said someone told him he should do it for a living. He just loved to sing. Everyone dreamt of being 'discovered'. 

Dad had one of those giant stereo consoles so large it also could serve as an impromptu buffet server should my parents have surprise guests. That fact didn't impress us children as much as that two of us could crouch inside the bottom compartment and slide the doors closed making it the perfect secret place for hide and seek. When we weren't using it for nefarious purposes, we'd go through the record albums and play whatever album cover was most colorful or interesting or just the name of the band itself; Strawberry Alarm Clock? Iron Butterfly? Hot Tuna? Swan Lake. Yes. Swan Lake. 

My father didn't forbid us to touch his stuff. He let us have free rein. He and Mom were also discovering the joys of 8-track tapes so we were also listening to Shirley Bassey, Elton John, The Carpenters, The Beatles and Crosby Stills Nash and Young's Deja Vu album (still one of my top ten albums) Although they never actually voiced it, it was implied that we be open and appreciative of all kinds of music by their own example and indeed we were. The first 45 I ever bought was War's 'Why Can't We Be Friends'. I think I was 6 or 7 and was ridiculously proud of MY independent choice apart from my own parents' influence. 

We had a little enclosed garden behind the house, mostly adorned by my maternal grandmother's prizewinning roses, tomatoes and assorted herbs.  In one corner, however, as an afterthough or perhaps bribe to keep us from trouncing Grandma's peppers, was our swing-set, replete with metal sliding pond (who WERE the sadists who devised them burning our tender little tushes?) and the teeter-totter, a pipe-metal three-seater where poor Donny, the youngest at the time, always got the center seat which never really went anywhere. Never mind that. Every morning before dawn when the weather was agreeable, we'd sneak out the back pantry down the rickety wood steps and very verrrrrrry quietly teeter, verrrrrry quietly totter, until we'd break into song which was more often than not a Beatles' hit. I recall a lot of Yellow Submarine. I wanted a hole in me pocket and to befriend the Nowhere Man. We only knew 'Michelle Ma Belle' and no French at all so we faked it at the top of our lungs until the neighbors would start screaming or calling and my mother would come running out in her nightgown with my dad's belt in her hand. We would run past her screaming and giggling and jumping her mostly ineffectual swings and climb back into bed together and dream up dirty  song lyrics to our favorite TV shows instead, laughing under the covers.

Music inspires. It has brought me to my knees. It has made me want to fight, to love, to leave, to stay, to do, to rest, to laugh, to cry, to forgive and ask forgiveness. To live.

If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.

Franklin's gotten himself a bowed psaltery from Amazon dot com. This guy loves making music, is always seeking out new types of instruments. Mostly they've been percussion instruments, a selection of which he brings when he visits from California, so we can jam. I love doing this. It reminds me of when we used to sing together when he was a little kid. We made up the tune as we went along, trading melody and harmony, and we always sounded great (to my ears). It was a wordless communion, the sort of communion one can only have through music.

His father had a career as a professional oboist; the farthest he strayed from the oboe was the English horn, which is really not too far - an oboe is to an English horn as a piccolo to a flute. Just a matter of scale. I also played a musical instrument, the flute in fact, which is how come I know about that comparison. However, he and I were never able to jam. It might have been because he was conservatory educated and I was, well, not. Or it might have been because we weren't going to be harmonious on any level at that point in our lives, and music was just one more expression of that.


Hellooo Tenners!

It's Day 3 here at Drop Central, and things are just going swimmingly. How's it going for you? Are you having fun yet? 'Cause this is supposed to be fun, right?  I've been hearing rumours of wagering, and I would like to discourage that unless I'm getting a cut.

Let's start hearing from the authors hiding in the corners. Don't be shy. It should be obvious that we have no standards here. There is no bar set here, and besides I'm a firm believer "If you drink, Don't Type!"

Seriously come on in, the water's fine.

Speaking of water, it's Stormy Weather out there without Lena Horne. It's not Winnie the Pooh blustery, more like Flying Cow from Twister or Wizard of Oz style.

So with that in mind, Today's Ten Minute Topic is : MUSIC

Didn't see that one coming, did ya?

Prose, Poetry, Personal,Truth, Lies. There are are no rules...Except the 10 minute there is the the one rule.

Yeah!  Write On!

Okay, I'm really, really sorry about that last bit...Please Forgive me.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

People don't use the name Rembrandt much anymore...

If there's one thing you learn in school, it's not to have a funny name. One that can be manipulated in to something that will haunt you for the rest of your natural life, kinda like the legendary permanent record.

Those traumas run deep. So deep that I know people that changed their names to leave that part of their lives behind. I can relate. (Hiller with first L crossed) But the other blowback from the teasing and bullying about somebody's name is that a lot of perfectly good names have fallen out of use, Rembrandt being just an example.

Oh sure I know,  famous artist had it too. But the fact remains that it's a perfectly good name.
After all people didn't stop using Leonardo, did they?A ninja turtle and an actor type share that one.

Other Perfectly Good Lost Names
and, sadly, Smeagol
Oh for the Good Old Days...

The clerk grimaces and pushes the form back toward me. "You forgot to fill in your middle initial. the box there"

", actually I didn't. I don't have one." I am a wee bit defensive and definitely annoyed. I push it back toward her. "I thought that part was optional, sort of like, do I want anti-glare on my new glasses or cheese on my pasta or if I click here I can play another round of trivia. Look, I don't have a middle name.'

"She touches her nose absentmindedly as if she's wearing glasses and they slipped down the bridge only she's not wearing any but I know the feeling. I've done it. I've also put on my glasses to 'hear' someone better so I get it. I just wish she would.

"You really don't have a middle name?' curiosity mixed that PITY?

"I really don't have a middle name. Correct. I also didn't go to prom. Thanks for reminding me of a traumatic experience. Do you get paid extra for that?" I say this passive-aggressively with a smile. She cracks her gum and sweeps the form under the counter and rolls her eyes

. She probably has to deal with a lot of people like me. People with no middle names or too many consonants in their surnames or something so unbelievably unpronounceable that a watch list is immediately produced and scrutinized with patriotic fervor but I 'look' okay except for the mild aggressive vibe wafting from me (or maybe she doesn't like Shalimar or that I'm wearing pearls to a government office like I'm trying to impress someone.)

She tells me to sit down and wait for my name to be called. I find a seat next to a woman with a lovely baby whose eye I catch and he begins cooing and reaching for my pearls.

Pearls....part of  my nom de plume, my alter ego. I can't use that. Way back when I believed in organized religion I took Theresa as my confirmation name in the hopes of righting wrongs but was crushed when informed I could not legally use it when obtaining my learners permit, all that religious instruction gone to waste. God knew my evil dastardly plans. It was all about me, not Him, and here I am again properly admonished.

'What's in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet.' Sweet words written (or perhaps not) by a man who also did not have a middle name. That's a fact for all you trivia buffs.

So suck it up, Buttercup. I'm in good company. And I let the baby play with my pearls while I think of more important things like....lunch.

The day I joined the Teensters

Back in 1960, when dinosaurs roamed northeastern New Jersey, I was busily growing up, pretty much twelve years old and desperate to be cool. Yes, my friends, girls could long to be cool too, and I sure did.

One afternoon in gym class, the announcement was made: the seventh graders were to be the guests of the eighth graders at a dance, during non-school hours, in the elementary-school all-purpose room. And, oh yeah, said dance was sponsored by the Teensters.

Sweet Jesus.

I'd read the New York Post my Dad brought home from work every night. I'd seen the headlines. "Teamster Boss This" and "Unexplained Murder That". And here they were, embarassingly naive Norwood Public School officials who obviously didn't work in New York, clearly had never even seen the New York Post, and were actually letting these mob guys sponsor a dance for kids!

I was thrilled to the bone. The dance itself turned out to be pretty tame, no tommy gun checkstands or shifty-eyed chaperones in pinstriped suits, but nevertheless the glow lasted right up to the point when I pointed out my earlier fears to my mom the next day, and she laughed and said the name is Teensters, not Teamsters! Ha ha!


Back for Seconds and Todays Ten Minute Topic!

Welcome back, Campers to Day 2 of Drop and Give Me TEN!  One Topic, Ten Minutes, No Rules! Um...except the 10 minute thing. If the buzzer or whatever you're using goes off you are allowed to finish the sentence.

A couple of Clarifications things. To get permission to post on theDrop and Give Me TEN! site on Blogger, just email me your email address to mikehiller@, and the site will reply with an email and then you can post here with gay abandon, or any other kind of abandon you like. I don't judge. Also Ignore the Time thing where you post!  I think it's set to Pacific so just leave it be...

Also don't forget to follow the blog so you can get notification when there's a new one. You can comment  and since I don't judge you don't get to either. It's not a competition. It's an exercise, and keep it clean.

And if you're using a pen, you do get to enter it on a computer, but try to avoid the temptation to rewrite. Clear as compost? Swell...

And Today's 10 Minute Topic is: NAME
(Your own, Someone Else's, One you like? Any take accepted)

A fan of the new

I like new things. I like being new places, reading new stories, testing new ways to fix chicken. I like it when the frustrated housewife blows the strand of hair away from her eyes and turns to me, watching her on the TV and says, "There's got to be a better way!" because as soon as she says it, blammo, the better way is revealed. Needless to add, it's New.

New babies are great, so fresh and small and smooth and clean of preconceived notions. They don't need to be in a pink room or a blue room to be happy, all they need is lunch and a cuddle and they're good to go ...until they need a new lunch and a new cuddle, of course, and probably a fresh new nappy.

And while the initial universe of newness might be a bit overwhelming, and why babies need to keep it simple ~ no chicken cacciatore or Hamlet or string theory for the first few years ~ we all eventually learn to cope and thrive. And some of us even seek out the New. And the better way.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What do I do now?

This is how it always starts. He asks me how to do something. I have his full attention. I begin with short easy steps. Offer to write a list, a diagram, perhaps a we need to do a karmic convergence or no no...everything is fine. Ten minutes later he trots back in, breathlessly. 'Okay, I put the water in the pot, a little bit of salt, oil (I said no oil but whatever) and put the burner on medium. What next?'

'What happened to the next four things I said you should do?' Silence. Chagrin. I bite my lip. 'It's okay...Next: you....." and it goes on and on and on. I taught him how to cook from the couch while I was sick (me, couch/him, kitchen) and he's become a damned good cook. Before me he ate boiled chicken and unseasoned white rice three times a day, seven days a week without variation for years. He's a damn good student and we all have to start somewhere.

To bad I can't take my own advice.

My brand new Inspiron shit the bed. I loathe Windows 7 which it came loaded with and can be heard screaming in frustration all the way down the quiet mountain where usually bunnies and gophers frolic in peaceful silence save the buzzing of the punctual mayflies and ground bees. I complain to Uber-Geek and he asks patiently, 'Did you turn it off and turn it back on again?' I look at him as if he just sprouted a horn on his forehead. "Do I LOOK that stupid to you? Never mind. I know the answer.' He says, hands held out in supplication. He's seen me fling more than one keyboard across a room. 'Just hand it over to me. I'll load XP and you'll never have to worry about this again.'

I eye him suspiciously. "How long?" Negotiations begin in earnest.
"Four hours, tops,' He says, feeling me out....I don't trust him. I won't give him my passwords. He'll know too much. I'd have to kill him. I suck at mopping bloody floors...I debate. Bite my lip. "Hey,' his face brightens, 'You still have that little pink can go online from won't be totally cut-off....' his words grow fainter as I consider.

I steps....if he can learn to boil penne and bowties and make a mean gravy (that's tomato sauce for all you non-Italians) ...can I learn to defrag my laptop BY MYSELF or am I going to bite the bullet and trust a seasoned pc engineer with MY PRECIOUS?

Not today. But I think thinking about it is remarkable progress for me so I'm chalking that up to a new beginning.


I have a lot of friends who are writers and, like myself and everyone I know who does this, occasionally we get stuck. I took a workshop with the amazing Tracy Erin Smith, and this was one of her exercises to get the "creative juices" flowing.

The Idea is simple enough. We provide the Topic.  Set a timer to 10 Minutes.  Put a pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard and start writing. Stop writing when the timer goes off.

In regards to the topic...Anything you write on it is fine. The broadest possible  definitions, to the narrowest. Maybe just the word will trigger it. Non-Fiction, Fiction, Prose or Poetry. No judgement. No rules...except the 10 minute one... and there can be exceptions to even that one...later.

SO let me know if you're interested and I'll add you to the editor list so you can post. If it works for you tell your friends...

Today's 10 Minute Topic is , appropriately enough, BEGINNINGS...And that's my 10.