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Monday, October 29, 2007

Good things come to those who wait

Wasn’t that a Heinz commercial? And wasn’t Matt LeBlanc in it?

Anyway, I’m applying it to waiting to find out the sex of our baby. Since statistics (and most people’s reactions when I tell them) say I’m in the minority, I thought I’d speak up for those of us with neutral nurseries.

Here are my favorite reasons to wait:

Finding out the sex before the birth is like opening your Christmas presents in July.

“A baby need’s an entrance!” –Jerry Seinfeld

When the baby’s born it will be so much fun to hear “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” and we can say, “Awwww…” rather than “Duh!”

We don’t care if it’s a boy or a girl so why do we need to know ahead of time?

Yellow, green, purple, red, black, white, brown…there are plenty of other colors besides pink and blue

When we tell people we had the baby they’ll be on pins and needles, waiting to find out what it was. If they already know they’ll just ask, “Um, how much did it weigh?”

It’s the last time we’ll ever get to be surprised!

Our parents and grandparents didn’t get to know.

We have the rest of our lives to know what it is. Why can’t we wait a few months? –fellow mom-to-be Halle Berry

Knock Knock. Who's there? I can't tell you until sometime around April 24th!

Honked at again

I'm not in the school zone, I'm in the twilight zone! Why am I the only person following this law?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Make New Friends...

but keep the old. Just because I'm starting a new blog doesn't mean that I love this blog any less.

I'll try to pay equal attention to both.

A message from Avery Clayton, age three-and-a-half

"Elsa is having a baby. It's growing in her tummy. I think it will be a girl baby...because Elsa's a girl."

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Co-worker complaints

Sometimes when I tell people I work at home by myself, they say, “Oh, I would go crazy without anyone to talk to.”

Well, I may go crazy but it’s not because I don’t have anyone to talk to. First of all, I do have people to talk to. I talk to people on the phone. I talk to people over email. But the great thing is I can’t see them and they can’t see me. So it doesn’t matter if I’m wearing pants or not. (I am always wearing pants, by the way, but it’s nice to know they can be pajama bottoms or P.E. teacher track pants.)

It’s been about two-and-a-half years since I had in-the-flesh co-workers and I have to say, I don’t miss them. I mean, I miss some of the actual people. But I miss them in an after-work happy hour sort of way, not in a drop-by-my-cubicle sort of way. (I DO miss after-work happy hours. We never do that at Writinggal.)

But here are just a few things that I don’t miss about having co-workers:

“Oh, you must have gotten the memo!” Co-workers love to say this whenever two people slightly match. I mean, even if I’m wearing black pants (which I think I wore every day when I worked in an office), they would say, “Oh, you must have gotten the memo! We’re both wearing black pants!” That’s such a wild coincidence. You’re totally giving me chills.

Numerous references to the days of the week and their proximity to Friday. Many know how I feel about the over-hyping of Friday so I won’t ramble on about it. All I’ll say is that here at Writinggal, the first person to say “hump day” gets fired.

Cubicle curiosities: I never hung up anything personal in my cube for two reasons: 1). In advertising you had to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice. You never knew when they were going to show up with a pink slip and a security guard. 2). But more importantly, I didn’t like it when co-workers would come up and ask me questions like, “Oh, did you go to Disneyland? How did you like it?” or “Your hair looks funny in that picture.” Basically, I just didn’t like people I didn’t really like talking to me and I didn’t want to give them any openings.

“What’s that? That looks gross.” Co-workers love to know what you’re eating for lunch. I hate it when people talk about my food. Bad combination.

Co-workers at meetings. This is what I hear when co-workers speak at meetings: “Okay, so I don’t really have anything important to say but I’m going to ramble on because then I’ll be in the spotlight and maybe someone will actually believe what I’m saying is important. Hey, I like the way I sound when I talk. I’m going to keep talking. Maybe this meeting will last for hours.” At Writinggal all meetings are forbidden.

The “I’m too busy to talk to you alert signal.” At this one place I worked I was convinced that there was an imaginary clothes line that went from my desk to the desk of this guy who worked on the other side of the building. Sometimes I would be at my desk, staring at my to-do list and I would think, “Okay. This is a lot of crap that I have to do. I only have one hour before the next meeting (which we know will go on for hours because of said co-worker above). If I work really fast and don’t stop to even go the bathroom, I can get it done. Okay, go.” At that moment some sort of signal (maybe an alarm, maybe a light, maybe a siren) would go off at this guy’s desk. He would immediately come over and say, “Hey, Elsa. How’s it going? Um…can you believe all this rain we’re having? And what’s up with that picture hanging on your cube? Did you have a big pimple on your face or is that a Halloween costume?”

Just thinking about all those annoying co-workers makes me stressed. Anyone want to meet up for happy hour?

See what I mean? They're always looking at my food.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Wally Walgreens

There’s the cutest old man who works at my Walgreens. I call him Wally. He's probably about 102 and he starts a conversation with everyone in the check-out line:

“Oh, do you like this toothpaste? I was thinking of getting some!”
“What do you have going on today?”
“I didn’t know Brad and Angelina were breaking up. Is this magazine telling the truth?”
“Are you a P.E. Teacher?

He loves working at Walgreens. In fact, he’s ALWAYS there. I don’t think he ever has a day off or even a lunch break. Wally’s a great guy.

Now, the reason I say all this is because I’m carrying around this enormous guilt. My guilt is stemming from the fact that WALLY DRIVES ME CRAZY!!

Every time I go in I have to wait in the longest line because Wally is chatting up every customer:

“Oh, isn’t she a cute little girl! The angels must have dusted your eyes! Did you know that the eyes are the only things that never change on a person from the time they’re born to the time they die?”

This is what was going on yesterday. But instead of just smiling and nodding, the customer started asking HIM questions about eyes and genetics and then Wally’s latest cancer scare and then some Walgreens promotion. “Stop. Stop asking him questions,” I mumbled under my breath.

I mean, you’re not supposed to wait in line at Walgreens! As Frank says, “That’s why they charge you more.” Exactly. You’re supposed to be able to run in, grab your drugs and Hallmark cards, and run out.

So yesterday I waited for about twelve minutes. I was behind a guy who was buying an enema and I prayed very hard that Wally would not make a comment about it: “Oh, having trouble with your bowels, huh? I know the feeling. This one’s okay but you really want a more powerful one. See? We have it on sale!” Luckily, he struck up a conversation about the drought outside instead of the drought in the guy’s colon.

When it was finally my turn I bought some Airborne (Wal-borne), an O magazine and I picked up a free pair of Regis and Kelly 3D sunglasses (for use on their Halloween episode. It’s a must-have for RK fans). The glasses is where Wally got me:

“Do you watch that show?”


“Do you have kids?”


“Well, kids love playing with these 3D glasses.”

(Hey, buddy, I just said I don’t have any kids…)

“They love to connect the A and the B…”

“Oh, that’s great.” (Now I don’t know what that means “A and the B” but I’m not dare gonna ask.)

“They love to close one eye and look through the red side and close the other eye and look through the blue side. I had a teacher come in earlier and pick up 30 of them!”

“Great.” (Again, didn’t want to hold up the line even though Regis and Kelly had clearly said ONE pair to a customer.)

So I finally leave Walgreens and glance at my receipt. Wally had overcharged me for the Wal-Borne. I had to go back in and wait in line AGAIN! I had to listen to more chatter and he gave every single person ahead of me the same Regis and Kelly spiel:

“…the blue side…the red side…she got 30 of them for her classroom…connect the A and the B.”

You won’t believe what the lady three people in front of me said: “What do you mean connect the A and the B?”

NO!!!! Stop, lady!! I have to pee. I can’t stand in this Walgreens line one more second!! Somebody hold me back or I might hurt Wally!

When I finally got to the front again it had been so long that Wally didn’t even remember me. He agreed that he had overcharged me for the Wal-borne (it rang up wrong) and he then sent me back to photo to a manager. What? I could have gone to photo the whole time?! I didn’t need to wait in the never-ending Wally line?

I didn’t understand that this was the process!

I guess I just didn’t connect the A and the B.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Writinggal Solves the Drought

Water is a hot commodity around here. It’s like Cabbage Patch Kids in the 80s. Big demand. Low supply.

The state of Georgia is trying to help in this time of drought. Here’s what they’ve come up with:

At restaurants, waiters shouldn’t serve water unless customers ask for it (Apparently, Wendy’s is on that same policy with catsup.)

We can’t water our lawns. Ever. (We didn’t hear about this until after we planted trees and flowers last weekend. Our neighbors think we're idiots.)

October is “Shorter Shower Month.” (Is 30 minutes too long?)

While their ideas are interesting, I realized today that I hold the key to this whole drought dilemma. I can save the whole southeastern United States with a solution I came up with as a little girl!

Click here for Writinggal’s Drought Solution!

Friday, October 12, 2007

School Zoning Out

I have a long-standing theory on school zones: The times are too long and the distances too short.

For instance, at the elementary school I lived near in Dallas, we had to drive like turtles from 2:30pm to 4:30pm. Well, the kids got out of school at 3:15pm. What slow-poke kid is still walking home at 4:30? And what delinquent was leaving school at 2:30? I think 3:00-3:45 would have been sufficient.

The distance that the school zone encompassed barely went past the school. It started like a foot before it and ended a foot after it. All the kids who were walking lived well past those points. And you know people drive extra fast as soon as a school zone ends. I would have been fine with the school zone being the whole length of the street that the school was on, as long as it was only 3:00-3:45.

While I often thought about this theory while living in Dallas, I didn’t get a chance to propose it.

Now that I’m in Atlanta I have a whole new theory to propose: Let’s start with obeying the school zones! They don’t do it here, I swear! I’m the only one! In Texas we slowed down to like ten miles an hour. We could have pushed our cars faster.

So here in Atlanta we live near a junior high. True, these kids are older so we don’t care as much if we hit them because a). they’re bigger and can handle it and b). they’re a bunch of brats anyway.

But there are clearly flashing lights and a sign that says SCHOOL ZONE 25 MILES AN HOUR (2:30-4:15). So the other day I’m driving all slow but everyone around me is driving fast. I thought, “Maybe it’s a holiday or something.” Then the next day the same thing happened. But this time, someone actually came up behind me and honked at me. Well, I wouldn’t speed up. I just screamed, “It’s a school zone!! Don’t you Georgians know what a school zone is?”

Twice a week I have to drive through this school zone on my way to teach spin at the YMCA. It’s always 4:00 and the lights are always flashing so I know I’m right that it’s a school zone. I’ve had to make a compromise. I have to at least drive 30 miles an hour or I’ll get run over.

So one day I was driving 30 and whaddya know? There’s a cop! I was gonna be so mad if I got pulled over after I’ve been the lone fighter of the school zone law in Atlanta (albeit within the sound-proof walls of my car). But he got somebody else.

I thought the next time I drove through it everybody would be on their best school zone behavior, given that the area had been staked out. Nope. They were back to 45. Honking at me. Giving me the finger.

I don’t care what they do to me. I am going to obey the law! Somebody has to care about those acne-faced junior high kids. And once I save them I’ll work on shorter times, longer distances. You, and all the kids of America, will thank me.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Pick my Email Quote

When I worked at an ad agency in Dallas, I used to get these emails from this guy in the audio/visual department that said:

Hey, your dub of commercial #N5776 is ready. Come get it.

“Pay no attention to the man standing behind the curtain”

Or sometimes it would say something like:

Do you want a beta or VHS of that?

“Pay no attention to the man standing behind the curtain”

I didn’t understand why he always added that statement after his name. Who was this man behind the curtain? What did he have to do with my video tape? And did it somehow relate to the Star Wars action figures that Steven kept in his cube? Or the trench coat he wore every day, even in the summer?

I was na├»ve back then. That was before email sign-off quotes become fashionable. Now everybody’s got one. Some are sentimental. Some are inspiring. Some are wacky.

Aunt Marilyn’s says: "There is no way of telling people they are all walking around shining like the sun." --Thomas Merton

My friend Cheri’s says: “Do you know the harder thing to do and the right thing to do are usually the same thing.” — Michael Cane

That’s from the movie The Weatherman and although I’ve never seen that movie, I remember liking the sound of that line just when I heard it in the trailer. However, I’m not sure the screenwriter would appreciate Michael Cane getting credit for it.

Readbecca’s is something about plastic things in her drink. I can’t locate it right now but I’m pretty sure it’s something like “Pardon me, waiter, but there aren’t enough plastic flamingos in my drink.” I think I’m wrong about the flamingos but you get the idea.

When my friends at Kolar in Austin were moving offices, they all had this email quote that said “We’ve moved downtown!!!” So I would get emails like:

Hey, that’s too bad about that bridge collapse that killed all those people.


Then there’s my manager at the YMCA:

Can you sub a cycle class tonight?

Positive thoughts Build and Inspire!!!!

How can I say no after that?

I know it’s been six years since I first saw an email quote but I think I’m ready to get me one. Hey, I’m a late adopter. I want mine to reflect me and my work and my personality and my life and my goals and my fears. And I want it to be relevant to everybody on my email list. Here are some ideas I had:

Writinggal Originals:

“If it were up to me, men would shave their armpits too.”

“Breakfast for dinner isn’t just for the poor anymore.”

“Fiber is my friend and it can be yours too.”

“No, I’m not Cyndi Lauper’s long lost twin.”

Semi-famous Quotes (crediting actors rather than actual creators of quotes where applicable):

“Use it or lose it!” –my grandma

“It’s a very important dance. We’re being graded on it.” –Molly Ringwald

“You’re going to be embarrassed when you realize I’m Wilmer Valderama.” –Seth Rogan

“Hope is not a plan” –Oprah Winfrey

“I’m not superstitious. I’m just a little stitious.” --Steve Carell

Mocking the email quote:

“This is my email quote.”

“Email quotes are for losers.”

“Email quotes are for lovers.”

“I believe email quotes can be inspirational, stimulating and profound. Mine is not one of them.”

“Email quote under construction. Coming Easter 2002.”

“I look forward to getting your feedback on my email quote!”

No, that’s not a quote. That’s just what I’m saying to you. It’s sort of like a command. Or a request. Don’t vote on that one.

Oh, it's monkies! Plastic monkies in her drink! That's Readbecca's quote. Don't vote on that either because it's already taken.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Trash Potatoes

Last spring I tried a twist on mashed potatoes. (Is it mash or mashed? I always just say mash so that’s what I’ll say moving forward.) Anyway, I thought I could make the cauliflower kind but make them taste good. I mean, if you add enough ranch, heavy cream, cream cheese and butter, even cauliflower can be edible, right?

My CMPs were a semi-hit. My in-laws liked them and I thought Frank did too. So yesterday I decided to try it again. But this time I took it even farther. Not only did I try to make good-tasting cauliflower mash potatoes, I tried to pass them off as potato mash potatoes.

When Frank called on his way home from work I said, “We’re having mash potatoes! Do you want brown or white gravy?” I planted the seed. Then, as soon as I hung up, I quickly began to discard all the cauliflower evidence. This included throwing away all the cauliflower remains, sending some pieces down the disposal and even washing out the food processor. I wasn’t sure if he was smart enough to know that I would only use the food processor if I was making the cauliflower kind but I didn’t want to take any chances.

But what about the smell? I had steamed the cauliflower so I was sure the kitchen had that gassy-vegetable aroma although I was immune to it, having been in the trenches. I decided to hurry up and cook these sausages that I was going to serve with the CMPs. That should mask the smell, I thought.

But he walked in before I could start on the sausages. He immediately said, “Hey, why does it smell like trash in here?”

I looked totally guilty and said, “I don’t know. I mean, we took the trash out today.”

He said, “I wonder if it’s something in the recycle bin in the garage.”

I just laughed nervously. Smell, what smell?

When I gave him the CMPs he still had no idea. He couldn’t identify them by sight. And when he ate them, I asked, “How do you like the mash potatoes?” He said, “You know what? They kinda remind me of those cauliflower ones you made before.”

“So they remind you of those but they’re not like those?” I asked.

“These are MUCH better than those,” he said, as he continued to shovel them in his mouth.

“Ha! I fooled you!” I said triumphantly. “These ARE cauliflower mashed potatoes! But you LIKE them!”

“Ew, they are? I don’t think I like them anymore,” he said.

“What? You loved them before you knew they were made of cauliflower!” I argued.

“So that’s what smelled like trash! I knew you were acting suspicious,” he said, turning the tables.

And with that, he wouldn’t eat another bite of them! I had to eat both our bowls! I thought they were pretty good, especially with tons of white gravy.

At the end of the night I didn’t feel so great. “What’s wrong?” Frank asked.
“Too many trash potatoes,” I said.