Thursday, December 19, 2013

I wonder as I wander

I apologize for dropping the blogging ball lately. However, at the risk of blaming the victim, I swear I have a good reason. I’m still working on the Editor’s changes to my manuscript. And, while it’s true I got the edits in July, I had absolutely no idea how hard this process would be. But that’s the bad news. The good news is this: She likes it. In other words, if the journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step, I have my shoes on and tied, so wish me luck.

That being said, this post isn’t about my book. It’s about Nathan Bransford’s Hooray for Heifer drive. mkromd has participated every year, and this year is no exception. If you've never done it, here’s how it works . . . Every year, sends this ripple of kindness across the blogosphere and challenges each of us to raise money for a wonderful cause, Heifer International. It goes something like this, if I link to his site and this cause, he will redirect people to my site to keep it going. So we should totally do this! For each comment that you post below (until the first week of January 2014), I'll donate 25 cents on your behalf, and for each person who “joins” my karma ran over my dogma, I'll donate one dollar (up to $50 total). This is the fourth year we've done it, and I'd like to keep this tradition going, including sharing the post below. As dysfunctional as it is, it's become the mkromd equivalent to, "Twas the Night before Christmas." Yes. Really.


Just when I thought no one was paying attention to my blog, someone sent me a note about Nathan Bransford, who is raising money for a wonderful cause, Heifer International. Now, if you aren’t familiar with this organization, they use donations (like this) to purchase sustainable items for indigenous people around the world, many of whom I’ve personally offended at one point in time or another and need to apologize to en masse. Hopefully this will help me make amends (and improve my karma); and, for those of you who regularly read my blog, you know I need all the help I can get. You even already know that years ago, in college, when I studied in Sardinia, I was attacked by a passive-aggressive hair stylist who shaved my head. But, what you don't know is that, as tragic as that event may have been, it was far from the worst thing that's ever happened to me abroad.

That probably happened in India, after I graduated from college.

You see, every year my large co-dependent family vacations together in a place we've never been before. It's true, we pick some unfortunate destination and descend en-masse, and one year we decided to go to Asia. At any rate, there we were, visiting a mosque in India, when someone suggested that we see the, “lesser known Poor Man’s Taj Mahal.” If you've never heard of it, don't be alarmed. It’s more like a roadside attraction than it is a mosque, but the rules still apply: men can go inside, women cannot, and everyone has to take off their shoes regardless.

So there I was . . . walking around . . . outside . . . in India . . . without shoes on . . . when I stepped in bird poop.

If you know nothing about me, please know this - I’m a complete germ-a-phobe; however, luckily for me, there was a big pool of water right there. And, as a recently-graduated, culturally-sensitive Anthropologist, I hopped over to it and stuck my bird poop covered foot right in. No kidding, about twenty-five men immediately ripped their hands out of there the second I'd touched it. Being the polite idiot that I am, I was loudly apologizing/explaining and showing them my foot while saying, “Sorry, I stepped in crap and I need to get it off.”

Now, if you know anything about Islam, then you probably know the following:
1. That’s holy water and it’s used for men to clean themselves before they pray. Women don’t use it . . . ever.
2. In most Asian cultures, showing someone the bottom of your feet is like giving them the finger.
3. Either one of these things is offensive.
4. Both of these things together can be life-threatening.

I now know that too.

That said, as I’m writing this, it dawns on me that the poop "incident" wasn't actually the worst one. The worst was definitely when I was living and working in London because of an international assignment. I tried to warn my boss this was a bad idea, but it wasn’t until I lost my knickers on High Street that he agreed.

However, before I can tell you that part of the story, I have to tell you this part first.

You see, one morning, I’d gotten up and headed into the office to prep for a big meeting with my manager and his peers, all of whom are men. However, because God hates me, I didn't get to work early at all. In fact, I got there late because of traffic on the M25. Already tardy and frustrated, I quickly grabbed my stuff from the car and accidentally slammed the door on myself, which naturally resulted in a massive tear in my nylons. As I looked at my watch, I realized that I could pull it off (no pun intended) and literally jaunted (in heels) to Woolworths on High Street for a new pair.

Though I was able to successfully repress most of what happened next, I still remember running into the store, grabbing a pair of pantyhose off the rack, looking at the back of the package, and realizing that this wasn’t going to end well for me. You see, the problem with buying clothes in England is that the height and weight charts are metric.

Do you know how many stones you weigh or how many meters tall you are? Wow, me neither!

But I grabbed a pair anyway and hauled back to the office where I went into the bathroom, pulled off my nylons, pitched the torn ones into the garbage and opened the new pack. Clearly God hates me, because when I opened them, they were thigh-highs . . . for an Amazon. I’m five foot two, and in no parallel universe would those have worked, even if I'd had a garter-belt, which I didn't.

So there I was, eyeballing the torn ones in the trash and running the numbers in my head, when I realized that it would require a lifetime of therapy if I went dumpster diving for my own used clothes. Instead, I tried to make my B Plan work.


After fifteen minutes of sheer hell (no pun intended), I walked over to my boss’s office, shut his door and said, “We have a problem.” It was (quite literally) five minutes before one of the biggest presentations of my life, so he was clearly upset by this declaration and asked why. That's when I stamped my right foot three times, and my thigh-high fell to the floor . . . engulfing my shoe. As we stood there, staring at each other, not sure what to say, the left thigh-high fell to the floor, too. And no, I hadn’t shaved. That’s when my boss said, “Take the damn things off and tell them you’re French. Let’s go.”

To think I was scared of what could happen on our last family vacation to Peru. No kidding, I was genuinely terrified that I’d hear a blow dart and wake up days later in some South American jungle hut without a kidney. Since that didn’t happen, I clearly still have amends to make before my karma can improve, so PLEASE help me out. Give to Heifer International. Or, post a comment and I will make a donation on your behalf (up to $50 total from mkromd).

Have a great holiday! Talk to you next week.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Let it roll, baby roll

Can we please have a moment of silence for my dignity? It died this week at work… on a toilet seat… much like Elvis did. Only there were no drugs involved. In fact, there was no toilet paper involved either, and that’s exactly where this week’s story begins. 

You see, when I’m at home, I accept that there’s never toilet paper when I need it. Though I buy it once a week and restock each bathroom in our house every weekend, for some reason there is never a square to spare when I'm in the loo. The roll is either as barren as Carthage or has a single, tattered remnant of hope still glued to the cardboard. 

But that’s not the point. The point is that you don’t expect that to happen at work. You don’t grab a roll on your way to the bathroom, “just in case.” Nor do you do a little recon before you “drop trou.” You assume that everyone has done their part. In other words, both you and the toilet paper roll are completely covered. Worse than that, at home, at least you have options: Kleenex… paper towels… packing tissue. I’m not proud, but I am honest, and there are days that the cocktail napkins in the kitchen drawer should be grateful they dodged a bullet.  At work, your only option is to twerk like Miley Cyrus to elevator music and hope you can actually drip dry with some modicum of success… which is precisely what I did.

However, before I can tell you that part of the story, I have to tell you this part first. 

At the risk of blaming the victim, I should say that there was, indeed, some toilet paper on the roll when I walked into the stall. Not enough to line the seat, per se, about twenty to thirty squares, but definitely enough to take care of business. So there I was… jeans around my Dr. Martens… peeing… when I reached for the toilet paper… and accidentally pulled the entire roll with its holder off the wall. Yes. Really. The toilet tissue literally flew across my lap, landed on the floor, and proceeded to unravel as it rolled all the way to the restroom sink… while I helplessly watched in abject disbelief and horror.  

It’s times like these I wish I had more middle fingers so the universe knew exactly how deeply I wanted it to fuck off. Anyway, in the spirit of full disclosure, I’m not sure what happened next. I like to think that by repressing it, I actually found some dignity. Note: If no one claims it within twenty-four hours, I’m keeping it.

Talk to you later.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Please, please, please wait a minute Mr. Postman

Today’s tale takes “going postal” to a whole new level. However, before I can tell you that part of the story, I have to tell you this part first. You see… a couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine’s dad suddenly and somewhat unexpectedly passed away in Florida. In less than a ten day period of time, my friend got the phone call, hopped a flight, drove to the hospital, and lived in a waiting room or by his father’s side until the decision was made to end life support. 

Having lost my own dad, I know how awful the whole experience can be. That's why, when my friend returned home to the Mid-West, we went to lunch so I could see how he was doing. As expected, we spent as much of the conversation laughing as we did crying; then, after an hour or two, we hugged our good-byes and he said, “Wish me luck. I’m off to the Post Office to get my dad.” Yes. Really.

Now, please believe me when I tell you that Mark Twain was right, “Reality is stranger than fiction because, unlike the truth, fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities.” And since there’s NO delicate way to say this, and my friend gave me the OK to share it on mkromd, I’ll simply be candid. His father’s ashes were sent to his neighbor’s house by accident. For one minute, imagine that you’re the guy who lives next door, and the mailman asks you to sign for a package… from a crematorium… that CANNOT be returned to sender… since that would be God.  

Because I don’t have a filter, when he told me that, I literally burst out laughing (which, thankfully, made him do the same). I mean, really… when a child loses a parent, it’s a tragedy; but, when the United States Postal Service does it, it’s just careless. That said, he told me everyone was GREAT about it. Maybe since all’s well that ends well, on the drive home, I found myself saying, “Self, if that’s going to happen to ANYONE, it’s going to happen to you. You’re going to die, and instead of DB getting your ashes and you meeting your Maker, you’re going to spend eternity in a Post Office. Seriously, if you thought mailing a package at Christmas was Hell, you haven’t seen anything yet.”

And that would be the BEST case scenario. What if they mail me First Class, with adequate postage (though I’m sure I wouldn’t weigh as much as they think I do), and I get delivered to some freak’s house who keeps me in a jar in his bathroom. You don’t know. Strange shit happens in suburbia. It does. And then, imagine if THAT person dies and bequeaths me to HIS kids, and so on and so forth until my remains become like the Elephant Man’s. I’ll be trapped in limbo screaming, “I am not an animal!”

At said moment, I realized that perhaps I’m the suburban freak people talk about, because I ACTUALLY wondered… what if I chose to have myself anonymously shipped to someone instead. What if I paid extra, and the crematorium put me in a pretty box, gift wrapped me, held me until the holidays, then mailed me like the ghost of Christmas present. That’s right, she who laughs last laughs hardest.   

And, just because it’s important to plan the work and work the plan, I logged onto FedEx’s and UPS’s websites. Neither will allow you to ship human remains. Only the United States Postal Service can do it. In other words, neither rain, nor sleet, nor hail will stop them from delivering you… to the wrong house. And to my friend who is reading this, I sincerely hope you laughed, if only for a little. To everyone else, talk to you later.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Your Own Personal Jesus

While Depeche Mode was the first band I ever saw in concert, this post isn’t about them or that song. It’s literally about buying your very own Messiah. You see, last weekend I began Christmas shopping, and God bless Amazon (no pun intended) because their “If you love that, you might like this,” algorithm recommended biblical action figures to me. Yes. Really. You simply cannot make this shit up. 

Anyway, as a result, I’m now the proud owner of a Deluxe Jesus, who comes COMPLETE with a toy amphora (to turn water into wine), two fish, and five loaves of bread, so I can feed the masses… of other dolls I’ve purchased… including:
  • Moses, who comes with a stone tablet and his very own glow-in-the-dark burning bush, and
  • Adam, who was ACTUALLY marketed as "still having all of his ribs," which would explain why I cannot find an Eve doll anywhere. It’s OK, I kind-of want a shiksa Barbie anyway.
Also noticeably missing from my growing collection are the Pope, the Dalai Lama, and Gandhi. On all that is holy (pun intended), I swear to you, if I owned those three action figures, I would take them to each and every happy hour simply to be able to say, “A Catholic, a Buddhist and a Hindu walk into a bar…” And no, that joke would NEVER get old. 

On the up-note - I did, however, find an Alexander the Great, a Sigmund Freud, and a Big Foot (who sadly is not made of real hair), and I may need to get them. That way, if I ever want to play Armageddon, I’m ready. I’m joking, you don’t use them. They’re collectibles. Helloooooo. That’s why I can’t understand DB’s fear of walking into our house and finding Moses in the kitchen sink parting the dish water… especially when he knows I’m FAR more likely to put Adam on a Barbie Love Couch so he can be psychoanalyzed by my repressed, German sounding Freud doll, “So Atam, tell me about yor mutter. You did not know her, ya?”

OK, I just talked myself into buying them, and (for the record) SEVERAL of you should expect them as presents this year. Who knows, if I’m lucky, I may even find a Lao Tze with a Kung Fu grip for myself. A girl can dream.

Talk to you later.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The road to hell is paved with adverbs

Ugh, I have writer’s block, and I’m not kidding you… it’s like all of the voices in my head have gone on strike. Don’t get me wrong, when I’m sitting in traffic or reading the news, they sound like they’re at a Cubs game. Only they don’t swear like sailors. They enunciate… like fucking ladies. But then, when I sit at the keyboard, nothing. Maybe Groucho Marx was right. Maybe, “It’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” I just don’t know.

That said, I DO know that it took me five hours to write the paragraph you just read – not the whole post, JUST the intro. In other words, I spent approximately one hour on each line. No wonder prisoners call jail time a sentence. But I digress. 

The point is that I’ve had writer’s block before. Only when it happened, I could get on my mental merry-go-round and eventually find something to say. This time it’s different. This time I find myself counting the number of times the cursor flashes (I made it to 927 once - yes, really) or thinking about songs with the same beat (for the record, the only two that work are your ABCs and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star). 

When neither of those techniques worked, I ended up Googling tips for dealing with writer's block. One blog said, “Don’t be too hard on yourself. Everyone’s just doing the best they can.” To which I said to myself, “Self, that cannot be true. You cannot be the only person on this planet doing the bare minimum to get by most days.” And that’s when I began wondering - what did real writers do when this happened to them? Can you imagine Hemingway, sitting there with a bottle of absinthe, thinking, “I’m blocked. This typewriter deserves to die, alone, in the rain.” Or better yet, Dorothy Parker, whom I love beyond words (no pun intended), and who actually once said, “I’m not a writer with a drinking problem. I’m a drinker with a writing problem.” 

I don’t know, maybe that’s it. Maybe I need a scandalous vice. The current ones - doughnuts, reading, and running are closer to Hunger Games, the home edition, than inspiration. In fact, I would argue that jogging in the heat has crushed my will to live. Seriously, by the end of mile zero, I’m ready to hang up my shoes and call it a day. But do I? Yes, sometimes I do, but not always, and you would think there would be SOME return on investment for that. But is there? No. Unless a runner’s high feels like a stroke, I have NO idea what they’re talking about. Instead, I disdainfully slog through it, come home, stink, and stare at a blinking cursor.  

And I promise you on all that is holy, on more than one occasion, I have put the curse into cursor, especially last week, when I posted, This Amp goes to Eleven, and Blogger decided to crash on me. For those of you who read it, thank you. You know who you are. For those of you who visited mkromd only to find nothing, sorry. I’m still trying to figure out what happened. Either way, talk to you later… hopefully :)