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BY Elissa

02/01 Direct Link
I firmly believe that whomever greenlighted Carrot Top’s commercial career comeback should be strung up by their eyelids and forced to watch a Pauly Shore film festival. If they still don’t see the error of their ways then, they should be the lucky recipient of a hot Clorox enema and a full-body cheesegrater exfoliation. Then, and only then can they physically begin to atone for the grievous damage they have inflicted upon the American psyche. After we take care of this problem, we can enact Bill Hicks’s long-awaited dream to hunt & kill Billy Ray Cyrus. (Followed by Michael Bolton)
02/02 Direct Link
I went in to see Anna today. I still think of her as the sweet little lady in my passenger seat, commenting on how comfortably my car rode over the potholed streets of Lancaster. I spent the first few weeks of my new job driving Anna and Louis to their various specialists. Anna’s problems seemed so far away, isolated blips on a monitor, impossible to reconcile with the emaciated woman barely disturbing the blankets on her bed. The doctor asked her if we could do anything for her, Anna’s response was “pray”. We promised we would. I miss her already
02/03 Direct Link
C’mon down to Cookie’s Codger Corral! We’ve got all the best accommodations for your old fogies. We’ve got bingo, bingo, BINGO, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week! And, for you daredevil sorts, we’ve got “Guess the Gruel!” If you can name the mystery grind, you get an extra sponge bath! Don’t forget to stop by the activity room and marvel at the amazing new invention, the Phonographic Record Player! Don’t worry about your old timer getting into trouble at home, bring them to us, and they can get into trouble here! (Visa, Mastercard and Social Security accepted!)
02/04 Direct Link
Amazing what a little deep breathing will do for you. One minute you’re a flaming wreck, about to tailspin out into the oblivion that is burnout, and the next, you’re looking at things a wee bit more calmly. Before you know it, you’re rubbing elbows with Ma Teresa, and deciding maybe lepers aren’t so bad. Alright, so I tend toward the hyperbolic. But, it is pretty impressive how a few deep breaths will change your outlook. The hardest part is remembering to do it. It’s so easy to screech and ball my fists, instead of dealing with it all rationally.
02/05 Direct Link
In the morning, I’m content to be a “fat chick”, concinced that curves are a-ok, and damnit who cares what anyone else thinks anyway. Then I get ready for bed. I hear my mother’s voice telling me how I’d “just look so much nicer” if I looked more like her. If I was skinny. I resolve to be a better person. Salads all around. I swear I will treat myself better. I will boost my self esteem. I will walk at lunchtime. Then I wake up. Morning’s light brings my spine back, makes me angry at my nighttime self again.
02/06 Direct Link
I’ve got a strange craving for my favorite sick-day meal. My revisionist mind may not even have things straight, since I would usually fend for myself when sick, but I have a clear memory of this tray of mom-made goodness. (And it MUST be served on a tray.) Campbells chicken noodle soup, not quite hot. Cheese and mustard sandwich, with margarine, because mom always made sandwiches with margarine, something I never did. Orange juice, also a requirement. Dip sandwich into soup, slurp off chicken broth. Repeat. Follow with a hershey’s cherry Popsicle in the purple & white wrapper) Instant nostalgia.
02/07 Direct Link
It’s been said before- “Damn you VH1 Classic.” I didn’t believe the guy when I heard it the first time. How horrible could it be to have a station devoted to all those fun little videos I remember from my yout’. Oh how wrong I had been. The station is unbelievably addictive despite the fact that the predominance of songs chosen are heard daily on your average classic rock station. I find myself checking in the early morning, when I get home, it’s on in the background when I write. Such a gratifying mix they’ve got. Damn you VH1 Classic!
02/08 Direct Link
I sliced the end of my finger up yesterday. Rampant stupidity reigns supreme again. It’s not so bad now, but it looks like I have a tube sock on my pinky. Given my propensity for totally ridiculous, appliance centered accidents I shouldn’t be surprised. This is already being compared to the great “popcorn popper incident of ’84.” I had a heart shaped burn mark on the end of my nose for a month after that one, so I suppose a tube sock and what will be a bitchin’ scar I can frighten my kids with isn’t quite so bad. .
02/09 Direct Link
I’m supposed to be paying more attention to what my body’s saying and be less cerebral. Do you know how hard that is? The entire time I’m at work, my body is screaming “Get me out of here!” in a rather “fly” like voice. If I listened to that voice I’d be broke and unemployed. I’d have even less money to pay the woman who tells me I should be listening to my body. If I stop being so cerebral, I may actually be sucked into watching “Friends” and (gasp) liking it. Some things are just too awful to permit
02/10 Direct Link
I leave for Key West in about 2 months now. I’m hanging a lot on this trip. I expect to come back a much more sane, rational person. Then again, sane/rational is just not quite it. I want to come back not so worried about stuff that I can’t influence anyway. I want to come home knowing that I can cut loose, and not loathe it. I want to come home just a smidge more tan than I am, just so Nikki’s mom knows I don’t automatically burst into flames in sunshine. I want to come home a happier person.
02/11 Direct Link
Every time I see Ari Fleisher on Tee Vee I half expect the guy from “Cool Hand Luke” to pop up on the screen and say, “what we have here is a failure to communicate.” If it’s not about how wonderful we are, and how we’re kicking major terrorist ass, it’s just plain not being reported. The questions aren’t even being asked. When did we decide that Gee Dub was the “Criticism Free” president? Did I miss the meeting? Besides, questioning authority is not the same as criticizing it. We’re being kept in the dark and we should be pissed.
02/12 Direct Link
My grandmother died today at the age of 79. It’s easy to quantify her by her illnesses; meyloma, failing kidneys, heart problems, pneumonia. It’s easy to remember her in a hospital bed, or scooting around in a wheelchair over the past few months. It’s simple to recall her in hazy childhood memories, polished by years of water under various family bridges. It’s the regret that’s hard. It’s the knowing that I was a shitty grandkid that’s hard. It’s seeing her lying there that’s hard. It’s not getting to say good bye. It’s knowing that another link is gone. That’s hard.
02/13 Direct Link
I am angry now. At myself? At the world? Probably both. Everybody is always so nice when they find out someone dies. They walk on eggshells, they offer hugs, condolences, bits of wisdom. They tearily recount memories of their families, and inform me they know how I’m feeling. But they don’t know. They don’t know the frustration at not feeling worse than I do. They don’t realize I did my crying two weeks ago, when they said she wouldn’t live an hour. They don’t know that their words are just making everything worse. I don’t know how to tell them.
02/14 Direct Link
I got pulled over today, got caught speeding. 81 in a 65. The officer was surprisingly nice, especially after he saw I had my mom and kid brother in the car with me. The dog, and the suitcases didn’t hurt either. Most evildoers tend to leave their mother and pets at home, I believe. I think it broke the somber mood we were in, and when I got my warning, I drove off with a new nickname, and suppressed giggles at the thought of telling my dad “only one” when he asked the inevitable “see any cops on the way?”
02/15 Direct Link
The cowboy boots absolutely everywhere. Actual status as a cowboy is purely optional, but the cowboy boots are not. They check you outside the city limits, and if you don’t at least have a pair packed in your suitcase, valise, or gunny sack you aren’t allowed in. That one footwear-related detail has slipped my mind (by force, or by choice- you decide) in all the times I’ve come back. Mercifully, they let me plead ignorance, and seeing that I “wasn’t from around here” they let me slide in, with strict instructions to get some boots and “be quick about it.”
02/16 Direct Link
I was awash in a sea of denim pants and crumpled tissues, jostled, poked, prodded and pressed by the thronging tide of mourners. Thank Elvis I am too old for cheek pinching, or I am positive I would have been bruised in the first five minutes. So many faces coming by, so many people I should know, but don’t. If I had a nickel for every time someone said “the last time I saw you, you were ‘this high’”, I could have paid for the headstone myself. They say funerals are for the living, they’re definitely not for the estranged.
02/17 Direct Link
Who are all these people that keep coming up to me? They ask me if I know them, and they must know I’ve never seen them before. Who is that woman? The woman with the red eyes keeps telling me that it’s my wife, but my wife is at the farm, and she doesn’t look like that. Why does that tall man keep telling me to remember the good times? We always have good times out on the farm. Sure, the money’s tight, but that’s not everything. I wish I was back there now, the cow will need milked soon.
02/18 Direct Link
I had a meltdown today. I just finally decided that I don’t give a shit about this damn job anymore. I don’t make a difference in anyone’s life, I’m not doing what I want, and the only impact I have on the business is keeping the computers organized. The bosses won’t miss me, but it will inconvenience them to realize what I actually do all day long. Sure, the money’s good. A regular check is a good thing, but I’m sure there are countless other people who would eagerly accept my 28,000 and not care about their souls. Good luck.
02/19 Direct Link
Metallic shamrocks flutter in the slight breeze as I sit in my office on a Sunday afternoon. The residents are in the lobby sharing stories about their pasts and I find myself eavesdropping, listening instead of doing what I should be. I don’t have the willpower to tear myself away, so I end up overhearing Bev tell Lovetta about someone’s visit to the beauty parlor last week. I catch myself hoping that nobody wants a spur-of-the-moment tour, disrupting my reverie. Sunday afternoons are the best time to work, because everyone is wrapped up in family, because they leave me alone.
02/20 Direct Link
Straub. The little keg-backed man gleefully apprises me that this is “beer in all it’s glory.” Indeed, it is. I don’t drink much anymore. (Though "anymore”h connotes that I used to drink heaps. I didn’t, but that sounds better.) The past two nights though, have been bad nights. Thankfully, a case seems to last me 6 months, and I still had some of that glorified stuff around. Gently fuzzing my edges and making things temporarily seem not too bad, at least, ok enough to worry about some other time, yeah, tomorrow. Sure, it’s escapism, but is that a bad thing?
02/21 Direct Link
There are exactly 44 days until I leave for points south. My skin fairly itches with delight when I think of eleven days away from work, from the clock, from being asked to do five different things at once (unless those five things are to lie back, sip some umbrella drink, try not to spontaneously combust, be witty and look cute) and the hardest decisions I’ll have to make are bottle or glass or do I want the painting to go on the right or the left. Eleven days where normalcy goes out the window. Yeah, I can handle that.
02/22 Direct Link
It’s a small room, sunlight washing honey colored over the worn oak floor, tracing the pattern of the window onto the braided rag carpet. The cat, secure in her knowledge that the sun won’t be up onto the wall for hours, decides to sprawl across the pastel floor covering. Her pink padded feet warming in the sunlight as her little mouth seems to turn up in a smile. The grille of the window leaves a shadow of darker grey on her sleek grey fur. Her small chest rises and falls slowly, with the breaths of contentment on a lazy afternoon.
02/23 Direct Link
You know, Unka Harlan had it right, when he said “Mother of God, the gene pool is polluted and we ought to turn it over to the cockroaches if we can’t do better than this.” Right now the gene pool could stand a bit of chlorination, or perhaps a complete draining. Otherwise, I don’t think we’ll ever be rid of the scourges that are the Jerry Springer Show, telemarketers, George W, bores, pink tutu Democrats, people who can’t use their turn signals correctly, people who don’t understand that “enormity” isn’t a word and people who just don’t get the joke.
02/24 Direct Link
Addressing you by name is pretty much pointless, after all, we’ve worked together for the past eight months. You’re probably wondering why I’ve even bothered to write this little letter, or why I tacked into place on your desk with a flaming arrow, or perhaps why I’ve taken the liberty of locking you into your office with the flames. The reason is simple, gentlemen, I quit. I gleefully leave the employ of your company, never to be seen or heard from again. If you make it out of the room, feel free to just mail my check to me. Bye!
02/25 Direct Link
There are six Jackson China pieces on my desk. Two serving bowls, a Greek key patterned monkeydish, an applesauce dish and two tiny butter plates. Each piece was made in the factory that my grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles worked in for years. Each piece represents history, a tangible bit of the lives I don’t know much about. The heavy, almost clumsy lines seem to parallel the heaviness of our family divides. The thickness of the rims equate to the miles between us. I like to sit here and look at the colorful patterns, trying to connect it all somehow.
02/26 Direct Link
There are paint chips, formica samples, and tile pieces everywhere down here. They’re in their “remodeling” phase again. They’re trying to transform Hell house into their retirement villa. Oh joy. Unfortunately, nothing short of a blowtorch, some gasoline, and a set of Better Homes & Gardens houseplans is going to help that heap. The place is ghastly. Decorated in hunting-camp chic. The only thing it’s missing is antlers on the wall. There’s little heat, and even less running water. It’s my mom’s dream though, to have the place, to make it her dream cottage, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
02/27 Direct Link
We regret to announce that there will be no entry for today, as I am thoroughly sick of writing these. Instead, I believe that there will instead be a diversion, brought to you by the letters “b”, “Q” and the silent “z”. Barring that, we will be entertained by a squadron of Ethel Merman impersonators, Bing Crosby look-alikes, and Herve Villachez wannabes. They’ll serenade us with their versions of “Blitzkrieg Pop” and “Dancing Queen.” After the floor show, there will be Drano cocktails and scatty snacks, courtesy the students at the Jeffrey Dahmer school of Culinary Arts. Enjoy your show.
02/28 Direct Link
The empress has again decided to take the day off, leaving her malicious minions in full command of her keyboard. These gregarious little gremlins are amused by prattling on and on about absolutely nothing, and making even less sense. Once bored with that game, they tend to move on to more widespread mischief and mayhem, unless they’re placated with some pulque and poultry. (raw) In fact, the entire 2000 election fiasco can be directly attributed to a nationwide shortage of agave, pulque and heightened security at the local Tyson plant. The empress should be back tomorrow, and the gremlins, gone.