Friday, December 28, 2007

Starbucks #1, 7:25 p.m. - Screw this laptop and this one heffa is hella noisy

Let's try this again. I just kicked the cord and lost the first nine minutes. I burst out with a "What the fuck" and caused everyone at Starbucks to stare at me. Must needs remember that I'm not always in private. Lovely. Just effing lovely.

I have GOT to get a better computer. The MacBook that I killed was posted off to Apple by the tech support folks at my real job - Apple sent back a repair estimate that would cover the price of one of the baby iBooks. So for the time being, I'm not portable except for this janky Dell with the non-existent battery and now complete with a shitty power cord. Merry effing Christmas.

Anyway. Where was I? Oh. It's another Starbucks on another night and I'm working on another iced mocha. The workers here have those dead looks that say "I've worked too much over the past few days and not spent enough time with my family. I will serve you your coffee, but I will not smile at you and I will hate you for even expecting me to be friendly when I really want to be at home on the couch chomping on Cheetos and sucking down a fifth of Jim Beam."

OH MY GOD. The barista working the espresso bar just announced "VENTI CARAMEL CRAPPUCCINO." The recipient of said "crappuccino" eyeballed her and said "What was that?" The barista apologized and assured him that it was a frappuccino. And then announced to no one in particular that it has been a long four days.

It has been a long four days. When the power on my computer died, this dude behind me asked "Did you lose your data?" No. I was just screaming at random.

I do realize that this is a Starbucks - people might holler and scream on a regular basis, but I do try to keep my stuff under control. This is a man that comes in around 7 p.m. every night with takeout from a different restaurant, sits in one of the comfortable recliners and proceeds to feast for the next 45 minutes. I've never seen him actually order anything FROM Starbucks - just take up their space and use their napkins, forks and toilet paper.


Damn. I never knew. That's how you make money up in here. Lie, cheat and sell.

The cacophony of noise up in here is terrible.


Now this girl is wandering around the Starbucks, screaming into the phone and picking her thong out of the backside of her skirt. It REALLY is an attractive picture. She has on a black skirt and white flip flops.

Which is a step up from what just walked in - two kids where one of them doesn't even have shoes on at all - and they are certainly old enough to know better. Either twins or brothers. I'm trying to figure these pants out. I think one of them has on khakis with the back split halfway and denim sewed into the gap to create two-toned flares. It is the strangest thing. The one without shoes has on shorts. Homeless or European? Obviously not homeless because the both just whipped out cell phones.

Two well-dressed middle-agers just walked in. The woman has on what I refer to as a peppermint shirt - it looks just like one of those candy mints in a million different shades of red and pink and is all stripey. It is very cute.


One final note. Pink polo shirts are a no-no unless you have enough money to buy and sell small islands. They just look funny on anyone else. Thank you old man - your touristy ways made me laugh - especially because that shade of pink made you look like someone dunked you in a bottle of milk of magnesia!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Starbucks at the Mall, 6:54 p.m. - It is really noisy in here

Yeah. It is super noisy in here and there are a lot of people. There is a woman trying to maneuver a gigantic baby buggy - the kind with a car seat on top - and stacked with packages out from the restroom.

She obviously has no sense of space or proportion. None of dress either - or she wouldn't be wearing enough make-up to plaster a three-bedroom house and an extension and have some left over.

These teenagers over to the right of me are very annoying. One has bleached blonde hair and the other has hair dyed black as night. Ten to one their natural colors are the exact opposite. I can't make out the conversation over the annoying as hell music up in this Starbucks - but it seems to revolve around some boy, a class or some ginormous trouble that surely isn't.

God. I never knew that jazz music could be so annoying. And here come the howler monkeys. There's a young mother with an awful haircut with two howlers and an aged mother in tow. ARE YOU GONNA GO WITH GRANDMA? OK. LET GO. LET GO. GO WITH GRANDMA. Damn bitch. Kick it in the ass and send it across the floor if it won't let go. Grandma yanks the howler back toward the bathroom and mommy proceeds to order even more sugar for her hopped up little heathens.

The kids are now describing some "throw-down party." HEY, HERE'S THE CAMEL LIGHTS. I LOVE HASH. THAT'S WHAT I SAID. None of them look old enough to be in college, much less smoking hash. Kids today.

There must be a sale at the Victoria's Secret - because every third woman in here has had a Vicky's bag. Old women, young women, fat women, skinny beyotches - they've all had Vicky's bags. Here is my question - WHAT THE HELL IS VICTORIA'S SECRET? I'm dying to know. Is it locked in a vault at the back of the store somewhere or what?

There is a woman in a horribly ugly green and brown shirt and a cutoff denim skirt that has additional rips in it at the counter now.

Ma'am. I'm going to give you some free advice. If a skirt is short enough that you have to slide out of car seats so as not to flash the planet, you DO NOT need to put further slits in the sides or front. NOT NECESSARY. The population of suburban south Florida is certainly not your gynechiatrist!

The woman with the howler monkeys is walking by me. I think her mother is trying to shoplift. The staff here is so slammed with customers that they would never notice some ugly Christmas merchandise walking right out the door. I mean really - why is small and easily pocketed merchandise located right by the entrance.

The woman right now is practicing a classic grifter move. Put the drink down. Put the purse down. Adjust the purse. Wrap napkin around drink. Examine Starbucks Christmas ornaments. Think about it. Think about it. Think about it. She sees me looking right at her. She leaves. Damn. I deserve a free venti iced mocha for stopping this shoplifter.

Ladies. Unless you are doing some en pointe work, you do not need to be wearing ballet flats. Especially if you are tipping the scales at several multiples of a hundred. It don't be working for fashion. Please. Spare us all. Unless you're going to be doing the dancing hippos from "Fantasia" routine. Then, I'll sell tickets, popcorn and gladly watch.

Here's another question. When did tights - and nothing else - just tights and a T-shirt become acceptable outerwear? I know this is South Florida and the temperature - even in December - never goes below 70 - but no one needs to see your butt cheeks hanging out.

This Starbucks is apparently so busy that they have had to implement rudimentary crowd control measures - by which I mean they actually have LINES roped off for people stand in. The way these yuppies are reacting you'd think the concept of LINE never crossed their caffeine-addled brains. Sir, I need you move over here. SIR. SIR. CAN YOU MOVE OVER HERE PLEASE!

OK. The teenagers just got up to leave and I swear to Kali one of those girls had on flowered pants that were barely enough to cover her copious buttocks. More underwear as outwear. Flower garden as pants. I have seen it all.

OK. My head hurts like MF-er and I feel like crap. Peace, love and and coffee grounds.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tropical Smoothie Cafe, 6:06 p.m. - Bored white girls boss a Mexican woman around

The two bored-ass-looking white girls running things here are just standing around yakking and ringing in the orders once every 20 minutes while the Mexican woman in the back is working like a dog making sandwiches, slicing bread for tomorrow, slicing meat, cleaning, etc. The American dream - let me show you it. Or, reality according to the GOP!

I wonder if the management here ever actually watches the security cameras? I saw the heifer that looks to be higher up in the food chain disappear into the bathroom while the other one was taking the order for my smoothie. She was in there when I sat down. She was still in there when I GOT my smoothie. She was still in there when I got my food. She was still in there when I'd finished half the sandwich and most of the bag of chips. Finally, twelve minutes later, I saw her come out clutching her cell phone.

Either she's got some real, real, real bad female problems or she's sneaking off to yak to her friend-girls or her man on the clock.

There's a WOACA in high-water pants at the counter now. She ordered a smoothie and then disappeared into the bathroom for four minutes. Maybe she had to purge. Maybe the other girl had to crap out a load of heroin and the housewife is here for a drop. Stranger things ....

She's the dainty type that's been influenced by too much "Desperate Housewives" and thinks that she'll one day look like Nicolette Sheridan. Maybe. If she wasn't equally influenced by Sara Lee. She's got cankles the size of Connecticut and tiny gold ankle bracelets stretched to the max around each ankle.

Oddly enough, her tropical print top actually MATCHES the strange menagerie of fruit flavors that they use for table-tops in her. She's rocking a fake white Louis Vuitton purse with the leather already starting to look aged and a bad home perm. She is very polite though. I heard her thank the girl for bringing her food out. So despite not knowing how to dress or accessorize, she gets an A in my book.

Oh my Thoth! There is a man with a literal rat's nest of hair at the register now. It .. Just .... DEFIES .... description. It doesn't look dirty, but it doesn't have that "just washed" look either. I think he's a hippie with thinning hair and no comprehension of the concept of product. Or conditioner. It is all wispy and floaty and wavy - sort of like a girl in a music video - and you just know that he would never dare put that head of hair into a convertible or else he'd have to shave it bald afterward because of the knots.

OH MY GOD. The register monkey is now ordering the tiny Mexican woman in the back around. Apparently HairMan ordered like six sandwiches and so the register girl is just WATCHING the Mexican woman make them. I can see sandwiches spread out on the counter as far as the eye can see. The register girl is just holding a piece of paper and waving it around and going "THAT'S NOT THE RIGHT BREAD!"

OK. Feel free to jump in and help any time here.

I would get onto HairMan for reading at the table, but I'm typing, so we're pretty even there. He's reading what looks like an anatomy textbook though, so that's a little more unusual.

OK. The register monkey woman finally started helping to wrap and bag the sandwiches when she realized that OMG IT WAS GOING TO TAKE A WHILE TO MAKE SEVEN SANDWICHES! How do these people ever get put into positions of even minor supervision?

And I just realized that she is being extra squeamish about touching the food. She's got on gloves, which is like the law, but she doesn't even want to touch the takeout bags or the bags of chips. Surely in a small cafe you can't expect to just run the register all day - especially not with just three people on duty. Logic would dictate that if someone is sick or on break you're going to be called on to help out.

OK. The bad fashion parade just got a thousand times worse. The WOACA from earlier is Jackie O compared to this lot.

Three teenage girls. One has on Converse All-Stars that lace all the way up into boots. She's wearing skinny jeans and a white T-shirt with stars. Another has on short-shorts so short that her T-shirt covers them up. She has on pink socks and brown shoes with a leopard print and she's headed to the bathroom to go purge right now. The chunky girl of the bunch - who got stuck paying for the order, has on Umbros and a normal-looking T-shirt. If only her blonde hair didn't look like it came from a bottle and she didn't have roots that a sequoia would envy. Le sigh. Kids these days.

I couldn't hear the order over the giggling, purse-swinging and "LIKE OMIGAWDS" emanating from that general direction, but I don't see the Mexican woman making food. I do hear multiple blenders going.

OK. I have a headache and the giggling is making it worse.

Also, the thought of knee-high Converse All-Stars is a little odd. I'm not sure I can handle that right now.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Starbucks #1, 5:42 p.m. - Ironic camouflage is still ugly

There is a woman wearing ironic camouflage that has a worn patch around her buttocks standing at the register right now. She has a zebra pocketbook and combat boots. The only saving grace of this entire outfit is the white tunic. Bizarre, or European tourist? You never, ever know. She also has a gigantic - and by gigantic I mean that this thing could double as a dog toy or a necklate choker - pink plastic keyring in the shape of a diamond ring dangling from her belt loops. It is easily one of the most outre things I've seen in days - and I've been reading Go Fug Yourself and run across Bai Ling more than once.

You know, the more I look, the more I wonder if those pants really ARE camouflage. If might be some poorly thought out homage to Monet, using green and gray pigments with occasional splashes of blue and orange. She's sitting not five feet from me right now and I'm positive that those pants are actually meant to look like a artist's palette after painting a tropical forest at 11 p.m. No matter if it is ironic camouflage or Monet-inspired fashion - it is still as ugly as homemade sin.

The more I look, the more I think this is a European tourist - one here for the holidays. As if the strangely interesting fashion weren't enough, the stitching on her shirt is odd. It doesn't look like anything made in the sweatshops of China for knockoff American designers. I can't read the label, but it just has that "foreign" look to it. The pattern for the shoulder comes all the way back to the middle of her shoulder bone, where a small square comes down from the neck to join the two together. It looks sort of like this: ______|__|_____ The seam for most American garments runs right across the top of the arm. She's gone now.

My favorite Starbucks re-arranged the furniture. They moved the condiment bar and broke up the comfy grouping of lounge chairs. I like it, except that by doing so they managed to reduce the number of tables for laptop users by two. Two of the remaining spaces are right by the doors - where you'll be bothered by constant traffic. I wonder if it was a deliberate move.

Oh. Cute boy alert. Tall, MORE camouflage pants, pasty white so he's obviously a tourist, and carrying a super-thin laptop. It's a tiny, tiny, ultrathin Dell laptop. On second thought, I think I'll pass. He's got a hat with a glittered tiger on it. He is also wearing a giant square gold ring with an onyx square on it on the index finger of his left hand. It's just too much.

Damn. Hot Latin Boy alert. One just rolled in as part of a family on holiday. He's got a muscles and he knows it. He's cut the sleeves off a brown shirt and is just smoking hot. Hello Mr. Bicep. What are the odds I can unwrap you later tonight? There's skin tone the color of a really light cafe mocha, with a head full of tousled curls. His skanky girlfriend is wearing what looks like a pleat of denim over her much-abused lady parts and a top that barely covers her surgically enhanced mammaries. She can't be a day over 20 and she's had more work done than most Palm Beach doyennes.

Apparently Starbucks is going to close at 7 p.m. tonight. The baristas are desperate to have this crew clear out - but apparently everyone is just like me and has nowhere else to go on Christmas Eve. It could be worse - they could be going to the Wal-Mart - where there won't be a holiday at all.

OK. Now Mr. Biceps is sipping a coffee and rubbing his abs. I have to leave. The choices are leave or rip the weave off his girlfriends head and use it to tie his wrists and ankles together and drag him home with me.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

My couch, 11:06 p.m. - My Santa suit, let me show you it

I left the apartment exactly once today, for about fifteen minutes. This period involved a trip to the Sonic for a breakfast burrito - even though it was well past noon - and a subsequent stop at the 7-Eleven.

My efforts to flirt with the 7-Eleven checkout boy who looks like a Sasquatch married to a Q-tip (he's short, but with big hair and a beard, and very cute) were marred by a stupid German tourist who demanded relish for his hot dogs in a very loud voice. Thus, some old man named Butch with an emphasemic wheeze scanned my items but failed to properly check me out, if you know what I'm saying.

Anyway. Let's continue the holiday theme, unless you want me to describe my living room, complete with piles of magazine, dirty laundry and a dining room table with three months of unsorted mail. I have unread magazines that haven't seen the light of day in months and are likely touting trends that are already out of style. Mukluks anyone?

When did I stop believing in Santa? Although the alternate title here could be "When I learned that all parents lie to their children."

Back in the dawn of antiquity, I lived in a tiny hamlet in a poor rural parish in one of the poorest states in the Deep South. Even now, the entire population of the parish is just above 20,000. But that's beside the point. The social life was akin to something straight from Laura Ingalls Wilder - centered around the church and the school.

Every Christmas, the community - which was basically an off-ramp off the Interstate with a gas station and a high school with some cotton gins nearby and - would gather at the high school cafeteria on the Friday night after school let out for a big community celebration.

The high school cafeteria was used because it was the largest open space in the parish with a big kitchen. The rural churches had neither the space for the people - nor the facilities to prepare food for five hundred people.

I loved the community Christmas parties. It was AT school but wasn't like BEING at school. The food was certainly much better - because the cafeteria ladies weren't cooking it - some of the big fat church ladies were. Plus I could get a soda instead of milk if I wanted - and seconds and thirds. There was singing and music and small fireworks and lots of people. It was just lots of fun - especially for child of six or seven who was just that day free from school for at least the next two weeks. Plus, the almighty glory of Christmas was in the future.

There was always a Santa Claus children - and parents could either bring a gift from home for Santa to give their child or sign up and pay money for the organizers to buy a gift off their child's wish list. Kids actually got something they wanted - instead of generic toys or trains or dolls.

I remember thinking that Santa was so wise and so powerful to be able to produce EXACTLY what I wanted just minutes after I whispered it in his ear. Of course, all the adults in the room got a huge kick out of watching the kids tear open presents.

The very last time my parents took me to this shindig, I remember that my dad was late and didn't come with us. My mother said that he was running late and would find us later. He did and helped me navigate the dinner line and ate dinner with me and took me outside to watch the fireworks that older kids were shooting off. I loved sparklers at this age and he found a box and lit sparkler after sparkler for me and watched to make sure I didn't catch my fool self on fire.

I was running around with a sparkler and then I looked up and he was gone. It was just one of my uncles there - who told me "Your daddy had to go. Someone came and told him that all the cows were out and he had to go home." I was really pissed off at all those idiot cows, but they had a habit of getting out, so it was nothing unusual to me.

I ran around for a while longer and my uncle took me back inside, because Santa Claus was about to show up.

My uncle got me a piece of chocolate pie so I would have something to occupy me (and not bother him) and parked me in the line to visit Santa. Then he went off to find pie of his own. "You stay right here and follow these kids. I can see you from across the room. If you need anything, just wave." I was fine though. started working on my pie and thinking about what I was going to tell Santa and if he would be able to give me everything on my list this year.

Noisy crowd, smallish space, little kid. It wasn't until I got to within four or five kids of Santa that I began to get a little weirded out. For one, Santa was not fat. Two, Santa seemed to have a red beard. Three, Santa sounded just like my daddy. But my daddy was supposed to be home, chasing runaway cows.

Anyway. When you're seven, you don't dwell on these things, not with chocolate pie to lick off your fingers and wish lists to make up. Anyway. I get to the batting circle, so to speak, and the girl ahead of me jumps off Santa's lap.

Santa leans down and goes "Ho Ho Ho, have you been a good little boy?"

And his fake beard falls off.

Me: "Daddy?"

The rest of the night is pretty much a blur, although I apparently "ruined" Christmas for all the kids who thought that my father was Santa Claus by crying and carrying on like I did. My parents scolded me for acting like a baby and said that my dad was only "filling in" for Santa while he was busy somewhere else.

On top of everything, I got a bunk gift, because my mother forgot to bring one from home for me - and I got one from the donated pile that they used for poor families. What the hell did I want with $4 Wal-Mart plastic train?

We never went back to the community Christmas celebration - and two years later it broke up so that the Baptists and the Pentecostals wouldn't have compromise over not singing hymns and having a proper Christmas sermon on school property.

The Methodists and the Church of God people didn't care - they just wanted to eat and spend some time with the community - but the Baptist women were the ones that did all the cooking. Plus one of the new Baptist ministers was raising a fuss over how people were taking Christ out of Christmas - what with gifts and fireworks and food and no mention of the Lord.

So it all fell apart. I forgot about the whole thing for a while, until about three years later, I was playing in my dad's closet - and saw that Santa suit hanging in there.

My dad - secret identity - Santa Claus.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

My couch, 11:40 p.m. - My memories, let me share you them

I slept in today, the first weekend in five weeks I've had that luxury. It was bloody fantastic. No Cujo pawing at my face demanding I get up. No work projects. No unavoidable social engagements. Just me, my bed and my couch.

I spent about 15 minutes outside the apartment today. I made two food runs - one to Wendy's and another to Sonic. The Wendy's one ended in disaster with a Biggie soda sloshed across the passenger seat of my car. That's what I get for stuffing the cup holders full of those free mints from the Sonic in the event that I ever DO meet a boy and need to freshen up my breath. In the greater scheme of things, I'd have rather had the coke at that precise moment because I was having a severe caffeine-deprived meltdown. C'est la vie.

And the Sonic has a new boy-toy delivering food to the car stalls. Think Elijah Wood with more hair and an extra 20 pounds. He was cute until I realized he was wearing black socks with black shoes. Maybe I could give him a makeover.

Anyway. The point of tonight's pontifications is that I want to pay tribute to someone special to me - someone that I won't get to see this holiday season - my grandmother.

Of all the people in my life, this is the person I've managed to stay the closest to even has I have drifted away from my family. This woman was born during the hardest years of the Great Depression, sent a husband off to the war in the Pacific and once picked cotton by hand in the Deep South. She raised three children and then four more grandchildren and worked until she was 65.

I love her dearly.

This is the woman who encouraged my imagination to run wild and never blinked an eye when I broke things or smacked a baseball through a window. For three summers she listened to me throw a baseball onto the tin roof of the house over and over and over so I could practice catching it as it rolled off.

When I wanted to play store, she emptied out the cabinets for me, and would obligingly come "buy" a can of peas or beans for dinner from me. She gave me real nickels and quarters for groceries from her pantry. She even made me loaves of "bread" from dish rags and old bread bags. She never threw anything away and still to this day saves the plastic bags bread comes in.

Despite being forged in the crucible of the Deep South, living through the Depression and living in a house without air conditioning for nearly 70 years, this woman is a creative genius. She can draw, paint, sew, craft and create with the best of them.

Every Easter, for as long as I can remember, she would boil dozens and dozens of eggs for all the grandchildren to decorate. Anyone who wanted to could jump in and make a grand old mess decorating. Crayons, markers would be scattered everywhere and every teacup in the house had little tablets of Easter egg dye in it. "Oh, that's pretty," she would exclaim again and again.

And this woman could cook. She still uses a gas stove and an ancient rolling pin made out of a glass bottle to roll out the dough for the plumpest dumplings. She swears that an electric range makes food taste funny - and won't let my uncles put one in.

For years, she would never let anyone but me help her in the kitchen at holidays - because she said that I was always the only one that would never get in her way. I would butter rolls and set the table and listen to her fret over the turkey and dressing, or the ducks, or the fried venison or dumplings.

I would eat nearly everything this woman decided to cook - except the squirrel dumplings. Squirrel has too many bones to make good dumplings. My theory on food is that you should not have to work for it.

One of my strongest memories is of the immediate aftermath of a tornado that nearly destroyed my grandparents home. Miraculously, it spared the house but tore up hundred-year-old trees, nearly a dozen outbuildings and completely obliterated a shed where a bunch of farm equipment was stored.

I must have been barely 9, and didn't really understand what had happened - only that the house was crooked and all the places I used to play and the trees I used to climb were gone and the cats and dogs and chickens were all gone too. There was aluminum irrigation pipe from the cotton fields around there house stuck up in all the trees - hanging down like some bizarre fruit.

I remember sitting on an overturned chicken coop crying because I'd been trying to help my uncles sort out the mess and had sliced my leg open on a nail. I still have that scar, faintly, across the top of my left thigh.

My grandma came and sat down beside me and put her arms around me and said that everything was going to be all right. Everyone was alive. Trees would grow again. Stuff would be rebuilt. And she gave me a few bites of a bacon, egg and toast sandwich and took me indoors to help her make biscuits for my uncles and all the people who were coming to help clean up.

I hope I get to see her this year. She turned 75 two weeks ago and I love her and I miss her.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Tropical Smoothie Cafe, 6:15 p.m. - My cheating boyfriend, let me show you him

Ya'll ain't never gonna believe this. Mr. Smoking Hot, from the smoothie shop, was in here again today when I came in - WITH A DIFFERENT GIRL. The last one was a blonde. This one was a brunette.

I know it was him because of his distinctive neck tattoo. That, and the come-hither glances he was throwing out at the girl across the booth from him. Seems he was slow-playing this one. Or she was slow-playing him. Hard to tell these days. I really hope she wasn't buying him lunch.

I so wanted to be nosy, but one of the only booths with a place to plug in my third-string back-up janky laptop was halfway across the restaurant. The new girl looks just like the old one - just darker hair. Skinny, slutty and definitely skanky. Maybe she'll give him a taste of his own medicine.

I wonder who's fooling who there. They're gone now - and he didn't even hold the door open for her or dump her trash. The least he can do is be a gentleman - even in a fast food joint.

There is a VERY happy man at the order counter now. Apparently he was here earlier in the day and is exclaiming how happy he was with his smoothie. And he wants another one.

OK. I lurve smoothies too, but I'm not IN LOVE with smoothies. He's damn near 50 and he's got a trophy wife with him. Maybe it is his daughter. It could be either or both. She's got a pouty/bored look and isn't saying much, so maybe she IS his daughter.

Whoever she is, I do kind of like her style. She is wearing a cute tunic with a tucked and belted jacket over that. The jacket has those poufy sleeves like what Christian has been making all season on "Project Runway." She's got on skinny jeans and black Converse All-Stars. The whole thing would be a tad more interesting if the tunic AND the jacket weren't both white with blonde hair. I'm just saying.

Oh my Kali. They're sharing the smoothie. Two straws and double suck action. Yucky toast. Creepalicious much?

There is this horrible slow melancholy piano & sax music playing on the overhead. I love piano music, but this sounds like a goth Dave Koz with a death wish. Think the theme to "LA Law" slowed down about a thousand times and that's what this is. When you're in a precarious emotional state like I am right now you really don't need this.

And now someone is talking. I guess they're just piping in straight radio. I can't make it out over the noise of the slave girl slopping around the mop bucket. She is the single loudest cleaning crew person I have ever known. She was sweeping the floor just a few minutes ago and it sounded like a tornado going through Kansas. I was waiting for Dorothy and a troop of flying monkeys to go roaring by it was so loud.

Anyway. I love my smoothie. The lady making it gave me the extra bit that was left in the blender. I guess that is what politeness will get you. I guess I should tip - but I never have cash on me these days. I feel stupid paying for a smoothie with my debit card, but the second I get cash out of the bank, it it gone - like seriously gone.

I know people that use the "envelope system," and it really works for them - but I could never be that regimented. Then again, I'm always broke and struggling and wondering where the hell the money for rent is going to come from. And I am addicted to smoothies and white chocolate mochas and I haven't cooked in months. I'm a screwed up mess.

And I promised myself I was going to stay positive today. Maybe I should get another smoothie or three and go into a diabetic coma and fall out and die.

Anway. I'm sure everyone involved is as bored with this whole thing as I am of being here. These workers are just yakking up a storm. "I ain't want to work tomorrah 'an I don' kno' why da' company made us come up in here."

OK. That's fine. But I might want a smoothie. And I'm sure you are being well compensated. Either come to work or don't. but please do not be screaming about it loud enough that a deaf person can hear you.

OK. I'm done.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

My couch, 11:20 p.m. - My issues, let me show you them

I did not get the chance (or the dubious honor) to go anywhere remotely fun to write today. Thusly, you're all going to get 21 minutes of me moaning while I'm sitting on my couch whilst half-blitzed on chocolate liqueurs that a shockingly wonderful human being gave me for Christmas. Much love.

I gots the issues ya'll. I feel like my entire life is just one big episode of "wash, rinse, repeat." Is it possible to have a midlife crisis when you're not even close to being in the middle of your life?

I don't really know the hell is going on with me lately. For a while, I thought I wanted a boyfriend. I screamed and yelled and took pills and threw phones at doors and spent a lot of time in clubs a few years ago in pursuit of this.

I'm not positive I want to go any further down that road right now. I can barely keep my own mess together on a daily basis, much less deal with any more drama. No amount of sex, however good, is worth that. Seriously, I forget to pay the rent half the time. If I didn't have auto-bill, I wouldn't have electricity or cable.

Plus, I have issues. The full subscription, plus Sunday supplements. Let me describe you them.

I've got this problem with men. (Don't we all sister, DON'T WE ALL?) I get bored with them very quickly. If they're not smart and funny and able to keep a conversation going, they're pretty much yesterday's news faster than the local fish wrapper. Give me 90 seconds and I'll judge you like Simon Cowell on crack. Unfortunate, but true.

My problem is that my taste in men runs to pretty - which usually means dumb as a post. There's a certain wall there that I keep hitting, like a crash test dummy. So I swore off men. Nice to look at, pretty to hold. Don't take it home, you're sleeping alone.

So I thought I'd get a dog. Which is an investment in the monetary and emotional senses. One of my dear friends agreed to let me do a test run by puppy-sitting her adorable little canine companion during Thanksgiving. I liked the dog, the dog generally liked me. It seemed like a fine idea at the time.

In the legion of bad decisions, this one was right up there with the time I tried to make Boy A jealous by telling him I was moving to Chile with Boy B. Just imagine how badly wrong that went.

Anyway. Little Cujo managed to ruin my Thanksgiving, kept me awake for five solid days with his version of puppy separation anxiety, clawed me in the face to tell me that IT WAS TIME FOR HIS BREAKFAST, peed on a new pair of pants and shed over anything that didn't move and most of the stuff that did.

MUCH TO MY CHAGRIN, I learned that this puppy also had the most overactive bladder known to canine-kind. There is no such thing as sleeping in if you have a dog. No. Cujo wanted to play and be entertained. Cujo also wanted to eat people food, going so far as to try to steal my Wendy's sandwich off the TV tray right in front of me.

That little stunt earned him a time-out locked in the bathroom. I didn't care how much his ass whined, I was pissed off and need a break before I simply beat him like a drum. That's why I will never have children - you can't beat them and you can't return them.

I learned something from my weekend with the puppy though.

I am far, far too selfish to get a dog or a boyfriend right now. There are currently three people in this relationship - ME, MYSELF and I. There ain't room for no more.

So I gots issues. I'm trying to come to terms with that. I sense that it is going to be a bumpy ride.

Is acknowledging that you're shallow and emotionally unavailable a sign that you're actually emotionally mature?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Books-A-Million, 6:37 p.m. – My smoking hot barista, let me show you him

Remember way back in the dawn of antiquity, when 21 Minutes started, and I came to Books-A-Million? There was a hot, hot barista working here. I’ve been back a few times and never seen him, so I figured he’d moved on.

Not so. Not so. He’s right here now, pacing back and forth in front of me in his little indie musician black hair shag and wearing his thrift store-best shirt and green pants. That three-day-old beard looks incredibly hot. And he’s wearing that indie-rock slash skaterboi standby – a pair of Vans. A bit corporate indie rock, but cute nonetheless.

Plus, I’m just a sucker for a man with a tattoo, and he’s got one down the entirety of his right arm. There’s a very graphic pattern with swirls and loops and stylized flowers. He’s also got what looks like a bright red sunburst around his elbow. That must have hurt.

OH MY GOD. Howler monkeys. Excessively loud ones. Really people. Please do not be shopping with your howlers. Leave them at home – preferably in the care of Sweeney Todd or something. Anywhere but in my immediate vicinity.

There’s a decrepit old wreck of a man wearing a pink shirt slumped at a table in the Joe Muggs café. I think he’s reading, but he could just be mumbling to himself as he’s turning pages.

Oh. Hot Barista boy is just trying to start something here. He’s gnawing on a straw and bounding up and down on his heels. One does not need that particular imagery at this moment.

Oh my Kali. There’s a chunky suburban mother with hundred-pound brat in tow. The child has on a camouflage hoodie, bright green boxer shorts – like what boxers wear into the ring – and flip flops. And it’s about fifty degrees outside. Bad fashion begins at home.

In the past two minutes, I’ve seen two guys give each other the eye and then head into the bathroom. Now I remember why we always used to call Books-A-Million “tricks-a-million.” Every bookstore in America is a pick-up joint for gay men.

I would like to comment again on the disservice that Books-A-Million does toward laptop users. Just like the Barnes & Noble, there is only one plug-in in the entire café area – at the bar facing a giant cooler.

I’m fighting for counter space with a stack of board games, a cake stand and a box of plastic wrap. Apparently, the comfortable chairs are reserved for patrons who aren’t planning to sit for a while. Why bother to create an inviting space for laptop users if you don’t want them to stay awhile?

I love indie rock boys. This one is very pretty. He smiles my way every so often. I wonder if he’s taken? I’m too chicken to actually ask him out, but it’s still nice to imagine.

Anyway. This freezer that I’m staring at is hella noisy. It’s like bomb – thrum, thrum, thrum, thrum. I can’t even hear the generic Christmas carols playing on the store PA system.

More bad fashion approacheth. There’s a really old man in blue jeans and a blue denim shirt that wants to buy something from the café register, but Indie Boy Barista is MIA. Whoops. He’s back. Maybe HE had a quickie in the men’s room.

OK. On that note, I’m off. I can’t deal with the rejection any more.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tropical Smoothie Cafe, 5:44 p.m. - There's a hot construction worker and my lust is building

I've delayed over my sandwich and smoothie too long. There's a woman with a howler monkey in here now. She's the indecisive type who has to stick a finger in her mouth while she looks at the menu. Then she goes "I just want a soda."

Why did you come to a smoothie place in the first place? No. Wait. The child is howling for a "shake like at McDonalds."

Dearest Mumsicle has obviously failed at the home training. "Do you have anything with strawberry?" No woman. It's a smoothie place. Of course they don't have anything with strawberries. CAN YOU EVEN READ? Of course they have stuff with strawberries. Strawberries and bananas. Strawberries and oranges. Probably strawberries and chipotle if you ask.

The howler monkey is now running laps around his mother's legs. He is now trying to pull his diaper out of his pants - the top of his pants - and only succeeding in giving himself the mother of all wedgies. OH GOD. The kid is hacking and coughing. This could be preparatory to the mother of all spit ups. Please Kali let me be on hand to witness this. This woman just smiled at me and I realized that she is pregnant with another one. This one isn't even out of training pants and there's already another one on the way.

Whew. Someone throw a bucket of ice water on me. There's a hot boy ordering at the register. He's got one of those beanie caps and both ears pierced. There's a tattoo snaking out from under his shirt on the right shoulder and up his neck. He's very tan and wearing work boots and a construction shirt. Nice white teeth. Totally melts my butter. I'd have to do something about his girlfriend though. She's totally the type that would ruin things.

Now Mr. Construction Worker is trying to hit up the sandwich dude for a free sandwich. "Hey, don't I know your brother's girlfriend's sister?" I kid you not, that was the exact line. Always trying to work the angles.

Obviously, he has been neglecting the girlfriend. He's giving her heavy-duty attention and she's all over him like cherries on a sundae right now. She is grabbing onto him, wrapping her arms around him, pulling him close, not wanting him to get more than a few feet away from her. Sister, let me give you some advice right now. Boys like that, those are the boys that your mama warned you about. You seriously need to drop him like a bad habit. He might be a tiger in the sack, but he will NEVER meet your emotional needs and he will NEVER be a father to your children. Screw him like a loose bolt and them leave him on the dance floor. Comprende?

This girl won't take the advice. She's obviously the type that will try to "change" her man, or that thinks she's the one that can make her man change. Ladies, it just don't happen. Men are dogs.

I'll give this to the sister, her man is hot. I'd throw down with her over this boy. He's got muscles for days and sure looks pretty. There's usually an inverse proportion between brains and beauty. I bet this boy is no different.

Oh, he's a sweet talker. That', or he's in deep, deep poo and he's trying to talk his way out of it. He's grabbing her hand, caressing and kissing and sweet-talking like a pro Casanova trying to win the key to the city of Venice.

Long fingers too, we all know what that means. :)

I'm done with my smoothie. Boo, hiss. I wonder if I should get one for the road. I lurve smoothies. Smoothies are the new white chocolate mochas!

And Mr. Construction worker is harassing the kitchen workers, trying to get more free sandwiches. Just how much is he planning to eat? Oh noes, they're leaving. Please don't leave pretty boy. I wanted to see the ending to this little drama.

There are four workers here and one customer now - me. I know why the markup on the food is so high - they need it to pay the staff - which is standing around doing nothing. They are talking about what time they get off. No one is cleaning. In fact, my dirty dishes are still sitting on the table, exactly where they were 20 minutes ago. Le sigh. Service standards in America, how they have dropped!

Oh. I really want another smoothie. I'd settle for 21 minutes with Construction Boy.

I guess I'll settle for a night of bad television. Woe is me.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Calistoga Bakery Cafe, 7:39 p.m. - There's a woman in a fashionable coat that will not sit down

There is a woman with three children eating not six feet from me. The children have fairly good manners, but they do not appear to know the concept of "inside voice." I can follow the conversation with ease, even as I type. "Oh, so you do good in school? Someone didn't like this at school today but I liked it a lot."

To make things worse, we're having a "cold snap," and the girls are wearing shorts - with long sleeve shirts and jackets. I subscribe to the theory that if you're cold, you need to cover ALL of your body.

The children also appear to be incredibly spoiled. All three had to have coffee or hot chocolate drinks in addition to sodas - the hot chocolate seems to be merely a toy. There is much excessive stirring and playing with spoons and getting up to ask for extra marshmallows and longer spoons and more whipped cream. It's all a lot of nonsense that children need to be taught not to partake of outside the home.

The action is brisk inside the cafe tonight, what with only a few days to go before Christmas. Huge shopping bags abound. I must have seen eight or ten gigantic JC Penney bags. Curiously, there were few large bags from high-end retailers. I only saw one medium-size Abercrombie & Fitch bag - and no bags from the Macy's or places like Victoria's Secret, Hollister or other high-end stores.

"And then she talked about her friend Mitch. Do you want to see me do a trick? I learned how to wash my hands. I'm really glad this mother is engaging her children, but I heartily suspect she might be a parachute mom from the way the children are bombarding her with information. It's like they never see her.

There is a horribly bored looking woman cleaning the tables. I so feel for her.

And the obligatory group of teenage girls is looking at the trash can here with disgust and dismay. There's a look "THEY WANT US TO BUS OUR OWN DISHES?, LIKE OMG, NO." One girl is holding the tray over the pan and holding her other hand out in a 'stop, no, I don't believe this is happening' motion. One of the other juvenile delinquents has to take the tray from her and talk her off the edge before she commits hari-kari with a butter knife or something.

You never know. These priviledge kids nowadays have never washed a dish, taken out the trash or mowed a lawn. That's what the lower classes are for for most of them.
I should not have had that smoothie. Now I feel bloated.

On the upside, there's a woman in a banging black and white and brown print coat that looks just like that M.C. Esher print with the birds walking around. She's a real fashion plate. She's got the kind of heels that go clicky-clicky-clicky on any type of floor and she's totally working this room. Swish. Over to the register for a takeout box. Swish. Back to the table.

Ladies. Let me offer some fashion advice. Cutoff sweatpants do not work when you're 21 and are a size 2. THEY MOST CERTAINLY DO NOT WORK WHEN YOU ARE 40 AND A SIZE 16. OK. Thank you. Now that we've got that settled, we can move on.

There's a boy (well, there's always a boy) with cute hair standing in line. He's got sort of a modified faux-hawk with a flip thing going in the front. He's cute, if a little young.

Remember ladies, 16 will get you 20.

I wish my hair did pretty things. Maybe I need to get a weave or something. Maybe some extensions. Maybe I just need to go blonde again. I need new shoes. I need a new outfit. I desperately need .... well, we'll leave that one alone.

This boy needs to quit walking back and forth in my field of vision. He's distracting and I can't concentrate.

Escher coat lady went by again. If I didn't know better, I'd swear the white in the patter on her coat was the state of Texas. It has that distinctive shape. No. It isn't Texas. It is just a stylized star shape.

That is a totally hot coat though. Seriously though, this woman needs to sit down. She's been back and forth three times on frivolous errands in the last fifteen minutes. No one needs that many damn napkins or one more muffin.

OK. Pretty Hair Boy has left and I'm tired. I'm out.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Tropical Smoothie Café, 6:05 p.m. – My faux tropical décor, let me show you it!

There’s a pretty preppie bagging trash in the kitchen here. There’s a Mexican woman sweeping and some generic corporate jazz is playing over the speakers.

I have a cold, my head hurts and I’ve finally gotten some sleep after staying awake for 33 hours to deliver a huge project. I’m also having to write on the borrowed laptop with the janky power cord – so I dare not shake the table or the thing just cut out and I lose my beautiful, cold sharp prose. Abadon knows we wouldn’t want that to happen. My prose, my prose, my kingdom for a word of your prose!

I lurve the smoothies here. I could drink a gallon of “Mocha Madness,” but I absolutely loathe the corporate faux-tropical décor. My tropical décor, let me describe you it.

There is a straw roof over the drinks station. And there is a wall hanging of a Hawaiian girl in a coconut bra and a grass skirt behind the Coke machine. Toss in some plastic birds of paradise flowers and hey, you’ve got tropical flavor madness all up in here. Please Pope John Paul II someone pour me a stiff drink.

Over to the left, we’ve got an eight-foot high silk plant that resides somewhere in the tropical fern variety. It’s a first cousin to ugly and a sister to hideous. There are more fake birds of paradise jammed in the base. On the walls behind this dusty monstrosity are paintings.

Thankfully, the paintings are not of natives in coconut bras. Somewhat worse, they’re of what old-lady-painters think the Costa Rican rain forest probably looks like. There are huge broadleaf plants and red blossoms big enough to take a bath in. Throw in a few shutters on some stucco walls, a frame and call it art!

The walls, the walls, the walls, they’re closing in! No. They’re just as ugly. There’s a picture rail at about three feet – which is crafted of the finest real bamboo corporate decorators can steal from pandas in China.

Below the picture rail there is MORE bamboo, but this has been fashioned to look like wallpaper – burnt wallpaper. Have you seen my friend Good Taste? No. I think she just left. Said she was feeling a bit ill. The fake burned bamboo texture wallpaper also wraps around the order counter and drinks station.

As a final insult, about half the table tops in the place are “theme” tables with these graphic absract representations of pineapples, oranges, limes and bananas. At least I think it is supposed to be a pineapple. It has the green things pineapples have sticking out of the top – but I’ve never seen a bright red pineapple in my life!

Anyway. I’ve been sitting out here for fifteen minutes now and not one customer and not one staff member in my sight. I wonder if the register is open? There are no cameras either. Whoops. Just saw one. And two. And both saw me looking at them.

And there’s the staff. One of the girls walked into the bathroom and whipped out her cell phone on the way in. Hmmm. I bet cell phones are not kosher for work. She wasn’t in there long. I wonder what she was talking about? Plans after work? World domination? A quickie? We’ll never know.

The jazz is very mellow here now. It is also very quiet. I could write here, if I had to. I like the people-people-people vibe at Starbucks, but there is something to be said about quiet.

OK. I’m tired and I’m ready for some sleep.

Much love.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Hospital common area, 11:40 p.m.

I have to say that it is very eerie being the only person within sight, even though I know that there are hundreds within just a few feet. It is amazing what darkness does to the human psyche.

Where am I?

As you know, my laptop is destroyed. Not just injured, but destroyed. In trying to save it from the soda, I grabbed at the LCD screen a little too fiercely and cracked that as well. For an Apple, a cracked LCD screen is the kiss of death.

Anyway. I borrowed a janky old Dell from work - a fossilized machine so old that the battery doesn't even work on it. It has to be plugged in to actually power on - and lo and betide anyone who trips over the cord. Instant data loss.

I didn't manage to get the machine until very late this evening - at which point I was wrapped up in a huge project - thus reducing the writing time to the very late hours of the night. This again brought into the play the issue of where to find a safe place after the sun goes down. I did see a hotel with an open lobby near my office park tonight. I might try that soon. I prefer places with people around. I have issues.

I'm further restricted tonight, becuase I have to have a place to actually plug the computer in. While I'm not averse to being outdoors, I'd rather not fight off freshwater and saltwater mosquitoes the size of F-11s. Where to go? Where to go?

Most of the booths at the few fast food places don't have outlets. I could hang out at the Service Desk of a Wal-Mart, but I'm leery of stepping foot inside one of them ever again. Where do people go at any time of day?

The hospital. That's right. The hospital.

I'm on the second floor patient wing, sitting in an area that's used during the day for community classes and and a gym/workout center. I can look out over the parking garage and see the hospital security guy roll past every few minutes.

Aside from the fact that I had to hunt around in the dark for a power outlet, and then drag a table and chair over, I'm doing OK. I'm not too keen on the dark - I keep thinking zombies and ghouls and all sorts of rogue vampires straight out of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" - but in general I'm doing OK.

This is actually the first time since my computer died that I think I might live to see a new day.

I actually did think about going to the ER admitting room - but gave that a pause. I've accompanied friends into the ER - and it is not a pleasant place. Plus there's a uniformed cop there at all times. I"m not sure I want to waltz in, plop my laptop down and start writing.

OK. There is some serious banging behind me. There's a gate thing pulled down over a snack bar area. I hope it is just rats. I pray it is just rats. I had the choice of sitting with my back to the giant plate glass window, putting my back to the direction people are most likely to come from, or turning my back to the the locked gym. I have my back to the gym so that I can watch the parking lot and the approaching hallway.

So far I've only seen one guy - who looked like night maintenance. He did not see me. If I were more paranoid I suppose I could lock myself into the bathroom and write - although that would make me look like a heroin addict or something. And just plain weird.

I guess I should tell you what's going on here. Not much of anything.

The lights are off. The furniture is very "modern hospital common area" and arranged in conversational groupings so that family members can take a moment away to get a breath of air, relax, have a soda or make telephone calls. I suppose this also allows the staff at the hospital a nice place to have lunch or take a break if the weather is bad.

There a tons of plants around - not real though - I just checked. The fake plants contribute to the air of "pseudo-modern sensitivy" that pervades the place.

You know it's not real, no matter how nice it is. No hospital, however nice, will ever replace home.

Balrog. I just coughed. It echoed for what seemed like miles. And now I feel a draft. Did a door open? Is my jig up?

I guess I better get rolling.

Peace out.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Starbucks #2, 10:17 p.m. – Two new baristas and a borrowed computer do not a fun time make

I have done a terrible thing. My MacBook is no more. It died in the tragic Dr. Pepper incident of 2008. I’m writing from a borrowed computer. I can barely fight back the tears. The frappuccino fails to comfort me.

In short, my advice to you is to never put a bottle of Dr. Pepper in your laptop bag, carry it around an outdoor art fair for two hours, then attempt to open said bottle of Dr. Pepper in the general vicinity of your laptop. BAD, BAD, BAD PLAN. In the legion of bad plans, this is right up there with having children, mixing plaid and stripes, voting Republican and admitting that you “smoked but didn’t inhale.” BAD, BAD PLAN!

I’m sitting inside Starbucks #2. There were some new baristas tonight, including two aged crones with zero customer service skills. Older women are usually the friendliest cashiers on record. Maybe they have corns. Maybe they have bunions. Maybe they just have a really tight thong that’s riding up in their old-lady cracks.

I don’t really care if you have a face fit to frighten fish out of water, but I would like for you to be able to take my order without asking me to repeat it five times and then actually use my Duetto card as a DUETTO card, not a credit card. That’s why I have it – to get the three percent back. Know your product heifers. I might not be able to make a half-caff, three-Splenda, no-foam triple espresso, but I CAN run a register, smile and tender a transaction with all due dispatch. The coffee part can be LEARNED!

Anyway. The experienced barista – a strung-out heroin addict by the looks of it – made made an excellent white chocolate frappuccino. Truly excellent. “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” is playing on the stereo and I’m trying to drown my sorrows. It is not working.

I love Christmas carols, but they sound so sad when you’re sad on the inside. Oh my Shiva. Bing Crosby and “Winter Wonderland.” I really, really don’t think I can deal.

This place is dead tonight. Like really dead. There’s a yuppie sipping green tea over in the corner. Hi Mr. Yuppie.

I’m kind of sick of this Starbucks Christmas CD. And if you value your life, please Kali remind me to avoid the Chili Chili Cheesburger at Red Robin the next time I go.

I scarfed one of those and most of a basket of fries before going to see “The Golden Compass.” I am paying the price in spades today.

The gastro-intestinal distress is killing me, not to mention that the inevitable social consequences of eating a large load of bean-laden chili cannot be measured in dollars and cents. It would be OK if I work with people I hate, but I don’t. I don’t love my co-workers, but I don’t hate them either, and I’ve been delivering some lethal not-so-silent but still very-deadlies all day. Avoid the beans. Avoid the beans.

YuppieBoy is playing with his BlackBerry. I’d like one of those (the BlackBerry people, the BlackBerry), just for the email – but I hate the keyboard. What I really need is one of those Asus EEE PC’s. Anyone out there with deep pockets? Anyone care to console a starving writer? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

There are religious carols playing now. “Hallelujah, hallelujah ….” This is very pretty, but it sounds like a combination folk song and hymn.

I’m just not inspired tonight. I’m sorry. I can’t really write. Four more minutes.

The workers here are making a tremendous amount of noise. Surely cleaning in an empty restaurant does not require enough noise to wake the dead. Surely they must know that my laptop has died an untimely death. Candles should be lit in its honor, memory chips set afloat onto the seas of the Interweb and memorial Web sites created …. le sigh.

O-kaaaaaaay. Now the baristas are expounding on the allegedly poor design of this Starbucks. “The bathroom should be over here. The sink should be over here.” Come to think of it, I’ve never seen any two Starbucks designed the same way. Ever. Ever. Hmmmmmm. It’s not like a cookie-cutter McDonalds. Things that make you think.

OK. Peace out. I’m going to find a bottle of Scotch.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Downtown, 1:19 p.m. – Ugly art surrounds me

Business is booming at this downtown art fair. Also booming is this woman’s rear end at the tent nearest me. She ought have the grace (or good sense) not to wear stretchy fabrics if she’s going to be bending over a lot. I see London, I see France, I see this fat WOACA’s underpants!

Anyway. There are more stuck-up old people walking around looking at ugly art than I care to talk about. There’s a couple camped out on the next picnic table over that has huge sun hats on.

They already have a bag full of stuff and they’re perusing this brochure like they’re planning the invasion of Normandy. “What about this aisle here and then meet up at this stall?”

There’s a grouping of four old people on the table over from that that BROUGHT A COOLER. I kid you not. They brought supplies to an art show. Not art supplies. Food supplies. They’re not vendors, just shoppers. Old people are serious about their shopping in this town.

One old lady is dressed in a Marcel Marceau costume and I keep waiting for her to jump up and burst into a “Mime trapped in a Glass Box” routine. Instead, I think she’s trapped in bad fashion.

Oh my Aztec gods. The fat woman from earlier has been joined by another woman in a black and white tropical print. Every time she bends over I get palm fronds the size of Loch Ness staring me in the face.

There is a very tan, very fit man doing some things with telescopes. He has on a hat that would look at home on Crocodile Dundee and shades.

Random fashion advice. Fat ladies should not wear tiny backpacks. It does not work.

More random advice. Ugly art does not look better in large groupings. If anything, the ugliness is compounded. Think of a thrift shop. That sad and misused couch you donated just looks all the worse for being lumped together with its cast-off brethren.

I truly pity the people who feel that they have to fill their walls with all this bad art. I can see seascapes with umbrellas, seascapes with clouds, seascapes done in watercolor, seascapes with lighthouses, seascapes with forests in the background … you get the picture. Lots of sand and water.

The couple with the floppy sun hats is moving off. He’s breaking right and she’s breaking left. I wonder who will benefit from their large-wallet largesse?

The telescope man has hooked some victims. And he’s trying to sell a book to some poor unsuspecting woman. “You could see it if that cloud would cooperate.”

There is a woman wearing a black shirt standing at the telescope looking puzzled. Seriously. Who wears a damn black shirt to an OUTDOOR ART FAIR on a hot day? Are you insane? Well, if you plan to buy this art, maybe.

Telescope man is pimping this astronomy book like it is an Oprah best-seller. He’s moving this couple back and forth between the telescopes.

Let’s talk about Oprah. I don’t like Oprah. She’s a heifer. She let George Bush on her show in 2000 and let him kiss her on the cheek. Now look where we are. Shame on YOU Oprah. Shame on YOU!

Fashion disaster. Purple skirt. Pink top. Muffin top that prevents the twain from meeting.

Karma is a cruel mistress. I was just thinking “Who comes to an outdoor art fair in six-inch-high wedge heels” as this overdressed yuppie walked by. Ten feet later, she stumbled and went down. Slaves to fashion will always pay a heavy price.

There’s a random woman on a Segway wearing a Santa cap rolling around. I’d like a Segway.

OK. I’m done and I’m hungry. Must eat brains.

Peace out.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Mini-golf parking lot, 11:25 p.m. – My creepy vibe, let me show you it!

There is a seriously skeezy vibe going around town tonight. My friend and I were going to sit on the patio at Sonic and enjoy the cool air, but the hood rat Mafia gangs made me fear that if I let loose a spare shekel they’d grab it – much less my bejeweled laptop.

I drove over to the movie theater – and the place was like a ghost town – except for the random acts of domestic violence in the parking lot. I swear to Kali I saw some people having a throw down out side of a silver Jeep Liberty.

I wanted to watch because it really looked like a ghetto heifer in a silver mini-dress and some hooker heels was about to give her man a “what for.” I reconsidered when I factored in the fact there a) might be a random act of gunfire and b) might be police, which would necessitate witness statements.

I tried the parking lot of the 7-Eleven – and it looked like I interrupted a drug deal when I pulled in. The parking lot of the mini-golf place next door has a decrepit mobile home parked in it and all the overhead lot lights are out.

I’m sitting in my locked car and I’m prepared to drive right over anyone who comes within thirty feet of me.

Great. Now there’s a random bum stumbling through the 7-Eleven parking lot and toward the highway. Please Kali smile upon this lost soul and guide the cars away from him. Unless it is his time to die. In that case, people pancake. Extra syrup for the buzzards on table 4.

There is something vaguely dirge-like playing on NPR. How appropriate. In retrospect, I should not have picked a tree to park under. If by chance a branch falls on the roof, I think I just might have a coronary.

I never realized there was so much action in town as we approach the midnight hour. The 7-Eleven is doing a land-office business.

There’s a TV news crew and a satellite uplink truck here. They’re getting gas. The nearest TV station is more than 40 miles away – in the next county – and there aren’t even bureaus here. I REALLY want to know what the heck is going on tonight.

I check my mirrors more often than a student driver. Please Shiva let me survive the night.

Oh. The TV correspondent is cute. Short (like all TV people) dark and handsome. Hi Mr. Anchorman. Can I play with your TelePrompter?

Random people on bikes are now approaching. Don’t they know they need to go home? I wonder if they have a home to go to. And they’re stopping. I don’t for one second believe that they actually have a flat tire.

I will not be easy pickings. One SUV vs. three bikes. Who’s going to win this fight? Think about it. Think about it. That’s right. Leave.

I think they’re gone, but I’m not certain. The doors are locked. There are parking barriers in front of me, but this is a Jeep. It has high clearance. I’ve hit every curb in two counties and lived to tell the tale.

Screechy violin music is playing on NPR now. Not cute. Not cute for one second.

I seriously need to write a letter to someone about the lack of parking lot lights here. This is a civic disgrace.

Moreover, there is a DISTINCT lack of amenities in town for people who revel in the post-midnight hour. There are two IHOPS, more Wal-Marts than anyone wants to care about and a greasy spoon diner that even the rats avoid. All the coffee shops and bookstores close at 11 p.m. I wonder if I could start sneaking into hotels or hospitals?

Does anyone have suggestions for safe public spaces in the late hours of the night?

The 7-Eleven is empty now. I wonder if the rabble has to be home before midnight – like Cinderella – or else they turn into cigarette butts, empty soda cans and used condoms?

There’s a cop car rolling in; the police are on the prowl. It is an out-of-town cop car no less. Something is DEFINITELY up tonight. I wonder if I should go try and flirt with the cop? No. Police are not worth the time or effort – except for that one cute downtown cop.

It is December and there is green grass everywhere. There are green bushes, palm trees and shrubs all over. It is December and the grass is green. Sometimes, I forget that I live in Florida and stuff like this IS NOT NORMAL for most of the people in the country.

OK. I’ve hit the twenty-one minute mark and probably gotten a pretty good cardiovascular workout in the bargain. Disengage panic mode and try to calm down enough for bed.

Peace out.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Panera Bread, 9:08 p.m. – It is noisy and hard to concentrate and my day was crappy

I’m sitting at the outside patio of a Panera Bread. Score. More free WiFi. I really need to make a list. I wonder if the WiFi here stays open after the place shuts down? I wonder how safe I’d be. I could sit in the car. That would look shady though. Still, free WiFi. Anything is better than the icy grip of the Comcast minions. Anyway.

It is really hard to concentrate here because of the traffic noise. It is made even worse because there’s a really noisy group of teen-agers off to the right of me laughing it up. I must be fifteen feet away and I can hear most of their conversation. I don’t think they bought anything from Panera Bread either.

There’s a dirty white Chevrolet van cruising the parking lot. I hope there aren’t any child molesters inside.

There’s a hot Asian girl going into the ice cream shop near here. Banging hair. I wonder if she’s going to be in a Bond movie or something. Every action movie coming down the pike nowadays has a hot Asian girl in it.

Anyway. These kids are loud. Think “Hollywood café scene” background noise loud. There must be three different conversations happening all at once. I KNOW OH MY GOD I TOLD YOU SO I TOLD HER TO GO WHAT DID YOU SAY? IS THAT WHAT SHE SAID OH MY GOD I TOTALLY THINK SO. SHE WENT DOWN STAIRS AND SAW THEM. Le sigh.

Now there’s a motorcycle zooming up and down the road. Zip. He’s in the parking lot and gunning it again. Somebody needs attention. I guess someone’s mummy didn’t talk to him enough.


Every now and again I get a hint of the soft jazz that Panera has playing. I guess the kids have to come up for air sometime.

Back to me. I’ve had a really crappy week so far. I have an enormous project due soon. The pressure is not making me a pleasant person and is actually my mental and physical life.

I’ve had a headache nearly every day this week – and today I woke up around 5 a.m. with a migraine large enough to blot out the sun. I rolled over in bed and prayed for it to go away. No such luck.

Every move was agony. I got up and stumbled to the bathroom and threw up and managed to make it into the kitchen – which is where I hide my stash of migraine pills.

Don’t ask. I keep all the pills in the kitchen so that I remember to take them as part of the morning routine. Otherwise, I forget and bad things happen. Anyway. I knocked back one migraine pill and a handful of aspirin and managed to stagger back to the couch.

I sort of lost the hours from 5 a.m. – 7 a.m. I remember turning on the TV and finding “Tin Man” on my TiVo. I don’t remember much about it other than the fact that the flying monkeys flew out of a tattoo on some lady’s boobs. At some point I went back to bed.

I woke up at 10 a.m. Work was calling and someone was asking “Are you OK?” That’s pretty much how my day has been. I feel like I need a good solid month in a health spa or something to decompress – and the time is just not available right now.


I think there is an ant crawling across my foot. I’m not wild about nature in general or in specific as a matter of fact.


Two women further off are seriously trying to have a nice dinner. They keep looking up and giving the kids looks that would melt concrete blocks. The oblivious shields are in full effect though. Oh to be young and not have a care in the world.

OH MY GOD. The white Chevy van is back. If OJ is up in that mother I’m going to turn the computer around and start broadcasting live. No such luck. The driver looks like an old fat white man.

A really fat kid got out. This little piggy needs to be up in fat camp. Predictably, he’s going to the ice cream shop. I love America. I just freaking love America.

Peace out. Tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Downtown, 6:45 p.m. – The floor is dirty and the action is slow

I’m stealing a table at a tres chic coffee shop downtown, slurping up their free WiFi and drinking a smoothie I imported in from another place. I’m the worst kind of customer – the kind that doesn’t buy anything. Maybe I’ll reward them with a visit tomorrow.

Tourists drive me crazy. This woman in an insane hairdo just went by – cackling like a maniac. Think Angelina Jolie in “Girl Interrupted” crazy. Uh-huh.

Despite it being the holiday season, things are fairly quiet. A contingent of middle-aged white men – obviously in town for a convention – just rolled by. They looked to be from the Midwest, by the cut of their shirts, the cut of their hair, the ruddiness of their cheeks and the roundness of their bellies.

Uh-oh. I just saw a coffee slave looking out the window at me. If I’m evicted, I will post the address and you can all send hate mail.

OH GOOD LORD. Bad fashion alert. WOACA alert. Call out the National Guard and tell them that Fort Knox called. We’ve found all the gold!

OK. This WOACA just clattered by. She’s got on a pair of black clamdiggers (yes, another pair) and a black shirt and a black jacket. She’s accessorized all this black with enough gold to fund the economy of a Third World state for a few decades.

There’s a thick heavy gold clasp on the right hand, plus a few more bangles. There’s a whole STACK of bangles on the left arm, which I imagine she believes tinkle like wind chimes as she walks. No. Think wind chimes caught in a hurricane. The gold horn-rimmed glasses are hanging from a gold chain. The steel-wool-gray hair is pulled back with a bright yellow band.

Single female tourist. Poor thing. She’s in traction, well at least one of those walking casts. She looks miserable even though she’s got a yummy-looking chocolate concoction and a bowl of soft-serve ice cream. That must just suck beyond suck – to be about to go on vacation and then break a foot or something.

Ladies. Let me dispense some fashion advice. Even if you are in a tropical climate, jeweled sandals do not pass for “dressy.” If if looks like something you bought at Target and decorated with your Bedazzler, you should not be wearing it with dinner rings and accompanying your husband in a tuxedo. Thank you. We shall now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

You know, for a “gourmet café,” this place has the most deuced uncomfortable furniture. All they’ve got for seating outside are these plastic patio chairs you can pick up at Wal-Mart or Target or K-Mart for like $5. My rear end is used to more padding than mal-formed plastic. Some nice wooden benches would do wonders for the ambience of this place. I’m just saying.

I wonder what the hours are? If they’re open late I could totally come here and use up the free WiFi. Starbucks is such a grinch with the WiFi. But I love the coffee so. Choices.

This place is messy too. Like trashy messy. Some really need to sweep around here. This place and the Sonic both. My grandma – even though she’s 75 – manages to keep her house clean. She’d be ashamed for anyone to see this floor – and these people are asking paying customers to stop and sit a spell.

My god. There is an old woman wishing someone farewell at the top of her lungs. I can hear her over traffic noise. Does everyone on the street really need to know “THAT WAS A GOOD DINNER. I’LL SEE YOU TOMORROW?”

There’s a boy making rude noises with a straw. How cute. He’s obviously old enough to know better – but looks like he’s having a world of fun. He’s flipping through a real estate magazine – the kind they leave out for tourists that have all the $8 million dollar mansions.

If anyone bought me an $8 million dollar house – they could make all the rude noises they wanted.

OK. Another café slave is giving me dirty looks as he brings out the trash. Not cute, but scowly.

OK. OK. I’m leaving.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Starbucks #1, 6:29 a.m. – It is morning at Starbucks and nobody is happy

The very-early-morning crowd at Starbucks is completely different than the early morning crowd, the morning crowd, the mid-morning crowd or the late morning-not-quite lunch crowd. How, you ask?

Easy. Nobody is awake, nobody is communicative and everyone speaks in grunts and vocalizations that would serve as Oscar-winning dialogue in “Clan of the Cave Bear.” Daryl Hannah would be so proud.

Right now I’m looking at a man in white short and a gray shirt make the largest production out of getting cream and sugar into a cup that I’ve seen this side of a white-tablecloth coffee service. I don’t believe that starched-apron maids make this big a deal out of precise amounts of cream, sugar and sprinkles of cinnamon.

And then there are the early risers, the go-get-em’s, who are delineated by their brisk walk and the pep in their step. They want to talk to the baristas, who are more than likely as not as sacked out as their customers. After all, they don’t just open they store at 6 a.m. – they have to show up earlier to brew coffee, set out pastries, etc.

A lovely couple just waltzed in. Real estate types by the look of things. She’s got a casual but dressy black sweater ensemble tossed over her shoulders and is moving in pert and precise steps. Her companion – in khaki slacks and a white cotton shirt with creases so straight you could slice cheese with it – orders and sits down to read the paper. It’s up to her to pay and fetch the brews.

Some schlubby-looking Indian - (the subcontinent, not the tribe) - businessmen in the house now. They are dressing very fashion forward – even if everything is wrinkled. One has a purple pinstripe shirt and a dark purple tie; the other has a white button-down and a flashy lime-green thing around his neck. Maybe they watched this week’s “Project Runway?” Maybe they’re just clueless. You decide.

There’s a contingent from the large downtown hospital here. And a skinny woman with the most awkward-looking broken-arm sling known to man. If I ever broke my arm, I really do not know what I’d do. My life is lived at a computer. I’d have to get a direct neural hookup or something.

Sling lady is a fashion disaster. Ballet flats, fried perm, at least a dozen cheap gold bangle bracelets and an ugly sweater vest that is not the same color as her ballet flats.

The Indian dudes are lingering for some reason – although they don’t seem to be able to cotton on to the fact that there are tables available. They’re wandering around. They look like they have cell phone plus some other data devices hooked to their belts. The one in the lime green tie is making sure that everyone in the Starbucks knows that he left “MY IPHONE AT YOUR APARTMENT LAST NIGHT.” Seriously dude. Glad you got a hookup. Nobody cares. I’d throw you back. Even if you have an iPhone.

There’s a semi-cute boy wearing a pair of clamdiggers looking at the outrageously expensive $600 coffeemaker Starbucks is selling for Christmas. He would be cute if the would not be trying to grow the mustache. Clamdiggers – unless you are within 10 yards of sand – do not look right on men, especially when paired with black athletic sandals. These are the rules of fashion by which we must all abide.

There’s a traffic jam at the condiment bar. Three old men wearing, in order, a peach polo shirt, a white polo shirt and a navy polo shirt. They are polite, but I sense they are about to start measuring the unmentionalbles in order to get at the pitcher of half-and-half. The morning coffee is serious business with this crowd.

Some man just came in and asked for his 7-11 cup to be refilled with coffee. He’s wearing a NASCAR hat and shiny metallic shorts that do nothing for his enormous rear and I just saw him pour half a pitcher of milk into the cup. I guess I just witnessed a ghetto latte. Stay classy NASCAR man, stay classy.

Meh. I have to go to work in a few minutes. Peace, love and understanding.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Barnes & Noble, 8:45 p.m. – I suffered for this post!

I have never had to work under such primitive conditions.

The battery on my MacBook Pro is dead. Very, very dead – so I have to keep the power cord plugged in at all times. I am at the Barnes & Noble – and there is exactly ONE power point in the café area. ONE.

Let me repeat that. ONE. It is not even near a table. It is near a plush chair – which is currently occupied by a skinny old dried up prune of a woman who looks like she sand-blasts the hulls of oil-tankers with her tongue in her spare time.

There are NO other power points anywhere else in the café area. NONE. I’m currently wedged beside a structural support staring at a display of MAD compilations and “The Indispensable Calvin & Hobbes.”

There are women and children and assorted howlers monkeys crawling all over me like I’m a dropped ice cream cone at a fair and they’re an army of ants. There is a shelf poking me in the back and I’m desperately wishing I didn’t have that extra soda for dinner. So help me Kali I’ll never spend another penny at Barnes & Noble again as long as I live.

Mon dieu. Why do parents shop with their children? This fat woman is arguing with her kid, who is bored and wants to leave. “HONEY I’M TRYING TO LOOK AT BOOKS.”

She’s yanking his arms and trying to make him understand that whining in public is unacceptable. Well, maybe if you paid more attention to him – and taught him to read – he’d find more to interest him in a bookstore.

This shelf keeps digging into my back and I can’t get comfortable on this floor. I have to keep remembering to hit APPLE-S to save so my entire volume of beautiful prose won’t go down the tubes – and protect my work from the hordes of people who go stomping by.

I just noticed that the display in front of me includes “Uncle John’s 4-Ply Bathroom Reader.” is always quoting articles from Uncle John’s. I find it breezy fun – but I’m not sure I’d spend $9.98 on a book. Actually, I don’t even know the last time I bought a book. I usually just reserve a copy of whatever I want at the library and read the best-sellers that way.

There is a woman in a pink T-shirt and a pink velour jacket browsing the books over to my right. She has a Christmas list in her hand. She has on the ugliest pair of horn-rimmed glasses I’ve ever see on a human being. Totally wrong for her face.

Help me Kali. This shelf is totally killing my back. My left leg is totally numb. If you are reading this, please know that I suffered to bring these words to you.

There’s an old man in a red gingham shirt browsing the $12.98 table. He’s looking at a slim “The Beatles” tome.

My god. There’s a twelve year old girl with a giant glitter bow on her behind. She is wearing heelies and trying to skate on the carpet. She nearly wiped out and caught the edge of a table. Too bad the forces of Darwinism were denied a victim.

WOACA alert. Skinny woman in black jeans and black long-sleeved tee browsing the bargain paperbacks. She’s a short one, Mr. Grinch – trying to look taller by wearing three-inch heels. That’s fine – but she really needs to cover up the gray in her hair.

The girl that wiped out on the heelies is being marched out by her mother now. I wonder if they were asked to leave or if they’re just leaving? Hopefully it is the former.

Creepy man alert. There’s a dude in blue jeans and a white shirt staring at me. YES IT IS A LAPTOP AND I AM TYPING ON IT. He’s looking at pop-up books.

Cute boy alert. He’s checking out gift boxes. How to play the guitar. Is the flirting? No. He’s talking to a girlfriend. But he did say “excuse me” as he walked in front of me – which is more than the 27 other people who walked by did.

When did it become acceptable to go out in public with your lower buttocks exposed? Someone please tell me. Please. I’m looking at a girl – who has to be in high school – who is wearing a pair of short-shorts that would make Catherine Bach blush with shame. There is NOTHING left to the imagination here. She’s parading around with a Hollister bag and a frappuccino like nobody’s business.

Loud people coming up on my left. Please leave. And take the old man with you. He has wrinkles.

There’s a rampaging pack of teenage girls in here. One keeps reaching down to “adjust” something in her female area. I hope to the heavens she just has a tight thong. Although it would be poetic justice if she’s got a case of the LiLo firecrotch.

Anyway. There’s a freaky woman in a red spaghetti-strap tee and those horrible red Crocs who’s shuffling across the floor toward me. She has a tattoo on her ankle. This I noticed as she went RIGHT by my and didn’t excuse herself.

Die in a fire heifer. Die in a fire.

I’m out. I can’t deal with this anymore.

Peace, love and understanding.