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January 28, 2008

That was fast.

I was in the middle of some fast and furious data entry for another reporter’s story. I was in my flow, transferring data to its appropriate spreadsheet cell while rocking out to my pretty red mp3 player. “You know, self, I kind of enjoy mindless tasks every now and then,” I said to myself as my fingers CTRL+C and CTRL+V’d like nobody’s business.

Then, oh but then, my managing editor approached me to remind me that at that very moment I was supposed to be having my new-employee orientation with HR. I prefer those types of exercises the way I like eating a sloppy joe: quick and dirty.

Allow me to take this proclaim that unlike some lesser beings I actually respect the HR establishment. Though their mountains of forms are vast and mighty, my tenure in management at my college newspaper showed me your run-of-the-mill HR employee must on a daily basis deal with situations both singular and often disturbing with both finesse and a consummate professionalism.

So, though I by no means enjoyed being removed from my busywork, I was ready to fill out that paperwork legibly and completely, all the while with a smile on my face. And I did so, much faster than the suit from sales also going through the orientation, I might add.

I handed my sheaf off and beamed, ready to be pet on the head for a job well done. But no. It was not to be that easy, I’m afraid. I hadn’tThe first video was an excruciating, half-hour long segment from the public television show Almanac about the history of our fair paper, dating all the way back to the 1860s (before my town even had a city charter! Isn’t that neat??). This video has been so loved the tracking is off, making a wobbly, motion-sickness inducing image and sound similar to an orchestra trying to get in tune.

I learned the show was probably shot around 1995 when a former editor interviewed for it referenced the O.J. Simpson trial as the “biggest news event of our time.” I also learned that the paper unions stopped their monthly meeting short when word of the attack on Pearl Harbor arrived, that paper sellers used to be able to support their families on their salary, that people in the mid-90s suffered from outrageous perms and that people still read the newspaper after all these years (or at least did 15 years ago). I also learned that newspapers are “like the leaves of a tree,” but I don’t remember why.

As if that wasn’t torture enough, then we had to sit through a 10-minute video on how important our hands are. When the video was shot, I’m guessing late-80s here, people were just beginning to learn the negative effects of typing at a computer all day. I learned to put manila folders around my cubicle-sized monitor to block out glare and to put dishrags under my wrists to better support them. I also learned that my co-workers will just ignore me if I do a set of stretches that thrusts my bosom out. Good to know.

I try so, so hard not to hate HR. But you pushed me off the edge, HR Lady, when I came back to finish my task and saw the intern had gotten there first. That’s just not OK in my book.

January 27, 2008

No complaints here... yet.

You may have noticed I haven't been posting much lately (or maybe I'm just a huge egotist who thinks you would notice those kinds of things). Thing is, I can't find that much to get riled up about now that I'm back in my parental nest.

My parents and younger brother make pretty awesome roommates... especially given the fact that my mom now finances my life. But even if she didn't, I'd still have it pretty good here. For the first time in longer than I care to admit, I'm actually on speaking terms with everyone with whom I share a roof. And if my baby brother should happen to leave his underthings in the bathroom (or a surprise in the toilet) I can rail on him for it without fear of retaliation.

For someone who suffers from a severe case of Minnesota passive-aggressiveness, that feels pretty durn good.

I don't really have anything to complain about jobwise, either. My editor sits mere feet, not half a country, away from me, which precludes many of the frustrations I experienced in my previous position. And I feel more appreciated here, at a newsroom quite a bit smaller than my old one. Heck, I even had a story run above the fold on the cover in my first week, something that's only ever happened at my college paper.

So yah, aside from the frigid cold, the living's pretty good up here in da nord. I'm sure the honeymoon will end soon enough, though, so don't fret my pets.

January 24, 2008

Minnesota native moves home, lives in constant fear of frostbite

I'm kind of embarrassed by how wussy I've become in the frostbitten face of northern Minnesota weather. I mean, I grew up here. I spent many a wickedly cold morning walking 20 minutes to and from my high school (uphill both ways--seriously) because my Arizona-native mother declined to drive us. She never got a ride from her parents to school, so we were supposed to tough it out just like she did in that bitter 70-degree winter weather.

One would think that had imbued me with an impenetrable toughness that would stick to me like steel armor on moist skin in below-zero weather, regardless if I moved elsewhere for a spell. One would think wrong.

I've grown soft in the four years in college I spent enjoying the balmy Minneapolis weather. And a summer spent in San Diego and a fall in Washington, D.C. has made me a veritable pile of goo. I've been back in this frozen hinterland for a week and change now, and I'm suffering, I tell you. Did I mention the temperature when I left D.C. was 60 degrees, and I had been walking around all that week sans coat?

Instead of frolicking around our Nation's Capital wearing skirts and nothing heavier than a jean jacket, I'm now bundling up extensively for my stiff two block walk from parking lot to office and muttering expletives all the way.

I guess I chose the wrong week to climb back into that armor.

January 17, 2008

Driven to insanity

Though most readers of this fair blog have never seen me behind the wheel of a vehicle in motion,* I have actually been in possession of a valid driver's license for six and a half years now. I just really, really, REALLY hate driving. I loathe driving. I fear driving. If I had my way I would be able to disaperate.

The only place I've ever driven extensively and thus feel comfortable driving is my hometown in northern Minnesota. I don't have to go on highways to get from here to there, which means no merging. I know these streets fairly well, which means no getting lost. And I'm dealing with fellow northern Minnesotans, which means no Crazy Cities Drivers.

But it's been years since I've had to drive on a regular basis. We're talking summer after freshman year of college here, coincidentally the last time I was home for more than 10 consecutive days.

And now there's all this ice and snow to contend with, not to mention the sun glaring off said ice and snow, not to mention trying to get up our shear cliff of a driveway slicked with said ice and snow. All this must be navigated in a 1995 red Dodge Grand Caravan with wounds on its sliding doors from an unfortunate confrontation with our back porch.**

But since I decided to move home to a city made for neither walkers nor bus riders, I have no choice but to mount my modern-day pony of rusted metal and ride her into the sunset.

*I recently posed behind the wheel of a stationary postal truck at the U.S. Postal Museum
**It doesn't really count as bad driving because I was on my way to see a friend in a hospital

January 7, 2008

Limerick

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There's a plastic bag in my shower
It's been there for several hours
It hangs upside-down
It gives me a frown
In this latrine that smells oh-so-sour

I've wasted many a thought
And all of them have come to naught
What use could be had
Between a plastic bag and a lad
Unless he likes suffocating a lot?

January 5, 2008

About the word "myriad"...

It's an adjective, not a noun.*

Example:
Hillary Clinton has myriad ways of misusing the word myriad.

NOT:
Hillary Clinton has a myriad of ways of misusing the word myriad.

*Before posting this I looked up the word on dictionary.com and discovered that it can be used as both a noun and an adjective. I have decided to continue this posting to prove how humble I am instead of proving how stupid everyone else was. It also proves the importance of fact checking and, to a degree, the fact that journalists are still relevant in a world filled to the brim with misinformation.

Lifestyles of the Broke and Lame-ous

Yesterday I was able to file my story remarkably early (3:00 Eastern: BAM). While I usually try to stay at work as long as possible to reduce the amount of time spent at home, I decided to leave in the twilight of 5:30 since I am staying in another angel's abode for a few days. This angel lives just over the Maryland border in a neighborhood filled to the brim with upscale shopping.

I decided to fill my newfound hour of solitude browsing through the posh offerings after a peek at my bank account showed I was many hundreds of dollars wealthier than I thought. I started at Saks 5th Avenue, which repeated viewing of Shopgirl should have shown me was a store meant for those many castes above me. I made a beeline for the "sale" display in the shoe section with hopes of replacing the boots that died on me. But even at 25 percent off, the lowest-priced were more than $300. That's so very many sandwiches I couldn't justify the expense.

Discouraged and trying to avoid having to tell nosy salespeople my paltry price limit, I fled to Neiman Marcus. I thought since I know a guy with the last name of Neiman and one with the first of Marcus, and neither is very fancy, the store would follow suit. Apparently retail doesn't follow my logic.

The crow in me was immediately attracted to three racks full of shiny sparkly party dresses, all marked 30 percent off. Alas, ten minutes' worth of browsing failed to yield a frock under a hundo. My sigh of distress must have alerted a snooty saleslady, who gave me snooty elevator eyes before snootily asking if she could help me. I bumbled a response saying I was doing quite fine on my own, thank you, and she turned on her snooty heel and went back to her perch to watch me.

I farted in her general direction.

Then I left, deciding to instead splurge my excess of cash on grocery store sushi and strawberries. And I feasted. So. There.

January 1, 2008

Setting the bar low

I've never really been one for making realistic resolutions. There's the perennial favorite-- "I will not burn the roof of my mouth"-- that I usually break during a cup of hot cocoa a few days after the new year. As a child I often resolved that that was the year I was to become affianced, nevermind the fact that I was more than a decade away from the age of consent, or to overcome my fear of the movie The Witches.*

So this year I'm going to make resolutions that require minimal effort so that at this time next year I can triumphantly trumpet that 2008 was a year of wild success.
  • I will not vomit. I've already gone half a decade sans upchuck so this one's no sweat.
  • I will say no less than 300 words daily. If I'm ever short on my daily quota I will simply recite the Bill of Rights aloud until a quarter of the way through the Sixth Amendment.
  • In fact, I will, at all times, be either talking or not talking. I could talk or not talk forever.
  • I will increase my Spanish vocabulary beyond the phrases "salida de emergencia", "salida de mi casa, hombre sucio" and "platos frijos" by at least two more phrases. I'm hoping to learn how to say "Stop that dilly-dallying, old chap!" and "I'll be persnickety-friggered."
  • I will increase in age by exactly one year by this time next year. This resolution might seem moot but in order to keep it I shall have to avoid mortal peril, which is no small feat when I live as dangerously as I do.
  • I will subsist on nothing but food and beverage.
Now I have no choice to keep these resolutions since I've chosen to make them public. Please feel free to comment with your resolutions so you can also enjoy public ridicule should you break them.

*Ha! As if this could ever happen in a million years