Saturday, March 31, 2007
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Fortunately, my mischief rod was dormant the day I did my recording for NPR (perhaps the fizzy red wine dampened it) because I can honestly say everything seemed to go well. I was less nervous than last year....and I had a wonderful producer. He seemed genuinely into my story. He made me repeat lines and monitored the "energy level" in my voice...as well as my mispronunciations. He let a few of my Chicago dropped th's and s pass..."for color".....but he absolutely disliked the way I said "perfume".....so much so....that at the end of the session...he made me practice saying "perfume" and then recorded me saying it 5 times...so he could replace good perfumes with my bad perfumes in the essay.
But if the mischief rod was dormant yesterday......it was on full power today as I made my way back home.
I knew something was up when I hit security at the airport. I had placed my bag and my purse on the conveyor belt....went through the metal detector and looked for my bag.....the security person waved a manager over to peer at the screen.
"Oh shit," I thought,"what could I have put in my overnight bag? " Too much shampoo? A suspicious hairbrush? The manager nodded to the security guard and off we went to the stainless steel operating room table at the end of the line for an inspection. The woman looked very serious....and was headed for something specific.
She pulled out my little silky nightgown with the cute dancing bears..... my black panties...and my black lacy bra.....and my small bag of cosmetics.... everything spread out and on display so all the other passengers could walk by and smile.........and then she found what she was looking for a green plastic bag....I could see her eyes sparkle....
"You're looking for my cheese?"
Her eyes narrowed......yes apparently my speciality hunk of cheese I had bought at the gourmet deli....was the offending item.
"It can look deceptive." That's all she said....she returned my underwear and my nightgown and my cheese back to my bag. Who knew cheese could be dangerous....or even deceptive? Perhaps they were afraid my Holland Gouda was pretending to be Swiss?
For this surprise I was grateful....it made up for the last surprise of my day.
The doorbell rang. It was the new woman postal carrier. She looked like she had seen a ghost.....but it was worse than that....."You've got a snake in your mailbox." I was going to ask her if she was kidding but I could see by her face she was not.
"What kind?" She didn't know. I'll save my snake stories for some other day....but let's just say they still make me scream....and for self-defense I have learned about local snakes....because we have Copperheads....aggressive beautiful venomous snakes that will bite you.
We gathered at the mailbox and looked........sure enough under the flap...there was a snake inside. She pulled the flashlight out of her car....we could see its eyes....and I wasn't happy to see a triangular-shaped snout...which is common with Copperheads....my son brought over the hose and we tried to flush it out....no success.
I waved the postal lady on....and stood there pissed ....looking at my snake.....oh I wasn't angry the snake was there....it was actually a clever hiding place....but I was angry because from now till winter.....every time I go check the mail....I'll wonder if a snake is going to jump out of the mailbox!
Hub came to the rescue and put foamy insulation in the gap.....the snake might still be able to get in that space.....but he was not going to be able to stick his head out....at least I hope he can't....
So now I'm going to have a snack of deceptive cheese and probably head off to the post office because I have some bills to mail....and if you think I'm sticking my hand in the mailbox at night......uh huh....because if my universal mischief rod is working....who knows what will happen.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Miracles of miracles...I've hooked my laptop up through their phone modem and have gotten reacquainted with the obnoxious electronic connection song that's been out of my life for a couple years now. I also found some wine in my folk's pantry....the label says "soft red wine." It has a screw top and a price tag of 3.99. I poured it in my glass and it's fizzy.....sort of like red wine/soda pop. Different....that's all I'll say.
I've practiced my essay a few times..I know it...and really how good it sounds on the radio is going to be based on my ability to be calm and read it with feeling.
Hmmmm....maybe I should bring a flask of this fizzzy stuff along...LOL>
Although the combination of a slur with my slight Chicago lisp...might be a bit too much.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
I'm not sure what I loved first.....the quote or the photographs. There was something familiar about both.
"Sometime during midlife, he was taken with the idea that a tornado had carried him at birth from his natural parents and deposited him in the midst of the Meyer family, which raised him."
I took a couple of steps back from the dimly lit placard on the art museum wall and smiled. I liked this man......I liked the idea that he reinvented himself in midlife....by postulating that the life he was leading was not a result of his own doing but the result of a ferocious natural force that carried him off from his original destiny.
Mike Disfarmer was originally named Mike Meyer. He changed his name to Disfarmer in an attempt to recapture the concept that he was not from around here. Around here ....meant Heber Springs, Arkansas....which during the 40's and 50's was a rural cotton farming area north of Little Rock. Meyer means farmer in German and since he was not a farmer.....he renamed himself Disfarmer...to further distance himself from his surroundings.
About 10 years ago, his negatives were discovered and in 2004 researchers and collector went door to door in Heber Springs digging through old photo albums to find more of his work.
Disfarmer who died in 1959 was described by folks as lacking in basic social skills and without friends. Yet he was the town's commercial photographer....the man who recorded and knew everyone and their memories. He died in his early 70's....his body discovered in his studio days after his death....wearing his uniform....his white shirt and black pants. Supposedly, he ate only chocolate ice cream for months before his death.
He seems the classic brilliant but eccentric artist. The man who couldn't fit in....yet he could capture the very essence of people he could not bond with....he could see what they did not see in themselves.
His photos are simply. He took them in front of a concrete wall...and used only natural northern light. Folks complained that he never asked them to smile....and sessions were long because he was looking for something they didn't understand. Yet when you look at the photos....you see exactly what he was looking for....because he captured it....without a word....you can see stories in each of his pictures.
Another reason I was drawn to the pictures is because they remind me of photos my grandparents saved. The hard scrabble look that characterized Heber Spring natives was also the look my relatives carried from small Eastern European villages.
Take a look.
You can click on each picture and enjoy it....solo.
This afternoon I visited his blog and fell right out of my chair.....
So see what happens when you start blogging.... you fall left and right for strange men...and don't even know it!!
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
It's a typical small public radio essay....no more than 750 words and in NPR style...it's cut to the bone....there's not an extra word or syllable in it.
I recorded an essay for NPR last year.....it was a fun but frightening experience.... it's exactly like something out of a movie....you stand there with your headphones on....hunched over your paper.....your mouth close to the microphone.
Unlike some movie versions where you are in the recording room alone, here the producer is standing right in front of you...which made it harder for me to loosen up since I watched him watching me.
I have a bit of language tattoo too that I bring to the studio.....my south side upbringing in Chicago leaves pronouncing the "S" at the end of a word an option.......along with the occasional "th" at the beginning of a word.
Last year I highlighted every "S" and every "Th"....so I would remember to....PRONOUNCE them. The producer picked up my omissions in a few sentences and stopped the recording. "Don't worry about it.......it adds color."
A few times he told me to slow down .... I'm a fast talker especially when nervous....but I guess he gave up on me. With digital equipment, however, technicians can actually slow you down or speed you up....which is why everyone on NPR sounds similar....it's not that they choose a particular type of reader......it's because they choose a particular speed. When I listened to myself on the radio last year....I chuckled.....I sounded very very NPR calm....even though I knew my actually recording didn't sound that way.
I'm actually eager to record this piece. The essay is about my grandmother and her good friend at Easter time. I so loved this the tradition I will talk about....and I so love bringing these ladies back to life. Although the editor usually discourages dialogue....she's going to let me mimic the bellow of my grandmother's friend as she greeted us. I promised her I could do it and do it well.
And I will....because it's not only a lovely piece.....it's a piece of my life that I get to share....and that is what is really lovely.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Smarting from a medical procedure..... plus working on a community project which sucks hours like a black hole ......PLUS getting #$#@! tax receipts ready....has stopped me from dancing with leprechauns today.
And then serendipity... I stumbled upon a perfect phrase...."Embrace the Suck."
NPR's website featured a pamphlet by retired Colonel Austin Bay which listed and described Military Speak...the specialized language used by the armed forces. In his guide, Bay notes that every trade from priests to prostitutes have their own specialized language. Warrior slang, Bay says, "accepts suffering as inevitable," so "embrace the suck" isn't merely a cutesy wisecrack....but wisdom....face it....it ain't an easy day..there's never easy days..now DEAL with it.
I wrote the phrase on a post-it note and slapped it on my computer screen. I immediately felt better.
I noticed some other military language gems that apply to my life today:
Groundhog Day: A day where you keep doing things over and over again and still can't seem to get it right.......or how I keep rewriting and rewriting the opening to an essay and it still doesn't sound right.
John Wayne Driving School: Banging up a new vehicle in the process of teaching a new recruit to drive it....or what my teenage son is doing to my once cute Subaru.
And some good terms for work situations I've encountered:
Semper Fi, is of course, the Marine motto for "always faithful."
But sometimes you have a .....Semper I situation..which means you're working in an environment or with a person who is very self-centered.
or.....the very lucky.....Sempter Knife situation.....which means you're working in an environment or with a person who is always back-stabbing.
Well....I'm going to go and embrace more suck now....those IRS receipts are even half done.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Monday, March 12, 2007
Many people asked me about my favorite books .....well... I have lots of favorites....and what I recommend to customers is based on what they're looking for....but there is a great series which could fit most tastes...from mild to wild....and one great tell-all reference book.
The "Super" series by Tracy Cox is wonderful. Tracy is gorgeous UK woman that moved to Australia and was an associate editor for Cosmo down under. She's back in London now with a handful of new books and a website which promotes her own line of toys. I like the way she writes about sex...it's funny...practical....and she's not afraid to talk about emotions... surprise... surprise...people have them when they touch each other intimately. Contrary to what the porn industry and hookup culture would lead you to believe.....there's a good possibility when you kiss someone regularly.... the ol' heart may beat harder and wilder at the thought of those lips.
The series starts softly with Superflirt...which concentrates on body language and seduction. It's anchored by SuperSex. I read Supersex at the bookstore. I left the break room with flaming red cheeks. Thank God my logic circuits were still intact because I wanted to bring down a man.....any man....right there in the bookstore aisle. So here's a warning...read this book near someone appropriate ( or maybe inappropriate....if you're looking to jump start something).
Supersex contains my favorite sensual/sexual picture . A beautiful black and white photograph with a woman touching....okay....grabbing at a man's underwear.....wow.
The newest book in the series in Superhotsex. I haven't finished it...but like it. It's not a book to start out with....but a book you may want to end with...since it discusses threesomes, girl-on-girl...and the beginnings of BDSM. Some people get nervous looking or thinking about these more advanced play levels...but the important thing to remember is ...you don't have to do them in real life...but you can fantasize about them.....which might make your traditional play more exciting. (Am I beginning to sound like Dr. Ruth?....I think I just shrunk a couple of inches.)
If you're practical and want to hide only one sex book under your bed....then hands down (or hands on)....it's....The Guide to Getting It On. At close to 900 pages....it's a mini-encylopedia. In fact, that's the only negative about the book.....it's overwhelming. So consider reading it in installments....or by topic.
As for the Kama Sutra.....I'll leave that for another day....its a remarkable book with a remarkable history .....and....I think I may need to do more research on it...yes....more research on the Kama Sutra sounds good to me.
Remember if your a tad shy about talking to a bookseller.....you can buy sex books online from traditional bookstores like Barnes or Amazon. They arrive in a plain brown box.....not even your postman will know.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
I race up to the cashier stand to leave a book for a customer and find Claire managing a cash register. Customers usually come in waves to purchase books....and this must be a dip. I pick up a Cosmo and wave it at her. "Have your read this......10 new all time incredible sex secrets....right here Claire....waiting for you on your lunch break." I wink at her and smile. She laughs and shakes her head at me. "How about 10 tricks for hot hot sex??" courtesy of Men's Health. (Men's magazines are more inclined to use the word HOT...whereas women's magazine are more prone to SECRETS.) She shakes her head again and waves me off....I return to info chuckling.
Popular magazines always have a feature article or two on sex each month. The real kicker is....they find at least 10-20 sex secrets a month. That's a lot of sex secrets. You have to wonder if there's some conspiracy to hide sex information....since there are so many secrets....and who....who is storing all these secrets? Is there some underground vault in Nevada where sex secrets are hidden and doled out per month? Is there some secret society, much like something from out of the Da Vinci Code, which hides and protects sex secrets and carefully releases a few every month? By my rough calculations.....20 sex secrets a month x12 months....means magazines "discover" at least 240 sex secrets per year....and since I feel as a bookseller and a woman it's my duty to stay a breast of this information.......it means I've been exposed to over 1200 sex secrets since I've worked at the book store! Factor in all the Kama Sutras, sex tips, sex books, sex manuals I've shelved....I should be a sex expert!!
In fact, sometimes I think I am. Many times when I work, my book selling partner may be a guy....so women...who are looking for sex anthologies, sex information, or relationship books often seek me out. I have recommendations in sex anthologies ....and I've read the Mars/Venus thing... Why Men love Bitches....and He's Not Into You books too.....and I can do a fair job of recommending books based on your level of experience and where you want to advance to in your sex life. I think part of my comfort with sex comes from my nursing background...especially since I worked in cardiac nursing... before a patient could be discharged we had to address sex issues, activities levels, and exertion levels....we also had to remind certain heart patients to limit their sexual experiences to their wives post-heart attack.
I also think I'm just one of those people....who is comfortable with sex. In college, I choose to teach basic contraception as my senior nursing project. Planned Parenthood loaned me their little black suitcase....which contained condoms, IUD's, birth control pills, etc. I taught impromptu classes in our dorm...opening my little suitcase of contraceptive wonders....and explaining how to use them......I felt like I was providing a service to my fellow dormies......and it wasn't uncommon for someone to come to my room privately to ask me a question.
Unfortunately, my sex education days were limited. A Resident Advisor of the dorm...called the nursing department chair....to inform her I was teaching contraception....(a no-no for a Catholic university)....and I was asked to return the "suitcase." I did....but I asked Planned Parenthood for a few supplies and till I graduated.....I kept a little stash of items....in case someone needed them.
As I said, women usually come up to me in the bookstore.....but on a rare occasion a man might ask for help....usually it's because his wife/lover/girlfriend has sent him to the store for a specific title which he's suppose to retrieve and bring home. A few months ago.....a very handsome man came up to me and asked me for a copy of "The Secret Garden." The Secret Garden is an old classic children's book....I checked the computer to see how many copies we had....and then led him to the children's department. When I handed him the book, he looked horrified.
"Isn't this the book you want?"
"I don't think so."
I look at him. He looks at me. Then it hits me.
"OHHHHHHHHHHHHH.........you mean MY Secret Garden."
"Yes you do....."
I lead him to the sexuality section...take The Secret Garden out of his hands and replace it with a copy of My Secret Garden....the classic erotic fantasy book written in the 1970's. Apparently, a ground breaker in female sexual fantasy at the time...it's now considered tame by Internet standards.
"I think this is it." He grins.
I watch him walk off and sigh.....hey...this is a great job.......sending off a tall, dark handsome man with a sex book and a smile........
Someone is going to be very very happy tonight.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
I'm holding the phone to my ear. I can feel my heart hammering. It's amazing how in a few seconds, the shot-in-the-dark insult, can affect your heart so quickly.
I have three choices at this point: fight (nasty comment back), flight(hang up) or savoir-faire.
"I'm the only person at Information right now so it appears you'll have to take my word on this."
The phone clicks.
He was looking for Quick Claim Deed Forms. We don't carry them. Had he been a decent guy, I would have given him an online suggestion. But he wasn't a nice guy; so he'd have to figure this out for himself.
Although I've been in retail for 5 years now, I'm impressed how an insult affects me. I feel like I'm punctured......and now all the negatives of my past week....swarm around this wound....like hornets round a can of soda in summer. Mis-communication with someone, self-doubt, a small hurt....they all play ring-a-round-the-Rosy over the wound.
The next two customers receive extraordinary service. I practically carry them to the check-out counter..... but the insult still sticks....as if it has it's own length-of-stay criteria....no matter what I try to do to forget it.
"Do you ever feel bad for a long time after a customer insults you?" Claire nods. She's an extraordinarily calm and self-assured young woman and I'm a surprised insults stick to her too. She identifies with the punctured-feeling. Kathy does too. I actually feel a little better knowing other people feel the whiplash from insults. I wonder if customers who lash out ever release how this stuff sticks....and perhaps it sticks more because we are strangers.....if I was arguing with a family member or friend...we would kiss and make-up and he/she would say......"Of course you're not an idiot".....but there's no reaffirmation with a stranger, no one who comes and places a band-aid over the wound.
It's break time and time for spiritual medicine. I head towards Self-Improvement and grab one of my favorite books..."How to be Happy, dammit." It's a little Buddhist-positive thinking-affirmation-new age-philosophy-type book. I'm so fond of this book...it makes me chuckle...just to hold it.
It's a book with a history....and you gotta love a book with a personal history.... A couple years ago when I was in Minnesota, I had this really bad day. I remember it so well.....an uber pile-up of misery...as if the universe was playing mad scientist and said...."Let's experiment....how much can she take?"
I had a friend, who was having emotional problems, she started screaming at me in the middle of a restaurant when I suggested she needed professional help. I left. On my way back to the hotel, I escaped a major car crash on the icy freeway by literally a few inches. Safe in my room, I opened my laptop and found an extremely painful email. I staggered to the chair and fell into it.
"Ouch." I had sat on a plastic bag with this book and a trinket I bought for my daughter. I opened the book and read for hours....just kept turning the pages over and over again.....almost afraid to look up and away from the book.......until I could fall asleep. Sometimes the key to surviving emotional trauma....is the blessing of sleep.
" Lesson #24....When you become calm and serene on the inside, the world becomes more calm and serene on the outside. Your enemies=your teachers. Your failure=your wisdom. Your undesired endings=your desirable beginnings....." and so on and so on.
As break time ends..... I see a red Cosmo book on sex positions laying on the table across from me. I open and study and laugh and think.....there are way toooo many positions in this book where you have to be up-side down.
Back at information, the Sunday Transvestite passes the counter. A 6'4" man/woman with a long frosted wig, arched eyebrows so high and perfect it looks like she used a jar lid to trace the shape, black skirt, black suit jacket, fluffy white blouse.....good heels......and god love her/him.....46 DDDDDD implants/or bra? Oh honey, I think....you could be such a good looking man/woman if you kept it down to a D or DD........because really DDDDDD is just way too much....even for a bookstore.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
"Did you bring me something to eat?" He laughs and ignores my hope that someday he'll bring something tasty for me to sample. He comes in almost every Sunday and must own at least 100 cookbooks.... if not more. I help him find and order books each week. I've known him for over two years now. He's given up trying to have a meaningful conversation with me about cooking or recipes. He knows I don't cook and although I try hard to focus on his discussion of chefs or ingredients...my eyes glaze over and I want to shout...."Please...you cook....I'll set the table and bring the wine." Which I believe is my automatic response to any who man tries to talk recipes with me.
Early in my adult life, I accepted my cooking disability and made an important decision. I would never fall in love with a man who didn't or wouldn't cook for me. In fact, I developed a philosophy about men who cooked....believing they were analytical but sensuous, logical but also generous. When I was dating my husband, he mentioned he could bake cookies....and zoomed to the top of my interesting man list. I also have a theory about left-handed men who cook...but ...that's another story.
British Cooking Man is hot on the trail of a Mexican cookbook today so we head down the aisle towards the appropriate shelf. Midway there, we have to step over a woman who is sprawled out onto the floor with a notebook and a cookbook. It's not unusual to find women on the floor of the cooking aisle....apparently recipes....interesting recipes.....make them weak in the knees and they collapse right there on the spot to read them....or they come prepared with a notebook to copy recipes. I've watched women create an entire dinner party menu from appetizers to deserts while sprawled in our aisles. I wonder why they don't get up and simply carry the books to a table. Perhaps they would feel guilty copying the recipes since everyone would see what they were doing.... I guess it's better to block an aisle and pretend you accidentally fell to the floor in a most unusual spasm taking a notebook, pencil, and cookbook with you to the ground.
British Cooking Man walks off with his new prize. I find another book out of place propped up against a shelf. It's called, "The Game." It's an instructional pick-up manual for men. I pop it open and cringe. Sometimes I'm not thrilled to learn about how men think. This is ..unique....the book suggests a man carry a bit of lint around with him. You see... if you're near a beautiful woman out in public you can toss a lint on her when she's not looking and then gallantly say to her, " You have some lint on your sweater." The woman will assume you are kind and gallant man because you saved her from social embarrassment. She will now smile and talk to you.....a man she would have never paid any attention to before .......but now that you are her lint-knight in shining armor.....she will gaze at you appreciatively.
I pop the manual back in the shelf and make a note to be suspicious of any man who has lint discussions with me. I head back to the desk and see the Cross-Dresser is cruising into the Sci-Fi section. Cross -Dresser is a man who comes in mostly dressed as a woman. Today he is wearing a purple minister's shirt and collar (his male half) tucked into a tight fitting black skirt with black hose and black high heel shoes. His short gray hair is in a pony-tail with numerous bobby-pins holding his hair in place. He doesn't wear make-up and he usually is ....half and half ....in gender apparel. He has a killer taste in high heels....I'm envious of the gorgeous classy shoes he wears (obviously expensive) and his ability to walk in those spike heels in a non-challent manner ( I can wobble if I'm out of practice). He also has drop-dead shapely shaved legs. He's been coming into the store in his half and half attire since I started here...five years ago.
I remember the first time I met Cross-Dresser. I was heading out of the store; he was heading into the store. I had a white oxford shirt on, black skirt, fishnet stockings (there's a long story behind the stockings) and black heels. He was wearing.... almost.... the exact same outfit. A white men's shirt, black skirt, fishnets, and heels. We stared at each other. I remember I told him I liked his shoes. He told me he liked my fishnets. I walked out of the store thinking...wow....isn't this a great place to work?