29 November 2008

Mooooooving Along!!

Okay peeps...
I've moved the blog. I think I've mentioned it before, but this time it's for real.
Several months ago I migrated all SoftPretzelLove postings to Word Press. I continued to post to both sites (which, sadly, was only like two or three times!!).
Well, now I'm not going to post here anymore, and will do everything at Word Press.
So, be sure to move your links to, and sign-up for e-mail notifications at:
See you on the Word Press side!!! :-)

Deck the Halls, and Anyone Else Who Gets in Your Way

Like tsunamis and pyrotechnics-related club fires, being trampled to death is generally not a fate you consider while lying awake at 4 a.m., your brain buzzing with all the horrors you manage to push back during the day with coffee, the computer, work, family and all the other things that make you forget that, like everyone else swarming across the globe, life can be gone in an instant.

But seriously, who on Long Island would ever consider being trampled to death a viable ending, especially when the great American pastime, shopping, is involved?

WalMart security guard Jdimytai Damour probably didn't. But I bet he's watching his family put him to rest up in heaven, or whatever afterlife he personally believed in. And I bet he's pissed.

I would be. After all, he was a lowly, underpaid temp, punching in for pennies an hour once the government's take is accounted for. He didn't even have the misfortune of being an actual WalMart employee. They probably hired him as a way to avoid paying benefits, or having yet another name on the HR roster who could sue.

And so, in the wee hours of Black Friday 2008, a crowd of more than 2,000 of his fellow Long Islanders wanted so badly to be able to buy cheap Chinese-made crap, they actually tore the doors off their hinges and killed him under their feet. The Seattle Times reports:

"Tension grew as the 5 a.m. opening neared. By 4:55, with no police officers in sight, the crowd of more than 2,000 had become a rabble, and could be held back no longer. Fists banged and shoulders pressed on the sliding-glass double doors, which bowed in with the weight of the assault."

Witnesses and the police said the doors shattered, and the shrieking mob surged through in a rush for holiday bargains. One worker, Jdimytai Damour, 34, of Queens, was thrown back onto the black linoleum tiles and trampled in the stampede that streamed over and around him."

Sadly, it makes sense. If you've spent any time around your fellow Americans, it's possible to understand how they could kill.
Scarier still is the fact that people feel little, if any, remorse at others' misfortune or pain.
According to the same Seattle Times piece:

Some shoppers who had seen the stampede said they were shocked. One, Kimberly Cribbs of Queens, said the crowd had acted like "savages." Shoppers' behavior was bad even as the store was being cleared, she recalled.

"When they were saying they had to leave, that an employee got killed, people were yelling, 'I've been on line since yesterday morning,' " Cribbs said. "They kept shopping."

Outbreaks weren't restricted to New York. At a Wal-Mart in Columbus, Ohio, Nikki Nicely, 19, jumped onto a man's back and pounded his shoulders when he tried to take a 40-inch Samsung flat-screen TV to which she had laid claim. "That's my TV!" Nicely, 19, shouted. "That's my TV!"

A police officer and security guard intervened, but not before Nicely took an elbow in the face. In the end, she was the one with the $798 television, marked down from $1,000. "That's right," she cried as her adversary walked away. "This here is my TV!"

Charisma Booker, also on the hunt for a TV, said she had been shopping at Wal-Mart every Black Friday for nearly a decade. "There are fewer people here this year, but they're more aggressive," she said. "I've never seen anybody fight like this. This is crazy."

At a Wal-Mart in Niles, Ill., a mother fought back tears when she discovered someone had taken her cart filled with toys.


It's everywhere. Turn your attention away for just a moment in the checkout line and someone is guaranteed to hop in front of you. Say something and you'll either get ignored or, more likely, cursed at, especially if there's a small child in the transgressor's cart seat, which really blows my mind.

Even worse is behavior behind the wheel. I have both been witness to, and a victim of, some of the most dangerous, poorly thought out and downright asinine vehicular activities in recent months.

Just last week H. merged into the left lane on the Blue Route, only to find a white coupe that was at least two car lengths behind – Pa. license plate No. DYJ 9585, for anyone interested – that apparently took offense at the fact that he had the gall to pull in front of them.

The car actually passed us on the left shoulder, pulled in front of us, slammed on the brakes, and began to swerve and slam on the brakes intermittently, until we finally exited the highway. It was a terrifying display of complete stupidity, especially considering the fact that we were travelling at least 60mph and traffic was heavy all around.

Not to mention there were several lives at stake – I could see the outline of at least three heads in the offending vehicle alone – and least of all my little puppy's, who was too small to be safely harnessed in the seat.

Even if H. had pulled out directly in front of them, there is absolutely no excuse short of complete mental retardation – and even that is putting the disabled down – for that sort of driving.

I nearly threw up from the experience, and H. almost had a coronary because, after three years with me, he knows he's not allowed to do what he would, under normal circumstances for him, do: follow the car until it stopped and then confront the driver, moron-to-man – the driver being the moron, of course – to deduce the reason for such foolish behavior, and why H. shouldn't put him in shock trauma because of  it.*

So I'm not at all surprised that this particular group of Black Friday shoppers was so impatient to get in to snap up all the big discounts they resorted to murder.

We've been sold the idea of the American dream for so long it's morphed into something narcissistic and dangerous. The adage, "You can do anything" has been repeated so often it has been turned into a sadistic version of telephone, where the message has become distorted not into silly but sadistic, literally: you can do anything: cut people off, curse like a sailor, eat bulk food from the bins, steal a kid's bike off a porch, lie to your employer, commit insurance fraud, bilk the American people out of $300 billion, kill in the name of justice, do whatever it takes to get to the top of the list, head of the line, front of the pack or corner office.

Just look at the financial mess we're in, the perfect example of greed and entitlement run amok.

I'll be the first to tell you that not everyone can own a house. I'd love more than anything to own one, but I'm not willing to risk financial ruin by biting off more than I can chew. Nor should anyone think it's okay to lie, ever, for any reason, in order to sell one.

The poor security guard was probably trying to make as much money as he could, working whatever gig he could get, in order to make ends meet. Just like all of us in the recession Bush was certain he could ward off if he just denied it long enough.

Well, it didn't work, and lo-and-behold we're all up shit's creek without a paddle.

The irony is, as the pundits turn blue bemoaning the end of the fiscal world, and newscasters spew harrowing tales of honest folk going belly-up with the same intonations as the ghost stories we used to tell during sleepovers – the only thing missing is a flashlight under their chins – my life's just about the same.

Maybe even a little bit better, thanks to a summer spend toiling over thousands of pages of copy in a local company's annual clothing catalog. It's the same gig that allowed me to bail on the corporate hell I was dying in. And, thanks to their continued use of my skills, they've enabled me to avoid returning to that world again.

And so the crumbling global economy is little more than a blip on my radar. I was poor to begin with, and will probably continue to be as the recession marches on.

Despite my higher education, I've never managed to cash in on the earning potential that allegedly comes with multiple degrees hanging on the wall. I guess that's because said degrees were earned out of a genuine desire to learn, not earn. (Oh, insipid! Barf!)

Two of them are art degrees, the third is journalism. Not exactly booming businesses. But, I'm happy. And while I'll continue to clip coupons and live on things like (whole grain) bread and (organic) canned soup, I can't really share in the depression being felt by those who, until recently, pretty much had it all.

And since I'm, as usual, too poor to shop this time of year, I'll stay safe at home while I put my degrees to work and make all my presents.

Unless, that is, things really hit the fan and I've got no choice but to whore myself out to the temp agencies. In which case, I'll do my best to avoid the maniacal, retail-obsessed mobs who are so desperate to consume they'll willingly crush another human being beneath their feet in order to buy like they have every other year.

I suppose they figure if there's a mountain of gifts under the tree, they can pretend, at least for now, that it's still possible to buy their way to happiness.

They deserve everything they get, after all. Right?


*I neither condone violence, nor do I apologize for assuming the driver is a man. Auto insurance rates for young men are sky high for a reason, and while H. knows I'm not a fan of beating up other people, sometimes I think the world would be at least a more civil place if people were allowed to confront others rude behavior without the threat of jail or a lawsuit every time someone says boo.


25 February 2008

Where is the Love?

Fear not, friends. The pretzel may be twisted, but it has not folded.

Join us here for more silly Soft Pretzel-ness...

15 August 2007


Is it the warm, summer air... Oh, who am I kidding?

Is it the hot, humid, sticky air that makes your lungs feel like
they're filled with honey and skin slicker than the ocean surrounding
the Exxon Valez that is making me lazy?

Or could it be something else? A lack of willpower, lack of drive,
get-up-and-go winner takes all sort of deficit that's causing me to
stare, blindly, at my monitor while scanning craigslist for a coffee
shop job?

A-ha! Coffee shop job? Wait just a minute...

Methinks there is something larger at work, something intent upon
keeping me down in the dumps -- literally and figuratively, if you've
seen my house of late -- and sucking the energy from me like a
failure-minded vampire.

I have to wonder: has my self-esteem taken such a beating over the
last few years I'm happy to wile the hours away schlepping espressos
and counting the nickels plunking to the bottom of the tip jar?

Now, it's not that I won't necessarily go for the joe job. It would be
nice to have human interaction, and some extra cash in the pocket is
always a boon.

Plus, money has been more than tight these days, what with me being
the sole breadwinner in the fam and Mr. Spipster seemingly doing nada
to lighten the skint girl load. It's just that part of me thinks it's
unfair that I even have to.

Allow me to vent. Of late, things have been pretty dismal on the
interpersonal relations end when it comes to the two of us. It
basically consists of me screaming and him screaming back, assorted
household items going crashing into stationery objects, and increased
anger and hostility building on both sides.

Not exactly the most fun, my friends, and lately I've been unsure what
the best course of action may be.

In full disclosure of the stress-fraught circumstances, I was
(somewhat) okay with his unemployed status when he moved in. It was
the end of the season, and there's not much work for a construction
worker in the middle of a snowstorm.

But things have not gotten better, in fact they've only gotten worse,
while the Mr. insists that things are indeed on the up-and-up and I'm
just a pessimist for giving up when the going is just about to be
getting good.


How can I be sure that's not the truth? How could I possibly even
consider turning someone out who has devoted his time and energy to
taking care of myself and my (our) household. He cleans like a demon,
does laundry on a daily basis, and all the other manly tasks that my
less-burly girl muscles can't quite do.

Car stuff? He's on it. Heavy lifting? He's the man. But I can't help
but think that there's got to be more, especially when dragging myself
out of bed at 6 a.m. so I can hit the (temp) workplace and schlep home
the soy bacon is akin to walking across a football field of hot coals.

To be fair, the boy's got some serious health issues, from rheumatoid
arthritis stemming from too many hours of laying concrete in the hot
afternoon sun to other assorted ailments as a result of too-late
diagnosed Lyme disease. He is not well. He needs help. He has a hard
time getting around. He is in pain. I understand that, and it really

Yet I look at those traveling on SEPTA to their workplaces with me in
the morning, and can't help but notice plenty who, with their own far
share of painful ailments and disabilities, make their way to to the
grind right next to me.

Is it too much to ask a person to do their very best to find a way to
contribute to the mounting bills so I don't have to spend every waking
hour slaving to make ends meet?

Obviously, the answer is no. But the boy has a way of making me feel
like the taskmaster and the world's biggest, meanest hardass all
wrapped up in one. I honestly don't know what to do at this point: the
ties are legally binding, so no matter what I choose we'll have to
figure it out together at some point.

But in the interim, I really just wish this would all go away. I've
got too much to worry about -- I've made the jump to being my own
boss, and unless I am determined to fail I've got to make it work.

But to make it work I've got to get to work, and when your brain is
sweating out your ears and your heart is torn in a thousand
directions, it's tough to get the gumption up to go ask a perfect
stranger for a shot at a gig. Especially if that intereferes with your
shift at the coffee shop....


How do I get myself into these situations?

Next time, I'll just bring home a kitten....

[editor's note: The Spipster is considering continuing this draft in
serial mode, via an extremely cheap subscription (pennies, my friends,
pennies!) in order to defray costs and possibly give her inspiration
in the form of income. Your thoughts?

Many of you have expressed a desire to see more of many of her sordid
tales. Would you be willing to pay for the opportunity to delve into
the world of someone so hopeless she's willing to turn to strangers to
help fuel her impassioned rantings? (Literally, people -- PECO ain't

09 August 2007

Lazy Days of Summer? Oh Shit!

I don't actually know what happened to her.
I'd like to say I knew, that I saw her one day on the street, passed out with a brown bagged bottle at her fingertips. But alas, I do not know.

 The way this life works she may be found somewhere else in the blogosphere, terrorizing another poor, delicate soul with her angry shriekings and bipolar demands for the unreasonable. But alas, I do not know what has happened to the Shrill.

But I do know that she is gone, no longer darkening CorpraCo's hallways. Whether it was her own doing, really, is unsure, but I can certainly speculate.

Shortly following my departure things, I'm guessing, went to hell. It's no secret, at least not to me, that I had a significant impact on everything that happened in, and was produced by, my former PR department. Once I was gone, I can imagine the slide was rapid and ugly.

Very, very ugly.

Moles have told me that after a few days the excuse, "but the Spipster used to do that" was forcibly verboten by order of the Shrill. Apparently she got sick and tired of learning that every single step in the process was overseen, like an evil grammarian overlord, by moi.


But I digress. I know she got sick and tired of hearing my name, and eventually I'm assuming the rest of the evil overlords did as well, and a little more than two weeks after I claimed my freedom she turned in her notice and claimed hers…

Just a little sooner than she expected, and a few short hours – rather than weeks –  after giving her notice she Shrill was on her way out the door, doing her best to keep from getting knocked over as it hit her in the ass.

Sometimes there's nothing better than the pure, warm feeling of vindication, no matter how indirect it may be.

Unfortunately, I can only revel in the bliss of being right for so long, as the bills are still unpaid, and the moneyhags are clamoring for more.

What to do?

Oh wait, that's right. The plan is to be an uber go-getter and get my go out there to work the suits and wow them into giving me their business.

Except I haven't done that. Not even a little bit…


But that's okay, right? Yeah, yeah that's okay. It's fine. I'll be fine. It's not like I'm not working,and not working freelance, either, because I am.

As a matter of fact I'm working almost 40 hours a week for some big clothing company putting together  their annual ginormous catalog. It's mindless work no one expects anything from me but type-type-type, but it's liberating. At least for now.

For the budget albatross is clinging staunchly to my bent back, clawing at my hair and pooping on my shoulder. It ain't pretty.

Somehow I have to find it within myself to get my arse out into the world, in between the daily – albeit freelance –grind. I just seem to be having a hard time.

And having a crisis of confidence to boot.

I'm not normally like this. Friends will (probably) tell you that I'm an insanely motivated, downright driven, don't sleep inject the coffee chewing on sugar cubes kind of girl.

I was president of my freakin' graduate class, people!

Unfortunately, that inhuman drive seems to have escaped me lately.

Mr. Spipster told me the other night he doesn't think I have the drive to go out and get the proverbial brass ring. Okay, maybe not in those exact words. He's not really the lyrical type.

But it concerned me nonetheless because it's that's not me.

At least, it wasn't me. Isn't me. Never used to be me.

Is it me?

Oh gawd, is it???

Even if it turns out that in my old age I've turned into a soft, couch-sitting slacker, that option isn't currently open to me. Not really.

Not unless I want to crawl back to another CorpraCo to spend the rest of my life a la zombie, watching the clock until they put me in the cold, hard ground.

Or send me packing to the local homeless shelter because I'm madame breadwinner.

Christ… someone get me another glass of wine!

29 July 2007

It's A Big World Out There

Sometimes I really have to wonder what the fuck is wrong with me. Blame it on the A.D.H.D ., but I possess the maddening ability to make on-the-fly decisions without actually stopping to consider the real-world, long-term ramifications of the latest idea of my affection.


Granted, it's not like I'm careening, wild-eyed and hopped up on half a dozen lattes, into disastrous oblivion for inane plans like a Tasmanian Devil ass tattoo, or opening the door when the Mormons come to call.


But unfortunately, my penchant for throwing caution to the wind and myself out of the proverbial frying pan, slathered in butter, and into the fire, has landed me dead center into the kinds of situations that would make even the boldest of risk takers think they woulda' thought twice.


Because, alas, it is not that I possess the sort of devil-may-care j'oie de vivre that accompanies most life on the edge types as they venture boldly into odds-defying, oblivious Homer-like success.


I do not.


I simply do things cuz I want to.


And inevitably, time for the most part has proven that many of my ill- and mostly un-advised headlong moves into the unbeknownst have merely served to make what is, at times, a miserable slow slog of an existence that much harder.


And yet… on occasion… while the gapers gawk and wait with bated breath for me to crash and burn, I make a move that may actually turn out for the best.


Take my latest life-altering adventure.


For those of you following my mind numbing, so-called-career crash and burn in cubic'hell, you are well aware of the manic, torturous moods of Madame Shrill, my most recent keeper.


I will admit that the not-so business casual life I've been leading for the last two years is not what I imagined I'd be doing when I finally grew up. And while it was exciting to travel to many of the places in the world I never thought I'd get to, at least not on my starving-artist-in-waiting sub-poverty wages, I hated having to play the game.


Get up early, drag myself to the same grey, soulless hole of an office, toil the hours of my life away at slave wages so some fat cat who drives a luxury sedan can make himself look important in front of his fellow fat cats, while I waste my life away selling my creative soul so the corporation can further fill its coffers.


Y'know, the same old same old.


Add in the abuse at the hands of some power hungry, maniacal she beast who seems to take almost sick pleasure in berating those below her, and it suddenly seems like too much.


Much too much, in fact. And so I split.


Bailed. Walked. Grabbed my bag, and my stockpile of crackers and canned soups, and ventured out to earn my own goddamn fortune.


Oh, of course I know that the kind of cash that will make wiping my ass with dollar bills — and not having to immediately scrub them clean so I can put enough together to make bus fare — will take years to achieve. But deep down I've known for quite some time that if I were to use my superpowers for good instead of greedy evil, I could make enough to live on and have enough time and money left over to actually live, instead of simply managing to get through another day.


And so, three weeks into freelance freedom the worry wart that I am still has not managed to make even a peep in the name of uncertainty. Of course, I've traded the steady paycheck and security that's part and parcel of working for the man for a potential total loss, and the bills are, so far, struggling to get paid. But, for the first time in many years, my life is my own.


As far as the Shrill, I have to report that I am unsure where she's finding her security these days, for it seems that a few short weeks after I took my leave of her closed door torture chamber, she found herself walking through the same door, under slightly different circumstances…


To be continued…

03 June 2007

help me! help me! the end is very effing nigh!

So I bet you’ve wondering what happened.

Oh, it gets worse. It gets so much worse…

Since that fateful afternoon, when I narrowly escaped the slobbering jaws of managerial rage, I’ve had time to reflect upon the errors of my ways, thanks to three weeks’ reprieve from cubicle hell.

How did I come by my much needed break from the never ending grind of the corporate machine? By landing my sorry ass in E.R. at midnight later on that dreadful day.

For those of you not in the know, about four months ago I went under the surgeon’s knife in the hopes of obliterating daily pain caused by a chronic disease. I’d already damaged my liver thanks to daily cocktail of Aleve, Advil and chocolate, chased each night with Ativan to ensure I didn’t awake in a fit of anxiety brought on by the growing severity of my work/life situation.

But, my illness thrives in a chicken/egg type environment, and a hostile work environment brought back the symptoms, increasing my stress, and the pain, until I was pretty much back at square one.

Meditation helps, as does proper diet, exercise and a positive attitude. Unfortunately, the obsessive-compulsive mountains out of molehills worry wart I am has never been much of a match for the kill-or-be-killed mentality of the corporate world.

So after the Shrill sank her teeth into my battered and bruised psyche, I limped back to my DMV-issue cube to lick my wounds.

the end - is it near?

I’d known it was bad from the start. The chemistry was wrong; aggression crackled from her like lightning. And, as my roller derby habit can attest, I’m not one to back down when another woman tries to push me out of the way.

Unfortunately, this makes me a moron.

She’s the boss. I’m the bee. And at the end of the day, I’m still the only one responsible for paying my bills.

She’d laid it bare: she had nothing invested in me. I may have been working my ass off to fatten CorpraCo’s coffers for two years, but she had, in less than two weeks, determined I was a nothing more than a pimple on the surface of her fledgling empire. She was going to squeeze me out, no matter what.

And what she’d seen so far from me, in her opinion, was total shit. I was lacking in every area of my responsibilities, I’d shirked my duties, bowed out of what I was expected to deliver and spent my time doing absolutely nothing productive. In fact, she did not even know what I did on a daily basis.

My own boss did not even know what her sole employee did for her.


It was then and there that I knew I was on a collision course with certain doom. So I dove in, thinking that if I told her what I do it might dawn on her that, for the past six months, I was the department.

At work, I dealt with everyone. I fielded the calls, took on all tasks, took personal responsibility for everything that came across my desk. I was the go-to person, the one who could be counted on to make sure whatever needed to be done was done. It was killing me, but I took pride in knowing that all knew that any project that absolutely had to be taken care of, no matter what else might be on my plate, would somehow get done.

I rarely took lunch. I took work home with me. I checked my e-mail at all hours of the day, even when my body was still covered with stitches and I couldn’t get out of bed. I was always on.

And when my only coworker went out on medical leave and never came back, I took on her work as well, diving headlong into an area I was neither paid nor qualified to do, on paper, and gave it 110 percent.

I had no personal life.

My marriage was crashing violently on the rocks. I was tired, I was cranky, my skin was sallow, and I had great, ugly bags under my eyes. I was growing bitter about the fact that I was doing more than I was paid, after taxes, and paid less than $30,000 annually than that former coworker was to do.

In short, I was bending over and letting CorpraCo give it to me, and good. I’d made no bones about the fact that I needed support staff, more money, and a job title that reflected my actual workload. I was dying out there on my own, and in my good-girl fairy tale world I expected them to put their arms around my shoulders, give me a big hug and tell me everything would be all right.

Yeah right.

Oh sure, they’d thrown me a few bones: I’d received a “staff star” for performance above and beyond, which netted me… a picture frame. And there was a performance-based bonus … which after taxes paid for groceries and one dinner out for Mr. Spipster and myself.

Unfortunately, according to the Shrew, those accolades were isolated incidents, and did not actually reflect what she saw as the big picture, which was my total lack of integrity and refusal to do what I was hired to do.

So I caved, I gave in, I stressed and worried and wound up in pain, in tears, at midnight in the emergency room.

When I saw my surgeon the next day she reminded me the surgery might not work, and the stress and anxiety I’d allowed to invade every cell in my body brought me right back to our original meeting place.

So she gave me three weeks’ short term medical leave and instructed me to get a new job.

And so, one month later I landed, further down the spiral than I’ve ever been, gasping like a fish on land, wondering what the hell I am going to do.

Unable to get myself out of bed and into the job hunt I returned to CorpraCo last week, hoping for the best and vowing to push through until I could find a new gig.

“I’m a professional,” I told myself one week ago, “I am strong and capable and a hard worker and I always find a way to get through. I am no quitter. I am an adult and I can make this work.”

Unfortunately, the Shrill and Co. had other plans.

Shortly after the incident in the E.R...

I received an e-mail from HR informing me that the Shrill was given access to my e-mail account, to ensure no messages “fell through the cracks” in my absence. Last Wednesday an ally whispered that I’d better watch what I wrote, as the Shrill was still in it and looking for dirt.

Two weeks ago I received my professional association’s job listings, and was mildly shocked to find a position similar to my own posted at CorpraCo. When I checked with HR they denied everything, stating that hiring my gig out from under me would of course be wrong, and I shouldn’t worry, it was for something else. Yet I found myself having a hard time suspending the belief that a department comprised of three positions could support a secondary slot almost identical to my own.

And then, two days ago, I was called into the Shrill’s office: it was time for my quarterly review. In January, my annual review, I’d received stellar marks, with only a few places for improvement and acknowledgement that my work was always well done.

This time around all the news was bad, and the Shrill continued her barrage, slinging insult upon injury at me. In shock, I sat as I was cited for misconduct, poor performance and accused of outright workplace disruption during incidents I have zero recollection of.

And suddenly, I knew I was done for.
They had no reason to outright fire me, so this was the first step in ensuring that when they finally swung the hatchet they’d legally covered their backs.

So yeah, I’m low. I’m deeper down in black, ugly depression than I ever imagined I’d find myself. It’s all going to hell, my friends, and for once I am unsure of how I will claw my way back.

My car’s transmission is shot. I have no money. I am barely hanging on to a nightmare of a job. And unless I prostitute myself a.s.a.p. I am dangerously close to living life on the streets.

I’ve just been laying in bed, berating and hating myself for getting myself into this mess, and wondering how bad it’s gonna’ get before I find my way out.

Yesterday I decided I needed to get off my ass, because I haven’t even got the cash to get to work on the bus. Poring through my wardrobe I pulled out everything I thought might net me a few bucks in the secondhand shops. Then I rifled under the couch cushions, checked every pouch and pocket, culled together years worth of foreign cash and made my way downtown.

The end result? Adding insult to injury over the fact that making ends meet has meant giving up the little things, like the ability to own clothes that are not half a decade out of style, I managed to unload one skirt, for a grand net of $3.32.

At Commerce Bank I dumped every penny into the change counting machine, which printed me out a receipt for $4.02 with the message that I’d won a prize.

A prize! Was my luck finally going to turn?

The teller handed me my four dollars, then smiled as she handed me my prize: a bank. A fucking bank! Slipping it into my bag I bowed my head and tried not to cry.

And learning that nowhere in Philadelphia can I exchange pounds and euros in coins, I headed home to feel sorry for myself.

I poured a glass of wine, and couldn’t help but obsess over my sorry ass.
My short term disability check was lost somewhere in transit, and my rent check is now three days late. I’ve never been late on the rent, and am sure this will be grounds for eviction.

I imagine several large men named Vinnie and Vito banging down my door and carrying me and all my second-hand possessions down the stairs and dumping me, unceremoniously, on the sidewalk.

And the check I’m waiting on for a freelance job has also not materialized, and I have heard nada from the client. He’s missing, as is my money, and I have had zero luck getting hold of him.

I envision him sitting on some beach checking the e-mail generated from his kick ass website, sipping a frosty drink and laughing that he got top-notch web content for free.

My car is currently sitting in front of the house, dead. The transmission is shot, but even if I could get the thing into gear the battery is dead and the front tire is flat. The nosy neighbor next door who sits on his porch all day, being nosy, threatened to have it towed the other day, but before he can get to it the bank may, as the insurance is due as well.

I imagine running the neighbor over with the car, but cannot come up with a plan to get him to lay down behind it while I force it into neutral, as he is rather large, in addition to being a bit of a jerk.

Mr. Spipster is doing the best he can, but he suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, and without his medication can barely move some days. He too is looking for a job, but they are few and far between.

I find myself getting depressed over the fact that not only can we not afford a wedding ring, we couldn’t even spring for a real wedding. Instead, we stood, alone, in front of a plastic backdrop flanked by plastic flowers in the basement of some crumbling apartment building in Upper Darby.

My dream of running off to Vegas to get hitched by some second-rate actor dressed up like Elvis was never realized, and instead I wound up getting hitched like some knocked-up 16-year-old in a bad after school special. I didn’t even have anyone to throw my $6 grocery store bouquet to, and the waitress at the diner where we went to celebrate afterward didn’t even seem to appreciate them as her tip.

There is little food in the house, and even though I make all the bread and pasta from scratch that we eat, visions of myself wasting away from starvation start to… wait. No. That vision is actually kinda’ nice.

But eventually I will waste away to nothing, homeless, not even able to live in my car, as any day now I will have no job. Yet while I do, the thought of the abuse I must endure consumes me.

I begin to fantasize about telling the Shrill to go fuck herself.

I dream of walking out the door and never returning. Of having a “take this job and shove it” moment, something I have never done in all my years as a good, compliant worker bee. I think of what I would do, should it come to that.

I picture myself walking out the door, getting on that bus with change I’ve borrowed from my coworker, and never, ever coming back. The thought is liberating, it makes me smile. And not the frozen-on Ativan-induced tranquilized grimace I plaster on every day, but an actual smile.

I’ve spent far too much of my time in this dead-end situation. This is no way to live; this is just a slow, painful soul-sucking death. How many of us are just going through the motions without actually thinking about what we’re doing, until one day we wind up completely broke, moping around in bed all day wishing we were someone, somewhere or something else?

I’ve been miserable, and I’ve made everyone around me miserable. The Shrill might be the best thing that’s happened to me in ages.

But in the meantime, I’m having a hard time believing the universe is going to leave me be. I need salvation, I need some help, yet everywhere I look I see nothing.

I need to pay the rent. I need to buy a bus pass. I need some goddamned food!

And, in the long term, I need to build my business and never, ever find myself the helpless victim of another Shrill.

I need clients for what will someday be one of the best writing and editing companies on the face of the earth: me. Oh sure it seems pretentious, but I’m really that good.

And I need cash. Cold, hard cash.
And an interim gig, freelance or contract, at a company that won’t try to suck me dry.

I’ve read reports that the blogosphere is the next financial frontier. No one’s making money at it yet, but that’s not where I’m looking to get paid.

However, I’m in dire need, and won’t get to tell the tale of how the horrible Shrill was actually the best thing that ever happened in my professional life if I don’t get through these next few weeks.

Brother can you spare a dime? Or a dollar or two? I want so badly to keep the faith, that if I keep going I’ll come out better on the other end. But it’s tough to do when you can’t even buy a carton of milk.

So please donate to the OverEducatedBeggar, or contact me at
overeducatedbeggar@yahoo.com to comment, call me names, give me encouragement or hire me for my word nerd ways.


Having no milk sucks…

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16 May 2007

Adventures in Managerial Animosity, Part I

It probably sounds weird. In fact, it’s pretty much straight up sexism I’m talking 'bout here. Because either way, no matter which way you shake it, 99.9 percent of the time, I just can’t stand working for a female boss.

I know, I know! I can hear my fellow feminists, gasping in shock and shrieking that I am a traitor to my kind; Benedict Arnold to the estrogen army’s equality-focused grrl power cause.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not some uterus hating suit chaser, nor do I believe a woman’s “place” is anywhere – house, office, the freakin’ fields of Iraq, I don’t care. I only know what’s right for my life.

But what I do believe, without a doubt, is that from the time we’re old enough to tie our pink-trimmed, cartoon character bearing, sparkly, light up shoes, we’re well on the way to growing into fingernail-wielding, back stabbing, catty-with-a-capital-C bitches.

Granted, not everyone turns out that way. There are plenty of women out there who make the 9-5 grind the challenging-in-a-good-way, collaborative, worthwhile experience it should be.

But some chickies take the mean girl trajectory all. the. way.

Move that behavior from the playground to the boardroom and the opportunity is ripe for the cruelest of all to claw their way into the corner cubicle…

Now, the Tsumommy’s overbearning uber-matriarch may be a bit hard to handle without automatically reverting to door-slamming “I hate you” behavior. But this nurture-monger just wants to be loved. If you can somehow turn the tantrums to your favor, life in the cubicle jungle can get just a bit more bearable. Provided, of course, she remembers to take her estrogen.

Yet the Tsumommy’s menace is nothing compared to the unbridled spite of the Corporate Shrill. Thanks to CorporaCo’s latest bout of schizophrenic hiring, I have become the latest victim of one particularly pre-menopausal bitch.

And oh, this one follows the pattern. They always do.

The Shrill is usually late-30s through mid-40s, married at least once, if at all, has a child and has come to realize, bitterly, that this is it. And it sucks.

Maybe she’s divorced, or her husband is cheating, or she wishes he was just so he’d get his fat, lazy ass of the couch every once in a while. Her child is nothing spectacular, and is as popular as she was in school, which means not at all. So, living vicariously through her offspring, or even boasting about any achievements or awards, is not an option. She’s trapped in a long, gray stretch of existence that shows no glimpse of light at any end.

The solution to help ease the pain of her mindless, soulless, hollow existence? Take it out on those below her.

Mind you, it’s not like I’m some innocent Bambi, frolicking through the cube farm with nary an unhappy thought or cruel word. My time in CorporaCo. hell needed to be over a long time ago, and it’s my own damn fault I let it come to this.

I should have started looking for a new gig months ago, long before they unceremoniously fired my boss and sent my daily existence into a fucked up bitch smack of a tailspin. But no, lack of confidence combined with laziness and a scheduled surgery meant I hung around way past my expiration date, only to wind up an angry, unhealthy apprentice on the Shrill-ville downward spiral.

Thus, my existential angst and overblown sense of entitlement against the Shrill’s unbridled temper could only result in war. Unfortunately for me, the Shrill holds the cards and one overburdened worker bee is easily replaced with another, especially when the scab will be a newbie who has no choice but to follow the leader off the cliff.

And so, a week or so ago, I sat in the Shrill’s undecorated office, with the single-minded intention of trying to make nice with someone who has yet to fully comprehend CorporaCo’s apocalyptic state of affairs. I struggled to get across that I have done my best to hold the jumbled bits of the department together, even as my own life has slowly crumbled apart. If the two of us got on the same page we could probably, maybe even move things along.

It wasn’t easy. I didn’t think she had any inkling that at least a few times a day a missive is dropped into my lap from some source or other asking for yet another splinter of my time and feeble brain power to figure out … something. Without a master for so long I’d become a slave to all, and the schizophrenic nature of the gig was really getting to me. I needed a single source to assign me, a sole voice to shut out the chattering masses. I needed a fucking boss.

Instead I got the Terminator, guns blazing, nostrils flaring wider than her 1980s palazzo pants. She came out firing and I sat, stunned.

Not that the cubicle ranch wasn’t a stressful place to be, for all of us. And I probably deserved a talkin’ to for something. If I screw up I’ll take the fall. But this was something else.

This was animosity in overdrive.

And so I sat, face burning, as the laundry list of my alleged transgressions was hurled at me:

I’d been a horrible person from the moment she’d met me, and had gone out of my way to put down each and every fellow worker unlucky enough to sit within the vicinity of my cubicle of doom. The way she put it, like a serial killer I’d methodically made my way from victim to victim, and had apparently wrought such strife as to bring entire departments to tears and cause ailments ranging from spontaneous abortion to leprosy.

As for my work, every assignment I’d completed in her short tenure was deficient, mediocre, and simply not acceptable. She had zero confidence in my ability to do anything, ever. Period. In fact, I was blatantly lazy and had intentionally not completed an assignment for the CEO due to said purported laziness and my need to actually leave on time. Thanks to a shot transmission, yours truly (and Mr. Spipster as well, poor lad) is forced to rely on the fickle nature of the local public transit monopoly, which only deems travel to CorporaCo’s business “campus” necessary once or twice a day. Miss that bus and you’re schlepping your tired ass along the side of the road, dodging speeding SUVs and BMWs as they race to escape the rat race and make tee time.

I dared retort: the project was worked on until it was done, and the part not completed was a matter of pure miscommunication. She and the Tsumommy had attacked me via speakerphone and I’d misunderstood the missive.

I apologized…

She pounced.

“You are lying!” she shrieked, eyes bulging out of her head. I surreptitiously snuck a look behind me, making sure I knew exactly where the door handle was in the event I needed to make a hasty escape.

[...to be continued...]

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