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total waste of time

Updated: 2017-09-25T16:59:38.893-04:00


brake. Brake. BRAAAAAAAKE!


Son #1 has his learner's permit. I'll be in the passenger seat a great deal of the time for the next few years, as all the Sons learn to drive.

I sound exactly like my father, and fully expect to put my foot through the floor where the brake should be by the time Son #4 is on the road.

Laissez le bon temps roulez!

Questions and statements from Son #3, before 7 a.m. on a Monday


How does the Catholic Church canonize saints?
If you become a saint, does that mean you were always a saint?
Why does Uncle ____ hate the Catholic church so much? What are the SPECIFICS?
Why does he think that? That makes no sense.
When I'm a saint I'm going to send a meteor to the Amazon...and manatees...and baboons. Millions of lives saved. (Trust me, that is the short version)
Why is that not a certifiable miracle? There's no scientific explanation.
Why do people drag chairs instead of lifting them?
Even when teachers explain that they make noise downstairs?
And dragging them is actually harder than carrying them, because they are not heavy?
What do you think of the current Pope?
Maybe some saint is causing Tiger Woods' extended funk.
What do you think is the best haircut for an albino?

There were more, but they just kinda flowed over me and I can no longer remember them. I have only been up about one hour.

Rol's always good for a meme


28 Questions

From Rol, who gives me more than anyone else I've never met.

1. Was your dad named after anyone?

Yes. He comes from a long line of people named after each other. Were I a boy, I would have been named after his brother. I feel slightly bad about that.

2. What do you think is the minimal age to get married?

Somewhere in the late teens.

3. What’s the longest time you‘ve been involved with the same person?

25 years.

4. What actor/actress do you consider hot at the moment?

The only show I watch these days is Mad Men, so let's go with that guy who plays Don Draper. Although in the shirtless scenes I always want to tell him to have that big, hairy mole removed.

5. What is your favourite album by a band?
The Allman Brothers put out a "best of" in about 1979. It's in my car.

6. What is your favorite album by an individual?
John Prine, Bruised Orange/Chain of Sorrow.

7. What is something you‘d rather be a bit dirty?


8. What was the last TV show you watched?

Mad Men. Janey was wearing my dress (check the profile photo!) at the Christmas party.

9. How many people have you met from the blogosphere? Who are they?

I only know the bloggers I knew before they were bloggers, although I have had long email/FB conversations with some and think they would make great friends in real life. I'm looking at you, Celtic Knot and Sue.

10. What's your philosophy on life?

Don't worry about it. You'll figure it out. Just keep moving.

11. Do you think prescription drugs are over prescribed?

I think a lot of them are. On the other hand, I think people in end-of-life pain should be able to be as jacked up as they want.

12. Would you keep a secret from me if you thought it was in my best interest?

Yes. I'm a grown-up.

13. What is your favorite memory in the last year?

There have been a lot of good ones.

14. What is your favourite guilty pleasure?

I'm not sure I believe in that concept.

15. Tell me one odd/interesting fact about you:

I have no sense of direction.

16. You can have three wishes (for yourself, so forget all the 'world peace etc' malarky) - what are they?

i) Perfection

ii) Wealth

iii) Discipline

17. Who would you want to get together with and make a cake?

Paula Dean. Although it would probably kill me.

18. Which country is your spiritual home?

The one I'm living in.

19. What is your big weakness?


20. What's your favourite Spielberg film?

Raiders of the Lost Ark.

21. What was your best/favourite subject at school?


22. Describe your accent:

Maryland. But not Baltimore.

23. If you could change anything about yourself, would you?

Good lord, yes.

24. What do you wear to sleep?

Often, the clothes I wore that day. Occasionally a nightgown.

25. What is your favorite casual outfit to wear?

Jeans and a crisp button-down shirt. and heels. We must not forget the heels.

26. Do you use cigarettes or alcohol?

No, and only exceedingly rarely.

27. If I only had one day to live, what would we do together? (If you have no idea, just say something crazy, it'll entertain me!)

Probably sit and talk. After all, you're practically dead.

Maple Leaved


Our Canadian houseguests left yesterday morning. I went to work, came home, ate something that required no cooking and went to bed.

"You realize it's 8:00, right?"

Yes, yes I do. 8:00, and my bed looks as inviting as possible.

A sampling from the girly tray


I am not allowed to talk about what I'm writing about at work, obviously.

Go buy the paper on Wednesday :)

But, hey, I can tell you this much: Today, I wrote a profile on a local political candidate. I wrote about a church that is under construction. I wrote about the concerns of a certain group of local businesspeople, and the state's response to current conditions. And I wrote about a health care program.

None of that is really spectacular, but it was interesting for me, and much of it also was slightly out on the edge of the Girl Beat. Why's that? because people are busy.

There were so many candidates, the candidate profile people didn't have time for them all, so they gave me one.

The church, well, that is solidly in my beat, but I think I did a better job interviewing, this time, so that should the article be picked up by the Post I won't have to add anything to it. Love them facts 'n figures!

The business group thing? I got that assignment kind of at the last minute. I am always happy to grab Interesting Stuff at the last minute, because ordinarily that would have been someone else's beat, but he was off work that day, so LUCKY ME!

And the health thing took me forever to research, because I was enjoying myself and just kept interviewing people. And then the people I was supposed to photograph backed out. And a lot of people did not answer my phone calls and emails. But all in all it was still interesting to research, and I think will be genuinely helpful to some readers.

The health article and the business group article both came out kinda long, so I wonder how that'll go over. I don't mind if they both get edited way down, but I don't want to upset anyone, either, ya know? I'm still a newbie there.

Tomorrow is a proofreading day, and then I am going to write a sports article.

I've been carrying my notes for that around forever, because other things seemed to take precedence. Every time something more important came up, or something I could knock out in a very short period of time between interviews, I'd push the sports thing farther back in queue. It's finally at the front of the line, and yes, it has also occurred to me that to some people sports articles are the whole reason to buy a newspaper.

Then, tomorrow night I am going to cover a couple community events. Should be fun.

Weekend Dustbunny


The Sons and I have been cleaning house, today. It's not done, but it is a lot better around here than it was this morning, and that is generally my standard for progress on any front.

We have company coming on Tuesday--haven't seen these people in 14 years, and they'll be spending the night at our house as they travel from Toronto to Florida. I'd like the house to be orderly and all that, but---I'm not even going to be home until about 9:30 that night, so I pretty much have to do what I can, today, and then let the rest just go. I can only do what I can do.

I keep telling myself that no one in their right mind comes to the house of a working couple with teen sons and multiple pets and expects it to look fabulous, but...well, you know how it is.

I refuse to think that the goal of life is a freshly-shampooed rug, even though that WAS kind of on my tentative plan for this weekend.

Whaddya gonna do?

Why does this always happen? Why does this always happen to me?


Darn it, I thought the crying deacon photo and its accompanying article were going to appear in the paper today. Then someone had the audacity to get murdered, and the graduation rates have gone up, and there have been all sorts of other Actual News Items to report, and...crying deacon waits.

Crying Deacon is art, baby. Not my art, but the photographer's, and I get to brush up against it.

Maybe next issue.

And for those of you who aren't sure I know it's no big deal, here's a video to make you feel better:

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Actually, ALF, yes, I am.

Today, though, it is a jittery sort of aliveness that comes from trying to write before the meeting---going to the meeting and being cornered by a county commissioner and then by a member of the school board who makes me swear everything is Off The Record---trying to write after the meeting---going to another meeting, but getting lost because when they said, "It's at the corner of 4 and HGTrueman," they meant one of the OTHER corners of 4 and HGTrueman, so it took me 45 minutes to find them---running errands all over town---coming home to a dog who smells you and a bunch of family members who want to talk and the house is messy but Hubby bought frozen pizza so no one will starve.

And maybe I had too much diet Coke today, too.

Things are hoppin', at casa de Wasteoftime. Hubby got laid off, and today was his last day, but his employer is trying to find him another job, so he has an interview tomorrow.

The Sons are doing Sonly things, which occasionally include washing the dishes or throwing in a load of laundry, but also include tossing DVD cases on the floor and trashing the kitchen while I sleep. Ya never know, really, which way it's going to go, but I am honored to be their mom and thrilled to see them on a daily basis.

The Dog Lady's dogs seem to love me. I am learning to love OUR dog, too. Paying it forward, so to speak. And the Dog Lady and I have become fast friends, which is great.

I have about 17 things I would love to do today, but by the same token it is nearly 8:30 and the smart thing to do would be to just have a slice of that formerly frozen pizza and relax a bit. Read my book. Chat on FB.

All is well, all will be well, the chaos is minimal and I have an adorable stuffed walrus on my desk.

How's by you?

If a sky full of crap always lands in your lap


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You got it: I'm going dancing, tonight. And "day 6 of headache from hell" can't stop me. If you're anywhere near Falls Church, VA, you should meet me @ Bangkok Blues. Guaranteed to be a great night.

Breathe into a paper bag moment of the day


At one of my newspapers, I sit in a cluster of 4 desks: the Navy guy, the Crime guy, the Education guy and me. We all write a bit more broadly than these categories, but for bloggy simplicity we'll go with that, OK?

I like them all and consider them all good at what they do. The Education guy started out at my job, years ago, so although I do not know what he earns, I know it is at least several thousand dollars per year more than I get.

Today, Education Guy realized that on his income, his 2 children qualify for free school lunches (for non-local readers: here we determine that based on a combination of household income and family size. So, the larger your family, and the lower your income, the more likely you are to qualify for assistance).

He looked so completely disheartened. I mean, this week he canceled cable TV, because it was getting expensive, and started applying for part-time jobs as a cashier or pizza delivery guy, for the extra income, but with the hours he works (Like all of us, more than 40 hours--he works a LOT more than 40, actually, but of course none of us is allowed to admit that on our time sheets) he's not sure when he can fit that in.

I think it had not REALLY hit him, though, until he saw that, today.

His family is officially below the poverty line.

And, yes, as Education guy, he interviews people every day who make more than he ever will, and who complain relentlessly about their poor compensation.

Kinda like snow.


Recently I spent an afternoon sharing a small, confined space outdoors with someone.

Can I get any more vague than that, in an effort to not tip off who I was working for at the time? Freelancing, and all. Anyway.

She had extremely dry skin, and mentioned it. Since I am still a Mom, I have everything in my purse, so I offered her my lotion. She declined.

A bit later she complained again, and I offered again, and no, she didn't want any.

As a mother of TEENAGERS, this is when my usual "Then stop complaining, if you won't accept help," impulse kicks in, but I did not whip THAT one out, as there is no future in being rude to people who can get you paid.

A third time, she started to complain about her dry skin. And then, just as the wind picked up, she started scratching, violently.

The skin flakes looked like snow, or ash, as they landed on me. There were that many, falling lazily all over me. I LEAPED off the bench, begging her to stop scratching. Which she did.

All this to say, I have very little to blog about these days that is not boring, or gross, or something I can't mention because it could wreck my career.

On the bright side, I am going to cash in early because my bedside table has a great book on it: World Without End, by Ken Follett.

SOTD returns


...or, Male Readers Feel Free to Talk Football and Politics.

My shoe collection had dwindled down to almost nothing. For the past month I have been wearing the same sad, ugly, uncomfortable, squeaky pair of loafers to work every day. This gave me persistent Sad Face.

Today, however, I found 7 pair of shoes at the thrift store. Wooot! To celebrate, I shall share them with you.

Father's Day



Here for your edification are a few Classic Sayings of My Dad, for Father's Day. He's the baby in the photo, by the way.

Measure twice, cut once.
No daughter of mine is going to leave the house looking like that.
You think you can live on love, but one of these days you're gonna want a cheeseburger.
You've got to broaden your horizons.
We'll see.
If you want something specific, ask for it. If you ask for "a couple dollars," you're gonna get two.
In high school, the teachers chase you around, trying to teach. In college, you chase the teachers around, trying to learn.
Don't get an English degree. Study business.
Women civilize men.
Men are wired to protect and provide for their families. You think you understand, but you can't, because you're not a man, and I'm sorry but that is the truth.
Don't move to Asia. They make you eat rice three times a day.
Trucks are supposed to have dents. That proves you did stuff.
It's not hard, you just have to do it.
And the all-time favorite: Listen to your mother. I have to live with her.

George Bush Doesn't Care About Tone-Deaf People


Today started out sucky. By lunchtime, my coworkers in the newsroom were afraid to come near my desk, because the ooze of awful was sure to spread. But somehow after that it calmed down. And tonight? Tonight was genius.

Son #4 got coupons for CiCi's Pizza, which, for those out of the loop, is a horrible all-you-can-eat pizza place.They have great cinnamon rolls, and a passable salad bar, and it was about $32 to feed all 5 of us, so OK, we went.

And when we got there, they had karaoke.

We stayed for about 2 hours, because we were laughing so hard. It was hilarious. But the best part was when Son #1 grabbed the microphone from the little blonde girl singing a Taylor Swift song and said,

"I think you're a really good karaoke singer, and I respect you, but Beyonce is the best karaoke singer, EVER."

I have not laughed so hard in months. And boy, did I need it.

The Hurt (your wallet) Locker


Let me just quote Son #3:

"Gym lockers are mandatory. I never used mine. And I did not know, when they assigned me the locker, that there was a $3 fee for it. If I don't pay the fee, they won't let me graduate. I had to pay for a regular locker, too. $5. And I shouldn't have had to pay for that, either, because I never used it, never wanted it, but it's mandatory. It's not a lot of money, but still. It's like when you're at a stop light and some hobo 'washes' your windshield with dirty water, and expects you to pay him. Of course, there's nothing wrong with NOT paying the hobo, but if you don't pay the government, they won't let you graduate."

Excellent analogy, my son who was just informed he has been selected for a program for students with the potential to be high academic achievers.

And on a totally unrelated note (or absolutely connected, depending on your perspective), yesterday I had to proofread an article about negotiations between the school board and the teacher's union of a nearby public school system.

The union rep insisted that the schools would never be able to hire enough summer school teachers, if they did not raise the pay rate by $4/hour. The rate the school system is currently offering summer school teachers is, according to the union rep, "not even what they pay a first-year teacher."

What is this pittance they expect teachers to accept in exchange for their services on a summer morning? This ridiculously low amount no teacher in a sane frame of mind would stoop to accept?


No, that is not a typo.


Nip it, in the bud


Today was my 3rd day at the newspapers, which actually was only my 2nd day at the local one.

Got that straight?

Anyway, today they had their weekly "what's everyone working on?" meeting. Since I'm new, and the paper had been kinda holding my position open for a while, and I am writing Features, I am just starting to figure out what to write. I have a few article ideas which were handed to me on my first day, generally with a groan of relief that someone, anyone (else), is going to write these.

I'm doing a good bit of religious coverage, and First! African-American! Woman! stuff, and volunteer profiles, and stuff women do, and evergreen stories of happy people and kindness and adorable puppies got it, Christine's covering the Girl Beat.

Not entirely, but, hey, I can see it.

This afternoon the newsroom was mostly empty for a while--just me and the police scanner. And then my desk buddy, who covers the Navy as part of his beat, came back from an assignment.Since the Navy is his beat, I feel obligated to give him first dibs on stuff like that. I also kinda figure that if he sees me as someone who gives him work when I find it, he'll pass things to me when he has extra stuff, too.

It's that half-Italian upbringing: we know all about One Hand Washes the Other.

I mentioned a few article ideas I have, and a few more which were suggested to me by a good friend---things with a Navy tie-in. I loved my 2 months on base, and would take any opportunity to go back.

He snagged one, and left the rest for me, and then he acknowledged that my instincts are correct: I am in a room full of men, and they all are glad they can shove all their Girly Crap my way.

And I'm more than happy to do it. All of it. I just need to make sure that they all can see that once my daily ration of Girly Crap is completed, I can also cover harder stuff. Realistically, that is not going to happen all that often, I don't think. The guys aren't going to just hand over stories about Things That Go Boom, because they like those stories. They'll mostly give me the stuff that makes their eyes glaze over. I know that. Heck, they even admit it.

But I made it clear, I think, that when they need to be 2 places at once, no one needs to hesitate. I am, after all, Sickeningly Industrious.

What we sound like


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I'll take 2


I realized I need to bring my Desk Essentials to work on Wednesday, and again on Thursday, since I have 2 desks, half an hour apart.

Wow! Two desks, and they are mine unless I bungle. Not "until the job is done" or "until she returns" or "until some other circumstance over which you have no say steps in," but rather "because they are your desks and you will work here."

I feel just a little like Slim Pickens.
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I can hear the phone call, now


Son #3 requested this morning that, should he move out before the cats die, I call him with the news of their death.

"I want to know," he said.

He asked me to call if one of them catches a terrorist, too.

So let's all hope that some day in the distant future I have to call Son #3 to inform him that Jake and Ellie died valiantly in the cause of freedom, and there is a giant pile of terrorist intestines on the front porch.

The Flu: It's a good thing


Yesterday I was vertical and productive for 9 whole hours. Today, I feel about 80% myself. I think I'm on the mend, and Sons #1 and 3 seem to be improving, and Hubby and Sons #2 and 4 may have dodged this particular infestation entirely. So, that is good.

What is better, though, is that I have been in bed, pretty well unable to do anything but blow my nose and wait for the angel of death.

I realized a few things.

The positions I have NOT been offered have each had some pretty serious flaws to them--flaws which I was not able to see, for the most part, until after I did not get the offer. Not in a sour grapes sort of way, more like the Dude: "I've got information, man..."

So, maybe, on the career tip, things are working out better than I'd been crediting.

Also, while I have been sick, the family has been taking care of things. That means a lot. Hubby and the Sons have been taking my bout with the flu seriously, and stepping up a bit, and I appreciate it.

And now, I think I am getting back in bed until the Sears man calls.

Now THAT's a comeback


Last night, Son #1's band came over for a meeting. They were standing in the court, waiting for everyone to arrive, when our elderly next-door-neighbor started to stare.

Yeah, at the dozen young black men standing in the street with my son.

She pulled Son #1 aside and asked him if he felt SAFE. Which of course he did. "Yeah, sure, this is my GOSPEL band, they're good guys," he said, or something like that.

She told them not to spend too much time running around outside, and not to play late. And then she walked away.

Which is when the drummer turned to her and shouted, "YEAH, I bet you used to OWN one of us!"

Not "it," but "something"


Yesterday I accepted two part-time jobs. They kinda add up to one full-time job. I'll start next Wednesday.

I'll be writing for the local newspaper 3 days each week, and for the paper one county over on the other 2 days. Features, mostly, and Other Stuff as the rest of the writing staff need assistance. They're owned by the same company, so they'll treat it all as one job. Which means I will be eligible for a 401(k).

But the total pay is: what? Floor scrapings? It is less than half of what they were talking about at the job I did not get last week; that's what it is. And, yeah, that is a major ego hit, even though several people at that company have reassured me that I am in the pipeline for the next tech writer slot to appear, and even though the newspapers seem thrilled to have me.

I keep telling myself, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." I also keep telling myself that I am pretty sure my Dad made more than that as a guy in his early 20s, with one semester of college under his belt, back in the 1970s. And that at the time, that was enough to support a family of 4.

That is probably not the most useful thing to be focusing on at this point.

It is so little, I could almost cry, except I have a raging head cold so I have no energy for that. I feel, as my favorite Southern woman puts it, like Hitler on a biscuit. But, hey, kudos to me for doing a job interview with a raging head cold. I am nothing if not determined.

It is better than nothing, as they say. And steadier than freelancing. It will keep me shoving stuff into my clips file, which has at this point grown large enough to require a third 27-quart storage tub. But, you guessed it, if I can find another position with higher pay, I will drop this gig like a hot rock.

And, yes, I will have to cut back on my Census duties, but since there is only a few weeks' worth of work left on that effort I figure I can at least work on the weekends and evenings, on that.

Perhaps once that is done, I can look into taking some sort of certification course which will improve my hireability in the larger world. There's grant money out there for people like me, or so Facebook keeps saying.

In the mean time, I don't have to be at work for the Census until noon today, so I am living on Zicam and tea.

And, yes, a less pathetic person would not even bother posting this blog entry. Please feel free to ignore. I am sick. It is crapping up my already less than stellar mood.

It's a good day in the Boondocks


Son #1 had his Criminal Justice commencement ceremony this morning. Yes, I think the entire auditorium heard me cheer. I think Hubby may have gotten a few photos, too. And I got to witness Final Inspection, which was fun.

Sons #2 and 3 may call me Meine Fuhrer (to my FACE, even!), but the Sons do seem to be tidying up a bit more, and with fewer reminders, than they were 3 months ago when I first started full-time work. Yes, the Census is back to part-time, really, but I have also been doing some freelance stuff, so it DOES add up to a full work week.

Tomorrow I have a sort of interview thingy with the publisher of the local newspaper. They asked me if I want to take a part-time slot as a feature writer. I am interested, even though they pay in floor scrapings, because it is a foot in the door (and continued income, and would mesh well with the Census while I continue to look for full-time work).

And the Sears guy came back to figure out why our dishwasher STILL is not really working well and he concluded that the problem is, we eat too many leafy green vegetables.

Well, actually he suggested that we need to scrape our leafy green vegetables off the dishes before we load them in the washer, but Hubby and I agree that it just makes more sense to abandon all things our dishwasher finds challenging, and transition to an overcooked pasta and rice diet.

And the boss from my last temp job has offered to make good on his promise to teach me all about Photoshop and Quark, soon. I'm psyched.

I think I'll take up boxing


"Thanks, Pam. No, no, really, it's OK. It'll be OK. I'll find something. Thanks for pushing so hard for me. Keep me in mind for future openings. Yes, I'd appreciate that. No, really, it's OK. Something will turn up, sooner or later. And I have the Census and some freelance stuff, for now. I'll be fine. You did all you could. Have a great day, Pam."

Yes, today I had to comfort the HR woman over the phone, when she called to tell me they decided to go with a candidate who had more IT and information assurance experience.

Because I am no artist, on Draw Mohammed Day


Let me just use the images that have proven so eye-catching in the past.