Friday, September 25, 2009

Terrorism and the Single Girl

Don’t know how far this story has penetrated in the national media, but of course it’s big news here. There was a terrorist sting action that went down this week, and nabbed a kid who really, really wanted to blow up a building. I don’t happen to work in the Fountain Place complex. Or even close to it. Blocks and blocks away.

I did however work there on September 11, 2001. From one of the conference rooms in our office, just past where Fountain Place starts to come to a point, I watched the second of the Twin Towers fall. And in one of those mortifying moments when self-protection overpowers compassion, for a minute or two I stopped thinking about those thousands of people in New York, and started thinking about one person in Dallas. I realized that I really did not want to be in that building. Fountain Place is big. It’s glass. It’s at the edge of, and a very identifiable part of, the Dallas skyline. And many of our office neighbors were in the oil and gas business. I was very, very grateful when we were acquired by another company and moved out a few months later.

So that’s my little 6 Degrees story for the day. And in the end, it’s not even the closest I’ve ever been to a terrorist act. As normal and boring as my life is, I’ve been a little bit closer. It’s sad really. Fountain Place is a beautiful building. It’s named for the actual fountains in it’s courtyard that make a fantastic place to take a break during a busy day. It’s a beautiful piece of architecture, and on September 10, 2001, I was pretty happy with myself that I’d got a brand new job in such a cool place. But walking to the office on September 12, it looked a lot different.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Veni, Vidi, Vici

Okay, the plan is to go to Dallas Shakespeare’s production of Julius Caesar in October. Not that JC is one of my favorites. In fact, I think I still have a lump on my head from back when I had to read it in high school. The evil that men do just ain’t one of my favorite topics. But any excuse to drink wine in public with my pinky sticking out.

But I do have to say, that it has activated my strangely competitive side. Not that I’m competitive to an odd level. I’m just competitive in a peculiar way. Like checkers, once I’ve yelled “King me!” I’m pretty much done. In a foot race, I think whoever crosses the finish line the least out of breath wins. Poker, if I give you my chips will you let me drink my beer in peace? In a fight? You win! Yeah for you!

And the last time we went, there were some people with some very flash picnic gear. One group had this folding table that was like a foot tall. Yeah. I know. Nice right? And this other group had these little stakes that went into the ground with a crook that held your wine glass. Suh-weet. Cool chairs, nifty plates, sassy food items. I was so green with jealousy.

And I’m not going to take it lying down. The plan: dinner in a mason jar. I’ve been plotting with my partner in crime, and we’re thinking we’ll bake cornbread in the bottom of mason jars, then layer green chile stew on the top. Seal the jar, tie a napkin and a spoon to the top. Hell, yeah. One bowl meal. Completely recyclable. Mean and green. I’m kind of torn between trying to figure out a warm veggie to layer over the top, and just saying vegetables are for sissies. But that’s a minor detail as far as I’m concerned. The piece de resistance? Cupcakes. With the icing on the inside. Injected. No fuss, no muss, baby.

Tell you what. Those candy-assed yuppies at the Shakespeare did not know with whom they were messing.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


You’ll notice that the label says that my tasty corn treat is “94% Fat Free Butter.”

Butter is fat. It’s all fat. Le fat, c’est butter. Whatever bits of other protein that butter may harbor can only be expressed in terms of “trace amounts.”

So at 94% fat free, this would contain 6% fat and 94% nothing. Or maybe that floating piece of popcorn on the lable is covering up some words that would make the whole thing make sense. Like "94% Fat. Free Butter Now!" Like a protest.

Why do I bother to read labels?

Come on get happy

Yesterday, I was in a pretty foul mood. Today, I want to be better. As my mama has long told me, “You can get glad in the same pants you got mad in.”

And that’s something that I’ve gotten significantly better at as I’ve aged. I was Grand Master Funk when it came to getting in a bad mood. I spent my entire sophomore year of college in the mother of all bad moods. Wore nothing but black. Never had anything pleasant to say. Rarely had anyone to say anything to. One nasty snarl of a person. Thank the powers that be that I was damn good at my job, because I think they could have fired me just because of the little black could that followed me everywhere I went. Debbie Downer for sure.

But over the years, I’ve discovered that a lot of that is my choice. Being Little Miss Funkypants can be fun. In small doses. But the real danger there is that it’s kind of addictive. And before you know it, that little dose of depression has sent you into a tailspin that’s hard to come out of. Grumpy can be a hard habit to break.

So I kind of watch myself. Yeah, I’ll respond to negative events with a little bit of grouch. But because of my personality type, it’s not something I should indulge in too much or too often. Sometimes, if I’ve been really bumming, I’ll have to tell myself – Smile, dammit! Look on the bright side! Quit bumming other people out! And then do just that. It really is something that sometimes you have to fake it until you can make it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

No flu in this coop

I am more than usually tweakie about the flu and colds this year. My baby sister is preggers (yeah!), and I’m not going to be getting her or the baby (ETA February) sick. She’s getting the flu vaccine, of course. My sister takes no chances when it comes to microscopic nasties. And I’m thinking that since she’ll be protected I’ll wait until late in the season to get my shot. That way either I’ll catch it, and have my own immunity by the time the baby arrives, or I’ll have the most possible time to protect the smidgen.

Of course, my personal tactic for not getting the flu myself is to attempt to control the behavior of other people. They’re all germy but thee and me. And I’m not so sure about thee. And even if I was a plague carrier, I know how not to spread contagion, and I’m sure you do to. But you just see so many people who just don’t seem to have a clue: the blast coughers, the walking wounded and the great unwashed. And you’d think that covering your mouth when you cough and washing your hands would have been covered in pre-school. Or at least in a public service announcement during the cartoons.

But the whole staying home when you’re sick thing is actually kind of new. At least since I’ve been an adult. It used to be a sign of toughness and dedication to show up at work looking like a zombie, a box of tissues under one arm and slugging Vick’s 44 straight out of the bottle. It’s that Puritan streak we Americans have that makes us feel decadent and immoral if we try to stay home and really enjoy a good illness. Malingerer!

But now when we realize that one good carrier - “Oh, no, it’s just a slight fever . . . really, I’m fine!” - can wipe out most of a department, and if you’re not lucky enough to get good and sick, you’ll be the one stuck in the office picking up the slack hoping for a temperature spike and a solid cough. So anybody who does show up to work trying that “slight fever” bit gets looked at with as much affection as a Medieval sewer rat.

I’m back stocking posters about how to cough properly and what to do if you have the flu to plaster all over the office. And I’m planning on getting boxes of whipies and hand sanitizer to encourage the liberal application – no, really! Use as much as you want! Healthy or bust, baby.

Monday, September 21, 2009

NOLA, fin

I think the last thing I’ll share about New Orleans is about the character of the city. I think more than any other city I’ve been to, New Orleans has a feminine character. It may have come about in the rough and tumble world of soldiers, explorers, pirates and thieves, but somewhere along women have come to the forefront and truly left their mark, especially in the French Quarter.

Some of it is the architecture. The brightly colored stucco, the splashes of wrought iron and patios decorated with ferns and hibiscus. There is something truly sweet about the small stature of the French Quarter. The buildings are petite, very few over 3 stories. And the short blocks and narrow streets make everything just seem more manageable than most cities.

And then there are the women that molded New Orleans history. The lonely French soldiers at the first fort asked the king to send women to help settle the city. Unfortunately, they should have been more specific. Because the first 13 women sent were Ursuline nuns. But you have to give those gals credit. They stuck it out in a very inhospitable environment. And their nunnery survived both of the fires that between them destroyed most of the city. And it’s one of the oldest structures to stand in New Orleans today.

The Baroness Michaela Pontalba was a cross between Donald Trump and Fifty Cent. She was born in New Orleans, but because she was wealthy as heck, her mother arranged a marriage for her in France to a wealthy aristo. Unfortunately, he wasn’t quite as wealthy as she was. She took four bullets in the chest from a gun wielded by her father-in-law, who was crazed because she wouldn’t hand over her fortune to him. And she lived to return to her native New Orleans and shape Jackson Square into the downtown hub that it remains today.

Then there was Delphine LaLaurie. The top celebutante of her day. Rich, gorgeous, tall and thin. She owned half of the town, and was the top society hostess in the state of Louisiana, and a queen of the city. Of course they then discovered that she and her husband were psycho-killer lunatics who had been committing atrocities on her slaves. And I do mean atrocities. But even once they were found out, they both escaped justice, and disappeared into the mists of history, and possibly to continue their murderous spree . . . booga-booga-booga! (Happy early Halloween!) But her townhome is still considered one of the most haunted spots in Louisiana.

Between the voodoo queens, pirates’ mistresses and octoroon balls that clutter the history of the area, New Orleans becomes one of the few places in the U.S that you can visit where history isn’t just the story of great men doing great things. And NOLA is definitely proud of its history. If you go, definitely take the chance to go on one of the walking tours in the Quarter. Or three of them, if you’re a glutton like me.

TIME: Quotes of the Day