May 6, 2005

in the cooler, no one can hear you scream

It's a fact.

I'm sorry, for reasons unforseeable by anyone who works here (as we have no way of determining the status of our pineapple juice), we are temporarily out of pineapple juice. Though my barback is currently on a mission to find pineapple juice, I admit that this may take some time. I want to extend my sincerest regrets, and ask that everyone try to recollect themselves. The estimated wait time for pinapple juice is currently: T minus seven minutes. Please align your time pieces accordingly.

I like saying T minus.

I got the phrase T minus from the movie Alien, which I watched a million times when I was growing up. I loved Alien. And I was obsessed with the cover art on the box. I spent a great deal of time looking at that box. I liked the symbolism of the egg in outer space with the green light emanating from it. And the foreboding line:


Indeed. Pure genius. And I'm sure it's true.

Alien. The part at the end where Ripley opens the emergency self destruct apparatus and quickly reads the instructions that are printed there. And then, according to those instructions, takes steps to begin the mode of self destruction. She must get herself (and the cat, she never forgets about Jones) onto the smaller shuttle and away from the ship. She has a lot of pressure on her at that moment. Not to mention the added pressure of the alarm that is then sounding off, and that of the (unfeeling computer generated female) voice that begins to repeat (at very regular intervals) just how many minutes are left before the ship will self destruct. ..You have T minus eight minutes ..T minus five minutes.. Ripley does indeed get out in the nick of time. She knows that she will have a lot of explaining to do when she gets back to Earth, but she'll worry about that later (and, of course, in just a few minutes, she will encounter a whole new set of problems).

One time, when I had a paper jam, I (very much like Ripley) found myself opening the door to the emergency apparatus in the back of my printer. I then (just as she) quickly read the universal picto-image instructions found inscribed in that compartment. And I needed to keep my wits about me as I took steps to undo the paper jam. Which was difficult. Especially under the (and the similarities are almost chilling when you think about it) added duress of a message that was issued repeatedly in an emotionally removed, computer generated voice:

Emergency: Paper jam detected.
Emergency: Paper jam detected.

It turns out that the default mode for a paper jam emergency is T minus sixty seconds.
And my failure to respond in time led to the cancellation of that print job.

Print job aborted.

And in space, that would have meant my death.

You have T minus three remaining waitressing shifts..

Three. At the end of which I will flee the premises in my (small space ship) taxi, for the last time. And (if life is anything like Alien, and I suspect it is) I will feel fairly secure that I have made a clean getaway. I will be tired, yes, but also no doubt relieved and happy to finally be on on my way back to my (planet) apartment. But then, when I get home, I will find that there is a (monster) table of customers waiting for me in my kitchen. They will be shaking their glasses at me (a clever devise meant to emphasize the emptiness of their glass, if not the emptiness of their lives) at which point one of them will say loudly and sarcastically, There she is..! (suggesting that they have been waiting for me, as it is only in the privacy of their own home that they can safely pour the bottle continuously down their throat, as they prefer, and they really, really hate being the resident "alcoholic" at a table amongst "friends" who are drinking more "socially", i.e. slowly, and so need to take their frustration out on someone, and so behave as if they have waited, when in fact they have not, as I, the waitress, have barely finished setting down the original round of drinks before this person has sucked down their double vodka on the rocks with a cherry, the same sticky cherry that they like to place right on top of my tip, making the tip and the cherry all one gesture of garbage-giving, so to speak) I will then realize that this monster is intelligent (making it all the more menacing) and that I somehow unwittingly brought it along with me on my escape mission. So, I will slowly back away from this table of customers and into my clothes closet, where I will (rotely, cautiously) put on my anti-waitressing suit (all the while quietly singing to myself, You.. Are.. My.. Lucky.. Star..) and proceed (with the kitten safely tucked away in the sleep chamber) to open the hatch and allow this last table to be finally sucked into outer space (and away from me and my kitten) forever.

And, as much as I hope it doesn't come down to that, I like being mentally prepared.

May 4, 2005


Part one:

We're here today with reknowned Life Engineer, Doris.
Doris, you've been called a lifestyle guru.. a life doctor.. the patron saint of clutter.. crazy and presumptuous.. a heartless bitch.. the descriptions just go on and on.

Let me ask you, do you find each of your cases unique?

Oh, yes, each person's mess, that is, life winds up the way it does for a variety of reasons. And all you have to do is scratch the surface and the story begins to reveal itself. You can even create a matrix like this one here (pointing to an elaborate three dimensional model) as a means to trace back just exactly how, for example, that unaddressed pile of clutter left in the kitchen led to one's avoidance of the kitchen in general.. which led to the dishes never getting done.. which led to the ordering of many pizzas.. to emotional bankruptcy.. and finally, financial ruin. As well, you can see clearly in this document the unique events that led to this particular sock winding up on the floor, rather than in the clothes hamper. It's all quite interrelated.

That's remarkable.

Yeah, it really is.

So who do we have here today?

This is Marie.

Hi Marie, how are you?

Fine, thank you.

Are you a little anxious?

A little.

Ok, so what's the particular case with Marie?

Marie has invited us to intervene concerning a couple of problems. For starters, you wrote in your letter that you need help regarding the spoon from the coffee. Can you elaborate?

Yes. My coffee cups don't have saucers. So, as you can see, the spoon that I used this morning to stir my coffee was placed back onto the table.

And remains there, still, I see. This is a problem.

Yeah. And because of this, I've taken to avoiding spoons altogether. Sometimes I just stir my coffee with my finger..

Ok. If I could stop you right there. Let's take a deep breath and back up a little bit.
Marie, as I'm listening to you and analyzing this, I'm aware that something is not quite right. I mean, I'm looking at your coffee right now, and it appears that you take it black.

I do.

No sugar?


Then, I guess my question is, do you really need to stir your coffee?

You know.. I guess I never really thought about it.

Marie, is it possible that this problem is a non-problem? Perhaps an old habit that you've outgrown?

Maybe. Wow. How do you do that?

(Turning to me) You see, sometimes a client can do away with a problem simply by looking at it in another way.

Right, right. And that requires a second party to come in and see things as they really are.

Bingo. Objectivity is half the battle.


Ok. Next issue at hand. You wrote that your living room is usually a mess, and that it's difficult when people come over, as there is no where for them to sit down and relax.

Yes. I'm bad..

Marie, did it ever occur to you that if you stopped living in your living room, it would always be tidy?

No. But..


Ok, finally, you wrote that your feet hurt so much at the end of the day that the last thing you feel like doing is straightening up or making dinner. Marie, let me see your shoes.

They're not very comfortable.

I think we're going to have to arrange a little field trip for you..

Oh my God! You don't mean..?

That's right. Our team of personal shoppers are going to take you on an extreme shoe shopping adventure! The limo is already out front.. are you ready, Marie?

Oh man, I feel like a movie star or something!

(While Marie went off with the team in search of more comfortable shoes, Doris and I stayed back at the house to prepare a special surprise: We cleaned Marie's kitchen)

Now, you see this here? This is the classic sign of someone holding on to things in their life that they've outgrown (Doris holds up a small photo album). What is our motto? Throw! Throw! Throw it away! (Doris tosses the photo album into the garbage). Believe me, she'll thank us later. And what is this? (Doris spots a small crucifix that Marie has hung above her kitchen sink). This, THIS is a classic example of an object that interferes with the flow of energy in one's home. Just think about it, every time Marie goes to do the dishes or wash her vegetables, she is met with this universal symbol of.. guilt. No wonder her sink is such a mess. This is self sabotage, pure and simple..

Yeah, but, Marie probably thinks..

Interestingly enough, people are their own worst enemies when it comes to this kind of thing. It's almost an unconscious thing. But that's what I'm here for (Doris tosses the cross into the garbage). Wow! You can already feel the energy clearing up in here, can't you..?

I have a question..

You know, at this rate, we better grab some more garbage bags. I see about a million things that just have to go..

Next week Part two: Marie's extreme shoe shopping adventure..

May 2, 2005

Samsung: still confused about the seasons

According to my cell phone (in particular the screen saver which is in calendar mode) it's May. And apparently, in the estimation of the cell phone programmers at Samsung, the onset of the next ice age is not only imminent, but has been definitely scheduled to occur in the month of May. This month. Yes. Something is going to happen. And if you saw my cell phone right now, you'd have to agree. It just doesn't look good for the month of May.

Samsung has yet again led me to seriously question their sanity due to the calendar screen saver feature on my cell phone. If I am to at all believe in the natural progression of the seasons (or at least the fictional progression of the seasons as seen on TV and in greeting cards) then Samsung is in desperate need of a reality check. I admit that there is nothing wrong with the calendar itself, (the numbers are all there and are mostly accurate) but the background images are senseless. It's getting to the point where I'm beginning think that this this calendar is in no way based on the seasons.

And that blows my mind.

Back story: You might recall that February's screen saver was a winter scene so grim that it necessitated the use of my land line for much of the remainder of that month. Admittedly that image was not all that off base. February is a winter month. And that was a winter scene. Extreme and hard to shake, yes, but it isn't Samsung's job to tip toe around the truth about winter. I concluded that the people at Samsung were realists. I had never read their mission statement, nor explored their company (beyond looking closely at the screen saver). And I thought perhaps it was high time that I did.

But this became a moot point. February turned into March. And as the two were compared (at first involuntarily, then later with much scrutiny), it became apparent that realism was not the issue. As March was so very unreal. I was aghast. March, with it's sudden and profuse mass of red tulips, and what appeared to be mild weather with a cloudless sky, was quite a shock. Though this interpretation of March was wrong and outrageous, it did lead me to think well of Samsung. Maybe they were a little idealistic or naive. And that was ok. I liked their innocence pertaining to the weather. And, if nothing else, March was good for a laugh.

Then with April came a seasonally non-specific goldfish. Which I chose to ignore. Which may have been my first mistake. The goldfish was a little too forgettable. Suspiciously unremarkable. And it lacked any dynamic quality. It looked not like a fish that was swimming in a pond so much as it looked like a fish thawing on a plate (ready to be lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, and placed into the broiler). And as a subject, I must say that the goldfish was situated rather carelessly in the page. In a method that suggests that the concept of composition was a non-issue to whomever took the photograph. In the end, I didn't give the goldfish much thought. And I think it was due to the overall benign effect of the goldfish that I was able to let down my guard. As by the end of April, I had forgotten all about this Samsung nonsense.

Until now. May. And I'm afraid that Samsung's intentions are again highly suspect, and need to be immediately put back under the microscope (so to speak, I don't actually have a microscope). Here May accosts the cell phone viewer with an icy mountain. Just a mountain covered with snow that is so white, so impossible, that it boarders dangerously on the ethereal [in a Large Marge voice: ..and so their fates were sealed that winter on the mountain with an icy kiss one by one they alternately froze and starved to death ..then went quietly up to Heaven ..all of them so many puffs of smoke ..gone ..forgotten]
And this two months after the relentlessly summery interpretation of March. No. Any casual viewer of this screen saver would have to agree: there are NO people on this mountain. It is frozen. Solid. And probably has been that way for a millions of years.

In fact, the only sign of life, or sign that this mountain is part of Earth's landscape (as opposed to being a photograph of any mountain from any number of moons), is the presence of an intense, seemingly unstoppable sun. The kind of sun that blinds a person (either from the sunlight itself, or from the snow's reflection of it, it doesn't matter). The kind of sun that no doubt shines uninterrupted into the farthest reaches of outer space (thereby seriously misinforming any intelligent life that might exist in outer space about the life or warmth of this particular mountain). No. Believe me. I'm looking at my cell phone right now. And there is No life on that mountain.