But I wanted a hot dog

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I picked up my son from his last day of first grade. I asked the typical “pick up” questions: How was your day, did you have fun, did you do anything special for the last day, etc. Then I made the mistake of asking, how was lunch? See, they were supposed to get a free lunch today courtesy of our school’s parent association. I distinctly remember filling out the form specifying whether the child wanted pizza or a hot dog. I distinctly remember asking the child if he wanted pizza or a hot dog. I distinctly remember the child saying, hot dog. I distinctly remember marking hot dog on the form, while the child watched over my shoulder to make sure I had checked the right box, and oh, don’t forget to mark the box for chips also. OK, so I think this is about as simple as forms get, and we aced it.

So, back to the question, how was lunch? Child starts crying and wails, “They gave me pizza but I wanted a hot dog”… in that 6-year-old voice of utter despair that draws out all of the vowels so it comes out like, “I WAAAANTEED AAAA HOHHHT DAAAWWWG.” So, I say, did you ask them to give you a hot dog instead, and he says, yes, but they wouldn’t listen. OK, now I’m angry. I don’t actually know if my son is assertive enough to tell the lunch lady that he really wanted a hot dog, or if he just took the pizza and then didn’t eat anything at all which made him extra cranky. But dammit, I filled out the fucking form, SO WHY DIDN’T HE GET HIS FUCKING HOT DOG??

Yes, I realize we are just talking about a hot dog here, and not something as devastating as say, not making the glee club, but seriously. It was all I could do not to start bawling myself because my little guy is distraught over some stupid mistake that in his world was the difference between having the Lego Death Star vs. Babysitter Barbie under the Christmas tree. So to try to make things all better, I took him to his favorite ice cream place, and I say brightly, oh let’s get ice cream and everything will be fine, and here’s a kleenex, blow your nose and cheer up. And he says, still whimpering, I just can’t take it anymore. A 6-year-old. Can’t take it. Because this shitty world screwed him out of a hot dog. I hear you buddy, I hear you.

Stupid meetings

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I am suffocating in a cloud of impending doom. I have to drive 1.5 hours to a stupid 1 hour meeting with a bunch of whiny, self-important people to discuss things I DON’T GIVE A FLYING FUCK ABOUT. Oh, but my corporate mind says, you have a company car with company-paid gas, so why do you care? Why do I care? Because the hours I spend on the road and in this STUPID MEETING are hours I can never get back again. They’re gone. Forever.

What do I really feel like doing today? For some weird reason I have this burning desire to go to JoAnn Fabrics, and just wander around all the pretty bolts of material and smell the new fabric smell, and look at pattern books. I don’t even have a working sewing machine right now, so where did THAT come from??

I remember… when I was in high school and out for the summer, I spent a ton of time sewing. I loved the sound of the machine and the hiss of the iron, and the fact that I could make a nearly invisible hem. In fact, in my third year of 4H I made a top that had a striped pattern that had to be matched at the shoulder seam, and that turned out just OK. But, at the judging, the judge couldn’t believe the quality of my hem, and I actually think she didn’t believe me that I had done it myself. But I had, and boy was I proud. I never really liked 4H much; I think it was too structured. But I loved picking out patterns and fabric on my own, and just working at my own speed, kind of potsing along with no deadlines or obligations, or even a good reason to be sewing clothes in the first place. We didn’t have air conditioning so the windows were always open and the dining room where I did all of the sewing had lots of windows and a screen door going to the back porch. For some reason, the morning air had a distinct smell and feel to it, and sometimes even now when the sun wakes me up and I feel that first touch of breeze from the open window, I am brought back to that dining room on a sunny day. I usually listened to the radio while I worked, and now, whenever I hear the song “Our House” by Madness (which played a lot back then), I am reminded of those almost dreamy days surrounded by thread, fabric, fresh air and freedom.

Wow, that was quite a tangent. I seriously think I’m losing my fucking mind.

Worst case scenario

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I just completed one of the exercises in Martha Beck’s book, “Finding Your Own North Star,” which basically requires you to travel systematically through the sewer pipes of your memory and relive your most colossal screwups and cavort with your sworn enemies. Don’t forget to include physical symptoms like insomnia and chronic pain. Sounds fun, yes?

OK, so once you’ve tripped down memory lane gathering your market basket of mean people, fuckups and prescription pain killers, now you get to weave everything into your worst case scenario, which basically entails experiencing all of these unpleasantries all at the same time. Lovely – let’s go!

My Worst Case Scenario

I’m trapped in a standard-issue corporate cubicle, which just happens to be situated in my high school cafeteria, and I need to go to the bathroom (really badly in the worst sort of way, if you know what I mean), and I have a cramp in my foot and my shoulder feels like it’s on fire, and I am SO SO sleepy. I can’t get out of the cube because my fifth grade teacher, the fire-and-brimstone preacher from the church I was forced to go to as a child, and evil managers A, B and C, are blocking my way. They are discussing amongst themselves the stupidity of my decisions about college, majors, marriage, career and whatever else they can think of and have unanimously decided that I am basically a fuckup. All I want to do is sleep.

Then, they tell me that my new job assignment is to create a 200-slide Powerpoint presentation on “innovative companies,” which will involve benchmarking and compiling detailed financial data on private start-ups. I will have five minutes to present at an upcoming meeting of important male executives who just really want to know how all of this will affect their stock options and performance bonuses. For R&R, I’ve found out that I may leave my cubicle to attend a “revival meeting” at my parents’ church, which lasts four hours a night for the next three weeks.

Meanwhile, my co-dependent alcoholic coworker is texting me with messages like, “Let’s go 2 canada – $1 double shots of CC (aka Loopy Loonies),” and “$1 drafts @ H’s. free parking!” The phone rings and it’s my mother who wants me to immediately pack my bags and go on a guilt trip, and my husband, oblivious to the sorry state I’m in hands me a hot dog with ketchup. I want to scream at him, “After eight years of marriage, you can’t bother to remember what I like on my hot dogs?????,” but I don’t because I’m in the process of horking up four margaritas and a taco.

Wait, there’s more! The last part of the exercise is to imagine you’re in the situation described above (well, not this exact situation because yours will be different, but probably just as wacko) and THE PERSON YOU HATE THE MOST comes up to you and says (and this a quote from the book), “I admire you so much. Thank you for letting me be here. You are such a terrific person, and this is just what I deserve. I want to live this way for the rest of my life.”

Oh god. Are you kidding me? This is how I’ve bee living my life? This sucks. Royally.

Just one tiny speck

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Since the blogosphere isn’t clogged enough with middle-aged women having mid-life crises, I thought I’d fill that void with my own version of this hell on earth. I’m stuck in a job I hate at a company I hate with a boss I hate, a husband who thinks I’m a psycho (because, of course, his family is perfect with no divorces, no felons, no one ever locked in the psych ward and perfect nieces and nephews who are doomed to become corporate slaves… oh wait, I’m supposed to be writing about me!), and a son who throws like a girl.

I finally snapped one day when Corporate HR decided we had to play with stuffed animals and blindfolds (oh, no, I’m not making this up) and decided I’d had enough. I pulled out my old friends: Mira Kirshenbaum and Julia Cameron, and made some new ones including Pamela Slim and Martha Beck (so far), and decided I needed to make a change or I’d end up dead, divorced or incarcerated. I don’t know where I’m going or how this will all turn out in the end, but I don’t see how it could possibly get any worse.

Who gives a shit, you say? What gives you the right to be happy, you say? Well, you know what? I know I’m just one tiny speck in the dustbin of the universe, but I have to exist as that speck, and I can choose to be a shiny speck or a scaly speck or a prickly speck or a screwed up speck, but it’s still my speck dammit and you, Evil Corporation That Sucks The Lifeblood Out Of Me Every Day, and You People Who Are So Self-Righteous And Perfect, can’t sweep me away like a piece of goose poo. In fact, if I’m goose poo, I hope I’m stuck on the wheel of your roller bag right now and smell really bad.