Happy Blogiversary to Me!

You might have heard me mention the boots my BFF bought me for a penny. Ask and ye shall receive: here they are!

You might have heard me mention the boots my BFF bought me for a penny. You wanted a photo. Ask and ye shall receive: here they are!

Miles run yesterday: 4.5

Passwords computer programs expect us to remember:59

Chapters my writing group has critiqued in my novel: 19

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

Shoot. Someone’s already done that.

Anyway, happy blogiversary to me! It’s been one year since I started posting at Writing by the Numbers, and I really appreciate everyone who has climbed aboard for the ride. Thank you for reading!

I never thought I would blog or share so many details about my life or get to know so many virtual people.

This year, I have blogged about:

how to make the best chocolate chip cookies,

how lightning struck our TV,

how my son was starting middle school,

how my daughter persuaded me to wear dresses,

how I surprised my mom when I was 5,

how I touched a strange woman’s bathing suit,

how I got all ninja on an imagined carjacker,

how ennui and pee go together,

how we should write real letters more often,

how the world could end, and

how I managed to lock myself both out of and into a variety of places.

I also turned 40, wrote a draft of a novel, started looking for a full-time job and ran many, many miles. (I should have kept a better account of that.)

I have enjoyed getting to know those of you whose blogs I visit regularly, and I appreciate the comments and support you have shown to my blog. If there is something you would like for me to write about more (or less), feel free to drop me a line.

And if you are reading this, give yourself a pat on the back. You are an awesome individual.

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Off the Grid

Comfort.

Household appliances that have become very ill or died in the last five months: 3

Dishes I washed in a bathtub yesterday: 23

Missing tiles under and around our dishwasher today: 9

Our house is the place where appliances come to die.

Let me backtrack a little bit so you can feel and understand my angst coming through your computer screen.

My husband and I decide to watch a movie on Sunday evening. This is pretty incredible stuff for us. My son had talked my husband into doing a Netflix trial, and my husband was giddy–giddy, I tell you–about watching a movie “for free.” We had been meaning to see “Girl with a Dragon Tattoo” for a while… him, because he loved the trilogy; me, because I love Daniel Craig. (When things don’t work out with Rachel Weisz, he can feel free to call me.)

I sit down on the couch, he skips in to the computer… and the movie starts playing.

There are a lot of words I don’t understand.

And there’s a guy onscreen who is not Daniel Craig. This is a problem.

“Ummm. Honey?” I stage-whisper in to the office.

“Yeah?”

“There’s a lot more Swedish stuff in this movie than there should be.”

“Yeah, the movie takes place in Sweden. Duh.” (He didn’t actually say duh, but I felt its unspoken meaning from all the way in the other room.)

“What I’m trying to say is… this guy isn’t as cute, and I don’t want to read my movie. Like, I’ve already read the book. Daniel Craig has a great accent, and I don’t want to miss it.”

I think I killed his Netflix fun.

So anyway, we ended up watching “Seabiscuit,” which our neighbor had thoughtfully let us borrow, perhaps envisioning this exact scenario. It said on the DVD “1:33,” which I took to mean one hour and 33 minutes, but which we found out two and a half hours later really meant “1:33 to 1,” some ridiculous tech-y ratio that is gobbledygook and is printed on there to confuse and obfuscate. My husband laughed at me, but not too much, because we were both up way past our bedtime, and his laughter energy was spent.

It was close to midnight, and my husband walked over to turn out the kitchen lights… and found water stains near our dishwasher. Very long story short… our dishwasher had been leaking, and we never knew. Dangit.

The next morning, as my husband muttered and said bad words while chipping away at grout and tile, I Cloroxed our bathtub. And then I spent far too long leaning over said bathtub washing dishes by hand. I know. I know. It’s like something out of a Depression-era movie. Poor little suburban woman sudsing up her dishes and the butcher knife in the tub.

The rest of the day was spent in heightened productivity mode, at least creatively speaking.

Much in the same way that I fantasized as a middle schooler about moving far, far away or to medieval England, I now escape to a life off the grid. To some people, this means escaping from the government, or the Internet or mafia culture. To me, it means owning five outfits, mostly bathing suits and cover-ups, a pair of flip-flops and a shack with indoor plumbing. While I hope to eliminate all appliances, I am very fond of toilets and hot running water and will include plumbing in my Florida Keys fantasy.

Until my life of off-the-gridishness, I live with peace about two things, one of which I mentioned in an earlier post: 1.) Our TV has already been struck by lightning, and since lightning doesn’t strike twice, we’re safe. 2.) As our friend and neighbor reminded us and sent us YouTube videos about, our appliances have been “pre-disastered,” a concept coined by Garp in “A World According to Garp.” They can’t break again, right? And now I can sleep at night.

In preparation for my appliance-free life, I am starting to pack my teal L.L. Bean backpack from college with comfort items. If something blows up or leaks or catches on fire or melts or spontaneously combusts, I will grab my safety items, and… well, we’ll have to leave our cars behind, trust issues and all.

We can hitchhike to The Islands. Or maybe if we all wear our running shoes, we can just head down there on foot. So far, I feel like I can trust my own legs.

The Secret Lives of Office Workers

Team Building

Days of the week interviewees are responsive: 4

Hours on Friday afternoon when it is impossible to reach anyone: 4

Minutes I spend pondering where everyone has gone: 32

Fridays at work must be amazing. I’ve been a freelancer for too many years to count (admit) now, but back when I had an office, I don’t remember Friday afternoons being much to write home about.

Now, though. Now. The office must be Party Central. Here is why: when I try to call anyone on a Friday afternoon, no one is there. Like, until Monday. It’s not just one profession, like software developers (and we all know how much fun they must be having). Or accountants. I call roller coaster critics, fiber artists, teachers and bankers. I’m pretty sure that while I’m sitting in my home office, blogging working hard, there is a lot of fun going on.

Where is everyone?

1. They have been abducted by aliens, X-Files style. Now, I’m not sure this would be fun, exactly, but I picture a Friday afternoon at one of those fancy, minimalistic workplaces where everyone works “cafeteria style.” This means that when someone gets laid off gets abducted by aliens is in the bathroom, reading InStyle for two hours, no one notices. Maybe this Friday afternoon, at a pharmaceutical company, a meeting begins at 2 p.m.

Manager pulled up to Apple Store-type table with fancy laptop: “Who was covering the roll-out?”

One of seven workers with equally flashy tech-y gear: “Oh, that was Chantal. She was sitting…”

And everyone turns. There are no assigned seats. There are no offices. No one has seen Chantal since Thursday. But her super-cool, leopard-print laptop is open at the table.

Manager: “Chantal? Chantal? Well, I guess we can tell Rohan he can come in to the office on every fourth Wednesday now. And on Monday, he can call that freelancer who’s been hassling Chantal about an interview.”

2. There is a secret, office-workers-only hangout. Like a speak-easy. My husband gets home on Fridays and is worn out. Are jobs really that exhausting? Pshaw.

Office worker, checking his low-profile phone for the text of the latest password to enter the speak-easy: “Shoot. That freelancer called me for an interview again. Do you think she’s onto us?”

Co-worker, in disguise, a furry hat with the ear coverings that are so in this year: “Dude, you’re getting paranoid. Put on your party hat and loosen up.”

Office worker, pulling out his hat and scrolling: “This can’t be coincidence. The password is [whispering] ‘newspaper.'”

“You’re gonna have to call her back before we get wasted. Stay out here in the alley and get it done, man. I’ll order you a beer.”

3. Team building meetings now consist of MASH and making fortune-tellers to examine what kind of employee you really are. When I was still in an office situation, they pretended like they really cared what kind of employee you were. Extroverted? Judging? They wanted to know. And heck, you did, too. It was like going back in time and taking that “Personality” class in Psychology, where we talked about our dreams and watched movies like “Harold and Maude.”

But now, things have been pared down. Personality tests and consultants cost a lot. And they might have to lay off any number of the existing employees, maybe on Monday.

MASH and notebook paper fortune tellers are the wave of the future. I’m betting savvy managers are using these while I wait for callbacks. When I was in elementary school, MASH was used to determine whether you would live in a Mansion, Apartment, Shack or House, and I was actually quite worried when Shack would come up. The list of boys was somewhat interchangeable, so I wasn’t too concerned with that part. I was going to marry Bo Duke, so I had that covered. And I knew nothing about cars. My friends told me to pick Camaro, so I did. And I often hoped for Corvette. But as long as I got the Mansion, I figured I’d probably have a driver anyway.

Those office workers… they get to have all the fun. Me playing MASH by myself is like trying to drink an entire bottle of wine alone. You could do it, but it’s not advisable.

4. Office workers in all industries now must spend Friday afternoons targeting creepy coupons to innocent citizens. Sometimes, I get a free Pampers diaper sample in the mail. I don’t know why. We haven’t had a baby in the house for close to 9 years. Do they know something I don’t know?

Target and Walmart apparently use our debit card and purchasing decisions to send us creepy coupons in the mail. I suspect there are bored office workers behind the direct mail campaigns. Do they sit at computers and click on products like Depends and denture adhesive to make us question our mortality?

5. The Caribbean is actually closer than I’ve been led to believe. In the summer, a lot of people in our area head to the beach after lunch on Fridays. The highways are a sea of cars. But this weekend is supposed to be pretty icky. The winter at our beaches won’t be the wave-jumping, boogie-boarding kind. Did someone forget to tell me that The Islands are closer than I think? Should I be abandoning my keyboard and teleporting heading to some sandy beach within a short drive?

O, Office Workers of the World, take me along to whatever fun place you go every Friday! Send me the secret password, and I’ll keep it on the DL. We’ll just say it’s off the record.