Nicole's Deep Thoughts

Week Two.

In which your fearless editor actually looks at what's good in her life, comes to terms with an old enemy, lets go of some of that devil negative energy, fondly remembers the time she conked one of King Hussein's daughters in the head with a tennis racket, and gets trapped on a bus with no A/C on one of the hottest days of a hot, stinking summer.

Back to the journal index.

8/6/99 -- Stuff that Rocks My World.

Okay, I didn't write last night. I didn't really have anything to talk about. Not that that's ever stopped me before, but by the time I got home, I was just too tired to fake it. To make up for that, and for the relentless negativity on this page this week, here's some random stuff I'm really enjoying this week.

8/4/99 -- Won't You Be My Enemy?

A few months ago, I had a very unpleasant experience with my company's payroll department. Long story short, they switched over to a new system where they mailed all paychecks to employees, instead of doing an in-house distribution. I'd just moved, and when I contacted the payroll department, just as I feared, they were all set to mail my paycheck to my old address. Although I contacted the head of the department and he said he'd make sure it was sent to my new address, I didn't get it. When I talked to the payroll guy again the Monday after payday to ask if he could possibly see fit to cancel the old check and issue me a new one so I could do things like pay bills and rent and buy groceries, he acted as if he were doing me the biggest favor in the world and said he'd do it this once, but never again. (Don't tell me to get direct deposit -- it's not an option for me right now, and although I tried to explain that, the guy kept shrugging it off and insisting that I should do it anyhow. I could have tried to reason with the water cooler, for all the good it did me.) We all work on the same floor now, and a week later, in the office kitchen, he started bitching at me about the whole thing again. I couldn't get over this guy's attitude. His office nearly screwed me out of the pay I'd earned thanks to a stupid new system that inconveniences over 200 employees, and I was the bad guy for being upset about it?

Anyhow, I sizzled for months with the anger of the righteously pissed off. In my head, I composed irate letters to our company president, telling him that if our company was going to fix things so that employees had difficulty collecting the pay they'd earned and Payroll couldn't be bothered to correct the problem, they could damn well start looking for my damn replacement right damn now. I'd glare daggers at this guy every time he passed me in the hall. Whenever he came to our department to talk to someone else, I'd assume that studied "Ugh. Who farted?" expression. Let me tell you, that self-righteous pique felt goooood. I'd been done wrong. Damned if I was going to smile and act all nice about the whole thing. Not me. Nope. I was gonna hang on to this grudge like a frantic Christmas shopper clinging to the last Furby in the toy store.

This morning, the payroll guy came to my desk to tell me there'd been another problem. Payroll had been switching over their computer systems, and somehow the system belched up my correct street address but my old state (okay, DC's not a state -- whatever). They'd been about to mail my check to an address that doesn't even exist. He apologized and explained that he'd just caught the error, and he would cut me a new check and deliver it to me the next day so I wouldn't have to wait for it. He did better than his word -- he brought me the replacement check later in the day. He couldn't have been nicer about the whole thing. He took me completely aback.

So now I can't be quite as pissed at the guy 'cause I'm thankful he caught the mistake and fixed it up before I ever knew anything was wrong, and I'm going to have to stop letting out audible sniffs and rolling my eyes when he gets on the elevator with me. I guess in a way it's good, because everyone says that carrying grudges around isn't healthy and forgiveness is the One True Path and all that. But now I've got all this wrath and outrage I don't know what to do with. Someone in the company better hurry up and piss me off, because making snotty remarks every time a co-worker would complain about a payroll problem really entertained me. I had a story. I had a grudge. I was somebody.

Anyhow. My favorite news item of the day: Jordan's new king, Abdullah, has been going "undercover" among ordinary citizens to find out what their concerns are and what they want from their new king. His latest guise: a cabdriver. Maybe you have to take a lot of cabs to understand why I found that hilariously funny. I'm really glad I'm not a Jordanian who takes lots of cabs, because over here in DC, I tend to get irritable when I get a talky cabbie, and particularly when one of them raises an even remotely political subject. ("Never argue politics with a guy who drives like he wants to splatter the both of you all over the windshield," that's my motto.) And if he'd caught me in one of my rare talkative smartass modes, God only knows what I might have said. "King Abdullah? Damn, I'd hate to be him. How'd you like to follow someone like King Hussein when nobody really likes you all that much and besides, you kinda look like a frog? God, his life must suck."

True story: two of King Abdullah's sisters attended my snotty prep school once upon a time. One day in gym class, I accidentally bonked one of them in the head with a tennis racket, hard enough to send her to the school nurse. Both of Hussein's daughters were tailed by bodyguards, and all I could think of in the seconds after it happened was that I was going to get thrown to the ground and shot. (I wasn't.)

So that's my brush with nearly causing an international incident. What's yours?

8/3/99 -- Pigs.

Yeah, I know. I'm always talking about what a slob I am, so what's with this title? Well, I may be a slob at home, but when I'm out in public, I try to keep public areas reasonably tidy. I'm amazed at how that seems to be too much to ask for some people these days. Why do people buy newspapers and then drop them all over the floor on the Metro? Hello, folks -- it ain't like Metro doesn't put out about 50 trash containers (including recycle bins) on each platform for people to throw away their junk. Is carrying stuff 20 extra steps over to the trashcan such a huge imposition?

I don't generally jump on the anti-smoker bashwagon either, being a "social smoker" myself, but people who drop their cigarette butts everywhere drive me crazy. The stairwell outside our apartment is completely littered with the things. I don't see why people can't just wait and put the things out in their car ashtrays or take them inside and dispose of them there, but apparently, littering all over the stairwell and making our apartment complex look like shit is less trouble. It isn't as bad here as it was at my old apartment in Takoma Park, though. The building management provided a nice, big, perfectly functional ashtray in my hallway. Invariably, there were cigarette butts all over the floor right underneath it. That isn't just inconsiderate -- that's goddamn lazy.

And then, of course, there are the wonderful people who throw their junk mail on the ground underneath the mailboxes. I know junk mail is a pain in the ass, but turning it into a public eyesore doesn't help anything -- carry it up to your place and throw it out there, thank you.

In other news, I spotted this bumper sticker on a car in our parking lot tonight: "Save the World. Kill Yourself." Geez. And I thought I was a pessimistic bitch.

8/2/99 -- @#$% By Me.

We woke up to a bed full of cats this morning. Rascal sat by my head and peered into my face anxiously; Mindy crawled all over Bill. It's hilarious how frantic the cats get on weekend mornings when their feeding time is pushed back a few hours while Bill and I sleep in. They truly believe they'll never eat again. It isn't as if they don't usually have food left in their bowls anyhow, and if you've seen them, you know they aren't going to starve to death if they have to wait a couple extra hours for one feeding. But try telling them that.

Yesterday, we caught "Stand By Me" on TBS. Or rather, we caught a version of it that had been sliced and diced by the network's censors to the point where it was virtually unrecognizable. The famous "Chopper -- sic balls!" sequence was replaced by "Chopper! Sic heels!" (Heels?) Instead of cheering on Lard-Ass Hogan, the audience at the ill-fated pie eat cheers for "Lard --! Lard --! Lard --!" And you never saw anyone puking on anyone else in that scene -- the audience members went from being clean to being mysteriously covered in purple goo. And most of the banter between Kiefer Sutherland and the rest of his gang of hoodlums sounded like rapid-fire nonsequiturs once the censors got done with their scenes. "Why's Kiefer yelling at his friends? They didn't even say anything. And what's that guy laughing at? What did River Phoenix say? Arrgh!"

I don't get it. Why even bother to show a movie if you have to chop that much out of it to deem it worthy of showing on your family-friendly network? And at the risk of sounding callous and insensitive, I have to ask -- are the kids of today really going to be shocked by terms like "lard-ass" and "balls?" We didn't know, but the only cure for the annoyance of the chopped-up version was to dig out my tape of the movie and watch it in its full, profane magnificence. Ahhh. Much better.

The weather guys were promising that tomorrow's weather will be a vast improvement over the sweltering heat we've had almost nonstop for more than a week. They better be right. And if they're not, isn't there someone I can sue?

8/1/99 -- Smells Like ... TURKEY!

So, how did I spend my thrilling Friday night? By zonking out on the sofa at around 10:00. Rascal hopped up to sleep next to me. I woke up at one point to see "Space Ghost" on TV. Evidently, it was the "music video" episode. In one video, Space Ghost chanted "Smells like ... TURKEY!" throughout the entire clip. I was about to fall back asleep when the people upstairs, who were moving today, started rolling some kind of cart around outside. I couldn't place the noise, and in my confused, half-asleep state, it really started scaring me. Strange thudding and booming noises always seem a lot more alarming in the middle of the night, when you're sacked out on the sofa closest to the door. It didn't help that Rascal and Mindy woke up from their naps and sat straight up, staring wide-eyed at the door. So the three of us huddled together, wondering if our doom was imminent. Turns out it wasn't, so we all fell asleep again.

Bill and I went to the Tortilla Factory in Herndon for dinner tonight. The food is great, as are the giant margaritas and the free baskets of chips and salsa, but the ambiance leaves a lot to be desired. We're inevitably placed near huge tables of kids coming back from soccer games, or kiddie birthday parties. We thought we'd figured a way around that by requesting a seat in the smoking section, which has worked in the past. Not tonight. We started off all right, but then our waiter begged us to move to another table so he could make room for a party of six. We should have refused. The family we were moved next to was loud. The family who displaced us from our first table was even louder; one of the women spent a half-hour telling her companions (and most of the restaurant) about the fucking asshole bitch she'd had to fucking deal with at her fucking work today. The waiter serving the table next to us tried to outdo both groups -- he sounded just like the "Jackoffasaur" Jar-Jar knockoff from "South Park" a few weeks back. "HOW'S EVERYONE'S FOOD? CAN I GET ANYTHING ELSE FOR ANYONE? WHOO, IS IT HOT ENOUGH OUT THERE? SUPPOSED TO GO BACK TO THE EIGHTIES THIS WEEK. 'COURSE, I'M FROM TEXAS, SO IT DOESN'T SEEM SO HOT TO ME ..." Bill and I finally did what we should have done years ago, and snagged their business card so we can order out next time. The patrons in this place are unreal -- if it isn't screaming, running kids, it's elderly people detailing every disgusting medical condition they suffer, at the top of their lungs. Can't restaurants have a "No Talking" section? Or a "No Screaming Kids" section?

Didn't do much else today; the weather doesn't exactly lend itself to lots of activity. I did finally figure out the way around that Quake 2 booby trap I complained about last week. Yes, it took me this long to get it. Shut up.

7/31/99 -- It's Too Damn Hot.

While everyone else's idea of celebrating Friday night seems to be going out on the town and getting shitfaced, my favorite Friday night activity has almost always been to flop in my apartment and savor the fact that I can stay up as long as I want to, and sleep even longer than that tomorrow morning if I please. Beer and/or other drinks are optional. (But desirable.)

I've already mentioned that the new Herndon/Monroe Park and Ride has wreaked havoc on my bus ride to and from work. I've gone from having one nonstop ride from the Metro to my apartment complex to having to transfer buses. I thought I'd have to walk a few extra blocks too, but we found a route that passes closer to the apartment. Today, to add insult to injury, the bus from the Metro to the Park and Ride had no air conditioning. "Excruciating" doesn't begin to describe the experience. I kept mentally reviewing the symptoms of heatstroke to make sure I wasn't having one. (But kind of wishing I would. That would show somebody.) I sat there muttering dark invective to myself -- "Stupid bus people spend all this fucking money on a fucking Park and Ride and can't even spend any stupid money on some stupid buses with fucking air conditioning that fucking WORKS in the fucking hottest month of the year." That worked to keep people from sitting next to me for a while, but finally the bus just got too crowded and someone jammed in next to me. I could have killed him. Having someone else's body touching mine was almost unbearable. (I'm never a big fan of that aspect of public transportation in general, but when it's about 98 degrees outside with 200% humidity and you're stuck in a bus with no AC, it really starts to seem like a capital offense. Wait for the next bus, Sir, or prepare to meet your maker.)

When I was transferring buses and rushing to meet the bus I thought was about to leave, I was actually rebuked by one of the little Fairfax Connector helper elves who hang out at the bus stations to help people piece together the shrapnel left by the destruction of their previous bus routes. "You're catching the 904? Don't run! No need to run!" I heard him discussing me with another helper elf as I walked off. Those crazy city people. Think they gotta run everywhere. Everyone's in such a big hurry alla time. Yeah, well, if you'd been riding in a freaking EZ-Bake Oven for the last half-hour, you wouldn't be terribly fond of the idea of missing your bus and sitting out in the stinking heat for another half-hour either, Mr. "No Need to Hurry," so get bent.

I think the heat's starting to get to the cats, too. Rascal in particular seems to be taking it pretty hard. Twice today, he's walked over and whacked Mindy for doing absolutely nothing. "You're making it hot, aren't you? Take that!" I'm beginning to think that we won't get away from this relentless hot weather and humidity until we escape to Ireland in the fall, and at this point I'm wondering if it won't follow us. It's frustrating the hell out of me, and if we don't get a really good winter this year to make up for this bullshit, someone's going to pay. Preferably people who keep chirping "I LOVE summer! I just LOOOOVE this heat! Bring it on!"

The site logs reveal only one piss-seeker to this site so far today. I'm thinking of putting a new banner up on the index page: "You'll find a lot of shit in these pages, but no piss, sorry." (I just had to get that in there before some wag thought to post it on my message board or e-mail me with it. Nyah nyah.)

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