Friday, March 21, 2008

Not this year, buckaroo

Since things are sort of winding down at the place I'm working, there's less and less work to do. So they kindly offered me a day "off" (off their payrolls, but whatever), and since I'm inherently a very lazy person, I took them up on it (translation: leapt at the chance). Plus, some inspector-types are around today and needing access to each condo, so I'm happy to be here to police the kittehs. Beebs, the far twitchier of my two cats, is already aware that there are strangers doing strange, beeping things in the building, and she's hardly left my side all morning. In fact, I have to keep going back and retyping, thanks to her head-butting my right elbow.

When told that I could have a "free" day, I imagined a day of reckless abandon and slovenliness, lying on the couch, unshowered and unconcerned, setting aside the bon bons only when the big strong inspectors arrived. Instead, as I lay in bed this morning, awake even before my alarm clock would normally have gone off, I realized that it's the 2nd day of spring. An unusually warm spring, if the scientists are to be believed (and yes, W, they are to be believed, you flaming dickhead), and spring means ... ants.

Sugar ants. I haven't seen them yet, but it's only a matter of time before I open my kitchen cabinets to find their wriggling little bodies writhing around in my sugar and making wee tiny baby ants in the oatmeal. I hate them. I hate them with the same passion that I normally reserve for Dick Cheney and regard them with almost the same disgust that I would feel if I found him wriggling around in my sugar dispenser. Sorry for that mental picture, folks, but at least now you understand my pain.

As I lay in bed, I could almost hear them coming, an army of tiny, marching feet, six to a soldier, all of them headed toward my syrup, my cinnamon bread, my Kashi stash. So I got up. I cleaned. I cleaned like a cleaning fiend. I stripped the countertops bare and Windexed t'fook out of them. Everything they could possibly get into was signed, sealed, delivered, it's war. There are sunflower seeds in my refrigerator. The seeds don't ordinarily go in the fridge, but just in case the ants get a hankering for some seedy goodness, ha! Take that, you relentless, multi-legged, nasty little kitchen bullies! I'd get a gecko if I didn't think my cats would try to eat it.

It took nearly 3 hours to get my wee little postage stamp condo whipped into anti-ant condition, but I reckon I've got a bit of a head start on them this year. I'm going to the grocery store later to buy those awful little sweet-poison bait ant traps that I festoon my condo with like other people do with Hummel figurines (the saccharine level is actually slightly higher on a Hummel figurine, but I want to kill the ants, not give them Type 2 diabetes). While I am both an animal lover and a green-lifestyle embracer, I will up the toxicity in my condo to Rush Limbaugh on a blind date with Gloria Steinem levels if it means I never have to flip on my kitchen light to find a colony of sugar ants copulating under the lid of the honey jar. (Or Rush Limbaugh, for that matter.)

Now, three hours and a roll of (100% post-consumer content recycled) paper towels later, I have this urge to say, a la that tiny lady in the Poltergeist movie: "This house is clean." But we all know how well that worked out.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Downtown Seattle is Like a Box of Chocolates

I'm getting hardened to it, I really am, but the guy on the bus this morning caught even jaded little me by surprise. After riding most of the way to the downtown on the OOL (Overheated, Overcrowded and Late) #36 bus standing up, frantically grasping at the slippery overhead bar which the drivers must dust liberally with baby powder each morning to ensure maximum slipperiness, I finally got a seat. (I never take a seat on that bus without a measure of cynicism, because sure as pickles will muck up your plumbing, some incredibly feeble, wobbly, exhausted, ancient person will get on at the next stop, laden until bent nearly double with a month's shopping, coughing, arthritic and 99% of the time too short to reach the be-powdered overhead bar, and I'll have to give up my seat anyway. Beacon Hill must have a wee, elderly person factory that works overtime.) So I sink into my seat, hoping I'll be able to stay there awhile. If you read my most recent blog, you know I'm doing this stupid running thing, and that means I'm terminally fatigued pretty much always. It was cold this morning, and wet, so the overheated bus is quickly degenerating into a swamp of body heat and wet-overcoat smell. Still overcrowded, we're huddled together like sheep on the edge of a cliff. At a downtown stop not too far from my own, the seat next to me is vacated. I enjoy a very brief feeling of space before today's Loony slams his body into the seat.

Uh oh, I think.

Indeed. "Fuck all dem bitches," he says, and looks to me for approval. I look at the window. (I would have looked OUT of it, but it was foggy with passenger-breath and hair oils.) The Loon adds a disclaimer: "No disrespect for wives and dat." Well, that's all right then.

At the next stop, he gets off, presumably to spread the Gospel of Loon to the next group of the unenlightened.

I get to work, ride up in the elevator to my little cubicle on the windowless floor I work on. McBitchy, this pain-in-t'arse (Happy St. Pats) little girl I have to work with, gives me a smug look which means I've screwed up and she knows about it. I stick the tip of her ponytail in the shredder and walk away.

"Fuck all dem bitches," I think.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Have Stress, Will Unravel

It's odd, working at a company that's basically wrapping up and closing down (well, not the WHOLE company, but the people around me are all getting laid off). The tone varies almost daily, from giddy gallows humor to increasing concern as the number of paychecks left hits single digits, then back to something almost like relief. But the twitch quotient is way up; suddenly colleagues have become potential competitors, and everyone's in a dither about when to jump ship and in what direction. People are re-evaluating their careers, and the "extra day to wear jeans" that was so graciously allotted by corporate, while pleasant, wasn't exactly helpful. I'm sticking it out for as long as I can. I'm getting great experience, building my portfolio, trying to keep my own adrenaline buzz of imminent unemployment at a minimum, at least for now.

So, because life isn't stressful enough, I've decided to add an extra layer: I signed up to run the 08 Vancouver marathon. I've never done this distance before. In fact, until a few weeks ago, my furthest distance run was half that. But I figure I'm right on schedule. I just turned 40, so a few months before my birthday, I changed career paths completely, and now I'm going to (try to) plod through 26.2 miles in one day. I reckon the convertible and trophy boy are weeks away. I resisted telling people for months that I was considering doing this, because I really don't want to tell people I'm going to take a shot at it, only to limp back from Vancouver and admit I got 10 miles along, then purposely shot myself in the foot in order to get Medivac'd back to safety. I will tell you now, odds are 50/50 at best for me crossing that finish line under my own power. I'm only telling now because all the books and articles and discussion groups I've been reading on this topic say that first-timers should definitely tell. It's a commitment thing, like getting married instead of just shacking up. (Tell that to my friends in their double-digit-year relationships, hardly a married pair in the bunch, but whatever.)

One advantage of telling is that now I get to request suggestions for my iPod. I'm looking at some very long, very dull runs ahead, and I NEED MUSIC. Thumping, noisy, energetic music. Suggestions, please.

I will try not to bore everyone with details of the training as it goes along. Poor Toasty already gets the brunt of my new obsession, not just in words but in biking miles alongside me in freezing weather as I rack up the slow miles and he tries to ward off hypothermia and frostbite. He's my hero, and for once, I don't mean this sarcastically.

OK, I'm outta here for today. But I have to add a note to those who know me and who suffered endless discussions of how unhappy I was as an English teacher: yesterday I came across a woman at a coffee shop, elbow deep in a stack of student compositions. I nearly burst into song.