Monday, March 16, 2009

The Common Courtesy Crusader: MYOB

I don't know about where you live, but in South Florida we live on top of each other.

The South Florida motto should be "leave no piece of land undeveloped!" Tim and I were on our way to the beach this weekend when I noticed a square of undeveloped land. "Look," I said, "open space." Three hours later there was a Super Target in that space. True story. Fine, it was six months later, but still.

My point is that wherever you go, whatever you do, you have a 99.9% chance of being within earshot or elbow range of another human being. Here's my sage piece of advice for this week: MYOB. Mind Your Own Business.

If someone is on their cell phone in a public place, takes a personal phone call at work or is searching WebMD at a public library, please have the common courtesy to at least pretend you have not been minding their business.

Example 1: Back before I was cool enough to have my own office, I was part of cubeland. Once upon a time in cubeland, a close friend of mine called in a panic, needing a friend and some advice. After I talked her through her current crisis and hung up, the idiot who sat in the cube in front of me wandered back to my desk. "So," he says, nonchalantly, "helping a friend plan a shotgun wedding, are you?"

Are you effing kidding me? Is this your first day among the civilized? I am perfectly aware that everyone in a four cube radius more than likely heard my conversation, but in the polite world everyone pretends they have heard nothing and goes about their day.

Shortly after the above incident, Tim called and asked a question of somewhat sensitive nature. "You sure you want me to answer that?" I ask. "Yeah, why?" "Because I sit in a cubicle. There are at least three people listening to every word I say, and the asshole in front of me is probably taking shorthand notes."

Example 2: I'm in Super Target (a.k.a. the modern day Mecca), doing my weekly grocery shopping and talking to Liz. I'm complaining about the stuffy nose and immense amount of boogers that have been plaguing me for weeks. I feel a tap on my shoulder. "You might want to try Zicam," a probable well-meaning co-shopper says. Helpful? yes. Ridiculously intrusive and extremely weird? Double yes.

Example 3: Taking advantage of the free wi-fi that comes with having a registered Starbucks card, surfing the net for possible one-year anniversary vacation destinations. Dude next to me peers over and says, "I wouldn't recommend that cruise line. I had the worst experience with them back in 1982 when one of the waiters dropped an entire tray of mai-tais on my will-never-be-in-style white deck pants..." Umm...I forget...did I ask for your effing advice and life story? No.

I realize that there is a second side to this coin. Plenty of you are frothing at the mouth with the desire to play devil's advocate. I know your argument: If you don't want your conversations, internet searches or personal hygiene choices to become public fodder, don't air them in public.

Yeah. I get that. See above where I noted that in South Florida we live on top of each other. Oh, and welcome to 2009, the age of technology in which we don't have to be chained to rotary phones in our kitchens in order to communicate. I don't necessarily think that talking on my cell phone while I wander the aisles of the grocery store is rude. I think it is modern multi-tasking. We could debate the level of rudeness involved if I were to remain on the phone while in line, and then during the length of my transaction. It's debatable, so I'm not going to go there.

All I'm saying is that in the age of growing technology and lessening personal space, mind your own business.

Or at least pretend to.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Please Drive Through


Today I might have been a common courtesy offender, but I will let you be the judge.

And I swear (on stack of bibles and my Buffy the Vampire Slayer collection) to retell the events exactly as they happened from my non-biased viewpoint.

8 a.m.

I approach the Starbucks drive through line. (Greatest innovation ever.)

A car in the line has hazard lights blinking, and the driver is standing next to the car with rear door open, holding what appears to be a baby. (Could have been a bundle of blankets. Who's to know?)

I watch as the driver waves a Hummer around her.

I assume (yes, I know what it means) that the woman is having trouble with either the car or the baby, and assume she is "stepping out" of line. I take up the space behind the Hummer, leaving more than enough space for an additional car behind me.

Less than a minute later, the woman (sans bundle of blankets) is knocking on my window.

Why did I roll it down, you ask? Obviously since I was on line waiting for coffee, my brain was not yet functioning.

"Excuse me," she says in that oh-so-endearing and entitled Boca Bitch manner. "I'm in line. I gave her (gesturing toward the Hummer) permission to move ahead of me. Not you. You took my place in line. Move out of line."

"Oh, you're in line? Out of the car with your door open and your hazards on?"

Admittedly, a bit snippier than may have been necessary, but I have an innate dislike for the Boca Bitches of South Florida. (It could be its own reality TV series. The Real Housewives of Orange County 'aint got nothing on these she-monsters.)

"I was attending to my four month old, who is now unbuckled, thanks to you. You need to move out of the line."

I'm still confused as to why you put your hazards on and got out of the car if you intended to stay in line."

"Listen, I'm trying to be nice," (It is sooo hard to convey facial expressions and general bitchiness in a blog post, but I assure you, nice was the furthest thing from what she was portraying.) "What should I have done, just let someone hit my car with my four month old inside?"

"You don't exactly seem all that concerned about her right now."

"Get the fuck off the line!"

I could have been just as bitchy. Argued with her. Rolled up my window and ignored her. Called the cops to report her for leaving a four month old unattended and, by her own admission, unbuckled so that she could be a bitch to a complete stranger.

But I reasoned that her husband was probably cheating on her since the four month old ruined her Boca Bitch figure, and without her daily dose of Starbucks she might soon shake that poor baby to death.

So I got off the line and went inside to place my order. And then took great satisfaction in the fact that she was still on line when I walked out with my coffee.

As I said: you be the judge.

But please keep in mind the utter self control invoked on my part.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Today when I arrived in the parking garage, the green Mitsubishi was perfectly parked between two lines in one space.

I absolutely take full responsibility for this.

I was tempted to leave a thank you note, but I decided that might border on stalking.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Common Courtesy Crusader!

I'm hearing a lot about niche blogging. Pick a topic. Stick with it. Increase your readership. Blah blah blah.
But I gave it some thought and I wondered, what subject could I consistently blog about?
The animals, duh, but that only goes so far.
Writing, of course, but who I am to consider myself enough of an expert to offer others advice? I'm arrogant, but come on. At least publish something before you tout advice. (And by publish something, I mean have something published by a respectable publisher. Not your blog. Not your self-published POS novel. Not some short story published on an online journal with a readership of five. Don't even get me started on some of the idiots who consider themselves published authors. "I got another story accepted by an online publication no one has ever heard of!" It's like expecting people to be awed that you got into community college. Dude - they let everyone in.)
Relationships, because mine is perfect and I think everyone could learn a few lessons from Tim and I? Again with the arrogance.
Fashion? Those who are familiar with how I dress and what my hair looks like are laughing themselves out of their chairs right now.
Money? Ditto the above statement regarding my finances.
So what could I niche blog about?
Then it hit me.
I have an extraordinary amount of pet peeves:
Here's the niche part. I would say about 90% of my pet peeves deal with a lack of common human courtesy.
Please. Thank you. You're welcome. Let me get the door for you. Is it so effing hard??
So, while I am not overturning the entire theme of this blog (which is whatever the hell I want it to be on any given day) I am instating a regular edition to the blog entitled The Common Courtesy Crusader! It's my way of attempting to make the world a better place.
Today I performed my first official act as The Common Courtesy Crusader. Allow me to tell you about it:
Prime space in my office parking garage is limited. If you do not arrive in the parking garage before 9AM, you are pretty much screwed and forced to park on the roof where your car bakes in the sun all day.
Also in my office parking garage there are several parking spaces next to concrete walls and dividers. (No, I have never scraped one trying to fit into a tight space. Never. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)
I completely understand the desire to err on the side of safety so that you do not scrape these concrete structures, as I have never done.
However, erring so far on the side of safety that you take up two parking spots? Every day? Selfish! Rude! Discourteous!
Most mornings I just stew about it, and contemplate keying the offending car, but today I decided to take polite action. I left a note. A nice, polite, courteous note.

Dear Mitsubishi Owner:

Perhaps you are unaware that you take up two parking spaces on a rather regular basis, and that by doing so you lessen the already limited available space in the parking garage? I'm sure you would not do something so inconsiderate purposely. Therefore I am bringing this issue to your attention in the hopes that in the future, you will manage to park in one space, and one space only.
No I didn't sign it, do you think I have a death wish?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Picture of the Day: Ball Python vs. Dining Room Chair

More often than not when I am responsible for Hydra, she has more fun. Tim hates it when I let her do stuff like this, but she loves it. (In this particular instance he was afraid I wasn't going to be able to disentangle her from the chair. It took me less than 5 seconds. She's fairly cooperative if you let her explore for a while.)
Of course, there was the one time I let her loose on the couch, got involved in watching TV, and panicked when I couldn't find her. Turns out she had slithered along the back of the couch and come face-to-face with Azrael, sleeping peacefully in his scratching post/throne. I still shudder to think what would have happened if my vicious killer had woken up and found the cold-blooded nuisance in his face.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Have You Always Been an Ass or is My Medication Wearing Off?

Two years ago I made a visit to the doctor because I was feeling particularly snippy.

The conversation went a little something like this:

"I have a hard time dealing with stress."

"Are you unhappy?"

"Not especially."

"Do you feel suicidal?"


Scribbling on pad.

"Here, try this."


Wish I would have looked into this a bit more because two years later it turns out that my body has become dependent upon the single most addictive anti-depressent known to medicine.

And now that I have decided I no longer want to take it?

I'm down to taking said medication every three days instead of every day.

It would probably be easier to start and stop a heroin addiction.

In all fairness, the withdrawal effects could be worse.

The longer I am off the meds, the dizzier I get.

Oh, and then there's the fact that everyone in my world seems to have turned into an asshole.

So much so that I have lately found myself wondering, "Why did I ever talk to this person?"

I'm sure this perception is skewed.

I'm sure this is simply another withdrawal symptom.

I'm sure that these people were always assholes, and the lack of medication makes me less able to cope with their asshole-ness.

I'm seriously considering the heroin thing.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Lost Generation

Watch this.

All the way through.

Be inspired. Get chills.

Feel something.

Don't be a douche like my husband and ask, "What the fuck did you just make me watch that for? That's two minutes I'll never get back."

I love him, and 99% of the time he is a God, but tonight he was a douche.

Yeah, I said it.

Friday, February 20, 2009

What the Hell is a Meme and Why the Hell Should I Participate?

Because it's fun.
And I command you to.
Which reason works better?
Definition of Meme for those who, like me, are more concerned with what it is than doing it.
Fun questions about you and your spouse!
Send this back to me in an email and I will never speak to you again. Seriously. I know of at least two people (Paul and Aunt Sharon, this means you) who will send me an email with all their answers. Don't do it. Post your answers on the comments and I will love you forever. Answer all. Answer some. Post anonymously so you don't have to create a Google account, I don't give an eff. But don't send me an email. I LOVE YOU!
What are your middle names?
Me: Elizabeth. Tim: Michael.
How long have you been together?
5 years.
How long did you know each other before you started dating?
30 seconds or so?
Who asked whom out?
Depends on which story you want to hear. The one where I physically accosted him in the parking lot of Ruby Tuesday, or the one where he left a really cute message on my cell phone after the physical attack and subsequent apology?
How old are each of you?
Me: 29. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Tim: 29. He has no story, he'll be 30 March 3rd.
Whose siblings do you see the most?
We see Tim's sister Cristi more than almost any other family member. So I guess that answer goes to Tim.
Which situation is the hardest on you as a couple?
Sleeping in the same bed. Even with a king it's not pretty, and many a sleepless night could be considered adequate grounds for divorce.
Did you go to the same school?
No. Not to the same elementary school, junior high, high school, or college. So, no.
Are you from the same home town?
No. I am from nowheresville in Upstate NY, and Tim is from Long Island.
Who is smarter?
I am book smarter, Tim is street smarter. I spell things, he keeps us from getting mugged. It all works out pretty well.
Who is the most sensitive?
I refuse to answer that question on the grouds that it is a dumb question.
Where do you eat out most as a couple?
The Olive Garden. Tim hates it, but can't seem to escape it since I am absolutely addicted to the breadsticks, Peach Palermo and Tiramisu.
Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple?
New York from Florida. By car. Be amazed we are still together.
Who has the craziest exes?
We tend not to talk about that, but I am willing to bet he does. My exes aren't necessarily crazy, just a**holes.
Who has the worst temper?
Since I've been known to throw things, slam doors, lock him out of the house and inflict physical damage, I'm gonna say me.
Who does the cooking?
Cooking? What is this phenomenon that you speak of?
Who is the neat-freak?
I refuse to dignify such a dirty question with an answer.
Who is more stubborn?
Depends on which one of us wants something more.
Who hogs the bed?
According to me, he does. According to him, I do. I'm thinking of investing in a nannycam or training the cats to keep watch and submit a report.
Who wakes up earlier?
Where was your first date?
Once again, it depends on what you consider a "date." It's either Ruby Tuesday or Turn 3: totally trashy bar in Barely Boca Raton.
Who is more jealous?
Depends on which one of us does or says the stupider thing.
How long did it take to get serious?
We're not yet. I'll keep you posted.
Who eats more?
Me. Of course, Tim could eat like a football player and it wouldn't matter, but has the nerve to ask questions like, "Are you sure you want to eat that fifth slice of pizza?"
Who does the laundry?
My mother will be happy to know that I finally started doing Tim's laundry. So, me. Three cheers for domesticity.
Who's better with the computer?
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. When I get done laughing at the idea of Tim using a computer I'll let you know.
Who drives when you are together?
I do. It comes down to the fact that, while we both fear for our lives when the other one drives, Tim is slightly better at keeping his mouth shut and accepting his fate.
Wasn't that fun?!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Conversation Snippets, Wednesday Night

Shortly after I arrived home from work and was making myself dinner:

"Nothing from Evelyn yet?" I ask Tim.
"That's really not like her. She normally would have called by now. She's going to be here tomorrow. Call her?"
Five minutes later:
"Hi Mom. No, just calling to say hi. I know, we're really looking forward to seeing you next Thursday," Tim says, looking at me pointedly, eyebrows raised, chin jutting out defiantly.
He's just mad because I made him clean the litter box and empty the dishwasher in preparation for his mother's arrival.
Five more minutes after that:
"Next week?" I ask, frantically clicking on my computer.
"Are you sure? Because I swear she sent me an email that said she was flying in tomorrow." More frantic clicking into Gmail. "Huh. Would you look at that," I say once I locate the email in question.
"What does it say?"
"'Hi Timmy and Nanci. Booked my flight. I'll be arriving at 9:20AM on Thursday, February 26th.' Huh. What do you know."
"Know what I think?"
"I think you're finally losing it."
"I think you might be right."

Between 9:00PM and 10:00PM, in bed. I'm watching Lost, Tim is playing solitaire on his iPod. Note: Tim has never seen a single episode of Lost and expresses no interest: (Warning: Lost spoilers)

"Are they on the island?" Tim asks.
"I thought they got rescued."
"They did."
"Well who rescued them if the island keeps moving in time?"
"Who's Penney?"
"Desmond's girlfriend."
"Who's Desmond?"
"The long hair," I say, gesturing toward the TV.
About 10 minutes later:
"Are those his father's shoes?" Tim asks.
"And that's the guy who kept trying to get them to go back to the island?"
"Sucks you right in, doesn't it?"
10:01PM, outburst from me:
"Well what the fuck do they expect me to do until next week?!"
"Turn out the light and go to sleep."
"For a whole week?"
"No, just for now."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

You Live, You Learn

I'm sure you've had words of wisdom imparted to you by your elders, yes?

Did you heed those words of wisdom?

If you are anything like me, you did not.

And then those words eventually came back to bite you because, damn it, those wise elders were right.

If there is any wisdom I can impart to the youth of America (because yes, I am so damn old and wise) it is listen to your parents/teachers/mentors/elders - they know of what they speak.
It's funny, actually, because now I call my dad begging for advice.

"Come on, Dad, tell me what to do."

"What do you think you should do?"

Seriously, when I was sixteen he was chomping at the bit to order me around. It would appear that now that I am an adult I have passed the point of imparted wisdom.

Here are some of the life lessons I have learned - the hard way:

1. Never ever, under any circumstances, live with friends.

2. Never ever, under any circumstances, borrow money from or lend money to friends.

3. Don't live in Buffalo, NY. It sucks.

4. Don't attempt to get a lawyer or a doctor to love you. They love themselves far too much to let anyone else in.

5. Don't attempt to get anyone to love you until you love you. You have to be your biggest fan, and your own best friend.

6. Broken hearts do heal. They leave scars that can sometimes twinge at the oddest and most unexpected moments, but they do heal.

7. There is never a good reason to wear spandex.

And the lesson I learned today, and one that has been a long time coming. . .

Never ever, under any circumstances, should you work for friends, or have have friends work for you. It may even be advisable not to become friends with any of your co-workers.

It is all very messy.

You think you can draw the lines - the lines between personal and professional. And maybe you can draw them, but then you have a hard time staying in between them. And the next thing you know you are stuck working way after hours, doing things you would never do for any other co-worker or employer, cursing your friend to hell and back, and cursing yourself for being so damn nice. (And we all know I'm not all that nice to begin with.)

So. . .

You live. You learn. You move on. You try not to make the same mistakes twice.
Or at least not three times in the same year.

Monday, February 16, 2009

He Loves Me. . .

There is no "he loves me not" because I have finally gotten to that cool place in life where, yeah, he really does love me, and I don't have to question it anymore.

Valentine's Day post coming at ya a little belatedly, and is also combined with a big, fat. . .


I won't divulge her age, even though she probably wouldn't care, but if you saw their anniversary post, and I tell you they got married at 19, you can do the math. Sending mom good vibes, karma and birthday wishes today, and it would be cool if my readers did the same.

Anyway. . .

I have a long standing reason for despising Valentine's Day. It was ruined for me in the second grade, by Brian Schuler. I have grown up enough to realize that he probably didn't do it on purpose, so I have stopped holding a grudge. For the most part.

In any event, that is a whole different long story, and I will spare you. (Unless I receive enough comments/emails begging for the story. I am egotistical and self-indulgent enough to post a follow-up. Lol.)

Since second grade, Valentine's Day never improved by leaps or bounds. Sure, I had my share of Valentine's Days with men, and flowers, and dinner, yadda, yadda, yadda. But nothing was special enough to override the bitterness for the day that I have been carrying around for 22 years.

Leave it to my God of a husband to manage it.

What did he do to eradicate my hatred of Valentine's Day?

Did he buy me a ridiculously expensive piece of jewelry? No.

Did he take me out to my favorite restaurant? No.

Did he whisk me away for a romantic weekend? No.

He got me a five pound bag of all red gummy bears.

You are laughing. Confused maybe. You don't understand how monumental this is.

He gets me.

And he loves me.

And a gift that says those two things means more than any extravagance anyone could offer me.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Whine, Complain, Whine Some More

I'm feeling pretty persnickety today.

So I am going to voice a complaint.

I'm tired of people complaining.

I'm probably just as guilty as everyone else, but no one has called me on it (recently), so I feel pretty confident in going forward with my rant.

I am especially tired of complainers who:

1. Constantly complain about the same thing.

2. Don't do anything to rectify the situation they are complaining about.

We all know the definition of insanity according to Einstein, right?

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

You know who you are. (And you're not Liz, so if you are Liz, and you are reading this and getting pissed at me, I don't mean Liz. The rest of you? Yeah, I mean you.)

Here's my new (extremely simplified and insensitive) mantra:

Effing do something about it.

If you don't really want to do something about it, then at least stop whining about it.

(I had a whole bunch more planned for this tirade, but when I actually typed it out it seemed really mean. So I leave you with the mantra. Namaste.)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Not So Critical Update

I have joined LinkedIn.

Not as cool as it sounds.

Just one of those things I figure I should have for when I am attempting to secure an agent/publisher.

Here's the thing: Everyone in my office is on LinkedIn. In a roundabout way, you can get here (The Pickle Tree) from my LinkedIn Profile.


This limits the amount of complaining about/making fun of work I can do.

I know you are highly disappointed.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Best Laid Plans

I had a whole plan for a blog post today. I'll give you the teaser. "Internet Connections". I still plan to write this post, as it sits in the forefront of my mind each time I sit down at the computer. But today the WIP takes precedence, as it has been yelling at me in my sleep as well as in my waking hours. Today's horoscope for Gemini seems to think I may have problems with the WIP, though:

You are eager to have a day set aside for your own pleasure, yet you may have unrealistic expectations. It's easy to set yourself up for failure and disappointment by wanting too much. Grandiose ideas will likely be pared back down to a manageable size by the hard cold facts of reality. It's better to constrain yourself voluntarily than waiting for an unpleasant circumstance to stop you in your tracks.
We'll see. Watch this space.

So in lieu of a proper blog post, I leave you with a Wordle from one of my favorite poems, Impossible Impossibilities:

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I Made Myself a Website!

Check it out. Feel free to comment. I may not care, but you can comment anyway.

Last Time I Checked, I Was Still Living In South Florida

Can't really tell by the temperature, though. (Look - the parrots have been forced to use heat lamps in their tropical zoo. Brr!)

On my drive to work this morning, the temperature was 36 degrees. It was even colder overnight. The heat has been on in our apartment for the past week, allegedly to keep Hydra and Styx comfortable (hello - Styx is from Africa), but really because our NY blood truly has thinned and Tim and I are freezing. I have exhausted my supply of sweaters. Cold weather in Florida is only supposed to last a week and it is never supposed to dip below freezing!
AND. . .

The cold weather seems to make South Floridians, on the whole, very cranky.


On the elevator this morning (and if you are a long-time reader of The Pickle Tree, you already know my pet peeves involving elevators) I was joined by three other women and a jerk (excuse me, gentleman) in a leather jacket, gloves and a beanie. A last-minute rider requested the second floor. After she had exited and the doors had closed, the jerk announced, "I bet the two flights of stairs would have killed her."

I see absolutely no reason for this kind of nastiness. Who are we to judge anyone? Where is the cutoff? It is acceptable to use the elevator to get to the third floor and above, but not the second? Why?
So of course, even though two wrongs don't make a right, I couldn't resist.
"Well, it looks like the four flights might have done you some good."
I blame it on the 36 degrees.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

What's Heavier? A Pound of Feathers or a Pound of Bricks?

Yeah, I did it.

I gave in to my obsessive compulsive warped self image urges and bought a bathroom scale.

The stupid doctor's scale was 8 pounds heavier than normal the last time I was there, and I have been unable to console myself with the "muscle is denser than fat; therefore increased muscle mass and loss of fat will result in weight gain" argument.

Of course, the minute Tim steps on it he announces, "The scale is off."

"What do you mean it's off?"

"I mean it's off."

"Which way?"


"It says you weigh more than you do?" I ask excitedly.

"No. I weigh more than it says I do."

"I have a hard time believing that," I pouted.

"Well, the scale at work says different. Unless you think my work boots weigh 9 pounds."

"It must be the scale at work that's off, because I think it's perfectly fine."

"Did you get it at Target?"


"Then it's a piece of crap."


He may be right, though.

If we go by the Target scale, I lose 3-4 pounds in my sleep every night.

And the Fat Ass Cat weighs 16 pounds.


Maybe the Target scale is not so far off after all.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I Have A New Obession

A member of my writing forum turned me on to Wordle. I'm obsessed, and it will now be my default when I have nothing else to blog about.

Lucky you.

Here's a word cloud from my short story Sweet Home Alabama: (Interesting what jumps out, isn't it?)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Benefits of Marriage

Over the past eight months, I have discovered the many benefits of marriage.

An unbreakable bond.

However, yesterday I discovered the best benefit of marriage so far:


Who knew, that just by getting married, I (I mean we) would get such a HUGE tax refund? Has this always been the case, or is this Obama's good work, happening already?

For the past three years, I have dutifully PAID the US government, since I had the NERVE to earn additional money through self-employment. Not only was I expected to give the government their due on that money (because they were so involved in my making it) but I also had to pay a self-employment tax. Can you believe that shit? Capitalism at its best, I suppose.

This year I was a bit proactive, and I pre-paid estimated taxes throughout the year. So I fully expected to break even as opposed to owing our sacred government.

You can imagine my shock and jubilation when I signed into Turbo Tax and began answering questions. I got to check "I got married" under the Life Changes section, after which the Turbo Tax Gods suggested Tim and I file jointly.

Whatever, I thought.

I spent the next hour inputting our wage information. For the third year in a row I hesitated on the "Did you earn income not reported on a W-2?" question, wondering, as I always do, "How are they gonna know?" But, like the dutiful and Catholic-guilt inspired woman my parents raised, I reported all my freelance income, bracing myself for how much money the IRS would still rape me for.

Turbo Tax went through its calculations.

The number appeared in RED. That means that the IRS owes me, and not the other way around. And the IRS owes me a considerable amount more that I was expecting.

I immediately heard the voices of my parents in my head: "You know what you should do. You should just pretend that you aren't getting anything, and put this in your savings account. It's the responsible thing to do."

The jury is still out on that one, because Tim and I would really like to go to California for our first anniversary.

This marriage thing is the bomb.

And, oh yeah, Tim is pretty cool, too.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Our Spirit Is Stronger And Cannot Be Broken

For those of you who know me well, you know that I tend to shy away from discussions involving current events, religion, and politics. These are all, in my opinion, dangerous subjects to discuss amongst loved ones, and admittedly, I don't have a great deal of political insight.

Yet today I was awed, and I felt compelled to share my favorite parts of Barack Obama's Inaugural Address:

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

And my absolute favorite, that I'm sure I will carry with me for a long time to come:

To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

We Got A Wii

Yes. Tim and I have joined the masses. We finally purchased a Wii, after 2 weeks of trying to find one.

Here's how most of my conversations went with salespeople over the past 2 weeks:

[Polite and bubbly sales associate]: Thank you for calling Best Buy, this is Polite and Bubbly Sales Associate, how may I help you today?

[Me. Friendly and Equally Polite]: Hi! Do you have any Wii in stock?

[Instantly Grumpy and Irritated Sales Associate]: No.

I had about 12 of those conversations yesterday, and then this happened:

[Polite and bubbly sales associate]: Thank you for calling GameStop, where we buy, sell and trade used games,this is Polite and Bubbly Sales Associate, how may I help you today?

[Me. Friendly and Equally Polite]: Hi! Do you have any Wii in stock?

[Still Polite and Bubbly Sales Associate]: I have one left.

[Me. Shocked and Gasping for air]: Seriously? Can you hold it for me?

[Hesitant and Wary Sales Associate]: For how long?

[Me. Still Shocked and Gasping for air]: I can be there in 15 minutes.

So we have a Wii. And it might just ruin my life. Between 7PM last night and 1AM this morning, Tim and I played about 80 frames of bowling, 9 holes of golf and roughly 502 tennis matches.

Here's what I should accomplish today: (Keep in mind that some of these things should have been accomplished yesterday.)
  • Laundry

  • Increase word count on WIP

  • Post first chapter of WIP on WB

  • Work on website

  • Yoga

  • Make dinner
Here's what I will probably accomplish today:

502 more tennis matches and a few boxing rounds.

God Bless America.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Drug Experimentation

It's not what you think.

The drugs I am experimenting with are all legal and over the counter.

And my experimentation was completely accidental.

But it should be interesting to see just how NyQuil and Starbucks react to one another.

I'd be willing to bet that the NyQuil wins, but you just never know.

I would like to share with you something that threw me for a loop tonight, and is currently making me hope that the NyQuil kicks in real fast.

As I was working on the novel tonight, I started to describe something that I knew I had described fairly well in an earlier piece of work. I went searching through my old files (because I keep everything) and successfully found the particular description I was looking for.

Here's the disturbing part:

The description was in the first few paragraphs of an 81 page, 42,000 word piece of work.

Why is this disturbing?

Because it was crap. No, seriously. I'm not even a little kidding. C-R-A-P, crap.

So, right now I am having a small crisis of faith, wondering who the hell I am kidding that I can write, and publish, a novel.

Oh NyQuil, take me away.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad

Today I am reserving this space to wish my parents a Happy Anniversary! 42 years of marriage, and they still like each other. For the most part. Yay Mom and Dad!

(They are probably going to kill me for posting their picture on the world wide web. I may receive frantic phone calls and be forced to replace their picture with one of Fred and Wilma Flintstone.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Chutes and Ladders: The Corporate Edition

Today, after sitting in a conference room from 8AM to 3PM, I thought about high school.
In particular, I thought about my high school Guidance Counselor's office.
Nowhere, not on any of the motivational posters or in any of the counseling literature, was there a description of my job as a career goal to achieve. (My job, in case you are curious. I wouldn't recommend being curious.)


Because who wants to achieve sitting around a conference room table for 7 hours, only to leave the room having no idea what the meeting was about?

Here are the achievements you are never taught to strive for. (Or avoid). (And these examples are just from today):

1. Ten employees surrounded a conference room table. Nine are Senior Management Executives with varying statuses from Director to President. And then there was one: Me. Non-Senior Management Executive, and the only woman: Ladder.

2. The presentation you are scheduled to give at 8:30AM begins "wobbly": Chute.

3. You are pegged by the IT Department as an email whore. I quote: "You are receiving this email because your current mailbox is exceeding the mailbox limits that are going to be put into effect shortly. To prevent you from losing email and/or not being able to send or receive email: Please take a moment to either delete or archive your mail.":Chute.

4. One of the Senior Management Executives remembers that you are a vegetarian, and has a special veggie sub ordered for you for lunch. It comes in a separate bag with your name on it and everything. As an added bonus, you discover that you do, in fact, like guacamole: Ladder.
So, in the end, it all seems to have balanced itself out. I may not have gotten any higher on the corporate ladder today, but I managed to keep myself out of the Molasses Swap. Oh wait, that's a different game.
And even though this job is practically the opposite of what I intended to do with my life, it is kinda fun.
I hope to look back on it and smile fondly when my real life kicks in.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Can Cats Be Trained?

Oh, can you tell by the title that I am racking my brain for something to post about tonight?
Hades and Azrael, though I love them dearly, have very little respect for me.
Tim tells me this is my own fault.
Probably true.
If Azrael whines, I pick him up.
If Hades misbehaves, I don't discipline.
I don't yell. I cuddle. (Umm...still think I should have kids?)
Here's what it gets me:
5AM, Hades sitting on my chest (and by the way, he's not a feather), and Azrael biting my head. Yes, biting my head. (It is his way of saying, 'Hey Mom, I'm hungry. Here's what I'd like to be doing to food in my bowl right now.')
Mind you, Tim is sleeping less than a foot from me. Would they dare attempt this kind of behavior with him? Never. Why? Because when they behave this way, I either:
A. Get up and feed them
B. Get up and kindly escort them out of the room and shut the door until I am ready to get up.
It is more often than not option A, because option B results in Hades scratching at the bottom of the door until I do get up, while his brother sits by his side and eggs him on.
If they attempted this behavior with Tim, the result would be the following:
A. Punting across the room.
6PM, I come home from work and am greeted with yowling and desperate maneuvers toward the kitchen, as though they haven't eaten in days. They do not relent until they are fed.
Again I ask, Do they do this to Tim?
Wouldn't even dream of it.
Tim enters the kitchen, and Azrael and Hades sit on the dividing line between the carpet and the linoleum, on either side of the kitchen entrance, like little kitty gargoyles.
Tim retrieves their bowls.
They sit like statues.
Tim fills their bowls.
They quiver a little, but they don't move.
Tim puts their bowls on the floor, tells them "OK. Good boys!" and they run, like greyhounds released from the starting gate, and slobber all over themselves devouring their dinner.
If they move during this process, one short, loud "Hey!" from Tim freezes them in their tracks.
He tells me it is all about respect.
I wonder what Cesar Millan would say?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Some Cool, Random Stuff

It has been a fairly uneventful Saturday, which I suppose I should be grateful for. However, it does leave me with very little to kick start the creative juices, so I will just share with you a few random things that I think are pretty neat.

I have discovered my perfect background music for writing: The Harry Potter movie soundtracks. So far I have downloaded the music from Sorcerer's Stone, Prisoner of Azkaban, and Goblet of Fire. The soundtracks are all completely instrumental and soothing and a great source of inspiration: The scores vividly evoke the movies, which perfectly call to mind Rowling's stories, and J.K. Rowling is among my top five writing idols. The other four are Neil Gaiman, Nora Roberts, Sophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes.

I opened an account with Twitter: I plan to use this solely to track the word count of my current works in progress (WIP). Hopefully it will be a great motivator to keep me writing. Feel free to follow me. I'm considering opening an account on Facebook or MySpace, but I really can't get past the idea that these sites are places for teenagers and horny adults. Plus, I'm not sure I want any of those skeletons from my past crawling out of the closet.

A certain literary agent who shall remain nameless (since he did in fact get Google alerted that his name was on my blog, and I don't want to do it again and give him the impression that I am cyber-stalking him) left a comment on yesterday's post. It may seem silly, but I'm a little starstruck. Let me give you a little analogy. Cool literary agent is to wannabe writer as Miley Cyrus is to teen girls across America. (Hmm...I wonder if Miley Cyrus is going to read my blog now.)

In addition, two more people whom I don't know have commented on the blog. I'm loving it. I get so excited every time there's a new post or a new follower! I'm such a loser. But, umm, keep passing me around, OK? It's my goal to become a Blog of Note and entertain the masses. Note: I will take topic suggestions!

I am designing a website to become the companion of the Pickle Tree. It'll be pretty sparse to start, only containing some info about me, the two stories I've had published, and a photo album, etc., but I will welcome all your feedback.

There are no Wii game systems anywhere to be found in South Florida. And the people at Best Buy, GameStop, Circuit City and FYE get really mad when you call and ask. Except for Jonathan at the Parkland GameStop. He was really nice to me. Thanks Jonathan.

Glade flameless candles are very cool.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Pickle Tree Gets Pruned!

If you're like me, you're addicted to all things Google, and read your blog subscriptions through Google Reader. (Or some other inferior reader.) No, I do not work for Google, I just think they are mad cool. Check out my iGoogle page:

Anyway, if you're reading through a reader, you probably see something like this:
Visually BORING. (But please note that I do have a blog crush on Nathan Bransford. And in case Nathan Bransford also loves all things Google, and uses Google Alerts for his name, and is reading this post, I say the following: the last month of posts is not my best work. Please read earlier, wittier posts.)

Now, to finally get to the point:

The Pickle Tree has a new look, and if you are using a reader, you're missing it. So visit, check it out, and let me know what you think. Here's a sneak peek:

Thursday, January 8, 2009

You Say Anagram, I Say Acronym

Another one for the PTM archives.

Monday night Tim walks in the door and announces, "Do I have the perfect thing for you."
"What's that?"
"Trivia Tuesdays at Sullivan's."
"This sounds promising."
"Want to check it out?"

So at 8:00PM on Tuesday night, Tim and I are sitting in John L. Sullivan's Irish Pub, waiting for the trivia contest to begin. Somehow I managed to get my husband to agree to drive, so I started the night right with a shot of Jagermeister.

Here's how it works:
You pay $10 per team to enter the contest. Teams are not limited to a certain number of participants. The contest is 6 rounds of trivia with a bonus round. Prizes consist of various monetary amounts you can use to contribute to your John L. Sullivan's tab.

Round 1: General Trivia, Simple Question and Answer.
We sailed through.

Round 2: General Trivia, Multiple Choice and True/False.
Again - no problem.

Round 3: A handout round. We were given a sheet of paper with 10 celebrity pics, and we had to name the stars.
Piece of cake.

After round 3, Tim and I (the only team with less than 5 participants) were in 4th place out of 12 teams. I was so excited I had a 3rd shot. (During rounds 1-3 I had downed a second shot and a vodka and red bull. Note: I'm definitely starting to feel the effects of the alcohol.)

Round 4: History.
We were given another hand out. Left column had events that occurred on January 1st. Right column was full of years. Match the event to the year.
Again, I say: Crap.

After 10 minutes, we were left with Ellis Island's first day of operation as January 1, 1994.
"Something's not right," Tim says.
"You think?" I asked.

We re-worked the sheet, and ended up with Fidel Castro taking control of Cuba in 1862. Turns out the fact that NAFTA was formed in the 90's completely threw us off. Who knew?

Round 5: Anagrams.
"What's an anagram?" Tim asked me as the host passed out a third sheet of paper.
"You know. When letters stand for something, like AWOL. Absent Without Official Leave."
"I thought that was an acronym."
"Crap. You're right. What the fuck is an anagram?"

Luckily, it was explained to us.

I looked lovingly at my husband. "I'm too drunk to unscramble anything," I told him.
"But you're the one that's supposed to be good with words!"
"Not tonight I'm not."

There were 5 anagrams to unscramble, all with a central theme: Let's Get Stoned. Turned out that the theme was The Rolling Stones, but I kept looking at "Wagon Burrs," seeing "Bong" and trying to make a word out of R-R-S-U-W. I was insistent. We never made it past "Wagon Burrs." (Brown Sugar, in case it is going to make you crazy.)

Needless to say we ended up in last place. The host was kind enough to note that we were the only team of 2.

And maybe we're crazy, but we're planning to show our faces and try again next Tuesday. We may bring a larger crew; either way, it's been decided that I'm driving this time.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Skeletons Sometimes Surface

Got any skeletons in your closet? Who knows about 'em? Who should know about 'em?

I've got my fair share of skeletons.

Don't get too excited, I don't plan to out any of them here.

I'd be willing to bet that Liz knows every single one of my skeletons. Why? I've known her since I was nine; she was there when I shoved them in the closet. In most cases, she was helping me make room, holding winter coats and my cheerleading uniform while I shoved the scariest ones in the way, way back where no one would ever see them.

For the ones Liz missed, the ones I had to pack away without her, she's been filled in. I have to tell her. She's my second line of defense if a bony secret ever makes a break for it. Pity that she's a crap liar, but she's the best I've got.

What's amazing is that we didn't speak for five years, and she held onto all my secrets. She could have ruined me, yet my scariest skeletons remain intact, dusty, in the way, way back of my closet. That's dedication. Then again, I never told anyone that she...oops. One almost got away.

Is it wrong that Liz knows my deepest darkest secrets, and my husband may not? It's not that I have intentionally kept anything from Tim. In all honesty, every once in a while a random finger or ankle bone falls out of the closet while I am looking for something else, and he looks at me funny. Then I have to go, "Oh yeah. I never told you about the three days I spent in an Argententian prison?" Not because I was hiding it from him, but because when does that ever come up in conversation?

How much about your past are you required to disclose to your other half? Other than the standard past relationships-first love-disease-criminal record conversations in the beginning of the courtship, how much do detail do you get into? Do I need to reveal that in seventh grade I french kissed a boy who turned out to be gay because it may have an effect on my marriage?

I do know of couples who have disgusting disclosure policies. They tell each other everything about their past.


I have absolutely no desire to know how many other women my husband has slept with or what kind of trouble he got into before he met me. Unless he's got some kids running around, I don't want to know.

You tell me - how many of your skeletons are you required to reveal to your other half?

Monday, January 5, 2009


Everyone makes 'em. Everyone breaks 'em. And I did promise that one of my resolutions was to get back to The Tree; give it the love and attention it deserves.

I do have plans in store for the Picklers. (Yes, Picklers. It's what I have decided to call the 5 individuals who publicly follow The Tree - thanks, by the way - and the assorted family and friends who read, but have not delved far enough into the World Wide Web to comment, follow or post. I love ya anyway.)

1. I want to redesign. My rudimentary web design skills should allow me to play around with the layout a bit.

2. I want to post every day. What does this mean to you? Some days you may get really boring posts detailing what I did at work that day, the foolishness that Tim and I engaged in that evening, or what the word count on the WIP is up to, or random streams of consciousness to kick-start work on the WIP. Lucky you. Could be worth it, 'cuz every once in a while I manage to pull out something worth reading. In my humble opinion.

In case you are curious, I've made a few other resolutions. (Pie crust resolutions: Easily made, easily broken.) (I admit that I stole that saying from somewhere, I just can't remember where.)

1. Finish the novel. (Many of you may roll your eyes and think back to New Year's Eves gone by that had the same resolution. I will stick to this one if it kills me. Now, mind you, I did not resolve to write a phenomenal work of literature, nor did I resolve to publish the novel. I resolve to finish the novel. It's a big step, I don't care what you think.)

2. Rid myself of the constant road rage that plagues even short drives to the grocery store. (The speed limit is my friend, I will use my signal, I will stop tailgating, I will not hit a single curb in 2009. Oh, wait. I already did. I will not hit another curb in 2009.)

3. Be (gag, choke, cough) nicer at work. Professional, even. Non-sarcastic, if you will.

4. Grow myself some thicker skin. In the metaphorical sense, of course.

Now I'm going to leave you with something that inspired me this morning:

Watch your thoughts, they become your words.
Watch your words, they become your actions.
Watch your actions, they become your habits.
Watch your habits, they become your character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.