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.