Hippie Santa courtesy of my dear friend, Ms. ThoughtsAppear. Thank you, Thoughtsy.
The fact that I’m writing this and that you’re reading it means that things are (fingers crossed) on the mend. Technologically, at least.
Recently, while working on a (clearing throat in conspiratorial tone) project, I was annoyed by Adobe Flashplayer’s insistence that I update my software. It wouldn’t go away when I said ‘no, thanks.’ Then it wouldn’t even take no for an answer. So . . . yes, just as stupid as it sounds, I said ok, and that was the beginning of the nightmare.
Cutting to the chase, that wasn’t Adobe Flashplayer any more than some creepy guy at a bar is a knight in shining armor. Nope. It was a virus.
But, joy of joy, it took me a while to figure that out.
In fact, I didn’t figure it out until after I’d paid my bills online, checked my bank accounts and retirement accounts, and uploaded a job application with my complete career history, references’ contact information, and my SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER!
Then things started acting up and eventually I checked on my Windows firewall to find that it couldn’t be enabled. The virus had installed its own firewall to fend off any attempts to get rid of it. The good news is that despite some lame advice from a techno-geek and some useless malware software, along with better malware software (I won’t say it here because I don’t want to help the slimy worm-people out by pointing them toward their next target), I think I fixed this without one of those frustrating calls to someone overseas who, if they’re a real person, will stick to the script no matter what I say on this end . . .
Overseas call center rep: Good afternoon, how may I assist you today?
Me: Hello! Well, it’s midnight here, but good afternoon to you, too! Unfortunately, a virus has taken over my computer and is posing as Windows and not letting me add a malware remover. Is there anything I can do?
Overseas call center rep: Thank you for your question, Hippie. I am sorry you are having trouble. I think we can fix this pretty easily. First, we’ll need to add a malware remover.
I’m still wary of Gmail and of whether I’ve truly removed the worm and restored my system cleanly. My priority concern is the potential hacking of my financial accounts, etc., but the (clearing throat in conspiratorial tone) project is still in the works. All the materials were on my desktop. I retrieved them and moved to backup. And then there’s this thing I call a day job.
Moral of the story: Whoever first thought up the idea of a computer virus is a miscreant who deserves to have his/her shins kicked.
Epilogue: I found the image for this post at a place called “Ethical Ocean.” It felt a little uncomfortable borrowing an image from a site based on ethical premises, so I checked it out and it looks like a worthwhile place to explore. I can’t entirely endorse them, seeing as I’m still smarting from being burned by faux Adobe and I haven’t been through an entire purchase with them, but I think it’s worth a leap of faith to give them a shout-out. The image links to their website.
They’re based in Toronto, so it’s also a public service to my Canadian friends who are also smarting from recent events that have catapulted that nice city into the negative spotlight. I actually think it speaks well of you that you’re taking it so personally.
I heart you, Canadians. We all get burned sometimes. Just don’t download the Adobe update without checking it carefully.
One of my Ally McBeal reveries involves sitting across from James Lipton, humbly relating poignant stories about my fascinating life, bemused by the fact that anyone would care to know.
James, on behalf of America’s enquiring minds, wants to know what makes me me. I, on behalf of me, quietly share mysterious tidbits, demurely grinning at James’s curious probing.
Inside, though, I anticipate the questions that I know are coming — James Lipton’s Famous 10 Questions — with the enthusiasm of a high school senior the day yearbooks come out. What will I say? How will I choose just the right words to convey the real me . . . for eternity?
I know the questions, so you’d think I’d be prepared. But I also know myself. Consistently inconsistent.
I tend to approach life the way John Gorka approaches a set list: controlled chaos. All the answers are there. It’s just a matter of how they arrange themselves in any particular moment.
As with most of my Ally McBeal reveries, there’s usually a That Would Never Happen clause that brings me back to the mundane reality of sitting in traffic at the intersection of workday and errands. This particular scene comes to a close when I remember that to be seated across from James Lipton, one must be, you know, an actress.
Today I was greeted with the opportunity to answer Mr. Lipton’s questions without setting foot on a stage.
No auditions, no makeup and wardrobe. No step-and-repeats or red carpets.
No pretending that I’m not dating George Clooney just because we have a movie coming out in six months.
So, here it is. My controlled chaos approach to the ten questions James Lipton asks of his guests on Inside the Actor’s Studio. I reserve the right to change my answers. In ten minutes.
1.What is your favorite word? Grace. Big G, little g. Grace Kelly, Amazing Grace. As far as I know, there isn’t a sense of that word that I don’t love.
2.What is your least favorite word? Goodbye, in any language.
3.What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Authenticity. I don’t happen to believe, by the way, that everyone who puts it all out there in the name of “just being themselves” is necessarily being authentic. A lot of those who do that are just competing to be heard above a crowd of boorishness, which, granted, is an authentic endeavor. I think it takes a lot to figure out what is truly authentic about yourself and then allowing yourself to be that.
4.What turns you off? Exactly the opposite of authenticity. I’m a vibe-y person and sometimes I just feel it about someone. I worry about that making me a judgy kind of person, so I try to give the benefit of the doubt. Often, in fact, I’ve gone too far to give someone who didn’t deserve it the benefit of the doubt. Much of the time, my
first vibe turns out to be correct. If you’re not for real, please don’t waste my time.
5.What is your favorite curse word? Hell’s Bells. Ok, that’s two, but when Richard Gere got this question, he declined because he’s a better person than I am. So, I’m taking Richard’s word. Both of my grandmothers were Southerners and the attic of my brain is cluttered with their expressions. Hell’s Bells is one, but I hear it with my grandmother’s gentle frustration, not AC/DC’s screech.
6.What sound or noise do you love? Laughter, especially children’s laughter. I loved Antonio Banderas’ answer to this question, but he already gave it.
7.What sound or noise do you hate? That sound that styrofoam packing makes when two pieces of it rub together or when you break it. Anything to do with styrofoam packing. *shudder*
8.What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? I’m on record as wanting to be a tambourine/eggshaker girl and/or a bookstore/patisserie owner, but — and I swear I am not making this up — lately I’ve been thinking it would be interesting to be a WordPress editor, coming up with creative ideas and watching what other people do with them. Reading all sorts of things, choosing good ones to highlight, making someone’s day. And, in my Ally McBeal impression of that job, there’s no commute.
9.What profession would you not like to do? Publicist, handler, spokesperson, personal manager. See “authenticity,” above.
10.If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Well, Hell’s Bells, c’mon in. Your grandmother said you’d pull it out in the end, but I admit I had my doubts. See “grace,” above.
Daily Prompt: Inside the Actor’s Studio. On the interview show Inside the Actors’ Studio, host James Lipton asks each of his guests the same ten questions. What are your responses?
Today is October 31, All Hallow’s Eve, a day to celebrate . . .something. Death, blood, monsters, witches, chocolate, pumpkins, pretending to be someone or something you’re not, checking apples for razor blades — all wrapped up in the sexy.
This might be a good time to revisit my blanket disclaimer that if you’ve come here looking for homework answers, you should probably move along. That definition of Halloween isn’t going to land you on the honor roll. I make stuff up.
I don’t really get Halloween. I know this doesn’t add up: I’m a big fan of chocolate. I’m a big fan of creativity.
Walking up to someone’s door and begging-slash-extorting them for candy was just never my idea of fun. Granted, no one in my neighborhood thought the sweet little girl in the store-bought majorette costume was going to strong-arm them if they didn’t deliver the Hershey’s. Still.
Even if you’re not a fan of the holiday, it’s hard not to be aware of it, beginning now in mid-August when the candy, decorations, and costumes hit the store shelves. The influence has slowly seeped into my brain and I’ve been thinking about costume ideas, even though I’m a little . . . tall . . . to be trick-or-treating and I haven’t been invited to any Halloween parties.
I got to thinking about a classic post I once read about sexy Halloween costumes and I challenged myself to come up with costume ideas that would be difficult to convert to sexy.
You wouldn’t believe the images NSA has seen in my Google images cache on searches of “sexy” plus oddball things such as “rock” or “plumbing fixtures.” You also wouldn’t believe the things I can’t unsee.
While I’m sure it’s not an original idea, I’ve decided to be spam for Halloween. But not just your run of the mill spam. It’s Halloween, after all, so I’ll sexy it up. Plus, the best spam doesn’t come right out and TELL you it’s spam. The best spam, like the most savvy of trolls, is sexy, seductive. Think Catherine Zeta Jones (CZJ) in a black bodysuit.
Here’s the plan:
Dressed like CZJ’s character Virginia Baker, from the movie Entrapment, I’ll wander into whatever Halloween parties I feel like wandering into. Invitations are for sexy nurses. I’m Spam! I can go anywhere!
I’ll walk up to a group of sexy vampires in conversation, maybe about the weather or politics or the latest blockbuster movies — no matter — and say, “When the music group is this : pulled off, going to be the surface skin body cells and going to be the facial/nose hair utilize them.”
They’ll probably ignore my fascinating banter at first, but I’ll press on: “But despite it being printed on the back of a Trivial Pursuit card, it’s simply not true.On Clive Hills Road a resident reports that someone entered an unlocked 2009 Buick Enclave and rummaged through the glove . Once again, the price range was WAY too high for me, so I ended up just walking around, enjoying the holiday spirit.”
Maybe they’ll turn away. Maybe they’ll ask me to leave. Whatever.
I’ll just mosey on over to a group of sexy zombies in the other corner, talking about their vacation plans or renovating a house, and I’ll cheerfully join in, “Hi everybody, here every person is sharing these experience, thus it’s good to be at this party, and I used to pay a visit this party everyday but it’s not as good as it used to be. What happened?”
If anyone questions who I am or why I’m there, I’ll just pretend I’m not from around here: “Lub ów szczyl w autobusie, przy stadionem Legii, proazek z piętnaście lat, ogolony makówka. Wykrzykiwał z.”
Undoubtedly at some point I’ll be filtered from the party, so I’m planning on leaving with one last poignant shout out: “Get rid of the plug by hand and be careful with the rush of scorching oil. Sporting gloves is really an excellent concept.”
While it isn’t my thing, I don’t have any major issues with Halloween. I hope those of you who love it have a wonderful time. Happy Halloween!
I mean, “Toddler web masters!!”
If you’re reading this after October 31, the comment references to my gravatar are to my Halloween “costume”.
To complete the holiday spirit, I “dressed up” like Catherine Zeta Jones for the day. . .
I’ve had a recent run of thinking and talking in song lyrics more than usual. I’m sure it’s as annoying to others as it can sometimes be for me. Using my own words would, of course, be preferable, but so many gifted people have seen this same world, lived these same experiences, and used their words so much more evocatively and on-point than I can. I often find myself experiencing something through someone else’s words and melody. My words don’t seem to measure up.
My life is littered with little notebooks or scraps of paper where I’ve scribbled a few lines thinking they would eventually build into a great song. And they probably would, if I handed them over to a real songwriter.
Other people’s stories
Last week, for instance, Bob Schieffer was on the morning news previewing a television special about the upcoming anniversary of JFK’s assassination, more specifically, about Abraham Zapruder, the man whose home video captured that historic and tragic moment. Schieffer told the story of being at work in the newsroom of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram when the shooting occurred and answering the phone to a woman saying, “Is there anybody there who can give me a ride to Dallas?”
He said he almost hung up on her, telling her this wasn’t a cab service and that the president had just been shot. She said she knew and that she thought it was her son who had been arrested for the shooting. I stopped in the tracks of my morning routine to think about what it must have been like to be in her position at that moment. He and the city editor picked her up and gave Lee Harvey Oswald’s mother a ride to Dallas.
I thought “Is there anybody there who can give me a ride to Dallas” was a great line upon which one might build a song from the perspective of Lee Harvey Oswald’s mother. I wish I could write it. Maybe someone will and maybe I’ll hear it and then those will be lyrics that I relate in some future conversation when someone else’s words serve better than mine.
Other people’s words
Today, I took a walk to pick up some lunch, and the second I walked outside, a song came into my head that I hadn’t thought of in probably a year. And before that it had probably been a year.
The weather is turning cooler and the sky was grey, and Dan Fogelberg’s “Old Tennessee” became the soundtrack for my walk and reminded me that it’s the end of October, which hit me by surprise. . . again.
End of October/ The sleepy brown woods seem to nod down their heads to the winter/ Yellows and greys paint the sad skies today and/ I wonder when you’re coming home. Woke up one morning, the wind through the window/Reminded me winter was just ’round the bend/ Somehow I just did not see it was comin’ It took me by surprise again. . . .
There are a few other songs that usually come to mind around this time of year.
It’s almost an annual tradition for me to post a video of my favorite Halloween love song. Richard Shindell’s “Are You Happy Now?” always comes to mind when the Cinderella and ghost costumes and the mega-sized bags of candy hit the shelves.
At some time in October, but usually more near the end of September, James Taylor’s “October Road” falls into my brain.
I started to make a list of end of October songs, but after a few more, it became forced and contrived.
Somehow or other, when I experience my first cool, grey day or my first glimpse of yellow leaves against a grey sky, my mind seeks the southern comfort of a warm cup of soup and the chorus of “Old Tennessee.” Then it’s officially fall.
Do you have any change of season songs?
Daily Prompt: Express yourself. Tell us about a time you couldn’t quite get your words or images to express what you wanted to express.
One of my strategies for coping with the insanity of traffic is listening to music. I rarely bother with news and traffic radio any more. There’s not much of a point. The route from my home to my office has only a few minor variations. If there’s a snarl on one route, all variant routes are affected. So I sing or think or sometimes dance.
If traffic is delayed by a major incident on the highway, the overhead signs give me that information. If I make it as far in as Capitol Hill, I know I’m in good hands. Every encounter I’ve had with US Capitol Police has been a traffic detour and based on those encounters, I find them to be courteous, helpful, and above all, professional.
So last month when I found myself up against a wall of cars and trucks and buses on one of the first rainy Monday mornings we’ve had in a stretch, I cranked up the new Eddie From Ohio cd I’d picked up at a fundraising event over the weekend, replayed the evening with friends in my mind, began the up-in-my head phase of writing about Veronicah’s heart, and settled in for the creeping pace of the ride. After two or three turns at one traffic light, I set aside the pre-writing and shifted gears to a little driver’s seat dancing to “Let’s Get Mesolithic.”
Hours later I recalled that the emergency vehicles screaming past were going the wrong way up a blind hill and that I’d casually registered the thought that the traffic delay must have been due to a serious accident for them to take such a risk at that rate of speed, a thought that wandered off to a distant recollection of a statistic about traffic accidents and Monday mornings. Add a little water to the roadway and of course there would be an accident. People drive crazy in the rain.
My thoughts wandered back to topics of conversation from Saturday: potato consumption in Utah, how you open the world of fasten-ating possibilities when you teach a young boy to use a nail gun, and where I would go in the world if I suddenly found myself financially independent enough to quit my job and dedicate the rest of my life to making a difference. Crazy stuff like that occurs to me when my mind is otherwise idle.
It didn’t occur to me that I never did get to the scene of the accident, nor did I remember that my new team meets early on Mondays and there’s a $10-per-minute late fee, with proceeds donated to the happy hour fund.
I was unaware that I was buying the next round of margaritas for the team.
I also was unaware that just a few blocks away someone I once knew had been shot to death, along with 11 others, when mental illness began its series of literal attacks on Washington.
The meeting was in full swing by the time I slipped into the conference room. No one mentioned my mounting bar tab. I glanced out over the busy street, annoyed that there’d not been time to grab coffee. Just another rainy Monday.
It wasn’t until I got to my office that I saw the scene at the Navy Yard unfolding on live video feed.
At that point it was still unclear how many gunmen there were, what their motives were, whether the rest of the city should be on terror alert. I wasn’t any more alarmed than any other day. MIndful, yes. Monitoring the news, of course. But not terrified.
This city and others like it are prepared for violence perpetrated by those angry enough to make a statement against the US, its government, its values, whatever it is that in their minds justifies killing or maiming innocent people to prove a point. I’ve come to accept the troubling mantra, “If you see something, say something” and the traffic delays when streets are closed due to reports of suspicious packages.
That has become part of who we are.
Eventually, as the hours and the day went on, we were disturbingly comforted by the reports that these innocent people were not killed by terrorists. This was just a lone “crazy.”
That doesn’t change the fact that another 12 people, the gunman included, are dead because of mental illness that was not sufficiently addressed.
A week and a half later, a young woman reportedly having struggled with postpartum depression, and most definitely struggling with something unimaginable for most of us, tried to crash the gates at the White House, led police on a high-speed chase on streets not made for speed, past pedestrians and bicyclists and other cars, through one of the most secure sections of town, eventually meeting her own tragic demise.
The news that there’d been a shooting at the Capitol broke when I was just about to leave my office for another meeting. My colleagues and I took our wallets, phones, and keys, in case we were evacuated, but the meeting went on as planned. I looked out over one of the most famous streets in the world to people going about their day, maybe unaware of the drama unfolding not far away. By the end of the meeting, someone who’d been monitoring the news on his phone, told us that it was a woman with a child in her car and that the woman had been shot dead. Someone joked about it being someone we know, someone a bit unstable. For the record, I laughed. I’m not proud of that, but it was funny. Looking back, I feel bad, but I’m admitting it because that’s my point.
Then we went back to work, secure in the knowledge that this wasn’t a terror threat. Just another crazy.
A few days after that, a man doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire over on the National Mall. It happened just before rush hour. Most people’s greatest concern, those who showed any at all, since this was clearly just another nut job, was what the traffic impact would be.
Three times in the past month, mental illness marched into Washington, leaving behind an imprint, however temporary in our memory, of tragedy and death.
Had these been intentional acts of terror, maybe they would have been thwarted. Maybe someone would have seen something and said something and something would have been done to address and prevent the dangers. Most definitely we would have rallied to make sure it wouldn’t happen again.
In a way, they were acts of terror. Each of these people must have been suffering intensely, again with thoughts and feelings and frustrations that many of us cannot comprehend. They must have been terrified. Yet we ignore or shuffle under the rug or out-and-out laugh about mental illness. We toss about terms like “nut case” and “whack job” because , I suppose, it pushes the problem, something we don’t want to deal with, away from us. Maybe mental illness is scarier than terrorism. All terrorists want to harm us. Only a certain segment of the mentally ill manifest their personal terror in outwardly destructive ways, but when they do, it’s nothing short of tragic.
With mental illness, it’s hard to know when you’re seeing something or when you should be saying something. No one wants to unnecessarily associate someone — or themselves — with a label that is so carelessly translated to “crazy,” or “nutcase,” or any of the others. The more we use those terms to describe the people, the human beings, who commit destructive acts such as these, the more we push people who are fighting demons into their own particular darkness.
I could go off in search of statistics from authoritative sources or quotes from experts, but I’m going to go with my gut on this one and say that you are more likely to be sitting on a bus or a train or standing in a crowded elevator with someone who is in need of attention for mental health issues than you are to be in those same places with a terrorist. Again, not a verified fact, just a guess.
Mental illness came to Washington and because it didn’t have a “Death to America” sign, or maybe because it didn’t have a multi-billion dollar corporate industry sponsor or a Constitutional Amendment to wave, we paused momentarily, shook our heads at the crazies, and continued to do nothing about it.
WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge: Living History: Write about a current event from your own unique, subjective perspective. Show us how history is something we are part of, not some external event taking place in a palace, office, or war zone far away.
Maybe this will be a new thing. Maybe not.
It’s Saturday and it’s raining. There’s a lot on my mind. It seems like it wants to come out in written form, but rainy days imbue me with a certain contemplative ennui that gets in the way of itself.
Today I just feel like saying what’s on my mind in a stream of consciousness.
What’s mostly on my mind this morning is Woo Girls. I inadvertently offended and lost a few readers when I wrote about Woo Girls before. I meant — and mean – no disrespect. It’s not about you. It’s about me and how you drain my energy. But, really, no disrespect.
I couldn’t count how many times this week I typed, “Thanks!” or some variation. In each case, I was genuinely grateful, but to be honest, I wasn’t standing on my chair, popping a champagne cork.
When I start out with “Thanks” with an exclamation mark, I feel like I’ve set the bar. Acknowledging my gratitude in the subsequent conversation with anything less than exclamation point feels like it conveys a less enthusiastic message.
But for the love of Pete, if I popped a champagne cork for every “Thanks!” or emoticon I’ve typed this week, I’d be nursing an outrageous hangover.
I feel like I’m caught in a web of woo and I can’t get out. ::exclamation point::
When did ::non-verbal expression:: become *non-verbal expression*? Asterisks used to indicate bold-type.
For today or for the weekend or for however long it takes me to regain emotional stasis, I’m boycotting exclamation points and emoticons. It’s not about you. It’s about me.
Somehow all of the other things that were on my mind went away. So. End of stream. Maybe it was all about the woo.
Happy Saturday. Woo.