Monday, December 31, 2012

Good Riddance Dorothy

I had not seen Dorothy since my last day of work at SAT TV.  Even though I'm now again working in the same building I haven't seen her in weeks.  Until this morning, that is.

I saw her in the lobby while waiting for the elevator.  Her shift starts a half hour before mine so she must have been running late.

She saw me come into the building and the moment she saw me her face changed.  "You don't belong in this building!  What are you doing here?  You don't belong here."

Before I could even say anything, she went over to the security office and persuaded one of the security guards to come to to escort me out of the building.

"There she is.  She doesn't belong here.  Her job was terminated."

The security guard started to chuckle.

Dorothy's face grew red.  "Why are you laughing?  Throw her out.  Call the cops.  Do something."

"No, I won't do anything."

"She doesn't work here anymore."

"Yes, she does.  She found a new job."

This whole time I had stood there saying nothing.  I knew security knew I worked here again.  When the guard said I had found a new job, I just nodded my head, tossed my hair back and walked to the elevators.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Executive Assistant

First day of work at my new job.  I dressed up a bit, considering it was my first day and I'm an executive assistant now. 

Like at SAT TV, my desk is located near the boss, but unlike there I have my own little office and it sits off to the side of Burt's so my back is facing a wall not his office door.  I have privacy because no one comes that way unless they are going into Burt's office.

The former assistant is this little old lady.  She finally decided to give up working to spend time with her grandchildren.  For the next couple of weeks she'll be training me.  That's a lot better training than I got at my last job.  There, Dorothy sat with me for three hours, maybe less, and then I was on my own. 

All the people I met today were helpful and very nice.  I hope it wasn't all just an act.  I want to look forward to working here.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Interview

It's been a long time since I've had an interview.  I'd been at SAT TV for a long time, too long, but nevertheless staying there meant I didn't have to have an interview anywhere else.

I was so nervous meeting with Burt.  I had practiced interview questions with Bill but there was always that possibility that I would get tongue tied or forget.

Burt is an older guy, probably close to retirement or beyond.  He started his company in his garage and it got larger and larger.  Today, he has this corporate office and a distribution center.  His flower and vegetable bulbs and seeds are sold in stores and on the Internet.

He explained to me that he needed an assistant who could screen his calls, answer emails, type correspondence, organize his schedule, prepare reports and do miscellaneous other things.  He asked me a number of questions about my job skills and a bit about what I did previously.  Thankfully, he didn't ask me any weird questions like where I would see myself in five years or what animal did I feel describes me best.

He told me what the salary and benefits were and asked if they were acceptable.  Acceptable?  They were better than what I had been getting.  I concealed my excitement.

Finally, he stood and extended his hand.  "Welcome to Burt's Bulb and Seed."

Monday, December 24, 2012

Bill to the Rescue

When your boyfriend says he has some news for you that you can use, it's best to listen.  Bill came over straight from work, all excited.  I was on pins and needles waiting to hear the news.  Maybe he got a promotion.

But it wasn't that at all.

"There's a place in our building that's hiring.  Do you remember Burt's Bulb and Seed LLC?  They have their corporate office on the top floor."

I inhaled sharply.  "Well, not really.  I didn't know all the companies in the building."

"Well, I know Burt because I did some freelance work for him a while back.  He owes me a favor, so I got you an interview."

"Really?  What's the job for?"

I had a feeling of nervousness overcome me.  I didn't really want to go back to working customer service. 

"It's nothing fancy  --  it's an executive assistant -- but it would be enough to pay the bills until you finish school and get a job somewhere else."

An executive assistant.  Hum.  I stood a little straighter.  A job with some responsibility to it.  But would I be able to handle it?

"When is the interview?"

"A week from tomorrow.  I'll help you get prepared so you're not too nervous."

Friday, December 21, 2012

Granny's Day Out

I was surprised to see that it was Granny, of all people, who made the trip to the city to visit me.  She called ahead and made plans and told me she would take me to lunch.  I was thrilled but cautious.

"I'm sorry, Fran, I've been so hard on you in recent years.  I really think you have a lot of potential if you try."

"Sometimes I feel like I'm spinning my wheels and nothing good is happening.  I'm still stuck in the mud."

"Well, life isn't always easy.  I was a single mother when it wasn't the in thing to be.  It was hard finding jobs that paid me well enough to support us.  Employers though the best position I should ever strive to achieve is secretary."

"I thought you enjoyed working."

"No, I did it because I had to to survive.  For years, that's what you did, too, Fran.  You worked to put a roof over your head, to pay for a car, to put food on your plate, but you weren't happy."

I hung my head and Granny went on.  "Turning 30 wasn't the end of the world, Fran.  It was a new beginning.  Now you can let all the foolishness of youth behind and do what you want to do to make yourself happy.  You can take all the life lessons you learned and use those to make your dreams come true.  And I hope you will."

"I want to, Granny."

"Make your dreams come true, Fran, because no one can do it for you."

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Take The Toliet Challenge

The things we do for money.

This week I am taking the toilet challenge.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I am taking the toilet challenge.

What is the toilet challenge?  I have to try out a new brand of toilet paper and, after I've used the entire package, write a review of my experiences.  Then I'll get paid.  It's not a lot but it's enough to pay a bill.

So far, I have to say I am thoroughly disgusted.  This paper breaks apart and feels like sandpaper.  Who do they really think is going to buy this?  Outdoor woodsmen who have never used real toilet paper before.    It makes me sick just thinking about it.

And my butt is sore.  I feel like crying.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Unemployment Seminar

They call it a one day, unemployment seminar focused on establishing skills for future success or something ridiculous like that.  I call it one day, torture in loserdome.

The paperwork I received in the mail said this was a mandatory program for everyone on unemployment benefits.  When I got there, however, I learned it wasn't mandatory for everyone.  Only those whom they were convinced would exhaust their benefits.

So I'm one of those losers they think will exhaust benefits.  Great!

We spent the whole, entire time talking about resumes and how to respond to job ads.   I already know how to do that.  I want to know how to find the open jobs.  That's what I want to find.  But they didn't touch upon that, not once.

What's worse is that I have to go back in two weeks for a one-on-one session.  What a tremendous waste of my time.

If they want to help me, they could start by boosting my self-esteem not breaking it.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Killer

My phone was ringing off the hook.  Well, if cell phones had hooks.  I let them all go to voicemail.  I still didn't want to talk to anyone unless I had to.

Finally, the calls stopped so I listened to my messages.  I had several and they all said the same thing --  to watch the news.

So I turned on the local news.  What was so urgent I would never understand.

Across the bottom of the screen it said, "Suspected serial killer arrested."

And there was my old neighbor and my old house.  My old house?  I turned the sound up.

The newscaster was saying, "Police have yet to name the suspect but he owns these two properties behind me.  Police finally made an arrest after their investigation suggested several missing women throughout the state were last seen with the suspect. 

"After inspecting the home, investigators found the belongings of several women along with the remains of a number of individuals.  A large tub that police suspect was use to dissolve bodies in was also found.

"The chief of police will hold a press conference in about an hour."

I sat watching the newscast for sometime.  I heard the same news over and over again but didn't believe it.  So Hoss really had been a serial killer?  I wasn't just being paranoid; he really was.  And what was he using my old house for?  I shivered.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sad, Sad

I'm still feeling very depressed.  All I seem to do is sleep and cry.  I feel lost and hopeless.  In this economy, how am I going to find a new job?

I haven't even wanted to see Bill although I will take his phone calls.  I won't take anyone else's calls, though.  I don't want to be seen or heard.  But, for whatever reason, I had the overwhelming urge to call Mama.

"Mama, I have horrible news," I said to her when she asked how I was doing.

"What did you loose your job" she said, joking.

"Yes, Mama."  I started to cry.  "And my surgery scar still looks like Frankenstein and ... "

"Fran, what surgery?  What are you talking about?"

I apologized for not calling or emailing like I should have.  I told her the whole story and I felt worse than I had before. 

"Well, if all else fails, Fran, you know you're welcome to come home."

Come home?  The last thing I wanted to do was come home.  I'll probably have nightmares about that one for weeks.

"Thank you, Mama.  I'm just sad, sad, sad today."

"I know, baby, everything is going to be okay."

But is it?

Monday, December 10, 2012

You're Out

There I found myself at ten minutes to quitting time on a Friday, sitting in Dorothy's office, listening to her tell me my time was up.

"I'm sorry, Fran, but your services just aren't needed here anymore."

I stared dumbfounded, not convinced what she was telling me is true.  "What happened?"

"We work in an at-will state so we really don't need to have any other reason besides not needing your services."

"But I just got back from surgery.  I have bills to pay."

"The decision was made before your surgery.  HR will not contest unemployment when you call to file."


"Go clean out your desk."

I could see that Dorothy had a smirk on her face when she told me.  It was awful.  Next, I found myself being escorted to the lobby of the building by security as if I were some criminal.  It was humiliating and I felt so sick.  It was as if someone had died.

I drove home and sat staring at the wall of living room for I don't know how long.  I can't stop crying.  What am I going to do?  I'll never get a good reference.  I'm ruined.

Friday, December 7, 2012


I am out of surgery, and thank God am alive.  I thought for sure I was going to die.  In fact, I think I did die.

I saw a bright light and a tunnel.  There was elevator music playing.  There were voices all around me.  I saw the faces of people who are no longer alive.  There was Grandpa Fletcher and numerous relatives I have only seen in pictures.  I was floating.  I felt both hot and cold at the same time.

Finally, someone told me it was not my time to go and that it was time to return to the recovery room.  When I woke up, I was in my hospital bed and nurses were around me.

I told them I had had a near-death experience.  They didn't believe me.  They said a NDE was impossible because I didn't come remotely close to dying.  The procedure had gone quickly and with no complications.

But I know what I experienced.  You believe me, right?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Pain, The Pain

I've had a persistent pain for days, on my right side.  I was convinced it was nothing but a pulled muscle but it continued.

This morning the pain was intense but I went to work anyway because I was afraid what would happen if I didn't.  But I was also concerned about this pain.  Some of the women at work had heard or saw I was in pain and stopped by to give me their diagnosis:  tumors, cysts, intestinal blockages, ectopic pregnancy.  No matter what their suggestion was I was dying.

At lunch, I promised Bill to see the doctor if the pain persisted to the weekend.

About a half hour later, though, the pain was very intense.  Finally, it was so bad I couldn't walk.  I let my co-workers convince me to allow an ambulance to be called.

They took me to the hospital where it seemed several thousand uncomfortable and invasive tests were taken.  Finally, a diagnosis came back.  I have appendicitis and will need to have surgery.  The surgery is schedule for, well, forty-five minutes from now.

I'm scared.  I don't want to be cut open.  Help.  I don't want to die!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pizza, Pizza

Bill took me on a food date tonight.  It was an opportunity for us to learn to cook together.  I'm all for a man who can cook for himself so I told him it was a fantastic idea.

The pizzeria the lesson was affiliated with was swanky, a little too fancy for someone like me.  They took us back into the kitchen which was squeaky clean.

We started first, obviously, making the dough.  A chef showed us how to make the dough and then later how to shape it.  It was very sensual.  Bill stood behind me and together we kneaded the dough into a circle.

"It still seems kinda thick to me,"  Bill said.

"Well, some people like a thick crust.  I'm okay with it."

"I'd like to try something first."

Bill picked up the dough and began throwing it up in the air like we've seen people do on TV.  The chef didn't seem to like it but he didn't stop us either. 

Bill tossed the dough higher and higher.  One toss went higher than he intended and the dough came down on his head.

I gasped and threw my arms up in the air.  The chef came running and pulled the dough off of Bill's head.

I was beyond mortified but Bill was laughing.  I started to laugh, too.

"I'm so sorry, sir," the chef said, "I should have stepped in and said something.  I'll speak to my manager about a discount for the inconvenience."

The chef left the room. 

Bill smiled and whispered in my ear, "If I had known that, I would have burned myself and would could have got the entire lesson for free."

We started laughing again.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Perfect Polly Returns

"Honestly, Fran, sometimes I wonder how your brain works."

My sister Polly was sitting across from me at my kitchen table being, well, Perfect Polly.  She had showed up, unannounced, without her husband and children because she felt like seeing my new place.

"Did Mama send you here to check up on me?"

Polly studied her wonderfully manicured nails and avoided eye contact.  "I won't say that, although Mama is concerned about you."


Polly laughed slightly.  "Well, you have a mortgage and a rent payment?"

"Had.  My house sold."

"And you moved to the city.  Why would you want to be a single woman in the city?"

Did I really need to get into it?  Did I need to tell her every intimate detail of my life?

"I just need a change."

"Oh, Fran, why can't you be satisfied with what you have?"

I stood and felt like throwing Polly out of my house, but I couldn't because she's family.  I clenched my teeth and made fists.  She seemed unaffected.

"Because, Polly, I want more for myself than waiting for a rich man to marry me."

"Hum, well."  Polly shifted in her seat.  "Seems someone has grown a backbone."

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Grade

Remember my horrible, career killing test?

Well, today we got results back. Dr. Clark called us one and a time to give us our tests back so we could go over it in class before moving on to the next part of the course.

"Fran Fletcher."

I took my test when he handed it to me but didn't look at it until I got back to my seat.  I had seen so many of my classmates look upset when they received theirs.

I took a deep breath and turned it over.  There on the page was a mark made by the computer that had graded the test.  It said --  98% A?  How was that possible?  Maybe Dr. Clark had made a mistake and given me someone else's test, but, no, my name was on it in my hand writing.

I couldn't believe it.  How did I score so highly when I thought I had so completely failed?

When Dr. Clark had finished handing out the tests, he said, "Normally, I don't need to do this.  Normally, I just post test results and that's it, but it's clear to me that many of you need a review before we continue.  I really don't think some of you even cracked open a book for this test.  The highest grade we had in this class was a 98 percent but the vast majority of you scored in the 70s."

He went on talking but I had stopped listening.  A 98 percent was the highest in the class?  Did I have the highest test score of everyone?

Monday, November 26, 2012


The following email arrived in my inbox:

Dear Fran Fletcher,

My name is Mingus Fletcher and I do believe we are distant relatives.  I live in Scotland where my family has lived for centuries.  I understand Fletcher is an English name but the family has moved around quite a bit over the course of time.

I've been residing here all my life and recently decided to start researching my family tree.  This is how I found you.  Seems we are descended from the same great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents.  There are probably thousands of us descendants now but I want to connect with as many as I can and perhaps host a family reunion at some point although it would cost considerable funds to do so.

I hope to hear back from you soon and get to know you better.

Your distant cousin,

So what do you think?  Should I write him back?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Test Taker

A, B, C, D or F.  Those are the only choices.  Which one will it be?

I took my first test today since high school.  It covered a lot of material, I repeat, a lot of material, a mind-blowing amount of material.  Once we finish this part of the course it's on to the next part, but this part of the course is important.  Fail it and it's an uphill battle.

Something tells me I failed it.  I can't explain it.  It's a sickness in the pit of my stomach. 

During the entire test my heart was beating so fast I thought I was going to have a heart attack.  I chewed my nails down to nubs and broke three pencils.  I finished a lot sooner than everyone else, too, which tells me I just guessed on a lot of material to get finished.  It was multiple choice so I just picked whatever sounded right.

What do I know about graphic design?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Ever have someone keep calling you and you can't rid of them?  This past week that has been me.

Somehow my phone number got on a list  --  a telemarketing list.

Someone keeps calling and saying, "This phone call concerns your credit-card account.  Your eligibility is about to end.  Please contact us immediately to keep your interest rates from rising."

The first time I heard it I was convinced someone had stolen my identity and had opened up credit-card accounts in my name.  But then I realised the caller does not mention a specific credit-card company or identify the company she is calling from.  If my time working customer service has taught me anything, it's that legitimate caller will identify who they are, where they are calling from and why they are calling.

Meanwhile, I am increasingly more and more frustrated with this caller.  How can I make them stop before I have a nervous breakdown?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Junk Truck

Leave it to my family to ruin a perfectly nice Sunday morning.  It's my only day to sleep in now and, after weeks of taking classes on Saturday after a 40 hour work week, I'm exhausted.

I was all nice and warm and comfortable when I was startled awake by a horn honking.  It wasn't just a car beeping at another.  It was a loud, obnoxious honk.  And it didn't stop.  I tried ignoring it, but eventually my phone began to ring repeatedly.  The caller I.D. said Brandon.

What did he want?  The sixth time he called I answered.

"Don't you hear me blowing the horn?"

Leave to my idiot brother to be the rude, obnoxious horn honkerer.  I went to the front window and there parked on the street was a Fletcher's Junk truck.

"Why didn't you call, like, yesterday to tell me you'd be visiting?  I could have had company?"

"No, you wouldn't have.  So are you going to let me in or what?"

I went downstairs and let Brandon in.  He still hadn't explained why he was here.

"You know your house sold, right?"

"Yes, Brandon.  It sold to that creepy guy who lives next door.  At this point, I don't care so long as I get my money."

"Well, you left some stuff at the house.  The guy you were renting to said it was your stuff when he left.  So I decided to bring it to you."

I felt my eyelid begin to twitch.  "What am I going to do with it?"

"It's your stuff.  You can't abandon it there."

"But I left it there for a reason."

"You can't abandon it there.  If you want, I'll leave it on the sidewalk for the homeless people to go through."

"What homeless people?"

"You live in the city.  There's bound to be homeless people."

Brandon turned to go back to the truck.  All of sudden, I had visions of hoards of vagrants hanging out outside my house rummaging through my trash and waiting for me to give them more, more, more.  Frightened, I grabbed Brandon's arm.

"No, stop.  Bring it inside.  Maybe I can tell or give it away or something."

He went outside and I collapsed in the nearest chair.

Friday, November 16, 2012


Good news, good news, good news.  My house sold.  Yes, someone besides me was willing to buy that piece of crap house.  All I had from my realtor was a voicemail.  I had to call her back.

"Hi, Em, what's up?"

"Oh, Fran," Emily said, "we got an offer for your house that's $5,000 above asking price.  I need to meet you to sign some papers.  Unless you don't want to accept it."

"Why wouldn't I want to accept it?  That's crazy."

"I'll say." 

We made plans to meet at a bookstore that's half way between my townhouse and her office.  I quickly read over the paperwork.  The new buyer of my house is named Hoss Klinefelter.  That was funny.  How many Hoss's can there be?

"My old neighbor was named Hoss."

"Oh, that's because it is your old neighbor.  He came and looked at the house maybe three times and then finally came back with this offer."

I scratched my head.  "Why would he pay that much for it when he just bought his house?"

"I don't know.  Maybe he finds the land valuable."

Hum.  I shook my head and then started to think about it.  I always found Hoss creepy.  I was, maybe still am, convinced he is a serial killer.  The thought that he was in my house, even if I don't live there anymore, looking all around and touching stuff gave me the creeps.  I just hoped he doesn't know where my family lives.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Fast Track

So I'm officially a student.  Well, I suppose it was official when I signed up for classes, but now it's official, official.  I went to my first day of class.

When I went this morning, I stared for the longest time at the university from across the street.  I couldn't believe I was going there.  But I suppose it'll be worth it in the end.  I can get out of SAT TV and I can do something more enjoyable for more pay and less stress. 

Finally, I got up the courage to go to my class.  I got lost on the way there and had to ask some teenager for help.  Eventually, I found my way to the lecture hall.  There were more people there than I expected.

The professor stood at the front of the class.  "My name is Dr. Clark.  I want to personally welcome you all here.  I know for many of you this is huge step in your life.  You're making changes.  Changes to your career.  Changes to your future.  It won't be easy.  It will a difficult 18 months  --  you will work hard, study hard and many times you'll feel like quitting -- but at the end you'll have your bachelors and a degree you can be proud of."

I'm not sure what to make of Dr. Clark but, like it or not, I'm stuck with him.  I wonder if I'll pass this course.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Head Knockers

"Have you ever read the book Tommyknockers,"  Bill asked me earlier tonight.  "Or maybe seen the made-for-TV movie?"

I shook my head.  I had never heard of it, but it already sounded like something my book club would never read.

"I don't know much about the classics."

Bill laughed.  "Stephen King wrote it.  I'm not sure if that qualifies as a classic or not."

I laughed, too.  "Probably not."

"It's my favorite book.  Do you want to hear about it?"

Did I have a choice?  I shook my head, and he began telling me about aliens and mystery gas.  I wasn't quite sure.  I never really liked sci-fi or horror.  But Bill did like it.  I could tell from his facial expression and how he seemed so excited.

"What's your favorite book?"

Bill pushed some of my hair back behind my ear while I stared, trying to think what my favorite book is so I would have something intelligent to say.  Just then I realized he was leaning forward to kiss me.  To kiss me?  I panicked so I started leaning forward, too, and we clonked foreheads.

We both rubbed our foreheads.  I couldn't look him in the eye.  I felt ridiculous.  But I guess he didn't feel ridiculous because he kissed first my forehead and then my lips.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Eavesdropper

There are a lot of women who work for SAT TV.  Someone once told me that when there are more women working someplace than men it means the pay is too low because women will accept pay that is lower than men will.  I have to say after working here that I believe this statement must be true.

Today at work I was making photocopies.  I'm still on crutches so I'm slow.  I had finished making my copies but was sorting them into piles and was about to get back to my desk when I heard voices just outside the copy room.  It was Sharon and Peg, two of my co-workers.

"They say SAT TV is doing poorly compared to competitors," Sharon was saying.

"Like how poorly?"

"Very poorly.  I wouldn't be surprised if there are job cuts."

Sharon works in accounting so I'm partial to believe her news had some truth in it.  Peg works as head of dispatching.

"Well, I hope it doesn't affect my department any," Peg said.

"No, no way.  This company will always need technicians.  No, rumor has it, the cuts would come from Dorothy's department.  They're nothing but uneducated clods anyway.  You know how much money the company would save by getting rid of most of them?  Why do they need territories?  Just take whatever call comes in, suck it up and work 12 hour days."

Peg agreed and they moved on.  I had been holding my breath.  I just moved.  I'm paying rent and a mortgage and a car payment and school and -- I forgot about my crutches and tried to walk -- and medical bills.  I need this job. 

I could feel the hairs all over my body stand on end.  What would I do if I lost my job?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Ankles Crossed

Yesterday was my second date with Bill and I'm in pain.

We decided to go ice skating.  I have never been ice skating  in my life.  Bill said he had a few times but it had been years.  Still, it sounded like fun.

The rink was nice.  I didn't realise they were so large.

"If you like this," Bill said, "I know where we can go when the weather is colder.  An outdoor rink."

Hum, so Bill sees us together when the weather is colder?  I smiled to myself.  He was either optimistic or psychotic.  I wasn't sure.

We both shook as we got on the ice.  I was shakier than he was.  Why do I do these things to myself, agree to do things I've never done before?  People were speeding by, even kids, and I felt like an awkward idiot.

"You'll be okay.  Come on."

Bill offered me his hand and we skated, slowly, around the rink arm in arm.  It actually would have been romantic if I wasn't so scared on falling onto the ice and cracking open my skull.

"Do you think we'll be okay to go a little faster," Bill asked.  "I feel like we're a speed hazard here and I don't want some hot shot to run into us."

I nodded and took a deep breath.  "Let's go."

"Are you sure?"

"Let's go for it.  I enjoy being a dare devil."

What a lie, but what was I supposed to say to him?  That I'd prefer using one of those walker things on ice that young kids and disabled people use?

So we started going faster for a while.  It was fine.  We were fine.  Then all of a sudden our feet got tangled up and we both ended up falling our our butts.  And we both sprained our ankles, only on different feet.

We're both on crutches.  Sexy.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Lilly and Jerry

"We're getting married in two hours.  Can you come down to the courthouse?"

What?  I took the phone away from my ear and looked at the caller I.D.  It sounded liked Lilly's voice and sure enough it was Lilly's phone number, but what was she talking about?


"Because the wedding is today."

Still with no clue what was going on, I ran to the calendar on the kitchen wall and thumbed through it.

"No, I'm pretty sure it's not."

"Yes, it's today.  Jerry and I have decided to elope.  Today.  You have your dress and jewelry, right?"

I didn't say anything for several minutes.  Lilly and Jerry were eloping and expected me to still wear my Pepto pink dress?  Ugh.

"Yes, I have it."

"Great.  Can you meet us there?  You can park in the parking garage across the street.  They'll validate parking."

"Um, okay, I'll see you in two hours."

I hung up and felt sick.  It was bad enough I was going to have to wear that dress to a formal wedding but I was mentally prepared for that.  There would be others wearing that same dress and there would be rituals and routines and after I got home I could burn the dress.  Lilly would feel a sense of beauty having us wear horrid dresses and she would have beautiful pictures.

But an elopement downtown?  Why did we have to wear formal wear?  I didn't want to wear formal wear.  I would have to been seen in public in that pink dress.  Not just wedding guests who were expecting it but actual strangers and cab drivers.  I would have to cross the street in that dress!

I went to the bathroom and threw up.

Friday, November 2, 2012

It's a Lobster

By dinner, my eye was still bloodshot and in pain but at least it had quit watering.  Well, mostly quit watering.

We ordered lobster just like Bill said we would.  I've never had lobster before  -- at least not a whole one.  I started picking at it with my fork, trying to open the shell.

"So do you want to work in customer service forever," Bill asked, striking a nerve.

I hate my job.  Do I tell him that?  Do I finally tell him about going back to school?  What do I say?

I squinted my injured eye.  "It's definitely not my dream job.  I'm going back to school to get a degree in graphic design."

"That's wonderful.  Maybe some day you'll be able to work at Net Tech with me."

Just as Bill said this, movements from my fork caused my lobster to fly off of my plate and across the table and over Bill's shoulder.  It hit the back of the booth and fell down to the seat with a thud.

The people dining next to us turned and gave us a strange look.  I look from left to right, not knowing what to do.  One eye was wide, the other nearly swollen shut.  Were my chances with Bill ruined?

"Sorry, I've never had lobster that was still in the shell before."

Bill picked up the lobster and put it back on the plate.  "The meat is on the inside so you can still eat it.  But you need this tool.  I'll show you."

Sure enough Bill showed me how to break open a lobster.  And he didn't get mad.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Nothing to Wear

What am I to wear on this date with Bill tonight?

I called Jessica who suggested clothing.

I called Lilly who suggested I pick out the nicest dress I have and wear the sexiest heels I have but try not to look like a tramp at the same time.

Somehow I think Jessica's advice was not as valuable as Lilly's.  I went into my closet and, after several hours, picked out a black cocktail dress and red heels.  But I feel self conscious in it and plan on wearing a shawl.

I didn't know what to do with my hair either so I decided to leave it the way I normally wear it and maybe just pin it behind my ears so it doesn't fall into my food.

So what do I do with my makeup?  I love a dramatic eye.  I love dramatic eyelashes.  I once tried to wear fake eyelashes but I ended up gluing my eyelids together.  I haven't tried since.

Tonight I was using a brand new mascara.   It has a different shaped brush than what I am used to it.  I'm so nervous for my date tonight.  My hand was shaking.  As I was doing my left eye I hit the eyeball with the brush.

I am in so much pain.  My eye hurts.  For a while I couldn't even open my eye.  The makeup on that side of my face is ruined and needs redone.  What am I going to do?  What if it's like this forever?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hidee Ho, Bill

I often see Bill at lunch.  Sometimes we even share a table and we chat.

Even though Bill works at a company that employs graphic artists, I've never told him I signed up for graphic design classes and that they start in a few weeks.  I'm afraid what he might think.  Well, I mean, I think he would be okay with me going back to school, especially considering the program I'm in.  It's what I've decided to study that makes me nervous.  I don't want him to think I'm doing this because of him or that, worse, that I have some sort of adolescent crush on him.

We're adults here.  We're not supposed to have crushes on people, right?  You're just kinda supposed to know, aren't you?  Just know.

I've never really had that.  I've always just gone out with anyone mildly attractive who found me attractive.  Maybe that's my problem.  I never knew.

But today's lunch threw me for a loop.  We were having a quiet lunch when Bill said, "We've been having lunch most work days for a while.  What do you think that means?"

"It means we're too cheap to go out and buy our lunch."

Bill laughed so hard he knocked over an entire bag of pretzels that went spewing all over the table.  "I like you, Fran."

"You do?"  I cleared my throat.  "I mean, of course you do."

"So I was wondering if you'd share another meal with me.  Do you like seafood?"

I looked up at him, dumbfounded.  "You mean like fish and stuff?"

"Yeah, fish and stuff.  I know you haven't lived in the city for too long so I wanted to take you to this little place I know that has excellent lobster."

Lobster?  I finally got it.  Bill was asking me out?  Yes, he was asking me out.  Don't say anything stupid, Fran.  Don't say anything stupid.

"Sure I would love to."

"Wonderful,"  Bill said, "it's a date then."

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Straw

The talk with Dorothy was the straw that broke the camel's back, so I finally did it.  Yes, the thing I've been talking about for a while now.  I finally went and signed up for college classes.

I told the admissions person that I was super nervous about being a student again and that I was ultra super nervous about being the oldest student there.  She told me there is a fast track program available for working professionals.  I can get my degree in 18 months taking a combo of classroom and online courses.  The only catch is there is no summer semester off and the classroom stuff is for several hours on a Saturday morning.  Financial aid is available, too.

I'm okay with that.  At least the other students will be older, too.  I would die if I were stuck in a roomful of 18 year olds.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, I did finally decide on graphic design.  I just hope I actually have design skills.  Hum, this could be disastrous.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Working Holiday

"Fran, come in my office.  Now!  Please."

The mere sound of Dorothy's voice fills me with chills.  I wonder if this is how a pig feels being lead to slaughter.

I finished the call I was on and went into her office.  She waved her hand, indicating to me that I should shut the door behind me.  Now I was really nervous.  Nothing good ever comes from Dorothy wanting the door closed behind me.

"You wanted to see me?"

She squinted her eyes as if she couldn't see me otherwise.  "Yes It has been determined that since you are the only one in your department who is single and has no kids -- "

"I doubt if I'm the only one."

"You're the only one.  As I was saying, it has been determined that since you are the only one in your department who is single and has no kids that you should work Thanksgiving and Christmas this year and, well, every year."

"Every year?"

"Oh, you'll be compensated with holiday pay at a rate of $10 dollars."

"Ten dollars an hour?"

Dorothy laughed.  "No, ten dollars a day extra."

"Oh, but -- "

"You can leave my office now.  You have customers waiting."

Dorothy waved her hand again, and I left her office feeling humiliated and angry all at once.  Who had determined I should work holidays?  Was it really HR like she implied or was it her?  I think it was her.  No, I know it was her. 

At lunch I went and bought a mirror with a stand.  I have it facing the door to Dorothy's office so just like she can watch me at all times now I can watch her.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Joy Book Club

I thought I would try something new so I joined a book club at the local library branch.  I called and signed up over the phone.  They told me which book to read and I read it.  I had never met any of the other group members until tonight.

"I'd like to introduce to you our newest member, Fran Fletcher," the group leader told everyone else.

They turned and looked at me as if examining me for some sort of intellect between my ears.  I shifted uncomfortably in my seat. 

The leader continued, "Well, Fran, why don't we start off with you telling us your thoughts on the symbolism on page 25."

Page 25?  I didn't even remember what was on page 25.  I started to panic.  I needed to say something, anything.

"I really liked it," I said.

I saw one of the others roll their eyes.  But at least someone else offered their opinion.

One of the men said, "I thought it was very skillful how the author was able to talk about the hypocrisy of the age under the veiled constructs of social conventions."

"Yes, I agree," another said. "Parts of the novel were very existential."

I sat there dumbfounded.  Had they read the same novel I did?  I didn't even know what existential meant yet alone how it related to what I had read.  It seemed like just an old romance story written 200 years ago to me. 

These people were very intellectual.  It was obvious they read not just to read but to evaluate.  I read just to read.  This was nothing like I expected.  I'm never going back.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Shadow

It took some time to settle into my new home.  I won't lie.  I thought by simply making the change I would feel better, but that wasn't the case.  It took me three weeks before I could sleep through the night without waking up.

Mama is still convinced I'm going to come running home.  Either way, she says, I'm screwed.  I'll either be paying a mortgage for nothing or I'll be breaking a lease.  Little does she know I found a short-term renter for my old house.  It's some guy who is moving to the county and is looking for a place to stay while he decides where to live.  I made him sign a three-month lease.  If the house doesn't sell before that, I'll auction it off.

Anyway, I did something today that is pretty ambitious.  I went up to Net Tech on my lunch hour and asked all kinds of questions.  I found out all about what a typical life is like.  I also found out graphic artists make a lot more money than I do without all the hassles.

I was very careful not to let Bill see me.  I don't think I would know what to say if I came across him.  That I'm researching careers because I loath where I work?  That I was too stupid to go to college at age 18 like everyone else?  That I really, really want to work where he does so I can see him everyday?

I found out a lot of information.  Still don't think I'm ready to sign up for classes.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

First Night

I can't sleep.  I just looked at myself in the bathroom mirror.  My eyes are bloodshot and I look terrible.  Good thing I don't have work tomorrow.  Otherwise I would have to call off.

So Mama said I was meant to stay in our hometown.  I don't want to admit that she's right, but there is too much noise here.

Let me tell you all the things that are annoying me right now.

  1. Traffic
  2. Pedestrians
  3. The furnace
  4. Owls
  5. The beating of my heart
  6. The clock in the kitchen
  7. Raccoons

Monday, October 15, 2012

Moving Day

Today was moving day.  My furniture looks so horrible in this new, nicer home but so long as I never invite anyone here no one will be any the wiser that my furniture is crap.  Well, they might be if they say Brandon delivering it in his business truck.

If anyone was home and watching, they would know.  The Fletcher's Junk truck gave it away.

Of course the day was not perfect.  If it wasn't the truck making me die of embarrassment, it was Brandon looking like a slob.  Really, the new neighbors probably think some hillbilly has moved next door.  How am I going to fit in with these people?

Even the day started out horribly.  Before we even left town, the truck got a flat tire.  Mama came over while Brandon was fixing it and told me it was a clear sign I wasn't meant to leave.

"How could you say that?"

"You shouldn't leave, Fran.  You're meant to be here."

I swallowed hard.  I hoped it was all her being dramatic.  If I'm meant to be stuck in our small town, then that means I'm meant to be stuck in the life I don't like  -- forever.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Rearview Window

I'm so glad I am moving.  And not just for the reasons I've been talking about either.  My creepy neighbor, Hoss, has made me loose sleep.  Something is going on next door, I'm telling you.

I was looking outside earlier, just looking outside, not looking for anything in particular when I saw it.  Hoss was dragging something across his backyard.  I don't know what it was, but I have seen people drag bags of leaves or yard debris.  I've seen gardeners working.  This was not like that.

Whatever it was he was dragging it from his garage to his shed.  I can't see his garage from my back window.  I just know where it is located.  I could somewhat see in the shed but the lighting was very dim.  It looked like he had a vat of something sitting in there.  No, not a vat, exactly, but a large barrel, like the bobbing for apples barrel only larger.

I was tempted to call the cops, but wasn't sure they would do anything.  If nothing is there, then Hoss will know I was the nosy neighbor who snitched on him.  I'll just be happy when I'm out of here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I'm Moving

"What is it, Fran, that you had to have all us over here?"


I looked around my living room.   I had called my parents and Brandon over to tell them about the townhouse.  I didn't have the heart to tell Granny.  I figured she would hear it from someone and then tell me I'm insane again.  This was hard enough as is without putting myself in that position.

"Well, Dad, I've decided to move."

"Oh, well, you're being so dramatic about it.  What's the big deal?  You probably need something with a little lower maintenance.  There are some newer homes across town you might want to take a look at once you find a realtor."

"Next week.  I'm moving next week.  I already signed a lease on a townhouse in the city."

Mama rolled her eyes.  "Fran, you still own this house.  Don't you think you should have sold it first?"

"I'll sell it.  I'll auction it if I have to, but I'm moving."

"You're going to be paying mortgage and rent at the same time.  This won't be doing your credit or bank account any favors."

"Properties move fast in the city.  If I didn't sign the lease, it would be gone."

"Then you find another one, Fran.  Really, do you have no common sense?"

Dad sat there with his arms folded across his chest while Mama, next to him, seemed very angry at me. Only Brandon said nothing.

We sat there in silence for several minutes.  It was exactly responses like that from Mama that proved why I need to leave here and find my own way.

"Okay," Brandon said, "if you're going to put yourself in financial jeopardy, the least I can do is help you move."

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Rental

After work today, I did something very unexpected.  Well, unexpected to anyone who knows me because I haven't expressed to anyone my desire to move away from my hometown.  Everyone thinks I love it here, but I hate it.  It's too small, too boring and, maybe most important, the older I get the less I can stand the commute.

So I made an appointment to see a townhouse in the city.  I thought I would just take a look at it to see what is available and what it looks like and what I can afford.  Little did I know I would absolutely love it.

It has white siding on the front and, even though it's located in the city, the street is quiet.  Not as quiet as the roads here, of course, but still quieter than downtown.  The inside was updated recently.  It looks so much nicer than my house.  Soooo much nicer.  It's bright and open and the appliances aren't about to die.  I really liked the paint colors and the view from the windows.  And my commute would be cut quite a bit.

I was so completely unprepared for loving it that the thought of loosing it put a pit in the bottom of my stomach.  I signed a one-year lease.

Now to tell everyone I'm moving.

Friday, October 5, 2012

I Need a Change

I've thought really long and hard since my birthday and the laundry list of apologies I was forced to make as a consequence of it.  I've come to the conclusion that I need a change, a major change not just a new nail polish color.

And I need a change in numerous aspects of my life.  So I've decided to do something about it.  I just don't know what yet.

Here is my list:

  • I need a new job.  Hate the current one.
  • I'd love to be a graphic designer.  Need to go back to school.
  • This town is too damn small.
  • I date losers and I what that says about me.  I so want to date someone who isn't a loser but has goals, dreams and ambitions.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I'm Sorry, I Guess

I've been looking back over the past few days, specifically my birthday party.  I suppose I owe a number of people an apology.  Mama, especially, I'll need to do something nice for but I have plenty of other apologies to make.

I also suppose I really did overreact at the party just like Mama was trying to tell me.  I just didn't want to listen.  I felt hurt she had gone behind my back and planned something even though she knew I was dreading, fearing, this birthday.  I never even saw Dad.  He's probably embarrassed by me.

But Granny's comment really did hurt and it hurt in a much different way than the planning of the party.  Does she really think I need to see a shrink?  Honestly?  Am I that mess up that I need professional help?

So, anyway, I have all these apologies I have to make and no idea where to start.  I guess I'll call Mama and ask to see her.

Monday, October 1, 2012

It's a Party -- Part 2

When I awoke I was laying on the couch with a wet washcloth on my forehead.  Everyone was standing around staring at me.  At first, I thought I was dreaming but then I remembered where I was.  It was my 30th birthday party.

Almost immediately, I sat bolt upright and screamed at the top of my lungs.

Mama tried to calm me down, but I had to let my frustration out and nothing anyone did was going to stop it.  When I could finally breath, I looked around the room.  I was so livid, I couldn't even remember who some of the people were.

"Why did you do this to me?  You knew I didn't want a party.  You knew I didn't want to be reminded of my birthday."

Mama said, "Why would I want to forget my youngest child's birthday?"

I climbed up on the back of the couch.  "You've ruined my life.  I'll never be able to show my face around this town again."

"I think you're overreacting."

"Overreacting?  How am I suppose to react when my own mother makes a fool of me?"

"Fran, it took a lot of hard work planning this party."

Granny took Mama's arm and said, "Susanne, leave her alone.  Some people can't be helped."

To me, she said, "You need a shrink."

That was it.  I couldn't take it anymore.  I took my things and I left.  So much for the people who love me.

Friday, September 21, 2012

It's a Party

It finally happened.  I turned 30.  Luckily for me, mom said she wouldn't make a big deal about it because in her mind it's not a big deal, just another birthday, so we would have a small family dinner together the same way we also do.

Mama said to come over to dinner after I got home from work and had changed my clothes.  She told me to wear something nice because she would be taking my picture next to my birthday cake.  It's the same routine she's done for the past 29 years.

So I changed and went over to my parents' house.  Mama was there to greet me on the porch which I thought was a little odd.

"Why are you out here?  Where's Dad?"

"Oh, he's inside taking a nap."

"A nap?  I didn't think Dad took naps."

"Oh, he doesn't usually.  He just had a stressful week.  He'll tell you all about it.  You can go put your purse inside if you want.  Just be quiet."

I nodded and opened the door to the living room.  Mama followed closely behind me.  The room was dark.  I didn't hear any snoring.  The light switched on and the room was full of people.  It was a party.  I saw Dad, Brandon, Polly, Granny, Jessica, Lilly and a number of other people I recognized.

Suddenly, I felt very hot.  The room started to spin.  Everything went black.  I was falling.

To be continued .....

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Today is my 30th birthday.  Today!  The end is near.  I can feel it. 

I'll get a bunch of gag gifts that say 30 on them.  They'll be black.  Next will come the "you're not getting any younger" comments.  Granny will lecture me on becoming an old maid. 

I'm not married, I have a dead end job, I live in this boring small town.  I'm going back to bed.

Monday, September 17, 2012

No Raise, Cut

A while ago, when I was given more work at work, I decided to ask for a raise.  I waited until I had been doing the extra account for two weeks.  I had written every reason why I deserved the new raise then I made an appointment with HR and presented it to them.  They said they would review it and get back to me through my supervisor.

About mid-morning, I heard Dorothy call my name, like a mother calling a child, from her office.  I went into her office where she instructed me to sit.

"Fran, you went to human resources to ask for a raise?"


"Well," she started to smile, "they have declined your request."

I felt disappointment rush over me.  Why had they denied me?  What I had done wrong?

Still smiling Dorothy went on, "They feel you're actually not doing enough work around here and should have your pay cut, starting next pay period."

"What?"  I stood.  "How much of a pay cut?"

"Two dollars an hour."

"That's crazy.  How am I supposed to pay my bills?"

"SAT TV doesn't care about you and your bills, Fran.  It cares about productivity.  You need to be more productive, at lot more productive.  If you're not going to be more productive then you need to find another job where your work ethic is appreciated."

I squinted my eyes.  Suddenly, I knew what had happened.  I didn't blow it at all with HR.  They had consulted Dorothy and she told them lies, lies that could get me fired.  I felt sick but knew what I had to do.  I have to escape Dorothy.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

The house next to me has been vacant forever.  It was vacant when I moved in to my house and since that time it has fallen into disrepair. 

It was really starting to look shabby.  Gutters were falling down; parts of the siding had been stolen.  There were even rumors the copper pipes in the basement had been stolen, too, but I never heard any police reports to that effect.  The house just plain looks like crap.  I had been hoping the village would tear it down.  That way there would be less neighbors to contend with.

Not long ago I started to see people going over to the house.  I had no idea why they were there but they made me nervous.

Today I found out.  I have a new neighbor.  The house sold.  I saw him tinkering outside so after work I went over there to introduce myself.  He said his name was Hoss.

I tried to make idol conversation but Hoss just seemed weird to me.  He explained how he loved the rundown appearance of the house. 

"It just fits me.  I couldn't live in a house that's manicured and nice."

"Oh, really?  Why is that?"

I started to take a step forward.  Hoss held up his hand and said, "Watch your step there.  I just might bite."

I thought he was kidding and started to move closer to him.  He snapped his jaws at me then started to laugh.

"My aren't you pretty.  Looks like you spend too much time in the shower, though, for my liking?"

I spend too much time in the shower?  That's the first time I've heard that one.  I could see into his garage and he had, well, a lot of axes and sharp things.  And there was a lot of rope and trashbags.

"Well, Hoss," I said backing up slowly, "I need to get going.  I'll see you again sometime."

"It was sure nice meeting you."

"Sure, anytime," I said through a forced smile.

For whatever reason I continued to walk backward.  I couldn't stop thinking about what I had seen in his garage.  My new neighbor is a serial killer!

I tripped and fell to my back, my skirt flying up in the air.  Oh, no, I had just let the serial killer see my underpants.  What if he wanted to bite that, too?  I picked myself up as fast as I could and ran.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hell's Kitchen

Perfect Polly and her family enjoyed dinner tonight at my house.  It was my idea, my treat.

I'm still not able to walk without pain but I wasn't about to hobble around Polly and have to explain to her how I injured myself.

I picked out a great recipe from a book.  Yes, I went through an actual cookbook like people who know what they are doing do.  I got dinner going and then the doorbell rang.

It was Polly.  Right on time per usual.  She's annoyingly punctual.

I took everyone's coats and showed them to my living room where I poured the adults a little bit of wine and asked all about their trip.  The conversation went on for quite some time.

Finally, my brother-in-law, Jeremy said, "Will we be eating soon?  I smell something."

He smelt something?  I ran as fast as I am able to the kitchen.  I had forgotten all about the dinner I was cooking.   Something was burning.  I searched frantically for a pot holder.  I had no idea where I kept them if I even own one.  One had to be here somewhere.

Finally, I found one and pulled the meat out of the oven.  It was charred black, burnt so badly I couldn't even get the knife through it.  The potatoes I was boiling for mash potatoes had the consistancy of water and the vegetables had stuck to the pan.  Something had boiled over onto my stove top and dripped on the floor.  Dinner was ruined.  My heart sank.

What was I going to do?  Slowly, I walked to the phone and called for pizza.  What was I going to tell Polly?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Perfect Polly

"Polly's coming to visit this weekend,"  Mama said to me when she came over to help me make my own dinner.


Mama squinted at me.  "Because she loves us, Fran."

Polly is my older sister, my perfect older sister.  We have never really seen eye to eye.  She was always an overacheiver while I was a screw up.

When we were in school, Polly was popular.  She was a great student, involved in a lot of activities and she went away to college.  I, meanwhile, was unpopular, a C student and had no ambition whatsoever.  I can't say Brandon was much better than me, but at least he owns a business.  What have I done?

Even as adults, Polly has had the best of me.  Because she was college educated, she got a good job.  She makes a lot of money.  She married well, a handsome guy with an equally good job.  They live several hours away in a wonderful house with a gorgous manicured garden.  Together they have two children.  They are the epitome of success.  And she has everything I would want.

Because she is so perfect we have never really gotten along, not just in childhood but now.  When I heard she was coming, I was anything but excited.  I wanted to know why she would want to come back here of all places.

"How long is she staying?"

"Just a few days.  It would be nice if you could try to be nice to her."

Oh, of course, I have to be nice to her.  Why doesn't she have to be nice to me?  It's just like Mama to take sides.

"Fine.  I'll cook dinner for her."

"Fran, you can barely cook your own dinner right now."

"I can do it."

I waved my hand.  Sore butt muscle be damned, I was going to prove I can be just as perfect as Polly by making a great dinner.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Gluteus Maximus

I have never been one to work out.  I mean, who really enjoys working out?  You have to wear those goofy clothings and get all sweaty and things jiggle.  Ewww.

But then I saw a television program about how exercise can hold off the effects of aging and I joined a gym the next day.

Fitness Universe has an excellant reputation and the prices weren't bad so I went with them.  I even went so far as to hire a fitness trainer named Ted.  I figured the faster I can get fit than the faster I can quit going to the gym, wearing goofy clothes, getting sweating and jiggling.

Ted is a buff guy and really into fitness, so much so I think he needs therapy.  He eats, sleeps and breathes exercise.

He told me I was puny and needed to do weight training to get my muscles firm or something. 

We started off working my arms, which hurt, then my core muscles, whatever those are, and that hurt.  Finally, we did leg lunges and that really hurt, I mean really, really hurt.

"I think you pulled your glute muscle," Ted said.

"My what?"  What's a glute muscle.

"Your gluteus maximus.  It's the muscle right here."

He put his hand on my rear.

"What?  I pulled my butt."

Apparently, I said this louder than I intended because several people turned to look at me and someone stiffled a laugh.  I could feel my face turning beet red.  My cheeks burned but not as much as my other cheeks.

"I think we'll wrap this up today," Ted said.

"No kidding, genius."

I hobbled back to the locker room.  That's definately the last time I'm going to the gym.  I can barely sit yet alone exercise.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Angry Angela

Have you ever had the experience where you're out and about somewhere, places you normally go and feel secure, and you run into someone from the past?  Someone from the past that you never thought you'd see again nor had any desire to see again?

Today that happened to me.  I was at the grocery store, same place, same time I always go and, boom, I ran right into a person from my past, a mean, ugly woman named Angela who had bullied me while we were in school.

I gasped, startled.  I was about to turn around and run before she noticed I was there, but it was too late.

We stared at one another for a moment.  What was I supposed to say?  I wanted to yell at the top of my lungs and scream obsentities and tell this person just how much she ruined my life.

She wasn't saying anything, so that left it up to me.  I thought she had left town.  I had been so thankful for that.

"Angela, what are you doing here?  You have a lot of f-ing nerve to show up here after all this time.  What you didn't beat me down enough the first time?  You had to come back for more?"

"A lot of things happened since high school, Fran."

"Oh, yeah, what kind of things?"

"Well, I graduated high school with a D average.  I had trouble finding a job or I would get fired.  I was partying all the time and became an alcoholic.  Eventually I was arrested and had to attend court-ordered anger management.  How have you been?"

I threw my shoulders back and smirked.  I know I should have felt some sort of sympathy or, at the very least, some sort of relief because this person is really messed up and that's why she took it out on me.  But somehow life wasn't enough of a lesson for her.

I said, "I have a successful job that I've had for several years.  I'm in line for a promotion soon.  I own my own home and car.  And I'm dating a wonderful man who treats me the way I deserve to be treated."

"I'm sorry the way I treated  you in the past, Fran.  Can you forgive me?"

What's this?  Angry Angela is apologizing to me?  She wants my forgiveness for her past behavior?  Why, to make her feel better just like bullying me made her feel good about herself when we were in school?  Why does she need an ego boost from me?  There is no way I could give her the satisfaction.

"Can I forgive you?  No.  No, I can't?"

I smiled to myself and walked past her.  Damn, that felt good.  For once, I had the upper hand.

Monday, September 3, 2012


I woke up feeling achy and sore.  When I got out of bed, my back was bend over and it took me a while to straighten myself out.  There was something wet on my leg.  Had I peed myself?

I was wearing a nightgown that looked like it was out of Little House on the Prairie.  Funny, I hadn't remembered putting it on last night.  I tried to see what time it was but my vision was blurry.  What had happened last night?

I realized what the day was.  It was my birthday -- my 30th birthday.  No wonder I felt so bad.  I had probably gone out drinking last night. 

I put on my slippers and thought they didn't quite fit.  My toenails seem to be hitting the front of the slipper.

Slowly and in pain I made my way to the bathroon and switched on the light.  I looked in the mirror. My hair was gray and my face was wrinkled.  I looked like I was 100 years old. 

I screamed and fire came out of my mouth setting the room on fire.  I kicked off my slippers.  My toenails were claws.  I screamed again more fire.  Everytime I screamed, fire.  The building was burning down.  I started clawing at walls.

Then it woke up.  It was all a nightmare.  I started breathing heavily, thankful it was all a dream. At least my birthday hadn't arrived yet.

Friday, August 31, 2012

There's a Sucker in Every Shoe Size

Lilly was insistant on a pink bridesmaids dress -- this you already knew -- so now I have to buy pink shoes.  Shoes I'll never wear again. Well, maybe I'll wear them again as an accent color.  But I'll never wear the dress again for sure.  Too, yew, ugly.

I went to PaySome Shoe Source to pick out a pair of white shoes that they'll dye the appropriate color.  There were a handful of styles.  Lilly said to pick out which ever kind I liked best so I did.  It has little flowers that go across the foot.

The sales woman asked me my size.  I told her 6.  I have worn a size six since I was 14.  Well, I tried them on and they felt tight.

"When's the last time you bought shoes," she asked.

 "About a year ago."

"Hum, I think we need to measure your foot."

My foot?  I thought they only did that with kids.  So, okay, I nodded and she brought the device over and measured.

"You're a six and a half."

"My foot grew?"

"Yes," she said.  "That can happen due to pregnancy, weight gain and age."


"Yes, age.  Are these the shoes you want?  We have them in your size."

I nodded.  Yes, my size.  Just what I always wanted:  Pink shoes and a growing, aging foot.

I placed my order and left the store feeling, well, different and not in a good way.  Who wants a larger foot?  Really, what's going to get larger next?  My butt?  My stomach?  My thighs?  Certainly not my ego.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Moon Over Hickville

I've said before that I live in small town.  Too small sometimes.  We're large enough that everyone doesn't know everyone else but small enough that we're all related if you go back far enough.

There is a social club here.  There is no membership; you just have to live within village limits.  I haven't been there in years so, for whatever reason, tonight I decided to go. 

What a mistake.  There was no one there whom I would be interested in.  They were either teenagers, old retirees or freaks and geeks.  (Freaks and Geeks, remember that TV show?)

One of the geeks is Hal.  He likes going around telling everyone he was named after the computer in 2001: A Space Odessey.  And he has the movie memorized, too.  Every single line of it.  It's a scary thing to see.

As I ordered myself a hotdog and a bag of chips I could feel Hal watching me.  I sat down at a table and Hal sat across from me, uninvited, and grabbed one of my chips.

"Hello, Fran.  How's it shaking?"

"It's, uh, shaking just fine, Hal.  What about you?"

"I was thinking of going to a Star Wars convention dressed as Han Solo.  Want to come and be my princess Leila?"

I rolled my eyes and sighed.  Really a geek sci-fi convention?  I just walked through the door.

"I bet you'd look real cute with your hair up in buns."

"OK, sure, Hal."


He reached forward and try to touch my hand.  I pulled back.  I only intended to pull back my hand but in reality I stood and then yelled at him, "No, Hal, I don't want to go with you.  I don't want to be your geeky princess.  And I certainly don't want you to regale me with stories of how you're named after some damn fictional, psycho computer."

The entire room was staring at me. I struggled my shoulders and shook my head.

Hal look mortified.  I grabbed my hotdog and left.

I'm never going there again.

Monday, August 27, 2012

When I Grow Up

Since Working Women Wednesday a few a weeks ago I have been thinking about my future.  I mean what future do I currently have?  My job with SAT TV is unbearable.  It's getting to the point where I don't want to go in anymore.  This is affecting my work performance.

So once again I am back to the idea of going back to school, but who wants to be the oldest student there?  It's embaressing. 

But really I have no idea what I want to do with my life and I should by now.  I should know.

I found myself again looking over the college website and dreaming.  Dreaming of what, I'm not sure.  Everything seems like it would take too long or cost too much or not be the perfect fit for me.  But what would be the perfect fit for me?

At one point I found myself looking at the graphic design page and daydreaming of Bill who works in the office building.  If I learned graphic design, in theory, I would be qualified to work for the same company he does.  It was a wonderful fantasy that I almost -- almost -- clicked on the "get more information" link.  I'm just not there yet.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The End is Near

I woke up this morning and looked in the mirror.  I looked haggard and tired.  I felt haggard and tired.

At breakfast I happened to look at the calendar hanging on the kitchen wall.  I caught sight of the date.  My birthday is exactly one month away.  That's it.  One month.  In one month I'll be 30.

How could I be almost 30?  I should be much further along in my life than this.  I should have a stable relationship, maybe have children.  I should live in a better house, drive a better car.  I should be in a career I enjoy.  I should know what I want to do with my life.

How can I turn 30?  I haven't even gotten out of my quarter life crisis yet.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pretty in Pink

As you recall, I promised Lilly I would go dress shopping with her.  It is only because I love her like a sister that I will do this.

We went to Amy's Bridal, which was having a special sale, and it was jammed packed with crazy brides-to-be looking for a great deal.

It took a while before we were waited on.  Had I known this I wouldn't have had to take off of work early.  Our consultant was named Rita.  Rita showed us around the store. 

Lilly had to pick her dress out first  -- and it took forever.  So she had to try on, like, a million dresses, asking maddening questions all the while about how her boobs look and her butt looks, straps or strapless, train or no train, it's too expensive, not expensive enough.  Finally, she picked something to my relief.

Then we went to the bridesmaids section and Lilly picks a dress right away.  She only had me try on three, like they do on the bride's shows on TV, and, boom, she made a decision.  And it's pink.  Ugh.  I'm going to look like a blown-up piece of bubble gum in front of all those people.  How could she?  She must really be afraid her bridesmaids will outshine her.

Monday, August 20, 2012

From Here to the 19th Floor

This morning I went into work early to make up for some time I'm talking off later in the month to help Lilly go dress shopping.  This, believe me, is not how I would want to spend my day but I do it because, in the long term, it will make my friend happy. 

As I walked to the elevator I was thinking about Lilly and how I hope she doesn't pick pink for the bridesmaids dress.  I hate pink.  It's the same color as the flush in our cheeks or a baby's butt.  Who would want to wear pink?  I wasn't paying any attention to the guy who walked into the elevator with me.

"Hey, aren't you lunch bag lady?" he said.

"Excuse me."

I looked up and there was Bill, the guy I had meet in the cafeteria who works in the company above mine.  He seemed more handsome than the first time I saw him.

"Remember, we met in the cafeteria?  We both brought a bag lunch."  He held up his lunch bag.  "See I brought mine."

"Oh."  My arms were full with my coat, my purse, my umbrella and my lunch bag.  "Mine's here somewhere."

"Hum, what floor are you getting off on?"

"The, uh, nineteenth."

"Oh, that's right."  He laughed.  "You work below me."

"That's right."

"What's your name again."


"Oh, that's right."

We rode the rest of the elevator ride in silence.  I couldn't get to the 19th floor fast enough.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Working Women Wednesday

I try to associate with my co-workers as little as possible.  They remind me too much of work for any friendship to really be enjoyable.  But sometimes you turn down an invitation enough times you owe them one.

I went out tonight with a bunch of the SAT TV ladies for Working Women's Wednesday at a bar down the street from our office building.

Something happened while we were there, enjoying a drink and a light dinner.  The women began to talk about themselves.  But it wasn't just talking about themselves.  They were talking about their backgrounds and what brought them to SAT TV. 

All of them had stories that were oddly familiar.  They needed a job, they were deep in debt so they found what they could yet they were still deeply in debt and still dissatisfied.  What was worse was none of them had a college degree.  These women reminded me of me.  I had goosebumps listening to their stories.

They are all middle age and with my birthday coming up I am fearful of becoming like them.  I don't want to become like them  --  bitter and stuck.  I want to have a job I like and a little money in the bank.  I want to be happy, ya know?

Maybe I need to revisit that college site after all.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Blind Date Fred

Never let your mother set you up on a blind date.  It will never work out.  She'll describe him to be perfect when in fact he's, well, you'll figure it out.

What she said:  "He'd be perfect for you, Fran.  You're names sound so cute together, too.  Fran and Fred.  He's named after his grandfather, you know."

What really happened:  "I was named after Fred Flintstone which is kinda good because I sorta look like him."

What she said:  "He in a career field that's in demand."

What really happened:  "I work in sanitation maintenance.  Yep, I'm a janitor."

What she said:  "He's very polite."

What really happened:  BURP!

What she said:  "He's interested in settling down and starting a family."

What really happened:  "I hate kids."

What she said:  "He's highly educated." 

What really happened:  "I'm kinda thinkin' I should go get my GED."

What she said:  "You're both in the same place in your life."

Huh?  What, Mom?  What do you mean by that?  The same place in our lives?  What does that say about me?  Mom?  Really?  Mom, what were you thinking?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Old Hat

You know how guys have lucky baseball caps?  I, too, have a lucky hat.  I've had it forever.  It's a lovely, little cloche hat that reminds me of the 1920s.  It's been with me every time something good has happened in my life.

The other day I was at Flor-Mart.  I was there to pick up a few odds and ends and check out the bargains.  I put my hat in my coat pocket.  I always put it there, in the same pocket.

After paying for my purchases, I reached into my pocket to find my hat and it was gone.  I felt my body get all tingly.  Where was it?  I searched both pockets, my purse, my bags, the floor around me.  No hat.  That's when I began to panic.

With my bags in hand I began running around the store like a mother searching for her lost child.  I retraced my footsteps.  I looked under things in case my hat fell and was kicked.  I looked everywhere.  Everywhere.  But I couldn't find it.

By this time, store security had found me and wondered what I was doing.  They were convinced I was attempting to shoplift.  I was taken in a backroom where they searched my purse, bags and pockets and patted me down.  I explained the situation to them.

One of the guards laughed.  "Why don't you buy a new hat?  You're at Flor-Mart.  Ten thousand square foot of every product under the sun."

I told them it was my lucky hat and I couldn't possibly ever replace it.  It was too precious to me.  Both guards laughed at me before telling me to leave the store.

I left with my heart heavy and my head hung low.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Sensitivity Training

Every once in a while, the powers that be at SAT TV feel the need to give us some additional training in something.  One year it was in how to be more polite while answering the phone.  Another year it was a computer course.  This year it was sensitivity training.

The training course was conducted in the conference room.  A screen was set up and the facilitator showed us different slides.  There was a test afterward.

The course talked about all kinds of things.  I don't remember most of it.  The thing that struck a cord with me was when he discussed sexual harassment.  He went through all the verbal forms of harassment then talked about inappropriate touch.

Did you know an inappropriate touch is any touch?  I didn't either.  Turns out inappropriate touch includes things I though were innocent like touching some one's arm during conversation or giving them a hug.

A hug?  As he was talking, my mind went back to the day before.  I had given our receptionist Carol a hug.  Carol has been going through a tough time lately.  Her husband left her for a man and her children are moochers.  Anyway, I felt sorry for her -- she started to tear up -- so I reach over her desk and gave her a hug.

Carol hadn't actually given me permission to hug her.  I just did.  Realization stuck me.  I'm a sexual harasser.  I slumped in my chair.  Was anyone looking at me?  Did they know what a horrible person I am?  How will I ever be able to look anyone in the eye there again?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Here Comes the Bridesmaid

Lilly is having lunch with me today.  It was nice seeing her.  We haven't really hung out much since she got engaged to Jerry.  I knew that would happen.  It happened with Jessica and my other friends, too.  No one has time for me anymore.

We went to a nice coffeeshop between our hometown and the city.  We ordered sandwhiches and high caffeinated beverages then started to catch up.

Of course Lilly had to bring up the wedding.  I groaned inside.  So she was planning that thing out already?  Like, what, two years in advance?

"Oooh, oooh, oooh, I have something important to ask you," Lilly said taking my hands.  "You're my best friend.  Will you be my maid of honor?"

I was speechless.  The maid of honor?  How could I do that when I was secretly jealous she was getting married in the first place?  But at the same time she is my best friend.  It would hurt her feelings if I said no.

Lilly was sitting there, smiling, waiting for a response. 

Say something, you idiot, I thought.  "Yes, I'll do it."

"Wonderful.  You'll have to come dress shopping with me and be my second opinion on everything."

Her second opinion on everything?  Like, literally, everything?  She didn't ask me my opinion on marrying Jerry.

Lilly started to dig through her purse.  "We'll have to schedule a shopping day!"

Yes, a shopping day.

"Fun."  I smiled.

Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.

Monday, August 6, 2012


Lunch is the only time I can get out of my stifling office.  SAT TV's headquarters is part of a larger office building, a skyscraper downtown.  The building has a shared cafeteria.  Each company has its own break room with a coffee maker, microwave and refrigerator.  But the only place to eat is the cafeteria.

I go down there every day, although most days I can't afford to buy a lunch.  I bring my own, usually left overs from dinner.  Sometimes I eat with co-workers but that can be such a drag when all they do is talk about work.  I want to get away from work.  So I eat by myself by a window so I can look out and daydream.

Today I sat down and began eating, looking outside.

"It's nice to see that I'm not the only one who brown bagged it."

I looked over to the adjacent table and saw a guy I had never seen before, not that was too unusual; I don't know everyone in the building.  He was cute, very cute, and sat there with this shirt sleeves rolled up to his elbows.  I could tell in his office he must wear a suit because he also had on a tie.

"Yeah," I responded.

Stupid!  Why didn't I say something more intelligent?

"You never know when you're the new guy," he said.

Now my attention was peaked.  A new guy?  Hum, maybe I wouldn't make a fool of myself if I watched what I said from here on out.

"You just started work today?"

"Yes.  I'm the new marketing manager at Net Tech."

"Net Tech.  I work under you, I mean on the floor beneath you, at SAT TV."

"And what do you do there?"

Um, what to say, what to say?  I wanted to be impressive.   "I handle three accounts including California."

"Oh, inside sales."

I didn't correct him and let him believe I was in inside sales.  He finished his lunch, stood and extended his hand to me.

"I'm Bill, by the way.  Nice to meet you."

"Nice to meet you, Bill.  I'm Fran."

He shook my hand and told me he had to get going.  Then he was gone. 

I hope I see Bill again although I'm not sure why.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Dream a Little Dream

I hate my job.  Have I ever told you?  Sometimes I think that I'd like to go back to school and become something else.  But if I do, I'd be, like, the oldest student there.  I don't know that I could stand that embarrassment for four years.

I decided today to take a look at some college websites just to see what there is out there for me.  I mean what could I do with what I already have a high school diploma, some minimum wage jobs while I was in school and customer service?  Um, nothing.

What am I good at?  Um, nothing.  So I just took a look around.

I could be a teacher.  I'd have summers off, but I'd have to talk in front of students, so that's out.

I could be an accountant.  Some of them work from home.  But, no, I'd risk running into Jack.

I could go into office administration, but I'd risk running into Elliot.

I'm bad with computers, so IT is out.  I don't think I can string a coherent sentence together to save my life so journalism is out.

What can be done without any brains or embarrassment.  Um, nothing.

OK, I'm done looking around.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Usedta Coulda

I've been telling you a lot about work and my boss but not a lot about what I really do for SAT TV.

I answer phone calls and lots of them for all the territories I manage.  The calls vary but mostly focus on billing issues and technical issues.  It's the billing issues that kill me because it is usually something I can't fix because it was their fault or the company never received payment or never recorded the payment.  Stuff like that.

Today is a perfect example of how such calls go.  The call went something like this:

"Hello, this is Fran.  Thank you for calling SAT TV.  How may I help you?"

"Why do I have a charge of $39.99 on my bill for Knowtime on this month's bill?"

"Let me look into that for you, sir.  Can I get some more information from you?"

I find out his name and account number and look up his bill.  Sure enough, there is an extra $39.99 charge there."

"Your account shows you're subscribed to Knowtime, sir.  You didn't cancel after your free 30 trial."

"You have to cancel.  I thought it automatically cancelled."

"No, sir, you needed to call and cancel.  I can't remove the charge"

"Well, you usedta coulda.  Thanks for nothing."

Click.  He hangs up on me.  Then I record everything that happened during the call.  If they don't believe me, or if he calls and complains, they will review the phone call to see if I am lying. 

This happens about once every five to ten minutes all day long.  I'm tired.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Nip Slip

The corporate singles mixer was this evening.  All day at work I had been nervous but excited.  I didn't know what to think.  I guessed there would be a bunch of businessmen and attorneys and accountants.  There would be successful men who weren't cheap and who were full of motivation.

I picked out a nice cocktail dress to wear, a purple dress with spaghetti straps.  It has a bit of a low back so I wasn't able to wear a bra with it but I was able to use those paste on support things they sell in the lingerie departments.  I had my nicest jewelry on and a stylish purse.  The only thing that made me look poor is my car but none of the singles would see that so I was all set.

After work I changed in the bathroom and redid my makeup. 

Off I went.  I was one of the first people there but after a while more and more people streamed in.  They served alcohol and hors d'oeuvres.  I watched what I ate and what I drank because I wanted to make a good impression.  I mingled.  I felt confident.  After a while music started.

I was talking to a guy named Jack who suggested we dance.  He seemed very nice.  He was accountant  --  see, I knew I could meet some accountants -- who has trouble getting out and meeting women.  Perfect.  He was desperate.

After some slow classy songs the music got faster.  I threw my arms up in the arm and got into the music.  I started to notice people were staring at me.  At first I thought it was my imagination but, no, they were staring at me.

Okay, an audience.  I continued to dance.  Finally, I saw Jack waving his hand in front of his chest.  I didn't understand.

"Fran, your dress."

My dress?  What was wrong with my dress?  I glanced down and saw it.  Oh, my God, my nipple had slipped out my dress and everyone saw it.  Everyone!

I pushed my way past Jack and everyone else, grabbed my purse and left as quickly as I could.  I'll never go back there again.  They'd never look me in the eye.

Friday, July 27, 2012

There's A Spud Born Every Minute -- Part 2

I made it Jessica's room.  Her room was full of flowers.  I guess I picked out the wrong gift after all.  I can't win.  I set the flowers down and walked over to the bed.

"You look like hell, Fran.  What happened?"

"It was nothing really.  Remember Elliot?"

"I don't know, Fran.  You've had so many boyfriends.  Is he the one who likes to sit around all day drinking beer and watching Sport Network?"

"Liked.  He's very successful now.  Probably owns a Mercedes."

"Really?"  Jessica sat up, clearly interested.

I had to change the subject.  "Where is Spuds Mackenzie?'

Jessica pointed to the little hospital crib thingy next to her bed.  "Right there.  Why would you call her that?"

"No reason.  Seeing Elliot was a big surprise."

"What you need, Fran, is a successful man who wants to settle down, not a string of losers.  You need to go to where the successful people are."

I walked over to Mackenzie and feigned interest.  I couldn't think of anything other than Elliot and the "wonderful girl" he had met after me.  I can be wonderful and inspiring, too. 

"Well, there is a corporate singles mixer in the city this Friday.  I was thinking of going."

"You definitely need to, Fran.  It will do you some good."

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

There's A Spud Born Every Minute -- Part 1

Jessica had her baby, in the wee hours of the night, so after work I decided to go visit her.  I stopped first in the gift shop to buy her something.  I didn't know what to get.

Do I buy something for Jessica or something for the baby?  I had no idea what the protocol is for this sort of thing.  I asked the cashier and between cracks of gum I swear she rolled her eyes at me.  Finally I settled on some overpriced flowers for Jessica.  The baby got enough gifts at the baby shower anyway, I figured.

I asked the women at the front desk how to get to the maternity ward and promptly got lost.  Somehow I got off on the wrong floor or took a wrong turn or something.  All those corridors look alike.

At one point I heard a familiar voice calling my name.  I turned and there was one of my old boyfriends, Elliot, walking up to me.

We exchanged pleasantries.  I told him I was here visiting Jessica.  He made fun of me for being very far from the maternity ward.

"What are you doing here?"

"I work for the hospital now.  Yeah, I went into hospital management."

Hum, that was very interesting.  I rubbed the back of my neck and as I did so noticed a ring on his finger.

"You're married."

"Funny thing," he laughed, "I meet a wonderful girl after we broke up.  She urged me to go to school then we got married.  We have two kids now and one on the way."

"Yes, very funny."

I excused myself and sprinted back to the elevators.  Elliot's a career man now, a father married to a "wonderful girl"?  When I knew him, he had no motivation, no wish for a family and thought school was for snobs.  I guess that proves I'm not so wonderful.
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