Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Parrot

"What kind of pet should I get?"

"I don't know.  What kind do you like?"

"Birds," Bill said.  "I've always liked birds.  Do you like birds?"

"They're okay.  I'm not a big fan of their poop."

We stepped inside the pet store and smell of animal hit me immediately.  I wrinkled my nose and tried not to start coughing.  What did Bill need a pet for anyway?  He worked for 40 plus hours a week.  We went out a lot.  Why a pet?

"Maybe a fish.  You are gone a lot, Bill."

"No, I like birds."

I sighed.  Fine, let's go look at birds.  I rolled my eyes.  Seemed nothing would dissuade him now.

We went over to the bird section.  A parrot was sitting on a perch outside a cage.

"Oh, look at him," Bill said and reached to pet the parrot.

He yelped and pulled his finger back.  "He bit me."

"You're bleeding.  You're bleeding."

I started jumping up and down, flailing my arms.  The manager ran over, concerned, concerned he was going to be sued.

"You shouldn't have done that, sir.  You come in here at your own risk.  You can't sue us."

"Bandage him up," I said.

The manage brought over a paper towel and we left to take Bill to stat care.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Retirement Community

Granny called me today.  Ever since her visit to the city our relationship as been like it used to be -- good.  So I was shocked when she called me.  We had been talking about at the same time on the same day every week.

At first I thought something was horribly wrong.

"Wrong?  No, I feel all right,"  Granny said.  "I do have something to tell you and you're the last to know."

I was still convinced she was sick or dying until she said it.  "Fran, I've decided to move to a retirement community in Florida."

I couldn't believe it.  "What?  Why?"

"It's a number of reasons.  I'm getting tired of winters. But mostly it's because I have no friends my own age to spend time with.  I need that right now."

"But that's so far away.  Isn't there somewhere closer you could move to?"

"I could, I suppose, but I know some of the ladies who live down there, so I won't be alone when I move."

"Oh."  I sat there, not know what to say.

"Fran, are you there?"

How long had I sat there not saying anything?  I wasn't sure.  I shook my head even though Granny couldn't see me.

"Yes, I'm here.  How can you leave?  I need you."

"You don't need me, Fran.  You're a grown woman with much life ahead of her."

"But I'll miss you."

"I'll miss you, too.  But don't worry about me.  I'll see you plenty of times before I go."

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Trade

When I got here, I had to buy a parka.  Now I'm leaving here and I want to get rid of the parka, but how?  I'm afraid I'm going to have to pay for extra baggage if I bring this thing along but I want my money back.  At least some of my money, any of my money.

But who is going to want to buy a parka in the middle of Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport?  But I don't want it. 

Please, please, if you are reading this, buy my parka.  I need to the money to buy something that really matters.


I'll even trade the parka for something else.  Anyone care to trade?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Up North here there is this thing called the Aurora Borealis.  I've heard of it, I suppose, but I never knew what it was.  I figured it was some girl with a weird name. But last night we went out into the middle of nowhere to see the aurora.

We had a tour guide, which was a good thing because I was terrified of the wilderness.  I've heard one too many stories of people being eaten by bears or disappearing into the forest and never coming back.  This vacation is great and all but I'm looking forward to returning to the city.

So we went with a tour guide and a bus full of other people.  We seemed to drive forever and ended up stopping somewhere where the glare of light pollution was negligible.

All the ribbons of light in the sky!  It was very beautiful although I'm not sure they photographed very well.

Bill kept his arm around me the entire time.  I'd like to think it was because he was being romantic but really it was so we both would feel warmer.  Thank goodness for this hideous parka but I am still freezing.

Two more days here and then we're headed home.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Parka

We touched down in Alaska safely.  I brought my heaviest coat.  I'll be honest, my heaviest coat is not that heavy.  I don't like looking fat when I'm not so I'd rather be cold than wear a big coat.

When I went to the airport, it was clear I wasn't going to be going many places dressed as I was.

One of the airline workers laughed at me.  "Honey, if you're going to be trudging around here this time of year, you're going to need a parka."

After she walked away, I turned to Bill and said, "Where am I going to find a parka?"

"At at store, I guess."

I felt sick to my stomach.  I absolutely did not want a parka.  But I didn't want to freeze either.

We had a taxi driver take us to a store and there I found a parka.  I bought a black one since black is slimming.  I could not believe the price, however.  I'm so glad I had spending money as part of my prize package but I didn't expect to spend it on something so hideous.

Friday, January 18, 2013

North to Alaska

Bill and I are on the airplane now.  Soon we will be touching down in Anchorage for the first real vacation. 

Some people think that I'm crazy.  No, not for going to Anchorage in January because that is crazy, but for going with Bill.  These well-meaning people have nothing personally against him, they just think I haven't known him well enough.

Well, I wasn't going to go by myself.  And I couldn't take my friends, and I'd be mortified to take my family.  So I'm here with Bill.

He's asleep right now.  I don't want him seeing this.  It might make him feel bad.  But are we going too quickly, too soon?  I mean, a vacation is a big step, but it will be good for us, I think.  Won't it?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


I claimed my prize via telephone and made an appointment with them to go down to the nearest Jack and Jane store to meet with someone there.

I dressed like I would on any other day, nothing special.  I figured I probably had to go there to sign papers or prove my identity or something.

I went down to the store alone and asked for the manager who escorted me to the offices in the back.  There was a photographer there.  A photographer!  He kept taking pictures of me from all angles.  Apparently, when I claimed my prize I agreed to appear in marketing campaigns and on social media pages.  Why didn't they tell me this?  I would have dressed better.  I would have looked halfway decent.

Once it was all over, nearly hyperventilating, I ran to the mall restroom and hid in the stall so I could cry in privacy.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Office

I'm still trying to get used to my new office.  I'm not sure I fit in.  Well, I know I don't fit in.  I'm not used to the company culture yet.  That is what they call it, right, company culture?

At SAT TV, no one cared about anyone else so you had to care for yourself because no one else would.  I'm still used to that.  Even though I prefer it when people are nice to me, I'm still jaded and wondering why they're talking to me.

I wandered down today to see the customer service reps.  They seem like they are in such a better place than where I was when I was doing customer service.  They didn't seem at all overworked or stressed or taken advantage of.

To one of them I said, "It's tough having to work evenings and holidays."

She looked at me as if I were crazy.  Apparently in this company they don't work either evenings or holidays.  Well, they must think that stuff's only for third world countries or something.  They have no idea how good they have it.

Another one asked me what I was doing here if I was going to school as if school pays my bills.  She wasn't being rude about it, more like ignorant. 

I don't know what I'm going to do.  I suppose I should be happy I have a job and be quiet about it.  After all, I'm not really here to make friends, although it would be nice.

Friday, January 11, 2013


Dr. Clark had assigned us a PowerPoint presentation.  PowerPoint is actually a pretty easy program to use and it's not technically graphic design, but he really had other motives in mind. 

We were assigned one of six words or phrases and then had to design a five minute presentation about it.  I got "set goals".

So I gave it some thought and came up with a list of reasons to set goals.  I did this by compiling stuff I read online.  I showed Bill and he said it was very boring.  I was disappointed but decided to try a different direction.  Bill suggested I use my own reasons not the ones of so-called experts.

So today was the presentation.  I started with a slide about school and how we must set goals early to make it through school with good grades then I talked about professional goals and personal goals that come up in adult life.  I talked about how goal setting never ends or else you get stuck in a rut.

When I finished, Clark didn't say anything.  He was writing on my presentation notes.  Finally, he looked up and started applauding. 

"See, students, this is what I was looking for.  I was looking for you to use your creativity, not for you to give me a list of items you found on the Internet.  I was looking to test you and your creative skills not your PowerPoint skills."

He excused me to go sit down and I went back to my seat, smiling, content that I just earned myself a good score.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Pink Skin

"What is that on your skin,"  Bill asked as I was changing my clothes.

"What?  Where?"

I started looking all over, rubbing my skin and swiveling at the hip.

"There.  All over your legs and arms."

Bill pointed at me.  I looked down and saw I had patches of unusually pink skin everywhere.  A rash!

"Maybe you're allergic to something."

I ran to the bathroom where the light is brighter and looked myself over in the mirror.  It was everywhere.  What was I going to do?

Bill followed me and stood in the threshold looking at my pink skin.  "Like I said, maybe it's an allergy."

"Like what?"

"I don't know.  Did you start using a new laundry detergent or a new soap or perfume or something?"

I thought about it for a minute and started to cry.  Sobbing, I ran past him and threw myself on the bed.

"What's the matter?"

I remember what was new.   I had bought a new skin lotion that has perfume and makes the skin shimmer.

"I bought it because I thought you'd like it."

Bill sat down beside me and rubbed my back.  "Whatever it is, it doesn't matter.  I care about you regardless."

I looked up, sniffing.  Somehow that made me feel somewhat better.  "Thank you.  Now can you help me pick out a nice turtleneck?" 

Monday, January 7, 2013

There's an App for That

I desperately need a new phone.  My old cell is, like, five years old.  It's an embarrassment to use because people will think I'm not hip on technology.  I'm going into graphic design.  I need to be hip on technology.

Bill offered to take me.  He knows more about this stuff than I do.  So we went.

I let him do all the talking.  What do I know about 4G, FG, I don't know?  Camera pixels?  Screen size?  Speed?  Well, here's what the new phone looks like.

So when we were done, Bill helped me download apps.  Or is it upload apps?  Anyway, I have one for a ton of websites.
I'm going to have to read the owner's manual.  No way I want to look as stupid in real life as I do in this journal entry. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

And the Boss Says

I walked into Burt's office and showed him the letter.  I thought that was the best way to do it.  That way he wouldn't think I made up the prize just to get a vacation.

He read the letter a couple of times and didn't say anything.

"If you need to say no, I understand.  I'm expecting it.  I can just call them and they can give the prize to someone else."

"Have you ever won anything before?"

I shook my head.  "No, I've never even won a scratch off lottery ticket."

I had actually forgot I submitted my name for the drawing until the letter came.  Then I remembered signing up for it when I was out shopping for Jessica's baby shower.  I'd never been on a real vacation either.

Burt read it one more time.  "I'll tell you what.  Since you would not be asking for time off were it not for winning this prize, I'll let you take the time off.  However, you'll have to take it during the slow time of year."

"When's that?"


Alaska in January?  I shivered just thinking about it, but if that was my only option, I'd take it.

"Okay," I said, "we have a deal."

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Winner Is ....

The letter read:

Dear Fran Fletcher,

We are pleased to announce that you are the winner of the Jack and Jane's department store 50th anniversary contest.  Per your request, we are notifying you via mail.

The prize package includes an all inclusive trip to Alaska (hotel, airline and rental vehicle) for two weeks along with $2,000 spending money.  Full details of the prize are on the back of this letter.

Prize must be redeemed within one year of the date above or else it will be forfeited.  To claim your prize please call 1-800-JAC-JANE and when asked, give the customer service representative this code:  AKA50913109087430839.

We hope to hear from you soon.  If you have any questions please call our 800 number.

Thank you,

Martha Marley,
VP of Marketing
Jack and Jane's Co.

So I've won a prize, a big prize.  I should be happy, right?  Well, I'm not.  I just started my job.  I won't get a vacation for a while.  I'll have to ask Burt for special permission to go.  Too bad.  I know he'll say no.
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