Happy Memorial Day. I Hate Everyone.

I’m having a hard time being back. There. I said it.

I don’t want to abuse the privilege of this platform by using it as a place to complain about really trivial things, but, seriously, can I bend your ear for a moment? I feel like I’ve earned it, karmically. I mean, I could give you daily updates on the crazies on the bus, and the uppity types at the all-natural grocery stores and my very vivid, very lucid, very apocalyptic, dreams, but I very consciously keep that stuff from making regular appearances here. I’ve also spared you the stories of the craziness I have to put up with in my profession. (Mostly, though, that’s so my own ass is protected. I can’t very well go mouthing off about the people who pay my rent, now can I?) Well, what if I change some names and details? What if I just loosely disguise the characters but still reveal the plot? Oh, wait. What’s that creaking noise? Is that the sound of Pandora’s Box being slowly opened? Why, yes. Yes it is.

I can’t tell if I am just in the throes of PMS… or if I have just overstayed my welcome here in the Emerald City and every extra minute here is a sharp stick in the eye. It just seems that everything is conspiring to send me packing, and I’m of the mind to think I would be a fool not to listen. Also? We could spend whole lifetimes chalking bad days up to PMS, and, really, that’s not fair to all the dumbasses out there.

I’ve long resisted the popular opinion that Seattle is an especially passive aggressive place because I think that every place has its share of jerkwads. I used to think the East coast was no more passive than the West. But today, that theory was turned on its head. EVERYone I had to deal with today was a bone-crushing steamroller of displaced angst and bitterness. I am trying very, very, very hard to not let this get to me. Very, very hard. I am trying to understand that maybe it’s just me. I am trying to identify what part I have to play in all this and to, in the parlance of our times, “take responsibility” for my actions.

Of course, that’s a stack of self help books talking. And maybe a little of Oprah’s farewell speech thrown in for good measure. In any event, I’m looking for the silver lining to this whole thing, looking for the reason Seattle is being so damned nasty to me right now.

It started with a client being very unclear (which she typically is, so no surprises there) about a task she wanted done. A very confusing hour later, when I asked for clarification, she giggled condescendingly, as if to say, “Silly girl, I told you how to do this this morning and here you’ve gone and bungled it”. For my part, I apologized for not understanding, but I am still fuming at that horrid (passive aggressive) laugh. Of course, my higher self is saying to my wounded self (in Glenda the Good Witch’s voice, because that’s who my higher self sounds like) “There, there, my child. You see? She is unhappy in her marriage and her husband is an ass and she has to put up with a business partner dumber than a bag of hammers. You’d be short tempered and irritable if you were her, too.” And my wounded child’s shoulder’s sag in defeat and I trace a semi-circle in the dirt with my toe I admit that maybe I am being too harsh on her. And then I rear back and clock Glenda in the face for trying to shine this turd.

Because that’s what this whole thing makes me: an angry, angry beast who punches nice ladies in the face.

Hours after that little incident, I had to call both the city and state to clarify a tax question and my cell phone cut out with the state just as I was about to get to the meat of my question. The state rep, who has a history of not really knowing how to answer questions, got all pissy, as if I had purposely tried to make the phone cut out.

The coup de gras, though, was the city rep. Now, because I have been doing this for a living for the past five years, I know the players around town. I know the accountants and the silver-tongued man at the general help desk with the city who ends every sentence with a slow and velvety “ma’am”. I know the sweet old ladies in sensible shoes down at the state unemployment office. And I know this particular woman at the city. And I know she is hard to deal with. And just like her tone indicates, there is no one but her to deal with, so you’d better buck up and get used to it. She doesn’t just run this particular department at the city, she RULES it. She LORDS over it. If you have questions, you’d better be prepared to deal with the only person who can answer them. And you’d better be prepared for her to be impatient, rude, and to speak in confusing sentence fragments.

In a series of questions that led to both of us answering each other like miffed thirteen-year-olds (FINE! SEE IF I CARE!), I finally got out of her that we needed to follow a series of steps to get things straight. She listed those steps, of course, as snidely and slowly as if she were talking to a developmentally disabled manatee.

The downfall, really, of our modern small-personal-electronics society is that you can’t really angrily slam a phone back down in its cradle anymore. There’s no two-pound receiver to crash into a fifteen-pound desk phone with a little bell inside that will reverberate for a second or two afterward while you sweat and take deep, heaving, agitated breaths. I was tempted to throw my cell phone at a brick wall to have, at least, a fittingly dramatic ending to the call, but my warranty doesn’t cover “Soap Opera style outbursts of exaggerated violence”. Instead, I just wound up pressing “end call” with as much ferocity as I could and yelling, despite my rules about using the word, BITCH! on the echo-y upper floor of my client’s business.

Of course, we all know the weather isn’t helping things. All of this would be moderately tolerable if it was at least sunny and warm. Maybe I wouldn’t have this compunction to want to march right back to my client’s place of business and, in front of everyone, yell, HOW DARE YOU TALK TO ME THAT WAY. You know things are in the red zone when you start pulling the “How Dare You’s” out. Not good, people. Not good.

Do I realize that by posting this here instead of approaching my client and using my “I” statements and saying that how she behaved really hurt my feelings is just as passive as all the shit I am complaining about? Yes. Yes, I do. Am I tempted to correct that? No, no I am not. Does this blog serve, from time to time, as a giant padded room where I go to scream obscenities at the tops of my lungs just to get some release? Well, duh. Isn’t that what the Internet was invented for?

The End of An Era

I’m so moved by Oprah’s show coming to an end I hardly know what to do with myself. I know she’s not “going away”, but it’s going to be weird that she’s not on at four p.m. anymore. That show has shaped my adult life in more ways that I can count.

Years ago, back when email and the legal drinking age were new to me, I wrote Mr. Burdy a love note that contained a phrase that I think sums up how I’m feeling right now. Burdy was in Germany for a semester and I was in the habit of communicating with him, because of our schedules and the time difference, at night (and sometimes after a cocktail or five). In this particular email, I waxed poetically about missing him terribly, that it was strange to be away from him for so long, and that there was this “bif emoty” in my life where he used to be. What I was trying to say was that there was a big empty in my life where he used to be, but, y’know. I was all Daphne thumbs and bleary-eyed. It has since become an inside joke between the two of us, and every time one of us says it, I marvel at how that one little idiotic phrase can make me re-live that longing all over again.

Ms. Winfrey, I feel a bif emoty where your show should be.

Here are a few more pictures from the roadtrip. Enjoy.

Billy's Deli in San Clemente

Nearly There

Andersen's Pea Soup

Santa Cruz Boardwalk

…Jiggity Jig

Well, getting back from vacation is never any fun, right? I’m trying to adjust to colder weather and this whole “work” thing. I’m still processing the trip; I have so many thoughts running around in my head right now and I’m not coming up with anything coherent. Best to stay moot in situations like these.

Mr. Burdy and I are working on putting together a little slide show of all my pictures.

In the meantime, here are a few from my phone. More soon.

Bridge in OR
CA Palm Trees
Bikes in Santa Cruz

Dear Tuesday (Notes from the Road edition)

Dear Folks at HTC/Google/Sprint,
You’ve built a fine product, gang. Normally, my insides shrivel up and my body convulses at the sound of the word “product”, I hate it so. But, I truly and honestly don’t know what to call the four inch by two and half inch black device sitting next to me right now. It’s a phone, sure. But it’s also been a roadmap, a restaurant review guide, a computer, an electronic diary, a camera, and a way to connect with friends as far away as the other side of the country. I would not have been able to do this trip without it. Well, I would have, but I’d probably be sitting in a corn field in the middle of Iowa right now, lost, crying my eyes out, hungry, lonely, and with no way to take a picture of myself with the caption: “Vacation: Day 1”.

Dear Rooster’s Restaurant in Medford,
You guys are awesome. When I asked for an outlet to plug my laptop into, you graciously unplugged your nearest ceramic rooster lamp and allowed me access. Then you served me a delicious omelet and your waitress made sure to refresh my coffee at the edge of the table instead of inches from my screen. That sort of courtesy, plus your love of all things roostery and hand painted stuffed into every corner of your wood paneled dining room, is a rare and wonderful thing. May you outlive all the Applebees and may your kitsch never need dusting.

Dear Palm Cottages,
You are so lovely. You are like a doting grandmother standing at the side of the road with a tray of fresh baked cookies calling me to come in and rest a while. Rest I did, Palm Inn. Your beds are wonderful cinnamon-roll folds of cozy blankets and pillows. Your front desk is wonderfully helpful, your gardens are relaxing, your little red doors are charming. You even offer the weary traveler far from home a pillow menu. A pillow menu! Which is a good thing, because….

Dear Madonna Inn,
Thanks for agreeing to mail me back my pillow. It’s a weird thing to wake up in a cold sweat five hundred miles from where you slept last night and realize that you’ve left a pretty important part of your sleeping set-up in another city. For god’s sake. I can’t remember a damned thing anymore. Which reminds me….

Dear San Clemente Inn,
Thanks for agreeing to mail me back my book. Who the hell goes on vacation with a self help book about healing trauma? I do. And who then leaves that book in a hotel room and drives off without it? That would be me too. The irony of packing a book about getting over anxiety and then waking up in a cold, sweaty panic attack after realizing I’d left said book somewhere along Route 1 is not lost on me.

Dear Future Traveling Self,
Next time you pack for a vacation, you are not allowed to bring anything but the following: underwear, toothbrush, cell phone. Forget changes of clothes, toiletries, laptops, etc. Clearly you cannot seem to manage keeping track of anything else. For God’s sake, you almost left your phone on a paper towel dispenser in a roadside bathroom miles from anything. You know what? Forget the underwear and the toothbrush. Just bring your phone and a tether.

They Have No Idea Who They’re Dealing With

Write a review about my recent stay? Why, sure, Hotels.com. Sure I will.
Here ya go.

Title: “Where dreams of comfort and hospitality go to die”

“What should I start with? The ping pong ball sized hole torn into the drapes? The drapes that wouldn’t properly shut out the light because every third curtain hook was bent and unable to be placed back in its track without a pair of pliers and a ladder? The black mildew ringing the shower stall? The power button on the TV pushed in so hard it was lodged an inch deep into the device and the remote that didn’t work? The room key that was a single loose key with the number of the room scratched into it with a wood screw? Maybe you’d like to hear about the water damage on the ceiling, a sagging, stucco bowl of water damage big enough to hold a few pieces of fruit? Or maybe the lampshades ragged and torn and not really bolted to the mismatched lamps so much as perched cockeyed from the tops of their wire frames? Or perhaps you’re not bothered by the aesthetics of a place and you don’t care about these sorts of things. Maybe you don’t care if your furniture looks like it was pulled from a run down schoolhouse circa 1967. Maybe you’re more into the language of a place. Like, maybe you’re the sort that enjoys a good printed sign stapled to the bathroom wall in a sheet protector warning you NOT to use the towels and sheets as vehicles for applying shoe polish and car wax. Maybe that sort of thing gives you an ego boost because, for god’s sake, what kind of person polishes his shoes with a motel pillowcase? Or maybe you’re not here for the comfort factor and classy signage at all. Maybe you pulled off the road because the words “free continental breakfast” caught your eye. And maybe your idea of continental breakfast is a dingy plastic pitcher of reconstituted orange juice and five Styrofoam cups. If all this sounds tolerable to you, then, by all means, pay the outrageous sum of $50 a night for this dump. All your wildest fantasies about what it would be like to sleep in a room used to stage a grizzly murder scene for an episode of America’s Most Wanted would come true.

Pink Is the Color Of Contentedness

Can you hear my contented sighs from where you are? Because I have been doing nothing but exhaling dramatically with relief and happiness for the past 12 hours or so.

Yesterday morning was a rough one. I’d spent the previous day, all day, in the hot, hot sun. I thought I’d drunk enough water throughout the day. I also thought I’d put on enough sunscreen. Turns out I did neither. And then I drank beer.

When I woke up the next morning for the second time (the first time was because I was having a nightmare about a grenade-tossing loner type and me scrambling up a tree) I’m pretty sure I was mega-dehydrated. And, because dehydration works a lot like drunkenness in that you can’t accept that you are, in fact, dehydrated while you are dehydrated (Nah, bro… I can totally drive thish car home….I’m totally fine, dude!… [stumbles off curb, breaks ankle]) I didn’t realize it until 300 miles, five hours, and many, many bottles of water later when I was feeling a LOT better.

This was the first mechanical failure I’ve experienced on this trip. And it was a short-lived one thanks to the dozens of stops I made along the way to fill up my water bottle. The technology failures, though, they don’t seem to want to stop. I was in Ventura, CA, before I realized the car charger didn’t work. So, without a laptop, and with my phone as my only guidebook/map/emergency lifeline, I have to make sure that my phone is fully charged every morning before hitting the road. Yesterday, after pushing through the morning’s nausea and listlessness, I got all the way to the bell tower in Balboa Park in San Diego, clearly one of the most beautiful and ornate buildings in the whole park, when my camera ran out of battery. I grabbed a few shots with my phone’s camera (is there anything this little HTC Evo CAN’T do?) and made my way back to the car, determined to not have THAT happen again.

Other things, however, have been aligning magically. I was checking my email (from my phone!) from a state park bathroom when I saw that a friend from high school, who I’d been trying to meet up with since March when I was down in SLO the first time, suggested that we meet at a cute little bistro in a sleepy little town for dinner with his wife. I was literally ten minutes from the turnoff when I checked my email. So, I pulled off the highway, called him, changed out of my sweaty traveling clothes into something not sweaty in my car (I’m sorry, Orcutt, CA, for flashing you my boobs, but it’s just so much more comfortable to drive without a bra), and, like, just like no time had passed between us at all, we were having wine and eating meatballs. I had arrived just a few minutes before my friend and his wife and handed the lovely hostess at Addamo’s my camera battery, explaining that I was about to meet a friend I hadn’t seen in fifteen years and could she please plug this battery into her wall for ten minutes or so so I could take pictures of this momentous occasion, and also, was my shirt on backwards?

My friend, the inimitable J.C., his lovely wife Colleen, and I laughed the night away. It’s becoming more and more apparent to me that this trip is only partially about the scenery. Letting your hair down and laughing is equally important. Understanding that some friendships do not need physical proximity to endure…this has been the most important lesson yet. I’ve stayed with some incredibly wonderful people along the way and they have been so warm and welcoming. They have all been tonic to my tired, vibrating soul at the end of a day of driving.

And then, THEN! I got to spend the night at the Madonna Inn. It figures that I would drive all this way to get away from the snow and the cold to sleep in a (very expensive) room decorated, of all things, like a freakin‘ Swiss Chalet, complete with wooden skis and wood paneling. Gah! Whatever frustration I was feeling this morning wore off in seconds, though, when I got to the pool. The pool, y’all. The pool is magical. Swimming in the early morning in a pool surrounded by mountains with birds chirping in the background? Heavenly. Topped only by the music being piped in through speakers made to look like boulders. The song?

“Take it easy
Take it easy
Don’t let the sound of your own wheels
Drive you crazy”.

Will do, Mr. Henley. Will do.

Love Letters From The Road (Dear Tuesday, the Roadtip Installation)

Dear Everyone That Loves Me,
I am safe and sound. Thank you for your prayers for my safety. What I lack in preparedness, I more than make up for with street smarts and an East Coast tough girl swagger that will not leave my system despite all my granola munching and tree hugging. No one puts this Baby in the corner because this Baby will melt your face off with her stink eye.

Dear Mom and Dad,
Thanks for teaching me good manners. I thank the toothless owner of the filthy roadside gas station as profusely and genuinenly as I do the pretty Hawaiian-shirted and white-sneakered waitress at the seafood restaurant. You have taught me (among other things) to recognize a human being when I see one.

Dear Tara,
Thanks for teaching me that thirty dollars is a small price to pay for my sanity. Thirty dollars last night made the difference between anxiety and peace. Thirty dollars made the difference between curling my body into a tight ball to avoid making contact with the edge of what I presumed to be an unwashed, scratchy motel-issue comforter, and sleeping comfortably in a pin-drop silent, beautifully appointed room that was heated to my exact comfort level.

Dear Tim at the San Clemente Inn,
You, sir, are a rockstar. Thank you for joining the long line of people who think I’m roughly ten to fifteen years younger than I actually am. You asked me if I could handle hauling my luggage up a flight of stairs because I “looked young”. I almost invited you to dinner, and not just because you judged my bare biceps to be the suitcase-lifting type. Thanks for that restaurant recommendation as well. I know a fellow eater when I see one. You, sir, have great taste in food. And you know your sleepy little town like the back of your hand. You made that last bit of driving so very, very worth it.

Dear Everyone That Told Me To Avoid L.A.,
Um…. it wasn’t really that bad, y’all. I mean, have you sat in NY/NJ traffic? I have, and I’m here to tell you: It’s the same damn thing! Only, at least in LA, you have PALM TREES to look at while you’re crawling along! And the air doesn’t smell like diesel or tar or defeat! Do you want to know a secret? I kinda liked it. Wanna know another secret? This part, this one stretch of an hour and a half of driving… this scared me the most about this whole trip. Not the winding turns down Highway 1 in the pitch black night. Not the random men who would give me the elevator eyes when I said “Table for one, please”. Not the depressing, we’ve-made-this-only-a-modicum-above-tolerable motel conditions. Nope. None of that intimidated me. The traffic in LA is the only thing I was scared of. Why? I don’t know, exactly. Maybe I was afraid of all the wasted time. (HA! There’s a rock slide I’d like to introduce my pre-trip self to for a lesson in “wasted time”). Maybe I was afraid of getting into an accident and being stranded. Maybe I was afraid I would actually LIKE it. You see, everyone I know seems to hate L.A. But, they hate it in the way that everyone hates the prettiest girl in the room. They all want to BE the prettiest girl in the room- so they just talk smack about her to make themselves feel better. Well, L.A., I think you’re pretty and I’m not intimidated by your long legs and perfect hair.

Dear Mr. Burdy,
Thank you for letting me do this. Not in a “thank you for unchaining me from the stove” sort of way, either. Thanks for letting me take an old car we share away for ten whole days and push her to the limits of her speed limits and mechanical capabilities. Thank you for enduring loneliness and having to explain to everyone that your fiance is a rather impetuous thing who loves to jump in the car from time to time, wholly unprepared, and drive for miles and miles just to clear her head. Thank you for making me smile proudly when male strangers ask me “what my man is like” because they cannot imagine why a woman would be on the road, by herself, without him. Thank you for being the confident, secure, and seasoned veteran of this relationship. Thank you for being a thoroughly modern man and a gentle, sensitive human being all at once.

Dear Madonna Inn,
I’m comin’ for ya.

Dear Everyone I Know Between San Diego and Seattle,
I’m comin’ to see ya. I promise. We’re gonna have a beer, we’re gonna catch up.

Dear Beach,
I don’t even have words. If it weren’t so inappropriate on so many levels to scoop up great handfuls of sand and throw them into the air in ecstacy, I would do it. I swear. Man, am I happy to see you.

When Life Hands You Lemons… and a guy named Jake*

The clock is ticking here at the San Luis Obispo public library. For 26 minutes, I have Internet access. Then it’s back to getting directions, checking my email, and Googling “cheap, shitty motels” on my phone. Why? Well, because my laptop is in San Francisco. And I am at least five hours south of it in San Luis Obispo.

That time calculation might be a little off. You see, time has unraveled these past 24 hours.

A savvier traveler might have a plan for traveling down the coast. A savvier traveler, for instance, might have checked things like road conditions and weather and packed something slightly warmer for those gusty coastal winds. A savvier traveler might also have, for instance, checked to see if Route 1 was blocked due a massive rock slide. She might also have believed the sign when it said in Monterrey “Road Ends 75 miles”.

Ends? How does a road just END? Surely there would be a detour, no? Surely there would be something besides a gas station, a restaurant, and three burly contractors nursing tallboys of beer? Surely the Universe would not expect one to squint at a ragged map and know that “G14” was a forest road and that one would have to wend one’s way, on a single lane road for 20 excruciating miles at 7 miles an hour, through the Los Padres National Forest as the sun was setting and then drive through a goddamned Army base to get back to Highway 101, right? And surely, surely, the Universe would not have planted Jake at the end of the bar run his ragged fingers through the back of your cute, asymmetrical haircut while you were looking away, offer you some of his shrimp tortellini, and ask you why you had to be going so soon.

Because nothing would light up your face after finding out that the road, WAS, in fact, closed, and that the “detour” you dreamed of was 50 long miles through dense woods, like a guy who was paying for his meal in weed, and knew those woods like the back of his hand because he lived somewhere in them off the grid. And nothing would make you feel better after pumping thirty six cents worth of gas into your car (because all the other pumps were dry, the other hundred or so drivers that day having panicked in exactly the same way you did and topped off their tanks) than his pet Chihuahua, Bella, who sat in your lap for a picture.

And nothing would make that day more complete than figuring out you’d left your phone, your only effing connection to the outside world, on the paper towel dispenser in that bathroom in the gas station, after driving five miles down the road.

Well, nothing except using that phone, after an hour of driving like a bat out of hell down 101, to find a motel, booking it, and then driving there – only to find out that the only room vacant is the handicapped room. There will be no bathtub, the power button on the TV will be broken, and your blackout shades will have a ping pong ball sized hole in them. You don’t care much because you are exhausted. You will pull the plug for the TV out of the wall, you will bunch up the shades to cover the hole, you will turn on the heater (whose knobs are broken/reversed so instead of blowing hot air all night, blows COLD air) and you will dream of a more dignified, more planned vacation. One that does not involve holes in the wallboard, and rock slides, and not eating dinner, and definitely includes more guys eating pasta in a restaurant at the end of the world.

*Not his real name. I’m protecting his innocence from the Feds.

Express Inn- Short for “Expressly Terrible”

A quick update from the road here before I get back on it. I’m traveling again! This time it’s Seattle to San Diego (or as far south as I can get before I get lonely/tired of the buzzing my body does after 10 straight hours of driving.) A few quick points before I hit the shower (that’s shower stall; no tub here at the Express Inn. It’s express, after all. No time for lollygagging in the tub.)

-A friend of mine called the Oregon Coast “God’s Country”. God must like him some evergreens, ’cause that’s all there is out there. I know I’m ready for a change of seasons because all I wanted after all that misty rain and miles and miles of trees was a good old fashioned desert. I wanted to burn my eyes in the sun and not feel an ounce of moisture in the air. I wanted to see desert flowers, and cacti and brown men in dusty shirts. I wanted to hug a horny toad close to my chest, for Pete’s sake, and feed it Jujubees. I know this weather has kept my skin looking radiant and all but halted the aging process, but, a girl needs a little coffee with her sugar now and again, knowwhatimean?

-I am trying to roll with the waves of emotion that come with 10 straight hours of driving. There are cycles of excitement (usually right after the morning’s first caffeinated beverage) followed by cycles of fear that I’m wasting my time, followed by steering-wheel-pounding-happiness over hearing Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger” on my mix tape, followed by fear that I’m using the most inefficient route to get somewhere, followed by unadulterated joy over two-dollar strawberries sold at a stand on the side of the road just when I am getting hungry.

-This trip is unlike any trip I’ve ever taken. Maps? On my phone. List of hotels to stay at? on my phone. Directions to the nearest scenic outlook? On my phone. Music? On my phone. Friends’ numbers and address for long talks/places to send kitschy postcards? On my phone. It’s unbelievably convenient. And paranoia-inducing. If I lost that thing? Holy crap. They’d have to heli-port my deflated body back to Seattle and inject me with a serum that makes one believe there is life after being unable to use mobile technology. Every trip to every gas station restroom has me furiously patting down my pockets and checking my purse to make sure I haven’t accidentally left my phone on the paper towel dispenser.

More to come!

Dear Tuesday

Dear Tuesday,
Is it Tuesday already? Dude. You sure do sneak up on me. You’re making me look bad, Tuesday. Here I am all trying to be consistent with posting on Tuesday and you go and turn into Wednesday on me.

Dear Oprah,
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that I would do ANYTHING to be on the show this last season. Can you sense my desperation from over here? Wait. Scratch that. You would never indulge desperation. Okay. Do-over. I am now appealing to my highest self, my Source, my Power, The Universal Life Force that wants nothing but good for me. Oh! Did you hear that? I think the Source is speaking to me! What’s that, Universal Life Force? You ALSO think it’s a good idea for me to be on the Oprah show at least once before it goes off the air? You see, Oprah? All things are aligning… Now, if you could just do a show on intestinal worms, I would be more than happy to be your guest.

Dear Self That Visited Chicago Three Years Ago and Never Managed To Get On The Show:
Are you just kicking yourself, or what?

Dear Self That Should Have Published A Book By Now,
Would that not have been the PERFECT excuse to be on the Oprah show? Didn’t you, at one time, think that you would have written a book so powerful, so world changing, so full of life and wisdom and engrossing characters that the Queen of Bookclubs, Oprah Winfrey herself, would be made to weep? Imagine it! Oprah weeping while reading YOUR book! GAH! How many times can you smack yourself in the forehead with your open palm before it becomes medically dangerous?

Dear Free Time Made Possible By My New Schedule,
You are a double edged sword, aren’t you? Allowing me time to exercise and making me think about publishing a book! You sneaky devil, you!

Dear Woman Who Looks Just Like My Friend Stephanie In Zumba Class,
I’m sorry if I stare so much at you. I’m sorry if I have, by now, memorized and can replicate on command the way your arms and legs perform the Cumbia. I’m sorry that I cannot take my eyes off the back of your neatly coiffed head while you sweat and jab the air with your long, lean arms. It’s just that you look almost EXACTLY like my friend Stephanie who is living in China right now and sometimes, when I look at you, I miss her with a power that takes me by surprise, and my eyes start filling with tears right there in class. I have to look away and concentrate on my moves so as not to have a full-on sob-fest right there in the middle of the gym floor. Inevitably, though, I go right back to staring and I am sure you have noticed. I’m sorry you have become a sort of surrogate for Steph. I want very much to approach you in the hallway after class and explain myself, but I’m scared of what you might think of me.

Dear Chase Bank,
I could write paragraph after paragraph about how much you suck for charging me twenty five dollars a month just to have a stupid checking account with you. TWENTY FIVE DOLLARS, Chase Bank. As a matter of fact, I just did. And then I erased it. Know why? Because you are not worth my time. I just did the sensible thing and moved all my money to a new bank. You can’t see me right now, but I am flipping you the bird. I’m sure everyone reading this who is also getting charged fifteen bucks here and ten bucks there to bank with you is ALSO flipping you the bird right now. So, consider yourself the recipient of the largest bird ever flipped by the Internet.

Dear Cannonball Adderley Record and Earl Grey Tea,
You are the most perfect breakfast combination I can think of.

Dear Spring,
Your procrastination is even worse than mine. I shouldn’t have to wear a sweater in April, Spring. You know this. So please hurry it up. The tomato starts, Spring, they long to be outside, and off my windowsill. The pea vines that are winding their way around yarn I have strung up to my venetian blinds, inside my house, Spring, they are confused. They know something is not right. Think of the cucumbers, Spring, that are bursting out of their little yogurt cups packed with soil. They long to spill out over the driveway. Forget me, Spring. I have gotten used to your heel-dragging ways. But think of the vegetables, Spring. Think of the vegetables!