We’re Down to Hours, and the Silliness Begins

Mommies, Don’t Let Your Daughters Grow Up to Be Rebels

Pepé Le Pew Couldn’t Have Done It Better

When I was a child, I loved that French skunk Pepé Le Pew: “Ah, chérie. Where are you? It is I. Pepé. I am looking for you.” And poor Pepé. He could never quite understand why the female cat would run away from him, why people would faint when he came around. And so, when the governator received a call from French President Nicolas Sarkozy, of course she was all aflutter when that accent came through le telefone pour le governor Sarah P.

What she didn’t know was that she was being punked, on air, by the Quebec comedy duo, “The Masked Avengers.” Now I do have to give them props, they gave her several clues along the way that she was not speaking with the real president, aside from the Pepé Le Pew accent. For example, the shooting the animals from the helicopter comment? Or how about his special American advisor Johnny Halladay (French singer)? Too remote? Okay, I’ll let her pass for not knowing the translation for lipstick on a pig (de rouge a levre sur un cochon).

But really, she didn’t get an inkling something was up when he said, “the prime minister of Canada Stef Carse” ? I mean, she’s the one who is always bragging about being next door neighbors with Canada, but she didn’t know Stephen Harper’s name . . . and then the Prime Minister of Quebec versus the Premiere of Quebec (okay, maybe splitting hairs, but she still didn’t recognize that the name was wrong). And come on, did she really think that a head of state was going to tell her that his wife was “hot in bed”? But worse than that, she said to “give her a big hug for me.” Omigawd. You do not tell a head of state to give his wife a big hug from you. Jeez-o-pete. Were you raised in a barn?

Moving on. Marcel the guy with bread under his armpit? Okay, I snorted out loud with that one. To which she replied: “Right, that’s what it’s all about, the middle class and government needing to work for them.” I think that it was at this point that the guys on the other end decided that they probably couldn’t go on much longer or they might pee in their pants.

To which I have to ask, who are her handlers? What numbskull handed her the phone? Don’t they know anything about protocol? Are they for real? Is this aide now looking for other meaningful employment at a nearby McDonald’s as she should be for allowing the Republican VP candidate to be embarrassed for seven minutes on international radio and television, even more than usual? Good golly miss molly.

Who We Are is What We Put on Our Walls

I don’t know if any of you have noticed, but my new masthead is actually an inset of a picture of one of my collages. I kept trying to find the right picture for my masthead, something that would reflect the real me, and then it dawned on me: nothing would reflect me better than a piece of me. So I took a picture of my last bulletin board at work, and I cropped a piece of it. I really wish that I could have put more of the whole picture up there, but there is only so much space allowed for the image, so I took what I could get, and I really wanted to get my ERA NOW pin in the shot.

My offices have always been very, very cluttered, by choice. I have always reasoned that if I am going to spend over one third of my life in some place, then I need to feel comfortable in that place, and so I nest there. I bring in books, mostly reference books, but a few philosophy books, lots and lots of pictures of my family, but also pictures that I have taken of various landscapes, and then my little collection of minutiae that I have built up over the years—an ashtray from Paris, a running gnome with chipped feet, a Waterford business card holder, a clay fish that my son made in Bible school, a German knife letter holder that I traded an old Volkswagen for (long stupid story), and then my collage collection, which has taken many years to amass, and I have to tailor to fit my office size.

I mention all of this because I just read an article by Bill Bishop in “Slate Magazine” that talks about a very interesting theory: Republicans tend to be neater than Democrats. Really? Apparently, Sam Gosling, a psychology professor at the University of Texas, and three other colleagues, have posited In an unpublished paper that liberals and conservatives differ in “two major personality dimensions.” Their paper, which is titled “The Secret Lives of Liberals and Conservatives,” looked for the underlying personality traits that defined left and right.

It seems that we liberals are more open to experiences, and more motivated by the curiosity and diversity of the experiences. Whereas conservatives are conscientious, follow the rules, have self-control, and like order. The professors used college students as their test subjects, and took polls, asked questions, and looked at the students’ rooms for information. Conservative subjects had more cleaning products!

Now there is just one thing wrong with the professors’ study. They didn’t break it down by gender. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be stereotypical here, but I think that gender, in a study about neatness, would make a difference, regardless of political leanings. For example, when I was in college, my OCD was rampant. I not only cleaned my apartment, I cleaned friends’ apartments. No kidding. One of my best male friends happened to be very, very Republican. He was a complete slob. His apartment was filthy. I cleaned it—when he let me. However, the reverse can also be true. My oldest son and daughter for example, are both liberals, and when my daughter was 16, my father asked if someone had robbed her room (I don’t think that he was kidding). My son, who has since moved on from his neat phase, used to keep his room impeccably clean. You just never know who will be neat and who won’t.

Now as to the other part of their study on carrying over to work life and offices, the professors claim that conservatives’ offices “tended to be more conventional, less stylish, and less comfortable compared with liberal offices. Liberals’ offices were more colorful and contained more CDs and a greater variety of books.” I would have to agree with them on this point. Not just because of my own track record with offices, but because of my observations of other people’s offices. At ODU, for example, in the English Department, most professors’ offices were filled with wonderful, eclectic things. Whereas at the government contractor where I worked in Northern Virginia, it was predominantly rigid, and boring. The most exciting thing in one of my boss’s offices was a Porsche magazine.

And then there was the time in which I was stuck in a cubicle. Omigawd. Just send me into the circles of hell, why don’t you. But, hundreds of push pins and a lot of tape, and voila. It was just like a cubicle covered with as much crap as I could fit into a 10’x10′ space without the walls falling down. And boy did my boss hate it . . .

A Little Ironic Night Music

Found this little tidbit on the web, and while it happened months ago, I just had to share:

Rupert Murdoch must have been gnashing his big teeth. Apparently, the owner of Fox News and The New York Post, has no control over daughter Elisabeth’s guest lists. It seems that since Elisabeth Murdoch left her father’s employ to run her own television production company, Shine, Ltd., she has definitely formed her own alliances, and one of them is Barack Obama.

Perhaps daughter Elisabeth’s fondness for Obama comes from her first marriage to Elkin Kwesi Pianim, who is Ghanian, and with whom she has two children. Murdoch is currently married to public relations guru Matthew Freud, the great-grandson of Sigmund Freud.

Murdoch, a citizen of both the U.S. and Great Britain, is herself known as a shrewd businesswoman. She grew up primarily in New York. In April, she hosted a Notting Hill fundraiser for Barack Obama with co-sponsors that included Gwyneth Paltrow.

Can’t you just imagine daddy Rupert’s delight? Gnash, gnash, snarl, snarl.

Whoo, boy. Two days to go. Be prepared to stand in line. You’ll be part of history, whether you are a neat Republican, or an expressive Democrat.

More later. Peace.

Obsessions, Compulsions and Possessions

I really hate the term obsessive/compulsive or OCD. Let me explain: I think that it’s fine as far as explain the need to repeatedly wash your hands or check the lights or pull back the covers to look for centipedes. But I don’t think that it goes far enough for some of us. I believe that all of us, whether we admit it or not, have our little quirks, our little obsessions.

For example, one of my best friends in the world, Jammi, is completely obsessed with her hair. I happen to think that she has wonderful hair in its natural state, which is dark brown and wavy. But Jammi spends money to have her hair straightened. Or when she doesn’t have it chemically straightened, she blow dries it until its straight. She hates her hair in its natural state, absolutely hates it, and she is obsessed with having it any other way. I used to joke with her and tell her that a lot of women pay a lot of money to have their hair look the way her hair looks naturally, but no matter. She won’t be swayed because she is convinced that her natural hair is not natural for her. So her hair is her obsession. It doesn’t matter. She’s one of those naturally attractive women no matter what she does with her hair, and I’ve gotten over being jealous of her for that.

I have a former colleague who was completely obsessed with her weight, to the point that she almost starved herself to death—truly. The last time I saw her she weighed 85 pounds. It was a hard thing to watch, but it was one of those things that no one could do anything about. For a while, it began to affect me. I started to count every calorie that went into my mouth. I was down to 1000 calories a day. I began to skip meals. I started to lose weight. I started to obsess. But then my back problems began and fate intervened. I wonder what would have happened if fate hadn’t stepped in, if I would have become as obsessive with my weight. I don’t think so because she had so many other problems contributing to her weight obsession, but who really knows. Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in someone else’s obsessions and make them your own.

Believe it or not, I used to be obsessive about cleaning. Every Saturday morning, I would clean my entire house from top to bottom: polish all of the furniture, clean all of the glass, mop the floors, scrub the bathroom top to bottom, change the sheets, do the laundry, vacuum all of the carpets. Every surface that could be touched was cleaned. If someone came over during the middle of the week, there were never any excuses about the way my house looked because it always looked good. Early in my first marriage, our apartment was broken into and robbed. My ex-husband got home before I did and spoke to the police. He was able to tell the police exactly what was touched and what was missing. The officer who spoke with him asked him how he could be so sure about everything. My ex-husband said, “You don’t know my wife. Those closet doors are closed every morning before we leave. That bed is made. Those drawers are always closed.” If we were robbed today, it might take me years before I knew what was missing.

When I was a child of about 9 or so, every night I would lift the covers of my bed all the way to the bottom to make sure there were no centipedes under the covers. I have no idea where this compulsion came from, but to this day, I cannot abide centipedes. Another quirk of mine is that I have to sleep on the side of the bed nearest the door, whether it is the right or the left, it must be nearest the door. I also went through this phase of being obsessive about exercising. I got up every morning before work and did 200 crunches and some light weights. Now that was a good obsession, I believe, but crunches are a thing of the past. I was in the best shape of my life. Then there was the phase when I had to check to make sure I’d unplugged the iron before I left for work. I would do this at least twice, and sometimes I would get out of the car and go back in the house to check again. I now have an iron that shuts off automatically.

Corey is obsessed with Q-tips. He uses four a day. Even though I’ve shown him articles about how Q-tips are actually not supposed to be inserted into the ear, he insists that this be part of his daily routine. It’s a carryover from his childhood. He is also obsessed with his hair; it’s what earned him the moniker Captain Hollywood on one of the boats that he was crewing. But what is so ironic is that he went from very short military hair in the Coast Guard to long hair that he was always messing with (a la Capt. Hollywood) and then back to very short military length. Personally, I like his hair shorter, but not so short, but he freaks if it gets just a little bit long (as in nearing a hair’s breadth of his collar) and insists that it needs to be cut posthaste.

And then there are the obsessions that lead to possessions: I won’t write with anything but #1 pencils if I’m using pencils. I have to have a certain kind of pen, at least medium point gel ink, and I write on graph paper. Maybe that’s my attempt at order. My friend Mari got me addicted to expensive, squishy leather purses so that now I just cannot carry anything but good leather. I love Kenneth Cole wallets, and even though most women wear smaller, metal watches, I still love larger-faced Fossil watches with leather straps, but they are hard to find now. I’ve mentioned my obsession with black boots before, as in I don’t believe that you can ever own enough of them, and the same goes for black leather coats.

And then there is perhaps my worst obsession/possession of all: black carryall bags. This is in addition to the purse. I am the original bag lady. No matter what job I have had, I have always carried two bags—my purse, and my carryall. I think that I will save the discussion on the necessity of the carryall for another entry because that is a page unto itself.

I suppose that our obsessions are what make us individuals. They can be innocuous, like Corey’s Q-tips or my side of the bed choice. They can be a pain in the butt, like my insistence on certain pen choices. Or they can be harmful, like my colleague’s eating disorder. And then sometimes, obsessions can be a whole other class, as in when they take on a life of their own, when the obsession becomes the person we cannot have, or the single-minded need to destroy another person’s career, or in the scariest cases, the desire to destroy another individual completely. Then obsession ceases to be just a quirk and becomes a pathology, and that, my friends, is another animal indeed.