Dec 31, 2004

Who's Your Daddy?

I would like to take this opportunity to rant about one facet of what it's like working in Corporate America during the holidays. But before I begin, I want you to know that I love children and nearly everything about them except their propensity for making messes.

On Wednesday, one of the managers who works in the vicinity of my cubicle brought his twins to work with him for the day. It was cute at first listening to their giggles and high-pitched voices throughout the day because it certainly broke up the monotony. At first, I wasn't the least bit distracted by their presence at the office nor was I aggravated that they spent their whole afternoon playing just mere feet away from me while I stared at my computer screen and analyzed numbers for my fun.

But the following day their novelty wore off. At 8am, my morning began with listening to the brood stomp into their dad's office to begin their day watching Looney Tunes on the portable DVD player. This one simple act brought to mind a deeper understanding of why some say television was the babysitter of my generation.

And here's where my rant begins: Precocious twin toddlers are not meant to sit in their father's office all day watching cartoons on a tiny dvd player. Boredom sets in pretty quickly and Bugs Bunny isn't nearly as interesting as running up and down the aisle towards the soda machine pushing brightly lit buttons for Diet Pepsi and Mountain Dew.

How can kids possibly behave when they're surrounded by harsh fluorescent lights, computers, telephones and piles of paperwork when they're crammed into a small office and their father's body language and actions clearly communicate he just wants to be left alone?

It's at this point in my rant that I want to thank Corporate America for putting me about four cubicles away from this disaster. They say in real estate that it's all about location, location, location and boy am I lucky to be sitting across from the childless woman with the loud mouth rather than the daddy with the twins.

Not so lucky was Andrea who expressed an interest early on Wednesday that this little boy and girl were just about the cutest kids she's ever seen. (I don't know if the manager was her boss or not, but if she was going for the kiss-ass move it surely backfired on her big time.) About 30 minutes into Thursday morning, the twins were parked inside her cube coloring on her purchase orders and asking about a gazillion questions while she tried to work. Poor misguided Andrea.

I think to myself that if I sat across from Big Daddy, I would be in for a whole lot of trouble because my cubicle is filled with lots of interesting crap that would suck them in like a dirt devil on a throw-rug. I've got a Care Bear calendar, a Smurf party banner, Alf figurines, dishes of candy, a koosh ball....well, you get the picture. I'd be a big mess of excitement for these kids when in fact, all I ever wanted to be is a is a well-paid responsible adult with a kid's mentality to get me through the day.

Thankfully I took a half-day on Thursday so I didn't have to endure too much of this party train. But throughout the morning, I kept an open e-mail on my PC and logged the most interesting tidbits that I overheard while trying to get some work done. These phrases were either uttered by fellow co-workers who hadn't seen or noticed them on Wednesday, shouts from Big Daddy, questions and answers from the kids themselves...you get the idea.

  • Who's Daddy's favorite team? PATRIOTS!
  • Stay still or I'm gonna staple you two to the chair!
  • Daddy's gotta do some work. Now be quiet.
  • Sit down or I'm gonna give you something to cry about!
  • Shhhhhhhhh! Shhhhhhhhh! Shhhhhhhh!
  • Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!
  • Doritos for breakfast? Go for it.
  • Wow. Barbie's come a long way.
  • Awww. My hair is the same color as yours.
  • Did you get that from Santa?
  • You guys are gonna have to use your quiet voice or no Cinderella.
  • Daddy needs a TIME OUT.

I implore you, unless there is no other choice, don't bring your kids to work. Pay a babysitter or burden a relative to watch them rather than dragging them to work with you. Trust me on this. It's in no way fun for them and it's a pain in the ass for you. You will be viewed as a terrible parent when your kids act up and you can't control them. You will look like a big jerk to those around you when you stick someone else with the job of keeping your kids amused. No one needs to see your kids at work for more than 15 minutes. The photographs of your children that you keep on your desk and the drawings that they did for you that are hanging on your office wall are simply enough.

In my Corporate America, children are better off not seen.

Dec 29, 2004

Brown Christmas

I attempted to make Anisette Christmas cookies this year from a recipe given to me from one of the residents at my mom's nursing home. I should have known I was going to be in for some major kitchen trouble when the recipe called for 8 cups of flour.

I gathered all the ingredients and set out to make my first batch of homemade cookies. As I measured out each cup of flour, I was surprised that I needed to keep getting a bigger and bigger bowl. As I was on my 7th cup of flour, my heart sank as I realized there wasn' t any more flour in the house.

My husband suggested using Wheat flour for the last cup. I'm not very good at math, but my notion of how percents work left me to believe that 7 cups of white flour would do very well masking one-cup of wheat flour. So I stirred everything together and much to my horror discovered that even one small cup of wheat flour will turn 7 cups of white flour BROWN! (You know Anisette cookies are supposed to be white, right?) And did I forget to mention that the recipe called for the entire bottle of my anisette flavoring? The kitchen reeked of artificial licorice and I was covered up to my wrists in brown cookie dough.

I managed to roll some of the dough into round balls and spaced them nicely on a cookie sheet. On another, I simply scooped the pasty dough from the massive mixing bowl and splatted it onto another cookie sheet. Regardless of my technique, the cookies baked for the intended ten minutes and came out as either split brown balls or brown lumps with exaggerated peaks and valleys.

After twenty minutes, I was left with 60 brown cookies that smelled of licorice and about seventeen pounds of cookie dough that still needed to be formed, baked and sprinkled with festive glaze. I did what all good beginners are supposed to do when faced with a monumentally difficult task ~ I gave up. I dumped out the seventeen pounds of dough in the wastebasket and set about the task of making the remaining 60 cookies look presentable and pretty.

I slopped the glaze made up confectioner’s sugar and milk onto the hot cookies and watched as the sticky sweetness drizzled over the cookies and down into base of the aluminum-foiled cookie tin. The glaze was clear and not as white as I would have expected, but I figured with time it would harden up and change color. I took out my bottle of brightly-colored non-pareils and started shaking these little happy balls all over the cookies. I began to get a little hopeful seeing how nicely they clung to the glaze and began to think I might be able to pass these off as a gift to my mother on Christmas Eve.

I wasn’t so naïve as to think she would find them delicious, but I thought she would at least appreciate my efforts in the kitchen. For once her daughter cooked something that didn’t come out of a box or require a can opener!

As you might have suspected, my mother couldn’t say enough about my anisette cookies. She thought I did a great job and professed to love them so much that she was going to give them out as a gift to the nurses. "No! Please don’t do that." I pleaded trying to take the cookie tin away from her. But she insisted and the next day dropped off my tin of homemade cookies at the nurse’s station for all to enjoy.

"Guess what? Almost all of your cookies are gone!" She said on the telephone the next day. I cringed with embarrassment thinking of what the nurses must have been saying behind my mother’s back after she handed out her daughter’s homemade cookies. "They really, really liked them!" Yea, right. (I had previously taste-tested them and trust me on this- they were horrific. Although they did taste like anisette cookies, the cookies aesthetic appearance is what did them in. The cookies turned out to be all moist and soggy and many of them were sunken in on themselves after fermenting in the sugary glaze because I hadn’t let them cool off before applying the topping.)

Apparently one of the nurses went so far as to say I made the cookies even healthier by adding a cup of wheat flour. Somehow, in my mother’s mind this was supposed to make me feel better about my first adventure in the kitchen making Christmas cookies.

So what did I learn this past Christmas making cookies? Well, my mother will always be my biggest cheerleader no matter how much I screw up in the kitchen. Oh! And going forward, I am never to rely on my deficient math skills when deciding to substitute ingredients in a recipe.

Dec 21, 2004

Parking Lot Blues

Last night I had to wait in the parking lot after work for 15 minutes while my windshield melted because I forgot my scraper. I did, however, have a state-of-the-art foam snow brum (European Design...doncha know) with a telescoping handle that when extended could reach across to Southboro. It kicks butt for cleaning off your car in heavy snow, but is no match for ice. Duh! So I stocked up the car this morning with a scraper, brush, windshield wiper fluid that can sustain arctic temps and wore my little Nanook of the North head-dress that covers my entire head and nearly all of my face. It's not fashionable. But it is warm and that's all that counts. If you can picture the character of Kenny on South Park (the little boy with his entire head covered with an orange hood so that only his bulbous eyes pop out)--that's me now. I looked very cute this morning in an Alaskan sort of way, but alas I'm no snow bunny.

Dec 17, 2004

Ocean's Twelve Review

Ocean's Twelve will perhaps be my last official 2004 paid-to-see-it-in-the-theatre movie. I should have taken my $9.50 and bought a Starbucks Eggnog Latté and a fancy cookie.

Aside from Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and George Clooney looking good enough to eat (think expensive Starbucks cookie), I surprisingly found myself bored throughout many parts of the movie. It's not that I found the movie's plot difficult or hard to follow. I just felt kind of sleazy and voyeuristic watching these entire well-know actors getting paid to have the time of their lives at the movie-goers expense. I felt ripped off with their crazy, sexy cool bravado because they forgot all about entertaining me and were more interested in entertaining themselves.

The French thief was mildly interesting, but that's probably because I haven't seen such flawless and strong cheekbones on a man in a long time. You will appreciate his agility and expertise when stealing the Faberge egg, but I guarantee that all you’ll be thinking about is how he could have been one dangerously phat break-dancer back in the 80’s with all his gymnastic moves. Did I mention he was French?

I realize I'm sparing you the tedious details about why Ocean's team is back together again, but really what's the point? You got Brad Pitt in shiny designer shirts and sunglasses that accentuate his very kissable lips...so that's about all you need to know. The very annoying Julia Roberts has a comical turn as Tess pretending to be Julia Roberts about three quarters of the way into the movie, but I couldn’t focus too much on her comedy because I was sucked into the void of her dangerously large horse-like mouth. Brad Pitt wins the kissable lips category because Julia looks like she could use a heavy duty dose of collagen to keep up with his delightful smackers, but I digress…

Overall, Ocean’s Twelve was a very disappointing movie. But I’m so happy for all of them because they got to travel to Europe and have a really great time making this movie. Good for them.

Note: Here's a virtual shout-out to the guy who was sitting behind me who couldn't take it anymore and yelled out, "Shhh! Will you please shut up? We're trying to watch a movie." It was the 10:00pm show and a couple sitting in my row talked throughout the first half of the movie until this brave soul decided to shout at him. It was quiet after his outburst and I silently thanked him. I'd never have the guts to shush anybody in a movie theatre because you never know what could happen to you for trying to make strangers act decent. But the guy behind me luckily wasn't as timid as I would be and thanks to him I got to see the rest of the movie without the second-hand chatter.