Film Festivals

Friday, October 24, 2014

Today I am grateful for film festivals. The other day after a very successful meeting, a friend and I decided out of nowhere to take a run down to Philly and see if we could catch a few films during their festival.  What a blast.

We got there in time to see only two films. Both of us have made films so we were hoping to catch the “shorts”, but they weren’t running.  No matter.  The first film we saw was okay and actually had some pretty good looking scenes, but the whole thing didn’t tie together very well.  A good film is all about a good story.  Without it they’ll tank.  We had a lot to talk about.  You talk more when a film or play or book is bad than you do if it’s great.

That’s why there isn’t much to say about the second film because it was great. I think it was called The Last Five Years. Excellent!  It was about a young couple, told completely in song, with her beginning her side of the story at the end of their five-year relationship and him telling his side from the beginning.  Did you get that it was all in song?  Brilliant!  A few flaws with her pitch, but the story was tight and good and funny and emotional!  I could see it again and again.

So today I’m grateful for film festivals and I’m putting the one in Cannes on my bucket list!  See movies!Philly Film Festival-2014

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Screaming Man with phoneThursday, October 23, 2014

Today I am grateful for anger. Yes I’m angry.  Pissed, furious, ticked-off, irate, livid, enraged, fuming. . .use any adjective you want to describe it.  I don’t usually get very angry any more.  I get peeved or irritated then it soon passes.  I do, after all, drive in traffic.  But yesterday and today I’ve been trying to get through to Tech Support to get my money back.  Mother Theresa would tell them to Ef off!  I see you laughing out there and nodding your heads as you recall your own nightmare stories!

In the last few days I’ve spoken with Anthony, Mayur, Mohammed, Rashid and Chris. Do they really think a western name will make it easier for me to understand them?  I’m sorry, for sounding completely non-politically correct, but this is a bloody nightmare!  How long can a person stay sane when you are on perpetual “hold” with India!?  I could have friggin’ flown there by now!  And back!  Twice!

Today after holding for only 20 minutes “Chris”, the first almost-live-yet-still-impossible-to-understand-person I’ve reached in two days of HOLD HELL has told me that I agreed to terms and paid for a service. . . “BUT I DIDN’T GET A SERVICE!” Yes! I raised my voice!

“Madam I understand your situation and you agreed to the terms for service for three days.” He repeated.


“Madam I understand your situation and you agreed to the terms for service. You paid for service for three days.”  This guy is a broken record!


“Madam I understand your situation and you agreed to the terms for service lasting for three days. Unfortunately there has been a high call volume. . .”  I cut him off.  “STOP SAYING THAT!  YOU HAD DIWALI CELEBRATIONS AND NO ONE WAS ANSWERING THE PHONE!  GET ME A SUPERVISOR!   NOW!!!!!” My husband was pointing to the very large vein bulging in my neck.

“Madam I understand your situation. . .” Are you kidding me?  My head was splitting open and Chucky was flying out of my brain with Dracula fangs.  “DO. . .NOT. . .SAY. . .THAT. . .AGAIN!!!!”  I might be having an aneurism.  Or a broken jaw from clenching it.

“Madam may I please place you on hold so I can see how to help you?”

“I AM NOT PAYING ONE DIME OF THIS BILL. EVER!  NOT ONE DIME.  I AM STOPPING ACTION ON MY CREDIT CARD AND I DON’T CARE IF I HAVE TO TAKE YOU TO COURT. . . “  He put me on hold mid-sentence. . .to get Customer Service. . .a term I cannot even believe he used!  Three minutes later. . .

“Madam I understand your situation and you agreed to the terms for service for three. . . . .” Really?  “. . .and I will be passing your situation on to our Customer Service Department and they will call you back today.”

“I HAVE A LIFE AND WORK! (yes, writing is work. . .plus I’m going to lunch with friends) PLEASE PUT ME THROUGH TO THEM RIGHT NOW. I WANT THIS RESOLVED.”

“Madam I understand your situ. . .” Ghandi would have bounced a ball peen hammer off of his head!  He’s having customer service call me back today because they are sooooo busy that they can’t talk to me right now.  Probably Mohammed has to change headsets with Mayur or Rashid is wearing the Customer Service headset today.  Do I believe I’ll get a call back?  Yeah, sure!  And pigs will fly and hips will disappear and world peace is just around the corner and I’m having cocktails for lunch!  One of these might happen.  I know what I’m voting for!

So today I am grateful for anger. It makes the wonderful, happy, peaceful feeling I usually experience very appreciated!  FYI-It’s four o’clock and oddly enough, Customer Service has not called.  I’m shocked. . .!

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Not Smashing my Computer

woman smashing computerWednesday, October 22, 2014

Today I am grateful for not smashing my computer. I hate all computers.  I hate technology.  I use it a hundred times a day, grudgingly, but I’m a hater and I hate it.  This is going to be short because I’m running on very little sleep and even less patience.

Last night, while on line looking for the Writer’s Digest that lists agents accepting new clients, something, somehow got into my computer and it sent me error messages with such intensity that I think it thought I was at 30,000 feet trying to land a plane. If you’re smart, or computers are part of your first language, then you just do what they say and move on.  I tried that.  But I’m not smart and I don’t speak any part of the language.

My frantic clicks couldn’t find the problem so I called my virus protection TECH SUPPORT. I know!  I get the shakes, too, when I hear those words.  I haven’t chatted with India for a while, but I spoke with so many people over there last night that I’m about to speak Hindi!  Without an accent!

I thought the virus protection people could help. They couldn’t.  They told me to call the makers of my computer.  Those people, also in India, needed a serial number or something I’ve never looked for so that took a lifetime to find.  They couldn’t help, oh they probably could have but Diwali (Indian Celebration) was going on and I don’t think he wanted to take the time.

Each time I was bounced from one to another I was told to call a different number. I was on hold for two hours.  Really.  Don’t tell me I’m not patient.  I was told 200 times that they were experiencing larger than usual volume.  Really?  When I finally got a person at one in the morning, I was so angry I told him to cancel the whole thing and refund my credit card.  He couldn’t.

“Seriously?” I blew!  I didn’t swear because I had already used up every curse word I know while on hold and I know ALL of them.  “Not one of your inane recorded messages could have told me that last night while I was waiting on hold for a lifetime listening to the same looping-ear-splitting-noise you call music!?”

“I sorry, missus, I sorry. I help you now.” he blurbled.  “We veddy busy this time you call.  I help you now.”

No, I didn’t take his help. I would have taken a sledge hammer to my computer before I took his help.  “I. . . want. . . a. . . credit. . . on. . . my. . . account!”  My words clipped like my mom when she’d had enough!  I would have made him sit at the kitchen table and used his middle name if I knew it!

“Okay, okay. You must call this number your day tomorrow, between 9 & 5 East coast time.  Okay?  Okay?  I sorry, okay.  Okay?  Okay? You unnerstan?”  Oh I understand alright.

Well take this, tech support. In the middle of the night, I got a clue and I think I fixed my computer myself and boy am I grateful I didn’t smash it instead!  Okay, so this wasn’t short.  I lied.  I’m sleep deprived and experiencing technology burn-out!  And all I still have to do is call them to credit my account. . .later today when I have eight hours to blow!  I hope the Diwali celebration will be over by then!  Better brush up on my Hindi.

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Laundromat Chronicles – Two

Fat lady-pink outfitTuesday, October 21, 2014

Today I am grateful for the second of my Laundromat Chronicles. The costumes people wear at the Laundromat could be worn for Halloween.  Seriously.  I get it.  You want to wash every single thing that you would usually wear, so you dig into the dregs because you can’t just strip your clothes off and throw them in the washer like you would at home.  But oh my. . .what I saw.

It’s not state secret that I’m a sizable woman. . .with a more than sizeable butt. Cartoons have been drawn of me and this butt and they are hilarious! It’s okay. I’m not blind, or clueless.  We’ve been together a long time I haul that thing around every day so I know.  I spin and face the mirror in Zumba and get a load of myself and I am reminded of the old balloons I got as a kid at the shoe store.  You know, the ones with the cardboard feet on the balloon knot.  I’m not being self-deprecating here, I’m being honest. . .laying the ground work for the real story.  Because I don’t want you to think I’m mean, I want you to remember that it takes one to know one.

There was a woman at the Laundromat with a butt twice as big as mine, which I didn’t even think was possible, poor thing. She was very nice, pretty face and all of that crap we big-butter’s hear a lot.  I noticed her when she moved out of the way when I needed to get through with the rolly-cart, but. . .do the math. . .two big butts trying to get out of each other’s way. . .not very pretty. We looked like Suma wrestlers taking a stance, except I was wearing jeans because I was only washing sheets.

She was a white woman wearing pale-pink, skin-tight, mid-thigh, worn-thin, polyester shorts. Did you get the pale pink part?  Almost flesh colored.  Pale-pink.  Yikes!  I have no right commenting.  None!  But all I could think when I saw them was what a great costume they would make if you took a fuzzy pink pipe cleaner and curled it around a pencil, pinned it to the back, then wore my Miss Piggy nose.  I know that’s just wrong!  I’m sorry, but that’s where my mind went.  I’m a horrible person. She’s a kindred soul.  I shouldn’t be thinking something like that.

I wanted to be thinking one of the lines I usually use in situations like this. . .“Interesting choice” or “that’s a look”. . . but I wasn’t. I was all about the curly tale.  But if you have the same kind of cellulite that I do, where your butt looks like a dimply bath matt. . .or like a Spastic Baker took a knitting needle to rising bread dough, then maybe you ought to pass on the pale-pink, skin-tight shorts, even if it is laundry day.  Just saying.  Make another choice.   Wear something dirty!  Like a schmatta, a moo-moo, a toga-sheet!  Better to pass on the pale-pink shorts!

But she didn’t pass on them. She wore them.  In public.  At the Laundromat.  And for that I am grateful because she could be the second feature in my Laundromat Chronicles.  Oh come on!  She was nice and had a very pretty face, so get off my back!

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Laundromat Chronicles – First

Stuffed dryerMonday, October 20, 2014

Today I am grateful for the first of my Laundromat Chronicles.  I swear I could be entertained and find something interesting if you put me in a closed garbage can without a flashlight.

Yesterday I took sheets to the Laundromat. I meant to take a book, but it only takes a half-an-hour to wash a load and I bring it home to dry, so it wasn’t a big deal that I forgot.  You would think not much could happen in that short of a time.  Hah!  Do you KNOW me?  There were so many interesting characters that I can’t get them all in one blog post!  Here’s the first.

She’s young and skinny as a pencil and tall, with funky, black leather boots, rolled down at the top like Johnny Depp as a pirate, making her look taller. She has on skinny jeans that wouldn’t have fit on my arms, a blousy gray top and silver jewelry.  Lots of jewelry.  Her hair is clipped up loosely with a toothy clamp and tousling around her long thin face.  It would take some people hours to get this look, but I bet she just threw it up.  She looked great.  So why am I writing about this reasonably normal, good looking woman?

When you are done reading this go into your bedroom. Open the closet door.  If there are two doors, open both of them.  If you have a second closet open that, too.  Then go to your dressers and open ALL of the drawers.  If you have boxes under your bed with clothing in them, like I do, pull them out and open them, too.  That’s how much laundry this woman was doing.  She had more clothes than JC Penney’s, Macy’s, and Kohls combined!  And she jammed it all into two dryers.  I watched her.  I wanted to take a picture, but how do you say, “Excuse me, could I get a picture of the ridiculous amount of clothing you are stuffing into that dryer because I want to write about it so all of my friends will know how crazy Laundromat people can be?”

Not only did she jam, but half of it was twisted into knots when she did it.  She had a wheely-cart heaped with tangle, knotted, gnarly clothing, with sheets and towels and socks and bras and everything in one globby lump.  Watching her pick through it all was like witnessing Black Friday at Filene’s Basement!  She’d pull at something and it wouldn’t come out so she picked away at a few panties, a shirt, some socks, trying to unclench them.  Then she’d toss it into a 55 gallon dryer, until she had 380 gallons worth of clothing inside and turn it on.  If dryers had eyes, it’s were crossed!  It was fascinating.  It was crazy.  It was very entertaining.

I wasn’t there for the beginning or the finale of this little three-act (wash-dry-fold) show, but I sure am grateful I was there for the second act. Otherwise how could she be the first of my Laundromat Chronicles?

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Side Roads

Jim Thorpe-Back road - no carHoly Smokes.  I went to post this morning and my computer was doing a scan.  It took the entire day!  Geeze.  Here’s todays. . .

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Today I am grateful for side roads. I do most of the driving in our family and it isn’t unusual for me to take a side road for no reason other than curiosity.  I recommend it.  John calls it getting lost, but it’s really not.  Honest.

I love side roads. When we were in Bermuda we rented mopeds so that we could explore the island far away from the tourist traps.  We figured it was an island and eventually we’d get back to “go” anyway, so why not?  We saw houses where the real people live, a school and a mini mart with the most interesting characters at the lunch counter.

When we were in London we stayed at an out-of-the-way place, down a side road called the Edmund Lear House. No “lift” but climbing three flights of stairs gave us a spectacular view of rooftops that I can bring to the surface in my mind whenever I want.  And the bathtub was ancient and the size of a swimming pool.  But I digress.

In Bandung, Indonesia, we were walking with friends when I decided I had to veer off the main road, and I am using the term “road” loosely since it was Indonesia. All of the roads look like side roads, so the one I turned down was barely a path.  One of the women went with me and we stumbled upon a spectacular house that had been turned into a store by the family in residence.  It was great to drop a bundle in their necessary gem.

In Yogykarta, Indonesia my mom thought I was crazy for going down a side road with a man who said he had a shop with masks. She wouldn’t come.  She stayed on the main street and fretted.  I had a blast.  Children followed me like I was the Pied Piper and I have a picture of me with them. . .always in my mind. . . someplace on paper.

While driving from Melbourne to Sydney in Australia, we happened down a side road, then realized we were nearly out of petrol. Aren’t I so worldly?  If you think this country has remote areas, you should see Australia.  I was a little, um, concerned, until I saw a sign, “The Big Nothing” at the next crossroad.  It wasn’t much.  It was everything.  We got gas and went inside to pay and the Aussie man was baking bread.  Honest to God.  We dropped every plan for the day and hung around until it was done.  He brewed tea and plopped a full loaf of hot bread on our plastic table cloth, along with a small, chipped, china bowl with pink flowers and a huge glob of real butter.  Can you smell it?  I can!  Best lunch we ever had.  Ever.  Anywhere.  And we would have never found something so simple on the main drag.

When my sister and I took our mom to Austria, we got on the wrong bus in Salzburg and instead of heading towards our hotel, we went the opposite direction and got a real-life tour of the charming town, filled with front yard gardens and people chatting over fences as they hung laundry on sagging lines. Even mom settled down and enjoyed it once we assured her we would find our way back. . .eventually.

I run on instinct so I am not afraid to turn down a side road in any country. If my guts tell me not to stray down a certain road, I don’t.  But remember stuff happens on main drags, too.  When we were in Nice, France, on a main road, a couple of gypsy women with a baby jostled my husband until he took his hand out of his pocket to push them away.  In that second I turned and saw her hand coming OUT of his pocket.  I never saw it go in.  Wallet gone, me screaming bloody murder, gendarme running, paddy wagon loaded with us and the gypsies and the drugged baby, police station, reports in carbon on the first ever Remington and a lost vacation day, left us spinning.  Still dazed from the experience, we were a block away when a cop, waving something over his head yelled, “Monsieur, Monsieur, zee vahlet!”  They had shoved it under the carpet in the paddy wagon.

If you have the funds, the desire and the incredible luxury to travel, try to find a moment to check out side roads. They are rich with real culture, not the prescribe tourism many areas promote.  But if you don’t have the means right now, like us, you don’t have to travel far, either.  We take side roads, different streets, in our travels almost every day, discovering unusual houses, great gardens, or spectacular forests and I am grateful for every one of them.

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Patient Husband

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Today I am grateful for my patient husband. I had no intention of writing about my husband today, but when I mentioned I wasn’t sure what to write about he said, “How about your patient husband.”  So there you have it.  And I have a picture of him from last weekend in Jim Thorpe, which might be my favorite. Ever!

I know you’ll be shocked, but I drove myself crazy this morning. He really was patient.  I had breakfast after weight watchers (I’m not an idiot) while he was playing his baseball computer game.  Then we were going to the Farmer’s Market.  We also had to mail my mom’s birthday card.  Which I couldn’t find.  Anywhere.  Because I put it someplace safe.  But where?

I gave him his ten-minute-warning, which is the only way we’d ever get out of the house. That gives him time to pee, or grab Good ‘n Plenty’s, or some chocolate, or change his shoes, or shirt, or do whatever other last minute thing he needs to do before he can get in the car.  Usually I still wind up waiting.  Not today.  Today it was me.

“Where is that birthday card!” I said as I tore through the basked on the counter, the desk, the crap on the bedroom dresser, the junk drawer. “See, this is why I never send birthday cards.  I buy them and then can’t find them when I need them.”  He did the husband thing and said, “Did you put it in the desk?  Did you put it drawer?  Did you put it in the dresser?”  He might be the King of inane questions.  Or at least a Duke!  If I knew where I put it I wouldn’t have been tearing the house apart, now, would I?

I finally found it where “he” said he thought it was. Don’t you just hate that?  I filled it out, put on a stamp and return address, then shifted some stuff around on the table.  I call this the “paper shuffle”.  Then it was me that needed a bathroom stop (TMI?) and to change my shirt and by the time we got in the car he said, “You do know you called my ten-minute-warning forty-five minutes ago.  And by the way, where is the card that has to go out today.”  Geeze.

I found it under a bunch of junk I had “cleaned up” on the table. I’m throwing the kitchen away later!  The whole kitchen!  Even though it has been a good day, it’s been filled with little out-of-sync things that drive me. . .and him. . .nuts.  He didn’t holler. . . just laughed. . .and teased.  Instead of rolling his eyeballs, he rolled with the punches.  I wish I could say the same for myself.  So today I am grateful for my patient husband. . .even though it pains me to say so.

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