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[about the author]

i actually like speaking in front of large crowds. freakish, eh?

i work crossword puzzles in ink.

i am the american nigella lawson. or maybe the american eddie izzard. can't decide, really.

i would be a really good mom, but i'm cool with being a really good aunt.

i am sometimes more perceptive than i would like to be.

i am fiercely loyal. sometimes, stupidly so.

i never play dumb. never.

i am way too hard on myself.

i am a change agent.

i sometimes cross that fine line between assertive and aggressive.

i am not afraid to tell people that i love them.

i am militantly pro-choice.

i am pro-adoption.

i know a little bit about alot of things.

i typically enjoy the company of men more than women.

i am capable of being really mean and nasty, but i fight it. hard.

i am a lifelong cubs fan. do not laugh.

i have been known to hold a grudge.

i have hips.

i am not my sister.

i am lousy at forgiving myself.

i am an indoor kind of gal.

i am a bargain shopper. to the point of obsession.

i am 32 flavors. and then some.

 
[the ones people ask about]
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Investment Banking Monkey
OOPS
Cheap Ticket News
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Latest on Retirement Planning
Consumer News and Reviews
 

[in case you were wondering]

[the blogger behind the curtain]

[100 things about me]



[the old stuff]

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[all content copyright 2007 by tequila mockingbird. seriously.]


 
12.30.2003  

so let it be written...
think of it as a belated chrismukkah gift.

many of you...okay, several of you...okay, two or three of you have written comments and/or emails to ask about the swell fonts used in the various logos here at tequila mockingbird.

i'm a total font junkie. seriously. it's out of hand. it's even worse than my black shoe "issue." so, i'm happy to serve as enabler to my fellow font junkies out there. and so, i give to you: the colophon. [note: i'll also be adding a permanent link along the left over there.]

yes, kids, now you can revisit your favorite little mockingbird. the one with the funny hat! the one with the other funny hat! even the ones without hats!

they're all here! er...there.

there were a couple of fonts that i drew a blank on. i'll try and check those on the home pc. but, in the meantime, don't say that i don't give you kids exactly what you ask for.

and, in that vein: greg, i'm sending out those nude photos this weekend. hope you like them. couldn't find any gorgonzola, or a rhesus monkey, but i did manage to get my hands on some bleu cheese and a ferret. i think, artistically, i was still able to capture the vibe you wanted.
| [tell me about it] | [link to this entry]

12.29.2003  

who says customer service is dead?
me, that's who.

i have all sorts of cute stories to tell you about my niece, the undisputed cutest two-year-old in the world [please. don't make me show you the pictures again.], including how i am now the recipient of a shiny green star sticker proudly displayed on my cd case.

and just how did i earn such a glittery honor, you ask. by going to the potty like a big girl, of course.

seriously. the cutest two-year-old in the world.

but, i couldn't prattle on about my adorable niece and all the christmas goings-on before i shared with you this priceless exchange that took place around, oh, 10:00 last night at reagan national.

i'm standing there, along with about 150 other irritated people, waiting for my luggage. my flight came in from philadelphia. but, all i'm seeing on the carousel monitors is charlotte. then tampa. then hartford. then nothing.

no philadelphia.

so, i wait.

and i wait.

and i wait.

nothing.

then, at a carousel waaay down at the other end, i notice some luggage just sitting there. nothing on the monitor above it. i wander down toward the carousel and, sure enough, there's my suitcase. just sitting there.

there's a guy pulling a bag off of the carousel. so, i ask him "did they put the flight number up on this monitor? i can't believe i missed it."

he doesn't even look up at me when he says, "do i look like i work here?"

and i'm thinking, "oh. well. nice. i see." i mean, i'm willing to overlook a certain amount of crankiness. i'm cranky too. i want to go home. my flight was delayed. my luggage has been sitting here for who-knows-how-long. i'm so crabby i'm actually walking sideways and my hands are involuntarily making a pinching gesture. i hear you, mr. crabby appleseed. really.

and now here comes this girl asking you some ridiculous question and all you want to do is get that suitcase off the carousel.

see, here's the problem: you're wearing an employee id badge around your neck that says "reagan national airport." and it has your picture on it. so, yeah, asshat, it actually does, in fucking fact, look like you work here.
| [tell me about it] | [link to this entry]

12.25.2003  

what to do when someone steals your shit
as you probably know, i ran into a bit of ridiculous interweb melodrama when some of my original writings posted here on tequila mockingbird were blatantly copied and pasted into someone else's blog where he totally pretended he wrote that shit.

so, what's a girl to do?

first of all, learn more about copyright protection and what your rights are:

creative commons
what is copyright?
lawgirl explains copyright
the us copyright office

next up, i suggest one of two options: contact the individual and ask them to remove the material and/or contact the service which hosts their site and inform them of the violation.

after searching high and low on the blogger site and coming up with big fat nothing in terms of relevant information, i sent them an email. i'm posting their response here, because i think this information should be readily available to all users of blogger services to they can act quickly if they ever find themselves in a similar situation.

note: this information is relative only if the person stealing your shit is a blogger site. if the person stealing your shit has their site with someone else, like xanga, go visit that service's site and find out what their policies and procedures are.

It is our policy to respond to notices of alleged infringement that
comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (the text of which can
be found at the U.S. Copyright Office website:
http://lcWeb.loc.gov/copyright/) and other applicable intellectual
property laws, which may include removing or disabling access to
material claimed to be the subject of infringing activity.

To file a notice of infringement with us, you must provide a written
communication (by fax or regular mail, not by email) that sets forth
the items specified below. Please note that pursuant to that Act, you
may be liable to the alleged infringer for damages (including costs and
attorneys' fees) if you materially misrepresent that you own an item
when you in fact do not. Accordingly, if you are not sure whether you
have the right to request removal from our service, we suggest that you
first contact an attorney.

To expedite our ability to process your request, please use the
following format (including section numbers):

1. Identify in sufficient detail the copyrighted work that you believe has been infringed upon. This must include identification of specific posts, as opposed to entire sites. Posts must be referenced by either the dates in which they appear or the permalink of the post. For example: http://example.blogspot.com/archives/2003_01_21_example_archive.html#2104575.

2. Identify the material that you claim is infringing upon the copyrighted work listed in item #1 above.

YOU MUST IDENTIFY EACH POST BY PERMALINK OR DATE THAT ALLEGEDLY
CONTAINS INFRINGING MATERIAL. The permalink for a post is usually found
by clicking on the timestamp of the post.

3. Provide information reasonably sufficient to permit Blogger to contact you (email address is preferred).

4. Include the following statement: "I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials described above on the allegedly infringing web pages is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law."

5. Include the following statement: "I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in the notification is accurate and that I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed."

6. Sign the paper.

7. Send the written communication to the following address:

Google, Inc.
Attn: Blogger, DMCA complaints
2400 Bayshore Pkwy
Mountain View, CA 94043

OR Fax to:

(650) 618-1499, Attn: Blogger, DMCA complaints
| [tell me about it] | [link to this entry]

12.16.2003  

at least a fruitcake doesn't have lice
for about three hours this weekend, i watched the two minutes of footage of the capture of saddam hussein.

at some point, some official or other made the comment that the capture of hussein was the best christmas gift he could imagine giving to the american people.

first up, i'm pretty sure that not all of the american people celebrate christmas. way to be inclusive there, asshat. but, hey, at least you didn't say it was the best christmas gift we could have given to the iraqi people.

but, i digress.

anyway, while i'm all for ridding the world of sadistic murdering dictators, i just have to say, for the record, that i think a whole lot of us would have also been psyched about an ipod.

then again, maybe that's just me.

no recent posts because i've been buried at work, running around like mad trying to finish up holiday gift shopping, and trying to decide if i really want to tell you just how drunk i got at my company's holiday party on friday.

here's a preview: after being ill-advisedly drafted to be an ad hoc mistress of ceremonies [could they not see how drunk i was?! i mean, come on...stevie wonder could see how drunk i was.], i proceeded to explain to the entire room that the reason i was late getting to the microphone was because i was having a very hard time getting one of my shoes back on...because "my shoes are very tall. and very...complicated."

oh boy.
| [tell me about it] | [link to this entry]

12.11.2003  

and now for something completely different...
i'm in a huggy bear state of mind, so allow myself to pimp a couple of sites.

first up, it's my dear "real-life" [how much more real could my life get than what i write about here?!] friend, cw.

now, i know i've pimped him before. pimped him hard, as a matter of fact. even he will admit that he would be [and i quote] "nowhere" in the blog world without me. my love. my support. my encouragement. my links. my inspiration.

you get the picture.

and, now, i feel like a proud mama, watching her baby going off to the prom. or something.

anyway, point is, he's been nominated for best humor blog in some blog-award-competition-type thing. he's closing in fast on that loser, dave barry. and, while i don't think he can close the gap to overtake the current leader in the field, i'm mostly focusing on him beating dave barry. why? because dave barry is already famous. dave barry already gets paid to write. dave barry has a pulitzer or a nobel prize or something equally impressive that just makes his presence in this competition seem crass and greedy and gross.

what's that?

oh, i see. dave barry was nominated by someone else.

well, fine. then, i shall rethink my position entirely.

[pauses to rethink]

okay then.

i'm mostly focusing on him beating dave barry because dave barry has unfortunate hair and bears more than a passing resemblance to wallace shawn, and i find that creepy. plus, i thought dave barry was horrible on night court.

what's that?

wasn't on night court you say?

yeah-huh.

i think if you check your facts you'll find that he played sass-talkin' bailiff "roz" from 1986 to the season's end in 1992.

yeah-huh.

anyway, go vote for cw so he can crush dave barry.

and, please make note at how magnanimous my pimping is in light of my total absence from this competition. yeah, that's me not nominated in any category. that's me not up for best female blog. that's me not nominated for best blog. that's me not nominated for best-looking blogger.

what's that?

oh. best-looking blog. well, that makes more sense, then.

hell, i'm not even nominated in the "most egregious omission" category.

anyway, cw deserves your vote. he's consistently funnier than anyone i know. including dave barry.

*sigh*

i fear the student has eclipsed the master.

----

in other huggy bear activity, sour bob has returned!

the blog world stopped turning when bob took a hiatus, but he's back, and sourer than ever.

if you're new to his site, take some time and read the archives. not only is bob filled with smart laughs and lots of cusses [i do love the cusses], but he's also one of the best damn writers i've ever had the pleasure of reading. anywhere. ever.

plus, he's super cute.

plus, with just one tiny miniscule link, he doubled my daily hits.

i love a man with power.

this concludes today's pimping. we now return you to your regularly scheduled blog....
| [tell me about it] | [link to this entry]

12.10.2003  

v. 2.0
[ed. note: sometimes i write pieces that i hesitate to post. sometimes it’s because i’m not sure what you’ll think. other times, it’s because i don’t want anyone to feel obligated to post a comment. and, still other times, it’s because i’ve written something that is total crap. at any rate, today's post is one of those that gave me pause.]

friday night was snowy, and, given the fact that it was supposed to be even snowier than it turned out to be, i probably should have gone straight home after work and hunkered down just in case.

instead, i brave the snow and the sleet and the wind to meet up with a few friends for drinks. it’s been a long week, and i need a happy hour. it isn’t one of those happy hours that turns into an all-nighter. just a few drinks. a quick bite to eat. and i say my good-byes to my friends and make my way through the snow to catch the first red line headed for the suburbs.

the train isn’t too crowded. i guess on a friday evening, most people are heading into the city, not out to the suburbs. i notice two other riders in my car – a man and woman, both about my age, both sitting nearby, but traveling separately. about four stops from the end of the line, my cell phone rings.

as i chat with my friend, i hear a voice from the seat behind me. the voice is loud and deep, but startles me mostly because there hadn’t been anyone in that seat a few moments ago.

“it’s really starting to snow, isn’t it?”

i realize that he is talking to me. i turn my head to the right in an effort to let him see that i’m talking on the phone, look at him and nodd in agreement while still talking to my friend.

by the time i turn around to face forward again, he is sitting next to me.

he is tall. although i’m bad with weights and measures, i’d say he is 6’3”. early forties. he is wearing a green and white nike jacket. boots. no gloves. his eyes are very pale blue. he smells faintly antiseptic, like bay rum or listerine.

he is talking to me.

“yeah, it’s really coming down. they say we might get six inches. i know a lot of people don’t really like cold weather, but i do. and i like snow, the more the better.”

i continue talking on my cell phone, thinking he still hasn’t realized the intrusion. i raise my voice slightly, in case he hasn’t heard me talking.

“i don’t really think we’ll get six inches, though. they’re usually wrong about these things.”

my phone conversation ends, and as soon as i turn off my phone, his hand is outstretched.

“hi there, my name’s john.”

this isn’t the first time in my life a man i don’t know has struck up a conversation with me. not the first time a stranger has introduced himself. it’s a fairly common human phenomenon.

and, so, i offer my hand.

maybe it’s the way he is staring at me. maybe it’s the way he holds my hand a little too tightly. i don’t know.

“hi, john. my name is sarah.”

he won’t let go of my hand.

i have a bad feeling.

****


from the minute she met rob, something seemed off to her. but, you have to give people a chance. sort of like when you buy a new album. sometimes you just have to listen to it a few times before you know if you really like it or not.

it was supposed to be girls only. girls’ night out. they were celebrating her divorce and her girlfriend’s new job.

a friend of a friend met up with them at some point during the evening, but, in a clear violation of the rules, she had her new boyfriend in tow. his name was rob. he seemed flirty, but in a forced, used car salesman kind of way.

the details were unknown to her that night, but, later, she pieced it all together.

they had all had too much to drink. she wanted to go home. her girlfriends wanted to stay out. he told them he’d take her home. happy to. it was on his way home. no problem at all.

“don’t you worry,” he told them. “i’ll make sure no creeps hassle her.”

when she came back from the bathroom, her girlfriends had settled up and moved on to another bar, leaving her there with rob.

“it’s all been decided. i’m taking you home,” he said with a smile.

****


“you sure have pretty hands. nice and soft. and that’s a really pretty ring. your boyfriend give you that ring? i bet you have a boyfriend, a beautiful girl like you, you probably have a boyfriend, don’t you?”

i pull my hand away.

“yes, i do.”

“is he a big guy, your boyfriend? is he bigger than me? you think he could beat me up if i tried to take you?”

“he’s a big guy.”

“but is he fast, too? you think he could catch me if i ran? if i just grabbed you and ran…just took off with you, you think he could catch me?”

i stare at him.

he smiles.

“it’s hard to see because you’re all bundled up under there,” he says, leaning toward me, reaching for the collar of my coat, pulling it and craning his neck as if to look underneath.

“but i bet you’re not too big. just about right. i bet he couldn’t catch me.”

“i don’t know you, and i want you to stop touching me. stop right now.”

****


if she hadn’t been drunk, she would have woken up before he started touching her.

she would have noticed that he hadn’t taken her home. she would have noticed that rob had taken her to an empty house listed with his real estate agency. that he had pulled his car into the garage, making sure the passenger door was against the wall so she couldn’t get out.

“what the hell are you doing?”

it took her a minute to remember who he was. she looked around frantically, not recognizing her surroundings.

“oh my god! get off me!” she kicked him, slapping his face.

“you’re so fucking beautiful.”

“no, please, don’t do this. oh my god.”

****


i turn, looking out the window, trying to focus on what to do.

“oh my god.”

i turn to look at him. he is staring down.

“oh my god, those are the sexiest thing i’ve ever seen.”

i realize he is looking at my feet. more precisely, at my stockings. i had worn fishnet stockings to work.

“do those go all the way up? i gotta see if they go all the way up.”

and in an instant, he is reaching down and lifting the leg of my trousers.

i pull my leg away.

“i told you to stop touching me.”

“i’m sorry, i just couldn’t help it. those are so sexy. my god. i bet they go all the way up.”

“do not touch me.”

“i’m sorry, i’m sorry, just calm down. i didn’t mean to upset you.”

****


“now don’t get upset.”

she pushed her way past him, climbing across him and pushing the driver’s side door open.

she was disoriented. scared.

he caught up with her almost immediately.

****


two more stops to go.

he’s still talking to me. he’s asking me questions. what’s my boyfriend’s name? where do i live? i’m answering him. telling him lie after lie.

and all the while, i’m shaking. sweating. trying to figure out what to do next. should i get up and move? should i ask him to move? should i get off at the next stop, wait for the next train? what if i do something and it escalates? what if i make him angry and he has a knife?

if he grabs me, who will chase after him? how long would it be until someone begins to look for me? until someone misses me? what is it i’m supposed to yell? i think it’s “fire!” isn’t that it? i’m supposed to yell “fire” because people will come and help if they think there’s a fire. but no one comes if you scream “rape.”

****


“why do you keep screaming? i told you no one is here. no one is going to hear you. why don’t you just relax? i think if you just relax, you’ll enjoy this.”

he grabbed her hair and pushed her face first down onto the hood of the car.

she clawed at anything she could make contact with, her nails raking across the hood of the car like a chalkboard. she scratched him once on the arm, but he grabbed her arm and pinned it behind her.

“oh, i can do this one-handed if i have to. i’m going to fuck you and you can’t stop me.”

he pushed her skirt up and her panties aside. she could feel the cold metal of the car against her.

the bruise across her hipbones the next day was black and purple. the result of him slamming into her and her slamming into the car.

it was the only physical mark he left.

when it was over, he took her home. as he dropped her off, he told her he’d call the next day.

like they had just had dinner and a movie.

it was such a surreal experience that she couldn’t process it immediately. she went inside and ran the hottest bath she could. when the water got cold, she emptied it and ran another tub full of scalding water. she continued the ritual through the night.

she promised herself that she would never let it happen to her again.

****


“our next and final station stop is shady grove.”

and this is it. the end of the line.

he reaches over and pushes my hair out of my face.

“stop touching me! now!”

i can feel the tears coming.

“i’m sorry. i just wanted to push your hair back so i can see your beautiful face.”

“shady grove. doors opening right side.”

and the tears are dropping now. rolling down my face.

and he leans over and kisses me on the forehead.

“don’t you cry. i’ll see you later.”

and the doors slide open.

and he gets up and leaves. he stops once, just outside the doors and turns to me.

“i’ll see you later.”

and he begins to laugh as he walks away.

and i can hear it echoing through the station.

and i’m still sitting there, crying, listening to him laugh as he walks away.

wondering if he’ll be waiting for me.

wondering, if he keeps his promise to me, if i do see him again...what i will do, how far i will go to keep my promise to myself.
| [tell me about it] | [link to this entry]

12.04.2003  

open mouth. insert leg. repeat.
“i’m going to run across the street – i have a few quick banking-type things to do. shouldn’t take long.”

shouldn’t take long.

shouldn’t. take. long.

right.

all i need is this: to find out the balance on my loan and to withdraw some money from a cd that has matured.

that’s it.

no foreign currency involved.

no bearer bonds.

no amortization.

so, i walk in and go to the teller, even though i know the teller will tell me that i have to see a personal banker. or a relationship manager. or whatever it is that they’re calling the not-tellers these days.

“you’ll need to wait right over there for one of our account representatives.”

bingo.

so, i take my seat in one of the cushy chairs in the center of the lobby, and wait. and, as i’m waiting, i look over at the account representative area and i see…nothing. no one. not a soul. just empty desks.

hmm.

a few moments later, a well-dressed older gentleman comes into the bank. suddenly, the lobby is abuzz. it’s like norm just walked into cheers.

“oh, mr. important guy! how are you today?”

“mr. important guy! how nice to see you! someone will be right with you!”

so, mr. important guy comes over and sits down with me. then, magically, the account representatives appear. in multiples.

“mr. important guy, what can i do for you today?”

and, as i’m about to open my mouth and say something like, “am i wearing my invisibility cloak again today?” mr. important guy does something you just don’t see that often anymore: the right thing.

“actually, i believe she was here before i was.”

and, en masse, they turn to look at me. and i feel really poor. and badly dressed. and maybe even smelly.

after a moment, one of them says, “did you need something?”

no. no, i’m fine. didn’t need anything. i was just walking by and noticed these chairs in your lobby. thought they looked comfortable. thought i’d stroll on in and give them a test drive. ordered a pizza to be delivered here. just waiting on it. i often spend my afternoons sitting in bank lobbies for no reason at all. that’s just me.

do i need something?

“yes, thank you. i need to inquire as to my loan balance, and i need to withdraw some funds from a cd that has matured.”

the representatives look at each other. i’m waiting for someone to pull out a coin to toss, or some straws to draw. the loser of course, would have to take care of me, leaving everyone else to fawn over mr. important guy.

“i see. let me go get a.j. to help you. you can wait right over there,” she says, pointing to a desk in the back corner.

a.j.

hmm.

ok.

all righty.

a.j. well, all right then, a.j.. visions of the cute preppy one from simon & simon are dancing through my head as i make my way to a.j.’s desk.

moments later, all simon & simon-related visions are gone.

you remember how, on bewitched, samantha had that bad cousin, serena? well, if jeanie from i dream of jeanie had a bad cousin, apparently, she would be named a.j. and she would be an account representative at my bank.

this woman is wearing her long dark hair in an i dream of jeanie ponytail on the top of her head. complete with a gold ponytail-holder-thingie. and also: go-go boots. and a mini skirt. and thumb rings. plural.

it’s not fair to judge based on looks, but i can’t shake the feeling that my bank does not see me as a “high end” customer.

so, a.j. sits down, and i explain what i need. she tells me we’ll look at the loan balance first.

“i only have two payments left,” i say. “so, i thought i’d check the balance, maybe go ahead and pay it off now.”

“okay…it’s $3000.00.”

“what?”

“$3000.00”

“no.”

“what do you mean, ‘no’? that’s what it says right here on the computer,” a.j. says, turning the monitor around and pointing to a box that says $3000.00.

“but that can’t be right. i only have two payments left.”

“well, you know the last payment is usually a different amount.”

“but my payment is only $400.”

“uh-huh.”

“so…are you saying that my regular payment is $400, but, for some reason, my final payment would be…$2600.00?”

“i don’t know.”

“ok. wait...you don’t know? doesn’t it seem like my balance should be more like…well, $800? i’d even understand $1000…but $3000? that doesn’t make any sense.”

“maybe you missed some payments.”

“does it say i missed payments? i, mean, i haven’t missed any payments, but, if i had, wouldn’t it say that? on the computer?”

“uh-huh.”

“so…does it say that i missed payments?”

“no.”

“okay. does it say i have a past due amount or something?”

“ummm….no.”

“so. okay. i don’t understand this.”

[long silence]

“okay, so maybe i’ll just…um…call someone then?”

“yeah. you should definitely call someone.”

“right.”

[long silence]

“okay, well, i guess let’s just get the cd done then.”

“ok.”

a.j. proceeds to chew gum and type. i say “type.” but, really, she’s literally pounding on the keyboard. it’s frighteningly loud. i wonder if she can hear it, or if the sound of her snapping gum and her jangling earrings drowns it out.

suddenly, she stops typing. a.j. stands up and leans over her desk, craning her neck.

“aha,” she says.

and then, she pushes her long dark i dream of jeanie ponytail to the side, and spits her gum into the wastebasket beside me.

she reaches into her desk drawer, pulls out a pack of gum, and puts two sticks into her mouth. she glances at me.

“want some?”

“uh. i’m fine, thanks.”

again, i cannot shake the feeling that mr. important guy never deals with a.j.

ever.

more pounding ensues, and then a.j. stops, reading the screen and furrowing her brow.

“ohhh. i see. well…hmmm.”

suddenly, i’m sweating. it’s like when you swipe your debit card and it seems to be taking a really long time to approve. you know you have the money. but, still, there’s always that feeling of “oh my god, my card is going to magically be declined in front of all of these people and i’ll try to explain that i really honestly have the money and it must be some sort of crazy bank error, and they'll laugh at me and point and i'll have to put box that box of tampons and that bag of oreos back.”

“uh…is there a problem with my cd?”

“well, here’s the thing. there’s a hold on it for some reason. like, you know...a hold.”

“you mean i can’t withdraw my funds?”

“well, here’s the thing. i’m sure it’s just a mistake. see, we bought this podunk bank over in west virginia, and that’s where your cd was opened. and when we transferred their stuff to our system, a lot of weird codes and stuff got put on things.”

and i’m wondering how a.j., being a banker and all, doesn’t put two and two together. how she doesn’t figure out that, in light of the fact that my cd was opened at the first national bank of podunk, maybe she shouldn’t refer to it as such. i mean, obviously, i was a customer there. i mean…obviously to me…and to other sentient beings walking the planet.

“well…”

“i mean, seriously, i don’t even think those people were using computers. i think they were still using pencils, paper and desktop calculators! seriously, they were so hillbilly.”

“uh…”

“i’ll have to call over there and get one of them to tell me there shouldn’t be a hold on your money. let me see if i can find the number to that branch.”

i rattle off the number from memory. and then i give her the name of the person who opened my account. “he’s the manager. a really nice guy. i’m sure he’ll be happy to help out.”

let’s call this clue #2.

but, a.j. soldiers on. undaunted. unaware.

“seriously, you should hear the accents on these people! it’s a riot. if i get a really good one, i’ll put it on speaker phone so you can hear it. it's unbelievable.”

a.j. dials the number, rolling her eyes and pointing at the receiver.

“i’m calling about a cd that was opened at your branch. there’s a hold showing on the account, but i’m sure it’s just a system glitch from the transfer. can you confirm for me?”

more eye rolling.

“i’m on hold.”

the suspense is killing me. this has the potential to turn into the most beautiful thing. the highlight of my day.

“did you get the name of the person you’re speaking with?”

“nancy somethingorother.”

“great. thanks.”

i sit back in my chair, trying not to clap my hands with glee.

“ok. here’s the name on the account…”

one mississippi.

“what? no. no, she doesn’t live in west virginia,” a.j. says, rolling her eyes yet again. for a moment, i remember to give thanks that there are people who have no clue.

“i’m looking at her address on the screen…she doesn’t live in west virginia.” a.j. turns to me with an incredulous look on her face, shaking her head as if to say, “can you believe this?”

and i just think, “no. i really can’t.”

“you want me to ask her what?”

two mississippi.

and with a look that says “please say no,” a.j. turns to me and says:

“she wants to know if you’re the same person who used to work at the bank’s headquarters in charleston.”

and there it is. three mississippi.

i smile and say, “yes, i am. and please tell nancy i said ‘hello.’”

she stares at me. i imagine that she might be replaying the conversation in her head, inwardly wincing.

after a moment, she recovers.

“nancy? it’s her. she says ‘hello.’ yes. okay. i will. thank you very much.”

a.j. hangs up the phone.

“she, uh…she said ‘hello’ and to tell you that everyone misses you. and that you were the best computer trainer they ever had.”

“well, that’s nice of her to say. it was a hard job, teaching them computers. what without any electricity and all.”

“so, uh…there isn’t any hold on your cd.”

“great.”

“i’ll just get you a check.”

“actually, could i get paper money? i like keepin’ it in the shoebox under my bed. i been savin’ up to buy me a new fork.”
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12.01.2003  

in the time it takes you to read this post…
if it comes up in conversation, i sometimes mention that my cousin is hiv positive.

more often than not, the response to the statement is “how did he get it?”

he is actually a she.

and, to my way of thinking, it doesn’t matter how she got it.

when my grandmother had cancer, no one asked me how she got it. truth is, she got it from smoking. but no one asked me.

it didn’t matter. the cancer was terminal. she was going to die from it. and that wasn’t going to be any different if she had gotten it from smoking, or from chemical exposure, or just from a lousy gene pool.

for the record, my cousin was born with a staggering myriad of birth defects. multiple surgeries, multiple blood transfusions. it was the late 80s. they still weren’t very good about testing blood then.

but it doesn’t matter how my cousin became hiv positive. she will die from it. and that wouldn’t be any different if she had become infected from sharing a needle or having unprotected sex. she will die from it just the same.

i’d like to think we’ve learned lessons since then. that my cousin’s situation is the result of ignorance and inaction in the face of an epidemic we just didn’t understand at the time.

i’d like to think things have changed.

but, according to the world health organization, aids infected and killed more people than ever in 2002. worldwide, about 40 million people are infected with hiv. of that number, about five million became infected in 2002, including approximately 700,000 children.

in 2002, approximately three million people died of aids…about 500,000 of them were children younger than 15.

that’s roughly 8,000 deaths a day.

five people lose their lives to aids every minute.

tick tock.

----
learn more about hiv and aids, and what you can do to help in the fight against this global epidemic at one of these sites:

us department of health & human services

uk’s national aids trust’s world aids day site

united nations aids organization

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