Sunday, January 30, 2005

A Day in the Life of a Freelance Journalist

9 a.m.: Jump out of bed, eager to greet the workday. Race to the answering machine to check messages. Don’t want to keep those editors waiting!
9:05 a.m.: Why isn’t the little red light blinking? Oh well, most editors prefer e-mail anyway. Better check there.
9:10 a.m.: e-mail. Not to worry--it’s early yet. Things will pick up later in the day. Now I can work on some of those other projects I haven’t had time for.
9:30 a.m.: cantthinkcantthinkcantthinkcantthinkcantthink...
10 a.m.: Words, words, where are you? Why hast thou forsaken me?
10:05 a.m.: Maybe I just need a distraction, something to get my creative juices flowing. Oooh, look! Jerry Springer’s on!
10:55 a.m.: Scared now. No more TV for me. Ever.
11 a.m.: Well, maybe one little “X-Files” rerun won’t hurt.
Noon: Time for lunch! Ramen noodles, anyone?
1 p.m.: Back to work. Still no messages. Must be a slow news day. Wait--why am I waiting for them to come to me? I should be more proactive. Better start working those phones!
1:05 p.m.: “He’s in a meeting? No, I don’t mind leaving a message...She’s at lunch. That’s OK, I’ll just leave a message...When will he be back? OK--I’ll just leave a voicemail...”
2 p.m.: Where is everyone?
2:15 p.m.: Maybe I should finally straighten up my desk.
2:30 p.m. Or maybe not. Really scared now. That was worse than Jerry Springer!
2:45 p.m.: 99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer, take one down and pass it around...
3 p.m.: The phone! Maybe it’s that source getting back to me! Or that editor from that big-time news magazine! “, there’s no Julio here. You must have the wrong number.”
3:05 p.m.: 68 bottles of beer on the wall, 68 bottles of beer...
3:30 p.m.: So what if it’s a slow news day? I can use this time to brush up on my writing skills. Re-read the AP Stylebook or peruse the dictionary for a while.
3:45 p.m.: Ow! My head hurts! Need chocolate.
4 p.m.: Was that the phone? Nope, just my neighbor’s phone. What are these walls made of, paper?
4:15 p.m.: Maybe I should take another look at some of those unfinished projects.
4:30 p.m.: stillcantthinkstillcantthinkstillcanthinkstillcantthink...
4:45 p.m.: Why won’t that blasted phone ring?
4:50 p.m.: The phone again! Maybe this is finally it! “No, I don’t have time to take a short survey! Can’t you see I’m working here?”
5 p.m.: Quittin’ time! Whew! What a long day! Now I can finally put my feet up and relax!

Sunday, January 23, 2005

To Whom It May Concern

If you are reading this right now, it is because I have been the victim of a very unfortunate “accident.” If, by some miracle, those conspiring against me have inadvertently allowed this to be published, I can only think that some force for good must have intervened, so that others will not meet the same fate I did. I beseech you--please read these words carefully, for they may save your life.
My conspirators were very clever, disguising themselves as some of my dearest friends. I depended on them for almost everything, and at first they were there whenever I needed them. But slowly, they begin to plot against me, until eventually I had no one left to turn to. Why not go to the authorities? Because no one would have believed me. And they counted on that.
The computer was the first to turn against me. I’ll admit, I was too attached to that machine. I used it for work, for shopping, for paying bills, almost everything, in fact. Without it I would have been lost. But just when I came to depend on it, it abandoned me. At first I thought I had worked it too hard or had overloaded it with too many programs. There were little glitches here and there. Files would disappear. All of my settings would be changed, and then changed back again. I got disconnected from the Internet every five minutes. I would be sent to a different website than what I’d typed in. I was afraid it was spyware. Had I been hijacked? I couldn’t stand the thought of my poor, reliable old computer being violated like that. I downloaded every spywarekiller program I could find. I deleted unnecessary files. I did everything I could to help my computer perform better. But it was no use. Eventually I had to face the terrible truth: my computer was out to get me.
The television was next. The volume would mysteriously go up and down and then up again. The reception came and went. And then there was that eerie green spot. It grew smaller and larger, and almost looked as if it were breathing. Sometimes it was just a speck. Other times it covered nearly half the screen. Larger, smaller, larger, smaller...oh, how diabolical it was! It was never visible when other people were present. Only when I was alone. Larger, smaller, larger. I know you’re there! I’m not crazy! And now the whole world will know about you. They’ll find you eventually. And your little friends, those blasted kitchen appliances!
Ah yes, the kitchen appliances. They were the cruelest of them all. The refrigerator appeared to be the ringleader. It started with the occasional shock whenever I would touch the handle. At first it was an infrequent occurrence, but it happened more and more often, until I couldn’t open the door at all. Oh my sweet Haagen-Dazs, trapped in there all alone and uneaten! And I have no way to save you! Soon the other appliances got in on the act. The garbage disposal would make terrible noises and refuse to dispose. And then it would act as if nothing had happened. Sometimes it wouldn’t work for days. Sometimes it would make terrible, ear-splitting noises. I never knew what to expect. The microwave was even worse. It would stop right in the middle of cooking, and then start up again. The turntable would turn. And then it wouldn’t. Sometimes it turned backwards. Sometimes it groaned. Oh, what have I done to deserve this? Why do you want to drive me insane?
Please, please, please, if you read this, take a long hard look around you. They say technology is our best friend. But is it? I trusted them once, too, and look what happened to me. Don’t trust them. Don’t ever let your guard down around them. Don’t be a fool like I was. Yes, it’s too late for me, but if just one person is saved by reading this, my misfortune won’t have been in vain. Please, don’t let them get away with it! Don’t let them take over! They’re ruthless! Ruthless, I tell you! They’ll stop at nothing! And you could be next...

Thursday, January 20, 2005

How To Spot An Alien

Thought they could fool the entire neighborhood, did they? Well, they didn’t count on my devastatingly perceptive Reporter’s Eye. I’m onto them, I tell you! I know there’s something not quite right about those people next door. The otherworldly noises coming from their house at all hours, the eerie glowing lights shining through their windows, that faint green tinge to their can only mean one thing. They’re aliens.
Wait! Don’t leave yet! Hear me out, I know what I’m talking about, and just think, if extraterrestrials have invaded my neighborhood, they’ve probably invaded yours too. You need to know how to spot them, and that’s where I can help. As a reporter, I’ve been trained to be observant, to pick up on little clues that other people overlook. And after years of studying my own neighbors, I’ve developed a list of signs that your neighbors might be aliens. See if any of them sound familiar.
Top 10 Signs Your Neighbors Are Aliens:
1. Those funny silver spacesuits they sometimes wear.
2. Their heads are cone-shaped.
3. The husband claims he’s restoring a classic car, but what’s under that tarp looks suspiciously saucer-shaped.
4. They have pointy ears like Spock.
5. Men in black suits show up at your door asking a lot of strange questions.
6. They play William Shatner’s latest album at full-blast, over and over, all day long.
7. They spent their last family vacation at Area 51.
8. Their daughter is president of the Leonard Nimoy fan club.
9. The kids dress up as E.T. for Halloween. Every year.
10. You overhear them talking about the mothership and when it’s going to return.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

I'm Out There Somewhere...

I’ve looked under the rug. I’ve looked in the cabinets. I’ve even looked in the attic, but to no avail. No matter how hard I search, I just can’t find myself.
Other people are finding themselves. I see them on Oprah, I see them on Dr. Phil, I read about them in all those women’s magazines and self-help books. (Did I just admit to reading self-help books? Geez, I really need to learn how to have a private thought.) If they can do it, why can’t I? The new me, the true me, the authentic me...she’s out there somewhere and she’s all alone! There must be something I can do!
It’s the new year, and all around me people are setting out to find themselves. Surely there’s hope for me too. So starting today, I will leave no stone unturned in my quest to find myself. Meditation? I’m there! Aromatherapy? I’m all over it! Feng shui, hypnosis, health food, tai chi, religion, positive thinking, herbs, yoga, pilates, past life regression...I’ll try it all! Don’t worry, me, I’m coming! I’ll find you, wherever you are!
By the way, if any of you out there in Cyberspace happen to see the true me, will you tell her to get her lazy butt back here right now? We have work to do!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Queen of Evil

The Internet is a perilous place for a quiz-a-holic like me. What kind of candy are you? (I’m a Hershey’s Kiss.) Who’s your celebrity love match? (Matthew McConaughey) What’s your DJ name? (DJ Resounding Pimp) They’re addictive. And I don’t think there’s a chapter of Quizaholics Anonymous in my city.
Recently I stumbled across a test I could not fail: “How evil are you?” Aha! I exclaimed as I rubbed my hands together gleefully. After all, I was downright sinful--my success was practically assured. As I checked off all of the “have you evers,” my confidence continued to grow. Why yes I have...oh, yes...several times in fact...Ha! I was so evil I’d probably crash their website. I leaned back in my chair and waited smugly for my results. Poor things, they’d probably never seen evil the likes of me before.
And then came one of the greatest shocks of my life. “What?!” I cried in agony. “I’m only 20 percent evil? That can’t be right. I demand a recount!” I began to wring my hands and walk the floor. I’d never been so disappointed in myself! How could I be such a failure? But then I had a heartening thought--maybe all hope isn’t lost. Like Scarlett O’Hara said, tomorrow is another day. Maybe I can still be redeemed. Maybe true evil isn’t out of my reach. I know I can achieve untold wickedness! I’ll just have to try a little harder...

discover what candy you are @ quiz me

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

I Resolve To...

What am I, a glutton for punishment? It’s the only explanation. Year after year, I sit down and willingly commit myself to a long list of resolutions I know I can’t keep. I know these New Year’s resolutions are a tradition and everything, but they just aren’t very realistic. No one ever lives up to them. But maybe I’ve been setting my standards too high. After all, learning Latin, writing the Great American Novel and winning a Tony award is a lot to accomplish in one year. Maybe I need to think lower. A lot lower. Maybe something like this:
1. Find out what that extra light switch in my kitchen is for.
It doesn’t control the light, the garbage disposal or any of the appliances. Hmmm...maybe it controls the sun! Maybe I could have sunlight anytime I wanted! Maybe I’m up way too late and have had way too much sugar today!
2. Find that pair of shoes that vanished into the depths of my overstuffed closet about three years ago.
I know you’re in there! You can’t hide from me forever!
3. Clean the mildew off the shower tiles.
Ewww...gross! I know, I know, I’m a slob! But don’t we all have some dirty little secret hidden in our bathroom? Well, don’t we? Oops, I guess not. Mildew? What mildew? Ha ha...I was just joking!
4. Straighten up my desk once and for all.
Oh, I forgot, I’m supposed to be coming up with realistic resolutions.
5. Clean out the refrigerator.
You don’t want to know. Trust me, you don’t want to know.
Now that’s better. That sounds like a list of things I could actually accomplish. And I’ll get started on them right now. As soon as I have a little nap. And then surf the Internet for a while. And then maybe a snack. And then...oh, who am I kidding? This time next year, I’ll still be obsessing over that mystery light switch and holding my nose every time I open the refrigerator. (Like I said, you don’t want to know.) Oh well, it was a nice thought anyway.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

The Chocoholic Blues

Sometimes I fear this obsession will consume me. It haunts my dreams, intrudes upon my thoughts and rules every moment of my life. I am but a shell of the person I used to be. Humiliated and disgraced, I can no longer bear the burden of this terrible secret alone. I must confess: I am a chocoholic.
How did I get here, I often ask myself. A Reese’s cup here and there, the occasional Nestle Crunch all seemed so harmless in the beginning. But soon I found myself firmly in this addiction’s grip, my will no longer my own. At one of my lowest moments, I drove to the grocery store in the middle of a snowstorm, handed over my rent money and cleaned out their candy aisle.
But it got worse than that. Once, after a night of shameless chocolate debauchery, I found myself dazed and standing in my pajamas in the chocolate aisle of the supermarket. I was pushing a shopping cart piled so high with bags of chocolate that its weight was almost too great for me. I couldn’t remember how I got there. By some miracle I awoke from that terrible fog before I had made my way to the checkout. I abandoned the cart, ran for the exit and swore I would never sink so low again.
Oh, if only it were that simple! I have tried to stay strong, but every day I am tested. However, I resolve to stay on track. I will never again be tempted by a seductive bag of M&Ms or a tantalizing package of Hershey’s kisses. But wait a minute--what am I saying? Chocolate has been my truest friend, and now I’m just going to turn my back on it? What a cold, heartless fiend I am! Don’t worry, Chocolate, I won’t forsake you! Dear, sweet, Chocolate, can you ever forgive me?!?!
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