Oh, Sciatica. The nerve of you.

Why do you own me and keep me on the shelf while digging deeper in? I am so over you and yet you continue to control my life. You are such a pain. I can’t forget you, no matter how hard I try. When I sit, it reminds me of you. So, I stand, and that reminds me of you, too. Sit or stand? Stand or sit? To wit, you are under my skin. So be it. Four more weeks of your games. Only a shiny white pill can stifle the pain. Just a temporary fix drives you into the shade and deadens the searing hot burn that fosters the flame.

The Refrigerator Chronicles

The last time we peaked inside the refrigerator door the light was off and a coup was taking place. The cheese, yogurt and luncheon meat on the third shelf had been conspiring to take over the top shelf, where the milk and orange juice were having a conference.

“OJ,” said Moo Milk. “I’m hearing talk of a coup from Eggsy, a reliable source . . . of protein.”

OJ sighed. “I’m sick of being incarcerated here with low shelf-life’s in flimsy packaging. I’ve got Vitamin C and A. What do they’ve got? Nothing but saturated fats and chemicals.”

“That might be true,” replied Moo Milk. “But they’ve got something else, something that curdles my innards.”

“What’s that?” asked OJ. “What could be so bad?”

“They’ve got those nasty silver-backed sippers. They’re a canny bunch. They’ve got numbers. I tell you. A 48 pack of 12 percenters that can blind-side you with a pop of the can.” He paused. “They can roll, too. We’ll be lucky if we make it to Monday, the last date of sale.”

“Baloney!” yelled OJ. “All they’ve got is baloney, fake cheese and that razzle dazzle yogurt punk, Bifidus Schmifidus. We’ve got all the big guns up here: That tall French Dude, Christoff Champagne, really packs a punch.”

“Nah, he’s only good for one pop, then he fizzles.”

“Well, what about Ruby Red, the tall slender-neck tomato, facing the pathetic leftovers in the back?”

“Sure, OJ. She’ll get their attention, but when she opens her mouth, she can’t control all those nasty noises. Ain’t that right Beano?” He yelled. No answer. “What’s with Beano? She usually hangs out on the shelf on the door.”

“You didn’t hear? She’s an Empty Nester now. Everything that was once part of her life is gone. She’s heading off to Recycle Beach, Florida to have some work done. Too bad. I’m going to miss her. She was a upstanding neighbor with strong moral fiber. I’m not the religious type but tonight as I recite my ingredients before bed, I’m going say a prayer for Beano.” Moo Milk sighed. “You’re religious aren’t you, OJ? What’s it called . . .?”

“Acidic. I’m Acidic. I never pour on Saturday’s.”

to be continued . . .

Shallow End of the Office

The scattered secretary.

Secretaria stared at her “to-do” list until the words grew hazy. Unfortunately, for Secretaria, “to dos” often turned into “to don’ts,” a much longer list. If success was predicated on whoever had the longest “to-don’t” list, Secretaria would surely have been the Guinness Book winner in the category. That’s why she grew her hair long. She dreamed of holding that title one day, too. Her nails were another story since they always broke and never grew back fast enough after filing, despite the rarity of such an occurrence.

Flipping through the left-tabbed, right-tabbed, center-tabbed manila folders to find a missing file was a tormenting task. Hearing the click, click, click of hanging folders, as she flipped through each one, made her head hurt.

Secretaria’s head hurt a lot, especially when it came to dictation. She could barely read her regular handwriting. The squiggly words she had learned in secretarial school became lost in translation and looked more like doodling on her steno pad. She now regretted texting during dictation and graduating at the bottom of her class. Since the future was now, she ignored what she learned in secretarial school and surreptitiously taped her boss’s dictation sessions with a tiny tape recorder she often couldn’t find.

Because of Secretaria’s many blunders her boss, Mr. Grouchy, always lectured her on her bad work habits and was usually upset with her. If Secretaria’s father weren’t the CEO of Blah, Blah, Blah Marketing, Inc., Mr. Grouchy would have fired her the first time she put his Blackberry in the fridge. “I didn’t want it to spoil,” she had argued.

Mr. Grouchy’s face turned red, as the vein in his forehead throbbed to the beat of the Alice Cooper song that played on his IPod. He just dismissed Secretaria with a wave of his hand and went out for a Martini lunch even though it was barely 10 a.m.

Secretaria went back to her desk and stared at the dark computer screen that was a whole lot of nothing to look at. She thought the monitor was a paperweight until the gal who sat at the desk next to her, Wilma the Wonderful, told her otherwise.

“You’ve got to turn it on,” Wilma barked. “The button. Press the button on the hard drive.”

Secretaria blushed and looked away. She’d read about hard drives before in x-rated magazines. She accidentally read such a magazine at a bookstore while looking for the winning bookmark in the “You find it. You keep it” book giveaway promo.

Poor Secretaria just stared at Wilma blankly and said, “I’m not that kind of girl.”

A frustrated Wilma jumped up and pressed the button on Secretaria’s hard drive. “Got a cigarette?” she snapped and went back to her desk.

Secretaria’s face lit up with the computer screen. “Wow a computer and a paperweight, too.” It made her day. She even stuck her head into Mr. Grouchy’s office, before she left work, to say good-bye.

He popped an olive into his mouth and said, “You’re still here?” Unbeknown to Secretaria, Mr. Grouchy had been holding secret dictation sessions with Letta the secretary on the first floor. After Secretaria left for the day at 5 p.m., Letta from the first floor would climb the stairs to Mr. Grouchy’s office on the third floor. In secretarial school, Letta got an “A” in dictation and graduated at the top of her class.

The next day Mr. Grouchy called Secretaria from the road to have her bring department stationery down to Letta, so she could send out his letters. Secretaria left Mr. Grouchy on hold while she tried to figure out the correct usage of the word stationary, as she sat motionless at her desk.

Secretaria became more confused when Wilma simultaneously asked her for a piece of stationery, to which Secretaria replied, “I can’t move. I accidentally put myself on hold while I was on the phone with Mr. Grouchy. What’s his real name, any way?”

“It’s Grouchee. He’s French,” said Wilma. “He’s only been Grouchy since you started.”

Secretaria ignored Wilma the Wonderful and stuck another pink message slip beneath the paperweight monitor on her desk. Then, Secretaria did what she always did best. She lost all track of time while gazing mindlessly at the clock on the wall. When her eyes finally focused on the numbers, she realized that it was the next morning, which oddly made her quite happy. At least she would be on time to work today.

I would like to dedicate this earlier post (one of my earliest) to a great blogger and renowned Weaselologist kasabiangirl at Life sure is a snoozefest!

Kasa knows a thing or two about office politics and how it makes the sanity meter in your head fluctuate like a 10-point magnitude quake on the Richter Scale.

To Do or To Don’t

Here I go bouncing around in my head again.

Would have. Could have. Should have.

What to do first? How ’bout completing the “To Do” List from May 18th? There are still two items left. They just don’t disappear because you aren’t thinking about them. For God’s sake, it’s only two items — a ten page contest submission, with barely any words per page, and a simple revision of a short story that an editor wanted to see. What’s the big deal?

What stops you dead on your feet from taking two steps forward and completing an old “To Do” list?

Don’t give me the, “I’m bored,” excuse. That’s not professional. You think of yourself as a professional. Don’t you? Yes, I know you do. But sometimes you are a real baby. There. I’ve said it. Boo-hoo. Cry baby. Start focusing like a professional and complete the goddamn “To Do” list from May 18th. Today is May 27th. That’s more than a week overdue. Why create a “To Do” list anyway if you’re not going to do anything with it?

I’ve been down this road before with you, Id and Ego. Why can’t you three get it together? It’s not rocket science, or maybe it is for Id. Ego, on the other hand, never lets anything get in the way.

It’s probably all your fault, you. You let ideas lay in your brain like land mines. You’re afraid to diffuse them by tackling them. Jesus. It’s only an idea. It’s not a real mine but in your narrow microcosmic perception, it’s the friggin Hiroshima bomb.

Boom! Live with it! That’s the path you’ve chosen or that has chosen you. Get going! You can do it! Diffuse the bomb before it diffuses you.

Mind travel to earth town

It starts with a spontaneous thought – rain, sky, water, mud – a pit in the yard where the underground train to hell departs. All aboard! Take it slow. This train’s gonna be packed back-to-back with souls. Every seat sold is in a smoking car. Every newborn gets a cigar. Air’s a luxury down here below dirt encrusted sky, but there are plenty of friends to find. Worms, beetles and other dark crawlers creep silently through the dining car. Lots of discarded food to snuggle up to.

Choo. Choo. Wah-Woosh.

Picking up speed, with every push deeper toward the center of earth town. Out the window, darkness abounds. Down here the sun never shines in real time. It just glows like a nightlight in the memory zone. Toe-to-toe, commuters elbow their way to the first car, which has the best view, while descending through layers of dinosaur bones and decaying scrolls, before reaching the last bend where the track suddenly ends.

It’s worth the price of a one-way ticket when you retreat from the light. Plenty of take-out food to go if you’re a roach. No soft skin huggers here, only hard worn shells off the rack. Down here, styles tend to trend black with holes. Too many shabby souls. In the dirt, you’re never alone. One more station until you’re finally home. Choo. Choo. Got your baggage? Next stop, you’re toast.

Supermarket Stories

The Frozen Food Samaritan

It seems that every time I go to the market, I have an interesting encounter. On my last visit, it took place in the frozen food section. I was perusing the dinners when a well-dressed elderly woman decided to give me some pointers on finding the least expensive meal without sacrificing quality. If one can include quality and frozen food dinners in the same sentence.

“Those are quite good,” she exclaimed, while pointing at the colorful package containing an Italian steak stir-fry meal. “In fact, that’s my favorite. It’s also quite filling for me. Yes, it’s only me,” she said as her voice cracked.

She turned away and stared out into space, perhaps, into another time when one bag was barely enough for two. She looked back my way with a twinkle in her eye. “Yes, the steak stir-fry is quite good.” She studied the shelf below, where bags of tangy chicken stir-fry sat scrunched together in a row, as if the stock boy kept adding to a shelf that rarely had anything taken from it.

“Not my favorite. Don’t like really sweet things.” She directed me to the soy sauce dinner. “Now, that’s a good one, especially if you like Chinese food.”

“I like Chinese food,” I echoed, not quite knowing how to respond to my good frozen food Samaritan.

She squinted at the pricing below the shelf. “You see. It’s a much better price than that one.” She nodded disdainfully at the dinners in the casing next door. “Too expensive.” She shook her head. “I can’t afford that.”

“Who can?” I added.

She smiled then looked at my cart. “Looks like you have more than one to feed. The stir-fry dinners are enough for two. If you have more than that, I would suggest taking two bags.”

“That’s good,” I said, and began wondering if she was an emissary for a frozen food company. Maybe, the mother of a CEO who is quietly dispatched to local supermarkets to help drum up business. Brilliant marketing ploy but not far-reaching unless the company dispatches an army of elderly woman to supermarkets across the country. Now that would be brilliant. Who could resist advice from such a kind grandmotherly type?

I opened the freezer and grabbed two packages of the frozen steak stir-fry dinner.

“Good choice,” she said and walked away.

I guess the tangy chicken would have to wait for a change in the elderly lady rotation schedule.