The Buzz


What is that, you ask? Well, aside from being irrefutable evidence that my mother is the BEST gift-giver in the entire universe, it is also quite likely the tool that will one day save my life. Maybe even this weekend.

Late last year, my friends Natasha, Dee-Dee and I signed up for a beekeeping class. It seemed so far away at the time, but now, that weekend has finally arrived. This class has a different significance for each of us. Dee-Dee wants to support local farmers, Natasha wants to overcome her fear of bees, and I want to find financial freedom in the form of sweet, sweet bee honey. Goodbye corporate America, hello Aunt Jenny’s Old Tyme All-Natural Honeycombs and Bee-Related Products!

I’ll sell honey, honey combs, honey sticks, honey candy, honey cakes, honey butter, beeswax candles, beeswax lip balm, beeswax hair gel, honey hair gel, honey lip balm, bee pollen makeup, bee stickers, bee coloring books, and peanut butter and royal jelly sandwiches.

Through what can only be described as fate, my friend Dr. Greene dressed up as a sexy beekeeper for Halloween this year, and ever the perfectionist, he bought a real beekeeper suit for the costume. When he came to visit from DC last weekend, he handed me a bag containing the suit. Natasha claimed dibs on it, since she’s kind of scared of bees, but we’ll share it as we tend to the hives.

I hope to have all sorts of bee-related stories after this weekend, unless I discover that I’m allergic to bee stings, in which case, please tell everyone that I died doing something I loved and was passionate about all my life. Or at least ever since I read about the class a few months ago.

PS: That’s an antique bee-smoker.


I can’t help it. Babies laughing kill me every time. But quadruplets? It’s just plain insanity.

Laughing BabiesThe funniest videos are a click away

February 13th

Toilet paper. I’m out of toilet paper.
She stops at the drugstore on the way to the train station.
Still time to kill. What else do I need?
Toothpaste… sensitive teeth… whitening with breath strips… tartar control with whitening… clean mint gel with maximum cavity protection.
Hand lotion.
Arms full, she crosses through the candy aisle on her way to the checkout and spots the Valentine’s Day display. Picked over, mostly. A clear plastic container of Hershey’s Kisses, red and white M&M’s, sugar-free cupid lollipops. On the bottom shelf, she spots the heart-shaped boxes of chocolates. Whitman’s Sampler, $2.99.
I really shouldn’t. But maybe I could bring them to work tomorrow, to share. Will that seem weird?
She watches the unsmiling woman at the register telling customer after customer to have a wonderful day and that she hopes to see them soon. She hands everyone their bags without looking them in the eye.
She’ll just think I’m buying this for someone special. Or will she think I’m cheap to buy a $2.99 box of chocolates?
Sitting in the train station food court, she eyes the red cellophane peeking out from her bag and runs her finger along the curved edge. It crinkles. She looks at the back of her hand and is glad she remembered to buy lotion.
So dry.
She looks back at the red cellophane, then glances at all the people shoving food in their mouths in the final moments before their trains arrive.
They’d probably feel sorry for me, eating chocolates alone in a train station. I feel sorry for them with their tacos.
She picks up her bags and walks into the bathroom, selecting a stall on the far end. She sits down and carefully pulls the heart-shaped box out of the bag, turning it over.
I hope there’s raspberry.
The cellophane echoes in the near empty bathroom. It is so much louder than she anticipated. She coughs as she rips open the box, and then selects the round milk chocolate piece with dark chocolate drizzle.

Ew. Strawberry. And salty. How is it salty? I don’t want this.

She looks at the uneaten half in her hand, wondering what to do.
Can I drop it in the toilet? What will that sound like?
She considers putting it in the garbage can, but doesn’t want to lift the lid. She’s afraid she might see something that would make her lose her appetite, so instead, she shoves the rest of the candy in her mouth and quickly swallows it.
The next one is coconut, but doesn’t taste anything like a Mounds bar. She thought it would taste like a Mounds bar. She sighs as she puts the box of candy back in her bag and exits the stall.
I bet they’ll be half price tomorrow.


Just so you know…
I’ve never read Jane Austen, and I have no plans to. I think she’s totally overrated. And anyone who doesn’t like tapioca pudding can kiss my a**.
This message brought to you by 3.5 glasses of shiraz and the letter “empty stomach.”


Hey, I was just curious. Would it seem kind of disgusting if I ate an entire jar of spicy pickled okra in two days?
How about if it was really closer to one day?
Just checking.

Anarchy in the Northwest Corner of the 16th Floor

I was getting off the train yesterday in my usual Monday morning fog when I paused to let a woman go ahead of me. I had seen her before. I see her whenever I catch this train, actually. Sometimes, I think she might be crazy – she has that look in her eyes. Vacant, yet focused at the same time. She also always seems to have a good 2-3” of grey roots at the base of her Crayola red hair.
When I gestured for her to go ahead, she smiled and thanked me. As she grabbed the hand rail to step down to the platform, I saw that she wore elaborate rings on all ten of her fingers.
“Yes,” I thought, “crazy.”
And then I caught a glimpse of the ring on her right index finger – it was a silver pentagram.
“A clarification,” I thought, “she’s a crazy satanist.”
I nodded my head, pleased with my decision to be polite to this woman, lest I end up on some sort of sacrificial altar or as an unwitting surrogate to the demon spawn.
The encounter was over as fast as it began, but it was too late. My brain, as it is known to do, had already translated the experience into song. That morning, it was Anarchy in the UK by the Sex Pistols. So during my walk to the office, and for the rest of the entire day, I hummed this tune in my head.
I am an antichrist! And I am an anarchist!
It’s no Katrina and the Waves, but still seemed to keep me going throughout the day. The problem was that these were the only lyrics I knew from the song, so I kept repeating them over and over again in my head. Like a crazy person. At lunch, I caught a glimpse of my hair under the harsh fluorescent bathroom lights, and noticed my grey roots showing.
I am an antichrist… Christ – look at those roots! Remember to pick up some Clairol #30 tonight… and I am an anarchist!
Now, the irony of singing about being an anarchist as I sat in my dull blue cube, writing up business cases to justify investments in new product development was not at all lost on me. I know that I’m a conformist and a lifelong resident of the corporate sector. But that morning, as I sat down and fired up my laptop, I paused for a moment while bending down to slip off my clunky black motorcycle-esque winter boots.
“No,” I thought, “not today.”
This would be the day I would take a stand. I pulled my boot back on and straightened my pant leg around it. A pair of much more professional looking loafers sat quietly in the bag next to me, but not today. I wouldn’t wear them today. These boots were office-inappropriate – anyone could see that – but I didn’t care.
I don’t know how they do things in the UK, but here in corporate America, anarchy often takes the form of the subtle pushing of dress code limits. I made a point of walking around and popping into people’s offices, crossing my legs in a manner to more clearly display my civil disobedience. No one said a word, but it was clear. I looked everyone straight in the eyes as if to dare them to say something about my boots. Had she forgotten her normal shoes at home? Recently undergone bunion surgery? I can only imagine what was going through their minds.
Then, on my way out, I walked right past the sign that said “Sign out with security.” I didn’t even say goodnight to the guard, and it felt good. Real good. It’s a slippery slope, this rebellion thing.


J: “So, I think I lost my favorite bra.”
V: “Really? How’d that happen?”
J: “No idea. But I can’t find it anywhere.”
V: “Some pervert probably stole it from your laundry basket.”
J: “Ew. You think so?”
V: “Totally. That’s exactly what happened.”
J: “Wait a minute… so the possibility never even occurred to you that I might have left it at someone’s house after a wild, erotic tryst?”
[dramatic pause]
V: “Are you suggesting that’s a possibility?”

[thoughtful pause]

J: “Some perv stole it.”

Dangerous Addiction

I have recently become obsessed with Flickr. And now, I have found my crack cocaine: Top 100 Photos.

Pet Peeves

I took Judy to the vet as soon as the office opened at 8:00am, and already there were three other people ahead of me. As I explained her symptoms to the woman at the front desk, I tried to calm Judy down by letting her crawl underneath the wool sweater I had thrown in her cat carrier before heading out the door.
“She’s been vomiting all night, and seems really unresponsive. She won’t eat or drink anything, and her breathing seems really shallow.”
“Okay, we’re really overbooked this morning, but we’ll make sure she gets in to see the doctor. The breathing thing worries me a little.”
I peered into the carrier and said, “Yeah, me too.”
A loud man with a Cocker Spaniel came in the door, and he hovered very close behind me while I filled out my paperwork. His dog barked incessantly and kept jumping up at the counter where Judy’s carrier was sitting. Judy buried her head deeper into the sweater, and then remained motionless.
“Shush! Quiet, Dexter! C’mon Dex. Quiet! Heh. Your cat’s getting him all riled up. He doesn’t like cats much.”
Jackass. Move your stupid ugly barking dog away from my sick cat before I scratch your eyes out.
I turned Judy’s carrier away from the dog, and said, “Yeah. The feeling’s mutual, I’m sure.”
Once I had completed the paperwork, the vet’s assistant tied a little tag around the handle of my cat carrier that said, “Judy Amadeo,” and told me that she would call me when the doctor was ready.
The door opened again, and this time, an elderly woman came in with a very slow-moving dog. The woman was wearing a fur coat – fox, I think – and her hair was sprayed up in an unkempt bouffant. She had a Russian accent and too much makeup, and kept asking her dog if he wanted to sit down. But I think that both she and the dog knew that if he sat down, it would be too difficult for him to get up again, so he just stood there.
I watched the dog as he open-mouth panted and trembled, his cloudy eyes staring straight ahead. His long, matted fur was once quite glossy and beautiful, I imagined.
“Yesterday morning, he couldn’t even get up. I had to lift him up so he could walk to his bowl.” She patted the dog gently, stroking his ears, and said, “You’re tired, aren’t you Nikolai? Yeah. I know you’re tired. You don’t wanna sit down? That’s okay.” She turned to the elegantly dressed woman sitting next to her, who had an equally distinguished black Dachshund sitting preciously on her lap, and said, “I just can’t stand to see him suffer like this. He’s in so much pain.”
I was watching the Russian woman’s face as she leaned in and said something softly to her dog in Russian, when she looked up and caught my glance. I looked into her grey eyes for what seemed like a very long time.
1… 2… 3… 4… 5…
I pulled back the corners of my lips into something that was not quite a smile, but rather an acknowledgment, then looked away just in time to stop a tear. I opened Judy’s carrier and pet her underneath the wool sweater. “You’re okay. It’s okay.”
I looked up.
“You can bring Judy into Exam Room 3. The doctor will be right in.”
As the doctor examined Judy, I explained that she had been vomiting violently all night, and hadn’t gotten any better this morning. I told him that she has a terrible habit of eating things she shouldn’t, like plastic bags and string. I try to make sure they’re never accessible, but somehow she can smell a grocery bag from across the apartment.
He took her back for some X-rays and IV fluids, since she was severely dehydrated. I went back to the waiting room, to wait.
Cocker Spaniel and Collie were both gone, but Dachshund was still there. A new dog had arrived, and my heart sank again. It was a young dog, but had what looked to be an enormous scar all the way down her spine. Her tail was between her legs, and she was shaking. I wondered what awful surgery she must have just had, and thought of Judy.
A young woman with some kittens leaned over to the scarred dog’s owner and said, “Oh, how adorable! Is that a Ridgeback? She’s just beautiful!”
The woman nodded yes, and thanked the kitten woman.
Ridgeback? Not a scarred back?
I’d never heard of such a thing, but my mood lightened a bit to know that dog wasn’t there being fitted for a wheelchair.
A different vet’s assistant came out and asked for Oliver, the black Dachshund. His owner handed him over, and sat back down. Within about 20 minutes, the woman returned with the dog and said, “Here he is. We clipped his nails and squeezed his anal glands, so he should be good to go.”
I involuntarily made a slight retching noise at hearing this, when she continued, “Yeah, his glands were really full. When was the last time you had him in?”
I immediately started humming inside my head and turned my attention to the parakeet on the countertop, afraid of overhearing further graphic details of the anal glandular capacity of this once regal looking canine, who had now been reduced to wiener dog status in my mind.
That’s funny. That parakeet keeps putting his head under that bell like a hat. That’s funny. That parakeet keeps putting his head under that bell like a hat. That’s funny. That parakeet keeps putting his head under that bell like a hat.
I looked around the room and thought about how people always say that pets and their owners eventually begin to take on the same characteristics. I had to admit, it seemed to be true: The loud, obnoxious man with his equally annoying Cocker Spaniel. The old, gentle Russian woman with her disheveled, aging Collie. The young chatty couple with their talkative cats, Bert and Ernie, who needed shots before going on vacation. The well-dressed, polished woman with her well-behaved, classy Dachshund. Barring the anal gland part, they really did start to seem alike.
The vet’s assistant told me I could go back to the exam room again.
“Well, looking at the X-rays, there’s nothing blocking her intestines, so that’s good news. It really concerned me that she eats plastic bags. Basically, she responded well to the IV fluids, her skin and coat look much better, but she still seems really scared. She hasn’t vomited at all, so that’s a good sign.”
“Okay, so… you didn’t find anything wrong? Can I take her home?”
“Yeah, we gave her some antibiotics and I want you to feed her baby food for the next day or so. Turkey or beef flavored. Just a teaspoon at a time. Oh, and you should pick up some Prevacid.”
“Prevacid? You mean like the people kind? For heartburn?”
“Yeah, just give her a quarter of a tablet a day for the next two days.”
“So… you’re saying my cat has acid reflux?”
“Kind of, yeah. And she eats things she shouldn’t.”
I paid my $275 bill, carried Judy out to the car, and thought: How alike we are, indeed.