Thursday, October 27, 2011

On Friendship, Madness and Free Samples

Some will be pleasantly surprised, as was Princess Pissant, to discover that the old saying – There’s a sucker born every minute – is, in fact, entirely true. What exactly do I mean by that, you ask, somewhat defensively?

Well, get this: unexpectedly – and yes, inexplicably – Princess Pissant has been awarded yet another contract to hang over her head!

Yep, that’s right. I’ve got work. To do. And you and I both know what that means. Back. To. The. Office.

But before you go whooping and hollering in delight and thereby disrupting your own place of employment – where probably you should GET BACK TO WORK! – let me further explicate: to our collective misfortune, this new contract I’ve got hanging over my head is even more confounding than those that previously have hung over my head. Indeed, this particular project is going to require me to get my thinking cap on. So, sorry to report, I’ll have to make today’s entry shorter than usual . . .

The good news is that I’ve got no sick kids nor dying relatives nor any Athleta catalogs to otherwise distract me, so I can just update y’all in a jiffy, and then attend to that contract-thingamajig.

First: a few changes of note here at the Office: it is absolutely and totally . . . empty. Eerily empty, even.

Okay, that’s not entirely true.

I am here. And if I continue to talk about myself in the third person, Princess Pissant is here. So that makes two of us.

And of course the baristas. (For those new to PrincessPissant-AnotherDayattheOffice, the Office is, in fact, a Starbucks.) But TMABITW – The Most Awesome Barista in the World – isnot here, and neither are any of my regular officemates. FSGA (Former Secret Government Agency) Guy is not here; nor is Mommy-blogger, nor any of the failed writers or World of Warcraft Geeks. The Homeless Lady is also out, as is the cheapskate with her colicky newborn who’s forever interviewing prospective nannies.

I’ve got to be honest with you. It is downright lonely.

And I’m a little hurt. Do you think that everyone just moved on, in my absence? Up and got real jobs and left, without even a proper good-bye? It’s hard to imagine, but I’ve got to accept that it might be true.

Without the camaraderie of my colleagues, it’s a little difficult to get anything done. I just keep staring at the creamer bar, depressingly undisturbed, and waiting for that gust of wind each time the door opens. But whenever it does, it’s just someone I’ve never seen before, who gets his cup of coffee and then leaves. Insensitive jerks.

What’s more, the Office is all got-up for Halloween – pumpkins and gourds on the conference table and faux spider webs stretched across the wall – which adds an element of pathos to the emptiness.

And the silence! Gone is the hustle and bustle of the Office, once so vibrant with the click-clack of fingernails on keyboards, friendly banter over the availability of electrical outlets, and deafening roar of industrial toilets being flushed.

Okay, I’m going to get to that damn contract, before I make myself cry.

[Insert long pause during which Princess Pissant completes entirety of new project to near perfection. Or maybe just insert long pause.]

Well, I obviously spoke to soon. Just when I thought that neither I nor my circumstances nor my mood could possibly sink any lower . . . in comes a new addition to the Office: Guy Who Is Either Psychotic Or Has Tourette Syndrome (GWIEPOHTS).

Yup, just as I resign myself to actually working, this fellow (mid-20s, not bad looking) for some reason foregoes the multitude of otherwise empty seats scattered about the Office, and plops himself down right next to me, wherein he commences twitching and muttering obscenities . . . at distinct 60-second intervals.

I am not entirely sure – and no need to ask GWIEPOHTS to repeat himself, since invariably hewill but I think he just called me the C-word. (And I’m not talking about Cancer.)

By utterly pure coincidence, earlier this week, Princess Pissant was informed that an old friend of hers has succumbed to, for lack of a better word, madness, and is, for all intents and purposes, homeless and “on the run.” This was stunning and disturbing news for Princess Pissant in that last she checked in with said mad, homeless person, he was young and handsome, potentially brilliant, and basically – full of promise.

Now, Princess Pissant has been told that he is aggressive and prone to violence, and that she should be wary and avoid him at all costs. If he reaches out, Princess Pissant is either to ignore or report him to the authorities.

This goes very much against Princess Pissant’s nature, believe it or not. Notwithstanding her consummate self-absorbedness, Princess Pissant does not turn her back on an old friend.

In any event, I’ve not heard anything from my old friend, mad, homeless and on the run, but I’ve spent a lot of time this week wondering: how does this happen? How – in this great country of ours – does someone like that fall between the cracks? And yet it must happen every day. If you live in an urban area, and maybe even if you don’t, you see the faces of the mad and the homeless and the on-the-run every day.

But until you know someone to whom that has happened, you probably don’t think that they at one time occupied a whole other world – a world like yours, and mine, and Princess Pissant’s – with Moms, and blogs, and fancy coffee beverages, and an endless supply of old friends.

GWIEPOHTS just snapped at me again. I am wondering if perhaps he’s the root cause of the mass exodus of Office-mates. And, if so, where did they go? And can I come too?

Here’s the worst part: at this point, I feel slightly threatened by GWIEPOHTS but there’s no way I can possibly get up and leave. My departure will seem obviously linked to him; which of course it would be. And judging by GWIEPOHTS’s actions and words, the poor opinion that I’ve formed of him is surpassed only by his of me.

And maybe, in some small way, GWIEPOHTS has come to symbolize . . . my old friend.

So I’m not going to turn my back and just go. I’ve got no choice but to wait, to ride out this storm . . . staring at the barren creamer bar and waiting for some Angel of Mercy to come my way.

Oh wait, here he is, or here he comes . . . The SECOND Most Awesome Barista in the World – TSMABITW! – wielding a tray of free samples: tiny cups of hot cocoa with whipped cream and bites-size chunks of lemon pound cake! What is it with these guys and their ubiquitous trays of free samples?

But who gives a shit? The free sample tray might as well be a taser gun!

For, GWIEPOHTS has stopped twitching and cursing and calling me the C-word, and presently, he is 100-percent focused on the tray of free samples. He’s reaching for one as I type, and now is my chance! Here is where Princess Pissant will make her escape.

But not before just one of these for myself . . .

Pray for me now, my followers . . . as I lock eyes with GWIEPOHTS, and raise this tiny free sample of hot cocoa with whipped cream in the name of my old friend. Forsaken, but not forgotten.


Monday, October 10, 2011

The Link Between Exercise, Deer, Depression and Death

Before heading to the Office this morning, Princess Pissant decided to do something she’s not done in several months: EXERCISE.

All this blogging to the tune of lattes and high-end McMuffins here at the Office have Princess Pissant packing on the ol’ L-Bees; and, yes, while PP fully concurs that every body needs (and deserves) an extra little layer of insulation before the onset of Winter, the fact of the matter is, Princess Pissant can’t fit into her pants. And she refuses to let herself become one of those ladies who wears a stretchy muumuu to work.

Back when I worked for the government, I enjoyed a surprisingly well-equipped gym, located in the bowels of the federal building where I worked. While not a paradigm of physical fitness, I prided myself on at least being able to fit through the badge turnstile without having to turn sideways and suck in my belly. (Believe me, this was A LOT more than some people could say.) I often would forgo lunch and spend 40 minutes sweating my butt off on – and clinging for dear life to the sides of – a Stairmaster. (I’m not even sure if anyone does Stairmaster anymore? Or if that’s something passé, like Aerobics while wearing legwarmers and a terrycloth headband, or even Aerobics at all.)

Anyway, it was during this time that I unwittingly earned the moniker of “Naked Girl.” I know: I was equally as surprised when I found out about that. But let me explain: there was one time, a single solitary occasion really, when – after exercising and showering at the agency’s gym – I suddenly remembered a check that I was supposed to have written, probably for boxes of girl scout cookies that I’d beneficently ordered from a co-worker’s child. Before it slipped my mind, I quickly grabbed my checkbook and a pen from my locker, in the ladies locker room, and scrawled out a check.

Yes, I might have been naked.

Well, imagine my surprise when weeks later, a male colleague greeted me with, Hey naked girl!

And when I asked him what the hell he was talking about, he told me that rumor had it I “routinely balanced my checkbook naked in the ladies’ locker room.” That’s how vicious those people – government workers! – could be, and all the more reason I can be grateful I’ve moved onto a kinder, gentler place of employment here at the Office.

But, alas, no corporate exercise facility! (For those of you new to PrincessPissant-AnotherDayattheOffice, the Office is in fact a Starbucks.)

Anyway, this morning, without access to a company gym, Naked Girl went running!

Not naked.

And not even really running.

More like jog-slash-stumbling. And panting. A lot of panting.

I guess I was panting quite loudly in fact – hard to hear over full volume Eye of the Tiger – because halfway around the wooded trail, I was suddenly SHUSHED, by two women who had stopped in their tracks and were taking photographs with their cellphones of something in the brush.

Naturally, I stopped, so as not to scare away whatever rare form of wildlife they’d happened upon. Imagine my surprise, as I approached, with both of them still SHUSHING my feet crackling over fallen leaves and twigs, to perceive none other than . . . DRUM ROLL please . . . a deer.

Yes, that’s right, these two bitches had the nerve to SHUSH me, causing me to abort my bout of concerted exercise in the form of jog-slash-stumbling because they were photographing . . . a deer?

I passed half a dozen deer – some “sleeping” by the side of the road – on my way into the Office. WTF is wrong with these people?

Anyway, the incident totally put me in an even fouler humor than I already am.

Confession time: Princess Pissant has missed a fair amount of work lately, largely because, well, she’s depressed. But before you go feeling sorry for me, and recommending all kinds of addictive pharmaceuticals, let me explain that Princess Pissant is depressed for a very good reason.

You see, my grandmother is dying. And, yes, while I know that we are ALL, in a sense, dying, every day that we’re alive, I mean she is really dying. Starting late last week, Nanny has begun the process of “checking out.” For good.

As much as you think you’re ready to say goodbye – it’s not like she’s dying young; Nanny will be 103 if she makes it to Saturday – you never are.

Kid Number 2 (KN2) and His Older Brother (HOB) are greatly concerned that Nanny might not make it to her birthday. It’s like they think she’s got a shindig planned for her and all her friends at Ultimate Playzone or something. Truth is, I want Nanny to make it to Saturday too. I feel like otherwise, her obituary will read, “passed away at age 102,” and there will be almost a whole entire year she doesn’t get credit for . . .

Stupid, I know.

KN2 and, even more so, HOB have handled saying goodbye to their great-grandmother with uncharacteristic grace and maturity. I had warned them that she would look similar to the skeletons we just put in the yard for Halloween, and that they shouldn’t be scared. Together, they put on a brave face and stood holding hands at her bedside. In unison, they said, “We love you Nanny,” and HOB even leaned over and kissed her sunken cheek.

I spent much of the weekend sitting at Nanny’s side, while she slipped in and out of the past, the present, and the future. I am the first to admit that I’ve always had a Woody Allen-esque fear of, and extreme discomfort with, Death.

But there is something reassuring, almost necessary, about watching someone you love – who is more than ready to go – GO.

While every labored breath seems as if it could be her last, Nanny’s grip is so strong, it can seem as if she’ll never let go.

I know one thing: she is one tough old bird.

Nanny loves to tell the story of when my brother and I were young, and our parents went for a two-week vacation to Peru, and she came to watch us. Evidently, we were so horrible, and she was so traumatized, that when my parents returned, she was standing on the curb, her bags packed, ready to go. My brother and I, remorseful, wept openly and begged her to stay: We’ll never be bad again!

I know Nanny’s bags are packed now; I know she’s ready to go.

And I know that no amount of weeping, or begging, or false promises can make her stay.