I Translate Pamphlet Covers For You

You and Your Attitude Have Scary Roundy Heads
 If You Are Making Out and Question Marks Appear in the Air, Be Very Worried
 Now That You Are A Young Lady, You Will Spend Hours Staring Into Lockers... If You Try to Be Abstinent, A Giant Bed Will Follow You Wherever You Go Get a Load of This! Natural Gas is Cuddly and Fun! Whee! Play with It! Improve Your Interpersonal Skills by Forcing Others to Shake Hands! How to Recycle: Dump Everything Into One Can And Throw It Anywhere!
What Happens When You Smoke Marijuana: You stand around and make fun of your friend who is cold and scared because he has not smoked marijuana! How to Develop Leadership Skills: Get People to Follow You Up a Staircase to Nowhere
 If Your Coworker is Crouched Down with a Globe On His Shoulders, Don't Ponder It--Run.
Improve Your Listening Skills by Growing Ears!  If A Giant Stopwatch Falls on Your Friend, Fondle Him!  In An Emergency, Wave Goodbye to All You Hold Dear
If You Cannot Get Cocaine, Your Brain Will Break In Two
  You Might Need to Remind Your Elderly Relative Where He Hid the Booze
  To Conserve Your Hearing on the Job, Tune Out Your Coworkers You Do Not Want to Know About "Universal Precautions." Rubber Glove? 'nuff Said. Poop is Shaped Like Flowers. Do Not Mistake It For Flowers.  Conserve Water? Why? It is Plentiful and Jolly and Loves Being Squandered! If You Allow Yourself to Be Crucified at Work, That's a Winning Attitude, Mister!

SkiJs

Dear PajamaGram People,

I admit it. I should not have taken that bold, scoffing, snide tone in my previous post. It was uncalled for. Your slogan is fine. It is just fine as is. Agreed? You like me now? We're okay now? Yaay!

So, here's the deal. Please stop sending me information about your new products. I already unsubscribed from your mailing list, so this is getting to be a little eerie--it's almost like you're coming up with products JUST to creep me out. I mean, are "SkiJs" really in your catalog or did you just take pictures of scary people wearing said aforementioned "SkiJs," and send them to me? Because I am severely discomfited.

1) It's too white. It's just too damn white. In every way.
2) If you show me a man dressed like that, please just show me his wife holding a gun on him (it can have a ski design, if you like) or brandishing a taser. The little dog could hold the taser if that would make for a cuter picture.
3) White carpet? DOG? No footprints on rug? That rug does not make me think about slipping into my "SkiJs" and relaxing. It makes me think, "Clean, clean, clean. Scrub, scrub, scrub."
4) Let me tell you what the woman just said, moments ago: "DARLING! Stop touching my hair! We're in our SkiJs! They're just meant for LOUNGING, nothing more. Here. Play with the chessmen." (Note the guy's gritted teeth and woman's contented smile. The dog looks like he's going to say "Are you sure you want to move that piece?")
5) Which raises a good point. Chess set? DOG? No chess pieces missing and in dog's stomach, ready to be removed for $2,000 by a smiling staff of vets who are all wearing SkiJs? HA.

Okay, I'm done for now. And, I hope I haven't been overly harsh. It's just that you're worrying me.

All best wishes to you and yours,
Sparkle

P.S. What's next? Really! I'm kinda interested. Scared, but interested!

If My Diary Wrote Back to Me

Dear Diary,
I think I might be a magician! Today, I made my contact lens disappear. I was slowwwwly bringing it up to my eye and then poof! It was gone. I wonder if I can take this to Vegas and pull in the big bucks. Naturally, I had to wear my glasses when I took my walk this morning. During the walk, I noticed that the swamp is beginning to turn a full spectrum of rich, earthy hues--burnt umber, raw sienna, terracotta...Nature walked with me today. Sparkle

Dear Sparkle: Check your sweater sleeve, fool. Don't waste my time like this. Of course you wore your glasses. If you hadn't you would have been Mr. Magooin' it around the landscape and ended up as a hood ornament. And, while we're at it, spare me your thoughts about Nature. Burnt umber? Raw sienna? Terracotta? Stop plagiarizing the Crayola box, and "Nature walking with you" is just creepy. Also: Please don't use the words "naturally" and "Nature" so close together. It's sloppy.

P.S. You don't need to sign your diary entries. I know it's you. And, that little heart you make when you do the "e" is just disgraceful.
**********************************
Dear Diary,
I thought I would take a moment to capture my thoughts and feelings, and--

Dear Sparkle: Oh, no. Oh, no. Oh, no. Please don't. The last time you "took a moment to capture your thoughts and feelings" you soiled 18 of my pages with ramblings about Nature, fate, and...peanut M&Ms, for crying out loud. Please. Do me a favor. Do us both a favor. Don't "take a moment." And, leave Nature alone. What did it ever do to you?
**********************************
Dear Diary,
Life is funny...

Dear Sparkle: Let me break in here. Yes. Life is very funny. It is "Ha ha" funny, and it is "Ah HA" funny. Don't you think you covered this topic pretty thoroughly in your high school diaries? Look: I don't want to end up like your high school diaries--all broken down and bummed-out--I'd like to stay fresh and crisp-looking. Can you please not write in me anymore? Really. Go outside and get some exercise. Okay. I hate to do this. But, why don't you go bug Nature some more? If I'm lucky, when you get back maybe you'll forget where you put me.

*********************************
Dear Diary,
The World Wide Web is a marvelous invention...

[Diary: FML. She's "reflecting" and making sweeping generalizations again. This one will be bad.]

...it provides such wonderful opportunities to stretch creative muscles...

[Diary: Blecch! Blecch! I hate it when you say stuff like "stretch creative muscles"--it's like fingernails on the blackboard! It's icky! What's next? Are you going to start with the "I'm learning more and growing every day stuff" again?]

...and I'm learning more and growing every day. I think I'll start a blog with pictures of small, plastic dinosaurs and see where that takes me...

[Diary: Freeeeee!! I'm freeee!! Ahhhh...sweet, sweet, restful blank pages.]

A Conversation About the Comma with Lloyd E. Smith

4. The Comma (excerpted from Punctuation Self Taught, Little Blue Book #683 by Lloyd E. Smith, Edited by E. Haldeman-Julius, 1924)

Lloyd: "The little comma is the worst of all marks of punctuation to keep in its proper place."
Me: FACTS! I like to use a whip and a chair, Lloyd, you?

Lloyd: "Don't sprinkle commas about as though you were distributing them from a careless pepper-shaker!"
Me: This feels like a personal attack, Lloyd. So: I, will, distribute, commas, from, a careless, peppershaker, if, I, want, to, Lloyd,

Lloyd: "Law suits have--rarely, but still often enough to be a warning--been won or lost on the position of a single comma."
Me: Oh, really. Scare tactics, Lloyd? I thought you were better than that.

Lloyd: "Words (usually nouns or adjectives, but often other parts of speech and even phrases or clauses) strung together in a series are separated from each other by commas."
Me: You are about to give me an example, aren't you, Lloyd? I smell an example coming.

Lloyd: "But be our experience in particulars what it may, no man ever forgot the visitations of that power to his heart and brain, which created all things new; which was the dawn in him of music, poetry and art; which made the face of nature radiant with purple light; the morning and the night varied enchantments; when a single tone of one voice could make the heart beat, and the most trivial circumstances associated with one form, is put in the amber of memory; when we became all eye when one was present, and all memory when one was gone; when the youth becomes a watcher of windows, and studious of a glove, a veil, a ribbon, or the wheels of a carriage; when no place is too solitary, and none too silent for him who has richer company and sweeter conversation in his new thoughts, than any old friends, though best and purest, can give him; for, the figures, the motions, the words of the beloved object are not like other images written in water, but, as Plutarch said, 'enameled in fire,' and make the study of midnight." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Me: WTF. Llllllloyd!!! I thought you were going to give me an example such as "apples, pears, and peaches." This? You give the beginner a paragraph like this--without saying "Don't try this at home?" You distress me, Lloyd!!!

Lloyd: "Doubling or tripling the exclamation point is an outgrowth of its overuse, an ungrammatical attempt to restore the potency the single mark once had, and still has in conservative writing."

Me: I am beginning to dislike you, Lloyd.

The First Rule of Fight Face Is...


Recently, my friend told me that I have a "Fight Face." I thought my friend was joking. I was incorrect.
Me: "So, I'm going to go to the big city!"
Friend: "Do not go to the big city."
Me: "Why?"
Friend: "Because that Fight Face of yours is going to get you in trouble."
Me: "?"
Friend: "People will take one look at that Fight Face of yours and you're going to have to fight 'em."
Me: "Ha. Hey. That's pretty funny."
Friend: "I am not joking. You have a Fight Face. It is scary. And you're going to have to back it up with your fists. People are going to think you're picking a fight with them and they're going to call you out."
Me: "I do NOT have a Fight Face. Are you talking about that one time, long ago, when I drove you home from the concert in your giant tanklike car because you took something, and I was frowning and concentrating really hard to drive us through the crowds of zombie concertgoers and I scared you with my frowny face? I was concentrating. I told you that!"
Friend: "I am NOT talking about that. I am talking about your Fight Face. You better stay home."
Me: "I do NOT have a Fight Face!"
Friend: "You sound angry. I bet you're getting Fight Face right now."
Me: "...I DO NOT HAVE A FIGHT FACE. But, okay, I'll just use my Friendly Face."
Friend: "DO NOT USE YOUR FRIENDLY FACE. Jesus. Do you want people to CRUSH YOU?"
Me: "WHAT FACE AM I SUPPOSED TO HAVE?"
Friend: "Not that Fight Face you have on right now, that's for sure. Not the Friendly Face. Jesus. Wear sunglasses. Just wear sunglasses."
Me: "All the time?"
Friend: "All the time."

Now, my Confused Chimp Face, I'm familiar with that one. That's the face that helps me swiftly navigate through airports because people pity me and lead me places. That's the face that makes young and old alike  call me "Dear." I don't make Confused Chimp face on purpose, it happens organically when I'm worried or sad. I'm pretty sure my Confused Chimp Face is why the super nice girl at Dunkin' Donuts gave me 15 chocolate munchkins for the price of 3, plus a free vanilla chai, last week. Confused Chimp Face is my friend. But, "Fight Face?" The thought of Fight Face is giving me Confused Chimp Face. What if Fight Face pops out during a meeting, and I have no idea, and suddenly one of my co-workers asks if I want to step outside? Sunglasses? All the time?

I Am Picking On YOU, Pyjama People!!!

Okay, PajamaGram People. Listen up!

1) Your slogan, "In a world that's bananas, send some pajamas," bugs me. Looky: "Bananas" does not rhyme with "Pajamas." Sorrrrrr-y. It does not. Now, I'm no expert, but I think you should go with this: "In a world that's a frighty, send 'em a nightie." No good? Okay. How about: "The world's all whambammy! Send out some damn jammies!" Thumbs down? Okay, I give up. But, "bananas" STILL does not rhyme with "pajamas."

2) I like "pyjamas" better than "pajamas." Why? I don't know. I just do. Make note of this, please.

3) You officially scare me with your PajamaJeansTM. I don't know what to make of them. I really don't. Nothing could be less like pyjamas (bleaah) than jeans. Thus, you are causing me some severe cognitive dissonance here. Jeans? That are jammies? And that you swear to me will "offer the fashionable look of your favorite jeans combined with the comfort of your favorite PJs." I say it's not possible. I also say that it is possible you are trying to make me look foolish. More foolish. Very foolish. Not everyone will look like this in your unnatural jeanjam hybrid.In a separate matter, why do you consider me a "Pajama VIP"? I only sent the two bathrobes that one time. I don't think that should make me a "Pajama VIP" (or a "Pyjama VIP," for that matter). Raise your standards for your VIPs.

4) What's that, PyjamaPeopleTM? This post is proof that I am becoming cranky in my old age? Yes. I agree. But, I'm still right, PyjamaPeople TM. Ohhhhh, yes I amana.

Dear Express

Yeah, it's me. You know me. You know that I make copious amounts of sweet coin rain down upon you. You know I will buy your sassy little skirts. You know I will buy your vibrant-hued sweaters. You know that any minute now I will buy another "Skater Dress." Somehow you sense this, high up in your Express Castle of Knowledge, even 'though I have not yet placed my order. You know that this is not my first "Skater Dress," Express. You have the Big Data to prove that. And still, after five Skater Dresses, I'm not sure why I'm buying them. Why does one person who does not skate need five Skater Dresses?

Okay: Let's do some hermeneutics on this dress, shall we? Perhaps that will provide some clues. A cross-comparative literary analysis of multiple Express "Skater Dress" descriptions reveals the dress unilaterally promises to be "laidback, frisky, supple, amazingly flattering, charming, easygoing, super-cute." Laidback, frisky, supple, amazingly flattering, charming, easygoing, super-cute. Laidback, frisky, supple, amazingly flattering, charming, easygoing, super-cute. HOLY CRAP, EXPRESS! I think I might want to date this dress instead of wearing it? In fact, I maybe want to marry this dress. I am probably ready to settle down with this "laidback, frisky, supple, amazingly flattering, charming, easygoing, super-cute dress." I, too, will vow to be "laidback, frisky, supple, amazingly flattering, charming, easygoing." We will make a great laidback and supple couple, this dress and I, and our union will be quite affordable ($39.90 MARKED DOWN!).

That's the sitch right there. As you see, Express has an uncanny ability to suck me in with bamboozling adjectives and sheer cunning. Up until today, that is. As of now, I'm boycotting Express. They have gone too far with their EDITOR PANTS and COLUMNIST PANTS.
What the what the what? I'm an editor/writer. Does that mean I need one of each of the above pairs, even 'though they all look the same to me? When I stop editing, do I have to strip off my editor pants, put on my columnist pants, and start writing? And vice versa? And vice versa? What's that, Express? I think I hear you faintly calling "Yesss you need one of each paiiiir" from high up in your Express Castle of Knowledge. Somehow, this is not a surprising answer from you.

Okay, I'm sure the descriptions will help. The Columnist Pant has: "...a head-turning tailored look." In stark contrast, the Editor Pant has a: "flawless fit." What the what the what? First, both are too perfect to mesh with the rest of my wardrobe. These pants set the bar too damn high. Most often, I select pants that do not turn heads and do not fit flawlessly, but that mix and match well with classic coordinates such as Godzilla t-shirts. Second, I henceforth (or henceforth after I purchase my "Skater Dress," actually) refuse to shop at Express until they give me a detailed, five-page brief that explains the difference between "Editor" and "Columnist" pants. I know they can do it. I have faith in their "super-sleek, profesh, sultry, relaxed, user friendly" ability to do so.

A Telephone Chat with My New Friend

 
New Friend: "My dad retired last year, but he decided he wants to keep working part-time. I go, 'Dad: Just enjoy retirement!' But, no. He goes, 'I can't just do nothing!' So, he does stuff like deliver flowers and take on odd jobs. Plus he likes to walk for two hours every day. He says he's making up for lost time in staying fit--all those years that he was working bent down just about double over a desk and just screwing up his back really bad, y'know? He has lost a ton of weight walking--which is why he hates winter, usually, like I told you--he wants to keep walking. Fortunately, it has been unusually mild here this year. He's still walking a lot and, believe it or not, he still has his summer tan! He gets a really great tan. Now, me, I take after mom. She's Irish and she can't tan. She just burns. So, she always looks like the underbelly of a fish. I look like that, too. Like the underbelly of a fish! Both my dad and my mom look really young for their ages."

Me: "You are going to look young forever--you have great genes on both sides."

New Friend: "Yes! I really do have great genes on both sides, except only one side gets tan--like I told you--and I take after the other side...the underbelly of a fish side. Like, my mom and I will burn into red tomatoes if we take one step outside the front door in the summer and my dad, like, turns golden brown like a toaster waffle right away and he just stays like that. Never burns. Never ever ever burns. Ever."

Me: "Man! That's great! Golden brown like a toaster waffle! So.....Has my credit card gone through yet by any chance? 'cause I better get back to work soon."

New Friend: "Oh, yeah! The computer processed it 10 minutes ago. You're all set. Is there anything else I can help you with today? Do you have any questions about your account?"

Me: "Nonononono. I really appreciate your help, and I hope you and your family have a happy new year!"

New Friend: "You are the chattiest customer I've had in awhile! You have a happy new year, too, hon!"

Dog vs. Accordion...Dog Always Wins

This is a tough tune to play. I need eight hands and only have two hands. Yet I am judged harshly.

Dear Jayne: Love Always, Sparkle

Through this blog, I have been very fortunate to virtually meet a lot of funny, creative, and talented people. In addition to the sizable army of Russian spammers who enjoy frequenting this blog (I like to call them "spamniks" or "spamonauts"), people have visited from Holland, Portugal, Canada, the U.K., all over the U.S., Japan, India, and who knows where? If you use "private browsing," I certainly do not know where. I hope it's pleasant wherever you are.

Anyway, Jayne, here's the thing. When I think about the bloggers I've encountered, I picture a big dark globe and all of you bloggers are these bright little lights twinkling across the dark globe. There are the Canada lights, the California lights, the Massachusetts lights, the New York lights, the Florida light, South Carolina, New Orleans, Maine, Arizona, England, Wales. Yada Yada. As the box that Lily holds below says: "Each lamp burns independently."
There you all are, lamps burning bright, twinkling across the dark globe, creating. So funny, such great writers, talented artists, gifted photographers, there you all are. In the peak time when we were all blogging a lot, the collective, connected glow from us all felt very bright and warm. It made the globe less dark. And behind each of those lights, all of you have big, real lives that go beyond that twinkling. I know a little bit about some of you, and I know a little bit about you, Jayne. What I know about you has given me tremendous respect for you--as a mother, as a daughter, as a wife, and a really strong person with the best and darkest sense of humor I've ever experienced. Here's one of my favorite comments that you made on my blog once: "Be careful if you try and laugh gaily whilst throwing your head back in a becoming female manner. When I tried it, something clicked in my neck, I fell over, and I squashed a plate of ham sandwiches." 

So, Jayne: Today I learned that you died. That feels incredibly unfair to me. I sit here sending good thoughts to your family. And I sit here thinking about you. Because I am thinking about you, I will do two things. I will ask people to consider donating their organs, because you asked them to consider doing that. And Jayne, I will tell you this: I will always remember you, I will never forget you, and your light will always be there twinkling across the dark globe for me. (Note: I believe you would be the first to point out that it would actually be a lot better to still be alive. I agree.)