3.30.2006

I'll take "Who's Your Daddy" for $100, Alex

Wheeee! Work is becoming one of those gameshows that ends up with the contestant in a phone booth, the fans blasting on, cash dumped in from the top, and everyone laughing hysterically at the idiot monkey-jumping around, grabbing at dollar bills. You all go ahead and run with that image, I'm sure you don't need me to interpret. Complex and intellectually challenging as it was.

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Last night I had the pleasure of telling Ms. I-Expect-Perfection that one of our classmates will not be returning. She then pulled me aside during the break and asked for "the real story." This may have been an attempt to get the intimidation ball rolling before I was scheduled to have an anxiety-related embolism during my practical evaluation. I don't think Ms. IEP expected me to agree with her guess that she was mostly to blame for the Big Quit, but see, I was feeling a bit daring since I had aced the pop quiz.

That's right, folks. I confidently and correctly came up with words like "phospholipid bilayer," "golgi apparatus," and "corocoidbrachialis." Okay, I might have actually written "corocoid-something-brachialis" for that last one, but it was a close enough nod at knowledge. Ms. IEP was visibly bummed that we all escaped what would have been a second academic bloodbath.

Later, I spent the 50-minute evaluation hoping I wouldn't be flinging sweat all over my classmate, urging my heart to Just Calm the Fuck Down, and massaging like my life depended on it. Oh, and watching the clock. And wondering how the hell someone is supposed give a quality arm massage in less than 2 minutes. And trying to figure out how I ended up with Madame Long Legs as my "client" for the timed evaluation, praying (since she is also known as Freakishly Ticklish in the Ass Area) that she wouldn't shriek during the gluteal kneading.

(What do you suppose it means that, in a time of high stress and physical exertion, I had the Chicken Dance racing around at full volume in my head?!)

I was a bit worried when I kept looking up and catching Ms. IEP glaring at me during the evaluation. Turned out she was scowling because she couldn't find anything that would call for a "Fail" mark. She couldn't even find something to merit a "Needs Work" grade. Not only did I pass every part of the practical evaluation, but she was also forced, in the face of my massage-y excellence (well? It is what it is, people), to write Good Things in the comments section of my evaluation form. I believe I was the only one in the class to pass with flying (and complimentary) colors.

Huh. So this is what perfection feels like. I can dig it.

3.28.2006

Pop quizzes suck, no matter how old you are

[edited to remove job-specific commentary. And there was much rejoicing.]

But. Remember Mt. Work erupting? Ended up staying late, which still would have given me 10 minutes to review before class. I could probably read a lot of my chicken scratch class notes in 10 minutes.

But. Fuel gauge was below "E," and I am determined not to be one of those people you see returning to their stalled car on the side of the road, tremulously grasping the handle of their plastic gasoline jug. (It's not like I laugh at those people as I whizz on by, wondering how on earth a person can be so idiotic as to run out of gas, in this day and age! Well, I don't laugh every time.) Stopped for gas, got to class with one minute to change out of work mode (and clothes) into massage therapist mode (and drawstring awesomeness). "Well," I consoled myself, "Ms. IEP cancelled class last Thursday, so she'll probably take it easy this evening and catch us up."

Nope, pop quiz in Anatomy & Physiology! Which I failed, abominably (or should I say, abdominally? Ha! Ha! Snort! Oh, someone slap me). The rest of the class did too, which made me feel better but won us a lecture about Taking Class Seriously and doing the reading and studying (and, what, Ms. IEP, perhaps showing up consistently instead of canceling the class 45 minutes before everyone has to be there? Hmmm???), so we all hung our heads and thanked our lucky stars that the pop quizzes are a product of Ms. IEP's quest to win Tough Broad of the Year and not, in fact, part of our grade.

Tonight is the first night with our new teacher, a seemingly gentle woman who will hopefully share our aversion to surprise attacks on our academic confidence. If not, I'll just spend the weekend trying to remember how cheat sheets work (and how small do they need to be to fit into your shoe, really?). Feel free to send me some pointers. Or a baseball cap with a really big bill.

3.21.2006

I should also practice my bone-crushing handshake

[edited to remove job-specific commentary. And there was much rejoicing.]


On hiring an assistant: I’ve already developed a list of job expectations, so I'm mostly prepared. Now I need to come up with some laser-precise interview questions that will reveal everything important about my potential assistant without forcing me to maintain eye contact for longer than 30 minutes. I think I'm on the right track:

1. Do you work best as a team or independently?

2. When was the last time you had to learn something for a job, and how do you think you handled it?

3. Are you a dog person, a cat person, or a freak who doesn't care for animals?

4. Who’s your favorite Golden Girl?

5. What do you think about calling me "Sir?"

And lastly:

6. Lemme see you hustle.


*(sigh) waiting for the indignant emails to flood my inbox. Hey, FilesLikeARockStar329 and FTfilefly, I'm not talking about you.

3.17.2006

Ding! Dong! Winston's gone!

Perhaps the feds finally caught up to him, or he was scared off by our intimidating we-are-a-class-of-primadonnas attitude; maybe he just came to his senses and realized he didn’t know the first thing about running a business… The important bit is that he is gone, gone, gone. Along with some massage tables and a computer, but hey, that’s clearly not my problem.

He did try to shut down the school entirely the day he threw in the towel (how very “If I’m going down, you’re all going down with me!"), but thanks to some legal jargon and an extra-special contract clause, it was not ultimately his decision to make. The school will stay in business, our class schedule will not be changed, and Ms. IEP announced she will only be bailing on us 2 nights each week, instead of running off completely.

You may now return to your regular scheduled programming.*

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Last night Ms. IEP left the practice room (no doubt strategizing the attack that came later in the evening when she made a student cry) and we waited next to our facedown, half-draped comrades to begin the back massage lesson. The room was dim, our group was alone in the building, we were lulled into stillness by the ticking of the wall clock and the timid whirring of the ceiling fan.

Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.

A student across the room cleared her throat (or made some sort of random sound) kerblotchen! and the half-draped classmate on my table SHOT up in what appeared to be a lightning-quick execution of the bow pose, as I spun towards her wildly, panic burning brightly in my eyes, and made what will go down in history as the fastest lunge over a person’s ass**, ever, to grab the edge of her sheet as it merrily offered to introduce everyone to her gluteal cleft.

See, my table-lying classmate, thinking a throat-clearing stranger had walked in on us (all the Winston drama makes it easy to understand her skittishness), was so startled that her body JUMPED up in true Flight response, but within that split-second she realized she was lying prone on a massage table, NAKED but for the sheet, and oh god, NAKED BUTT under the sheet! As she spooked and whinnied, her arms flew behind her in a clumsy grab at the slippage, but hooray for Quinn who managed to catch the edge of it just in time, in a heroic I won’t let go of your hand no way will I let you plummet to your death from the edge of this building kind of way. After we all crumpled up and cried laughing for several minutes, I noticed a twinge of adductor pain (ahem, that’s the groin area for you regular folk), which was a minor irritation for the rest of the class.


Today I’ve decided getting injured in the line of duty (!) speaks highly of my massage therapist potential- that I would react so quickly and go to such lengths to keep a person’s ass covered should not be undervalued. Perhaps I should make a note on my business cards:


*This is me ignoring the hysterical inner voice crying "Christ on a cracker! What kind of school have I thrown all my money at?!"

** It's high time this move was made a recognized sport. Or maybe just an athletic division of a larger sport's... are they called categories? Like track and field? Hey if the standing fucking long jump can be taken seriously. I'm just saying.

3.16.2006

Oh, and then there's this

Can't type. Uncontrollable giggling. My little message board reminded me of one of my favorite blog entries of all time. It's worth your while to check out the February 26th post.

I got yo pants, ice grill!

Amen, brother.

3.15.2006

Half-empty

The massage class, as you know, has been full of drama lately. This must be Life making an extra effort just to give me something to write about. Thanks, Life! I appreciate the plot twists, and your comedic timing is impeccable!

Ms. IEP was late getting to the classroom last night, so a lively discussion regarding Winston and his many great ideas took place between the students. "Don't worry," said I, "there's no way the schedule will be changed on us." "I'm still waiting for the creep to pop in during massage practice" groaned a classmate. "Oh, [Ms. IEP] took care of that!" the student across the room declared, "I'm glad we can count on her to stand up to him for us." "Yeah," I said, "she may glare at me from time to time but I'm still glad she's teaching us." "She glares at me, too!" another classmate exclaimed, "but I do think we've probably got the best person teaching us." "Exactly," someone else agreed, "whatever else happens, as long as we have [Ms. IEP] as our teacher, we're good."

Which is when, of course, Ms. IEP came in and told us she would no longer be teaching our class. Officially, the 28th will be her last day. As for a replacement, that seems to be anybody's guess. Hopefully someone will step up. They hope to have someone in place next week (just as our avalanche of testing gets under way).

Ha HA, Life! This is a good one! I bet you thought I was going to cry last night as I sat there in class, trying to juggle this new curveball with my general anxiety about school and tests, fatigue, memorization of massage strokes and sequences, the lack-of-calf complex and Winston phobia. Indeed, my eyes, they were a-burnin' as I threw my back into stopping the runaway train of thought ("but I know what to expect with Ms. IEP! I know what she expects from me! I know exactly how to prepare for each test, and know that she will review us efficiently every time! I trusted her to get me through the State Boards! What if the new teacher isn't qualified to teach us? What if she lets Winston do whatever he wants? What if she's horrible and vague and doesn't believe in reviewing for tests and won't highlight what we absolutely have to know for State and what if she changes the sequences on us and, and, and...!"). But I did not cry, and I did not vent my consternation and frustration, even though Ms. IEP invited our thoughts. Because she has her reasons for this decision, and you do what you have to do, and things could be worse, like war, and same sex marriage bans, and the government seems to think they are in charge of my uterus, and starving children in Africa...

Of course, there is a chance the new teacher will be just as good and qualified as Ms. IEP. There's a possibility that she'll lead us into our State Board exams with confidence and perfectly aligned chakras. She may even be better than Ms. IEP and not take a subtle but instant disliking to me, making me squirm at least once each evening under the mighty glare of death. "Uh uh," chuckles Life, "that's not how I roll." We were told that one of the replacement candidates shares Ms. IEP's massage stroke style, but not her sense of humor. Less humor than Ms. IEP? Stay tuned for tales of the Massage Nazi ("No passing grade for you!").


After finally drifting off and then waking every hour on the hour last night, I am obviously in fine shape to weather whatever storm gathers over our heads tonight. Perhaps I will start drinking before class, after all.

3.13.2006

Make it go away

I woke up this morning with the rapidly fading memory of a pair of eyes, pointedly narrowed in my direction. It wasn’t until I got over my productive streak at work this morning and sat back to dream of a nap that I remembered the eyes and their origin.

Yesterday morning I hauled myself out of bed and went into the kitchen where I puttered around in a fog of fatigue for a bit, glanced at the clock, realized we’d never get to our Day of Slack at this rate, so decided to give Monk a lie-in and get the grocery run out of the way. This would leave cleaning the house as the only obstacle to our enjoying what was sure to be a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Of course, “enjoying” in this case meant “parking it on the couch to catch up with several weeks of recorded shows.” (What, you thought I planned to do some yard work?)

At the store, I pulled out my rough sketch of a list and proceeded to make life a little more exciting by shopping in a counterclockwise direction around the store, rather than the clockwise route we usually take.

(This genius idea, plus the sketchy list, translated into a confusion-infused, slow motion shopping trip as I realized my solid knowledge of the store layout was nothing but a big hairy lie.)

(I suppose I should have known better, if the times I’ve thought it would be neat to take an alternate route back into my neighborhood- and the disastrous results- are any indication.)

As I was pacing up and down the paper goods aisle looking for peanut butter, I realized a woman was, well, it seemed she was shadowing me. Figuring I was in her way, I quickly stepped across the aisle, stopped walking and looked over at her. She was quite obviously staring at me. There was something unsettling in her olive-hued gaze. I gave up my quest for peanut butter, grabbed some paper towels and moved on to the next item on my list.

A short while later I was applauding myself for finding the oatmeal, when I heard a cart enter the aisle. At this point I was on the phone with a groggy and bewildered Monk (no doubt wondering what was taking me so long). I quizzed him on his breakfast needs, tracking the strange woman in my peripheral vision. She was standing almost nose-to-shelf in my aisle, and casting her eyes in my direction. Huh.

I was empathizing with an elderly gentleman’s rant regarding stocking milk a day after its expiration date (but also mentally urging Gramps to hurry it along), when the woman came barreling toward me from the yogurts, steering her cart around mine at the last possible second, and positively glaring at me as she flew past. I was awfully glad to grab my (non-expired) milk and head to checkout.

But! I then saw her marching out of the store with her cart as I was loading my bags into the trunk. I threw the last of it in, slammed the trunk closed and rushed to return my cart, dive into the car and tire-squeal out of the parking lot.

(Of course I returned my cart. Don’t you? Animals.)

(No tire squealing, actually. I left the lot in a safety-first, defensive driving, civilized manner. Don’t you? Animals.)

As I headed for home, I started thinking fantastically paranoid thoughts about the crazy-eyed grocery store lady. I had no idea which vehicle was hers; for all I knew she could be following me home to ambush me in my driveway with an axe, or a Jesus Saves! pamphlet. I cleverly took a different way home, just in case. Those eyes may be haunting me, but at least I made it home safely (eventually).

3.10.2006

I'm not talking about work


On Tuesday, our class was in a bit of a tizzy, thanks to
Winston creeping us all right the fuck out (again) by announcing his intent to come watch the massage practice (you know, where we're all in strict compliance with the No Underwear policy?), and maybe he'd jump in and practice some strokes as well. As he whistled out of the room with our supply of oxygen, there was plenty of jaw clenching and forehead wrinkling, talk of bad vibes and discomfort, and one student threatened to walk out if Winston tried to touch her ("It's a walkout!!!").

(The short version: Winston is the kind of person you run into and within a split-second your hackles are UP, and someone in your brain is screaming "Chester the Molester!")

The problem, however, is that Winston has officially bought the massage school which has not only put him in a position of authority, but also has him busily scuttling around making "improvements." Wednesday's improvement? He wants to change the class schedule to "make it easier on" us. When the possible schedule change was brought to our attention, we pitched our second hissy fit in as many days. Words like "contract" and "hard-earned money" and "I'm not giving up my Sundays" were thrown around. I advised Ms. IEP to let the dude know that change does not = improvement. I'm sure my business savy was appreciated, considering how I've never actually owned one.

Having proven ourselves to be Diva Class 2006, Winston was nowhere to be found yesterday evening, which was a shame since I had some neck rolling and finger snapping for him. With all the tension from the week, the teacher determined that we needed to learn about and realign our chakras last night. After nearly toppling over while standing with my eyes closed, I conceded that my chakras could indeed stand some centering. So we visualized the hell out of some red bands of light and some white bands of light, and I was surprised to find this "woo-woo stuff" (as the teacher calls it) working. The only low moment in the activity was that one of the students couldn't get anything to happen, so she must have felt a little excluded. Then again (and for all I know), maybe she was just having a moment a la the little boy in The Emperor's New Clothes. Joke's on us, perhaps?

[edited to remove work-related commentary. And there was much rejoicing.]

3.07.2006

Out of bounds

I was violated last night. Besides playing dead-weight-client and having one of my legs massaged expertly by the teacher, then the other leg bullied by a classmate, I'm pretty sure the classmate's fingers trespassed into my, ahem, Area 51. It occurred to me last night that these practice evenings, instead of being preceeded by a quick chapter review, would go much more smoothly after a stiff drink. Or two. Alas, as drinking while driving is still frowned upon, and there are no pubs along my route from the office to class, I will just have to suck it up, or (as I did last night) close my eyes and visit my happy place.

Also, a note to any of you out there booking your next massage appointment: Do not overlook the therapist's draping expertise. By that I mean thank your damn lucky stars that the therapist is not out to make an exhibitionist out of you. "Draping" is the art of arranging the top sheet around the client so as to only expose the body part being worked at that particular moment. I'm not sure why they started the draping lesson off with us fumbling around the legs and glutes with the sheet (hello, Amateur Hour), unless it is to show us a special kind of hell (and quite the how-do-you-do!) that involves laying on your stomach with your ass cheek(s) exposed again and again to a group of strangers for an hour (gritting your teeth to keep from yelling "my modesty has been compromised! My modesty! has been compromised!"). Perhaps
Miss IEP believes that a humbled student is a good student.

Also disturbing was the statement made about me having no calf (wait 'til we get to the chest, ba dum bum), a condition that was supposedly getting in the way of my partner's ability to administer the correct kneading technique. I admit, I'm still feeling a little defensive about that comment this morning. Especially since the comment was made by the teacher. I know I'm new to this, but I would think a big massage therapy no-no would be calling attention to a client's body, especially in a less-than-flattering manner, and blaming the client for the bad massage. Besides, let's look at this another way: You wouldn't tell someone their massage, administered by you (the professional!), sucked because their thighs were gargantuan trunks with too many fleshy bits covering the muscle you were attempting to work, right? I would think that would not only ruin your chance at a nice gratuity, but also quite possibly ruin that (non-returning) client's day. So why was it okay to blame my lack of calf for the inadequate kneading?

(Also? Lack of calf is incorrect, anyway. I don't work out on a semi-regular basis to banish muscles into oblivion. Not that I'm some Schwarzenegger-ette, but you get the idea. In fact, I'm kneading my gastrocnemius ('s right, I'm learning, I am!) right now, and that's not air getting pushed around under my hands.)

(How delightful! I've developed a complex I never knew was an option!)

Unfortunately, I don't think bringing the calf comment up to the teacher tonight is a good idea. Miss IEP doesn't seem the sympathetic type. Plus, it's a bit early on in the course to reveal my true neurotic self to the class. My ass may be everybody's business now, but they can keep their oily mitts off my neuroses.

3.03.2006

Local long distance

I’ve had nearly a full week of the work-class one-two punch, and although I’ve had a few moments of “what day is it?” (this morning I remained confused for a good five minutes, trying to solve the February? March? August? puzzle), my initial thoughts are that this may be doable. Never mind that I’m feeling a little strung out and dehydrated this morning, and the only thing keeping my eyeballs from plopping out onto the keyboard is the fact that they’re so dry they seem to have velcroed themselves to my eyelids.

Every Sunday night for the next four-to-six months, Monk and I will bid each other goodnight and bravely go through the “See you Friday” exchange. At first. this prospect seemed less than thrilling, until I remembered that most of the years we’ve had together have involved various hectic schedules which created very little (to zero) time together throughout the week. And it’s obvious logic that the less you have of something, the more you appreciate it when you can get your hands on it. If our friends think we’re homebodies now, just wait. Everyone will suspect that we are spending our weekends gazing adoringly into each other’s eyes and rhapsodizing over which one of us loves the other more (which, barf).

Most interestingly, I’ve learned that we become Great Phone People when our schedules keep us apart all week. Great Phone People are those rare folks that keep up such lively banter throughout a telephone conversation that you get off the phone feeling nearly invigorated, and also like you just polished off a big piece of your favorite pie. Monk and I have become those Great Phone People with each other (again) and it’s fantastic. In the morning now, we efficiently go over household tasks, tell dog stories, sympathize with work vents, etc. We touch base throughout the day to make sure we’re still on the same page. Yesterday the conversation hit the perfect hilarious pitch, and we were both in tears. Sure, you’re thinking, that’s nice, but why are you so astounded? Well, people, I’m astounded because here is what I’ve come to expect on an average day, from a phone call with my spouse:

(Quinn is in the car, Monk is already at the office. Has been for ages, since he insists on going in an HOUR BEFORE he has to arrive, because he has a big ol’ boner for his office or something. But that’s another story for another time.)

Quinn’s phone rings.
Q: Good morning.
M: Hello.
Q: What’s up?
M: Nothing, just calling to say hi.
Q: Hi.
M: Hi. (silence)
Q: Oh, traffic yadda yadda
M: Uh huh. (silence)
Q: (silence)
M: (silence)
Q: Okayyy.
M: (silence) Well, I was really just calling to say hi.

And we’re done here.

Or:
(Quinn is at work, buried under the usual load of b.s., Monk is also at his office, perhaps just returning to his desk after doing a round of push-ups in the file room, or adding hot chocolate to his instant oatmeal.)

Quinn’s work phone rings
Q: [Boss Lady]’s office
M: Hello.
Q: Hey, how’s it going?
M: Good, good, just calling to say hi.
Q: Oh, hi.
M: How’s your day going?
Q: Busy, as always (insert some inane office story here)
M: (sounds of typing in the background) Cool, cool.
Q: Are you listening to me or are you trying to multitask?
M: No, I’m just finishing something up (more typing)….
Q: Okay.
M: (silence)
Q: You’re still trying to work and talk, aren’t you?
M: NO! (more typing) … Well, I was really just calling to say hi.

And again, we’re done here.

So you can see the difference. In fact, I’m enjoying our phone conversations so much, that I’m kind of at a loss thinking about tonight, when we will actually be in the same room at the same time (and awake). Now that we have once again experienced the Great Phone People syndrome, I’m a little nervous that we will sit down to dinner and the whole evening will be a bust. How will we, in person, measure up to our phone selves? Do I need to brush my hair? Chew with my mouth closed? What if he expects banter? Clever anecdotes? Gigglefest Part III? Who can deliver that kind of a performance on demand? It’s too much pressure, people!

Maybe I'll just phone it in.