Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Magnificent Seven.

One of my dear friends lost her job this week. It was, of course, a horrible thing. As I watched her going through the motions of a job loss - the confusion, anger, awkward looks from colleagues, messages of sympathy, etc - my heart went out to her, because I've been there and it sucks.

The day I lost my job, they had already let a quarter of the agency go that morning. When my boss came in and closed the door to my office, my immediate response was, "I'm getting fired, too, aren't I?"

"No, no, you're not getting fired."

Hmmmmm..."Oh, well I just assumed I was next," I replied, confused.

"Well, you're not getting fired, buuuut, you are getting laid off."

Yeah, okay, potaytoe, potahtoe, dickhead.

At the time, I was living in Oklahoma. I have to imagine all unemployment offices are horrifying. But I would have bet my entire severance package the unemployment offices in Oklahoma are worst of all.

First, I had to find the damn thing, which required several trips up and down the same stretch of highway. Exit. Pull a u-turn on the access road. Back on the highway. Repeat 47 times.

Then I realized why I couldn't find it. Because it wasn't actually a building. It turns out the "office" was actually a trailer. Next to a bingo hall. In the sketchiest part of Oklahoma City. I pulled my newly-purchased luxury sedan in between a beat up truck with what appeared to be a bullet hole in the side, and an old Impala that was approximately four different colors. I immediately burst into tears.

Once I'd pulled myself together, I went inside. There was a shemale at the front desk that asked if she could help me. I stood there perplexed at how she hadn't ever noticed her full beard. Did she not have mirrors in her home? But who doesn't have mirrors in her home. Even without mirrors, there are reflective surfaces and I had to imagine if she HAD noticed her beard, surely she would have done something about it?

"May. I. help. you."

"Oh, yes. Sorry. I need to file for unemployment."

She handed me an inch-thick book and an official-looking form. She explained that I needed to go through this enormous book o' skills and find ten skills I possessed, then list them on my form with their corresponding code. While I was doing that, she was going to get more paperwork for me to fill out.

I sat at a little crappy table, while "Pat" (who you should know weighed at least 300lbs) pushed away from the desk and headed toward the back of the trailer. Due to her size, the entire trailer began to shake with each step.

"So you lookin' for a job, too, huh."

How I missed the equally hefty man in overalls sitting next to me, I'm not sure. (I think I was still hung up on the beard.) But he was there, and once I'd acknowledged his existence, I was forced to acknowledge his odor. Which, for the record, was beyond foul. But as this was a trailer and thus a very small space, there was nowhere else for me to go.

"Yup," I replied and shoved my nose in the skill book. He tried to keep talking to me, but I tried to look very busy. Like I was on a MISSION to find my ten skills. Eventually, he got the hint. And I would have been thankful my little act was working, except my little act quit being an act around page 30, when I only had four skills:

-Can read/write English
-Can speak English
-Can read/write Spanish
-Can speak Spanish

I was furious at the book for combining "read/write" which in MY book were two very different skills, and would have at least gotten me to six. Even then, however, three of those six would have been half-truths as I hadn't done anything with Spanish in at least two years. Luckily, I was only half-way through the book.

But by page 40, I started to get nervous. I knew nothing about operating drill rigs. I didn't know how to teach.

By page 50, I'd developed a complex. Why hadn't I ever learned how to use a jackhammer? And how was I from Texas and yet, had never farmed?

On page 60, I found my fifth, sixth and seventh skills: Can type, Knowledge of Microsoft Office, Can manage a ledger. Not unlike my proficiency in Spanish, I was fairly certain that last one was a lie. In fact, I wasn't entirely sure I knew what a "ledger" was. But it was page 60, and I was desperate. I had one of the most valuable college degrees in the country, and in sixty pages, I'd only found seven skills.

I took my form up to Pat.

"You only listed seven skills."

"I know."

"But you were supposed to list ten."

"I know, but I couldn't find ten. I could only find seven."

She tilted down her bearded chin, and looked unconvincingly at me over her glasses. "In this whole book, you were only able to find SEVEN skills???"

At that point, I lost my cool and began to choke up. "Yes," I growled through tears, "In your whooooooooole book, I. only. found. SEVEN. skills. 'Knows how to write a marketing plan,' isn't in your little skill book. 'Copywriting'? Not in there. 'Can manage asshole clients effectively,' also isn't listed, and for that matter neither is 'Able to clearly explain complex issues to RETARDS'! Perhaps I'm HERE, in your stupid unemployment office because I only posses SEVEN SKILLS!"

She sighed. "Fine. So what kind of job are you looking for, then?"

"I'm in advertising."

"Okay. So Ad Sales," and she checked a little box.

"I'm not in ad sales. I'm in advertising."

This is when Pat started to get annoyed, and huffed "Well, on my whooooooooole little form, there isn't anything advertising related other than Ad Sales, so I'm marking you down as Ad Sales!"

I glared at her through my teary eyes, and then went back to my seat next to The Smelliest Man Alive. To keep him from talking to me, I looked at the resource bookshelf in earnest to try and find something to read. The first book my eyes landed on was, "The Ex-Convicts' Guide to a Successful Career."

I started crying.

Right at that moment, three migrant field workers came in with their translator. I looked up at them and realized these men could probably check off half the skills in the book.

But I was suddenly quite happy at the prospect of Ad Sales.

Friday, August 3, 2007


Yes, I realize I haven't written anything in awhile. Stop hatin'.

A big reason I haven't written lately is that I've been traveling quite a bit. And at some point I'll share those adventures. But in the meantime, I had a horrifying thing happen recently.

In my on-going struggles with Tazorac (which I do actually think is FINALLY starting to work), my lips have been peeling horribly. They used to be just swollen and sore. But lately, they just come off in sheets. In general, this is super hot, but it's particularly hot when you're kissing someone and half your mouth is on their face afterward.

To put this in context, I have tried the following products to remedy this situation, all to no avail:

- Burt's Bee's
- Smith's Rosebud Salve
- Blistex Medicated
- Vaseline
- a couple of tubes of some natural brands from Whole Foods
- Chapstick Overnight
- Carmex (despite its addictive properties)
- Cetaphil cream
- Eucerin cream

Key words in that last sentence: "all to no avail". SO, you can imagine my excitement when my friend Sharon announced she had a sure fire remedy. Sharon has a two year old, and apparently she used this product when she was breast-feeding for chapped nipples (!!!) but soon realized it was fantastic as a lip balm.

"So what is it?"



"Yes. It's amazing."

After I'd worked through my nausea at the idea of using a product typically used for breast-feeding on my lips, I decided to give it a try. So a couple of days later, while drunk at the flagship Wal-Mart in Rogers, Arkansas (don't ask), I bought a tube of Lamasil. That I was drunk is my only excuse for not noticing the FOOT on the bottle as I confidently smeared it all over my lips, thrilled that I'd found the magic solution.

But two seconds after application, my lips were no longer moisturized. They weren't even close to being soft and supple. Instead they were dryish, tingly, and had this odor that made my nose burn.

I looked on the back of the bottle, and saw it said "Do not use in or near mouth."

Now, here's where my faith in Sharon becomes abundantly clear. After I'd sobered up the next day, and had actually thought through the fact this product had a foot on it, and it said not to use in or near mouth, I continued to use it for approximately 4 days. In my defense, it also said that it relieved dry, cracked skin...which, I did have. However, my lips were still coming off in sheets.

She'd said she bought it in the baby aisles of stores, so four days later when I was shopping at Target, I went to the baby aisle just to see if there was another product that seemed to be more of what she'd described. Perhaps it had a boob on the front of the bottle instead of a foot?

I called her from the aisle.

"What was it you said I should use on my mouth?"


"Hmmmm...okay. Well, that's what I've been using, but it doesn't seem to be doing anything, and it says not to use it in or near your mouth?"

"That's silly. Breast-feeding mothers use it all the time, and they certainly wouldn't use it if was bad for their babies' mouths."

I agreed she had a good point, so decided to continue using it.

That night, I got a phone call from Sharon.

"What did you say you were using on your mouth, again?" she asked.


"Oh, thank God. I thought you said Lamasil, with an 'm'."

"Um. I did say Lamasil with an 'm'."

Here's where I knew I was in trouble. Not only did I realize that I'd misunderstood her, but she also started laughing hysterically and asked how long I'd been using it. When I replied at least four days, she started laughing so hard, I could actually hear the tears streaming down her face.

"Nooooooo, Liz!! Lamasil is for Athlete's Foot!"

Well, that at least explained the foot on the package. But then I heard faintly in the background, Sharon's husband add, "And jock itch," which only made Sharon laugh harder.

"Wait just a goddamn minute," I shouted. "All this time, I've been freaked out about putting tit cream on my face, and it turns out this shit is NUT cream???!!!"

Again. More laughter. This time, my roommate who was hearing my side of things starts also hysterically laughing.

"Oh Liz," Sharon said between laughs, "I'm so sorry. It's called LANasoh."

(Which, for the record, when mumbled sounds EXACTLY like "Lamasil.")

She promised to bring me a tube the next day. I hung up completely exasperated with what had just happened. I was explaining to my roommate how I'd managed to overlook the packaging - both the foot and the warning - when my phone rang again. It was Sharon's husband.

"Liz??? My wife thinks you hate her." (The ol' send-your-husband-in-to-do-your-dirtywork trick.)

"I don't HATE her, but I swear to God if my nose turns into a dick at any point, you assholes are in serious trouble."

(Calling to Sharon) "Honey, i think she's fine."

As promised, Sharon brought me a tube of her miracle cure the next day. A purple bottle - oddly the exact same shade as my tube of Lamasil - only this one featured a breast-feeding mother on the front, not a foot. It was also called Lansinoh, which pronounced correctly, even while mumbling, sounds NOTHING like Lamasil.

I can honestly say my lips are better than ever. Though it's also worth noting that Marvin Sparkles has no idea what he's been kissing for the past week.