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the latest waddle:

good morning, wordpress - 10:36 a.m. , 2009-07-03

elaborate murder attempt - 2:56 p.m. , 2009-07-01

building a tractor in the basement - 10:42 a.m. , 2009-06-19

ask no questions tell just a few lies - 3:17 p.m. , 2009-06-09

my long lasting flavor really lasts long - 1:10 p.m. , 2009-06-04

2003-05-08 ... 2:34 p.m.

Because business travel has further destroyed our heroine's capacity for narrative, she resorts once again to The Numbering Trick. She also resolves to not refer to herself in the third person. She considers revising that opening sentence. She does not. She worries that she comes off as pretentious, irritating, faker-literary, too clever by half, and then "I" mentally smack "her" in the mouth because it has gotten far too bizarre already in here with the pronouns and the split consciousness, and we have not even started the diary entry yet, so everybody please just simmer down. Simmer down to a nice, thick, non-narrative sauce. Adjust seasonings to taste. Remove bay leaf.

1. Obviously, I have returned from Pittsburgh.

2. The conference went fine. No one died, no one lost an eye. The speaker I was worried about not only showed up, he gave an excellent talk.

3. From my hotel window, I saw a giant mouse, who had been somehow involved in cheering on the Pittsburgh marathon, remove his giant-mouse-character head and drive off in a Honda.

4. I ate a sketchy piece of pizza one day and needed to skip one set of sessions to stay in my hotel room, because the intestinal weather threatened to turn partly sickly, although it never actually did. Other than that, I attended to everything, went to meetings, ran around, and solved problems, as befits a committee chair.

5. Business travel = bad TV because I stay up too late drinking Iron City in my hotel room. I could have gone out much more than I did, but I usually was not done with whatever conference business and dinners I had until late, and then I often felt too zombified to make conversation. Two highlights of my real-time, non-TiVo television odyssey:

(a) Commercial for some sort of "oh baby please" R&B compilation CD, and you know how they scroll up the song titles on the screen with snippets of selected ones? The bit I saw included this dude in a shiny turtleneck wailing "I WANT TO GET FREAKY WITH YOU" in that ridiculous are-you-serious R&B baritone, and I almost fell out of bed laughing. Then today I go to look up the song and it just keeps getting funnier.

(b) Late one night, one of my favorite movies came on! Yes, the amazing, wonderful, jaw-dropping gleeful horror that is Rocky IV! Where he fights the Russian! Worth the ninety minutes out of your life for: The bad music! The long flashback scenes that make it obvious the writers realized they did not have nearly enough movie! The extended training sequence with the wild hairy American, Rocky, doing the Iron John thing in the woods, such as pushups by firelight, dragging logs through the snow, etc, contrasted with the hairless Nordic Soviet ubermensch running on a treadmill under harsh fluorescents, everything with digital readouts! (Apparently that terrible Rocky IV music is available on CD, and an Amazon customer from Australia informs me that the songs embody the eternal spirit of the WARRIOR CODE [see first review]. I had no idea.)

6. Pittsburgh is pleasant, I wish I could have seen more of it. I nibbled cheese at several of the First Friday art openings, went up the incline thing for dinner and drinks, and had sushi in the Strip District.

7. My "remarks"? At the last minute I cut the pirate joke and stuck to the professional-sounding stuff. I was applauded, not booed, and I was not nervous. If I am going to be nervous I would rather be nervous from the beginning, rather than the sort of nervousness where you think you are totally fine until you start talking and you are all shaky and weird. This time I had zero nerves at all. Thank you Xanax! (Just kidding. I was totally unmedicated for this.) Lots of people told me what a great conference it was, and I still feel weird taking any credit for that (the whole thing feels like a lucky accident), but I suppose I should quit being such a Girl about it and be at least a little proud.

8. Comic Mini-Disaster The First: Pittsburgh, Day 1, the calm before the storm since the conference had not really started yet. I picked up my luggage, got in a taxi, paid the man his ransom (I am sure the driver thought he was being friendly and helpful by naming every single building and landscape feature we passed, but I kind of felt like I was being taken hostage by a Lonely Planet editor), and checked into my hotel. In the room I discovered that the airport had used a heavy-duty blue plastic tie to lock my suitcase's zippers together. It was the kind where the end goes through a little loop, and there are all kinds of ridges to prevent the plastic edge from being backed out of the loop. So it is a permanently closed thing unless you have a knife, which is PRETTY DAMN IRONIC because you WON'T have a knife when you get to your destination if you came on an AIRPLANE. I struggled with the blue plastic doohickey for a while, my mind filled with visions of me having to make some crazy emergency underwear-buying expedition, and it just was not coming off. I even considered using matches to melt the plastic and get rid of the doohickey, but decided that fell under the heading of Bad Idea, especially in a non-smoking room, and that I would rather be the Dork Who Can't Get Into Her Own Suitcase than the Dork Who Set Her Own Suitcase On Fire. I called the "guest hotline" that the Hilton makes such a big deal about, asking for a knife or scissors, and got a guy with a pronounced Pittsburgh accent who said, "uhhhhh...eehhhhh...ahhh...I'll see what I can do." After about thirty minutes of him seeing what he could do, with my dinner date growing closer and my clothes and toiletries still trapped in the suitcase, I finally went down to the front desk girls to ask for scissors. Never did hear from Mr. Customer Service again. So much for the guest hotline.

9. Comic Mini-Disaster The Second: It is the first day of the conference. I get up insanely early, and I decide against getting tea at the hotel, because that seems boring, and even though I personally am getting reimbursed for expenses I see no reason for me to enrich the trust funds and cocaine-buying power of Nicky and Paris. I walked around downtown until I found this little coffee shop staffed by an appealingly waifly barrista with appalling taste in music: all radio-friendly faux-grunge. But the Earl Grey was decent, and the place was totally empty, and the solitude was nice as I prepared to take the podium and go blah blah blah and then later spend the entire day breathing hotel air and immersed in "professional development," a phrase I always find amusing because from long-ago puberty books and filmstrips I shall forever associate the word "development" with breasts. This conference has certainly increased the professionalism of my breasts.

After my tea I started walking back and stopped at a CVS to buy toothpaste, because the toothpaste I had with me was this nasty European stuff from a previous trip. I also bought a bottle of water. I forgot to refuse a bag at checkout, and a bag was unnecessary because I had my briefcase thing with me, so I stopped outside to toss the plastic CVS bag in the garbage. Instead, I had some kind of huge brain twitch and threw the unopened bottle of water into the garbage. Then I stood there and blinked for a few minutes, realizing that I had just walked into a store, paid money for a liquid that normally comes out of a tap, and then not two seconds later tossed my purchase into the trash. I briefly considered reaching into the garbage can to retrieve it, but I was wearing my nice suit, and even if I washed it off I am not sure I want to risk putting my lips on a bottle I pulled out of the garbage, and I certainly didnít want someone from the conference to walk by and notice my dumpster-diving, then see me again several hours later making "remarks" and generally trying to look like I know what I am doing. Also, there was a grizzled old panhandler guy sitting there watching the whole thing, and rooting around in the garbage in front of him was a bit too Chekov or O. Henry for me. So I just tried to cover and act like yes, of course I meant to march out of CVS and toss my purchase into the trash, where I come from we do it all the time, and I certainly have no idea what you are staring at, so if you don't mind I will just put this empty plastic bag into my briefcase and be going now.

10. It is nice to be home. I missed my bed, my cat, my friends, and LT. He picked me up at the airport and by the time we got home we had already crafted a scheme to market a motivational seminar where the main message is to not eat food you find in the street, made up another song about the scrotum, and invented a new product that is an entire can of those white cubes of pork fat that come in the baked beans. We are going to call it "Porkfat Nubbins." In Rich Tasty Gravy! Or Try Zesty Porkfat Nubbins With A Bold New Flavor!

I had another anecdote from Pittsburgh, about my encounter with a ranch-dressing-smeared Teamster (the Union Trade Industries show was also in town that weekend), but we are getting perilously close to the two thousand word limit and DAMN IT I HAVE TO KEEP AT LEAST ONE PROMISE TO YOU PEOPLE. It is one of the conditions of my parole.

---mimi smartypants, guilty as charged.


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