Where I Get It From

       I took the 2-liter bottle of Diet Coke out of the fridge and poured all but the last half-inch into a glass full of ice.

        My mother came into the kitchen to observe me.  Her little dog stood at her feet.  The dog has warmed up to me a lot, but it really loves only her.  

       “Finish the soda,” Mom said.

        “The stuff at the very bottom is flat and gross, though,” I said.

         “No wasting!  Drink it all!”

         I frowned and held the bottle up it front of my face, shaking it. NO FOAM.  I said: “But I don’t want to drink it.  Look, it’s no good.”

         “Well, you can’t open a new soda until you finish this one.  I don’t like to waste.”

          “Momma!  We have six bottles of soda in the garage!  It’s only $.99!  It’s not wasting!”

           “Finish it.”

           I eyed my glass and the remainder of liquid in the bottle.

           “It’s making me feel weird that you’re watching me,” I said.  Because she was.  Watching me like a hawk.

            “I need to be sure you don’t pour it down the sink,” she said.

            I sighed and took a drink from the glass to reduce the liquid content.  Then I poured the last of the soda into the glass.

            “There.  It’s done.”

            She smiled and picked up her dog.  They went to watch TV.

Boring, but Painless

       Woke up at 3:30 AM and couldn’t go back to sleep.   Work’s going to suck so badly today.

       My job is very boring.  Boring, but relatively painless.  I actually made the mistake of telling that to my boss the other day when he asked me how I was “settling in.”

       “Well, I’m glad to be here, so thanks for that,” I said.  “It is boring, but painless.  Once I learned the software program, it was easy.  Please let me know if you are dissatisfied with the quality of my work.”

        He stared at me, and then it occurred to me that I should not have called the job “boring.”  Even though it is.  And I’m not even using that description in derogatory fashion.

        Whatevs!  I don’t care.  That is another nice thing about this job: I don’t care, so no stress.  

        Don’t get me wrong: I practice good work ethic.  I show up well-dressed and on time.  I accomplish tasks.  I do the job.  I have a pleasant demeanor and don’t make any problems.  I don’t complain. 

        Otherwise: I don’t care.  I don’t have to wonder if my students are learning, or if my lesson plan is any good.  I don’t have to wonder if feeding a dog turd to a client is going to send him to the hospital.  

         One of the women I work with (also from the Temp agency) is not so fortunate.  She was really getting on my nerves until I realized that the reason she was struggling was that she is not very smart and has no skills.  Once I understood that, I had compassion for her, and now I’m not bothered.  

        She can’t do math, even with a calculator.  I don’t blame anyone for not understanding much math, because the only reason most people would need to know it past an 8th-grade level is to avoid getting fucked by the banks and credit card companies. Math was my worst subject at school, but I had to take four semesters of stats in grad school, so I know some stuff, even though I almost never use it in daily life outside work. 

       (Side note: there was to be a better way to teach math.  I don’t know what that “better way” is, but it must exist.  I have no innate ability at all, and everything I learned about math I had to learn through practice and rote memorization, but I feared and dreaded THE MATH with a passion that was totally incommensurate with its difficulty. It shouldn’t have to be that painful.)

        I had to show her how to calculate percentages.  Her memory is poor.  When she was learning the software program, I noticed that she never asked questions.  After a few days, I realized that she never asked questions because she didn’t know what was going on and didn’t want anyone to know that.  

       Yesterday one of the other office ladies was mad at me because a client did not get their leatherbound restaurant reservations book on time.  They did not get it on time because I wrong the wrong zip code down on the mailing envelope.  I wrote the zip code down incorrectly because they wrote it down incorrectly in their email to the company.  Anyway, they didn’t get it on time, and they were mad.

        “THEY SENT ME A NASTY EMAIL!” complained the office lady, standing at my desk.

         “I’m sorry to hear that,” I said.

        I didn’t say it, but I wondered why she would be upset over this.  It was the client’s error, but even if it wasn’t: who cares?  The order consisted of a single book, to a restaurant.  It isn’t some holy stone stationery God Almighty needs to write more commandments or the Holy Bible on.  President Obama isn’t signing it anywhere.  Who gives a damn?  I wanted to ask her: “Do they pay you enough to get upset about this?”

         Because that’s where it counts, and it’s what most employers don’t seem to understand (or maybe they do, but lie about understanding–who knows?): loyalty requires reciprocity.  I will execute the tasks for which I am hired, but I will invest zero emotional fucks.  I could and would give a fuck about a client not getting its restaurant reservation book on time, but that would require a pay rate of at least $25/hour.  (That is why I would immediately call a manger when an asshole customer would flip out or get verbally abusive with me at my restaurant or retail jobs: the company did not pay me enough to put up with it.)  I’m not going to throw myself from the factory roof like a Japanese salaryman after a bad performance review just because a Capitol Grille in Miami got its book on Tuesday instead of Monday.  Sorry, not sorry, lady.  Get in touch with your inner alienation.  Read some fuckin Dilbert or something.  

         I found the only cute man.  He is a short-ish muscular guy who works on the factory floor.  He listens to heavy metal on his iPhone constantly.  I like him because I saw him give a big sarcastic eyeroll at his boss.  

        About to get ready to go to work.  I am already speculating about whether anyone stole the Diet Coke I left in the company fridge.  My Excel spreadsheets will be open, right where I left them.  I turn off my monitor when I leave for the day, because I want to extend the life of the factory equipment.  

        They do pay me enough for that.  

       

A Week on the Job

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Miss Margo, Office Monkey.  Wanna see my spreadsheets?

      It’s a shitty job, but I’ve had worse.  The geographically-confused stationery-peddling Italians told the Temp agency that they’ll keep me through Christmas, for which I am grateful.  I think three months is this job’s sell-by date, at least for me.

      My duties require just enough brain power to keep me from feeling depressed…but not enough to keep me entertained or intellectually engaged.  That’s okay.  I don’t like it, but I can put up with it for a while.

       The nicest thing is that I am getting a paycheck tomorrow and I ought to be living independently again in about five weeks.  

        I think this is the first job I’ve had in eight years–heck, maybe ten years–that does not stress me out or intimidate me in any way or fashion.  With the exception of the other new girl, I am the youngest person in the office, but I am not remotely worried about proving myself.  The only positions in the place I’m unqualified for are factory machinist and accounting.  I’m not gonna lie: it feels nice.  Eventually it’ll start to drive me nuts, but right now, I’m enjoying being able to do almost everything right the first time and also knowing that I’m being useful. 

          I had to learn a new computer software program so that I could manage the data sets concerning inventory and help out in the distribution office if necessary.  So far, this was the hardest thing to learn.  It took a few shifts.  I haven’t needed to ask for help with it at all the last day or two.  

         I can see why they hired me to edit and write copy, because some of the documents I’ve seen look like they were run through Google translator.  I don’t speak Italian, so I can’t translate anything.  I just clean up what I have.  The good news is that I’m not exactly working with a mangled facsimile of The Divine Comedy, if you know what I mean.  It’s all just simple business correspondence: thank you for your interest in our products, here are some free leather desk pads so that you may better appreciate the quality of the workmanship, we are sorry your order has been on hold for the last six months, sirs, but there was a labor strike/youth riot, and/or we just got back from our six weeks of vacation, blah blah.  

         I clean it up, format it, and send it back as a Word document.  I don’t actually talk to anyone about that part of my work.  I just email it and that’s it.  

       The office is small.  It is gray and boring but not hideous.  There is a window.  The overhead lights have transparencies on them like this:
 

          My mother says they use them in hospitals and hospices.

          It is relatively quiet in the office, which I like.  They don’t play music, which I LOVE.  I fuckin hate office music, it’s torture and should be illegal.  

          Nobody seems curious about me or tries to pry, and I like that, too.   They like my work, though.  I am already helping the others when they get in the weeds and I have time to help out.

          I work in the same office with a handful of middle-aged women.  They are nice responsible adults, unlike most of the motley crew at the Studio, but I have very little in common with them aside from the fact that I, too, am nice, and responsible.  It’s okay, though. They don’t stress me out.  Yesterday they talked about the blue color of the new printer paper.  They all liked it better than the old printer paper.  It was a prettier blue, they said.  Made me think:



          I get a full hour for lunch, which I dislike.  I’d just as soon work through lunch and get off an hour earlier.  There is nothing to do during lunch but surf the internet or read (and I can’t even get to the fun parts of the internet or my secret emails, because I’m using company internet).  

           There is a Del Taco and a gas station across the street.  This town sucks so bad.  It’s okay, though.  I can live with it until I have the money to move again.   I’m safe and I’m not drinking and my job is stupid and boring, but painless, and tomorrow I am going to buy a new friend.

         (This job IS boring.  Really boring.  Can I do three months of boring…?  I can do three months of boring.) 
          

Client on the Subway

     I’m sorry to do this to my eight readers, I truly am, but….I just saw this on Twitter and I had to share.  If I have to see it, everyone has to see it:

       See that, my friends….?   That is a client.   Not a typical client (thank God, because if he was, there would be no prodommes), but a client of fairly common variety.   Just off the top of my head, I can think of at least four men who would be interchangeable with this fine fellow here.  Over the years, I have probably sessioned with at least a dozen.  Maybe 20. 

        The good news is that they are not evil or dangerous and they seldom make trouble.  They are not like, say, Chopin.  They never damaged me emotionally.  They are just really, really weird.  The hardest part of the session is just enduring their profound weirdness, which is exacerbated by the fact that they do not seem to know or care how they present to the people around them.   They are notable for their complete lack of shame.  Their filters are all fucked up…if they have filters at all, which a lot of them don’t.  Filters do not come standard on this make and model of client. 

       This guy is probably getting himself all worked up en route to the dungeon.  He’ll look more normal on his way home, after the tension is off, but right now, he’s in la-la land.

       It’s a living.  It’s a living, folks.  

       And look.  He’s even got a bag at his feet.  What’s in that Duane Reade bag, big guy?

Boots as Inspiration

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         In a recent email, Heinrich asked why I hadn’t finished posting the events of my going-away party, my last S/M session in New York.  

         Well, I was depressed and stressed out about my employment situation, and not in much of a mood to write.  Also, frankly, I felt a little awkward and self-conscious writing about jennings gags and getting your buddy’s splooge on my face, I wrote. 

           He wrote back:  I think the blowjobs were the least controversial activity of the evening.  Not that we did not enjoy them, so thank you for that.

           The pleasure’s all mine, I said. 

           Yes, that is at least somewhat true, for an eager cocksucker like yourself.  Your next master should withhold it as punishment, but most men would not have the restraint.  Anyway: write it all.  I liked to read it. 
        
            It might take a few days.  It’s partially written already, but I need to finish it, I responded. 

            The next email contained only a picture of his boots.  The subject line had one word: Inspiration.  

             And it was, and it has.

                      *                             *                       *                      

            I have a lifelong fascination with the male uniform, and none of it attracts me more than footwear and belts.  I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a fetish, but it definitely captures my attention.

           The psychological appeal is obvious: shoes and belts are used as handy weapons by household tyrants around the world, and the boot is both part of the hunting uniform and a symbol of institutional authority.  The men in my family are ex-military and take the appearance of their shoes seriously, and maintaining the shine on my father’s shoes was one of my childhood chores.  

The Policeman’s Daughter, Paula Rego c. 1987

             Getting kicked around on the floor, or groveling at someone’s feet, is humbling in a way I have seldom experienced and have difficulty describing.   Let’s just call it what it is: it’s fucking humiliating.  There are many activities in BDSM that a person (bottom) can do while assuring themselves–correctly!–that they are not actually being dominated or humiliated.  Getting your neck pinned to the floor with a boot is not one of those things.  Nope, nosiree.  There’s no way that you can experience that and be able to unpack it from its tremendous cultural baggage: since antiquity, if you wanted to humiliate a person, humble them, or publicly demonstrate your superiority, you got them up close and personal with your shoes.  


       It’s also a little scary, as anyone who’s taken a swift kick to the ass–or, worse, the ribs–can attest (if you listen closely, you’ll hear the dogs of the world yip in solidarity).  The Surgeon’s loafers had metal plates under the toes that left crescent-shaped imprints in my skin for hours, like little brands.   

        Because the act is so authentically submissive and personal, I almost never did it for money.  Enduring practically any sort of pain or corporal punishment I could take (if I so chose) as impersonally as if I was doing manual physical labor, but kissing someone’s shoes or letting him kick me was just too psychologically loaded for me to do at work.  Fortunately, it was almost never requested…

        ….which interests me, because, as a Top, it’s a huge fucking power rush.  Boner city, man.  Some of the hottest sadistic memories I have involve getting some poor fucker on the floor and leaving a dirty boot mark on his face.  This is entirely distinct from a typical foot/shoe-worship session–if the guy was kneeling up and had a hardon while drooling all over my heels, it did absolutely nothing for me.  Making a boy get on the ground, though, especially when he doesn’t particularly like being there, is something else entirely.  Extra points if he’s fastidious and the floor or my boot is gross.   Extra extra points if he’s not into humiliation and there are a few other people around to witness his debasement.   Yeah, seeing a scared eyeball roll up at you from the floor is quite a charge, all right.  Very fapp-worthy.  Miss Margo highly recommends this experience.  It definitely gets my Mistress Stamp of Approval.  

         I remember every time I’ve been stepped on by a man, worshiped his boots, or had some other devastating encounter with his footwear.  It’s interesting that the memories are important to me, but they are not purely, or even primarily, pleasurable.  Some of the emotion I feel about it is negative, apprehensive…there is even some shame, which I almost never feel in relation to my sexuality.  There is some shame here, though.  I admit it.  When you clean the dirt off your cheek or rinse out your mouth, you inevitably have to ask yourself exactly what sort of a sick fuck you must be to voluntarily let yourself be degraded like that (and on the heels of that: What does my partner really think of me?).    

           But the pull, the allure, is very, very powerful, the excitement undeniable.  It’s a wonderful, precious thing, that level of intensity.  I enjoy it so very much…even when I don’t.

         Here’s another pair of boots I have known…and unabashedly adored: Mr. Wolf’s.  Gosh, that was a fun session. 

I Got a Job. My First 9-5.

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      I got the job I got the job I got the job
      I got the job I got the job I got the job
      
      No longer a member of the lumpenproletariat…I have been restored to my rightful place in the economy as an underpaid temporary worker!

      The interview was easy.  I remembered the most important tactic in interviewing for jobs that do not explicitly require my feedback, intellectual opinion, or acumen: shut the fuck up.  

       That’s what you do.  You shut up and let them to almost all of the talking (it’s a bit like dining with a client).  They call it an interview, but it’s really not.  

         I sat perched in my chair like a bright little bird, paying close attention but trying not to overdo the eye contact.  I kept a smile of the appropriate dim wattage on my face and spoke only when spoken to.  I assured them that I did not feel overqualified to code their spreadsheets or edit their emails.  

        “You know there are no benefits,” she said.  To her credit, she seemed nice today.  A middle-aged blonde lady from Michigan. 

          I wanted to say, sarcastically, “That’s what Medicaid is for!” but instead I just gave a small shrug and said that I understood the job was temporary, and I was young and healthy and childless.  That’s what they really care about, you know, though it’s illegal to ask it now: they want a nice strong reliable worker bee with no family drama and no entitlement issues. 

           They hired me on the spot and gave me a tour of the office and the warehouse.  It was okay.  It was not the most depressing office I’ve ever worked in, at all.  There were plants.  Windows.  I could hear Italians speaking in their weird European language somewhere.  

           It could be worse.  It’s the sort of job, actually, that I would have gladly worked at as an undergraduate: a living wage, indoors, using a tiny bit of my skills and brain (just a tiny bit).  No risk of repetitive stress injuries.  I’ve had it worse.  

          But it’s been a long, long time since I’ve had a 9 to 5.   Years.  Years and years.  Since before New York.  Since before grad school.  

           Actually, now that I think of it….I’ve never had a 40-hour office job.  I’ve had two or three part-time jobs at once, and a lot of freelance work…and, of course, all the work in the Biz. 

          Can I hack it, however temporarily, as a common American wage slave, squandering more of my rapidly diminishing youth editing emails for office-supply-peddling Dagos?  

           I start tomorrow at 8 AM. 


       

Reader Mailbag: “Pro Dominas are Not Sex Workers.”

     From a comment left on my previous blog post:
      
 Pro Dominas are not sex workers. The term Sex workers comes from prostitution. Now, it’s completely different to call yourself that only if… You actually slept with your clients. Please don’t confuse people with what’s really true for professional Doms, it’s enough to have to fight stereotypes without people confusing them with other people’s sexual appetites. Love the blog though. Keep up the good work and stay in good health. 
M.M.


You stated your difference of opinion with kindness and respect, which I appreciate, so I’m not going to get bent out of shape, but…we’re going to have to agree to disagree about this.

       A prostitute and activist, Carol Leigh, did coin the term “sex worker,” so, yes, it “comes from prostitution.”  Currently it is used to describe those in all areas of the sex industry: web cam girls, phone sex operators, strippers, escorts, and, yes, prodommes.  “Sex worker” is used in academic publications and by legislatures and it’s in the dictionaries and it’s legit as can be.  I think it’s a fine phrase myself.  It’s very clear, accurate, and non-judgmental. 

        If you don’t think that prodommes are in the sex industry, well, I can’t help you.  For what it’s worth, I denied that I was in the sex industry for the first year I was prodomming, too–I didn’t want to have anything to do with the stigma.  Bottom line is that I have seen way too many naked male bodies and male orgasms to delude myself.   These dudes are not coming to us for therapy.  Prodomming can involve craft, and it can be therapeutic, but, I dunno, I’ve seen shrinks for years and I never took off my pants before I lay down on the couch and my analyst wasn’t taking notes with latex gloves on and a bottle of bleach solution in the dresser.   I won’t belabor the point because I’ve written about it on this blog before, but prodomming is part of the sex industry.  

         I have no interest in “fighting stereotypes.”  A lot of the public still thinks vibrators and spanking are kinky and threatening.  They are never going to accept most BDSM as being “normal” and I’m fine with that because technically they are right.  This shit isn’t normal.  It’s not wrong or bad, but it’s not normal.  

        I did not sleep with my clients and I never touched a penis unless I was torturing it or tying it up.  Not so much as a hand job, although frankly I would have preferred to jerk some of them off than endure a lot of the body worship, which was often unpleasant for me.  Even still: boners and orgasms were involved at least 70% of the time.  

         In what other industry are boners and orgasms involved…?  I cautiously presume massage therapists and nurses/lpn’s might see a few involuntary erections or even orgasms because of all the physical contact their work requires…but that’s about it.  

        I do not believe in whorearchy and I do not think that fetish work/prodomming is substantially different, much less superior, to escorting/prostitution.  A difference of degree, but not in kind.  As far as I’m concerned, our political struggles and work experiences are the same, except that they have it even harder because they’re fully criminalized and at higher risk for arrest.  The cops don’t distinguish much between prodommes and escorts.  Neither does the public, your priest, or, quite probably, your client.  

         Maggie McNeill, author of The Honest Courtesan, has written extensively about whorearchy (and all aspects of sex work), and I recommend her essays to anyone who would like to know more about the issue.  I’ve never linked to her blog over there on the sidebar because I ultimately will not endorse her politics, but she is a very talented writer and all of her sex work stuff is top-notch.  I wish my blog was as clean and well-organized as hers.  She’s a librarian, and it shows. 

         Thank you for reading and thank you for your kind words about my blog!  I am glad that you enjoy it and I welcome any future correspondence. 

          P.S.  Actually, I did sleep with one of my clients when he was still a client: the Surgeon…but we had a relationship, so I tell myself that it didn’t count.
       Mr. Wolf eventually got blowjobs.  So did Fortinbras.  It was my idea in both circumstances because I trusted them and was crazy attracted to them.  No regrets (if anything, now that I’m celibate and lonely and stuck in the sticks, I regret not fucking them when I had the chance).  I miss those guys.  My favorite clients.  So much fun.  
        

Protips for Compartmentalization

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         My first prodomme business card.  I designed it myself using one of those free online template designers.  My clients liked that card.  It was somewhat discreet.   

          For years, I had a reoccurring nightmare that I was at an academic conference and pulled out my business card to offer a colleague.  He’d take the card out of my hand and then I would realize, too late, that I’d passed him the wrong card.  

           I retired the card when I retired Margo as my stage name, which was right after I’d gone back to pro-domming behind the Surgeon’s back and he caught me.  When I went back after that, I took a new name, so that I could better hide from him.   He never caught me again, but I was always paranoid that he would, especially after I left him and he no longer had an outlet for his needs.  I knew it was just a matter of time before he started hitting the commercial dungeons again.  I wonder which one he goes to now.  My money’s on (the former) Jasmine’s–I went there with him as a client a few times.

          I found the picture of my first prodomme business card when I was digging through my old files this evening.  I don’t have the privacy that I used to, so I’m trying to keep my machine and my internet browsing habits as clean as possible.  

          Not many women read this blog, but if you’re in the sex industry or thinking about it, let me tell you some of the other things you can do to protect yourself while you’re working:

          If you’re a student or you have a straight job at which you’d like to stay closeted, don’t check your sex worker email from the servers at work or school.  Network Admin can see everything.  

          Don’t use your credit card or banking information to buy your ads.  If the government goes to Backpage or Eros and demands copies of the billing records to check for evidence of trafficking or exploited children, they’re going to get your real name.  Go to a drug store outside of your neighborhood and buy a prepaid Visa gift card.  Pay with it with cash.  Use the gift card to buy your ads, and just make up the billing information: say you’re Mary Smith living in Queens.  Don’t buy your ads using your computer from your internet in your apartment.  Do it from an internet cafe or someplace with free wifi and a lot of traffic.  

           Photoshop the distinguishing moles and scars out of your photos.  If I had a tattoo that I couldn’t cover up, I’d blur its image.

         Work clothes are for work.  Do not post pictures of yourself wearing your work clothes to Facebook or OkCupid or any of your other social media sites.  I know it sounds crazy, but some of these fuckers really have no lives and will identify you through an outfit.  Sad but true.  True story: I went on three dates with a guy more than three years ago.  We had no relationship at all.  Decided not to go out with him again.  Two years later, he sent me an email because he recognized my picture from an ad, even though it didn’t show my face–I was wearing the same dress I wore to dinner with him, and he recognized it, and my body shape.  I didn’t respond to his (completely inappropriate) questions, but lesson learned: they will find you.  They have nothing better to do but collect domme pictures and compare them to pics in dating profiles or something.  Four clients found my blog (that I know of).  Three were okay guys but one was a fruitloop and caused me to quit seeing new clients at my apartment, no matter how much I screened. 

          I always lied about my age because I didn’t want anyone to know my birth year. 

          My Ex taught me how to be anonymous in hotels.  Maybe I’ll write about that next time.
    

Meeting Elder Travis (updated)

Update: I am hampered by bureaucratic fuckery.    

              The good news is: the unemployment agency actually seems to offer some promising leads and programs.  

              The bad news is: I don’t know if I qualify for it.

              A significant part of its funding comes from the State government.  Consequently, it has to keep meticulous records of the clients it services, and turn those records over to the state.  

               After two hours of talking with them and filling out eleven pieces of paperwork, I was told that I did not qualify because I quit my last straight jobs at the college and tutoring center.  Apparently quitting your job is not allowed if you expect to get any employment help from the state, even if it’s through a 3rd-party organization.  Apparently, you have to be fired or laid off. 

              “Are you serious?” I asked.  “Because you receive state funds, I’m not allowed to utilize your program because I quit my jobs?  I didn’t do anything wrong!  It’s not like I walked out and left em hanging!  I fulfilled the hours in my contract and gave advanced notice!  But if I got fired for incompetency, I could stay here?”

              My case manager shrugged sheepishly and said he was sorry, but he didn’t make the rules.

               “Why couldn’t you tell me this on the phone and save us both the time, not to mention all these dead trees from the wasted paper?!” I asked.

              “Well, we can’t know you’re not qualified until we really get the details of your case.”

                I knew that was bullshit.  They wanted me to come in and fill out the paperwork so that they could maximize the number of potential clients who wanted to use their service in their annual reports to the state.  It helped secure their grants and funding. 

               “Hey!” he brightened.  “There is a loophole!  Have you received unemployment benefits any time in the last five years?  Any time?”

              “No!  I was in school and then I was self-employed!”

              “Oh.”  He slumped.

              “You’re telling me that I’d be eligible if I had unemployment benefits?” 

               “Yeah. The problem is, if you quit your job voluntarily, the government says you’re basically on your own.  You brought in on yourself.”

               “But if I was fired and took benefits I’m deserving? I could apply for welfare but not employment programs?” 

                He perked up again:  “Actually, that’s another loophole!  If you apply for welfare and get into the (workfare) program, you could do it here!  I know someone in the welfare office!  Do you have any dependent children?  Do you get food assistance?”

                “No!  I live with my mother!”

                “Does she work?  How much money does she make?”

               “I don’t know!  She’s retired!”

              “Well, I hope that she doesn’t make too much, or else you won’t be eligible.”

               “No offense, sir, but do you know what this is like?  It feels like I’m in a Monty Python skit about bad bureaucracy.  I can’t get into an employment program because I don’t have benefits which I never applied for, but apparently I am still the “undeserving” unemployed.  This is a little crazy.”

                He gave me the business card of a social worker in the welfare office: “Go apply for cash assistance.  She will try to dissuade you.  They don’t want people signing up.”

               “Oh, I know how it is,” I said, thinking that I wrote the book on poverty-reduction legislation since welfare reform.  Or a few papers, at least.

                 “She’ll try to send you back here.  We’ll do it so that she manages your case, but you still get to come here and use our service.  If we can pull it off.  It’ll take some bureaucratic wrangling.”

                  So this week I have to make an appointment with this social worker at the welfare office for the express purpose of applying for cash assistance, being rejected, and then being rerouted back to the employment agency I was just at this morning. 

               Un-fucking-believable. 

                                 *                      *                   * 

This morning I have an appointment with a small employment agency that supposedly specializes in helping people with advanced college degrees find jobs outside of academia.  I side-eyed it pretty hard and tried to learn where it was getting its funding, because unless you’re in medicine or law or at the local colleges the only other major industries around here that really need people with  +Master’s degrees are the Air Force, PR agencies, and an awful lab company that experiments on animals.   No offense, but I would rather sweep floors or suck dick for money than update the charts of hundreds of white rats every day and then kill them with CO2.   The Surgeon had to do that in med school and it made a very negative impression on it, and he is not what I would call a sensitive human being.

        This morning I was awoken by my mother’s little dog playing with her squeaky toy.  I really want to make an audio recording of the squeak toy so that all of my 8 readers can share in the fun.  The dog considers the squeak toy to be the pinnacle of entertainment and will squeak it until someone takes it away from her.  You usually have to give her a food treat to make her drop it, too, because otherwise she runs away from you and can’t be caught.  I know.  I have tried.  In my PJs, I have tried.  The dog just runs under the couch and stares at you, squeaking even more, tail wagging triumphantly. 

         I ironed one of my nice skirts and a blouse.  I will be dressed up like I am going to work, except that I will not actually be going to work.  This is very demoralizing.  

         I do have something exciting planned for tomorrow afternoon, however!  

         Margo has…a date.  

         Of sorts.  The guy doesn’t know it yet.

         A young Mormon fellow named “Elder Travis.”  I met him yesterday evening when he knocked on my door with a friend to inquire about my relationship with God.

        Mormons irritate the hell out of me and my default response is to tell them that I’m Catholic (it seems like kinder let-down than telling them the truth), wish them well, and then shut the door in their faces.  The Mormon missionaries and young and strong and I don’t feel badly for them (there was an old Jehova’s Witness who making the rounds one day when it was 103* outside.  He was wearing a wool suit and looked miserable, so I gave him a bottle of water.  It was a nice thing to do, but it just encouraged him and he started sending church ladies over).   

          Anyway, the Mormons rang last night.

          “Hi, Guys.  How can I help you?” I asked, even though I was pretty sure I already knew.  They’d parked their bikes in the driveway and they were wearing their little Mormon uniforms: black pants, supernerd short-sleeved perma-creased synthetic-material white buttondowns, black neckties, little name-plates.  I gave them an in instead of immediately offering the rejection because I supposed it was possible that they needed to ask directions or use the phone to call someone.  

           “Hello, Miss.  How are you today?”

           “Fine, thanks.  Do you need something?”  I wasn’t even really looking at them.  I was waiting for the opportunity to close the door.  Once I saw that they were missionaries, I stopped paying attention.  Mitt Romney himself could have been standing in front of me, and I wouldn’t have see him.  

          “Do you go to church around here?” the one closest to me asked.

           It was then that my mother’s little dog squirmed past my leg and ran out onto the patio.  She began to sniff their shoes excitedly, tail wagging.  Fortunately, there was no squeaky.  

          I called the dog and told her to come in.  She did not listen to me.  This dog does not obey anyone but my mother.

          I apologized to the guys and said that she was friendly (she is a sweet dog, and somewhat well-behaved for all her antics–she wasn’t jumping on them or anything) and stepped out to get her.

            Well, she wasn’t having any of that.  She decided it was time to play RUN AWAY.

           The Mormons, no fools they, knew an opportunity to ingratiate themselves when they saw it, and started chasing the little dog around the lawn for me.  For a cat-sized creature with little stumpy weasel legs, she gets around very fast, and led the boys on a merry chase around the rose bushes.  It was quite a sight to see.  The old Pakistani lady across the street came out of her house to watch (that chick does neighborhood surveillance like the Stasi in 1982, man.  Life in suburbia.  The East Village, it’s not–I lived three years in the same apartment and didn’t know the names of a single neighbor).  

              The dog ran back past me to retrieve one of her tennis balls, and I slammed the screen on her.  

             Slamming the door on the Mormons, though, was going to be a trick.   They’d just chased my dog.  I did not want to be a jerk.

            “Sorry about that,” I said.  I offered them bottles of water.  I decided that I’d give em water and then pretend that I had to make an important phone call and close the door.

            I gave them the water while they were tucking their shirts back in.  That was when I actually took a good look at the bigger one closest to me.

           Boy, maybe I’ve been without the real thing for too long or maybe the heat and boredom around here has baked my brain, and I think Mormons are probably the least attractive quasi-Christian group I can think of, but I’m telling you: this kid was beautiful.  BEAUTIFUL!  He looked like he fell out of an Ambercromie ad!  And I don’t even like young guys! 

            I squinted at his name tag.  “Elder Travis?  ‘Elder’ to who?  How old is your congregation, 12?”

            They glanced at each other and then confirmed that they were, in fact, from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

           Long story short (I have to get ready to go to the job agency): I invited them both over tomorrow to discuss my relationship with Jesus Christ.  That’s how the Mormons do it, you know: they use Jesus to get in the door, like they’re regular Christians or something.   I’ll have to park em in the den where they can’t see the Virgin Mary on the wall.  

            I have a new Summer recreation project.