Attitude Adjustment

    The last week was god-awful, but I’m better now.

     I met with my landlord on Sunday morning.  I was so upset that I thought the intensity of my anxiety was going to kill me, but on the outside, I think that I held my shit together.  I am a good actress.   Gave the man half of July’s rent in cash and told him that I appreciated how patient he’s been with me the last few months.  He’s a good landlord, I really like living in this building, I would like to stay if possible.  Happy to give him two months’ security up front if he’s willing to renew my lease.

     He was nice.  Shook my hand and told me that he would get back to me.

      Meanwhile, I’ve been running around the Tri-State area hustling my ass off. You know the old cartoons where Wile E. Coyote is chasing Road Runner, and their legs are moving so fast that they become a big blur? Well, that was little Miss Margo.  I think that I slept about fifteen minutes in a week.  My mind was chock-full of worst scenarios.  My BOOKS!   My BIRDS!  Going back to my crappy redneck state IN DISGRACE!  (in my nightmares, all roads lead back to my crappy redneck state)

       Then I come home and find a letter from the landlord left under the door.  I am proud to tell you that I immediately opened it without fortifications of scotch or martinis.

       Get this: the man offered to extend the lease on the conditions of a ten percent increase in my rent and five (5!) months’ payment in advance.

        FIVE MONTHS?!  Hell, for that much, I might at well move!  Spent a long night on Craigslist researching potential monthly rentals and apartments available for subletting.

       I finally reached the end of my rope.

       I couldn’t call my family.  I just couldn’t.  I would literally rather die.  And yeah, I know it must look weird from the outside.

        I called the Surgeon for advice.  I told myself that it was reasonable.  I was his quasi-girlfriend for years, after all.

        He picked up on the first ring.

        “What’s the matter?  Tell me what’s happening.”   The first words out of his mouth.  Tell me he wasn’t waiting for this.

          I told him.   I think that I kept my composure.  From the outside, I probably sounded okay.

           He wanted to immediately call my landlord himself, but I refused.  The Surgeon knows how to persuade people, but he can also get his way by intimidating them, and I didn’t want him flying off the handle at my landlord.  Besides, I’m a grown-ass woman, I can talk to my landlord myself.

           He told me what I needed to do.  Adjusted my perspective, if you will.

           It must be nice to live knowing that you have power in the world.  It must be nice to think this way all the time.

            You’re being naive!  You’re vulnerable and he knows it and he’s trying to squeeze you for money.  NOBODY asks for five months’ security up front.  That is absurd.  It’s insulting!  He doesn’t want you to move.  If you leave, he’ll have to clean the place and repaint it and show it to people and he’ll be out at least two months’ rent, and then his profit for the year will evaporate.  Also, he has no idea what he’s gonna get when he gets a new tenant–he might get a flake who defaults and ties him up in court for six months when he tries to evict.  You are reliable.

           Then he gave me legal advice I can’t write here.

          Call me back and read the letter to me before you send it to him.  You are way too polite.  

           Well, I’m not going to do that, but I am going to take the day off and enjoy a nap.  I’m very, very tired.

This is Bad

    Well, I’ve got a problem.

     My landlord sent me a letter telling me that he does not intend to renew my lease at the end of July.

     I’m trying to remain calm and not overreact, but this is a pretty serious situation.  

     I’m not going to call him today–I need to make a few calls and see exactly what resources are available to me.  I wish that I had more people in my life that I could ask for advice.  I’ll ask for suggestions at my more affluent AA group.  

     Tomorrow I’ll call him and ask him what I can do to remain in my apartment.  I don’t see why he wouldn’t be open to negotiation–if I leave, he’ll have to repaint the place, show it, yadda yadda.  I’m all paid up with him right now; it’s not like I owe him money.  

      I am hoping that he just wants money up front–a few months in advance.  

       But how on earth am I going to get my hands on that much money–either to give to him, or to secure a new apartment?  No bank is going to give me a loan.  I have exactly three family members.  

       My Mom might help if she can.  I’ve never asked her for money before, even for school, so she’ll know that if I’m asking now it’s pretty serious.  The thought of having to ask her is very, very uncomfortable to me, however.  

      I am NOT moving back there.  I will join the goddamned ARMY and go to South Korea or Afghanistan before I go back there.  NOT HAPPENING.  

      See, I’m getting ahead of myself…I need to go.

      One way or another, I’ll find a way to get through this.  Lord knows I’ve gotten through worse.  

       Ugh…anyway, if anyone out there has any suggestions, please feel free to shoot me a comment or an email:  

When the Biz is Good, it’s Very, Very Good

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    I was torn about whether to post this–taking pictures of yourself holding money is tacky, posting them is uber tacky, and telling everyone your plans for the money in the pictures pretty much confirms that you are a member of the lumpenproletariat.   Or that you are making a bad hip hop video.  

     On the other hand, part of this blog is about my adventures in the Biz, and yesterday’s windfall is certainly relevant to that.  My impending retirement is making me introspective.  

      Well, enough editorializing.  Here it is:

Yes, Margo, it actually happened.  

       Yesterday was the single most lucrative day I have ever had at this job.  I made $550 between 3 and 6 PM.  


       I hopped in a cab and went immediately to the bank, where I got the cash off my person as quickly as possible.  Carrying more than about sixty bucks on me makes me nervous.   

       Now I am going to do laundry and pay bills.  It’ll be nice.  

Father’s Day, belated

This song, more or less, says it all.

I still crave a father, but I know that I won’t ever get that.  Just not in my cards.

My analyst once told me: “When you have children, you are going to watch them have the father you never had.  A good father.  That is going to be very difficult and hard for you, Miss Margo.”

Eating with President Obama

Then Senator Obama prepares to eat as he visits the Dooky Chase restaurant in New Orleans, February 7, 2008. REUTERS-Carlos Barria

This slideshow cracked me up:

The Presidential Diet.  President Obama eating things.  

I’m not an Obama fanatic, but I must admit that the man is hugely, hugely CUTE.  When he was elected, I remember considering that he was the only president I could think of who made me want to be his friend.  He seems younger than he is, too.  Personality-wise, I think he is probably younger than me (well, maybe not anymore.  The presidency seems to slap the youth and vigor out of everyone who holds the office.  It’s like it causes them to age three times as fast as everyone else.  I’m fascinated by before-and-after presidential photos).  

4:30 AM…yeah, I have insomnia tonight…. 

Then Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama sips his drink as speaks to a group of woman during a round table discussion in Charleston, South Carolina, January 25, 2008. REUTERS-Joshua Lott
Smoldering Coffee-Drinking Presidential Charisma 
President Obama eats a nectarine following a town hall meeting at Kroger's Supermarket in Bristol, Virginia, July 29, 2009. REUTERS-Pete Souza-The White House
“I hope you already paid for that nectarine, Mr. Obama!”  Kidding.  The President at a grocery store.  For some reason, this really, really weirds me out.  But presumably, he used to go to the store like a normal person all the time.  Can you imagine the president shopping for fish sticks and ripe avocados?  

Day 12 of Work Marathon

Highlights from Yesterday’s Income-Generating Activities:

    I think that if we set up cameras in the employee lounge and locker room at the Studio, we could launch a pretty successful reality TV show.

     I work with a girl named C.  She is hilariously funny and strikes me as slightly unbalanced.  I would never, ever fight with her.  I’d be scared that she would stab my ass.  She looks really feminine and she’s not gay, but she has a weird sort of aggressive, masculine energy.  It’s difficult to explain.  

     Anyway, once she found out that I was a masochist, she started to tease me relentlessly (not in a mean way).  

     “You’re a creep magnet, Redhead!” C said, shotgunning her beer.  Her platinum-blonde hair fanned out from her face and fell in soft waves over her shoulders. “I bet the creeps love you at parties!  Cause you like crazy old men twice your age who beat you up in hotel rooms!”

     I started to squirm and smile uncontrollably on the sofa.  

     “It’s true!  It’s true!” she declared.  “You want them to punch you in the face, huh?”  

      I erupted into insane giggles.  Guilty, guilty as charged!  

      “And what sort of freak owns a parrot, anyhow?” 

        *                        *                        *                       *         
   The ferocious terror-inducing Russian manager, Frau Farbissina, is outside screaming–screaming!–at a girl on the phone.  Nervous looks all around.  

      I cautiously go back to my typing.

      The screaming is punctuated by profanity.  “If you just vant to come here and seet on your ass, you clean out your locker!  You not vork at (Studio!) anymore!”

       As if on cue, all seven women in lounge stood up and started to groom, primp, or tidy up.  

              *                           *                      *                           * 
       Another Mistress, S.L., is a formally trained opera singer.  Her slave asked her to sing while she beat him, so she graciously sang something by Puccini.  You could hear her voice in every room.  It was beautiful.

              *                                 *                       *                     * 
       “I have a surprise to show you, Miss Margo,”  said the man who hired me for half an hour.  “I have a secret.”  

        Uh-oh, I thought.  This could get ugly.  Surprises are par for the course at the Superstudio, but I still don’t like surprises in any part of my life.  Even good ones.  Uncertainty makes me anxious.  

        Nevertheless, I kept the gentle smile on my face.  

       “Oh, really?  What’s that?  Are you going to show me?”  I asked.

        The man was a spectacularly unattractive individual.  Good looks don’t impress me much and it goes without saying that I do not expect clients to be handsome.  They get the same quality of performance from me either way.  I also know that it’s cruel and shallow to discriminate against someone if they are ugly, because it’s out of their control.  

       But I have to tell you: this was an ugly, ugly dude.  Even with all this extra weight I’m carrying now, I am a fairly slender woman. This man was half my size.  He was wearing shorts and his thighs were about as thick around as a roll of cookie dough.  He had almost no hair on his head, but what was there was in long whisps.  He had some sort of skin disorder.  He looked a lot like Gollum in The Lord of the Rings.  He talked like Gollum, too.  

         He grinned up at me.  “I will show you!” 

         He moved his clawed, crusty hands down to his sock and started to pull it off.  

          I steeled myself inside, preparing for—what?  I wondered if maybe he had no toes.  

         When his sock slid off, I almost fell out of my chair.  

         He had perfectly pedicured, beautiful feet with rose-pink toenails and–get this–a delicate golden ankle bracelet.  

        His feet looked better than mine.  He probably had the best-looking feet in the house.  Maybe he works as a foot model.  

        “I get it done at the salon on my block!  The same Korean lady does it each time.  She likes me.  I go at 6 PM when it’s very busy.  I get to sit and look at all these beautiful, stylish women.  They never want to talk to me, but when they see me getting a pedicure, then they talk to me.  We have something in common!  Sometimes they take pictures of my feet with their cell phones.”  

      My heart melted.  Suddenly, he didn’t seem so ugly at all.  

Work Marathon & More Gloating

     My lease is up at the end of July.  I want to renew it, but my landlord is very irritated with me because I’ve been late with the rent for the last four months.  It’s possible that he’ll be disinclined to renew, in which case I am going to have to offer him some sort of incentive, because I simply cannot afford to move right now.  Cannot afford it.  If I get kicked out of here, I might as well pack it in and move back in with Mom.  

     And on that note, I’m about to jump in the shower and go to the first of the day’s two jobs.  This is day 11.  

      Sometimes I really miss having the Surgeon around.  This is one of those times.  I know he was sort of a psycho, but he could also be a good man to know.  When I was with him, I had access to his influence.  He knew how to get what he wanted.  He gave me some good advice; showed me how things work.  

      A few days ago I was feeling very frightened and it occurred to me that I could probably call on him again.  I don’t have anyone I can ask for help right now.  I’m used to being on my own–have been on my own most of my life–but sometimes it gets scary.  Like now.  

       Then I thought: he would be nice to you at first, and then he would punish you

        Been there, done that.  Because I left him two or three times before I actually did it for good, you know. 

        Well, moving on….what else do I have to say that is interesting?  Since I’ve been working so much, I really haven’t been enjoying life very much.  I’ve been thirsty sometimes, but I’ve managed to stay away from the booze.  I haven’t done anything interesting because I haven’t been able to spend any money.  

         Wait, this is sort of funny!  Guess who popped his head out of the ground like a little prairie dog?   Our favorite Margo-rejecting, blowjob-enjoying sadistic Attorney!  Dude called, emailed, and text-messaged me this week!  HA! 

         The text message was first.  I didn’t recognize the number at first, because I erased him from my telephone.  I almost responded to the text with “Hi, who is this?”.  Fortunately, I waited and looked the number up in my records, and saw that it was his.

        I re-entered it into my telephone under the name: “The Pizza Was Fantastic!”  So now, whenever he calls, that is what comes up on the screen.  

       If only I could get a robot voice to say the line, I’d download it as an mp3 file and make it his personal ringtone.  

       Gloat!  Gloat!  Gloat!  Get your immature unladylike gloat on!


PoM Fun FAQ: “Why Do You Call that Place Where You Work ‘The Studio’?”

   I got an email from an anonymous reader who asked, among other things, why I refer to the place where I work as ‘The Studio,’ instead of the commonly accepted–indeed, ubiquitous–name for such an establishment.  

   There are two reasons.  The first reason is that, when I started writing about these places as houses or studios, I was deliberately engaging in a little semantic gymnastics in order to avoid completely incriminating myself in the event this blog was discovered by the people in my other lives.  I was also writing about starving without calling it an eating disorder, and drinking without calling it alcoholism.  Yeah, there was a lot of tap-dancing going on.  Obviously, I knew that anyone with two brain cells to rub together could read between the lines of this blog and understand exactly what I was talking about. The obfuscation was a fig leaf, basically. 

     Besides, one gets used to hiding things your whole life, and it becomes habit. As incredible as it may seem to you, gentle reader, the evolution of this little blog illustrates a tremendous effort to be honest about my life.  

     I still have a lot of work to do where that’s concerned, but I can say that I have made more of an effort–and enjoyed more success–at being a transparent person in the last 12 months than I have in my last fifteen years of life.  And you could probably make it twenty years.  

       The second reason I call it “The Studio” is aesthetic preference.  I defy anyone to tell me that “dungeon” does not sound idiotic and corny (I would also say melodramatic, but melodramatic things do, in fact, happen there).  A dungeon?  Really?  How am I supposed to tell anyone with a straight face–even random strangers on the internet–that I am going to the dungeon?  Do we live in a comic book?  What am I going to do there, bake cookies and plot world domination with Darth Vader, Ming the Merciless, and the evil witch from the Wizard of Oz?  Jesus!

         When I think of a dungeon, this is what always springs to mind:

Your Pharmacist May Hate You presents….

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      Miss Margo note: I did not write the passage below; I am reproducing it because I find it moving and want to discuss it and share it with others.  

      It comes from a blog I like to read called Your Pharmacist May Hate You, authored by an anonymous pharmacist who calls himself “The DrugMonkey, Master of Pharmacy.”  I have no relationship with this person, I just read his blog, where he writes about his job, pharmacy school, his thoughts on the heath care system, his politics, and, every now and then, his personal life.  

      I stumbled upon YPMHY entirely by accident and started reading because I found his rants about his job in a corporate drugstore were really funny.  The rest of it really grew on me.  DrugMonkey has a great self-deprecating sense of humor, and even though his blog tile mentions hating, he’s more morose than hostile.  

      I am a little worried about him.  He is lonely and mentions drinking at night in almost every post.  Boy, I know what that’s like.  He also talks about how he prefers to work on Thanksgiving.  It sucks to be alone on Thanksgiving!  The second year after I moved out here to go to school, I was alone on Thanksgiving (I lied to my Mom and said that I had been invited to a dinner, so that she wouldn’t worry).  In truth, I bought some roast turkey from Whole Foods and washed it down with two bottles of inferior red wine and fell asleep on the sofa.  Good times, hey?  Yeah, that was a nightmare.  

       Anyway, this is a sad post by DrugMonkey, but I like it because I really really identify with it and I suspect just about everyone else can, too.  It is a really human post.  

       I hope DrugMonkey doesn’t mind my posting this.  If you somehow end up reading this and you object, sir, please shoot me a comment or an email alerting me to the fact and I’ll take it down.  Thanks!

                                 *                     *                  *    

It Rained Today.

So because it rained I got out the umbrella. It’d been a long time since I thought about the umbrella.

Never really.

But today I noticed the umbrella looked as tired and as old as I feel some mornings when I leave for work. I noticed the parts that faced up towards the car window and took the beating of the summer sun were faded, which gave the umbrella an unintentional two-tone look. And I thought about the rainy day in Pennsylvania. 

The rainy day in Pennsylvania when I was young and newlywed and honeymooning. Privileged and educated and nearer to the top of society than I’m sure my grandfather who couldn’t write his name ever would have thought a grandson of his would be. Normal. If you would have known me on that rainy day in Pennsylvania in 1994 you most certainly would have thought me normal. 
I might even have been happy. I don’t really remember. Other than going into an outlet store with my new wife and picking out an umbrella that would be big enough for both of us I really don’t remember a lot about that day. The umbrella is a time capsule from another world. I know I was there, but damn if I remember a lot about it. I look at wedding pictures and I wonder who that normal looking guy is in there. 
‘Cause I don’t feel so normal anymore. I haven’t for a long time. It really is a big-ass umbrella though. 
Thanksgiving is the hardest day of the year to not feel normal. That’s why I’ve always worked them. My employer screwed me this year though by closing for the holiday, but that’s not your concern. I’m just writing this to let  you know if you ever see someone doing something weird like sitting around and staring at an umbrella, sometimes that’s the kind of thing that’s going through their mind. 
I should try to get some sleep. Even though the sleep helps less and less, I should try. 


Guest Communication from Margo’s Wireless Internet Router

     Dear Miss Margo: 

     Please pardon this interruption.  We’ve worked together for many months, but still haven’t been formally introduced.  I see you around here all the time, I’ve always admired your taste in wardrobe accessories, and I enjoy listening to Frontline PBS with you from my perch on top of your television set. 

     I am your (NameBrand) Wireless Internet Router!  I am sure that you are familiar with my KSA, given how frequently you rely on me to perform crucial professional and recreational tasks.  I am engineered to provide reliable  wireless coverage in your apartment, fast wireless speed, and security measures to keep hackers and identity thieves from accessing your computer. 

      As the introduction manual included in my packaging says, I am a State-of-the-Art device intended to serve you in any way I can, 110%, for at least–at least!–as long as my warranty stipulates!

     And the pleasure is all mine, Margo!  I take such pride in my work!

      Therefore, I cannot fathom why you are suddenly disconnecting and re-plugging the connection cord on the back of my frame! I’m sure you don’t mean to be insensitive, but it’s quite jarring to be shut down and rebooted several times in an hour.  

      I am here to help you.  I have no idea why your computer(s) cannot connect to the internet, even though they are only a few feet away from me.  Are you certain their modems are not malfunctioning…?  All three of them…?  You’re sure–they can connect via other routers…?  Really?   

      May I suggest that you try fiddling with my antennae, even though you just did five minutes ago?  Because of the way my antennae are designed, it is impossible to know whether or not they are really attached to me and functioning.   Adjust them again and see if that helps!  You see how I like to be helpful.  I take such pride in my work.  

     Margo, I must say, I am disturbed to hear such profanity from you!  You are normally so controlled.  

      I have no idea why your connection to the internet randomly fails while you are trying to e-mail your resume!  I understand your frustration.  I don’t think that the ethernet cable has anything to do with it.  Maybe try turning the power squid off and on…?  

       I hope this misunderstanding does not damage our future relationship.  I urge you to consider all of the good times we’ve had.  We’ve read Jacobin late at night, and I’ve aided you in penning a thousand witty, sarcastic statements in the comments section of various blogs and news articles.  With my help, you have explored the insanity-inducing, labyrinthine corridors of the abysmally-designed website of the US Department of Health and Human Services.  

       I’ve done so much for you, that I can’t understand your animosity towards me.  You know that without me, you can’t do anything, right?  

      Margo, picking me up and shaking me will not solve anything.  And again, that language is completely unnecessary.  

      Why don’t you consult my manufacturer’s website for advice?  Oh…what’s that?  Oh, you can’t get online….

       That dirty look really hurts my feelings, Margo. 

        I don’t know why the green indicator lights blink inconsistently!

      I’m sorry, Margo, but if you keep treating me in this fashion, I will have no other choice than to stop providing you with even sporadic access to the internet.  I am a professional and I refuse to be abused.