The Times They Are A-Changin’; Tales From Up Front


Up FrontSuper Receptionist just got scooped up by another department. I guess that makes her Ex-Super Receptionist or Super Ex-Receptionist. Either way, this is good news for her and for the Receptionist TBA. In the meantime, however, I am holding down the fort and/or holding court Up Front.

I've got  Keaton Heston, Norah Jones and Nick Drake wafting through the speakers and a fully stocked candy jar. For myself, there's an icy Cherry Water in an insulated cup and Maria Balinska's The Bagel: The Surprising History of a Modest Bread on my Kindle.

We're gonna be just fine.



Slightly Less Super Receptionist is IN; Tales from Up Front


Up FrontSuper Receptionist was sniffling yesterday.

Don’t come in here sick tomorrow. I told her, mentally calculating my own sick days and knowing I didn’t have enough to cover catching her cold.

So Super Receptionist is OUT for the day and Slightly Less Super Receptionist is IN.

I am not, by nature, a good receptionist. I tend to get lost in my own head or hyper-focused on the task in front of me.

Tuning out other people and ignoring your surroundings while deep in thought are not desirable qualities for this particular position.

I’m getting better at it though.

No, really.

I don’t know why you don’t believe me.

Mo-Town, Tales from Up Front


Up FrontHow are you?

How am I what?

One of my contact lenses is wonky. I desperately want to claw it out of my eye, but I’m covering for the receptionist Up Front and a clawed-out-eyeball isn’t exactly welcoming to the public.



So now, I’m inadvertently winking a weepy eye at everyone who comes through the doors. It’s already awkward, sitting beneath a sign that proclaims Mo-Town “a safe, active and vibrant city  where people choose to raise a family, grow business and enjoy life.”

Most people snicker at it. Every once in a while, someone snaps a photo and you have to duck behind the monitor so you’re not in the shot that they’re about to send out on Instagram with a snarky caption.

It’s not like I wrote it, man.

In the book, in fact, I called it a dirty little tweaker town, which I sometimes feel bad about.

Not real bad, but, a little.

Growing up, we all wanted to get out of here and most of us did. When J. and I returned, we met people who love it here, who stayed on purpose. We got a peek into the art community and the local music scene. (both quite lovely) We met people who were actively working to make this town a better place. They’re why I feel bad about the dirty little tweaker thing.

I’m not saying I’m gonna get all mushy and embrace the place but I’m working on loathing it less.

Now about this eye …

Cubicle Life


cubicleThis is my cubicle. These are my mandala tapestries and that is my standing desk, which I will not be trading for a sitting desk any time soon ever.

Those are pictures of J. and Mouse and Ashlie, the dogs, the grandson, the glorious godchildren and my friend Tad. Inside the cabinet is a picture of Jill and one of The Mr. and I with Jay & Silent Bob.

This is a safe space away from home. I have few. (my dad’s place in the middle of Nowhere Nevada, a little pub down the street and my friend Susanne’s house in Monterey, ) Six years out of the workforce, shattered by grief, I did not know if I could, if I would make it back.

Next to my monitor is a happy picture of Ashlie and all that pink, scattered around – that’s her too. Like talismans, they protect and ground me. It is okay. You can do this. She is right here. My grief is every shade of pink, woven into ordinary objects and scattered about every space I inhabit. That’s how I get by.

This is not my first cubicle but it is my favorite and I’ve no interest in abandoning it any time soon.


It Ain’t Over Until the Little Lady in Merced Sings



…which should be round about 9:00 a.m. on Friday.

Tomorrow is my own personal Hell Day. Every month for the last four months, I have been ordered to the small trailer office of the corporate VP, to a meeting in which I must account for my accounts. This delightful invitation is only extended to those Office Managers whose Accounts Receivable Aging is over the acceptable limit. In short, those of us who have billed improperly, collected unsuccessfully and/or pissed off every insurance provider from here to Santa Ana.

I like to think, each month, that this will be the last month that I am blessed with an invitation to A/R Review. My boss/trainer/CorporateConsultant assures me that this time is most probably, quite hopefully, awfully likely the very last time at least at this point in time, that I will make the early morning trek to the little trailer where her boss and mine, sits behind a behemoth of a desk, one hand furiously working her Blackberry and the other tapping a pointed pen on the pages before her.

She’s a tiny woman, this VP who terrifies me. Tiny but tough. Damn good at what she does, and in all honestly, mostly fair. She doesn’t like long explanations, hates excuses and despises being lied to. A small wooden plaque behind her desk reads “Put your big girl pants on and deal with it.” That plaque is quite possibly, the only thing, that kept me from curling up last month in a ball on the floor of her office, and weeping like a baby.

this time I am more and less prepared, which is to say that the accounts we dredged through over the last few months are in order and the accounts we didn’t tackle then, are now questionable. Truth is, I can deal with the devil at the door, and each month, that devil changes up on me.

But by tomorrow at 10:00 a.m., the fat lady will have sung and I’ll be fighting my way for highway space headed North…and one way or another, I’ll have survived the interrogation in that tiny little office in that motherfucker of a town and I will be (for at least another twenty-eight days) free.