Friday, September 24, 2004

The cats come back...

All of life’s rich pageant seems to get enacted in our backyard thanks to an ensemble cast of vagrant cats that pad endlessly through the property. At the moment, from the office window, I can see no fewer than three cats…none of which we own.

There’s the long grey stripy one stretched out in a patch of shade. The pale Siamese-ish one sleeping on the rail of the fence. And the brown one with the reddish hindquarters is curled up in an empty planter box.

At the moment, the cast seems to be resting between takes. Earlier this morning however, not a dry eye in the house could be found as the balcony scene from Romero and Juliet took place between a smitten kitten and a big orange Tom with a decidedly dusty air. With elocution worthy of a Victorian preacher, they delivered their lines so piercingly that they drowned out the Latin jazz I had playing on the stereo.

It all takes place out there. Love and death. Alliances and wars. The miracle of birth and the commonplace occurrence of cat poop on the lawn. We’ve had kittens and commandos fighting for supremacy of the most favored spots: under the lounge chair, on top of the fence, in the planter. We’ve had unwelcome midnight serenades that have kept us awake, and indignant mama cats have yelled us at when we’ve dared to water our own yard.

Conversation with our next-door-neighbor has led us to believe these strays are all fed by the neighbor next to them. Neighbors who do not, apparently, believe in spaying or neutering cats. We’ve had at least two and possibly as many as 4 litters of kittens in our yard looking untouchably adorable and causing us much worry. (Two animal lovers who can do nothing to protect little kittens wandering around next to a very busy street…very stressful).

My husband and I would love to have a pet, but we can’t. So until we have our own place, we live with the ironic fact that our yard has the pets we are not allowed to own. And, if nothing else, it keeps things interesting.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Thank you BBC America

Last night after watching the very funny comedy My Family, on BBC America, my husband turned to me and asked “why are the British so much better at television than we are?”

I think it’s because we have too much TV. The British don’t have 147 channels to choose from, so the availability of airtime is limited. I think, therefore, there’s a higher level of quality because in order for a program to fit into one of the few spots on TV, it has to be good.

In America television, like most other things in American culture, quality takes a back seat to quantity. If there are 100 plus networks trying to fill the airwaves 24-hours a day, you’re going to get a lot of crap. After all, the can only show so many reruns of I Dream of Jeannie and Different Strokes. So it seems that any lame idea has its chance at getting on the air, if only to do nothing much than to kill time.

It goes hand-in-hand with that odd assemblage of American society that seems to demand their 15-minutes of fame. Like the instant so-called “celebrities” that are created out of tabloid mini-dramas, bad television arises, captures attention like a fat woman in too-tight neon green Capri pants, and then disappears (one hopes) as quickly as they came.

And so since it’s all about filling time rather than being good, you find that television is crammed with programs featuring celebrities playing poker, talk shows hosted by has beens that you can’t remember, freakishly strong Norwegian men pulling semis with their teeth, and shows that teach you how to redo your bathroom for under $50 and using materials scrounged from garage sale leftovers.

But the English, bless them, still like good acting and intelligent scripts. Oh sure, they have their share of crap too, but even their crap has a brain.

So bravo for BBC America. For My Family, The Office, As Time Goes By, and all those yummy mysteries. And thank you for a job well done.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

I hate IBM

I think most people have an unwritten list in their heads of things they know they do no want to do, try, or eat. For instance, my list includes: I never want to spend time in a Cambodian prison, I never want to meet a Klan member, and I never want to have a bikini wax. Also on my list…I never want to work for IBM.

Once again, Kafka is my personal guardian angel and the company for which I worked was acquired by the very corporation I used to hold up as the example of all that is evil and wrong about huge megapocalyptic companies.

The fact that I lasted an entire year still seems amazing. Now that I am out, I cannot believe I survived that long. Of course, it wasn’t without cost. I was miserable every day for that entire year. The toxic environment (and no, I don’t mean asbestos ceilings and acid water…I mean an atmosphere of stress and conformity) was so bad that I (like others) began to exhibit physical symptoms (migraines, back aches, etc.) I hated the lack of creativity, the endless pointless rules, the constant demands to comply with this standard and conform to that.

IBM is no place for a creative, freethinking, rule-breaker like I. And I’m damned glad to be out.

So here’s some career advice. If you want to stay sane, have fun, be different, and try new things…don’t work for IBM.

Hmm…maybe I have spent time in a Cambodian prison…