About Me

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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

This Isn't a Performance Review, Is It?

If the reader has visited here often, s/he knows I like words. Oh, I fairly consume the morsels, savoring the flavor, masticating them to a new consistency, sieving them through filters of dictionary, thesaurus, synonym, antonym and used-in-a-sentence. I love to take on new (to me) lexeme as my own small badges of personality and I love - love - to engage in wordplay, using phrases that don't seem the right ones to illustrate a point, or taking terms somewhat out of context to infer new meaning. A lot of paper and virtual images cross my desk, some of which please me and some not. I am pretty quick, glancing, digesting, concluding, filing for storage or recycling. My workplace is still new to me in some ways. I don't know all the tricks like "Oh, unplug the laser printer at night or it goes poltergeist." or "That coffeemaker on the left spews water like a pump." "No fooling," thought I as I mopped myself off. So one of the office machines suffered a contretemps and began to regurgitate hundreds of pages of stuff. I clicked on "Cancel", I hit the "End" key, I powered the rascal down by turning it off . . . to no avail. That apparatus was fully intent upon sending forth its spawn and all I could do was clear the output tray for a long time.

I am not one to dawdle. Though I can easily over-agitate, I seek some balance between catatonic and manic. I try to keep busy enough in the head to make life interesting and fun and quirky and droll. As the pages flew, some words and themes began to grab my attention. Originally, I'd deemed this output to be unknowable (by me) computer bullshit - you know - UCBS. But could it possibly be subliminal stimuli, an evaluation of my worth after two weeks of sterling performance? There were some 100,000 words that said absolutely nothing. I was sure of it. But then . . there seemed a suggestion that I am not stacked (true), that I am offensive and commanded to flush. A fairly harsh assessment, likely not deserved. Intentionally null? Oh, I don't think so. I didn't set out purposely to be that. Then came the comment that I needed to clean up my features (which it seemed I was able to begin and end) and was intentionally blank! The coup de grace, however, was that I have no installed memory. What the . . ? David walked by. He takes the temperature of a room by looking at my face. He says he never has to ask me how things are going and we must never enter me in a poker game. "What's wrong?" "Oh, nothing. Just a funky machine. It's been a couple of weeks now, David. Am I doing OK enough?" Big grins all around. All right, I can go back to my work now.

So, I love me some Mike. Mr. Mickey Man has introduced me to more new (to me) music than anyone else I can think of. And he pays attention to what the other music lover enjoys. If I'm not mistaken, his e-mail said nothing. Simply a link. Oh! Oh, my! New. New Lu.

The imagery, tempo and tone put me in mind of her 2003 tune, Ventura, which is important music to me.
Look, folks, I get it. You like her or you don't like her. That's OK. It takes all kinds to make a world. What I love among so many other things: she puts her age/generation right out there: " . .I'm 57 but I could be 7 years old . ."

Something bad happened to me this week. Another human being behaved really badly and sent terribly disturbing bad thoughts careening in my direction through the mist. I didn't deserve bad treatment, though I got it. I was supported by women friends, fellow AAs and I got through without drinking.

More, more to tell. I have a writing deadline of 9-11. For on THE 9-11 ('01 ~ it's been nearly 10 years) my tiny, personal world changed. And I'm trying to tiptoe up to writing about it. I am both compelled and hesitant. A terrible dilemma.

And, p.s.: some of the photos of Lucinda show an eroded chick a la Grace Slick in her dotage. Other, carefully artistic Lu - man! Could I be as glorious as that?

Signing off, a jumbly Leslie Morgan . . appreciated today (by others who expressed themselves in different ways) sufficiently to make me willing to try on tomorrow as another day . . .

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Advent of Atticus

What an odd day. A fairly intense earthquake rattled the eastern part of the U.S., which is unusual. Hell for hot in Las Vegas which isn't unusual in August, but is still hell for hot. To the right below is a truly bad picture of one corner of one of my monitors. Oh, you get in between all the stuff through which I had to maneuver, and produce a grand photo. This is simply for illustrative purposes. You can just about make out that you're seeing WeatherBug. In the red strip across the top, it reads "Alert". The alert is for excessive heat. Ambient air temperature 107 at about 3:30 p.m., though when I got into the car, the sensor was reading 118-degrees down on the blacktop. I display the Microsoft jellyfish on my desktop, though it looks more like flames in my poor photo. I thought that was appropriate, given the temperatures.  "Leslie, is that a jellyfish?" I said that it is. "Is it pooping?" I said I didn't believe so and that I thought that was just part of its body streaming along behind. "I wouldn't want to be the nature photographer who has to follow behind wildlife to take pictures of them pooping." I said it might be time to return to one's own desk and leave me alone to contemplate other things.

I had an itch - a yen - to make art and it couldn't be Asian in theme, because that's virtually all I've done since I very recently found ways to express myself again. I used a purchased large black initial "L" that I embellished with sand dollars, two fountain pen nibs, faux versions of the Penny Red Brown stamp that sells for many thousands of dollars each, a London postmark, a European house address number in metal, a glass stone, and paper images of a postcard and old sheet music. Art. I made it for me, the newly anointed Stamp Girl. Not sure what the two shiny, scuzzy looking marks are about. They don't appear in real time. And speaking again of shitty photography, this one is going to show more of my efforts if one clicks on the picture and gets the larger version.

My friend and I made a pilgrimage to Hobby Lobby. We'd printed the coupons, bought the Starbucks just before going in, wore comfortable shoes, carried pads and pens so we could scribble ideas. Hey, we know how to do this. We share or go halves on some art supplies, but playing the coupon game forces us to check out singly, each applying her coupon to the most expensive item in her basket. Our mothers didn't raise any fools. We already agreed we'd spend a long time there, each going her own way and then meet in the middle to ask "Did you see . . .?" or "Do you want to go in on this?" I came around the end of one aisle, having found some wonderful items marked 50% off. That's when I saw him. My blue eyes met his very dark ones and I looked away, trying not to appear too interested. I don't know if he was onto my game. I gave another sidelong glance and decided I'd sashay right past him like I was unaware of his presence. My decision didn't hold. I stopped right in front of him. To my surprise, I reached out my hand and touched him, only moments after first laying eyes upon him. I am compelled to confess I took that fella home with me to stay. I've wanted a male like him for a very long time and he seemed the perfect one, from his size to his sweet face. I made him my own.

This is Atticus, my new guy. Yes, that is the reason I named him Atticus. I don't know very many other Atticus references from which I would have drawn. He makes me smile from ear to ear. He reminds me of Amber's sock monkey, Martika, whom I bought for her at a street fair when the child was still riding in a stroller. Martika was my girl's good friend for years and we changed her up a little as Amber grew older and more fanciful. I made dresses for Martika, sewed on long, fluttery eyelashes, beaded a bracelet right onto her arm and occasionally exchanged her eyes for a new pair. We made up songs about Martika, and that sock monkey became one of the family, essentially a lovable relation who could be tossed into the washer and dryer when she got grungy. She wasn't ideally suited to going into the bath with Amber, but nobody is without shortcomings. Martika was right there beside us in good times and bad. She went into bed with a little girl who was sometimes happy and sometimes sad, scared from time to time, excited upon occasion. Once, on the night before I had a surgery, I'd invited Amber for a sleepover in my bed with me. We were scared about the surgery and both of us cried and held hands during the night. Martika was there, too. Remembering that simian sister makes me smile and feel a little tender around the edges. I hope, if she no longer goes into bed with Amber, that she at least has some protected spot in a closet, and hasn't been thrown out or lost across the years. If Atticus brings me half the joy I think he will, then I will long consider myself a golden child upon whom have been showered many wonderful gifts.

I'm at university to take a degree in juggling. After a year of reduced activity and reduced life, I'm on a fast track. If I hit warp speed, I will harm myself. I need and want to work, keep working my AA program, write, make art, read . . . and it's not all fitting with the frequency I'd like. I'm painfully aware of which of those things must take priority, whether it makes me happy or not. So ~ ~ every day another lesson or ten. Do not read this as depressed, down or anything negative. It is only "new". Something to be learned. I'm a good learner.

In my ears right now:  Yep, I like it in its original form, as well.
Farewell, 58. Contained within you were the worst and some of the best days of my life so far.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

My NEXT Great Idea ~ Let's Play a Word Game, Guys!

Remember me, the kid who greeted other kids not with "Hi", but with "I've got an idea"? So I'm feeling just a tiny bit frustrated these days. Oh, I'll survive it and it's not going to be my excuse to pick up a drink, but I feel it a little. I get up really early to get ready for work. I work nonstop for several hours, jump up, navigate the streets of the city (ugh), pick up Jennifer, go to the library or wherever we've decided we'll pop into for the day, go to AA to fill my reserve tank, sometimes have to stop at Fresh & Easy or get my hair cut or whatever . . there isn't much time left in a day. I am pent up with words and ideas I want to get onto the blog and have not yet figured out how to make time to accomplish. But that's not exactly what this post is for.

I hold my sweet-natured little she-car - Lucy Sue - in similar esteem to that in which I hold my sweet-natured little she-cat, Virginia Woolf. Both of these girls have belonged to me only, not shared custody with anyone else. They rely upon me for their needs and I've managed to meet them, apparently, because both seem in good condition. When I stopped drinking and my life started to flow down the drain, Lucy Sue did what many alcoholics attempt unsuccessfully. She cut back on her drinking. For most of a year, I put in $10 of gas and it lasted a month. I wasn't going much of anywhere. Yes, I noticed all the signs on the gas stations. I knew gas prices were obscene. But I wasn't doing higher math. $10 is just $10. "How much will it cost to fill up my 12-gallon tank?" is another matter altogether. So I pulled in Wednesday, slid my card, used my preferred customer discount and started the pump. Man, it costs a lot to fill a tiny tank with fuel! Who knew? And - I swear this is true - I heard an audible reaction from Lucy Sue. She either groaned or emitted a little paroxysm of sated delight. She'd not felt so well-endowed in a long time. But that's not exactly what this post is for, either.

I love final resting places. Anyone's final resting place. Whether it's catacomb or crypt, graveyard or Golgotha, mausoleum or memorial park, I take great pleasure in communing with the departed. No, I'm not morbid. I don't want to imagine anything unpleasant. I simply want to weave through the rows, reading headstones and memorial plaques, imagining the people and their lives and those who cared about them. I've spent hours in the desert observing tiny ersatz funerary grounds and have been profoundly moved by what I saw there. I've slithered on my belly like a snake in pyramids both in Egypt and Mexico, viewed vast green  plots with the white markers for fallen soldiers in several places in the world, and - oh, the promised land - St. Paul's Cathedral in London. Beneath the beautiful structure consecrated in 1708, sitting
  there atop Ludgate Hill, the fifth structure known as St. Paul's is a place of great beauty, the tallest building in all of London until 1962, and possessing one of the world's largest domes, still. The stained glass is breathtaking and the American Memorial Chapel touching - remember, the Brits eventually became pretty affectionate toward us Yanks. St. Paul's fills me up with holiness, and I am not speaking of religion, as I don't do religion. At all. A person would have to be soulless, however, not to find something to love at St. Paul's.

After an awe-inspiring look around, almost always accompanied by profound silence from nearly every visitor, one descends to the crypt. Oh, here lie Lord Nelson, cheek by jowl with the Duke of Wellington and Lawrence of Arabia. There are the painters, Van Dyck and Sir Joshua Reynolds, poet laureate Nahum Tate (died 1715) . . my mind goes a mile a minute. The best memorial, however, houses
Sir Christopher Wren who designed the fifth St. Paul's, most of the prior structures having been consumed by fires dating as far back as the year 936. Wren's monument is unassuming dark marble, words inscribed: "Lector, si monumentum requiris circumspice". "Reader, if you seek his monument, look around you." I have never visited his resting place that his grave was not covered in fresh roses or daffodils, laid across the marble, bright punctuation on the deep-toned marble. Cathedral workers remove the floral overflow hourly. And all of that is sort of what this post is for.

Now, let's play the game. Imagine you have left the building, never to return. Those who loved you wish to construct a fitting commemorative tribute to the wonderful person who was you. What will it say? What will it look like? You are restricted to a headline of your choice (like I've used "Here lies Les" below) and 10 words to tell about your essence. Here is mine. Long may I lie in peace.

In my ears right now: Otis. If you don't love Otis, then I feel sorry for you.

Special thanks to esteemed Word Woman, Rachel Fenton, who recently applied the words "quirky" and "droll" to me. I can't claim those as my own brilliance.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Stamp Out . . Never Mind. Don't Stamp Out Anything, Please. Who Am I to Suggest What Should Be Stamped Out?

What I once needed to know about.
 I learned it well.
David's brilliant and he knew when he hired me in 2007 that he wanted to get me well-established in the office and then send me to carpet cleaning school. I was neither eager nor resistant. It was just on the to-do list. When the time came, I went to university and was immediately intrigued. I found I did know a little about the subject since I'd worked  with textiles a lot in life and I am of the era when females were required to take home economics in school. Oh, we not only made pillow cases and ruffled aprons, we learned all bout the process of milling the fabric from cotton, warp, woof, weave and more. We were well rounded girls. In my carpet course, I was the only female, so I got extra attention from the instructor: read this "tutoring/mentoring", not "arranging a date". Man, I can talk warp, woof, fourth generation nylon and the synthetics made mostly from recycled plastic bottles (hell for carpet cleaners - plastic doesn't clean as easily as natural fibers). When it came time to take the test, I was hooked - a carpet cleaning nerd - and took a notion to ace the test. David and I later laughed: when he noticed it was time for the test to begin, he thought, "She's going to try to ace it." We knew each other that well 3 months after meeting one another. I didn't ace the test. I got 96% or 97%, an achievement I held over the heads of the actual carpet technicians for years when they got cocky with me. Knowing about carpets and cleaning them was good for me. I could talk to customers so brilliantly, I'm sure their eyes glazed. I could take fine woolen rugs from walk-in customers and dazzle them with my superior grasp of the care and feeding of their valuable asset. The one time I attempted a few swipes across some carpet with "the wand", I learned what separated the men from the woman, but I still knew my stuff, intellectually. David called that one beautifully. Make certain the person on the phone knows something. My certification expired last month. I didn't renew it because that wasn't part of my life any longer.

What I need to know about now.
I'm learning at warp speed.
Generally speaking, my immediate new task is to bring one narrow finger of David's and George's successful business empire into the 21st century. Oh, this slim portion of the enterprise has been quite promising for years, but it operates on the "write in pen on copied forms kept in 3-ring binders" model. Oh, and "don't forget this - write it down somewhere". So things have been written on scraps of paper and kept in perpetuity. Important things. Things that should not be entrusted to paper scraps, perhaps. Once more, it's my role first to make this business run like a modern-day operation. No. David wants more than that. David wants this machine to run like a world-class business. After all, it's highly successful and we're looking to g-r-o-w. Quickly and exponentially. That means I need to know a little something about what it is we do. What we do here is locate collectibles and sell them to collectors/investors. The primary focus is on valuable postage stamps. There is a 75-80 year demonstrable history of this investment losing virtually no ground,
The Inverted Jenny
 ever. Oh, yeah, their value grows about as quickly as watching grass propagate on delayed-action film . But they don't lose and they do increase in worth. I knew how to spell philatelic, pronounce it and understand its meaning. That was about it. In the first week, I learned some things: the first postage stamp was a product of the British Post Office in 1840. In quick succession, the Penny Black, Penny Blue and Penny Other Colors appeared, and their cost today may startle the reader. I learned inside 5 days the difference between the Blue, the Black, the Red, the Brown, and not by looking at their color. I know some of the provenance and urban legend and the reasons these items are more valuable than the better-known Inverted Jenny with the biplane accidentally printed upside down. I still have everything in the world to learn, but here's something else I deduced in just a few days: my crash into alcoholic hell didn't wash away all my brain cells. I can still learn. And fast.

Stamp Girl - my newest, 
temporary (?) alter ego. 
Long may she stamp!
True story. Summer of 2007 when A1 Carpet Care still shared digs with David's and George's other interests. Though we'd known each other only a month or two, David already knew I was drawn to vintage, venerable things, paper ephemera, history and romantic notions. "Would you like to see something wonderful?" Sure I would! Who doesn't want to see something wonderful? He held it out in a pair of tweezers and began to speak. " . . British, 1861 . ." Well, I am a human being. I did what I am hardwired to do. Yep. Reached out my hand and took that stamp between my fingertips. Very bad form. The realization hadn't hit me yet when he began to tell me all the reasons why we didn't handle them barehanded. He never raised his voice, flinched or used colorful language. I didn't damage the stamp. I learned something. It must be noted, I also "shop" with my hands. I buy nothing I haven't touched. If my hands are soiled or if I damage the goods in some way, I'll remedy that, but I "see" with my paws. But no longer with stamps. I've now handled a few. I  have tweezers and white nylon gloves and archival paper sleeves and . . . hey, you live, you learn. Given my degree of efficiency and the speed at which I take on life, we're lucky I didn't affix that stamp to an envelope and await dictation of the recipient's address!

George, David and I met for awhile each of the 5 days of the first week. Mostly, I brought an agenda, a list, questions, suggestions. Mostly they made decisions and heard my arguments in favor of this or against that. Ultimately, they asked me to lose every shred of hesitation, to move forward fast in combat boots and to ask forgiveness later (if needed), which they would grant. Apropos of not very much, the one who knows me best brought it up. I didn't mention it and hadn't really thought of it. "She hates 'secretary'. I don't want anyone to call her 'secretary'." And I do, too. It's the word and perception mostly. I am helpful and accommodating to anyone who comes my way in business, but if one calls me anything other than "Les", I'm touchy about what appellation is chosen. George looked startled. "Why would anyone call her that? That's not what she does here." David and I began the chorus: "only female among men, pleasant to everyone, greeter, sits near the front of the business." OK. George got it. "Well, we'll get business cards and a name plate. What are we going to call her?" Ah ~ a business meeting with time spent on weighing words . . my idea of heaven. I suggested "queen". They laughed, but did not agree. We settled on "manager". I am the manager of the business. I like that one!

A quote that pleased me: "The philatelist will tell you that stamps are educational, that they are valuable, that they are beautiful. This is only part of the truth. My notation is that the collection is a hedge, a comfort, a shelter into which the sorely beset mind can withdraw. It is orderly, it grows towards completion, it is something that can't be taken away from us." - Clifton Fadiman in Any Number Can Play.

To my surprise: No one - no one - commented on the picture of me in the previous post shooting a gun in the desert, Diet Dr. Pepper at the ready, tattered bullseye targets at the table. That would be a sight calling for the quick and firm application of brakes, folks!

Something that charmed me to tears: Justin returned to work upstairs as a carpet cleaner. He'd been banished much longer than a year. Justin doesn't ask permission for hugging. Justin hears the news, comes downstairs looking for me and says (arms extended), "Hey, Girl, come here." I did. He did. "What's new, honey?" "Same old, same old, Les." "Not me, Dude. Everything is new and wonderful!" "OK, Les.  Me, too!" Good! Now, go earn money!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

What the Hell?

That was hilarious! I 
laughed my ass off.
I can donkey laugh for a week about some insignificant thing I've seen in the streets. I tire my friends with the retelling and nearly wet my pants howling. Can't help it. I have a well-developed sense of humor that has long been called upon when maybe other coping skills would have been more appropriate and healthy. For many years, if certain subjects were to be discussed, Ex and I could not be seated in the same room, or at least had to refrain from eye contact, for fear we'd disrupt some proceedings. I make up stories in my head about stuff I see, too. Oh, please. I'm seeing a therapist. I take meds and avidly participate in a 12-step program. Some things are simply part of the fabric. These characteristics don't necessarily make me an ass.

Oink, oink! Baaaa! How ya doin'?
Now that I'm back to work, I get out in the world a little, driving through several distinctly different neighborhoods, past the convention center, over the Strip, through Chinatown, into the central part of the city which was the extreme west when I came here in 1976. I go right past the first home Ex and I owned, Mom's house next door, my aunt's home on the corner. They look a little shopworn now. Does the reader know some seemingly nice, regular people come to Las Vegas and behave stupidly, right out in the streets.? Believe it! At 6:30 a.m., traffic is light enough that I can safely rubberneck a little . . . I wonder if others wonder about the small woman in the nondescript automobile, shoulders shaking, eyes streaming, howling. So - it's a regular house on a regular street, no evidence that any type of business is conducted in the home. It's not a house converted for office use. What the hell, then, is with the MU? It's professionally painted, right onto the well-maintained garage door. I walked up there and ran my hands across it. The kids didn't simply smack up some vinyl letters while learning the alphabet. So, thought I, "Moron University, home of the mighty Mechanized Unicorns? Mayberry Union High (without the High)? In Memory of U?" Or could it possibly simply mean "moo"? What's your take on it? And sometime, when I regain a bit more self-confidence, I'm going to go up to the door, knock and ask.

Wish I'd known the end
was that near when I was
plummeting toward my
alcoholic "bottom".
Blogging, 'tend and real friend CramCake sent me a forward, something she does rarely. I suspect that for her, as for me, too many puppies, kittens, Disney characters and saccharine are not appreciated, but once in awhile comes a forward with just enough sauce or spice. So with thanks, and a tip of the hat, I'll incorporate a few of her forwarded smarty images with what I see in the mean streets. [Click on images for the full flavor!]

Oh, yeah. For sure. Woman driving alone, and all. Ex made me promise in the 1970s not to pick up hitchhikers any more. People were getting so weird. On the other hand, if a man has paid his debt to society and simply needs a ride to distance himself from the hated bastille . . . maybe I could just take him up to the next stop sign, let him out and he could hitch a ride with someone else . . . And if he gives me any grief, I know how to protect myself, because I practice. This is the wild west, one knows.

Hmmmm . . just thinking out loud here. So if I don't read the sign about the dry paint,are my person or my clothing in any peril of being smudged?

Lucy Sue's dash tells
it all. Proof I was at
a standstill when I took
the snapshot!
Does this chicken
make my butt
look huge?
All right, this voyage to silliness is nearing its end. One can see it's very hot in the mean streets. I've seen some great stuff, but now it's time to go ponder all of it (and my navel and the meaning of life as well). I heard a place nearby is giving away free food samples. I'm hungry. Maybe I'll go check it out. Is there any such thing as a free lunch?

In my ears right now: Buttercup. Just say her name - Lucinda Williams - and I will say "firm favorite". She's done little that I don't care for. Care for in a big way. Except for those couple of hip-hop influenced things, I'm crazy for her, and I salute her fierce willingness to try her hand at the hip-hop deal. It's been a long time since I heard anything new(ish) from her, and Buttercup pleases me. Do not expect a sweet flowery song. That's not Lucinda. I like that she writes her own (sometimes very hard) words and plays her own music. I like that she looks her (our) age. And good luck findin' your buttercup.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Readjusting to the Good (Work) Life

Mornin', Junior!
How you doin', boy?
Give 'em hell, Champ!
What? What? What do you mean that's a weird collection of stuff? I've always written about what a funny, quirky place it is, world class technology utilized and excellent work product emitted from simple business systems that work because we work at them until they do work. Oh, yeah, if an uninitiated person looks around in a discerning way, he or she might be startled by some of the sights. But not me. I am now surrounded by $1 gwillion worth of Steve Kaufman art and I'm not complaining. From the Earnhardt, Jr. that I pass on the way to disarm the security system to the Ali who stares straight at me from across the lobby, fists at the ready, I'm in a slightly different world here. I'd like the readership to meet My Dog, a large, quiet plastic fellow who guards those telephone directories diligently, despite the apparent Exacto knife attack to his mouth. You should see what people toss into that aperture! "Is that an ashtray?" Uh, no. That's My Dog. I've been thinking of maybe taking My Dog home on a weekend, put him in the backseat of my car, perhaps. Give him a little ride in the sunshine.

I have a brief spell of solitude after I arrive and before the troops arrive. I make coffee, check emails and voicemail, perform all the wake-up tasks to be completed before others demand my attention. On my second day, the door chime told me someone had come in. Boy, howdy! My home dudes - those carpet cleaning chuckleheads I love! "Hey, Les, can I hug you?" Well, yeah. It was surreal to see them march in, route sheets in hand, forms to report for the day that I had created so long ago and that were still in use. As my new troops arrived, they were startled to see so many men hanging in the lobby. "How are you, Les?" "Sober, homes, and happy to be here." "How's the car running, Les?" Ah! The subject of the ages. My car, Lucy Sue, who still has not crossed 24,000 miles and who has never had a true mechanical issue, is a magnet for crazy maladies. Cesar and the other homes have saved my bacon many a time, and last summer got me ready for a road trip feeling confident about the car. "Well, homes, it's unanimous. All four window motors have gone out. Her windows are all at different heights. It's hell for hot when I'm driving." Silence for only a moment. "Got any suction cups, Les?" I did. I'd bought them and brought them purposely on my first day back at work. And suddenly, before my eyes (well, out the window), there were home dudes scrambling like squirrels in, out, over and around my car. And I liked that. Later in the day I told David my guys had come en masse to see me. "I knew they would," he said. Then he told me he'd rehired Justin - Justin who had problems, too, and who was fired long before I crashed into the mountainside. "He's done some growing up. He's worth giving another chance." Amen.

 The heat is on ~ ~ I grew up in the LA and Salt Lake City areas. My dad read the LA Times and the Salt Lake Tribune. There were choices about one's newspapers in those cities, and those were Dad's choices. I don't know if these were or are world class publications, but I suspect they pretty accurately reported the news, with their individual political and social agendas being worked. When I first came to Las Vegas in 1976 as a 23-year-old, I laughed out loud at The Review-Journal, still the only game in town. This publication (then and now) has to dedicate a fair portion of print space each day to correcting (not retracting) yesterday's and last week's and last month's errors in reporting. The local newscasts aren't far different. It's tough to get reliable news here.

Each morning I listen (only listen, because I can't stop to watch) a local newscast while I get ready for work. This is a carry-forward habit across several years. I love the meteorologist, Sherry, who tends to get things really, really right. I suspect she does her own research and script writing. The anchors please me less, a 20-something, obviously educated, but needs-to-be-spanked woman and a way, way too conservative (for me) man in his 40s. It seems clear they use prepared scripting, and they often stumble during the delivery. I frequently snicker as I blow-dry, thinking I'd have used the word "fewer" instead of "less", "many" in place of "much" or that at least I know how to pronounce a word that flummoxed those in the spotlight.

So Sherry announced that we're very hot and dry, though cooler than normal, and the monsoon is being held down in Arizona until perhaps this Sunday when we may get showers. She was right, too! I've got proof. I leave home at 6:30 a.m. and it's 80-85 degrees. By noontime, it's in the high 90s and we peaked at about 106, guaranteeing at least 104 for the afternoon commute. Girl can predict the weather! The sensor in my car has shown 119 a few times, but it's down at the blacktop, not measuring ambient air temperature. It's indescribable getting into the car after it's been sitting for hours. Yes, the heat is on.

At 4:00 a.m., a semi-truck/trailer crashed and burst into flames on the busiest southwest/northeast interstate artery through Las Vegas. Burning diesel followed by the necessary inspection of the integrity of the burned asphalt promised hours of gridlock. It turned out to be 11 hours. What caught my attention was that three people were reporting on this breaking news, an on-the-scene reporter and two in the studio. On the third regurgitation, I realized they were alternately reporting 9,100 and 91,000 gallons of combustible to burn. I glanced at the TV. Yep, they were distressed. Their eyes were widening like panicked dogs as they took turns tossing out the number which, apparently, no one could nail down for certain. There's a slight difference between 9,100 and 91,000 gallons of burning fuel. I mean, I"m neither mathematician nor grand abstract thinker, but if the larger number was correct, wouldn't the burn be larger and/or longer by about ten times? Just sayin'. Was I going to be quizzed on the precise numbers? Certainly not. It was their transparent discomfort that got me hooting. Why not just say "a tractor-trailer with a full payload"? Thursday morning, it was reported that the freeway surface was damaged by the fire and had to be repaired before traffic could be allowed. They reported that "thousands of gallons of diesel fuel" burned. No number attached. It must have been hellish in that area during the conflagration. The heat is on.

My office is kept at a temperature appropriate to hanging freshly slaughtered meat. I have no illusions of growing visibly older in there. No, I'll just be preserved as I am today. The men strut around, "Man, it's pleasant in here," while my teeth chatter and my hands tremble. I took in the SOS (Shitty Office Sweater) and am using it ~ funny, while it's triple digits outdoors ~ contemplating the use of gloves for use while typing. Esteemed blogger CramCake crocheted a delightful little pair of demi-gloves I might be able to well use if I could replicate them. Thursday the A/C system went out on one side of the building. The men began to wilt. The telemarketers slowed to a stop, silence engulfing the normally noisy rooms. Someone said, "Les, you're pretty perky this afternoon." "Yes, Sir, first time I've been restored to normal human body temperature in a week." "Where's your SOS?" "Don't need it this afternoon." The heat is on.

For illustrative purposes only. This is not actually me modeling my SOS.

In my ears right now: Here's a heat wave worth hearing, even if it takes an extra step or two to get there. My woman, Joan Osborne.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again

The harbingers are positive. A text message that landed long after I was asleep the night before my return to work: "Drink plenty of water. Get up and walk around your desk a few times. Love, Me" I texted back: "<3 <3" Early morning email in my ear - hey, the alert tone had to be on, I needed to get up in a couple of hours!

-- On Mon, 8/8/11, Johnny   wrote:
From: Johnny
To: limesnow57@yahoo.com
Date: Monday, August 8, 2011, 3:31 AM

good luck and have a great first day at work    

He's a taxi driver delivering fares to the finest gentlemens' clubs in the valley. 3:31 a.m. is the middle of his workday. What counts is that he processed, first, that I'm going to work and, second, that this could be difficult for me. "Remember, if you need me, I'm off all day and I'll have the cell phone with me." I remembered that. I got up, roasted about 40 harvests worth of fresh vegetables I didn't take care of Sunday night, ground extra coffee beans and found the early morning newscast on TV that I used to enjoy. The veggies will feed me several meals, the extra beans will ensure that no Folger's passes my lips, and half-listening to the news will make me later appear less like I just left a sanatorium for a rest-cure of a year. I hope. My favorite woman weathercaster is still on and making me grin. Las Vegas is wimpy this year. We've had not one day in excess of 112-degrees officially, and what the heezy is the matter with us for that?

More emails and text messages landed: "I'm thinking about you!" "Knock 'em dead." I felt truly supported and grateful.

Things I forgot :
  1. Some intersections in our city require more than 4 minutes to cross.
  2. When one needs gas in the car, she needs to add 5-7 minutes to the trip.
  3. A commute of twice the distance in the dead-opposite direction is going to take some getting used to.
  4. The black cat will have curled up on the light clothes, the white cat on the dark ones. How do they do that when one only steps away for a moment?
  5. The red cowgirl boots are the cutest, but highly impractical for a first day that includes moving stuff around the work area.
  6. "The weekend" means Saturday and Sunday, free days, sandwiched between workdays. People do fun things on the weekends.
Distressed in the car on the way, I thought about other women who are doing brave things, and, after all, I'm simply returning somewhere familiar to work - what I do! Work. I was not (and will not be, in the future) competing in a triathlon like CramCake and her friend. I will not steal her thunder about her performance - one must watch my sidebar for her post. Unlike intrepid blog friend Doozyanner (who is already posting about her adventures), I was not about to hie myself off to teach in Abu-freaking-Dhabi, all by myself at a mature age. I was just going to work. So what the . . it hit me as I made my last major turn. I've been there before and highly regarded. I let down myself and many, many others when I crashed and burned a year ago. Badly. I'd need to do much better this time, and I felt a little pressure. Deep breath . . .

I may not be Rolling Stone, but I have my list of the 500 top hits of all time. I hadn't heard some of them in awhile and they sounded damned sweet . .
  • Here are all your keys. Give me 4 digits you'd like to have for your access code. Easy!
  • If you'll give me 10 minutes, your new computer and software are here. Love me some Windows 7 and Office 2010!
  • Would you like 2 monitors or 3? Oh, difficult choices!
  • Don't worry about how it's been done here before. Start popping ideas. OK, let me warm up.
  • We need you to fix about 25 Excel formulas everyone messed up. I'm the girl who counts on her fingers and toes and sometimes learns new software applications by using sticky notes and many tears, but in this world I am the champ at this task.
  • Give me a list of everything you'd like in office and break room supplies. He laughed at me when I asked for binder clips and liquid creamer with no fat or sugar.
  • Check this letter. We're pitching Maria Sharapova's people. [Yes, the Russian tennis pro.] Can you kick it up a notch? That's what I do!

I was asked how it is going. My first response has been "at warp speed". I'm tired, but not crazed. I'm working hard to balance everything I need to do. Four years ago when I went to work for David, I noted it was the first job I ever took where I caught on to things just one beat slower than I once might have. Oh, once I grasped something, it was mine! But it didn't come as easily as once it would have. I am four years older now, with a year of acute and chronic illness behind me. Once again, I'm working in a field about which I have no previous knowledge. But I'm pretty quick. I feel appreciated ~ maybe even impressive! To myself, too. David shoots downstairs from the carpet company to my office a few times a day (or e-mails) "Can you . . ?" Yes! "Remember how we . . ?" I remember! "Can you replicate that?" Without a doubt! [Note to self: HOW?]

Top tune on my top 500: It isn't really a tune at all. Or a statement. It is a lack of that. It is a business meeting of three where never once were uttered the words, "We don't want you to . . .". There would have been plenty of good reason for that. After all . . . well. But the word "don't" never came up. "Do" was much repeated. "Do what you do. That's why we want you." OK, then. I know what to do.

In my ears right now:

Monday, August 8, 2011

He Was a Friend of Mine

Rudy in his role in Casino, 1995.
Today I went to my first day back at work. I steeled myself not to look for his familiar car in the parking lot. It wasn't going to be there. Since he died a month ago, all the hard, public sobbing had already been exhausted. His friend, George, now one of the men I work for and who is mentioned in the obituary below, seemed a little quiet to me. A little empty. David and I had already shared our pain on the telephone. Care had been taken to ensure I would not feel like I was following behind anyone in anyway. That was very generous and I appreciated it. "Do this the way you do it, Leslie. It doesn't matter how it was done before. We want what you bring."

The graceful spirit of Rudy attracted my attention subtly in the place so familiar to me. Here and there, I found notes in his distinctive hand. I could imagine him writing down the dinner orders of his favorite customers. There were some crib sheets in the files, notes to himself how to execute certain operations on the computer. But it was the notes about the damned chicken that reminded me I don't have the same grace that Rudy had. George caters lunch on Fridays for quite a large group of workers, with enough for most to take home leftovers. Sometimes lunch consists of mountains of pizza or pounds of Memphis barbecue. I've seen shovels full of Panda Express served, Rudy having taken my personal request privately and serving it on a real (not paper or styrofoam) plate. But - oh - the chicken lunch. You see, I can maybe come close some Friday if I design the lunch to be chicken. Because Rudy left a trail. I know where to call to place the order. 75 pieces, no wings. Potato and macaroni salad. OK, I can replicate that. The napkins won't be as nicely set out and I'm kind of lax about making sure to get those salads into glass bowls rather than the catering dishes. But I can bring in the same chicken and try to lend some semblance of fellowship shared over a meal. And I can try to be as good to other human beings as was Rudy.

I can see some emails and blog post comments coming in - very kindly - asking about my first day back at work. It was wonderful, exhausting, poignant. I'm already writing about it. But this one will first stand alone in Rudy's memory. "Les, you look good!" I thank my readers for their indulgence.

~ ~ ~

Rudy Guerrero 


icon Rudy Guerrero, devoted husband and father and a true Las Vegas legend in his own right, died July 7, 2011. He was 80. He held the title of Maitred'Hotel at The Riviera Hotel and Casino showroom for nearly 40 years before retiring. He was born in Los Angeles, Sept. 9, 1930, to Jenny and Pablo Guerrero. He was one of four children. His father was a chef and head waiter at the famous Ambassador Hotel (where Bobby Kennedy was assassinated). This would later influence Rudy's career choice. As a young man, Rudy served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He served in the First Calvary, F-Troop and received commendations for his services overseas and in combat. This was something he was very proud of. He was a true American patriot. In 1949, he went to work at the Ambassador Hotel under the tutelage of his father where Rudy worked his way from bus boy to captain of the showroom. Soon after, he met and married a beautiful Greek lady from Detroit, Lyn. They had two sons, Nick and Ricky. In 1956, he moved his young family to Las Vegas where he eventually landed a position at the Riviera Hotel and Casino and worked his way up to the maitre'd of the main showroom. He worked during the Riviera's hay day with such notables as Don Rickles, Shecky Greene, Tony Orlando and Liza Minelli, serving nearly 40 years until retiring in 1994. Being that the Guerrero family is no stranger to show business. Rudy landed a role in the movie "Casino" opposite Robert Deniro and Sharon Stone. His son, Nick, became an accomplished musician forming his own band and his niece, Evelyn, became an actress and married actor Pat Morita of the Karate Kid films. In recent years, Rudy went back to work for businessman and beloved friend, George Tallas. They became close friends and George was at Rudy's side to the very end. The family wishes to thank him dearly for his love and support. Rudy was an avid golfer and loved all sports, especially boxing. He was often referred to as "The Champ" or as his name implies, Guerrero... The "Warrior". Don Rickles nicknamed him "El Caballo" (the horse) named after a drink that Rudy created especially for Rickles. To quote his niece, Evelyn, "He was our champ and the bravest man I ever knew. But, he was so much more than an uncle to me. He was a father figure and a mentor to me and my brother, Nemo, and the patriarch of the family. To many, he was this classy, "stand up" gentlemen with a heart of gold. His very presence would light up a room and he was adored by anyone that stood in his light. He was a prince of a man and the last of a dying breed. He will be greatly missed." He is survived by his son, Nick Guerrero; his grandson, Ricardo Guerrero; brother, Danny Guerrero (bro. Mateo); sister, Armeda Siqueiros; sister-in-law, Rita Guerrero; nieces and nephews, Evelyn Guerrero-Morita, Nemo Strang, Heidi Bonito, Vivian Mc Haffey, Adrianne Siqueiros