Her Name is Janet

...Or Smartass, if you were to ever ask my mom. If only she'd had the foresight.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

How Will CATS® Know They Should Call Me, If I Don't Practice??

Originally uploaded by janet_s_sherman.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Shattering Glass

I ran into someone in the drugstore parking lot on Sunday, a friend I haven't seen since Before.

It should come as no surprise that certain friendships fell by the wayside, After. Ones that had largely been relationships of convenience, and candidly, I'm pretty sure we were all relieved to no longer feel obligated to a compulsory friendship. We haven't spoken since and that seems to suit everyone involved.

There were other friends though, one in particular, who called and emailed and sent handwritten notes in order to reach out to me. Her attempts went unanswered because in the midst of the pain I was deaf to everything other than the sound of my own screams. When I finally did respond, long after she was justified in chucking me to the curb, she accepted my friendship in whatever terms I could offer it. Her loyalty to me will not be soon forgotten.

This friend from Sunday though was a surprise. I'd liked him and thought the feeling was mutual. He was witty and answered all my questions about which Elf hailed from where and why they all wandered off to the Gray Haven, so that I never had to bother reading The Silmarillion. Plus, he baked coma-inducing brownies worthy of the BEST EVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES IN ALL TIME AND SPACE award, from scratch. From Scratch, People.

He was with his fiance when I saw him, a woman who seems genuine and warm and smart. Smart enough not to let that kind of brownie ability pass her by. She's clearly got a good head on her shoulders.

We made small talk for a minute, and then I just sort of blurted out "you could have called." Blurted it, but softly. Sadly. Maybe he didn't want to call. Maybe he didn't know I needed him to. Maybe he wanted to call, but didn't know what to say. After all, who the hell does in that situation? Back then, it had been as though my life was a house that I'd built on a glass floor foundation. I'd walked around on it, admiring how it shined and sparkled in the sunlight, but never paused to consider how dangerous living on a glass floor could be. Who builds a house around a glass floor, for heaven's sake? What can it possibly do, besides shatter?

I won't make assumptions about his reasoning, but Sunday was painful. Whatever concern my friend may have felt, it didn't override his reluctance to reach out. That realization made me cry the whole drive home.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Most Redeeming Thing About Michigan

Originally uploaded by janet_s_sherman.
Some peeps have mentioned in the past couple of days that they really like the tree shot. Thanks. If you like trees like I like trees, go here.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

A Lot Like Lorien

Originally uploaded by janet_s_sherman.
The breeze was crisp and the light was clear
and for one glorious moment
I was just so grateful to be here.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The hackles, they've gone down.

Blasting away at "anon" about just how unbelievably socially aware and literate I am was great. Really.

But then it was brought to my attention that we actually agree about social injustice.

Um, huh?

I then realized that "anon" and I pretty much agree on every point.

I'm elitist? I'd love to dissuade you of this, but there's waaaaay too much evidence to the contrary.

Uneducated? What I don't know could fill a book.

Ignorant? If I was insulted by everyone who thinks I'm ignorant, well I wouldn't have any friends, now would I?

So "Anon" and me, we're good.


Additional note: Thanks to everyone who rallied to my defense--it's good to know you've got my back. It's also really fun to see my gentle and sweet-natured mom pissed off--so long as it isn't at me. I have to go look up "disenfranchised" now...

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Unleashing the Inner Socialist

In the unlikely event that "anonymous" chooses to check in again, I'll respond to this comment.

I'm in the odd position of having to defend whether I'm culturally sensitive, and as much as I might be drawn to making a smart-assed remark, "anon's" comment deserves a serious response.

Somehow, what grabbed my attention first was not the accusation that I'm classist, or ignorant, or the assumption that I'm Republican (wait...there are LOTS of classist Democrats out there too) (and I'm not Republican), but that I needed to read more. Particularly about the social divide.

I'll never argue with anyone that I should spend more time with my nose in a book, but with that said, I'm going to defend my reading choices. After reading "anon" I immediately ran up to my bedroom and looked at the books lying by my bed...as I do all my reading either in the morning (New York Times) or at night. Or while surfing the internet while at work.

You see, there I go again, getting all flip.

Back to the point: These are the books I've been reading, and I swear to you these were right on top, none of them dusty:

Myths America Lives By, Richard Hughes
Poverty in America: A Handbook, John Iceland
Naked, David Sedaris
Blood and Oil, Michael Klare

And in my purse even, for reading on the bus (yes, I take PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION, albeit a recent habit) is Growing Up in New Guinea, by Margaret Mead.

Side note: the Klare book is really good, I really recommend reading it) (So is David Sedaris, but it's off-topic) . Back to "anon's" points:

I actually did mean rustic. Not poor. There's a distinct difference.

I'd like to expand on the point about "choosing to be born into a poor neighborhood." No one chooses to be born in a rich neighborhood either, if I'm not mistaken. You land where you land. BUT, speaking economically, it almost doesn't matter whether or not someone in a disadvantaged social class makes "right" or "wrong" choices (as "anon" points out), because they aren't given the SAME KINDS OF CHOICES as the upper and uppermiddle classes in the first place.

I'll bet that remark surprised you, didn't it?

Keep reading.

Work hard, get good grades, achieve the American Dream? That concept is virtually unachievable for the American working poor, and contrary to popular myth, it's not because they're lazy. "Anon" points out that poor children go to lousy schools. I'll tack onto that true statement not only do they attend shamefully substandard schools, but that their parents, exhausted from working physically demanding jobs might just be too tired to cart their kids around to "enrichment classes". IF those enrichment classes are even offered in their neighborhood at all. And they're expensive. The ones that aren't expensive are generally not worth going to. And HeadStart, a great program, was disassembled by the government.

Let's talk about free time. Upper middle class parents often outsource home-maintenance tasks such as house-cleaning, laundry, etc... giving them precious time with their children, or free time to pursue personal interests, or rest. The working poor, on the other hand, generally spend more the majority of their free time accomplishing more work.

Let's take laundry as an example. You or I might send stuff to the cleaners, or do loads of laundry interspersed throughout the day, simultaneously doing other things. If you live in the inner-city though, laundry is a full day affair:
1. Get up, haul it (and your children) to the bus stop, which may or may not arrive on time, if ever.
2. Spend most of the day at the laundry mat, which is crowded, and the machines are occupied, waiting to get your clothes into one machine then another.
3. You can't leave to do other errands because someone might steal your belongings.
4. Haul all your laundry home.
5. Your day-off is almost spent, and you've still got SO MUCH MORE WORK AHEAD OF YOU! Woohoo!

So much for "working hard" in order to "achieve the American Dream." It looks to me like the working poor are working hard, all the time, without any financial gain to show for it.

Now go here, and do a little reading. I do. I even know a bunch of the authors.

The point is, no, I don't think people "choose" to be poor. I spend a good deal of my real, non-internet life lecturing/blathering to people who actually know me almost vertbatim what "anon" has written. (Although I tend not to call myself names while doing it). I write on this site as I do because I like to be funny. It even says smart-ass right in the title, remember? Just ask my mom. (Please God, don't let "anon" actually be my mom).

Now, you may not think I'm funny, that's certainly your perogative. But I've gone ahead and changed my "about me" profile to reflect the intent of my writing, in order to accommodate all the "anon's" out there. I hope that's enough.

Terrorizing the Amish, and Other Sunday Fun

I promise, this is the last I have to say about Pennsylvania. No more slogans, except for

Pennsylvania: You'll Go Buggy Over Us.

There, I'm done.

If you share my secret facination with the Amish (to my knowledge Jenny is the only one who does), you'll understand why I had to spend an hour driving around rural PA stalking every buggy I passed. But it's o.k., because I'm sure they liked it. No, really, they did.

Here we see Demmy Longenecker deftly avoiding me, in spite of my persistently driving behind him at 2 miles an hour.

Even Silas the horse ignored me, regardless of all my honking and screaming only a few feet away. And standing up through the sunroof to chuck apples at his head....you know, for a snack.

You can't see Ephraim Schwenkenfelder inside the carriage, but he's in there. And I'm pretty sure he was scolding his new bride Sarah Goschenffopper for waiving at me. I could tell that Sarah liked me though, and didn't give a whit about whether a photo constitued a graven image. Me neither.

Sunday, October 16, 2005


Originally uploaded by janet_s_sherman.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Pennsylvania: Come Visit the State Where No One Wants to Live.

There's just so much to tell about my weekend in New York, and so little of it has to do with New York. It's really about my new obsession with Pennsylvania.

The title comes from the state Tourism Slogan Contest. It was the runner up. At least, it could have and should have been.

Let's revisit for a minute the trailer that doubled as a gas station, where the commute to work is a breeze. The place where hope goes to die.

I feel really I feel kind of I feel marginally bad about using some poor, unsuspecting gas station attendant's circumstances as fodder for this journal. It's not his fault if he's a little "rustic." Okay, it might be his fault, but one could argue that it's more a "choice" than a "fault."

His only real crime is a penchant for beef jerky and unwittingly falling prey to my overactive imagination. If he'd known I was coming, he'd have packed up the trailer and moved it. Except that his truck was on cinder blocks, which makes hauling stuff ever-so-slightly more difficult.

I portrayed the incident as somewhat scary, but in reality, that trailer-Texaco combo was intriguing. I'd never been anywhere quite like it (I double-dog-dare you to tell me that you have), and every corner held some oddity I could document for posterity, or possibly pocket as a souvenir.

Random thoughts about this 12x25 doublewide:

As if it isn't abundantly obvious, this proprietor, he is single.

It's surprising how much weight a rusty trailer can support. And by "rusty" I mean "rust." As in, no unoxidized metal anywhere. It's surprising how much weight a rust-trailer can support.

Dust covered every inside surface--horizontal and vertical, in a way that suggested I was the first woman inside those walls in a verrrrry long time. Dust even covered the candybars next to the cash register. Dust did not cover the liquor bottles.

There were an assortment of Polaroid photographs thumbtacked to the faux-wood paneled walls, all circa 1974, when handlebar mustaches and a liberal application of Bryl Cream were the height of sophistication. There were quite a few pinned up, making me wonder why all his socializing ceased suddenly in the mid-1970's.

There was a turkey pelt. It was obviously his pride and joy, hanging front and center right there on the faux-wall, next to the pictures. This was the oddest of the oddities. Don't get me wrong, I like turkey. I'll even go so far as saying I love turkey. In bacon, in burgers, at all the major holidays. AND I like pelts, particularly wrapped luxuriously around my shoulders.

It's just that this particular pelt had clearly been wrapped around the turkey in the not-so-distant past, and that was enough to send even me, with my morbid sense of curiosity, out the door, into my rental car and back onto the highway, careening headfirst toward civilization.

Monday, October 10, 2005

As Big As Sky

I need language as large as the longing inside, and a voice bigger than mine.

Saturday, October 08, 2005


A week ago today, Leslie married Tom. I watched. So did a bunch of other people, and we enjoyed it all immensely.

The whole weekend was a celebration, and out of all of it, what I celebrated most was the hotel, although not at first.

When I first walked through the lobby doors, the unmistakable smell of stale cigarettes wafted my way. Hit me in the face and induced my gag reflex is more accurate. I stood there choking and preparing to be one of those hotel guests, all snotty and indignant, when I realized that there was—yes, I swear it—a BEER CONVENTION being hosted right there in the very hotel I was staying at! No kidding!

It’s like Leslie and Tom knew exactly what would make the weekend trip to New York irresistible.

I’ve finally met a group of people who enjoy beer more than I do. I thought that would only happen at an AA meeting.

Anyway, not only do these convention goers drink beer, they collect it too. Or, at least, all the cans. No kidding! And as I wandered between tables they were very accommodating and explained why one old beer can was worth $3.00 and another old beer can was worth $3000.00. I’m not sure I understand the complexities of this particular hobby, other than as an excuse to drink, and by drink I mean at 10:00 o’clock in the morning. Do you need a better reason to start a hobby than that?

These are my kind of people. These are their cans.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Internal Dialogue While Rolling Off Highway 80 Deep Into the Heart of Pennsylvania.

“Where are all the people?”

“I thought Deliverance was in Georgia.”

“Is this Texaco abandoned?”

“Is that rusty old trailer where I pay? I can’t be. It must be. It can’t be.”
It was.

“But gas stations aren’t in trailers; peoples’ homes are in trailers.”

Turns out, sometimes they’re both. Simultaneously.

The only thing separating me from the proprietor’s living room was the cash register counter. And as is often the case when you own a "home business," the line between customer and guest is a blurry one.

“What, me? Stay for dinner?! With you?! Just the…… two of us?”

“Um, I’d love to, really. I mean it, I would! Don’t think I wouldn’t! Because I would!"

“What’s in the oven, right there next to the bathtub? Roast… …… beef?”

“Possum. It’s possum! Gosh, I haven’t had that in, I don’t know…FOREVER. It’s just that road kill wild game is so, you know, disgusting………filling.”

“And I’m scared.”

Sunday, October 02, 2005

What grace is this, that we can lift our hearts to Him, who hears us?