April 17, 2000
Have You Ever Seen A Zombie Come To Tea?


Back in the Long Ago and Far Away of 1988  --  when life was both simpler and more complicated  --  Daughter #2 and her best friend, Tracy, came home from kindergarten and sang a song their beloved Mr. Gallagher had taught them that day:
Have you ever seen a zombie come to tea?
Well, take a look at me: a zombie you will see.
Zombies: BEGIN!

They then launched into this bizarre dance routine ... arms stretched straight out in front of them, eyes bulging, legs rigid as tent poles ... twirling around and around in jerky, epileptic circles. I'll never forget the sight of those two little girls, in their pigtails and their Strawberry Shortcake sweatshirts, earnestly spinning around my kitchen doing the "Zombie Dance."  And I've never forgotten that goofball song. This morning it is looping through my head like a Volkswagen jingle.

It is my theme song today.

I slept maybe fifteen minutes altogether. (Nineteen, if you count that four-minute nap in the shower this morning.)  David dropped right off last night, halfway through 'The X-Files.' "I'm just gonna close my eyes for a minute," he mumbled ... and then he was gone. We usually manage to achieve *simultaneous slumber* most nights, or else I drift off before he does. But not last night.  Last night I enviously watched him slide off into blissful unconsciousness, and I knew that I was in for a long, solitary Insomnia Night.


I watched TV with the sound off for a little while. I read part of my book. I listened to the rain outside our bedroom window. I experimented with different pillow/blanket *configurations.* I watched David sleep. (He does this adorable little puckery thing with his lips when he's sleeping: it makes him look like a blowfish. If my scanner wasn't broken, I would scan a Polaroid for you.)  I listened to Upstairs Neighbor Guy practice his Irish Step Dancing. I stuck a Melatonin tablet under my tongue. I cracked open a window. I counted sheep.

Nothing seemed to help.

When it became clear that I was not, in fact, going to fall asleep any time soon (read this: before Sunday officially morphed into Monday), I broke down and did something I haven't done since the old Tree House days: I crawled out of bed, tiptoed out to the kitchen ...

... and went online.

It felt vaguely naughty. Like I was doing something *forbidden,* and any minute my ex-husband was going to sneak up behind me and catch me talking about pubic hair in the Baby Boomer Chat Room. Old paranoias die hard.

But after a few minutes of quietly puttering around on the Internet  --  reading my e-mail (currently running 4 to 1 in favor of me mailing that resume/spitting in Franz' coffee) ... checking my stoopid hit counter (still broken) ... checking my bank balance (still solvent: whew) ... cruising through the message boards ( they're talking about limited edition collectors plates now!) ... I started feeling a little more relaxed.

Not sleepy, mind you. But relaxed. Like some of the edge was finally wearing off.

And after another goddamned weekend of headaches and *fingernail sandwiches* and jumping out of my skin every time I hear a Germanic accent in a grocery store ... "relaxed" was a nice change of pace.


Please do not apologize for writing so much about Franz on your website!! The primary reason I hit your website every day is because you write about Franz!

... My "Franz' problem is with one of the architects in our office. He is, to put it bluntly, the most miserable person I have ever dealt with in my life. Not only is he the most negative person I have ever met, he takes the cake as the biggest backstabber I have ever seen in action. Through his backstabbing and gossiping, he has managed to always portray himself as a victim. He is the most malicious person I have ever met, yet those who do not work with him every day simply think he is a nice guy who is surrounded and victimized by the incompetence and sheer wickedness of others. This is changing though. A few people are onto him-have figured it out for themselves, and are beginning to understand his tactics.

He complains about not meeting deadlines, then takes four hour lunches. He tells all of us continuously that our office is considered the "fuck up office", and proceeds to tell us all individually how "fucked up" the corporate office thinks our fellow office mates are.

It is truly demoralizing. It sure does not motivate anyone; just scares us all to death and makes us all feel angry ...

... I detest him. I also told him off last week, in a very professional but stern manner--stop talking shit abut your coworkers, stop complaining about never being able to meet deadlines and then taking four hour lunches, and get organized. I got permission first, from the big boss. I can tell you that it felt good afterwards, but it has not helped relieve the tension in the office.

This architect haunts me like Franz haunts you--and some weeks are worse than others, so I read your journal every day to find out how you have handled the Franz factor in your daily life. And it brings me great comfort to know that you are surviving him.

However, like you I question whether I can survive this architect much longer. I am tired of bringing the job home every night and on weekends. [Editor's Note: Yes!] I am tired of coming home stunned, mad, insulted, embarrassed, and most of all Frustrated. [ Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!] I am tired of trying to figure out what he is going to do or say next. I have seen how he destroys other peoples' reputations, so I am tired of watching my back at all times, tired of being on guard at all times. [ Yes!] I actually worry about him getting into my computer files and sabotaging my work. Frankly, I am tired of being paranoid. Tired of grinding my teeth at night. [GOD yes!]

I, too, have a lead on another job. And like you, I am seriously considering submitting my resume.

Change is scary though ...

... I keep telling myself--one more week, and we'll see how it goes, maybe it will get better. Wait it out; he will screw up badly enough sooner or later and will be gone. [Editors Note: Yes! Yes! That's exactly what *I* tell myself, week after week!]

But the question is, can my teeth survive this? I have grinded one of them to the point that it periodically becomes loose. And I have started smoking again.

Needless to say, I am one reader who is not sick of your Franz problem. I identify with Franz effects on your personal time-- the frustration of not being able to shake the SOB when the work day and work week is done.

Despite your problems with Franz, you certainly seem to have triumphed in your personal life. I must tell you that in the midst of my own personal turmoil, I take comfort that your personal life has changed so dramatically for the better over the past year or two. Things really do get better! I gain hope reading what you have written. Lastly, I would like to tell you that you are a superb writer--one of the best writers I have ever read. Keep up the terrific work--what you have done with your life and with your web site is inspiring.

Please update us on the resume--whether you sent it, and if so, how the interview goes....

Good luck!


It was 12:30 a.m. when I crawled back into bed, pleasantly buzzed from Amy's e-mail, comforted, reassured, ego nicely stroked ...

... but still wide awake. 

I drifted off for five minutes here, ten minutes there ... snatching occasional little pockets of snooze time. But nothing substantial. No REM sleep.

No dreams.

(Although, under the circumstances, that might have been a blessing in disguise. I'm still recovering from the Franz-*Playing-Yahtzee* Dream. Yeesh.)

The good news  --  if there is anything "good" about laying awake all night  -- is that I didn't come unglued about it. Insomnia is such a rare occurrence anymore ... my sleep patterns, now that I'm midway through my second year of sobriety, are becoming so regular ... that the occasional sleepless night isn't going to wig me out.

When 5 a.m. finally rolled around, I said "fine" and rolled out of bed. I figured I'll catch up tonight. Or the next night. Or the night-after-next. (Or in my next lifetime, maybe. You know: the lifetime where I find myself working at a job I like, making decent money doing stuff I love, for a boss I admire and respect? a boss who doesn't treat me like a $4.98 True Value doormat? THAT next lifetime.)

In the meantime ... have you ever seen a zombie come to tea?

Well, take a look at me. A zombie you will see.

I just listened to the same voicemail message, from Maureen in our LA office, for the eighth time in a row:  I still have no clue what she's talking about. I left my stapler in the lunchroom a little while ago ... right next to the microwave. Apparently I've been walking around with a Post-It note stuck to the butt of my skirt all morning.

I forgot to brush my teeth this morning, before I left The Castle.

I'm a mess.

But you know what? I don't care. Because ... drumroll, please ... I mailed that resume this morning. (AND I sent another one off to the Alameda company: the company my *FootNotes* reader works for.)  So instead of simply whining and complaining about how much I hate my job, and how icky Franz is, and how desperate I am to find something better-suited to my talents/experience/caffeine preferences/very special emotional needs ... I'm finally gonna DO something about it.

Am I a zombie? Yeah, maybe. Temporarily. A decent night's sleep -- and a little Aqua Fresh -- will fix that.

But a doormat?

What do you think?

special *howdys* to:
kate ["run! run!"] and brucie ["... this Franz guy is really getting on my nerves ... What is his function ... I mean, does he ever do any work?"] and everyone else who has written. you've made me laugh. you've made me feel better. and -- in the case of my new pal amy -- you've pretty much written today's journal entry for me. thanks.

a year ago

here's where i'll ask a *relevant* question:
any job openings at your company?
will work for m&m's

amazingly profound thought of the day: "I am an insomniac agnostic egotist. I lie awake at nights, wondering whether I believe that I am as great as I think I am."

throw a rock